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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Amaranth / Rajgira seeds is a grain/seed that has been cultivated for more than 5000
years and has an incredibly high nutritional profile. The name itself means immortal /
everlasting. It contains twice times the amount of calcium when compared to milk and is
high in elements like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and is the only grain that contains
vitamin C. It has a mild nutty flavor and is gluten free. These seeds can be cooked as
is to make upma. Amaranth flour can be used to make delicious rotis, parathas, or puris. Amaranth seeds can be popped to make super healthy satiating desserts such as kheer or chikki. Since the amaranth flour is gluten free, the rotis can be slightly tricky to roll out. If you are not gluten allergic, you may add some wheat flour along to get the elasticity so that
you can roll out the rotis well. Use warm water to knead the dough. You may also mix mashed potato to the flour while kneading the dough. This will make the rotis very soft. Use amaranth flour/wheat flour to dust the dough and roll out the rotis.
We need to seek more native grains such as Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millets that are power
houses of nutrition. This would also support our local farmers.
Recipe for Amaranth seeds upma: https://samagni.com/2016/05/amaranth-seeds-upma/
Pazhanganji / pazhaya soru / cooked rice soaked overnight in water is one of the most unlikely food item to be discussed at a buffet lunch. Yet, I found myself discussing this bland, old, but nutritionally rich food while surrounded by a variety of high-calorie food that are not necessarily healthy for the body. Pazhanganji – an item that is considered poor man’s food, unfit to be offered to guests, and reserved to be given off to the house maid. At a time when refrigerators were uncommon, pazhanganji was an inevitable item. Every night, some water would be poured over leftover rice and would be kept aside. This would get slightly fermented overnight and nutritionally rich with gut-friendly bacteria. Nowadays because every house is equipped with a refrigerator, this practice is nonexistent.
It takes foreigners (especially Americans) to research our old practices and publish papers on their benefits for us to realize the wisdom of our ancestors. Now that the American Nutrition Association says that the previous day’s soaked rice is the best for breakfast as it gets enriched with iron, potassium and calcium by several hundred percentage points, we get convinced and can get back our eating habits. What surprised me was that such rice (unpolished) soaked overnight is a source for the rare B6 and B12 vitamins. Amazing! These are not easily available, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Apart from the internal benefits, this diet also helps maintain a youthful and radiant look! Internal as well as external benefits. What more does one want?
There is no recipe for pazhanganji. Just add cooked rice to a vessel, ideally an earthenware pot. Add water to this just enough to soak the rice. Keep it closed overnight in the corner of your kitchen.
In the morning, you can add sliced shallots/onion, green chilies, or tiny pieces of ginger to this along with salt, mix well and have it. If you are using an earthenware for your pazhankanji, it would be cool to touch and taste. After you consume it, your stomach would feel cool from inside. (Unlike ice cream that is cool to touch but induces heat inside your body) You may have pazhanganji along with a pickle, thick chutney/chammanthi/thogayal, or with papad or vathal/kondattams. The right way to have pazhanganji is to use your right hand to mix the rice and water well, tilt the pot to drink the water first and then have the rice with chammanthi. Enjoy the immense health benefits of going back to the roots.
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.
Cooked rice (raw rice of any variety)- 3 cups
Grated raw mango (Totapuri is ideal) – 1 cup
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)
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
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.
Since the mango rice is tangy by itself, I do not prefer any pickle along with it and love eating it as is.
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.
Chammanthi (not to be confused with the types of usual chutneys served with dosa and idli) is a Kerala-style thick chutney that makes a good accompaniment with rice or with kanji (rice gruel). Unlike dosa chutneys that are smooth and liquidy, chammanthis are coarsely ground. Nutmeg – a spice with a pleasant aroma and a wonderful flavor – is used in this chammanthi and makes it a subtle flavored chutney with a wonderful aroma and a light tangy tone. Here are some other chammanthi varieties that I have posted earlier – Roasted coconut chammanthi and chammanthi podi.
Matured but raw Jaathikka/Nutmeg – 1
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups tightly pressed
Raw green chilies – 2 – 3 (adjust to taste)
Shallots/pearl onion – 1 (optional)
Salt to taste
Preparation Time: 12 mins Cooking Time: NA Makes 2-1/2 cups
Wash and peel the outer skin of the nutmeg. Cut into two pieces and remove the seed which would be encased in a mace-like structure. Cut the nutmeg into smaller chunky pieces.
Use a mixer or a stone grinder to grind along all the ingredients together to make a coarse paste. Serve with rice.
You may avoid shallot and just use nutmeg, coconut, and green chilies.
You could use bird’s eye chili (Kanthari variety of chili) and it would enhance the flavor of the chammanthi.
You may add a small piece of ginger or garlic. I prefer the dominant raw nutmeg taste and hence do not prefer adding these.