Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Salads, Vegan

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad

persimmonFruit salads are my favorites more than vegetable salads – Not the ones with a dollop of ice cream but the kinds that have just real fruits with some lemon juice dressing. Eating fruits as-is is good enough but a pinch of black salt, a dash of lemon, and a few mint leaves lends them an exotic flavor. Chill them a little in the refrigerator and it turns delectable. Late October and November is the season for both persimmons and pomegranates. This is the best time to make this salad with these seasonal fruits. I first ate persimmon two years ago during a visit to Bhutan and had never seen them in India. Couple of days ago I was surprised to come across these in the local market. Glad to see that Persimmon is cultivated even in India. Even if you do not have persimmon, you may substitute it with the crunchy variety of pear to make this salad. But it is important that you use the crunchy variety of pear and apple to make this salad. A crunchy and sweet apple gives this salad the right texture. A sloppy squishy sour apple is a bad choice and can ruin the salad.

This is a perfect salad to be served BEFORE a meal. Most people in India serve fruit salad with custard or ice cream AFTER a meal. But this is a wrong combination as per Ayurveda and wrong timing that can cause acidity and indigestion. The digestion time for fruits and uncooked vegetables is lesser than that of cooked meals and hence they should be consumed first. Vice versa could result in bloating.

Ingredients:
Persimmon – 1 (cubed 1/2 inch pieces)
Apple (preferably Fuji. I used green apple) – 1 (cubed 1/2 inch pieces)
Pomegranate seeds – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice – 1/2 tbsp – 1 tbsp
Jaggery powder – 1/4 tsp (you may substitute this with honey)
Black salt – 1/4 tsp
Olive oil – 1/2 tsp
Mint leaves – 8-10

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: None
Serves: 3

Method:
Add salt and lemon juice to the cut fruits. This retards oxidization and arrests the loss of nutrients. Toss the rest of the ingredients together. Refrigerate for half an hour before serving.

Notes: You may replace Persimmon with a crunchy variety of pear.
You need to use only crunchy vegetables for this salad.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Coconut Chammanthi – An Accompaniment for Kanji

Congee/Kanji is comfort dinner for most Keralites. Watery kanji served along with proteins in the form of legumes or beans is well suited for the hot and sweaty tropical climate. Like how butter is a must with bread, chammanthi is a must with kanji (rice gruel).
Chammanthis are similar to chutneys but thicker and mostly used with kanji or alongside
steamed rice. Here is an easy to make flavorful chammanthi that can be used with rice or
kanji.

Ingredients:
Coconut – 1 cup tightly packed
Garlic – 2 cloves
Shallots – 3-4
Dry red chilies – 2
Green chilies – 2
Tamarind – 1/2 lime size
Ginger – a small piece (1/2 inch)
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Water – 1-2 tbsp
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Grinding Time: 5 mins
Makes: 1-1/2 cups

Method:
Grate the coconut. Peel the garlic and shallot.
Pass a skewer through the chilies, garlic, and shallots and roast them directly on fire.
Do not char them. Just a little bit of burning is good enough.
Grind all the ingredients together in a mixer using small amounts of water. Ensure that
the consistency is tight and not watery.
Serve along with rice gruel or steamed rice.

Notes: You can grind the ingredients raw and make a chutney, but the smoky flavor when you roast the chilies, shallots, and garlic on fire lends the chutney a really unique flavor making it an interesting accompaniment with the bland kanji.
You may avoid garlic if you wish to.

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.

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

Mung Dal (Cheru Parippu) Curry – A Side Dish for Dosa and Idli

A dal cooked along with simple and minimal spices, a very good side dish for dosa and idli. When you are bored of sambar and chutneys along with idli and dosa, make this occasionally. Supplements you with good protein for your breakfast. This koottan (curry) is a family specialty. My mother makes it even on her father’s death anniversary because apparently my grandpa used to love this curry along with idli. The fragrance of the roasted mung dal and roasted coriander seeds is the dominant flavors of this curry.

Ingredients:
Split yellow mung dal – 200 gms
Potato – 2 medium sized
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt as needed
Water as needed

For Grinding:
Coriander seeds – 1/4 cup / 3-4 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 2-3
Grated coconut – 3-4 tbsp
Shallots – 4-5

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins
Serves: 4

Method:
Dry roast mung dal in an iron wok until the raw smell goes away and the dal turns red. Keep aside.
Clean, peel, and dice the potatoes into cubes. Keep aside.
Peel the shallots. Keep aside.
Pressure cook the diced potatoes and mung dal (in separate vessels). For every cup of mung dal, add twice the amount of water for pressure cooking.
While the dal is getting cooked, in a wok, add 1/4 tsp oil. Add coriander seeds and dry red chilies and saute until you get the roasted smell of coriander seeds. Be careful not to burn them. Slow roasting is better. Just before you turn off the fire, add grated coconut. Once the roasted mixture cools down, grind the roasted mixture along with the shallots to make a fine paste. You may add small quantities of water.
In a wok, add the pressure cooked mung dal and cooked potatoes along with turmeric powder and salt. When the dal and potatoes start boiling, add the ground paste. Bring to boil. Adjust water and salt to desired levels. The consistency can be that of dal that is served along with rice.
In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle, add curry leaves and pour this into the boiling dal.
Mildly spiced cheru parippu koottan is ready to be served along with idli or dosa.

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.

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.

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.