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, Side Dishes

Onion Tomato Subzi

When you have to make roti subzi for just one person, what subzi do you make? Here is a simple one with very few ingredients that you can prepare in 5-7 minutes.

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Ingredients:
Onion (medium) – 1
Tomato (medium) – 1
Garlic – 1 pod (optional)
Hing/asafetida – a pinch
Turmeric – a pinch
Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cooking oil – 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp (optional)
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp (optional)
Coriander leaves – 1-2 (optional)

Method:
Peel the garlic and onion. Chop garlic, onion, and tomato into small pieces. Pour oil into an iron wok. Crackle mustard seeds. Add chopped garlic. When they turn brown, add chopped onion. Saute for 2 minutes. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, and hing powder. Add chopped tomato. Saute for 2 more minutes. Add salt and turn off. Add grated coconut and chopped coriander leaves if preferred. Serve with roti.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Side Dishes, Vegan

Stuffed Brinjal

Another stuffed vegetable that is very similar to the previous one. I have always been a brinjal fan. Isnt it one of the prettiest of vegetables? What a color! When I buy sarees for my mother, I always look for the aubergine or the brinjal flower color because that’s her favorite! Man has not yet mastered the art of replicating the colors of Nature very well, yet we take pride in saying that we came close. Whether it is the purple brinjal or the unique green long brinjal variety, the streaked purple and white ones, or the ivory white one; all taste excellent when cooked with the right ingredients. Who can resist the smell of the smoky bhartha baingan?

Stuffed brinjal is easy to make and makes good accompaniment for rotis or puris. You can go crazy with your imagination and use anything you fancy for the masala of this recipe. Make this one and you will fall in love with brinjal.

Ingredients:
Brinjal (purple small round ones) – 250 gms
Cooking oil (sunflower) – 2 tbsps
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Salt – to taste

For masala:
Onion – 2 (medium sized)
Peanuts – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
Grated coconut / Copra pieces – 2 tbsp
Garlic – 3-4 cloves
Tamarind – 1 lime size
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 2 tsp
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

slit brinjalPlease make sure that you use the small purple brinjal variety to make this dish. Wash the brinjal and pat them dry using a cloth. Make slits that cross each other while keeping the stem intact. Ensure that there is no dirt/worms. Keep aside.

Peel and cut the onion. In a pan, dry roast the grated coconut / copra and peanuts. Set aside.
Add one tbsp oil and add chopped onion, garlic, tamarind and saute well. After the onion turns pink, add turmeric power, chilly powder, jaggery, and salt. You may add anything you fancy, like coriander powder, garam masala, or ginger garlic paste instead of garlic. Turn off the flame and let the mixture cool. Grind this to a fine paste in a blender. Add just enough water so that the paste is not too loose. Carefully stuff this paste into the slit brinjal so that the paste of masala coats the insides of the brinjal. If you choose to and have the time and patience, you can keep this aside for half an hour before you start cooking the brinjal. I did not do this and cooked the stuffed brinjal straightaway after stuffing them with the masala.

In a thick bottomed pan, pour 2 tbsp of cooking oil and place the slit brinjal with masala stuffing. Close with a lid. Hold the brinjal stem and turn them over occasionally to cook all sides until the brinjal is tender (about 10-15 minutes on medium fire). If you prefer some gravy for the dish, you can make the masala slightly watery and that will make the dish watery. If you prefer it tangy, you can cook the stuffed brinjal in tomato puree. When the brinjal is tender, remove from fire, and add chopped coriander leaves. Serve with rotis or warm rice.

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