Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Curry Leaves Chicken (Karuvepilai Chicken)

Its time to post a non-vegetarian recipe. I love the tantalizing flavor of curry leaves. A bit of this brings out a traditional flavor in everything I cook, especially in non vegetarian dishes. Nothing can beat the freshly seasoned curry leaves on coconut chutney. I used to dislike this during childhood as it was painful to pick them out while eating. With the years going by though, like many of you, I’ve developed a true love to these leaves. Now, given a chance, I’d add them to anything I cook.

This is a dish that I have been waiting to post for a long time.  The first time I tasted this was at a local restaurant in India. It was delicious and ever since I have been drooling over this dish. I messed up the pictures when I made this last time and after a long time I made this again recently. 

  • Chicken thighs (boneless) - 2 pounds
  • Curry leaves - 1/2 cup
  • Onions - 2 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Ginger - 2 inches
  • Garlic - 4 cloves
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 4 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Sesame oil - 2 tbsp


  • Wash and cut the chicken into 2 inch pieces. Marinate the chicken pieces with turmeric powder, 1 tsp chillipowder and salt for atleast 30 mins.
  • Make a paste out of ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, 1 tsp fennel seeds, curry leaves (save a few for seasoning) and a handful of chopped onions. Add just a little water.
  • Heat sesame oil in a large wok (cast iron pans are perfect). Season with the remaining 1 tsp of fennel seeds.
  • Add chopped onions, a few curry leaves and fry well until the onions change color.
  • Add the ground paste, remaining 1 tsp chilli powder and corriander powder and fry in medium heat for a min.
  • Add the tomatoes, mix well, cover and let it cook in low heat for 5 - 8 mins, until the spices and tomatoes are cooked well.
  • Add the marinated chicken, mix well and cover it again in medium heat for 10 - 15 mins until the chicken is fully cooked. Add very little water if necessary as the chicken and tomatoes release a lot of moisture.
  • After the chicken is fully cooked, increase the heat and let all the liquid evaporate while gently stirring the chicken continuously.
  • Turn off the heat after the chicken reaches the correct consistency as you desire.
 Perfect for Sambar and Rasam rice... but nothing can beat this dish with curd rice!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paruppu Urundai Kulambu (Lentil balls cooked in a spicy gravy)

I'm ready for a warmer weather.  I want to free myself from wearing layer after layers just to place my garbage outside. I'm ready to wear my flipflops and go for a walk in my neighborhood. More than all, I am ready for summer food.  Grilling, Cool Frappuccino, Oberwies Sundaes - I can't wait.

Lately I have been just trying some of my favorite traditional recipes. Last week I sat back in my couch with a bunch of cook books on my lap and went through all of them. I bookmarked several recipes - a lot of them were traditional home made recipes that I have a craving for now and some of them I have not even heard of. My "To Cook" list has grown longer than ever. Paruppu Urundai Kulambu is an authentic tamil recipe made often in our state, but the preparation may differ between households. This is a perfect dish for a weekend lunch accompanied with some traditional side dishes like poriyal or koottu.

For the Paruppu Urundai: 
  • Toor Dhal - 3/4 cup
  • Chana dal - 1/4 cup
  • Red chillies - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Garlic - 1 small clove (optional)
  • Onions - minced - 1 tbsp
  • Salt - as needed
  • Curry leaves and Corriander leaves - finely chopped  - a hand full.
For the Kulambu:
  • Onion - 1 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Garlic - 3 cloves - finely chopped
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asafoetida - 2 pinches
  • Tomatoes - 2 small - chopped
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Kulambu powder - 2 tsp (You can substitute this with 2 tsp sambar powder or 1 tsp chilli powder and 2 tsp corriander powder)
  • Tamarind Water - 2 cups (or 1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 2 cups of water)
  • Shredded Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Fennel Seeds - 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish
  • Soak the dals for 2 hrs. Grind the dals with fennel seeds, garlic, red chillies and salt. Do not add water. Mix the dal paste with Onions, curry leaves and corriander leaves.
  • Make equal sized balls of the paste and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, steam the balls (I use idli steamer - just place the balls on the idli plates and steam for 5 mins).
  • Grind the coconut and 1 tsp fennel seeds to a fine paste. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wide and deep pan. Season with mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds and asafoetida.
  • Add the onions, garlic and curry leaves and fry for a few mins until the onions start changing color.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, the spice powders and salt. Fry well in medium heat until the tomatoes are fully cooked.
  • Add the tamarind water and bring it to boil. Cover and let it cook for 10 mins in medium heat.
  • Add the coconut paste and let it boil. Now gently add the steamed balls into the gravy. Let them cook in low heat for 10 mins.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves and let it sit for half an hour before serving.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brussel Sprouts Curry

This is one of those vegetables that is not common on dinner tables. Many times, I had stopped and explored this vegetable in grocery stores, but had no idea about what to do with these. Surprisingly, when mom visited us a few years back, she was excited to see this vegetable in a local grocery store  and she immediately bought and prepared a traditional Kurma out of this. Until then, I didn't know it could taste so good with Indian spices. I think this vegetable has a bad reputation among kids since it becomes slightly bitter when overcooked. The best way to cook these are either roast them in an oven with olive oil and mild spices or make a mild curry out of it without overcooking. Over time, I’ve done everything from sautéing just the brussel sprout leaves to lightly preparing a curry with mild spices for rotis and rice. This curry is a fantastic recipe with a very different flavor and goes very well with rotis.


  • Brussel Sprouts - 1 pound
  • Red Onion - 1 medium sized
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asaefotida - 1 pinch
  • R.Chilly - 1
  • Garlic - 1small pod
  • Tomatoes - chopped - 1/2 cup
  • Tomato Puree - 2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp


  • Take the brussel sprouts, cut the hard parts on the tip and remove the top leaves that are loose. Wash them thoroughly and cut them into 2 or 4 pieces depending on the size.
  • Chop the onions, garlic and tomato finely
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, season with mustard, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • Break the red chilly into two pieces and add to the seasoning.
  • Add the chopped garlic and fry in low heat for a few secs.
  • Add the chopped onions, salt and fry for a min or two.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, chilli and corriander powders and fry well for a few mins until the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add the tomato puree, mix well and cover for a few mins.
  • Once the spices are cooked well, add the brussel sprouts and mix well until the spice mixture is completed coated on the sprouts.
  • Cover and cook for 12-15 mins, stirring them frequently.
  • If required add some water to help the sprouts cook well. (Remember the key is not to overcook the sprouts. Just cook them until they are soft and still retain their shape).
  • Cook until the water is fully evaporated and everything comes together well.
  • Remove from heat, serve hot with Rotis.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mushroom Briyani

While growing up, I'd never given mushrooms much thought.  After moving here I saw it everywhere - burgers, soups, salads, pizza, pasta - its there everywhere. I also learned that mushrooms are top in antioxidants that help fight illness. There were not my favorite in the beginning, but eventually this chewy vegetable got on my staple vegetable list as I learned more and more recipes on mushrooms. Now I love all sorts of mushroom dishes, but if I have to choose one of my favorite recipes, it would probably be this mushroom briyani. Its a nice alternative from the regular veggie briyani when I'm in the mood for a change in my kitchen.

This recipe has been evolving ever since I learned the original recipe from my sister a few years back. After making a few slight changes to better suit my taste, it has now become the standard version everytime I make it. So, here is the recipe for those who are looking for a nice mushroom dish.

  • Chopped mushrooms - 2 cups
  • Basmati rice - 2 cups
  • Onion - 1 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Ginger & Garlic paste - 1 tbsp (freshly made)
  • G.chillies - 2 - slit lengthwise
  • Chopped corriander leaves - 2 hands full
  • Chopped mint leaves - 1 hand full
  • Heavy cream - 2 tbsp
  • Coconut milk - 1/2 cup (canned coconut milk is fine)
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 3 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
  • Cloves - 3 pieces
  • Butter - 1 inch cube
  • Curd/Yogurt -  2 tbsp
  • Soak the basmati rice in water for 10 mins.
  • In a large deep pan (with lid), melt the butter and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add cinnamon and cloves, once they pop-up, add the slit green chillies and chopped onions. Fry for 2 mins.
  • Now add ginger and garlic paste and fry well for a few mins.
  • Add corriander and mint leaves and fry for a min until a nice aroma comes.
  • Now add the chilli powder, corriander powder and salt. Fry and cover in low heat for a 2 mins until the raw smell starts to go away.
  • Add the curd and heavy cream and mix well.
  • Add the mushrooms and mix well with the spice mixture. Cover and cook for 8 - 10 mins. The mushroom must have been semi-cooked at this stage.
  • Drain the water from the rice and add the rice to the mushroom mixture. Mix well.
  • Mix the coconut milk in 3 cups of water and add this to the rice.
  • Check for salt and spice and adjust to your taste.
  • At this stage you can transfer this mixture to an electric rice cooker and cook until done.
  • I usually cook it in the same pan on the stove. This does not let the rice become sticky or overcooked. For this, you have to bring the mixture to boil and then simmer the heat fully, cover and cook for 15 mins (checking and stirring gently a few times).  You can sprinkle some water if required to reach the correct consistency.
Serve hot with raita or any curry on the side.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk (Thengaipal Sodhi)

I love stews, especially during cold weather.  The coconut milk flavor combined with mild spices is a perfect combination for many everyday meals like rice, idli, dosa, idiyappam etc. Packed with fresh veggies and mild spices, this sure is a winner in our home.  This originally is a slow cooking recipe and if you ever have that extra time, you can toss all the ingredients together in a slow cooker and let it cook over night. I tried it just once and the taste was out of the world! However, the quicker stove-top version also comes out quite nice.

This dish is famous in southern part of my home state and I have already posted a different version of this here.  Every region has its own flavor and offers different twists to the same dish and this one is very different in my opinion.


Cabbage - 1 inch pieces - 1/2 cup
Drumsticks - 2 inch pieces - 5 (Optional)
Yellow Pumpkin - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Peas - 1/2 cup
Potato - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Carrots - small cubes - 1/2 cup
Brinjal - 1 inch cubes - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk - 1.5 cups
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

For the paste:
  • Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Roasted chana dal/Chana Dalia/Porikadalai - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • G.chillies - 4 
(I add a litle extra of all the above if I plan to have it with rice so the flavor stays when mixed with hot rice too)
  • Chop the veggies as mentioned above.
  • Dilute half of the coconut milk with 2 cups of water. Heat a large wide pan, add the diluted coconut milk, turmeric, salt, drumsticks and brinjals. If using American eggplants, you can add them at a later stage since they can get cooked fast. Let them cook for a few mins.
  • After the veggies are semi cooked, add all the remaining veggies and cook for a few more mins. Add little water if needed.
  • While the veggies are cooking, make as paste with the ingredients listed above for the paste. Add this paste to the vegetables, add the remaining coconut milk and simmer for 10-15 mins until the flavors are well blended and the veggies are fully cooked.
  • Heat oil in a small pan, season with mustard leaves and curry leaves. Pour on top of the stew and cover immediately. Remove from heat.
  • Mix the seasoning well, before serving. Serve hot with Rice, dosa or idiyappam. I actually enjoy just the stew in a bowl!