Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ulli Garelu - Medu Vadai (Lentil Dumplings)

No festive meal is complete without the classic dish 'garelu' or 'garellu' in most Andhra homes,be it for Sankranti,Ugadi,Ganesh Chaturthi or Diwali. Infact during Sankranti,our major harvest festival,on Kanumu day,the sons-in-law of the family are treated to delectable delicacies and one savoury dish prepared is garellu served with meat curry , sambar and coconut chutney.
South Indian Tiffins boast of a variety of Vadas or Garelu like Medu Vada,Masala Vada,Parappu Vadai,Ulundu Vadai or Thayir Vadai or Perugu Garellu or Dahi Bhalla(a North Indian style vada smothered in yogurt and tamarind sauce).What ever their name,the vadas or garelu with a crispy and crunchy exterior and a soft and fluffy inside are sure to delight your pallets.Garellu (Lentil Dumplings) are prepared with whole black gram lentil batter.When chopped onions and green chillis are added to the batter,the prepared dumplings are called 'Ulli Garellu'.(ulli means onion in telugu)


1 1/2 cup whole urad dal (black gram dal,minappappu)
1 tbsp raw rice
2" ginger very finely chopped
2-3 green chillies very finely chopped
1 big onion finely chopped
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

Soak whole black gram dal and 1 tbsp raw rice for 5-6 hours.
Strain the water from the dal and grind to a paste sprinkling little water and salt.Dont grind all the dal at once,use small portions to grind batch wise as its easier to grind into a soft paste.Add salt while grinding to a fluffy paste.
Then add chopped onions,finely chopped ginger and green chillies to the batter and mix well.

Take a deep frying vessel and add enough oil for deep frying and the oil should be really hot.
Wet your hands with water and take a lemon sized ball and flatten it into a vada on a greased sheet or banana leaf.
Make a hole in the centre of the vada or gare so that it cooks evenly all over.

Slowly drop it into the hot oil carefully and fry it on both sides on medium heat to a golden brown colour.
Serve hot with chicken curry or mutton kurma, sambar or coriander chutney.
Now head to your kitchens and make this 'tiffin with a hole' which is sure to give your tastes buds a delectable treat.
The recipe for Medu Vadai is the same as above ...the other additions to the ground black gram dal batter along with green chillis and ginger are 1 tsp of pepper corns,few curry leaves and 1/4 tsp asafoetida (medu vada recipe doesnt call for onions).


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

South Indian Tiffin - Uthappams (Lentil Pancakes Topped With Vegetables)

Utappams or thick dosas are South Indian vegetarian tiffin variety made from rice and lentil batter, fermented overnight making the batter slightly sour and then used to prepare thick pancakes like dosas which are light and porous.Uthappams are topped with chopped onions,green chillis and vegetables like tomatoes or carrots but can be eaten without the toppings too.Traditionally its served as a breakfast item but can be served for lunch or dinner and is a complete meal in itself.

1 cup par boiled rice
1 cup raw white rice
1/2 cup urad dal (black gram dal,minappa pappu)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cooking soda


Finelty chopped green chillis,chopped onions,grated carrot,finely chopped tomatoes(deseeded),chopped fresh coriander leaves

Soak rice,urad dal and fenugreek seeds in water for about 8 hours and grind into a fine paste.
Leave it in a warm place to ferment about 8-10 hours.You will notice that the batter has risen and bubbles appear on the top.This is an indication that the batter is well fermented and sour.Add salt and mix well.Just before preparing the uthappams add cooking soda and mix well.
Pre-heat a non-stick tawa or griddle and spread a tsp of oil over it.
Pour a laddle full of batter and spread it thicker than a dosa (about 1/2"- 3/4" thickness).
Spread a tsp of oil around the uthappam and top it with finely chopped onions, chopped tomatoes (deseeded),chopped coriander leaves,grated carrot and finely chopped green chillis.
Cook on simmer for 4-5 mts.Then turn over and cook the other side and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with coconut chutney,coriander chutney or sambar.
Note:You can use left over idli or dosa batter to make uthappams.

Also check out Priya's Vegetable Pancake (Oothappam) recipe here.

Lentils are a perfect way to add protein, fiber and all the antioxidant benefits to any meal and have the same potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants—flavonoids and flavonals—found in tea, fruits, grapes, red wine and cocoa beans. Fenugreek seeds are immune stimulating, and have antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.The toppping of onions,carrots and tomatoes have all the goodness antioxidants have to offer making uthappam a perfect choice for this week's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Aloo Tikki & Corn Bhel (Indian Street Food Fare)

It would be no exaggeration if I said that one of India’s culinary glories is its comforting street food which offers a myriad of flavours with almost every street corner lined with mobile food vendors (or shall we say restaurants-on-wheels) selling sumptuous snack delicacies.Infact the mushrooming snack joints speaks volumes of how street food is a way of life to the common man and the elite who relish the irresistable rich tapestry of flavours these snacks have to offer,not to mention that it is easy on one’s pocket as well.

There’s something mystical and magical about Indian street food indulgence with the flavours sinking into the food cooked in the open, right before our eyes,the aromas awakening our senses which in turn fires the appetite and its hard for the taste buds to resist the temptation of these freshly made, mouth-watering,wide variety of snacks like pani puri,bhel puri,masala vada,pav bhaji,dahi bhalla,aloo tikki,mirchi bajji,kebabs and papdi chaat to name a few.

Today I prepared not one but two potato based snacks because they not only happen to be my favourites but my husband's all time favourite snacks as well.He suggested we go to our regular street food hawker for some hot chaat this evening and I surprised him by preparing them at home for dinner.So one of the snacks I prepared was Aloo Tikki or Potato cutlets which are pan fried patties,with a crispy exterior and soft interior,made from boiled potatoes,green peas,bread, garam masala,chilli pwd,ginger and lemon.These tikkis are traditionally served with mint and cilantro chutney(green chutney) or a tangy tamarind(imli) chutney.

Aloo Tikki

1/4 kg potatoes boiled and grated
1/4 cup of boiled and mashed green peas

2 slices white bread toasted a bit and made into a coarse pwd
2-3 green chillies finely chopped
1" ginger grated
3 tbsps of chopped fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
salt to taste
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chaat masala (optional)
1 tsp roasted cumin pwd
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
ghee/oil for shallow frying

Boil potatoes and cool them before grating them.Add the rest of the ingredients except the ghee and mix well.Roll into lemon sized balls and flatten them and shape into cutlets or round burger shaped patties and flatten them a bit.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee on a griddle and add 3 to 4 tikkis at a time and let them cook on slow fire till a crisp golden color crust is formed on both the sides.Remove on absorbent paper and serve with tamarind chutney.

Aloo Tikki can be served in a number of ways and one way is to drizzle some green chutney over the tikkis or just plain tamarind chutney and the other is to pour some beaten curd and tamarind chutney with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.Now that's what I call a hard to resist,absolutely lip smacking,inviting snack..:).

Corn Bhel,another delicious snack,is a crunchy spicy sweet chaat or salad,prepared with corn kernels,onions,tomatoes,coriander leaves,sev(crisp lentil based savoury),boiled chick peas,crushed roasted peanuts and drizzled with tamarind chuntey (dip)giving it a spicy, sweet and tangy flavour.

Corn Bhel

3 tbsps of sev
2 tbsp of crushed roasted peanuts
1 boiled potato diced into small cubes
¼ cup of boiled chick peas (kabuli channa)- optional
small cup of boiled corn kernel
1 small onion chopped finely
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 small tomato de-seeded and chopped finely
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
big pinch of chaat masala pwd(optional)
¼ tsp red chilli pwd
½ tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients and just before serving drizzle with tamarind chutney.The above ingredients would make 2 portions and is a meal by itself.If sev (gram flour based crispy savoury)isn't available,dont worry,as it tastes great even without it.

Tamarind Date Chutney is a brown color,sweet and sour flavored dipping sauce made with tamarind pulp and pureed dates.It is generally used as a stir in with chaats or salads or drizzled over deep fried savoury snacks.


1 cup tamarind pulp
½ cup fresh dates pureed
3/4 cup grated jaggery or brown Sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
1 tsp cumin pwd
1 tsp saunf pwd (aniseed)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp jeera powder
2 cups water

Add the tamarind pulp, chopped dates,grated jaggery and water to a pan and cook on a medium flame stirring once in a while and once the dates and tamarind turn soft turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool.Grind to a smooth paste.
Heat this ground sauce in a vessel on medium flame and cook it for 2-3 minutes.Add the spices and mix well.Bring to a boil and turn off heat.Cool and serve.

Note: This chutney should have more of a sweeter flavour and less sour.So check the taste before turning off the heat and if you find that its more sour,add some more grated jaggery.This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

You can also check out Meenal's Aloo Tikki recipe here.

Aloo Tikki and Corn Bhel are my entries for this week's Virtual Recipe Club started by Alysha of The Savoury Note Book and the guest food blogger Biscuit Girl of Your Gonna Eat All That is hosting this week's VRC and the theme chosen by her is Potatoes.These delicious snacks which are my hubby's favorites are also my entries for 'Cooking With Love' theme for this month started by Meenakshi of Hooked On Heat.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

No Grill Cheese Sandwich

Today is being celebrated as the Cheese Sandwich Day in the food blogosphere.I love cheese sandwiches and so does my 3 year old.Today I made a no-nonsense,stoveless,no-grill cheese sandwich which would qualify as a kid friendly recipe.My son is old enough now where he can assemble things on his own.And he loves it when I ask him to arrange the filling on the bread.It's such fun when you have your child come to help you in the kitchen with his little fingers and then feels so proud of himself for having made a cheese sandwich all by himself..:)
This fix-it-quick sandwich is sure to please anyone who loves cheese sandwiches and is running out of time.All you need is some grated cheese,chopped coriander leaves,chopped onions and green chillis.Mix all the ingredients and layer the bread slices with the cheese mixture.

Read more about why today is being celebrated as the Cheese Sandwich Day here. And the cute icon you see at the beginning of this post is designed by Rand ,brother of Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and Weekend Herb Blogging fame.Thank you,Kalyn for helping me learn so much about different kinds of herbs and foods by fellow bloggers across the world.Its a great theme and just love it.Keep doing what you believe in and we should continue in bringing forth our 'everyday food' to our family,friends and readers across the globe and I am so glad we are all part of a helpful and supportive food blogging community.
P.S Check out this cool T-Shirt at Kitchen Image


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Recipes Galore! Savour the taste of fellow bloggers food....

I am learning so much about different kinds of foods,recipes,different cultures and people from across the globe by reading some amazing food blogs and I must say that its time well spent and each day I always look forward to learning something new which keeps me challenged and inspired.The single common factor binding us all together in this blogosphere is love for cooking.This past week I tried out some recipes from the kitchens of fellow food bloggers and must thank them for sharing some great food recipes.

Last night I baked a simple basic chocolate cake with chocolate icing on the occassion Valentine's Day,the recipe of which I got from Saba's Meating Point and it was all over this evening..thanks to my toddler.But I did manage to take a picture of it before it was devoured.Thanks Saba for an easy-to-make yet tasty chocolate cake.
An egg curry I tried was Eggs in Spicy Onion Sauce which Tina of Tina's Cooking shares with us.Its basically a recipe from a cookbook by Maya Kaimal.I didnt make any changes to the recipe and made it exactly the way Tina presented it.Though she didnt mention which region of India this curry originated from,certainly this looked like a Kerala traditional curry preparation with an exotic blend of spices like fennel,cloves,cinnamom,cardamom and black pepper and coconut milk.An absolutely tasty dish which goes great with white rice and rotis.Thanks Tina for sharing this recipe.

Love rice and a great rice dish I tried over the weekend was Paneer Pilaf from Nupur's kitchen.This is an authentic North Indian recipe with the use of garam masala (cloves,cinnamom,cardamom)and kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves).This dish is versatile in the fact that you can play around with the spices and add some veggies along with the paneer and rice to whip up an absolutely healthy,tasty and wholesome meal by itself.

To accompany the pilaf I made Tomato Kurma from Kay's Kitchen (it's her mother's recipe) and must say this curry blend is versatile and would taste great with any vegetable, with or without tomatoes.A great tasting Kurma recipe and goes great with dosas and flavoured rice.Thanks Nupur and Kay for sharing your recipes.
Anthony of Anthony's Kitchen has come up with a weekend curry mela where he collects some great recipe links from fellow bloggers and puts it all together in his blog each week.Do check out his forthcoming curry mela to find some mouth-watering delicious dishes this weekend.He sure makes life easy in helping me find some good recipes.

Its Tuesday and its time for ARF/5-A-Day and my entry for this week is Cardamom Tea or Elachi Chai ,an antioxidant rich tea.

Wanna join to have some fun this Thrusday as its the Cheese Sandwich Day in our food blogosphere.Also check out this blog which is dedicated to The Cheese Sandwich.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Elachi Chai - Indian Cardamom Tea (VRC- Cardamom)

The theme for this week’s VRC started by Alysha of The Savoury Notebook is ‘Cardamom’,the queen of all spices.The first thought that came to my mind was ‘Elachi Chai’ or ‘Cardamom Tea’ ,a milky sweet flavoured Indian chai tea which enriches and enlightens my day.Chai-a-holic that I am,my day is incomplete without a freshly brewed cup of warm chai and as I relish every sip of this sweet flavoured chai , a fresh feeling of delicious warmth engulfes me…a truly divine experience.

Cardamom which has a lovely parrot-green shade has seeds that are sweet and fragrant and are used to enhance both sweet and spicy Indian foods like sweet rice pudding,pulao or pilaf and of course not to forget that it is one of the main elements in preparing ‘garam masala’ ,an important ingredient in preparing meat dishes and vegetarian curries as well.

The health promoting benefits cardamom has to offer is immense and is known to ease stomach cramps,stimulate digestion,reduces gas and is a great breath freshner.The antioxidant activity produced in tea is said to be greater than 20 vegetables and fruits and research has shown that cardamom also has antioxidant properties and can restore healthy levels of glutathione.Infact this post would make an apt entry for Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday too..:)
Elachi chai has a thick and golden brown hue with an aromatic sweet taste with no trace of bitterness.


1 1/2 cups water
2/3rd cup milk (you can use skimmed milk)
2-3 pods green cardamom seeds
2 tsps sugar
2 heaped tsps loose tea leaves(non-scented)

Bring water to boil in a stainless steel or non-stick pot. Add cardamom and tea leaves and simmer for a minute. Add milk, sugar and boil till desired colour is obtained.You will know when a lovely aroma is released.Dont boil too much as the tea will impart a bitter flavor.Cover and let it sit for a minute.Strain into cups while piping hot.This serves 2 cups of fragrant cardamom tea.

Note:The amount of milk and water can vary according to personal preference. If you want it more milky, increase the quantity of milk and lessen the water and if you want it less milky reduce milk and increase the quantity of water.

Serve with bajjis ,bhel, pakodas (fritters) or pastries
My entry for this week's VRC-Cardamom and also ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday


Friday, February 10, 2006

SHF #16: Anjeer Halwa (Dried Figs Dessert)

Well the count down to the most romantic day on earth - Valentine’s has begun and the theme for this week'sSugar High Friday #16 is "Recipe for Love"…tempting desserts that double as aphrodisiacs.What is an Aphrodisiac? "An aphrodisiac is an edible food or drink that imparts amorous qualities and eating or drinking these foods stimulates you and gets you in the mood for love."Some of the aphrodisiac foods that have been written since ancient times are apples,artichokes,aspagarus,almonds,figs,bananas,strawberries,honey,ginger,saffron,spples, apricots,cherries, coconut,dates, grapes, mangoes, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates and raspberries and of course chocolate.

I will not go into the scientific proof of these aphrodisiac foods but right now in today’s fast paced world,the best aphrodisiac is to keep the mobiles and PC’s turned off ,plan a delectable rendezvous,create intimacy with some candles and soft music,just be there for each other and get captivated by the fragrance of love.Enjoy this Valentine’s Day celebration with the joy of eating,drinking,enjoying each other’s appetites by conjuring up a delicious meal that tantilizes your taste buds and capture the essence of love.There’s nothing more aphrodisiac than that...:)

Fortunately or unfortunately neither myself nor my beloved have too much of a sweet tooth except for an occasional gulab jamun , bobattu (puran poli) or cake which are prepared as part of our festivities or special occassions. Today I conjured up a dessert with some aphrodisiac ingredients and figs (Anjeer) which are considered to be one of the most popular aphrodisiac foods is the main element here and combine it with two other powerful aphrodisiacs like almonds and saffron ,you have yourself a tantilizing healthy dessert!
Almonds are considered an international symbol of fertility and help sustain stamina while Saffron, a rare and exotic herb, has been used through ages in rituals of beauty and love.Halwa is soft,creamy and has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and before you know it, your sweetheart will devour it with utmost relish. Anjeer Halwa is a blend of condensed milk and dried figs, dense in texture and has a minimal flavour of sweetness.So some healthy fun cooking and good nutrition can all go together this Valentine's with this sensuous healthy dessert.

Anjeer Halwa (Dried Figs Dessert)

1/4 lt boiled warm milk
1 small cup of dried figs (Anjeer) chopped into pieces

1 big tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup of sweetened Condensed Milk (Milkmaid)
5-6 almonds blanched and chopped length wise
few saffron strands

Soak the chopped figs in warm milk for an hour and then grind to a fine paste along with the milk.
Heat ghee in a vessel and add the condensed milk and fig paste and cook on medium heat stirring continously till it leaves the sides of the vessel.
Serve hot garnished with chopped almonds and saffron strands.
Note: Halwa can also be eaten cold.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

ARF #6- Bisi Bele Bath - Rice & Lentils Cooked With Vegetables and Spices

Bisi (means hot) Bele (means lentils) Bath (means sauce mixed with rice) is a Karnataka (S.India) speciality rice dish.Don't get carried away by the simple looks of this dish..:) because the preparation of the masalas which bring out the aromatic tangy-spicy flavour of this rich dish is an extravagant and tedious affair.Besides this rich dish,I also prepared Curd rice or Daddojanum (as we Andhras call it) or Thayir sadam (as called in Tamil Nadu) which is generally eaten towards the end of the meal because it has a calm,soothing effect after eating spicy food.

Rice is our staple and also reigns high among my favourite foods and I enjoy making exotic rice dishes for our weekend rendezvous,a change from the monotony of steamed white rice fare..:).Some of the rice dishes I prepared earlier are lemon rice,tamarind rice, sprouts fried rice, andhra pulao(mixed vegetable rice), jeera rice (cumin rice) and coriander rice ..well my kind of warm comforting rice dishes..:).

Bisi Bele Bath
,a wholesome traditional meal of the Kannada people, requires slow cooking of yellow lentils, rice and vegetables with aromatic spices.This rice dish is infused with carbohydrates(rice),proteins(lentils),antioxidants and vital nutrients (vegetables like onions,peas,beans,carrots,potatoes) and as an astringent, tamarind aids digestion. I thought it would fit the Antioxidant Rich Foods category and would make an apt entry for ARF # 6 Tuesday.


1 cup long-grained rice (cook the rice till soft and mushy)
1 small cup tur dal (Red gram)(cook the dal till soft and well cooked)
2 cups mixed vegetables cubed(carrots, beans, potatoes, peas)
1 cup tamarind juice (soak lemon sized ball of tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for 20 minutes and extract the juice)
2 onions finely sliced
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp grated coconut

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5 dry red chillies
1 tbsp raw rice
1/2 tsp urad dal (black gram dal)
1/2 tsp channa dal (bengal gram dal)
3/4 tsp aniseed/fennel seeds(saunf)
1" stick cinnamon
2 green cardamoms
4 cloves
6 marathi moggu (Tokamiriyalu,Badi Laung)
5 peppercorns
1/4 tsp turmeric powder(haldi,pasupu)
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp grated fresh coconut(you can use dessicated coconut)
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing,inguva)
Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a vessel and add all the above spices except asafoetida and fry them on low heat for 2 mts stirring constantly.
Add asafoetida just before you remove the spices off the heat.Cool and make a coarse powder of the spices.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp ghee in a vessel and fry the onions till transparent and then add the vegetables,salt and pinch of sugar and cook them under steam till almost cooked or 3/4th cooked.
Now add the cooked rice and dal and mix well.
Add tamarind extract,2 tsps of the ground masala pwd,salt and grated coconut and mix thoroughly.Let it sit covered for 40-45 minutes on low heat so that the masalas and flavours are well absorbed.
Add 3 cups of water and mix well and pressure cook for 3 minutes or one whistle.If you dont have a pressure cooker,cover with a lid and cook on low flame.
Generally the consistency of the rice is like a thick dosa batter.I like mine to be a little watery so I add a little more water than required..its matter of choice actually.If you like to have the rice thick reduce the water quantity to 2 cups.

Serve hot with melted ghee,papadam and pickle of your choice.More the ghee more the taste..forget the calories and relish this dish.Overwhelmed by the blend & flavor of aromatic spices anyone will devour Bisi Bele Bath in moments and thats not an exaggeration..:)

Curd Rice

1 cup raw rice (cook rice till very soft and mushy and cool it)
3 cups fresh curd (yogurt)
1/4 cup milk
2 green chillies slit length wise
2" ginger piece finely grated

1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard
2 dry red chillis
8 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
salt to taste
chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Mix the yogurt to the cooled cooked rice and all the ingredients except the tempering ingredients.Mix well.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and let them splutter.Now add the red chillies,curry leaves and asafoetida and immediately add to the curd rice. Stir and mix again.Adjust salt.

Note:If you eat the curd rice immediately on preparing it then there is no need for milk.But if you have prepared the curd rice well in advance, then add 1/4 cup milk to the curd rice 10 minutes before serving so that it doesnt taste sour.You can garnish with finely chopped onions and fruits of your choice like pomegrante or grapes.Its again individual choice.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

WHB-Moringa Tree-Drumstick Leaves Soup

Do you know of the most nutrient rich tree in the world that grows really fast,its root,bark,leaves,flowers and pods can cure more than 300 diseases (according to Ayurveda),whose leaves,flowers and pods are edibles and are used to conjure up culinary delicacies, and can even purify water--but has been overlooked by modern medicine?Yes,we are talking about the Moringa or "drumstick" tree (moringa oleifera) an "all-natural multi-vitamin” and a natural energy booster and its leaves contain high amounts of Vitamin A (four times more than carrots), Vitamin C (seven times more than oranges), protein (twice that of milk), iron(three times the iron of spinach) calcium (four times more than milk) and potassium (triple the amount in bananas) and are low in fat and carbohydrates.The leaves and pods are highly effective in preventing/reversing vision related problems and respiratory ailments, especially in children.

The juice from the moringa leaves is believed to stabilize blood pressure, the flowers are used to cure inflammations, the pods are used for joint pain, the roots are used to treat rheumatism, and the bark can be chewed as a digestive and the gum that exudes from the stem is used to treat headaches.It is antibacterial, stimulant, anti-epileptic rubrifacient, carminative, stomachic, abortif, cardiotonic, antispasmodic, anti-flatulent and antiparalytic and and a good cleanser.
The Moringa or Horseradish tree(aka Munaga,Muruggai,Muranka) is perennial, erect, slender, medium-sized with many arching branches. It has drumstick-like fruits, small white flowers and small and tear drop shaped round leaves which are cooked and eaten as vegetable.There are a number of preparations made from moringa trees and exported from India,namely fresh drumstick fruit,Drumstick powder,Moringa oil,Moringa seed,Moringa leaf powder,Moringa leaf,Moringa pickle,Moringa tea powder,Moringa fruit powder,Moringa seed kernel,Moringa cake powder and Moringa root and many more.Powder from seed kernels works as a natural coagulant which can purify very turbid water removing up to 99 per cent bacteria. Pleasant tasting oilwhich is extracted from its seeds is used in preparing perfumes and lubricants.The seed cake is a protein rich plant fertiliser. The gum obtained from the tree is used in calico printing and in making certain condiments while the bark of the moringa tree is beaten into fibres to make ropes and mats.You can see how each and every part of this remarkable tree benefits mankind.The miracle Moringa tree adorns our backyard and during season yields atleast 300 drumsticks (munaga kaadalu/kaayalu)with amma distributing them to our neighbours,friends and relatives.I decided to blog about this remarkable tree for this Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn.The Moringa has over the years become an integral part of our daily diet.There is something special about these tender green leaves which you can use in your salad,prepare a soup or with dal or use them as a stuffing for paranthas.I use these leaves like spinach to make cutlets and is goes great with masala chai.

I had earlier posted Drumstick Shrimp Curry and now I am sharing with you a soup dish called Munaga Aaku Charu or Drumstick Leaves Soup.

Munaga Aaku Charu (Drumstick Leaves Soup)

1/2 cup of drumstick leaves (washed thoroughly)
lemon sized tamarind (extract juice and make 3 glasses of tamarind water)
1 tomato (quartered)
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
2 baby onions
3 green chillis slit length wise
10-12 curry leaves
1 tsp jaggery

For tempering:

1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillis deseed and tear
1 tsp urad dal( split black gram dal)
1/4 tsp methi seeds(fenugreek seeds)
4 flakes garlic crushed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a vessel.Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.Add the red chillis,urad dal,methi seeds,garlic and cumin seeds and fry till brown.
Add the onions and green chillis and stir fry for a minutes.Add the tomatoes,turmeric pwd,tamarind water,salt,curry leaves,jaggery and the drumstick leaves and let it boil.Once it comes to a boil simmer the soup for 5 minutes till the rawness of tamarind disappears.Adjust salt and turn off heat.
Have it hot as a soup or serve with hot steamed rice.
Note:Adding boiled tur dal water to the charu/soup further enhances its taste.

Drumstick Leaves Soup is my entry for this month's Soup theme of Virtual Recipe Club started by Alysha of The Savoury Notebook.

Project Moringa of 'Trees for Life', a non-profit organization among other things is trying to popularize moringa leaves in Africa & India as an antidote to malnutrition.Let's spread the word about 'Trees for Life' and Project Moringa and help make a difference to people's lives.


Drumstick Shrimp Curry - Royallu Munaga Kaaya Kura

Drumsticks or Munaga Kaaya are one of my favourite vegetables and I use them liberally in my everyday cooking be it to make a pickle,mixed vegetable curry or with shrimps,or add them to my favorite sambar(lentil based stew),thiyal or avial.

I will be writing more about 'The Moringa Miracle Tree' for the Weekend Herb Blogging event after I post this recipe and you can read more about this remarkable discovery which can make a tremendous difference to one's health and how each and every part of the tree benefits mankind.

The flavour of the cooked succulent interior of the drumsticks with the seeds is sweet and we use our teeth to scrap away the soft center and discard the outer hard skin.I love to chew upon the outer skin before I discard it..:).The outer skin is scrapped and the drumsticks are cut into finger length pieces (as show in the picture) and then used in our cooking.Today I am sharing with you a curry dish using drumsticks and shrimps(prawns).
Drumstick Shrimp Curry(Royallu Munaga Kaaya Kura)


2 drumsticks (peel outer skin and cut into finger length pieces and stir fry them for 3-4 mintes in a vessel adding a 1 tsp of oil)
500 gms of shrimps or prawns (shelled and deveined)
2 big onions finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
4 green chillis slit length wise
1 tsp red chilli pwd
1 tsp coriander pwd
1/2 tsp cumin pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
garam masala (pound 1 green cardamom,1" cinnamon stick and 3 cloves)
2 tomatoes finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut paste(optional)
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander for garnish

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a vessel and add the chopped onions and green chillis and fry till transparent.Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till oil seperates.
Add all the powders and mix well.Add the tomatoes and stir fried drumstick pieces and cook further for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the prawns and stir well till its well coated with the masala.Let it cook for 2 minutes and then add the coconut paste and salt and add 1 cup of water.
Cook covered for 5 minutes till you get the desired curry consistency.Turn off heat.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice or rotis.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pesara Pappu Kattu- Split Lentil Seasoned with Spices

My meals are incomplete without a dal dish.Its the most comforting traditional staple of our home and I can say ,without doubt, to most Indian homes.Considering the nutritional superiority of lentils,I would prefer to cook dals,an excellent source of high-quality protein and much easier to digest, than meat.Indian cooking is known to be labor intensive,but believe me,not all foods require a lot of time and effort in their cooking.So if your looking for that simple,healthy comfort food that can be made in a jiffy ,I have a perfect dal dish for you.

Among all the various dals or lentils, the split yellow moong dal or pesara pappu or dhuli moong is a flat,yellow and mild dal,which is most easy to cook without soaking and easy to digest too.Infact the most important food for a light diet according to our ancient medical science Ayurveda is this moong dal and is recommended for children and the elderly as its easily digested. Well,if your down with a stomach problem you would prefer to eat this dal as its very gentle on the stomach and is recommended for mucus dominated persons (Kapha dosha).We use this dal a lot in our everyday cooking be it as a dal with rice or rotis or combined with greens as a stir fry dish like Thotakura Pesara Pappu or to prepare our traditional sweet Bobattu aka Puran Poli.

It’s the tempering/seasoning which is the most important part of this golden yellow dal which gives it the perfect flavor and its aroma is further enhanced with the usage of ghee.This dal is infused with turmeric which provides a warm flavour other than imparting a golden color while cumin, ginger,asafetida,red and green chilli peppers aid in digestion of dal ,thus, transforming this dish into a truly tantilising everyday Indian dal.


1 cup split moong dal(pesara pappu) cooked in a pot with 3 cups of water(this dal cooks really fast unlike other dals)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chilli slit length wise
2 dry red chillis deseed and tear into pieces
1 tsp grated ginger
10 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric (pasupu,haldi)
big pinch asafoetida (hing)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a vessel.Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle and brown.
Now add red chillis,green chillis,curry leaves,ginger and fry for a few seconds.
Now add the asafoetida and turmeric and immediately add the cooked dal along with the excess boiled dal water.Add salt.
Let the dal simmer for 8-10 mts.Turn off heat.
Just before serving add a dash of lime and serve hot with steamed rice or rotis or have it as a soup.(If you wish to have it as a hot soup add an extra cup of water)


Chawal Ki Roti & Palak Makki (Rice Based Flat Bread & Spinach Corn Curry)

Coming up with nutritious,tasty wholesome meals for my family ,keeping in mind we have a growing child, has always been a challenge to me.I always look for interesting ways (read it as varieties)to conjure up a healthy meal loaded with greens (iron), vegetables (which provide the necessary nutrients),lentils and pulses(protein), whole grains (vital vitamins and minerals) and of course herbs and spices(nutritive and medicinal value) which not only provide natural health benefits but also titillate our taste buds..:).

I try my best to influence the wellness level of my family in choosing a wide variety of fresh foods for balanced nutrition and combining and balancing their tastes and flavors with my cooking.Mostly I rely on the safe,tried and tested techniques utilised to bring out the best of flavours from the ingredients used, which I have picked up from amma and ammamma over time.Everyday is a learning process,adapting and learning from others,with most meals being satisfactory by striking a good mix of different tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. According to Ayurveda each taste has a balancing effect, and including some of each minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion.

Indian cuisine has an eclectic collection of leavened and unleavened Indian breads which are so versatile and can be prepared according to one’s taste and imagination be it the plain roti/chapatti,stuffed rotis or paranthas or puris. Today I prepared nutritious Rice Rotis or Chawal Ki Roti prepared from cooked rice,rice flour,yogurt,methi leaves,ginger and green chillis (very rich in iron and carbohydrates).The rice,yogurt and chillis provide a sweet and spicy earthiness to the rotis while the greens (coriander and methi leaves) add a punch of bitter to offset the sweet.

The subtely spiced curry accompanying the rotis is Spinach(Palak) Corn prepared as the name suggests with spinach,corn,green chillis,ginger,garlic,mango powder and cream.The curry dish offsets the rich flavor of fresh cream and cashewnuts with the sweet-tangy flavour of corn and mango powder– creating a unique balance.In short,a healthy meal spiced with a myriad of flavours to scintilate your taste buds.

Rice Rotis

1 cup rice flour (biyam pindi,chawal ka atta)
1 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped green chillies
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp fresh methi leaves (fenugreek)optional
4 tbsps curd
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
water as required

Combine all the ingredients and knead into a firm dough (use little water).
Divide the dough into big lemon sized balls.
Roll out each portion into a circle of approx 6" diameter and 1/4" thickness.
Heat a griddle and cook each roti on both sides until brown ensuring that the edges are cooked on the inside too.Smear with ghee (clarified butter) and serve hot.

Palak Makki

1 big bunch spinach
1/2 cup boiled corn kernels
1/2 tsp shahjeera (cumin seeds)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 green chillis
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp amchur pwd(dry mango pwd)
1 tbsp cashewnut pwd
1 tbsp fresh cream
big pinch of kasturi methi (dry fenugreek)
1 tsp lemon juice

Blanche spinach and puree it.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a vessel and add shahjeera.Let it sizzle.
Now add finely chopped onions and fry well till oil seperates.Add the slit green chillis and ginger garlic paste and fry further for another 3-4 mts.
Add the palak paste and boiled corn and simmer covered for 3 mts.
Add amchur pwd,cashewnut pwd and salt and mix well.Add 1/4 cup of water and cook
for a few minutes till you get the desired curry consistency.Towards the end add kasturi methi and turn off heat.Add the lemon juice and mix well.
Garnish with fresh cream.