Friday, January 28, 2011

Vazhakkai Kuzhambu (Spicy Plaintain Curry with Black Eyed Peas)

Lately I have been seeing fresh green plantains in my local grocery store frequently. Plaintain was one of those "hard-to-find-Indian-vegetables" until a few months back. Years ago, plaintains used to be a comfort vegetable like potatoes - mom made it atleast once a week and my mother-in-law makes a variety of dishes with plantains - Puttu, Poriyal, Podimas, Aviyal - you name it. However, I haven't heard a kuzhambu made of Plantain - a hot and spicy plantain gravy. I came across this recipe in a magazine recently and when got more curious, I googled this recipe. I was surprised to see different variations of kuzhambu recipes with plantain! Hmm, I've been missing this yummy version all these days. I couldn't wait to try this recipe and immensely enjoyed it. Hope you all like it.

  • Plaintains - 2 small
  • Black-eyed peas - 1 cup (soaked overnight or you can use frozen too)
  • Garlic - 3 cloves - minced
  • Pearl Onions - 6
  • Tomatoes - chopped - 1/2 cup
  • Shredded Coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Broken cashews - 2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder any Kuzhambu powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander Powder - 2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves and Cilantro - a few
  • Tamarind Paste - 2 tsp
  • Peel the skin off the plaintains and chop them into 1 inch cubes. Soak in water, so they retain the color.
  • Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard and fenugreek seeds and 1 tsp fennel seeds. While they pop, add chopped pearl onions, 2 garlic cloves (retain one for later use) and curry leaves. Fry for a few mins.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli/kuzhambu powder and corriander powder and fry in medium heat until the tomatoes lose shape. You should start getting a nice aroma from the spice powders.
  • Transfer this to a pressure cooker and add the chopped plaintains, black-eyed peas and salt to the mixture. Add 1 cup of water and pressure cook for 2 whistle - just to cook the vegetables. The timings vary based on your pressure cooker.
  • While this is cooking, make a paste of coconut, garlic, cashews and 1 tsp fennel seeds. Also dissolve the tamarind paste separately in 1 cup of water.
  • After letting the steam off from the pressure cooker, open the cooker, turn on the heat and add the coconut paste and mix well.
  • Finally add the tamarind juice and boil for 5 - 7 mins in medium heat.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
You can enjoy this with steaming hot white rice and papad!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spicy Mutton Curry

After a long time, I made a mutton dish this weekend. I've been restricting to buy mutton for more than a year now, however this week the local halal store triggered my craving for mutton. I was not intending to post this recipe when I made it, as I was just doing it as a quick toss recipe with very little time. But after seeing the finished gravy and enjoying it with some rice, I couldn't resist taking a picture of what was left and post it.

Though I adapted this recipe from a Andhra recipe book, this is very similar to my mother-in-law's recipe. Honestly, my mother-in-law used to make this dish just for me whenever I visit her place, as no one else is fond of mutton there. I enjoy this dish with idlis and parottas mostly. With a slight variation by adding some coconut paste and bit of tamarind paste at the end, this recipe can also be a converted to a mutton kuzhambu that you can enjoy with briyanis or plain rice.

  • Mutton pieces with bones - 1 lb
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch pieces broken
  • Cloves - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 3 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Onions - chopped - a handfull
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Corrinader leaves - a handfull
For Paste1 :
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 4 medium cloves
  • G. Chillies - 2
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch piece
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
For Paste2:
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium
  • Make a coarse paste of all the ingredients under "for paste1". Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions until they change color. Add chopped tomatoes and fry until they lose shape. Cool and make a paste.
  • Heat a tsp of oil in a pressure cooker, add paste2 and fry for a few mins.
  • Add paste1 and fry until you get a nice aroma (about 5 mins)
  • Now add the mutton pieces, chilli, turmeric, corriander and black pepper powders, salt and fry for 5 - 7 more mins.
  • Add 2 cups of water and pressure cook together until the mutton is soft and cooked. The timings vary depending on the pressure cooker. Cook just about right without overcooking.
  • Heat oil in another pan, season with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds. Add the handful of chopped onions, curry leaves and corriander leaves and fry until the onion become golden brown.
  • Add it to the gravy and boil it for a few mins.
Enjoy hot with idlis, rotis or rice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Red Bell Pepper Chutney

I always wondered why Red and Yellow peppers are expensive than the green ones. To me, its the same vegetable but just picked at different stages. Then, recently I read an article that had some explaination about it. It said that red and yellow peppers are more fragile and spoil quickly since they are extra ripe, so extra care has to be taken care of them like extra cost to transport etc. Well, that kind of made sense, but still I do not agree that the bell pepper can cost 80 cents per pound while Yellow pepper can cost $2.99 per pound.

Anyway, I like the red bell peppers more than the yellow and green peppers. May be because of that vibrant color and definitely the red one has a different flavor than the other ones. I regularly use this in my pasta, stir-fry noodles etc. Well, here is a yummy chutney recipe made with the red peppers that goes really well with Idlis and Dosas. I enjoy it by spreading this chutney on my dosa along with some gingely oil. Yummy!


  • Red Bell Peppers - 2

  • Onion - 1 medium

  • Garlic - 2 small cloves

  • Red Chillies - 2 or 3 (I make little extra hot)

  • Shredded Coconut - 2 tbsp

  • Roasted Peanuts - 2 tbsp (I sometimes replace this with roasted urad dal)

  • Tamarind paste - 1/4 tsp (optional)

  • Salt to taste.


  • Heat a tsp of oil in a shallow pan, Simmer the heat, fry the Red chillies until they change color.

  • Now add the onions and garlic cloves and fry until the onions change color and become soft.

  • Now add the red bell peppers and fry until they lose shape.

  • Cool them to room temperature and then blend them together with salt, peanuts, tamarind and coconut.

Delicious Red Bell Pepper Chutney is ready! Enjoy with Idlis and Dosas.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kalkandu Pongal

Wishing you all a Happy Bhogi, Pongal and Sankaranthi!

This is one of my favorite festival sweets that I relish in my hometown. I've sometimes seen this served in weddings too. The best form of this dish I have ever tasted is in one of my local temples in Madurai as Neivedhyam. This is made with the transparent sugar candy, instead of regular sugar or jaggery. I love the flavor especially when its made with that extra ghee :) You can get the sugar candy packets in many Indian stores. Thought would make it for pongal this year for a change.

  • Raw rice - 1 cup
  • Moog Dal (Pasi Paruppu) - 1/4 cup
  • Kalkandu/Sugar Candy - 2 cups
  • Milk - 1 cup
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Cardamom crushed - 1 tsp
  • Ghee - 1/2 cup (adjust as you want)
  • Cashews - a handful
  • Roast the moong dal with a tsp of ghee. Transfer to a pressure cooker, add rice, add 1 cup milk, 3 cups water and pressure cook well.
  • Meanwhile, add a cup of water, add the kalkandu and dissolve in low heat. I usually leave it in stove in minimum heat for the entire time the rice and dal are cooking. Once completely dissolved, it will start thickening a bit. Thats fine, just keep stirring occasionally in low heat.
  • Once the pressure cooker is done, mash the rice and dal together with a pinch of salt.
  • Turn on the heat, add the sugar syrup to the rice and dal mixture, add crushed cardamom and continue stirring in low heat until the mixture becomes thick to a pongal consistency.
  • Heat ghee in a separate pan, roast the cashews and pour it over the pongal. Stir for a few more mins and remove from heat.
Serve hot.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vegetable Kadai

I seem to have run out of words, and my thought flow is gone. I've been trying hard to contribute something to this space, but have been postponing it continously. I know I've been disappointing my good friends by deserting my blog for several months now inspite of receiving several requests and reminders for recipes. So, yet nother try to get started again, a short post just with a recipe - may be thats what can help me get back to my pace.

Here is a recipe I made today - Vegetable Kadai - an all in one side dish for rotis. A traditional Punjabi dish with a nice blend of spices giving that unique flavor. I used to enjoy this dish back in India in restaurants, although its usually floating on oil. We get a decent version of this dish in our local restaurants here as well, but I can't match it with the taste in India. I got this recipe from a cooking show a few years back, and have tried it at home too a few times now, ofcourse a low calorie version. You can modify it as you want.

  • Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
  • Peas - 1/2 cup
  • Carrots/Beans - chopped - 1 cup total
  • Capsicum - chopped into squares - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 medium - chopped into squared petals
  • Onion - 1 medium - chopped finely
  • Tomato Puree - 1/2 cup (I make them fresh - boil 2 medium tomatoes for 5 mins, cool and peel the skin, puree it in a blender)
  • Ginger/Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
  • Cashews - 10
  • Corriander seeds - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
  • Red Chillies - 2
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish

  • Soak the cashews in warm water for 10 mins. Then grind and make a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Heat a pan, Dry roast Redchillies, Cumin and Corriander seeds until you get the nice aroma. Cool and powder them.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Fry the capsicum and the onions petals until they start browning a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add 1/2 of the corriander/cumin/chilli powder and fry for a min.
  • Add ginger/garlic paste and saute well. Then add the chopped onions and fry until onions change color.
  • Add tomato puree, garam masala and salt and boil it for 3 mins.
  • Now add the vegetables, 1 cup water, mix well and cover until they are almost cooked. Don't fully cook them yet.
  • Add the cashew paste and mix well, add the fried capsicum and onion petals, mix and boil for a few more mins until veggies are fully done.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with corriander leaves and finally add the remaining corriander/cumin/Chilli powder on the top and immediately cover it.
  • Just before serving, mix the spices and corriander leaves together to the gravy. This gives a nice and fresh aroma while serving. Serve hot.
Enjoy with Naan, Rotis or White rice.