Aloo Ke Gutke| Pahadi Aloo

I’m here today with the recipe for Aloo Ke Gutke, a curry made using potatoes from the state of Uttarakhand.

A bit about Uttarakhand and its cuisine

Uttarakhand is a state in the north of India, nestled in the Himalayan mountains. The state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2007, with Dehradun being its capital. Uttarakhand boasts of several tourist destinations like the ski resort of Auli, the Jim Corbett National Park, the Valley of Flowers, the hill stations of Dehradun and Mussoorie, the famous trekking site of Roopkund. It is also referred to as ‘Land of the Gods’, as it is home to many pilgrimage spots like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Piran Kaliyar Sharif.

The food of Uttarakhand is simple and honest, yet bursting with flavours. Wheat is the staple here, with several locally grown grains like maize, mandua (buckwheat), bhatt (soyabean) and gahat (horsegram) also occupying pride of place in meals. Vegetables play an important role in Uttarakhand cuisine, including many local varieties like bicchu ghaas (nettles), bhaang (cannabis) seeds and lingru (fiddlehead ferns). Chainsoo, Bhaang Ki Chutney, Kandalee Ka Saag, Dubuk, Kafuli, Aloo Ke Gutke, Mandua Ki Roti and Phaanu are some of the most popular dishes in Uttarakhand.

Information courtesy: Wikipedia

What are Aloo Ke Gutke?

Like I was saying earlier, Aloo Ke Gutke refers to a type of potato curry made in the state of Uttarakhand. It is a very simple preparation, one that uses minimal ingredients and can be made within a matter of minutes. That said, it is quite flavourful and delicious!

Aloo Ke Gutke – also called Pahadi Aloo – is typically consumed with pooris, rotis or parathas. However, it is sometimes also eaten on its own too, as a snack.

I made this curry some time back, and served it with phulka rotis, and it went on to be very well appreciated.

Ssshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m part of this Facebook group called Sssshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, where the members cook dishes from one Indian state every month. The members form pairs, and each pair exchanges two secret ingredients, which are used to cook the dish of the month. Isn’t that so very interesting?

This month, at Ssshhh Cooking Secretly, we are presenting recipes from Uttarakhand. I was paired with Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni, a very talented blogger with several wonderful bakes, Gujarati dishes, Indian regional foods and global cuisines to her credit. She assigned me the two secret ingredients of dry red chillies and coriander powder, and I decided to use them to make these Aloo Ke Gutke. You must also check out the lovely dish that Mayuri prepared using the ingredients I gave her!

Aloo Ke Gutke recipe

Here’s how you go about making Aloo Ke Gutke or Pahadi Aloo. I followed this recipe from Something’s Cooking.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. Skip the asafoetida used in the tempering here to make the curry gluten-free. This is because most brands of asafoetida available in India contain some amount of wheat flour in them. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely use it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 6-7 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder or to taste
  5. 1-1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  6. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  7. 2 teaspoons water
  8. 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. 2-3 dry red chillies
  12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the potatoes well under running water, removing all traces of dirt from them. Now, cut each one into half and transfer to a wide vessel. Add in just enough water to cover the potatoes fully. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. In a small bowl, take the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add in about 2 teaspoons of water, and make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down entirely, get the potatoes out. Discard the water the potatoes were cooked in. Let the cooked potatoes cool down enough to handle, then peel them. Cut the peeled potatoes into wedges or any other shape you prefer. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds, asafoetida and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Now, reduce the flame to low-medium. Add in the slurry we prepared earlier. Mix well.

6. Immediately add in the potato wedges. Mix well, ensuring that the potatoes are evenly coated with the spices.

7. Cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix gently to avoid breaking up of the potato wedges. Taste and adjust salt and spices if needed. Switch off gas when the potatoes are done cooking.

8. Mix in finely chopped fresh coriander, gently. Your Aloo Ke Gutke are now ready to serve, with rotis, pooris, parathas or rice.

Tips & Tricks

1. Traditionally, a special variety of potatoes grown in Uttarakhand – called Pahadi Aloo – are used to make this curry. I didn’t have access to those, so I used regular potatoes instead.

2. Make sure you cook the potatoes for just 2 whistles. They should be cooked through, but not overly mushy. Alternatively, you could steam the potatoes first before proceeding to make the curry.

3. A locally grown spice called ‘Jakhiya‘ is used in the Aloo Ke Gutke, traditionally. I skipped that since I didn’t have any.

4. Adjust the quantities of red chilli powder, salt, coriander powder and roasted cumin powder as per personal taste preferences.

5. You could add a dash of lime juice to the Aloo Ke Gutke at the end, to make it more flavourful. However, that is not how it is done traditionally, so I refrained. A bit of garam masala would add a beautiful taste to the curry as well, albeit not a very traditional touch.

6. I have used mustard oil to make the Aloo Ke Gutke, as per the original recipe. I would highly recommend using it, too, as it adds a special flavour to the curry. However, you may use any other variety of oil if you so prefer.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Zucchini Thogayal| Tamilnadu Style Zucchini Chutney

I’m here today with a new recipe, one for Zucchini Thogayal!

What is thogayal?

Thogayal‘ or ‘thuvaiyal‘ refers to the Tamilnadu style of making chutney. Thogayal is made with lentils, which give it a thicker consistency than that of chutney.

Thogayal is usually an accompaniment to rice and rasam, vattalkozhambu, milagu kozhambu or kootu. Sometimes, it is just had mixed with some piping hot steamed rice, along with a dollop of ghee or sesame oil (nalla ennai). It also makes for a great accompaniment to idlis, dosas, uttappam and the like. Any which way, it’s delish. 🙂

Any fruit or veggie of your choice can be used to make thogayal – ridge gourd, ivy gourd, cabbage, spinach, capsicum, pineapple, carrot, roasted eggplant, radish, even kale. Did you know that the peel of some vegetables can be used in thogayal as well – like this raw banana peel thogayal? Thengai Thogayal stars fresh grated coconut, while toor dal is the main ingredient in Paruppu Thogayal. Yes, there are literally hundreds of varieties of thogayal in Tamilnadu!

How this Zucchini Thogayal came about

After the kale, it was the zucchini’s turn to be Tamilian-ized. 🙂 I had some yellow zucchini left over after preparing Thai curry, and was wondering what to do with it. The Kale Thogayal received so much love – both at home and virtually – that I decided to try making a Tamilnadu-style chutney with zucchini, too. Boy, did it turn out yum?! Packed with flavour, this thogayal went on to become a huge hit with everyone in the family, too.


I made the Zucchini Thogayal the same way we prepare most Tam-Brahm chutneys, with lentils and a bit of tamarind. I also added in some garlic cloves, ginger and jaggery, which elevated the taste of the chutney to a whole new level. I served it with some idlis and dosas, and no one could tell what veggie had been used! 🙂 Such a great way to make use of leftover zucchini, I say.

Zucchini is high in antioxidants and possesses certain nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, magnesium, manganese and potassium. I figured this thogayal is a good way to get these nutrients into one’s system.

Is this Zucchini Thogayal vegan and gluten-free?

 

The way I make it, this Zucchini Thogayal is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those on a plant-based diet.

If you just skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, this thogayal becomes gluten-free as well. This is because most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India do contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

 

Zucchini Thogayal for Foodie Monday Blog Hop


I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, the members of this group showcase recipes based on a pre-determined theme. This week, we decided to present accompaniments made using ingredients that are different from the usual – think sauces, chutneys, dips, pickles made from something other than the usual suspects. Since a zucchini doesn’t often find itself listed amongst the ingredients for a thogayal, I decided to share this recipe for the theme.

This wonderful theme was suggested by Renu of Cook With Renu. The very talented Renu has some amazing recipes on her blog, including baked goodies and some lesser known dishes from across India. I have been eyeing her Masala Gud, Sprouted Horsegram Salad and Matar Makhana Sabzi for quite some time now – should try them out soon!

Zucchini Thogayal recipe

Here’s presenting to you the stepwise guide to making delicious Zucchini Thogayal.


Ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

1. 1/2 of a large zucchini
2. 1 tablespoon fresh curry leaves
3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
4. 4-5 garlic cloves
5. 1 teaspoon oil
6. 1-1/2 tablespoon urad dal
7. 1-1/2 tablespoon chana dal
8. Salt to taste
9. A small piece of tamarind
10. 3 dry red chillies
11. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

For tempering:

1. 1 teaspoon oil
2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
4. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method:

1. Chop the zucchini into cubes. I did not peel it. I had 1 full cup of zucchini cubes.

2. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for 10-15 minutes, for it to soften. Let the tamarind cool down fully.

3. Wash the curry leaves well. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, removing all traces of moisture from them.

4. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop roughly.

5. Heat the 1 teaspoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the urad dal, chana dal and dry red chillies. Roast on medium flame till the ingredients start turning brown, about 2 minutes. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

6. When the lentils begin to change colour, add the zucchini cubes, chopped ginger and garlic cloves, and curry leaves to the pan. Continue to roast on medium flame for 1-2 minutes – by this time, the lentils would have browned nicely and the zucchini would have shrunk a bit. Switch off gas. Allow the roasted ingredients to cool down fully.

7. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Add in the softened tamarind, along with the water it was soaked in. Add salt to taste and the jaggery powder. Grind together, in intervals, stopping to mix up the ingredients with a spoon. Use a little water for grinding, if needed. Grind till the zucchini is well pureed, with some coarsely crushed bits of lentils and dry red chillies. Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl.

8. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the chutney. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and curry leaves (washed and patted completely dry). Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn. Pour this tempering on the chutney, and mix well. Your Zucchini Thogayal is now ready to serve with idlis, dosas, vada, rotis, parathas or steamed rice.

Tips & Tricks


1. I used half of a large yellow zucchini to make this thogayal. You can use any variety of zucchini here.

2. I did not peel the zucchini, just chopped it into small cubes.

3. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use, as per personal taste preferences.

4. Sesame oil goes really well in this Zucchini Thogayal. That’s what I use to roast the ingredients and in the tempering.

5. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while roasting them. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, and roast the ingredients on medium flame. Add in the zucchini, ginger, garlic and curry leaves to the pan when the lentils are just starting to get brown. This will help all ingredients to get cooked evenly, without burning.

6. You can omit the ginger and garlic, if you do not want to use it. However, I would strongly recommend using them. They add a gorgeous taste to the Zucchini Thogayal.

7. Skip the jaggery if you so wish. However, it does add a beautiful flavour to the thogayal. I would definitely recommend using the jaggery.

8. I have used 2 spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and 1 not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chilli in this chutney. The heat was just perfect for us.

9. Make sure all the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down, before starting to grind the chutney.

10. This chutney can be stored refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle for 2-3 days.


Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Vegetable Fried Rice| Chinese Fried Rice With Veggies

I’m here today to share with you all the recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice, Chinese-style rice cooked with various veggies.

The husband and I love Asian food in general, especially Chinese. I occasionally prepare Chinese fare at home, as always trying to make it as healthy as I can. This Vegetable Fried Rice is a hot family favourite.

Vegetable Fried Rice to usher in Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, this time around, falls on January 25, 2020. The Year of The Rat begins on this day, an animal that is believed to signify intelligence, peace and contentment.

For the Chinese, the start of the lunar new year means eight days of fun and celebrations – good food, bonding with family, shopping, dressing up, cleaning up of homes and exchanging gifts. They are very particular about the things they do and eat on New Year day, as it is said to set the tone for the entire year ahead. Family is of utmost importance to the Chinese, and new year celebrations are incomplete without big family feasts.

Noodles, dumplings, oranges and pomelos, stir-fried vegetables and meat, fish, spring rolls and glutinous rice cakes are some foods commonly consumed on Chinese New Year. Fried rice is one of the dishes served in family get-togethers, too, typically made using chicken, pork or other types of meat. Some parts of China, though, follow the practice of eating only vegetarian food on New Year’s day, to usher in peace and harmony in the coming year.

Do try out this Vegetable Fried Rice to celebrate Chinese New Year. Supremely delicious and full of flavour, I’m sure you will love it! It’s so very easy to prepare, too.

My version of Vegetable Fried Rice

The Vegetable Fried Rice recipe I share here is made with minimal oil and lots of vegetables. I make it with naturally fermented soya sauce, as well as some white vinegar. Apart from this, I do not add in ajinomoto or any other flavouring agents. The rice is also not loaded with sauces, as is commonly done in several Indian restaurants serving Chinese fare.

I’m not sure if this is the exact way Chinese families cook Vegetable Fried Rice, but I have learnt it having watched it being made on several TV shows, documentaries, and demonstrations in reputed Asian restaurants.

I will reiterate here that I’m not a huge fan of packaged sauces or processed ingredients. This Vegetable Fried Rice is an occasional treat in our house, thanks to the use of soya sauce and vinegar, and not something we regularly indulge in.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This Vegetable Fried Rice recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I’m part of. Every Monday, the bloggers in the group showcase recipes as per a pre-determined theme, which happens to be #ChineseNewYear this week.

Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine suggested that we celebrate Chinese New Year virtually this Monday, to which the rest of us heartily agreed. Preethi is a very talented cook and blogger, with various vegetarian recipes from across the world on her blog. I’ve been eyeing her Greek-Style Potato Wedges, Shahi Tendli Masala and Achaari Matar Masala for quite some time now – can’t wait to try them out!

Vegetable Fried Rice recipe

Here’s how I make the fried rice.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

To pressure cook:

1. 1 cup rice

2. 2-1/2 cups water

Veggies to prep:

1. 1 medium-sized onion

2. 2 small florets broccoli

3. 2 medium-sized carrots

4. 1 medium-sized capsicum

5. 2 large pieces of babycorn

6. 2 tablespoons green peas

7. 4 button mushrooms

8. 4-5 beans
9. A small piece of cabbage

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
4. Salt to taste
5. 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns or to taste
6. 2 tablespoons soya sauce or to taste
7. 3/4 tablespoon white vinegar or to taste
8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water. Take the washed and drained rice in a large vessel, and add in 2-1/2 cups of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. In the meanwhile, we will prep the veggies required to make the fried rice. Chop the onion lengthwise. Chop the broccoli small. Peel the carrot and chop finely. Chop the capsicum small and the babycorn into rounds. Cut the button mushrooms into large pieces. Remove the strings from the beans, and chop finely. Cut the cabbage into long strips. Keep the shelled green peas ready.

3. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the ginger very finely. Pound the garlic cloves roughly, using a mortar and pestle.

4. When all the pressure from the cooker has gone down, get the cooked rice out. Place the cooked rice under the fan, and let it cool down fully. Now, fluff it up gently using a spoon.

5. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in all the veggies we prepped earlier, plus the finely chopped ginger and pounded garlic cloves. Add a bit of salt. Cook the veggies on high flame for about 2 minutes, or till they are cooked but still retain their crunch. Stir intermittently to prevent burning. If the veggies get too dry, you can sprinkle a bit of water over them.

6. Once the veggies are done, turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the cooled and fluffed rice, salt to taste, coarsely crushed black peppercorns, soya sauce and white vinegar. Mix well, but gently.

7. Cook on low-medium heat for about a minute more, mixing up the ingredients gently. Switch off the gas when the ingredients are well combined together.

8. Now, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Vegetable Fried Rice is now ready to serve. Serve it hot.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used Sona Masoori rice here. For plain rice, I cook 1 cup of rice with 3-1/2 cups of water, on high flame for 4 whistles. For the Vegetable Fried Rice, since I needed well-cooked but slightly grainy rice, I cooked it with 2-1/2 cups of water for just 3 whistles.

2. Make sure the cooked rice has fully cooled down, before proceeding to fluff it up and make the Vegetable Fried Rice. If you have some cooked rice left over, you can use it instead, too.

3. You can use any vegetables of your choice. Make sure you cook them on high flame till they are cooked through, but still retain a bit of a crunch. Don’t overcook the veggies.

4. I used sesame oil to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. You can use any type of oil you prefer, instead.

5. Use a large, heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. Ensure that you do not overcrowd the pan with the veggies and rice.

6. You can use any variety of rice you prefer.

7. I usually pop a few tablespoons of black peppercorns into a small mixer jar, and coarsely crush them. I keep this ready for use in dishes like Vegetable Fried Rice, Ven Pongal, etc. I have used a teaspoon of this crushed black pepper here. You can use more or less pepper, as per personal taste preferences.

8. White pepper can be used in place of black pepper.

9. I use naturally fermented soya sauce by a Thai brand called Shoyu. You can use any variety of soya sauce you prefer instead, too.

10. Lemon juice can be used in the Vegetable Fried Rice, instead of vinegar. I prefer using white vinegar, as it gives the Vegetable Fried Rice a proper restaurant-type fragrance and taste. If you can get your hands on naturally brewed white vinegar, you can go ahead and use it. You may use any other variety of vinegar you prefer instead, too. Increase or decrease the quantity of vinegar you use, as per your taste preferences.

11. I like loading my fried rice with veggies. You may reduce the amount of veggies you use, if you so prefer.

12. Be careful while salting the Vegetable Fried Rice. The soya sauce we are using in it contains salt, too.

13. Typically, green onions or spring onions are used in Vegetable Fried Rice. However, I don’t use them since I’m not a big fan. I prefer garnishing the fried rice with finely chopped coriander, instead.

14. The key to a good Vegetable Fried Rice is non-sticky rice. Use a variety of rice that doesn’t clump together when cooked. Wash the rice well in running water before cooking, so that all the excess starch from it is removed. Make sure all the water is drained out from the rice before cooking. Cook the rice till it is done but still grainy, not mushy. The above ratio of rice and water and pressure cooking works perfectly for us.

15. Indo-Chinese versions of Vegetable Fried Rice are often made using a variety of sauces like Red Chilli Sauce, Green Chilli Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, and the likes. However, authentic Chinese-style fried rice uses only soya sauce, and that is the way I prepare it too.

16. Make sure you stir gently while cooking, so that the grains of rice do not break.

17. Some toasted sesame seeds can also be used to garnish the Vegetable Fried Rice.

18. A bit of sugar or jaggery powder added in, along with the sauces, enhances the taste of the fried rice even more.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Kale Thogayal| Tamilnadu Style Kale Chutney

I’m here today with the recipe for a very Tamilian dish using a very ‘foreign’ ingredient – Kale Thogayal or Chutney.


Kale, the superfood, and me


Kale is well known as a superfood, the world over. The leafy greens are believed to be packed with nutrition, including high amounts of fibre, Vitamin K, iron, potassium and calcium. The Internet is full of recipes using kale – everything from stir-fries and salads to pesto and chips. However, it is not all that common to come across kale in India. In Bangalore, you will occasionally find a few bunches of the veggie in a Namdhari’s or Spar outlet, and that’s about it. The local vegetable vendors have no clue about what it is, though some specialised farms like Mapletree do seem to be growing it.

Considering its rather sporadic availability, I don’t use much of kale in my kitchen. I would say it is a very new ingredient to me – I’m still learning about the different ways in which it can be used. Recently, when I found some really fresh kale in Simpli Namdhari’s, I had to pick it up. As I always do, I decided to make something very familiar, very Indian, to familiarise myself with it. Kale Thogayal is what I chose to make, and it was a huge hit with everyone at home.

A bit about Kale Thogayal


Kale comes in a few different varieties, either with straight or curly edges to the leaves. The type I used was one with straight-edged, dark green leaves, called Tuscan Kale or Lacinato Kale. It is also called Dinosaur Kale, because of the scaly pattern on the leaves.

Dinosaur Kale. You see what I mean?

Kale greens do have a slight bitterness to them, which almost disappears when you cook them. The tamarind and bit of jaggery I used in the thogayal also offset the bitterness beautifully. The result was this lovely-tasting Kale Thogayal that made for a great accompaniment to idlis, dosas and rotis alike.

This Kale Thogayal is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It doesn’t contain any onion or garlic, and can be considered a Sattvik or Jain dish as well. The thogayal is entirely gluten-free, too.

How to make Kale Thogayal


Please find below the detailed steps in the making of the thogayal.


I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I’m part of. The challenge is hosted by Vidya of Masalachilli and Jolly of Homemade Recipes. Every month, the group members showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. The letter for this month is K, and I chose ‘kale’ as my star ingredient.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):
1. 1 medium-sized bunch of kale, roughly 2 heaped cups when chopped
2. A small piece of tamarind
3. 1 teaspoon oil
4. 1 tablespoon urad dal
5. 1 tablespoon chana dal
6. 3-4 dry red chillies
7. Salt to taste
8. 1/2 tablespoon of jaggery powder or to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Separate the kale leaves from the stems. Discard the hard, mature stems. The tender, soft stems can stay.

2. Wash the kale leaves thoroughly under running water, removing any traces of dirt from them. Place in a colander, letting all the water drain out. Pat dry with a cotton cloth, removing all the moisture from them.

3. Chop the kale finely. I had about 2 heaped cups of kale when chopped. Keep aside.

4. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for 10-15 minutes, or till it gets soft.

5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana dal, urad dal and dry red chillies. Reduce the flame to medium. Roast these ingredients on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or till they start turning brown and emitting a nice aroma. Stir intermittently, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

6. Add the chopped kale to the same pan. Cook on medium flame till the kale wilts and shrinks considerably in size, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down fully.

7. When the roasted ingredients have cooled down entirely, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in salt to taste and jaggery powder (if using). Also, add in the softened tamarind, along with the little water it was soaked in. Add the cooled cooked kale to the mixer jar as well.

8. Grind all the ingredients in the mixer jar for a couple of seconds, adding in a little more water if needed. Stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. Then, grind again for a couple of minutes, stopping again to scrape down the sides of the jar. Repeat this process till you get a nice chutney, with slightly coarse bits of lentils in it. That’s it – your Kale Thogayal is ready. Serve it with idlis, dosas or rotis as needed.

Tips & Tricks


1. You can use any variety of kale that you prefer.
2. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, salt, jaggery powder and dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences. I have used the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies here.
3. I prefer keeping the texture of the thogayal such that there are slightly coarse bits of lentils in it. You may grind it entirely smooth, if you prefer it that way.
4. Take care to ensure that the lentils and dry red chillies do not burn while roasting. Stir intermittently, and make sure you do the roasting on low-medium flame. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only.
5. Make sure the cooked ingredients have fully cooled down, before starting to grind the thogayal.
6. A few cloves of garlic, a small piece of ginger and/or some coconut can be added to the thogayal as well, for extra flavour. Here, I haven’t.
7. I have used sesame oil for the roasting, here. You may use any variety of oil you prefer.
8. You can also add a tempering of mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves to the thogayal. Here, I haven’t.
9. Make sure there are no seeds, strings or impurities in the tamarind, before proceeding to use it in the thogayal
10. Use very little water to grind the thogayal, that too only if required.
11. This Kale Thogayal stays well for 3-4 days when refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight box and used hygienically.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Rava Pongal| Khara Pongal With Semolina

Are you looking for something special to make on the occasion of Pongal? Here’s presenting Rava Pongal or Khara Pongal made using semolina.

Pongal Oh Pongal!

The first major festival of the new year is here! It is time for the harvest festival to be celebrated in different parts of India, time to pray for a bountiful harvest this year and to say thanks to the Universe for last year’s. The festival might be known by different names – Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan in Gujarat, Pongal in Karnataka and Tamilnadu, Magh Bihu in Assam or Lohri in Punjab – but the spirit of gratitude, hope and celebration remains the same.

Huge stalks of sugarcane being sold in the markets of Bangalore, for the Pongal celebrations

Pongal is a major festival in Tamilnadu, one that is celebrated for 2-3 days. Sweet and savoury dishes using rice and lentils – also called Pongal – are prepared on the occasion. Sakkarai Pongal (sweet pongal) and Ven Pongal (savoury pongal) are prepared in earthen pots, and allowed to overflow, signifying abundance and prosperity. Chants of Pongal Oh Pongal! rent the air.

Apart from the classic versions, there are quite a few more modern varieties of both the sweet and savoury pongalProso Millet Sakkarai Pongal, Banana Sweet Pongal and Broken Wheat Sweet Pongal With Coconut Milk, for example. This Rava Pongal is one such modern take on the classic savoury pongal recipe.

Ezhu Thaan Kootu, Vadai and Payasam are some other dishes that are commonly prepared to celebrate the Pongal festival.

More about Rava Pongal

Like I was saying earlier, Rava Pongal is a modern twist on the classic savoury pongal or Ven Pongal. The rice in Ven Pongal is substituted with rava, also called sooji or semolina. Taste-wise, both dishes are almost the same. Rava Pongal, therefore, is a good thing to make for the festival when you are considering avoiding rice.

Rava is a refined form of wheat, and hence not gluten-free. I am not sure of the nutritive benefits of rava, if any. Like many Indian festival offerings, this Rava Pongal is a no-onion, no-garlic preparation, which makes it Sattvik or Jain as well.

This Rava Pongal recipe is completely vegetarian. The ghee used in the tempering is of crucial importance, but you could definitely substitute it with vegan butter in case you are thinking of making a vegan version. Personally, though, I would definitely suggest using the ghee.

Rava Pongal recipe

Now, let’s get to the recipe for Rava Pongal, the way it is made in our family. It’s a rather simple thing to make, taking bare minutes to put together.

I share this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. This Monday, the group is sharing #SankrantiSpecials, showcasing harvest festival foods from across India. I chose to share our Rava Pongal recipe for the theme, and hope you like it! Here it goes.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3/4 cup Bansi rava
  2. 1/4 cup moong dal
  3. 3-1/2 cup + 1 cup of water
  4. 2 tablespoons ghee
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  8. 2 dry red chillies
  9. 2-3 green chillies
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Method:

1. Coarsely crush the black peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or in a small mixer jar. Keep aside.

2. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Wash the moong dal well under running water. Drain out all the excess water. Transfer the washed and drained moong dal to a wide vessel. Measure out the Bansi rava and add to the same vessel.

4. Add 3-1/2 cups water to the vessel. Mix well using your hands, to ensure there are no lumps.

5. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 5 whistles on high flame or till the rava and moong dal are well cooked and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

6. When the pressure from the cooker goes down fully, remove the cooked rava and moong dal mixture. Mash it well, using a potato masher. Keep aside.

7. Heat the ghee in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin, curry leaves, asafoetida, dry red chillies and slit green chillies. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

8. Now, turn the flame down to medium. Add the cooked rava and moong dal mixture to the pan, along with salt to taste, about 1 cup of water and the coarsely crushed black peppercorns. Mix well.

9. Cook on medium flame till the mixture starts thickening, 2-3 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Break down lumps, if any, using your ladle. Switch off gas when the mixture is still quite runny, as it thickens further upon cooling. Your Rava Pongal is ready – serve it hot with a simple coconut chutney or raita of your choice.

Tips & Tricks

1. For best results, use the coarser Bansi rava and not the very fine Bombay rava.

2. Adjust the quantity of green chillies and black peppercorns you use, as per personal taste preferences.

3. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon how thick or runny you want the pongal to be.

4. Do not skimp on the amount of ghee. A generous quantity of ghee gives a fragrant, beautiful pongal.

5. Make sure the rava and moong dal is well cooked, before adding them in to the pan.

6. I did not roast the rava or the moong dal before pressure cooking them, as I wanted a mushy consistency of pongal. However, you may dry roast these ingredients separately, on a medium flame till fragrant. This makes the pongal more fragrant and a bit grainy.

7. Slivers of coconut and finely chopped ginger can be used in the Rava Pongal too. We typically don’t.

What do you think of this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!