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!

Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish

Basil Walnut Pesto Pasta

Easy-to-make basil walnut pesto pasta.Basil Walnut Pesto Pasta
IngredientsIngredients:
To make Basil Pesto
Fresh basil leaves – Medium sized cup (15-20 leaves)
Garlic – 5-6 pods
Walnuts – 1 cup (10-12 pieces)

For Pasta
Cheese – 1 cube
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Pepper
Salt
Spaghetti/penne or any pasta of your choice

Method:
Cook spaghetti (or the pasta of your choice) in saucepan of boiling salted water as per the instructions in the packet. Drain and keep aside.

Grind garlic, basil leaves, and walnuts to make a coarse paste. Keep a few basil leaves aside for garnishing.

Grind

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the coarsely ground pesto paste. Sauté for a minute or two.

Sauté

Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Add salt and pepper.

basil pesto pasta

Turn off the fire and add cheese and basil leaves. Serve hot.

Pasta

P.S.: If you feel that the pesto paste that you made is too much for the pasta, you can keep a little aside and use it as a sandwich spread after adding some olive oil.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Salads

Fruit Salad with a Twist

Crunchy fruits, chewy paneer, sweet, citrus, and peppery. A very enjoyable mix of tastes and textures, this salad can be served before or after food.

Summer is when fruits are available in plenty. Including a salad in your menu cuts down time spent near the stove and is a welcome refreshment and hydration for your body.

A fruit salad sounds as easy as tossing pieces of fruits together in a bowl and serving it. But the amount of care and thought that you put into your fruit salad shows in its taste. Texture-wise, your fruit salad will taste better if the fruits you choose are soft and ripe with a slight crunch to each bite. Your individual fruits pieces should take on the flavor of the other pieces yet without seeping into the other pieces. Over-ripe fruits can break quickly into a mess and coat into the other fruit pieces. By mixing together ripe but not mushy fruits, your fruit salad looks fresh and vibrant for a long time.

fruit saladIngredients:
Apple – 1
Pear – 1
Orange – 1
Paneer – 100 gm
Cashew nuts – 6-8
Raisins – 6-8
Honey – 1 tsp
Mint leaves – 6-8
Pepper – 1/4 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:
Wash all the fruits. Wipe clean and cut the fruits into cubes and mix in a bowl. Pour salt and lemon juice over the cut fruits to retard oxidizing (browning of exposed portions). If you plan to serve the salad chill, at this stage, you could refrigerate. This will allow the flavors to mingle. But do not refrigerate for more than four hours. Cut paneer in cubes. Add the paneer to the cut fruits along with cashew nuts and raisins. Add honey, olive oil, pepper, and mint leaves. Serve immediately or serve after chilling for a short while.

This salad is inspired by a recipe I saw here.

Drinks, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Chukku Kaapi (Dry Ginger Coffee)

Sitting snuggled up in your sofa, warm and cozy, watching the drizzle with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand; something all of us wanna do during monsoons. Imagine the coffee had a very interesting twist! Chukku kaapi (dry ginger coffee) is the perfect example of a spicy coffee that can tickle all the taste buds in your tongue.

Ingredients:
Dry ginger (crushed): 1 piece
Jaggery: 1 rectangular piece (as needed)
Tulsi leaves – 4-5
Peppercorns (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Elaichi (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 glass
Coffee powder: 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:

Boil the glass of water and melt jaggery in it. Add the dry ginger, tulsi leaves, peppercorns, coffee powder, and elaichi and let it boil for 2 minutes. Strain and serve piping hot.

This concoction tastes as good or better even without the coffee powder. So those of you who are conscious of caffeine intake can do away with the coffee powder.

Gently sip in and the sweetness hits you first. As you gulp it down the throat, the heat and spiciness hits you! Thats why it’s a coffee with an interesting twist. Gives you good relief if you have a sore throat and blocked nose. Do give it a try before the monsoons fade away.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Soups

Potato Spring Onion Soup

A delicious creamy soup. Excellent way to start the dinner on a cold winter/rainy evening.

Ingredients:
Spring onions(cleaned well and sliced) – 3
Potatoes (peeled and diced) – 2
Garlic (finely chopped)- 3 medium sized pods
Water – 3 cups
Freshly ground pepper – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Rock salt – to taste

Preparation Time: 5 min.

Cooking Time: 20 min.

Method:

In a wok, saute the garlic, spring onions, and potatoes in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add water and bring to boil. Turn off and let it cool. Use a mixer to blend this well until pureed. Transfer the blended contents into the wok and bring to boil. Add pepper, salt, and water if needed. Bring to boil. Add cream if preferred. Enjoy creamy spring onion and potato soup.

Skill Level:

Low

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian, Vegan

Crispy Shallow Fried Potato

Instant, crispy, peppery!

Ingredients:
Boiled potatoes – 1/2 cup
Black dried pepper corns – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp

*Alternatives:
Crushed red chilies can be used instead of black pepper corns. You could also use a paste of onion and red chilly powder instead of the crushed peppercorns.

Preparation Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 5min.

Method:
Cut boiled potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Crush the black peppercorns and sprinkle on the potatoes along with salt. Heat a pan and pour the oil. When the oil turns hot, add the potato cubes. Cook in medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sides of potato are crisp. Crispy, shallow fried potatoes are ready. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

List of accompaniments:
Rotis, rice.

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