Paniyaram

Paniyaram from leftover Dosa batter

Kids of lazy moms will know that Milagai podi and Kissan Jam are universal side dishes. One of the two will go with anything. That’s what these kids have been raised to believe. Ask Hasini and Yuvan if you wish to check. In my book, milagai podi is game for all kinds of idli, dosai, oothappam, paniyaram, upma or adai. I smear jam on dosai, chappathi, poori, bread, use it as a topping over oats, porridge, ice cream and sometimes eat spoonfuls straight from the jar when I am craving something sweet. I got caught doing just that. Since I am a responsible mother, I don’t let them eat out of the jam jar but I’ll do it when no-one’s around. When I got caught, I had to explain my veto powers and how nobody else can be trusted to handle the jam jar the right way. The other day I made paniyarams and served it with milagai podi with no qualms. I’ve always made paniyaram with leftover dosa batter. There is a point in the lifetime of a dosa batter when the dosa turns too sour and rubbery. That’s the point when wives and mommies unleash their creativity and come up with all sorts of ingenious recipes to make use of that leftover dosa batter. This paniyaram is one of the recipes I make often when I am left with sour dosa batter. I also make vengaya dosai, podi oothappam or these sweet and sour leftover idli batter fritters. These paniyarams are dumb-easy to make. Prepare a tempering of some basic ingredients – onion, chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Mix this into your leftover batter, pour into paniyaram moulds and cook. As simple as that. These paniyarams are convenient to pack in tiffin boxes too. Print Recipe Paniyaram from leftover dosa batter Dumb-easy to make, these paniyarams are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Yum! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 15 minutes Servings 15 paniyaram Ingredients 3 cups Leftover Dosa batter1 Onion, chopped fine1 Green chilli, minced1 inch Ginger, minced1 stem Curry leaves1/2 tsp Mustard seeds2 tsp Oil, for tempering3 tbsp Oil, for paniyarams Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 15 minutes Servings 15 paniyaram Ingredients 3 cups Leftover Dosa batter1 Onion, chopped fine1 Green chilli, minced1 inch Ginger, minced1 stem Curry leaves1/2 tsp Mustard seeds2...
Ragi dosai

Ragi Dosai

Exams over, a wonderful next week that looks rosy and peaceful with no-homework evenings and with tickets to 3 of the 4 movies released this week, I am tempted to sing “Idhu podhum ennaku, Idhu podhume. Vera yenna vendum idhu podhume…!” I saw Seethakathi this morning. I loved the movie.  One down, three more to go. I need to give a little bit of background before I plunge into the story I am going to share with you. Watching cinema is serious business around here. A Friday night movie is what wraps up a week for me. I drive bordering on reckless just so I don’t miss the opening “S” “U” “P” “E” “R” “S” “T” “A” “R”. I have no courtesy and I don’t wait for late-comers. I won’t give them a recap of the story so far. I make my kids go multiple times to the bathroom before we leave for the theatre so that they won’t disturb me during the movie. I don’t talk during the movie. Now that you have the background, here’s what happened. I went for a mid-morning show of Seethakathi which was half-empty. A big group of young girls and guys, likely college students were seated in the front rows. The movie was starting. As groups of guys and girls this age are wont to do, they were trying very hard and very loud to impress each other. I thought they were settling into their seats. Let’s give them a few minutes. The guys made a lot of loud un-funny jokes. The girls giggled excessively. We were well into the movie. I hoped they’d stop now. In the next 2 minutes maybe. I couldn’t hear the dialogue. Last chance – one more minute. That is it! I marched out to find the theatre staff. I told him if he didn’t tell them to shut up, I would. He promised to address the problem. I went back to my seat and waited. Two of the theatre staff walked down to the front rows and spoke to the guys and girls seated there. He told them that if they didn’t keep quiet he’d have to throw them out. Even better I thought. The group were offended that they would be “thrown out”. They argued with the theatre staff for a bit and the whole group then walked out in protest. Success! It’s surprising to me...
Veg godhumai sevai

Veg wheat sevai

Here is a movie script synopsis. The Dosai maavu companies, ‘ready-to-eat’ and breakfast mix companies are unable to get a stronghold into the South-Indian household. They expect their packs to fly off the shelves but that’s not happening. They’re unable to crack the code. They sense they’re up against a powerful competitor. They do some research and realize that they’re up against the ‘Upma’. They can’t compete with a 5-minute dish that requires nothing more than salt, water and a handful of pantry staples. They set out to undermine the image of Upma. They hatch a conspiracy against Upma. They fund meme and troll campaigns to make fun of upma, to put it down. They successfully create a bad rap for Upma. Then they introduce an Upma-mix to rub it in. The hero’s favourite dish is Upma. He has to somehow save the Upma from extinction. How he saves the upma and the world from the evil forces makes the rest of the story. Why not? The Americans can set two sets of robot cum cars against each other for a metal dabba (Transformer). I never did understand the Upma-mix though. What was that? They packed the rava and salt into a pack?   I am a great fan of all kinds of Upma, both eating and making. Upma encompasses all kinds of rava & vermicelli. The one I am sharing today is made with wheat sevai – Godhumai sevai (fine wheat vermicelli). I made a simple veggie godhumai sevai with it. The godhumai sevai is store bought. It’s super easy to prepare. Sevai is usually much finer than vermicelli and should not be cooked in boiling water. Sevai has to be soaked for a short while and then tossed with the desired spices and veggies. Alternately you can make a sweet version of this sevai by steaming it and then mixing in grated coconut, ghee and sugar. Enjoy!   Print Recipe Veg wheat sevai Lightening quick, delicious veggie wheat sevai for any time of the day! Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 12 minutes Servings 3 people Ingredients 200 gm Godhumai sevai 1 Onion, finely chopped 2 green chillies, slit 1 cup finely chopped vegetables (carrots & green beans) 10 Cashews, broken 1/2 tsp mustard seeds Salt to taste 2 cups Water (to soak the sevai) 2 tbsp Oil 1 tsp Ghee Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 12...
Peas Poha upma

Peas poha upma

It’s that time of the year in Chennai when everyday is a potential school holiday. Give one holiday and we’re spoilt. We keep checking the news and whatsapp groups for a holiday announcement every day after that. For me, a school holiday means an extra hour of sleep, so that I start cooking late and I am late to office by the same amount of time that I am late on school days. I am consistent that way. I feel vulnerable when I am out of idli maavu (idli/dosa batter). It’s like you’re at a function and nobody seems to notice you and you don’t have your phone, so you can’t act busy. You could have scrolled through your empty whatsapp chat and looked at people’s profile pictures. Now you’re forced to look at people, half-smile because it’s not clear if they’re smiling at you. You end up making conversation with some aunty next to you and realize it’s not so bad after all. You realized you’re not as anti-social as you thought you were. Only when I am out of idli maavu do I explore other tiffen possibilities. I quite enjoy the different tiffens that I come up with and I am surprised I didn’t try these more often. One of those days, I made Peas poha with the leftover Aval (poha) from Krishna Jayanthi. I like my poha on the chewier side, so I don’t cook it too long. If you like it softer, you can sprinkle a little bit of water and cook a little longer. This Poha Upma is infinitely customizable. I skipped the usual boiled potatoes because I wanted to cut down the carbs. Instead I added peas. You could add sweet corn or paneer or anything else you fancy. You can add some grated ginger for extra zing. You can add fried cashews for extra interest. Make it your own. It’s infinitely easy and is full of fresh, yummy flavours. Enjoy! Print Recipe Peas poha upma Peas poha upma is infinitely easy and is full of fresh, yummy flavours. Enjoy! Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 5-8 minutes Servings 3-4 people Ingredients 4 cups Poha / Aval / Flattened rice1 cup fresh green peas1 Onion chopped fine2 Green chillies chopped fine1/2 tsp Mustard seeds1/2 tsp Turmeric powderSalt to taste1 lemon, juiced2 tbsp oil1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time...
Sathu Maavu Adai

Sathu Maavu Adai & Tomato Thokku | What’s your happy song?

I know the song I’ll dance to if I reach my goal weight. I know where I’d shop for what when I reach my goal weight. I know the neck patterns I want for my new saree blouses. I know I won’t post before & after pictures because I’d want to pretend that I was never fat. I’ll probably try to spin a series on how I lost all that weight. I may try to shoot a video doing push-ups. The entire plan is there. I just need to lose the weight. It’s the same song I’ll dance to if I am published. It’s my happy song. You have your own happy song too, don’t you? Come on. You don’t? Everyone has to have one. Think of one right now. You never know when you’ll need your happy song. Your child may get selected in Vijay TV super singer in which case you’ll get hired as a full time performer at Vijay TV. You’ll need a song and a few steps for your sarakku party/booze party. You’ll need to dance at the cousin’s/friend’s wedding; if you do well you could be an extra in their wedding music video. Want to know my happy song? Here it is (Tap the image below for the full video). I love it because it seems just like how I’d dance if I were happy – uncomplicated, comfortable, unbelieving of my luck, insanely grateful, crazy happy and in a lungi. What’s your happy song? Let me know in the comments. Here’s the long pending update on my weightloss journey – Project50k. I’ve been yo-yoing around a 1 kilo range for several months now with the end nowhere in sight. I decided to up the ante a bit and try something adverse this week – A week full of salad lunches. I am not a salad person. I am actually a biryani person. I know there are people who claim to be salad people. I do not believe anyone can be a salad person deep inside, in their heart. For me it is particularly difficult. I don’t believe I’ve ever ordered a salad in a restaurant. It always seemed ridiculous to me. I’ll however be eating salads all this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile here’s an easy-peasy Sathu Maavu adai recipe I tried last week. I am sure you’ve made ragi adai...
Sprouts dosai, crispy, delicious dosai that is healthy too

Sprouts Dosai | Tastiest breakfast that includes sprouts

I want to share a spectacularly easy and delicious Sprouts Dosai recipe with you but I want to tell you a little story first.  Story I was cycling away at the gym. A mobile phone rang somewhere nearby. The person next to me on another cycle picked up one of his two mobiles. It was one of those large screen LED TV type mobiles and there was a bright flash of light which even I with my poor eyesight could see quite clearly. A woman’s photo flashed on the screen. I turned away because I am decent and well-mannered and I don’t peep into people’s mobiles. He spoke for a couple of minutes which I did not listen to. I happened to turn that way when he hung up, the light caught my eye and I saw “Wife Darling” in big bold letters on his phone. Now I didn’t know which way to look. I looked at others who were very seriously going about their workout uncaring of what I had witnessed. I had to say this to somebody. So I am writing it on my blog. I’ve also seen a few men who stored their wife’s number as “My Wife”. This particular Parthiban and Vadivelu scene comes to mind. Why the “My”? It’s not like you have the numbers of all the wifes in your apartment – “ABlock 19 Wife”, “B34 Wife”, “Carparking fighter’s wife”… I tried to understand the characters who’ll store their wife’s number as “Wife Darling”, “My Wife”, “Wife Chellakutti” and so on. I know we store our mom or dad’s number as mom/amma, dad/appa because that’s how we call them. But “Wife Darling”?! I tried to list down the kinds of people who’ll do that: New to marriage Is the expressive kind of person who’ll write long posts on facebook praising his wife for cooking for him and having his socks sorted. Is the kind of guy who likes to be “mothered” (smothered), the one whose wife calls him 20 times a day, tells him what to wear, what to eat, answers for him and accompanies him everywhere he goes. This is the kind of guy who’ll willingly hand over his phone to the wife who’ll read his whatsapp messages, change his picture and then name herself “wife darling”. This could be the person who forwards exclusively “nagging-wife” kind of un-funny jokes to all whatsapp...
Avial

Avial

It’s almost the end of summer vacation and it looks like we did every “don’t”. I woke up late everyday. The kids woke up even later. They didn’t work on their handwriting. They didn’t read. They didn’t help around. They did watch Bahubali thrice. They watched Inception with Jagan, Maanagaram and Kannathil Muthamittaal with me and Vijay TV serials with my mother. They binge-watched cartoons. I joined them at times if they were watching Motu Patlu. Hasini, Yuvan & Paati struck a secret deal with the Kwality walls fellow to stop every morning at our gate at an hour that I am usually scurrying around to get ready for office. Hasini and Yuvi eat their ice cream under the protection of the grandparents and arrive at the breakfast table with wiped mouth and hands and a poker face. They learnt to ride their bicycle without the practice wheels. They sing all of Bahubali’s songs. Yuvi does a katappa head bow when I ask him to finish his dosai. I am hoping that all the cinema will give them a good foundation in the arts. I didn’t make any of the vathals I planned to make. I bought vadu maangai with good intentions, lovingly stored them in the fridge just until they rotted and promptly threw them away and felt a weight lift off me. Weekends were even lazier which meant I made a heavy breakfast served it late and pretended to not notice lunch time. One lazy weekend morning we had this adai avial for breakfast. I’ve never been a big fan of Avial. But I was a convert once I ate Adai Avial at a restaurant. I asked my friend Lakshmi how she made Avial at home. She expertly and very simply broke down the Avial recipe for me in between mouthfuls of Adai Avial we were sharing. It worked like a charm. Boil vegetables with salt till tender, grind together your avial masala, combine everything together and top it off with a fragrant coconut oil tempering. That is really all there is to it. Try it.  
Tomato chutney

Jaya’s tomato chutney

Jaya is the cook at my parent’s home. Her hair has grown into a longish boy crop after her mottai at her kula deivam kovil. She comes in every morning and asks my mother for the day’s menu. They chat for a bit. She talks about her grandkids sometimes. She sits down on the floor with the “Arvamanai” to cut her vegetables. She takes her time. She arranges them into neat piles on a large plate and then moves to the stove to cook. She is an oil-guzzler. Her seppan-kezhangu roast (arbi/colocasia) is an absolute beauty – golden crisp, crunchy kezahngu with plenty of those irresistible fried masala streusel bits. I eat her seppan-kezhangu roast straight, not with rice or alongside anything, just straight. I realized that that kind of a beautiful roast requires that much of oil. At that moment I also learnt why sometimes the same recipe tasted so divine when my Ammama made it, when my mother made it but just didn’t seem as great when I tried it. Two things I often am guilty of doing – skimping on oil/ghee and not being patient enough for the onions to brown, for the tomatoes to turn mushy. It makes all the difference. I’ve hence decided that I either make the dish whole-heartedly using as much oil as it takes or not make it at all. Jaya also makes the most amazing tomato chutney – a deep red chutney, oil glistening around the edges dotted with mustard seeds and curry leaves. This tomato chutney is unlike your other chutnies. You’d fry your ingredients and then grind them to make your chutney. Not this one. It is done backwards. You grind your tomatoes and chillies and then cook the chutney. The chutney is such a fine balance of hot, tart and sweet flavours, that can come only when the chutney is slowly simmered in plenty of oil until the oil oozes out the sides. That is the sign of doneness. That is the point when hot, tart and sweet reach that lovely symphony. Make this chutney for your idli, dosai or poori and I promise you you’ll never make tomato chutney any other way.

Bombay Toast

I am officially jet-lagged. I am dozing away early evening, at night and waking up late too and finally that seemed to be acceptable. But someone told me that sleeping any time of the day is actually extreme laziness being passed off as jet-lag. I pretended to be falling asleep when ‘someone’ was still talking. I am very mature. I spent the last month in US of A but resisted the urge to change my Facebook location. Don’t worry guys – I made sure to visit Niagara. Indian travelling to east coast is not allowed back in India if they don’t produce their Niagara floaters. I did what I had to.   I ate my way through chicken salad sandwiches, quinoa bowls, Burritos, orange chicken, Japanese bento box lunches, pancakes, cheese burgers, Greek Gyros, pizza, Bao buns, eggplant parmigiana, pot-pies, ravioli, grilled chicken and Spanish tapas – and everything with a large order of fries and coke. I forget Bud light Lime. I lost myself in the food aisles of Walmart – ready to cook pot pies, Lasagne, pasta sauce in jars, canned beans, tortillas, minced garlic, pancake mixes, puff pastry, breaded chicken cutlets, biscuit mixes. Why would I chop vegetables, knead dough, roll out dough, soak beans? I lost reason for effort. I picked up some bare essentials as a back-up for hungry times, for lazy times. Strange that I went looking for garlic paste, ginger paste, garam masala and basmati rice for my back-up. I wanted to be equipped to make biryani when the need arose. Now that I am back in India I want to make croissants. I loved the stick sized butter and the tbsp. measurements on the wrapper. Third world me, I’d spend 5 whole minutes trying to mentally register all the snacks in the snack vending machine before choosing. I met some old friends, among the sweetest ones while I was there. Nisha made us dosa after crisp dosa along with a fiery hot chicken curry. It was around the first week when everything seemed all wrong – “The steering wheel is on the wrong side”  “The vehicles are on the wrong side of the road” “The restaurant tips will bankrupt me” “Stop making small talk with me – “check out person”, “store lady”. I have no ability for that.” I was sure I hated the place. It was around this time that we...
Sprouts stuffed paratha

Sprouts Stuffed Paratha

I always feel responsible when my maamiyaar seems cross. She may have had some disagreement with Jagan. She may be upset that the maid retorted defiantly. Relatives may be giving her grief. She may have an upset stomach. I still feel responsible. Most times I don’t know the reason but because I feel responsible I don’t ask. I need to know though. So I rewind and play the day’s happenings in my mind stopping to scrutinize at every step – Did I say the truth? Did I make seppankezhangu fry? Did I not react cheerily enough to something? Did I react cheerily to something? Last week she seemed particularly morose. I felt I was responsible. I didn’t ask. But I worried. I pondered aloud to Jagan who admonished me for being irrational and dismissed me as an obsessive worrier. He triumphantly told me later that day “She was unwell. She had had an upset stomach yesterday night and that is the reason she looks dismal. I told you, you are wrong. This is the way you screw up things.” Taking the opportunity, Jagan went on about how my instincts were not always right. I needed to be more chatty, I needed to text her, call her and generally act sweet. Sweet?! How do ya be that to the Maamiyaar? Somebody please (don’t) teach me. Hmm, Maybe I am overanxious. Maybe, I am over-reacting to everything. Knowing it wasn’t me I asked her that night “I heard you were sick. What happened?” “Was a terrible case of food poisoning. It was the tamarind rice I had at lunch.” I stutter “Puli Puli sadam? Maybe it was the medhu pakoda we bought yesterday”. I had made the tamarind rice (puli sadam) the day before. “No, it must be the Puli sadam. The Puli kaachal in the fridge was too old. I should have thrown it out.” “Hmm.. Oh” I slink off. I had not made the puli kaachal. She had. I had used the leftover puli kaachal sitting in the fridge. I had wronged. She had an upset stomach and I was responsible. I made these sprouts stuffed parathas in a fit of health consciousness. I realized I wasn’t replacing everything with millets. I wasn’t substituting all purpose flour and granulated sugar with ragi and beetroots. I reckoned a little bit of sprouts stuffed inside parathas would compensate in some way.  ...