Thinai Kichadi

I didn’t soak my fruits for the Christmas cake 3 months back although I did buy a batch of figs, raisins and apricots that I can’t seem to find now. I didn’t make Christmas-tree shaped sugar cookies with royal icing. I most certainly didn’t make a gingerbread house. I am not very good at this blogging thing. I am sure many of you are violently nodding your heads at this point now. I’ve always had a hard time keeping up, getting along, doing the ‘in’ thing and having conversations with my kids friends’ mommies. And I am just plain busy. Plain busy as in “Plain-busy”, not “fun-busy” with all the parties I have to go to, not “brag worthy-busy” with my yoga classes and marathon runs, never “socially busy” with all the friends I catch up with. I am plain busy giving my kids a bath, going to work, coming back, picking up their toys, cooking, cleaning, renewing insurance premiums, paying bills, searching for the TV remote, surfing channels hoping for a movie (a good one), ordering serial lights and sizzler plates online and battling with customer care for my undelivered items. “Thoo” – Did someone say? Some may call this lazy. I call it plain busy. Strangely (or not) last year too when the blogging world was bursting with cookies, fruitcakes, cinnamon rolls and festive goodies, my blog was there with a Rava Kichadi. Again I am wrapping up the year with this Thinai Kichadi. What a coincidence!! There is definitely some sign here. That my blog will always stand out, be timeless and different Or 2. That my blog will never be current and happening No voting on what sign it is! Please desist from calling out what sign you think it is. I’d like to think it is 1 and continue blissfully. This Thinai packet that my Maamiyaar brought home from an organic store, spent the first 3 months in a basket at the bottom of the kitchen cupboard. Then my Maamiyaar made a Thinai upma with some of it and the packet that I so thoughtfully fastened with a rubber band moved to the middle shelf and sat amidst the dal and rava jars for 2 more months and got tossed around everytime we took out the dal or rava. One day I decided I wanted to do away with the Thinai packet in a tasty, nice...

Paneer cheese vegetable sandwich (Juice junction style)

I’ve taken it upon myself to teach Hasini one Tamil cinema song a week, every week until I find a music class for her. I want Hasini and Yuvi to appreciate good cinema and good music as much as I want them to appreciate good food. Born into a nil-music background family, but a bonafide cinema-crazy family Hasini needs to keep up. Do you remember those days there would be little cinema song booklets sold on road platforms that had the lyrics for every song in the movie. I don’t know if these are around still. I’d love to get my hands on some. My dad would collect those booklets, memorize the lyrics and sing along to the songs on the gramophone. I sing along to the radio in my car. I don’t want Hasini to just sing along to her i-pod. Hasini is the family’s only hope. Lately Hasini and Yuvi have been pouting “Let’s take a selfie pulla, give me a umma umma” which is kind of cute but I don’t know if her principal might approve of it. What if her principal is a “Thala” Ajith fan? I have a hard time picking songs that are appropriate for her. Ever since Hasini won the fancy dress competition in her school singing M.S Subbulakshmi’s “Kaatrinile varum geetham”, she has been singing that for every teacher in her school, every athai, paati, onu-vitte-mama, next-door aunty and postman. I want her to sing a wider variety of songs. I am no purist but I don’t want to teach her “Daddy mummy veetil illai” or “Katti pudi Katti pudi da”. If you have suggestions for good songs that she can learn please do let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the post. I’d really truly appreciate it. I’ve been mixing up her lunch too for a little variety. I sent her this paneer cheese vegetable sandwich yesterday hoping and praying that she’d eat it up and not bring back leftovers and embarrass me. Yeah, it is a very big deal.I opened her lunch box with nervous anticipation and peered inside.Just a few tomato slices. I was ecstatic. She told me later that she didn’t like the tomatoes but the sandwiches were good. I’ve wanted to re-create these sandwiches ever since I ate them at Juice-junction in Bangalore, which is a very very long time ago. I loved...

Kara Chutney | An Onion-Tomato coconut chutney

I am on a diet these days. Nothing concrete as yet. But definitely taking a more, disciplined approach. I am not snucking in cake everytime I pass the fridge, I am not grabbing handfuls of lindt chocolates and leaving them on the dashboard to soften up and then popping them in one after another while I drive, I am not eating the extra biryani I couldn’t fit in the fridge, I am not buttering both slices of a peanut butter sandwich anymore (just one). I even ate just one Samosa in my office canteen today instead of two (our canteen guy won’t give beyond 2 samosas). Jagan is different. He is either eating biryani and fried chicken, slurping Coke and digging into Falooda or he’s eating kanji. These days, he eats oats porridge, boiled vegetables and Ragi Kanji. What brought this on was a video of Yuvi’s fancy dress competition where Jagan was filming Yuvi and I happened to step into the frame for a micro-second and I saw in morbid detail my roundness. Kadavule! Kadavule! Remember the AB workout challenge that I said I was taking a couple of months back. Well, I didn’t continue beyond the first week. I am getting quite accustomed to this shape, I’ve stretched my clothes into being shaped like me too. If I don’t do something soon, I am quite certain I’ll stay this way forever. The one part of a buffet that I ignored usually was the “Salad” section. I made salads every-day last week. You’ll definitely be seeing more salads and stir-fries around here. It’s a pity I am not able to tie in this Kara chutney with my diet because it is a bloody good chutney. This is the kind of chutney that behoves an extra dosai, an extra oothappam, an extra idli. You’ll eat extra dosai for this chutney and then because there’s extra dosai and you’re just short of chutney, you’ll have an extra helping of chutney and because you have extra chutney you’ll need some more dosai and then some more chutney, some more dosai… (Chutney kaage dosai, dosai kaage chutney.. you know. So much easier in Tamil!). This chutney doesn’t help if you’re on a diet. But if you’re not, you will most definitely need to make it ASAP. Go buy the Dosai Maavu packet (Dosai batter) from the store if you don’t have Dosai batter...

Vegetable stuffed Somas

It is finally raining here in Chennai and my kids are sound asleep already. It’s such a pretty sight the two things and together it’s almost poetic. I am left strangely unoccupied and free and for a moment I didn’t know what to do. Confused, I called up a couple of numbers but none of them picked up. I could watch TV, cook, bake, read or write. I chose to write. It’s been raining all over Tamil Nadu but not in Chennai. It finally rained today. So tomorrow morning’s Tennis class is Ooooo (Ooooo in Chennai Tamil is “gone”, “game over”). But did I tell you that these days I wake up before 6 am everyday, Tennis class or not. Yeah, it’s a medical miracle. I don’t know if Kochadaiyan’s advice (“Suriyan ku mun yezhundhu kol Suzhiyaniye jeipaai”) had anything to do with it. But I am changed.  Every night I prep for next day’s breakfast and lunch, box them and shove them into the refrigerator – chopped vegetables for curries and poriyals, grated coconut and sautéed onions for chutnies, boiled potatoes with skin for potato fry, peeled garlic, finely minced ginger, sautéed pureed gravy bases for gravies and curries and anything else I can prep beforehand without worrying about it getting spoilt. Next morning as soon as I am up, I pull out all my boxes from the fridge and start them all off – grind, temper, sauté and have them cooking while I run back and get a kicking Hasini out of bed and ready for Tennis class. By the time we leave for Tennis, they’re all almost done. We rush back from Tennis, shower, dress, eat and rush to school just a few minutes late as always. That is again a miracle how we always seem to arrive at that time irrespective of how packed or totally empty our mornings are. The few mins after the bell seems to be our steady state. I feel like a super-efficient, mean machine like a fighter bomber – planning and prepping the previous night, cooking and packing Hasini’s lunch, taking her to tennis class, readying Hasini and little Yuvi for school and finally dropping them off. The bombs are dropped. Mission accomplished. By the time I reach office, I am done. What Iittle is left, my boss finishes off for me. I made these vegetable stuffed somas on one of...

Egg Shoap – Nagaland breakfast

Egg shoap was among the few north eastern foods that Jagan and kids enjoyed thoroughly. Egg shoap is a little like our potato bonda but without the besan and  with egg in it. Egg shoap I read is a popular Naga breakfast. It is easy, quick and yummy. Anything with potatoes, that is dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and is deep fried has got to be delicious. Nagaland is among the smallest Indian states. It is mostly mountainous and is home to several tribes majority of whom are now christians. Nagamese a form of Assamese is the most widely spoken language in Nagaland. Naga food involves meat and fish which are usually smoked or fermented apart from rice, boiled vegetables and chillies. I really am not sure where this egg shoap fits in that picture but I found it on the net saying it is a popular Naga breakfast and I clung on to it. I really couldn’t risk putting another veggie broth before my family, although we enjoyed the thukpa quite a lot. Jagan liked the egg shoap he had them for lunch. He placed a couple of egg shoap in his chappathi, drizzled some ketchup and rolled it up to make a egg shoap wrap. It was a pretty nice idea and it tasted great. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 15-20 mins Makes: 12-15 egg shoap balls Ingredients Potatoes – 2 medium, boiled, peeled and mashed Eggs – 2 boiled, peeled and mashed roughly Onion – 1 small, chopped fine Green chillies – 3 chopped fine Cumin powder – ½ tsp Garam Masala powder – ½ tsp (optional – I added) Turmeric – ¼ tsp Salt to taste Egg – 1 beaten lightly Bread crumbs – 1 cup Oil – for deep frying Method 1.       Boil two potaoes till tender. Cool, peel and mash them. Set aside. 2.       Boil 2 eggs. To boil eggs, place them in a pan, cover completely with water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 8 minutes. Switch off and cover. Let sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Open the lid, run the eggs under cold water and peel them. 3.       Mash the eggs. Add them to the mashed potaoes. Throw in the chopped onions, green chillies, spice powders and salt and mix everything together. Don’t add any water. Makes sure the mixture is thick. If...

Kerala style Vegetable Stew

Happy New Year everyone! It’s the 1st day of the Tamizh calendar – Chithirai 1. I hope all of you have a fruitful, healthy and yummy new year. May this year bring the long awaited promotion, a discernible hike at the very least (sometimes I can never make out the difference, it’s that miniscule), weight-loss & hair-gain (I know everybody wants these), good food, great recipes and  family time. I am starting the year with a yummy vegetable stew. I had always thought Aappam was tamil. But appears Aappam is as much Malayalam as it is Tamil. Aappam is one of our beloved breakfast items at home.  We have it with sweetened coconut milk or with vegetable korma. I love it with sweetened milk. We like to tear up the soft spongy centres of Aappam and soak them in the sweet coconut milk while we eat the the lacy, crisp edges.  By that time the aappam pieces would be drenched in all that sweetness and each piece would be a little piece of heaven – sweet, soft, melt in the mouth madress. In Kerala, the vegetable stew is popular with Aapams. The vegetable stew is again a subtly spiced, elegant and creamy coconut milk based stew. It’s easy and tastes luscious. I tried Kerala style Pal Aappams with the vegetable stew. The Pal  Aappams did not turn out too well but the vegetable stew was great. My kids loved it. Prep Time: 20 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Carrots – chopped ½ cup Green Beans – ½ cup chopped Potato – 1 small, peeled and cubed Green Peas – ½ cup Onion – 1 medium sliced Coconut milk – 1st and 2nd extract from 1 medium cococut Salt to taste Whole Black peppercorns – ¼ tsp Curry leaves – 1 sprig Cinnamon – 1 inch piece Cloves – 2 Cardamom – 2 Oil – 2 tsp Spice Paste Green chillies – 3-4 Ginger – 1 inch piece Method 1.       Heat oil in a pan. When hot add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Then add the whole black peppercorns and curry leaves.  After a minute add the sliced onions and sauté until they turn translucent. 2.       Meanwhile grind together ginger and green chillies to a fine paste. Set aside. 3.       Then add the chopped vegetables and salt. Mix in the ground spice paste. Pour in the 2nd thin extract...

Dal Poori – Jharkand

I love fried anything but I am very skimpy with oil. I feel terribly guilty emptying a quarter of the 1 litre oil pack for making vadais or pooris. I sometimes overcome my “fried-manic-oil-phobic” concerns and go ahead and fry away. I did with this dal poori I found at gayathri’s blog and I loved it. The dal poori is beautiful. These are golden pooris stuffed with a subtly spiced channa dal mixture. The dal poori has so much going on on its own that it really didn’t need an accompaniment but if I did serve it with something, the something had to be fresh and simple. I made a tomato oambal and it seemed to be the best thing that happened to the Dal Poori. They were lovely together, the two of them. Cutest pair ever. Made for each other. I conveniently used Bihar’s Dal Poori for Jharkand as I’ve heard they’re very similar. After all Jharkand was part of Bihar up until 2000. Jharkand means “Land of forests” and it accounts for 40% of India’s mineral resources. Funny that many of the newly formed states are rich in mineral resources and majority of the people are poor. A convenient combination. Nevertheless, Dal pooris are delicious and are a must try. Prep time: 30 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients – Poori Wheat flour – 2 cupsBlack sesame seeds – ¼ tspSalt – a pinchWater as neededOil – for deep frying Ingredients – Stuffing Channa dal/Kadalai paruppu – ½ cupOnion – 1 medium chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 chopped fineCumin seeds/Jeera – ½ tspTurmeric powder – ¼ tspSalt to tasteGaram Masala – ½ tspOil – 2 tsp Method 1.      Combine wheat flour, salt and sesame seeds in a bowl and add water little at a time to make a soft firm dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for half an hour. Meanwhile prepare the filling. 2.      Pressure cook channa dal till soft. Drain the water and mash the dal. Set aside. 3.      To a pan, add oil and when hot, add the cumin seeds. After about half a minute, add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Then add the mashed dal, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt and mix well. Cook on low heat till the dal mixture is quite dry and starts leaving the sides of the pan...

Dabbroo – Himachal Pradesh’s Sweet wheat pancakes

I made these sweet wheat pancakes just this morning. I had them for breakfast today. I have the sweet after-note of the Dabbroos still lingering on my tongue as I type this. This recipe is from Divya Sud’s “Flavours from the Kangra Valley. A nice selection of recipes from the book were featured in Dec’13 GoodFood magazine and I picked this recipe from the magazine. I really liked most of the recipes featured – an arbi and methi stuffed cornmeal parantha, a lightly spiced cauliflower stem dry curry, a pulao and this easy peasy dessert. Why I chose this dessert I needn’t say. It was the easiest and quickest, it was last minute and I had no time. I did not really think much of it. I thought it would be ok. I was wrong. It tastes great. It really does. Himachal Pradesh lies in the western Himalayas and Kangra valley is a part of Himachal Pradesh. The Kangra cuisine uses yogurt, fresh spices and herbs and very little of aromatics likes onions and garlic. Their Khatta (sour gravies) and Madra (yogurt based chickpea curry) are popular but I am really keen on trying the arbi-methi cornmeal parantha. It sounds exotic and delicious and definitely worth a try. These Dabbroos are perfect as Neivedhyam for poojas instead of the regular Kesari. These are just as quick and are really tasty too. They can make lovely sweet appetizers too if they’re made small. I’ll be making them again soon. Remember to make the pancakes real fine and thin. They taste best when they’re made thin. Prep time: 10 mins Sitting time: 1 hour Cooking time: 10 mins Makes: 10 small pancakes Ingredients Wheat flour – 1 cup Milk – ½ cup Sugar – ½ cup Water – ½ cup (adjust) Ghee – 10 tsp Method 1.      Mix together wheat flour and sugar in a bowl. 2.      Pour in milk and water and whisk to make a lump free pancake batter. You may adjust the proportion of milk and water slightly as per your liking. Let sit for 1 hour. I left it overnight in the fridge. 3.      Heat a well seasoned dosa tawa or a non-stick tawa and ladle about a ¼ cup of the batter on the tawa and very quickly spread it out into a circle using the back of the ladle. Make it as thin as possible. Drizzle...

Chole Bhatura – Haryana Classic

I had a cousin who always without fail ordered Chole Bhatura every time we ate out. Every single time. She was mildly crazy about it and couldn’t have enough of it. I don’t know if she still orders Chole Bhatura. I haven’t spoken to her in years (don’t ask, it’s a crazy family). There were these exhibitions, fairs when we were young (probably still there, but we haven’t visited one in a long long time) with the giant-wheel (a huge merry-go-round), bouncing castle and numerous stalls selling vegetable cutters, roti-makers, steamers and lots of nifty little appliances that didn’t cost too much and everybody loved. There were also these food stalls that sold chole bhatura, huge masala sprinkled pappads and cotton candy. We always ate at these stalls and my cousin always ordered Chole Bhatura and when the Chole Bhatura was served I’d always feel that I should have ordered Chole Bhatura too. Even now whenever I see Chole Bhatura being taken to a table, I feel the urge to change my order to Chole Bhatura. Such is the pull of that lovely big puffed up poori and the spicy chole. Chole Bhatura is a beautiful combination of fried bread (poori usually made of all-purpose flour) and spicy garbanzo bean curry served with sliced onions and lemon wedges. The dish is popularly called a Punjabi dish but I am posting it for the state of Haryana today hoping that my south-Indian status allows for slight generalizations and inaccuracies if any. Not ok with that? Explain Chennai Express to me and I’ll explain this to you. Please forgive if this is not asli Haryanvi chole, if it’s actually Punjabi chole or not chole at all. I am a Tamilian – nambiliki thoda thoda dhaan theriyum! I’ve used the chole recipe from the famous dassana’s vegrecipesofindia blog but I’ve still got to say it so that I don’t anger my Haryana readers. But I’ve got to tell you this, I loved the chole. It was lip-smacking good and my maamiyaar (mother-in-law) asked me what went into the spice mix for the chole. I acted all cool and knowledgeable as if I’ve been making chole all my life, as if I’ve just stepped down from Dadar express. The secret is that I always take my time to memorize any new recipe before entering the kitchen. There’s nothing worse than referring to a recipe...

Matar Kulcha – Delhi Street Food

Matar Kulcha I read is one among the most popular street food items in Delhi. I tried Dassana’s recipe from her popular site and it turned out real nice. I loved the toppings that go over the matar – chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger juliennes, coriander leaves and lemon juice. The toppings list is as long as the ingredient list but I think the toppings are what rock the show here. The toppings are definitely not optional. Delhi is the only city up north that I’ve travelled to in my entire lifetime and that more than a couple of times and I am still terrified of the place. It’s huge, fast and aggressive. I was totally out of place. I often gloat to my husband that I can speak Hindi but I can only count till 10 and beyond that I know only in 10’s (vaguely that too). I can’t even catch an auto if I wanted to. But I’ve read about the Delhi street food scene and the shopping possibilities and I really am tempted to visit Delhi. I might when I can afford a Hindi translator, like those politicians have beside them. Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 45 minsServes: 4 Kulcha – Ingredients Maida/All purpose flour – 2-1/2 cupsYogurt – 4 tbspBaking powder – ½ tspBaking soda – ½ tspSugar – 2 tspSalt to taste (Use black salt if you have, I didn’t so I used regular salt)Nigella seeds – 1/4 tspWater – as required to make a doughOil – for frying the kulchas Matar gravy – Ingredients Dried white peas – 1-1/2 cups soaked overnightCumin seeds – ½ tspCumin powder – ½ tspRed chilli powder – 1 tspSalt to tasteDry mango powder – ¼ tspGaram masala powder – ½ tsp Jaljeera chutney – Ingredients Mint leaves – ½ cupCumin seeds – 1 tspFennel seeds/Saunf – 1 tspBlack cardamom – 1 (only the seed, discard the outer cover)Whole dry red chilli – 1Whole Black peppercorns – ¼ tspAmchur powder – ¼ tspTamarind – small marble sized Toppings Onion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 large chopped fineGreen chilli – 1 slit or chopped fineGinger – ½ inch cut into juliennesLemon – 1 cut into wedgesCoriander leaves – a handful chopped Method 1.      To make the kulchas, combine all ingredients except water and oil under “Kulcha” in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and...

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