Kalyana Saapadu style Potato Fry

This potato fry features frequently in buffets, kalyana saapadu menus and sometimes as part of the lunch thalis served in hotels like Saravana Bhavan. The potatoes are a lovely golden brown, crisp on the outside and coated by a hot and spicy masala mix that is not wet. It’s a lip-smacking stir-fry of pre-boiled and already shallow fried potatoes that goes great with rice and dal and also with poori or vegetable rice. The 2-step frying ensures that the potatoes are crisp and have absorbed all the masala. You can use the same technique with yam (Karna Kezhangu) or raw plaintain (Vaazhakkai) as well. Potatoes are a cook’s delight. You can prepare them in innumerable ways and you can rarely go wrong. They almost always taste great. I love potatoes. My daughter likes them too. For kids, try toning down the spice powders a bit and I am sure they’d love these potatoes just as much as French fries. Sending these to Sowmya’s Crazy for Potatoes event and Pari’s “Only” event. Prep time: 5 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Potatoes – 1/2 kiloOnions – 2 medium choppedTomato – 1 small pureedMustard seeds – 1 tspUrad dal – 1 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – 1/2 tspDhania/Coriander powder – 1/2 tspSalt to tasteOil – 5 tbsp Method 1.      Boil potatoes with their skin on till cooked through but firm. Let cool, peel and cube them. 2.      In a non-stick skillet/pan, heat 4 tbsp oil and when hot drop in the cubed potatoes and shallow fry on low till the potatoes turn golden brown around the edges. This might take around 10 to 15 minutes. Fry in batches if they don’t fit the pan. Don’t crowd the pan. Add more oil if necessary. Once done, remove onto absorbent paper. 3.      In the same skillet, add 1 tbsp oil and drop in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the urad dal and let the dal colour. Drop in curry leaves and fry till they turn crisp. Now add the chopped onions and sauté till they turn translucent. Then pour in the tomato puree and mix well. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and mix well. Cook till the oil separates. 4.      Now add the fried potatoes to this spice mixture and toss gently to coat. Let cook for about 5...

Masala Green Beans Poriyal – Spiced Green beans stir-fry

This masala green beans poriyal is a nice spicy twist on the plain beans poriyal that we usually make. It goes splendidly well with rice and dal or curd rice. It is simple, quick and tasty. You could use this masala mix to jazz up a variety of other vegetables – kovakkai (dondakkai/ivy gourd), ladies finger (okra) or even brinjals (eggplants or aubergines). You can store the powdered masala in an air-tight box for 2 to 3 weeks. If you’re going to store the masala this way, it would be a better idea to dry-roast the masala ingredients. I like the classic beans poriyal just as much, tender green beans specked with freshly grated coconut. This masala beans poriyal is however a nice change from the usual routine and nobody can call you repetitive.  If they do, show them what repetitive is. Make cabbage kootu every saturday, idli every morning, dosai every night and sambar every friday and ask them to choose between drumstick sambar or brinjal sambar. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 20 – 25 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Green Beans – 1/4 kilo chopped fineMustard seeds – 1/2 tspSplit Urad dal/black gram dal – 1 tspOil – 2 tbsp + 1 tspSalt to taste Masala Dry long Red chillies – 4Dhania/Coriander seeds – 1 tbspCoconut grated – 3 tbspWhole Kadala paruppu/Channa dal/Bengal gram – 1 tbspWhole Urad dal/Black gram dal – 1 tbsp Method 1.      In a kadai/skillet add 1 tbsp oil and when hot, add dry red chillies and fry for about half a minute. On low flame, drop the rest of the masala ingredients – dhania, channa dal and urad dal and fry till the dals colour. Lastly add the grated coconut and switch off when the coconut starts colouring. Grind the fried masala ingredients to a coarse powder. 2.      In the same kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil, add when hot add mustard seeds and let splutter. Add the urad dal and sauté till the dal starts browning. Tip in the chopped green beans and stir around for 1-2 minutes. Then add salt and sprinkle some water and cook covered for 10-15 minutes till the beans are cooked through and tender. 3.      Open and add the powdered masala along with 1 tsp oil and mix well till the beans are well coated in the masala. Cook on low for about 5 minutes till the masala is incorporated...

Vegetable Kurma/Korma

I found this delicious Korma recipe on RaksKitchen. It is a winner all the way, aromatic, flavour bursting and absolutely lip-smacking. Rakskitchen is a great looking food blog of vegetarian dishes, has tons of reliable recipes (you know it’ll work), lots of traditional recipes and some wonderful videos as well (I love the badusha video). I served this Korma with Idiyappam. This Korma would go beautifully well with poori or chappathi. I usually make korma with coconut milk and I’d long wanted to try a variant with ground coconut. I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly to suit my situation (I ran out of onions, so I used shallots for the masala paste, plus I added fennel seeds and cinnamon to the paste). The masala paste is the crux of this korma, the freshly ground fennel seeds and cardamom infuse the korma with a lovely aroma that wafts all over the house. My daughter enjoyed the korma a lot and the korma was over by end of breakfast which is usually a great sign. Joint family life is all about signs (more on that later). I say end of breakfast because each one eats one by one in our house and only at restaurants do we eat together. My husband eats with the TV (his 3 absolutely indispensable “cannot live without” friends are TV, AC and S3) , my daughter is fairly well mannered at-least at eating – she eats seated, my son eats alongside a running tap in the garden (that’s his latest thing) and I eat by the stove. Whackos. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 25 mins:Serves 5-6 Ingredients Cauliflower – 1 small cleaned and cut into small floretsGreen Peas – 1 cupPotatoes – 2 medium choppedOnions – 2 medium chopped fineTomatoes – 2 medium chopped fineTurmeric powder – ½ tspRed chilli powder – 1 tspOil – 2 tbspSalt to taste Masala Paste Coconut – half a medium coconut gratedShallots/Sambar onions – 4Fried gram dal/udacha kadalai – 1 tbspGarlic – 4 clovesCardamom – 2Green chillies – 3Red chillies – 3Coriander seeds/Whole Dhania – 1 tspCinnamon – ½ inch pieceFennel seeds/Sombu – ½ tsp Method: 1.      Grind together the ingredients called for under masala along with water to a smooth paste. Set aside. 2.      Heat oil in a kadai/skillet and add chopped onions and fry till translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and fry till mushy. Add turmeric powder,...

Potato Masala/Potato Thokku – Traditional side dish

This potato thokku is a hot, spicy, pucca tamil (south-indian) masala curry that goes splendidly well with rice and sambar or rice and rasam. It is a thokku, meaning it is that wonderful glossy, concentrated, flavour bursting semi-gravy state that tastes so good with rice. This potato masala is terrific for a traditional banana leaf saapadu. But this is an easy dish to prepare, needs no great technique or expertise. You could add in green peas along with the potatoes to make a potato-peas masala. Did I tell you about my family’s sambar and potato thokku formula? I must have. It is our staple menu for special days, festivals and many other ordinary days in between. Like Senthil-Goundamani and Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, Sambar and potato thokku are inseparable. Sambar means potato thokku, potato thokku means Sambar, anything else and it would be a God-mistake (Deiva-kutham). Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 25 mins:Serves: 4 Ingredients Potatoes – 1/4 kilo boiled and cubedOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 large chopped fineGinger – 1 inch piece peeledGarlic – 6 cloves with peelGreen chillies – 1-2Red chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – 1/4 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemCoriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishingMustard seeds – 1/2 tspOil – 2 tbsp + 1 tspSalt to taste Method 1.      Boil potatoes in a pressure cooker till tender yet firm. Let cool, peel and cube them. Set aside. 2.      Grind ginger, un-peeled garlic and green chillies with a little water to a nearly smooth paste. Set aside. 3.      In a kadai/skillet heat 2tbsp oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and when they crackle add curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté till translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. 4.      Add the ground ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well. 5.      Add one cup water and mix well. Add salt, taste and adjust seasoning. When the water comes to a boil, tip in the cubed potatoes. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes till the potato and masala are well mixed and the potato masala has reduced to a thokku (thick gravy) consistency. 6.      Uncover and drizzle a tsp of oil along the edges of the kadai/skillet. Mix well and cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes till the oil separates and the potatoes have coloured. Garnish with chopped coriander...

Peanut/Groundnut chutney – Versatile chutney

I am going to rave about peanut chutney the way people rave about peanut butter. Really, peanut chutney is such a brilliant, peanuttty chutney, it smacks of peanuts. Peanut lovers will love it. I served the peanut chutney with hot, crisp dosais.  Peanut chutney is also a great accompaniment to idli, upma or adai. With a tasty chutney I can down idli/dosai even though we had the same idli/dosai for yesterday’s dinner and possibly yesterday’s breakfast as well. You know the idli/dosai legacy of my family. I love chutneys, not so much sambar. My sister prefers sambar over chutneys. I think these are two fundamentally different people – the chutney lovers and Sambar preferers. Like the sweet lovers and sweet non-lovers. I cannot bring myself to call anyone a sweet hater, so I am calling them a sweet non-lover. I am a sweet loving maniac (I ate one Cadbury bar a day every day during my pregnancy) with a family history of diabetes and a family of irresponsible diabetics and I just don’t understand sweet non-lovers.     I can imagine this peanut chutney making a really good spread for spicy sandwiches instead of the usual green chutney. I think this peanut chutney will be a delightful change but you’d have to pair it appropriately – maybe peanut chutney flavoured spicy chicken sandwich or peanut chutney seasoned fresh cut veggie sandwich. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 7 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Peanuts/Groundnuts – 3/4 cupCoconut – half a medium coconut gratedDry red chillies (long ones) – 4-5Salt to tasteOil – 1 tbsp Tempering Mustard seeds – 1 tspSplit black gram dal/ulatham paruppu – 1 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemOil – 1 tsp Method 1.      Dry roast the peanuts in a kadai/skillet for 5-8 minutes on a low flame till they colour. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from kadai. When they’re warm enough to handle, rub the peanuts between your palms to remove the brown skin. It should fall off easily now that they’re roasted. 2.      Add 1 tbsp oil to the same kadai, drop in the dry red chillies and fry for a few seconds. Then add the grated coconut and the peanuts and fry for 2-3 minutes till the peanuts are slightly browned. 3.      Transfer the roasted peanut mixture to a mixer grinder, add salt and water and grind to a smooth chutney consistency. 4.      Add 1 tsp oil to the...

Fried Hard-boiled eggs – Somberi Series

As promised, I am posting another Somberi recipe. This recipe is so simple, I can imagine people especially all the veterans, the kitchen killadis, and the mamiyaars (mils) dismissing this as not fit to be called a recipe at all. But hey, I have a duty to my fellow somberis and I don’t mind the flak.  The entire dish takes 15 minutes maximum and it tastes great. It’s a wonderfully simple way to jazz up plain hard boiled eggs and make it count for one more side-dish. These spiced eggs are also a great option for lunch boxes as they’re dry, they keep well and aren’t vegetable (for those fuss-pots). For a little background and cultural aspect, we make these fried eggs by the dozen during the “Aadi month koozh oothare” festival. These spiced fried eggs make a great combo with koozh and are a trademark side-dish during the koozh festival at our home.  You know Koozh? It is Kezhvaragu (Ragi) porridge usually served during the Tamizh month of Aadi at Amman temples and at homes. Typically relatives are invited to share the koozh which is served along with fried eggs, karuvadu kozhambu (dried fish gravy) and muranga keerai poriyal (stir-fried greens). Until I got married, Aadi only meant Aadi thallupadi (discount sales). Only after marriage did I notice the blaring speakers outside temples, the firewalking, the saami aadare folks, the women making pongal atop wood-fired stoves and koozh. Aadi is very important in my husband’s place – Aadi velli, Aadi perukku, Aadi pooram, all aadi prefixed festivals are fastidiously celebrated. You can make these fried eggs any time of the year. They’re quick, simple and super-tasty.    Preparation time: 5 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Hard boiled eggs – 4Red chilli powder – 2 tspTurmeric – 1/4 tspOil – 1 tbspMustard seeds – 1/2 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemSalt to taste Method 1.      Hard-boil eggs and set aside. 2.      In a small bowl, mix together red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt along with a little water to a not too runny marinade. 3.      Slice each egg length-wise into two. Gently roll one slice at a time in the marinade to coat evenly on all sides and set aside. 4.      In a shallow pan or tawa, heat oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and when they’ve spluttered, add curry leaves. 5.      Gently place the eggs on the tawa...

Tiffin Sambar – Saravana Bhavan Mini idli style

I am a huge fan of Saravana Bhavan’s mini idlis as are everyone in my family. This is such a delightfully tasty, absolutely lip-smacking tiffen – fluffy white mini idlis dunked in hot flavour bursting sambar, drizzled with ghee. Perfect! Unlike the sambar we make at home, this tiffen sambar is not tangy, is thick and full bodied and has mild sweet undertones. Tiffen sambar is the best accompaniment for idli, dosai or pongal. I have to thank Mythreyi of Myerecipecorner. I picked up this recipe from her blog. Her blog has so many amazing recipes, you’ll have to check it out. It is true to its name and tastes just like the hotel tiffen sambar (though not exactly like Rathna Café Sambar which tastes different from all other hotel sambars). I followed her recipe as is and it turned out great. Everybody in the family agreed that it tasted just like hotel tiffen sambar. Every week we cycle through various chutneys, kormas, sundakkai sojji and sometimes vadakari for the idli/dosai that we make every day. We try to underplay the idli/dosai monotony by changing up the side dishes. This tiffen sambar was a refreshing change and I’d strongly recommend anyone stumped for a side-dish to try it out. I cut up regular sized idlis and dunked them in sambar. You could serve it on the side as well. old picture Preparation time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 5-6 Ingredients Toor dal – 1 cupSambar onions/Shallots – 15 peeled and halvedTomato – 1 choppedCarrot – 1 choppedDrumstick – 1Curry leaves – 1 stemsMustard seeds – 1 tspTurmeric powder – ½ tspJaggery powdered – 1 tbspSalt to tasteCoriander leaves – a handful for garnishingOil – 1 tbsp Masala Paste Coriander seeds – 3 tbspBengal gram/kadala paruppu – 2 tbspWhole dry red chillies – 12Cumin – 1/2 tspFenugreek/Methi seeds – 1 tspGrated coconut – 1/2 a coconut Method 1.      Pressure cook the toor dal till soft. Mash well and set aside. 2.      Dry roast all the ingredients under “Masala paste” except grated coconut till fragrant and the Bengal gram starts colouring. Grind the roasted ingredients along with coconut and a  water to a thick, nearly smooth paste. 3.      In a vessel/kadai, add oil and when hot, drop in the mustard seeds. When they splutter, throw in the sambar onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions turn translucent. 4.     Add the tomatoes and fry...

Quick and easy Paneer Bhurji/Paneer Podimas – Somberi series

I love quick, simple recipes because basically I am lazy (a somberi). I am always on the lookout for lazy ass recipes that I can whip up quickly and which will be well received by the family. This Paneer Podimas recipe qualifies on all counts. It is super quick, can be prepared in 5 minutes and tastes so good. It’s fresh, clean and delicious. I served it with poori. You could serve it with roti or pulav also. I am thinking of compiling a Somberi series of recipes, like the Dummies series. This somberi series would include quick, easy and simple recipes that do not involve a whole lot of time or skill – no flamboyant tossing of dough in the air, no hand le thatting and delicately dropping in oil, no stuffing and no piping. I don’t mean the kind of cheat recipes that you find in “GoodFood” magazine where everything (spice paste, coconut milk, frozen shrimp etc) is store bought and you just have to put them together. That’s not quick, that’s readymade. Halloumi cheese, malt vinegar, canned tuna, crème fraîche, polenta.. (ponga da neengalum unga recipes um). These recipes are not meant for you and me to cook at home. I would have to spend a fortune at Amma Naana and N2H and still wouldn’t be able to find all the ingredients. I’d have to personally import them from Italy or China or some such place. And if I ever make these dishes at home, I can imagine what my family would do; they’d expel me from the kitchen forever. These recipes are for the peters and marys,the ultra-suave to memorize so that they can describe what they had at that fancy new Japanese restaurant. Why does the “India” edition have such recipes? I told you, its not for you and me. Feel free to suggest recipes for this Someberi series. I will try to update this series as often as I can, lazy that I am. Preparation time: 2 mins Cooking time: 5 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Paneer – 250 gm crumbled or gratedOnion – 1 large chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 chopped fineTurmeric – 1/4 tspSalt to tasteOil – 2 tbsp Method 1.      Heat oil in a kadai/skillet. When hot, add chopped onions and green chillies. Sauté till the onions turn translucent. 2.      Drop the crumbled paneer into the skillet. Add turmeric and salt and mix well....

Kathirikkai Chops – Brinjal/Eggplant pepper masala

Brinjal is on many people’s hate list and there are some who love it. I am in between (always in between – naduvule konjam kaaname pone pakkam). I like it. Brinjal is one vegetable that elegantly carries off traditional Indian curries as well as baked continental fare. It is a very versatile vegetable and there are a dozen ways to cook it. They can be stuffed, baked into casseroles, deep fried like bajjis, shallow fried, stir-fried, pureed into pestos, grilled or roasted. What I am posting today is a simple fried version seasoned by a hot pepper-coconut masala. This Kathirikkai chops is a dry, spicy side dish that goes well with steamed rice or roti. There are lots of brinjals out there – small green ones, small purple ones, the big purple ones and the streaked purple ones are most commonly available. I used the small purple ones. You could try the dish with other varieties of brinjals as well. You never know, with this Kathirikkai chops, the brinjal hater in your family may actually start liking it (or may start hating me). My husband hated yogurt, lassi and other yogurt based dishes and would never touch them until once when he went to the US. He happened to try flavoured yogurt and he realized that he really liked it (as if it’s not available in Nilgiris. He knew but never dared to try it). He has been transformed ever since and enjoys lassi and our very own Nilgiris’ flavoured yogurt also. I dare you to try brinjal. If you don’t like it.. try again later.  Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Eggplant/Brinjal/Aubergine – 1/4 kilo chopped lengthwiseOnion – 1 choppedCurry leaves – 1 stemMustard seeds – ½ tspTurmeric powder – 1/2 tspOil – 1 tbsp + 1 tbspSalt to taste Masala Paste Coconut – 3 tbsp gratedBlack peppercorns – 1-1/2 tspCumin – 1 tsp Method 1.      Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai and when hot add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add onions and curry leaves and sauté till the onions are translucent. 2.      Drop in the chopped brinjal/eggplant and turmeric powder and let fry for a minute. Cover and cook on low for 5 minutes. 3.      Meanwhile grind together grated coconut, black peppercorns, cumin and water in a mixer to a smooth paste. 4.      Add the ground paste to the brinjal...

South-Indian style Chicken soup – Kid friendly version

The Chicken soup I am posting today is an ideal introductory chicken dish for toddlers. It is mild, delicately flavoured and easy on little tummies. This dish is super quick and super easy and it can easily be transformed into an adult version with a few extra spices. I usually serve this soup with rice or as a side with idli. My 3 year old likes chomping on the chicken pieces. For my 1 year old, I dump the rice, soup and a few chicken pieces in the mixer and give a quick blitz, a very quick one so that it is a coarse mixture and not pureed all the way. It’s a good alternative to the usual paruppu saadam (rice and dal). I don’t  usually cook separately for my kids, but sometimes I do. I think once in a while, they deserve their own custom-made meal. I think the entire cooking in the house has in general become more kid friendly – we’ve cut down on the chillies, totally eliminated channa dal from all our  tempering (my kids don’t like biting into the dal), we make more Kormas/dal based curries (which are milder) and there is always idli maavu (Idli batter) in the fridge which is so reassuring. Long day, frenetic action for a function the next day, or the day after the frenetic function, kids sick, maid on leave, power shut-down, or even better – power shut-down and no water in the tank – whatever the odds, as long as you have idli maavu, you can manage.   On holiday trips, I remember how grateful we’d be for the puliche idlis (however sour and rubbery) that Taj served at around 100 rupees per idli (Yes 100!). Most hotels don’t serve idli at dinner buffets or even on order. My kids are by now so attuned to “an idli a day, everyday” routine that nothing else would do. They want their idli. No “kid friendly” macaroni and cheese for them. By the way, nothing is kid friendly when served on porcelain plates or in fancy wineglasses. Not a lot of moms on these hotel decision making panels, I think. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 2-3 Ingredients Boneless Chicken pieces – 10 small cubesOnion – 1 choppedTomato – 1 choppedGinger – 1/2 an inch pieceGarlic – 5-6 pods peeledCoriander powder – 1-1/2 tspChilli powder – 1/2 tspTurmeric – 1/4 tspBlack pepper...

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