29 September 2006


Is that cool, or what?? (Check #7 in case you're trying to figure what on earth I'm talking about!)

Traditional South Indian Meals - 2

A more popular combination of tradtional festive lunch: sambar, rasam, vadai and a traditional salad.

Whats a festive meal without piping hot urad vadas? Hot vadas in sambar are my idea of comfort food.

And vadais dunked in a light spicy rasam are absolutely perfect on a slightly chilly day!

Of course this was accompanied by the requisite 2 vegetables, one roasted/fried, and the other with a little coconut. Standard choices being roast potato curry and some beans with coconut!

I've invited a few Japanese friends over for a Navaratri lunch this weekend, and I've decided to serve a traditional south Indian meal this time. Here's wishing me luck!

Sambar (with fresh ground spices)
serves 6

The spices:
Roast individually and grind to a smooth paste
40 gms coriander seeds
20 gms dry red chillies
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp tuvar dal
1 pinch hing
1/4 cup grated coconut

1 lemon size ball of tamarind (dissolved in 3 cups water)
1 cup tuvar dal (cooked with a little turmeric)
1 cup sliced white radish
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 pinch hing
curry leaves
salt to taste

Heat oil. Temper with mustard and fenugreek seeds and hing.
Add radish slices and stirfry for 2 minutes.
Add tamarind water, salt and the ground spices.
Bring to a boil, and the reduce to a simmer till the radish pieces are cooked.
Add cooked dal and curry leaves. Adjust consistency with more water if desired.
Bring to boil.
Serve hot.

serves 6

1/4 cup split yellow moong dal (Soaked in water for 30 mins and drained)
2 large carrots (peeled and grated)
1 large firm tomato (chopped fine)
1 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)
1 tsp green chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp ginger (grated)
1 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
salt to taste

Toss all the above in a large bowl, and transfer to a serving bowl.
Refrigerate till ready to serve.

Traditional South Indian Meals - 1

With the festival season on now, yours truly is on a cooking spree... traditional dishes, no onions or garlic... yummy time..

Of course I miss being in Singapore, where I could get every vegetable I wanted, whether in season or not. And did I mention these were fresh veggies? No frozen stuff at all! Ah well, now I can still make a nice traditional meal with what is available in this neck of the woods!

This is one of my alltime favourite combinations- morkuzhambu, beans parappu-usli, and brinjal pittla. Pittla is one of my favourite dishes... ever. Mom makes lovely pittla with karela or white pumpkins. I don't get the latter here and hubby won't eat the former!

This combination is great for entertaining too. Hearty, filling and does have a festive feel to it. I used to make this whenever we invited some of our more orthodox friends who wouldn't eat onions, garlic etc.

serves 4

3 tbsp Chana dal
2-3 green chillis
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup grated coconut

1 cup white pumpkin (cut in 1"cubes and boiled)
2 cups sour yogurt
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch hing
2 cups water
Curry leaves
salt to taste

Soak Chana dal, green chillis, coriander and cumin seeds for 30-45 minutes. Drain and reserve water. Grind to a very smooth paste with the coconut (use reserved water if needed).
Heat oil. Temper with mustard seeds and hing.
Add boiled pumpkin and saute lightly.
Add water and the ground spices and bring to a boil.
Beat yogurt till smooth.
Reduce flame and add yogurt to the spice mix.
Add salt to taste.
Add curry leaves.
Stir until well combined and bring to a simmer. Serve hot.

Note: One thing to remember is, NEVER boil after adding yogurt. Take the pan off the stove as soon as the mix begins to simmer. Otherwise the yogurt tends to curdle. That's why I boil the spices in water first, so that the chana dal gets time to cook fully, AND yogurt doesn't curdle.

Beans parappu-usli
serves 4

500 gms french beans (strung, cut, parboiled in salt and drained)
1 1/2 cups tuvar dal
1/2 cup chana dal
2-3 red chilis
1 pinch turmeric
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch hing

Soak the dals and red chilis for about 45 mins.
Drain and grind to a coarse slightly dry mix with turmeric and a little salt.
Steam the dal paste.
Let it cook, and break it into crumbs with your fingertips, taking care never to mash it to a paste-like consistency.
Heat oil, temper with hing and mustard seeds.
Add cooked beans. Fry for 4-5 minutes.
Add steamed and crumbled dal. Mix well.
Adjust salt to taste. Cook for 5-7 minutes till well combined.

Note: The dryer the dal is ground the better. After steaming, if the dal is dry enough, I grind it to a dry powder in a food processor. Takes lesser cooking time this way, and way less oil too.

Brinjal Pittla
serves 4

1 cup groundnuts cooked
1 cup tuvar dal cooked (discard excess water, or save for rasam)
1 lemon sized ball of tamarind (dissolved in water)
1 pinch haldi
1 pinch hing
salt to taste

Grind to paste or powder:
2 tbsp roast dhania
1 tbsp roasted and crushed chilli
1 tbsp roasted chana dal

For tadka:
4 tbsp oil
chana dal
2 urad appalams
1/2 cup grated coconut

salt to taste
1 - 1.5 cup diced brinjal

Soak the brinjal in tamarind water, and bring to boil with haldi, hing, salt and the podi/paste.
When the vegetable is cooked, and the raw tamarind smell is gone, add the groundnuts, cooked dal, salt and bring to boil. Keep aside
Heat oil. Fry the appalams. Break and keep aside.
In the remaining oil make tadka of mustard, hing and chana dal.
In the same vessel, roast the grated coconut till browned.
Add the tadka, appalam and coconut to the pittla.
Mix well and let soak for at least half an hour before serving.

Notes: Pittla can be made with white pumpkin or bitter gourd (karela) too.
For white pumpkin pittla, cut pumpkin into 1cm cubes, and cook with salt and a pinch of haldi first. Then start as with recipe.
For brinjal pittla you could add 1-2 tbsp of the podi used for brinjal curry, instead of the masala paste suggested here.
For karela pittla, fry karela pieces till light brown and then start the recipe as above.

06 September 2006

Vermicelli and Milk Pudding - SHF23

(Just so I don't offend the traditional Indian chefs reading this, I gave Semiya Paayasam this slightly anglicised name to make it more recognizeable to other chefs in this month's SHF)

Since I first heard of SHF, I've wanted to work on one, but somehow never got around to it. But this month's sounded just wonderful, and I'd just tried this twist on a traditional favourite to rave reviews... from my husband and three-year-old daughter, who're absolute gourmets, and are rather difficult to please.

The traditional Semiya Paayasam is made with roasted vermicelli, milk, and sugar, and garnished with roasted cashewnuts, raisins, powdered cardomom and sometimes saffron.

The last time I made some of this lovely pudding, I thought, why not give it a few extras and see what comes of it?... I decided to fry figs, almonds, and cashewnuts in clarified butter, ground them to a smooth paste and added them to this old-fashioned traditional dish. The result was nothing short of spectacular. So here's hoping this is acceptable as a SHF entry! I'm posting this picture because I don't have a better one :( But I'm going to make it again before the deadline for this SHF, and hopefully get a better picture. (I could use some photography tips here)

Vermicelli Pudding
makes 6 servings

The Basics
1 cup fine vermicelli (broken into 1/4" pieces)
1 liter full cream milk
1 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup water
1 pinch baking powder (optional)

1 tbsp chopped cashewnuts
1 tbsp raisins
2 pinches powdered cardomom
1 pinch saffron

The Surprise
4-6 dried figs
2 tbsps chopped almonds
1 tbsp chopped cashewnuts

1/4 cup clarified butter or ghee
(Note: If you're making ghee just for this one recipe, use one stick of butter in this recipe)

Heat 2 tbsps ghee. Lightly fry the figs , cashewnuts and almonds. Let cool.
Grind these to a smooth paste, adding water (if required) a teaspoon at a time. Keep aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat remaining ghee (clarified butter).
Lightly fry the cashews for the garnish till golden brown. Keep aside.
Lightly fry the raisins till well plumped. Keep aside.

Fry broken vermicelli , stirring frequently, till it starts to turn golden brown.
Add water and stir well. Add milk and baking powder and bring to a boil.
Lower flame and let the pudding simmer till reduced by 1/3rd. Stir frequently.
Add sugar. Stir and continue to simmer till completely dissolved.
Add the fig and nut paste, and stir until there are no lumps in the mixture.

Pour into a serving bowl, and garnish with the fried cashewnuts, raisins, cardomom powder and saffron.

This dessert can be served hot or cold. Tastes wonderful the next day too.

Note: I use baking powder only if I think the milk is likely to curdle... again, depends on kind of milk.