Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gongura pickle

We had these tenants of ours who were from Andhra. They were recently married, and the wife was quite a young girl, who was just out of college. She'd come home for spending some time talking to mom to kill her boredom in a new place. And mom give her company for sometime, while we would be curiously listening to the conversation!
One of the usual topics would be food, and she'd often say she had prepared something with gongura. We were quite unaware of this gongura then. And she'd explain that it is a very famous variety of greens and used widely in Andhra cuisine. And she'd sometimes give us a tangy spicy pickle like thing to taste, in a small bowl in return to something that mom would have sent to her. And it would taste awesome with hot rice and a spoonful of ghee/oil. The next encounter with this gongura pickle was at Andhra style restaurants, where Dee loves the pappu (dal) and this gongura pickle.
So when the vegetable vendor come with fresh bunches of maroon stalked green gongura, i was tempted to buy it, even without any idea of how to use it. And i soon figured out umpteen different recipes from various sources! Then decided to refine it to my taste and make it to suit our tastebuds. And it did come ou good, and a huge bunch of leaves yielded me only a small bowlful of the pickle, and what i thought i'll have to preserve for weeks, didn't last for more than three days! Everyone - including little niece Hima had an extra round of gongura pickle rice for every meal, till it lasted!
Gongura pickle

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 15 min
Makes : 1 cup of pickle

Gongura leaves - 5-6 cups, washed and picked
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp

For spice powder:Dry red chilies - 15-20 depending on taste
Mustard seeds - 3 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 3 tsp

For tempering:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafetida - 1 pinch

Spice powder• Heat a skillet and roast all the ingredients
• Cool slightly and grind it to a powder
Gongura pickle• Wash the gongura, separate the leaves from stalk
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the gongura leaves
• The volume of the greens reduces drastically
• Sauté it for a while till the water content evaporates
• Keep stirring, to avoid sticking to the pan, add more oil if needed
• Once done, the oil starts separating out from the pickle
• Add the spice powder prepared and mix thoroughly for a couple of minutes, with the heat on
• Heat oil in a small skillet, add mustard and allow to splutter, add asafetida and mix it to the pickle
• Serve with rice and ghee/oil, curd rice, dosa, etc

Tips n Tricks:
• The gongura reduces in volume drastically - so use more if you want to prepare more

• Sautéed onions can also be added

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nutty Okra Masala - A definite hit!

'What's cooking?'
'Bendekai ....'
'Ohhh no..... i dont want it.... i'll just have somthing else....'
'Listen, it'll be nice.....'
'No, it'll be sticky and slimy.... i dont like it at all....'
This used to be Dee's reaction to Okra, till I started making dishes with okra not sticky, slimy, flabby and broken....
'And now the conversation goes like this....
'What are u making?'
'Bendekai .....'
'Wow... You're making that peanut wala bhindi, right??'
'Make that please... i love it.....'
So would be everyone's demand - even my inlaws'. We've all fallen in love with this variant of Bhindi masala. I've even made it for guests, shared it with colleagues, lunch pals, and well, every one gets bowled over for this! And they'll definitely ask for the recipe, even the guys would! And a pal who tasted it, urged me to put it on my blog soon, and thanks to her, the post is up for u all!
Well, i actually got this recipe from Sia's Monsoon Spice here; Thanks Sia for a wonderful combination. I had read it and got a fair idea of the ingredients and method, though not noted it, and later tried it out after a few days. I did not follow it completely, though, and made some modifications to suit my taste and method.....
You just got to try it, and I can guarantee it's gonna be a BIG HIT! Be sure to follow the instructions to handle okra, though.

Nutty Okra Masala

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 20 min
Serves : 4-5

Okra/Ladies finger - ½ - ¾ kg
Onions - 2 big
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

For spice powder:
Peanuts - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal - ½ tbsp
Black gram dal - ½ tbsp
Sesame seeds - ½ tbsp
Dry red chilies - 10-15 depending on taste
Curry leaves - 10-12 leaves

For tempering:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Black gram dal - 1 tsp
Peanuts - ½ tbsp
Sesame seeds - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 10 - 12 leaves

Spice powder
• Heat a skillet and roast all the ingredients except sesame seeds
• When they are almost roasted, add sesame seeds and turn off the flame, continue stirring for a few more seconds
• Cool slightly and grind it to a coarse powder
• This can be prepared in larger quantity and stored for multiple uses
Okra masala
• Wash the okra, wipe it with a kitchen towel and dry it completely
• Chop it on a dry cutting board with a dry knife, into ¾” pieces
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat1 tbsp oil and add the chopped okras
• Roast the okra on a high flame, continuously stirring, till the slime vanishes. • Add a little more oil if needed
• Add salt and mix in thoroughly, continuing heat for 2 more minutes
• Chop onions and in a separate pan, heat the remaining oil and sauté till translucent
• Mix the roasted okra, add the spice powder prepared above and mix thoroughly till the spice powder is evenly coated over the okras
• Heat oil in a small skillet, add mustard and allow to splutter
• Add peanuts and after a few seconds add black gram dal and curry leaves
• When the nuts and dal are done, add sesame seeds and turn off the flame
• Add this to the above prepared okra-onion masala and mix well
• Serve with chapathis / rice

Tips n Tricks:
• Make sure there is no water content in the okra, or the dish will turn into a disaster.
• Don’t worry if the walls of the pan get charred, it can be easily washed off.
• Never cook the okras with the pan covered, it gets soft and broken rather than staying crunchy

• Dry grated coconut can also be added, but I prefer without it

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Jyothi has passes this award caller “Honest Scrap Award” to me. Thanks Jyothi, I’m honored.

I didn’t know what it means when I read the comment from Jyothi that I’ve got this ‘Honest Scrap’ award. Googled and found out this: "This award is about bloggers who post from their heart,who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul."
The award has two components:
  1. First, you have to list 10 honest things about yourself (and make them interesting)
  2. Then, you have to present the award to seven other bloggers.

Now, coming to the 10 honest facts about me.... Since I’ve got this award on my food blog, let me try to list down 10 honest things related to food / cooking.... and here it is....

  1. I like trying out new things and experimenting new combinations
  2. I don’t mind admitting fault when I’ve done some goof up with some dish
  3. When it comes to having my favorite items, I WANT it the way I want it... I’ll just not like it if it’s a little this side or that in taste / appearance
  4. People get irritated with me at times when I’m so particular
  5. I like cooking myself - taking ownership of whatever I do, rather than taking instructions and just helping out in the kitchen
  6. As much as I love to cook at home, I also love to freak out and try different cuisines at various food joints. And when I feel like having something at some place, I’ll badly start craving for it :)
  7. If I feel I don’t like something, then I’d be so adamant not to change my opinion for it. Like I never used to eat raw onions (except for in chats), I never eat tomatoes if they are visible, and many more like that. And of late I’m getting over that habit.... I’ve started loving raw onions, though I’ve not changed my mind about tomatoes yet!
  8. I just LOVE whatever mom makes, and still I make a fuss with her, that this should be like that, that should be like this and so on, and irritate her
  9. Though I had learnt quite a bit of cooking before marriage, I had never managed to learn rolling chapathis! It was only a few months after marriage that I started seriously practicing it whenever I went to mom’s place, and learnt it!
  10. I get excited when I invite guests home for a meal. I’d plan and plan on an elaborate meal, prepare for it and make it..... and end up feeling exhausted and of course satisfied!

Ok, these were the ten things I could think of for now......
Now, I pass it on to
- Sia
- Kitchen Flavours
- Preeti
- Kaush
- Hema
- Sushma
- And anyone else who wants to take it.....
You don’t have to necessarily write 10 honest things related to food alone... it can be anything :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pongal & Chutney - A simply great combination

  • Are you tired to cook something complicated, and want to wind off cooking something very easy not compromising on the quality of food?
  • Are you tired after having heavy foods for a couple of days and longing for some simple-food?
  • Are you just recovering from fever, with your taste buds craving for something hot and tasty, but do not want to spoil your health with anything spicy or fatty?
  • Are you just feeling low and want something to lift your spirits up?

If you answer yes to anyone of the above, then here’s the remedy - prepare a bowlful of pongal, and have it hot - real hot with crispy tempering and freshly prepared simple chutney.

Pongal is something that can be made in a variety of ways, with a variety of add on ingredients, and whatever way you make it, it’ll surely taste good. And will definitely make you feel good, lift your spirits up and of course fills up your tummy too. Dont forget to serve with a spoon of ghee poured over the hot pongal!

Here’s a simple version of the simple food - Pongal...


Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 15 min
Serves : 4 -5

Split moon dal - 1 cup
Rice - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Ginger - 1”cube, grated
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp, grated
Green chilies - 3-4
Coriander leaves - 3-4 strands
Turmeric - 1 pinch
Hing - 1 pinch
Salt to taste
Water - 6-7 cups (or more if you want it more watery)

For tempering:
Ghee - 2 tsp
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Cashewnuts - 2 tsp

• Wash rice thoroughly and keep aside
• Grind raw cumin seeds, coconut, green chilies, coriander leaves, turmeric and hing into a coarse paste without adding any water
• In a pressure pan, heat ghee
• Add split moon dal and fry till light golden, till it gives out an aroma
• Add the grated ginger, ground mixture and stir for a few seconds
• Add washed rice, water and cook in the pressure pan for 3 whistles

• Heat ghee in a pan
• Add black pepper and allow to sputter
• Turn the heat low, add cashew nuts and stir till they turn light golden color
• Add this to the pongal prepared, just before serving, to retain the crispness of pepper

Tips n Tricks:
• Dry grated coconut can be used instead of grinding the fresh coconut with chilies, etc

• Add enough water - more than 4 times the quantity of rice and dal combined, to have a watery consistency

And this is the chutney that best goes with pongal...
White Chutney

Preparation time : 5 min
Cooking time : 5 min
Serves : 4 -5

Coconut - 1 cup, grated
Green chilies - 5-6, depending on taste
Ginger - ½” cube
Asafoetida - a big pinch
Cooking oil - 1 Tsp
Fried gram dal - 2 Tsp
Tamarind - a small marble sized ball
Salt - ½ Tsp or as per taste

For tempering:
Cooking oil - 1 Tsp
Curry leaves - A few strands
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp

• Roast green chilies and asafetida in a tsp of oil, till the chilies become crisp
• Grind the above with all other ingredients, adding a little water if needed
• Transfer the ground chutney to a serving bowl
• Heat the oil in a pan, add mustard and allow to splutter
• Add asafetida and curry leaves
Garnish the chutney with tadka

Tips n Tricks:
• Do not make the chutney too smooth – a little coarse consistency will give a better taste

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dill Rice - A nutritious rice speciality

Dill, or sabsige soppu as we call it in kannada, is a flavored herb, and used in a variety of dishes. I recently found that it has many nutritional values...
• Dill contains numerous plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
• This popular herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fibers which helps to control blood cholesterol levels.
• The essential oil, Eugenol, in the dill has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
• Dill oil, extracted from dill seeds has anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, disinfectant, galactagogue (helps breast milk secretion), sedative properties.
• It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health and helps body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
• Fresh dill is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. Vitamin-C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
• Dill weed is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.

Dill has all the characters to consider it has one of the most valuable functional food. Then why not use this nutritious herb and make a delicious rice item!
Got this recipe from mom - she apparently learnt it recently, experimented it and then told me about it. And I, wanting to try out something new, tried it out, and it came out beyond my expectation! The spice powder used here is something that one can find stocked in our kitchen shelf at any time, so that made it easier for me. Nevertheless, it is not a great task to make the spice powder fresh, and it is really worth it. And once made, it can be stored for a couple of months too.

Dill Rice

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 15 min
Serves : 4 -5

For Spice powder: (makes spice powder to make Dill rice 3-4 times)
Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Red chilies - 20 - 25 (preferably byadagi variety)
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Cinnamon - 2-3 one inch sticks
Cloves - 8-10
Maratha Moggu - 2-3
Cardamon - 3-4

For Dill Rice:
Dill leaves (Sabsige soppu) - 2 small bunches
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Tamarind pulp - 2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp, adjust acc to taste
Spice powder - 2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 small marble sized ball
Rice - 2 cups

For tempering:
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Groundnut seeds - 1 tbsp
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 strands
Turmeric - 1 pinch

Spice powder
• Dry roast all the ingredients
• Allow to cool for 5 minutes
• Grind them into slightly coarse powder
• This can be made in larger quantity and preserved for a couple of months

• Heat oil in a pan
• Add mustard seeds and allow to sputter
• Turn the heat low, add groundnut seeds, and stir
• After the groundnuts are half-done, add chana dal and urad dal
• Add curry leaves and stir for half a minute till all the ingredients are properly roasted. Keep aside till needed.

Dill rice
• Wash rice, soak in water for 10 minutes
• Cook rice in pressure cooker or in microwave by adding about 4 cups of water (quantity of water should be adjusted depending on the variety of rice)• Pick the dill leaves, wash thoroughly and chop into small pieces
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp oil
• Add the chopped dill leaves, and stir every 2 minutes for about 10 minutes
• Ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. It takes a while to cook thoroughly.
• Once the dill leaves are cooked, add tamarind pulp, salt, jaggery and 2 tsp of spice powder prepared
• Stir for another 5 minutes till the mixture becomes slightly dry
• Spread the cooked rice in a wide pan, cool slightly and mix in the dill mixture and tempering
• Mix thoroughly using hands, so that the dill is evenly mixed into rice
• Serve it warm, or by heating slightly, optionally along with any raita

• The same can be prepared with methi leaves too