Sunday, July 26, 2020

Pineapple Rasam

The other day, I was watching a favourite web series that show cases most traditional dishes and it was rasam being done in that episode. I kept up with the flow and mentioned to my husband that there are so many varieties of rasam that one can make it with so many variations.
Rasam is an ancient recipe that dates back to several hundred years. it is a regular dish in all parts of south India.The show host suggested that looking into the history of food across the region, he had come across hundreds of varieties of rasams. Rasam is light and soup like; it is suggested as healing food because it is cooked with many ingredients that have medicinal value.
I counted out those rasams of which I had known or enjoyed. Then it did come to me that, while I like rasam and it is my to go comfort food, I stick to cooking basic and very regular rasam in my day to day cooking. For a change, I decided to make pineapple rasam and when we spotted four kilograms of fruit selling at a hundred rupees, my decision was sealed. Earlier, a few days into the lockdown,one of our neighbours sent across this rasam which had a very soup like texture. We drank it as is and it was delicious. 

My version may sound like the pineapple is just an extension to the normal tomato rasam, because I have used all ingredients that go into my regular fare. You can make it without tomatoes, cut off tamarind and can use simple black pepper and cumin powders instead of the rasam powder.

Pineapple Rasam

(serves four)
¼ cup cut pineapple pieces
1 cup pineapple juice (extracted from the fruit)
2 tablespoons thur dhal
1 big gooseberry size tamarind (as much as that would fill a tablespoon while rolled)
1 medium tomato chopped
1 green chilli slit along the vertical
2 teaspoons rasam powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coarsely pounded black pepper and cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
2-3 sprigs curry leaves
Salt to taste

For tempering:
2 teaspoons ghee
1 &1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

For garnish:
Coriander leaves chopped

How to make rasam:
Wash and pressure cook the thur dhal with a pinch of turmeric powder until very soft.  Once it has cooled down to room temperature, mash well (silky smooth texture). Add 1 cup of water and keep aside.
Extract the pulp from the tamarind adding ½ to a cup of water. A thin, light extract will do as we do not want the tamarind to overpower the taste.
Place a pan on the stove, add the tamarind extract, salt, turmeric powder, green chilli, tomato, rasam powder and asafoetida. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for ten minutes.
Drop the pineapple pieces in this simmering mixture. Also add the pineapple juice. Allow them to cook for a few minutes.
Now add the thin dhal solution to the rasam and bring it to a foaming stage. Add the black pepper and cumin seeds powder. Switch off the heat.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle switch the stove off and drop the curry leaves into this. Add the tempering to the rasam.
Garnish with coriander leaves and close the rasam with a lid to lock the flavours.
Pineapple rasam is ready.
Serve with hot rice and a dash of ghee.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Pachcha Maanga Sambhar

Living in a gated community has, among other many benefits, the interaction with like minded people and more importantly, sharing experiences, ideas and food.  There are days when I am wondering what to cook for lunch or even breakfast, the solution comes from a neighbour who brings a bowl full of something, a variety rice or side dish. Sometimes the number of dishes are so many, that I save them in the refrigerator. As of now, inside my fridge are a variety of thokkus ,preserved chutneys and pickles from few of the people who put delicious food on their table everyday.
We have quite a few mango trees in the compound which are of different varieties of mangoes. Thus, come March, these trees yield fruits in different stages of ripening. One of our neighbours shared two tangy raw mangoes one day and asked me what I would be using those for, other than making a pickle. I requested her to suggest a recipe and she shared this Pachcha Maanga Sambhar. I made it the same day and we liked it very much.  The following is the quick recipe that is a good side dish to go with hot, steamed rice.

Pachcha Maanga Sambhar.
(vegan and seasonal recipe)

Serves 2 people

1 medium raw mango (sour mangoes are best)(otherwise use a tablespoon of tamarind extract for sourness)
1/2 cup thur dhal (pressure cook to soft and mash)
2 teaspoons sesame oil (any cooking oil)
2 teaspoons sambhar powder
2 green chillis 
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 clove garlic crushed (optional)
Salt to taste

For tempering:
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs of curry leaves

Cut the mango in big chunks. Use the stone also in cooking.
In a pan add 2 teaspoons of oil. When the oil is moderately hot, add turmeric powder, asfoetida powder, fenugreek seeds, garlic, slit green chillis and salt. Saute for a minute or two.
To the above add sambhar powder and 2 cups of water. Let it boil for about 10 minutes.
Once the raw  feel of ingredients has subsided, add the mango. Bring to a boil. Do not let it boil for long. The mango has to hold shape and let the  sourness blend with the liquid.
Add the cooked dhal and bring it all to a boil. Switch the heat off.
In another pan heat the oil for tempering.
Add the mustard seeds and let the crackle.
Switch the stove off and drop the curry leaves.
Add the tempering to the sambhar.
Serve with hot steamed rice.

Note: If the mango is not sour enough and you are adding tamarind extract, boil the extract in the first stage itself.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Maravalli kizhangu Dosai

Years before Namakkal was into poultry farming, most of my father’s clients were into agriculture. Tapioca cultivation was one of the mainstream farming. Dad’s clients used to bring us bag loads of tapioca and other stuff that my mother could bring some deliciously cooked meals to the table. She and our then maid, Velamma Aaya,  would team and work on the produce, cleaning, cooking mostly and distributing the excesses. We have watched them work together and cook up some stuff that we relished.
Once the tapioca has been taken out and the bag has been returned, Velamma will drop the tapioca in a big drum-like utensil filled with water. She would rub them hard that along with the sticking soil, some skin of the tapioca will peel off. Then, a discussion will follow as to how many recipes to make, portion the vegetable accordingly and send the rest to neighbours.
With tapioca, especially, they never tired to make crisps, dry curries and other stuff. One of those were dosais that needed tapioca to be grated and ground along with rice and dhal to make the batter. They would get to work together grating the tapioca and grind the soaked ingredients for dosai or adai. She will also make vadai occasionally as an evening snack. She could make dry vegetable roast kari, mashed podimas and some more.
I had mentioned to amma that I intended to buy tapioca and make dosai. She shared her recipe with me. During the course of the next week, she dropped a few reminders that I should try the dosai. Then I picked up about a kilogram of tapioca from a vendor the other day. The root was farm fresh and both the skins came off easily with thorough washing. I made three dishes, dosai, roast kari and vadai over the next few days. Dosai turned out soft as that is how we like. I am sharing the recipe for the same.

Maravallikizhangu Dosai


Makes 10 dosais

Cup measures are 200ml
1cup of idli rice
1cup of cleaned and grated tapioca
1/2 cup urad dhal
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste
Oil to drizzle over the dosais
Chutney of choice to serve with

How to go about:
Wash rice clean and soak for about 5 hours
Soak fenugreek seeds along with the rice.
Clean and soak the urad dhal for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the tapioca ready and grated.

Grind the soaked rice, dhal and tapioca to a smooth batter, add the salt and leave it overnight or 8 hours to ferment.
Place the dosai tawa on the stove and when it is hot , pour a ladle of batter and spread. Drizzle oil and cook. Flip over and cook well until both sides are well done.

Repeat the process with the rest of the batter.
Serve hot dosais with chutney of your choice or sambhar.