March 27, 2012

Chow Chow Chutney Recipe | Chow Chow Thogayal Recipe

Chow chow chutney is tough to imagine, right? I mean, there's this vegetable, and I am saying I made chutney with it. It looks fine but you have no idea how it tastes. I know, I understand. But trust me when I say it was delicious. I had my moments of doubt too, but in the end, it turned out fabulous. What's more, this is a chutney recipe that uses no coconut!

Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

I like chow chow and make chow chow sambar or chow chow kootu very regularly since it's easily available in the vegetable markets here. But a chutney? Let's see how that goes.

Chow Chow Chutney (Thuvaiyal) Recipe

Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes ~2 cups chutney Serves 4-6
Adapted from: Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan

1 medium-sized chow chow
1 tomato
1 tbsp of oil
green chilly
1 small bunch of coriander leaves (cilantro)
2 tbsp of toor dal
1 tbsp of skinned urad dal
2-3 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp of hing/asafoetida/perungaayam
Salt to taste

How to make Chow Chow Chutney:

1. Peel and grate the chow chow. Chope the tomatoes into small pieces and roughly chop up the coriander leaves.
                                     Chow Chow Chutney Recipe
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

2. in 1/2 tbsp oil, fry both the dals along with the hing and dry red chillies.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

When the dals turn golden brown, remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

Grind the cooled dal mixture to a fine powder. MIne wasn't super fine, and that's just fine. Heh.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

3. In the same pan, add 1/2 tbsp more oil and add the grated chow chow, chopped tomatoes, and the green chilly.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

4. The chow chow will let out water and turn a duller colour. Cook until the water has evaporated and the tomatoes turn softy and mushy - around 5-6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

5. Once cooled, transfer the chow chow mixture to a blender, add the coriander leaves, and blend to a paste without adding any water.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

Add the dal mixture and some salt and blend again scraping down the side a couple of times. Don't add any water.
Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

Done! Goes super well with plain white rice and ghee. I served it with rice and kadala kozhambu.

Chow Chow Chutney Recipe

In case you want to take a look at the book I got the recipe from, check it out on Amazon or Flipkart.

March 15, 2012

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe | Green Peas Masala Recipe

I've been wanting to try a good Kerala Style Peas Masala recipe for ages now. I rarely make appam or puttu and that's what this goes best with but it went beautifully with chapatis too, I must say.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Now, I really don't want to give you more reasons to think I am weird but in the interest of full disclosure, I want to admit that when I went to Delhi on work for a week earlier this month, I brought back fresh vegetables from the farmer's market. There, I said it. And before you ask, no, the Singapore customs didn't mind.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

I can never ever resist fresh peas. I think I am wired exactly like my mom in that aspect. Fresh vegetables make us go weak in the knees and from the very early days, she managed to plant this idea in my head that frozen vegetables are just not vegetables anymore. So I rarely buy frozen peas but jump at the fresh ones if I can get my hands on them.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

It was Sunday and I was talking to amma and as it often does, our conversation turned to food and recipes. I asked her for typical Kerala restaurant-style peas masala. The watery, spicy, peas-laden side-dish served with Kerala parotta in almost every restaurant. She boo-ed me. In her exact words "why do you want to make that at home? They add maida and who-knows-what-else to make it golu-gola" (referring to thickening of the gravy). I said fine, tell me your version.

And she did.

And it changed my life.

I am not kidding when I say this is the best side dish I have ever made for chapatis. Ever. It's a bit of grinding and sautéing and stuff, but by God, it's worth it.

I have two types of appam recipes in the blog  - Kerala appam without yeast and spongy appam with yeast. Either would go really well with this peas curry. You can also serve it with rotis or chapatis like I did. This idiyappam recipe may be another good idea.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Source: Amma gave recipe verbally, I adapted it
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 cups of shelled peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 tbsp of coriander seeds
3 dry red chillies
1 tsp + 1 tsp of oil
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
2 large onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
A small piece of ginger
1 cup of thick coconut milk
1 tsp of garam masala or any curry powder
Salt to taste

For tempering:
1 tbsp coconut oil (or any oil you prefer)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A few curry leaves

How to Make Peas Masala:

1. In a small pan, heat the 1 tsp oil and fry the coriander seeds and red chillies until nicely browned. In fact, mine turned almost black, just short of burning, and that's perfect. Take care not to burn it because that will obviously spoil the peas masala. Set this aside to cool.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

2. In a larger pan, heat another tsp of oil and add the chopped onions. Once they brown, add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Saute some more until the mixture cooks up and looks mushy - about 4-5 mins. Remove from fire, transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

3. In the same pan, add the peas and enough water to cover it completely. Add the turmeric powder and bring to boil, then lower fire to a simmer.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

4. Grind the roasted coriander-chilli mixture with some water (just to get it ground up nicely, doesn't need to be a super smooth paste) and add to the peas.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Mix well and continue to cook on low flame.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

5. In the same mixer jar you used for the coriander-chilli mixture, grind the onion mixture to a smooth paste. Don't add water.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

6. Add this mixture to the peas and continue to cook for another 5 mins or until the peas are cooked and turn mushy when you apply pressure. Don't overcook them though.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

7. Add the coconut milk next along with salt. Mix and let it come to boil.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

8. As soon as it comes to boil, add the garam masala or any curry powder you like and remove from fire. If you think the gravy is too thick, you can add some water along with the coconut milk. Mine turned out perfect with these proportions.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Time for tempering. Heat the coconut oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

When the mustard seeds start to pop, add to the cooked peas curry and mix well.

Kerala-Style Peas Masala Recipe

Serve Kerala peas masala hot with chapatis, appam, puttu, or parotta. It's delicious!

March 13, 2012

Using a Steamer for Rice & Indian Cooking

Mom-in-law bought a steamer for TH's sister when she was in Singapore last year. It's a simple one, around 30$ from Morries and has a timer to control how long you want to steam stuff.

When I went down to Coimbatore after that, we gave it a spin to see how well a steamer works for Indian cooking (apart from the obvious stuff which you steam cook anyway like modaks or idlis)

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

We wanted to try regular vegetables, rice, and dal. The steamer comes with 2 oval-shaped containers with large-ish holes at the bottom that allows steam in from the water you need to pour in at the lowest level. The holes will allow dal to fall through so you need to use another container to hold it. We put some cut and washed cauliflower and beans together to steam along with a small container of soaked toor dal to be used in rasam.

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

After about 20 mins, the vegetables were cooked soft ready for poriyal and the dal was ready to be mushed up a bit further and added to the rasam.

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

Quite thrilled with the results, and especially the low time and maintenance to cook it up, we decided to give rice a shot. Steamed rice is usually much better in texture and doesn't clump up like pressure cooked rice does.

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

The steamer comes with a container that fits into the bigger one nicely. Experiment was with 1 cup ponni raw rice and 2 cups water.

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

Around 20-25 mins later, voila! The rice was perfectly done with a gorgeous texture.

Using a Steamer for Indian Cooking

Fluffed up with a fork, it tasted much better than pressure cooked rice.

Experiments for the day were deemed a success!

Here are some pros and cons in case you are considering a steamer for your cooking.


- most steamers are cheap and very low maintenance. You can steam/cook multiple things at the same time depending on how many tiers your steamer has. It also retains all the nutrients in the vegetable as opposed to par-boiling.

- you don't have to monitor the cooking process. once you set the timer, you can go about doing other stuff while it cooks.

- it's noise-less and non-messy, very easy to clean.


- takes up counter-space and an electric socket. while it's light enough to be stored away after use, you may not end up using it if you keep it away and this is something that would ideally be used every day in your cooking

- dals won't cook to a mush if they are not presoaked

- this depends on size but the one we got was a standard-sized one and you still can't cook enough rice for more than 2 people. also, nothing beats rice cooked in a rice cooker.

- you may not be able to use a steamer like this for all your steaming needs, like idlis. a standard mold won't fit in here and you will need a separare solution.

Overall, it's a nice gadget to have, especially if you like boiled vegetables and using simple flavours in your subzis. You end up using very little oil as well. But, make sure you have the space and the motivation to use it regularly.

Here's one from Amazon that looks great!

Note: not a paid review. just some thoughts I wanted to share on using a steamer in regular every day cooking. 

March 8, 2012

Adai Recipe | Ada Dosa | Adai Dosa Recipe (South Indian Lentil Crepes)

Ada or adai is a protein-packed lentil pancake or dosa that's popular in South India, particularly Tamil Nadu. The plate of adai below is from my amma. She made it and the two chutneys, my uncle took the pic, and they sent it over a good few months back. I kept meaning to post the recipe but that never happened.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

Then I went back home for Christmas vacation and amma made it again because I love adai (or ada dosa as we call it) but TH is not a fan and so I have never tried making them myself.

But they are delicious and protein-packed although not really an instant option. Just like regular dosas, some prior planning and soaking needs to happen to get them going.

More interesting and different dosa recipes:
Sago dosa
Jowar dosa
Instant rava dosa
Instant wheat dosa

Adai (Ada Dosa) Recipe

Preparation time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes ~ 15 adai

1 cup of par-boiled rice or dosa/idli rice
1 cup of whole skinned urad dal / ulutham paruppu / uzhunnu parippu
1 cup of mix of toor dal (or peas dal) and channa dal
5 dry red chillies
A few curry leaves
8 shallots sliced thin (or use 1 small onion)
1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder / perungaayam
1/2 cup of grated coconut (optional)
1 tsp of salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
Gingelly or Indian sesame oil for cooking the adai


1. Soak the rice, urad dal, and the mixed dals separately in water for at least 2 hours and a maximum of 4 hours. Add the red chillies to one of the bowls and let them soak as well (or you can just add 1 tsp red chilli powder when grinding the dals).

2. Grind the urad dal first with little water. It doesn't need to be a smooth paste just more or less so. Then grind the rice, again not super smooth but just ground well.

3. Finally grind the mixed dals along with the chillies to a paste. Use adequate water to let them grind. You can add in the coconut at this stage too, if using.

4. Mix these together along with salt, asafoetida, chopped shallots, turmeric, and curry leaves torn roughly. Mix well with enough water to make a batter that's the consistency of dosa batter.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

5. Pour one ladleful on an oiled griddle or tawa and spread into a circle. Make sure the dosa is not too thick.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

6. Flip over after a minute or so and cook the other side until golden brown.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

7. The above is one way of doing it, just like regular dosas, but I prefer the lacy dosas that amma makes. For that, add more water to the batter and make it much "looser". You won't be able to spread them on the griddle so just pour on it starting from the outer circle, filling the gaps as you go. I hope the pictures below explain this.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

The batter should be loose enough to spread as you pour and cover up the gaps and you can help it along the way by filling the gaps. This way, the crepes take much longer to cook but the patience is worth it. You end up with lacy adai with crispy edges and it's just delicious.

Adai | Ada Dosa | Lentil Crepes Recipe

We usually serve adai with 2 types of chutneys - red chilli chutney and thick coconut chutney (as shows in the first picture) or some random curry that's left over.

Traditionally, Tamilians serve adai with aviyal. In fact, most restaurants serve adai-avial as a combination like puttu and kadala. I don't think that's done in Kerala though, correct me if I am wrong.

Oh boy, I am craving ada dosa now. Too bad I have to go bury my face in some unhealthy snacks at work instead!

March 5, 2012

One-Bowl Chocolate Truffle Cake Recipe - Basic One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe

While the 5-min chocolate mug cake is great to satisfy instant chocolate cravings and is often quoted as the most dangerous chocolate cake recipe, sometimes you want the "real" deal. And you want it fast. I had one of those nights the other ...err... night.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Truffle Cake Recipe

I turned to Piece of Cake, the awesome book SJ recommended to me that gave inspiration to my Orange Cake Recipe. All the recipes are one-bowl, easy, and fuss-free and therefore perfect to whip up quickly even on a weeknight.

I made this super fuss-free chocolate truffle cake in the night and took pictures of the final pieces the next day morning. You don't even need to bring the butter to room temperature and you can easily make this eggless too. Oh and btw, these were used as the base for the Cake Pops I made for the first time.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Truffle Cake Recipe

One-Bowl Chocolate Truffle Cake Recipe

Adapted from: Piece of Cake by Camilla V Saulsbury
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes one 8" cake

1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chunks
6 tbsp of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp of instant coffee powder
1.25 cups of plain flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract

How I Made It:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C. Grease an 8" metal baking pan with butter. Add 1 tbsp flour to this and spread across by tilting the pan all around. Tap out the extra flour. Or, just use PAM baking spray.

2. This is a one-bowl chocolate cake so start with a large enough microwave-safe bowl for melting the chocolate and butter if you can. Add the chopped chocolate or chips along with the butter to the bowl.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

3. Microwave on medium heat for a minute and increase to 2 mins if you need to. The mixture should look like below, just about melted. Add the instant coffee powder.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

4. Use a whisk and combine the ingredients. Although they look solid, the butter and chocolate will soften pretty quickly so make sure you start with one minute.

Note: if you are using a regular pan over the stove and not the MW, then wait for the pan to cool down after this step before proceeding.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

5. Add the eggs, flour, salt, sugar, milk, baking soda and vanilla to the chocolate mixture.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

Combine together gently with a whisk. I used my electric beater's whisk for this and then proceeded to the next step. This step is optional - I do it so that flour won't fly into my face when I turn the electric mixer on.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

6. Now, using an electric mixer, beat the batter on medium speed (if you can adjust, otherwise it's fine) for a minute. Scrape down sides and beat for another 30 seconds. Take care not to overbeat.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

7. Pour into the greased tray and bake for 25-30 mins...

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

... until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with dry crumbs.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe

That's it! Invert onto a cake tray or just a regular plate after about 10 mins. Slice and serve as soon as it's cool enough to handle.


- The book suggests chocolate ganache to be slathered on this cake but I used some toffee sauce I had lying around in the fridge (and I wonder why I don't lose weight!). If you serve it unfrosted, the cake won't be too sweet so adjust the sugar quantity if you'd like.

- You can easily make this eggless by substituting 1 egg with 1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp warm water beaten together. You can also substitute 1 egg with 1/4 cup plain yogurt. The texture will different slightly but should turn out delicious nevertheless.

- The measurement method used in this book is the scoop-and-sweep method. For measuring flour, scoop it into the measuring cup with a spoon and sweep the excess off the top making sure the cup is full but not packed. Don't scoop using the measuring cup itself or tap it when measuring since that will result in more flour going into the cake, making it harder.

- It's ok for the melted chocolate to be warm but don't let it boil on the stove top. Just melt it gently and that's enough. Also, if you are using the stove top, make sure you cool down the chocolate mixture before proceeding.

- The book Piece of Cake is awesome! I have tried 3 recipes so far, all with great success. Will do a detailed review soon but meanwhile, if you are looking for a great baking book to get next, I would recommend this for sure.

One-Bowl Everyday Chocolate Cake Recipe
Chocolate Truffle Cake with Warm Toffee Sauce