Category Archives: Side Dishes

Mashed potatoes

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Growing up, our life had this wonderful world of books. My mother read a lot and the house was always overflowing with books. It was natural for us to pick up reading given that we had a mom whose hands never seemed to be without a book. With a hectic life between her job and three kids at home, no wonder she drowned herself in a sea of books on weekends. On weekends, I remember her skipping her meals and even her bath, to finish whatever she was reading at that time.

Anyway, fast forward to the present and now, thanks to the schools in US, my son does read a little. He quickly understood that his bed time can be pushed by another half an hour at least if he picks a book! I can see him howling with his latest Calvin and Hobbes book or reading his dinosaur books with a lot of interest.

Charlie and Lola were part of our lives earlier. Though he has outgrown the book and the series, it still holds a good place in our hearts. “I will never ever eat a tomato” is the first book, a TV series followed. Lola is a 5-year-old picky eater and her 7-year brother Charlie fixes her a dinner. She doesn’t like peas, carrots, mushroom, spaghetti, cauliflower, cabbage, bananas or oranges or apples or rice or cheese…but she would never ever eat a tomato!

Charlie comes up with imaginative names – carrots becomes orange twiglets from Jupiter, peas are now green drops from Greenland, mashed potatoes are cloud fluff from top most peak in Mt. Fuji and so on. The dinner here is something Lola would run away from, unless Charlie steps in between.

Charlie and lola

Food theme: Food from kids’ literature/TV shows

Serves : 1-2 kids

Orange Twiglets from Jupiter/ Glazed carrots 

  • Match stick carrots, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • a dash of salt and pepper,optional.

Melt butter in a pan and add the washed and cleaned carrot sticks into it. Saute for 2-3 minutes and add the sugar, maple syrup (if using) and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring in between, for about 5-8 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through. The cooking time will depend on the quantity and the thickness of the carrot sticks.

Green drops from Green land/ sautéed peas 

  • 1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt

Melt butter in a pan and add the thawed peas and salt. Let it cook until done, about 3-5 minutes.

Cloud fluff from Mt. Fuji/ Mashed potatoes

  • 2 big potatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

Cook potatoes in salted water and drain once cooked. Warm butter and milk together. Add this to the drained, steaming potatoes along with salt and pepper. Mash well using a wooden spoon, adding a little more warmed milk, if required.

Ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea/ Toasted bread sticks

  • No fish sticks, so I toasted a piece of bread and cut it into fingers.

Moonsquirters

  • Cherry tomatoes!!

Pink milk:

  • Ready made strawberry milk

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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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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 54

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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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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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Mixed Bean Vegetable Chili

Originally posted on My Kitchen Trials:

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My brother is in Bangalore and we are in Chennai. Visits are common since it’s just 6 hours of travel. Many a times I have packed sleeveless t-shirts for my son then find out that its shivering cold (for us, at least) in Bangalore.

Being used to Chennai’s tropical hot weather, cool weather is not something we are used to. So now a days the standard practice is to call my SIL and ask for the weather status there.

Whatever she says, I pack all the full sleeve or half sleeve t-shirts and pants. And if its past October, I carry the jacket too. Just in case, you know!

So for someone who is used to Summer all through the year, presenting Winter foods is something funny. Yet, here I am, with another winter recipe – Vegetable Chili. This pairs very well with basmati rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out…

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Moru Curry/ Moru Kachiyathu

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Life is going to change big in a few days. And yet,here I am : in my space, letting out the tension and turning a blind eye to the amount of work in front of me.

Yes, a major life style change is coming ahead.

And No, I am not pregnant. Though at times I am tempted to say yes when I look at my football sized tummy, just to hide my embarrassment.

It’s two years since we moved into our new apartment and now we packing and moving off again. This time to another country. Packing, moving, unpacking and settling down again. When you are still recovering from the previous move.

More than packing, what worries me is choosing. Choosing what to take, what to leave behind, what to give and whom to give.  It just makes me want to curl up and lie down. And not think about it.

But then, that’s hardly an option. So it’s going to be a bit busy from now on. With all the choosing and packing and moving, of course!

Cooking is going to be minimal and comfort foods are going to feature more. Like this moru curry, which is easy to prepare and makes life comfortable in a way only food can!

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Recipe Source: My friend Swapna. 

There is a slightly different recipe here in this post as well.

Ingredients:

  • Pearl Onions            :       6-8 or 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • Green chillies          :        2-3, chopped
  • Ginger garlic paste :      1 tsp
  • Water                           :      1/4-1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder   :     1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek powder :     1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Salt
  • Yogurt/Curd            :     2 cups
  • Oil                                 :      2 tsp, preferably coconut oil
  • Mustard seeds         :      1 tsp
  • Curry leaves             :       one sprig

Method:

IMG_3164Break the curd by whisking or with a ladle. Mix until its a loose homogeneous liquid without adding any water.
IMG_3166In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once mustard seeds splutter, add the chopped onions and chopped chillies. Once the onion turns pink, add the ginger garlic paste and saute for half a minute.

IMG_3169Add quarter cup water to bring down the kadai’s heat. Add the turmeric powder, methi powder (fenugreek powder), salt. Mix.

IMG_3171Add the whisked curd. Since the water reduced the kadai heat a bit, the curd will not curdle. But still, don’t take chances and keep stirring.

IMG_4406Once its all mixed and the yogurt is cooked, do a taste test and adjust the seasoning. Keep stirring and turn off the heat when it starts to boil on the sides.IMG_4411Take off the heat immediately and transfer to a container. If you let it sit in the hot kadai, the curd might curdle. That won’t affect the taste, but it doesn’t look aesthetically good.

In case the moru curry gets curdled despite all the efforts, take off the heat immediately and add some fresh curd and mix well. It works at times, though not always.

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Potato, Potato!

Originally posted on My Kitchen Trials:

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My memory is really bad. Really, really bad! If I am trying a recipe from the internet, I come and check the recipe at least 20 times while making it.

Reminds me of how I used to make rasam, when I was in college. It was the same recipe and I would make it 5 times a week. One would assume that after making the same thing again and again, I would have gotten a hang of it. But no, I used to ask my grandma the recipe at every single stage. ‘The water is boiling, what should I do next?’ , ‘How many spoons of rasam powder should I add?’, ‘Can I add the curry leaves now?’. Same questions every single day. After sometime, grandma started answering me before I even ask the question!

This is a recipe from my old neighbour and it was so simple that I didn’t bother noting…

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Aloo Bhindi Sabzi

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I am from Kerala where at the drop of the hat the political parties call for hartal (a strike action by shutting off of all public services, shops, schools and offices. It’s supposed to be voluntary participation, but in reality it never is!). You never know when the next hartal is going to be, and many a times the general public has been caught unaware in inconvenient situations.

Similar to that, I used to do lighting hartals at my place, shutting down the kitchen totally and demanding the poor tired man to take me to a restaurant. In our new neighbourhood(well, now two-year old neighbourhood), the nearest restaurant is about 6-8 km away. So for a while, I used to think twice before calling a strike as the man would be too tired after an exhausting day in the office, to take me out.

My solution came in the form of a North Indian guy who runs the school canteen near by. He takes order from us and door delivers as well. We have ordered this dry aloo bhindi many times from him. It goes very well with rotis and stuffed parathas. The guy deep fries the aloo and bhindi, but my imitation of his curry doesn’t.

And….the kitchen shut downs are back again ;-)!

Read on for the recipe.

Serves : 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 kg Ladies Finger
  • 2 big Potatoes, boiled and diced
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp amchur powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1 tsp jeera seeds (cumin)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Slice and chop the onions. Dice the tomatoes.
  2. Cut the ladies finger into 1/2″ long pieces. Microwave for 5-6 minutes till cooked and keep aside.
  3. Cook the potatoes till done. Dice.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai. Add jeera seeds and let it splutter. Add the chopped onions, cook till pink.
  5. Add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for a minute. Add the ladies finger. Mix well and then add the diced potatoes.
  6. Tip in the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Add the tomatoes as well. Slowly, without breaking the veggies, mix the powders. Cook for 5-6 minutes, mixing now and then.
  7. Add the amchur powder and garam masala. Mix carefully, taste test and adjust the seasoning per taste.
  8. Cook for a couple more minutes and take off the heat. Serve with rotis or rice.

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Mixed Vegetable Curry – Low Fat version

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We South Indians bank on rice a lot. In my home, it appears in our menu right from breakfast to snacks to lunch to dinner. If by some chance there is a dearth of rice in this planet, we are in big trouble. Not big trouble, but BIG BIG BIG trouble.

So to prepare ourselves in case of this eventuality, we make rotis every now and then. The problem with the rotis is always the side dish. The man cannot stomach rotis without a gravy side dish to go with.

Serve a dry side dish with rotis and if you look close, you might actually see tears from the man’s eyes. Serve it with dal and you will see a different disappointed pained expression.

But now, with this new-found single formula ‘one gravy-multi curry’ recipe, the man is safe.

You can replace the mixed veggies with almost any combination of veggies and it still tastes great. It’s low-fat as well. And the best part is that for once in my life, I can actually remember the recipe while cooking and don’t have to come running to the laptop every other minute!

Happy man. Happy me. Happy meal!

(Let’s not talk about the food-allergic kid and spoil it all, OK?)

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Check out another version of Mixed Vegetable Curry here.

Recipe Source: My friend Swapna

Serves : about 4

Ingredients:

  • Mixed Vegetables          :           2 cups, cooked (pressure cooked, steamed or microwaved)*
  • Onion                                  :           1 big, sliced
  • Tomato                              :           1 big, puréed
  • Ginger garlic paste        :           2 tsp
  • Coriander powder         :           2 tsp
  • Chilli powder                   :           1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder          :           1/2 tsp
  • Kasuri methi                    :           1 good pinch, optional
  • Garam masala                  :          1/2 tsp or per taste
  • Coriander leaves            :           2 tbsp, chopped
  • Water                                  :          1/2 cup – 1 cup, depending on the consistency required
  • Oil                                         :          1 tsp (can be skipped for a fat-free version)
  • Salt

*Mixed vegetables : Here I have used a mix of carrot, beans, green peas, cauliflower and potatoes. This can be replaced by cooked chana, cooked rajma (red kidney beans), soaked and squeezed soya chunks or any mix of vegetables. The taste is different for each of the curries, though the basic method is same.

Method:

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Boil the sliced onions on stove top or microwave. Once they are cooked, let it cool. Grind and keep aside.

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Heat 1 tsp oil. Add the puréed tomatoes and ginger garlic paste. If you are using freshly minced ginger-garlic then sauté it in oil for a minute before adding the tomato purée. Once the purée boils, add all the spice powders except garam masala (coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and kasuri methi as well).

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Keep cooking until the tomato mix reduces in size and most of the liquid has evaporated. If you have used more oil, you might have seen the oil oozing out at this stage.

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Add the cooked/steamed vegetables, salt and about half a cup of water.  Instead of mixed vegetables, you can add cooked chana, rajma, potatoes and peas…almost anything. You might have to adjust the quantity of water according to the consistency desired. Start with half a cup and then add more, as required. I used the water in which the vegetables were pressure cooked.

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Once the curry comes to a boil, add the onion paste. Mix well. Add the coriander leaves, cover and let it cook for 3-5 minutes.

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Cook until the desired consistency is reached. Add the garam masala. Do a taste test, adjust the seasoning and cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat, add some more coriander leaves, cover and keep aside.

Serve with the Indian bread of your choice.

Note:

  • The grinding of onions and tomatoes ensure that the gravy is smooth and not chunky.
  • Boiling of the onion takes off the raw smell and makes it low fat as well.

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