Category Archives: Rice, Pasta

Rajasthani Mini Thali

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Rajasthan, the desert land, is a beautiful state with a colourful history behind it. It is the land of ‘Rajas(kings)’ (Raja-sthan) and there are many palaces and fortresses there, reflecting the state’s rich royal heritage.

Travelling to Rajasthan was a dream and we did travel to Jaipur and Jaisalmer 8 years back. It’s still an experience I relive and relish, especially the Jaisalmer fort. If possible, I would love to go there again…and again….and again

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Not just the palaces, Rajasthani food is also famous. Their cooking style is a bit different. They bank on pulses and dried vegetables more than fresh veggies, since the desert is no ideal place to grow vegetables. It’s all different with advanced irrigation techniques and easy transportation now a days.

Yet you will find extensive use of pulses in Rajasthani cooking.

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We had been to Choki Dhani,  a Rajasthani village resort which showcases food and art culture from Rajasthan. We went as a group and so had fun. The place was over crowded and the waiting time for each and everything was long, but since we were a big group, the waiting time was yacking time and hence a happy time as well :-).

My son enjoyed the trip a lot (‘a lot’ is really less to describe his happiness) and surprisingly, loved the food also a lot.

He finished almost everything on his plate, without much fuss. He was hungry and the food was tasty.

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The menu I have here is a bit on the lines of what we had in Choki dhani. They served us phulka, puri and bajra roti…all of which my son loved. I have replaced the puri with missi roti.

They started off with churma and brought the dal and baati. Then came the kadi and gatte ki sabzi. I skipped the last one, it deserves a separate post on its own :-). There was palak paneer and an aloo ki sabzi to go with the rotis. Some 3-4 varieties of pickles and chutneys were served.

Kichidi came later and it was served with sugar. Keeping the Chennai crowd in mind, they have included rasam, sambar rice and curd rice in the menu as well.

So here I have 3 bread varieties, an aloo curry and a mixed veg curry to go with it. Kichuri, dal and kadhi with 2 types of pickle/chutney as well.

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The Menu:

  • Khichuri/Kichidi : Rice and moong dal cooked together with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Vegetables can also be added to make it healthier.
  • Bajre ki roti  : A whole grain roti made of millet flour. It’s usually made as a single thick roti, saving cooking time. The dough is crumbly because of the absence of gluten, so thick roti is the way to go.
  • Missi roti : Roti made with chick pea flour (besan). Has many versions and this is one of them.
  • Phulka : Thin whole wheat roti  which is cooked in the flame directly for puffing up. No oil is used.
  • Sabz Jaipuri : A mixed vegetable preparation from the city of Jaipur.
  • Atte ki kadhi : A yogurt based preparation which uses whole wheat as the thickening agent instead of the usual chickpea flour (besan)
  • Aloo ki sabzi : A simple potato preparation that goes all around India.
  • Dal : My friend’s preparation :-). Here is a the recipe for Pancharatna dal, which is very popular in Rajasthan as well.
  • Malai Mirch : Chopped green chillies, fried in ghee and then cooked with cream. YUM!
  • Lehsun Chutney : Garlic chutney, pairs well with the breads
  • Pyaz, Nimbu, Mirch : Raw onions, lemon wedges and green chillies. The green chillies can be fried in ghee/oil.

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Punjabi Thali – Palak Paneer, Dal Tadka, Chole, Aloo Paratha, Jeera rice

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What are the dishes that come to your mind when you think about an Indian thali?

Paneer butter masala? Palak Paneer? Paneer Tikka masala? Dal Makni? Rajma? Chole? Parathas? Naan? Dal fry?

Well, almost all of these are from the state of Punjab. Punjabi food has become synonymous with Indian food.

And with a good reason. It’s absolutely fantastically tasty!

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The flip side is that it’s rich. A lot of fat in the form of butter or ghee go into these dishes and it cannot be had on an everyday basis.

On an everyday basis, it can be roti or low fat parathas with simple side dishes.

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This mini thali here is a balance of rich food and the simple ones. The parathas have been treated with ghee, but there isn’t much that’s gone into the side dishes. The dal is simple and plain and so is the chole. The salad provides a refreshing experience, so does the onion with lemon wedges. I have never tried eating the chillies (fried or not), so can’t comment on that!

Palak paneer is also not too rich, yet maintaining that oomph factor. You can dress it up a bit more by adding some cream.

Jeera rice is a good side for this meal. It’s mildly flavoured, so it can be enjoyed with curries without having a clash of flavours.

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The Menu:

  • Palak Paneer: Puréed spinach with cottage cheese curry
  • Dal Tadka  : A simple and easy moong dal preparation
  • Chole: Chickpea cooked in a tomato based sauce. Pairs well with the Indian breads.
  • Aloo paratha : Potato and onion stuffed whole wheat Indian bread.
  • Jeera rice : Rice with a simple tadka of cumin seeds and some spices.
  • Raita : Chopped onions and green chillies in yogurt. Decorated with a pinch of chilli powder
  • Onions, chillies, lemon wedges : on the side

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Oriya Mini Thali

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Orissa, or Odisha as its known now, is a state in the Eastern part of India. For me, Odisha is Orissa. And Orissa, to me,  will always mean the magnificent Konark Sun temple and the beautiful Puri Jagannath temple.

The Puri temple pulls tens of thousands of worshippers everyday and the kitchens here work to feed them. The simple prasadam and the meal there, apparently tastes divine.

The wiki says that :The kitchen of the famous Jagannath Temple, Puri in Puri is reputed to be the largest in the world, with a thousand chefs, working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths called chulas, to feed over 10,000 people each day.

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I had always associated Rasgolla with Bengal and it was a surprise that it originated in Orissa. And so did the rice kheer (payasam). I never knew that.

There is a good balance of vegetarian and non vegetarian food in the state.

Here in this post, I have put together a thali, inspired from The Turmeric Kitchen.  I skipped the kheer and added a beans and potato stir fry.

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Tomato khatta was the most common recipe I could find in all the Oriya thalis I came across. The common version is sweet based, which uses tomatoes and dates.

I looked around for a spicy version of the dish and finally found one. Scroll down for the recipe link.

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Dahi baingan is also a bit tangy, because of the yogurt. This was a simple dish to prepare and it tasted good as well. The best of the lot was the chana dal prepared with potatoes.

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Thali Idea from The Turmeric Kitchen

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Maharashtra Puri Bhaji Thali

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This was one of the earliest posts I did. The state of Maharashtra. This was one of the easiest one as well, since I blindly followed Pradnya’s post, combining it with her rural Maharashtra thali and changing a thing or two here and there.

In India, you are not a mom, if you can’t make pooris. And in my case, it’s not as a mom I have been failing, but as a wife. My son doesn’t like poori, but it’s the man’s favourite food.

And with this thali, the pooris came out brilliant for a change. So the man was indeed happy!

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Pradnya had made a sweetish dal with the thali. I went for a different version, a simple non sweet basic dal.

Varan-bhath (rice with dal) is a meal combination all over India and this is just one version.

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Masale bhath is a spicy flavoured rice. Coconuts, cashew nuts, gherkins all go into this dish. This, apparently, is a regular item in the wedding feast menu.

I found these two write ups about food from Maharashtra quite interesting, A Cook at heart and Food For Thought.

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Meal Idea : The Pumpkin Farm

Read some sweet write ups about food @ A Cook at heart and Food For Thought

  • Puri                 :  Deep fried whole wheat bread
  • Batata Bhaji :  A simple potato preparation, semi-gravy style that goes along with poori or roti
  • Shrikhand    :  Sweetened thick yogurt preparation
  • Varan Bhat  : Plain rice and dal (lentil) combination
  • Masale Bhat : Spiced rice with ivy gourd and nuts, a regular wedding menu item
  • Capsicum Zunka : Capsicum cooked with gramflour, quick and easy recipe
  • Mattha           :  Spiced butter milk

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Himachal Pradesh Lunch Thali

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It’s great when you try some new recipe and it turns out well. But when it doesn’t, you know what happens? You have to finish off an entire thali by yourself. And it’s almost a punishment.

After being used to either sweet stuff alone or spicy stuff alone, my taste buds have become stiff and doesn’t like the combination of two in a single dish. The combination of rice and sugar as a dry dish also didn’t suit my palate.

May be I didn’t prepare it the way it’s meant to be. I will really have to try the authentic version before I judge the dish :-).

But until then, I don’t think I will be making meetha rice again.

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The good news is that madri and khatta were good. Both were easy to prepare. Khatta means sour. And this dish IS sour. It was a shock initially, but you learn to like it as you go. It tasted fantastic with curd rice (oh, come on! We have to have curd rice even if it is a Pahari thali :D).

Khatta is topped off with some boondi (ready made, of course) before serving.

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Madra is a yogurt based dish. It’s prepared with chick peas usually. But the recipe I zeroed down finally had potatoes in it. Since I was preparing a chickpea based curry (with dates), I went ahead with the potato madra.

Like Kerala feast is called Sadya, Himachali feast food (for weddings and all) is called Dham. You can read a bit here in this link about Dham.

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The Menu:

  • Khatta : The dish lives up to its name. It’s really khatta (sour). This aamchur (dry mango powder) based curry is sprinkled with boondi and served
  • Meetha Bhaat( recipe in the comments section) : This is a dessert. Rice cooked with sugar, milk and dry fruits.
  • Himachali Madra : A yogurt based chickpea curry. The one I zeroed down was the potato version.
  • Chhole Mithas Liye : Chickpea in a sweet date gravy. I personally didn’t like it.
  • Plain rice

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Gujarati Thali – Mini Gujarathi thali

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When we are talking about Gujarat, the first thing that comes to my mind is our BM 25 meet. It was three days of absolute masti. Thanks to Vaishali, she saw to it that we were well settled, well taken care off and well fed!

So it’s only natural that when it came to Gujarat, I was browsing Vaishali’s space for recipes and ideas. Then I remembered this post from my friend (old room-mate) Roshni of Roshni’s Kitchen. She had actually put up a thali with Vaishali’s help. So I based mine on that one and modified it a little bit.

I wanted to make the chaas, the salad and the chutney as well like Roshni’s thali, but ….errrrr…forgot about it.

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Going through Vaishali’s space, I came across this very different combination of beans, peas and cooked whole wheat discs(dhokli). I included that in the thali and it turned out to be a good decision.

The kid loved the atta (whole wheat) discs.

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I had made a Gujarati thali before as well.  There Vaishali had mentioned that Gujarati kadhi doesn’t have turmeric in it. So this time I went right into her space and followed her instructions. In the same post of hers, she has the recipe for the potato curry as well. Scroll down for the recipe.

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The menu:

  • Tindora Nu Shaak : Ivy gourd/kovakka/tindora cooked with minimal spices and served as a side dish to rice
  • Dingiri Batata Nu Shaak : Potatoes cooked with onions and tomatoes.
  • Fansi Dhokli : Beans, peas and whole wheat atta discs with some masalas create the magic here.
  • Gujarati Kadhi : The whitish yogurt based preparation. No turmeric is used in this recipe.
  • Gujarati Dal : Simple dal. Skipped the sugar to stick to the spicy version.
  • Rotli : Very thin, soft roti-like rolls. Maida (all purpose flour)  is used for rolling out the dough.
  • Rice : Plain rice, pairs well with all the curries
  • Ready made Choondo pickle and Garkari pickle

 


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Chhattisgarh – Pancharatna Dal

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Chhattisgarh is a recently formed Indian state. It was not there when I was studying in school. It was part of Madhya Pradesh before. IIT in the capital city of Raipur is a main attraction.

It’s a beautiful green state, mother nature has truly blessed this place. There is a lot of tribal population here and this was one other state which didn’t have many on-line resources when it comes to food.

There was a site dedicated to Chhattisgarh recipes, I am scared of deep frying, yet I tried the deep fried sweet Dehrori from there. If my frying skills are pathetic, then my skill of making sugar syrup (I went overboard and over cooked the syrup) are not even worth mentioning. So I decided not to go ahead with it here. Yet for the record let me mention that the above is the picture of my Dehrori trial.

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While looking for more recipes, I came across this Five Jewelled Dal recipe, which they say is a Raipur(capital of Chhattisgarh) speciality. Though I don’t think it’s their speciality food, I am guessing it’s a part of regular cooking there.

Anyway my dehroris didn’t come out good and the dal sounded interesting. So I went ahead and decided to feature the dal here for Chhatisgarh.

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Recipe Source: 10 Best lentil Recipes from the Guardian

Feeds : 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1/4 cup chana dal (split chick pea)
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 1/4 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 onions chopped fine
  • juice from a lemon, optional
  • cream, yogurt : 2 tbsp for presentation, optional

For tempering:

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

Method:

  1. Wash and pressure cook all the dals together until done and mushy along with the turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder and the chopped onions. Keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee and add jeera. Once it crackles, add the ginger and crushed garlic. Add the cooked dal , garam masala and bring it to a boil. You can add water if it turns out to be too thick.
  3. Add lemon juice to taste and a dollop of yogurt and serve with rice.


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Simple Bihari Lunch

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Where is Bihar? Up (from South everything is up).

Who is the CM? No idea.

What is the language there? No idea.

What are the main attractions there? No idea.

Famous people? No idea.

What do they eat? Litti choka, Sattu ka paratha, rice, roti, dal, aloo bhujia….etc etc etc.

Yes, that’s the only thing I know about the Indian states now. Their food. At the moment, I can’t think of a single thing from Bihar other than their sattu or litti chhoka.

Anyway, litti chhoka is apparently eaten for dinner and I was looking for a lunch menu.

So, again, another neighbour of mine came to the rescue and this menu was suggested by her, depending on my pantry supplies. The menu here does not have the signature dishes of Bihar, but this is what people eat there on a regular basis – dal, roti, sabzi, chawal.

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The only aloo bhujia I have come across is the Haldi ram packed foods variety. So this very simple very basic aloo bhujia recipe was an eye opener. The only spices there in the dish are turmeric powder and salt. Yeah, you heard me right.

How can we leave out Sattu when talking about Bihar? I had ruled out Sattu ka paratha and litti chhoka, but Sattu ka bharta (called Sattu ka masala as well) came to the rescue. All you need to do is to make your sattu flour, add a bit of oil, chopped onions and red chillies. I improvised this by adding a little left over oil (the oil that floats on top in pickle jars) from my MIL’s avakka pickle. So it’s essentially pickle oil that’s gone into the dish.

To spice up the meal, add a spoon of sattu ka bharta while having rice and dal. The taste was really great.

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Aloo mattar is for the roti in the thali. But it pairs well with rice and dal as well. Again, a very simple easy preparation, but it tasted really heavenly. This kind of aloo mattar (home made) puts the restaurant style ones to shame, because it’s easy to prepare and it is light on stomach as well.

The dal here is a mix of three kinds. Chana dal, toor dal and masoor dal are cooked together. Only haldi and salt are added to it. Like the rest of the dishes, it’s easy to prepare and hardly spicy.

Can you see the pudina chutney in the middle? Now that one is fiery. The sattu ka bharta(because of the pickle oil and the red chillies) and the pudina chutney are spicy enough to balance the meal.

Raw chopped onion salad is also part of the meal.

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The Menu:

  • Daal : Pressure cook a mix of chana dal, masoor dal and toor dal in 1:1:1 proportion. I used 1/3rd cup each. Heat ghee in a pan, add jeera seeds. Once it crackles, add the cooked dals. Add half a tsp of turmeric powder and salt and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. If it’s too thick, add water and boil for some more time. Done!
  • Aloo Bhujia
  • Aloo Mattar Curry : Saute one chopped onion with a spoon of ginger garlic paste. Make a paste of 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tspcumin powder with 2-3 tbsp water. Add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup water. Add cooked potatoes(2 big) and peas(1/2 cup). Add one chopped tomato and salt. Cover and boil for 5-10 minutes or until done. Taste test, adjust seasoning and also add more water if it turns out to be too thick. Add handful of chopped coriander leaves, 1 tsp garam masala. Take off the heat. The more this curry simmers in low heat, the tastier it is.
  • Roti
  • Rice
  • Pudina Chutney : Grind a bunch of pudina leaves, 1 small onion, 2-3 green chillies (or per taste) and salt. Add lemon juice finally to retain colour.
  • Sattu ka bharta/Sattu ka masala : Powder half cup fried gram(pottu kadalai) in a mixie. Add 2-3 tsp mustard oil (i used pickle oil), 1-2 minced red chillies, handful of minced onions. The oil should make the sattu a bit wet, but it shouldn’t make it soggy.
  • So adjust the quantity accordingly.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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Simple Assamese Lunch

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Off all the North Eastern states, Assam was the easiest. There were enough on-line recipe sources for this state.

So I could stick to my original plan of a ‘meal’ or a mini thali for this state as well.

The site Assamese Recipes, With heart and soul had 5-6 meal platters, so I put together one for my post from those.

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So for the third state, presenting a mini meal with a spinach curry, mashed potatoes and brinjal, tomato pickle style and of course, the dal. And everything is served with rice.

I really liked the mashed potato curry, it was easy to put together and tasted simple, yet great. A bit of lemon juice squeezed takes this dish to a whole new level. This recipe, is definitely a keeper.

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The Xaak bhaji or the green leaves curry, was very simple, with minimal spices (the entire cooking was with minimal spices). It tasted awesome, yet it was light on stomach.

This is usually prepared with a variety of greens that is locally available in Assam. Since that choice is not there, I went ahead and used a bundle of palak.

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There was a bit of sweetness (from jaggery) on the tomato pickle/condiment. The name of the dish itself is sweet and sour tomatoes, after all. But after being used to either sweet or salty preparations our whole life, this bit of both taste together wasn’t as appealing as I thought it would be.

Yet we liked it, but I would leave out the sweet factor the next time I make it.

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Meal idea: Assamese Recipes and Aakhol Khor

  • Rice
  • Masur Dal (dali or dail) : Red Split lentils, masoor dal, cooked with tomatoes
  • Xaak Bhaaji :    A green leafy preparation,  I used the locally available Palak variety
  • Aloo Bengena Pura Pitika : An Assamese Baingan Bharta kind of preparation. This has roasted eggplant and potatoes in it, mixed with onions and chillies.
  • Bilahir Tok : A condiment made with tomatoes

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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Andhra Thali Meals

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Indian states. One at a time. That’s what the month of April is about.

Blogging Marathon is on for the whole of this month. September and April are month-long Marathons at BM. So for all 30 days of April, you will see one dish at least from the Indian states and some Union Territories.

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Starting with Andhra and ending with West Bengal, this cooking journey isn’t that easy. When I started off, I wanted Thali meals (whole lunch platter) and not just a single dish from the state I was cooking from. But it didn’t quite work out for a whole lot of reasons.

I had 6 months of notice time, yet I got to cooking only last month. So….yeah, time was quite short. It’s easy to get recipes for some states and very difficult to get from others. Some of the North East states had us really baffled. andhra-001

Right now, I live in a multi cultural community. People from Kashmir to Kerala are here in our apartment and as much as possible, I have tried taking my neighbours’ suggestions for the dishes.

By now, most of them are used to me calling up and asking about how lunch is served in their native state :-).

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This bunch of Andhra dishes was also suggested by a friend. I don’t know how much of these tasted authentic, but hey…at least I tried!

My friend not only gave me ideas for the thali, she sent across the chukkakura pappu (featured here) and vankaya kothameera karam as well. I too had made the same curry, so we devoured her’s immediately and went on to click my version for the thali.

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The menu:

  • Parippu podi : Powdered lentils (Podi) ground with chillies and spices. There are many variations for this recipe. This one is my MIL’s preparation.
  • How to eat: This podi is mixed with plain rice and topped with 1-2 tsps (or more) of ghee/oil. It is then eaten with any of the vegetables side dishes. The meal usually starts off with this before proceeding to the wet gravies (sambar, rasam etc)
  • Vankaya Kothamira Kaaram : A brinjal/eggplant preparation. Andhra-ites love brinjal in all forms. This version has brinjal cooked in coriander-green chilli combination. Tasted great.
  • How to eat: This is a side dish for rice.
  • Dondakkaya Veppudu : An ivy gourd (kovakka/tindora) preparation. This is one of the many ways to prepare the vegetable. This version has sesame seeds added to it.
  • How to eat: This is a side dish for rice.
  • Tomato Pachadi : A chutney kind of preparation made with raw tomatoes. I went easy on the chillies and ended up with a not so spicy pachadi. My friend later sent me an original and by god!! it was the fieriest chutney I have eaten and the tastiest one as well. I will be definitely trying her version again.
  • How to eat: This can be mixed with rice with a spoon or two of ghee and eaten. It also tastes great with curd rice (my personal experience).
  • Majjiga Pulusu with Ladies Finger : A yogurt based preparation. This one uses gram flour (besan) and not coconut. A sort of a kadhi.
  • How to eat: This is a gravy, it should be mixed with rice and eaten with vegetables as side dishes.
  • Miriya Chaaru : A light, but spicy rasam. The ingredients for the rasam are freshly made.
  • How to eat: A gravy that should be mixed with rice and eaten with vegetables and pappadam/fries, if available. This is the course before curd rice. 
  • Chukka kura pappu: A version of dal with a kind of greens. This was sent by my friend. She roasts the dal before going ahead with the preparation.
  • How to eat: This should also be mixed with rice and eaten with veggies on the side. 
  • Avakka Pickle : A type of mango pickle. This version has some portions of the mango seeds as well. My MIL’s preparation. This recipe comes close.
  • Rice : The star of the meal.
  • Ghee : Ghee is served with parippu podi and tomato pachadi.
  • Curd/ Yogurt : The final round of the meal. It is mixed with rice and eaten with the pickles.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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