Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Poosanikai Paal Koottu - White Pumpkin in a mild coconut gravy

Hope you all had a great Diwali!

Fall is here! What are your favorite things in Fall? I like fall, but I hate to see it come because it rings a bell in my mind of whats just around the corner - Winter. But there are still some nice things about Fall. The anticipation of the upcoming Holiday season makes it special to me. The pumpkin flavor is back once again in everything - Donut, Coffee, Soup, Cookies, you name it. If my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte is available in Starbucks, then I can officially declare its Fall! I am already relishing my Latte for the last couple of weeks, especially on those chilly mornings perfect for a hot drink. Its a delicious blend of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors in a coffee. I generally enjoy my early morning commutes with a cup of coffee and my favorite music playing in the car, and with my favorite Latte, I can drive that extra mile!

I'm also enjoying the spectacular colors of fall during my commute. When we lived in the New England area, we had the privilege of watching the fall foliage. Those amazing vibrant colors of maples! Though my current place is not a typical fall-destination for outsiders, it actually gets really pretty for a couple of weeks in october. I don't think any other season brings this beauty. I may sound silly, but I also like wearing a warm, cozy sweater on a crisp morning rather than those heavy jackets. It gives me such a great comfort to my mind and body. May be perhaps it reminds me of my holidays in a hill station like Kodaikanal wearing a light sweater with a thin scarf around my neck. Well, those are some of my fall favorites..

Now, about the recipe, this is one of those traditional handed-down-from-grandma recipes in South India. There may be multiple versions of this dish floating across my home-town region. The reason I want to post it here is surprisingly I couldn't find this recipe online. After a long time I made this dish, and when I wanted to make sure I'm using the right ingredients I searched online for this recipe and after a heavy search I found only a couple of sites with this recipe. I decided to post it in my blog after I make this and here it is. Its again a very simple dish and goes well with Rice and Dal.

  • White Pumpkin - chopped - 2 cups
  • G.chillies - 2
  • Shallots - chopped - 4 tbsp (you can use regular onions too).
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Urad Dal - 1 tsp
  • Red Chilly - 1
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
  • Dry roast the cumin seeds for 2 to 3 mins in medium heat and grind to a fine powder. Alternatively you can use 1/2 tsp of readymade cumin powder.
  • Mix the cumin powder with the coconut milk and set aside.
  • In a pan, add onions, g.chillies, pumpkin and salt with 1/2 cup water and cook together.
  • Mash the pumpkins slighlty after they are thoroughly cooked.
  • Add the coconut milk and jeera powder mixture and let it boil for 2-3 mins until it becomes slightly thicker.
  • In a separate pan, heat some oil and season with mustard seeds and urad dal. When they splatter add the red chilly and some curry leaves.
  • Pour this mixture on top of the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Remove from heat.
Serve warm with rice and dal.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mushrooms and Okras Stir-fry

Another long and busy month and I'm realizing that I have not posted anything for weeks now! I wonder if there comes a time when you automatically tend to push your blogging aside because of certain other things taking priority in your schedule. No, I'm not telling that I have come to that stage, and I don't see myself ever doing so, but was surprised to learn that I'm at a point where I'm regularly late with my posts after my summer break. Ever since school started for my daughter, I've been postponing all my other activities just to make sure she comfortably settles well with her routine. Actually my morning rat-race hasn't been that bad so far. She's been waking up on time as she is still excited about her 2nd grade. She is prompt in getting ready and finishing her breakfast too, and we've been consistently ready about 10 mins earlier than usual! I hope this excitement continues in her for some more time. Generally she likes school, except waking up early on those cold winter mornings, which I'm sure all of us hate anyway.

With time crunch, cooking also took a step back in my kitchen for the past few weeks. We had boringly repetitive meals, though how much ever harder I tried to be creative in the kitchen. But I was also waiting for last weekend to get organized and set-up my refrigerator and pantry, which I thought may trigger my interest to cook something elaborate in the weekend. Well, I finally spent a couple of hours in re-arranging my pantry over the weekend, which was one of my long pending tasks. As I arranged my pantry, I started unveiling those unused spices I had brought from India. That sense of guilt in not using them for such a long sparked the vigor in me to get productive in the kitchen. In the next few mins, I started to browse my cookbook to figure out an easy and tasty dish, especially using Okras.

Okra is the most prolific plant I managed to grow in my mini vegetable garden this year. I initially thought it would die as the growth was slow, but suddenly one fine morning, I saw several new flower buds popping! Aah that was so exciting! Since then its been a pleasure watching it grow. Now I have a few pounds of okras in my refregirator. I obviously wanted to make something good with my okras. This is a dish I found in my cookbook, I've no idea when I wrote this recipe in my cookbook. I liked it because it was just easy to make! This is the first time I'm making it, and was a big hit in our house.

  • Chopped mushrooms - 2 cups
  • Okras - 10 to 12, medium sized
  • Onions - chopped (1 cup)
  • Garlic - 3 medium cloves (finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves - 10
  • Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup (chopped)
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1 tsp
  • Mustard and Cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
  • Wash & dry the okras, and then cut them in round slices (should not be too thin).
  • Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
    Heat oil in a pan, season with mustard and cumin seeds.
  • Add finely chopped onions and garlic, fry for 2 - 3 mins.
  • Add the mint and corriander leaves, fry for a few seconds.
  • Add the okras and stir-fry in low heat for about 3-5 mins, until the stickiness is almost gone.
  • Now add the spice powders , mushrooms and salt and mix well.
  • Cover in low heat until the mushrooms become soft.
  • Then increase the heat, stir-fry until its roasted well and you get a nice brown color.
Goes well with anything as a great side-dish. I enjoy this with Rice and Dal!