March 29, 2010

Purple Carrot Thuvayal

There’s this woman we all know in the blogosphere. She’s more of a temptress, really. She’s made me crave so many things that I’ve sometimes wanted to dash across the city and insist that she feed me. She even obliged one time and brought me some home made Goda Masala so I could make her Spicy Nutty Cluster Beans. I remember looking at her Kadhi Pakoda and feeling hungry all over again. I think that was the dish that got me hooked to Anita’s blog. A year ago, on this very day, she posted Black/Purple Carrot Kanji. I wanted some because it looked pretty and I had heard so much about it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make it myself. My colleague’s mother sent me enough, coincidentally the very next day!

This year, I bought the purple carrots with the sole intention of making Kanji. I did everything but that. I waited for the purple carrots to appear, I had bookmarked Anita’s recipe anyway, and was all set to make kanji. But fate intervened. I used one carrot in this dish and made a thuvayal with the others. I will be making this again and again, whenever these beauties are in season. Hopefully, I shall also make kanji!

4 Purple Carrots, peeled and diced

2 tsp Oil

1/s tsp Mustard Seeds

3-4 Red Chillies

2 tsp Urad Dal

1/2 tbsp Tamarind paste

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/2 tsp Urad Dal

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1 Red Chilli, broken

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, red chillies and the urad dal. When the mustard splutters, add the diced vegetable. Saute for a couple of minutes and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Allow it to cool. Grind this along with the tamarind paste and salt.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil for the tempering. Add the urad dal and mustard. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and red chilli. Add this to the ground paste.

Mix this thuvayal with some hot rice and add a little bit of ghee. Mix well and enjoy the purple sensation.

March 24, 2010

Cabbage Thuvayal

Amma calls me the "Thogayal queen". Whenever I cook a south Indian meal (Konkani, Tamil or Telugu) I try and make it a point to make a thuvayal. It serves many purposes:

  • There's one more vegetable dish

  • Mix it with rice and you've got one entire course

  • It removes the need for a pickle with curd rice

  • It makes for a good bread spread/side for idli and dosa, so the next morning's breakfast issue is solved

  • It gives S the feeling of a somewhat "complete" meal

  • I get another dish to blog about

I have a lot of processed vegetables in the fridge and freezer and these come in very handy when I'm putting meals together on weeknights. And I have been known to make thuvayal/thogayal with just about any. I am putting this up thanks to a lot of pressure from folks at work who can't seem to get enough of this. (K, this post is especially for you. I do hope you find it useful.)

There's another version of this at Talimpu and Nandita blogged about her adaptation of that recently. Mine is slightly different. In fact, all my thuvayal recipes are very very similar. Replace the vegetable in any recipe and it yields a completely new dish. Someday, I shall blog about my family favourite "Thengai Thogayal". Until then, we shall focus on 5-a-day!

1 cup Cabbage, chopped

2 tsp Oil

3-4 Red Chillies

2 tsp Urad Dal

1/2 tbsp Tamarind paste

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the chopped cabbage. Saute for a couple of minutes and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside.

In a small pan, heat the other teaspoon of oil and add the urad dal. When it turns slightly brown, add the red chillies and fry for a minute. Grind this along with the tamarind paste, salt, and sauteed cabbage.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil for the tempering. Add the mustard. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and curry leaves. Add this to the ground paste.

Happy Rama Navami everyone. I will be making Panakam, Neer Mor, Rama Navami Pachadi and Kadalai Paruppu Sundal. What festive foods are you cooking?

The Singing Chef's turn on Tried & Tasted, this month at Divya's Dil Se. (Thanks for the logo Ksenia).

March 23, 2010

Spiced "Fruit" Cake

This has been one long overdue post. I baked this “healthy” cake for Amma’s birthday in December. I cut it myself while wishing her over the phone and we promptly ate it. I took the cake to work the next day and it was gone in no time. I played around with this cake because I have seen a lot of people blindly bring ingredients together and bake a cake. I have always wanted to stick to a recipe. This time, I tried that and wasn’t in the least disappointed with this cake.

1 cup Flour

¾ cup Wheat Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

¾ cup Jaggery, grated

1/3 cup Carrots, grated

1/3 cup Beetroot, grated

3 Bananas (overripe), peeled

1/4 cup Applesauce

¼ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Allspice

2-3 tbsp Oil

2 Eggs

Oil and Flour to dust the tin
Icing Sugar to dust the cake

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and dust a loaf tin.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Combine the bananas, eggs, applesauce, oil and jaggery in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend all these to a rough paste. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and add the grated carrot and beetroot. Mix well and pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean). Cool on a rack for a few minutes and dust with icing sugar.

March 21, 2010

Zucchini Moong Dal

Since I had to cook fairly traditional meals over the last three weeks, I did a lot of “food-processing” over the weekends. I peeled kilo after kilo of sambar onions that I brought back from Bangalore, diced carrots, beetroots and zucchini and chayote squash, chopped beans and cabbage and filled my freezer with different “vegetable mixes” – for sambar, avial, kootu and pulao, in addition to everything else. I used to do this sort of thing earlier (in my somewhat more organized avatar) and I stopped when I started paying my maid to chop vegetables for us. Now, I find it easier to do things myself than explain to my perennially appearing harassed maid how I want something done. One side of me begs me to not “waste” my weekends, but the more practical side of me tells me I should know better than to have vegetable related stress on a weekday.

Zucchini is in season. And it is has been robbed of its “exotic vegetable” status. When a vegetable is sold at the same price as or cheaper than the other seasonal vegetables, it can’t retain its exotic tag for very long. Not in my books, at least. And that is the same fate that Zucchini met with in my kitchen this spring. I am surprised I haven’t made sambar with mushrooms yet, but then again, mushrooms didn’t exactly reach the price nadir this year.

I opened my freezer to find a bag of frozen Zucchini and decided to make lunch with it. This dish turned out to be finger licking good and we mopped it up with rotis at lunch.

2 meduim sized Zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup Moong Dal, washed

1 tsp Oil

1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

1 Green Chilli, slit

1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder

1/4 tsp Cumin Powder

1/4 tsp Coriander Powder

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pressure pan. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the cumin crackles, add the curry leaves and green chilli and fry for a minute. Add the dal and saute for another minute before adding the turmeric and chilli powders. Add the zucchini pieces and salt along with the cumin and coriander powders. Add 1 cup of water and cover and cook for 1-2 whistles. Garnish with coriander leaves if you like.

Serve hot with rice or rotis.

March 20, 2010

Spiced Potato Onion Buns

I love baking. I just don't bake often enough. I have been putting off baking with yeast and had promised myself that I would start when spring came. It is already hot and I realized that the "blink and you miss it" nice weather in these parts is not going to last very long. If I didn't act soon, it would be too hot to think of cooking and baking. I did have inspiration from the weather. If that wasn't enough, Rachel announced her edition of Bread Baking Day, the theme of which was buns.

I'd also bought a few cookbooks recently and one of them was a book about breads. Most recipes in this book asked for fast action yeast. So, I wrote to my friend, D, and asked her to get me a few packets and her husband brought them for me. Now, I had everything in my (and the buns') favour, and only needed to shake off the shroud of laziness.  I was glad I did because, as I type, we've already polished off about 5-6 of the 10 buns I'd made. I shaped the rest of the batter into my loaf tin and baked it. I think the recipe would yield 16-18 small buns. I modified the recipe and used some of the Southwestern Spice Blend as well.

4 1/3 cups Flour
1 cup Potato, cooked
1 cup Onion, sliced
1 tbsp Oil
2 tbsp Butter
1 1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 1/2 tsp Fennel Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Fast-rise Yeast
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Southwestern Spice Blend (optional)
3/4 cup Warm Water

Mash the potato and mix it with the butter. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and fry the onions for 4-5 minutes. Add the cumin, fennel, paprika and turmeric and fry for another minute or two.

In a mixing bowl, place the flour and add the yeast, spice blend, salt and sugar and mix well. Add the mashed potato mixture and the onion mixture. Add the water, a little at a time, and knead until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Cover and allow to rise for 10-15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 16 balls and form each ball into a bun. Place the buns on a greased plate and allow to rise for an hour.

Preheat an oven to 200C/400F and bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. When done, split the buns in half and spread some butter. This stuff is better than anything you could buy at your local bakery. After all, you'd have made these yourself.

March 19, 2010

Rainbow Pulao

Pulaos are my go-to dish. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is or what time of the day it is. I love the fact that a one dish meal (the fill it, shut it, forget it kind) can be so tasty, so colourful and so nutritious. If all I’m serving along with this meal is a raita, I make sure I add soya chunks to for the protein element. I usually add all vegetables that I can find and there are times when the outcome is a complete hash. There are of course others when the resultant dish is a beautiful medley of colours. This pulao is one such.

I tend to use any spice that catches my fancy and do not have a fixed rule about which spices to add in which dish. As a result of this, it is rare that a pulao I make on one day will taste like the pulao made on another day. But when it turns out great, I always make a note of what went in. This time around, I used a tablespoonful of Tortilla soup seasoning (Southwest Spice Blend) that my friend, D, sent me from the US. When she sent it, I had no idea what tortilla soup was or how the seasoning is to be used. (It is a different thing that such knowledge is as far from you as you are from the nearest internet PC.) The spice mix has cumin and paprika among other things, so it works very well in Indian dishes.

1 cup Basmati Rice, washed and drained

1 Onion, sliced

2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2” pieces

1 Capsicum, sliced lengthwise and cut into 2” pieces

2 Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2” pieces

15-20 Beans, strung and cut into 2” pieces

1 Beetroot, peeled and cut into 2” pieces

A small head of Cauliflower, broken into florets

½ cup Peas, shelled

½ cup Soya Chunks, prepared according to instructions on the pack

2 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

3 1” sticks of Cinnamon

3-4 Cloves

1 tbsp Tortilla Soup Seasoning (Southwest Spice Blend)

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

½ tsp Chilli Powder

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pressure pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the cinnamon and cloves along with the sliced onion. Fry this mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add the other vegetables, salt, turmeric and chilli powders along with the tortilla soup seasoning (southwest spice blend). Add the soya chunks and fry the entire mixture for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and 2 cups water and mix well. Cover the pressure pan and cook for 2 whistles. When the pressure is released, open the pan and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve with a raita or plan curd.

We had this with some onion raita and lady’s finger chips from Ananda Bhavan.

I’m also very happy to be a part of the Great Vega’n Vegetarian Project that Cynthia has started. My first post came up yesterday and I hope to be a regular contributor on the blog. Tried & Tasted event event is also currently on and The Singing Chef is the chosen blog for March 2010.

March 5, 2010

Winter Vegetable Sukke

I make a lot of mixed vegetable dishes, especially in winter. I’ve gone on endlessly about how I like a colourful plate. I found a whole bunch of vegetables that needed to be used up, and quickly. It was time for my weekly vegetable purchasing spree and I had just 1-2 pieces of each vegetable left in the crisper. I made this dish for lunch and used one vegetable of every variety I had on hand. I ended up using seven vegetables. Feel free to use any combination of vegetables for this dish. I’ve found that winter vegetables lend themselves very well to this preparation.

1 Radish, peeled
1 Beetroot, peeled

1 Red Carrot, peeled

1 Purple Carrot, peeled

1 Turnip, peeled
1Potato, peeled and quartered
1Onion, quartered
1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds

1/2 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Oil
1/4 cup Coconut
3-4 Red Chillies
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Cut the radish, carrots, turnip and beetroot into 2" long pieces. Pressure cook all the vegetables with a little salt for 1-2 whistles.

Heat the oil and fry the fenugreek seeds, urad dal and the coriander seeds for a minute. Grind this along with the turmeric, tamarind, coconut and red chillies to a somewhat fine paste. Add this paste to the cooked vegetables and add salt to taste. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Heat the teaspoon of oil for the tempering in a frying ladle. Add the mustard and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the vegetable mixture. Serve hot with rice and
dali-saar or with chapatis.

March 4, 2010

Zucchini Thuvayal

Winter. I have to talk about it in the past tense. As early as the first week of March. I’ve enjoyed using winter vegetables in just about every dish these past 3-4 months and I’m going to be sorry to see them disappear over the coming 2-3 weeks. Then it is back to the Tinda-Tori-Bhindi-Kundru-Lauki routine, all the way until November. Such is life.

I bought some zucchini to make a stir fry, but ended up using it in this thuvayal. I really wonder why I don’t make these thuvayals/thogayals often enough. They’re easy, tasty and are a great way to add another vegetable dish to your table.

2 Zucchinis, chopped

4 Red Chillies

1 tsp Mustard

3 tsp Urad Dal

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

3 tsp Oil

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/2 tsp Urad Dal

a pinch Asafoetida

5-6 Curry Leaves

Place the zucchini pieces in a microwave safe bowl. Add 2 tbsp of water and cook on high for 2 minutes. Squeeze out the water when cool.

Heat the oil and fry the red chillies, mustard, asafoetida and urad dal for a couple of minutes. Grind the chillies along with the tamarind paste and salt. Add the zucchini pieces and grind again. Finally, add the fried mustard and urad dal and grind lightly.

Heat the teaspoon of oil for the tempering in a frying ladle. Add the mustard, urad dal and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the zucchini mixture.

Serve this with rice and a little ghee and some papads or vadams on the side. We ate this with rice, rasam, and Kootu.

March 3, 2010

Matar Kulcha

February came and February went. The entire month just whizzed past without a single post on this blog. In fact I haven’t been off to a very good start to The Singing Chef this year. While my other blog has seen a post, OK, a picture, a day, two months in 2010 have gone by with just one post here. I have been cooking. I’ve been cooking a whole lot more than I normally do. I haven’t been cooking too many new things. In fact, I’ve been looking to my own blog to recreate some of the dishes I’d made earlier and had promptly forgotten about once I posted them on the blog.

A fellow marathoner, Divya, is hosting this month’s Tried & Tasted event. This is an event started by Zlamushka and I am very happy to let you all know that The Singing Chef is the chosen blog for March 2010. I hope you will all enjoy going through this blog and cooking some of my favourites. Thanks for the logo, Ksenia.

I visited my folks in Bangalore earlier this year and did some cooking there: Parottas and kurma, dosakaya pachadi, wheat flour dosas and carrot soup. I also baked my parents a carrot cake. I haven’t done much baking apart from that and have only made one batch of banana nut muffins.

I’ve been cooking a lot of traditional food as my in-laws are visiting us right now. Breakfast has been semia upma, sabudana khichdi, batat phow, etc. Lunch and dinner are stuff like khichdi and kadhi, radish and shallot vathal kuzhambu, aloo gobi, adraki dal, turnip and onion sambar, tomato rasam, brinjal curry, onion thuvayal, carrot thuvayal, zucchini thuvayal, chow chow kootu, etc. Some recipes will be up on the blog soon.

One of the dishes that I made at home for the first time this year was the famous street food of Delhi: Matar Kulcha. I’ve eaten it several times, but had never bothered to find out how it is made. I bought some kulchas from the supermarket in the hope that they would help me with dinner on a day that my cab takes me home really late. Then I found a bag of dried peas and soaked a cupful hoping to make sundal for breakfast. During the cab ride back home, I suddenly put two and two together and decided that I could make matar kulcha if only I figured out the recipe for the matar. My cab mate told me it was the simplest thing to make and taught me how to make this. The original street food version is made with dehydrated yellow peas, but I used green instead.

1 cup Dry Yellow/Green Peas, soaked overnight and cooked
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
¼ cup Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp Ginger, finely chopped
¼ tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Chat Masala
Juice of 1 Lime / 1 tsp Amchur/ 1 tsp Tamarind Paste
Salt/ Black Salt to taste

To Serve:
6 Kulchas/ Bread slices
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Lime Wedges

Mix all the ingredients while the cooked peas are still hot. The final consistency of the dish should have the peas in a mushy form. Garnish with onions and coriander leaves and some lime wedges. Toast each kulcha on both sides on a hot skillet for a minute or so on low heat and serve with the peas mixture.

If you have kulchas or bread with you, and remember to soak the peas when you leave for work, this is your perfect dinner item. While the peas are cooking, you can do all the prep work and your meal will be ready before you know it.