Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rava Pongal

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments and wishes you had left in my previous post. I'm doing fine. Yet, I know I'm late for my next post :) But, it was not because of mere laziness or procrastination, but actually I had to travel out of town for official reasons and my kitchen was "officially" closed last week. Though I had some marvelous food during that time, I sure was missing home food and I'm so glad to be back home and enjoy my favorite comfort food.

There's nothing like having the time to sit down and have a good breakfast. I wish I had the time to have a relaxed breakfast every morning. But so far its been just a big daydream for me. My mornings are typically - "take a bite, do this; take another bite, do that" type of mornings. I actually sometimes skip breakfast to avoid morning rush. I hope someday I'll get into the routine of calm and relaxed mornings, may be a BIG hope! But to recompense this, I prefer to have a relaxed breakfast atleast in the weekends. I mostly prepare a proper traditional breakfast atleast for one morning in the weekend, and also often we go out for breakfast too. My day starts fresh when I chit-chat with a cup of coffee and good breakfast.

This weekend we enjoyed our favorite breakfast - Pongal with chutney and sambar. To me, one of the intimidating tasks of getting married is making the food your spouse grew up with. Mom cooks pongal for a little extra time so that the rice and dal are blended well, but my mother-in-law makes a version that's similar to pulav consistency. I like both versions, but prefer mom's way of making pongal, may be because thats the one I loved and grew up with. And my hubby prefers his mom's version, probably for the same reason. I learnt making his mom's version in a hard way. I still remember a day after we landed in the US, and while I was still almost zero in cooking, my hubby once wanted me to cook his mom's version of pongal. He had no idea of what he was getting into :) I made it and it was a disaster. It came out too stiff and no where close to pongal. I managed by adding more water and re-cooking it, but still the consistency was messed up. Well, after a lot of practice I can now say that I'm far better in making pongal, both versions.

Rava pongal is a totally new version of pongal to me. The recipe for this is from a booklet that came with a rava packet! Its interesting to me when these tiny pamphlets have some really delicious recipes and also very unique recipes that are not popular in other cookbooks. I made this the first time this weekend and just loved it. It came out pretty good and I'm sure I will try this often from now on. Goes well with chutney/sambar.


  • Rava - 1 cup
  • Moong dal (pasi paruppu) - 1/2 cup
  • Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Cashew nuts - 10
  • Pepper corns -1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
  • Ginger - 1 inch (minced)
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Pressure cook the dal, strain and save the stock and set aside the dal.
  • Roast the rava in a tsp of ghee and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining ghee and oil and season with pepper corns and cumin seeds.
  • Then add the cashews, ginger and curry leaves and fry until cashews turn golden brown.
  • Add two and half cups of the following mixture - water, milk, the strained water from dal.
  • Add salt and let the mixture boil. Then add the roasted rava and stir in medium heat until the rava is well cooked and reaches a semi solid consistency.
  • Now add the cooked dal, mix and cover in low heat for 5 mins.
  • Add some ghee on the top and mix well.
Serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Italian cheese bread

Sorry for the long delay in posting. Right after I posted my previous entry, I came down with a nasty cold and cough. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperature in our area and obviously a flu season too. Everyone in our family took turns to share their cold with each other. I was glued to the tissues for quite a few days and then passed it on to my daughter as well. Its been an exhausting two weeks. Apologies for not visiting all of your blogs, I'm sure I missed some great recipes. Hoping to catchup slowly in the next few days.

With no energy left, the last thing I wanted to do was cooking, so nothing to post as well. We've been pretty much managing with some simple home-made food and by doing take-outs. Finally, since last weekend I am slowly into my normal routine. This is a quick snack that I made last weekend. Its my daughter's favorite and she loves the cheese in it. I learnt this recipe from an Italian cookbook and I've heard a lot of good comments about this dish whenever I make it for a potluck party as an appetizer. It uses authentic and simple italian ingredients, and doesn't require any visit to a speciality store. I make it often as a tea-time snack for the weekends especially when we are in that "munching" mood.

This entry goes for Meeta's La Cuciana Italiana event , Hima's Sunday Snack Event, Sangeeth's Eat Healthy-Calcium Rich Event as well as EC's WYF - Salad/Starter/Soup event.


  • Bread loaf - 1 (I use the italian herbs loaf that also has some poppy seeds on it)
  • Butter - 2 tsp
  • Italian herb seasoning - 1 tsp
  • Mozarella cheese (shredded) - 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper - as required
  • Garlic - 3 large cloves minced
  • Crushed red pepper - 1 tsp (Optional)

  • Microwave the butter and minced garlic for a min.
  • Cut the bread loaf into 1 inch slices.
  • On each slice, first apply the garlic/butter mixture, then sprinkle some salt and pepper above.
  • Then spread the shredded cheese and finally garnish with the italian herb seasoning. Bake the slices for 5-10 mins in a 350 degrees temp or until you see the top portion turned golden brown.
  • Serve hot after sprinkling with some crushed red peppers (optional).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hyderabadi Dalcha

Whenever I decide to go on diet, something comes and blocks me and makes it impossible to carry on. After feasting heavily for 2 weeks in the cruise, I was determined to diet for the next few weeks. I had all that fresh and energetic enthu going on for the first 2 weeks. If you are a regular reader of my blog, I mentioned that I even began planning my menu for the week ahead. Well, I should say I am still sticking on to my menu plans for most of the part, but dieting "vow" had disappeared long back! This dish is the proof :)

It all started when I happened to taste a mutton fry dish in a restaurant recently and I somehow wasn't that impressed. The spices weren't blending well with the meat. I could smell the raw flavour and plenty of hard-to-bite chunks. I had a feeling that I make a better version of the same dish! Don't get me wrong about my pride, but I believe that making a meat dish is an art by itself. It requires adding the right amount of spices to suppress the raw meat flavor, but at the same time not letting the spices overtake the vibrant meat taste. Balance is the key, and apparently that restaurant dish didn't have that balance. Since then, for some reason, the thought of preparing my favorite mutton dish at home was whirling in my head. May be perhaps I just wanted to get-rid of that restaurant taste that was still lingering in me and replace with any of my favorite dish :) , although I kept postponing it because of my 'dieting' aspiration.

But last week, the moment I spotted some fresh goat meat in the grocery, I knew I was in trouble. Its hard to resist when I see those freshly cut goat meat with nice stewy bones. Moreover the after-effect of my restaurant experience insisted me to buy it right away and there ends my dieting drama!

Alright, moving to the recipe.. I have to admit that I didn't have high hopes when I saw this recipe in a cook-book long before. My first instinct was - Meat and Dal? Really? Then I went on convincing myself - Come on, its a popular dish and its been tasted and approved by many, so it has to be good. And, I was not wrong. I love the unique flavor of lentils and meat and enjoy it more with plain rice than briyani. I've made it quite a few times so far and it gets better everytime! The secret is adding the right amount of dal.

This entry goes for Mona's RCI - Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine.

  • Goat meat - 1/2 lb (with bones)
  • Chana dal - 3 tbsp
  • Tuvar dal - 3 tbsp
  • G.chillies - 4
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 2 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom - a few each
  • Chop the goat meat and remove just the bone pieces separate. Pressure cook the bone pieces with a little ginger/garlic paste, turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp black pepper powder.
  • Soak the dals for atleast 15 mins and pressure cook them together with some turmeric powder, curry leaves and half of the corriander leaves.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, season with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Once they pop, add chopped onions, g.chillies, ginger/garlic paste and fry for a few mins.
  • Add the remaining corriander leaves and curry leaves and fry for a couple more mins.
  • Add all the remaining powders along with tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add the remaining mutton pieces (raw), salt and fry for 5 mins.
  • Now add the stock from the cooked bones and let it boil for a few mins.
  • Finally add the cooked dal and pressure cook the mixture together until the mutton gets cooked completely (time depends on the pressure cooker).
  • Open the pressure cooker and add the tamarind paste and the cooked bone pieces, some water as required and let it boil for a few mins.
  • Garnish with chopped corriander leaves.

Serve hot with plain rice or briyani.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tomato - Green Chilli Thokku

I've been slammed at work lately. Moved to a new project recently and its keeping me busy. I came home late, so was feeling lazy to cook today, and I didn't have much stuff in the fridge too . Tiredness makes me low on inspiration, so wasn't in a mood to be creative either . But all I knew was that all of us were hungry and I had to cook something to fill our tummies before any of us turn cranky :)

My fridge usually is stuffed when the week begins, but it was odd to see my fridge empty on a monday. I had so much planned to get done for the weekend, but can't remember getting anything significantly done. Saturday kind of evaporated. Don't know how, and I guess we've been just lazing around too much with absolutely no mood for outdoors. Sometimes it happens. No matter how nice the day is or how much ever time I have, I get the feeling of staying indoors and watch tv, browse or even just lie on the couch and simply stare the cieling:) It may sound ridiculous, but for the past 2 days this is how I've been feeling myself. I'm typically not that kind of person and usually would like to keep myself occupied as much as possible. But I think occasionally spoiling ourselves helps regain that energy :)

Well, with nothing much left in the fridge, I had to comeup with something that can be of a quick remedy. I was thinking of having paruppu podi (the readymade one) and potatoes for dinner, but then I remembered the Long-Live-The-Shelf Event hosted by Roma. That convinced me to might as well make something on my own instead of paruppu podi so that I can atleast send the entry for the event. This thokku (pickle/chutney) requires nothing but tomatoes and g.chillies and I had enough of them in the fridge. Another of my mother-in-law's collection. It could be enjoyed by mixing with plain-rice (instant tomato rice), or as a side for curd-rice. It tastes divine with curd-rice!

This entry goes for Roma's Long-Live-Shelf-Event.

  • Tomatoes: 5 large
  • Garlic - 5 cloves (big size) or 8 (medium size)
  • G.chillies - 7 or 8
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp (add more if the tomatoes aren't that sour)
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asafoetida - 2-3 pinches
  • Oil - 3 tbsp

  • Add the tomatoes to boiling water (or microwave for a few seconds) and leave it covered for 5 mins. Peel off the skin, mash them with hands (or puree them in blender).
  • Mix the mashed tomatoes, tamarind paste, chilli powder, turmeric and salt well, along with a cup of water.
  • Heat oil, season with mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Then add chopped garlic and chopped g.chillies and fry until the chillies change color.
  • Add the tomato mixture and let it boil. Simmer for 10 mins or until the mixture thickens and oil starts separating. Remove from heat after it reaches a thick consistency
  • Mix it with plain rice to make instant tomato rice OR enjoy with curd rice.

This can stay in fridge for a week to 10 days.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chicken Fry

Hope all my US friends had a great labor day weekend! Its hard to believe our last 3 day weekend of the summer just got over and we are getting closer to the end of summer with each day. My daughter's school starts tomorrow. Am I excited?? I seriously don't know. The early morning rat race begins from tomorrow. Starting school after a long, lazy summer could be pretty stressful. But on the flip side, after all for kids what’s summer without crazy bedtimes, endless ice-creams, non-stop biking in the neighborhood, and getting soaked in the pool for hours — and it naturally can be hard to readjust when fall comes. I miss those summer vacations from my school. I wish my job also had a summer break(and still get paid).. he he..

On the other hand, my daughter is all excited about her new school year. She keeps coming up with questions like.. Mom, Who will be my teacher? Where will I sit? Are my friends going to be in my class? She is all set with her new school bag and drags it up and down our living room often in the day. She also pretends to be a teacher and disciplines her imaginary students.. That's her playtime favorite nowadays. I wish I was so enthusiastic like her :) Though fall routine haunts me, it also makes me feel good that my little girl is growing!

This weekend we had no big plans and mostly stayed home. Just planned a few things for the upcoming week and spent a few productive hours in the kitchen. Enjoyed our favorite traditional lunch for 2 days in a row with sambar, rasam, kootu, poriyal etc. Heavenly meal after a long time! And just to make the weekend more special, I made a chicken dish too. This is a very tasty chicken recipe that I learnt from my Mother-in-law. She makes it regularly and its one of her excellent dishes that I enjoy when made by her. After all these years of practice, I've now started almost duplicating her taste. But hers still holds the first place :) The ingredients list may seem to be longer, but the preparation is fairly simple as all of them get tossed in at the same time.

  • Chicken thighs - 2 lbs ( I switch between boneless and with bones, but both are yummy)
  • Ginger - 2 inches
  • Garlic - 3 cloves (medium)
  • Black Pepper seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Onions - 2 medium
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full

  • Coarsely grind (not too fine) 1/2 onion , Ginger, Garlic, Pepper seeds, Cumin seeds and the Fennel seeds. Add this to the chicken, then salt and pressure cook together until the chicken is cooked. (Add just enough water to cook the chicken).
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, season with 1 tsp fennel seeds, add the remaining chopped onions, curry leaves and corrainder leaves and fry until onion is well fried.
  • Now add the cooked chicken mixture, all the remaining spice powders, mix well and turn the heat to high until the water from the chicken is almost fully evaporated.
  • Now turn to medium heat and fry the chicken until its well roasted and turns into a dark brown color. Keep scraping in equal intervals to avoid burning. You can add a little extra oil if required.
Enjoy with Rotis or Rice.