Bitter gourd chips – Pavakkai chips

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I love eating full meals from hotels in Kerala. The number of items may be less compared to a thali meal from Tamil Nadu, but they make that up with their taste and flavor. The platter mostly has rice, sambar, rasam, moru kachiyathu, 1-2 kinds of vegetable side dishes, pickle and pappad. Sometimes they serve this deep fried bittergourd on the side. Its the simplest of the dishes, but yet I can never get enough of it!

Who thought such a simple recipe would yield such delicious results! All you got to do is slice the vegetable, add chili powder and salt and then deep fry it. They fry it until its brown and there is not much of green. You might find curry leaves as well and even thin pieces of coconut in the dish.

I didn’t want to risk burning these, so I added a bit of rice flour for crispiness and took them out of the oil once they looked cooked and crispy enough to my eyes. These looked good enough to be served with tea, but somehow I liked the flavor a lot better with rice.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 karela/bitter gourd/pavakka
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp rice flour (optional)
  • salt
  • oil to deep fry

*handful of curry leaves is a good addition to this

Method:

  1. Slice the bitter gourd into thin rounds. I spread them out on a paper towel evenly for drying.
  2. Add the bitter gourd pieces in a bowl, add the rice flour, chili powder and salt. Mix well with your hands. You can add whatever masalas you want to the bittergourd, I used only chili powder and salt.
  3. Deep fry until golden brown in oil and drain in paper towels. Once cool, store in an air tight container. Serve with rice as a side dish or munch on them with a cup of coffee. Personally, I prefer with rice.

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Apple fritters

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Apple fritters were the last thing in my mind until I saw these in Vaishali’s blog. I wanted to try a batch immediately, but as it always happens, procrastination somehow found its way in.

When I did try, I knew I didn’t want to try the round and sliced apple fritters. I could almost see the fritters ending up with two separate layers : one would be the apple and the other would be the batter. Trust me, it’s happened before. So I tried one that seemed more appropriate for my modest deep-frying skills.

These fritters got over fast, but I found them lacking in sweetness. Since I skipped sprinkling with confectioners sugar or rolling in the cinnamon sugar part, I should have increased the sugar to at least 1/4 cup. So in case you have tart apples and want to use them up this way, adjust the sugar according to your taste preference.

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Pictorial:

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In a big bowl, add 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt. Whisk well. You can add a bit more sugar if you want it to be sweeter.

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Add two lightly beaten eggs, half cup milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter or oil to the dry ingredients and combine well.

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Add 2 cups peeled and chopped apples.

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Mix well to combine.

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Deep fry until golden brown in batches.

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Drain in paper towel and sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar**
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil or melted butter
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • oil to deep fry
  • confectioners sugar for sprinkling

**Adjust sugar according to your preference.

Method:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a big bowl (flour, baking powder, sugar and salt).
  2. Add the lightly beaten eggs, milk and oil to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined well. You might have to add a tablespoon or two of milk if the batter is too dry.
  3. Now add the peeled and chopped apples and mix until everything is well and evenly combined.
  4. Heat oil to deep fry and add the apple batter in tablespoonfuls. Deep fry until golden in batches until the batter is used up.
  5. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve warm.

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Green peas vada

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A cup of tea with something deep-fried is a wonderful treat. But unfortunately, deep-frying isn’t my cup of tea.

I am, in general, accident prone and that holds true the most when I am near anything hot. If I am ironing, at least one burn is guaranteed. If I am baking, you can be sure I will be doing the “OOOH hoo…AAH haa” dance at least once. So it’s not a surprise that I never trust myself to be anywhere near hot oil.

If I am deep-frying, I would first drop the batter from a height, thus making the oil splatter all around. That would be burn #1. I would realize the mistake and would go close and literally dip the batter into the oil with my bare hands. Burn #2. On both instances, I would rush and wash my hand in cold water and then would forget to wipe it properly. Thus resulting in burn #3, #4 and so on.

It’s no wonder that you never see anything deep-fried at my place. If its done, it’s mostly under someone else’s supervision (read – they fry, I stay away and watch). So I thought its time I took the matter into my hands…..without any more burns, I hope!

This is the first recipe towards a three-day deep fry special in this space. And no, I didn’t burn myself this time.

green peas vada

Pictorial

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Grind one cup soaked and drained green peas with 2-3 green chillies, 2″ ginger piece, salt and half a teaspoon of fennel seeds.

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The paste doesn’t have to be too smooth, so do not add any water for grinding.

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Transfer the paste into a bowl and add a tablespoon of rice flour. Addition of rice flour helps in binding the batter, but this step is not absolutely necessary.

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Mix well.

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Take a tablespoon of batter, flatten it a bit to get the shape of a vada. Heat oil and deep fry in batches until the batter is used up. Serve with ketch up or any other dip.

Recipe source: A neighbor

Makes : about 8-9 small vadas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2″ piece ginger
  • 2-3 green chillies (or per taste)
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp rice flour (optional)

Method:

  1. Soak the peas in water. Frozen peas should be soaked for half an hour, the dried variety should be soaked overnight.
  2. Drain well and grind with ginger, green chillies and salt in a mixie jar. You can add fennel seeds (perum jeerakam) as well, it adds a good flavor to the vada. Stop grinding before its too smooth.
  3. Transfer the contents to a clean, dry bowl and try to make a small ball out of it. If you have difficulty in forming the ball, then you might want to add some rice flour to bind the paste better. You can add rice flour and some semolina as well to get a good texture to the vada.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the vadas until golden brown. Serve with ketch up.

Notes:

  • My friend had made it with just green peas, ginger and green chillies. The ginger was main ingredient imparting the flavor.
  • I have used frozen peas here, the dried version should also work well. You might want to soak it overnight.

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Peanut butter and banana Ice cream

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Gone are the days when we could just pick up anything we like and just put it in our mouth. Now the health precedes over the tongue and compromises have to be made.

You can have ice creams now and then, but not as much as you can have bananas. So if you can get the banana to be in the ice cream avatar, it’s a win-win situation. The last time when I made one ingredient banana ice cream, I was hooked onto it and tried a flavored version again. Peanut butter and honey with banana is a favorite of mine and this ‘ice cream’ didn’t disappoint me.

However my husband, who respects banana as such and never likes it in any other form, stayed away from this one. Try this with an open mind. This may not be exactly an ice cream, but its tasty and saves you a bunch of calories.  May be you will hooked onto it as well!

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Recipe source: thekitchn

Recipe theme : 3 ingredient recipes

Makes : 2 small servings

Ingredients: 

  • one big banana, cut into round pieces
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey

Method: 

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Cut the bananas into round pieces and freeze overnight or until its frozen completely.

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In a small food processor, add the bananas, honey and peanut butter and beat it.

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Keep the food processor running for 4-5 minutes or until the chunks of ice disappear and you reach the “ice cream smooth” consistency. The time will vary according to the size and power of the food processor.

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Once you get it, transfer into a freezer friendly container and freeze again until its solid. Scoop out and serve. Top with honey and sprinkles if you like to.

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Podi Idli

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A good way to start my day would be with idlis served with milagai podi (gun powder/idli podi). But sometimes, you can just put the two together and present it as podi idli.

This version doesn’t contain itself to the breakfast table, it sneaks into my kid’s and my husband’s lunch box also at times. It’s a perfect travel food, where in you don’t have to carry the main food and a separate side dish.

And the best part is you just have to use three ingredients… idlis, milagai podi and 2 teaspoons of oil!

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Pictorial:

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Cut the idli into even sized cubes and keep aside.

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Heat oil in a pan.

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You can either add the podi to the oil first and then add the idlis to it or do the other way around. Here, the idli has gone in first and the podi is added on top.

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Let the idlis get coated with the podi on all sides.

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Cook in low flame, turning now and then. Take off the heat when it reaches your preferred level of crispiness.

Recipe theme: 3 ingredients

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Cut the idli into even sized cubes and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. You can either add the podi to the oil first and then add the idlis to it or do it the other way around. Let the idlis get coated with the podi on all sides.
  3. Cook in low heat for and flip over and cook all the sides until its crispy and has an even coating of podi on all sides. You can do this until you get the level of crispiness you want.
  4. Take off the heat and serve as such or with ketchup.

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Sending this post across to ‘Come, join us for Breakfast’

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Easiest Pal payasam ever!

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My mom’s specialty was payasams. Her pal payasam tastes absolutely divine. My older brother has inherited her skills. His payasam is actually a notch better than my mother’s!

My strategy for making payasam is simple. Just call my mom or my brother for the proportions. And they will guide you through the whole process. Easy, huh?

Every single time I call her, after amma tells me how to make payasam her way, she always mentions about this shortcut pressure cooker recipe. This method saves a lot of stirring time and still gives you the same results – the perfect pink, thick payasam. It was her cousin’s way of doing it, something she never tried herself.

Somehow we all trusted mom’s tried and tested traditional method and never bothered trying any other way.

This time when I wanted to make payasam, I thought I will give a try to her oft mentioned, but never tried recipe, a chance. I am glad I did. Like she said – same creamy payasam and a lot less effort. I know she would have been happy :-)!

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Recipe source: My family
Theme : 3 ingredient recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter whole milk (4 cups)
  • 3 tbsp rice, washed
  • 1 cup sugar (can be adjusted to personal preference)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, optional

Method:

  1. We are using pressure cooker method. So take a clean cooker and add the milk, washed rice and the sugar in it.
  2. Drop in a small steel plate (like one used for covering cups and tumblers) or a steel spoon also into the cooker.
  3. Pressure cook until the first whistle comes. After that, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the payasam cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Switch off after 45 minutes and don’t disturb the cooker until the pressure drops completely.
  5. Open the cooker after that and your payasam is ready!
  6. If the payasam is still on the watery side, you can add 1-2 tbsp butter and bring it to a boil. Boil it without the cooker lid for 10-15 minutes or until your preferred consistency is reached, stirring now and then. You can also taste the payasam and adjust the sweetness (less sweet means add more sugar; too sweet means add more milk) at this point of time.

Notes:

  1. Make sure the cooker and the lid is really clean, else the milk might curdle.
  2. Adding the steel plate into the cooker was a very helpful tip from the internet. The cooker was way easier to clean this time.
  3. You can add a pinch of cardamom powder or one crushed cardamom to the payasam at the beginning. I opted out of this one.
  4. A handful of fried cashews in ghee is a great addition to this payasam. Again, this is optional.
  5. Sweetness can be adjusted to your personal preference.
  6. Adding plain butter or even ghee to the payasam makes it yummier. Again, optional.

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Pepper rasam

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I know that it’s the peak of summer in India now and for once, I feel happy that I am not there at this time of the year.

You literally melt in front of the stove because of the heat. Though its tough, I always feel blessed. When you look at the guy who irons your clothes, your maid mopping the floors or the cooks in restaurants, you know your life is so much easier. They have no choice but to do their work in that heat. My work is so much lighter compared to theirs and you automatically count your blessings. Life really keeps you humble over there.

Though people in Chennai cannot think about hot- hot pepper rasam now, it suits very well for the rainy days we have been having here.Give it a try and you will be hooked!

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Serves :4

Ingredients:

To grind to a coarse paste or crush in a mortar and pestle:

  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon pepper corns(ground pepper otherwise)
  • 1 tsp jeera
  • 2-3 pods of garlic

For the rasam:

  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup cooked toor dal (I keep some aside when we make sambar)
  • 1 tomato, chopped well
  • salt

For seasoning:

  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 red chilli
  • 5-6 curry leaves

Method:

  1. Crush the coriander leaves, garlic, pepper and jeera into a coarse paste. This can be done in a mixie jar or using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add tamarind paste and chopped tomato with salt in 3 cups water and bring it to a boil. If you are using freshly squeezed tamarind juice, reduce the water added so that there is 3 cups in all, including the tamarind juice.
  3. Add the ground paste and cooked toor dal. Boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Boil for another 5 minutes, adding more water if required.
  5. Take off the heat and keep aside.
  6. For the seasoning, add ghee in a small pan. Once its hot, add the mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds to crackle, take off the heat and pour carefully onto the prepared rasam.
  7. Serve with rice and a vegetable side dish.

Optional: Some people add a pinch of sugar or jaggery to the rasam when its boiling.

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Coriander Thogayal

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Rice mixed with a gravy like sambar or rasam and served with a vegetable side dish is what we grew up eating. Even now, that’s our everyday meal. There are so many varieties of sambar and vegetable preparations. Their permutation – combination keeps the meal diverse and interesting.

But there are times when you feel like taking shortcuts. This is for one of those days. Thogayal is a kind of like a thick chutney preparation. It fits the bill as a side dish for rice or as something to mix with rice and eat. It pairs well with preparations like poricha curry or rasam as a side dish.

Here, I have made it to be mixed with rice. With a spoon of ghee and something crunchy like pappadam or murukku on the side, it hardly tastes like a ‘short cut meal’.

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Ingredients:

  • One bunch of washed and cleaned coriander leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoon chana dal
  • 1.5 tablespoon urad dal
  • 2-3 red chillies (or per taste)
  • 2 pods garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • salt
  • oil

Method:

  1. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the two dals, red chillies and garlic pods. Fry for a minute.
  2. Add the coconut and fry for a minute or two. Turn off the heat and add the coriander leaves to the pan. It wilt in the residual heat.
  3. Once its cooled down, grind in a blender (adding a little water if needed) to get a slightly coarse thogayal.
  4. Serve with rice and rasam or mix with rice and serve a porial on the side.

Note: Garlic is optional and generally not added. I like it, so have added it here. You can add some mint leaves also here.

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Peanut butter fudge

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People talk to solve a problem. But if I am doing the talking, you can be sure that the problem is only going to get bigger. Why? Because I have very big mouth and very little sense :D.

There is this thing called understanding your audience and knowing when to zip up your yap. The little thing called common sense usually tells people when to do that exactly. Unfortunately, mine is on a vacation for a long time now.

If you tell someone that their food is too spicy, instead of checking the food, they will say something is wrong with your taste buds. If you tell them the dessert is too sweet, they will defend themselves by even offending you. It’s not about the truth, its about refusal to accept the truth most of the times. The sense to know what to tell whom is a capacity I lack :D.

Well, you live to learn from your mistakes, but then we go and make some more. That’s me anyway.

But the good thing is, I am learning that if someone I trust criticizes me, I should check the facts before I react. Take this fudge for example, I got a feedback that it’s too sweet. I took a bite and I had to agree. Five cups of sugar…not everyone’s cup of tea!! So the lesson learnt is that you can fine tune the sugar according to your taste and be receptive to feedback of all kinds. That’s the way to live life, because that will help you make better fudge next time :-)!

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Recipe source: All recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2.5 – 3 cups confectioners sugar

Method:

  1. Melt butter in a thick pan. Add the brown sugar and milk.
  2. Bring it to a boil and boil for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Take off the heat.
  3. Add the peanut butter and vanilla essence. Mix well.
  4. In a separate big bowl, add the confectioners sugar. Pour the peanut butter mix over the confectioners sugar.
  5. Whisk using a wire whisk or a hand mixer until its smooth and without any dry lumps.
  6. Transfer to a 8X8 inch lightly greased square dish or line with cling wrap for easy removal. I have used a loaf pan with cling wrap here. Refrigerate until its firm and cut into squares.

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This entry goes to Lisa’s MLLA event, originally conceived by Susan of The Well seasoned cook. This month the event is hosted by PJ of Seducing your tastebuds fame.

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Vegetable Kurma

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Chapati-kurma is a standard item in the restaurant menu back home. Its an oft-repeated dish at homes too. There are too many versions of this dish, each one twisted and tweaked according to the family’s preference. The common base is that this a mixed vegetable curry with ground coconut in it. Everything from what goes into the ground coconut paste to the kind of vegetables you use is adjustable to your preference.

An aunty had prepared this kurma for a pot luck dinner long back and I got hooked on to it. I have made it several times, but not once had the taste come closer to her preparation. But I keep trying :-). This has become our version of the dish.

Try this kurma, add your own twists to it and make it your family recipe ;-).

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Pictorial

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Add 1/2 cup coconut, 1 tsp fennel seeds (perum jeerakam) and 1 tbsp roasted chana (pottu kadalai) and grind into a paste. You can add green chillies also, if you want.

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Add enough water to make a smooth paste. Keep this aside.

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In a thick pan, heat oil. Saute one big chopped onion along with 3-5 green chillies (per taste) and 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic.

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Once the onions are cooked, add one diced tomato. Add 2 tsp coriander powder, required amount of salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder(optional). Cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Add 2 cups cooked vegetables along with the water its cooked (about 1.5 to 2 cups). Bring it to a boil.

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Add the ground coconut paste and one big pinch of kalpasi (optional). Mix and cook covered for 5-10 minutes, stirring in between. Taste test and adjust the spices. You can mash the vegetables a bit to thicken the consistency.

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Add a handful of chopped coriander leaves and close with a lid and turn off the gas. Let it rest for sometime for the flavors to mingle and serve hot with chapati or parathas. You can add a tablespoon or two of vinegar, if you want to enhance the sourness a bit.

  • Recipe source: Our neighbor aunty in DLF 
  • Serves : 4-5 

Ingredients: 

For grinding:

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (perum jeerakam)
  • 1 tbsp roasted chana dal (pottu kadalai)
  • 2-3 green chillies (optional)

For the curry:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 3-5 green chillies or as needed per taste
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, crush or minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt as needed
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables, cooked ( suggested vegetables: a combination of potatoes, carrot, green peas, beans, cauliflower )
  • one big pinch of kalpasi /stone flower/dagad ke phool (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (optional)

Method:

  1. Pressure cook the vegetables and keep aside.
  2. Grind the coconut with fennel seeds and roasted chana. Keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, green chillies and crushed garlic. Saute until the onion turns pink.
  4. Add the diced tomato. Cook for a minute.
  5. Add the coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder, if using. Turmeric powder is optional and you can skip it for kurma. Cook for a minute or two.
  6. Add the cooked vegetables along with the water its cooked. Bring it to a boil.
  7. Tip in the ground coconut paste and kalpasi. Kalpasi is, again, optional.
  8. Mix everything, taste test and adjust the seasonings. Let it cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes. You can mash the vegetables, especially potatoes, to thicken the gravy a bit.
  9. Turn off the heat and mix in 1-2 tbsp of vinegar if you want the curry to be a bit more sour. Serve with chapati or parathas.

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