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

Vendakka Puli (Okra in Tangy Tamarind Gravy)

In the North of India, dal (boiled lentils) is a must for every meal, whether it is rice or roti. In the South also, one dish for the meal must contain dal. The other dish, invariably, will be spicy and tangy complementing the bland and sober dal. Puli means tamarind in Malayalam and Tamizh. Puli / tangy taste of the tamarind is the main character of this gravy. Everyone at home loves this dish. 

Ingredients:
Okra / Ladies Finger / Vendakka – 200 gm
Tamarind – one big gooseberry size ball
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 cup, adjust as needed
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste

For Roasting and Grinding:
Shallots – 6 – 8
Coriander seeds – 1-1/2 tsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 5 – 6
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves – 4

Method:
Wash, clean, and pat dry the okra. Remove the edges. Cut horizontally into small pieces.

Heat an iron wok, add half a teaspoon of oil to it. Put the okra pieces into the wok and stir occasionally and fry until the stickiness disappears. Keep aside.

In the same iron wok, add half a teaspoon of oil, coriander seeds and dry red chilies. Stir and roast until the raw smell of coriander seeds goes away. Add peeled shallots and grated coconut and roast for 2-3 mins. Remove to a plate and let this cool.

Meanwhile, take a cooking pot (stone is ideal as this is a tamarind gravy) and add a cup of water in it. Add the tamarind to this water and dissolve the tamarind in this. Strain and retain only the water and discard the tamarind pulp.

Now heat the cooking pot with the tamarind water in it and add the stir fried okras to this tamarind water. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.

While that cooks, grind the roasted ingredients (coriander seeds, dry red chilies, grated coconut, and shallots) in a mixer to a smooth paste. You may add small quantities of water to make the paste.

When the okras get cooked in the tamarind water, add the ground paste to the cooking pot and bring it to boil. Let this boil for 3-5 mins.

Add half a teaspoon of jaggery powder to this to balance the tart of the tamarind.

In a pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds to it. Let it splutter. Add curry leaves and then pour this mixture on the boiling gravy. Mix well. Taste and adjust the salt and tamarind if required. Tangy spicy vendakka puli is ready to be served with rice.

Notes: You may add asafetida, fenugreek seeds, and / or garlic along with the ingredients while roasting.

Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes

Colocasia Stem Subzi (Chembu Thandu Koottan)

A thick side dish for rice or roti made of colocasia stems, pumpkin, and cow peas. This is one of those rare Kerala dishes without coconut. This is a dish with thick gravy . Colocasia plants, just like coconut and banana plants/trees are commonly found in a Kerala backyard. Dishes using colocasia stem and leaves are very common in the village. These recipes are now getting forgotten due to unavailability of ingredients and people forgetting these age old recipes.

Peel colocasia stemIngredients:
Colocasia stems (peeled and diced) – 2 cups
Pumpkin (peeled and diced) – 1 cup
Cow peas (boiled) – 1/4 cup
Tomato – 2 (or else substitute with thick tamarind juice 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Shallots – 4-5
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Whole dry red chili – 1
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves 3

Method:
Pressure cook the cow peas separately in some water and keep it aside. Be careful that they do not get mashed. Peel the skin from colocasia stem and dice into cubes. The colocasia stem pieces shrinks to 1/4th size when cooked. So you may cut in one-inch sized cubes. Peel and dice pumpkins (you may choose to add the skin also if the pumpkin is organic and good quality). In a thick bottomed pan, cook diced colocasia stems and pumpkin pieces with turmeric powder and just a sprinkle of water. Colocasia stems are a little watery so once heated, they would release some water. Check every few minutes and add water if you think it is needed. When the colocasia stems and pumpkin pieces get cooked, add the tomato pieces and boiled cow peas. You may add thick tamarind extract instead of tomato. Some colocasia stems tend to itch. Hence, it is important to add either tamarind extract or tomato. Add chili powder and salt to taste. While this is getting cooked, peel and chop the shallots finely. Heat oil in a small pan and add the chopped shallots and roast them until golden brown. Add curry leaves and the whole dry red chili also. Mix with the cooked vegetables. Taste and adjust salt.

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.