Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Urulai Chettinad- Spicy Baby Potatoes Chettinad Style

The Chettinad cuisine is known for the excellent uses of spices. The are variety dishes with variety spices and the way of using the spices and chillies differs this cuisine from other cuisines prevalent in TamilNadu  or Southern states.Not just spicy veg or non vegetarian dishes, there are distinct Chettinad snack or tiffin items as well. But I always give preference to spicy sides and was so happy when I zeroed in on Urulai Chettinad - from Vidhya's Blog with whom I was paired with for BlogHopWednesdays 10 by Radhika.

Baby Potatoes : atleast 15 

Mustard: 1/4 tsp
CurryLeaves: few fresh
Pearl onions/ Shallots: chopped around 1/4 cup 
Turmeric Powder: 1-2 pinches

Salt: as per taste

Spice Mix:
Urad Dal: 2 tbsp
Chana Dal:1 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies:5
Pepper: 5+ as per taste. Adjust according to the heat of chillies
Sesame Seeds: 2 tsp

Steam/Cook the potatoes and peel them. If they are too big to be consumed in one bite, halve them. You can also use   regular potatoes chopped up, though the baby ones are preferable.You can also parboil the potatoes or even partially cook them. Make sure they do not turn into mush/mash. The shape should be retained.

Dry roast all the spices in the spice mix till fragrant and the sesame starts popping. Remove from fire and cool. Grind to a fine powder and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter,add the shallots and curry leaves and saute till the shallots caramelize. Add in the cooked potatoes, 1-2 spoons of the spice powder you have made,turmeric and salt. Mix well and saute for a few minutes until the flavours blend with the potatoes. 

If you are using raw/half cooked potatoes, add in just enough water at this stage and bring to boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and let them cook till done and the water evaporates. 

Serve as sensational side to rice or even as a spicy starter. 

A hearty and spicy dish with the spices providing the necessary warmth in winter and of course the hero potatoes. Potatoes in all the form and all/any  the time is acceptable for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mulligatawny Soup

This is a curry flavoured soup from India associated with South Indian Rasam and originated by Anglo Indians. Milagu meaning pepper and thanni meaning water from Tamil gave the soup its name. As usual there are several variations like the comforting rasam.Recently I saw a thick mixed lentil chunky version from Chef Vikas Khanna in MasterChef India 2. I have adapted my version from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian and it was definitely a winter warmer. I am posting the exact quantities from the recipe though you can change as per taste and quantity.


Black Pepper: 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds: 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
Fennel Seeds: 1/2 tsp

Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cayenne/ Chilli Powder: 1/4 tsp

Chickpea Flour: 1.5 tbsp
Vegetable Stock: 1-1.2 litres (or as needed. I went for about 1/2 litre or almost 3 cups)

Potatoes: 8 oz or 225g or roughly 1 cup peeled and diced
Carrots: 1 big or 2 medium peeled and sliced
Turnips:  8 oz or 225 g or roughly 1 cup peeled and diced
Red Onion: 1 medium coarsely chopped

Fresh CurryLeaves: 12-15 or Fresh Basil: about 8
Garlic: 2 cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
Fresh Ginger: 1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped
Coconut milk: 400 ml or 14 floz or 1 and 3/4 cup

Salt: 1.25 tsp or as per taste

Lime Wedges : for garnish (optional. I did not use)

In a thick pan,dry roast the whole spices of pepper,coriander seeds,cumin and fennel seeds over medium heat, tilll a nice roasted aroma wafts and they turn slighly darker. Remove from heat, cool and grind to a fine powder. Add in turmeric and chilli powder and keep aside for afteruse.

Mix together chickpea flour and about 2 tbsp of stock and  stir to get a thick lump free paste.Add in another 1-2 cups of stock to this and mix well. This is also known as 'alaan' and is used as a thickener. I have seen the use of this in 'jalfrezi' type of almost solid curries and this is supposed to be a common thickener in Punjab. Corn flour paste also might work well here. 

Place all the vegetables chopped, spice mix- about 2 tsp or as per taste, curry leaves, ginger garlic,chickpea stock and bring to boil. Cover reduce to a simmer and cook till the veggies are tender .Cool and puree the soup in a blender and optionally sieve it so that you get a fine puree. 

Return the soup to the gas and add in the coconut milk and salt to taste and let it simmer gently for 2-3 minutes addding more stock or water to thin it out.

Serve hot with rice or bread with lime wedges. I simple garnish with a sprig of curry leaf. The curry leaf shine very well in this soup. Wonder why I missed this soup for long... 

 It is also perfect with bread croutons or as such. Warm and comforting thats what we need as winter has started in its full fury..

Update on 29th: A warm bowl is off to NCR: Random Soup Recipes at Tinned Tomatoes, co hosted this time (for a change) by Dom.Another bowl is off to Celebration of Indian Food at the regular NCR host Lisa where a lucky winner will get a prize of Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oaty Shortbread

These are simple oat shortbread bars that I have tried from Martha Stewart. Buttery  rich, but quick and easy to make they are a perfect tea time delight and also go well as a school lunch box snack. If you have leftover oats at home go for these. I have actually went for one fourth of quantities and still got about 8-10 pieces.

Old fashioned oats: 4 tbsp+ 1 tbsp for dusting
All Purpose Flour: 6 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Confectioners Sugar: 3 tbsp

Cold Unsalted Cubed Butter: 4 tbsp
(If using salted butter, adjust the salt accordingly)

Lightly toast 4 tbsp of oats on stovetop for few minutes till they become fragrant and light brown. Remove from heat and cool. In a big bowl o the processor,blend together cooled oat,salt,sugar and flour to get a fine mixture.

Add in the cubed cold butter and pulse in short bursts till a dough starts forming.

Transfer the contents to a lined and greased baking sheet and shape the dough into a rectangular sheet. You can flatten the dough into shape with hands or with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of oats on top of 
dough. You can optionally toast this

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F/175C  for about 10-15 minutes until the edges start browning.

Once done,take out the shotbread and with a sharp knife, score the lines of top. Cool completely in the pan and then gently remove the shapes from the cookies and voila the shortbreads are ready to be consumed.

A simple shortbread bursting with the richness of butter and just right in sweetness.Can go for a bit more if you like it too sweet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tomato Choka

Chokas are delectable side dishes from Trinidadian cuisine and they do have an Indian connection or rather with the 'chownkna' or 'tadka' or seasoning technique that is common in Indian cuisine. It is said that labourers from Bihar and other North Indian states took the dishes there and this later evolved into a richer cuisine. Chownkna or seasoning is a simple technique in which seasonings are poured into hot oil and when they sizzle,splutter,flavour or change the nature of the oil, the oil along with the seasonings is poured on top of the food. 
Usually we can make choka out of whatever combinations of veggies we prefer but eggplant and tomato seems to be more popular and are used in their roast form. I have adapted Madhur Jaffrey's Tomato Choka from World Vegetarian and it was simple and delectable. 

Tomato: atleast 4 big ripe
Garlic: 1 small clove mashed/minced
Fresh Green/ Red Chilli: 1-2 as needed finely minced
Salt: as per taste.


Oil: 2-3 tsp or /-
Garlic: 2 cloves sliced thinly
Shallots: 1-2 thinly sliced (optional)


Roast the tomatoes in the oven or on the gas fire. You can stick a fork on the tomato and hold them over low flame, turning in between  till the skin blackens and flesh becomes soft on all sides. Allow the roasted tomatoes to cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin and optionally remove the seeds, and coarsely chop/mash the tomato pulp in another bowl. 

Add minced/mashed garlic,salt and finely chopped/grated green chilli. I have used green chilli as the green colour provides a nice  contrast to the red tomatoes. Adjust the seasonings after a taste test. I have added only one small clove of garlic as I am not a big fan of raw garlic. 

Now do the chownk/seasoning. Heat oil in a small pan and add thinly sliced shallots and garlic and saute till they turn golden. Pour the contents of the pan on top of the tomato mix saving little for garnish ad mix well. 

Serve as a side with rice of breads along with other chunky curries or even as a dip with starters. You can add boiled eggs or roasted aubergine to this to turn into a chunkier and important side. 

A simple side which has smoky tomatoes and a simple side to hearty meal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spicy Corn Succotash

A succotash is a Southern American dish consisting of sweet corn and beans.Other ingredients like okra,tomatoes, peppers can also be added and even cooked beans/lentils can be substituted with peas or other correct substitutes. An optional ingredient is bacon or any meat which for a vegan version can be easily replaced. The name got its meaning from boiled/cooked corn kernels and the dish was very popular during depression and even now its a part of the Southern American Thanksgiving menu. I have spiced up the succotash recipe from Food and Wine and it turned out much better than expected.

Red Kidney Beans: 1/4 cup pre soaked and cooked

Butter: 1 tbsp  as needed
Oil: 1-2 tsp

Shallots/Red onion: 1/4 cup chopped finely

Sweet Corn Kernels : at least 1/2 cup
Fresh/Frozen Peas: handful
Tender Okra: about 10 medium ones chopped into rounds.
Tomato: 1 medium size chopped

Green Chilli Sauce: as per taste OR Green Chilli: 1-2 slit along with little sugar if needed
Salt,Pepper: as taste

Pre soak and cook the beans and keep aside.Do not throw away the cooking liquid. Chop shallots finely. Wash and dry okra and then chop them into rounds. 

Heat butter and little oil in a pan and add in the shallots. Let them sweat till they are transparent. Add in the okra and continue cooking till the okra is cooked for about few minutes. Add in tomatoes,corn and peas and little cooking liquid of the beans and continue cooking till the tomatoes are almost done. Add in the slit green chilli or chilli sauce, salt and pepper and the cooked beans and continue cooking till the dish is dry. Adjust the salt and seasoning and serve as a side salad or on top of breads etc. 

A simple side with a colourful combination. Easy to make and flexible enough to add and reduce the ingredients.You can turn into a healthy meal by adding couscous or soy granules or even bulgur and turn ito into a one pot dish.This is at present vegan friendly as I have used butter.You can make it completely vegan as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coconut Almond Muffins

I remember telling you all that Madhuram has been my role model in baking. But did I tell you which is the first item I baked? Its actually Madhuram's Almond Butter Bread. But no! I have not posted it. Why, because the first time I made it, I made it in a casserole dish and not  a loaf pan. Actually I went out and bought a loaf pan once it turned out excellent and I became more confident. Anyways, if you remember my almond butter post, it was meant for this bread. The very next day of making butter, I went and made the bread and before I remembered to click the pics, it was almost over. But I still had butter left, so I tried a variation of the bread by adding coconut and creating a perfectly vegan recipe and turning it into muffins. Read on..

All Purpse Flour: 1 cup
Baking  Powder: 2 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 8 tsp+ more as needed

Fresh/Sweetened Grated Coconut: 2 tbsp (optional)

Coconut Milk:  3/4 cup (I used slightly thin coconut milk)
Almond Butter: 1/4 cup

Almonds: for topping

Mix together, the dry items-flour,salt,baking powder and sugar. Stir in coconut flakes and add in milk and sit to get a smooth batter. Stir in almond batter and mix well to get a brown batter. 

Scoop the batter in muffin cups and top with an almond. Make sure you use untoasted almonds, else they may be toasted again while baking and might become bitter.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/175 C for about 20-25 minutes or more until the top starts getting brown and a tester inserted comes clean.

Cool for 1-2 minutes in the cup before turning onto the wire rack for cooling completely.

Simple muffins that do taste of almond and coconut. You can also make the same with almond milk or any other milk you prefer. The muffins are just rightly sweet. I felt they wanted more sweetness but my family was okay with the sweetness.You can added sweetened coconut flakes into the batter instead of the fresh grated ones. The muffins I felt were a bit soft,but it could also be because I handled them while still warm. So enjoy the perfectly vegan muffins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rice Salad- Indo-Chinese Style

Salads are quick and easy dishes.Earlier the assumption was it was just veggies with an oily dressing or 'ghaas poos' (grass in Hindi)as some may put it. But you can definitely make a salad healthy and interesting,and even get the kids addicted to  it.These days we find several things -raw or cooked -added to the salads and rather than being just a 'healthy-but-to-be-ignored' side it has come out and started hogging the limelight even in parties.The several salads you see these days are proof of this.

Basically you whip up a salad when you find there is no enough time to cook an elaborate meal or you want some free time. But you make sure it is healthy as well. Atleast thats what I aim for.You add lots of veggies and also rice and it becomes a whole meal. I tried out Chinese style Rice Salad from Rajani of MyKitchenTrials with whom I am paired with this Blog HopWednesday, by Radhika and guess what, I had lots of free time in my hand and it was healthy and delicious. Its like -Killing two birds with one stone -don't you think? :D


Cooked Rice: atleast 1/2 cup (preferably Basmati)

Onion: 1 small chopped
Carrot: 1 small
Bell Pepper: 1 small
Cucumber: 1 small 
Tomato: 1 small
Frozen/Fresh Green Peas and Sweet Corn: handfuls
Salt,Pepper & Soy Sauce: as per taste

Chop all the veggies into small bite sized pieces.Optionally blanch the veggies-except cucumber- for a minute of two after chopping. 

Put them in a bowl along with cooked rice adding salt,pepper and soy sauce. Keep salt to minimum as soy sauce has salt in it.

Combine gently without breaking the rice grains. Do the taste test and adjust the seasoning. Keep aside for 15 minutes for the flavours to blend and warm for a minute or two just before serving.

Hearty salad. A full meal with less cooking time. A favourite for all seasons as well.The weather here makes me feel lazy to cook and it sorts of drags. This one solved the problem and was ready in about 15 minutes or so. In summer,rather than spending hot and long hours in the kitchen, this salad seems perfect as well. Add more cooling veggies like cucumber and you have a winner in your hands. Healthy salad and a comforting meal this is.Surely a keeper recipe.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

Colours definitely appeal to the sight and taste. Well they do not need liners and frosting as well. :) I make these claims on the basis of the sweet multicoloured cupcakes that I had tried from Baking Bites. The batter is simple to make and then is divided to different bowls to be added to different colours and then baked. Result- moist and sweet cupcakes.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1-1.5 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Sugar: 1/2 cup
Oil/Melted Butter: 1/2 cup
Egg/ Ener G Egg: 2 / 1 tbsp of Ener G whipped with 4 tbsp of water/milk/soymilk
ButterMilk: 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp

Red, Blue yellow Green Colourings : few drops

Mix together the dry items of flour salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. The original recipe has 1.5 tsp of baking powder but I would suggest a little less as I felt there was a slight sharp taste afterwards. 

In a big bowl, whisk together the sugar,oil,eggs,buttermilk and vanilla. Add in the dry mix and stir until just combined. Divide the batter into 3-4 bowls preferably evenly about 5 tbsp each. Mix in few drops of preferred colour into each bowl and whisk well.

Starting with one colour, add 1-2 spoonful to greased or lined muffin cups. Repeat with other colours, adding a spoonful on top of the previous colour and do so until 3 quarters of the cup is filled.We can see the layers spread on their own. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 15 -20 minutes or until the tester cmes out clean.Start checking from the 15th minute onwards.

Take out and cool in the wire racks and serve optionally frosted. I did not go for frosting though the original recipe had buttercream frosting.

I would not say that my cupcakes look very perfect as seen in the original. I went for blue green yellow and red and blue and green sort of mixed up I felt. Also I felt a sharp cutting taste which I presume is due to the presence of baking powder. So reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp. Do make and taste them. They simply colour up tea time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jaggery & Rice Flakes -Goda Phovu

This is a simple Konkani style sweet dish made using jaggery syrup and rice flakes and this is a must for festive occassions especially engagements and Diwali.'God(e)' means Jaggery and 'Phovu' is rice flakes. I also made it for Diwali but before I could post this, my system crashed. Once it was up I got lazy and you know, I have not posted since last Wednesday.So despite  few weeks after Diwali, I am pushing myself to post this especially this being an easy dish.

Jaggery: 1/2-1 cup grated
Water: as needed to just soak or cover the jaggery

Rice Flakes: 1-1.5 cup
Fresh Grated Coconut : 1/2-1 cup

Cardamom: powder: as per taste

Ghee: 2-3 tbsp
Chana Dal: Split Chick Peas: 2 tbsp
Moong Dal: Split Green Gram: 2 tbsp
Sesame Seeds: Black and/or White : 1-2 tsp

Sugar: for garnish

Put the jaggery and enough water as needed (to cover it) in a deep pan on medium heat. Stir well and let it melt to form a simple syrup. Remove from heat and strain it. This helps remove any dirt/dust or unwanted particles. 
Return to the pan on medium heat. Stir well and let it cook for a 1 or more minutes to thicken it a bit and it should turn a bit sticky -sort of 1 string consistency,but it also depends on how you want and how quickly you want it done. There is no hard and fast rule that it should be 1 or 2 string consistency.

Once you feel it has thickened a bit, add in powdered cardamom and coconut -1/2 cup at a time- and mix well.Saute for a minute and add in the rice flakes slowly and mix well. Remove from heat and keep aside.

In another small pan, heat ghee and saute the dals/lentils and the sesame seeds till a bit crunchy. Add these along with the ghee to the rice flakes and jaggery mix and mix well. 

Serve as a snack. We usually make this the previous evening of Diwali and have it first thing in the morning after the ritualistic Diwali oil bath and prayers/pujas. While serving garnish with little sugar which contrasts well with the brown colour of the dish.You can even use the ghee sauteed dals and sesame seeds as a garnish.

This is a mix of traditional and modern ways of making the phovu. Traditionally, while the jaggery syrup is being thickened, we mix together the rice flakes and coconut till they turn soft and then proceed with the recipe.
Also you can roast the rice flakes -either dry or in ghee- before adding in to the jaggery syrup and this makes them crunchier and not soft.

You can increase or decrease the amount of coconut depending on ho soft you the dish to be. More coconut means a bit softer dish. Make sure coconut is not more than the main ingredient - rice flakes :).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vanilla scented Butter Cookies

It has been a long time since I baked cookies. Well, I feel they are my forte and so I try out other items and when depressed go back to cookies. Jokes apart, I baked these simple to make yet rich and delicious cookies from Divya, not to overcome baking slump, because I knew they would be an instant hit. And I was right, they vanished within minutes. Now if you feel they will be sitting as calories on your waist, then proceed to read the recipe at your own risk, but I would make these for sure in double or triple batches. :P.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Butter: 1/2 cup 
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp

Milk: if needed : 1 tbsp at a time

Mix together flour,sugar and salt in a big bowl. Melt butter and keep aside. 

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add in vanilla and melted butter. Gently bring together and optionally using milk  knead to form a soft smooth dough. Pinch 1 tbspful or handful of piece from the dough, shape into ball and then press into flat disc. Place the disc onto a lined baking sheet and repeat the process for the rest of the dough.

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 360F/180C for 10-12 minutes or more until you see edges browning. Take out of the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely or atleast little warm on the baking sheet. 

Perfect teatime or anytime snack is ready to be devoured.

Crunchy delicious cookies very buttery and vanilla scented. Make and taste these while this one goes to Radhika for BlogHopWednesdays -8.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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