Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Rotis/Parathas

Paneer Paratha

Winter has almost bid farewell but that does not deter paratha lovers from biting into these delectable stuffed breads. I tried paneer parathas today and it turned out quite well. Paneer parathas are easy to make and are absolutely wholesome breakfast or any-time meal option. Another advantage is that it can be served hot with curd and pickle. No need to make any accompanying dish. 

 

Ingredients:

To make paratha dough
Whole wheat flour – 3 cups
Warm milk – 1/2 cup
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
Water as needed
Salt as required
To make paneer stuffing
Paneer – 150 gm
Onion – 1 (medium sized)
Garlic/ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 1
Red chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Oil – 1 tsp
While cooking paratha
Oil – 2 tbsp
Butter – 2 tbsp

Method
Take whole wheat flour in a big bowl, add salt and warm milk. Mix and then add small quantities of water and keep mixing until you get a smooth dough. Add one tbsp cooking oil and mix the dough well until soft and smooth. Cover the dough and set it aside. Let the dough rest for at least ten minutes.

Now to make the paneer stuffing, chop garlic/ginger garlic and green chillies into small pieces. Finely chop onion also and keep aside. If you find it difficult to chop finely, you could grate these ingredients. Bigger pieces will make it difficult for you to roll out the paratha with the stuffing inside. Grate paneer to very small pieces and keep aside.

In a pan, add oil and splutter jeera. Add ginger garlic paste/garlic and chopped green chillies. When these are properly roasted, add onion and saute until pink. Add red chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and saute. Add grated paneer. Mix well and cook for couple of minutes. Add required amount of salt. Turn off the fire and add lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves. You could also use aam chur instead of lemon juice.

If you do not use onion, you can just mix the raw ingredients and make the paneer stuffing.

Take a medium ball sized piece of paratha dough. Make a small smooth ball of the dough and flatten into a small cup using your thumbs. Place 2 tbsps of paneer stuffing inside this cup. Bring together all the sides to the center and seal tightly using the dough. Dip this ball of dough filled with paneer stuffing in flour, flatten it a little using your hands. Use a rolling pin to gently roll this dough coated with flour. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or rolling surface, lightly sprinkle flour on both sides of the paratha. Roll gently till the paratha is about 1/4-inch thick. Do not make the paratha too thin.

Heat an iron griddle on medium high. When the griddle is hot enough, turn fire to low. Place the paratha over the skillet. Sprinkle some oil on the sides. In about half a minute, you will notice the sides of the paratha turn brown and puff up in the middle. Cook on a low heat till golden brown. Use a spatula to flip over the paratha. Sprinkle few drops of oil. Cook until sides turn golden brown. Lightly press the puffed areas with a spatula. Flip again and press with the spatula making sure the paratha is golden-brown on both sides. Remove from the griddle on to a plate. Put a dollop of butter on the hot paratha. Serve with curd and pickle.

Parathas taste yummy even when cold and make a good snack for short journeys. It is fast to make and convenient to carry and does not require side dishes.

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

Tangy Poha

Here is a tangy variety of poha that almost tastes like puliyodarai. I tasted this at a friend’s house and soon after tasting the first spoon, me and my mother were after my friend and her mother-in-law to get the recipe secret out. I tried making it soon enough so that I don’t forget the ingredients. Dry roasted and powdered whole masala ingredients are used for this recipe. Store this powder in an air tight container and then making this tangy poha is just a matter of few minutes. Let’s look at how tangy poha is made.

Ingredients:
Poha (beaten rice flakes/aval) – 6 cups
Tamarind juice – from a lime-sized tamarind ball
Water (optional, only enough to lightly moisten the poha)
Jaggery powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For masala:
Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
Fenugreek (uluva) – 1/2 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – 1/2 tsp

For seasoning:
Cooking oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp (optional)
Chana dal – 1 tsp (optional)
Roasted Peanuts – one fistful
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

For garnish:
Coriander leaves – 4-5 stalks
Curry leaves – 2 stalks

Method:
Soak tamarind in half a glass of water and extract the juice. Choose the amount of tamarind very carefully. If you feel later that it is not sufficient, you can add lime juice to balance the taste.

Grind the poha in a mixer to make a coarse powder (slightly bigger than rawa consistency). Transfer to a large bowl and keep aside. Mix the tamarind juice along with water and salt to moisten the poha. Use water carefully because the poha should just be sufficiently moistened. The consistency should be moist powdery but neither lumpy nor dry. Add jaggery powder. Mix well. Jaggery helps balance the tanginess and enhances the taste. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Since I used matta rice variety of beaten flakes, I could not get a fine powdery version. The white rice variety helps you get a nice powdery version.

If you are using whole masala ingredients, dry roast each ingredient separately and powder them. I used powders except for fenugreek and jeera. Dry roast fenugreek and jeera in an iron kadai. Powder the roasted ingredients using a mortar and pestle before it cools down. Dry roast the remaining ingredients (coriander powder, black pepper powder, chilly powder, asafetida) together in the iron kadai in low flame for about 2 minutes until the raw smell is gone. Add the powdered fenugreek and jeera to this roasted masala and mix well.

In an iron kadai, pour oil and crackle mustard seeds. If you prefer to add urad dal and chana dal, you can add them now. When the dals turn red, add curry leaves and peanuts. Roast for a minute. Add the masala powder along with turmeric powder and stir for half a minute. Add the powdered poha. Stir and cook for about two minutes. Add coriander leaves. Tangy poha is ready.

An extremely easy alternative is to use readymade Puliyodarai mix for this recipe. Coarsely grind the rice flakes using a mixer. Add sufficient salt and water to this coarsely ground powder and moisten the powdered rice flakes. In a kadai, heat oil and crackle mustard seeds. Add sufficient puliyodarai paste to this oil and mix well. Cook for a minute. Add the moistened rice flakes powder to this. Mix well and serve.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Snacks, Tiffin

Sesame Cheese Toast

Sesame bread toastA wedding that I attended recently had a good spread of starters and cocktails. Among the more predictable paneer tikka fare, there was an interesting crispy fried bread geneously sprinkled with sesame seeds. Though I like to pretend that I am only into health food and never indulge in greasy snacks, I let my guard down and relished a couple of these crunchy delights.

Here I present my own less sinful version of what I tasted at the wedding. A quick fix breakfast or snack, an easy dish to make.

Ingredients:
Bread (Multigrain/White) – 2 pieces
Butter/Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Dry herbs (Basil/pasta herb mix) – ½ tsp
Cheese (slices or spreadable) – 2 slices/1 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 1 tsp

Method:
sprinkle sesame seeds and herbs

If you are using square shaped bread slices, cut it into smaller rectangular or triangular pieces. This is optional and just for ease of eating. Spread/place the cheese spread/slice on bread (I used Amul’s Garlic Cheese Spread). On this sprinkle sesame seeds, and mixed herbs (I used pasta herb mix. Basil is also a good choice). I did not use any salt as I used garlic cheese spread which had little bit of salt. You could choose to sprinkle salt as per your taste. Brush olive oil on the free side (the side without toppings).

Since I do not have an oven, I toasted this in a pan on low heat. Toast only the free side to make it brown. Serve as snack by itself or with vegetables. You wont realize how many of them you will gobble along with hot tea or coffee.

Instead of cheese, you can spread mashed potatoes. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium. Multigrain bread and olive oil up the health quotient.

If you enjoyed reading this recipe, please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s free and you will receive e-mail notifications with each updation.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Pazham Nurukku/Jaggery Coated Plantain/Steamed Plantain

Plantains are an integral part of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala. Malayalis cannot think of an Onam without plantains. Keralites leverage plantain in all its forms and age. Raw plantains are deep fried and salted or jaggery coated to make chips, or used to make mezhukkupuratti (dry vegetable dish), erisseri, kalan etc. The ripe ones are steamed, cooked in jaggery, used to make payasam (kheer/sweet pudding), or eaten as is. The flower and the shoot (after peeling layers) are used to make dry vegetable dish. The peeled layers are used as binding ropes or for stringing garlands. Plantain leaves are used as plate to serve food and to make ela ada. In places with waterways, the shoots of a plantain are tied together to make a platform and used as a country boat.

Semi-ripe nenthra pazham

A very ripe plantain can be eaten as is without cooking. But semi ripe plantains should preferably be steamed or baked. I will share 4 simple recipes of ripe plantain here. One using overripe plantain and the other three using medium ripe plantain. Choose ripe yet firm plantain for steamed plantain. Slightly overripe plantains are best suited to make the jaggery coated plantain. This goes well with items like puttu or upma. It is also a healthy snack by itself.

Sweet banana cooked in jaggeryMethod 1:
Ingredients
Ripe Plantain – 2
Jaggery – 2 pieces
Water – 1/2 cup
Ghee – 1 tsp (optional)
Elaichi/cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)

Peel the plantain and remove the ends and the peel. Cut into two-inch round pieces. In a pan, pour water and add the jaggery pieces and heat until the jaggery melts. Strain to remove dirt if any. Put the ripe plantain pieces into this melted jaggery, cover with a lid, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in between to ensure that the bananas do not stick to the bottom of the pan. When the water content reduces, the jaggery syrup thickens, and plantain pieces become tender, add ghee and elaichi powder. Turn off the fire and serve hot. You can even serve it cold. If you use firm plantain, they turn hard when cooked in jaggery. So make sure that you use ripe or overripe plantains. Note: I used organic jaggery and hence the dark color. Jaggery available in the market are heavily treated with chemicals which reduces the natural intense color.

Method 2:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Peel the plantain and remove the ends. Do not remove the peel. Cut into two inch round pieces. Steam them in an idli tray for 10 minutes until the plantain becomes tender. This is served with ela ada and fried papad for breakfast on the Thiruvonam day especially in the Malabar region. Plantains are fibrous and have high starch content. Steamed plantain is easily digestible especially for kids and the elderly and instantly boost energy levels.

Method 3:
Ripe Plantain – 1
Sugar – 1 tsp
Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tbsp

This is a sinfully yummy shallow fried treat. Peel the skin and cut the plantain into thin vertical slices. Smear ghee on the hot griddle and place the plantain slices on ghee.

Frying bananas

Cook for a minute in medium to low fire. Flip when you notice the bottom of the plantain is turning golden brown. Sprinkle sugar.

Flip over

Remove from fire when the other side is sufficiently fried/cooked.

caramelized sugar on banana

Cooked

Method 4:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Another method of cooking plantain is to bake it in charcoal. Traditionally when meals were cooked using firewood, the coal would be hot even a couple of hours after all the cooking is done. Put the ripe plantains (with their skin) in between the hot coal. Make sure the plantains are fully embedded in the coal pieces. Take out after 5 minutes and smoky chargrilled plantains are ready.

I saw yet another interesting variety here. Truly yummy variation. Check it out.

Breakfast, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Dosas, Everyday Simple Recipes, Pickles, South Indian, Tiffin

Milaga Podi (Dry Chutney Powder)

There are two items that you will definitely find in every South Indian household – curd and milaga podi (dry chutney powder or gun powder as non-Southies call it). Podi is potent gun powder that can make any food item tasty! It is a must-have in every household as it has a good shelf life and can accompany most food items such as dosa, idli, and even rice. Lazy to grate coconut and grind a chutney? All you need to do is take few spoons of podi, mix some oil in it and serve along with the dosa or idli. You wont even miss the juicy coconut chutney! Podi is also a safe bet when you are packing food for long bus/train journeys.

Every household has their own secret recipe for podi and it tastes different in every house. When in school, I used to taste podi from my friends’ lunch boxes and each of them would taste different. Podi would differ in texture, taste, and visual appeal. Grainy, powdery, spicy, orange, greenish black, they come in all varieties. Recently, I tried MTR chutney powder (they market podi by that name) and I quite liked the taste of it. Unlike authentic Tamil Nadu style podi, this one is tangy. I believe tamarind is an ingredient in that recipe. Though I liked the MTR taste, being the conservative types when it comes to food, I prefer the authentic spicy taste without any tanginess.
This recipe is a mix of 2-3 different types of podis that I have had.

Ingredients:
Black gram/urad dal/uzhunnu parippu (white or black) – 1 cup
Bengal gram/chana dal/kadala parippu (optional) – 1/4 cup
Raw rice (optional) – 1/4 cup
Dried red chilly – 10
Black pepper (optional) – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 6-7 stalks
Asafoetida – size of a marble/2 tsp
Sesame seeds/Til/ellu (white or black) – 2 tbsp
Salt – as required

Method:
In a heavy bottomed pan (preferably iron), dry roast the grains one after the other until the grains turn red. First roast black gram. Then roast chana dal, followed by rice. Okay, I cheated! I roasted chana dal, kept it aside and then roasted the raw rice and black gram together. That works. When the black gram and rice are half done, add red chillies, black pepper, asafoetida, and curry leaves. If you are using asafoetida powder, you can add it towards the end of the roasting exercise. Turn off the fire and then add the sesame seeds and salt. Keep aside and let it cool down a bit.

While the roasted grains are still warm, dry grind them in a mixer. You can choose to make it powdery or grainy as per your preference. Store in a dry air tight jar. Will stay good for 3-4 months.

Choice of oil to be mixed with podi is a personal preference. Podi is served along with sesame seed oil (til oil/ellenna/nallenna) in most parts of Tamil Nadu. No points for guessing the oil that Keralites prefer!

Idlis and dosas soaked in spicy podi are a rage in restaurants these days. Whether you have a chutney and sambhar to go along with it or not, a well-made podi can up the taste quotient of even a poorly made idli/dosa.

Breakfast, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Ammini Kozhukattai (Steamed rice balls)

Soft and chewy steamed rice balls with a tadka and grated coconut. An easy and yummy snack item also made during Ganesh Chathurthi. This dish is also made on the occasion when small children start crawling and crosses the doorstep (vashal padi). Kids of this age would be teething and Ammini Kozhukkattais are a safe option to bite into, any day much better than plastic teethers.

Ingredients:
For Dough:
Rice flour: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Salt as needed
Sesame oil: 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1tsp
Chana dal: 1tsp
Curd chilly/Red chilies: 1 or 2
Curry leaves: few
Asafetida/hing powder: ¼ tsp
Grated coconut: 1 tbsp (optional)
Milaga podi/Gun powder/Chutney powder (optional) – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 25 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Makes 2 cups of ammini kozhukkattai

Method:
Heat a teaspoon of sesame oil in a wide pan. Add one cup of water and salt and bring to boil. Mix the rice flour with a cup of water and add to the boiling water. Keep stirring continuously.

When you can the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a thick lump, remove from the stove.

Alternatively, you can make the dough by adding boiling hot water to the rice powder, stir, and make the dough. This method is effective but you need to ensure that the water is boiling hot. The idea is to ensure that the dough is half cooked at this stage. If not, the dough will not become soft and pliable to work on.

Let the dough cool for 10 minutes. Smear a little oil in your palms and knead the dough. Take small quantities of the dough and make small marble-sized balls.

Place the rice balls in an idli tray and steam in a steamer or pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and crackle mustard, urad dal, chana dal and the curd chillies. When the mustard crackles, add hing and curry leaves. Add the steamed kozhukatais and stir for 5 minutes. Stir carefully ensuring that the kozhukatais do not break. Add freshly grated coconut and milagi podi (optional). Turn off and serve with coconut chutney. This is a healthy breakfast/snack item as it is steamed.

Notes:
Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray in which you arrange the ammini kozhukatai for steaming. This ensures that they don’t stick to the plate.
After the kozhukatai are steamed, turn off the heat and take out the plate/idly tray of kozhukatai. Let it cool off a bit. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and heat and tend to break easily.

If you enjoyed reading this recipe, please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s free and you will receive e-mail notifications with each updation.

Breakfast, Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Kerala Recipes, Main Dish, Side Dishes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Appam & Vegetable Stew

Mixed vegetables cooked in coconut milk and flavored with spices served along with soft and fluffy appams. A lip-smacking combo that can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

dsc_6172

Ingredients:
Mixed vegetables (cauliflower, potato, carrot, peas, beans) cut in small cubes – 2 cups
(I used potato alone)
Onion (cut in long strips) – 2 Nos
Ginger (cut in long strips) – 1/2 inch piece
Water – 1 glass
Green Chillies slit – 4
Salt to taste
Grated coconut – 1 cup (You can add either coconut milk or finely ground coconut paste)

For seasoning:
Coconut oil : 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Shallots – 5 nos
Elaichi pod – 2 nos (small ones)
Cloves – 4 nos
Tej patta – 1

stoo

Vegetable stew ingredientsMethod:
Put onion, potato, ginger pieces, slit green chillies along with water into a vessel. Cook until potatoes are tender. You can lightly mash the potatoes so that they blend well with the gravy. Grind the grated coconut into a fine paste and add to the cooked vegetables in the vessel. Boil for 2 minutes and turn off. Pour coconut oil (raw-do not heat) and add curry leaves. Mix well and serve with hot appams. The traditional veg stew recipe ends here.

Here is my improvisation to the seasoning of this veg stew. Heat a kadai and pour coconut oil. Add thinely sliced shallots, cloves, and cardamom. Saute till shallots turn golden brown. Add this to stew. Mix well and serve.

Instead of the grated coconut, you can use tinned coconut milk that is available in the market. If you are using coconut milk, ensure that you do not overheat it.

Appam

Ingredients:
Raw rice – 2 cups
Cooked rice : 1/2 cup
Grated coconut : 1 cup
Coconut water – of one coconut
Yeast – 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method for Batter:
Soak the rice in water for 4-5 hours. Grind the rice along with cooked rice and coconut to a smooth paste. While grinding, add only minimal water because you will need to add coconut water also. You could also add the coconut water while grinding the paste. Mix the yeast in half a glass of warm water and add that to this batter. Pour this mixture in a vessel leaving enough room for fermenting. Allow to ferment overnight. Add salt to taste and sugar to the batter and mix well with a ladle. The batter is ready to use.
Note: If you stay in colder regions, the batter may not ferment well overnight. Take care to keep the batter in a warm place for overnight fermenting.

Method for Appam:
Heat the wok or appam chatty (a vessel specially used for making appams). If the wok is not non-stick, you will need to smear oil on the wok using a clean cotton cloth. Keep fire in medium. Pour the appam batter into the hot wok.

dsc_61561

Hold the wok on two ends and gently swirl the wok to spread the batter around making it thin around the edges and thicker in the middle.

dsc_6164

A well-fermented batter will form small holes when spread.

dsc_61571

Cover the wok with a lid and cook on medium flame till the edges are crisp.

dsc_6158

The lacy edges will come off the wok when it is done.

dsc_6159

Serve hot along with the veg stew.

dsc_61671

If you enjoyed reading this recipe, please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s free and you will receive e-mail notifications with each updation.