Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simple south Indian meal - Tomato Rasam with Broccoli and Soybean vegetable on the side

Tomato rasam with broccoli and frozen edamame beans or peas on the side
Below- Broccoli and bean with turmeric and salt, Rasam, vegetable

Tomato Rasam
4-6 medium sized tomatoes cut into 8-12 pieces.
1 cup precooked tur dal(skinned and halfed lentils)
1 tbsp tamarind paste or pulp diluted in 3 cups of water
1 or 2 tbsp Rasam powder (you can use MTR or other brand available in the store or make your own)
1/4 tsp Asafetida  
Turmeric powder and salt to taste

To season
1 tbsp ghee(clarified butter), 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 8-10 whole black pepper dal
3-4 sprigs fresh green coriander/cilantro leaves cleaned and chopped

  1. Cook the diluted tamarind with rasam powder, asafetida, turmeric, and salt until the raw taste is gone.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook well.
  3. Add the precooked tur dal and bring to a rolling boil, a layer of frothe will form on top. Turn off the heat.
  4. Season/tadka.  Heat the ghee, mustard, cumin seeds and pepper corns in a small pan. Cover, when they splutter add to the cooked rasam.
  5. Add the chopped cilantro
  6. Stir well and enjoy with steamed rice.
Broccoli and soybean vegetable

4 cups broccoli cut into florets(frozen works well, too)
1 or 2 cups of frozen edamame beans or green peas.
2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp mustard, 1 tbsp udid dal, 1 chopped green chilli optional

  1. In a wok, heat the oil, add mustard and udid dal, until spluttered and dal is brown.
  2. Reduce heat, add the vegetable and beans/peas, turmeric and salt, sprinkle 2-3 tbsp of water cover and cook until the vegetable is crunchy and cooked.  the raw taste gone.   You can substitute broccoli with cauliflower, or chopped beans or potatoes or carrots....
  3. It tastes good when sambhar rice, too.
The above meal is my dysfunctional style of cooking traditional recipes learnt from mom.

Simple Palakkad Iyer Meal - Molagutal rice and yogurt rice with mathan(pumpkin) puli pachadi

The meal with yogurt rice, molagutal rice and pachadi on the side
Below- molagutal, ground paste, pumpkin puli pachadi
Mixed vegetable Molagutal
Pumpkin (with green edible skin preferred) to yield 2 cups when cut
2-3 Raw green bananas
2-3 small potatoes
2-3 carrots
A handful of cauliflower florets
1 and half cup Mung Dal(skinned and halfed mung bean)
2-3 sprigs of Curry leaves
Turmeric powder and salt to taste
To grind
One cup grated coconut
1 table spoon Cumin seeds ,
4-6 whole red chillies
To season
1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp udid dal, 1 red chilli

  1. Cube the vegetables, raw banana skin must be pared like you would the potatoes.. If pumpkin skin is thin and edible you can keep the skin on.
  2. Wash the mung dal well and add to a large deep pan or vessel add 2 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric. Bring water to boil, lower the heat and allow to half cook for a few mins
  3. Add the cut vegetables.. first banana and potato, then the pumpkin ladt the carrots and cauliflower, stir well..  
  4. Add 3-4 cups of water enough to cover the vegetable, Add the curry leaves and salt to taste.  
  5. Cover and cook, the mung dal should be well cooked and soft and mushy.
  6. Add the coarsely ground paste as shown in the picture and bring to a full boil
  7. Allow it to boil on a medium flame for 5 mins.
  8. To season/tadka.  Add oil and seasoning ingredients to a small pan, cover and heat on meduim flame until the mustard seeds splutter and the dal is brown, add to the molagutal as shown.
  9. Stir well and enjoy with steamed rice.
Mathan puli pachadi
A wedge of pumpkin, thinly sliced should yeild 2 cups
1 tbsp tamarind paste or pulp diluted in 2 cups of water
A small piece of jaggery, gur or a 1/4 tsp sugar
For grinding
1/4 cup grated coconut, 3-4 spicy thai green chillies, one pinch mustard seeds or flakes
For seasoning
1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard, 1/4 tsp methi(fenugreek seeds), 1 red chilli

  1. Add tamarind, pumpkin, turmeric and salt to a wok, cover and cook until the vegetable is soft and well cooked.  You can substitute pumpkin with okra(vendakai/bhindi) or egg-plant(katrikai/baingan/brinjal)
  2. Add the ground paste, the mustard is very inportant, it adds flavor, bring to a rolling boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Season/tadka with oil, mustard, methi seeds and red chilli.
  4. It tastes good when mixed with rice, too.
The above meal is my dysfunctional style of cooking traditional recipes learnt from mom.  A yogurt based raita or pachadi also goes well with molagutal. 

Variations or additions to molagutal - You can also add winter melon, zucchini, snake gourd, or bottle gourd to the molagutal.

Cabbage molagutal is very similar, use same ingredients for grinding and seasoning.  
half cook the mung dal and add finely chopped cabbage, cook well, add ground paste, boil well, season.  It goes well with chappatis or rice.

Spinach or keerai molagutal is slightly different.  Cut and cook the spinach with turmeric and salt. Add pre-cooked tur dal and bring to a rolling boil.  Lightly roast Chana dal, udid dal and two red chillies in a drop of oil to grind with the grated coconut and jeera.  season as above.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chunda (Sweet and spicy raw mango pickle) in a microwave with unbelievable results

The chunda snob in me didn't think this experiment would be
a success so I skipped the pictures taking.. :)
Mom, this one is for you!  I have described your traditional Chunda making process at the end of this blog!  Wish it were so easy to make in your day!

- 1 or 2 raw mangoes of large variety,
should yield 2 to 3 cups of grated mango
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp turmeric
- a pinch of salt

For every 1 cup of grated mango
- 1 and 1/4 cups Sugar
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp lightly roasted cumin (jeera) powder
or you could roast and powder whole cumin

  1. Wash and dry the mango.  Remove the skin and grate fine, squeeze out the juice slightly if it seems very juicy.
  2. It yielded 2 cups of grated mango, so I doubled the quantity to - sugar(2.5cups), 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp roasted jeera powder.
  3. Add grated mango and turmeric in a large glass microwaveable bow and mix well (the sugar will boil and froth so the bowl must be large, wok shaped is ideal)
  4. Add the sugar and mix in with a dry spoon
  5. Microwave on high for 2 mins, stir and microwave on high again for 3.30mins (3 mins and 30 seconds), stir.
  6. The sugar should be of one string consistency and you are done.  It will thicken as it cools so don't worry if it looks a little runny.
  7. Add the roasted jeera powder and mix well
  8. Add the chilli powder and mix well
  9. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  10. I added an extra pinch or two of salt and 1/2 tsp of chill powder to get the same taste as mom's chunda, this is purely based on ones taste buds. If you have small kids you can decrease the chilli powder to any desired level.  My gujju friends mom made a batch without adding chilli powder and it tasted good, too.
  11. Let it cool down completely before bottling in an airtight glass container.  It's ready to eat immediately with roti's, chapatti's, pita bread, bread, thepla....
The above recipe is my dysfunctional take on my mom's chunda and what I found on the WWW in Srivalli's blog "Cooking for all seasons".  The ingredients are almost the same but the process and the time difference 'Whoa!' is all I have to say!  This will explain why! So here goes,

Amma's traditional Chunda making process 

First, my mom who hated any kind of waste, would remove the skin a little thicker and use that to make gol keri with some dry kajur added in.  Unfortunately, you can't make chunda with the skin, so with a sigh I took off the skin with a peeler and put it in the garbage disposal.

Amma had a tall steel vessel for her chunda making, some 10-12 Rajapuri mangoes would be grated, turmeric and sugar added and mixed well.  She would then begin the painstaking process of putting it out in the sun praying it wouldn't rain.  Day after day it would go up on the building terrace, its mouth covered with a fine muslin cloth, to cook in the hot sun, She would check often to see if the crow had pecked at it OR the pigeons were making a mess.  The sugar would cook and melt purely by the heat of sun. May is usually super hot in Bombay.  It took 18-23 days for the desired consistency needed to add the jeera and chilli powders.  There would be a happy dance since we could finally get a taste.  It would take another couple of weeks before it was ready to eat, the longer you waited the tastier it got. 

One year the monsoons came early and she was so reluctant and sad to put it on the stove for 25-30 mins daily, on low heat until it reached the desired consistency, worried that would get spoilt.  We never quite enjoyed that years chunda, we were pickle snobs, thanks to having an expert pickle maker mom. :) 

So now, you know why I did not expect this experiment to be a success, Chunda snob that I am.  I was completely blown away by 'How simple' this whole MW process was and 'How tasty' the final product.  Exactly like mom's except for a little tweak on the salt and the chilli powder.  This one is for you mom! Loved your enthusiasm when it came to cooking and feeding everyone and giving away bottles and bottles of your yummy pickles!

Mangai Thokku (Sweet, Tangy and Spicy mango pickle)

All done when the oil separates out
- 2 large raw or semi-ripe but firm mango(should be sour for it to taste good) of large variety, cut into small cubes
- 4-6 tbsp sesame(til) oil
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric(haldi) powder
 For seasoning 
 - red chilli powder(1 tsp or more as desired)
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek flakes (methi kuria) or fenugreek seeds(dry fry with a drop of oil and powder)
-  4-6 tbsp sesame(til) oil
- A pinch of asafetida(hing) powder

The cut mango needs to be cooked first
  1. Wash, dry, and cut the mango into half inch cubes. Scrape the flesh off the seed and add that too.  If you like you can remove the skin, but I prefer it with the skin on.
  2. Take 2 tbsp. of sesame oil in a dry wok(kadai) and add the mango pieces with turmeric, cook until the mango is soft, the skin will have a slight crunch and that's okay.
  3. Add salt to taste and mix well. TAke off the stove and keep aside.
  4. In another wok, take the balance sesame oil and add the asafetida(hing), the fenugreek flakes(methi kuria), and chilli powder, heat until the oil froths a bit, it must not burn.
  5. Add the mango into spiced oil and mix well. 
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally until the oil starts to separate from the mango.
  7. Switch off the stove, let cool and bottle in an air tight container.
  8. The thokku will stay good refrigerated for a month. 
  9. It tastes really good with dosa, adai, chapatti's, and yogurt rice.
When bottled the oil forms a nice layer on top
this helps with longer shelf life

The above recipe is my dysfunctional take on two of my mom's pickles. The mangai curry and mangai thokku.  We love the crunch of the skin so rarely remove it while eating fresh mango or while making pickles unless its absolutely necessary.

Tip of the day: For longer shelf life of gravies(sambhar, pickles, batter, etc), store bulk amount in a large container inside the fridge.  Spoon out the required amout into a smaller vessel and heat if required and Never pour back the leftovers into the large container.