August 26, 2009

Tomato Spinach Pulao - Easy Pulao Recipe, Step by Step

Tomato spinach pulao recipe - whenever I post step-by-step recipes for baking, most of you love it, try it and give me your thoughts. I have been itching to do the same for normal recipes too, but the only reason stopping me was the poor lighting in my kitchen. After many months of giving myself this excuse, I decided to go ahead and post step by step pictures of cooking recipes whenever possible. 

Because of this, you will see pictures with different lighting in this post, so bear with me. Hopefully you find it useful (not the lighting, the tomato spinach pulao recipe!)

After all that talk, I'm hungry. Let's have a nice bowl of hot tomato spinach pulao, shall we? If you want to skip the stepwise pictures, you can scroll to the end of this post for the recipe in one place.

If you want to check out more pulao recipes, then here's my pressure cooker veg pulao, aloo capsicum pulao, palak khichdi recipe, and simple paneer pulao. You can also check out this Indian quinoa pulao recipe

August 24, 2009

Instant Sambar Powder Recipe

Learn how to make instant sambar powder - a sambar powder recipe that can make you instant sambar without having to make dal, tamarind water, etc.

My mom-in-law has three sisters, each of them different and unique in their own ways. During this trip, TH and I stayed in Bombay with her elder sister, Geetha Perima. She is a cooking wiz, makes her own ghee in 10 mins flat, always has pickles, thokku and different kozhambu pastes in her fridge - all homemade, and makes ice-cream which makes one wonder why we ever buy ice cream! She makes all of this seem extremely simple too.

One recipe of hers that immediately caught my attention is the instant sambar powder recipe. Her son is studying in the US and recently, she sent him this powder. All you need to do is add it to boiling water with your choice of vegetable(s) and chopped onions if you like them. The powder has all other ingredients for a sambar, like toor dal, tamarind, chilly powder, hing, etc etc.
Here's how you can make this powder. Great for lazy people, working folks and of course, for you to pack it for your son/daughter who is moving abroad and needs a quick fix of homemade sambar in no time!

Instant Sambar Powder
Makes about 1.5kg sambar powder

1kg toor dal
100 gm dhania / malli / coriander
25gm channa dal / bengal gram / kadala paruppu
50 gm dry red chillies
10gm fenugreek seeds / uluva / menthayam
A large lime-sized ball of tamarind
2 tbsp whole black pepper
2 tsp jeera
1 tsp hing / asafoetida / perungayam
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (optional, added for the colour)


1. Heat about 2 tsp oil in a pan and lightly fry the red chillies. When they start to brown, remove and set aside to cool.

2. Remove all strings and seeds from the tamarind. Separate into pieces. Add these to the same oil and fry by pressing down, making sure all the sides are roasted. Keep flame low and continue to roast for about 5 mins. It will be very soft at this stage. Drain and set aside to cool. You will find that the tamarind has gone crisp and brittle to touch.

3. The other ingredients don't need to be roasted. Starting with the dal, powder each ingredient separately and keep adding to a big bowl. The tamarind will powder nicely once its cool.

4. Mix all ingredients well with salt. Store in an air tight container and use to make easy and quick sambar.

To Use:

To serve two, boil about 3 glasses water and add 2-3 tbsp of the instant sambar powder. Add chopped vegetables and onions. Let it boil on sim until the vegetables are cooked. Serve hot. This powder will make sambar that's a bit watery. If you want it thicker, also add some cooked toor dal while preparing it.

August 19, 2009

Godhumai Adai | Wheat Adai | Quick and Easy Snack Recipes

Godhumai adai was a favourite snack while I was young. My grandmom used to make it with tons of ghee, tons of jaggery and tons of love! One Sunday, I had the hugest craving for this so I dialled home to find out the exact recipe from Amma. She had gone out to meet some friends so I dialled the next best person - the sister!

Godhumai Adai | Wheat Adai | Quick and Easy Snack RecipesAfter 15 mins of talking (of which 3 mins was dedicated to the recipe!), I started off. This is an easy snack for kids for their after-school hungry times. Its quite healthy too and can be easily made with the ingredients available in your pantry.

Godhumai Adai | Wheat Adai | Quick and Easy Snack Recipes
Looking for more easy evening snacks? Check out: Bread Paneer Rolls, Ethakka Appam, and Ghee Fried Bananas

Godumai Adai / Godambu Ada
Makes - 6

Wheat flour / atta - 2 cups
Jaggery / sharkkara / vellam - 2/3 cup, grated (Adjust if you like it not too sweet)
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Powdered cardamom - 1/3 tsp (2-3 pods)
Salt - one pinch
Ghee - to cook


1. Transfer the jaggery to a bowl and add about 2 tbsp water. Keep on low fire until it starts melting. Let it boil for about 5 mins. Strain to remove impurities and set aside to cool.
*Note that this step is necessary if you are using Kerala sharkkara. If using the lighter coloured Tamil Nadu version, sis says there are no impurities so you can just use the grated jaggery and mix in with the atta. The TN version is salted so make sure you adjust the addition of salt to the dough.

2. Mix the atta, salt and cardamom until well combined. Add the coconut to this and mix well.

3. Add the cooled jaggery mixture to the atta and combine with finger tips. Add enough water and keep combining until you get a sticky, slightly elastic, loose dough. It should neither be watery nor hard like for chapatis. The consistency is not super important but make sure you don't go to either extreme. Also make sure not to knead too much.

4. Heat a griddle and add some ghee. Scoop out some dough with your fingers, place on the pan and smooth out into a circle using your fingertips. Let it brown (1 min).

5. Turn and cook the other side until nicely browned. Tastes good both hot and at room temp.

If you want some melted jaggery in the ada (which I LOVE), reserve some grated jaggery before melting and add this to the dough while mixing. The jaggery pieces will melt and form nice patterns on the ada. Hmmm.. heaven!
Godhumai Adai | Wheat Adai | Quick and Easy Snack Recipes

August 17, 2009

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Cabai Merah

Bok choy, also known as Pak choi or Chinese cabbage, forms a small but elongated head with plump white stalks and deep green leaves. The vegetable is very common in food courts in Singapore and the first time I tried stir fried Bok Choy, I fell for it. Green have always been a weakness and this was definitely a winner with me.
Cabai Merah red chillies, also known as Cabe Merah are fresh red chillies that are most popular in Malaysia and Indonesia. They are a deep red, thick and long and are only slightly hotter than the capsicum, the family to which they belong. I have used them in fried rice recipes and mushroom stir fry. The flavour is superb when stir fried and they go extremely well with Bok Choy.

Let's stir up a recipe with both of them, shall we? This recipe is very simple and easy since too many flavours take the focus off the Bok Choy.

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Cabai Merah
Serves: 2

What I Used:

Bok choy - 8 stalks, washed and chopped (both stem and leaves)
Cabai Merah (fresh red chillies) - 6 to 7, chopped
Garlic - 3 pods, minced
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

How I Made It:

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and fry until golden brown. Keeping the fire on high, add the soy sauce and stir until it bubbles (1 min).
2. To this add the cabai merah and the chopped bok choy. Reduce fire and stir until the boy choy wilts. Add salt.

Serve hot with fried rice or plain rice with some curry.

August 12, 2009

Chakkakuru Parippu Curry - Jackfruit Seeds Cooked with Lentils

I love chakka kuru aka jackfruit seeds. In Kottayam, where I grew up, most houses have a backyard with various trees, most popular being jackfruit, banana, mangoes and of course the staple curry leaves plant. We've always had generous neighbours who share the fruits during season time and during summer, there's always a sack of some fruit or the other from friends and family around.

My mom makes the maximum use of any vegetable or fruit. She makes kumbil / varatti with the ripe jackfruit and reserves the seeds for aviyal or mezhukkupuratti, the two most popular chakkakkuru recipes in our house.

During a recent trip to KL, I bought a box of jackfruits. It had precisely 10 pieces inside which TH and I polished off in 2 mins. I washed and kept the seeds outside and once they dried, wrapped them in a shower cap and brought them back to Singapore. I had 10 seeds which meant there wasn't enough to make aviyal or mezhukkupuratti. I browsed around and finally zeroed in on a recipe from Sunita's blog.

Jackfruit Seeds in Lentils
Serves: 2
Recipe adapted from Sunita's recipe.

1/2 cup split red lentils / masoor dal, washed and drained
1/2 cup toor dal, washed and drained
10 jackfruit seeds / chakkakkuru, soaked, peeled and halved
1 tomato, chopped
3 pods of garlic, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of hing
Oil and mustard seeds, for tempering
Salt to taste

1. Place the dals and the jackfruit seeds in a pressure cooker with 5 cups water. Cook for 3 whistles and let it cool.

2. Heat oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the ginger, garlic, hing, chilli powder and turmeric. Fry for 1 min.

3. Add the tomatoes and fry for another 2-3 mins. To this, add the cooked dal and jackfruit seeds. Mix well.

4. Add salt. Remove.
I served the dish with some warm chapatis. Sunita's version has vegetables too but I wanted to keep it simpler and give more 'importance' to the jackfruit seeds.

August 10, 2009

How I Eat Strawberries

When its spring (or summer, what do I know about season changes!) in some parts of the world, the berries start appearing in all the food blogs. Strawberries are the most dominant I suppose, with the fruit being used in all possible ways - in cakes, ice-creams, sorbet, drinks, salads, you name it! Then come the blueberries in muffins and pancakes and fruit tarts and stuff.

For me, the one living in a place where the only season change is when I step out of the air-conditioned train onto the blistering street and vice versa, spring is when I see strawberries in the super market, I guess.

Needless to say, they are expensive. So usually I can only afford one or two boxes until they stop showing up on the shelves. As much as I'd like to use them in various strawberry recipes, here's how they eventually get used up.

A box of as-fresh-as-it-gets-in-Singapore strawberries. Yum.

I take one in my hand. I whisper "you precious baby, so cool (out of the fridge) and so bright! I hope you realise you cost me a bomb".

I take a gentle bite so as not to hurt it. Slightly sour, not really sweet. But I guess this is how strawberries are supposed to taste, right?

Then I place it down, admire it for a few seconds. Sigh a couple of times, even.

Then I put it back where it belongs, with the others, although with a bite.

Then I flip it around. Ah there! Now I can pretend I have an entire box of strawberries still. And that all of them are as good as new, no bites, no nothing. A boxful, just like how I started out.

Is this normal? Ok, don't answer that. Just tell me how you like your strawberries.

August 3, 2009

Vegetable Rava Upma Recipe - Easy Veg Rava Upma Recipe

Learn how to make Rava Upma using this easy, classic recipe for Vegetable Rava Upma, a popular South Indian Breakfast!
I love breakfast! Especially when its served for dinner. I guess I was just raised like that. We have dosa for dinner 5 out of 7 days a week and my mom's idlis are very popular among friends in Kottayam. She even used to make them for small parties and get togethers where people used to skip the appam and curry and come straight for them!

Anyway, breakfast for dinner. I continue the same thing after marriage too. TH used to say "dosa ya? Night kaa??" the first couple of times but even he understands the convenience of making a few dosas and having it with hot, freshly made sambar.

Rava Upma was never a favourite while growing up. I like my upma dry (or rather, drier) and not sticky. I also like to add any vegetables in hand to it and make it wholesome. Here is my super simple upma recipe that we have never had for breakfast yet, always just for dinner. 

If you love breakfast recipes, also check out this rava idli with eno salt, masala dosa recipe, and how to make plain dosa

Vegetable Rava Upma Recipe-Easy Rava Upma Recipe
Vegetable Rava Upma Recipe
Serves: 2

1 cup rava / semolina
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped (carrots, potatoes and beans)
2 green chillies, chopped (adjust to taste)
1" piece ginger, grated
A few curry leaves
1/2 tsp urad dal / uluntham paruppu / uzhunnu parippu
1/4 tsp mustard seeds / kaduku
A few roasted cashewnuts to garnish (optional)
Coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish (didn't have any this time)
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste

How to Make Rava Upma:

1. Dry roast the rava in a pan until it turns a light brown (about 7-10 mins). Transfer to a bowl when done and set aside to cool.
2. Heat oil in the same pan and add the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. When the dal turns golden brown and the mustard seeds splutter, add the onions, green chillies and ginger. Fry for 4-5 mins until the onions turns golden brown.
3. Now add the peas and vegetables. Mix well. Add about 3 cups water and cook closed until the vegetables turn soft.
4. Open, add salt and mix well. Then lower fire to sim and add the roasted rava little at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to cook and stir for another 5 mins.
5. Remove and serve hot with vegetable sambar and coconut chutney.
Vegetable Rava Upma Recipe-Easy Rava Upma Recipe