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...

Ven Pongal with Coriander chutney

Ven Pongal is so easy that nobody can really screw it up too much. But I have managed to do that too, multiple times. The very first time that I made pongal I used puzhungal arisi (parboiled rice) instead of pachai arisi (raw rice) and guess what; it makes no difference to the taste. The puzhungal arisi pongal tasted just as good and from then on, we have been making pongal with puzhungal arisi in our house. That was one goof-up that turned out well. This is extremely rare for me. As I’ve told you earlier I am generally not lucky with these things. There are only 2 components to making a pongal, cooking the rice and dal and then tempering it. So where do you think I messed up next? Yes, while tempering the pongal. One time the whole black peppercorns were not fried well enough and were so pungent that they burnt a formula one track down everybody’s throat. The second time, I was so bent on ensuring that the peppercorns were fried well that I burnt them. This was partly because I wasn’t using enough ghee/oil to temper. I always feel uncomfortable using too much oil/ghee and I hadn’t used enough to temper the peppercorns. The peppercorns need to be fried like pooris in generous amount of ghee/oil. Lesson learnt: Don’t skimp on ghee while making pongal and let the peppercorns fry well. I now make pongal decently well.  Here is proof. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 mins:Serves: 4-5 Ven Pongal – Ingredients Rice – 1 cupYellow Moong dal (Paasi paruppu) – ½ cupWater – 4 cups + 1/2 cupSalt to tasteGinger – 1 inch piece finely mincedWhole black peppercorns – 1-1/2 tspGreen chillies – 2 slit lengthwiseCurry leaves – 1 stemCashewnuts – a handfulJeera/seeragam – 2 tspJeera powder – 2 tspCoriander leaves chopped for garnishingGhee – 4 tbspOil – 2 tbsp Method 1.      Rinse rice and moong dal together in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Add 4 cups water and salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles or 15 minutes. Remove from fire and set aside. 2.      In a kadai, heat oil and ghee together, add cashewnuts, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and black peppercorns and sauté till the cashewnuts turn golden brown about half a minute. If the peppercorns aren’t well-fried they can be too pungent, if over-fried they taste...

Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin

Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin Upma is a much maligned, under-rated dish among south-indian tiffins. Upma is quick, easy and tasty and needs very few ingredients. When you’ve run out of idli/dosa batter and you don’t have anything handy or you just don’t feel like taking all the effort, you make upma. So when all else fails, there’s upma, like Mamooty says in “Azhagan”. There are people who hate upma and there are people like me who enjoy a good upma. In many households, upma is never made. I think the upma haters are driven by the general image of upma being too plain and because they never have it. These kinds of tendencies build on themselves. You don’t like it, so you don’t have it and you continue to not like it which is why you don’t have it. Like the brinjal haters/okra haters… Generally in our house, upma is made in its own right as a tiffin and not just as a substitute. It is a good kid-friendly uni-age dish that you can serve toddlers as well , my son  with just around 4 and a half teeth (broke a tooth in half recently) quite enjoys his uppalam (thats what he calls it). My sister is an upma lover and my mom is therefore quite an expert upma maker (no that’s not the newest kitchen gadget, it’s just my mom). Now upma isn’t that difficult, but even the simplest dishes can go horribly wrong and I usually manage to test all possible bugs. So I know that even upma can go wrong. The key to a good upma lies in roasting the rava and using the right amount of water. Upma can be served as is or with chutney. Preparation Time: 5 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 4-5 Ingredients Bombay rava/Fine sooji/Fine Semolina – 2 cupsOnion – 1 large chopped fineMustard seeds – 1/2 tspSplit urad dal/Black gram – 2 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemDry red chillies – 2-3 broken into halvesSalt to tasteOil – 2 tspGhee – 1 tspWater – 4 cupsFried Cashewnuts – for garnish (optional)Coriander leaves – for garnish Method 1.      Dry roast the rava in a kadai/skillet till heated through and remove just before it starts to brown. Set aside the roasted rava. 2.      In the same kadai, heat 2 tsp oil and when hot, add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts...
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