Category Archives: Side Dishes

Vazhakka kootu

1vazhakka_kootu

There are times when we want to go elaborate and there are times when you want to go simple. So when you chance upon a recipe that’s simple to make, tastes delicious, includes protein and veggies in one recipe, you know have hit jackpot.

This recipe is also a proof of how taste buds change over a period of time. My mom and grandma used to make this frequently when we were kids. We were never big fans of this dish then. It was something to eat, but only after you have expressed your disappointment clearly. Now that we have grown up, I find we like kootu. In fact, the pull towards this particular recipe was because it looked just like my grandma’s version! Ironical, don’t you think!? It would have been good if the sense came in earlier, but better late than never.

This version of koottu, though it looks very similar to my grandma’s version, is different. Garlic and onions were sparingly used in my grandma’s cooking. It has fennel instead of jeera and that makes a difference in a good way.The aroma is amazing and I have fallen in love with this version. Its a nice blend of my childhood memories with a modern day twist.

2vazhakka_kootu

BM #61, Week 1; Theme: Meal Ideas

Recipe source: My friend Purnima

Ingredients:

For pressure cooking:

  • 1/2 cup chana dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • one medium onion, diced roughly
  • one tomato, cut into two
  • one green plantain (vazhakka), diced roughly
  • 2-3 garlic pods

For grinding:

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 3 green chilies (or per taste)
  • one inch piece ginger
  • one teaspoon fennel seeds
  • salt as needed

Tadka:

  • one teaspoon oil
  • one teaspoon mustard seeds
  • one dry red chili
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • a good pinch hing

Method:

  1. The vegetables are going to get mashed when done, so you can dice them into rough big pieces.
  2. Pressure cook half cup washed chana dal with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, one roughly diced onion, a tomato cut into two pieces, one roughly diced vazhakka and 2-3 pods of garlic. Add enough water to cover the dal and veggies. About 1.5 – 2 cups.
  3. Cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is done. Turn off the heat and let the pressure drop.
  4. Grind 1/2 cup coconut with 3 green chillies (or per taste), one inch long piece of ginger and one teaspoon of fennel seeds. Add enough water to get a smooth, but thick paste.
  5. In a big kadai, add one teaspoon of oil. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds, one dry red chili, a good pinch of hing and few curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the cooked dal and veggie mix to it. Once it comes to a boil, add the ground coconut paste and salt as needed. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes.
  6. The consistency of the dal is determined by the water added to it. If you prefer it to be runny, you can add all the dal water and a little more. Else, drain some and add after checking the consistency.
  7. Serve with rice, papad and a spicy pickle.

3vazhakka_kootu

This post goes to Blogging Marathon #61. Check out the BM page to see what the other participants have brought to the table!

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Tamil Nadu Full Meals

thaliMKT_2

 
Let me stop you right there. I didn’t make this spread. My mother in law did.

This spread was made for our friends who visited us when my in laws were here in US. My contribution was minimal. In fact, I don’t think my role went beyond clicking this.

The highlight of the meal was the sweet. Amma had made 7 cup cake, a melt in the mouth burfi whose ingredients add up to 7 cups. It came out perfect. I have taken stepwise pictures when she was making it,so its going to be a separate post. The gulab jamun was brought in by one of the visiting families. It was equally delicious. But then, dessert always taste good, doesn’t it?

Most of the recipes here are typical everyday food, but when prepared together they become a wonderful feast. Scroll down to see more pictures and recipe links!

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BM 61, Week 1

Theme: Meal Ideas

On the plate:

Lemon rice

Serves 1 as a main meal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • salt

For tadka

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
  • 2 tablespoon peanuts or cashew nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

  1. Cook rice, set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan.
  3. Add the mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the hing, urad dal and peanuts.
  4. When the dal turns golden brown, add the turmeric powder. Give a good stir and take off the heat.
  5. Add the lemon juice and salt as required. Mix well and add the cooked rice.
  6. Taste test and adjust salt or add more lemon juice if needed. Serve with papad.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#61 

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Vegetable Kolhapuri

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Have you come across dishes like this? Ones which you taste and your mind goes “Why in the world did I not make that before?”

Oh well. This one did just that to me. I have come across this recipe many times before, but as the procedure is lengthy, I never gave it a chance. Then I came across this version in NDTV Food. It seemed simple and so I gave it a try.

I don’t know whether this is an authentic version of Vegetable Kolhapuri or not, but it sure is a tasty version. And as far as authenticity goes, my guess is that every house has their own version for recipes like this – recipes that’s been around for a long time.

People modify, improvise and adjust according to their family preferences. That’s been going on for generations. The end result is that there is no particular recipe that is THE authentic one. You just have some generic guidelines for each recipe. That’s my way of looking at things anyway.

This curry is not much of a looker, but don’t pay much attention to that. It’s famous for being spicy, but I toned it down to suit our taste. Frozen mixed vegetables made this a breeze to make.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab that cutting board and get chopping! Its cooking time, baby.

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Recipe source: NDTV food

BM Theme:  Regional food, Maharashtra

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 – 3 cups diced mixed vegetables
  • 2 tablespoon yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • one small onion, grated ( I didn’t use)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • one medium onion, chopped
  • salt

Roast and then grind:

  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Kalpasi/Dagad phool,optional
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup dry coconut

Method:

  1. Marinate the mixed vegetables with the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, grated onion and salt. You can add some lemon juice as well if you prefer. Keep aside and start working on the ground masala.
  2. Dry roast the cinnamon stick, cloves, jeera, pepper corn, red chillies and dagad phool (of using). Once its almost roasted, add the coconut and lightly fry for a couple more minutes.
  3. Once cool, grind into a smooth paste without adding too much water.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and saute the chopped onion. Once its pink, add the ground paste and let it cook for a minute.
  5. Tip in the marinated vegetables and let it come to a boil. If the curry is dry, you can add some water.
  6. Cover and cook, mixing intermittently, until the vegetables are done. Taste test and adjust seasoning per preference.
  7. Take off the heat and serve with chapati or plain rice. My preference is definitely chapati.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#60 

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Parippu Usili

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I have been married long enough to guess almost correctly the contents of the grocery shopping bag if the man does the shopping. The bag would have beans, kovakka, cabbage and it would definitely have kothavaranga (cluster beans).

Cluster beans prepared as usili is his absolute favorite. We pair it with vatha kuzhambu or mor kuzhambu, basically with some gravy that doesn’t have lentils in it. That’s because enough and more lentils go into the preparation of usili.

I always thought the dish was time-consuming, so I would prepare double the quantity of the lentils and freeze one portion of the prepared usili. I don’t like freezing cluster beans as it becomes mushy when you defrost it. My MIL told me that instead of steaming I can pressure cook the ground lentils. The advantage is that I can get it pressure cooked along with rice, so it’s not an additional task anymore. These pictures were taken before the pressure cooker method, so it’s an improvisation that makes the dish a little more simpler.

Read on for the recipe.

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Pictorial

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Soak equal quantities of toor dal and chana dal for at least 3 hours. Here, I have used 1/4 cup each. The proportions and even the dal used vary from home to home.

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Cook your choice of vegetable with salt as needed and turmeric powder. Cluster beans or beans are popular options. Here, I have pressure cooked 2 cups of cluster beans.

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Grind the soaked dals with 3-4 red chillies with required amount of salt and a good pinch of hing.

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Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or steam the ground dal mix for 10 minutes. Once it’s completely cooked, it would have become a solid block like idli. You will have to crumble it up using hands or a food processor. If you are pressure cooking, you can pulse this in the mixer to get fluffy crumbled usili. Pulse, don’t grind. You will get a paste if you do it.

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In a pan, heat oil and splutter 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the crumbled dal mix and let it cook until the color changes slightly.

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Add the cooked vegetable and mix well. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Let the flavors mingle for 3-4 minutes and then take off the heat.

Since this side dish is high on lentils, it’s usually served with some gravies that doesn’t have lentils in it.

Ingredients:

To grind together

  • 1/4 cup toor dal, soaked for 3 hours at least
  • 1/4 cup chana dal, soaked for 3 hours at least
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 4-5 curry leaves, optional
  • salt as needed

For completing the dish

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 cups cluster beans, cooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt as needed

Method:

  1. Soak equal quantities of toor dal and chana dal for at least 3 hours. I used 1/4 cup each. The proportions and even the dal used vary from home to home.
  2. Cook your choice of vegetable with salt as needed and turmeric powder. Cluster beans or beans are popular options. I used 2 cups of pressure cooked cluster beans.
  3. Grind the soaked dals with 3-4 red chillies, a sprig of curry leaves, a good pinch of hing and salt as needed.
  4. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or steam the ground dal mix for 10 minutes. Once it’s completely cooked, it would have become a solid block like idli. You will have to crumble it up using hands or a food processor.
  5. If you are pressure cooking, you can pulse this in the mixer to get fluffy crumbled usili.Pulse, don’t grind. You will get a paste if you do it.
  6. In a pan, heat oil and splutter 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the crumbled dal mix and let it cook until the color changes slightly.
  7. Add the cooked vegetable and mix well. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Let the flavors mingle for 3-4 minutes and then take off the heat. Since this side dish is high on lentils, it’s usually served with some gravies that doesn’t have lentils in it.

1usili

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

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Mushroom pepper fry

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Halloween is over now, Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is right around the corner. The nature has started throwing a range of colors on the trees. Shades of green, yellow, orange and red are all over the place. And before you have time to take in everything, leaves have started falling to the ground making the trees bare.

The competent trees in the neighborhood have already shed its leaves. Slowly, a whole bunch of them follow the leader. And within a very short time span, there is a whole lane of trees that are just sticks and branches now.

I am thankful for the ones that are still holding onto their leaves with their lives, making this beautiful display of red and orange and yellow. It makes you feel a little warm amidst the setting cold weather.

All I want to do is have a hot cup of tea, pair it with something spicy, throw a blanket on myself and read. This dish may not be perfect with a cup of tea, but it is great with hot rice or vegetable rice. Food…well, that’s how you get ready for winter at my place ;-).

Read on for the recipe.

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BM Theme: Dry side dishes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • one onion, chopped fine
  • one small capsicum, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder ( or per taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 red chilli
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • salt

Method:

  1. Heat oil. Add the red chilli, curry leaves and the mustard seeds. Wait for the seeds to crackle.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute till its pink. Tip in the diced capsicum and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and ground pepper along with salt as needed.Mix well.
  4. Now add mushrooms and mix gently. Let it cook until soft. Taste test, adjust seasoning according to your taste.
  5.  Take off the heat when the moisture from the mushrooms is all dried up. Serve with roti, fried rice or plain rice.

mushroom_pepper_fry2

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58

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Roasted Broccoli

roasted broccoli 

Broccoli is one of the best veggies in the world. I buy it regularly and eat it without complaining, but it’s no way a favorite at my place. I prefer it when its hidden among a bunch of other vegetables.

This recipe changed the way I look at broccoli. Forget the yummy vinaigrette, the roasted broccoli itself tasted amazing. All it takes is a drizzle of olive oil with a dash of salt and 20 minutes in the oven at a high temperature. The vinaigrette was good, but to be honest, I never gave it a chance. The broccoli got over before I could even get to the part of drizzling :D.

This recipe is first of the three recipes for this week’s Blogging Marathon. The theme for this week is to choose three contest winner recipes from Food52.com. Read on for the recipe and the pictorial.

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1

Layer one head of broccoli florets in a single layer in a baking pan. I added the stems as well. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt as needed. Give a good toss so that everything gets mixed well.

2

Bake for 20 minutes at 425F.

3

Take out and set aside.

4

Heat olive oil and add one crushed clove of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Take off heat and let it cool down.

5

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and salt as needed in a bowl and add the cooled olive oil to it. You can leave the paprika and garlic dregs back in the pan, but I didn’t bother with that.

At the time of serving, add the vinaigrette per your taste to the broccoli florets, top with 1/4 cup almonds if you wish to.

Recipe source: Food52 contest winners

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head broccoli
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • salt to taste

Vinaigrette (you 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt

Method:

  1. Layer one head of broccoli florets in a single layer in a baking pan. I added the stems as well. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt as needed. Give a good toss so that everything gets mixed well.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes at 425F. Take out and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil and add one crushed clove of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Take off heat and let it cool down. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and salt as needed in a bowl and add the cooled olive oil to it. You can leave the paprika and garlic dregs back in the pan, but I didn’t bother with that.
  4. At the time of serving, add the vinaigrette per your taste to the broccoli florets, top with 1/4 cup almonds if you wish to.

 

roasted broccoli-001

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Pottu kadalai podi

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Gone are the days when I would sit in front of the laptop and the words just seem to flow. Now, I am struggling to write even two lines for an intro. The kid’s grown up, there isn’t as much innocence triggered humor in life as it used to be.

Right now what we have is a lot of playing with friends, lego, iPad, books and home work. Add in the parents and their laptops and well….you have a grown up world in here!

These are times when I look at my childhood and all I can see is playing, laughter, fights and endless fun from irritating the younger brother….ahhhh….sweet childhood!!

Anyway, back to the recipe here. It’s a podi that my MIL made for my son after getting the recipe from a friend of ours. My son likes to have this with idli like milagai podi, but it serves as a good podi to mix with rice and have as well. Read on for the recipe.

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Pictorial

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Saute 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon pepper corns and 3-4 red chillies (or per taste).

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Saute 200 gms of pottu kadalai until its slightly brown. Let it cool down.

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Grind everything together into a fine powder using a mixer. Store in airtight containers and serve with rice or as a side with idli and dosa.

Recipe source: A friend

Makes: 2 cups approx. 

Ingredients:

  • 200 gms fried gram/pottu kadalai
  • 3-4 red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt as needed

Method:

  1. Saute 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon pepper corns and 3-4 red chillies (or per taste). Set aside. Saute 200 gms of pottu kadalai until its slightly brown. Let it cool down.
  2. Grind everything together into a fine powder using a mixer. Store in airtight containers and serve with rice or as a side with idli and dosa.

pottu kadalai podi

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Manga Sambar

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Sometimes recipes are not just recipes. They are blasts from your past. Its not just food that you are savoring- its stories, memories and people associated with it as well. Food works like a time machine, transporting you to a happier time in the past or a hopeful time in the future.

When I got this recipe from my mom, I used to cook it every other day. But sometimes a phase grows out and you just forget about it.

And like I said, food brings it all back.

Sometimes to a point where you are overwhelmed. It make you wonder whether you should focus on the blessed times in the past or look at the emptiness at the present.

I choose the happier times.

Here is to food, good memories and the people in it!

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Pictorial:

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Heat a pan with 4 cups water, one cup diced green mango, 1 small diced cucumber and 2-3 green chillies (adjust spice leve according to your taste). Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and required salt. Bring it to a boil and let the vegetables cook.

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Grind 3/4 cup coconut into a fine paste adding a little water. You can add 1-2 green chillies(optional) as well when grinding.  IMG_3185

Once the vegetables are cooked – that is when the veggies turn transparent and can be mashed up a little when pressed with a ladle, add the ground coconut paste.

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Let the coconut mix boil and mix well with the sambar.

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To thicken the sambar, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon all purpose flour or atta with 1/2 cup water. Mix well so that there aren’t any flour lumps. Add this to the sambar.

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Mix well and let it cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat when the sambar has reached a slightly thickened consistency.

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For the tadka, heat one teaspoon oil in a pan and add 1 teaspoon curry leaves, 2 dry red chillies and 7-8 curry leaves. IMG_3206

Once the mustard leaves splutter, I like to add one chopped onion and saute it until slightly brown. This step is optional.

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Take off the heat and add it to the prepared mango sambar.

Recipe source: My mother

Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

  • one cup diced green mango
  • one cup diced cucumber
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt as needed
  • 3/4 cup coconut + 1-2 green chillies(optional)
  • 1 tablespoon atta/flour mixed with 1/2 cup water

for tempering/tadka :

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Method:

  1. Heat a pan with 4 cups water, one cup diced green mango, 1 small diced cucumber and 2-3 green chillies (adjust spice leve according to your taste). Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and required salt. Bring it to a boil and let the vegetables cook.
  2. Grind 3/4 cup coconut into a fine paste adding a little water. You can add 1-2 green chillies(optional) as well when grinding.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked – that is when the veggies turn transparent and can be mashed up a little when pressed with a ladle, add the ground coconut paste.
  4. Let the coconut mix boil and mix well with the sambar.
  5. To thicken the sambar, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon all purpose flour or atta with 1/2 cup water. Mix well so that there aren’t any flour lumps. Add this to the sambar.
  6. Mix well and let it cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat when the sambar has reached a slightly thickened.
  7. For the tadka, heat one teaspoon oil in a pan and add 1 teaspoon curry leaves, 2 dry red chillies and 7-8 curry leaves.
  8. Once the mustard leaves splutter, I like to add one chopped onion and saute it until slightly brown. This step is optional. Take off the heat and add it to the prepared mango sambar. Serve hot with rice and a vegetable preparation on the side.

mango sambar

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Mixed veg aloo palak curry

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I find myself a lot more willing to cook in U.S. than I have ever been in India. May be its just that its way cooler here and I don’t end up in a pool of sweat at the end of cooking. or may be here, food is a big part of entertaining and you just cannot get away from it. These are ‘may be’s’, but the thing I know for sure is that the vegetables are way easier to clean here.

Take the big bag of spinach I used for this recipe. Your bag of spinach here is free of soil and dirt and that’s not even the best part. The best part is that it has only the leaves! No more plucking the leaves from stem one after the other. A lot of work is already taken care. You just need to show them under the tap for a minute and that’s all. They are ready for chopping and cooking.

I don’t think that the extra work was ever a trouble for other moms back home, but then there aren’t lazy like me as well :D.

Is it a wonder that spinach appears a lot more than it used to be at my place :-)? Read on for the make ahead puree and a recipe with mixed vegetables.

 

 

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To make the spinach gravy, heat 2 teaspoon oil and saute 3-4 pods of garlic, 4 red chillies (these were the mild variety, else add according to your taste preference) and one chopped onion. Saute until everything turns pink.

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Add 1/2 cup cleaned mint leaves and 1/2 cup coriander leaves. Let it wilt for a minute.

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Add 2 cups of clean, blanched spinach leaves. Turn off the heat and let the spinach cook in the residual heat.

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Grind into a paste. The residual water in the green itself will be sufficient for grinding, if not, add some as needed.

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This gravy can be stored in fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can be frozen as well.

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For the curry, heat 2 teaspoons of oil and add one teaspoon of jeera/cumin seeds. Let it splutter.

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Saute one medium chopped onion and follow it up with one teaspoon ginger garlic paste.

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Add one chopped tomato and saute further.

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Add one teaspoon chili powder or per taste, 1.5 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt as needed.

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Mix well and cover and cook until the tomatoes are mashed well.

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Add 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of the prepared spinach puree. This quantity can be increased according to your preference.

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Add 1 cup of frozen vegetables and 2 big diced potatoes. You can also add cooked vegetables.

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Cover and cook until the potatoes are done and the gravy thickens a bit. Taste test and adjust according to your preferences. Take off the heat and serve with rotis or rice.

Recipe adapted from: Vahchef

Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

For the spinach gravy

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 4 red chillies or adjust according to your preference
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, cleaned (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves (optional)
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, blanched

For the curry

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup spinach puree, can be adjusted according to preference
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • 2 potatoes, diced

Method:

Make the spinach gravy :

  • Blanch spinach (boil water, take off heat, add washed spinach. Once it turns color and wilts, drain), keep aside.
  • To make the spinach gravy, heat 2 teaspoon oil and saute 3-4 pods of garlic, 4 red chillies (these were the mild variety, else add according to your taste preference) and one chopped onion. Saute until everything turns pink.Add 1/2 cup cleaned mint leaves and 1/2 cup coriander leaves. Let it wilt for a minute.Add 2 cups of clean, blanched spinach leaves.
  • Turn off the heat and let the spinach cook in the residual heat.Grind into a paste. The residual water in the green itself will be sufficient for grinding, if not, add some as needed. This gravy can be stored in fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can be frozen as well.

Make the curry:

  1. For the curry, heat 2 teaspoons of oil and add one teaspoon of jeera/cumin seeds. Let it splutter.Saute one medium chopped onion and follow it up with one teaspoon ginger garlic paste.
  2. Add one chopped tomato and saute further for 3-4 minutes. Add one teaspoon chili powder or per taste, 1.5 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt as needed. Mix well and cover and cook until the tomatoes are mashed well.
  3. Add 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of the prepared spinach puree. This quantity can be increased according to your preference.
  4. Add 1 cup of frozen vegetables and 2 big diced potatoes. You can also add cooked vegetables. Cover and cook until the potatoes are done and the gravy thickens a bit.  Taste test and adjust according to your preferences. Take off the heat and serve with rotis or rice.

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Vatha kuzhambu

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Traditionally in India, the girls go to their maternal home for delivery. My husband wanted to be as involved as I was, so we decided to stay at our home in Chennai. My mom came over to help me with the baby and the plan was to bring in a lady to help with house hold chores in general. Unfortunately that lady didn’t turn up. Slowly, we found out that it became a little too much for my mother to manage everything. The baby would just bawl his lungs out all night and I needed her help for the first few days till I got the hang of it.

About three weeks after my son was born, amma suggested that we go back to Trivandrum where she knew she would get some domestic help. And off we went. Me and my new-born son with my amma.

And that was the first time I understood why girls go back home to have kids. I really could feel the difference. With mom and dad, you can just let go and be yourself. They are never going to judge you and definitely not when you are in the worst hormone ridden phase of your life. You can say that I was rather reluctant to come back after spending almost 4 months there ;-).

The best part of staying at home was I could catch up with my mother after years of staying away. That was the time I took out a pen & book and followed her around to write down all her recipes. There are so many more recipes I should have written down, but let’s just say I am just happy to have what I have.

With my in laws, I never got a chance to follow them around as I did with amma. So now that they are visiting us, I have started doing the same. This time, its with a camera so that I don’t miss anything. This would be the third in the series of my ‘follow and click’ series.

Read on for my MIL’s recipe for vatha kuzhambu and the pictorial.

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Pictorial:

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Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and half teaspoon fenugreek seeds. Let it splutter and let the fenugreek seeds turn brown.

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Add 5-6 curry leaves and 1 tablespoon vathral.

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Add four cups water. Kind of 3/4 to 1 cup per person.

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Add 1.5 teaspoon of tamarind paste. Again, this quantity needs to be adjusted based on how tangy the tamarind is.

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Add a good pinch of hing.

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The spiciness comes from sambar powder and pepper powder. So add 1 teaspoon of sambar powder. You can also roast and powder chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies and use that powder instead of sambar powder.

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Followed by 1 teaspoon of pepper powder and salt. Let the kuzhambu boil for 5-10 minutes. Taste test and check the seasonings.

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To thicken the gravy, mix 2 tablespoon of atta (wheat flour) to 3/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add this slurry to the kuzhambu and stir to avoid lumps forming. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Taste test, adjust seasonings and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

Recipe source: My MIL

Serves : 4

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon oil, preferably sesame seedoil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoon vathal of your choice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1 teaspoon each sambar powder and ground pepper**
  • 2 tablespoon atta mixed with 3/4 cup water.
  • salt

**sambar powder can be substituted by roasted and powdered chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies.

Method:

  1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and half teaspoon fenugreek seeds. Let it splutter and let the fenugreek seeds turn brown.
  2. Add 5-6 curry leaves and 1 tablespoon vathral.
  3. Add four cups water. Kind of 3/4 to 1 cup per person.
  4. Add 1.5 teaspoon of tamarind paste. Again, this quantity needs to be adjusted based on how tangy the tamarind is.  Add a good pinch of hing.
  5. The spiciness comes from sambar powder and pepper powder. So add 1 teaspoon of sambar powder. You can roast and powder chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies and use that powder instead of sambar powder
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of pepper powder and salt. Let the kuzhambu boil for 5-10 minutes. Taste test and check the seasonings.
  7. To thicken the gravy, mix 2 tablespoon of atta (wheat flour) to 3/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add this slurry to the kuzhambu and stir to avoid lumps forming. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

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