July 31, 2008

Cluster Beans With Yam | Senai Avarakkai Curry Recipe

Cluster Beans, a very interesting vegetable when I did some research on them. They are known by various names in different states in India and surprisingly in many of them, they are an integral part of their meals. In Kerala, this is not the case and I see it on our table only when we have visitors like my aunt or sis from Tamil Nadu.

Cluster beans, known as Mattikaya in Telugu and Kothavarakkai in Tamil is popular in the north as Guar. In Malayalam, we just call it Kothavarakka, a slight variation in pronunciation from what its called in Tamil. I am a little confused about what Chitkaya/Chikkadikaya is? Is it another name for the vegetable in Telugu?

Anyway, I got a pack of it in the Indian store and immediately grabbed it, thinking I will try what my mom normally makes with it - an avial or a in a tangy gravy with ground coconut and tomatoes.

July 28, 2008

Brinjal Curry - Kathirikai Curry Indian-Style Recipe

This is a super simple yet yummy recipe I got from a friend who had invited us for lunch when we had just moved here. She had made a lot of dishes and this was my absolute favourite. What's better, it uses only 4 main ingredients, not counting salt and oil! She also told me that this is an adaption of a Sri Lankan recipe.

If you love brinjal (also known as aubergine, kathrikka, ennagayi, in various languages), then this is a sure shot winner recipe.

July 24, 2008

Poori Masala - Poori with Potato Masala Recipe

Poori (Puri) with Potato Masala - A quick and easy Indian breakfast recipe.

Poori Masala is one of the quickest meal I can make. The potato masala takes not more than 10-15 minutes and the pooris maybe 15 minutes. I hate rolling out chappathis so whenever I don't feel too guilty about deep frying, I go for this.

I think this is one meal that can classify as truly Indian since its available and cooked in almost all the states of India, in some form or the other. In most cookbooks that feature state-specific specialties in India, this recipe finds its way in.

I have started using Canola Oil for my cooking since I came to Singapore and it does seem really light and healthier than other cooking oil options. Its comparatively cheaper too. Update: Since I learnt that most of the regular supermarket canola oil is genetically modified, I have since then switched to using Rice Bran Oil for deep frying.

Now, onto the recipe.

Poori Recipe
Makes about a dozen pooris

Wheat flour / atta - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Warm water - approx. 1/2 cup
Oil - to deep fry

How to Make Poori:

1. Mix salt into the atta and make a thick dough (than used for chappathis) adding the warm water little at a time.

2. You can leave the dough to rest for an hour, covered, but mostly when I make this for dinner, I don't get time to do this and it comes out well anyway.

3. Divide the dough into 12-15 small balls and roll out with a pin, making sure the thickness is even. Only then the pooris will puff out when frying.

4. Deep fry in the oil till turning over until both sides are golden brown.

Potato Masala (Aloo Masala) for Poori

Potatoes - 3, boiled, cubed and peeled
Onion - 1 small, or half of a big one, chopped
Green chillies - 3, slit length-wise
Grated ginger - 1/2 tsp
Jeera - 1 tsp (I powder it before use)
Turmeric - a pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal/Channa dal - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Curry leaves - 10
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

How to Make Aloo Potato for Poori:

1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and urad/channa dal. Wait for them to splutter and then add the green chillies and onions. Saute till translucent.

2. Now add the jeera, ginger and turmeric and fry for 10-15 seconds.

3. Finally add the potatoes. Mass a few of the pieces to form a gravy, mix well with added salt and remove from fire.

Update: Amma uses a slightly different recipe for Potato Masala for Poori

July 22, 2008

Palak Paneer Recipe - How to Make Palak Paneer

TH loves Palak Paneer. If you give him butter naan and palak paneer every day, I don't think he would tire of it so easily. That and pizza!

I got some fresh organic red spinach from the wet market complete with roots and snatched up the last bunch before it was all gone. I knew there are so many great recipes for palak paneer in our blogosphere so wasn't too worried about finding one.

Zeroed in on Sailu's blog, finally. I didn't make many changes to her recipe, except for quantities of some. Be warned that this is not one of those quick and easy recipes. It takes time to cook but is definitely worth the effort and time.

Palak Paneer-Palak Paneer Recipe-Paneer Recipes

Serves 2

Ingredients for Palak Paneer:
Paneer - 1 cup
Spinach / Palak - 4 cups, shredded
Onions - 1 medium, chopped
Ripe tomatoes - 2 big, pureed
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
Green chillies - 2, slit
Cumin - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Curry masala - 1 tsp (optional)
Cream/malai - 1 tbsp (optional)
Ghee - 1 tbsp

How to Make Palak Paneer:

1. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the paneer cubes lightly. Drain and set aside.

2. Add cumin seeds to the leftover ghee and let them splutter. Then add the onions and green chillies, frying lightly.

3. Add ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, coriander and curry masala and fry for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the tomato puree and let this paste cook for a good 10 minutes. It will splutter and fall all over your cook top so reduce flame to sim. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, blanch* the spinach and make a paste in the same blender you used to puree the tomatoes.
Blanching is a cooking term that describes a process of food wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process. - Source
5. Add the blanched spinach to the above paste and cook for another 10 minutes or so. The ghee will start separating at this point.

6. Add the fried paneer and required water with salt. I added very little water since I like a thick gravy for this dish. Combine and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on how much water you have added.

7. Finally blend in the cream and stir in well before removing from fire.

I served it with chappathis but next time its going to be naan :)

- Its not necessary to blanch the spinach if you don't feel comfortable with the process. Boiling it in some water is also fine. Use that water later to make the gravy thinner as desired.

- The original recipe called for blanching and peeling the tomatoes. I avoided that too.

- Next time, I will try making a paste of the onions too because it was irritating to bite into it when the rest of the gravy was so creamy.

July 18, 2008

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

Vazhakkai podimas recipe has been updated with step by step pictures on Nov 11, 2012. As any food blogger, I cringe when I see my old food pictures and I am attempting to update pictures wherever I can  for those recipes that I make often as part of our daily diet. Vazhakkai podimas is one of them so here goes!

Vazhakkai podimas is a typical tamil dish which I was quite oblivious about until I got married. My mom-in-law is an awesome cook and she has a bunch of these really simple recipes that use so little masala and ingredients but taste so great. Vazhakka podimas is one of them and its one of TH's favourite. Only catch is, we need to go all the way to Little India or Serangoon in Singapore to get Vazhakka (Plantain). This is also a great no-onion no-garlic recipe for those who dont take those as part of their regular diet.

To know the difference between raw bananas and plantain, please read this quite funny post by the Jugalbandits.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

Like I mentioned, vazhakkai podimas is another one of my quick-fix dishes and tastes great with hot rice and rasam.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients for Vazhakkai Podimas:
Plantain - 2, steamed and grated
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp (optional)
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Jeera powder - 2 tsp
Chopped green chillies - 2
Grated ginger - 1 tsp (optional)
Hing - a pinch
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Lime juice - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

How to make Vazhakkai Podimas:

1. Steam the plantain (with skin) till done. I just put it on the steamer plate that came with my rice cooker and it was done along with the rice. If you don't have a steamer, you can poke the plantains with a fork and microwave it on high for about 3-4 minutes. Let it cool completely.

2. Skin and grate the plantain coarsely. To make this step easier, I just mash the steamed vazhakkai roughly with a fork. It leads to uneven pieces so if you have a problem with that, grating is better.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

3. Heat the oil and temper with mustard seeds and the chana dal. Roast the chana deal for about 10-15 seconds till it turns a light brown. Don't let it burn.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

4. Add the jeera powder, turmeric, chillies and hing (add ginger along with these if you are using it) and fry for another 15 seconds.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

5. Next, add the coconut and grated plantains and stir in salt. Mix well on sim and add some curry leaves or coriander leaves if you like.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

6. Remove from fire and mix in the lime juice. I normally do this just before serving, when the dish is still warm and not too hot.

Vazhakkai Podimas-Raw Banana Podimas Recipe

Vazkakkai Podimas is really tasty and the plantains become quite soft once cooked. We both love it! Potatoes can be cooked in the exact same manner too.

July 14, 2008

Perfect Diet Drink - Honey Lime Ginger Concoction

I am not too big on taking diets but occasionally I feel like I have put on weight or that my stomach is flabbier or one of those crazy things that girls feel all the time and men don't understand. During those times, here is a drink that has really worked for me.

Disclaimer * - Like my mom says it could be my imagination that I am losing weight when I take this but try it for a month, atleast, first thing in the morning (after brushing your teeth please!) and let me know the result.

July 13, 2008

Payar Sundal-Green Gram Sundal (Thoran) for Navratri

Now that I have started working again, I have started using recipes from my quick 'n' easy recipes archive. Not only do I focus on minimum chopping and dicing, but I also look at usage of pots and pans since TH washes the dishes and I don't like to use up too many.

This recipe using Pacha payar (known as pesara pappu in Telugu and payatham paruppu in Tamil) and coconut is something mom used to make as an accompaniment to breakfast. We used to eat it as is mostly and my dad loves it!

Its ridiculously simple to make and though I call it thoran, it uses just 3-4 ingredients and doesn't follow the usual recipe for thoran. Its also very healthy since it uses very little oil and no spices.

Payar Sundal-Green Gram Sundal (Thoran) for Navratri
Green Gram Sundal Recipe

Serves 2

Pacha payar/green gram - 1 cup
Freshly grated coconut - 1/3 cup (adjust according to taste)
Dried red chillies - 3-4
Oil (I use coconut oil) - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

How I Made It:

1. Pressure cook the green gram till well done (3-4 whistles).

2. Heat oil in a pan, break the chillies into 2-3 pieces and fry lightly in it. Take care not to burn it.

3. Now add the coconut and fry for about 15 seconds.

4. Finally add the green gram with some salt and stir in well.

Serve hot.

Does it get any easier than this? :)

July 9, 2008

Vegetable Fried Rice-Baby Corn Manchurian-Indo Chinese Recipes

Recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice and Baby Corn Manchurian

I am a huge fan of Indo-Chinese food. Though I hadn't tried any of the recipes before, one day I had this obsessive need to make gobi manchurian. I set out to the wet market but to my huge disappointment, they were out of cauliflower. A bit disappointed, I headed over to the supermarket to get milk, and there in the chiller was a packet of baby corn. A particular evening in Hyderabad flashed through my memory and I knew the answer. Baby corn manchurian!

I also needed the quintessential ingredient for Chinese cooking - Soy sauce. There were about a dozen varieties in the supermarket and I picked one which I thought would be closest in taste to the one and only kind available in India - Sil Soy Sauce!

Here is the simple meal I made. It came out mild and tasty.

Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients for vegetable fried rice:

Cooked Basmati rice - 2 cups

Chopped carrots - 1/2 cup

Chopped beans - 1/2 cup

Chopped onions - 1/2 cup

Capsicum - half of a medium sized one

Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp

Soy sauce - 2 tbsp

Pepper - 2-3 tsp

Oil - 2 tbsp

Salt - to taste

How to Make Vegetable Fried Rice:

1. Heat the oil in a pan and lightly saute the onions till translucent.

2. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for another minute.

3. Now add the carrots and beans and keep frying till the vegetables are half cooked.

4. Next add the capsicum and pepper and mix well.

5. Increase the heat to maximum and pour the soy sauce in, stirring continuously. Keep stirring for 10-15 seconds and then lower the heat.

6. Add the cooked rice with required salt and mix well. Let it fry for another 3-4 mins and then remove.

How to Make Baby Corn Manchurian
This is a dish I have only tried in restaurants. I have never tasted a home-made version so I was a bit apprehensive. I followed my sister's recipe for Gobi Manchurian and that I have tasted and verified is yummy! So I am just replicating her recipe here, for easy reference, with slight changes in quantity.

Ingredients for Baby Corn Manchurian

(Serves 2)

Baby corn - about 10-12, cut into half.

For the batter

Cornflour - 2 tbsp

Maida - 4 tbsp

Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp

Crushed shallots - 2-3 (optional)

Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp


For the gravy

Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp

Capsicum - 1/2 of one, cubed

Onion - 1, cubed

Soy sauce - 2 tbsp

Pepper powder - 1 tsp

Cornflour - 1 tsp, mixed in half cup water

Spring onion - to make your dish look prettier and smell nicer - optional

Salt - add ONLY after checking because the soy sauce has salt in it!

How to Make Baby Corn Manchurian:

1. Make a thick batter with all the ingredients. Add the halved baby corn in this and deep fry till golden brown. Set aside on a kitchen towel to drain excess oil.

2. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the ginger garlic paste for about 10 seconds. Add the onions and saute for another minute. Then add the capsicum and saute for another minute. Its important not to brown them and retain the crunch.

3. Increase the heat to maximum and add the soy sauce mixing well for about 30 seconds. Lower the heat, add pepper powder and the fried baby corn pieces. Mix well.

If you want a dry dish to serve as an appetizer, or just prefer it that way, you can stop at this stage and serve it. If you want some gravy then proceed to step 4.

4. Pour in the cornflour+water mixture and stir well. Don't let it boil. Cornflour tends to thicken the gravy so remove once you have mixed it in.

5. Garnish with some spring onions and serve hot.

July 6, 2008

Fried Okra with Besan-Bhindi Fry-Bhindi Recipes

Recipe for Bhindi Fry

As I had mentioned before, TH and I are not huge fans of Okra (Vendakka/ladies finger. But I feel guilty if I leave out any vegetable completely (except for Pavakka/Karela!) so I bought it the other day just to try and make something different. This is a spontaneous recipe that happened just like that and it came out really well, so much so that TH didn't even realise it was Okra :) And its really simple too, using minimum ingredients.

Fried Okra with Besan-Bhindi Fry

Serves 2

Ingredients for Bhindi Fry:
Okra / Vendakka / Ladies finger - 10 nos
Besan / chickpeas flour - 3 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

How to Make Bhindi Fry:

1. Mix the besan with chilli, turmeric, hing, jeera and salt. Add enough water to make a thick batter.

2. Cut the okra into thin discs and add to the besan batter.

3. Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan and add this mixture. Keep stirring occasionally until it starts separating into small bits and the okra is cooked. 

The final dish was soft and spicy with a sweet tinge. We loved it!

July 3, 2008

Uzhunnu Vada - Medhu Vadai - South Indian Vada Recipe

Uzhunnu Vada (Medhu Vadai) is something that has been in my to-make list for a long time mainly because my mom and her sister are experts at this and no matter where I have it, I always crave for the home-made version. Also, this is a favourite of TH's. For that matter, anything that's deep fried is more his thing.

Ulundu vada is a key part of any traditional festival or offering to God. While extremely simple in the ingredients that go into preparing medhu vada, it is a bit tricky to get the right consistency. If your ulundu batter becomes too runny, then it's hard to shape the vadas (so you can just add spoonfuls to hot oil and get vadas like the last picture in this post) and if the batter is too thick, the shape will turn out well but the vadas will be hard. I am yet to master the crispy golden outer and spongy insides of a South Indian restaurant-style medhu vada but I do make a mean homemade vada that all at home enjoy.

If you like South Indian snacks, then you'd definitely like these - ulli vada, aloo bonda, Mysore bonda, potato bajji recipe. Browse a list of tea time snack recipes here.

Uzhunnu Vada/Medhu Vadai

uzhunnu vada-medhu vadai-ulundu-vadai


Makes 10-12 vada

Skinned whole urad dal - 1/2 cup
Chopped green chillies - 3
Minced ginger - 1 tsp(I don't like biting into them while easting the vada)
Chopped curry leaves - 15
Salt - to taste


1. Soak urad dal in sufficient water for at least an hour. Drain water completely and grind to a fine paste. This is where I went slightly wrong. I added a bit of water and couldn't shape the vadas because of that.

2. Mix in the other ingredients to make a thick batter.

3. Heat oil in a pan and shape the vadas like doughnuts. You can use your wet palms or a damp plastic bag side to do this without the batter sticking to it. I just dropped spoonfuls of the batter into the oil.

4. Fry till golden brown, adjusting the heat when the oil gets too hot. Make sure the heat is not too much cuz that will burn the outside while the inside is still undercooked.

5. Dump into a kitchen napkin to drain excess oil.

Best enjoyed with coconut chutney and sambar. We had ours with carrot sambar.

The first time I made ulundu vadai, it was hard to shape it into doughnuts so I dropped spoonfuls into hot oil. The taste is the same so don't feel bad if you need to do the same until you get better at shaping them. 

uzhunnu vada-medhu vadai-ulundu-vadai

July 1, 2008

Vegetable Curry Noodles-Vegetable Noodles Recipe-Indo Chinese Recipes

Indian Chinese style vegetable noodles are my favourite! Ever since Mansi of Fun and Food announced her Healthy Cooking Event, I have been going nuts thinking of an apt recipe for it. Let's face it, my blog is not that health conscious and I didn't want it to be left out or feel awkward among all the ultra-fit blogs out there. So I was determined to give my food blog something to be proud of!

This is the most tiring post on my blog, because it took me a full two days to research on this dish and then another half an hour just to make the picture look presentable. The house we are in has just one are where there is natural light and the walls there are blue! Not even a baby blue but bright sea blue!! Which means all my pics will have a solid blue background and I really prefer white. So it took a while to find the cardboard piece to act as the backdrop and to position a small table near the window so there is enough light. TH hates having that table there but of course I won the argument and so it stays!

Image Source

Now, moving on to the dish. When we think healthy, we mostly think of salads or maybe steamed dishes to avoid the oil and the frying. But that's boring. Healthy, but boring. So while I was making a packet of Maggi noodles a couple of weekends back, I was wondering how I can make this dish healthier, without altering the taste (much). Little else has occupied my mind since then when I went shopping after that.

The first step was purchasing a packet of whole wheat flat noodles that was 100% vegetarian. Considering I am in a predominantly noodle-loving country, it wasn't difficult to get exactly what I wanted.

Then it got easier. To balance the carbs, I needed more vitamins, proteins and calcium. Easy answer - vegetables!

Vegetable Curry Noodles-Vegetable Noodles Recipe-Indo Chinese Recipes
Indo-Chinese Vegetable Noodles Recipe

Preparation time - 15 mins
Cooking time - 20 mins
Serves - 4

Ingredients for Vegetable Noodles:
Whole wheat flat noodles - 100 grams
Diced onions - 1/2 cup
Chopped carrots - 1/2 cup
Thinly sliced snap beans - 1/2 cup
Chopped cabbage - 1/2 cup
Diced capsicum - 1/2 cup
Chopped tomato - 1, medium
Spring onions - to garnish (optional)

Eggs - 2 (optional)

Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Curry masala - 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp

Olive oil - 2 tbsp

How to Make Indian-Style Vegetable Noodles:

1. Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the packet. I added 2 cups water and a little salt, and cooked it covered. Running cold water and draining it is recommended but I simply drained it and kept aside since it was not too soft.

2. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the onions and saute till translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste, curry masala and red chilli powder and fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add all the chopped vegetables with half cup water and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Let the vegetables be a bit crunchy and not completely cooked.

4. Add the cooked noodles to the semi-cooked vegetables and mix well, adding a little water if necessary. Cook keeping the vessel open till the masala has blended well. Adjust salt. Remove from fire.

5. Scramble the eggs in a non-stick pan and add on in the end.

6. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot with ketchup.

This is a great one-dish meal that supplements your daily requirement of all necessary nutrients. The vegetables complement the carbs in the noodles and the eggs provide the protein and calcium part of the diet. If you feel egg = cholesterol, then use only egg whites.

Related Recipes:
Chicken Noodle Broth
Stir Fried Chilli Noodles