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Archive for August, 2011

Adai is a distant, thick cousin of the dosa, a south indian pancake made with equal parts of rice and a combination of lentils one fancies. Adai-Avial (mixed vegetables dunked in coconut and yogurt) is a classic combination, a common place tiffin that people in this part of the world love. I am no expert on nutrition, exercise and the like. I can therefore make no claims whatsoever on the healthfulness of Adai. What I can, however, tell you with utter confidence is that this a breakfast combination that will keep you full for what will seem like an eternity. Traditionally Adais were thick pancakes, made by patting fistfuls of batter on the tawa. A pit would be dug (a hole, actually, a minor dent) in the middle of this enormously thick pancake to help with even cooking and to infuse some oil.

Growing up with my vegetable worshiping Appa, I always ate what were most definitely cabbage pancakes doled out as Adai. My Appa’s vegetable love was good in every other way, it elevated ordinary bland tasting fare to unimaginably delicious heights, except in this addition of cabbage to the Adai. The fresh home made butter on the side that was served with the Adai was the only thing I looked forward to. Until last week I had never met an Adai I could eat without feeling choked. My search for a palatable adai ended when I transformed this recipe for deep fried paniyarams handed down by my mother in law. I took the liberty of thinning the batter enough so that the Adai could be not just crisp but also feel less voluminous in the mouth.

Recipe handed down by my mother in law, who in turn got it from her mother in law.

Ingredients

  • Raw Rice – 1 cup
  • Moong Dal – 1/4 cup
  • Urad dal (black gram) – 1/4 cup
  • Channa dal (chick peas)- 1/4 cup
  • Toor dal (pigeon peas)- 1/4 cup
  • Red Chillies – 2 -4 no (crushed)
  • Curry Leaves – 2 twigs (finely chopped)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece (grated)
  • Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
Method
  1. Wash the rice and dals (all four together) and soak overnight in enough water separately.
  2. Drain water from the rice and the dals. Grind the rice to a smooth batter with 1/2 cup of water. Add the dals and grind to a coarse batter with another 1/2 cup of water . Add salt, red chillies, grated coconut, curry leaves and ginger to the batter. Dilute with water (if necessary) to get a batter of pouring consistency.
  3. Heat a flat pan on medium and grease with oil. Pour a ladle of batter and spread in circular motion to make the adai/pancake. When one side turns golden, turn over and cook the other side. Remove from pan. Repeat with rest of the batter.
Serve hot with avial/ eggplant gothsu or any other coconut/roasted eggplant based side dish, milagai podi and fresh butter. Other Adais on The Yum blog:

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Tiffin/Palaharam in Tamil Nadu was once usually served in the evening as snacks.  That snack has been upgraded to breakfast fare, served with atleast one vegetable-lentil/coconut based side dish, thogayal/ chutney and curd. (If like my appa, you subsist on 95% vegetable diet, you will add a salad/soup).  In the not so distant past, people  ate what we eat for lunch as breakfast, a practice that is not uncommon even today. You know you are in Tamil Nadu if you see people waking up at 5am to eat a gigantic lunch at 9am.

Paniyaram with Poricha Kuzhambu, Green Tomato Chutney and Curd

No breakfast is repeated for atleast a month at Amma’s. Yes, she is that rare breed of modern day Tamilian not to have Idli/Dosa Maavu forever in the fridge, because she makes them just once in a month. And she doesn’t even go beyond the South Indian cuisine much as far as breakfast is concerned.  This isn’t surprising considering the agriculture obsessed South Indian culture that not just worships the grains but prepares them using a wide range of techniques. At times the breakfast may just consist of steamed or roasted vegetables served with suitable sides.  Variety needs inspiration, and it is a value to be incorporated from the earlier generation. Even on the standard Iyengar diet that excludes entire food groups including many vegetables, my Patti put together meals that were diverse with  fresh experiences in flavour and texture. Cooking techniques, not just the spices, were used to render different flavours.

Thayir Paniyaram

Thayir paniyaram is one such inspired recipe, created by altering the method of cooking for an existing dish (no prizes for guessing, but you may try).

tbsp=tablespoon, tsp=teaspoon, cup=standard metric cup measuring 250ml

Ingredients

  • Par Boiled rice – 1 cup
  • Urad dal – 1 tablespoon
  • Grated coconut – 2 tbsp (heaped)
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Red chillies – 2
  • Sour Curd (Yogurt) – 1 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Wash and drain the par boiled rice and urad dal. Add to the sour curd(yogurt) and soak overnight for 6-8 hours.
  2. Grind to a smooth batter adding grated coconut, red chillies and salt. Add curry leaves towards the end of grinding the batter.  The batter must be thick but of pouring consistency (similar to cake batter).
  3. Heat the paniyaram pan, add a drop of oil to each of the moulds and pour the batter.
  4. Cover and cook over a medium flame. When the paniyarams start to puff up and  separate from the pan, turn them over and cook the other side. Transfer to serving dish. Repeat for the rest of the batter.

I served it with Green Tomato Chutney and Poricha Kuzhambu.

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Women, men, children – entire villages – dressed in yellow and red undertaking a barefoot journey to Samayapuram Mariamman Kovil. This long trail of pilgrims, we encountered on National Highway 210 started at Pudukottai and continued till we reached Samayapuram. They must have covered about 60-70kms barefoot.

Padyatra/ Nadaipayanam usually refers to the journey one undertakes by foot (mostly barefoot) to a holy shrine or place of spiritual significance and are fairly common in Tamizh Nad.  Besides the famous and visible padyatras undertaken to the Palani Murugan temple, every year in August/September, droves of pilgrims from all over Tamizh Nad make their way by foot to the Basilica at Velankanni for the annual 11 day feast of Our Lady of Health. Pilgrims from Chennai cover more than 300 kms by foot to make this journey.

We encountered these pilgrims on our way back from Karaikudi, a town in Tamil Nadu.

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Recreating dishes my Patti lovingly prepared for us is therapeutic. Not a day passes by without Amma or I reminiscing about the joyous moments we shared with Patti. I have had the privilege of tasting the worst tasting yam dish of all seasons and centuries  while pursuing  my Masters, not once or twice, but every week for an entire two years. The Poricha Kuzhambu with Yam that my Patti prepared offers a study in contrast. The sourness of tamarind perfectly combines with the yam, rendering it itch free (post consumption that is) with a sweet ,earthy, creamy taste.  The yam was left to dry for several days before use to avoid the infamous itch, especially while cutting.

Poricha Kuzhambu was usually prepared on Amavasai (new moon) when lentil based dishes (with the exception of moong dal) were avoided.  Amavasai Tarpanam,  ritual of water oblations, was performed. Food prepared was offered to ancestors and their blessings were sought. Traditional meal planning always included holidays for consumption of specific categories of food, including avoidance of all grains on certain days.

Poricha Kuzhambu

Poricha Kuzhambu

I made Poricha Kuzhambu for the morning’s breakfast to go with some mor paniyarams.  Since I din’t have yam on hand, I used Colacasia (Seppankizhangu) which works as delightfully with this dish.

tbsp=tablespoon, tsp=teaspoon, cup= standard metric cup measuring 250ml

Ingredients

  • Yam/ Colacacia (Seppankizhangu) – 11/2 cup (steamed and diced)
  • Black Chick Peas (Kala Channa) – 4 tbsp
  • Tamarind – lemon sized ball
  • Turmeric
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Sesame Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
For the paste
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Channa dal – 1 tbsp
  • Urad dal – 1 tsp
  • Black peppercorns – 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli – 1
  • Grated coconut – 3 tbsp
  • Sesame Oil – 1 tsp
Paniyaram with Poricha Kuzhambu, Green Tomato Chutney and Curd
Paniyaram with Poricha Kuzhambu, Green Tomato Chutney and Curd
Method
  1. Soak the Black chickpeas overnight.
  2. Wash and pressure cook the Yam/Colacasia and the Black Chickpeas (with water  and a pinch of salt). Peel and dice the yam/colacasia into big pieces.
  3. Soak tamarind in warm water for 10 minutes and squeeze pulp with 2 cups of water.
  4.  Heat sesame oil and roast all ingredients  for the paste, except coconut, until golden.
  5. Take off flame and grind to a paste.
  6. Heat sesame oil in a pan,  add mustard seeds.
  7. When the mustard starts to splutter,  add curry leaves, and on a low flame add the tamarind extract, turmeric, hing and salt.
  8. Bring to a boil and add the steamed yam/colacacia and the black chickpeas.  Simmer for three minutes.
  9. Add the ground paste and simmer for three more minutes.
Serve with Rice or Rice based tiffin varieties.

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Payathamaa Urundai

The whole universe is aware that this blog desperately needs a revival. There are no valid excuses for not blogging – however speaking for myself I can confidently say that I am just plain lazy and procrastination is my best friend. In the many days, months, years that we have been away, WordPress has become unrecognizable, the sidebars have become stale, the recipe index next to useless and requests for recipes have bloated to mammoth proportions. I have stopped baking (almost) and started cooking mostly the traditional fare, become a mother, lost lots of weight, started to read voraciously and overall, become older and wiser. Amma has become a grandmother, discarded an entire organ (the uterus) from her body and become an ace at using the internet.

We have certainly not run out of ideas or recipes. While there are several non traditional recipes on this blog,  with this new start we hope to get the blog back to its roots – cataloging more of the traditional recipes. We hope to focus more on our heirloom cuisine, share more in depth about the tradition of cooking we love so much. We also hope to clean up the recipe index, update tags and categories and make it easier for all our readers to search for recipes.

Payathamaa Urundai is one of the few Indian sweets that is easy for beginners since it does not require one to be bothered by the sugar syrup consistency.

Payathamaa Urundai

Ingredients

  • Moong dal (split) – 1 cup (pictured below)
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Ghee – ½ cup
  • Cashewnuts – 1 tbsp ( broken)
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom – 4 pods

Moong Dal

Method

  1. Dry roast moong dal until it turns light brown. Stir continuously so that it is evenly roasted. Allow to cool.
  2. Remove cardamon from the pods. Grind sugar and cardamom to a fine powder.
  3. Grind the roasted moong to a fine powder.
  4. Mix the powdered moong dal and sugar in a bowl.
  5. Toast the cashewnuts in ghee till they turn golden. Add the raisins and toast on a low flame.
  6. Add the roasted cashewnuts and raisins to the moong dal powder. Mix well and shape into balls.

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