Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Paal Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice Dumplings)

A simple and easy to make dish with just three ingredients. Good option for breakfast or evening tiffin. You will love it if you like natural uncomplicated tastes, mild flavors, and the use of minimal ingredients.

Ingredients:
Raw Rice Flour (finely powdered/Idiyappam powder) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Hot water – 1 cup
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Boil water in a pan.
Crush the cumin seeds lightly to bring out the flavor.
Take raw rice flour (I used raw red rice flour and hence the color difference), lightly crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut, and adequate amount of salt needed in a wide vessel. Add water (at boiling point) into this mixture.
Use a ladle to stir the mixture well. Ensure there are no lumps. You can use your hand later after a minute or two when the dough cools down. Make a smooth dough.
Take small amounts of this dough and make small gooseberry sized balls. Place on a plate and keep aside.


Add 2 cups of water in the heavy bottomed pan. Drop the rice balls into this boiling water.
Let it cook for 10 – 12 mins in medium heat.


You will notice that the water is thickening and the rice balls are becoming firmer.
Transfer into a bowl and serve along with the liquid.

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Notes:

  1. You can cook this in diluted cow’s milk also. I have not tried this. But I am definitely going to try cooking this in diluted coconut milk and jaggery and elaichi to make a sweet version.
  2. It is desirable to have it while hot and fresh. If using after a while, add half a cup of water and reheat.
  3. It is very similar to Ragi Mudde, the famous Kannada breakfast.
Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, Snacks, Vegan

Fire-Roasted Eggplant Dip

Eggplant DipSmoky, garlicky, healthy, and simple – I am totally in love with this dip. Baba Ganouj is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip. The original Greek recipe calls for Greek Yoghurt, which I skipped. Yet the result was amazing. I can only imagine how tasty the original must be! Once you try this recipe, you will never buy a dip from the market. Serve it with breadsticks and vegetables to guests, pack it off along with crackers to the kids for snacks, or just spread them on to your bread toast. It is amazingly delicious. I seriously love this purple vegetable!

IngredientsIngredients:
Baingan/Eggplant (Large purple variety) – 1 large
Garlic – 1 clove
Lemon – 1/2
Black pepper – 7-8
Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsp
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 1 cup

Method:
Fire roasting an eggplantWash the eggplant and pat dry. Use a fork and prick the eggplant all over. Place on gas flame and roast it over a low flame. Turn the sides about every 30 seconds so that the eggplant gets cooked all over and completely. Remove from flame when the outer skin is charred and you get the smoky eggplant smell. This would take about 2-3 mins. Alternatively, you can use an oven to do this. But you will get a smoky flavor only if you roast it directly on fire. Wait for the eggplant to cool a bit, and then remove the stem and peel off the outer skin carefully. Chop the eggplant. If you feel that some parts of the eggplant is uncooked, cook the eggplant on a pan along with tablespoon of olive oil for about 3-4 mins. You may avoid this step if the eggplant gets fully roasted over the flame. Allow to cool.

serve with vegetable slicesIn a mixer, grind the eggplant, garlic, salt, pepper, and jeera seeds, together. Add lemon juice and make into a smooth paste. Adjust pepper/salt/garlic as required. Garnish with dil leaves, parsley, or use the Italian pasta/pizza garnish. Drizzle olive oil. Healthy, delicious, and easy eggplant dip is ready to be served with crackers, bread toast, sliced cucumber, carrot, bell pepper slices.

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!

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

Sprouted Horsegram Curry (Mulappicha Muthiracurry)

One of the best ways to include fiber in our diet is to eat whole grains and legumes. Sprouted legume immensely increases the nutritive value of the food. Horse gram is a legume that is high in iron and a good source of protein. It is a fairly good source of calcium as well. Horse gram aids weight loss.

For many years I stuck to the familiar diet that is made at home; sambar, rasam, avial, moloshyam (dal curry), and so on. Recently I have been trying to experiment and include new ingredients in my diet. This is good for a variety of reasons. Most hereditary diseases are passed on due to dietary and lifestyle habits in a family. I personally believe that when you include new items in your diet, it reduces your chances of developing certain hereditary conditions/diseases.

Here is an experiment with horse gram that I am very satisfied with. A simple sprouted horse gram curry.

Ingredients:
Horse gram – 1 cup
Water – as needed
Tamarind – 1/2 lime sized
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste

For grinding:
Coconut – 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds/Jeera/Jeerakam – 1/2 tsp
Shallot – 1
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4-5

For tempering:
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Method:
Soak the horse gram in water for 6-8 hours. Drain the water and clean the horse gram. Remove all the non-viable ones. Keep the drained, wet horse gram covered in the same vessel for the next 8-12 hours. The sprouting time varies depending on the weather in your region. Wash the sprouted horse gram with clean water.

Pressure-cook the horse gram with water just enough to soak the sprouted horse gram. Horse gram is a tough legume and takes time to cook and needs cooking time of 2-3 whistles. After opening the pressure cooker lid, you can use a masher to mash some of the horse gram. This helps give a good gravy consistency to the curry. Add turmeric powder and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Soak tamarind in warm water, extract tamarind juice, and add to the cooked horse gram.

Meanwhile, pour a drop of oil in a pan and add urad dal. Roast until golden. Break the dry red chillies into 2-3 pieces and add it to the roasted urad dal. Roast for less than a minute and turn off. Grind this along with the shallot, jeera, and coconut. Add this to the cooked horse gram. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. When the curry starts boiling and bubbling, turn off the fire. In a pan, splutter mustard seeds in coconut oil. Add curry leaves to the spluttered mustard seeds, turn off the fire, and add to cooked horse gram curry. Serve with hot rice or roti.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian, Vegan

Jackfruit Seed Erissery (Chakkakuru Erissery)

Erissery is a dish that holds an esteemed place in the Kerala sadya. Classic erissery is made with yam and raw banana cooked in a simple gravy of coconut, pepper, and jeera and tempered with roasted coconut. Erissery is a perfect example of the simplicity of traditional Kerala cooking. During summer season, jackfruit and mangoes are abundant in Kerala. Known for resourcefulness, we use all edible parts of a plant/vegetable. After consumption of jackfruit kernels, the seeds are usually saved for later cooking. The seeds are added in avials or used to make mezhukupuratti (stir fry). Here is an erissery made of jackfruit seeds.

Ingredients:
Jackfruit seeds – 15-20
Chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt

For Gravy:
Grated coconut – 1 and 1/2 cup
Black Pepper/kurumulaku – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera/jeerakam – 1/2 tsp

For Seasoning:
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a sprig
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – to taste

Method:
Pressure cook the jackfruit seeds for up to two whistles. Jackfruit seeds can be cooked normally, but this can be time consuming. Also, jackfruit seeds are more easy to peel after they are cooked. Hence I prefer pressure cooking the jackfruit seeds and then peeling the outer hard white skin. It’s okay to retain the brown layer on the seed. Cut the peeled jackfruit seeds into inch-long pieces (you can choose any other shape as per your preference). Put jackfruit pieces in a pan, add chilly powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Sprinkle little bit of water and let it cook for two minutes. This ensures that salt is spread evenly in all pieces.

Meanwhile, grind one cup grated coconut, cumin seeds, and whole black pepper (instead, you could use pepper power) into a smooth paste. Add this to the jackfruit seed pieces. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then turn off.

Heat a pan and pour oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves and half a cup coconut. Fry until the coconut turns golden brown and you start getting the aroma of roasted coconut. Turn off and add to the cooked jackfruit pieces. Mix well. Serve with hot rice.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Thaal Avial – Colocasia Stem Avial

“Naattinpuram nanmakalaal samruddham”
This line from a Malayalam poem loosely translates to “Goodness abounds in the village.” Life in the village is so much about sharing. Produces from your garden, special items made in the kitchen, sweets and savories that relatives bring, everything is shared with neighbors. Commonly cultivated backyard vegetables like drumstick, drumstick leaves, mango, jackfruit, all these items are shared with neighbors. Colocasia is one such plant/vegetable that neighbors share. Pictured here is a very sweet and super-efficient Saraswathi chechi, a great lady. One of her many roles include being a domestic help to my mother and many other families in our neighborhood. All special items such as banana stem, drumsticks, colocasia stem, tender jackfruit, raw mango, pass hands through Saraswathi chechi and a portion reaches all households in the vicinity.

Tender leaves inside colocasia stemI would say that the colocasia plant is highly underrated. All parts of the colocasia plant – leaves, stem, and bulb can be used for cooking. Not all varieties are edible. Some that grow in wilder areas are to be avoided, I hear. Gujarati cuisine has colocasia leaf rolls called Paatra. The Mangalore region also has recipes using the leaf. I am not sure if any cuisine apart from Kerala uses colocasia stem. At home, we make 3-4 different varieties of dishes using colocasia stem and the leaf.

Thaal (colocasia stem) avial is a dish that I learned from a neighbor while I stayed in Kochi. The best part about learning a recipe from someone is that you can never forget them even after many years. The first time you tasted that dish and how it smelled then lingers in your mind forever. Along with that the people involved with that memory stay on too.

There have been many requests for this recipe. Due to lack of availability of ingredients, I have had to wait long before I could make the dish and click photographs. I was super excited yesterday when I finally got to make the dish after waiting for several years; all thanks to Saraswathi chechi.

IngredientsIngredients:
Colocasia stem (medium sized) – 2
Long beans – 100 gms
Raw banana (long) – 1
Raw papaya – 200 gms
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
Tamarind – lime sized
Water – as needed
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

To Grind:
Grated coconut – 1 half coconut
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Shallot – 1

Peel colocasia stemMethod:
Wash all the vegetables. Peel the skin from colocasia stem. Remove the edges from long beans. Peel raw papaya and raw banana. Cut all the vegetables into one-inch long pieces. Keep the raw banana pieces separately. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to a bowl of water and put the raw banana pieces in this bowl of water. Keep aside. The colocasia stem pieces seem like a lot but it shrinks to 1/4th size when cooked.

Keep raw banana pieces separately

Soak tamarind in 4-5 tbsp of water and keep aside.

Add tumeric, chilly powder, and saltPut all the vegetables except raw banana in a thick-bottomed vessel. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Add 1/2 cup water to the vegetables, close the lid, and maintain medium fire. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 mins. When the vegetables start looking pale and getting cooked, add the raw banana pieces. Stir well and close and cook for another five minutes. Extract tamarind juice from soaked tamarind. Add to the vegetables being cooked. Mix well.

Meanwhile, grind the grated coconut, shallot, and jeera to a coarse paste without adding much of water. When the vegetables are well-cooked and the salt and tamarind extract has been absorbed into the vegetables, mix the ground coconut paste with the vegetables. Cook for two minutes. Add curry leaves. Turn off. Add coconut oil and mix well. Enjoy the wafting aroma when you mix fresh curry leaves with the hot vegetables and coconut oil. Serve hot along with rice.

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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.