Monday, January 28, 2013


It may sound absurd if I say that today's recipe is an impulsive attempt that resulted from a discussion, not closely related to the topic on facebook. But it is! Well I am few months late in sharing the recipe, but the pictures were clicked the day after I read / shared my comments there. As many of the friends on my profile happen to blog food recipes, many a times I find myself reading very interesting discussions revolving that territory.
Thus in early October, last year, there was a long chat about buying clay pots for cooking. At some point. someone had commented about stone ware. 'Kalchattis' as they are called in some native languages, are used in traditional cooking in South Indian households. I had one too that I left back with my mother, but have here with me the kuzhipaniyaram pan. I clicked a picture of the pan and posted. Having not used it for many months, as the non-stick pan has replaced it, I had to clean it well before I took the picture. Then on a sudden impulse, I decided to put the pan to use.

The other reason I had not used this pan for so long is that it has a tiny crack in one of the dents and the oil oozes out. These utensils are quite tough and take abuse. However, given the number of times mine has been packed and moved, it is only natural that the strain shows. My sister uses a hand down pan from our aunt. That also has a crack; but she cleverly manages to turn it around to the corners receiving lowest heat while she cooks. Having that in mind, I decided to revive my pan. It had been a show piece - base for few lamps over the recent years !
I soaked the ingredients, ground the batter and the next morning made them for breakfast with two chutneys.
This pan has larger and deeper depressions than its nonstick coated counterpart. So with fewer paniyarams you might feel contended.

1 cup parboiled rice/ idli rice
1 cup raw rice
1/3 cup urad dhal/split black gram
1 tablespoon thuvar dhal/split pigeon pea
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Wash the rice separately in few changes of water and soak them for a few hours.
Soak the fenugreek seeds separately.
 Likewise both the dhals must be cleaned but soaked together. (They can be soaked at a later time than the rices).
While grinding, start with the fenugreek seeds. Grind them adding sufficient water in small quantities. They will become light and frothy. Then add the soaked dhals to this and grind to a fluffy batter.
Transfer the ground dhal batter to a large bowl.
Grind the soaked rice, both together, to a smooth batter.
Mix this to the dhal batter and add the salt. Mix well.
Allow about 8 hours (to overnight) for fermentation.
Place the paniyaram pan on the stove, fill the dents with a generous spoon of oil in each and switch the stove on. The stone will crack with intense heat if heated empty. This is not the case the cast iron or nonstick pans.
Meanwhile whisk the batter well.
When the pan and the oil are hot, pour the batter in the dents to fill just below level.

Allow to cook on one side well and using a skewer gently roll them upside down and cook further until well done.
Push the skewer in to check. If it comes out clean, remove the cooked paniyaarams from the pan and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve these hot with chutney of your choice.

If desired, you may add chopped onions, chillis and fresh curry leaves to the batter. Temper some mustard seeds and channa dhal in oil and add to the batter. The onions can be raw or slightly sautéed in oil before adding them in. It adds to the taste.

This recipe is being sent to The Well Seasoned Cook's My legume Love Affair the 55th Edition being hosted in her own space.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Podi potta sambhar and the varuththa sambhar podi

During our middle and high school years we were fed rice three times a day. Our mornings typically started with a health drink. Just before leaving for school we had hot steamed rice with the vegetable and either sambhar or rasam though both were cooked regularly. We did not have the breakfast schedule, but when we came back in the evening there would be something heavy for tiffin. Idlis and dosais were made on particular days that our grand parents and / or parents had them for their night meal. Chutneys were also not mandatory accompaniments. The milagai podi and sambhar from the afternoon meal would suffice as accompaniments.
Only when I moved to college the breakfast schedule started. And has been until now. But since my husband leaves really early, making an elaborate breakfast happens rarely. But he will not have cereals either. I make 'tiffin' for the night and keep it light, meaning fewer in number if it is idlis, dosais and chappathis. But we both like to have proper accompaniments with those. Thus I make different chutneys and sambhar, vegetable gravies.
The milagai podi is supposedly staple, but out of sheer laziness, I did not make it for very long. Then my friend Niv put up a status about making podi. That night I made my stock, this time a new recipe from my sister, which will be a post here soon. Then another friend Finla was making dosa. That conversation lead to some sambhar discussion and I promised to post the recipe. my mother never made a separate recipe for podi potta sambhar and would make it with her rasam powder. But I have seen many people keeping the two different powders. I had few recipes from various sources and have been making them just to try them out. I have even bought the commercially available powders.

This recipe for the powder is from S.Meenakshi ammal book and the sambhar I am sharing today is also adapted from the same, but altered to suit our tastes, bringing the heat a little lower.

Recipe for the Sambhar Podi:
source Samaiththu Paar Book 1 by S.Meenakshi Ammal
Yield : 100 gram sambhar powder

165 ml/35 grams dry red chillis (part chillis were byadagi variety for deep red colour)
125 ml/35 grams coriander seeds
2 teaspoons /5 grams black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (whole broken in bits) (or you may use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder)
1 teaspoon /6 grams split bengal gram/ channa dhal
30 ml / 15 grams split pigeon peas / thoor dhal

Dry roast each of the above separately and on low heat in a heavy pan until chillis are brittle,and the other ingredients are well roasted.
If you are using turmeric powder, you may add it to the powder later.
Cool and grind to a powder.
Store in clean glass bottles and use as needed.
Stores well for months together.
These are measures are given in the cookbook and I have weighed and measured in a cup with multiple markings -in teaspoons, millilitres, ounces and tablespoons. But they need not necessarily be exact; a slight variation does not affect the aroma or taste.

I make this in small quantities.
The recipe in the book was with 10 times the one above. Usually back home people grimd these in the commercial mills and stock.
If you plan to make a larger quantity, you may store in ziplock bags in the refrigerator/ freezer.

Podi potta sambhar (sambhar made using the above powder)
This sambhar is usually not thickened, but is quite well combined with a rarer consistency. I prefer this for my idlis and dosais. To thicken this, a teaspoon of rice flour mixed in water is added to the sambhar when it has boiled well. It is quickly stirred in and removed from heat soon after. But I prefer to add a tablespoon of coconut milk. as it enhances the flavour and texture. 

Serves 4 
One big lemon size ball of tamarind, soaked and pulp extracted
75 grams split pigeon peas/ thoor dhal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 drop of oil
2 teaspoons sambhar powder (above recipe)
Salt to taste
1teaspoon rice flour (if you need a thick sambhar)
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
 Any vegetable of choice to be added to the sambhar ( Potatoes, capsicums, brinjals, drumsticks and onions are well suited)

2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 - 4 dry red chillis broken in bits of two
1 green chilli slit in half lengthwise
2 sprigs fresh/ dried curry leaves

Depending on the vegetables of choice cook them accordingly. Keep aside.
Wash the dhal and pressure cook with one drop of oil, the fenugreek seeds and turmeric powder. The dhal shall be cooked to very soft and slightly mashable.
Soak tamarind in water and with few repeats extract the pulp. You may, in all need 250 ml of water.
In a pan, add salt to the tamarind extract and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the sambhar powder and the boiled vegetables.
Cook for a few minutes and finally add the dhal.
Allow to simmer and thicken a bit.
If the sambhar needs to thicken add a then paste of rice flour in water  to the simmering stew. Allow to come to a quick boil and remove from heat.

If you like the taste of coconuts in your cooking, you may add some coconut milk to the sambhar.
Take the sambhar off the heat.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the red chilis and the green chilli. Toss for few seconds and then add the curry leaves.
Transfer the tempering to the sambhar.
Serve the sambhar hot with idlis, dosais or hot rice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Aloo Kathliyaan

Potatoes are one of the much liked vegetables. They can be cooked with many variations. You can roast them, bake them or deep fry, mash them or saute' them and you will love them. That is the case in my home, especially with my husband. Just to add variety I look up recipes and try them.
Potatoes are easiest to adapt variety in cooking. The basic recipe with potatoes, once done,  gets incorporated in other dishes. It can be served as cutlets, chaat, side dish as baaji, filling in samosas and bondas. I make quite a few dishes like the herb accordion potatoes, baked potatoes and my husband's  famous potato nests apart from using in the salads and curries.
There are many recipes I pick up from cookbooks. When I picked up the Taj Vegetarian Fare book, there were few potato recipes. I chose to try all potato recipes from this book. These aloo kathliyan were the easiest to cook and the photo that was added to the recipe in the book, was too good to resist the dish. I have made it a few times since, but somehow had missed to share the recipe until now.

Recipe adapted from "Taj Vegetarian Fare" ( from their Masala Craft- Fine dining restaurant)

500 grams large potatoes
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons olive oil (or any cookig oil)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon carom seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic (optional, I have omitted)
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh green chillis chopped finely
1/4 teaspoon crushed ginger
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/4 teaspoon chat masala (optional)
1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 teaspoons juice of lime

Wash and peel potatoes. Slice them in thin rounds or slices.
Bring water to boil in a pan and add the cut potatoes and turmeric powder. Allow one boil and simmer for just about two more minutes. The potatoes have to be boiled but not too soft.
Alternately you may steam the potato slices until almost cooked.
 heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan or griddle. Add the cumin and carom seeds.
Add the garlic if using and then the green chillis, ginger, chilli flakes, asafoetida and curry leaves. Toss them for a few minutes before adding the potatoes, salt. red chilli powder and the chaat masala.
Cook until the spices mix in the vegetable taking care not to break the slices.

When done, switch the fire off and add the lime juice.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve as starters in a party or as side dish for lunch.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Knead to Bake - January - Herb and Cheese pull-apart Loaf

I have been fond of breads for as long as I remember. Possibly we were often treated to soft and sweet breads that a then famous bakery in Salem sold. My dad would bring them and other goodies whenever he was there on work. But to my husband breads were sick person's meal. He thought they were bland and would refuse to partake bread. He might want a spicy filling even in a sandwich than the normal salad, cheese and veggies. Or better, he would want bread to be made in upma all spiced and flavoured.
I learned to bake bread more for learning a new art than for dishing out at our dining table. I collect recipes for bread and look up blogs that have great recipes. I make a mental note of wanting to try them, but never got around to experiment many.
So, I jumped in when the slightest opportunity came up in this new year. Aparna had asked if we would bake some breads that she had planned to try, one recipe each month of the year 2013. It seemed that I needed such an initiative from someone. So here we are, a group who will bake along with Aparna, one bread recipe each month of 2013 - "We Knead to Bake".

This month we tried the herb and cheese pull apart loaf.
Aparna had shared a workable recipe giving us options that we may try, but not stray faraway from the basic recipe. She had suggested what other stuff may work well for the given recipe and I chose to alter ever so slightly. We (Oh yes, my husband too) liked the bread very much, that I baked again. By then others in the group also had used their choice changes some of which sounded exotic. So with each baking I was changing the herbs and/ or the cheese.
I shall share here Aparna's recipe and if I had changed something, I will mention that.
This has been one success story that has repeatedly got better with each attempt.


For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
25gm butter, soft at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste (I have used gongura chutney that was then available that day)
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)

For the Filling:
15 to 20 gm melted butter (I have used herb infused olive oil, approximately three teaspoons)
2 tsp dried Provencal or mixed herbs* (I used caramelised onions and lot of coriander)
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
Crushed pepper/ red chilli flakes to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (Paneer with crushed dry mint)


In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up.
Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in a bowl and mix. 
Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. 
Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil.

Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. 
Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter (Herb infused oil). 
Evenly sprinkle the herbs, pepper/ chilli flakes, caramelised onions and the cumin seeds and then the grated cheese (crumbled paneer).
 Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips.
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. 
Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin.
Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf.
Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown. This recipe bakes one 9” by 5” loaf.

On my second attempt, I used 2 cups all purpose flour and 3/4 cup powdered quick cooking oats. I cooked the chopped tomatoes with a spice powder that my mother-in-law uses, until dry and used for the filling along with cheddar cheese.
To me this is a keeper recipe that I have noted all options for fillings that other members have used for further baking.

This pairs well with any soup. Or you may serve these soft pull-aparts for breakfast too.

If my bread has lured you, go check what others have shared. You may find links to all of them in Aparna's  post.

Monday, January 21, 2013


 I was copying recipes from my mother's notebook that had many recipes shared by my aunts and my mother's friends. She had copied recipes that I thought I knew well, only to realise that she had an altogether different recipe listed under that title. Kunukku was one such. There were, in fact,  two recipes for that. Normally, this was a snack you made with left over adai batter with addends. I had my aunt's famous recipe that people used to request her to make for them.
One of the recipes required that the ingredients were made first in a dry powder and then mixed with others when you desired. The other was a wet grinding version. An opportunity to try one recipe arose when my husband invited a friend and his wife for dinner.
These days I have limited my menu and narrowed to the taste and options of the guest. There is no harm in inquiring beforehand and plan accordingly. We have become quite conscious about what we eat and so would my guests. So I limited the menu to fewer dishes, but needed to make something that was new to them. Thus I decided to try the kunukku recipe, which was new to me too.

I made the powder ahead with some extra portions for later use.So it was not time consuming when you have to devote time to other stuff, which included weekend shopping.
Even if you have to make the powder, it does not take very long provided the quantity is about one cup.

1 cup raw rice ( I bring some ponni rice from India, any short grain raw rice should work fine)
1/8 cup thuvar dhal
1/2 of a small size coconut scraped (about 1/4  cup shreds)
4-5 fresh green chilli peppers ( adjust according to heat of chillis and your taste)
2" piece ginger
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Pulse the thuvar dhal in the blender and achieve a coarse powder that of semolina consistency.
Add the rice and powder to the same consistency. The powder shall be short of fine, that when turned between fingers you feel the grainy texture.
This powder can be made and stored for months also.
To make kunukku, the listed quantity of rice and dhal when pounded will give approximately 3/4ths of the cup of flour. The rest of the ingredients suffice this quantity.
Grind the coconut, chillis, curry leaves and ginger to a smooth paste adding just enough water.
Mix the flour, salt, asafoetida powder and the paste and enough water to make a slightly stiff dough. You shall be able to hold the dough in a shape but if you apply more pressure the ball shall crumble.
Though a little loose dough will not harm, the texture of the kunukku will change for sure. Extra water will result in a soft kunukku while less water dough will give you crisp ones.
Mix the dough well, and pinch out small portions. roll them out in not-so-perfect spherical shapes.
Heat oil and deep fry the shaped kunukkus until well fried.
You may add 2 teaspoons each of channa dhal and urad dhal to the ingredients while powdering.
Adding chopped onions to the dough will enhance taste and so will adding coriander leaves.
If you are adding onions, chop them and add the salt to the onions. Crush the salt and the onions for a few minutes with your fingers. the onions will ooze moisture. Then add the rest of the ingredients.  That way you can control the water that you add.

Serve the kunukku with coconut chutney or tomato sauce.
It is not mandatory to shape the kunukkus in perfect shapes. You may choose to pinch the dough out directly in the hot oil like you would for pakodas. Either way they taste good.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ready to use powdered spices for Araiththu vitta Sambhar

It was by sheer chance that I started making this sambhar powder for storing. The house in Johor had the power supply trip control and when there was heavy lightning and thunder, the supply  to major power appliances will cut. We had to manually set the switch on. So when one goes on a holiday, the  keys were in custody of a friend who would religiously check on the house. That being an impractical option, the other was to empty contents of your refrigerator and the freezers. One friend had an incident of fresh yeast left in the freezer compartment growing out of proportion and spoiling other stuff left in.
We use a lot of coconut in our cooking; but I seem to have extra when I  buy a few more for religious festivals. I scrape them and store in freezer boxes. Thengai podi and thengai thogaiyal are my favourite options to use them up. But given that we are a small family, anything cooked in moderation tends to be excess and we have left overs at times.
During one such holiday, when even friends were all going away for a few weeks, I had some coconut that I wanted to use. Thus I roasted the coconut well and roasted those spices that we usually add to the grinding for sambhar and made the powder. I stored it in a bottle, left it on the counter and went away. It had kept well through my holiday. I used it in the following days, happy with this quick ready to use powder for sambhar. It kept well for weeks outside refrigeration.
I shared this recipe with my mother and aunt who in turn used it too. Now I see to that I keep stock of this powder, when I travel alone and my husband cooks for himself. With limited time to indulge in heavy procedures, he is only too happy to use the powder and some partly cooked and then frozen vegetables I leave for him.
At home, in India, we still use the traditional flat stone and pestle to grind. My mother will not use her small chutney grinder attachment for her grinding unless she is forced to due to weather until few years ago. That was until she had broken her upper arm that has made it difficult for her to apply pressure.

Now we make this powder for her to store and use.

2 and 1/2 cups scraped coconut
25 dry red chillis (adjust according to heat of the chillis)
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1/3 cup Split Bengal gram
2'' piece dry ginger
1-2 pieces finger turmeric

Roast each of the above ingredients separately and dry on low to medium heat.
The chillis shall have to become brittle without browning and the coriander and the dhal well done but not charred.
Break the dry ginger and the turmeric in small bits before adding them to the rest of the grinding.
The coconut will have to be roasted until brown and very aromatic.
Allow them to come to room temperature.
While grinding, first run the mixer with the turmeric and ginger pieces to crush them, then add the gram and red chillis.
When they have been just about crushed, add the coriander seeds. Grind these to a coarse powder before adding the coconut.
Pulse with the coconut until just combined and in short bursts lest the coconut oozes oil.
Transfer on to a flat dish and spread to allow the powder to cool.

Store in airtight container and use when cooking sambhar.
I add this powder to my preparation after the tamarind extract has been boiled well with the vegetables and salt and the pressure cooked dhal has been added. The powder is then stirred in and the sambhar is allowed to boil and blend well.
For 500ml of  sambhar, I add 2 tablespoons of the above powder and it serves sufficiently for four people.

Varuththu araiththa sambhar is staple in my home, while I also make this quick sambhar often.
This powder stores well for quite a while, but as it ages, you may feel the smell of coconut oil strongly in the sambhar.
Though it tastes excellent to have freshly ground spice mix in traditional dishes, such powders and ready to mix basics come handy and makes it easy to get cooking done quickly.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In a quest to find the right Garnet

It all started on the Tuesday morning when Sra announced the theme for Week 2 of the  Fifty-2 Weeks of 2013. I had checked my mails earlier that morning and had made a mental note to check the group's page later for the theme. And guess what happens next. My daughter calls long distance and asks if I had seen the theme. She was pretty excited for it was a photography based theme. I replied in the negative and went on to check. Meanwhile, she was also logged in and we spent the next 20 minutes on facebook chat discussing potential subjects, vetoing few, the excitement growing with each idea
The colour Garnet was chosen for the week's photo based theme.
Thinking aloud we put forth whatever object that came close in colour to garnets.

Pomegranates - veto; a dear friend has a very nice picture for her profile!
Mixed fruit jam - possible, but would it not be too pale?
Grenadine syrup, rose syrup - for I had a bottle of each; check 1
Kumkum - veto, we just posted it for a theme in another group
Red roses - no fresh flowers, what next
Jewellery - veto Cannot go to the bank and operate locker / no costume jewellery on hand
So much thought went in that I even suggested to her to see if my mother had, somewhere, stashed my primary school blazer :)
Colour Garnet sat in my head, gnawing my brain so, that I would send Niki Facebook messages that would read "Qatar's National flag" or "West Indies Cricket uniform".
I even told her to check if, in my mother's cupboard, she had saved a 'Hero' pen, for, they would usually come in a deep maroon or a beautiful chromium green with the golden cap.
And as I walked around my house with this purpose in mind, I was stumped to see 'garnet' which otherwise I have not noticed at all.
How do you choose when, wherever you turn, you find a subject beckoning to you?

For one, my prayer room altar is a vivid burgundy pink; two carpets in my living room have predominantely maroon-brown thread work. On the wall, there is a Chinese shell painting - I vividly recall, the shopkeeper telling me that peacocks bring prosperity. She instructed me to put the art piece on the Southern side as the back ground in the frame is garnet!

My walk in closet has a whole range of shades that grow/pale in accent, but all nearly passable as garnet.

Not withstanding, I have two non stick stew pots, coated at their maroon best. My pantry has red chowri beans and rajma and red chills that are not nearly red, but as brown-red can get; only at this point I was not complaining!

And there lie dozens of sticker bindis that sit safely inside a biscuit tin among safety pins, hairpins and more. My sister had given them to me, so I can give them to a spa assistant, but they somehow never reached her.

I tried to create some activity mood and tried these.

My camera kept clicking whatever I sighted and turned the lens on to. Meanwhile Niki had done her assignment, and I liked hers much, but both of us agreed that we will still give it more thought before we post. Then finally, she just shot her bangles and posted too, while I was still toying with ideas.
I am sharing a few pictures here, but posting another in the group's page. Have a look at that and the many other nice and very fitting-to-the-theme creative shots; it is just a click away from here.
I had brought in two plants whose leaves are beautiful by themselves; when I cannot find flowers in the garden, I cut these leaves for my vase at the work table. I did so today too and there ended my quest for the garnet! I have a picture to share and my vase is holding these beauties that bring a smile every time I pass by.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures that nearly went in as my entry, but stalled for want of a better idea.
Now go check the compilation of Week-2 on Facebook and stay tuned for many more, for our theme-week ends only on Monday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paneer and cucumber kofta curry

I have been quite neglecting the blog off late. Having enjoyed a month long vacation, getting back to routine was taking longer than usual for me. Not that I did not settle down quickly, it is just that I was not able to make a post to share a recipe. Meanwhile, with the advent of the new year, looking for some motivation in this direction, I joined few of my friends who are planning fun exercises every week, and a group who will bake some interesting breads. Thus I hope that I will keep this little space active and will get back in the groove.
In December, I baked a few cakes to gift friends for the festive season. I am thankful to the many blogs that detail great recipes. Baking those was truly good and I may be baking them again, when I shall share them here too.
Day to day cooking lacks variety if we do not try some recipes from others like cookbooks, recipes shared by friends or other blogs. We have a choice of many vegetables that can work well in curries and gravies. I tend to include vegetables that my husband does not like, in soups or disguised curries. He will refuse right away vegetables like winter melons, bottle gourd, pumpkins and few others if cooked in regular South Indian style kootu or curry. Thus, I am compelled to add them in other recipes where he will hardly notice their presence.
For the thiruvadhirai festival, a kootu is prepared with a number of winter vegetables in one dish. When I buy a number of vegetables for such festive preparations, I am left with some that you need to buy in pieces than weight. I had this yellow cucumber and wanted to use it up quickly.
Needless to say, the gravy and the koftas were consumed with relish.

For koftas:
1/2 of a big yellow cucumber
1/4 cup crumbles paneer
1 teaspoon dry mint leaves
1 fresh green chilli minced fine
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 tablespoon bread crumbs

1 tablespoon bengal gram flour mixed with little amount of rice flour

Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

For the gravy:
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
4 medium tomatoes
1" piece ginger
1/8 th teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 cup thick coconut milk
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil

For Koftas:
Peel the yellow cucumber and grate it. Squeeze the water out and use the shreds. The drained liquid can be added to the gravy.
To the shredded vegetable, add the crumbled paneer, minced chilli, salt, garam masala powder, crushed dry mint leaves and the bread crumbs. Mix well and shape in small balls.
Make a medium thick paste with the gram flour and rice flour mix with some salt.
Heat the oil for deep frying.
While the oil is heating, roll the koftas in the flour paste just enough to coat them thinly.
Deep fry in hot oil until done well.
Drain on kitchen tissues and keep aside.

For the gravy:
Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain the water and remove the peel.
Cool them and blend to a puree. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are pink and translucent and then add the ginger and toss another minute.
Add the tomato puree, salt, red chilli, coriander and cumin powders. Cook till the oil floats on the surface of the gravy. Add the coconut milk.
Taking care not to over boil the coconut milk, lest it breaks, cook the gravy for a few minutes before adding the koftas into the gravy.
Allow it to stay on heat for a couple of minutes further.

Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Serve hot with rotis, phulkas or any type of mildly flavoured rice.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Of New Year Resolutions and keeping or discarding them


I was blissfully unaware of ‘new year resolutions’ until one fine January morning in college our professor walked into the class greeting us a very fruitful new year and put a question as to what each one of our newest resolution for the years to come would be. You see, she meant that you do not make the resolution now and let it go the next year, just that we never made serious commitment to anything then.
Each year after that year, I would ponder over a new - year resolution and eventually give up even considering one, for I was sure that I will let it die on me at the least excuse. For, I always had some lofty goals which were meant not to work. What else? Had I followed any of those, I would be a much improved human.
But you see, true to my Taurus trait I can be stubborn and that holds for anything I set my mind on. If I made a resolution, I will resolutely follow. That I do not consider making them regularly is not of any relevance. And they were not made on any New Year’s Day. I made them myself and that is reason enough for me to stick to them. Some were made on a moment's impulse, but have been kept and going.
This time, I thought why not and set myself a task to see through this year, the year after and the years after that too.
For one I am planning to use my pen more often than I have been in the past years. I will use the pen in the literal sense; I will start writing down anything I want to save than putting a link to it in my hard disc. Gone are the days that I used to write and maintain journals. Now my fingers complain after writing a few lines and I listen to them. That will change.
That I will walk more than sit glued to the 15” screen of the laptop, be it around the house, be it around the compound with a camera for company.
That I will read at the least few of the books dad buys for us.
That I will get to the task of removing clutter, so the next time the packers will not complain.
I hope that I will make these promises I make myself work. Wish me luck.
May this new year bring you more joy and peace.
My friends Sra and Aparna have started a “Fifty 2 weeks of 2013 project” that I am joining in with this post. Do look forward to the next weeks with topics that will interest you.