Mixed Fruit Cream With Mascarpone| Fruit Salad With Cream

Get summer ready with Mixed Fruit Cream!

Summer is slowly setting in, and I’m here today to share with you all a gorgeous dessert that is just right for the upcoming hot days. Here’s presenting to you Mixed Fruit Cream, a sweet treat that tastes just as beautiful as it looks. Serve it chilled on a summer’s day, and I’m sure it will win the hearts of your family and friends. It is a no-cook recipe, too, a simple thing that can be put together in bare minutes. You don’t have to sweat at the kitchen stove for hours on end, to make this!

A closer look at the ingredients used

Mixed Fruit Cream – you could also call it Fruit Salad With Cream – is most commonly made using fresh cream. However, here, I have used a combination of mascarpone cheese and whipping cream, which gives it just the perfect thick, non-watery consistency. Thanks to this combination, and the sugar that goes in, this is definitely a calorie-heavy dessert. However, take my word for it, it’s nothing short of heavenly! I make this very occasionally, when I’m in the mood to indulge myself and the family. πŸ™‚

I am guessing the mascarpone can be substituted with cream cheese, though I have never tried it that way. I haven’t ever tried healthify-ing this Mixed Fruit Cream by replacing the sugar with another sweetener. Some desserts need only sugar, and I think this is one such.

You can use any fruits of your choice in this dessert. I have used banana, apple and pomegranate, all fruits that my family likes.

Mixed Fruit Cream recipe for A-Z Recipe Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge, a Facebook group that I am part of.

This challenge is hosted by Vidya of Masalachilli and Jolly of Homemade Recipes. Every month, the group members share recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. The letter for this month is M, and I chose ‘mixed fruits’ and ‘mascarpone cheese’ as my star ingredients.
Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  1. 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  2. 200 ml whipping cream
  3. 4-5 drops of vanilla essence
  4. 8 tablespoons sugar or to taste
  5. 1 medium-sized apple
  6. 2 medium-sized Robusta bananas
  7. Arils from 1 large pomegranate

Method:

1. Remove the stems and core from the apple and chop into cubes. Cut the banana into rounds. Keep aside. Keep the pomegranate arils ready.

2. Take the whipping cream in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and vanilla essence. Cream together until it gets thick and all the sugar is well integrated into the cream.

3. Now, add the mascarpone cheese to the mixing bowl. Whisk together till the mixture is nice and thick.

3. Add the chopped apple and banana, as well as the pomegranate arils to the mixing bowl. Mix well.

4. Place the mixing bowl, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Serve once it is nicely chilled.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use good-quality mascarpone and whipping cream, for best results. I have used mascarpone cheese from Vallombrosa, which was fresh and extremely delicious. I have used Amul whipping cream here.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. I have used regular granulated sugar here.

3. You can use whatever fruits you like, to make this Fruit Salad With Cream. However, if you are using water-laden fruits like watermelon or muskmelon, it is best to serve the fruit cream immediately after making, to avoid it getting watery. Also, be careful while adding fruits like orange, pineapple and sweet lime – they sometimes make the Mixed Fruit Cream bitter. I usually stick to ‘safe’ fruits like apple, bananas and pomegranate.

4. Since I didn’t use fruits high in water content, I served this Fruit Cream chilled. I personally believe this dessert tastes best when slightly chilled. Alternatively, you can prepare the base (whipped cream, sugar, vanilla essence and mascarpone) in advance and refrigerate it, covered. It stays well for up to 2 days. When you want to serve the dessert, get the base out, keep outside for some time for it to thaw a bit, and then mix in the chopped fruits.

5. If using refrigerated mascarpone and whipped cream, get them out and allow them to come to room temperature before beginning to make the dessert. Mascarpone is easier to whip when it is nice and soft.

6. I used a regular hand-held whisk (not electric) to make this Mixed Fruit Cream.

7. You can adjust the quantity of fruit you add to this dessert, depending upon personal taste preferences.

I hope you liked the recipe. So, go ahead and make it, and let me know your feedback!

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar|Sweet & Spicy Himachali Lemon Pickle

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you that a certain sweet, spicy and sour lemon pickle has been one of the very few bright spots in my life, in the last fortnight or so. I’m talking about the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachal Pradesh-style lemon pickle I made a few months back.

I’m not sure what type of lemon this is, but it was definitely a beauty, with its heady fragrance and juiciness.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar, a burst of flavours to brighten a dull life

Let me explain.

We’ve been dealing with a bad viral attack on our family, for over a week now. First, the bub fell sick with a raging fever, along with which came loss of sleep and appetite, extreme crankiness and clinginess. She just took a turn for the better, this last weekend, and I for the worse. Now, it’s me dealing with a raging fever, viral conjunctivitis that refuses to go, dead tastebuds, pain in the limbs, loads of tiredness and an achy throat. Oru udambu la oru kodi prachanai (One crore problems in a single body), as the husband, very kindly, puts it. I have been having a bit of Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar with one of my meals every day, and it has definitely helped my tastebuds come out of their stupor, somewhat.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle

How I made the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar

So, I spotted these beautiful big lemons at my vegetable vendor’s, a few months back. They looked like imported lemons, but were really fresh and fragrant, and weren’t very expensive either. I tried out one first, in a Lemon Coriander Soup With Vegetables, and the lemon turned out to be so good that I had to go back and buy a few more while stocks lasted. Sadly, the vendor had no idea what type of lemons these are – if you have a clue, please do enlighten me!

At about the same time, I came across this Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle recipe on Tikulicious. I made the pickle following the recipe, with a few variations of my own, and it turned out absolutely brilliant, even if I say so myself.

About this beautiful pickle

The pickle is delicious, the various spices – ajwain, kala namak, methi dana, sarson, dalchini and the likes – going into it making it all the more fragrant and irresistible. It is such an easy thing to make too!

This is an quicker, ‘instant’ version of the traditional Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar, which is left out in the sun to soak and for the lemons to get softer. Tikulli says this instant pickle loses some of its nutritive properties as compared to the traditional version, but hey, sometimes you need to take shortcuts depending upon your circumstances! That’s just what I did, and I’d say my life is richer for having discovered this beauty of a pickle. It still is an excellent digestive, I think.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar recipe

Here’s how I went about making the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle.

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

Ingredients (makes about 1 mason jar):

  1. 4 big ripe and juicy lemons, the size shown in the first picture above
  2. 1 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)
  3. 1/4 tablespoon salt (namak)
  4. 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds (sarson)
  5. 1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  6. 1/2 tablespoon red chilli (lal mirch) powder
  7. 1/2 tablespoon turmeric (haldi) powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) powder
  9. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon (dalchini)
  10. 1/2 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  11. 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  12. 6-8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  14. 4 cloves (laung)
  15. Seeds from 2 black cardamom (kali elaichi)
  16. 1 cup sugar
  17. 1/4 cup oil

Method:

1. Wash the lemons well, and pat dry using a cotton cloth. Take the lemons in a wide vessel, whole. Do not add in any water. Add a little water in the pressure cooker base, then place a stand inside, and place the vessel over this. Make sure no water enters the vessel with the lemons. Pressure cook them for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Take the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, ajwain, black peppercorns, saunf, cloves and black cardamom seeds in a small mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, for a few seconds each, so you get a coarse powder. Keep aside.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked lemons out. Let them cool down fully, then cut them into large-ish pieces. There’s no need to pick out the seeds. A lot of juice will flow out while cutting the lemons – reserve it for use in making the pickle. Transfer the lemon pieces to a large mixing bowl, along with all the juice that has oozed out.

4. Add sugar, salt, black salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, red chilli powder and kalonji to the mixing bowl. Give everything a good mix, using a clean, dry spoon.

5. Take the oil in a pan. Heat it well on medium flame, till it starts smoking. Switch off gas. Pour the hot oil evenly over all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well. Your Pahadi Lemon Pickle is ready.

6. Let the pickle cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Let it stay out for a day, giving the pickle a mix 3-4 times, with a clean, dry spoon. The sugar will slowly melt to form a liquid, then it will start thickening. Refrigerate the pickle from the second day onwards, and use as needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. Choose ripe, juicy lemons that do not have any obvious blemishes on them.

2. The lemons I used were quite big, as shown in the first picture above. I used 4 of them to make this pickle. The small lemons shown in the second picture are for representational purpose only. You may use any other variety of lemons you prefer. If you are using regular Indian limes/lemons (the ones depicted in the second picture), you would need to use 16-18 of them for the above quantities of spices.

3. Do not add in any water while pressure cooking the lemons.

4. The lemons I used were not too thin-skinned, and neither was the skin very thick. The 3 whistles I gave them were just enough to soften them slightly. Adjust the cooking time and number of whistles as per the type of lemon you use. Don’t overcook them, as they might get mushy or turn bitter. Just cook them enough to soften them. You might want to do one whistle in the pressure cooker, then stop and check on the lemons, decide if they need more cooking.

5. I used regular granulated sugar. You can use it as is; there’s no need to make a syrup. It melts when it comes into contact with the acidity of the lemons, the salt and spices added to them.

6. Jaggery powder can be used in the pickle instead of sugar. You can use a mixture of jaggery powder and sugar too.

7. Adjust the quantity of salt, black salt, sugar and all other spices, as per your taste preferences.

8. I used refined oil to make this pickle. You can use any type of oil you prefer. Traditionally, mustard oil is used to make this pickle.

9. After keeping it at room temperature for a day, store the pickle in the refrigerator the second day onwards. Stored refrigerated and used hygienically, the pickle stays well for several months. I made this pickle about 3 months ago, and have been storing it refrigerated in a glass bottle – it’s still going strong! I didn’t sterilise the bottle before use, but you may if you want to.

10. If the lemons you are using have very thin skin, your pickle will be ready to use as soon as it is made. Mine had medium-thick skin, so they had to be marinated for about 2 days before I could start using the pickle.

11. Some people add heated and then cooled oil to their pickles. We add hot oil.

Did you like the 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.Β 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.Β 
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!

Jasmine Rice Khao Yum| Thai Rainbow Rice Salad

Want to eat the rainbow? You should try Khao Yum!

‘Eat the rainbow, eat the rainbow!’

Just how many times have we heard that being said? Studies have shown that eating different naturally coloured foods ensures that you get different types of nutrients into your system. And then, of course, there’s the leap that your heart takes when you look at all the pretty colours on your plate! The recipe that I’m about to share with you today, Khao Yum, will surely make your heart sing with joy with all its loveliness.

It’s not for nothing that Khao Yum is called Thai Rainbow Rice Salad – it is, really and truly, a rainbow on your platter. I made this some time ago for lunch as a surprise for the husband. He came home from a meeting for lunch, expecting the regular fare, and you should have seen the look on his face when he was presented with a rainbow instead. πŸ™‚ Take a look for yourself?

Khao Yum aka Thai Rainbow Rice Salad. Ain’t it prettiness personified?

What on earth is a Rainbow Rice Salad?

It is a salad made Thai style, with rice being the main ingredient. Cooked jasmine rice is at the centre of this salad, with assorted accompaniments to go with it, a delicious dressing included. All of it is typically served separately as above, on a platter or bowl. The diners are expected to mix together the various components of the salad, as per their personal taste preferences.

Now, the Thais, being the Thais, don’t do anything by half measures. On our visits to Thailand, I have always admired how the Thais make everything look cute and pretty – from pens and soaps to clothes and hot water bottles and, of course, food! At a little Thai restaurant, you could be ordering a simple Thai Sticky Rice With Mango that’s regular fare over there, but it’ll come to your table presented so beautifully it could give five-star chefs in big metros a run for their money! This Khao Yum is no exception – the jasmine rice is, traditionally, coloured blue using the butterfly pea flower, and colourful accompaniments are laid out all around it.

The dressing served with Khao Yum is bursting with flavour, the way most Thai dishes do. It is sweet and sour and spicy, the kind of thing that will make your tastebuds wake up and take notice. I’m serious! With the dressing and the sides, this Thai Rainbow Rice Salad makes for a supremely delicious, hearty meal.

It is quite a healthy thing, too, this salad, with no artificial colours or flavours going in, with limited usage of oil.

Is Khao Yum a very difficult thing to make?


We didn’t come across this dish in any of the Thai restaurants we visited, in Bangkok and Pattaya. It was only recently, while I was reading up about the country’s cuisine that I came across this dish on Hot Thai Kitchen, a treasure trove of Thai recipes that I have come to love. I’m wondering if this salad is more of a family thing in Thailand, and hasn’t really made it to the mainstream restaurants. I’m not sure.

Anyways, Khao Yum isn’t a difficult thing to make at home, at all. If you have all the right ingredients at hand, it is super simple to put this salad together. In Thailand, I understand this is a non-vegetarian salad, with shrimp being used in the dressing as well as a side. I have, however, made a vegetarian version here.

Are the ingredients for Khao Yum tough to find in India?


Depends on where you are based in India, I would say. However, you can definitely make this salad using vegetarian ingredients commonly available in most Indian cities. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients for you.

Many departmental stores and gourmet food stores stock jasmine rice – the heart of this salad – these days. In a pinch, basmati rice or any other fragrant variety of rice can be used, but I would really suggest hunting down some jasmine rice.

Dried butterfly pea flowers are easily available online, albeit a bit expensive. In case you have the fresh flowers – called Shankha Pushpam or Sangu Poo down South – growing somewhere around you, you could use them too. You could leave the rice plain white, too, if you so prefer, or colour it a different colour using handy stuff from your kitchen – a pinch of turmeric, maybe? I have used butterfly pea-infused jasmine rice that I picked up in Big C, Thailand, to make this salad. I just had to pressure cook the rice like we do usually, and I ended up with this naturally coloured, beautiful blue cooked rice. In this video, Pailin of Hot Thai Kitchen shows how you can achieve the same blue effect using purple cabbage and baking soda. Yes!

There are no hard and fast rules as to what accompaniments this salad should have. The rice and toasted coconut is a must, as far as I understand, as well as the dressing. There should, ideally, be a sweet-sour juicy fruit too, like pomelo, pineapple, raw mango or apple – I have used pineapple. Tofu can be used in place of the paneer I have used here. I have also used lemon wedges, sweet corn, carrot, moong sprouts and seedless cucumber as accompaniments. All of these ingredients are fairly easy to source across India.

The dressing needs ingredients like tamarind, ginger, jaggery, dry red chillies, small onions, lemongrass, soya sauce, garlic and lemon zest, which aren’t difficult to find either. I have used regular Indian tamarind, ginger and jaggery in place of the Thai tamarind, galangal and palm jaggery that typically goes into the dressing. The lemongrass came from a potted plant in my balcony, but it is commonly available in stores like Namdhari’s and MK Retail in Bangalore. I used naturally fermented soya sauce from Shoyu, a Thai brand, in the dressing. You could use a regular Indian brand or look for naturally fermented versions online or in specialty stores.

All set to make your Thai Rainbow Rice Salad? Here’s how you roll!


Please find below instructions to put together Khao Yum or Thai Rainbow Rice Salad at home. Don’t be fazed by the number of steps in there – that’s only because I have tried to explain everything in great detail. In reality, this is a very, very simple thing to make. I have adapted the original recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen to suit my family’s vegetarian preferences, tastebuds and availability of ingredients.


I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I’m part of. Every alternate month, the members of this group present recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. The letter for this month is J, and I chose ‘jasmine rice’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #301, co-hosted this week with Antonia @ Zoale.com. Now, without further ado, over to the recipe!

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

For the salad dressing:
  1. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 3-4 tablespoons jaggery
  3. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  4. 3-4 dry red chillies
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 3-4 strands of lemongrass
  7. Salt to taste
  8. A small onion
  9. 1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
  10. 5-6 cloves garlic
  11. Water as needed

For the salad:
  1. 1 cup butterfly pea jasmine rice
  2. 1/3 cup peanuts
  3. 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon oil
  4. 100 grams paneer
  5. 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  6. About 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
  7. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
  8. 1 medium-sized carrot
  9. 1 medium-sized cucumber
  10. 1/3 cup sweet corn kernels
  11. 1/2 cup moong bean sprouts

Method:

Let’s first make the salad dressing.

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 15 minutes. When it cools down enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it. You may add a little more water if needed, to help extract the juice. Keep aside.

2. Peel the onion and ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Add these to a small mixer jar.

3. Roughly chop the lemongrass strands. Add to the mixer jar.

4. Break the dry red chillies roughly using your hands. Add to the mixer jar.

5. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar coarsely or to a smooth paste, as you prefer.

6. Transfer the ground paste to a pan, and place on high heat. Add in tamarind extract and salt to taste. Cook on high flame for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

7. Add soya sauce, lemon zest, jaggery and enough water to bring the sauce to a runny consistency. Cook on medium flame till all the ingredients are well combined together and the sauce thickens a bit. This should take about 2 minutes. Switch off gas and allow the dressing to cool down fully.

Now, we will do the prep work that is needed for the salad.

1. Cook the butterfly pea rice as per the instructions on the package. I cooked the 1 cup of butterfly pea rice I used in a pressure cooker. I added 2 cups of water and cooked for 3 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Make sure all the thorns and cores are removed from the pineapple, and that it is chopped into bite-sized pieces.

3. Peel the carrot and grate medium-thick.

4. Chop the cucumber into batons or rounds, as you prefer.

5. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn.

6. Dry roast the grated coconut on medium flame till it gets brown. Ensure that it doesn’t burn.

7. Cut the lemon into wedges.

8. Chop the paneer into cubes. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan, and add in the paneer cubes. Saute gently till they turn slightly crisp and start browning.

9. You may saute or blanch the moong bean sprouts if you so prefer. I kept them raw.

10. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan, and add in the sweet corn kernels. Saute on medium flame till the kernels are half cooked but retain their crunch.

Now, let’s assemble the Khao Yum or Thai Rainbow Rice Salad.

1. When the pressure from the cooker has entirely gone down, get the cooked blue rice out and let it cool down a bit. Then, fill a bowl tightly with the rice and invert it in the centre of a large serving plate. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander on top of the mound of rice.

2. Arrange some of the moong bean sprouts, roasted peanuts and coconut, sauteed sweet corn and paneer, pineapple pieces, grated carrot, lemon wedges and grated carrot attractively all around the rice. Serve immediately, with some dressing poured into a small cup. Prepare salad platters for all the diners similarly.

And you’re all set!

Tips & Tricks

1. I used a mix of the hot Salem Gundu and the not-very-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies to make the dressing. Adjust the quantity of chillies you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

2. I grated the skin of two regular-sized lemons to get 1 teaspoon zest, for the salad dressing. If you have kaffir lime leaves, you could use two of them in place of the lemon zest.

3. Filter out the seeds and impurities from the tamarind before using them in the dressing.

4. Sugar, honey, palm jaggery or coconut sugar can be used in the dressing. Here, I have used regular jaggery powder.

5. I used home-grown lemongrass to make the dressing. If you don’t find lemongrass leaves, you can use about 2-3 inches of the bottom, bulb-like part of lemongrass. It is even more fragrant.

6. Adjust the quantity of tamarind and jaggery as per personal taste preferences. Similarly, adjust the amount of water you use, depending on how thick you want the salad dressing to be.

7. The salad dressing can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Similarly, any leftover dressing can be bottled and refrigerated for later use. However, I prefer making it fresh.

8. This salad is typically served at room temperature. Hence, you must allow all the cooked ingredients to fully cool down before you assemble the salad.

9. This is a completely vegetarian recipe. You may substitute some of the ingredients in case you wish to make a non-vegetarian version. This is a gluten-free recipe as well. Using tofu in place of the paneer here will also render it a vegan or plant-based dish.

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

Kovakkai Thogayal| Ivy Gourd Chutney

Ivy gourd or coccinea – ‘tendli‘ in Hindi and ‘kovakkai‘ in Tamil – is one of my most favourite vegetables. I love using it to make a Gujarati-style, masaledaar sabzi or in Maharashtrian Tendli Bhat. Did you know that this versatile veggie lends itself beautifully to a chutney too? Yes, Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is an absolutely, delightfully delicious thing to have! I’m here today to tell you how to go about making this chutney, the way I learnt it from Amma.

Left: Tender ivy gourd; Right: Ivy gourd, cut into rounds

I’ve come across quite a few Tamilian households where ivy gourd is not consumed, because of a belief that it dulls the brain. Exactly how this belief came about or how true it is, I’m not sure. The Internet did not give me satisfactory answers to this either. 😐 What I do know is that ivy gourd is a rich source of iron, among many other health benefits. It has always been a much-loved vegetable in our family, and I’ve grown up eating various dishes made using it. My mom started making chutney with ivy gourd when I was a little girl, as I would refuse to eat my veggies any other way. This chutney would be so delicious that everyone else in the family – dad, my grandparents, friends and cousins – started demanding for it. Amma began making it in large batches, all of which would be licked clean soon enough. πŸ™‚

Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, the way Amma makes it

Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is quite easy to make. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to hot steamed rice, mixed with a little ghee. I love it as a side dish with rotis, parathas, idlis and dosas alike. The best thing is – even people who don’t like ivy gourd love this chutney, I’ve seen. πŸ™‚ You’ve got to try this out!

I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of on Facebook. Every alternate month, the members of this group showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. It feels like just yesterday that joined this group – when we were doing the letter B – and I can’t believe we have reached I already! I chose ‘ivy gourd’ as my star ingredient for the letter I.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Now, let me take you through the procedure for making Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, a la Amma. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation. You can make it gluten-free by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering here.

Ingredients (yields about 1 cup):

  1. 1 heaped cup tender ivy gourd, chopped into thin rounds
  2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  7. A small piece of tamarind
  8. 3 dry red chillies or as per taste
  9. 1 tablespoon urad daal
  10. 1 tablespoons chana daal
  11. 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon oil

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  4. 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
  5. 2 dry red chillies

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water for at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves as well. Keep aside.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Fry on medium heat till the daals turn brown and begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, transfer the fried ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

4. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Add in the chopped ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or till they are cooked and the raw smell from them has gone away. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down completely.

5. Take the fried ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves in a small mixer jar, and add in the tamarind, salt to taste and jaggery. Add in very little water. Pulse for a couple of seconds. Then, scrape down the sides and add in the fried dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Pulse a couple more times, scraping down the sides. Transfer to a serving bowl.

6. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Take care not to burn the ingredients. Switch off gas. Add this tempering to the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well.

7. Serve this chutney with piping hot steamed rice and ghee or dosas/idlis.

Notes:

1. You may omit the ginger and garlic cloves, if you so wish. Personally, I love the beautiful flavour they add to the chutney.

2. Make sure all the fried ingredients have completely cooled down, before proceeding to grind the chutney.

3. The jaggery powder can be omitted if you do not prefer a sweetish tinge to the chutney. We love it!

4. Make sure all the seeds and impurities have been removed from the tamarind, before adding it to the pan.

5. I grind the ivy gourd a bit first and then add in the fried daals. This helps keep the daals from a becoming a fine, mushy paste.

6. Add just a little water to the mixer jar, while grinding the chutney. Do not add too much.

7. You can use tender ivy gourd or ripened ones (which are reddish on the inside) to make this chutney. The ripe ones add a slight tang to the chutney. I prefer using fresh, tender ivy gourd that don’t have too many seeds.

8. You may cut the ivy gourd length-wise or into rounds. I prefer cutting them into thin rounds as they cook faster that way.

9. When refrigerated and stored hygienically, this chutney stays well for 4-5 days.

10. Gingelly oil aka sesame seed oil tastes best in this chutney. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other oil of your preference.

12. I have used the small, fat and hot Salem Gundu chillies to make the chutney, as well as in the tempering. The three chillies I have added in the chutney make it medium-range spicy. Add more chillies for more spiciness. Using a mix of the long, crinkly Bydagi chillies and the Salem Gundu chillies will give the chutney a nice reddish colour. Please note that Bydagi chillies are relatively less spicy.

13. You can add in some fresh coconut, mint leaves, coriander and/or curry leaves to the chutney too. I haven’t.

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

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