Dal Tadka – The Famous Indian Lentil Curry

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Hello my dear wonderful readers,

How are you all doing today? My little boy is down with a fever again and now I am here taking care of him and spending all my time by his side. Over the weekend we took him to a fun play pen and the next day he came down with the cold. This is the second time this is happening after taking him to the same place and the only logical reason would be that he got it from some other kid at the play pen. How do I feel about the fact that parents bring their sick kids to a public area? Well personally I make sure my son is not around other kids when is unwell and if I know he is about to fall sick or is just recovering from one, I inform the family or friends I am about to meet. Well but that’s just me right? So now he is down with terrible cold, running nose, lots of sneezes and needs constant attention. All the while I find comfort in reassuring myself that this is the way his immune system does its job and grows stronger. So lets see.

The weekend was also a surprise cause after many many years, I made a new friend. A wonderful woman, who I can relate to in so many ways and its not often that you come across someone who you can just pour your heart out, the first time you meet them right? So all in all, the weekend was AWESOME!! It was also nice to leave the boys and have a little girl time after a looooooonnnggg time! Just to have a coffee and talk girl to girl and also hear out loud many things I have said to myself but never put to practice, was such a relief!! LOL..

Since the little one is unwell, I wasn’t able to get much cooking done. So, this recipe is my life saver. If you are Indian, then you know that there is noting simpler, comforting and wholesome like a big bowl of Dal and Rice / Chappati. This recipe can be used for a wide array of lentils. The simplest and most common combination is the one I have used in my recipe (below). The use of a pressure cooker just makes it faster and easier. But if you do not have a pressure cooker, you just need a pot with a lid and cover and cook till the lentils are mushy and soft to touch. Traditionally, Ghee / Clarified Butter is used instead of oil, but you could use any oil that you are comfortable using.

Ingredients :-

  1. Toor Dal / Pigeon Pea – 2 cup
  2. Masoor Dal / Red Lentils – 1 cup
  3. Oil / Ghee – 1 tbsp + 3 tsp
  4. Cinnamon Stick – 1  one inch stick
  5. Cloves – 4
  6. Green Cardamom – 4  ( bruise with the back of a spoon)
  7. Cumin Seeds – 2 tsp
  8. Asafoetida – 2 pinches
  9. Garlic Cloves – 5 Large
  10. Dry Red Chillies – 4
  11. Onions –     (finely chopped)
  12. Tomatoes –   (finely chopped)
  13. Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
  14. Turmeric Powder – 1 + 1/2 tsp
  15. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  16. Salt – as required
  17. Water – 4 cups
  18. Coriander Leaves – 3 tbsp

Instructions :-

  1.  In a large bowl, combine both the lentils and wash thoroughly in running water. Then soak in water for 15 mins
  2. Now in a pressure cooker or large bowl, add 1 tbsp of oil. One the oil is hot, add the jeera / cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  3. As soon as the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, red chillies (3) and asafoetida
  4. Once the chillies plump up, add the onions. Fry till the onions are pink and almost translucent
  5. Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears
  6. Next add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder and chili  powder
  7. Now cook till the tomatoes are cooked through (do not wait for it to fry )
  8. Once the onion tomato paste is ready, add the soaked lentils. ( Discard the water it was soaked in)
  9. Add the water and 1 tbsp of salt
  10. Cover and cook for 3 whistles or till the lentils have cooked through
  11. Once the lentils have cooked through, in a small pan, add rest of the oil. Once the oil is hot add the rest of the cumin seeds, red chili and garlic cloves. Fry till the garlic is golden brown
  12. Pour over the cooked lentils and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves
  13. Serve right away along with hot rice or chappatis

 

 

 

Murgh Kofta – Rich chicken meat balls in a creamy tangy gravy

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Hello my Dear wonderful readers!!

Its the weekend and this time I have made some thing rich and indulgent for you. This dish is inspired from the famous Malai Kofta, which is a croquette made with paneer / cottage cheese and potatoes. It all started with the fact that I had a little white basmati rice left and I wasn’t sure what kind of gravy to prepare along with it. Now it might come as a surprise to you, but we usually serve red rice at home. I mean the fat grainy kind. So white basmati is like having refined sugar in our coffee ( we usually add palm sugar).

After last week festivities I also had some khoya left in the fridge. So I decided to go all out and make a rich, creamy indulgent curry to pair well with rice and a salad. The recipe is divided into two steps. First making the Kofta and then the curry. Just to give it an “imperial” feel, I wrapped the koftas in silver warq. That is totally optional.

Ingredients for the Kofta :-

  1. Chicken mince – 500 gms
  2. Onions – 1 cup ( chopped fine)
  3. Khoya – 200 gms
  4. Green Chillies – 3 medium (sliced)
  5. Ginger garlic Paste – 1 + 1/2 tbsp
  6. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  7. Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
  8. Besan / Gram Flour – 2 tbsp ( only if required)
  9. Oil – to deep fry + 2 tbsp
  10. Silver warq (optional)

 

Instructions :-

  1. In a heavy bottom pan, add the oil
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onions and ginger garlic paste. Fry till golden brown
  3. Then add the green chilies, chilli powder, garam masala powder and fry 1 min
  4. Add the chicken mince to the onion mixture and cook till all the water has dried out completely. Make sure you have all the water evaporated. Add salt according to taste
  5. Set aside to cook down
  6. In another bowl, slowly kneed the khoya till its nice and smooth
  7. Add to cooled chicken mixture into a blender jar and add the khoya
  8. Blend together for a nice thick paste
  9. Now grease your hand and make small lime size balls with the mixture. Add gram flour if you find that the mixture is not holding shape. But do not add too much as it will not taste that great
  10. Finally heat oil in a deep pan on medium. When the oil is hot, add the prepared chicken balls and fry till golden brown or slightly dark brown (that’s how we like it)
  11. Reserve on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Cover the balls with silver leaf at this stage ( optional)

 

Ingredients for the curry :-

  1. Onions – 2 cups
  2. Tomato – 1 cup
  3. Cardamom – 5
  4. Cinnamon – 1
  5. Bay Leaf – 1
  6. Oil – 2 tbsp
  7. Fresh Cream – 1/2 cup
  8. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  9. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp

Instructions :-

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. When the oil is hot, add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf
  2. Once the spices release their aroma, add the onions and fry till translucent
  3. Then add the tomato, turmeric and chilli powder. Season with salt according to taste
  4. Fry till the tomatoes are cooked well
  5. In a blender, puree the above mixture
  6. Now again reheat the same pan with the blended mixture. Add fresh cream and mix well to combine.
  7. When it begins to boil, add the chicken kofta and give it a mix without breaking the kofta
  8. Your Chicken Koftas are ready.
  9. This dish pairs well will simple hot rice , pappads and a salad or even chappati / naans

 

Chettinad Milagu / Pepper Chicken

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Hello My Dear Wonderful Readers ,

So the festivities are just around the corner and I have tons of festive food recipes to share with you. But before that I would like to share this recipe. If you are the kind of person who loves rotti and chicken or plain rice and chicken, then this is the dish for you. Pepper chicken has been adapted to suit every taste bud around India. Infact every region has its own version of a pepper chicken. This recipe is from the chettinad region of India. Now the chettiyars are a class of people that loved money and had a fine eye for architecture. But personally I think their greatest contribution is their cuisine!  Every single dish has a distinct taste and unique flavour that keeps you coming back to it ever so often. This is one such dish. Traditionally, you would require a “arakal” to make this spice mixture but a mortar and pestle or even a blender would do the job. Another important aspect of this style of cooking is the fact that whole spices are used in the recipe and not the powder, this helps to enhance the pungency of the spices. Ok I have said enough about the dish. Here is the recipe. Do try it out and I promise that you will not be dissapointed!

 

 Ingredients :-
1. Pepper Corns – 2 tbsp
2.Cumin Seeds -2 tsp
3. Fennel Seeds – 2 tsp
4. Dry Red Chillies – 6
5. Ginger – 1
6. Garlic – 1+ 1/2
7. Coriander Seeds – 2 tbsp
8. Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp

Instructions :
 1. In a khadai, dry roast the above ingredients (except the turmeric powder, ginger and garlic). Take care not to burn the spices
2.Then in a mortar add the spice and the other ingredients and grind to a fine paste. Use 1 tbsp of water if required

Set Aside

 Ingredients :-
1. Chicken – 1 kg
2. Vegetable Oil – 1/2 cup
3. Cardamom – 5
4. Onions – 1 + 1/2 cup finelly chopped
5. Tomato Puree – 1 cup
6. Salt – to taste
7. Water – 2/3 cup

Instructions :-
1. In the same Kadai, heat oil. Once the oil is hot, add cinnamon, cardamom and onions. Mix well and let the onions fry till golden brown
2. Then add the tomato puree. Mix well to combine. Then add the ground up spices (above) and mix well. Cook on medium flame till the oil seperates from the mixture
3.  Then add the chicken into the masala mixture. Let it come to a boil. Then lower the heat, add 2/3 cup of water and cover and cook for 20 mins on low
4. After 20 mins, open the cover and crank up the heat and cook till all the water has evporated and the masala coats the chicken.
5. Your Chettinad pepper chicken is ready! Serve with hot rice or flaky malabar parathas!

Adapted from The Bangala Table

Sundal – Chicken pea salad with fresh Coconut, mustard and curry leaves

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Hello my wonderful readers!

It has been so hot in Bangalore I can not begin to describe the heat! When I moved to Bangalore, I remember even in March some morning we would have to wear sweaters to school. But given the heat now, its hard to believe there was a time like that.

This recipe is actually a “Prasadam” also. Ok now a Prasadam is an offering that s made to good and then distributed in a temple or any religious place, between the devotees. Even a fruit or flower offered to god, can be considered a Prasadam. In many home in India, this recipe is made every day, using various kinds of pulses, nuts etc (like peanuts, green gram etc) We make this dish during the summer months, cause unlike many indian dishes, this is low on heat, spice and it is considered a salad. I love how easy it is to make this dish and its easier to polish off 😛 Ok now if you are using chickpeas from the can, then you do not need to soak it overnight and pressure cook it. I buy 2 kilos of these grams every month ( the dry version) So it basically goes into this, or hummus or a North Indian Channa Curry.

Ingredients :-

  1. Chickpeas – 1 + 1.2 cup – (if using dried – soak over night and pressure cook for 4 whistles)
  2. Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
  3. Black Mustard Seeds – 1 tbsp
  4. White Urad Dal – 1 tbsp
  5. Dry Red Chilli – 4
  6. Curry Leaves – 2 steams
  7. Fresh Grated Coconut – 3/4 cup
  8. Salt – to taste
  9. Green Chillies – 3 (slit into two)
  10. Lemon Juice – half of one lemon  ( optional)

Instructions :-

  1. In a heavy bottom wok / Khadai heat oil
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the urad dal and dry red chillies
  3. When the chillies puff up, add the curry leaves
  4. Then add the chicken peas ( if canned drain the water and use)
  5. Add the green chillies, coconut and salt
  6. Mix well to cover the chickpeas well
  7. Turn off the flame and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the chickpeas and mix well
  8. Serve right away

 

Coconut Rice with a Red chilli, Curry Leaf and Gram Tempering

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Hello my Dear Wonderful Readers!!

How are you all doing today? So this is what I made for our dinner last night. It is so simple and hardly takes any time. If you have any left over rice, you can use that too. I make a new batch of rice everyday so I can add that to my sons diet. Rice is a staple at my place. It could be fermented like in Dosas and Idilis, or plain rice and Pulav/ Pilaf or just various kinds of flavoured rice. Its not really the best thing to have a lot of rice in your diet and trust me I know that, but its just the easiest thing to cook when you can’t spend too much time in the kitchen. One question I get very often is how do I cook my rice? Now heres the thing, cooking rice purely depends on the type of rice!

If you are using a good quality Basmati rice, then one cup of rice with 2 cups of water is perfect! But if is red rice, or any kind of wild rice, its a whole different story. We make a lot of red rice at home, but that involves soaking the rice for one whole night and then using tons of water and then draining out the excess water! Its a long procedure, but personally I love the flavour of red rice. Back in my village we always have red rice. Ah the taste of red rice and avial!

My son loves it too!! We make Kanji – ( rice cooked in lots of water) and have it with Payar (green gram curry) with Papapdam and pickle. It is just the simplest dish on this planet and yet the most healthy and power packed meal ever!

Ok so back to this recipe. This recipe is super simple!! All you have to do is make the tempering and mix them both! Finished!

Ingredients :-

  1. Basmati Rice – 1 cup  ( soaked for 15 – 20 mins)
  2. Water – 2 cups
  3. Salt – 1 tsp
  4. Coconut Oil – 4 tbsp
  5. Dry Red Chillies – 6
  6. Mustards Seeds – 2 tbsp
  7. Urad Dal – 1 tbsp
  8. Channa Dal – 1 tbsp
  9. Cashew Nuts – 10
  10. Curry Leaves – 15 ( cleaned and dried)
  11. Asafoetida – a pinch
  12. Salt – to taste ( for the final dish)
  13. Fresh desiccated coconut – 1 cup

 

Instructions :-

  1. Pour 2 cups of water into a large dish with a lid. Once the water comes to a boil, add the soaked rice and salt. Stir gently and cover and cook for 10 mins
  2. Then using a spoon, take one grain of rice and check if the rice is cooked. If so, turn the flame off and set aside
  3. In a large wok / Khadai, heat coconut oil
  4. When the oil is nice and hot, add mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the dry red chillies, asafoetida, urad dal, channa dal and cashew nuts . Fry till the urad dal turns a light golden yellow
  5. Then add the curry leaves and stir
  6. Then add the coconut and the cooked rice
  7. Stir well to combine all the ingredients
  8. Add salt according to taste and your dish is done!
  9. Serve right away with your choice of curry or just with yogurt and popopdams

 

Nadan Mutta Roast – Egg roast the Malayali Way (Kerala style)

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Hello my Dear Wonderful Readers!

So this week has been full of ups and downs, and I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that it is coming to an end!! My camera and my phone died on the same day, my husband falls sick the next and then it got a little better and now I am just exhausted! So I really did not have time to invent or go through my recipe library. So this one is my simple Kerala style egg roast. It is so easy to make and this is my husband’s favourite egg recipe! The key ingredient is onion. Roast the onions well and you will add the most amazing flavour to the eggs.

I love curry leaves! In fact, I prefer them to coriander leaves. They just add so much more to a dish. This is partly because of my Malayalee roots. We add curry leaves to everything!! including our drinks. Ohh!! There is this drink called “Sambharam” (“flavoured buttermilk”) which is the best thing to beat the heat during these hot summer afternoons. I will have to make a post about that! Its just butter milk and a few spices with curry leaves but it is so good and refreshing (also good for hangovers, no kidding!!).

If you look at it, the traditional “Sadhya” is the most perfectly balanced meal  ever! It starts with rice and a green gram curry, move to sambar, and finally the yogurt based curry. All the way you have a array of vegetables and pickles to go along with it. Ok maybe the 4 different “Payasams” are not that healthy, but hey! How many people make it every day! My mum is a “Payasam” expert!! She can whip up a payasam in no time and it will taste just like the ones they serve you at the temples. Yes I do think that the real ingredient is love!! I may have digressed a little bit here. lol.

Ok so back to this recipe. This is your ideal week night,”I do not want take out, I do not want to make any thing too complex”, “Oh I want some spicy egg based side” – kind of dish.

Ingredients :-

  1. Hard Boiled Eggs – 6 -7
  2. Onions – 5 large – julienned
  3. Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  4. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  5. Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  6. Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
  7. Garam Masala Powder – 1 + 1/2 tsp
  8. Curry leaves – 14
  9. Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
  10. Green Chillies – 4 ( slit into two)
  11. Water – 1 tbsp + 1/2 cup (optional)

Instructions :-

  1. In a large heavy bottom kadai / wok, heat oil
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and half of the curry leaves  and fry till golden brown
  3. Then add the turmeric, chilli, pepper, garam masala powder and coriander powder and give it a nice mix. Add 1 tbsp of water to the mixture. This will prevent the spice powders from getting burnt
  4. Now add the green chillies and the eggs.
  5. Season with salt and give it a good mix. Mix gently so as to not tear the boiled eggs but make sure to coat the eggs well with the onion masala
  6. Cover and cook for 5 min
  7. Garnish with the remaining curry leaves and serve with hot Rotis or Rice

 

Beetroot and Carrot Thoran – Stir Fry with Coconut and Curry leaves

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Hello My Dear Wonderful Readers!

How are you all doing today? How has the week been so far. I can’t not wait for this week to end. It has been such a landslide of incidents! From my husband falling sick, to my camera dying on me during a shoot, to my phone falling from my hand and losing its display. It has all been one eventful week. My son has on the contrary been so understanding and cooperative. I think children just know when some thing is wrong and its not them just misbehaving 🙂

Now coming back to the recipe. “Thoran” is basically any vegetable (or sometimes meat)  that is cooked on high flame almost like a stir fry and is accompanied with freshly grated coconuts and a variety of tempering. In this recipe, the tempering is made up of Urad Dal- Black (gram without the skin), red chillies, loads of curry curry leaves, mustards seeds fried in a little bit of oil. This is what gives the entire dish its wonderful fresh yet spicy taste and aroma.  “Thoran” can be made with all kinds of vegetables but the spices used for different vegetables vary. For some you could use garlic and cumin seeds and others may require other spices.

In the coming weeks,  I wanna make a conscious effort to share more Malayali cooking on my blog. Also I firmly believe that pure coconut oil is a very healthy alternative to refined oils like sunflower, peanut and mustard. But thats just me 🙂 What you should know is that this dish is the perfect, light, accompaniment to a bowl of hot rice and maybe a dal or sambar.

Ingredients :-

  1. Beetroot – 3 cups ( chopped)
  2. Carrot – 3 cups (chopped)
  3. Shallots – 6 (chopped fine)
  4. Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
  5. Urad Dal – 2 tbsp
  6. Dry Red Chillies – 4
  7. Mustard Seeds – 1 tbsp
  8. Fresh Desiccated Coconut – 1 cup (packed)
  9. Salt – according to taste
  10. Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  11. Curry Leaves – 10 – 14

Instructions :-

  1. In a heavy bottom wok, heat oil.
  2. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the Urad dal. When the Urad Dal turns from white to light yellow add the mustard seeds
  3. This way you will fry both the Urad dal and the mustard seeds cooking and popping at the same time
  4. Now add the red chillies and the curry leaves
  5. Once the leaves have fried well, turn off the flame and with a slotted spoon, spoon out the the mixture. Make sure to drain out all the oil in the same wok. Set the curry leaves tempering aside ( we will use it at the end)
  6. Now turn on the flame again and when the oil is nice and hot add the shallots. Once the shallots are translucent add the beetroot. Give it a quick mix
  7. Cover and cook the beetroot till they are cooked half way through
  8. Then add the carrots and cover and cook till they are both cooked well. ( I find that beetroot takes a little longer than carrots to cook thats why I use this method)
  9. Finally open the cover and add salt and turmeric powder
  10. Give it a good mix cook for 2 mins on high flame
  11. Then add the fresh coconut and turn off the flame
  12. Just before you serve add the curry leaves + urad dal tempering on top of the beetroot and carrots and give it a quick mix
  13. Serve with hot rice and dal or sambar