Sunday, 30 September 2007

Sunday Lunch

Thinking about a few different ways of putting this elegantly found me seriously wanting in English vocabulary. Putting it bluntly, my family is non-vegetarian and Sundays were the days when the menu was non-vegetarian. Being predominantly vegetarian, the once in a week departure from routine was special and it was made more special as it would be had at a leisurely pace with the whole family, followed by a through reading of the ‘HINDU’ magazines and a small nap. Brings back fond memories, good old days! Life has developed into a fast pace that it is a month since I laid hand on ‘Sunday Times’. I would love to pass on this Sunday feeling to my children and try to make it a special one. After being a vegetarian for the last 3 years, my system is still in the process of adapting itself to meat/chicken and fish. This week we had some friends over for Sunday lunch and so it had to be good. Ever since we found that one of my troops have a bit of cholesterol more than absolutely necessary, we have cut down on red meat. Today I made an exception and decided to treat us to a yummy lamb curry. Baked chicken, some boiled eggs, carrot raita and rasam rounded up the menu nicely. It was a hit and with some pleasant conversations, it was an ideal Sunday.

Cooking from Blogs

The chicken recipe for this Sunday lunch was from this wonderful blog. The movement my eyes met this recipe, it was so tempting that I knew I had to make it. Instead of a whole chicken as suggested, I tried chicken thighs. It turned out so good that I might try it again.Thanks Maneka !

Chettinad Aatukkari Kuzhambu (South Indian Lamb Curry)

Generally I tend to adapt recipes to my taste. This is one of a few recipes that I follow faithfully and thanks to Madhu Jaffrey. I found this wonderful recipe from a Madhu Jaffrey book in the library and copied some pages 4 years back. Unfortunately, my memory is weak and fails to find the book name. I have never even tried another recipe for lamb kuzhambu(curry) after discovering this treasure. You will have to try it to appreciate it and I promise you will not regret. It is a bit laborious, but worth every bit.

A bit of caution though – This is pure indulgence and a little heavy around the waist.

This is how it can be prepared for 1Kg lamb.

Lamb/mutton – 1 Kg

Dry grind

  • Fennel seeds – 2 Tbsp
  • Poppy seeds – 2 Tbsp
  • Corriander powder – 2 Tbsp
  • Chilli powder – 2 Tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Wet grind

  • Garlic – 8 cloves
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Coconut – 3/4th of ½ a medium size coconut


  • Fennel seeds – 1 spoon
  • Cloves – 2
  • Aniseed flower – 1
  • Cinnamon – 2 sticks
  • Curry leaves – 2 twigs


  • Onion – 1
  • Tomato – 1
  • Oil – 4 Tbsp
  • Salt

Grind the dry ingredients into a fine powder. Grind the wet ingredients into a smooth paste. Chop the onions and quarter the tomatoes.

Heat oil in a thick bottom pan and add the tempering ingredients. Once the fennel seeds change colour add the chopped onions and fry till golden. Add the powders and fry for 2 minutes. When it starts sticking to the pan add the quartered tomatoes and fry till they are slightly mushy. At this stage add the ginger-garlic-coconut paste and fry well till the raw smell disappears. The masala might need some water to stop it sticking it to the pan. When a nice aroma comes from the masala add the washed and diced lamb/mutton. There are two ways you can do it. The quickie way is to cook the meat in a cooker and add the cooked meat to the masala. The round about way is to add the lamb raw and add 4 cups of water to the masala. Close the gravy with a lid and simmer until the lamb is cooked. This might take some time and not very environmentally friendly. The guilt can be erased to some extent as it is once-in-a-while dish and it really is worth it. Once the lamb is done and the gravy reaches your desired consistency switch off the flame. The consistency I prefer is thick gravy. It is great for boiled rice and idlis. Hot steaming idilis with mutton kuzhambu is S’s favourite and mine too.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Mushroom onion fry

This is one of my recipes that are made as a quick fix, with whatever is available in the fridge and pantry. I am prone to this style of cooking. S was amused at my style of cooking when we were newly married (not anymore, he is used to it) and told his friend that he never gets to eat the same thing twice as I come up with different dishes all the time. The real reason behind the variety is that, I would forget what I put in a dish the previous time and wouldn’t know how to reproduce it. Anything that feels good to my heart will go into it. Some mushrooms were left in the fridge and the thought of having something nice and spicy with rasam rice were reasons good enough for cooking it.

Mushrooms - 4 large field sliced (about 300 gms)
Onion - 1 sliced
Tomato puree - 1 Tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 Tbsp
Paprika - 1 Tbsp

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Fennel seeds – 1tsp

Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin and fennel seeds and then add sliced mushrooms and onions. Fry them till they are soft. Add the tomato puree, chilli powder, paprika and salt. Cook until done. It is not necessary to add water as the liquid that comes from mushroom while cooking is sufficient. Don't wash the mushrooms, clean them with a kitchen towel. This turned out really well, well enough to blog the recipe. It tasted great with dosai the next day too.

This is the first time I am committing my ad hoc recipe to paper. Thanks to blogging.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Rasam (Spicy Tamarind soup)

The general tendency of Indians is to spice up almost all food. Their British counterparts do the same, but in the reverse direction. The result - the world is rewarded with three dishes chicken tikka masala, kedgeree and mulligatawny soup. Rasam is the origin for mulligatawny soup meaning milagu thanni (pepper water). Probably Rasam is one of the few dishes that are reminiscence of an old cuisine that managed to retain its originality even after the deadly chillies were unleashed from South America. In the part of the world where I come from, a cook is judged by the quality of rasam they whip up. Unfortunately for me my dad never liked rasam and so my mother made it occasionally. I think a balance has been reached, when I married S who can make fantastic rasam. I never cook rasam as S makes the best rasam. Every guest who comes home for a meal unfailingly has a second helping of rasam rice.

This is a special recipe because there is no powder involved and all the ingredients are assembled from scratch. Here is how he makes it. This recipe makes about 3 liters of Rasam. S doesn’t believe in small quantities!

  • Tamarind – 1 lime size ball
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Tomato – ½
  • Salt
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Corriander leaves – to garnish

To grind

  • Garlic – 1 whole pod
  • Cumin seeds – 3 Tbsp
  • Curry Leaves – 1 twig
  • Red chillies – 4
  • Pepper corns – ½ spoon

Grind the ingredients under ‘To Grind’ in a blender. Extract juice from the tamarind and squeeze the half cut tomato into the tamarind juice and add in the tomato pulp also in the juice. To this add the turmeric powder, asafetida and the ground paste. Add salt and taste it. You can adjust for seasoning at this stage. S feels it is very important to taste it at this stage. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. After they pop add the tamarind water mixture. Another thumb rule is to always add the water to the tempering of mustard seeds and oil, never the opposite. It makes a difference to the end result. The last bit is never to let the rasam boil. When it just starts boiling, take it off the flame and garnish with coriander leaves. This is a bit garlicy in taste. You have to taste it to appreciate the flavours of rasam.


If you want to make parupu rasam, then add some mashed paruppu and the water that it was cooked in.

To make it a tomato rasam, squeeze 1 more tomato and add the pulp.

To make it a pepper rasam, reduce the red chillies and add more pepper corns.

Mulu Kathirikkai vathakal (Stuffed Aubergine curry)

One of my colleagues hates aubergines. My reaction always is - wait until you set foot in Andhra to change your mind. One has to give it to the Andhrites for their imagination for creating many many varity and in so doing taking the humble aubergine to great heights. There are so many recipes that I have a theory which goes like this – For every great aubergine recipe from Andhra there are minimum 5 greater aubergine recipes from the same region. This is one such recipe, combination of two recipes one from a cookbook by Mallika Badrinath and the other from my ex-colleague. It is divine with plain boiled rice.

You will need

  • Aubergine – 300 gms
  • Sambhar powder – 4 tbsp (if the sambhar powder is bland add some more to make it hotter)
  • Coconut – 3 Tbsp grated (if you want a smoother texture then grind the coconut)
  • Tamarind – size of ½ a lime
  • Onions – 2 small (finely chopped)
  • Channa dal – 2 Tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Oil.

Microwave the tamarind for 2 minutes high with some water. Dilute with some cold water and extract the juice. The juice should be thick and so the water used must be as little as possible. Heat some oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the channa dal and wait until they turn light brown. Add the chopped onions till they turn soft. In a bowl mix the onions, sambhar powder, tamarind juice, coconut and salt.

Slit the aubergine into 4 on the top without cutting them. The idea is to keep them whole and stuff the onion mixture in them. The aubergine have to be stuffed individually.

Basic Recipe Courtesy Mrs Mallika Badrinath

Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a pan. Add the aubergine to the oil and if you have any of the onion mixture left add it on top. Fry for a few minutes, then add water, close the pan and let it cook. Check every 5 minutes for water and move the aubergine without breaking them if they are sticking to the pan. The more oil in the pan, the less possibility for the curry sticking in the pan. As a result you will end up with an oily, but lip smacking curry. Once the aubergine are done, remove from heat and serve with hot boiled rice. If Nigella were to taste it she would probably describe it as ‘Hmm out of the world’.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Pasta with Vegetable Sauce

My older son does not like vegetables and can make my life difficult by refusing to touch anything that has vegetable. Well that is a rather blunt statement that many mothers would concur with. It is a constant quest of mine to find techniques to camouflage vegetables and make it look edible for a 6 year old. The idea for this was formed after watching a program in BBC about food. This dish is a tried and trusted recipe that works with my kids and the best part is my son loves it. They look forward for 'Pasta Days' which is generally on Thursday. Mind you, he doesn't know what goes in it though. So all the mothers out there, here is stress free veggie route.

You will need

Pasta - 3 handfuls
For the Sauce
Onion - 1
Tomato - 2
Mixed Vegetables - 1 lb
Garlic - 2 cloves

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. I prefer Penne pasta as it can take in more sauce.
For the sauce steam the mixed vegetables. The ones I use mostly are beans, carrots and peas. However over the last year, I started using seasonal vegetables and had success with courgettes, butternut squash, celery, pumpkin, potatoes, peppers and broccoli (yes, you read that right, cauliflower however is not suitable).
Heat a spoon of oil in the pan and add the chopped onions, garlic and tomatoes. Once they are soft and cooked add the steamed vegetables and mix it for few minutes. Let the vegetables cool and use a blender to grind them into a smooth sauce.
Serve the pasta with sauce. The sauce is delicious. For the senior troops, I spice it up with some chilli powder and serve it as a chutney for Idli and Dosai.

Linguine with Chilli Prawns

India won the 20-20 world cup and what can be a better occasion for a celebration dinner!

We had gone to the birthday party of a dear friend’s and had a great celebration dinner, so was in a mood for something non Indian but still special today. Thinking about specials, I landed up on this recipe.

Cooking pasta is always a bit of flinch for me, mainly because S does not appreciate it and the kids love it. Weird as it may sound, he really doesn’t. To try and reach a compromise I have resorted to the versatile Linguine. The sauces are not heavy and easy to cook.

You will need

  1. Linguine – 4 bunch ( about 250 gms. I use hand measure, 1 handful per person).
  2. Chilli – 4
  3. Garlic – 3 cloves
  4. Lemon juice – 2 Tbsp
  5. Prawns – 16 (4 each)
  6. Roasted pepper (capsicum) – 1 (Roast the pepper on a gas flame, remove the skin and chop)
  7. Tomatoes – 2 quartered
  8. Coriander leaves – a handful
  9. Salt and pepper for seasoning

Basic Recipe Courtesy Good Food magazine October 2002

Cook the linguine according to the packet instructions and drain. Add some butter or olive oil to the linguine.

For the sauce, chop the chillies and garlic. Heat 2 tbsp of Olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and chilli. After 30 seconds add the tomatoes and roasted pepper. Add the prawns and cook till they turn pink. To make life easier, I use frozen cooked prawns. Add salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning according to taste and add the coriander leaves. Toss the cooked and drained linguine in the sauce. Scoop into a bowl and enjoy.

Arisi Parupu Satham (Rice with lentils)

This is another of my one-pot dishes which is quick, easy, delicious and comforting. The origin of this dish can be traced back to the regions surrounding Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. It reflects the attitude of people from that region – simple, no-nonsense, straight forward and down-to-earth.

I do this on lazy rainy days, when there are lots of better things do outside the kitchen without compromising the meal. Strangely my mother never made this at home and I learnt it from one of best friend and slightly adapted to suit my taste buds.

  1. Rice – 3 cups
  2. Lentils – 1 cup (after some trial and error, I found 3:1 ratio works well).
  3. Mixed Vegetables – 1 cup ( frozen veggies are a quick way to add flavor to the rice)
  4. Onion – 1 sliced
  5. Tomato – 1 quartered
  6. Garlic – 1 sliced
  7. Sambhar powder – 1Tbsp (optional)
  8. Curry leaves – a twig
  9. Mustard seeds -1 tsp
  10. Urad dal (split black lentils) – 1 tsp
  11. Channa dal (split yellow lentils) – 1 tsp
  12. Dried red Chillies – 3
  13. Salt – as required
  14. Oil – 2 Tbsp
  15. turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Purists don’t add the vegetables and Sambhar powder for this rice. But I find this as an easy way of getting some veggies into the kids system. Wash and rinse the rice and lentils. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the mustard seeds and after they pop add the urad dal and channa dal. The channa dal gives a nice bite to the rice. When they start browning add the curry leaves and the red chillies. When the red chillies start turning colour, add the onions and tomatoes and garlic. When the onions are soft add the vegetables and then the sambhar powder and salt. Mix in the rice and lentils and add 7 cups of water (6 for the rice and 1 for the lentil) and close the cooker with the lid and put the weight on. I generally cook for 2 whistles, this may vary depending on your cooker size and make. The end texture is a bit mushy (texture similar to bisibele bath or risotto). But S doesn’t like the mushy texture and so I reduce the water level by one cup and the rice will come out with their grains separate (like briyani). With some chips and yogurt at the side to give contrasting textures the rice is a bliss on those rainy evenings.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Valakkai Varuval (Raw Banana chips)

It is raining bananas this month in JFI and this is my drop of the rain! This recipe is from a treasure filled recipe book that I procured on a road side for 15Rs nearly a decade before. The purchase of the book was one of my many spontaneous reactions in the brief period that I was engaged to be married. This is an unusual recipe that calls for deep frying and pan frying and tastes excellent. With minimum effort and few ingredients that can easily be found in the store cupboard it is a winner.

Raw Banana – 3

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Chilli powder – 1 Tbsp

Garlic 4 cloves

Salt – as required

Cut the banana into half. Peel the skin and cut it into ½ inch pieces. Mix turmeric powder and salt to the banana and let it rest for 5 minutes. Peel and crush the garlic. Heat oil in a pan and deep or shallow fry the banana till half done. Drain the chips on a paper towel. Coat the chips with chilli powder. Heat the pan with a spoon of oil and return the chips to the pan and fry them. Two minutes later add in the crushed garlic and fry till the chips are cooked. The crushed garlic gives it a unique flavour and goes well with Sambhar rice or yogurt rice. Or this can be a good replacement for potato chips (French fries).

Friday, 21 September 2007

Spicy fried Sardines

Sardines are called mathi in Tamil and is one of the most under rated fishes in the world. But I happen to love it. My love affair with sardines started when I was 13, on a summer vacation. It was only me and my dad at home for almost a week. Needless to say he cooked all the week and one day he got 2 kilos of sardines and deep fried them. I ate it all (almost all) within an hour and that is when it all started. I like to deep fry it, till the bones are crisp as this reduces the fuss by making it edible. It is a simple recipe.

Sardines – 8

Turmeric powder – 1 Tbsp

Chilli powder – 2 Tbsp

Salt – as required

Oil – for deep frying

Clean the fish and clean the gut. Some super markets stock cleaned and gutted sardines in the frozen section. If using frozen fish never defrost in a microwave, thaw naturally. Marinate the fish with salt, chilli and turmeric powder for 30 minutes to an hour. Heat oil in a shallow pan and deep fry them till crisp and drain on kitchen towels. It is one of my favorite fish recipes. My kids love it too. My daughter who prefers pink even in fish (salmon) loves to eat fried sardines with Paruppu (lentil curry) or Rasam rice.

Sundakkai Puli Kuzhambu (Pea aubergine hot and sour curry)

One Eared bunny carrying pea aurbigines

Puli kuzhambu roughly translates into sour gravy, and is very easy and simple to cook. The three elements that epitomizes Tamil cuisine are uppu (salt), puli (tamarind) and milagai (chilli) and puli kuzhambu is the best example that brings out all the 3 individual flavours to their fullest, yet blending to create a taste that can only be described as magical. The gravy can be made with different vegetables. Last week when i saw some fresh pea aubergine (sundakkai) in a Chinese grocery, i simply couldn't resist it. Pea aubergine are usually dried and then used to make gravy or deep fried as an accompaniment for yogurt rice in South India. Fresh Sundakkai is a luxury and a real treat if made into puli kuzhambu. The gravy is cooked using sesame oil which gives it the unique taste.

1. Pea aubergine (Sundakkai) - 100gms
2. Chilli powder - 2 Tbsp
3. Coriander powder - 4 Tbsp
4. Tamarind - a lime sized ball ( If you can't get hold of tamarind, then 2 Tbsp of tamarind extract available in supermarkets can be used)
5. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
6. Fenugreek seeds - 2 Tbsp
7. Shallots or small onions - 10 (alternately 1 big red onion can be used)
8. Tomato - 1
9. Green Chilli - 1
10. Curry leaves - 1 twig
11. Sesame oil - 3 Tbsps (Vegetable oil can also be used instead)
12. Asafetida - a pinch

Chop the onions if using big ones, if using shallots then cut them into two. Quarter the tomatoes.
To extract the tamarind juice, place the tamarind in a bowl and add enough water to immerse it and then microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and add some cold water (so that your hands won't burn when you dip in the hot water) and squeeze the tamarind. Filter the water and retain it and throw the pith.
Heat a wok and add 2 Tbsp of sesame oil. When the oil becomes hot, add the fenugreek seeds. When they start turning brown add the curry leaves, Asafetida, green chilli (whole) and then the onions. Sauté the onions and then add the sundakkai and fry it for a few minutes. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and mix it with the onions and sundakkai. Add the tomatoes and then add some water and salt to it. When the vegetable is half cooked add the tamarind extract and let it boil. When the gravy is thick and the vegetable is cooked add the remaining 1Tbsp of sesame oil and remove from fire.
This tastes heavenly with hot boiled rice.

Random Musings

When struck in a railway station waiting for a delayed train I chanced upon an article in ‘Independent’ which actually praised Blair’s educational policies. Blind me, I couldn’t believe it. The thought of dismissing it as a weird dream would have succeeded had the station speakers not reminded me of the signaling problems in Woking. The only predictable part of my lifestyle for the last 3 years had been to wait endless hours in train stations. It would be unfair to credit Virgin Trains and Richard Branson or the railway schedules. It is just me. I have this remarkable ability to get myself stuck in airports, railway stations and motorways. No I don’t drive, but hey when I am on a car, then a traffic jam is inevitable. After watching all the episodes of ‘Heroes’ aired on BBC I am almost convinced about my special ability to slow trains, cars and planes. Going back to the article in question again, it was a surprise to me that anyone wrote anything in praise of Blair. Probably it is true as it talks about 'real achievement' .

Before I could recover from the shock, there was another article in ‘The Times’ applauding Mrs Blair. Again surprisingly, the article had positive things to say about Cherie Booth’s people skills. No kidding. To top it all up with an icing, Gordon is labeled as the new Thatcher. I dread to think what might be coming next. Silly me, it is elections of course. Hmm should I be voting Labour? But where are the other parties, were they called Conservatives?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Fried Rice

The secrets behind making a good fried rice are
good quality soy sauce,
hot wok/pan and
cold rice.
Equipped with the above you can't go wrong. It is one of my favorite recipes. It is quick, easy and very flexible. There is no fixed ingredients except soy sauce and you can make it with any veggie, meat, seafood and adjust it according to your taste buds - spicy, bland or some where in between. I do it as a quick lunch when I am in need of some self-pampering and when there is left over rice. So today it was a combination of both, self-pampering plus left over rice. You can use any vegetable you like. The ones I used today happened to be in my fridge. Don’t let the long explanation put you off, with the vegetables prepared it take 5 minutes to cook.
This is how I made it today.

  1. Celery – 2 stalks thinly sliced (how else can I get celery into my battalion’s food cycle)
  2. Pepper – 1 cut into strips
  3. Carrots – 1 medium size cut into strips
  4. Chilli – 4 chopped
  5. Spring onion – 2 plus 1 more for garnishing
  6. Pepper – 1 Tbsp freshly ground
  7. Soy sauce – 2Tbsp (I use 1Tbsp for each person)
  8. Ginger – ½ inch cut into strips or chopped
  9. Garlic – 1 chopped finely
  10. Rice – 2 cups cooked and cold. Any kind of rice is suitable, I have used Basmati, Ponni and Thai Jasmine rice with equal success.
  11. Eggs – 2 optional
  12. Prawns – 4 optional

Heat the wok till its nice and hot. Pour about 2 Tbsps of oil and when the oil is hot add the ginger and garlic. Fry for half a minute (don’t let it brown) and then add the veggies and stir fry. If using prawns add in the prawns and cook till it turns orange. Add the soy sauce (I am quite liberal with soy sauce) and cook it till the liquid is reduced. Add the cold rice and some salt (the soy sauce is salty and hence reduce the salt level). Stir it with the veggies and prawns.

Now about adding eggs. There are two stages at which you can add eggs. You can add them along with the veggies and scramble them. This way you can see bits of scrambled egg in your fried rice. The other method is to beat the eggs in a bowl and add them to the rice. This way the rice will be coated with the egg and when you stir fry the rice, the rice will be covered with tiny white and yellow speckles which look nice. Ever since we found that one of my squad has more cholesterol than is normally required, I tend to cut down the egg. If I do it just for me I add the egg to the rice.

Once the rice is fried, remove from fire and garnish it with spring onions and black pepper. The whole stir frying process takes about five minutes. If you have some left over rice and if you want a hearty meal under 10 mins then this is the recipe. You can use frozen veggies instead of preparing the vegetables yourself. To describe the dish in one sentence – What more could you want from life.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Pavakkai Varuval (Stir fried Bitter gourd)

  1. Bitter gourd – ¼ Kg
  2. Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  3. garlic – 1 clove

This is a simple and delicious bitter-hot vegetable fry that reaffirms the words “ the best food is generally simple food”.

Chop the bitter gourd. I generally slice the gourd in rings, but if the gourd is nice and rounded (like me), I slit it vertically and then slice it up.

Heat oil in a pan and add the cut gourds. Fry for a few minutes and add some salt if you think the gourd requires some water. The salt brings out the water from the gourd. Add the chilli powder and fry till done. Sprinkle some water if the vegetable is very dry. Continue the process till the bitter gourd is well cooked. Add one crushed garlic and mix it with the cooked vegetable and remove from fire. If you like it hot like I do, then increase the chilli powder and adjust the spice level according to taste

The bitter and hot gourd tastes excellent with the bland yogurt rice.

Paruppu Keerai (Greens and Lentil curry)

This is a recipe I adapted from my neighbour “Aunty” in Hyderabad. Did that happen 6 years ago? Seems like last month. Those were good old days when I was learning to cook. This is a firm favorite with the family, which is a good thing as it is an easy to cook one-pot recipe. I try to make it once a week with different kinds of keerai(green). I saw some fresh methi (fenugreek) greens at the grocers last Saturday and had to buy it. So Vendhaya keerai Paruppu it is today.
  • 4 medium bunches of Vendhaya keerai (Methi leaves)
  • Paruppu (lentils) – 1.5 cups
  • Onions – 2 (preferably Indian red onions)
  • Tomato – 2
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Ginger – ½ inch
  • Chilli powder – 2 tbsp
  • Corriander powder – 2 tspn
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tspn
  • Tempering
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tspn
  • Urad dal – 1 tspn
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tspn
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig

Chop the onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Wash the Lentils and the greens. Chop the greens (if you are lazy like me, then never mind the stalks, if you are a perfectionist then pick out the leaves). In a cooker add all the above with some water. It is important not to add salt at this stage. Put the weight on and cook until done. Open the cooker and add salt and boil the paruppu if water level requires to be reduced.

My daughter who is 3 helped me peel the eggs. This picture is posted by a proud mom.

Temper some oil with mustard seeds, urad dal, cumin and curry leaves and add it to the paruppu. I remember the dish being bright red when my neighbour prepared. My little one cries ‘karam karam’ when she sets sight on chilli powder, so to get the red colour without the chilli powder, I use paprika. It is one of the little tricks that I have up my sleeves. Hope you enjoy this simple, yet healthy and tasty recipe.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Kozhi Kuzhambu (Chicken Curry - South Indian style)

Kozhi Kuzhambu

This is my mother-in-laws recipe, who is a fantastic cook. It is a bit different from other kuzhambu recipes as the chicken is first sautéed in oil to seal its flavour.

Chicken – 1 Kg

Sambhar powder – 4 Tbsp (if not using sambhar powder substitute with equal parts of coriander and chilli powder)

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp


  1. Mustard seeds – 1 tspn
  2. Fennel seeds – 1 tspn
  3. Urad dal – 1 tspn
  4. Cumin seeds – 1 tspn
  5. Curry leaves – 2 twigs


  1. Red onion – 2 large (or 10 small onions)
  2. Coconut – ¾ of one half of a medium size coconut
  3. Garlic – 10 cloves
  4. Ginger – 1 inch
  5. Curry leaves – 2 twig

The iron wok in the picture has a special place in my kitchen. I brought it in the Meenakshi Amman temple markets in Madurai. I use it for frying and tempering.

Clean the chicken and rub it with turmeric powder and salt. Fry the ingredients under masala in a little oil and grind it into a paste.

Heat 2 Tbsps oil in a pan and add the chicken and fry it till the chicken is sealed. Then add the sambhar powder and mix it well with the chicken. Add the ground masala and adjust the water level as required. Close with lid and cook until chicken is cooked.

Heat another pan and 1 tbsp oil and add the tempering ingredients. Once the mustard seeds pop and the urad dal is brown add it to the kuzhambu and cover it with a lid. It tastes very good and will go well with chappati, rice and parotta. S likes to have this kuzhambu the next day with parotta.

Grilled Pompfret

Grilled Pomfret

My son loves fish and so do I. When I was pregnant with my second child, we went to the fish market in Birmingham every week and tried many kinds of fish. Coming from TamilNadu, I was amazed how different fish can be from one part of the world to another. The market has a wide variety of fish. Even King fish and pomfret are available now. The recipe below is inspired by the fish recipe from Madhu Jaffery’s Far Eastern Cookery. The strong spices do not over power the fish flavour. You can taste the spice and the fish.

Pomfret Fish – 1 (weighing approximately ½ Kg),

For marinating the fish

  1. Chilli powder – 1 Tbsp
  2. Paprika powder – 1 Tbsp (it gives a lovely red colour)
  3. Corriander powder – 1 Tbsp
  4. Cumin powder – ½ tspn
  5. fennel powder – ½ tspn
  6. lemon juice – ½ lemon
  7. turmeric powder – ½ tspn

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade into a paste. Clean the fish and make slits on the fish. 2 slits on each side. Rub the paste on both sides and inside the slits. Pat the fish with some oil on the top. It helps the marinade to sweep into the fish. After 2 hrs, grill the fish on medium heat on both sides about 10 mins on each side. Take care not to over cook the fish, the fish will loose its flavour and become rubbery.

Sunday Cricket

When S said “shall we got for 20-20 cricket match on Sunday as I have free tickets, thanks to my friend N”, I simply couldn't say no. Not that I like cricket, as a matter of fact I try and avoid it when I can. Denying S and the kids the opportunity to watch India in action would be sacrilegious. Imagine how I felt when I eventually found out that India was not playing in Edgbaston this Sunday. S was a bit surprised that I thought India was going to play in Edgbaston. He informed me that they are in South Africa and are playing some sort of world cup. How on earth am I supposed to know that? Anyway we decided to give it a go, not before we sat down for a Sunday lunch (recipes to follow). The match was due to start at 12.45 and we managed to reach the stadium at 2.30 after parking the car at not-to-be-parked place.
I expected to be bored and was honestly dreading the afternoon. I tried to reduce my apprehensions by concentrating on the fact that I could get into a summer dress that was brought a year ago. Not bad yeah, it fit me last year and it fits me this year. Pat on my back and way to go.
My apprehensions were unwarranted as I warmed to the cricket match. We saw the last 10 overs of Worchester Royals batting and the first 10 overs of Warwickshire batting. When we left Warwickshire was 100 for 2 cruising towards victory. I saw all the action, a stump out, couple of clean bowleds, few lbws, a clean-bowled-but-no-ball (personally I like that the best), 2 great catches, lots of 4s and a 6. At the end, it was a good time out with the family. I am tempted to do that again next summer. Next time around I will remember to wear my jeans as I was the only one in a dress in the whole stadium.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Vinayagar chaturthi

Ah Another Food Blog! I simply had to do it after 2 years of dancing on the wall. Fall on the blogging side and what better day to start. So here I am on Vinakaya Chaturthi typing furiously on my laptop after downing a reasonable number of kolukattais and a huge amount of pori. Today was a typical day, frantically shopping uniforms for my younger daughter and musing over the system which demands that kids as young as 3 wear black school shoes for nursery. Surely something is wrong. So it seemed for my son as well. How can anyone not want cake on their Birthday? He was referring to Vinayagar’s taste buds preferring kolukattai over cake.
This day brought back some nice childhood memories of eating white chundal and pongal from a temple near my home. Back then my mom used to make the brown chundal and I used to crave for the white chundal (channa). Time has traveled a full 360 degrees and now I get plenty of the white variety, but crave for the black ones that mom used to make. Now for the task at hand, the recipes, the Vinakaya Chaturthi delicacies.

Sweet Kolukattai
This is my mom's recipe and I call her every year to get the recipes!!!

For the sweet filling:
1. 3/4 part of half a coconut - grated. What i generally do is to use the blender to get the grated texture.
2. 250 gms jaggery. You guessed right, I do have a sweet tooth.
3. 5-6 heaps tbsp of roasted split gram (potukadalai)

For the outer covering

Rice Flour - 1 cup
A pinch of salt
oil - 1tsp

Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a blender. The mixture should be workable into small round balls. If you cannot make it into balls blend it a bit more. If it is too watery, then add one or 2 spoons of the roasted gram. Make them into small balls.

Mix the rice flour with the salt and knead into dough. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and fry the kneaded dough for 3 minutes. The intention is to get workable dough. Take a ball of the rice dough and flatten it on your palm. Place the sweet ball in between and cover it up to make the kolukatais. Roll them between the palms of your hand to get a smooth finish. Prepare all the kolukattais the same way. Oil the idli steamer and place the kolukattais and steam them for 10 minutes. If using a cooker, steam them without weight for the same time. Open the cooker and let it rest for 2 minutes and then remove them. They are yummy.

Savory Kolukattais

Prepare the rice dough the same way as for the sweet one with little more slat.

onion - 1 finely chopped
chillies -4 finely chopped
ginger -1 inch finely chopped

Heat a tsp of oil and fry the onion, ginger and chillies until soft. The onions should not turn brown, but should be cooked. Mix this with the rice dough. Make small balls and an impression with your thumb in the middle and steam for 10 minutes.
They are yummy too.


200gms of chundal. If using dried variety soak them the previous day in generous amount of water.
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
urad dal (split black lentils) - 1 tsp.
Dried red chillies - 3 ( increase for a more spicier version)
coconut - 2 Tbsp grated
Curry leaves - handful
turmeric powder - a pinch

Pressure cook the chundal with salt for 2 whistles (it may vary depending on the cooker size).
Heat a pan with a tsp of oil. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds. When they start popping add the urad dal and fry till they turn light brown. Add the curry leaves, dried red chillies and turmeric powder. Fry for a minute till the red chillies puff up. Take care at this stage, a moment more and you are sure to have the whole family sneezing. Add the cooked chundal and fry till it is covered with the seasoning. Add the grated coconut, mix it again and remove from fire and enjoy.

Pori (Puffed rice)
I must admit that last year I forgot to offer Pori to Vinakaya. I am sure he got his revenge by delaying all those Virgin trains that I step on. Yes all of them. Incredible but true. So I remembered and made both the sweet and the savory version this year. I hope this appeases him.

Sweet Pori

Potukadalai - 2Tbsps (lightly roasted)
Peanuts - 1Tbsps (dry roasted)
Jaggery - 2 Tbsps grated or minced
Pori - 3 cups.

Mix all the ingredients and the sweet pori is ready. Can there be any quicker and delicious snack than this. Wait until you taste the kara (savoury) pori

Kara Pori

Red Chillies - 4
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
garlic - 1 clove
peanuts - 2 Tbsps (dry roasted)
Pori - 3 cups

salt as required

Heat a pan with a 1/2 tsp of oil. Add the turmeric powder, red chillies and then garlic. Add the pori and the peanuts and mix thoroughly. Remove from fire and enjoy.

So that is all for today. I almost forgot to upload the pictures. A warning at this stage would be deemed necessary about my photographic skills. In one word it is appalling. As days proceed I hope to improve my skills. Did I say that 3 years back? I cannot sign off for the day without giving credit to S my husband for the pictures.

Any comments and suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks for dropping in to read my blog.