Nei Payasam| Kerala Rice Kheer

This year, the festival of Onam falls on August 27. I am eagerly waiting for the day to arrive, so I can lay my hands on a typical Onam sadya (a traditional plantain-leaf feast served on the occasion of Onam). 😉 Till then, I plan to herald the festival on my blog through a series of Onam-special recipes, courtesy of my mother-in-law who hails from Palakkad.

Today, I present to you the recipe for Nei Payasam, a Kerala-style kheer made with matta rice. This payasam is typically served in the course of an Onam sadya. It is also commonly prepared during weddings and other festive occasions, and as an offering to God in the temples of Kerala.

Nei payasam‘ literally translates into ‘kheer with ghee‘, and, true to its name, this kheer is redolent of the goodness of ghee. All of us at home are big fans of this nei payasam, with its coconut-ghee flavour, and slurp it up by the bowlfuls. Yes, the bub included! 🙂

This kheer is traditionally made with jaggery, and is really sweet and rich and heavenly, especially to those with a huge sweet tooth like us. In fact, this dish is often referred to as ‘Kadu Madhura Payasam‘ or ‘kheer that is very sweet’ in Kerala households. I have slightly reduced the quantity of jaggery, ghee and coconut than what is usually used, but the payasam still tasted absolutely beautiful.

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the recipe for this Kerala nei payasam aka kadu madhura payasam, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/2 cup broken matta rice
  2. 1 cup jaggery
  3. 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  4. 2 pinches of dry ginger powder (optional)
  5. 2 pinches of cardamom (elaichi) powder
  6. 4 tablespoons ghee (divided)
  7. 8-10 cashewnuts
  8. 1 tablespoon raisins

Method:

1. Wash the broken matta rice thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.

2. Pressure cook the washed and drained rice with 1 cup water for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the jaggery together with 2 cups of water. Keep on high flame till the jaggery melts completely. Let the jaggery syrup come to a boil.

4. Now, turn the flame to medium. Add the cooked broken matta rice to the melted jaggery in the pan, along with the fresh grated coconut.

5. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till the mixture begins to thicken.

6. When the mixture starts thickening add in 2 tablespoons of ghee. Cook for a minute or so more, or till the mixture is thick, yet slightly runny.

7. Add in the dry ginger powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cook for a few seconds, then switch off the flame.

8. In another pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add in the cashewnuts (broken) and the raisins. Once the raisins plump up, switch off the gas. Ensure the cashewnuts and raisins do not burn.

9. Add the plumped raisins and cashewnuts to the rice-jaggery mixture in the other pan. Mix well.

10. Serve the nei payasam hot, at room temperature or chilled.

Notes:

1. I have used broken matta rice here, which is also called Palakkadan rosematta rice or Kerala red rice. You can use any variety of Kerala rice to make this nei payasam.

2. You can even add slivered almonds to the nei payasam. I haven’t.

3. I have used yellowish-coloured jaggery to make this payasam, which has contributed to its light colour. Traditionally, in Kerala homes, reddish jaggery is used, which gives the payasam a deep reddish-brown hue.

4. Some people add in slices of banana to the payasam, after it is cooked. I have skipped that.

5. The quantities of rice, jaggery, water and ghee above were just perfect for us. You may increase or decrease the quantities of these ingredients, as per personal taste preferences.

6. Make sure the cashewnuts and raisins do not get burnt.

7. For best results, use good-quality grainy ghee and jaggery. Also, ensure that you use freshly grated coconut.

8. You can add in a few slivers of coconut while frying the raisins and cashewnuts. I haven’t.

9. Do not overcook the payasam, as that will lead to the rice getting overly hard. Also, add in the rice when the jaggery has fully melted and the syrup is beginning to boil.

10. Remember that the rice needs to be pressure cooked well, but should not be overlooked. A slightly grainy texture works best for this nei payasam.

11. Switch off the gas when the payasam has thickened considerably, but is still quite runny. It thickens quite a bit more on cooling.

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

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is ‘Onam Recipes’.

I’m also sharing this with Fiesta Friday #236, whose co-hosts this week are Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

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Thai Grapefruit Salad

Did you know that the grapefruit lends itself beautifully to a salad? Grapefruit salad can be super refreshing and super delicious, especially if you make it the Thai way. Thai grapefruit salad is beautiful, bursting with sweet and salty and tangy and spicy flavours.

A few days back, a couple of ruby red grapefruit found their way into my shopping bag. I was picking up our weekly quota of vegetables when I spotted these grapefruit that had been imported from South Africa. Now, I don’t usually buy stuff that isn’t local or seasonal in Bangalore, but I made an exception for these – I wanted to introduce the bub to grapefruit, and I wanted to try this fruit out myself. So, in they went.

Sadly, though, none of us liked the slightly bitter aftertaste the fruit has. I didn’t have the heart to throw out good fruit, and this Thai grapefruit salad is what happened to it. Unlike the fruit itself, the salad was hugely loved by everyone at home; it became an instant hit and was gobbled up within minutes of the making. Like I said before, it was bursting with flavours, quite delicious and refreshing. It was a breeze to put together as well!

Now, the husband is asking me to buy more grapefruit just so we can have more of this lovely salad. 😉

When I posted a picture of this salad on my Instagram and Facebook, I had quite a few people DMing me to ask for the recipe. As promised, here is the recipe for all of you guys.

Here is how I made the Thai grapefruit salad.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1 big ruby red grapefruit
  2. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
  5. 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  6. 1 green chilly
  7. 2 teaspoons soya sauce or to taste
  8. 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce or to taste
  9. 1/4 cup peanuts

Method:

1. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Let them cool down completely.

2. Peel the grapefruit and separate the segments. Remove all seeds, skin and pips. Use your hands to make small bite-sized portions of the flesh. Place these in a mixing bowl.

3. Pulse the roasted peanuts a couple of times in a mixer, a couple of seconds each. You should just coarsely crush the peanuts and not make a fine powder. Add the coarsely crushed peanuts to the mixing bowl.

4. Chop the green chilly very finely, and add to the mixing bowl.

5. To the mixing bowl, add salt to taste, raw cane sugar, finely chopped coriander, lemon juice, soya sauce and Sriracha sauce. Mix well, but gently. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. If you feel the heat from the Sriracha sauce is enough, skip adding the green chilly.
  2. I used Sriracha sauce from Thai Heritage to make this salad.
  3. I used soya sauce from Ching’s to make this Thai grapefruit salad.
  4. Adjust the quantity of salt, raw cane sugar, lemon juice, soya sauce and Sriracha sauce as per personal taste preferences.
  5. Honey or jaggery powder can be used in place of raw cane sugar. You can even use brown sugar or powdered white refined sugar.
  6. You can use a pomelo (chakota), sweet lime (mosambi) or orange in place of the grapefruit.
  7. Make sure you don’t burn the peanuts while roasting them. Also, they need to be just coarsely crushed and not finely powdered.
  8. Be careful while adding in the salt. The soya sauce will be quite salty too.
  9. The chakota or pomelo is also sometimes referred to as Indian grapefruit. I used a ruby red grapefruit imported from South Africa, to make this salad.

Did you like this recipe? Please do let me know in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #236. The co-hosts this week are Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

 

Kavuni Arisi Adai| Indian Black Rice Pancakes

Have you ever cooked with black rice? It is an ingredient very new to my kitchen, for I started cooking with black rice fairly recently. These Indian Black Rice Pancakes are something I used it in a while back, and they were so much loved by everyone at home!

Some quick facts about Black Rice

  1. Black rice has a deep black colour, which comes from the anthocyanins present in them. Anthocyanins are a family of antioxidants that are present in foods with a similar colour, such as blackberries and blueberries.
  2. The anthocyanins in black rice help in preventing cancer and heart disease, regulate blood sugar, and reduce the absorption of cholesterol. This rice is higher in fibre and protein than ordinary white rice, too. It has a high level of iron and Vitamin E. It has a lower number of calories than brown rice.
  3. Black rice has a mild, nutty taste that lends itself well to both sweet and savoury dishes. The rice turns purplish in hue when cooked.
  4. Black rice is majorly grown in tropical areas like North-East region in India, as well as in China, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. There might be variations in the types of black rice grown at each of these places.
  5. Considering that black rice is so high in nutrition, it was once reserved only for royalty in China. Only rulers and their families would be allowed to eat it, due to which it was given the name ‘Forbidden Rice’. Though the rice is still referred to as Forbidden Rice at times, it is now widely available in supermarkets and health stores across India.
  6. In spite of its high nutritional content, black rice still remains a largely unexplored ingredient in India. The Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, though, has been using this rice since ages. The Chettiars or the locals of this region, mostly traders, would often travel for business to Indonesia and Burma (now Myanmar), and would bring back packets of black rice with them. The Chettiars call this rice Burma Rice or ‘Kavuni Arisi‘, and largely use it in a sweet preparation called ‘Kavuni Arisi Halwa‘.
  7. Black rice is also referred to as Purple Rice or Magic Rice.
  8. It is different from Wild Rice.
  9. For best results, black rice should be soaked overnight before cooking. It is best cooked in a pan, covered, with twice the amount of water. Care should be taken to ensure that it is cooked just enough, as overcooking will make it quite sticky and mushy.
  10. In North-East India, black rice is commonly used to make a sweet dish called Chak-hao.

Recipe for Indian Black Rice Pancakes

In Bangalore, black rice has been making an appearance lately on the menus of new-age cafes, mostly in the forms of salad and pudding. I decided to use it in a savoury preparation, a very South Indian one at that – Indian-style pancakes or adai.

The Kavuni Arisi Adai tasted lovely, and the addition of onions took the taste higher by several notches. Thanks to the urad daal in it, it turned out super soft too. Actually, I added in a variety of lentils to the batter – even some of the black moth daal that I picked up in Kashmir. Super nutritious, with all those whole grains in!

 

Here’s how I made the Indian Black Rice pancakes or Kavuni Arisi Adai.

Ingredients (yields 28-30 pancakes):

For the batter:

  1. 1 cup black rice or kavuni arisi
  2. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  3. 1/2 cup raw rice
  4. 1/2 cup Kashmiri black moth daal
  5. 1/2 cup chana daal
  6. 1/2 cup split black urad daal
  7. 1/2 cup toor daal
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. 7-8 dry red chillies
  10. 6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled
  11. A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  12. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves

To make the pancakes:

  1. Oil, as needed
  2. Finely chopped onion, as needed (optional)
  3. Finely chopped coriander, as needed (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the black rice, chana daal, fenugreek seeds, urad daal, raw rice, toor daal and Kashmiri moth daal together in a large vessel. Wash these ingredients well under running water a couple of times. Then, drain out all the water.
  2. Add in enough fresh water to cover all of these ingredients. Cover the vessel with a lid. Let the ingredients soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.
  3. When the soaking time is over, drain out the excess water from these ingredients. Grind half of the ingredients to a coarse batter, in a mixer jar. Transfer the ground batter to a large vessel.
  4. Now, take the rest of the soaked ingredients in the mixer jar. Add in dry red chillies, peeled garlic cloves, and peeled and chopped ginger. Grind coarsely. Add this batter to the one we ground earlier.
  5. Add salt to taste to the batter, as well as curry leaves. Mix well. The batter is now ready to use to make pancakes or adai.
  6. When you are ready to make the adai, add finely chopped onion and coriander to the batter (optional), as needed. You may even add in finely chopped green chillies, as needed. To make the adai, heat a dosa pan well on high flame. Now, reduce the flame to medium. Place a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the pan, and spread it out. Add some oil all around the adai. When cooked on the bottom, flip it over. Cook on the other side too, on medium flame. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. I used Sona Masoori raw rice in the batter. You can use any type of raw rice that you prefer.

2. I used Manipuri black rice from Happy Healthy Me, to make these adai.

3. If you do not have Kashmiri black moth daal, you can entirely skip adding that to the batter.

4. This batter does not need any fermenting, and can be used immediately after grinding. However, if you want a slight sourness to the adai, you may set aside the batter, covered, at room temperature for fermenting for a few hours.

5. If you do not plan on using the batter immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator. It keeps well for 2-3 days.

6. Add the onion, coriander and green chillies (if using) just before you begin preparing the adai. It is totally optional to add these, but I would highly recommend that you do.

7. I had a bit of batter left over after making these adai, with onion and coriander added, and used it to make kuzhi paniyaram. Those also turned out absolutely lovely, soft and delicious!

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8. These Kavuni Arisi Adai do not really need an accompaniment. However, they go well with powdered jaggery or a simple South Indian coconut chutney.

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

Also, would you like to see more black rice recipes on my blog?

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #236. The co-hosts this week are Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

Gujarati Dalwada| Mixed Lentil Fritters

We don’t do much of deep frying at home. It is only occasionally that we indulge in deep-fried snacks, sometimes to commemorate a special occasion, sometimes because the bub likes them, sometimes because we desperately crave for them. Right about now, the weather in Bangalore is perfect for deep-fried goodies – cloudy but bright mornings, followed by short showers in the evening. I absolutely had to dish up some Gujarati dalwada, one of my most favourite fried snacks!

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If you have never had Gujarati dalwada before, you must absolutely try them out right away. They are so delightful – crunchy from the outside and soft on the inside, beautiful in taste. I have grown up eating them on rainy days and, even today, I cannot think of monsoon without thinking of these beauties. A newspaper cone full of these dalwadas, served with some fried green chillies and salt-soaked thinly sliced onions, spells out B-L-I-S-S to me.

Different people make dalwada in different ways. Some use only split green moong to make them, while some use a mix of lentils of their choice. I prefer the latter, using a mix of lentils and some rice, as I feel this gives a much better texture and taste to the dalwadas. Today, I will share with you the recipe for mixed-lentil Gujarati dalwada, the way a friend of mine taught me to make them.

Here’s how to make Gujarati dalwada or mixed lentil fritters.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

For the dalvadas:

  1. 1-1/2 cups split green moong
  2. 1/4 cup chana daal
  3. 1/4 cup split yellow moong daal
  4. 1/4 cup urad daal (whole or split)
  5. 1/4 cup raw rice
  6. Salt, to taste
  7. A 1-inch fat piece of ginger
  8. 8-10 cloves of garlic
  9. 6-8 green chillies, or as per taste
  10. A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  11. Oil, as needed for deep frying

For serving (optional):

  1. Onions, as needed
  2. Green chillies, as needed
  3. Salt, as needed
  4. Lemon slices, as needed

Method:

  1. Wash the split green moong, split yellow moong daal, urad daal, chana daal and raw rice together thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the extra water.
  2. Place all the washed and drained ingredients in a large vessel, and pour in enough fresh water to cover them completely. Let these ingredients soak for at least 3-4 hours.
  3. Once the above ingredients are done soaking, drain out the water from them. You can reserve this water to use while grinding the batter or throw it away – that’s completely your choice. Transfer the soaked and drained ingredients to a mixer jar. Do not add in any water at this stage – just the soaked and drained ingredients.
  4. Chop the green chillies finely. Peel the ginger and chop it finely. Peel the garlic cloves. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic to the mixer jar.
  5. Add salt to taste to the mixer jar.
  6. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar coarsely. Pulse a couple of times for two seconds each, stopping in between to scrape down the sides of the jar. Remember that you need to coarsely crush the ingredients and not make a fine paste. You can add in a little of the soaking water you might have reserved earlier, if needed, while grinding. If you don’t feel the need to add any water while grinding, you need not add any. The batter needs to be thick and not runny.
  7. Chop the coriander finely and add it to the batter you just ground. Mix well and keep aside.
  8. Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. When it reaches smoking point, turn down the flame to medium. Drop balls of batter into the hot oil, 4-5 at a time. Deep fry evenly till the dalwadas turn brown. Serve hot.
  9. Gujarati dalwadas are typically served with thinly sliced onions mixed with a little salt, deep-fried green chillies with a little salt sprinkled on them, and slices of lemon. If you want to serve the dalwadas the traditional way, make sure you prep the onions, green chillies and lemon slices at the same time as the dalwadas get fried and ready. Alternatively, you can serve these fritters with tomato ketchup, though that isn’t something I personally prefer – I’d go for the traditional way, any day!

Notes:

  1. You can skip the garlic in the dalwadas, if you don’t prefer it. Personally, though, I would suggest adding it, as it takes up the taste of the dalwadas higher by several notches.
  2. Adjust the quantity of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the dalwadas to be.
  3. My mom makes these dalwadas using just split green moong. She soaks 2-3 cups of split green moong for 3-4 hours, then drains out the excess water and grinds it with green chillies, garlic and salt to taste. Mom’s dalwadas are delish too, but I prefer the ones I make, with raw rice, urad daal, split moong daal and chana daal added in.

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

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #235. The co-hosts this week are Mara @ Put on Your Cake Pants and Hilda @ Along the Grapevine.

I’m also sharing this with Friday Frenzy.

 

Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi

The Indian state of Jharkhand came into existence in the year 2000, carved out of Bihar. Much of the state is covered by forests, heavily populated by elephants and tigers. I have seen a friend of mine from Jharkhand sing paeans about the state’s natural beauty, but have never had a chance to visit. I am glad to have gotten this chance to get at least virtually close to Jharkhand’s cuisine, via the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of.

For this month’s Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, all of us food bloggers are cooking dishes from the state of Jharkhand. This month, I was paired with Aruna, the lovely blogger who writes at Aharam, and she assigned me two secret ingredients to make my dish with – potatoes and tomatoes. I decided to use these ingredients to prepare Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi, which turned out finger-lickingly delicious and became an instant hit with everyone at home.

About the cuisine of Jharkhand

Before we move on to the recipe for Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi, here’s a little glimpse into Jharkhandi cuisine, via Wikipedia.

Jharkhand shares borders with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Chattisgarh. The cuisine of Jharkhand has heavy influences from those of these neighbouring states, but it also has several indigenous dishes of its own – kera-dudhauri, for instance, which is a dish made with milk, jaggery, rice and ghee; or charpa i.e. fritters made with mashed rice, spices and vegetables. The cuisine of Jharkhand uses a large amount of rice, but a limited number of spices.

Handia, also called Diyeng, is a locally made rice beer that is quite popular in Jharkhand, consumed during marriages and other festive occasions. Mahu, a liquor made using the fruits and flowers of the Mahua tree, is also a favourite among locals in Jharkhand.

Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi

Aloo Badi Ki Sabzi – a curry made using potatoes and sun-dried lentil badis or vadis – is quite a common dish in the households of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. I decided to make the sabzi even more wholesome by using an assortment of vegetables, rather than using just potatoes. This gave me just the perfect opening to make use of the beautiful, fresh rajma beans I picked up at the vegetable vendor’s a while back.

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The lovely Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi, which I served with parathas

The badis or vadis used in this sabzi (they can be used in a whole lot of other ways, too!) are typically made at home, using either moong daal or urad daal or vegetables. They are commonly made in bulk in the months of summer, when sunlight is plentiful, and then stored for use during the rest of the year. I, however, used store-bought urad daal vadis to make this dish.

The store-bought urad daal badis or vadis that I made use of

 

Now, let’s take a look at the recipe for the Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi, shall we?

Recipe Source: This recipe from Patna Daily, with a few minor variations of my own

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 5-6 cloves garlic
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 1 medium-sized potato
  6. 1/4 cup shelled fresh rajma beans
  7. 6-8 beans
  8. A few large florets of cauliflower
  9. 1 medium-sized carrot
  10. 1 small capsicum
  11. 2-3 big urad daal vadi/badi
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. Red chilli powder to taste
  15. 2 teaspoons garam masala or to taste
  16. 2 teaspoons coriander powder or to taste
  17. 2 teaspoons cumin powder or to taste
  18. 1 tablespoon oil
  19. 1 teaspoon cumin
  20. 2 pinches asafoetida
  21. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Method:

1. Peel the garlic cloves and ginger. Chop the peeled ginger and tomatoes into small pieces. Grind the ginger, garlic and tomatoes to a puree, using a mixer. Keep aside.

2. Now, we will prep the vegetables we need to use. Peel the potato and carrot and chop into cubes. Remove strings from the beans and chop into small pieces. Chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop capsicum into small pieces. Keep aside.

3. Break the urad daal vadis into small pieces. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker bottom. Drop in the broken vadi. Fry on medium flame for a minute or till they turn brown, then transfer to a plate.

5. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida to the residual hot oil in the pressure cooker bottom. Keep the flame on medium. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Now, add in the tomato-ginger-garlic puree. On high flame, cook for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell disappears.

7. Add the chopped onion, potato, beans, carrot, capsicum and shelled fresh rajma beans. Mix well.

8. Add salt to taste, garam masala, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add in the fried vadis, along with about 1 cup water. Mix well.

9. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame.

10. When the pressure has entirely gone down, open the pressure cooker. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. That’s it! Serve the sabzi hot with rotis or parathas.

Notes:

1. If the tomatoes are too tart, you can add a tablespoon of sugar/jaggery to the sabzi, to even out the taste. However, that is purely optional.

2. I have used store-bought urad daal vadis here. You can use any type of vadi/badi available to you.

3. You can use any vegetables you have, in the making of this sabzi.

4. The vadis I used were big in size, so I broke them up into smaller pieces. If you have small vadis, you can go ahead and use them directly in the sabzi.

5. I used a 3-1/2 litre pressure cooker to make this sabzi.

6. The amount of water you add to the sabzi will depend on how thick/watery you want it to be. The above quantity worked just fine for us.

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Did you like this recipe for Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

 

Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram, My Tribute To The Ravishing Rekha

Today, I present to you the recipe for Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram. These might look like ordinary kuzhi paniyaram from the outside, but one bite into them and you’ll understand that they are far from ordinary. These are kuzhi paniyaram with a difference – the surprise inside will surely blow your mind away!

I prepared these Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, which has a very unique theme this week – Filmi Foodies! All of us food bloggers are paying a tribute to Bollywood, via food of course! 🙂 Interesting, right? This is my little tribute to the ravishing and hugely talented Rekha ji.

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I can watch Rekha ji in action any time, any day. I am never not awed by the depth of her acting, the way she brings her characters to life, the way she carries her movies on her shoulders. She can carry off any role – from that of a demure housewife to that of a siren – with equal elan. She is timeless – even today, years after she has stopped appearing in films, she still has the same grace and beauty to her. And, oh, those Kanjeevaram sarees and big bindis she makes an appearance in! She has had a tough life, and has withstood all of it.

Image Source: Free Press Journal

The kuzhi paniyaram, too, like Rekha ji, is timeless. It is a South Indian classic that will never get old, which will continue to win the hearts of kids and adults alike. Like Rekha ji, this Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram might look simple from the outside, but it packs in quite a sucker punch!

Now, let’s move on to the recipe for Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 25-30 pieces):

  1. 3 cups idli/dosa batter
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. About 5 cubes of processed cheese, or as needed
  6. 10-12 big slices of pickled jalapenos, or as needed
  7. 1 teaspoon oil + more as needed to make the kuzhi paniyaram
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

  1. Take the idli/dosa batter in a mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste.
  2. Chop the onion finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add the finely chopped coriander to the mixing bowl.
  4. Chop the pickled jalapeno slices finely, and add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Heat oil in a pan, and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Switch off the gas, and add the mustard tempering to the mixing bowl.
  6. Mix the batter well and keep ready.
  7. Cut each of the cheese cubes into 6 small pieces. Keep aside.
  8. Drizzle a little oil into each of the cavities of a kuzhi paniyaram pan. Place on high flame and allow the oil to heat up a little.
  9. Now, reduce the flame to low-medium. Using a spoon, drop a little of the batter into each cavity of the pan. Ensure that the cavities are only about half filled with batter. Drop a piece of cheese in the centre of the batter, into each cavity. Spoon in some more batter into the cavities, filling them up to the brim, covering the cheese.
  10. Cover the kuzhi paniyaram pan with a lid. Cook the paniyarams on low-medium flame till they begin to brown at the bottom. Ensure that they do not burn. Now, flip the paniyarams over to the other side, using a spoon. Cover again and cook on low-medium flame till the paniyarams turn brown on the other side too.
  11. Transfer the stuffed kuzhi paniyarams to a serving plate. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. You may also add in grated carrot, finely chopped spinach leaves or mint, finely chopped cabbage or capsicum or any other veggies of your choice, to the batter.

2. I have used store-bought pickled jalapenos in these stuffed kuzhi paniyarams. If you don’t have them, you can use finely chopped regular green chillies instead.

3. Use idli/dosa batter that is well fermented and only slightly sour, for best results.

4. I have used Amul processed cheese cubes to make these stuffed kuzhi paniyarams. Alternatively, you can use any other type of cheese.

5. Once the kuzhi paniyaram pan has heated up, lower the flame to low-medium. Make the stuffed kuzhi paniyaram on low-medium heat, to prevent burning.

6. These stuffed kuzhi paniyarams do not really need an accompaniment, and can be served on their own. However, if you do want to serve them with an accompaniment, you can use a chutney of your choice, some pasta/pizza sauce or Schezwan sauce. Here is how you can make a delicious pasta/pizza sauce at home!

7. I have used home-made idlidosa batter here.

Did you like the recipe? Please do tell me in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

Pressure Cooker Gutti Vankaya Koora| Healthy Andhra-Style Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Gutti Vankaya Koora is one of my most favourite preparations using brinjals or eggplant. This is an Andhra Pradesh specialty, where baby eggplants are stuffed with a spice mix and then cooked in a fragrant, flavourful gravy. It tastes absolutely heavenly with some hot phulkas or rice.

There are a whole lot of variations to the Gutti Vankaya Koora, from what I understand. Different families cook it in different ways, use different types of stuffing. This particular version, taught to me long back by a Telugu neighbour of ours, uses a groundnut and garlic stuffing. It is so simple to make, yet so rich and bursting with flavour!

Our neighbour made the Gutti Vankaya Koora in a pan, though, cooking it in a lot of oil. With time, I began making it in a pressure cooker, with just 1 spoon of oil. It still tastes the same, but is healthier and makes me feel less guilty afterwards.

Here is how I make Gutti Vankaya Koora in a pressure cooker.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 8-10 baby eggplants
  2. 1/2 cup raw groundnuts
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Red chilli powder to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 5-6 fat cloves of garlic
  7. A gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind
  8. About 1-1/2 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard
  11. 2 pinches asafoetida
  12. 3-4 dried red chillies
  13. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  14. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for some time. When it is cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it, adding a little more water if needed. Keep aside.

2. Peel the garlic. Take the garlic cloves, raw groundnuts, red chilli powder and salt to taste, and the turmeric powder in a small mixer jar. Don’t add in any water. Pulse a couple of times, for a second each, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer. You should get a pasty, coarse powder. Keep aside.

3. Remove the stems from the baby eggplants. From the bottom towards the stem, make two long slits in the eggplants, in a + shape. You should cut half-way through the eggplant, leaving it intact towards the stem.

4. Stuff a generous amount of the groundnut-garlic mixture into the slits, in each baby eggplant. Keep aside. If there is any extra groundnut-garlic stuffing left over, do not worry – we will be using that later too.

5. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add the dry red chillies, curry leaves and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the stuffed baby eggplants to the pressure cooker. Stir gently, ensuring that they do not break, for a couple of seconds.

7. Now, turn the flame to low. Add in the tamarind paste, about 3/4 cup water, any leftover groundnut-garlic stuffing you might have, and jaggery powder. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, red chilli powder or jaggery) if needed.

8. Close the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Allow 3 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas immediately.

9. Chop the coriander finely and keep handy. When all the pressure from the cooker has released naturally, mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Gutti Vankaya Koora is ready – serve it hot with rotis or with any rice dishes of your choice!

Notes:

1. For best results, use fresh baby eggplants that are neither too big nor too small.

2. Gingelly oil works best in the making of this Gutti Vankaya Koora. If you don’t have it, you may use any other kind of oil that you prefer.

3. Adjust the quantity of garlic, tamarind, salt, red chilli powder and jaggery as per your personal taste preferences.

4. I make this Gutti Vankaya Koora in a 3-1/2 litre pressure cooker.

5. I prefer cooking this curry for 3 whistles, which yields soft but not overly cooked eggplants. If you want the eggplants to retain their exact shape, you can cook for 2 whistles on high flame.

6. Add in less water if you want the eggplants to be drier. We prefer this curry with a bit of gravy, so adding in 3/4 cup of water works perfectly for us.

7. Be careful while stirring the eggplants. Stir gently, making sure they do not break.

8. You may increase the quantity of oil in this curry, if you want to.

Did you like this recipe? I hope you will try this version of Gutti Vankaya Koora out, and that you will love it as much as we do!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘stuffed vegetables’.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio. I’m also sharing this recipe with Friday Frenzy.

 

Lemon Thokku| Instant Lemon Chutney

The husband recently left on a 10-day international work trip, a move I am not too happy about for a lot of reasons. Anyway, as he says, work has to be done and, in the course of it, work trips do need to be undertaken. As he embarked on this journey, I wanted him to carry a little piece of home with him, to get him through stressful days and loneliness. Hence, a batch of Lemon Thokku got made a day before he left, got packed into a nice, air-tight bottle, and flew off with him.

This is not the first time I have made Lemon Thokku, though. It is something much loved in our family and, hence, gets made often. I love the sweet-sour-spicy flavours of this thokku, the lemon peel lending it a slight bitterness. Call it Lemon Thokku or Instant Lemon Chutney, I find it incredibly versatile – it goes beautifully with everything from dosas and parathas to plain steamed rice.

Making this thokku is a very simple task, one that takes just about 20 minutes in all, prep included. I make it whenever I manage to find fresh, juicy lemons cheap, and keep it refrigerated to use when the need arises. This way, it stays for up to 20 days.

Try it out, will you? I would love to know how you liked it!

Here is how we make Lemon Thokku aka Instant Lemon Chutney.

Ingredients (makes about half mason jar):

  1. 10 big fresh lemons
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  5. Red chilli powder to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 2-3 tablespoons gingelly oil
  2. 2 teaspoons mustard
  3. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  4. 4-5 dry red chillies
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh curry leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the lemons well under running water. Pat completely dry, using a cotton cloth.
  2. Cut each lemon into half. Now, cut each half into quarters. So, you should get 8 small pieces out of each lemon.
  3. Remove all the seeds from each lemon piece. This is crucial, to ensure that your Lemon Thokku does not become too bitter.
  4. When all the seeds have been removed, transfer the lemon pieces to a mixer jar. Grind to a paste.
  5. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the curry leaves, the asafoetida and the dried red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  6. Turn the flame to medium, and add the lemon paste to the pan.
  7. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the jaggery powder. Mix well.
  8. Cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the Lemon Thokku begins to thicken and come together. Switch off gas.
  9. Let the Lemon Thokku cool down completely before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated, and use a clean, dry spoon to remove the thokku.

Notes:

1. The Lemon Thokku will taste slightly bitter initially. Allow it one or two days for the taste to stabilise.

2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder, salt and red chilli powder as per your personal taste preferences.

3. Use very fresh lemons and curry leaves, for best results.

4. Gingelly oil works best in making this Lemon Thokku. However, if you do not have gingelly oil, you may use any other type of oil that you prefer.

5. This Lemon Thokku stays for up to 20 days when stored under hygienic conditions, refrigerated.

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #233 and to Friday Frenzy.

Arachuvitta Rasam| Rasam With Freshly Ground Spices

Freshly ground spices are magic. They transform a dish. It’s incredible how freshly ground spices elevate the taste of a dish to a whole new level, vis-a-vis using home-made or store-bought spices from a bottle. This Arachuvitta Rasam is one such dish, made with spices ground fresh, the taste heightened to the max thanks to this simple change.

The Arachuvitta Rasam is a hot favourite at home, especially with fried ragi papads and Beetroot Poriyal made South Indian-style. I love how this rasam brightens up a gloomy day, how it seems to rejuvenate the digestive system. It is comfort food for me, stuff that I make when I don’t know what else to make or when I’m feeling down in the dumps.

I make this Arachuvitta Rasam the way my grandmother used to make it, using the recipe that she passed on to my mother, who in turn taught me. Today, I present to you our family recipe for this lovely rasam. 

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/4 cup cooked toor daal
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. A gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind
  5. 2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  6. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
  7. 10-12 fresh curry leaves

For the spice mix:

  1. 1 tablespoon toor daal
  2. 4-5 dry red chillies
  3. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
  5. 3/4 tablespoon coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  6. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (kali mirch)

For the tempering:

  1. 2 teaspoons ghee
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  3. 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  4. 2 pinches asafoetida (hing)
  5. 2-3 dry red chillies

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for at least 10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of the tamarind, adding a little more water if needed. Keep aside.

2. On medium flame, dry roast all the ingredients listed under the ‘spice mix’. When the ingredients start getting brown, switch off gas and transfer them to a plate. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

3. Once the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, grind them together to a powder, using a mixer. Keep aside.

4. Now, we will begin preparing the Arachuvitta Rasam. Heat a little water in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the chopped tomatoes, curry leaves and salt. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.

5. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Let cook on high flame for a couple of minutes, or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

6. Add the cooked toor daal to the pan, along with turmeric powder and the spice mix we prepared earlier. Add about 2 cups of water. Cook on high flame till the rasam comes to a boil, then turn down the flame to medium. Let the rasam simmer for a minute, then switch off gas.

7. We will now get the tempering for the Arachuvitta Rasam ready. Roughly crush the garlic cloves, using a mortar and pestle. Heat the ghee in a small pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Once the mustard pops, add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies and the crushed garlic cloves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, then switch off gas. Transfer this tempering to the rasam.

8. Add the chopped coriander leaves to the rasam. Mix well. Keep the rasam covered till you are ready to serve it. When you are serving it, you may lightly heat the rasam. It goes best with piping hot rice, papad and vegetables of your choice.

Notes:

1. Make sure all impurities and seeds are removed from the tamarind, before you use the extract in the rasam. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use, as per personal taste preferences.

2. I have used the small, round Salem Gundu dry chillies in making the spice mix and for the tempering. Adjust the quantity of chillies and black peppercorns you use, depending upon how spicy you want the rasam to be.

3. Do not cook the rasam too much after adding the spice mix. Once it comes to a boil, allow the rasam to simmer for just a couple of minutes, and then switch off the gas.

4. Adjust the quantity of cooked toor daal and water you use, depending upon how thick you want the Arachuvitta Rasam to be.

5. Don’t forget to cover the rasam and let it rest for a while, after the tempering has been added. This helps the garlic in the tempering to infuse the rasam with its flavour.

6. If you don’t consume garlic, you may leave it out of the tempering. Personally, though, I feel this Arachuvitta Rasam tastes all the better with the garlic.

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

I hope you will try out this recipe, and that you will love it as much as we do!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #232, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

I’m also sharing this recipe for Meatless Monday, co-hosted by Deborah (Confessions of a Mother Runner) and Sarah (A Whisk & Two Wands).

 

Inji Thogayal| Ginger Chutney

Yesterday, I found some lovely tender ginger at the vegetable vendor’s, and absolutely had to pick it up. It was so fresh that the skin didn’t need to be peeled at all, a beautiful whitish tinge to it, with some pink around the edges. Even while I was buying it, I knew I wanted to make Inji Thogayal with it, a delectable South Indian-style ginger chutney. I didn’t want to keep that beautiful ginger in my fridge to use in curries or other dishes – I wanted to use up all of that goodness immediately, not letting any part of it wilt or go to waste. So, that is how Inji Thogayal happened in our kitchen this morning, delicious stuff that has been ooh-ed and aah-ed over, the rest bottled up and stored carefully for later use.

If Inji Thogayal is something new to you, and you are wondering what it would taste like, let me tell you that it is a beautiful thing. It is a medley of sweet and tangy and salty and spicy flavours, an absolute treat to the senses. Just add a spoonful of this thogayal to piping hot steamed rice, along with ghee, and you are all set – a wholesome, flavourful meal is ready! It also makes for a lovely accompaniment to idlis, dosas, upma and the like.

It is a great digestive aid too, this thogayal, especially in the kind of dark, rainy weather that is prevalent in Bangalore right now. It is not a tough thing to put together either. Even making the Inji Thogayal is a cathartic process – it fills up your home with a heavenly scent!

So, the next time you spot some gorgeous baby ginger in the market, buy it! There is at least one lovely dish you know you can make with it!

Here is our family recipe for Inji Thogayal.

Ingredients (makes about 1 mason jar):

  1. 2 cups fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  2. 1 cup fresh curry leaves
  3. A lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 3/4 cup jaggery powder, or to taste
  7. 1 tablespoon gingelly oil
  8. 10 dry red chillies, or to taste
  9. 3 tablespoons urad daal
  10. 3 tablespoons chana daal
  11. 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)

For the tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons gingelly oil
  2. 2 teaspoons mustard
  3. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh curry leaves

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water. Keep aside to cool down.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana daal, urad daal, dry red chillies and fenugreek seeds. Fry on medium flame till the daals begin to turn brown.

3. Now, add the chopped ginger and the curry leaves to the pan. Fry on medium flame for 2 minutes.

4. Add salt to taste, the soaked tamarind (along with the little water it was soaked in), turmeric powder and jaggery to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a minute. Switch off gas and allow all the fried ingredients to cool down completely.

5. Once all the fried ingredients have entirely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Grind to a paste.

6. Now, we will get the tempering ready. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the curry leaves (for the tempering) and the asafoetida, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Now, turn the flame to medium and add in the paste we prepared in Step. 5. Mix well.

7. On medium flame, cook the paste for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas, and allow the ginger pickle to cool down completely.

8. When fully cool, transfer the Inji Thogayal or Ginger Chutney to clean, dry, air-tight containers. Store refrigerated, and use only a clean, dry spoon to remove the ginger chutney.

Notes:

1. Use very fresh ginger and curry leaves, for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, dry red chillies and jaggery powder, depending upon personal taste preferences. I have used 10 small, round Salem Gundu red chillies here.

3. You may even add a few cloves of garlic to the Inji Thogayal, too. I have, however, skipped this.

4. Ensure that all the seeds and impurities are removed from the tamarind, before you use it in making the Inji Thogayal.

5. Gingelly oil tastes best in chutneys such as this one. However, if you don’t have it, you can use any other kind of oil that you prefer.

6. This ginger chutney stays for up to a month when stored refrigerated in a clean, dry and air-tight container, used under hygienic conditions.

7. If you are planning on using the ginger chutney quickly and not storing it for too long, you can even skip Step 7.

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

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #232, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

I’m also sharing this recipe for Meatless Monday, co-hosted by Deborah (Confessions of a Mother Runner) and Sarah (A Whisk & Two Wands).