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...

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...

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...

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...

Pesarattu & Ginger chutney | Andhra green gram dosai and ginger chutney

I’ve had to fight for pesarattu. I don’t know what it is with this family and pesarattu. They’re just not into it. The maamiyaar was never enthused about pesarattu turning it down whenever I suggested it. The one time I thought she might agree I was out of green gram. The pesarattu stayed on my mind for weeks together. One day when she told me she’d be out early and that I had to take care of breakfast, I knew what I was going to make. Pesarattu and ginger chutney.  I love pesarattu. My mother makes wonderful pesarattu (but with the yellow moong dal), golden and crispy loaded with fried onions and fresh coriander. I wanted to try the popular Andhra version made with green moong dal. It turned out quite well but it wasn’t crisp like my mother’s. It was tasty nonetheless. I loved the gingery cumin note of the pesarattu, enlivened further by the fresh coriander leaves and the cartloads of fried onions that I had added. I always prefer adding fried onions instead of raw onions to adai or pesarattu. The onions are not fried brown, they’re only fried to the translucent stage. The fried onions add a lovely sweet bite to the pesarattu. The fried onions are the crowning glory to any pesarattu. So be liberal with them onions. The ginger chutney is another thing of beauty. I love Andhra meals specifically for their chutnies and podis. Beautiful stuff. This ginger chutney is a lovely combination of earthy, sweet, sour and spicy tones – ginger, jaggery, tamarind and chillies. The ginger chutney goes splendidly with pesarattu and I think it’ll do great alongside dosa or idli as well. Even the maamiyaar loved the chutney. She didn’t say so of course, but said non-challantly “the chutney is nice, so it has ginger and red chillies?” If somebody asks you for the recipe in however indirect a manner, it means just one thing – “It was good”. Since this chutney doesn’t contain coconut, it doesn’t make as much volume of chutney as your regular coconut based chutnies. Pesarattu and ginger chutney is one beautiful tiffin combination that I’d repeat willingly every time the maamiyaar is out of sight. Starting today, the whole of this month, I’ll be posting one recipe a day from each of the Indian states along with my blogging marathon friends. I’ve been planning this...

Kara Adai | Easy Adai

Hasini offered to hold up Yuvi’s arm while I gave him his bath today. Hasini amazes me often with a kindness that belies her age. My little boy fractured his arm last weekend playing on the bed and is now running around with his arm encased in a heavy plaster of paris cast. I’ve been buying him lollipops and toy cars and I let him wear his favourite jeans every day. But I’ll probably never forgive myself for letting it happen. I’ve slowed down, watching my every step, watching his every move, checking and rechecking that all the little fingers and toes are well inside before shutting the car door, moving the bucket from underneath the tap (he likes to take a dip in the bucket). I’ve pushed aside the malpua and linzer cookies and ignored my blogging calendar. I make him his favourite poached egg korma and mini idlis almost every day now. This Kara adai was almost a month earlier. Knowing him, I did not expect him to really eat it but I was surprised that he enjoyed it. This is my ammama’s Kara Adai recipe. It must be one of the simplest Adais out there with the fewest ingredients. This Kara Adai is my favourite Adai over all the other multi-dal grated coconut mixed Adais. It is simple and delightfully tasty. I prefer my Adais on the thinner side bordering on crisp but you could make the Adais however you like them. The fried onions however are not an option. The fried onions are what make the Kara Adai what it is. Soaking time: 2 hours Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 2-4 mins per Adai Makes: 8-10 Adais        Ingredients Toor Dal/Tuvaram paruppu/Pigeon peas – 1 cup Raw Rice – ½ cup Onions – 3 medium chopped fine Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp. (adjust) Salt to taste Water as necessary Oil – 2 tbsp for frying the onions Oil – 2 tsp for each Kara Adai Method 1.      Rinse toor dal and rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Then soak for about 2 hours. 2.      Once soaked, drain the water reserving it for later. Grind the dal and rice in a mixie to a coarse paste adding the reserved water to help along. 3.      Transfer the ground rice-dal batter to a vessel. Add salt and red chilli powder and mix...

Kichadi | South-Indian Breakfast

This kichadi recipe is my mother’s. It works well and is really simple. Just remember the water:rava ratio which is 2:1 and you’ll do well. The South-Indian Kichadi is basically a dressed up upmawith vegetables and a little masala. It is a wonderfully healthy and tasty breakfast option that is sure to please kids and adults alike.  I love kichadi with coconut chutney. It used to be one of my favourite breakfast orders in Bangalore. In Bangalore they call it “Kara Bhath” and one of the few things both kannadigas and Tamilians would agree on (No politics/no offence meant). We can never agree on sambar for example, although I personally enjoy the sweet note in Karnataka style sambar. The kichadi turned out great – soft, fluffy and delicious. Thanks to my mother. I think I’ve told you guys what a great upma maker my mother is. It’s her specialty. We’ve had stretches when she’d make it every night for dinner for even a week in row – Bansi rava upmawith onion and green chillies, Arisi rava upma, Godhumai rava upma, kichadi, Vegetable bath and then Bansi rava upma with whole dry red chillies. “Yenna Upma va!!” – We’d rag her for making the same thing every day even though we enjoyed it. She’s got them all down perfectly and she can replicate the same taste every time she makes them. If somebody ever plans an Upma franchisee chain, she’s the one to catch. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 5 IngredientsBansi Rava/Sooji/Semolina – 2 cupsMixed vegetables – 1 cup (carrots,beans,peas) cut into tiny piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 chopped fineGreen chillies – 3 slit lengthwiseGinger-garlic paste – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – ½ tspSalt to tasteWater – 4 cupsMustard seeds – ½ tspCumin/Jeera – ½ tspCinnamon – 1 inch pieceCloves – 2Curry leaves – from 1 stemOil – 2 tbspGhee – 1 tbspCoriander leaves – a handful chopped Method 1.      Dry roast rava on low heat till a nice aroma emanates – about 5 minutes. Remove on to a plate. 2.      In the same kadai, heat 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add the cinnamon and cloves. Then add mustard seeds and when they splutter add cumin and curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the green chillies and tomatoes and fry till...

Mini Oothappam

Oothappam is such a great thing, it transforms wincingly sour dosa batter into a tasty tiffin. I love oothappams with milagai podi. My personal favourite is the onion oothappam. And usually this is the only oothappam that we regularly make at home. This time I tried the carrot and capsicum oothappams for some added colour and variety. I liked the capsicum one. But I thought the carrot oothappam needed a little something extra, maybe some sautéed onions or a sprinkling of milagai podi would have perked it up. I mixed the vegetables in with the batter retaining some for the topping. You could also use the veggies just for the topping without mixing them in. I prefer to sauté the onions lightly before mixing them in. You could skip this if you wish. This is a quick, tasty tiffin that takes less than 10 minutes. You could try a whole lot of toppings for oothappams, just milagai podi, sautéed mushrooms and onions, scrambled eggs or lightly sautéed shredded cabbage and onions. Whatever you do, always add onions. Onion is the magic ingredient that balances out the tartness of the batter. I am sending this off to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme – Mini Servings. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsMakes: 12 Oothappams – 4 of each variety Ingredients Dosa batter – 2 cups preferably 2-3 day oldOnion – 1 small chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 chopped fineCarrots – 1 gratedGreen Capsicum – ½ a capsicum, seeds removed and dicedOil – 2 tspOil/Ghee – 2 tbsp Method 1.      Divide the batter into 3 equal portions and have them handy in 3 bowls. 2.      Add 2 tsp oil to a kadai/pan and add the onions. Fry just until they turn translucent. Remove on to a plate. Set aside. In the same pan, lightly fry the capsicum for just a minute or so and remove on to a plate. 3.      Onion Oothappam – In the first bowl, add the sautéed onions and half the green chillies and mix well. 4.      Carrot Oothappam – To the second bowl add half 3/4th of the grated carrot and retain the rest for topping. Add the remaining green chillies. Mix well. 5.      Capsicum Oothappam – To the third bowl, again add ¾ of the sautéed capsicum reserving the rest for the topping. 6.      Make one variety of Oothappam at a time but you can make several...

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