Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes

Colocasia Stem Subzi (Chembu Thandu Koottan)

A thick side dish for rice or roti made of colocasia stems, pumpkin, and cow peas. This is one of those rare Kerala dishes without coconut. This is a dish with thick gravy . Colocasia plants, just like coconut and banana plants/trees are commonly found in a Kerala backyard. Dishes using colocasia stem and leaves are very common in the village. These recipes are now getting forgotten due to unavailability of ingredients and people forgetting these age old recipes.

Peel colocasia stemIngredients:
Colocasia stems (peeled and diced) – 2 cups
Pumpkin (peeled and diced) – 1 cup
Cow peas (boiled) – 1/4 cup
Tomato – 2 (or else substitute with thick tamarind juice 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Shallots – 4-5
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Whole dry red chili – 1
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves 3

Method:
Pressure cook the cow peas separately in some water and keep it aside. Be careful that they do not get mashed. Peel the skin from colocasia stem and dice into cubes. The colocasia stem pieces shrinks to 1/4th size when cooked. So you may cut in one-inch sized cubes. Peel and dice pumpkins (you may choose to add the skin also if the pumpkin is organic and good quality). In a thick bottomed pan, cook diced colocasia stems and pumpkin pieces with turmeric powder and just a sprinkle of water. Colocasia stems are a little watery so once heated, they would release some water. Check every few minutes and add water if you think it is needed. When the colocasia stems and pumpkin pieces get cooked, add the tomato pieces and boiled cow peas. You may add thick tamarind extract instead of tomato. Some colocasia stems tend to itch. Hence, it is important to add either tamarind extract or tomato. Add chili powder and salt to taste. While this is getting cooked, peel and chop the shallots finely. Heat oil in a small pan and add the chopped shallots and roast them until golden brown. Add curry leaves and the whole dry red chili also. Mix with the cooked vegetables. Taste and adjust salt.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Water Spinach Dry Subzi (Vayal Cheera Thoran)

When you visit a new place, visiting the local vegetable market is such a delightful way
of getting to know locally grown vegetables and greens. You discover and learn so many
new things. One such really exciting discovery is the semi-aquatic perennial Water
Spinach or the Swamp Cabbage called Kalmi saag (Hindi) and Vayal cheera (Malayalam).
Like most other greens, there are numerous health benefits of consuming this spinach. It is rich in antioxidants and strengthens the immune system. It is also excellent to relieve issues of constipation and even reduce menstrual pain! Water spinach is a rich source of calcium, iron, amino acids, and vitamins B. The plant, its leaves and flowers look very similar to that of sweet potato. They belong to the same genus of plants. The stems are hollow. You can use the leaves and tender parts of the stem for this dish.

Ingredients:
Water spinach leaves (cleaned and chopped) – 3 cups tightly packed
Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 1 clove
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Green chilies – 2
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves: 2

Method:
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
When they splutter, add the split green chilies.
Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Saute until they turn pink.
Add chopped water spinach leaves and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid.
Cook in slow fire for about 5 mins stirring occasionally. The leaves will shrink and
become soft and darker in color.
Turn off the fire. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix well.

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.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Long Beans Stir Fry – Kerala Style

A dry vegetable side dish perfect to go with rice. You can make it with all the three vegetables suggested here, i.e. long beans, elephant yam, and raw plantain or you could cook them individually in the same method. This dish tastes best when Kerala nenthra variety of raw plantains are used but you can make it with other variety of raw bananas also. This dish used to be a favorite and a regular at my paternal ancestral home. I still remember the taste of this dish when my aunt made it. It would taste so delicious with the earthy flavors of the yam and delicate smell of the coconut oil and curry leaves. Since not many spices are used, the taste of the vegetables and the curry leaves fried in coconut oil is predominant in this dish. My aunt usually made this along with pulingari (a dish similar to sambhar) which was a much loved combo.

Ingredients:
Long beans – 200 gm
Elephant yam – 100 gm
Raw plantain (banana) – 1 medium sized
Chopped shallots / onion – 2 tbsp (optional)
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder / Whole dry red chili – 1/2 to 3/4 tsp or 2 whole pieces
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut oil – as required
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Water- as required
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 5 people

Method:
Clean the long beans, cut the ends and chop them to 1 to 1.5-inch long pieces. For beans that are mature (you can identify this from the seeds bulging out slightly), slit them open and use only the seeds. Remove the skin of the elephant yam, wash thoroughly, and cut into 1-cm cubes. Remove the outer skin of the raw plantain and cut into small pieces. Put all the cut vegetables into a pot, add half a cup of water and turmeric powder. Cook in slow fire with a closed lid, stirring occasionally.
Once all the moisture dries up and the vegetables are tender, turn off the fire. Heat an iron kadai (this is preferred as it enhances the flavor) and pour oil.
Add mustard seeds and once they crackle, add shallots that are lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle. (you can chop the shallots / onion but I prefer crushing them lightly). Onion is optional. You may skip it also.
Saute the shallots well. Add curry leaves and chili powder. Mix well.
Add the cooked vegetables, add salt, mix well,
Reduce the flame and cook flame to low,add  turmeric powder and red chili powder.Saute for few minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the stir fry dish is lightly roasted. Turn off the flame and serve with rice.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Raw Papaya Stir Fry (Thoran)

Back home we mostly cook backyard vegetables like mango, jackfruit, raw banana, banana flower and stem, amaranth leaves, drumstick, colocasia, drumstick leaves, etc. Papaya is also commonly found and used often in the kitchen. Papaya thoran (Kerala style dry subzi) is delicious and easy to make and a great side dish to serve along with rice.

Ingredients:
Raw Papaya – 1 medium sized
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split urad dal – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 2 cloves (optional)
Green chilies – 2 – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 2-3 cups

Method:
Wash, peel raw papaya, and grate into thin 1-inch long pieces. Keep aside.
Heat an iron skillet and add coconut oil and mustard seeds.
When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add urad dal, chopped green chilies, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute until urad dal and garlic turns golden.
Add grated papaya and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid. Keep the heat on minimum. Slow cooking is ideal and retains nutrients. Do not add any water. Cook for about 7-10 mins, stirring every 1-2 mins and then closing the skillet with a lid.
When the papaya becomes soft and cooked, add salt, jeera, and grated coconut. Mix well and turn off the fire.

Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Kozhuppa Cheera Thoran / Pigweed Stir Fry

A leaf with omega-3 fatty acids? Impossible! Yes, It is unbelievable but true. These soft and succulent leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than what some fish oils have. A perfect option for a vegetarian. Pigweed / Purslane / Kozhuppa cheera is a weed like plant that grows almost everywhere, by the roadside and in backyards. This wonder weed is very low in calories and fats but rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Tender stems and flower buds are also edible. Make a thoran / stir fry out of it and serve with rice. Not just nutritious but delicious too.

Ingredients:
Purslane leaves – 3 cups tightly packed
Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 1 clove
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Green chilies – 2
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
When they splutter, add the split green chilies.
Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until they turn pink.
Add chopped purslane leaves and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid.
Cook in slow fire for about 5 mins stirring occasionally. The leaves will shrink and become soft and darker in color.
Turn off the fire. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix well.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Punarnava – The Neglected Medicinal ‘Weed’

Not so long ago, when our backyards were not manicured, we had an abundance of greens such as Punarnava, Poovamkurunnila, Thiruthaali, Manithakkaali, karuka, thumba, the list goes on. They grew like weeds but were very useful and handy for first aid. When you notice signs of mouth ulcer, just walk across, pluck a few manithakkaali leaves and chew them with noticeable relief very soon. Olden days in villages, people survived only on these wild greens and vegetables from the backyard. Apart from raw mangoes at various stages, jackfruit, different types of gourds, yams, brinjal, ladies finger, and various greens were used in everyday cooking. These were tastier and more nutritious than the vegetables in the market. Visiting the vegetable vendor was rare during those days. Like the Malayalam proverb goes, “muttathe mullakku manamilla,” which can be loosely translated to we fail to appreciate what is available to us easily and in plenty. But, now when we battle a multitude of health issues that we fail to even identify, we rediscover old habits that helped us stay healthy. Not only are these healthy but tasty as well.

 

One of the most common uncultivated greens that grows wild all over the country is the common creeping weed Punarnava / Hogweed / Thazhuthama. It has tiny pink flowers. In Ayurveda, Punarnava is known for its anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and analgesic properties. All plant parts, such as the flowers, leaves, stem, and the roots are beneficial and have specific medicinal uses. The plant leaves are nearly round in shape but can vary in size from one plant to another. Punarnava, as the name denotes, has the tendency to rejuvenate. It can be grown easily by stem cutting.

Ingredients:
Punarnava leaves (cut into very small pieces) – 3 cups tightly packed
Green chillies – 3
Shallots / onion (chopped) – 1/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Oil 2 tablespoons
Coconut – 1/2 cup grated
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 1-1/2 cups

Method:
Pluck the Punarnava leaves and remove the hard stems. Wash and clean the leaves thoroughly. Drain the water from the leaves and chop finely.
Heat coconut oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Add chopped onions and stir for a minute then add the turmeric powder, slit green chilies, and chopped Punarnava leaves.
Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes in low fire, occasionally opening the lid to stir, until the green leaves just start to wilt. The leaves, when they get cooked, reduces to half or one-third.
When the leaves turn dark green, add salt, and stir.
Add grated coconut and stir well. Serve with rice or roti.

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