p Box o' Spices

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Podalangai poriyal

It's been a while. I know. How's everybody doing?
I have a long list of blog reading that I need to catch up on. :)

Podalangai (Snake Gourd) poriyal

This is one of the simplest and tastiest vegetables to cook. It's really easy to cut too.

1 long snake gourd (ours was about a meter long)
Sambar powder, salt, black pepper powder - to taste
Tempering: Mustard, urad dal, jeera, curry leaves

Slit the snake gours into half lengthwise and slice very thin. If necessary slit into quarters and then slice.
Heat some oil and add the tempering ingredients. Once they splutter add the snake gourd, sambar powder and salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add some pepper powder. Cover and cook until tender. Then cook uncovered for a couple of minutes to slightly brown the vegetable.
Tastes yummy as a side with rice and also with roti. Try it.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hotel Chicken Kurma

Some days you suddenly remember a dish you ate somewhere and know you cant get it where you live. I live in Hyderabad and have always felt the lack of a good south indian non veg restaurant. I grew up in POndicherry and there was a restaurant (or should i say "hotel") called "Salem biryani hotel". It was one of those places where you cant really have a cosy meal but the food is to die for. They made the best biryani and fish fry. In later years I got exposed to the chettinad and military style restaurants in Chennai. Particularly Ponnuswamy. They served a watery chicken kurma. It was unlimited and they just had pots of it and walked around serving it. You could order idly or idiappam (Rs.4 per piece during my college days) and have a yummy meal in under 20 Rs thanks to the chicken kurma. This was not a rich gravy or one with lots of chicken. It was a yellow, thin gravy.

So anyway, a decade later, here I am in Hyderabad suddenly wanting that chicken gravy. I try to remember what it was like. I know it was yellow. and the chicken was very soft. almost falling off the bone. It was mostly bones i think... they probably made it with bones leftover from all the other chicken dishes. It was not very spicy. After browsing around for similar looking dishes, here's my attempt at recreating it, and I must admit, it was pretty close.

Set 1:
Jeera -1 tsp
Saunf - 1 tsp
Khus khus - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Cashews - 8-10

Set 2:
Green chilies - 5
Grated coconut - 0.5 cup
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Shallots (small onions) - a handful (about 50 grams). peeled and sliced
mint leaves - about 15
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
Dalia / pottu kadalai - 1 tbsp

Set 3:
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 tsp or to taste (I added kashmirilal mirchi, so it came out a bit red)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp

Dry roast ingredients in set 1. Fry set 2 in a tsp of oil. Grind together the 3 sets into a smooth paste adding water as needed.

Onions - 4 medium (200 grams) - chopped fine
Tomato - 2 - chopped fine
Jeera - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Chicken - 1 kg. cut into small pieces

Heat some oil, add jeera. Then add onions and fry till soft. Add the tomatoes and fry till soft. Add the masasla paste and salt and cook for 2 min. Then add the chicken, lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes mixing well. Add water and pressure cook for 3 whistles. You have to pressure cook a bit more than usual, so that the chicken gets very soft. Open the pressure cooker and check the chicken. Boil with lid open for a while if necessary. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. This goes well with plain white rice, biryani or a plain ghee rice. We had it with paati's Thengai sadam.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Vatha Kozhambu

Sra's event Grindless gravies got me thinking so much this week that I decided I had to send an entry being the biggest fan of no fuss meals and all. I realised that I use the "mixie" more than I thought I did. All curries that went with chapati - kurmas, makhnis (I guess you could make one with tomato puree and onions chopped very fine), and even chole these days involved some level of grinding. I think having the blender on the countertop (as opposed to in a cabinet having to get it out everytime I needed it) has increased the amount of grinding I do. I guess that proves that the more accessible any gadget is the more dependent on it we get. Then I thought I found my grindless dish. Sambar. I almost started typing and then i see... no lentils. hmm.. now sambar isnt really a dal, but it probably still wont qualify. I then gave up.

Today was one of those days when the fridge is full yet there is nothing to cook. No eggs, no vegetables. Went down to the kirana store down the street and all they had was dondakaya (kovakkai). Got those for a poriyal. I finally decided on making vatha kozhambu. Halfway into cooking I realised what a perfect grindless gravy it was.

Here's a simple vatha kozhambu:

You'll need:
Onions: 2 chopped
Shallots: a handful chopped (optional, but it gives a nice flavour. you could replace the regular onions with more shallots if you want too.)
Garlic: 1 (yes we use a lot of garlic, you could cut down if you want. the garlic soaks up and gets tangy... its not all that garlicky after that) or about 10-15 cloves
Seasoning: mustard, urad dal, some toor dal, manathakkali vathal, curry leaves
Vatha kozhambu podi - 3 tsp (can replace with combination of sambar powder and red chili powder)
Tamarind paste (I used paste this time because it was supposed to be an 'easy' version, but there was no compromise on the taste): 1 spoon
Jaggery: 1-2 spoons
Sesame oil: 1-2 tsp (optional)

Heat some oil, add the seasoning, and then add the shallots, garlic and onions and fry well. Then add vatha kozhambu podi and salt. Fry for a few seconds an then add about 2 cups of water. Bring it to a good boil and then add the tamarind paste. Now let this boil for about 15 min to thicken. (If you are in a hurry, add a spoon of rice powder to thicken but if you have the time do let it boil on a low flame for some time. It really helps) The kozhambu should get to a maple syrup consistency. Now add some powdered jaggery and mix. The jaggery should be just enough to make it tangy but not sweet. Add the sesame oil, mix and you're done.Serve with white rice. I especially like this with fried vathal (vadams).

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cooking from the blogs... Date cake

Although I have not posted anything, I have been checking all the wonderful blogs regularly. And with so many new blogs now its just amazing how many of us share this common interest. I am so impressed with some of you who post so regularly. I find some reason or other. The picture didnt turn out ok, or I have already blogged about the dish I cooked, or we ate it before I could take the picture, and so on. I have also been drooling over all the wonderful food pictures out there. I'm sure a lot of effort goes into planning the shot and maybe even working on the picture after the shot has been taken.

There is one recipe that I go back to and judging by the number of comments on the post its obvious that everyone else loves it too. It's Shilpa's Date cake. Its was so yummy that my daughter who generally rejects anything sweet ate a slice and even asked for more. I had set the timer on the microwave and the power went off somewhere midway, and so I have no idea how long I baked it. I think it must have been a bit longer than needed, because the middle of the cake sunk a little. But it was still as delicious as it can be. I am going to bake it again this week.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mushroom and Peas pulao

I haven't been blogging much. We just bought a new house. and have been really busy running around first to get through the formalities of buying a house. And then now we are running around to get the house done so we can move in by the next month. It's been crazy and like all crazy times food has taken a back seat. Been eating out a lot, hardly time to cook. All I cook is little things for my infant daughter. The surprising (fortunate) thing is even with all the unhealthy eating out, I havent gained any weight. In fact I have lost some. Hooray!!! guess with all the tension and trying to do million things at the same time. It's all good :)

I wanted something quick and easy to make. With no grinding, no soaking and not much chopping. I had a pack of mushrooms and chanced upon this recipe from coolpepper. The photo looked too good. So I decided to make this pulao for lunch. Of course I had to spice it up a little, and this is my version. It turned out delicious.

Mushrooms. sliced: 1.5 cups
Peas: 1 cup
Basmati: 1.5 cups
Onions:1-2 sliced thin
Mint: few leaves
Coriander leaves
Turmeric, garam masala, coriander powders. to taste
Green chilies: 5 or to taste
Dry masalas: cloves, cinnamon, jeera, shahi jeera, cardomom - to taste
ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp

Soak basmati rice in lukewarm water for a few minutes and drain.
Heat some ghee, add the dry masalas. Once you get the smell, add the rice. Fry for a minute and set aside in pressure cooker.
Heat some oil, add onions. Fry a bit and then add chilies, mint, ginger garlic paste, powders and salt. Fry till onions are slightly browned. Then add the mushrooms and peas. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then add this to the rice along with 3 cups of water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. Turn off the stove and let the cooker cool on its own. Meanwhile fry some cashernuts in ghee. Add this and some chopped coriander leaves and mix gently. Serve hot with raita of choice.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Easy Potato Poriyal

I think I have been posting more and more poriyals lately. We try to consciously eat more vegetables, and its not that hard when fortunately we like vegetables. I dont know if potato would necessarily count in the 5-a-day, but it still is quite dellicious and can be cooked with minimal oil unlike what many people I know think. I have eaten potato at homes of some people and it would be dripping oil. Same goes to non-veg food, and I try to tell people that chicken already has fat in it, you dont need to pour a bottle of oil when cooking it. And almost always I hear.. we dont cook chicken everyday, so its ok. Same with pooris... you dont cook them everyday and so it's ok. Same with potatoes, murukkus, gulab jamuns, deep fried chicken, deep fried fish,... the list is endless. Now even if you cook these dishes twice a week.. that's almost like having one everyday. There is no concept of eating healthy... when I tell someone to reduce salt or sugar they would immediately say "I dont have BP" or "I dont have sugar". Forget the grammar... but do you really have to wait till you car breaks down to do the oil change? When I returned to India some of these people told me "Now you look good, earlier you were too thin". I had had a baby recently and was back to my pre-preg weight, but to still hear this (disguised) compliment made me feel like I was 200 lbs. Guess that was the biggest factor in taking fitness and consequently eating habits more seriously. We make sure there is a good quantity of at least one healthy vegetable everyday. We try to have protein rich foods at least twice a week. I also take flax seeds... the health benefits are far too many to mention in this post. If anyone else has made any lifestyle changes recently please comment and share.

No-oil-dripping Potato Poriyal
Potatoes: 4 medium (chopped into 1 cm cubes or slightly smaller)
Onions: 2 medium. chopped fine
Sambar pwd: 2 tsp or according to spice level
Seasoning: mustard, broked urad dal, jeera, hing, curry leaves
Kasuri methi: 2 tsp (optional)

Heat some oil, add the tadka ingredients. Then add the onions and fry well.
Add sambar powder, salt and mix. Now add the potatoes and mix well. Cook covered on high heat. Every two minutes, stir and sprinkle some water. Fry for about 10 minutes until potato becomes soft and slightly browned. Towards the end crush the kasuri methi in you palms and add. Cook for another 2 minutes and remove from fire.

Serve as a side with rice and samar/rasam.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coconut-mint rice

I am a big fan of any flavored/spiced rice made with basmati. Biryani,Vegetable rice, tomato rice, ghee rice you name it. If you serve me ten dishes and biryani was one of them, then biryani is all I would be eating. I was looking for a simple and easy rice that would go well with chicken curry. I found this coconut rice on En Veetu Samayal that was just perfect. It was so quick and easy.. no grinding, not much chopping... but turned out so flavorful. The only changes I made were I added some curry leaves. and fried some cashewnuts in ghee and added at the end. And yea... we had a power cut and so I made it in the pressure cooker. And I forgot to add turmeric pwd..hence the difference in color.

Basmati Rice: 1 large cup (240 ml)
Water: 2 cups (480 ml)
Onion: 1 large. sliced thin
mint leaves: about 10 chopped
Curry leaves: 6-8 chopped
Coriander leaves: few chopped
coconut powder: 2 tsp
ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp
green chili: 1-2 chopped fine
cashewnuts: a few
jeera: 1/2 tsp, cinnamon: 1 inch, Cloves:3-4, Cardamon:2

Heat some oil, add the spices. Then add the onion and saute till tender. Add ginger garlic, chilies, and the 3 herbs. After a minute add the rice and mix well. Dissolve the coconut powder in the water and add. Add salt to taste, mix well and pressure cook for two whistles and allow the pressure to subside naturally. Meanwhile heat some ghee and fry broken cashewnuts. Add the cashewnuts to the rice, mix gently and serve. This goes well with spicy chicken curry or kurma.

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