Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spinach & Potato fry (with sesame seeds)

I have been quite busy lately and no time to blog. Finally its a weekend and I decided to make a traditional brunch today.. On a relaxed weekend morning, after a hot cup of filter coffee, I am often in a great mood to wear the chef's hat and start cooking something elaborate. Today, I was a bit lazy, but still managed to put together some of our favorite South-Indian meal items and make it feel more like a lunch rather than a breakfast! So, I am convincing myself to call it a "brunch". I made "Morkuzhambu" & "Spinach-Potato fry". We started our meal with these 2 dishes and finished with a creamy curd-rice accompanied by a fantastic lemon pickle and a few papads.

I will soon be posting the recipe for Morkuzhambu (Spiced yogurt gravy) , but today I picked to post just the spinach-potato recipe. I just love the dense and leafy texture of spinach combined with juicy and roasted texture of potatoes. Additionally the aroma of roasted sesame seeds brings out the unique flavor. This dish forms an excellent side dish for a mild gravy like Dal, Morkuzhambu etc.

Here is the recipe of Spinach-Potato Fry.

  • Chopped Spinach - 2 cups
  • Potatoes - 2 medium
  • Sesame seeds - 2 tbsp
  • Onion - 1 medium (chopped)
  • Garlic - 1 clove (mashed)
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander Powder - 2 tsp

  • Dry roast (without oil) the sesame seeds and blend them to a powder. Set aside.
  • Peel the skin & Cube the potatoes. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and season with Cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add onions and the mashed garlic and fry for a few mins.
  • Then add the potatoes and turmeric and fry well for a few mins in medium heat.
  • Add the chilli powder & corriander powder and salt.
  • Mix well and cover in low heat for 5 - 6 mins..
  • Remove the lid , add the chopped spinach and fry well.
  • Cover for another 5 mins in low heat or until the potatoes are completely cooked.
  • Turn on the heat to high and fry until the water is almost fully evaporated.
  • Now add the sesame seeds powder and mix well. Cover for a couple of mins and remove from heat.

A tasty and nutritious side-dish is ready!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ravai Thengaipal Kesari - Rava Kesari with Coconut Milk

Kesari is a very simple and tasty sweet which is popular is south india. It uses very basic ingredients that are always available at home. I made this today as my daughter loves it.

The recipe I'm posting here is a variation from the regular kesari and substitutes coconut milk instead of regular milk/water. I came across this recipe in a magazine and I made it for the first time today. It came out absolutely lovely! Coconut milk is a common ingredient that I have found in many south indian desserts like payasams & halwas. So, I was hoping this would also turn out awesome.

Since I made it for my daughter I was liberal in ghee and sugar to make it taste better... But once I tasted it, I couldn't stop eating! There's a saying that "Life is uncertain - Eat dessert first!" So, I guess its ok to forgive myself when I go insane on sweets once in a while :)


  • Rava/Semolina - 1 cup (Coarse)
  • Sugar - 1.5 cups
  • Coconut milk - 2 cups
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Food color - 1 pinch (yellow or orange)
  • Cardamom pods - 3
  • Ghee - 3 tbsps
  • Oil - 2 tbsps
  • Cashews - handful
  • Raisins - 10


  • Heat a pan, dry roast the rava (without oil) until light golden brown (you should feel the roasted aroma) ; transfer to a dry plate and spread it.
  • In same pan, heat the oil and ghee together. Add the cashews and raisins and keep stirring in medium heat until the cashews become golden brown and raisins puff up.
  • Add the coconut milk, water and Sugar and stir gently.
  • Cover until the mixture begins to boil. Meanwhile crush the cardamoms to a powder and add it to the boiling mixture.
  • When it starts to boil lower the heat, add the rava slowly in batches and gently stir simultaneously to avoid lumps.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture turns out to be semi solid consistency. To reach this consistency and have the rava fully cooked, You could also leave it covered for 2 mins in low heat.
  • Immediately remove from heat and add 1 tbsp ghee and mix well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pepper Chicken

This is a fabulous chicken dish that my friend's husband makes and I cannot duplicate it no matter what. My friend herself also makes a similar version, but somehow her husband's recipe is a big hit in our friends' circle. I am sure both of them have a secret ingredient in their recipe that they are not willing to share :-) I am a big fan of traditional south indian non-veg items and cannot resist myself from overeating this chicken dish whenever they make it for a party.

My husband is a vegetarian and I very rarely make non-veg dishes at home.. Not that my husband is against cooking meat, but its just too boring for me to cook and eat for myself. My daughter is also going her dad's way and is not a meat lover. Yet, this is one of those chicken dishes that I would love to make at home - all for myself and enjoy thoroughly! This is hot and flavorful and again very traditional.

  • Skinless Chicken thighs - 2 lbs
  • Onions - 2 medium (sliced)
  • Ginger/garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Black Pepper powder - 4 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Tomatoes -2 medium
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cardamom - 2
  • Coconut paste - 3 tbsp
  • Heat oil in a large wide pan. Fry Chicken with 2 tbsp of pepper powder & salt for a few mins and set aside.
  • Add little more oil to the same pan and season with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
  • Fry onions until golden brown, then add ginger/garlic paste.
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder, corriander powder and cumin powder and fry for a few mins.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut paste and chicken pieces and mix well.
  • Add 1 cup of water, cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Finally add the remaining pepper powder, increase the heat and keep frying until most of the water evaporates or until chicken reaches your choice of consistency. (I prefer it to be little dry & roasted, but it tastes great even if its in a semi-gravy consistency).
Awesome pepper chicken is ready!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Murungai-Mochai Kulambu (Drumsticks & Lentils Curry)

This is another of those traditional tamilian recipes... I categorize them as "devolved-from-grandma" recipes.. meaning, they've been passed over from grandmas generation after generation. We call it 'Mochai puli kulambu'. Mochai paruppu (Papdi lilva/Lima beans) is consumed fresh in our part of India and has an awesome taste however we make it. It could be stir-fried and enjoyed as a side dish or could be combined with other vegetables in a form of puli kuzhambu.. Oh, it goes well with mutton as well!

I somehow believe that a traditional diet is better than any of the modern western diets - in terms of nutrients as well as calories.. This mochai paruppu is full of proteins and very nutritional. Of all the puli kulambu varieties, this one is my favorite! I usually make this with drumsticks, but you could substitute with brinjal as well.


  • Mochai paruppu (Papdi Lilva) - 2 cups (frozen or fresh)
  • Drumsticks cut into 2 inch pieces - about 10
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Garlic - 6
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp
  • Corriander Powder - 2.5 tsp
  • Tamarind juice - 1/2 cup
  • Shredded Coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Kas Kas, fenugreek seeds (methi) - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds, cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
  • Curry leaves - a handful
  • Corriander leaves - a handful
  • Heat oil (a little extra oil) in a pan and season with mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds.
  • While they splutter, add chopped onions, chopped garlic, curry leaves and corriander leaves and fry until onions turns to golden brown.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, chilli powder and corriander powder and fry until tomatoes lose shape.
  • Pressure cook this mixture together with Mochai paruppu, drumsticks and salt, by adding a little water. (don't overcook the veggies.. The cooking timings vary depending on the pressure cooker).
  • Meanwhile make a paste of the coconut, fennel seeds and kas kas.
  • When the veggies are done, open the pressure cooker and add the coconut paste and tamarind juice.
  • Adjust salt and chilli powder to suit to your taste..
  • Let it boil for 5 mins in high heat...
Enjoy with Plain rice.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chicken Gravy with Potatoes

This is a colorful chicken curry that goes very well with rice. I have always enjoyed mutton gravy with potatoes. Usually mutton and potatoes team-up pretty well.

But never really tasted chicken curry with potatoes until a few years ago when I visited a sub-urban malaysian restaurant. They serve a chicken curry exactly the same as tamilian home made chicken kuzhambu except that it has potatoes too. I was just amazed by the taste and flavour. After that, I tried several times at home and everytime it comes out great!

Today I made this chicken curry after a long time.. and relished every bit of it :-)


  • Boneless/skinless Chicken thighs - 2 lbs
  • Potatoes - 1 medium boiled
  • Onions - 2 medium
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 3
  • Tomato Paste - 2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Black pepper corns - 1/2 tsp
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Coconut milk - 1 cup (Canned coconut milk is just fine)
  • Wash and cut the chicken into small pieces and keep aside.
  • Boil and cube the potatoes and set aside.
  • Finely chop the onions and set aside.
  • Grind these to a fine paste: Ginger, Garlic, pepper corns, fennel seeds, Cinnamon, cloves and 1 tbsp of chopped onions.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan and fry the onions until golden brown.
  • Add the ground paste and fry for a few mins.
  • Add tomato paste, Chilli Powder, Corriander powder, salt and fry for 5 - 8 mins in low heat.. Leave it covered for 2 mins..
  • Now add the chicken and fry until the chicken gets coated with the mixture well.
  • Add 1 cup water, cover and cook until the chicken is half cooked.. Add potatoes and cook again until the chicken is fully coooked.
  • Finally add coconut milk and if required, little more water and boil for a few mins.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
Enjoy with Rice.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Idly - Vadakari

I have never tasted idly-vadakari in my life until my last vacation to India.. I happened to have it for breakfast in one of the restaurants and it was delicious! Idly can pair up with lots of side items and I feel this is one the best combinations… The first time when I made it a few months ago, it came out ok.. but not even close to my restaurant experience.. I didn’t want to give up and tried a few more times altering a few ingredients to make it taste as close as the restaurant one.. Finally, I think I am almost there!

This is a great breakfast for a relaxed Saturday morning… Ingesting a few fluffy idlis along with vada kari and a hot cup of filter coffee in the morning… simply sensational!

Here is my version of vadakari..


Onion – 1 medium
Tomatoes – 1 medium
Ginger – 1 inch
Garlic – 2 flakes
G.chilly – 1
Chilly Powder – 1 tsp
Corriander Powder – 2 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Cloves – 2
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk – 1 cup

For the vada:

Kadalai Paruppu (chana dal) – 1 cup
Red chilly – 1
Garlic – 1 flake
Fennel seeds (saunf) – 1 tsp


1. Soak Chana dal for 1 hour in warm water and grind to a thick paste (but not too fine) with salt and the ingredients mentioned above for vadas.
2. Make medium sized vadas and deep fry them in oil. Don’t worry about the shape because these will have to be crumbled into pieces later on.
3.Chop the onions and tomatoes.
4.Make a paste with ginger, garlic, g.chilly, cinnamon, cloves & fennel seeds (use less water).
5.Heat oil in a pan, and fry the onions until golden brown. Then add the above paste and fry in medium heat until the raw smell goes (about 5-8 mins). I usually fry for 5 mins and leave it covered for a few more mins..
6.Then add the tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt (add less salt as vadas have salt too) and fry for a few mins..
7.Meanwhile, shred the vadas into small pieces and add it after the tomatoes are fried well..
8.Finally add the coconut milk and a half cup of water and mix well.. You can alter the water qty until you reach your desired consistency.
9.Boil for a few mins and garnish with coriander leaves..

Awesome vadakari is ready!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Orange Rasam

Have you ever experienced this? You find this interesting recipe in a cookbook.... and you are in a cooking mood. You open your pantry & fridge and you have whatever you need! You start cooking by adding your special touches... and it comes out as a master-piece. How exciting! I get so thrilled that I immediately share with my friends & family...

This is one of those recipes... Just for the sake of trying something new, I tried this from one of the magazines.. and it was a pleasant surprise! It came out awesome and we all just loved it... Many of my friends have tasted this and have appreciated the taste.. I felt that the sweet and tangy flavours of tamarind juice and orange juice is a distinctive combination... and brings a fresh flavor.

Tamarind Paste - 1 tsp
Tomato Puree - 1/2 cup
Cooked Paasi paruppu (split moong dal) - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garlic - 2 cloves (smashed)
Orange Juice - 1 cup (Any store bought juice should be just fine)
Corriander leaves - handful (chopped)

To Dry Roast:
Red Chilly - 1
Black Pepper corns - 1/2 tsp
Corriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Mustard Seeds - 1tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - handful

1. In a kadai, dry roast red chilly, pepper corns, corriander seeds and cumin seeds and blend them to a powder.
2. Mash the cooked dal well .
3. In a large vessel, mix the tamarind paste, tomato puree , dal, turmeric & salt.
4. Add 3 cups of water and dilute it.
Tip: You can use plain water and water drained from the cooked dal in a fift-fifty ratio. Just add extra water while cooking the dal. This will enhance the flavor of the rasam.
5. Now heat 1 tsp oil in a kadai, season with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds.
6. Add the above liquid mixture and let it boil.
7. When it just starts boiling, add the powder and Orange juice... Let it boil for 2 mins..
8. Garnish with corriander leaves. Enjoy with Plain rice..

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Green Beans - Mushroom Kurma

This is a "my own creation" type of recipe... I came up with this dish by altering some ingredients to the original recipe . The actual recipe called for just beans & mild spices. I wanted to try the same recipe by adding mushrooms! I once had a chance to taste "Beans & mushroom casserole" at one of my friends' party and I just loved it. These two vegetables make an interesting combination. Since both are pretty plain, they can combine with any kind of spices. So I wanted to try it the south indian way... It came out pretty good and actually goes well both on rice and as a great side dish for Rotis as well.

Alright, here is the recipe for Beans/Mushroom gravy.

Green Beans - 1/2 pound
Mushrooms - 10
Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 2 cloves
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp

For the spice powder:
Red Chilly - 2
Corriander seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch


1. Dry roast(without oil) all the ingredients for the spice powder (listed above) and grind to a paste.
2. Chop the beans, mushrooms, onions and garlic finely.
3. Heat oil in a pan, fry onions and garlic until well fried.
4. Add beans, mushrooms, turmeric powder, ground spice powder & salt and fry for 5 mins in medium heat.
5. Add 1/2 cup water and cover it for 10 mins or until the beans is fully cooked.
6. Finally add the tamarind paste & jaggery and mash the beans a little bit (not fully). This will give a thicker consistency.
7. Add more water if required and boil it until the gravy thickens.

Goes well with Rice as well as Rotis!