Garlic Rasam | Poondu Rasam

Loaded with fried garlic, freshly ground spices and tempered with ghee this Garlic rasam is hot, aromatic and heavenly with hot steamed rice. Every house has its signature rasam and rarely do they try any other. My mother makes it with paruppu-thani (watery lentil/dal juices). My in-laws make the gottu rasam without paruppu thani. However you make your rasam, there’s nothing else that spells home-food like hot steamed rice, rasam and a dollop of ghee. It’s the ultimate Tamil comfort food. It’s light (forget the ghee for a minute), mild and easy on the stomach. If you don’t know rasam, it is sort of a spiced clear soup that is had with rice. Some rasams can make good soups too. I was feeling particularly revolutionary one weekend and I had free reign of the kitchen. So I set out to make this Garlic Rasam. The recipe is from Chandra Padmanabhan’s book, Dakshin. The Garlic rasam turned out really well and I thoroughly enjoyed it alongside KovakkaiKari and hot steamed rice. But beware. If you can’t stand garlic, this rasam is not for you. This garlic rasam has enough garlic to ward away the scariest Draculas. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 10 minsServes: 4 IngredientsGarlic – 25 pods peeledTamarind extract – about 2 cups from a lemon sized tamarind ballMustard seeds – ½ tspAsafoetida – a pinchWhole dry red chillies – 2Salt to tasteOil – 2 tspGhee – 1 tspCoriander leaves – 2 tbsp chopped Ingredients – Spice PowderWhole dry Red chillies – 4Coriander seeds – 2 tspCumin seeds – 1 tspWhole black peppercorns – ½ tspBengal gram/Kadalai paruppu – 2 tsp Method 1.      Dry roast the ingredients under spice powder until the Bengal gram turns red. Cool and grind to a fine powder. Set aside. 2.      Heat a kadai. Pour in the tamarind extract, add salt and let it come to a gentle boil. 3.      Meanwhile fry the garlic pods in 2 tsp oil till golden around the edges. Remove from fire and set aside. 4.      When the tamarind extract comes to a boil, add the spice powder and stir. Let boil for 2 minutes. Tip in the fried garlic. Switch off. 5.      Now for the tempering, heat 1 tsp ghee and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the red chillies and asafoetida. Pour over rasam. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Vadakari | Vadagari – Idli’s best companion

Yet another side dish for Idli. There can’t be enough of them. We wake up to idlis, eat them for dinner watching super singer, pack them up for long drives and even order them at Taj knowing Taj idlis. I sleep assured that 3 large steel dabbas of idli maavu (idli batter) sit in the bottom shelf of our fridge. Idli-Vadakari is my most favourite idli combination. For a very long time I thought Vadakari is made from leftover masala vadais which is probably how they make it in most hotels. But that Vadakari can be made from scratch without making masala vadais, I learnt as the first lesson after marriage. My maamiyaar (mother-in-law) laughed when I asked her if we don’t have to make masala vadais first. I didn’t know better. At home we always ordered vadakari from hotels. We’d never made it. One of the very first recipes I learnt in my new home was Vadakari and I’ll tell you this. It is simply beautiful. It can give any hotel Vadakari a run for its money. My dad thought it was great and I’ve given my mother this recipe. Vadakari is quite straightforward but just a little time consuming, that is if your alternative is chutney or idli milagai podi. Grinding the dal is the most important first step. Make sure to only pulse the dal in quick bursts so that it is coarsely ground. The second important step is frying the ground dal. The fried dal has to be completely dry and crumbly. This takes time, patience and a generous amount of oil. Don’t skimp. The rest is a breeze. If you get the first two steps right then you are on your way to an award winning Vadakari. Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 40 mins Serves: 5-6 Ingredients Kadalai paruppu/Channa dal/Bengal gram – 1-1/2 cups soaked for 2 hours Onions – 2 large chopped fine Tomatoes – 2 large chopped fine Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp Turmeric powder – ½ tsp Salt to taste Water – 2 cups Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece Bay leaf – 1 Oil – 5 tbsp Coriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishing Masala paste Ginger – 1 inch piece scraped Garlic pods – 7 Green chillies – 3  Sombu/Saunf/Fennel seeds – 1 tsp Method 1.      Rinse channa dal/kadalai paruppu in 2-3 changes of water or till...

Aloo Tikki Chole | Indian Chaat

The third and final combo dish in the series and Jagan’s all-time favourite chaat order, here is Aloo Tikki Chole. He actually prefers his chole with samosa but that wasn’t one of the Combo dishes list in Blogging Marathon. So Aloo Tikki Chole it was. The Aloo Tikki Chole turned out really well and Jagan enjoyed it thoroughly. You could deep fry the Aloo Tikkis for that wonderful crisp, yumminess that only deep fried foods can provide. Shallow frying is a good alternative if you don’t want to use up too much oil and that tastes pretty good too. This combo is substantial enough to be served for a filling breakfast. That’s what I did. But you could serve it along with evening tea as well. I am writing this post from home, so there’s no time for funny stories. Just the recipe this time. Lucky you guys! Prep time: 30 minsCooking time: 45 minsServes: 4 Chole Ingredients Kabuli Channa/White Chickpeas – 1-1/2 cups soaked overnightBlack Cardamom – 3Cinnamon – 1 inch stickCloves – 3Onions – 2 large chopped fineTomatoes – 2 large chopped fineGinger Juliennes – 1 tspRed Chilli powder – 2 tbspGaram Masala powder – 2 tspSalt to tasteOil – 2 tbspButter – 1 tbsp Aloo Tikki Ingredients Potatoes – 4-5 large boiled, peeled and mashedRed chilli powder – 1 tbspGaram Masala – 1 tspTurmeric powder – ½ tspCoriander powder – ½ tspAmchur powder/Raw Mango powder – 2 pinchesSalt to tasteOil – 3 tbsp Garnish Sweet Tamarind chutney – 2-3 tbsp for garnishGreen chutney – 2-3 tbsp for garnish1 Large onion – chopped fine for garnish Method 1.       Prepare a potli (small cloth bag) tying together the whole spices – black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves together. Drop it into the pressure cooker. Rinse the soaked chickpeas and dump them into the cooker. Now throw in a tea bag as well. If you don’t have tea bags, just add a teaspoon of tea leaves/tea powder to the potli. Add sufficient water and pressure cook till soft. Switch off, discard the potli and set aside. 2.       To a kadai, add 2 tbsp oil and when hot throw in the ginger juliennes followed by the chopped onions. Fry till they turn translucent. Then add in the chopped tomatoes and fry till they turn soft. Then add the spice powders and salt and mix well. Add the boiled chickpeas and mix well....

More Kuzhambu (Mor Kulambu) and Potato Roast

The second classic combo in the series is More Kuzhambu and Potato Roast. It had been ages since I made Mor Kulambu and I really liked the idea of it because it’s super quick to make. This entire combo meal will not take you more than half an hour tops. It’s easy enough for weekday mornings too. More Kuzhambu is a regular at my Mom’s place but is rarely ever made here because folks here are against curd/yogurt in general. But guess what, Hasini really liked the kuzhambu and Yuvan ate it too. My day was made. My mother makes an even easier version with kadalai maavu but that’s a post for another day. I used Chandra Padmanabhan’s recipe for this More kuzhambu and I think it was faultless. It had just the right amount of bite and heat from the ginger and green chillies and a light tang from the yogurt. The potato roast is of course child’s play. I prefer this kind of dry potato roast any day over the potato thokku that is often made at home. Just boil potatoes, toss in spice powders and sauté till crisped around the edges. You could play around with the spice mixes for the potato roast. I like to keep it simple with just red chilli powder and turmeric. I like to add the spice powders to the oil before throwing in the potatoes as that way the potatoes are more evenly coated in the spices. But try it anyway you wish, you really can’t go wrong with it. This combo meal goes to Blogging Marathon #36 for the Combo dishes theme. Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 4-5 More Kuzhambu Ingredients Yogurt/Curd – 2 cups whisked well Turmeric powder – 1 tsp Salt to taste Oil – 1 tbsp Spice Paste Green chillies – 6-8 Cumin – 2 tsp Ginger – 2 inch piece Tuvaram paruppu/Toor dal/Red gram – 2 tbsp Kadalai paruppu/Bengal gram – 3 tbsp Grated coconut – 3 tbsp Water – just enough to soak the 2 dals listed above Tempering Whole dry red chillies – 2 broken in halves Mustard seeds – 1 tsp Curry leaves – 1 stem Hing/Asafoetida – pinch Method 1.       Soak the 2 dals together for about 1 hour. Grind together all ingredients under spice paste to a fine paste. 2.       Whisk curd well. Add the spice paste...

Idiyappam and Sodhi

You know how it is in offices before a holiday break and then after it. In-spite of a whole lot of “FYI”,  “Coming soon” messages indicating the upcoming holidays, the client teams are routinely surprised that we’re on holiday, they invariably have things planned around the holiday so that we’re scampering at the last moment hitting “Send” and then racing to catch the last bus home. Then they work diligently during our holiday making sure our inbox is full of adorable little love notes when we come back – “dust the cupboards darling, wash the dishes and don’t forget to clean the toilet as well”. Chella kutti!  I am still dusting all those 128 cupboards after the Pongal holidays and haven’t gotten to the dishes and the toilet. (For those who think I am doing housekeeping work, No no, atleast not yet. It was a metaphor). I wouldn’t be posting today if not for Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon. I am glad I signed up for the last 2 weeks. Starting today I’ll be posting 3 classic combo dishes and today’s combo is Idiyappam and Sodhi. Sodhi is a Tirunelveli dish, a beautiful, mild coconut milk based vegetable stew that is usually served with Idiyappam or rice. You can use any combination of mixed vegetables for the Sodhi. I used Drumstick, carrot, beans and potatoes. I never usually make a distinction between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd extracts of coconut milk. I just use them all together. I rarely extract a 2nd or 3rd time even. But this stew demands that you make the distinction. The vegetables are cooked in the thin coconut milk extract (2nd and 3rd extracts or just a diluted 2nd extract if you’re lazy like me) till tender and the thick coconut milk is added towards the end. The stew is quite straight forward from there. Sodhi was refreshingly different to the usual side dishes we make for Idiyappam. Those who like it hot and spicy, be warned – this stew may not be for you, it is really mild with a slight hint of sweet even from the coconut milk added at the end. Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 5 Sodhi Ingredients Coconut milk – 1 Large coconut (Thick 1st extract and Thin 2nd and 3rd extract kept separate)Onion – 1 large chopped fineMixed vegetables – 1-1/2 cups (I used Carrot/Beans/Potatoes/Drumstick)Moong Dal/Paasi paruppu – 3...

Arachivitta Sambar | Ground Coconut Sambar

I am still recovering from the after-effects of a team dinner at Hyatt Regency, Chennai yesterday. You know that feeling when you’ve not really had too much but you feel terribly full, uneasy and you would appreciate a good puke? Well, it was just that yesterday. Before I elaborate on yesterday’s experience, here is a little about the recipe I am posting today – Araithivitta Sambar or Arachivitta Sambar. This is a thick, substantial sambar that is best served with steamed rice, appalam and light poriyals (stir-fried vegetables) or fried vegetables. I followed the famous Chandra Padmanabhan’s Arachivitta sambar recipe from her book Dakshin. I picked this book up on an impulse at a Bangalore bookstore many years ago and it is one of my most-often read cookbooks. It is a little treasure-trove of South-Indian recipes. This sambar turned out great; lovely aroma and wonderful flavour from the freshly roasted and ground spices. Left to my devices I would have added just a dash of jaggery (I like that hint of sweetness that balances out the tang and spice in a sambar), but I didn’t as Jagan and the rest of my family don’t like it that way. You could thin the sambar down with a little water if desired. If you’ve not tried it before, I strongly recommend trying this Arachivitta Sambar, the next time you make Sambar. This Arachivitta Sambar tastes special and would be a good choice for the festival days as well. Back to Hyatt, it was the usual 5-star buffet – panner tikka and chicken kebab for starters, steamed rice, veg pulav, 2 dals, paneer gravy, baby potato gravy, a local dish that never tastes like the actual dish (yesterday it was poondu Kuzhambu, the other favourite in this category is Ennai Kathirikkai Kuzhambu), a similar spread on the non-veg side, desserts in those cute mini white dishes (I love those dishes) and a whole lot of salads. I think the salads did me in yesterday or maybe it was the chicken kebab, I am not sure. The chicken kebab was bad. The chicken and asparagus salad was vile. The hummus had no trace of any flavour, bland and perfectly international. However a few of the desserts were really good, particularly the panacotta with berry compote and the café latte pudding but the cakes were just plain old. I always feel 5-star hotel buffets (specifically buffets,...

Chettinad style Pepper Chicken | Pepper Chicken Masala

This chettinad style pepper chicken can give any restaurant pepper chicken a run for its money. It’s absolutely fabulous and minus the restaurant style oil spill on top. This pepper chicken is loaded with the flavour of freshly ground peppercorns, shallots and garlic rounded out by the fried coconut. The fried coconut provides excellent texture and that lovely scoopable body to the curry. I love this with rice and Sambar or rice and rasam. It would also make a really nice pair with chappathi. I served this chettinad style pepper chicken with rice, Arachivitta sambar and Paneer fry. I altered my mother’s mutton chops recipe to arrive at this chettinad style pepper chicken.  If you feel like Chettinad food, don’t pick up the phone, pick up the karandi instead – this is so much better and definitely safer for your tummy. I almost always end up with an upset stomach the day after we eat hotel chicken. I love the RealGood Chicken that sells in department stores. It’s always fresh and it’s already cleaned, cut and neatly packed which means absolutely zero prep-work with the chicken. Cooking chicken just got even easier. Ours is a chicken crazy family and every weekend it is chicken at home and I need to find new ways to spin it. Not that our family will ever get bored of chicken. It’s just that I’d be bored of cooking it the same way every time. But there is a wonderful charm in making that familiar oft-repeated dish which comes so naturally, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, stir, mix, done. You don’t measure, taste or adjust seasoning. You just know. The only thing that I make that confidently is the vegetable biryani and maybe bulls eye. Everything else, I still like to check. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kiloTurmeric powder – 1 tspSalt to tasteCurry leaves – 1 stemOnions – 2 medium slicedOil – 5 tbsp + 1 tbsp Masala Ingredients Grated Coconut – from half a coconut (3/4 cup)Whole Black peppercorns – 2 tbspSambar Onions/Shallots – 6Curry Leaves – 1 stemCumin – 1 tspGinger – 1 inch scrapedGarlic – 5 cloves peeled Method 1.      Wash and clean chicken. Pat dry and set aside. 2.      In a Kadai/skillet, add 1 tbsp oil and all masala ingredients other than grated coconut and sauté for 2-3 minutes...

Mutton Thengai Araitha Kuzhambu / Kari Kuzhambu

I did not start out to make this kuzhambu. I started out to make the traditional Kari Kuzhambu (without coconut) and then meandered to this kuzhambu because of some indiscriminate salting. Some unasked Kitchen Advice: Always add salt in one go. Whenever you do it in phases, you overdo it. I certainly overdo it. In trying to correct the kuzhambu I made some additions and stumbled on this kuzhambu. However, this is a nice, thick, full bodied mutton kuzhambu that will make a great side dish with Kal Dosai or Idli or Chappathi or even rice.  The most important thing in a Kari Kuzhambu is obviously the Kari (mutton), so make sure it is tender and fresh. The reddish ones are no good I’ve been told. Fresh tender mutton is pinkish. Start with good tender mutton and you’ll end up with succulent, flavourful mutton kuzhambu. Prep time: 12 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Mutton – ½ kiloOnions – 2 large chopped fineTomatoes – 2 large choppedGinger – 1 inch piece scraped (optional)Green chillies – 3 slit lengthwiseGarlic – 8 cloves peeledShallots/Sambar onions – 5 peeledRed chilli powder – 2 heaped tbspTurmeric powder – 1 tspSalt to tasteCinnamon – 1 inch pieceCloves – 2Oil – 2 tbspWater – 2 cups (Adjust) Ground Paste Grated Coconut – ½ cupWhole Black Peppercorns – 1 tsp Method 1.      Wash and clean mutton well. Grind the ginger, garlic and shallots together to a paste. Set aside. Grind together the coconut and whole black peppercorns adding a little water to a smooth paste. Set aside. 2.      Take the mutton in a pressure cooker. Add the chopped onions and tomatoes. Also add the ginger garlic paste, slit green chillies, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and just enough water to immerse the mutton. Close and pressure cook for 3 whistles or about 20 minutes. If mutton is not soft, cook for a further 5-10 minutes. 3.      In a kadai, add oil and when hot, add the cinnamon and cloves. Then lower the heat and transfer the cooked mutton mixture to the kadai. Turn heat to high and cook till the mixture has thickened slightly. Add the ground coconut masala and water if required to thin to the desired consistency. Stir well and let it come to a boil. Simmer covered for 5-10 minutes. Uncover, give it a good stir and switch off. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Simple Chicken Curry

 Free Photography lesson here to use non-shiny/matte plates for your food photos! Chicken is like potatoes. Delicious however you make it and there are innumerable ways you can make them (Chicken and potatoes). This chicken curry is simple, smooth and finger-licking good. It goes beautifully with rice, roti or chappathi. Since I started cooking seriously I’ve started paying attention to the little details. Most curries have onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic but how you use these in your curry makes a lot of difference to how the final curry tastes. You could just fry onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic paste, you can grind them all raw and use them, you can fry them and then grind them before incorporating them in the curry (which is what I do in this recipe), you can blanch, puree and then add them in.. and so on. Now there’ll be folks who’ll say it’s all the same. But serious foodies, people who are passionate about their food will know that each one tastes different however subtly so. I can’t say between a Toyota Fortuner and an Outlander. Jagan goes freaking wild if I say both seem the same (like JKB in in Sindhu Bairavi). But I really don’t mind if people don’t appreciate the nuances in the food as long as they enjoy what I cook. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 3-4 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kiloOnions – 2 large choppedTomatoes – 2 large choppedGinger – 2 inch piece scraped and choppedGarlic – 7 cloves peeledGreen chillies – 4Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp.Turmeric powder – ¾ tspSalt to tasteOil – 4 tbsp Method 1.      Wash and clean chicken. 2.      To a kadai add 2 tbsp oil and when hot add the chopped onions. Fry till they turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and fry till they turn soft. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic and fry till the green chillies are scorched and the garlic browned in places. Transfer the fried ingredients to a mixer. Let cool slightly. Grind to a smooth paste. 3.      To the same kadai add the remaining tbsp. of oil and the chicken. Fry till the chicken turns white. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, the ground paste and salt. Mix well. Cover and simmer till the chicken is cooked through and the oil has separated – about 15-20 minutes. Uncover, give a stir. Switch off....

Paruppu Kadayal / Dal Tadka / Lentil Stew

This Paruppu kadayal is comfort food as I’ve always known it. This Dal/Paruppu goes beautifully with rice and is perfect for toddlers, kids and all ages. Packed with nutrition, simple and quick to make, it is my number one choice (over Sambar anyday) when I am preparing a vegetarian meal. By the way I am terribly bored with Sambar these days and I would do anything to get out of eating it. What with all these festivals, Sambar is the default and it is taking its toll. Kanne Kattudhu! I grew up with Paruppu Rasam saadam where the Paruppu is even more basic. It is just cooked with turmeric and salt until soft and then mashed and tempered. This is served with rice and a hot milagu (pepper) rasam. However this paruppu kadayal/lentil stew doesn’t need a rasam. You can serve this with rice and a generous helping of melted ghee along with appalam (or vathal/vatral) and vegetables. Simple, hearty and tasty home-food at its best. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Toor Dal/Tuvaram paruppu/Red gram – 1 cup rinsed in 2-3 changes of waterShallots/Sambar onions – 10-12 peeled and chopped or 1 Large onion choppedGreen chillies – 3-4 slit lengthwiseGarlic – 7 cloves peeled Tomato – 1 large choppedTurmeric powder – ½ tspAsafoetida – a pinchSalt to tasteWater – 1-3/4 cupsCoriander leaves – a handful chopped Tempering Oil – 2 tbspMustard seeds – 1 tspGarlic – 7 cloves peeled and sliced lengthwise Cumin – ½ tsp Method 1.      Rinse the dal/lentils in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Transfer the lentils to a pressure cooker. Add chopped shallots, tomatoes and whole garlic cloves to the lentils. Add about 1-3/4 cups water. Season with turmeric powder, salt and Asafoetida. Add the slit green chillies. Close and pressure cook up to 2 whistles or 15 minutes. 2.      When the pressure subsides, open and mash the dal. Set aside. 3.      In a kadai or small tempering pan, add oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they have spluttered, add the cumin and sliced garlic. Fry on low heat till the garlic is golden. Dump the tempering mixture over the dal and mix well. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve hot with rice and ghee.

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