Paruppu Thogayal| Tamilnadu Style Lentil Chutney

#KhaaliFridge? What’ll you cook?

What do you do when you need to serve a meal to your family (or guests), but realise that you have run out of vegetables completely? Eat out, Swiggy or Zomato food, use some ready-to-cook mixes, or cook something simple that doesn’t call for any vegetables (or meat, in case of non-vegetarians)?

The first three options are palatable in today’s age, but that wasn’t always the case. In the lives and times of our grandparents, I’m sure there were often times when there would be no vegetables at hand, and a tasty meal still had to be cooked and served. Sun-dried fruits and vegetables, lentils and legumes of different types would take centre stage at such times.

Tamilnadu’s heritage ‘budget’ recipes

Tamilnadu has a whole host of such traditional dishes which can be made without any veggies – I call them ‘budget recipes’, as they were often resorted to when finances were tight, often towards the end of the month – and one could not afford to splurge on fresh vegetables. Mananthakali Vattalkozhambu (a tangy dish made using dried nightshade berries and tamarind), Paruppu Thogayal (a chutney made using lentils), Puli Pongal (a sort of rice dish soured with tamarind), Milagu Kozhambu (a tangy-spicy gravy made using black peppercorns) and Vepampoo Rasam (rasam made with dried neem flowers) are some examples of such dishes. These might be dishes typically cooked with a budget constraint, but they are far from bland or boring. In fact, they are outright delicious!

Introducing Paruppu Thogayal, Tamilnadu style lentil chutney

Today, I present to you our family recipe for Paruppu Thogayal, lentil chutney made Tam-Brahm style. Toor dal forms the base for this chutney, dried red chillies providing the spice factor, with a bit of tamarind added in for sourness. Sometimes – I think when there was a coconut tree in the backyard 😛 – there would be some fresh grated coconut added to the thogayal for flavour. This is such an easy thing to make, one requiring minimal ingredients, but very delicious, like I was saying earlier.

The simple thing that it is, Paruppu Thogayal is a hugely comforting dish. When served with some steamed rice and Milagu Kozhambu or Vattalkozhambu, drizzled with some sesame oil, it makes for a complete, fulfilling meal, all of it made using only ingredients from one’s pantry, with zero fresh vegetables in the picture. Quite innovative our ancestors were! This is actually a detox meal, light on the tummy, a refreshing change from the usual.

This Paruppu Thogayal is completely gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan too. It is packed with protein too, considering it is made using toor dal. You could call this a Sattvik dish too, as it is made (usually) without any onion or garlic, and is a simplistic thing using the most basic of ingredients.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group explores #KhaaliFridge

I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I’m part of, on Facebook. Renu of Cook With Renu suggested an interesting theme for the group this week – #KhaaliFridge. On her blog, Renu has a fantastic collection of healthy dishes and baked goodies from around the world. You must check it out! I so want to try her Sprouted Horsegram Salad, Sweet Mango Chilli Sauce and Tandoori Paneer Biryani!

This week, all of us in the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group will be showcasing recipes made using only ingredients from one’s pantry, food that one would make when they are face-to-face with a refrigerator that is completely empty. I loved the theme; it made me revisit so many traditional Tamilnadu ‘budget’ recipes. Allow me the liberty of saying this again – our ancestors were definitely very wise, and very creative to have come up with so many delicious, beautiful dishes when their circumstances were, probably, not all that great!

Traditional Paruppu Thogayal recipe

Here’s how we make the Paruppu Thogayal at home.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1/2 cup toor dal
  2. 2 Salem Gundu dry red chillies
  3. 1 Bydagi dry red chilli
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
  5. 1 teaspoon oil
  6. Salt to taste
  7. A small piece of tamarind

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water, for at least 10 minutes. This will make the tamarind softer.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the toor dal, the Bydagi chilli and the Salem Gundu chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute till the toor dal begins to turn brown, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

3. Add the grated coconut to the pan. Saute all the ingredients together for about a minute, on medium flame. Switch off gas. Transfer the sauteed ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

4. When the sauteed ingredients have cooled down entirely, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Add in salt to taste and the softened tamarind, along with the little water it was soaked in.

5. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar together, to a smooth chutney. You may keep the chutney a little coarse, if you prefer it that way. Your Paruppu Thogayal is ready – serve it with hot steamed rice with a dollop of ghee, or as an accompaniment to rice and Vattalkozhambu or Milagu Kozhambu.

Notes:

1. In some families, a mix of chana dal and toor dal is used to make this Paruppu Thogayal. We use only toor dal.

2. Some people add in black peppercorns while making this chutney. We don’t.

3. Garlic cloves are also added in by some, while making this Paruppu Thogayal. We don’t use them.

4. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences. We typically use a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the less hot Bydagi dry red chillies.

5. Some families completely omit the tamarind in Paruppu Thogayal or add a very minimal amount. This is because the thogayal is traditionally served as an accompaniment to Vattalkozhambu or Milagu Kozhambu, which are spicy and sour already. I add tamarind to taste, because we consume this thogayal with idlis, dosas and plain steamed rice too.

6. If the tamarind you are using has seeds or impurities, make sure you remove them before using them in making the thogayal.

7. Sesame oil aka nalla ennai works best in this Paruppu Thogayal.

8. Do not add much water while grinding the chutney. The Paruppu Thogayal is supposed to be quite thick, unlike other regular chutneys. It is typically made into a ball and then served, as in the picture above. If you find it hard to grind the chutney using just the water from soaking the tamarind, you can add in a couple of spoons of water – remember not to add too much.

9. Some families omit the coconut, while making Paruppu Thogayal. We do use it.

10. Traditional Paruppu Thogayal does not have any mustard seed-curry leaf tempering added in.

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

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Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam|Butterfly Pea Kheer With Beaten Rice

Best wishes on the occasion of Maha Navami!

I hope all of you are thoroughly enjoying the festive season, gorging on Navratri and Durga Puja specials, dressing up, meeting friends, and having loads of fun in general. The last few days have been crazy busy for us, with hundreds of festive errands that needed to be run. I’m loving every little bit of it, and so is the bub. 🙂 The bub has especially been enjoying learning the significance of each day of Navratri, not to forget the special foods that we have been cooking almost every day. The special food in question for today is Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam, kheer made using beaten rice or poha, naturally coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group has decided to share Dussehra dishes today, and this Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is my humble contribution to the #VijayaDashamiTreats theme. Aval (poha) payasam (kheer) is something we commonly prepare at home each Navratri. The idea of using butterfly pea flowers (‘sangu pushpam‘ in Tamil) to colour the kheer came about when I saw Sangeeta using them to make mini idlis look absolutely gorgeous. It was through Sangeeta’s Insta post that I learnt about butterfly pea flowers being used to worship Maa Durga, of the Goddess’ love for them. What better dish could I prepare for Dussehra, then, if not this payasam?

Out came the precious stash of dried butterfly pea flowers I had picked up on our last holiday in Thailand, and this blue kheer came about. Oh, my! What a beauty! It was so much fun making and shooting this pretty kheer! Taste-wise, it still remains your regular home-made payasam, delicious as always, but the blue colour adds loads of thrill, magic and festivity to it. It did make the bub all agog with awe. 🙂 And, oh, did you know that these flowers possess several health benefits too?

You must definitely try out this Butterfly Pea Kheer too, especially if you have children in the house. I’m sure they would love it! Here’s how I made the kheer.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 litre + 1/2 cup of full-fat milk
  2. 1/4 cup beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 7-8 dried butterfly pea (sangu pushpam) flowers
  5. 1 tablespoon ghee
  6. Dried rose petals for garnishing, as needed (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the poha. Cook on medium flame for about a minute, or till the poha crisp up. Take care to ensure that the poha does not burn.

2. Now, add 1/2 litre of milk to the pan, along with the sugar. Keep cooking on medium flame till the milk thickens a little, 12-15 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape them back into the milk.

3. In the meantime, heat the remaining 1/2 cup milk in a small pan. Bring it to a boil, then add the dried butterfly pea flowers to it. Give the milk a quick stir, then switch off the gas. Set this milk aside for 10-12 minutes, or till the butterfly pea flowers leach their blue colour into the milk.

4. Pour the blue milk into the kheer cooking in the other pan, along with the butterfly pea flowers. Let everything cook together on medium flame for about 2 minutes. Switch off gas. Your Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is ready! Serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences. Garnish with dried rose petals before serving.

Notes:

1. Use good-quality full-fat milk only to make the kheer. I have used Nandini full-cream milk, here.

2. Cashewnuts and almonds fried in ghee can also be added to the kheer. I haven’t.

3. I have used dried butterfly pea flowers that I picked up at Big C in Thailand, to make this Sangu Poo Aval Payasam. You can use fresh butterfly pea flowers instead, too, if you can get your hands on them. Butterfly pea flower powder is also readily available online these days – you could use that to make the payasam too.

4. Adjust the sugar as per personal preferences. The above quantity was just right for us.

5. Don’t overcook the beaten rice. Just cook it for about a minute, let it crisp up, then add the milk and sugar to the pan. Overcooking the beaten rice will make it hard to chew.

6. I have used the thin variety of beaten rice (aka poha or aval) – the kind we use to make poha upma – to make this payasam.

7. You can filter out the dried butterfly pea flowers before adding the coloured milk to the pan. I let them stay in, as the flowers are very much edible.

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

Tawa Bread Pizza| How To Make Pizza Using Bread Slices On A Pan

Are you looking for an easy yet delicious and satisfying dinner idea?Try out this Tawa Bread Pizza! I make the pizza with store-bought wheat bread slices, home-made sauce, and some of our favourite toppings, and it’s such a breeze! This is our favourite weekday dinner, especially Friday nights – it puts us right into the weekend frame of mind. 🙂

Pizza doesn’t have to be junk food at all – made the right way, it can be a wholesome treat. Just make sure you are buying whole wheat bread with no artificial additives, limited or no refined sugar, and no preservatives. Making the pizza sauce at home helps you to control the ingredients that go into it – no artificial colours or flavours or preservatives there too. I use toppings like home-made paneer, cucumber, pineapple and grated carrot for my little daughter, with a bit of cheese, making the pizza super healthy. For the hubby and me, the cucumber is foregone and store-bought jalapenos, red paprika and pitted olives are added to the toppings – that’s okay occasionally, I think. If I can get my hands on some hand-made artisanal cheese, it finds its way to this Tawa Bread Pizza. Otherwise, I’m partial to Amul cheese!

My mother gifted me a grill pan from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s WonderChef collection for my last birthday, and I’m loving every bit of it. It’s just awesome for sandwiches, tandoori appetisers, and for making Tawa Bread Pizza. A regular thick dosa pan would work beautifully as well.

Now, without further ado, here’s how I make the Tawa Bread Pizza. I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group, the week’s theme being #PizzaMania. Preethi, who has some really innovative recipes on offer on her blog Preethi’s Cuisine, suggested the theme for the week.

Ingredients (for 10 bread pizza):

For the pizza sauce:

  1. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Red chilli powder to taste
  6. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  7. 1/2 tablespoon mixed Italian dried herbs or as needed

Other ingredients:

  1. 10 bread slices
  2. 1 small capsicum, chopped length-wise
  3. 1 medium-sized onion, sliced length-wise
  4. 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  5. About 2 tablespoons pitted and sliced black olives
  6. 1 tablespoon sliced red paprika
  7. 100 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  8. 3 cubes of cheese or as needed
  9. Mixed Italian dried herbs, as needed

Method:

Let us first prepare the pizza sauce.

1. Chop the tomatoes roughly, and add to a mixer jar. Peel the onion, chop roughly, and add to the mixer jar. Peel the garlic cloves and add to the mixer jar too. Grind together to a puree.

2. Transfer the puree to a pan, and place on high flame. When the puree starts cooking, reduce flame to medium and cover. Cook covered on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the puree thickens and reaches a spreadable consistency. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas.

3. Add salt and red chilli powder, jaggery powder and Italian herbs. Mix well. Your home-made pizza sauce is ready.

3. Allow the pizza sauce to cool down fully. If you don’t plan to use it immediately, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight container after cooling. Store refrigerated.

Here’s how to make the Tawa Bread Pizza.

1. Place a grill pan or thick dosa pan on high flame. Drizzle a little oil all over it. Let the pan get nice and hot.

2. When the pan gets hot, place 2 slices of bread on it or as many as you can accommodate without overcrowding the pan. Turn flame down to medium.

3. Let the bread slices get crisp on the bottom and slightly brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Then, flip the slices over, using a spatula.

4. Cook on medium flame for a minute or so, till the bread slices get crisp on the other side too. Transfer the slices onto a plate.

5. We will now assemble the Tawa Bread pizza. Meanwhile, turn the flame down to the lowest and toast 2 more slices of bread similarly, till crisp on both sides. Simultaneously, spread some pizza sauce on the two bread slices you already toasted, then top with chopped onion and capsicum, olive and red paprika slices, paneer cubes, sweet corn kernels and grated cheese, all as needed. Drizzle some mixed Italian dried herbs on top.

6. When the second batch of bread slices is done toasting, transfer them to a plate.

7. Place the assembled bread pizza on the pan. Cook covered on low flame till the cheese melts and the veggies are slightly cooked, 1-2 minutes. Take care to ensure that the pizza doesn’t burn. Once done, serve the Tawa Bread Pizza immediately.

8. Alternate between toasting bread slices, assembling the pizza and then cooking the assembled pizza till all slices are used up.

Notes:

1. I prefer using the more flavourful country (Nati) tomatoes to make the pizza sauce, over the ‘farm’ variety.

2. The garlic in the pizza sauce can be avoided, if you don’t prefer it.

3. Sugar can be used in place of jaggery powder, in the pizza sauce.

4. I have used slices of whole wheat bread to make the pizza. You can use any variety of bread you prefer instead too.

5. I have used cubes of Amul processed cheese here. You can use any other type of cheese you like, too.

6. I have used the veggies we prefer, as a family, in the pizza toppings. You can use the ones you like – babycorn, mushrooms, potatoes, jalapenos, tomatoes, pineapple, eggplant, carrot..the list is endless. Let your imagination run wild!

7. You can use as many or as few veggies as you like, for topping the pizza. Similarly, adjust the quantity of cheese you use depending upon personal taste preferences.

8. The above quantities yield close to 3/4 cup of pizza sauce. Use as much of the sauce as you prefer, in the bread pizza. Any leftover pizza sauce can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight container. Refrigerated and used hygienically, this sauce stays well for about a week. The sauce can be used to make pasta too.

9. I don’t blanch or roast the tomatoes for preparing the pizza sauce.

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

Nataraja Iyer Rasam| Flavourful Rasam Recipe From A Culinary Legend

In a typical Tamilian household, rasam is comfort food. Piping hot rasam is the antidote for most ills, right from the sniffles to the flu. And why not? Made with ingredients like pepper, ginger and cumin, rasam does have medicinal properties. The tangy flavour that tamarind, tomatoes and/or lemon lend to rasam makes it just the perfect thing to enliven tastebuds that have grown dull. It is very light on the stomach, easy to digest, as well. Rasam is soul food at our place too, with several different versions being prepared from time to time. I bring to you today the recipe for a special kind of rasam, straight from a culinary legend of Tamilnadu – Nataraja Iyer Rasam.

About Nataraja Iyer

Nataraja Iyer is not a new name in the South Indian food industry, particularly in Chennai (erstwhile Madras). He was a stalwart in the field of event catering, a man who started off small but who grew through the ranks. His career had a very humble beginning – he started off serving tables at small eateries in Trichy, when he was but a little boy himself. He came from a family of cooks, and would assist his grandfather, doing odd jobs in the kitchen, while the old man catered for weddings and other occasions.

Soon enough, Nataraja Iyer came into his own, both in terms of cooking and catering. In the 1940s or so, he started catering events on his own, business growing by leaps and bounds as more and more people started talking about the brilliant food he dished up. So great was his draw that people would immediately agree to be guests at a wedding when they would come to know that the food was to be catered by Nataraja Iyer. He catered for several celebrity weddings in Chennai, in the course of which VV Giri (former President of India) bestowed upon him the title of ‘Arusuvai Arasu‘ i.e. king of all the six tastes that constitute good food, namely sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent.

Arusuvai Arasu Caterers – started by Nataraja Iyer, now run by his children after the legend’s passing away in 2018 – remains a well-respected establishment in Tamilnadu till date. However, in spite of his huge achievements in the culinary field, having served at over 75,000 events spanning his career, Nataraja Iyer stayed a humble man till the end. He believed in sharing his knowledge, and started writing a column in the famed Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan with just that end in mind. He shared recipes for some of his signature dishes – rasam, vattalkozhambu, milagu kozhambu, kadappa, rasavangi and paal payasam, for instance – in his column to make sure they reached the masses. There’s much to learn from the life of this great man, indeed!

Nataraja Iyer Rasam

One of the most delicious rasam versions ever, Nataraja Iyer Rasam is a big-time favourite in our household. I remember my grandmother making this rasam – thanks to Ananda Vikatan I suppose – to much adulation. The recipe passed down in our family, and I occasionally prepare it too.

Nataraja Iyer Rasam does not call for any pre-made spice powder. Freshly ground cumin and black peppercorns flavour it, with spiciness also coming from the ginger, dry red chillies and green chillies that are added in. The bit of jaggery used in the rasam gives it a sweet tinge, which beautifully balances out the tang from the tomatoes and tamarind. Quite interestingly, there is a wee amount of fenugreek seeds used in the tempering, probably for inducing slight bitterness, a la ‘Arusuvai Arasu’.

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, suitable to those who follow a vegan or plant-based diet. It can be made entirely gluten-free simply by avoiding the asafoetida used in the tempering.

How to make Nataraja Iyer Rasam

Without further ado, let me now share the recipe for Nataraja Iyer Rasam. Try it out, and I’m sure you will fall in love with it too!

I share this recipe for #RasamRaaga, the theme for the week at Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme was chosen by me so as to celebrate the very versatile rasam, also keeping in mind the chilly weather these days. September 2019 marks the first death anniversary of Nataraja Iyer, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to him than this post.

So, here we go.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/4 cup toor dal
  2. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. 4-5 dry red chillies
  8. About 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  10. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

For the garnishing:

2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor dal fully. Pressure cook the toor dal for 6-7 whistles on high flame, or till it is cooked thoroughly. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 10-15 minutes or till it softens. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

3. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

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

5. Peel the ginger. Chop very finely. Keep aside.

6. In a small mixer jar, grind the cumin and peppercorns together, coarsely. Keep aside.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has fully gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it well. Keep aside.

8. Adding water little by little, extract all the juice out of the tamarind. You would get about half cup of tamarind water, approximately. Keep aside.

9. Heat a pan and add the chopped tomatoes and finely chopped ginger to it. Add in about 2 tablespoons of water and a little salt. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.

10. Add the tamarind water, salt to taste, dry red chillies (broken), slit green chillies, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Cook on high flame till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, 2-3 minutes.

11. Now, add the cooked and mashed toor dal to the pan. Also add about 1-1/2 cups water, the jaggery powder and the coarsely crushed cumin and peppercorns. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

12. Cook on high flame till the mixture comes to a boil. Then, reduce flame to medium and simmer for a couple of minutes. Switch off gas.

13. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the rasam. Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add mustard, and allow it to pop. Lower flame to medium. Add the cumin seeds for the tempering, asafoetida and fenugreek seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas. Add this tempering to the rasam.

14. Add the finely chopped coriander leaves to the rasam. Mix well. Your flavourful Nataraja Iyer Rasam is ready to serve! Serve it hot, with hot steamed rice and a South Indian-style poriyal on the side.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of tamarind and jaggery you use, as per personal taste preferences.

2. A few cloves of garlic, crushed, can be added in to the rasam while it is simmering. This adds a beautiful taste to it.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the rasam you desire.

4. Do not use too much of fenugreek in the tempering, as this will make the rasam overly bitter.

5. Country (nati) tomatoes are best for making this rasam, rather than ‘farm’ ones.

6. Oil can be used in the tempering, instead of ghee.

7. I used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu and the not-so-fiery Bydagi dry red chillies to make the rasam.

8. Make sure the toor dal is well cooked and mashed, before using it in the rasam.

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

Masoor Dal Ki Tikki| Indian Savoury Lentil Patties

How about a protein-packed recipe today? Sounds good? Here’s presenting to you – Masoor Dal Ki Tikki or patties made using red lentils. I’ve added in paneer (cottage cheese) to make them healthier, and a couple of potatoes to make them all the more delicious. And, let me tell you, these tikkis are indeed finger-lickingly delicious!

The weather is getting cooler now, and we are fast approaching winter. Friends and family in the USA tell us this is the beginning of fall season – a time for rejoicing and rejuvenation. Typically from September to November, it is officially ‘fall’, when seasonal produce is abundant and appetites are big. That translates into fall parties, where foods with pumpkin, pomegranate, pears, apples, broccoli, fennel, potatoes and other root vegetables, various types of lentils and legumes star. With the leaves on trees turning red and yellow and golden this time of the year, in most parts of the USA and UK, the atmosphere is almost magical, too. I dream of witnessing the colours of fall – not to forget the seasonal foods – some day. Till then, let me rejoice in the fall-special recipes that the members of the Foodie Monday Blog Hop are sharing this week. The Masoor Dal Ki Tikki is my entry for the #LetsCelebrateFall theme in the group this week, suggested by Poonam of Annapurna.

Like I was saying earlier, these Masoor Dal Ki Tikkis are packed with protein. The whole red lentils or sabut masoor I have used here are rich source of protein, as is the cottage cheese or paneer that goes into them. I have spiced these tikkis the Indian way, the dollop of Vallombrosa’s burrata cheese I have topped them with hiking up their flavour quotient quite a few notches. The dash of mustard sauce and tomato sauce drizzled on top make these tikkis all the more irresistible – the way my family devoured them is proof! 🙂

These Masoor Dal Ki Tikkis are just the perfect snack for chilly evenings, especially when had straight off the pan. They make for great appetisers for dinner parties, wholesome and hearty as they are. There’s a bit of effort involved in making these, but the end result is definitely worth it, I tell you.

Now, without further ado, let me tell you how to make these tikkis. I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #293.

Ingredients (makes about 15):

  1. 1/2 cup whole masoor dal (sabut masoor)
  2. 1 medium-sized carrot
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. 100 grams paneer
  5. 2 medium-sized potatoes
  6. 2 tablespoons bread crumbs or as needed
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. Red chilli powder to taste
  10. 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
  11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander + a little more for serving
  12. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  13. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  14. 1/2 tablespoon oil + more to make the tikkis
  15. Burrata cheese, as needed for serving
  16. Tomato ketchup, as needed for serving
  17. Mustard sauce, as needed for serving

Method:

1. Soak the whole masoor, in just enough water to cover it, for about 20 minutes. Then, drain out the water from it and discard. Take the soaked masoor in a wide vessel, add just enough fresh water to cover it, and place it in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the masoor for about 4 whistles on high flame or till it is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Cut the potatoes into halves. Pressure cook them on high flame for 4 whistles, using enough water to cover them. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Now, we will do some prep work needed to make the Masoor Dal Ki Tikki. Peel the onion and chop finely. Crumble the paneer. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-thick. Keep aside.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down fully, get the cooked masoor dal out. Drain out all the water from it – do not discard this; it can be used in soups and gravy-based sabzis. Keep the cooked and drained masoor dal aside.

5. Similarly, get the cooked potatoes out of the cooker. Drain out the water from them and discard. Let the potatoes cool down a bit, then peel and mash them. Keep aside.

6. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in the chopped onion and grated carrot. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till they are cooked.

7. Keeping the flame medium, add the cooked masoor dal to the pan. Also add in the mashed potatoes, crumbled paneer, salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, chana masala and jaggery. Mix well. Cook everything together for about 2 minutes, till all the ingredients are well combined together. Switch off gas.

8. Mix in the bread crumbs, finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to cool down fully.

9. Now, we will start making the Masoor Dal Ki Tikki. Place a thick dosa pan on high flame and let it get nice and hot. Now, reduce the flame to medium.

10. Taking little portions of the cooked mixture, shape 3-4 patties. Place them on the hot pan and drizzle some oil around them. Cook on medium flame till the patties get brown and slightly crisp on the bottom. Then, flip over and cook till the patties get brown and slightly crisp on the other side too. Transfer the cooked patties to a serving plate.

11. Serve the patties hot, topped with a little burrata cheese, mustard sauce and tomato sauce, with a bit of finely chopped coriander drizzled over it.

12. Prepare patties from the rest of the mixture similarly. Serve hot, in a similar fashion.

Notes:

1. I have used Milky Mist paneer here. You can use home-made paneer instead, too.

2. Make sure the paneer is at room temperature before using it in making the tikkis.

3. You can use any vegetables of your choice to the Masoor Dal Ki Tikki. Here, I have used only onion and carrot.

4. Ginger-garlic paste can also be added in. Here, I haven’t.

5. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan while cooking the patties. Cook about 2-3 at a time.

6. I have used Heinz tomato ketchup and Fab India’s Mustard Sauce/Dressing here. Both are made without any artificial flavouring or colouring agents and preservatives.

7. I have used Vallombrosa burrata cheese to top these Masoor Dal Ki Tikki. It is super fresh and fabulous in taste.

8. If you don’t have burrata cheese, you can top these Masoor Dal Ki Tikki with regular cheese (grated), too. Alternatively, you can serve them with any sauce/dip/chutney of your preference.

9. Make sure you don’t overcook the red lentils and potatoes. Cook them until done, but not overly mushy.

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

Mathulai Kosumalli| Pomegranate Salad, The South Indian Version

Who says salads have to be boring affairs, suited only to the ailing and to those who want to lose weight? Not at all! Salads can be beautiful too, both in looks and taste. In the course of my journey as a food blogger, I have had the good fortune of coming face to face with some very creative salads that have been wonderfully executed, a burst of flavours in the mouth. Those are just the kind of salads I love, the kind I strive to create at home. As faaaaaaar from ‘boring’ as I can get! The recipe I present to you today – Mathulai Kosumalli or a South Indian version of pomegranate salad – is exactly that.

This Mathulai Kosumalli is a fun thing to have, super delicious, a medley of flavours. It is a filling salad made using good, healthy ingredients – no fancy, processed or canned stuff in there. It is a pretty salad, that is easy-peasy to whip up too! What else do you need from a salad, eh?

Completely vegetarian and vegan, this salad can easily be made gluten-free by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering. It makes for a lovely accompaniment to a full-fledged thali meal (or plantain-leaf saapadu). I like having it as a snack in between meals.

The theme at the Foodie Monday Blog Hop this week is #SaladStories, where all of us are sharing recipes for different types of salads from around the globe. I’m linking my recipe for Mathulai Kosumalli for the blog hop. Narmadha of Nams Corner was the one who suggested this very interesting theme. Btw, you must check out Narmadha’s blog – it’s a vast treasure trove of Indian recipes. I especially love the innovative dishes she has written about in the ‘Babies’ & Kids’ Food’ section of her blog.

Now, let me take you through the procedure for Mathulai Kosumalli or South Indian-style Pomegranate Salad. I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

  1. 1 heaped cup pomegranate arils
  2. Salt to taste
  3. A dash of lemon juice
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
  5. 1 green chilli, very finely chopped
  6. 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  7. 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  10. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

1. Take the pomegranate arils in a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt to taste, lemon juice, coconut and green chilli.

2. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add in the curry leaves and asafoetida, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Switch off the gas. Add this tempering to the mixing bowl.

3. Add the coriander to the mixing bowl. Now, mix all the ingredients well, using a spoon. Your Pomegranate Salad is ready. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. Use ripe, sweet pomegranate for best results.

2. You may skip the lemon juice, if you so prefer.

3. Grated carrot can be added to this salad too. I haven’t.

4. You may add a dash of honey to the Pomegranate Salad too. I didn’t.

5. I have used coconut oil for tempering, here. You may use any other oil of your preference, too.

6. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use as per personal taste preferences.

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

Kesar Badam Lassi| Saffron-Scented Sweetened Curd With Almonds

Best wishes to everyone on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi! Hope all of you had a lovely time celebrating today, complete with loads of festive food and drink, memorable experiences and conversations. I take this opportunity to present to you a recipe for a festival-special drink that will surely win over your family and friends – Kesar Badam Lassi. It is a favourite at our place!

No artificial colours or artificial flavouring agents are used in this Kesar Badam Lassi. I use the gorgeous saffron (kesar) I bought in Kashmir to add a pretty light yellow colour – and a lovely taste – to the drink. The saffron, together with the almonds that go into it, make this lassi a rich confection. It is perfect for serving alongside meals on special occasions or when you have guests over.

This week on Foodie Monday Blog Hop, all of us are sharing #NaturallyColourful recipes, foods coloured entirely using only natural ingredients. This Kesar Badam Lassi is my contribution to the theme. The theme suggestion was made by Mayuri, who has a wonderful repository of Gujarati dishes and vegetarian global cuisine at Mayuri’s Jikoni. Apart from this, I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Let’s now go through the proceedure for making this naturally coloured and flavoured Kesar Badam Lassi. This is a very simple thing to make, one that takes just a few minutes to put together, but is extremely delicious and hearty. The lassi is completely vegetarian and gluten-free.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1-1/2 cups chilled thick curd
  2. 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons full fat milk
  4. A generous pinch of saffron
  5. 6-7 almonds

Method:

1. Heat the milk well in a small vessel. Switch off gas. Add in the saffron strands. Allow the saffron to soak in the hot milk for 15-20 minutes, by which time they would have coloured the milk yellow. Keep aside.

2. Chop up the almonds roughly. Keep aside.

3. Take the curd in a mixer jar. Add in the sugar and the coloured milk, along with the saffron strands in it. Give everything a quick whirr in the mixer, making sure all the ingredients are well integrated with each other.

4. Pour the mixture into 2 serving glasses. Add in the chopped almonds equally in both glasses, using a few slivers for garnishing. Use a few strands of saffron in the garnishing too, if you so wish. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. Use curd that is thick, for best results. Watery curd doesn’t help make good lassi. Here, I have used Milky Mist curd, which is quite thick.

2. The curd should be only slightly sour. Overly sour curd does not give best results.

3. You may use glace cherries and/or cashewnuts to garnish the lassi too.

4. I have used curd that was chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, to make this Kesar Badam Lassi. I therefore served it immediately after making, as there was no need to chill it further. If you have curd that isn’t chilled, you can a) chill the curd before using it in making the lassi or b) make the lassi and then chill it before adding in the almonds, garnishing and serving.

5. This Kesar Badam Lassi is rich and delicious, but not as thick as the versions you get in restaurants. If you want to achieve that, add in some store-bought fresh cream or cream collected from milk at home (malai) – make sure you add this after whirring in the mixer, just before serving.

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

Beetroot Halwa

Do you like beetroot? At home, we are big fans of various things made from the root vegetable – beetroot poriyal, raita, pulav, cutlets and the like. The smell of raw beetroot puts us off, but we are happy with most things made with it when cooked through. Beetroot Halwa is another dish made from the veggie that we are utterly thrilled to lick clean.

Beetroot Halwa might not be as well known as halwa made using carrots or milk, but is just as delicious. The beetroot lends the halwa a gorgeous colour and taste, the ghee, milk, raisins and cashewnuts going in making the dish all the more irresistible. This is a fairly simple sweet treat to make too! Move over poriyal and raita, Beetroot Halwa is here!

Beetroots are known for being rich in various nutrients, but I’m not sure how many of these are preserved when the vegetable is made into a halwa. That said, this is a thing we love indulging in occasionally – read: when we have a couple of beetroots lying around in the refrigerator and aren’t in the mood to cook the usual stuff with them. 🙂

Beetroots already have good natural sugar content and, hence, you may cut down a bit on the amount of sugar you use in this halwa. Considering the huge sweet tooth that all of us in my family possess, the 3/4 cup of sugar I’ve used here for 2 cups of beetroot is just perfect for us. Many like adding khoya (mawa) and/or condensed milk to Beetroot Halwa, but I usually skip those.

Today, I share with you all the recipe for Beetroot Halwa, the way it is made in our family. The theme for this week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop is #UltaPulta – using an ingredient that is traditionally used in savoury dishes to make something sweet, and vice versa. When the Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds suggested the theme, I immediately realised our Beetroot Halwa would be a perfect fit. So, here we go!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 2 cups grated beetroot
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee
  4. 3/4 cup sugar or as per taste
  5. 2 pinches of cardamom powder or as per taste
  6. 10-12 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins

Method:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a heavy pan. Add in the grated beetroot. Cook on medium flame till the beetroot gets slightly tender, 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the milk to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the mixture gets thicker and all the liquid in the pan almost dries up. This takes 12-15 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently to ensure that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the sugar to the pan. Continue to cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens a bit more and the sugar is well integrated into the halwa. Switch off gas when the halwa is still a bit runny – it thickens upon cooling.

4. Mix the cardamom powder well into the halwa.

5. Chop up the cashewnuts roughly. Now, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a small pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins, and lower the flame to medium. Let the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts brown, ensuring that the ingredients do not burn. Pour this ghee-cashew-raisins mixture atop the beetroot halwa. Mix well. The beetroot halwa is ready to serve – hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per your preference.

Notes:

1. For best results, grate the beetroot medium thick. Grating it finely will cause it to, sort of, dissolve while cooking.

2. Make sure you use good-quality full-fat milk to make the Beetroot Halwa.

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

Khara Bath| Karnataka Special Rava Upma

In several Old Bangalore-style eateries, popularly called Darshinis, you will find a very different type of rava upma on the ‘tiffin’ menu. This version of upma, a popular breakfast dish in several parts of Karnataka, is reddish-yellow in colour, tasting slightly tangy and spicy and very different from the regular, white sooji upma we are typically used to. The unique colour and taste of this upma comes from the Vangi Bath (Karnataka-style brinjal rice) powder that is added to it. I absolutely adore this variation of rava upma, called Khara Bath in local parlance. I present to you today the recipe for Bangalore-style Khara Bath, the way I learnt to make it years ago from an aunt of mine.

You can use either fine sooji (aka rava or semolina) or the thicker Bansi rava to make Khara Bath. The key to getting this dish right is in the roasting of the semolina. It needs to be roasted perfectly, until it emits a lovely fragrance, taking care to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Using good-quality Vangi Bath powder is a must too, and I swear by the one by Sanketi Adukale. I’ve been using spice mixes from the brand for quite some time now, and love how fresh, fragrant and authentic they are, free of artificial additives and preservatives.

You can choose to add a lot of veggies to your Khara Bath, or keep it simple by using only tomatoes and onion. I prefer the latter, personally, but it tastes lovely either way! This dish often finds a place on our dining table, considering it makes for a hearty meal that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.

I’m sharing our family recipe for Khara Bath for the week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is #ThindiYenu, which is Kannada for ‘What’s for tiffin?’. The members of the group are, today, showcasing breakfast recipes from the state of Karnataka, for the theme. It was Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen who suggested the theme, a talented cook whose blog is full of detailed recipes from all over India.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Now, without further ado, let me outline the Khara Bath recipe. This is a completely plant-based, vegan dish.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups fine sooji (semolina or rava)
  2. 4-1/2 cups water
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 large onion
  5. 1 large tomato
  6. About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  11. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 5-6 teaspoons Vangi Bath powder
  15. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  16. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Take the sooji in a thick pan and place it on high flame. Once the pan heats up, reduce flame to medium. Dry roast the sooji till it begins to emit a lovely fragrance, taking care not to burn it. This takes 3-4 minutes, by which time the sooji will start to brown slightly. Switch off gas at this stage and transfer the roasted sooji to a plate. Keep aside.

2. Chop the onion and tomato finely. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Heat the oil in the same pan we used before. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add in the asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Add the chopped onions and ginger to the pan, along with the shelled green peas. Add in a little salt. Saute on medium flame till the onions start turning brown and the peas are mostly cooked, about 2 minutes.

5. Add in the tomatoes. Saute on medium flame till the tomatoes shrink , 1-2 minutes.

6. Now, keeping the flame medium, add in the water. Add in salt and turmeric powder, and mix well. Keep on medium flame till the water starts boiling.

7. At this stage, add in the lemon juice, Vangi Bath powder and red chilli powder (if using). Mix well.

8. Still keeping the flame medium, add the roasted sooji to the pan, little by little. Keep stirring constantly, to prevent the formation of lumps.

9. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens, the water dries up, and the sooji is cooked through. This should take 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.

10. When almost done, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Switch off gas when the Khara Bath is done. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Khara Bath you require. Here I have used 3 cups of water per cup of rava. In traditional Old Bangalore eateries, you will find this Khara Bath quite runny in texture, almost like a liquid-y khichdi.

2. I have used store-bought Vangi Bath powder from Sanketi Adukale. You can make your own Vangi Bath powder at home as well.

3. If the heat from the green chillies and the Vangi Bath powder is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

4. You can skip the lemon juice entirely, but I personally prefer adding it in because I love the slight tartness it adds to the Khara Bath. Alternatively, you could use more tomatoes in the preparation.

5. I prefer using the more tart Nati (country) tomatoes in the Khara Bath, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety.

6. A simple coconut chutney is the best accompaniment to this Khara Bath.

7. Bisi Bele Bath powder can be used in place of Vangi Bath powder, in the above recipe.

8. A little fresh grated coconut can be added to the Khara Bath too. It adds a lovely flavour to the dish. I haven’t, here.

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

Fada Lapsi| Broken Wheat Pongal

Broken wheat (dalia) is commonly used in making savoury khichdi. However, did you know that it can also be used in the preparation of a delicious sweet dish? I’m talking about Fada Lapsi, a beautiful dessert hailing from the state of Gujarat, made with broken wheat (‘ghaun na fada‘ in local parlance) and jaggery.

Fada Lapsi is a traditional dish, considered to be highly auspicious in Gujarat. It is typically prepared to celebrate engagements, weddings and similar occasions, as well as festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Janmashtami. I present the recipe for Fada Lapsi today, for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the blog hop this week is #MeetheBandhan, wherein all of us are showcasing Raksha Bandhan-special dishes. When Archana of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen suggested this theme, Fada Lapsi was the first thing that came to my mind – and here we are!

Different families have different ways of making Fada Lapsi, with the basic ingredients remaining more or less the same. I make it the way a Gujarati friend of mine taught me, years ago – making a jaggery syrup first, adding cooked broken wheat to it, and then cooking everything together again. This isn’t unlike the making of the Tamilnadu Sakkarai Pongal and, hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to call this Broken Wheat Pongal too.

The use of broken wheat (as opposed to rice or semolina) and jaggery renders this a relatively healthy dessert. I use a limited amount of ghee too, just enough to make the lapsi fragrant and inviting. The milk and dry fruits going in make sure the Fada Lapsi tastes rich and delectable. The broken wheat gives the dessert an interesting texture, too. What’s more, it’s an easy-peasy recipe that doesn’t need much expertise or effort. You have got to try this out!

Let’s now check out the recipe for Fada Lapsi or Broken Wheat Pongal. I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #288. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1 cup broken wheat aka dalia
  2. 1 cup full-fat milk
  3. 2-1/2 cups + 2 cups of water
  4. 2 cups jaggery
  5. 2 tablespoons ghee
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  7. 10 cashewnuts
  8. 10 almonds
  9. 1 tablespoon raisins

Method:

  1. Wash the broken wheat thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.
  2. Take the washed and drained broken wheat in a wide vessel, and add 2-1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to it. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles or till the broken wheat is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, take the jaggery powder in another pan, and add in 2 cups of water. Place on high heat. Allow the jaggery to melt entirely in the water. Switch off the gas when the jaggery syrup comes to a boil. Do not bring the syrup to a string consistency – just allow it to come to a boil and then switch off the flame.
  4. When the pressure in the cooker has entirely gone down, place the pan with the jaggery syrup on medium flame. Remove the cooked broken wheat from the cooker, and add it to the jaggery syrup. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens, 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently, to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas when the Fada Lapsi is still quite runny – it thickens considerably on cooling.
  5. Chop the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. Keep aside.
  6. Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add in the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds. Wait till the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts and almonds brown slightly. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Once done, pour the ghee with the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds onto the cooked Fada Lapsi. Add in the cardamom powder too. Mix well.
  7. Serve the Fada Lapsi piping hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences.

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