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

Keerai Mashiyal – Mashed Greens with Lentils

It is recommended that we use greens daily in our diet. Indians have various recipes to use locally available greens. One of the local recipe around the regions in Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala mainly dominated by the Tamil community is a preparation called mashiyal, which literally means mashed. Keerai mashiyal is nothing but mashed greens. You may puree the greens or decide to just cook them, add lentils along with them mashed greens, and choose your own favorite kind of seasoning for the mashed greens. The mashiyals that traditional Tamil Iyer community makes does not use shallots/onions. You may use your discretion to add or skip shallots. Lentils is a good way to add volume as well as protein in your mashiyal but this is optional too.

Ingredients:
Spinach/amaranth leaves/cheera/keerai/palak – 3 tightly packed cups
Tur dal/split yellow mung dal – 1/2 cup
Water – 2 cups
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Green chilies – 1 or 2
Pearl onions/Shallots – 7-8
Dried red chilies – 2
Urad Dal – 1 tsp (optional)

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins (20 mins pressure cooking time)
Makes 4 cups

Method:
If you are adding lentils, rinse the dal thoroughly, add a cup of water, and cook it well. Mash and keep aside.

Wash, clean, and chop the spinach. Keep aside.
Peel the pearl onions/shallots and chop them finely. Chop green chilies finely. Keep aside.

In a wok, add oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the urad dal. Roast the dal until they turn red and add the dry red chilies.
Add the finely chopped shallots and green chilies. Saute until shallots turn pink.
Add the finely chopped spinach, along with quarter cup of water, and a pinch of turmeric powder. Cover and let this cook until the greens get cooked, stirring occasionally. Add the required amount of salt.
When the greens are cooked well, add the mashed dal. Taste and adjust the salt.
Turn off the fire.
Serve with rice or roti.

Notes: If you do not have shallots, you may use red onions but the taste does vary slightly. Red onions are slightly sweet whereas shallots are spicy.
You may avoid onions/shallots and choose to add just a seasoning of oil, mustard seeds, urad dal, and dry red chilies.

Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Vegan

Mixed Vegetables and Lentils Curry

A simple and easy to make dal and vegetables curry that can be easily cooked and is nutritious too. Sometimes you are so tired of the sambar, rasam, and all the spicy curries and crave for simple and mild dishes, or on days that I am super busy and cannot bother to make two different things, I go for this one. Goes well with rice as well as roti. It is very similar to the koottu curry that is a part of the Kerala sadya, but much more simpler.

Ingredients:
Ash gourd/kumbalanga – 100 gm
Ripe Pumpkin/mathan – 100 gm
Elephant yam/chena – 50 gm
Raw banana/kaya (optional) – 100 gm
Tur dal / Split pigeon peas – 1/2 cup / 50 gm
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Water as needed
Salt as needed

For grinding:
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Black peppercorns – 1/2 tsp or Green chilies – 3
Water as needed

For tempering
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-5

Method:
Remove the peels of the vegetables, wash and clean them, and cut into small cubes.
Wash the tur dal 2-3 times in water.
Pressure cook the tur dal and cut vegetables along with a cup of water and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and the required amount of salt. 1-2 whistles would do.
Meanwhile, grind the grated coconut, jeera, black peppercorns along with few tbsp of water that is required to grind the mixture well. You may use green chilies instead of black peppercorns. Make a smooth paste and set aside.
After opening the pressure cooker lid and ensuring that the vegetables and dal and are cooked well, add the ground coconut, jeera and pepper mixture to the cooked vegetables and dal. Mix well well and bring to boil. Adjust salt if required.
When the dal and vegetables and coconut mixture bubbles well, turn off the fire, add a teaspoon of coconut oil for flavor and add a sprig of curry leaves. Aromatic and flavorful dal and vegetables is ready.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Potato and Raw Pigeon Peas Dry Side Dish

A side dish made of potato and raw pigeon peas garnished with spiced up grated coconut. A good side dish for rice or roti. Raw pigeon peas are available in the market during winter. This is nothing but toor/Arhal dal at its raw stage. It is a good source of protein for vegetarians.

Ingredients:
Potato – 150 gm
Raw pigeon peas – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cooking oil – 1-1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Water as needed
Salt as needed

For Grinding:
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 3
Shallots – 2
Garlic – 1-2
Asafetida – a pinch
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Makes – 2 cups

Method:
Peel the pigeon peas. Add water just enough to barely cover the pigeon peas. Add turmeric powder. Close with a lid and cook, checking and stirring occasionally. Cook until pigeon peas are tender but firm. Add salt and mix well.
Meanwhile, wash, peel, and dice the potatoes into cubes.
In a pan, add a teaspoon oil, add the diced potatoes, cover and cook. Stir occasionally. Add salt. You can cook both the potatoes and the pigeon peas in parallel. Cook until potatoes are tender and edges are roasted. Add salt and mix well. Remove the potatoes from the pan.
Add half a teaspoon oil to the pan. Add urad dal and dry red chilies. Roast until urad dal turns red. Remove from the pan.
In a mixer jar, dry grind the roasted urad dal and dry red chilies first. When this is coarsely powdered, add grated coconut, peeled garlic and shallots. Grind coarsely. This mixture has a wonderful aroma of roasted urad dal, chilies, shallots, and garlic. Keep aside.
In the pan add half a teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add asafetida powder and curry leaves. Add cooked pigeon peas, cooked potato cubes, and the coarsely grounded masala. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt. Let this cook in low fire for at least 5 mins.
Serve hot along with rice or roti.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets

Vella Cheedai / Sweet Cheedai – Deep Fried Sweet Balls

Salt Seedai / Cheedai as well sweet cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Sweet cheedai is slightly tricky to get right. If your proportions are not right, they might break apart while frying. But using the proportion mentioned below you can make good sweet cheedai. Vellai cheedai are crispy but soft to bite into as opposed to salt cheedais that are dense and hard to bite into.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Grated jaggery – 3-4 tbsp (adjust to taste)
Butter – 1 tbsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Makes 200 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut to make a coarse paste. It is okay even if the coconut is not fully ground. You may add small quantities of water while grinding.
Add the grated jaggery powder to a pan and mix few spoons of water. (Be careful about the amount of water. Do not dilute it too much). Place on low fire to let the jaggery melt. Once melted, use a strainer to sieve any lumps/impurities.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, jaggery syrup, butter, and sesame seeds to this. Use your fingers to mix the flour and jaggery well.
Add small quantities of water if needed to make a dough. The dough should be soft but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Ensure that the balls are fully immersed in oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for about a minute. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir often until the balls change color to golden brown.
Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low
stirring occasionally.
5. Due to the jaggery in the dough, vella cheedai tends to turn black in excess heat. Be careful about the amount of heat or you will end up burning the cheedai.
6. Vella cheedais are not as crispy as salt cheedai. The outer crust will be crisp but inside may be a little chewy.
7. Following the proportions and instructions right is key to getting this right.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian

Salt Cheedai / Uppu Cheedai – Deep Fried Savory Balls

Seedai / Cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Apart from festival celebrations, it is associated with a lot of fond memories for me. It is one of my favorite savory items. Hard yet crunchy, peppery along with the taste of cumin seed and a hint of hing and coconut. Well worth the effort. Amma often makes it at home. Since it is time consuming to shape the cheedai into balls, she always makes it when all of us are available to help. Even grandma used to join. But today I made this all by myself and it was not tough at all to make cheedai with two cups of rice flour. I could manage time very well by simultaneously frying as well as rolling the dough.

Although cheedai is easy to make, it is also slightly tricky because if you do not do things the right way, the chances are more that you will not get it right or something might go seriously wrong, for example, cheedai bursting inside the hot oil and causing oil splash. For this reason, one needs to be really careful while attempting to make this.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 6-8
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Asafetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Salt as needed
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Yield 300 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut along with the jeera and black peppercorns to make a coarse paste. You may add small quantities of water.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, cumin, and pepper paste into the flours, add sesame seeds, asafetida powder, salt, and butter. Use your fingers to mix the flour and powders well.
Add small quantities of water to make a dough. The dough should be soft and firm but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into tiny marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for at least 2 mins. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir occasionally until the balls change color to golden brown. Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low stirring occasionally.
5. Following the proportions and instructions properly is key to getting this right.

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.

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Vegan

Sweetened Cow Peas (Vellappayar Sharkarayil Vilayichathu)

Navarathri is incomplete without this sweet prasad. It is a very important item for the Devi. I make this often to satisfy my sweet cravings. This easy-to-make sweet is a healthy alternative to store-bought sweets that contain preservatives and other harmful chemicals.

Ingredients:
Black-eyed cow peas/Vellappayar – 1 cup
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder – 2 pods
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp

Preparation Time (Soaking time): 8 hours
Cooking Time: 20 mins to pressure cook, 10-15 mins to prepare the sweetened cow peas
Makes 2 cups

Method:
Wash the cow peas thoroughly and soak it overnight in enough water. Drain the water.

Add fresh water just enough to immerse the cow peas and pressure cook the peas (2 whistles should be enough). The peas should be cooked very soft. Otherwise they tend to become hard when cooked in the jaggery syrup.

Melt jaggery in half cup of water. Strain to remove impurities.
Pour the strained jaggery solution into a thick bottomed pan and heat to make a soft and thick syrup. When the syrup starts to thicken and bubble vigorously, add the cooked peas and cardamom powder. Stir occasionally and cook until all water content is absorbed and the jaggery coats all the cow peas thoroughly. Turn off the fire and garnish with grated coconut.