Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Uncategorized

Vendakka Puli (Okra in Tangy Tamarind Gravy)

In the North of India, dal (boiled lentils) is a must for every meal, whether it is rice or roti. In the South also, one dish for the meal must contain dal. The other dish, invariably, will be spicy and tangy complementing the bland and sober dal. Puli means tamarind in Malayalam and Tamizh. Puli / tangy taste of the tamarind is the main character of this gravy. Everyone at home loves this dish. 

Ingredients:
Okra / Ladies Finger / Vendakka – 200 gm
Tamarind – one big gooseberry size ball
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 cup, adjust as needed
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste

For Roasting and Grinding:
Shallots – 6 – 8
Coriander seeds – 1-1/2 tsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 5 – 6
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves – 4

Method:
Wash, clean, and pat dry the okra. Remove the edges. Cut horizontally into small pieces.

Heat an iron wok, add half a teaspoon of oil to it. Put the okra pieces into the wok and stir occasionally and fry until the stickiness disappears. Keep aside.

In the same iron wok, add half a teaspoon of oil, coriander seeds and dry red chilies. Stir and roast until the raw smell of coriander seeds goes away. Add peeled shallots and grated coconut and roast for 2-3 mins. Remove to a plate and let this cool.

Meanwhile, take a cooking pot (stone is ideal as this is a tamarind gravy) and add a cup of water in it. Add the tamarind to this water and dissolve the tamarind in this. Strain and retain only the water and discard the tamarind pulp.

Now heat the cooking pot with the tamarind water in it and add the stir fried okras to this tamarind water. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.

While that cooks, grind the roasted ingredients (coriander seeds, dry red chilies, grated coconut, and shallots) in a mixer to a smooth paste. You may add small quantities of water to make the paste.

When the okras get cooked in the tamarind water, add the ground paste to the cooking pot and bring it to boil. Let this boil for 3-5 mins.

Add half a teaspoon of jaggery powder to this to balance the tart of the tamarind.

In a pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds to it. Let it splutter. Add curry leaves and then pour this mixture on the boiling gravy. Mix well. Taste and adjust the salt and tamarind if required. Tangy spicy vendakka puli is ready to be served with rice.

Notes: You may add asafetida, fenugreek seeds, and / or garlic along with the ingredients while roasting.

Breakfast, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Drumstick and Potato Korma

A nutritious and tasty side dish for dosa, idli, chapati, or even with rice. Very similar to Sagu, the mixed vegetable curry.

Ingredients:
Drumstick – 2
Potato – 2 medium sized
Onion – 1 medium sized
Tomato – 2 medium sized
Green chilies – 3 (adjust to taste)
Ginger – 1/4 inch piece
Garlic – 1 clove
Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 1
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut powder/coconut milk – 25 mg
Water – As needed
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2

Method: Peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Peel the drumstick. You may just scrape to remove the green outer part. The hard shell can remain. Chop into a 2-inch long pieces.

Peel and chop the onions finely. Peel and crush the ginger, garlic, and green chilies into a coarse paste. Chop the tomato pieces finely.

Add coconut oil into a wide bottomed pan. Add the crushed ginger, garlic, green chilies paste as well as the whole spices (cardamom, bay leaf, and cloves). Saute until the raw smell disappears. You may choose to remove the whole spices after the flavors are released.

Add the finely chopped onion pieces and curry leaves. Saute.

Add chopped tomato pieces. Saute until you see oil seeping out.

Add coriander powder. Saute and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add chopped potato and drumstick pieces. Stir. Add a cup of water. Empty one packet of coconut milk powder into one cup water to make a thin coconut milk. Add this to the vegetables.

Close with a lid and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until gravy thickens and potatoes and drumsticks look well cooked.

Add salt, cover and cook for 2 more minutes. If desired, you can mix another 25 gms of coconut milk powder in warm water to make a cup of thick coconut milk and add this thick coconut milk to the dish. This is optional. Remove from fire. Garnish with freshly ground pepper, if desired.

Notes: If you do not wish to have the shell of the drumstick, you may cook drumstick separately, squeeze out the pulp and use that for the korma instead of adding whole drumstick pieces.

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, South Indian

Milagu Kuzhambu / Spicy Pepper Gravy for Rice

A spicy and tangy kozhambu (gravy) just right for the winter / rainy season. Especially good to treat common cold and chest congestion. Ingredients may be many but the method is very simple and easy. You will definitely get hooked to its taste.

Ingredients:
Tamarind – one big gooseberry size ball
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 cup, adjust as needed
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste

For Roasting and Grinding:
Peppercorns – 1-1/2 tsp
Urid dal – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1-1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds / Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Hing/Asafetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilies – 1 or 2
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Sesame oil – 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Sesame oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

IMG_2826Method:
Add a teaspoon of sesame oil to an iron pan. Add peppercorns, urid dal, chana dal, dry red chili, and coriander seeds.
Stir continuously and roast the ingredients. When the urid dal starts turning color, add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, hing powder, and curry leaves. Stir fry until jeera seeds start spluttering and the dals have turned red.
Turn off the fire, transfer to a bowl or plate and let this cool.
When the roasted ingredients have cooled down, pulse this in a mixture to make a fine and smooth paste. You may add small quantities of water also.
Add a cup of lukewarm water to tamarind and soak it for 2-3 mins. Extra the tamarind juice and remove and discard the pulp.
Heat a pot and add a teaspoon of sesame oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add curry leaves.
Now add the tamarind juice to the pot. Add turmeric powder. Bring to boil.
Add the required amount of salt.
Add jaggery powder, mix, and bring to boil.
Add the smooth paste of the roasted ingredients into the boiling tamarind. Stir well. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or jaggery as per taste.
Boil until the gravy thickens and oil starts appearing on top of the gravy.
You can serve this as a gravy with rice or mix this with cooked rice to make milagu kuzhambu sadam.

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1. If you boil until the gravy thickens, you can store this gravy and mixed it with desired quantities of cooked rice to make instant milagu kuzhambu sadam, which is like a one-pot meal that can be served with papad or some stir fried vegetables. The gravy can be stored in refrigerator up to 15 days.
2. To make another version of this gravy, you can add sauteed shallots or garlic when boiling the tamarind.
3. It is important to use sesame oil to make this kuzhambu to get the authentic taste and flavor.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Mint & Coconut Chutney

Green chutneys are a great way to add raw greens in your diet. This mint/pudina chutney is simple to make, tangy, and flavorful. You can replace mint with coriander and make coriander coconut chutney also and add variety and different kinds of flavor and goodness to your diet.

Ingredients:
Mint leaves/Pudina – 2 cups (tightly packed)
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Ginger – a small piece
Green chilies – 5-6
Lemon juice/Tamarind/Raw mango – half a lemon
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Serves: 6

Method:
Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste.
For tart you may add lemon juice, a small gooseberry sized tamarind ball, or use raw mango.
You may choose to add garlic if you prefer the raw garlic taste in the chutney. Adjust salt and sourness by adding more lemon juice.
Those who prefer to balance the tart can add a little bit of sugar powder.
Serve along with rice, dosa, idli, roti, or with snacks such as samosa and paniyaram.
Store in an airtight container and take out in small batches as necessary.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, South Indian, Vegan

Tangy Spicy Raw Mango Rice – Mavinkai Chitranna

Karnataka cuisine has many varieties of Baths and Chitranna. One is, Mavinkai Chitranna, a tangy and spicy rice made with mature raw mango. I had this first at my friend’s place last week and it has become my favorite since then. I have already made it thrice in 10 days or so. It is a must try if you like tangy food and love easy-to-cook meals. It is a one-pot meal and ideal for lunch dabba and for short journeys. I will share two different versions of making this. Both are unique and tasty.

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Ingredients:
Cooked rice (raw rice of any variety)- 3 cups
Grated raw mango (Totapuri is ideal) – 1 cup

For Grinding (version 1):
Green chilies/Red chilies – 2
Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp (optional)
Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

For Grinding (version 2):
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 2 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Green chilies/Red chilies – 2 (adjust to taste)

For Seasoning:
Cooking oil (Sesame oil/groundnut oil are preferred) – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery powder – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a sprig
Whole dry red chilies – 1-2
Grated coconut – 3/4 cup
Salt as needed

Method:
Cook the rice, transfer to a plate, and let it cool. Keep aside.
If you are following version 1, in a mixer, grind the sesame seeds and roasted peanuts. If you are following version 2, dry roast the ingredients (urad dal, chana dal, fenugreek seeds) separately. Grind together in a mixer to make a powder. Wash, peel, and grate the raw mango after removing the tough outer skin and the seed. Instead of grating, you can cut mango into small cubes and grind this coarsely. If you choose to grind the mango pieces instead of grating it, then after the dry ingredients are powdered in the mixer, add the mango pieces along with chilies and grind coarsely. Do not make a paste. Grind coarsely ensuring that no more big mango chunks remain. Do not add water.
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Add turmeric powder, asafetida powder, curry leaves, and whole dry red chilies.
Stir for about half a minute and then add the coarsely ground paste into this. Add jaggery powder. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes until the raw mango smell goes away and mango gets cooked.
Add the cooked rice (this should be in room temperature) little by little, mix well. Taste and adjust the quantity adding salt as required.
Add grated coconut as well. Mix well and serve hot along with papad pickle.

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Since the mango rice is tangy by itself, I do not prefer any pickle along with it and love eating it as is.

Notes:
1. The roasted peanuts and sesame seeds are optional but they add to the taste.
2. Jaggery helps balance the mango tart and helps enhance the taste.
3. I roasted the grated coconut separately and added to the rice. This enhances the taste but is optional.
4. Instead of grating the raw mango and coconut, you can peel and cut them into chunky pieces and use the mixer to a coarse mixture.

Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Paal Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice Dumplings)

A simple and easy to make dish with just three ingredients. Good option for breakfast or evening tiffin. You will love it if you like natural uncomplicated tastes, mild flavors, and the use of minimal ingredients.

Ingredients:
Raw Rice Flour (finely powdered/Idiyappam powder) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Hot water – 1 cup
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Boil water in a pan.
Crush the cumin seeds lightly to bring out the flavor.
Take raw rice flour (I used raw red rice flour and hence the color difference), lightly crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut, and adequate amount of salt needed in a wide vessel. Add water (at boiling point) into this mixture.
Use a ladle to stir the mixture well. Ensure there are no lumps. You can use your hand later after a minute or two when the dough cools down. Make a smooth dough.
Take small amounts of this dough and make small gooseberry sized balls. Place on a plate and keep aside.


Add 2 cups of water in the heavy bottomed pan. Drop the rice balls into this boiling water.
Let it cook for 10 – 12 mins in medium heat.


You will notice that the water is thickening and the rice balls are becoming firmer.
Transfer into a bowl and serve along with the liquid.

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Notes:

  1. You can cook this in diluted cow’s milk also. I have not tried this. But I am definitely going to try cooking this in diluted coconut milk and jaggery and elaichi to make a sweet version.
  2. It is desirable to have it while hot and fresh. If using after a while, add half a cup of water and reheat.
  3. It is very similar to Ragi Mudde, the famous Kannada breakfast.