Inviting you all to Viki's kitchen in facebook too. Also welcoming you all to visit my arts and hobbies page in facebook.. Have a nice day !

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rava Pongal

This is a very quick method to prepare rava pongal. I don't remember where I saw this short cut.  Personally I like this method much better, as we can eliminate handling those heavy pressure cookers while using this recipe:)

Rava pongal served with sambar.

Ingredients:
Sooji / Ravai - 1 cup
moong dhal (green gram lentil) - 1/3 cup
Turmeric - a pinch
water - to cook moong dhal
(water should be approximately 2.5 times that of the dhal+rava)
salt to taste
To temper:
ghee  - 1 tbsp
Black pepper (whole) - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
cashew nut - 10
hing (asafoetida) - a pinch
curry leaf - few
ginger - 1 tbsp (chopped)

Method:
Dry roast the moong dhal . Wash and coarsely grind it.
Dry roast the rava and keep aside.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil
Add the dhal and cook well. Minimize heat and put turmeric, salt and roasted rava.
Stir fast otherwise  rava may  agglomerate.
Cover with a lid and cook in low flame till rava is done. Switch off.

In the mean time, heat the ghee in a wok and fry the items given for tempering.
Run the tempering over the pongal and mix well.

Rava pongal is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with sambar and coconut chutney as breakfast or dinner.
Serves 2 adults.
Time taken : less than 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

keerai molagootal

Keerai mulakootal is a Kerala based recipe with all the goodness of dhal and greens. It can be served as a curry over rice or a great side dish with roti.


Ingredients:
spinach (pasali keerai) - 25 leaves
(or) any greens like amaranth / ponnanganni - 1 cup (chopped)
Thoor dhal (red gram) - 1/4 cup
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
urid dhal (black gram) - 1 tsp
dry red chillies - 2
cumin - 1/4 tsp
salt - to taste
coconut oil - 1 tsp
mustard - 1/4 tsp
shallot (chopped) - 1 tbsp (optional)
curry leaf - few

Method:
Wash and clean the dhal and keerai separately. Chop the greens finely.

Cook the dhal with 1 cup water, turmeric - a pinch and asafoetida - a pinch. Pressure cooking the dhal is more convenient. We can cook the dhal in advance and freeze for future use too. This saves a lot of time.

Fry the urid dhal , red chillies and cumin in a drop of oil. Grind them coarsely along with coconut to a fine paste.

Now pour the excess water from cooked dhal and cook the spinach. Mash the greens coarsely. Add the masala paste, mashed dhal to the cooked greens and put salt to taste.

Heat the coconut oil in the pan, add the mustard and let it crackle. Slightly fry the onion, curry leaves and run it over the greens. Mix well.

Switch off as it comes to a boil.

Keerai mulagootal is ready!

Serving suggestions:
The above said quantity is for 2 people.
Serve as curry over rice. Paruppu thogayal (dhal chutney) and fried appalam are the traditional side dishes for this.
Another way is to serve as side dish with rasam+rice.
Pairs well with roti also.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turnip kuruma

'Noolkol'or 'nookkal' is the Tamil word for Turnip or Kohlrabi. It can be used instead of potato in curries. The health benefits are many. It is good for potassium deficient days.

This curry is just another version of kuruma with whole garam masal made into a fine paste. There is no masal powder here except the turmeric. Shallot (sinna vengayam)adds a lot of flavor to this curry. It is a general practice to add potatoes and peas also along with this vegetable. Potatoes give a good flavor and texture to the kuruma.

I try to make something special for Friday nights and the ready made parathas come handy at that time.Parathas with this spicy turnip kuruma tasted wonderful:)
Noolkol korma is my mom's favorite too. As it was a rare vegetable in my home town at that time, mom used to buy this and would fondly tell us how she devoured this vegetable in Madurai, her home town....now I am recollecting hers:)

Turnip kuruma served with paratha.

Ingredients:
Turnip / noolkol / kohlrabi - 1 (250 gm)
Potato - 1 (optional)
Turmeric powder - a pinch
oil - 1 tsp
fennel - 1/2 tsp
cinnamon - 1/2 inch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
cilantro + mint leaf - a handful (grind)
tomato - 1 (big)

To fry and grind:
Dry red chillies - 4
green chillies - 2
cinnamon - 1/2 inch
cloves - 2
cardamom - 2
black cumin - 1/8 tsp
fennel (sombu) - 1/2 tsp
shallot - 4 (1/2 cup chopped)
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
cashew nut - 4
poppy seed - 1/2 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp

Method:
Wash the turnip, potato and remove the skin. Chop them finely into small cubes.
Cook it in a cup of water along with finely chopped tomato and turmeric powder.

Fry the above said ingredients in a tbsp of oil together. They need not be fried till brown, but we just need a good aroma. Let it cool completely and grind it to a fine paste along with mint + cilantro.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the fennel and cinnamon, let them get red. Put the curry leaves and fry a little. Immediately add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell vanishes. Now add the cooked vegetables along with the masala paste and bring them to a boil. Add salt, reduce the flame and cook in low flame for 10 minutes (till we get a nice kuruma flavor) and switch off.

Noolkol kuruma is ready!

Serving suggestions:
The above said quantity will yield a large amount of kuruma, sufficient for 6 people. Turnip is good at yielding good amount of curry. So reduce the vegetable quantity as per requirement.
Serve with paratha, poori, ghee rice, chapathi, roti, dosa etc.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Murugal dosai

I didn't realize the need for this post, until one of our friends asked . Dosa is the staple food for any South Indian family .  Just like many of you , the very sight of the dosa batter-container in my refrigerator always gives me a feeling of relief. It is the best friend at supper time, if I can't think much. So I always make a big batch of batter on Fridays, so that the weekends go smoothly :)

The paper roast dosai we get in restaurants is the yummiest version of all dosais. Mom used to call it as 'murugal dosai' (Murugal - crispy) and I like that name very much. Amma's kaipakkuvam (mom's touch) and the 'kalchekku' nallennai (Extra virgin sesame / gingelly oil) along with that perfectly fermented batter would make the house smell heavenly. Even now the same kind of flavor floating from some unknown chimney lifts up my spirit.

How to choose a dosa tawa and maintain it?
Many people add a teaspoon of channa dhal to get the golden brown colored dosa. Below ratio is the one we use. No harm in using whatever works out the best for you. But the real secret lies in the selection of the dosa tawa (dosa girdle).
Indian grocery stores or Indian vessel stores are the best places to get one. Buy an iron dosa girdle of at least 10 mm thickness and as large as 1 feet diameter. The thickness helps in uniform heating, which results in very thin crispy dosas. I am not good at non stick dosa tawas. But the non sticks are great for making soft doas (like pancakes).
Ok, as soon as we buy that thick dosa tawa, immerse it in a solution of rice washed water or water strained out while cooking for 24 hours. After that wash it and heat once uniformly apply a coating of sesame oil over it and put a lid on it. Switch off flame and  let it remain over night. The next morning, gently wipe off the oil and start making dosas.
The rule number one is never use that precious dosa tawa for making chapathi / roti or any other purpose like dhum biryani making etc:) This will spoil fine layers (at molecular level) of the dosa tawa and it will take a lot of time to get rectified.
Keep your dosa-turning spatula clean and sharp. Try to use an ever-silver spatula to turn the dosa, as they are always sharp.  Wipe off the excess batter after every use.

Dosa batter uniformly spread on the conventional dosa tawa.
Golden brown dosa after flipping.
Crispy Murugal dosai served with Coconut chutney.

Ingredients:
Idly rice - 3 cups
black gram dhal - 1 cup
(In India the urad dhal is very fresh so 1:4 ratio is enough. Other than that 1:3 works the best while using an aged dhal or Indian mixie. If using an Indian grinder the ratio can be 1: 3 1/2)
fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
salt - 3 1/2 tsp (1 tsp for each cup of rice and 1/2 tsp for a cup of black gram)
Sesame oil - 50 ml

Batter preparation:
Soak rice separately for 5 hours. Dhal and fenugreek seeds need to be soaked together for about 3 hours. After that grind dhal till it becomes very smooth and fluffy. The batter should be thick like softened butter. Transfer it to a big bowl. Then grind the rice to a very smooth texture.Do not add lot of water. Add salt and by giving several strokes.
Store this in a large vessel so that there is enough space for batter to rise. Grinding and storing of batter should be done the previous day, preferably in the night so that the batter would be ready the next day. The batter should be allowed to ferment for about 15 – 18 hours.
(If the outside temperature is below 85 deg C, then keep it inside a mildly warmed oven to get warmth). The next day, mix the batter well and it can be used to make idly or dosa.
Generally people prepare Idly with the first day batter and the remaining batter can be used to make dosa. Moreover dosa comes out very well if the batter is more fermented. we can add a dash of yeast to the freshly ground batter to enhance fermentation of the batter.The remaining batter can be preserved in tight containers in refrigerator.
A well prepared batter can remain good for almost a week.

Dosa preparation:
Heat a dosa tawa. Check the heat by sprinkling a drop of water. It should be sizzling hot. For the first dosa, Spread the sesame oil uniformly using the special wooden tool we use for spreading oil or a piece of fresh cloth. Wipe off excess oil. There should be almost no oil now.

Take a ladle of batter and pour it gently over the tawa and spread it to get crepe.
Keep the heat in maximum. Drizzle a tsp of sesame oil over the dosa. After it starts turning red, flip and take out immediately.

From the next dosa, start pouring the batter directly. No need to brush oil at first. But feed the dosa with generous quantity of sesame oil. Serve immediately, as it becomes soggy with time.

Murugal dosai is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with sambar, chutney.
Makes 40 dosa.

Approximate calories:
(Click to see source)
1 large home made murugal dosai (10 inch dia)
From batter - 80 to 100 Kcal
from sesame oil (1 tsp) - 40 Kcal
Total 140 Kcal.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Strawberry Ice cream

This is an eggless version of ice cream. There are many methods to prepare an ice cream , such as by boiling milk with custard powder, using eggs, using flourn etc. The packaged ice creams we buy in the stores are made by any one of the methods above.
But the No-cooking ice cream or an ice cream made with condensed milk is more famous among American households. This recipe is known for its lesser number of ingredients and the simplicity. The interesting facts are the lesser calories involved and the health benefits we get from a real fruit.

Here is a strawberry Ice cream I made for hubby and his friends. Inspired by cooks.com website.

Ingredients:
sweetened Condensed milk - 1 can (14 oz)
whipped topping - 8 oz container
strawberry - 20 number (see measurement *)
strawberry (finely chopped) - 2 tbsp


The whipped cream, condensed milk and strawberries.
Method:

All the ingredients mixed before freezing.

Wash and clean the strawberries. Remove the bracts / leaves.
Grind the fruits to get a smooth puree. Reserve 2 fruits for garnishing.

In a mixing bowl add the condensed milk and fold in the strawberry puree.
*(After pouring the condensed milk, measure the fruit puree in the same can. It should be almost 1.5 to 1.75 times that of that can).

Add the whipped topping and mix gently. Add the chopped strawberries. The fruits should be chopped finely, otherwise they taste like ice crystals.

Transfer to a container, close and keep frozen for nearly 4 hours.

Strawberry ice cream served with sliced strawberries and blue berries.


Strawberry ice cream is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Makes nearly 15 big scoops.
Place the ice cream outside for 5 minutes for easy handling.
An ice cream scoop dipped in water makes the job easy.

Approximate calorie calculation:
From fat-free condensed milk - 1300 Kcal
Whipped topping - 100 Kcal
Strawberry (8 fruits = 45) - 120 Kcal

Total calories in the whole batch = 1520 Kcal (approx)
1/15 of the above said will yield 100 Kcal. So it can be had as a safe and satisfying dessert.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pani Poori

In Madras, we belong to an area famous for its Gulfi ice,  paani poori manufacturers with the walk ways surrounded by 'chaat item' (a kind of Indian salad mixed with crispies) vendors. You may need a strong will to pass these shops without buying one plate of some snack:) But after coming to USA , we totally forgot the dish till we enjoyed this delicacy again in one of the parties held by hubby's colleague. After that our trips to Indian grocery stores won't be complete without getting a chaat item.

What is Paani poori?
Paani poori : Small cute fluffy pooris stuffed with lentil, mashed potatoes, salads and filled with hot chutneys as well as sweet tangy tamarind water.

Paani poori is a great fun food when we have some family get-together or friends coming over unexpectedly. It is a very filling snack / starter / a complete meal without much preparation time or skills. There are 'n' number of variations for the stuffing and chutneys. I prepared it by remembering that Madras paani poori stalls' version and their clay-pots filled with those paanis and chutneys.

All we need is just to poke the poori with our thumb, fill the stuffing, pour the chutneys and munch ....munch...munch:) I love the way it is gobbled in one gulp with lots of laughter:) Nothing can beat the different tastes.... spicy to sweet and tangy mixing up in our mouth while our hands uncontrollably stretching for the next poori....unexplainable joy. Isn't it!

Paani poori along with the various stuffings and filling chutneys arranged.
Paani poori stuffed.
Ready to use paani pooris.

Ingredients:
Pani poori - 1 pack
I used the ready to use paani poori available in Indian grocery stores. Preparing the poori needs a lot of patience and skill. The end product should be a very stiff and hole-less pooris. Still I assure you, the home made ones are the best, if we can make them perfectly. You can see the procedure for making them in

Stuffing:
(The following are the popular stuffing, but we can vary them according to availability)
1.Potato - 3
2.Freshly chopped onion - 1 cup
3.channa dhal / whole green gram (cooked)- 2 cup
4.oma podi (Indian mixture snack) - 1/2 cup (optional)
*Cook the potato and remove the skin. Mash it gently along with some salt, cumin powder (1/4 tsp). Place it in a serving bowl.
*chop the onions finely and keep them for serving.
* cook the dhal and keep it in a bowl.

green chutney:
cilantro - 10 stems
mint leaf - 1/2 cup
green chilly - 2
salt - to taste
lemon - 1/8
wash and clean the leaves. Grind them finely together along with green chilly, salt and some water to get a cup of chutney. Squeeze the lemon to get a balanced chutney taste. Keep it in a serving bowl with a spoon.

Tamarind water:
tamarind - a small lemon size
Water - 2 cup
jaggery / sugar - 1 tsp
salt - 1/4 tsp
dry ginger powder - 1/2 tsp
chaat masala - 1/4 tsp
cilantro - a few leaves
dates / raisin - 1/2 cup
Soak the tamarind and extract the juice. Puree the dates / raisin and mix all the above to get a sweetish tangy water. Transfer it to a serving bowl with a spoon.

How to devour it ?
Take a poori. Hold it in your left hand, in the same time make a small opening at the top (by using your thumb), just like we shell the hard boiled eggs.

Put a small scoop of mashed potatoes, cooked dhal, chopped onion one over the other.Sprinkle the oma podi.
Top it with 1/2 a tsp of spicy green chutney. Fill the remaining space with the tamarind sweet chutney.

Immediately gulp it and enjoy:)

Serving suggestions:
The above said quantity is enough to fill almost 40 paani pooris. Increase the tamarind water quantity if necessary. Create your own stuffing to suit your palettes.
This makes a great starter or an early supper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hi !

Hello friends,
Hope you are doing great. Due to some unavoidable circumstances I was not blogging or visiting you all for a month. Now I am doing great. Thanks for all your mails, well wishes and comments. Missed a lot of fun in the blogosphere, trying to visit each and every one of your posts now:)

I will resume shortly with your favorite recipes.

Happy blogging!
Love,
Viki.