Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, South Indian, Vegan

Eggplant Rice – A One-Pot Meal

Recently I have been finding one-pot meals very interesting. I never used to like them earlier, only for the reason that I was not familiar with them. At home the only one-pot meal we knew was curd rice, tomato rice, lemon rice, and tamarind rice. Apart from these, I was not used to pilaf or biriyani simply because at home we do not use garam masala. Meal to us meant rice accompanied with a gravy and a subzi. It took me several years to get out of that comfort zone.

Lunch boxKarnataka cuisine has many varieties of one-pot meals. The first meal I had at MTR had some of these including Bisibele bath. Personally not a big fan of that one. But vangi bath or eggplant/brinjal rice has been a favorite ever since the first time. Eggplant rice is a very good option to make when you are expecting guests and need to make rice and roti-subzi. This one-pot meal does not need much preparation, can be made quickly, and gives you ample time to attend to other things. It is a convenient lunch to carry to schools and work places.

Let me add the disclaimer first! This recipe requires a special powder called Vangi Bath masala powder. Like many other ready-to-mix powders that are available in the market (most famous brand being MTR), this powder is also available. I am not sure if it is widely available like a puliyodarai mix! In this recipe, I have not explained how to make the vangi bath mix because I do not know how to. I bought the masala mix from my friendly neighborhood Iyengar’s Bakery that sells masalas, snacks, and some tasty dosas and meals.

Vangi bath masala mix can be prepared at home and has good shelf life. Aayis Recipe, a veteran food blogger’s version can be checked here. This one over here is good too.

Traditional recipe only uses brinjal but I used potato and capsicum as well. I quite loved the taste!

Ingredients:
Rice (raw rice/biriyani rice preferred) – 1 glass
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Brinjal – 2 medium sized
Potato – 1 medium sized
Capsicum – 1 medium sized
Green chillies – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Vangi Bath mix – 1 tbsp
Roasted peanuts – 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Lemon juice – of half a lime or as desired
Salt – as needed

Method:
VegetablesPressure cook rice and keep aside.

Wash and clean the vegetables. Peel potato, remove stalk from eggplant and capsicum. Cut in rectangular pieces (can be cut as desired). Separate the capsicum pieces from the brinjal and potato pieces. Split the green chillies. Keep aside.

Heat an iron kadai and pour oil. Add mustard seeds to the oil. After mustard seeds splutter, add cut brinjal, potato, curry leaves, and green chilies. Add turmeric powder. Stir well to coat oil on the vegetables and close with a lid. Cook for 5-7 minutes in slow fire stirring occasionally. At 5 minutes, add capsicum pieces. Cook for another 2 minutes or so until all vegetables are tender. Add vangi bath mix and salt. Stir for a minute and turn off fire. Add the cooked rice. If rice is very hot, it might break while mixing. So make sure that the rice has cooled down a little bit. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, roasted peanuts, and lemon juice. Mix well. Serve with papad and raita.Vangi bath, salad, and papad

I made mixed veg raita using cucumber, onion, carrot, curd, green chilies, coriander leaves, and salt. Makes a wholesome meal of carbs, cooked vegetables, fresh vegetables, curd for probiotic, and the fried papad to add a little bit of sin!

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian

Avial

A healthy concoction of vegetables in mildly flavored coconut gravy, a stew of sorts, a must-have for feasts.

Avial

vegetablesIngredients:
Assorted vegetables cut in 1-1-/2 inch size – 500 gm
Water – 1/2 cup
Curd* – 1 cup
Curry Leaves – 2 stalks
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp

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

To grindTo grind:
Grated coconut – one cup
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Green chilies – 3 or 4
Shallots – 1-2 (optional)

*Alternatives:
You can add tamarind pulp instead of curd.

VegetablesMethod:
You can use any vegetable for avial. Avial itself means an assortment/mixture of various things. Yet, the traditional avial uses only native Kerala vegetables and does not use vegetables like potato, capsicum etc. So try to use ‘traditional vegetables’ to get the conventional taste. Traditionally used vegetables for avial are ash gourd, malabar cucumber, drum sticks, elephant yam, carrot, raw banana, pumpkin, long beans, snake gourd, bottle gourd. Wash, peel, and then cut the vegetables of same length of 1 to 1-½ inch pieces.

In a wok add ½ cup of water and add the cut vegetables. Ensure that the water is just enough for the vegetables to get cooked, not too much and not less. Add a pinch of turmeric powder. Close with a lid and cook in medium flame until all the vegetables are cooked. Stir occasionally. Add salt.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a mixer, grind the grated coconut, green chilies, cumin seeds, and shallots. Grind coarsely. Add the ground paste to the cooked vegetables and let it simmer for 2 minutes.

Add curry leaves. Turn off the fire. Beat the curd and add it to the cooked vegetables. Mix well and add 1 tbsp coconut oil mix. Avial is ready to be served.

Notes:
Avial can be eaten along with rice and sambar. It is a wholesome dish and can be eaten as a salad also.

Trivia:
Here is an interesting story about the origin of avial. Bheema, the strongest of the of Pandava brothers, worked as a cook in the Virata kingdom during the one year that Pandavas spent in disguise. The king of Virata did not like wasting a thing. Once, during one of his trips to the royal kitchen, the king noticed that there were small bits and pieces of various vegetables lying around even after all the cooking was complete. The king ordered that these vegetables should not be wasted and should be put to better use. Bheema then cooked all the leftover vegetables together and added some leftover coconut, curd and the rest is history! The inevitable item of every good sadya was thus born in the royal kitchen. It is a much loved dish and is commonly found in restaurants. But seldom will you find the original taste of avial there. Try an authentic sadya avial and then you will know.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Salads

Cucumber & Beetroot Salad

An easy and tasty salad. Great way to start a meal.

Ingredients:
Cucumber – 1
Beetroot – 1
Peanuts (preferably flavored) or almonds – a handful
Green chilies – 1
Coriander leaves – 6-7 stalks
Lime – one-half
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 5 mins.
Cooking Time: 5 mins.

Method:

Peel the cucumber and beetroot and grate them. Crush the (flavored/plain) peanuts and add to the grated veggies. Cut the green chilies, remove the seeds, and chop them finely. Chop the coriander leaves finely and add them and green chilies to the grated veggies. Squeeze the lime juice into the veggies. Add salt and mix well. Healthy and tasty salad is ready to serve.

Health Benefits/Alerts:
Cucumber is low in calories and cools the tummy. Beetroot improves the quality of blood. It cleanses and kidneys and gall bladder. Peanuts are a great source of protein and contain significant amounts of iron, zinc, and magnesium. Overall this salad is a healthy way to begin a meal.

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

Cucumber & Raw Mango Curry

A sour curd curry similar to North Indian kadi.

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Ingredients:

Malabar cucumber* – 250 gm
Raw mango (medium)* – ½ portion
Curd – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Water – 2 cups
Salt – to taste

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For gravy:
Coconut (scraped/cut) – 1 cup
Green chilies – 4-5
Cumin seeds (jeera) – ½ tsp

For tempering (tadka):
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek (uluva) – ½ tsp
Dry red chilies – 2-3
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Oil (preferably coconut) – 1 tsp

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

Alternatives:
You can use ash gourd, squash, or other cucumber variants instead of Malabar cucumber. The taste remains the same. Raw mangoes are available only in the summer season. This curry can be made even without the raw mango, just by doubling the amount of curd to compensate for the sourness. But the taste that you get by using raw mango is simply different and cannot be matched with curd.

Preparation Time: 10min.
Cooking Time: 15min.

Method:
Wash the cucumber, peel, remove the seeds and cut them in 1-inch sized cubes. Similarly, wash the raw mango, remove the seed, take half the portion and cut them into 1-inch sized cubes. Take a vessel and pour 2 cups of water. Add the cucumber into the vessel. Add turmeric powder. Cook for 5 mins. When the cucumber is almost done, add the raw mango pieces and cook for 5 more minutes.

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In a mixer, grind one cup of coconut, green chilies, and jeera to make a fine paste. Add this to the cooked vegetables. Boil this for 2 minutes. Turn off the fire. Beat the curd in mixture and add it to the vegetables. In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When they start to splutter, turn off the fire and add the dry red chilies and curry leaves. Pour this into the cooked vegetables and mix well. The cucumber and raw mango curry is ready to be served with rice.

List of accompaniments:
Tastes great with rice.

Health Benefits/Alerts:
This is a very healthy dish. Cucumber is fibrous, has high water content, and is low in calories. It’s the best thing that you can have to cool off in the hot summer season.

Click here to view a simpler version of this curry.

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