Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Pickles, Vegan

Instant Amla/Gooseberry Pickle (Kerala Style)

I have been experiencing hair fall recently despite no apparent diet/lifestyle change. Wondering how to tackle this, I have decided to try including gooseberry/amla in my daily diet. Amlas are considered to be excellent for health and are packed with vitamins. I am not a fan of raw gooseberries but love them in murabbas (candied sweet preserve) or pickle. This pickle version uses very little oil and can be consumed immediately although the taste and flavors tend to be better after a couple of days.

 

 

Ingredients:
Gooseberry/Amla – 10
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida/Hing powder/piece – 1/4 tsp or 1 small piece (size of half a marble)
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame/til oil – 1 + 1 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 3-4 leaves
Salt

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Makes – 1-1/2 cups

Method:
Heat a thick iron wok and dry roast fenugreek seeds until they change color and you get the aroma of roasted fenugreek seeds. If you are using whole asafetida, roast that along with the fenugreek seeds as well. Powder the fenugreek seeds and asafetida piece using a mortar and pestle (or mixer). Set aside.
Wash the gooseberry and pat dry.
Heat a thick iron wok and add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Add the gooseberry to the oil. Stir occasionally and cook in medium heat until the white gooseberries turn soft and tender (approximately 15 minutes).


Remove gooseberry from the kadai. The oil used to cook the gooseberry remains in the kadai. You can use this again for the tadka. When it cools, cut the gooseberry into smaller pieces and add salt. Mix well and keep aside.


Add one tsp sesame oil into the same iron wok that was used to cook the gooseberry. Heat the wok and add mustard seeds to the oil. Let it splutter.
After mustard seeds splutters, add the curry leaves, red chili powder, powdered roasted asafoetida and fenugreek, salt as required and mix well.
Switch off and allow it to cool.

Transfer to a dry ceramic jar (bharani) or glass jar. Steel and plastic containers are not recommended since pickle is acidic in nature. Refrigerate and use within 1-2 weeks. Remove in small batches for daily use. Always use a dry spoon to serve the pickle.

Notes: You could use whole asafetida pieces for this recipe, but this would take a while to melt and blend in with the amla pieces. Although whole asafetida is more flavorful and aromatic than the powder, for an instant pickle asafetida powder is recommended.
The spice level in this pickle is moderate. You can add more red chili powder and oil as per taste.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, Millet Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Steamed Barnyard Millet Dumplings (Odalu Kozhukatai)

Kodo rice milletRecently there has been a hype about health foods like quinoa. Why look at videshi options when we have plenty of easily accessible, swadeshi, and cost effective options? Ragi, bajra, jowar, kodon, and the list goes on. Our villagers survived solely on millets before rice and wheat took over. For the same reason, during those times, lifestyle diseases were unheard of and people were healthy, energetic, and lived long and strong.
Barnyard millet

Millets have much more calcium, protein, and iron than rice and wheat. These poor man’s grains are high in fiber, rich in minerals, low fat, and gluten free also. Millets are not just good for you but for the environment as well. Millets can grow in dry lands and even in poor soil quality. They need only one-fifth to one-tenth of the water that rice and wheat cultivation needs. As if these reasons werent enough, most millets are grown organically because they are naturally pest-resistant! Can you beat that?
So it is established that millets are miracle grains. Now what? How do we include them in our diet? Earlier I had written about sprouted ragi dosa and sprouted bajra dosa. To break the dosa monotony, here are steamed dumplings made of barnyard millet. Simple, easy to make, and great for health.

IngredientsIngredients:
Barnyard Millet/Odalu/Varagarisi – 1 cup
Water – 2-1/2 cups
Onion – 1 (optional)
Carrot – 1 small (optional)
Green chilies – 3
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Oil – 1 tsp
Asafetida – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Chana dal – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves 3-4

Method:
Wash the millet in water thoroughly. Drain and keep aside. Peel and chop onion and carrots finely. Slit the green chilies. On a thick bottom pan, pour oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add urad dal and chana dal. When the dals turn red, add slit green chilies, asafetida, curry leaves, and chopped onion. When the onion turns pink, add finely chopped carrots. Saute for two minutes. Add 2-1/2 cups of water. Add salt. When the water starts boiling, stir in the washed millet. Keep stirring until it thickens. When the water has reduced and the millet, vegetable, and water mixture has become thick like upma, turn off the fire. Add the grated coconut. Mix well and let it cool. At this point the millet is half cooked.

When the cooked millet mixture has cooled down, take handfuls of the mixture and make small balls.

Dumplings

Place on an idli stand and steam for about 10-15 mins.

Steamed barnyard millet dumplings

I prefer serving steamed barnyard millet dumplings with sambar for a tangy combination. You can serve it with coconut chutney. Little ones can have it with sugar also.

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

Methi Dal – Fenugreek Leaves Dal

Methi DalWhen you are short of time and want to make just one dish, dal with vegetables is a good choice. Wholesome, nutritious, easy, and quick to make; it goes well with both roti and rice. At home, we call dal with vegetables as moloshyam. There are many variations to this recipe and you really don’t need to refer to a recipe to make it. Make it as simple or as elaborate as you want to. On a day that you feel adventurous and have time to experiment with, you can try this dal with more vegetables and spice combinations. On a busy day, you can make it simple by just pressure cooking the dal and add the sauteed greens later.

Ingredients:
Toor dal – 3/4 cup
Chopped fenugreek/methi/uluva leaves – 1-2 cups (packed)
Onion chopped – 1/4 cup
Garlic (chopped – 1 tsp
Green chilies chopped/red chilly powder – 1 tsp
Tomato chopped – 1 /4 cup
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin (jeera) seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cooking oil – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Asafetida/hing/kayam powder – a pinch
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 3-4

Method:
Rinse the dal and soak in water for 2-3 hours. Drain the water, add 2 cups of water, and pressure cook until soft.
Heat oil in a pan and allow mustard seeds to crackle. When mustard seeds start crackling, add jeera seeds and asafetida powder. Add chopped garlic and saute. Add chopped onions, green chillies and saute. When the onions turn pink, add tomatoes and cook for 3-4 mins. If instead of green chillies you are using red chilly powder, add that and turmeric powder. Add chopped fenugreek leaves, close with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. When the methi leaves are cooked, add the cooked dal and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the fire and add lemon juice. Methi dal is ready to be served with warm rotis or rice. Serve along with papad and pickle when serving with rice. Will leave your lips smacking.

Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Rasam

RasamSambar may be an important and inevitable dish of a South Indian meal, but the meal is incomplete without hot and tangy rasam. Although sambar and rasam have many common ingredients, they both taste distinct and unique. It is surprising that a simple dish like rasam can overpower a supreme dish such as sambar. It may look and taste simple but making finger-licking rasam that makes you want to sniff your hand much after you have finished your meal and washed your hands is an art to be perfected. Although I have been cooking for many years, I still feel the rasam I make can never match the taste of my mother’s rasam. Thanks to the variety of rasam powders in the market, making good rasam is easy these days. Perfecting the taste is just a matter of time.

Rasams are of different types – Tomato Rasam, Garlic Rasam, Pepper rasam, Jeera rasam, and the list is long. My recipe is a combination of some of these.

Ingredients:
Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Tomato – 2-3 large ones
Water – 3-4 cups
Tamarind – lemon size

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Rasam powder – 2 tsps
Asafetida powder – 1/2 tsp
Pepper – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery powder/shavings – 1/2 tsp

For tempering
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Garlic (optional) – 6-7 cloves
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut oil/vegetable oil – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 people

Method:
Soak toor dal overnight or 6-8 hours and pressure cook it. You may choose to skip the dal. Not adding dal makes the rasam very watery, just like the versions served in weddings. I prefer to add dal because it gives it slight bit of thickness. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of hot water and set aside for 10 mins. In a pot, add 2 cups of water and add chopped tomatoes and turmeric powder. Close and cook for 5-10 mins in medium heat until tomatoes are soft and well cooked. When the tomatoes are cooked well, add salt and tamarind juice. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add the jaggery powder. This helps balance the tanginess of the tamarind without making the rasam sweet. Bring to boil. Mix asafetida powder, pepper powder, chilly powder, and rasam powder in few spoons of water and pour into the cooked tomato. Bring to boil. Do not boil for more than 5 minutes because it can turn rancid and increase acidity in people prone to acidity. Taste and adjust salt, chilly powder/pepper powder if necessary.

In a small kadai, heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add crushed garlic and saute. Garlic can be avoided if you do not prefer that flavor. When the garlic turns brown, switch off the fire and add curry leaves. Add this to the rasam. Add finely chopped coriander leaves.

If you do not have rasam powder at home, while tempering, after the mustard seeds crackle, you can add a tbsp of coriander powder, chilly powder, crushed jeera, and asafetida. This works as a good substitute for rasam powder.

Serve with rice or separately as a soup. I prefer to have rasam with a dollop of ghee mixed in my rice. This makes the rice extremely tasty and cools down your body and heals your throat and stomach. If you are down with a cold, you can spike the pepper in your rasam and drink it as a soup. This helps clear up the throat. My favorite combination is rice, ghee, rasam, and potato poriyal. Yummy!

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Steamed Red Poha Dumplings

A simple steamed breakfast/tiffin item that I learned from this blog.

aval kozhukattai

Ingredients:
Red beaten rice flakes (aval/poha) – 2 cups
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon
Chana dal – 1 tablespoon
Urad dal – 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Curd chillies/green Chilies/dried red chilies – 2
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Salt to taste

Method:
Wash the poha and soak it in clean water for about half an hour. Drain out all the water and keep aside.

Red Poha Kozhukattai doughHeat oil in an iron wok and add mustard. When the mustard starts to crackle, add chana dal, urad dal and asafetida powder. If you are adding curd chilies, add at this stage. When the dals turn light brown, add chopped green chilies/red chilies and curry leaves. Add the wet poha, add salt and mix well. Add grated coconut and mix. Ensure that you keep the flame low.

When the mixture cools down a bit, take a lemon-sized dough and make smooth round/oval balls (kozhukattai). Keep the balls in an idli plate and steam cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Serve with sambar or any chutney.

P.S.: You may use normal poha (white poha) also for this recipe. You would need to cut down the soaking time because white poha flakes are usually very light and soak easily.

Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin

Killu Kondattam (Rice Crisp Fries)

Coming up with good translations of traditional South Indian dishes is a huge challenge for me. The closest I can think of is Sun Dried Rice Crisp Fries. But that’s such a long name!

Killu vadaam served with curd rice

Kondattams (or Vadaam as some call it – the Va is pronounced briefly and the daaam is slightly longer) are made from gooey mixtures prepared by grinding rice (or some other grains) along with spices and passing the dough through a seva nazhi (a kind of press or extruder). These are then sun dried and fried before use. Some of them are made from cut vegetables boiled in salt water and then sun dried. Both versions taste very good and have long shelf life.

The other day the rice I made got overcooked and had too much kanji which refused to budge even after several attempts at draining it out. Newly harvested rice most often pose this problem. So I decided to make killu kondattam out of this rice. Add some chilly powder, salt, and asafetida to the overcooked rice and grind into a smooth paste in the mixer and that’s your dough for the killu kondattams. I am unable to come up with a proportion for this. It’s really is a matter of your taste.

Killu kondattam, as the name suggests, are made by scooping up a small portion of the dough in your hand and letting small round dollops of dough fall through on to a cotton cloth or a thick and clean plastic sheet.

Dollops left to dry in the sun

This is then sun dried until it hardens and there is no moisture left. These stay good for years and can be fried as and when required. Excellent accompaniment for rice, especially flavored rices such as tomato rice, lemon rice, or curd rice. Kondattam comes handy when you are too lazy to make a side dish (subzi accompaniment for rice). They are crispy and yummy. Try it out. You just cant stop at one.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Kerala Style Chammanthi Podi (Dry Coconut Chutney)

Spicy, roasted coconut chutney powder that tastes great with rice. Contains no oil. This is different from the chutney powder that is eaten with idli and dosa.

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Ingredients:
Urad dal (without skin) – 300 gm
Raw rice* – 2 tsp
Coconut (greated) – 1 medium-sized coconut
Asafetida (powder/chunks) – 1 tsp
Dry red chilies – 20 (adjust to taste)
Tamarind – a lemon-sized ball
Black peppercorns* – 1 tsp
Salt – As required

* In case any of these ingredients are unavailable, check the alternate ingredients section for other options.

Alternatives:
Peppercorns and rice are optional. Those who do not prefer pepper can use red chilies alone.

Preparation Time: 10min.
Cooking Time: 40min.

Method:

Heat up a pan (preferably iron). Add the urad dal and raw rice. Dry roast these two ingredients until golden brown. Constant stirring is required. Add the red chilies, black peppercorns, and the asafetida powder towards the end. If you are using asafetida chunks, you may need to add it around 5 minutes beforehand. Turn off the fire when the urad dal and rice turn golden brown. Remove the ingredients from the pan and spread on a plate to cool the ingredients.

Place the pan on fire again and roast the grated coconut until golden brown. This is to remove all moisture content and improve the shelf life of the podi. Turn off the fire and empty the roasted coconut on to the plate along with the other ingredients. Put the tamarind into the pan while the pan is still hot. Do not light the fire. This will help to remove the moisture content in the tamarind.

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After the ingredients have cooled, grind the roasted ingredients well along with salt. Empty the ingredients onto a plate and let it cool. Taste and adjust the salt and chilly if required. Make sure that you roast the red chilies before you add it to the podi. Store the podi in a dry bottle.

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List of accompaniments:
Enhances the taste of rice. This is like a dry pickle. Its granular texture adds punch to your lunch. This podi has a shelf life of around a month and is a good gift for those special loved ones.

Trivia:
Constant stirring is required while you are roasting the ingredients. You cannot afford to answer phone calls/doorbells while you are at it 🙂

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