Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Vegan

Simple Spinach Curry

Spinach/Palak leaves are healthy, rich in iron and nutrition. This super simple palak recipe is made with limited ingredients and goes well with rice as well as roti. In this recipe, I have steamed and pureed the spinach leaves. You may choose to just use chopped spinach leaves. I prefer the pureed spinach. You may also add cooked tur dal/split pigeon peas or split mung dal to this curry to increase volume and nutrition.

Spinach leaves – 1 bunch
Green chilies – 1-2
Garlic – 1 clove
Onion – 1/2
Tomato – 1
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Lemon – 1/4
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins to steam and 7 mins to cook

Clean and wash the spinach leaves well in water.
Drain and place in a double boiler or pressure cooker to steam the leaves. You will notice that the leaves have wilted, turned dark green, and reduced significantly.
Peel the garlic and onion. Chop finely and keep aside.
When the steamed spinach leaves cool down a bit, puree it using a mixer. Keep aside.
In a wok, add oil and jeera, slit green chilies and garlic. Saute.
Add finely chopped onion and tomato. Saute for 2-3 mins.
Add the pureed spinach into this. Bring to boil. Add salt.
Add lime juice just before serving.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Mulaku Varutha Puli (Chilies and Shallots in Tamarind Water)

Every region has a few dishes that involves just rustling up some basic stuff together to get by on a lazy or difficult day. These dishes are never made for guests as they are considered too simple, minimalistic, and not grand enough to be served to guests. Palakkad has it’s own set of such dishes – Chembu thandu curry, moloshyam / molagoottal, vattikkal, pachadis, and the list goes on. Mulaku varutha puli is one such and a family favorite. On days when amma makes this, we run out of steamed rice because everyone tends to overeat. It is nothing but some chilies and shallots cooked in diluted tamarind water. The title sounds very grand like the accented Mulligatawny soup coined by Britishers. It is actually quite similar to a clear sour soup. So here is how.

Green chilies – 2-3
Shallots – 4-5
Tamarind – a lemon sized ball
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Water as needed
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 7 mins

Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the juice. Discard the pulp. Keep the tamarind water aside.
Slit the green chilies. Peel the shallots and chop finely. Keep aside.
In a wok, add oil and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter, add slit green chilies, finely chopped shallots, and curry leaves.
Saute the chilies and shallots in oil for about 2 mins.
Add the diluted tamarind water into the fried green chilies and shallots.
Add salt as needed and bring to boil.
Add jaggery and stir.
Taste and adjust the amount of water and salt.

Sour and tasty mulaku varutha puli is ready to be served with steamed hot rice.

Notes: It is important to add jaggery as it balances the tart of the tamarind and gives it a wonderful taste without making the dish sweet.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Milaga Pachadi (Green Chilies in Spicy Tangy Gravy)

P7113101.JPGA spicy, tangy, and mildly sweet curry that goes well with rice, idli, dosa, or even roti.

Green Chilies – 12 to 15
Tamarind – a big lemon size
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Water as needed
Salt to taste

For Grinding:
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tbsp
Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves 4

Add half a cup of warm water to the tamarind and let it soak. This is to help extract maximum juice from the dry tamarind. Keep this aside for 10 mins.
Use a mixer to grind the grated coconut along with a teaspoon of mustard seeds to a fine paste. Keep aside.
Cut (halve) the green chilies.
Heat half a teaspoon oil in an pan. Add the split green chilies and saute until the raw smell goes away and the green side of the chilies get roasted.
Remove the pan from fire and keep a vessel containing a cup of water on fire. Add the chilies roasted in oil into the water in this vessel. Add turmeric powder and bring to boil. When the green chilies get cooked, they turn into pale green color.
Meanwhile, use your fingers to squeeze the juice out of the soaked tamarind. Strain and add to the cooked green chilies.
When the green chilies along with the tamarind water starts boiling, add the ground coconut and mustard seeds paste into it and stir.
Add the jaggery powder also. Stir and bring to boil.
Add salt and switch off the flame.
Heat oil in a pan and add half a teaspoon mustard seeds to it. When the mustard seeds crackle, turn off the fire, add curry leaves, and add this seasoning to the cooked curry. Serve hot with rice.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Vegan

Spinach Dal Curry (Palak Dal)

A simple and nutritious spinach dal curry that tastes great with both roti and rice. You can prepare this with toor dal, mung dal, masoor dal or a mix of all of these. I cook this at least once a week to ensure regular consumption of greens.


Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Spinach (finely chopped) – 3 cups
Garlic – 2-3 cloves
Onion – 2
Tomato – 2
Cumin Seeds/Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Tumeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Green chilies – 1
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida/Hing powder a pinch
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt as needed
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – 2-1/2 cups (as needed)

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves: 3-4

Pressure cook the dal in 2 cups of water. Ensure that the dal is well cooked. Mash it
Wash the spinach, drain the water completely, and chop them finely.
Peel garlic and onions. Wash the tomatoes and green chilies. Chop each separately and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and hing.
When they start to splutter, add finely chopped garlic and green chilies.
When garlic and green chilies start to change color, add finely chopped onions.
As onions turn translucent, add chopped tomato.
Add turmeric powder and chili powder. Cook until tomatoes turn mushy.
Add the chopped palak. Cover and cook for 2-3 mins until palak wilts and turns dark green.
Add cooked dal. Add salt and mix well.
Add water if needed to bring it to the consistency that you desire.
Bring to boil. Remove from fire.
Add a tbsp of lemon juice and mix well just before serving. Serve with roti or rice along with a dry vegetable side dish (preferably lightly roasted). Tastes awesome.

You can wilt the palak separately by placing it on a steamer for 5-10 minutes and then
grind it in a mixer. Add it to the well-churned dal, you can also have this on its own like a soup.
You may add chopped ginger also along with garlic, if preferred.
Before you cook dal, sift through them to remove any stones or debris. Rinse
If you are using pressure cooker to cook dal, add twice the amount of water. If cooking
on stove-top, add about 3 to 4 times the amount of water.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Tomato Curry

A tangy tomato curry with coconut-based gravy suitable for roti, rice, dosa, or idli. This is similar to the dry tomato onion subzi version posted earlier.

Tomato curry

Tomato (chopped) – 2 cups
Onion (Chopped) – 1 cup
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
Garlic – 1 pod
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Oil – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Salt to taste

For Grinding (Gravy)
Grated coconut* – 1/2 cup / 2 tbsp
Black Peppercorns – 5-8
Dry red chili – 1
Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup

For Garnishing:
Coriander leaves (chopped) – 1 tbsp

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins

*Alternatives: If grated coconut is not available, you may use thin coconut milk instead but the taste differs slightly.

In a thick wok, dry roast the grated coconut until it turns color (No need to wait until brown). Remove and keep aside.
Pour a little oil in the same wok and roast cumin seeds, peppercorns, and dry red chili until jeera splutters and chili changes color. Remove from the wok.
Transfer to a mixer along with the roasted grated coconut. Pulse the roasted ingredients to make a smooth paste. Add water in small quantities to make a smooth paste/gravy.
Heat the wok again. Add remaining oil and add chopped ginger and garlic. Saute until they change color.
Add curry leaves and chopped onion. Saute until onion turns translucent.
Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Stir and saute for a minute.
Add chopped tomatoes. You will notice that the water from the tomato has made the mixture watery. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook until tomato gets cooked properly.
Add the roasted ingredients gravy into the cooked tomato. Mix well, let it simmer, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
When you see oil separating, turn off the stove, and add chopped coriander leaves.
A simple, tangy, yummy curry for roti/rice is ready.

Notes: If you are using coconut milk instead of grated coconut, use powders instead of whole spices (jeera, pepper, and chili). Add pepper powder, jeera powder, and chili powder after sauteing the onion. Add the coconut milk at the end just before you turn off the fire.

Many thanks to Devaky Anil Kumar (Haripriya) for teaching me this recipe.

Bachelor-friendly, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Vegan

Methi Dal – Fenugreek Leaves Dal

Methi DalWhen you are short of time and want to make just one dish, dal with vegetables is a good choice. Wholesome, nutritious, easy, and quick to make; it goes well with both roti and rice. At home, we call dal with vegetables as moloshyam. There are many variations to this recipe and you really don’t need to refer to a recipe to make it. Make it as simple or as elaborate as you want to. On a day that you feel adventurous and have time to experiment with, you can try this dal with more vegetables and spice combinations. On a busy day, you can make it simple by just pressure cooking the dal and add the sauteed greens later.

Toor dal – 3/4 cup
Chopped fenugreek/methi/uluva leaves – 1-2 cups (packed)
Onion chopped – 1/4 cup
Garlic (chopped – 1 tsp
Green chilies chopped/red chilly powder – 1 tsp
Tomato chopped – 1 /4 cup
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin (jeera) seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cooking oil – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Asafetida/hing/kayam powder – a pinch
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 3-4

Rinse the dal and soak in water for 2-3 hours. Drain the water, add 2 cups of water, and pressure cook until soft.
Heat oil in a pan and allow mustard seeds to crackle. When mustard seeds start crackling, add jeera seeds and asafetida powder. Add chopped garlic and saute. Add chopped onions, green chillies and saute. When the onions turn pink, add tomatoes and cook for 3-4 mins. If instead of green chillies you are using red chilly powder, add that and turmeric powder. Add chopped fenugreek leaves, close with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. When the methi leaves are cooked, add the cooked dal and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the fire and add lemon juice. Methi dal is ready to be served with warm rotis or rice. Serve along with papad and pickle when serving with rice. Will leave your lips smacking.

Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan


RasamSambar may be an important and inevitable dish of a South Indian meal, but the meal is incomplete without hot and tangy rasam. Although sambar and rasam have many common ingredients, they both taste distinct and unique. It is surprising that a simple dish like rasam can overpower a supreme dish such as sambar. It may look and taste simple but making finger-licking rasam that makes you want to sniff your hand much after you have finished your meal and washed your hands is an art to be perfected. Although I have been cooking for many years, I still feel the rasam I make can never match the taste of my mother’s rasam. Thanks to the variety of rasam powders in the market, making good rasam is easy these days. Perfecting the taste is just a matter of time.

Rasams are of different types – Tomato Rasam, Garlic Rasam, Pepper rasam, Jeera rasam, and the list is long. My recipe is a combination of some of these.

Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Tomato – 2-3 large ones
Water – 3-4 cups
Tamarind – lemon size

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Rasam powder – 2 tsps
Asafetida powder – 1/2 tsp
Pepper – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery powder/shavings – 1/2 tsp

For tempering
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Garlic (optional) – 6-7 cloves
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut oil/vegetable oil – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 people

Soak toor dal overnight or 6-8 hours and pressure cook it. You may choose to skip the dal. Not adding dal makes the rasam very watery, just like the versions served in weddings. I prefer to add dal because it gives it slight bit of thickness. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of hot water and set aside for 10 mins. In a pot, add 2 cups of water and add chopped tomatoes and turmeric powder. Close and cook for 5-10 mins in medium heat until tomatoes are soft and well cooked. When the tomatoes are cooked well, add salt and tamarind juice. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add the jaggery powder. This helps balance the tanginess of the tamarind without making the rasam sweet. Bring to boil. Mix asafetida powder, pepper powder, chilly powder, and rasam powder in few spoons of water and pour into the cooked tomato. Bring to boil. Do not boil for more than 5 minutes because it can turn rancid and increase acidity in people prone to acidity. Taste and adjust salt, chilly powder/pepper powder if necessary.

In a small kadai, heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add crushed garlic and saute. Garlic can be avoided if you do not prefer that flavor. When the garlic turns brown, switch off the fire and add curry leaves. Add this to the rasam. Add finely chopped coriander leaves.

If you do not have rasam powder at home, while tempering, after the mustard seeds crackle, you can add a tbsp of coriander powder, chilly powder, crushed jeera, and asafetida. This works as a good substitute for rasam powder.

Serve with rice or separately as a soup. I prefer to have rasam with a dollop of ghee mixed in my rice. This makes the rice extremely tasty and cools down your body and heals your throat and stomach. If you are down with a cold, you can spike the pepper in your rasam and drink it as a soup. This helps clear up the throat. My favorite combination is rice, ghee, rasam, and potato poriyal. Yummy!