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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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!

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Kollu Masala Usili| Spiced Horsegram Stir-Fry

Kollu Masala Usili is a delicious, mildly spiced stir-fry that is made using horsegram. A big-time favourite at our place, this usili pairs beautifully with rotis as well as rice dishes. Let me share with you today how I go about making this dish.

Horsegram – ‘kulthi‘ in Hindi, ‘kollu‘ in Tamil – is a powerhouse of health benefits. This legume gets its name from the fact that it was widely fed to horses and other livestock in the olden times, but is nothing short of a superfood. Low in fat and high in calcium, protein and iron, horsegram has been known to aid in reducing one’s cholesterol levels, digestive disorders, asthma, bronchitis, urinary issues and kidney stones. It is believed to be an excellent food for diabetics and for those who want to lose weight.

‘Elaithavanukku ellu, kozhutavanukku kollu’, goes an old Tamil saying. This literally translates into ‘Sesame for the one who has lost weight, horsegram for the one who has put on weight’. Yes, sesame has always been recognised as a food that helps one in building body weight, while horsegram is believed to be an ally for someone who wants to lose weight. Now, I’m no nutritionist and use both of these ingredients in moderation – I love cooking with both of these ‘opposite’ ingredients equally. 🙂 I think this Kollu Masala Usili is a great way to use horsegram!

I soak the horsegram overnight and then pressure cook it, to make the Kollu Masala Usili. The water in which the horsegram is cooked is full of nutrients, and I drain and reserve it for use in a gravy-based curry, soup or rasam. I will shortly share with you the way we make Kollu Rasam, from the water left over after cooking the horsegram. It’s a lovely, lovely thing – this rasam – I tell you.

For now, here’s how you go about making Kollu Masala Usili.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3/4 cup horsegram (aka kollu or kulthi)
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 1 sprig curry leaves
  4. 2 green chillies
  5. 1 tablespoon oil
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  9. 2 dry red chillies
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Red chilli powder to taste
  13. 1 teaspoon chana masala or to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  16. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut or as per taste
  17. A dash of lemon juice (optional)

Method:

1. Wash the horsegram thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Then soak it for 8-10 hours or overnight in just enough water to cover it.

2. When the horsegram is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer to a wide vessel and add in 1 cup of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5-6 whistles or till the horsegram is fully cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, chop the onion finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has fully gone down, open it and get out the cooked horsegram. Strain out all the water from it – don’t throw it out, just reserve it for later use. Keep the drained cooked horsegram ready.

5. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard and allow it to pop. Next add the cumin, dry red chillies, asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the chopped onion to the pan. Cook on medium flame till it browns.

7. Now, add the cooked horsegram to the pan. Also add in salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, jaggery powder and chana masala. Mix well. Cook uncovered on medium flame for about 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

8. Mix in lemon juice (if using), chopped coriander and grated coconut. Serve the Kollu Masala Usili hot, warm or at room temperature with rotis, dosas or a rice dish of your preference.

Notes:

1. Some people do not soak the horsegram and pressure cook it directly. I prefer soaking it overnight and then cooking it in the morning – it turns out much softer and delicious by doing so.

2. Always use soft water to soak the horsegram and to cook it.

3. Make sure the horsegram is well cooked before proceeding to use it in making this Kollu Masala Usili. The time needed for pressure cooking the horsegram might differ from one person to another.

4. I like using chana masala in the above recipe, but it can easily be substituted by garam masala or any other masala of your preference.

5. I use coconut oil or sesame oil to make this Kollu Masala Usili, usually. You can use any oil of your preference.

6. The jaggery powder adds beautifully to the flavour of the Kollu Masala Usili, and I would not really recommend skipping it. However, you may skip it if you are not too fond of a sweetish taste in your food.

7. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder and grated coconut as per personal taste preferences.

8. I wouldn’t suggest skipping the lemon juice in the above Kollu Masala Usili recipe either. It rounds up the dish in a lovely way.

9. Ginger-garlic paste and/or chopped tomatoes can be used in the Kollu Masala Usili too. I usually don’t.

10. Like I was saying earlier, the water in which the horsegram is cooked is full of nutrients. Don’t discard it. Drain out the water from the horsegram after it is cooked, and reserve it. Use only the cooked and drained horsegram in the above Kollu Masala Usili recipe. Our family recipe for Kollu Rasam requires about 2 tablespoons of the cooked horsegram as well – if you plan to make the rasam our way, do make sure you reserve a little of it too.

11. This is a vegetarian dish, completely plant-based and suitable for those who follow a vegan diet. It can easily be made gluten-free by omitting the asafoetida added in the tempering. For a Jain version, skip the onions.

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This recipe is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, the members of this group showcase recipes that star ingredients in alphabetical order of their names.

The letter for this month is H, and I chose ‘horsegram’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this with Fiesta Friday #283. Your co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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

Bombay Chutney| Gram Flour Chutney

What do you do when you need a side dish to serve with dosas or rotis, but don’t have much in your pantry? I often end up making Bombay Chutney in that case.

For the uninitiated, Bombay Chutney is a simple but very flavourful dish made with gram flour aka besan. It is quite a common accompaniment to breakfast in Tamil Nadu, and you will find it being served in several eateries. It takes bare minutes to prepare, making it the perfect go-to dish on busy weekdays and lazy weekends alike….or on hot, hot, hot summer days when you don’t want to spend hours slogging over the stove. Did I tell you that it tastes lovely too?

Why is this called Bombay Chutney, though? I haven’t found a satisfactory answer to that yet, but I am guessing it is because of the similarities this chutney has to the Maharashtrian Pitla, a runny side dish also made using gram flour. The recipe for pitla somehow trickled down south, a few ingredients got shuffled here and there, and Bombay Chutney was born. Bombay Chutney is Tamil Nadu’s version of pitla, if I may put it that way.

Come to think of it, several Indian states have a variation of the gram flour chutney. There’s the pitla, of course. You will find a slightly drier version of the same in Maharashtra and in the coastal regions of Karnataka, called Zunka. Gujarat has a similar, slightly sweet Kadhi Chutney, which is a popular accompaniment to snacks like khaman and fafda, called so because of its similar preparation style to kadhi. Andhra Pradesh has a tamarind-flavoured version called Senaga Pindi Pachadi.

Today, I present to you the Tamilian version of gram flour chutney, Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney the way it has always been made in our family. We don’t use buttermilk or garlic in it, ingredients which sometimes find their way into this chutney. Ours is quite a simple but robust affair.

Filled with the goodness of gram flour, this is a low-oil recipe that is vegan by its very nature. Skip the asafoetida, and it becomes a gluten-free dish as well!

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe for Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3 cups water
  2. 1/4 cup gram flour (besan)
  3. 1 tablespoon oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 1 sprig curry leaves
  8. 2 green chillies
  9. 1 small tomato
  10. 1 small onion
  11. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. A dash of red chilli powder
  15. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.

2. Chop the tomato and onion finely. Keep aside.

3. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep aside.

4. Take the water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the gram flour, salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Keep aside.

5. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and green chilli pieces. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

6. Add the chopped onion and ginger. Saute till the onion starts turning brown.

7. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle a little water and cook on high heat till the tomatoes turn mushy.

8. Now, turn the flame to medium. Add the gram flour slurry to the pan. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or till the chutney starts thickening. Stir intermittently.

9. Switch off the gas when the Bombay Chutney has thickened but is still quite runny. It will thicken further on cooling.

10. Serve immediately with dosas, parathas or rotis, garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander.

Notes:

1. For best results, use good-quality gram flour that is free of any odours or insects.

2. This Kadala Maavu Chutney thickens quite a bit when it cools. So, it is best to keep it runny to start with. Also, for this very reason, this chutney is best served immediately.

3. You can add a glug of buttermilk to the Bombay Chutney to make it more flavourful. You might want to skip the tomato, in that case.

4. You can skip the tomato in the above Bombay Chutney recipe and squeeze in some lemon at the end instead.

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

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This recipe is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, members of the group present recipes using ingredients in alphabetical order. This month, we are cooking using ingredients from the letter G, and I chose ‘gram flour’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this with Fiesta Friday #274. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Phool Makhana Namkeen| Roasted Foxnuts Recipe

The seeds of the lotus plant – called Foxnuts or Gorgon Nuts – were always quite commonly used in North Indian households. Called Phool Makhana or simply Makhana in Hindi, the seeds are typically used to make Makhane Ki Sabzi (a gravy-based curry), Makhane Ki Kheer (a sweet dish), Makhane Ka Rayta (a yogurt-based dish), or Phool Makhana Namkeen (roasted and salted foxnuts). Considering that they are a ‘seed’ and not a ‘grain’ per se, they are extensively consumed in North India during fasts, too. Today, with the growing awareness about the numerous health benefits of foxnuts, they have begun to be considered as a ‘superfood’, with people the world over beginning to use them in various forms.

Makhana or foxnuts are low in calories, fat and sodium, but rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and calcium. This makes them a great snacking option for those in-between-meals hunger pangs. Moreover, they are low in glycemic index (GI) and gluten-free, due to which they are just right for diabetics and weight-watchers. The high potassium and magnesium content in foxnuts helps regulate blood pressure, regulate kidney functions, and control heart diseases. They are rich in a flavonoid called kaempferol too, which has a positive effect on inflammation and also slows down the process of ageing. Foxnuts grow organically, without the need for any pesticide or fertiliser, and hence perfectly safe for consumption.

Makhana was something I would only ever occasionally pick up while grocery shopping, before the bub happened. Then, one fine day, the bub tried some roasted makhana and the world changed for us. It instantly became one of her favourite foods, and stays so till date. And, then, makhana began to inevitably wrangle its way into our shopping bags regularly. 🙂 I must say I haven’t experimented with the seeds much – I use them only to make a simple roasted namkeen, the way the bub likes it. This Phool Makhana Namkeen or Roasted Foxnuts Recipe is what I am about to present to you today.

Let’s now check out the Roasted Foxnuts Recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 3 cups foxnuts or makhana
  2. 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

  1. Heat ghee in a pan.
  2. Lower flame to medium and add in the foxnuts. Roast on medium flame till the foxnuts get crisp, 6-7 minutes. You must stir intermittently, to avoid burning. The foxnuts are done when you press one between two fingers and it does not crumble.
  3. At this stage, turn flame to low. Add salt to taste and the turmeric powder to the pan. Mix well for about a minute, ensuring that all the foxnuts are evenly coated with the salt and turmeric powder. Avoid burning. Switch off gas.
  4. This Phool Makhana Namkeen can be served hot, immediately. If you plan to store it for later use, allow it to cool down completely before transferring to a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Notes:

  1. You can use oil, butter or ghee to make this Phool Makhana Namkeen. I prefer using ghee.
  2. You can add other ingredients like red chilli powder, amchoor powder, garam masala and/or chaat masala to the Phool Makhana Namkeen. There are other flavour combinations that you can explore too – garlic, tomato, onion, peri peri and the likes. I prefer keeping it really simple, as the bub likes it this way.
  3. The Phool Makhana Namkeen stays well for up to 10 days when stored at room temperature, in a clean, dry, air-tight box.
  4. You can mix the salt and turmeric powder in a little oil and then add it to the pan, to ensure even spreading. I usually don’t do that, and add them in directly.
  5. For the best Phool Makhana Namkeen, roast the foxnuts on a medium flame to avoid burning, stirring intermittently . Add in the salt and turmeric powder after turning the flame down to low.
  6. You may use more ghee if you so prefer.

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. Every alternate month, the participants cook with an ingredient beginning with a particular letter of the English alphabet. This month, we are cooking for the letter F. I chose ‘foxnuts’ aka makhana or phool makhana as my star ingredient for the theme.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #265. The co-hosts this week are Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta| Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash

For many, I am sure the name ‘Baingan Bharta‘ conjures up images of slow-cooked, delicious, hearty meals, often prepared by a loving mother or a doting grandmother. Baingan Bharta or eggplant mash made the Indian way is comfort food for a whole lot of locals. It is, for me too, but the smell I associate with Baingan Bharta is different from the usual.

Let me explain. Baingan Bharta is typically cooked by char-grilling a large eggplant on the stove till the skin blackens and the flesh within starts falling apart. The skin is then peeled away, and the flesh mashed and cooked in a pan, with various spices added to it. A smoky flavour permeates the dish, thanks to the char-grilling. This ‘smokiness’ is what most people look forward to, in a dish of Baingan Bharta. My version, which I learnt from my mom, does away with the char-grilling – here, the eggplant is cooked in a pressure cooker, then mashed and again cooked on the stovetop. There is no smoky flavour in our Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta, but let me assure you that it is equally delicious.

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The pressure cooker method is faster and a whole lot less messy than the char-grilling method. It does not leave you with a messy stove that takes ages to clean up, afterwards. Also, since you cut upon the eggplant before pressure cooking it, you can always check for worms (they do have a way of getting in, in spite of no visible holes in the vegetable – eeks!). If you are not a fan of the ‘smokiness’, like the husband, this pressure cooker method works beautifully. Even if you do, do try out this version too – the result is so finger-licking delish that I’m sure you will like this as well. 🙂

Amma‘s secret ingredient in this Pressure Cooker is a wee bit of tamarind paste. It adds a whole lot of flavour to the dish – trust me on that! Purists can baulk all they want, but I will continue to love this method just as much. I grew up with this, after all. Now, this reigns supreme in my household, too.

Enough said. Let’s now check out the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 large purple eggplant
  2. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 2 medium-sized onions
  4. 6-7 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. A small piece of tamarind (optional)
  7. 2 tablespoons oil
  8. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. About 3/4 tablespoon garam masala or to taste
  13. Red chilli powder to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. Salted butter as needed, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop off the stem of the eggplant and peel it. Chop into large pieces.
  2. Take the chopped eggplant in a wide vessel and add in about 1/2 cup of water. Add a little salt. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the ginger, garlic and onion. Chop the garlic and onion finely. Grate the ginger finely. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.
  5. Soak the tamarind (if using) in a little hot water for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste from the tamarind. Keep aside.
  6. When the pressure in the cooker has gone down entirely, open it and get the cooked eggplant out. Discard the water the eggplant was cooked in. Mash the cooked eggplant using a masher, and keep ready.
  7. Heat oil in a pan. Add in the cumin seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  8. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Saute on medium flame till the onions begin to change colour.
  9. Add the grated ginger, chopped garlic and tomatoes to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, about 2 minutes.
  10. Now, add the mashed eggplant, salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala and the tamarind paste (if using). Mix well.
  11. Stirring intermittently, cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the mixture comes together well.
  12. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta is done! Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with slivers of salted butter, alongside rotis, parathas or dosas. Baingan Bharta goes especially well with makke di roti aka rotis made using cornmeal flour.

Notes:

  1. For best results, use a fresh eggplant that is firm, with shiny and non-wrinkled skin. Make sure the eggplant has no holes in it, while you buy it – holes might indicate the entry of worms.
  2. Buy an eggplant that is light in weight in spite of its large size. This usually indicates that it will have fewer seeds and, hence, well suited to the making of Baingan Bharta.
  3. You may choose to add in the water in which the eggplant was cooked, too. In that case, you will have to cook the Baingan Bharta a little longer, till all the water is absorbed.
  4. I use ordinary refined oil to make this Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta. Some people use mustard oil or ghee instead.
  5. I use country (nati) tomatoes in this Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash, which are more sour than farm-grown ones. If they are sour enough, you can avoid using the tamarind altogether. I usually add both the tomatoes and the tamarind, since we like our Baingan Bharta to be tangier than usual.
  6. Use only a very small piece of tamarind to sour the Baingan Bharta. You may use lemon juice as needed, instead, too.
  7. Chana masala or a mix of coriander powder and roasted cumin powder can be used in place of garam masala.
  8. Make sure the eggplant is cooked well before mashing it and adding it to the pan. Cooking times might vary depending upon the water used, size of the eggplant, and make of the cooker. For us, 4 whistles works perfectly.
  9. Adjust the quantity of salt, garam masala and red chilli powder, as per personal taste preferences.
  10. If you do not plan to use the Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta immediately, allow it to cool down completely and then store it in a clean, dry, air-tight container, refrigerated. This way, it stays for 4-5 days.
  11. We typically eat Baingan Bharta with rotis, parathas or dosas. However, you can also use it as a dip for crackers or as a sandwich spread.
  12. My mom uses a whole lot of oil in making this dish – she says this is one of those dishes that tastes best when cooked in a lot of oil. I disagree. 😛 I stick to about 2 tablespoons of oil while making this, and it still tastes equally delicious! Mom also prefers avoiding the garam masala, keeping the Baingan Bharta very basic – using just salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. I like adding either chana masala or garam masala – we prefer it this way.

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

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and we choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month. This month’s Alphabet is ‘E’ and I decided to use ‘Eggplants’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #257. The co-hosts this week are Suzanne @ Frugal Hausfraualupinthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Drumstick Leaves Roti| Murunga Keerai Roti

The fact that moringa aka drumstick leaves are loaded with health benefits is very well known.

  • The greens are a rich source of Vitamin A, B6, B12, C and E, apart from possessing a high content of protein and calcium, iron and beta carotene, magnesium and chlorogenic acid.
  • Drumstick leaves aid in hair care and skin care, preventing neurological disorders Alzheimer’s Disease, alleviating pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), lowering cholesterol levels and improving one’s vision.
  • They also aid slow ageing, lower the risk of cancer, and help the body in fighting against toxins that air pollution throws at us.
  • Apart from this, moringa greens also help in fighting inflammation, promoting bone and cardiovascular health, protecting the liver, aid in wound healing, help in keeping anxiety and depression at bay, and also help one in combating diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and asthma.

Any wonder they are being touted as a ‘super food’?

I try to include moringa greens or drumstick leaves (‘Murunga Keerai‘ in Tamil) in our meals at least once every two weeks. There are several things I use these drumstick leaves in – I add them to uttapams and adais, I use them in sambar and dal tadka, or in a South Indian-style poriyal. One of my family’s most favourite ways to consume these greens is in a roti!

Drumstick Leaves Rotis are extremely easy to make, but super delicious, not to forget healthy. I add a lot of ingredients to these rotis, so they can be eaten on their own and don’t really need any accompaniment. This makes the rotis an ideal candidate for busy weekday lunches or dinners.

Ingredients (yields about 15 parathas):

  1. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 tightly packed cup drumstick leaves
  3. A fistful of fresh coriander leaves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  9. 3 green chillies
  10. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  11. 2-3 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste (optional)
  12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  13. 1 tablespoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  14. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (til)
  15. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  16. 1/4 cup sour curd or 2 tablespoons amchoor powder (optional)
  17. 1 tablespoon oil + more to make the rotis

Method:

1. Wash the drumstick leaves well under running water. Chop them roughly and keep aside.

2. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.

3. Chop the coriander finely. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Chop the green chillies finely. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies together to a paste, using a little water. Keep aside.

5. Take the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (if using), asafoetida, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, powdered jaggery (if using), 1 tablespoon oil, and amchoor powder or sour curd (if using).

6. Add the finely chopped coriander and onions, the ginger-green chillies-garlic paste, and the chopped drumstick leaves to the mixing bowl.

7. Bind the ingredients in the mixing bowl together into a soft dough, using a little water if needed. Knead for a couple of minutes. Cover, and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

8. Heat a thick dosa pan on high heat. Meanwhile, take one small ball of the dough, place it on a floured work surface, and roll it out into an even roti.

9. When the dosa pan is nice and hot, turn the flame to medium. Place the rolled-out roti on the pan, and spread a little oil all around it. Cook on medium flame till it gets brown on the bottom. Now, flip the roti over, and cook till done on the other side as well. Transfer to a serving plate.

10. Prepare all the Drumstick Leaves Rotis in a similar manner. Serve hot on their own or with raita, pickle, curry or any other accompaniment of your choice.

Notes:

  1. For best results, use tender drumstick leaves that aren’t overly mature. Leave the bunch of drumstick greens wrapped in a newspaper or in a paper bag, outside at room temperature, overnight. Most of the leaves would have fallen off by morning – this is an easy way to separate the tiny leaves from the stems.
  2. The use of jaggery and curd or amchoor powder is purely optional. You can skip these ingredients too, and keep the parathas really simple. I would personally suggest using them, though, for they add a lovely taste to the rotis.
  3. Moringa or drumstick leaves can be a bit difficult to digest, especially for children. This is why it is crucial to use tender greens to make these Drumstick Leaves Rotis. If the leaves you have are a bit tough, you can chop them roughly and saute them a bit, before using them in making these rotis.
  4. Use a heavy dosa pan to make these Murunga Keerai Roti. Get the pan nice and hot, till drops of water sprinkled on it dance, then ensure that you turn the flame down to medium. Cook the rotis on medium flame on both sides. This will ensure even cooking, without the rotis getting burnt.
  5. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, salt, jaggery and garlic that you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  6. Add in red chilli powder if you want, if you feel the heat from the green chillies isn’t enough. I usually use only green chillies in making these Murunga Keerai Roti – I skip the red chilli powder entirely.
  7. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky, for best results.

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This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month. This month’s Alphabet is ‘D‘, and I chose Drumstick Leaves as my key ingredient. I decided to make these Drumstick Leaves Rotis with them.

A to Z Recipe Challenge

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

Pressure Cooker Chana Masala| Indian Chickpea Curry

Do you like Chana Masala?

Chana Masala is my go-to dish when I want to eat something different from the usual South Indian fare we make at home. Considering that it is a hot favourite with everyone in the family, it does find pride of place on our dining table quite often. More often than not, I make a big batch of chana masala, serving it with rotis or parathas, while I use the leftovers the next day to make chaat.

Like my mom, I make Chana Masala in a pressure cooker, which ensures that the dish is ready in a jiffy, with the least of hassle. This Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is super delish, the chickpeas absorbing the flavours from the gravy much better than those cooked in a pan. Using a pressure cooker also ensures that the chickpeas are done just right, without any over- or under-cooking.

Let’s check out the recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala now, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1-1/2 cups chickpeas aka kabuli chana
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1 large onion
  4. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 1 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida (hing)
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste (optional)
  12. Red chilli powder, to taste
  13. 2-3 tablespoons of chana masala, or to taste
  14. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. 1 tablespoon kasoori methi

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in just enough water to cover them, for 8-10 hours or overnight.
  2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out any remaining water from them. Add in just enough fresh water to cover them, and pressure cook them for 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into quarters. Peel and chop the ginger. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic together into a puree. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
  5. When the pressure has released from the cooker, open it. Keep the cooked chickpeas aside. Do not discard the water.
  6. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker base. Add in the cumin and asafoetida, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  7. Add the chopped onions. Saute till the onions begin to turn brown.
  8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or till the raw smell from the tomatoes goes away and the puree thickens a little.
  9. Add in the cooked chickpeas, along with the water they were cooked in.
  10. Add salt to taste, chana masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and sugar. Mix well.
  11. Close pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook for 4 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas, and let the pressure release naturally.
  12. After the pressure has gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander and kasoori methi. Serve hot, with rotis, dosas, pooris, steamed rice or parathas. Sliced onions and wedges of lemon make for great accompaniments.

Notes:

  1. Garam masala can be used in place of chana masala. I use store-bought chana masala from Eastern or Everest.
  2. I use country aka nati tomatoes to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. Considering these tomatoes are quite sour, I do not add any lemon juice to the gravy. If you feel you need a bit more sourness to the gravy, you can add in a dash of lemon juice.
  3. A dash or curd or fresh cream can also be added to this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala, towards the end.
  4. I pressure cook the chickpeas first, before using them in making this Chana Masala. I then pressure cook them again, after adding all the other ingredients to them. This ensures that the chickpeas are cooked evenly, and that they absorb all the spices well.
  5. If you think the gravy is too liquidy after cooking, you may let it simmer for a couple of minutes on medium flame, before adding in the coriander and kasoori methi.
  6. If you feel the water reserved from cooking the chickpeas is too much, you can discard some of it, and add only the remaining to the gravy.
  7. You may avoid ginger and garlic in this gravy, if you want to. Personally, though, I think they add a nice fragrance to it.
  8. Adding the sugar to the Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is optional, but I would recommend you to not skip it. The sugar doesn’t make the gravy overly sweet, but rather rounds off the sourness of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the red chilli powder very well.
  9. Any leftover Pressure Cooker Chana Masala can be refrigerated and used later to make Ragda Pattice or in various types of chaat.
  10. You can add in whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves to the tempering, along with the cumin. I skip these, because we like the Chana Masala without these ingredients.
  11. I use a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. 4 whistles + 4 whistles is just perfect for the chickpeas to cook till soft, without getting mushy. The number of whistles you need might vary, depending upon the size and make of your pressure cooker.

Did you like this recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala? Do tell me, in your comments!

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month.. This month’s Alphabet is ‘C’ and I decided to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #241. The co-hosts this week are Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

Beetroot Poriyal| South Indian Beetroot Stir-Fry

Beetroot Poriyal is an absolute favourite in our household. We love having it with piping hot sambar or rasam and rice – often a weekend special lunch at home! 🙂

Beetroot and coconut is a match made in heaven, I think, and this South Indian-style stir-fry incorporates that very combination. The addition of curry leaves, mustard and green chillies elevates the taste of the dish to a whole new level. It is amazing how this Beetroot Poriyal uses a few ingredients, and how it can be put together so very easily, but is so delicious!

Here is how we make this easy-peas Beetroot Poriyal.

Ingredients (3-4 servings):

  1. 2 large beetroots
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 green chillies
  5. 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste (optional)
  7. 1 teaspoon oil
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method:

  1. Peel the beetroot and chop finely.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add the asafoetida to the pan, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Add the finely chopped beetroot to the pan. Add a little water, salt and turmeric powder. Cook, covered, on medium flame till the beetroot is done but still retains a bit of a crunch. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add in a bit more water if necessary. It should take about 5 minutes.
  4. In the meanwhile, chop the green chillies and add them in a mixer jar. Add the fresh grated coconut too. Pulse a couple of times or till you get a dry coconut-chilly paste. Keep aside.
  5. Separate the curry leaves from the stem. Keep aside.
  6. When the beetroot is cooked with a bit of a crunch, remove the lid. Keeping the flame on medium, add in the sugar (if using), the curry leaves and the coconut-green chilly paste to the pan. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  7. Cook the Beetroot Poriyal on medium flame, uncovered, till the bite in the beetroot is gone and it is well cooked – this should take a couple of minutes. Done!

Note:

  1. Choose beetroot that is very fresh and firm, for best results.
  2. Beetroot is naturally sweet, so there is no need to add sugar to this stir-fry, really. We are also adding fresh coconut to it, which has a sweetness of its own. Sometimes, though, the beetroot might not be sweet naturally, in which case you can add in a bit of sugar to taste.
  3. Chop the beetroot finely, into small cubes, for the curry to cook well and fast.
  4. Remember to cook the curry on medium flame, first covered and then uncovered, to prevent any burning and to ensure even cooking. Add in only a little water initially to cook the beetroot in.
  5. Adjust the quantity of green chillies and coconut you use, depending upon your personal taste preferences. You can add as much or as little of it as you want.
  6. Finely chopped fresh coriander can be added to the Beetroot Poriyal too, if you want, as can finely chopped onions and shelled green peas. I usually skip these.

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

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and we choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month.. This month’s Alphabet is ‘B’ and I decided to make/cook Beetroot Poriyal.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #231. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.