Thursday, January 28, 2010

Avarekalu Kadubu, Coconut Chutney

This is one of my mom’s specialties. I remember dad asking her to prepare this at least once every year in avarekai-season. Yeah, owing to the elaborate procedure, it can mostly be done once or twice a year when we get avarekai. Of course, it’s special taste will remain fresh in memory for a long time!
When Dee had come home once before marriage, mom had made this, and being the foodie that he is, he had fallen for it! Yeah.... fallen more for it, than for me :DAnd after that, mom never made it when we went there, and I too had almost forgotten it, till the last vacation I was there, when she again prepared it, and made us fall!!!
I concentrated on the recipe this time, and tried it out for in-laws after a couple of weeks. And it was undoubtedly a great super hit! And I was proud of myself, as I prepared it all by myself, for 6 people, and the taste was just perfect. The coconut chutney prepared as an accompaniment makes it a great combination. Try it out once for weekend treat for the family.
Don’t miss this wonderful recipe when avarekai is available.
Avarekalu Kadubu

Preparation time : 20 min
Cooking time : 25 min
Serves : 5-6

Akki tari / Rice rava - 3 cups
Avarekalu / Indian beans - 1 ½ cups
Water - 5 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1” cube, grated
Coconut - 1 ½ Tbsp, grated or cut into very small pieces
Ghee - ½ Tbsp
Black pepper - 1-2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 2-3 tsp


• Cook Avarekalu/Indian beans in a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water and ½ tsp of salt for 3 whistles, or till cooked soft
• Meanwhile coarsely crush black pepper and cumin seeds
• Heat ghee in a large skillet, add crushed pepper and cumin seeds and allow to splutter; add grated ginger
• Add rice rava and roast on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till a mild aroma fills the air. Make sure not to over roast
• Now mix the roasted rava into the pan with cooked avarekalu along with the water used for cooking and remaining salt as per taste.
• Mix thoroughly, ensuring no lumps are formed. Cook for 7-8 minutes till all the water is absorbed and a upma like lump is formed.
• Turn off the heat.
• When the mixture is still hot, take out a big spoon full of the mixture into a plate, wet your palms dipping in fresh cold water in a bowl, and form tight tennis sized balls. Move your palms briskly while pressing the ball and shaping it right, not allowing the palms to take the heat continuously
• Repeat it for the entire mixture, dipping your palms in water each time
• Now arrange these balls in a flat bowl and steam it, like you do for idlis on medium heat for 15 minutes
• Allow to cool slightly, and serve it with a dollop of ghee over it, and coconut chutney

Tips n Tricks:
• The dumpling balls should be made while the mixture is hot. Once it starts cooling, there will be no binding and the dumplings break. So, when cooled, re-heat the mixture with a little more water, and continue
• For kids, make smaller, marble sized balls, so that they’ll like eating one whole marble at one go

Coconut chutney

Preparation time : 5 min
Cooking time : 5 min
Serves : 5-6

Coconut - 1 cup, grated
Green chilies - 5-6, depending on taste
Chana dal - 2 Tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Coriander leaves - 1 Tbsp, chopped
Asafoetida - a big pinch
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Jaggery - a small pinch (optional)
Tamarind - a small marble sized ball
Salt - ½ Tsp or as per taste

For Tempering:
Cooking oil - 1 Tsp
Curry leaves - A few sprigs
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Asafetida - a pinch, powdered

• Roast chana dal, green chilies, curry leaves and asafetida in a tsp of oil
• Grind the above with all other ingredients, adding a little water if needed
• Transfer the ground chutney to a serving bowl
For tempering / tadka:
• 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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Raw Tomato-Onion Palya

I’m not a big fan of tomatoes. In fact, when I was a kid, I used to hate everything with tomato in it! But raw tomatoes are a different thing altogether. I used to like raw-tomato-gojju prepared by mom, and when she started making raw-tomato-chutney, I started loving it. And it did become a super hit at my inlaws' place too.
Learnt another raw-tomato dish from inlaws - raw tomato and onion palya. Owing to the demand for this chutney and palya at home, all of us keep picking up raw tomatoes whenever we eye them! And debate on whether to prepare chutney or playa this time!
This playa has a shelf life of about a week when refrigerated, so it makes a convenient dish to prepare and use whenever needed throughout the week.

Here’s the simple recipe...
Raw Tomato-Onion Palya

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

Raw tomatoes - 5-6 medium sized
Onion - 3-4 medium sized
Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 2 pinches
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste
Green chilies - 4-5, vary depending on taste
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Chili powder - 1 tsp; alternatively, rasam powder or sambhar powder can also be used for a different taste
Coriander leaves - 1 Tbsp, chopped

• Slice raw tomatoes and onions into thin slices, vertically
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
• Add curry leaves, and when they turn crispy, add the onions slices and turmeric
• Once the onions are almost translucent, add the sliced raw tomatoes
• Sauté well, till the raw tomatoes are cooked soft, yet not soggy. This will take at least 10 minutes or more, and has to be cooked on low to medium heat.
• Add salt and chili powder and mix well and sauté for a few more minutes for the flavors and taste to blend well
• Serve with a chapathis / pooris / rice

Tips n Tricks:
• Make thin slices of tomatoes and onions, it cooks fast, and tastes better

• The spice powder given in Dill Rice recipe can be used for a richer flavor and taste

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cucumber Salad

A yummy, crunchy salad made of cool cucumber... It takes just 10 minutes to go healthy way and make this simple and tasty salad...

Cucumber Salad

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 2 min
Serves : 4-5

Cucumber - 2 medium sized
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Green chilies - 2-3
Coriander - 2 tsp, finely chopped
Coconut - 2 tsp, grated
Salt - ¼ tsp or as per taste

• Chop cucumber into very small chops. You might want to peel it first if the peel is too thick. I prefer not peeling it to have some crunchiness and not to lose out on nutrients.
• Heat oil in a small skillet, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
• Add Urad dal and roast till golden color
• Add slit green chilies and curry leaves and sauté for a minute
• To the chopped cucumber, mix the tadka prepared above, salt and grated coconut
• Garnish with coriander leaves and serve

Tips n Tricks:
• The best way to chop cucumber is to hold it up vertically with your left hand, and go on hitting it with a knife in right hand, simultaneously turning the cucumber around so that there are slits in all directions for about an inch thickness. Then place it horizontally on the board, and cut out the slit portion into very small bits. This way, very small chops can be got easily.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Channa Masala

As a kid, Channa batura used to be my all time favorite in some of the restaurants that we would visit. While ordering food for me, dad used to be quite sure always that my choice would be Channa Batura! The huge round poori and the fat kabuli channa cooked soft with a simple yet flavorsome masala would surely be a hit for all kids, and of course to the elders too! :)
We used to have this dish only at restaurants initially, and later mom started making it at home for us, which is definitely much healthier than what is available out at restaurants. And the oily Bhatura can be substituted with little healthier regular pooris. The channa masala, if made well, even tastes great with chapathis, making it best for people cutting down on oily stuff.

This is a slight variant of the authentic Channa masala, to suit our taste buds, learnt from my mom.
Channa Masala

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 20 min, other than time taken to soak and cook the channa
Serves : 5-6

For cooking Channa
Kabuli channa - 2 cups
Baking soda - a small pinch
Salt - ¼ tsp

For the masala
Tomatoes - 3-4 medium sized
Onion - 3-4 medium sized
Garlic - 4-5 cloves
Ginger - 1” cube, grated
Green chilies - 2-3, vary depending on taste
Red chili powder - ½ tsp
Coconut - 2 Tbsp, grated
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste
Sugar - ¼ tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 Tbsp, chopped
Channa masala powder - 1 tsp. If you do not have this, you can simply add about ¾th spoon of garam masala, and half a spoon of dhania-jeera powder
Cooking oil - ½ Tbsp

• Soak kabuli channa overnight
• Cook it in a pressure cooker with a pinch of soda and salt for 4-5 whistles, or till cooked soft
• Boil tomatoes. Tomatoes can also be boiled along with the channa in the cooker
• Meanwhile, slit green chilies, and chop onions into medium sized pieces
• Grind the cooked tomatoes, half of chopped onions, coconut into a fine paste
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and add crushed garlic, ginger, slit green chilies
• Add the remaining chopped onions and sauté till they turn translucent
• Now add the ground paste and cook for a few minutes till the raw smell of onion is gone.
• Add Channa masala, red chili powder, salt, sugar and mix well
• Now add the cooked channa and bring to boil for a few minutes. Adjust the consistency with suitable amount of water. The channa should absorb the flavors and taste of the masala.
• Garnish with chopped coriander
• Serve with baturas / pooris / chapathis

Tips n Tricks:
• If the gravy turns out to be too thin, then, just take out a tablespoon of the cooked channa, and grind it to a coarse paste and add it back to the gravy. This way, you get the right consistency and a creamy texture, without compromising on the taste

• The onion can also be sautéed before grinding, to avoid boiling for a longer time later to eliminate the raw smell