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Archive for the ‘snacks’ Category

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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Friends, I am back! I hope I will keep posting new recipes regularly.Why I stopped for almost two years does’nt really matter. Many of you kept sending me sweet letters, trying to get me back to posting new recipes. It is this love and support that made me  come back again. Thanks to one and all!

A few days back  I prepared this simple Paneer tikka for a TV show. I always wanted to use decorative skewers. I have searched many shops in Chennai and Bangalore in vain. Only simple barbeque sticks are easily available. The first time I made these using stalks from coconut leaves.

Paneer sticks. The table cloth is   hand stitched patch work made from leftover  material of  lakshmi’s frocks.

Ingredients

  1. Paneer – 200gms (cut into even cubes)
  2. Bell peppers – 1 each of green, yellow and red.
  3. Tomato – 2
  4. Onion – 2
  5. Carrot – 1
  6. Baby corn – 2
  7. Potato – 1
  8. Thick Curd – 2 tbs
  9. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  10. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  11. Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  12. Any mixed spice of your choice – 1 tsp
  13. Oil – 1 tbs

Method

  • Cut the bellpeppers, onions and tomatoes into 1 inch cubes.
  • Peel and cut the potatoes into one inch cubes.
  • Peel and cut the carrots into rounds.
  • Cut the baby corn into one inch pieces.
  • MW the carrots, potatoes and baby corn for 2 minutes.
  • Mix salt, Turmeric, chilli powder and 1 tsp oil in a bowl.
  • Arrange the vegetables and paneer one after the other into the barbeque sticks.
  • Spread the curd mixture on all sides and leave for 5 minutes.
  • Grease a non stick tawa with 1 tsp oil and place the sticks.
  • Close with a lid and cook in low flame for 5 minutes turning after every minute.
  • Once the vegetables are soft and paneer turns brown take off the flame.
  • Sprinkle your favourite spice powder and serve hot.

Note

You can also make these with tooth picks. Just cut the vegetables and paneer into smaller cubes.

You can use any other vegetables of  your choice.

Watch me on Srisankara TV on saturday June 26th at 1 pm IST. You can also view in the web at srisankaratv.net (timings are same)

For my friends in other countries I have requested the channel to retelecast at a time convenient for them. Will let you know timings soon.

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My Appa’s Microwave Aval Upma

A mini sized Mahabharat over the ownership of kitchen and cooking at home is an everyday affair between my amma and appa.  I must admit that though my appa can cook and clean very well, he’s rather unconventional in his style. Left to manage the kitchen on my own with appa for company one day when amma was travelling, I realized how difficult it was to work with him in cooking up a menu because he almost works parallely in what appears to be the opposite direction of desired results, gives too many instructions and liberally peppers the experience of cooking with too much of scientific analysis!  

That said, my appa’s fetish for kitchen experimentation does lead to yummy results. There are few dishes that both amma and I leave for appa to cook because only he can actually make them really well – we may be good cooks, but we cannot make Dumroot Halwa, Puli Upma and Aval Upma the way appa makes them.  We may follow same recipe and method and yet not get the same results. 

On a recent trip to Bangalore, I was served with the what I consider the best aval upma in the world. The recipe is straightforward, super quick and makes for a good evening snack. 

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Makes – 2 – 3 servings

Ingredients

  • Aval/ Poha (flattened rice)* – 2 cups
  • Vegetables of Choice (Onions, Carrots, Baby Corn, Capsicum etc) – 1 cup
  • Coriander – 4 to 5 twigs (finely chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee/ Oil – 1 tsp
  • Water to soak 
  • Peanuts – 1/2 cup (roasted)

*use a thicker variety of aval/ poha

Method

  1. Soak the Aval (flattened rice) for 10 minutes in enough water. 
  2. Toss vegetables in ghee. Microwave the vegetables on high for 4 minutes until parboiled. 
  3. Drain the soaked Aval in a colander well until all the water is gone. 
  4. Toast the peanuts in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in high. 
  5. Add the well drained aval to the parboiled vegetables. Add salt and finely chopped coriander and mix well. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Add peanuts to the upma just before serving. 

Serve with pickle/sauce of choice. 

This recipe yields an aval upma, that is fluffy and filled with the flavour of vegetables rather than spices. This is how the recipe is meant to work and taste. With additions or twists, it just isn’t the same aval upma anymore. Since the recipe depends a lot on the flavour of the vegetables, how you cut the vegetables is important. Slice the onions very thin and the rest of your vegetables can be cut in even roundels or cubes that are not too big nor too small. Any vegetable that you choose to add, needs to be cut in a way that you like to taste it in the dish best. 

Microwave Aval Upma - for the Recipe Marathon

Fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaVijiKamalika,Pavani

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Beetroot Carrot Vadai

I don’t mind consuming deep fried foods once in a while. In fact as a family, some of our best loved food is deep fried – its a affliction that has been ingrained for generations – specially on my appa’s side. I must say that none of this love, that is unsullied by feelings of guilt, has transformed us into bulging balloons.  We like to follow the famed and much difficult mid path in our food consumption – we’re neither on a “no fat””no deep fried” diet, nor are we on a gluttonous binge.  

Beetroot Carrot Vadai is a  deep fried sweetish savoury vadai (south indian fritters?) loaded with the joy of biting into a crunchiness that leads to a melting softness. It yummy in every way that you can possibly imagine. A sweet, a savoury, a dessert, a snack – all rolled into one. 

picture-258

Ingredients

  • Beetroot – 2 cups (Grated)
  • Carrot – 1 cup (Grated)
  • Ginger – 1 inch pieces (minced into pieces)
  • Coriander – 6-8 twigs (finely chopped)
  • Gram Flour – 1 cup 
  • Rice Flour – 1 cup
  • Chilli powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp
  • Oil to deep fry

picture-261

Method

  1. Mix the grated beetroot, grated carrot, minced ginger, finely chopped coriander, salt and chilli powder. 
  2. Add Rice flour and Gram flour and combine by hand. DO NOT add any water while making the dough. Grated Beetroot has enough water content that is needed to bring the flours together into a dough. You should be able to form a small ball with the resulting dough. The dough should not be watery. Add some more rice flour and gram flour in equal quantities if the dough feels wet and is not well combined.  Add the ghee and combine well with the dough. 
  3. Heat oil on a medium flame in a deep bottomed vessel. Take a small, approximately inch sized portion of the dough. Pat into a round thin disc.  Make four or five such round discs. 
  4. Drop the discs into the oil and fry till the sound subsides.  Drain oil from the vadas and take out into a perforated vessel. Proceed with the rest of the dough.  Adjust flame from low to medium, ensure that oil remain at a uniform temperature and does not get too hot that it starts smoking. Remove any particles, if there are any, after frying each batch. 
  5. Transfer the vadas to a serving dish lined with kitchen paper. 
  6. Serve with chutney or sauce of your choice. 

Beetroot Carrot Vadas – crisp on the outside, soft inside – for the Recipe Marathon.

Check my fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaVijiKamalika,Pavani

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I have been dreaming of making savoury muffins ever since Raaga mentioned about her famous vegetable cake. We never ended up baking it together as we planned to but the idea was stuck in my head. Some months ago when I had just bought my oven, I ambitiously set out to buy baking ware to complement it. At that time, I had imagined my oven to be this ultimate machine which could cook 16 muffins at one go!! The 16 mould muffin tray obviously din’t fit into my puny 30L oven. Thankfully I have a better sense of proportion when it comes to cooking!

Arudathi passed on a 6 mould muffin tray she’s bought for me sometime back yesterday. I quickly threw in a few ingredients to make a batter going by whatever  I knew about what goes into a cake. The results were fabulous and looked decent for first time muffins. I got fairly good domes, not very smooth but decent.  

These muffins are savoury, eggless and have just a tbsp of oil but quite a bit of cheese.

Makes: 6 medium, 10 small

Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes (pureed into medium consistency) – 3/4 cup
  • Peppers/ Capsicum (finely chopped) – 3/4 cup
  • Feta Cheese (crumbled) - 60 gms (approx 1/4 of a 250gms feta blockCan be replaced with paneer)
  • Onions (finely chopped) – 1/4 cup
  • Black Pepper Corns – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin – 1/4  tsp  
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Cooking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Curd – 1 tbsp
  • Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp (increase if you’re using paneer)

Method

  1. Grease or line a muffin tray and preheat an oven to 220 C.  
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, cooking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Saute the Black Pepper Corns and Cumin in some Oil until they pop. Set aside for cooling. Pound coarsely. Add to the flour mix.
  4. Add tomato puree and curd to the flour mix. Fold in the milk. Fold in the peppers/capscisum, onions and feta cheese. Add the remaining olive oil.   
  5. Pour into muffin moulds.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Notes

  • If you’re replacing the feta cheese with paneer, dunk paneer in some warm water before crumbling and increase the salt. The feta that I used is rather creamy – you may not get the same effect with Paneer. You may increase the quantity of cheese if you are using Paneer. Silken Tofu would also be a good substitute.
  • This recipe does not call for the vegetables to be pre cooked in any way. Finely chopped peppers and onion will get cooked with the 30 minutes of baking.  
  • While pouring each mould should be filled all the way to the top. Only then the rise of the muffin will become a dome. Filling 3/4th of the mould will give you muffins with flat tops. 

Some shameless self promotion:

Check out the Marbled cake Mandira and I tried at BakingBuddies.

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Perfectly roasted Sepakizhangu (Taro/ Colacasia/ Arbi) – crisp on the outside, well steamed and soft inside – is a dead simple recipe that contrary to popular perception doesn’t require any deep frying or a bottle of oil.

Let me get this straight. Taro is NOT inherently gooey, mashy and ichy. Taro is more often than not badly cooked and made into a gooey mess. Roasting doesn’t require oodles of oil. Roasting require good regulation of temperature and patience. There’s isn’t much to the art of roasting, besides cooking on a slow flame and knowing when and how to turn the vegetable. It’s a one of a kind experience in slow cooking.

I turn my nose up at people who don’t like Taro (even if they are friends). How can someone not like something that tastes as good as this? I can write an ode to Taro. A bowlful of roasted Taro with a newspaper or book to read is my idea of a perfectly lazy late morning snack.

Ingredients

  • Sepakizhangu (Colacasia/ Taro/ Arbi) – 1/2 kg
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Channa Dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Urad Dal (split) – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (or more if you like)
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to Taste
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Wash the Taro well. Pressure Cook the Taro with the skin till its well steamed but not mushy. (Wait for the first whistle, turn the heat to low till the cooker is on its way to the second whistle. Throw a towel over the whistle to stop steam from escaping and switch the cooker off.)
  2. Remove the Taro from the cooker when the pressure drops. Allow to cool for sometime. You can sink Taro in some cool water if you like.
  3. When mildly warm but not hot, skin the Taro and cut into discs. Add Turmeric , Salt and Hing, mix and keep aside.
  4. In a large skillet , heat the Oil, crackle the mustard seeds and toast the urad dal and the channa dal.
  5. On a low to medium flame, add the Sepakizhangu. Spread evenly on the skillet with a flat ladle. Allow one side to cook for a while. When it starts to turn the lightest of golden yellow, overturn and roast the other side. Repeat this process till all sides start turning a deep golden more or less evenly. Keep the flame on low to medium all the time. Do not try to roast on high.
  6. Add chilli powder and mix well. Roast for one more minute.
  7. Remove from flame when the Taro is crisp on all sides.

Sepakizhangu roast is a great side dish for sambhar rice vethal kuzhambu rice and all variety rices.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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