For the uninitiated, Bai is a kind of soup that hails from the exotic north-eastern state of Mizoram. The state boasts of a number of indigenous leafy greens, many of which are unheard of outside – and several of these greens go into the Bai. Whatever vegetables are in season also find their way into the Bai. Some Rajah chillies (aka Bhut Jholokia or Ghost Pepper) and fermented mustard – both commonly used ingredients in Mizo kitchens – also form a part of this soup. If it is being served to non-vegetarians, pork sauce is also added. Very simple to prepare and very nutritious, bai is something you will typically find cooked across Mizo households.
Today, I present to you the recipe for Cauliflower Stalk Bai – bai made with the stalks of cauliflower – yes, you read that right! This is a vegetarian Mizoram Bai Recipe, which I have made with ingredients commonly available where I live.
I made the Cauliflower Stalk Bai following the recipe outlined by Eat Your Kappa, with a few small variations of my own. What struck me the most about the recipe was just how simple it was, how basic. Well, that is how most food in all of the North East is – simply cooked but hearty, using a few seasonal and local ingredients. Another thing that stuck with me about this recipe is the use of cauliflower stalks, which would otherwise have gone into the trash – keeping wastage in the kitchen minimal, another trait that is quite common in all of the North East.
To be honest, the Bai was quite bland for all of us at home. I had to add in a few condiments – pepper, soya sauce and a bit of tomato ketchup – for it to become acceptable to our city-dweller palates. That’s not how it was intended to be consumed, I’m sure, but that’s how it went.
Well, here is the Mizoram Bai Recipe, the way I made it.
1. Take the water in a thick-bottomed pan. Place it on high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Add in salt to taste and the soda. Mix well.
3. Add in the chopped cauliflower stalks, florets and leaves, as well as the chopped beans and potato. Also, add in the slit green chillies. Mix well.
4. Cook covered on medium flame till the vegetables are tender, but not overly mushy. This should take 15-20 minutes. Keep checking on the pan periodically, adding more water if the mixture feels like it is too thick, stirring intermittently. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
5. Now, add the cooked rice to the pan. Mix well.
6. Cook uncovered on medium flame for a couple of minutes more. Your Cauliflower Stalk Bai is ready!
This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group that I am part of. Every month, a bunch of us food bloggers get paired together, with each pair exchanging two secret ingredients and cooking dishes from a particular part of the country. This month, we are all cooking from the North Eastern state of Mizoram.
For the challenge this month, I was paired with Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni, who gave me the two secret ingredients of cauliflower and chillies. I decided to use these two ingredients to make this Mizoram Bai Recipe.
You get beautiful gooseberries in Bangalore right about now – big, fat, juicy ones that are bursting with flavour. I absolutely had to pick up some, while I was vegetable shopping recently. This lovely, lovely Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry or Gajar Amla Salad is what happened to them!
The Indian gooseberry (also called Amla) is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Thanks to these properties, it helps in curing a number of minor ailments, flushing out toxins from the body, and also strengthens one’s immunity. Amla also aids in slowing down cellular degeneration and ageing, stimulates the heart, helps in improving eyesight, and prevents premature greying of hair. Low in sugar and high in fibre content, it is a berry you shouldn’t be missing out on. This is our very own local superfood, and a great one at that.
When Sangeeta Khanna wrote about this Gajar Amla Salad on her Instagram handle, I knew I had to try it out. Have I told you how much I adore this lady’s recipes? The author of Health Food Desi Videshi and Banaras Ka Khana, she is a treasure trove of beautiful recipes. Extremely knowledgeable and talented, Sangeeta Khanna is all about eating local, eating seasonal, eating fresh and eating right, philosophies that also resound with me. She has counselled a number of people on how to reverse various lifestyle diseases using just food – just how marvellous is that?! Anyhow, I found this salad of hers to be a brilliant way of getting all that goodness of amla into our systems, and it did turn out absolutely delicious!
The Gajar Amla Salad is tangy and refreshing, full of flavour and a treat to the tastebuds. It is super easy to make, with minimal effort and zero oil required! What’s more, it is low-fat, raw, vegan and gluten-free, too. It paired perfectly with the Mixed Vegetable RotiI served it with. This Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry is definitely something you must try out too!
Here’s how I made the Gajar Amla Salad, following Sangeeta Khanna’s recipe to the T.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
2 medium-sized gooseberries
Salt to taste
3 small carrots or 2 medium-sized ones
1 small onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
2 green chillies or as per taste
1. Peel the carrots and grate them medium-thick. Transfer the grated carrots to a large mixing bowl.
2. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
3. Grate the gooseberries finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
4. Chop the green chillies really fine. Add to the mixing bowl.
5. To the mixing bowl, add salt to taste and finely chopped coriander.
6. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, well. Serve the Gajar Amla Salad immediately.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
Did you know that idlis – that beloved breakfast of many across the globe – have a dedicated day, all to themselves? March 30 every year is celebrated as World Idli Day! I’m here today with a Kanchipuram Idli recipe for you guys, to mark the occasion. 🙂
The town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu is famous not just for the gorgeous silk sarees manufactured here, but also for the temple of Sri Varadaraja Perumal (Lord Vishnu) that it houses. For several scores of decades now, a special type of idli has been prepared at the temple as an offering to the Lord. This idli – traditionally cooked in a bamboo cylinder (called ‘kudalai‘ in Tamil) on a wood fire – is believed to be a favourite of Varadaraja Perumal. Referred to by various names like Kanchipuram Idli, Kanjeevaram Idli, Kudalai Idli (after the ‘kudalais‘ in which they are steamed), and KovilIdli (temple idli), this is one lovely-tasting confection for sure.
Today, the Kanchipuram Idli has become a staple in more or less every household, at least in Tamil Nadu. There are several different versions to the Kanchipuram Idli recipe – it is sometimes made with boiled rice (puzhungal arisi), sometimes with whole green moong (pacchai payaru), and with split moong daal (payathamparuppu) at other times. In her famous book Samaithu Paar (Cook & See), Smt. Meenakshi Ammal offers a Kanchipuram Idli recipe using just moong daal and urad daal, with no rice going into it. Yes, you heard that right – no rice. Making no-rice idli is not just a modern fad, this proves, but something that was in vogue even in 1950, when the cookbook was first published! Apparently, this is one very authentic recipe for Kanchipuram Idli, used in several. Tamilian households. Just how fascinating is all this history, eh? 🙂
I make Kanchipuram Idli following the maestro Meenakshi Ammal’s procedure to the T. They turn out brilliant, soft and fluffy, absolutely delicious and flavourful, a hearty and filling meal, perfect for diabetics and weight-watchers. In the restaurants and homes of Tamilnadu, these idlis are typically steamed in bowls made of banana leaves or mandara leaves (‘donnai‘ in Tamil). In the absence of both of these, I tend to cook my Kanchipuram Idlis in areca leaf bowls, commonly available in most Bangalore departmental stores. If you don’t have access to any of the above steaming vehicles, don’t fret – you can still cook the idlis in steel plates, little steel bowls or glasses, and they would still taste absolutely fantastic!
Now, without further ado, let’s check out the Kanchipuram Idli recipe or Kovil Idli recipe, a la Smt. Meenakshi Ammal.
Ingredients (makes 12-15 bigidlis):
1 cup split yellow moong daal
1 cup urad daal
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
A little ghee, for steaming the bowls
For the tempering:
2 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon chana daal
4 green chillies, chopped into large pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 pinches of asafoetida
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves, roughly torn
1-1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon roughly chopped coconut
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cashewnuts
Areca/banana leaf bowls for steaming the idli
1. Wash the moong daal and urad daal together under running water a couple of times, draining out all the water from them. Then, add in just enough fresh water to cover the daals. Let them soak for 2-3 hours, covered.
2. When the daals are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Grind to a smooth batter in a mixer, stopping at intervals to add a little water and scrape down the sides of the mixer. Transfer the ground batter to a large vessel.
3. Add salt to taste to the batter. Mix well. Keep the batter covered in a warm place, undisturbed, for 8-10 hours or till it ferments well.
4. When you are ready to make the idlis, prepare the tempering. For this, heat the ghee in a small pan. Add in the chana daal, and fry on medium heat till it gets brown. Now, add the cashews to the pan, and fry till they turn brown too. Now, switch off the gas. Quickly add the green chillies, coconut pieces, black peppercorns, curry leaves, cumin, asafoetida and ginger powder. Give the ingredients a quick stir with a spoon, ensuring that they do not burn. The rest of the ingredients will get slightly cooked in the residual heat in the pan, and that is enough. Add this tempering to the fermented batter.
5. Add the finely chopped coriander to the fermented batter too. Mix the batter well. It is now ready to be used to make Kanchipuram Idlis.
6. Place about 1-1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place the cooker on high heat and allow the water to start boiling.
7. Meanwhile, grease two of the leaf bowls with a little ghee. Fill the greased leaf bowls about halfway through with the batter.
8. Once the water in the pressure cooker bottom starts boiling, place a stand inside and place a colander on top of it. Place the two bowls with idli batter in the colander. Close the pressure cooker and steam for about 15 minutes without putting the whistle on.
9. Serve the cooked idlis hot with the leaf bowl intact, with chutney of your choice.
10. Replenish the water in the pressure cooker bottom. Prepare Kanchipuram Idlis from all the batter, in a similar way.
1. You can also add in a couple of tablespoons of fenugreek seeds (sabutmethi or menthiyam) while soaking the moong daal and urad daal. This makes the idlis softer.
2. This Kovil Idli recipe uses split yellow moong daal and whole white urad daal. However, you can use whole green moong and split urad daal instead, too.
3. Make sure the batter is well fermented before using it to make the idlis.
4. The time the batter needs for fermentation would be different in different locales/weather. In hot weather, the batter might ferment much before 8-10 hours. In cold climes, one might need to leave the batter for over 12 hours to ferment.
5. Once the batter ferments, give it a good stir. You can make idlis with it immediately or keep it refrigerated for later use. If you plan to use the batter later, I would suggest doing the tempering just when you are ready to cook the idlis.
4. The fermented batter stays well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
5. Any leftover batter (after tempering) can be used to make kuzhipaniyaram.
6. If you are using refrigerated batter to make idlis, make sure you get it out of the fridge well in advance. The batter should be completely at room temperature when you begin to make the idlis.
7. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while tempering, as per the above Kovil Idli recipe. This will alter the taste of the idlis.
8. I used medium-sized areca bowls to steam the idlis, and could fit two into my pressure cooker at a time. You might be able to steam more idlis at a time if using smaller leaf bowls or steel glasses. If steaming in a steel plate, you might be able to fit in only one.
9. You will need to keep adding more water in the pressure cooker bottom in between steaming the idlis.
10. About 15 minutes is usually good to steam Kanchipuram Idlis. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cooked idli should come out clean – that’s when it is done.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the blog hop this week is #IdliMedley, suggested by Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni. wherein participants are cooking up a variety of no-rice idlis!
Check out the different types of no-rice idlis other members of the blog hop have come up with:
Have you ever tried out Murunga Elai Podi, a South Indian-style chutney powder made with moringa aka drumstick leaves? Extremely delish, extremely healthy, I tell you!
I have often waxed eloquent about the many health benefits that moringa possesses. Not only the leaves of the tree, but also the pods and flowers are edible, and all of them are extremely nutritious too. It is no wonder that moringa – murungai in Tamil – is considered a ‘super food’ the world over. Hence, moringa features regularly on our dining table, in various ways. Murunga Elai Podi ranks among the top favourite ways of our family to consume this wonder food!
I make this chutney powder following the same proceedure as that for my mom’s Thengai Podi. It is a burst of flavours – slightly sweet and tangy and spicy – and goes wonderfully well with steamed rice, idlis and dosas alike. Only 1 teaspoon of oil goes into it – isn’t that awesome?
Here is how I make the Murunga Elai Podi or Moringa Leaves Chutney Powder.
Ingredients (yields about 1-1/2 cups):
3 cups fresh moringa leaves (murunga elai)
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup chana daal (kadalai paruppu)
1/4 cup urad daal (ulutham paruppu)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (ellu)
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (thengai)
A pinch of fenugreek seeds (menthiyam)
8-10 dry red chillies (vara milagai)
A small gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind (puli)
Salt to taste (uppu)
2 generous pinches of asafoetida (perungayam)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3-4 tablespoons of jaggery powder
Wash the moringa leaves well under running water a couple of times. Then, place in a colander and drain out all the water from them. Place on a cotton towel, and pat dry, then spread them out on another cotton towel and allow them to sun-dry for a couple of hours. They are ready to be used when completely dry, with no hint of moisture to them.
Remove all seeds and impurities from the tamarind. Keep aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana daal, urad daal, dry red chillies, sesame seeds and fenugreek seeds. Dry roast on medium heat till the daals begin to turn brown and emit a lovely fragrance. This should take 2-3 minutes. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
Now, add the grated coconut to the pan, and roast on medium flame for a minute. Take care to ensure that the ingredients in the pan do not burn. Transfer all the roasted ingredients to a plate, and allow to cool down completely.
Add the dried moringa leaves to the pan. Dry roast on medium heat till the leaves shrink and become crisp. Transfer to the plate with the other roasted ingredients. Keep aside, and allow to cool down fully.
Break the tamarind roughly and add the pieces to the same hot pan. Without switching the gas on, dry roast the tamarind for a minute. It will get slightly crisp in the residual heat of the pan. Keep aside, and allow to cool down fully.
When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a medium-sized mixer jar – the roasted moringa leaves, chana daal, urad daal, dry red chillies, sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, coconut and tamarind. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, asafoetida and jaggery powder. Mix the ingredients up. Grind to a coarse powder. Your Murunga Elai Podi is ready!
Allow the Murunga Elai Podi to cool down entirely, and then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle.
Leave the bunch of fresh moringa leaves wrapped in newspaper or in a paper bag, overnight, at room temperature. By the next morning, most of the leaves would have fallen off the stem, ready to use. This is one of the easiest ways to use moringa leaves.
I use a mix of the long, shrivelled Bydagi chillies and the small, round, fat Salem Gundu chillies to make this Murunga Elai Podi. Bydagi chillies are relatively less spicy, while Salem Gundu chillies are quite hot. A mix of two evens out the taste of the podi for us.
You can leave out the tamarind and jaggery while preparing this Murunga Elai Podi. I do add them, because it suits my family’s taste buds.
Do ensure that the ingredients do not burn while roasting.
Make sure all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, before you use them in making the Murunga Elai Podi.
Make sure you grind the roasted ingredients coarsely and not make a fine powder. Coarsely ground podi tastes way better than the fine version.
I have used fresh coconut in making this podi. You can use dry coconut (kopparai) instead, too.
Adjust the quantity of tamarind, salt, dry red chillies and jaggery you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
If stored and used hygienically, the Murunga Elai Podi stays well for 5-6 days at room temperature. In hotter climates, the shelf life might go down. Refrigeration will increase the shelf life further.
This Murunga Elai Podi can be consumed with hot steamed rice and ghee. It can also be served with idlis and/or dosas.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
Any destination we head to, the husband and I definitely make it a point to visit the local bazaars. A stop (or two, or three!) at the local markets is a great way of getting exposed to the culture and traditions of the place, at the very root level. And, of course, it teaches you a whole lot about the food of that region – the ingredients that the locals use, the ways in which they cook, their indigenous foods, et al. Thailand was no exception. That was how, one bright and sunny day during our recent holiday in Thailand, the two of us headed to Pattaya Floating Market, with the bub in tow. And, hey, this is a floating market – a market actually on water – and how do we not check out that?!
Internet-shaped impressions of the Pattaya Floating Market
The little reading I did on the Internet before we headed out to Thailand told me that if I was charmed by the idea of floating markets, the ones in Bangkok are what I should be visiting. All of Thailand used to commute via waterways in the olden times, trading in markets included. While transport in Thailand is presently largely by road, the waterways still exist, as do the floating markets. Bangkok has several of these floating markets, many of them as major tourist attractions, while a couple still operate as hard-core trading centres. Most Internetizens suggested visiting the Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets in Bangkok, and against going to the one in Pattaya. According to them, the Pattaya floating market is pure tourist trap, messy and filthy, a hotbed for scams of various types.
As luck would have it, we never got a chance to visit any of Bangkok’s famed floating markets on our holiday. It just never happened! This left us hugely disappointed and, tourist trap or not, we decided to head to the Pattaya floating market, to get a feel of the place if nothing else. And you know what? We weren’t disappointed one bit. Agreed, the market is chaotic, there are some tacky things around, and that there are better ways to learn about Thai culture and heritage – but, we loved the Pattaya Floating Market!
Pattaya Floating Market left us with a vast range of emotions – happy, awe-struck, sad, angry, overwhelmed, all at the same time. Overall, though, it left us feeling enriched for having visited. We are glad we chose to visit the market, in spite of there being conflicting information about the place on the Internet. We are glad for the opportunity it gave us to get a wee bit closer to Thai culture and heritage, food and traditions.
Postcards from the Pattaya Floating Market
Let me tell you about the experiences that stood out most prominently for us, at the Pattaya Floating Market.
Food, food and more food
One of the things that strike you as you walk around the Pattaya Floating Market is the humongous amount of food that is on offer. Food being cooked and sold on boats, food stalls lining the water, fresh fruit, roasted chestnuts and sweet treats – there’s food, literally, everywhere!
Fried octopus, various kinds of grilled fish, whole frozen mangoes, various traditional Thai desserts, palm fruit juice, snake fruit and durian, noodle hotpots, the most beautifully presented milkshakes and ice creams are some examples of the food we came across here. Some of the eatables here didn’t look very hygienically prepared, while some others were just fine – take your pick carefully if you decide to eat here. There wasn’t much on offer for vegetarians, though, apart from the milkshakes, ice creams and desserts.
Dirty waters, but charming nonetheless
Charming as the Pattaya Floating Market is, one can’t help noticing that the waters on which it stands are far from clean. The waters are filthy and murky and, as we walked around, we kept wishing this part had been better maintained.
We chose to focus instead on the prettier sights the market had to offer, instead – the rows and rows of shops, some with rather interesting merchandise on sale, the big bus-like boats that ran on the water ferrying people around, the Thai Cultural Village tucked away within the market that offered us a glimpse into the real Thailand, a huge Thai water buffalo making the rounds of the market and posing for photographs, the ongoing dance and music shows, and artists at work busy making glow-in-the-dark paintings that you find all over Thailand.
The tall, tall, tall drag queens
Drag queens are everywhere in Thailand, and the Pattaya Floating Market is no exception. Standing on tall, tall, tall stilts, they welcome you at the entrance. They are dressed so gorgeously you can’t take your eyes off them! They are all smiles, posing candidly for cameras from across the globe.
My heart hurt for them, these drag queens. Were they being forced to dress up and pose for pictures, thanks to poverty? Was the smile plastered on their faces just for the sake of tourists? Just how happy were they on the inside? Well, at least, they were living in a country that doesn’t make a big deal of it, that accepts people as they come.
Some interesting souvenirs
Most of the stuff up for sale at the Pattaya Floating Market is shiny and pretty, sure to catch your eyes. Crazy shoes and glamorous earrings, funky purses and dresses, Thai elephant statues and paper umbrellas, cute dolls and keychains are some of the stuff that is on offer – the same things you would come across anywhere else in Thailand too.
We didn’t really shop here, thanks to the astronomical prices for stuff we were being quoted at every stall. All we bought were some little cute souvenirs to get back home with us, which we felt were reasonably priced.
Great photo ops
Touristy, commercial and a bit filthy as the Pattaya Floating Market was, we found it fascinating nonetheless. We were charmed by this and that, and ended up walking around the market for hours on end. We took countless pictures – I think we actually went a bit crazy here taking photographs. Who can resist, considering the innumerable gorgeous photo ops available here?
Every single lane you turn into is pretty, in a quaint sort of way. You would inevitably want to capture all of that in frames! If you love photography, the floating market is definitely not something that you should miss, I say.
The wonderful Thai Cultural Village
A little makeshift village in the midst of the Pattaya Floating Market, the Thai Cultural Village offers a peak into real life in the country. There are live stations where you learn about the various types of dried food stuff available in Thailand, silk cultivation in the country, music and dance forms and, of course, Thai massage. For a first-time visitor to Thailand, this place can offer invaluable learning about the country under a single roof. Yes, quite touristy, but quite informative too if you look at it the right way.
All visitors to the Thai Cultural Village are treated to a little free-of-charge session of Thai massage. A hot cloth pouch filled with ancient Thai medicinal herbs is used, quite a common form of massage in the country. We found the massage quite relaxing and rejuvenating after our long, tiring walk around the market.
The plight of the long-necked Karen
The Karenni (also called the Karen or the Red Karen) are an ethnic minority tribe from Myanmar (Burma). They have a distinct dressing style of their own, including the wearing of several thin brass rings around their necks to make them appear long. For this reason, they are also called the Long-Necked Karen. Several hundreds of these Long-Necked Karen fled to neighbouring Thailand over the years, thanks to political unrest in their own country. As most of these Karen were illegal immigrants in Thailand, they are not official Thai citizens and opportunities for them stay limited. The Thai government has bestowed a couple of villages to the Karen (maybe considering the huge potential of these villages to become tourist attractions?), to make their own, to reside in and earn their living. These habitats of the Karen draw tourists by the horde – many interested in photographing the long-necked women and/or buying the various handicrafts that they make.
The Karen villages are quite on the outskirts of Thailand and not very easy to access – at least not with the bub in tow – so we dropped the idea of visiting them. Personally, I’m quite conflicted about wanting to visit the Karen habitats and not wanting to. We were, however, happy to note that there were stalls by a couple of the Karen in Pattaya Floating Market’s Thai Cultural Village. We dropped by, and were thrilled to interact with them (a task that was not at all easy considering their extremely limited knowledge of English). It surely felt like we had stepped into a documentary by National Geographic! They happily posed for pictures for us, too.
Everything was going fine till we came across a little wooden enclosure, not unlike a pen in a zoo. A lone Karen child was walking around, 4 or 5 years of age, calling out to passing tourists and smiling at them. Many got out their cameras to take pictures. ‘Burmese refugee child!’, our guide cried out, excitedly. At that precise moment, my heart shattered into a million pieces and I lost all interest in the place or taking any more pictures.
Too much to take in
Like many indigenous markets around the world, the Pattaya Floating Market too is a bit too much to take in in a single visit. It gets overwhelming after a while – the crowds, the touristy-ness of it, the scale of the market. We kind of zoned out after some time, a plight brought about also by the fact that it was a supremely hot day and our little daughter was getting crankier by the minute. Thankfully, there are benches laid out here and there, and we took short breaks in the midst of checking out the market, which really helped refresh us. Please do bear this in mind when you decide to visit, too. I don’t think we managed to do justice to the market, in the few hours we were there. We probably need a few more visits, a more leisurely frame of mind, and more congenial weather to do so.
Thankfully, our drive to and from the floating market, our entry tickets and boat ride had all been arranged for beforehand by our hotel – I don’t know what we would have done if this hadn’t gone as smoothly as it did. I had read a number of stories on the Internet of tourists getting scammed here and being charged an exorbitant entrance fee, and was super scared! If you plan to visit the Pattaya Floating Market, I would suggest you do so via the tourism desk at your hotel too.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey through the Pattaya Floating Market, and that this post offered you helpful tips to plan your visit here too! Do let me know, in your comments!
‘Necessity is the mother of invention,’ they say. And they are right, whoever ‘they‘ are. In a lot of cases, discoveries come about when one is hard-pressed. This is especially true in the world of the kitchen, I think. Just how many new recipes have been discovered just because the cook simply had to use up a particular ingredient or because something went wrong and absolutely had to be salvaged? This Thai-Inspired Dal Tadka Recipe is one such thing. It came about, recently, because I had a few ingredients (kaffir lime leaves, galangal and bird’s eye chillies) left over after making Thai Green Curry, and wanted to use them to make something Indian. This Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka went on to become a favourite at home, and I’m sure it is now going to find pride of place on our dining table quite often.
I adore the fragrance of kaffir lime leaves, and love using them to infuse just about everything in my kitchen. So, I’m surprised as to how this Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka didn’t happen sooner in my kitchen! Anyways, better late than never, eh?
The Thai-Inspired Dal Tadka tasted fabulous, if I may say so myself. Paired with piping hot steamed rice, some ghee and cauliflower curry, it made for a hugely satisfying lunch. It’s so simple to make, and such a lovely change from the usual – you must try this out too! This is a vegan dish, and can be made gluten-free too if you leave out the asafoetida used here.
Here goes the recipe for the Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka!
Ingredients (serves 4-5):
1/2 cup toor daal
4-5 medium-sized kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
2 generous pinches of asafoetida
A 1-inch piece of galangal
4 Thai bird’s eye chillies
2 dry red chillies
2 medium-sized tomatoes
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon jaggery or to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
1. Take the toor daal in a wide vessel, and wash it thoroughly under running water a couple of times, draining out the water from it each time. Now, fill in just enough fresh water to cover the toor daal. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker, and cook for about 5 whistles on high flame or till the daal is well-cooked and soft.
2. Chop the tomatoes finely. Slit the Thai bird’s eye chillies. Chop the galangal finely. Keep ready.
3. When all the pressure has released (naturally) from the cooker, get the cooked toor daal out and mash it well.
4. Now, we will begin making the Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka. For this, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add the dry red chillies, bird’s eye chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds and galangal. Saute for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
5. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with a bit of salt. Add in a splash of water. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.
6. Add the cooked and mashed toor daal to the pan, along with about 1 cup of water. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, 4-5 kaffir lime leaves (roughly torn), red chilli powder to taste (if using) and jaggery powder (if using). Mix well.
7. On high heat, bring the Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka to a boil. Then, lower the flame to medium and allow to cook for about 2 minutes. Stir intermittently to ensure there’s no sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas at this stage.
8. Mix in the finely chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice. Your Thai-Inspired Dal Tadka Recipe is ready! Serve hot with steamed rice or rotis and sabzi of your choice.
Masoor daal or moong daal can be used in place of toor daal.
Make sure the daal is well cooked and soft before using it in this Thai-Inspired Dal Tadka recipe.
If you don’t have Thai bird’s eye chillies, you can use regular Indian green chillies instead. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.
Adjust the quantity of kaffir lime leaves you use, as per personal taste preferences. The above quantity worked perfectly for us.
Thai galangal can be substituted by Indian ginger. However, the galangal adds a unique flavour and smell to the dal tadka, which you will not get in case you use Indian ginger.
There is no substitute to the kaffir lime leaves. They are an absolute must in this recipe.
You can skip the jaggery powder, red chilli powder and lemon juice in the above recipe, if you so desire. I used them.
I have not used garlic in the dal tadka as I was skeptical it might overtake the fragrance of the kaffir lime. In a regular dal tadka recipe, I do add in some garlic too, and some onion as well.
I prefer using country (Nati) tomatoes in this Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka, over the regularly commercially available farm tomatoes.
Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the daal tadka you prefer.
This recipe is for Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is #DesiTwist, suggested by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds. Members need to cook a desi dish, imbued by videshi ingredients. I chose to share this Thai-Inspired Dal Tadka recipe for the theme.
With Or Without You, Shari Low’s latest offering, is what I am reading at the moment. Released in February 2019, this book by Aria, promises to be perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes, both authors I have read in the past and enjoyed. With Or Without You has a rather interesting premise, so I readily agreed when Aria approached me asking if I was up for a book tour. And.. here I am, with a bookish post after what seems like ages!
There was a time when I was an out-and-out bookworm. Reading books used to be of prime importance, and that was what I did most of my free time. I used to adore writing about the books I read, exchanging book recos and ideas with like-minded people. Then, the bub happened, life as a school mom happened, food and travel blogging happened, and I was left with no inclination to read. I mean, I still read, but these days, I hardly manage to complete 10 books a year as opposed to the 30 or 40 I would read earlier!
To cut a long story short, what I am trying to say is – I miss that connect with books. I miss delving deep into a story, burning the midnight oil to finish the last few pages of a book. I miss the bookish conversations. I miss stepping out to buy books, then speed-reading to finish up the pile lying in front of me. I’m not sure if I can get back to the book-monster that I was once, but well, I can try. I want to get there, and I will try my best. This post is an attempt to make that journey towards the bookish me happen – it is a social commitment I am setting up for myself. Are you guys with me on this?
So, coming to the book in question, that is the cover. Isn’t it pretty?
And here is the synopsis.
Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…? A clever, captivating and bittersweet story of what might have been.
When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.
Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?
In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?
Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?
I’m all excited to find out. Are you?
Haven’t we all, at one point or the other in our lives, wondered what would have happened had we chosen that path instead of this one, that person instead of this one, that alternative instead of this one?
I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the book, once I complete it.
Does Shari Low’s With Or Without You sound like something you would like to read too? The book is available on Amazon, if you would!
‘Azefa‘ (also called ‘Azifa‘) is a lentil salad that hails from the exotic land of Ethiopia in Africa, a place I have always dreamt of visiting. Made with different kinds of lentils by different people, this is one of those salads that is simple yet hearty and extremely delicious. The addition of mustard powder is a must in Azefa, which gives it a proper punch.
I recently made Azefa at home for an evening snack, using brown lentils (our very own sabut masoor or whole masoor daal), and it was a huge hit. This Ethiopian Lentil Salad takes just a few minutes to prepare, once you have the ingredients ready, and is super-duper delicious! What’s more, it is oil-free, gluten-free, vegan and protein rich – perfect for weight watchers and diabetics who are looking for a healthy snacking option in between meals. This Ethiopian Lentil Salad is definitely something you must try out too!
1/2 cup whole masoor daal aka brown lentils or sabut masoor
1 small onion
1 baby cucumber
1 baby capsicum
1 small carrot
Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1. Take the whole masoor daal in a wide vessel. Wash thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water.
2. Now, add enough fresh water to the washed and drained lentils to cover them. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook for 4 whistles on high flame or till the lentils are well cooked and soft. Switch off gas and let the pressure release naturally.
3. Drain out the water from the cooked lentils, and reserve it. Let the lentils cool down completely, then transfer them to a mixing bowl.
4. Chop the onion, cucumber and capsicum finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
5. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-thick. Add to the mixing bowl.
6. Add the finely chopped coriander to the mixing bowl.
7. Powder the salt, red chilli powder and mustard together in a small mixer. Add this powder to the mixing bowl.
8. Add lemon juice to the mixing bowl.
9. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl well, but gently. Let the salad sit for about 10 minutes, for the flavours to meld together. Serve immediately.
1. I have used a small yellow capsicum here.
2. Adjust the quantity of salt, red chilli powder, lemon juice and mustard that you use in this Ethiopian Lentil Salad, as per personal taste preferences.
3. Use a seedless variety of cucumber, for best results.
4. You can use any variety of lentils to make Azefa – puy lentils, whole masoor daal, whole green moong and the likes.
5. Make sure the lentils are well-cooked and soft, but not overly mushy. Overcooked lentils will make the salad tasteless.
6. Drain out excess water, if any, from the cooked lentils. Don’t discard this water, but reserve it instead. This water – full of nutrients – can be used in a soup or gravy-based curry or for binding dough for rotis.
7. I have used rock salt – a relatively healthier alternative to commercially available table salt – in this Ethiopian Lentil Salad. You may use regular table salt instead, too.
8. I have used carrot, onion, cucumber and capsicum to make the salad more hearty. You may add in any other vegetables of your choice as well.
9. Several online recipes for Azefa use parsley for additional flavour. I have used fresh coriander (cilantro) instead, which is also a commonly used herb in African cooking, as per my understanding.
10. You can add ready-to-use mustard powder to the Azefa too, but I much prefer using freshly-ground mustard instead.
This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group that I am part of. Every month, a bunch of us food bloggers get together, form pairs and cook from each other’s blogs. I was paired with Chef Mireille for the month and, from the hundreds of beautiful recipes on her blog, I zeroed in upon Azefa.
Check out what the other members of the recipe swap group created this month:
Those beautiful big, fat, purple grapes that I so love are in season right now. I couldn’t help picking up a few bunches when I went veggie shopping recently, and used them in a Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe that happens to be rather close to my heart. So, so refreshing and lovely!
When I was in school, summer holidays inevitably meant two whole months spent at our maternal grandparents’ place. They were in Hyderabad then, and Amma and I would travel the huge distance between Ahmedabad to their place by train, an excruciating journey of over 24 hours. It would be hot, hot, hot, and there was nothing to beat the heat other than distracting oneself by reading, gazing out the window and gulping down the one ice cream that Amma would allow me per day. I remember getting down at the Hyderabad railway station, my body still shaking from all that rattling around in the train. 🙂 All of that hustle would be worth it in the end, though – it meant two months of being pampered silly by grandmomma, gorging on her gorgeous home-cooked food (I swear I haven’t ever had food that tasty after she stopped cooking!), endless playing around on the streets with the cousins, no following of timetables or alarm clock routines, afternoon naps to the soothing hum of the air cooler, dinners of cooling curd rice handed over to us on our mehendi-coloured hands, sleeping on mats laid out under the starlit sky on the terrace. Summer holidays also translated into being treated to tall bottles of grandmomma’s awesome, awesome home-made purple grape squash.
The Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe I present to you today is the one passed on to me by grandmomma, Master Squash Maker of our family. She knew exactly how much all her grandchildren loved her grape squash, and made sure there were bottles and bottles of it waiting for us in the refrigerator when we landed at her home for our holidays. Days before we arrived, she would get to work. A basket slung over her wrist, she would head out to the market, to choose the best of ripened purple grapes (nothing less than that would do!). After much haggling, she would return home with loads of bunches of juicy grapes, which she would then proceed to meticulously clean, cook, convert to squash, bottle up and refrigerate. A couple of bottles at a time, she would build up her stock of squash – all of which we grandchildren would definitely empty by the time our holidays would come to a close.
This Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe is quite simple, but a no-fail thing, tried and tested by grandmomma several times over. I make it the same way, always, every time purple grapes are in season, and every sip of it brings back tonnes of memories! Sweet and sour, fruity and delicious, this is just the perfect drink for summer-parched throats.
Let us now check out the recipe, shall we?
Ingredients (makes one 500 ml bottle):
4 heaped cups of seedless black grapes
4 cups of water
About 1/2 cup of sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
Chilled water, as needed for serving the grape juice
Place the grapes in a colander, and wash them thoroughly under running water. Let all the water drain out.
Transfer the washed and drained grapes to a thick-bottomed pan, and add in the 4 cups of water. Place the pan on high flame.
Stirring intermittently, allow the grapes to cook in the water till they shrivel well and the water changes colour. This can take 5-7 minutes. Switch off gas, and allow this grape syrup to cool down fully.
When the grape syrup is cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the syrup from the grapes. Transfer the residue to another bowl, add a little water and squeeze out more juice. Add this juice to the syrup you extracted earlier. Repeat this process a couple more times – adding a little water, squeezing out the juice from the grapes, and transferring it to the syrup you prepared earlier (similar to extracting juice from tamarind). Discard the grapes when there is no more juice left in them to squeeze out.
Place the grape syrup you just extracted in the same pan, and place it on medium heat. Add the sugar to the pan. Allow the sugar to melt fully.
Stirring intermittently, allow the mixture to cook for a couple more minutes on medium flame. Switch off the gas.
Add the lemon juice to the grape syrup and mix well. Transfer the grape syrup (squash) to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and store refrigerated.
At the time of serving, add as much of the grape squash as needed into serving glasses. Add in chilled water as required. Mix well and serve immediately.
1. Seedless grapes make the process of making the squash hassle-free. However, you may use grapes with seeds too.
2. You can use either black (purple) or green grapes to make this squash. I typically use black grapes because I love the deep purple colour they impart to the squash.
3. For best results, use plump grapes that are fat and juicy and in season.Don’t use old or wilted grapes.
4. In-season grapes are typically quite sweet, so you can cut down on the amount of sugar you use in the squash. The above quantity works just perfectly for us.
5. Make sure you wash the grapes thoroughly before embarking on the preparation of the squash.
6. Stored in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle, refrigerated and handled hygienically, the grape squash stays for up to a week.
7. You may omit the lemon juice altogether if the grapes you are using are a bit sour.
8. The flavour of grapes in this Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe is moderate. If you want a stronger, more pronounced flavour like that of store-bought grape drinks, you could add a bit of grape essence to the syrup before refrigerating it. I usually don’t. My aunt swears by the Tonovin brand of grape essence.
9. While preparing the grape juice, you may add ice cubes and/or soda to the serving glasses, along with the chilled water and the grape squash. Grape squash + Tonovin grape essence + chilled water + a splash of soda will give you a drink quite similar to Bovonto, the famous and very delicious grape drink from Tamil Nadu.
10. Make sure you use only very little quantities of water to squeeze out the juice from the grapes. Using too much water will dilute the syrup and cause it to lose its flavour.
11. You can filter the grape squash before you bottle it, too, if you desire – I don’t.
Did you like this Home-Made Grape Squash Recipe? Do try it out, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
Well-made Sakkarai Pongal aka sweet pongal is a thing of joy. Beautiful in taste, creamy and decadent, it is a pleasure to gorge on, especially for people like me who are in possession of a huge sweet tooth. 🙂 Today, I present to you the recipe for another version of sweet pongal – GodhumaiRava Thengai Paal Pongal – which is an absolute treat to the senses!
This version is made with broken wheat or daliya instead of the commonly used rice, a healthier substitute. It lends a lovely, grainy texture to the pongal that all of us at home love. The addition of coconut milk makes this pongal all the more delicious and decadent. You absolutely have to try this out to believe how gorgeous it tastes! Like me, you could use store-bought coconut milk or make your own at home – it tastes brilliant either way.
This Godhumai Rava Thengai PaalPongal is a big favourite of everyone at home. The bub loves it too, so I make it occasionally for her, when all of us are in the mood for a sweet treat. It is a super simple thing to prepare too!
Let us now check out the recipe for Godhumai Rava Thengai Paal Pongal.
Ingredients (serves 6):
1 cup broken wheat (godhumai rava aka dalia)
1/2 cup moong daal (payatham paruppu)
4 cups + 2 cups of water
3 cups jaggery powder (podi vellam)
1 cup thick coconut milk (thengai paal)
2 generous pinches of cardamom powder (elakkai podi)
4 tablespoons ghee (nei)
10 cashewnuts (mundhiri paruppu)
10 almonds (badam)
1 tablespoon raisins (drakshe)
1. Take the broken wheat and moong daal together in a wide vessel. Wash them thoroughly under running water. Drain out the excess water. Now, add in 4 cups of fresh water, and place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. In the meanwhile, let us prepare the jaggery syrup for the pongal. Take 3 cups of jaggery powder and 2 cups of water together in a thick-bottomed pan, and place on high heat. Cook, stirring intermittently, till the jaggery is completely dissolved in the water. Let the jaggery syrup come to a boil and then switch off the gas.
3. When the pressure in the cooker has entirely gone down, remove the cooked broken wheat and moong dal from it. Now, place the pan with the jaggery syrup back on high heat. Add the cooked broken wheat and moong daal to the jaggery syrup. Mix well. Mash with a potato masher if needed.
4. Stirring intermittently, cook the mixture on medium flame till everything is well incorporated together, and the pongal starts to thicken. This should take 4-5 minutes.
5. Now, add the thick coconut milk to the pan. Mix well, and cook for another 2 minutes on medium flame or till the pongal starts to thicken again. Switch off the flame.
6. Chop the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. Keep them handy.
7. Heat the ghee in another pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and almonds, as well as the raisins. Fry on medium flame till the cashewnuts and almonds start turning brown and the raisins plump up. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, switch off the gas and add this to the pongal.
8. Add the cardamom powder to the pongal as well. Mix well. Your Godhumai Rava Thengai Paal Pongal is ready to serve! You can serve it hot, warm or after bringing it to room temperature.
I have used broken wheat that was slightly bigger than Bombay rava. I think it lent a lovely texture to the pongal. You get different sizes of broken wheat in departmental stores these days – you can use any, as per personal taste preferences.
The broken wheat and moong daal should be well-cooked and soft, before adding it to the pongal.
I have used store-bought coconut milk here (Dabur Home-Made). You can use thick, first-pressing coconut milk in case you are making your own at home.
Adjust the quantity of ghee, jaggery, raisins, cashewnuts and almonds you use, as per personal taste preferences.
I add the coconut milk towards the very end, so that it doesn’t lose its prominent taste in the pongal.
You may add in some nutmeg powder/cloves/edible camphor into the Godhumai Rava Thengai Paal Pongal. I haven’t used any of these ingredients here.
The colour of your pongal will depend upon the type and quality of jaggery you use.
Typically, the jaggery syrup is allowed to cool down completely and then strained via a cotton cloth, before using it in the pongal, to remove any impurities that might be present in the jaggery. However, you can skip this step if you are sure there are no impurities in the jaggery you are using. I don’t.
The typical Sakkarai Pongal (sweet pongal) that I make includes the use of (dairy) milk to make it sinfully delicious and creamy. Here, I have used coconut milk instead and completely omitted the (dairy) milk.
Switch off the gas when the Godhumai Rava Thengai Paal Pongal is still quite runny. It will thicken further on cooling.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers cook for a pre-determined theme.
The theme for this week is #PlantBasedMilk, suggested by Archana of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. While there are plenty of plant-based milks that I could have delved into – soya, sesame seeds, hemp, almonds, cashewnuts, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and corn, for instance – I chose to use coconut milk to make this Godhumai Rava Thengai Paal Pongal.