South Indian lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Simple everyday thali

The post for today is inspired from my mother in law’s cooking. This is the meal she used to prepare everyday when we were all staying together. Everyday lunch and dinner was a three course meal. First course is rice served with sambar and a stir fry/porial. Second course is rice with rasam, again with the stir fry and pappadam on the side. Third course is rice and yogurt with pickle.

Three course of rice doesn’t mean that you actually eat a ton of rice, it just means that you eat the quantity in three divisions. My mother in law usually won’t prepare a stir fry and a kootu at the same time. Also, since no one likes bitter gourd there, it won’t be chosen for the porial.

Bitter gourd is one of my favorite vegetables, but it was something I gave up as my husband doesn’t like it at all. I bought it for this thali after a really long time. I ended up making kootu as a back up option in case my husband won’t eat the porial. I needn’t have worried, he enjoyed it and took second servings too. Talk about changing taste buds :-). Kootu was one of the Curries I grew up eating. I never liked it as a kid, I would eat it but not happily. Again, it is one of the things that just changed with time.

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Pappadam
  3. Sambar
  4. Rasam
  5. Pavakka (bitter gourd)
  6. Chow chow kootu
  7. Yogurt
  8. Pickle

Pavakka fry:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • 3 bitter gourds, Pitted and cut into semicircles


  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it pops, add chili powder, turmeric powder and salt as needed into the oil. Mix with a spoon and add the sliced bitter gourd pieces.
  2. Mix well to evenly distribute the spices. Cover and cook , stirring in between until the bitter gourd is done. Taste test and adjust seasonings, if needed. Take off the heat and serve with rice and sambar.

Chow chow kootu:

  • 2 cups chayote/chow chow, peeled, pitted and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup moong dal, cooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • Salt as needed


  1. Wash and clean the dal. Pressure cook along with the diced chow chow with enough water and the turmeric powder for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Grind coconut with red chilies and jeera seeds, adding water if necessary, into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  3. In a pan, add the oil. Once it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and red chilies and let the seeds pop. Now add the cooked dal and chow chow mix along with the water in which it’s cooked. Add the ground coconut paste and salt. Let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings, if needed. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice.

Sambar recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 small piece of dry hing
  • 1/2 cup of toor dal, washed and cooked
  • 6 ladies finger, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 small onion, sliced, optional
  • 1 small tomato, diced, optional
  • 2 tablespoons sambar powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 3 cups water
  • salt as needed


  1. Pressure cook 1/2 cup of toor dal. I cook it along with rice using a separator vessel. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it pops, add the fenugreek seeds and the hing piece. Once fenugreek seeds change color, add the onions and ladies finger. Sauté until it’s done. Add the diced tomato, sambar powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well.
  3. Add three cups of water and tamarind paste. Mix well and let it cook for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Now add the cooked dal after mashing it with a ladle. The dal should be smooth and kind of puréed when you are adding it to the sambar. Let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Let the sambar boil for another 5-8 minutes or until it reaches the consistency of your choice. You can add a little more water if it’s too thick. Turn off the heat once it reaches the consistency you like.

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Vazhakka MorKuzhambu lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Simple everyday thali

Green plantains (vazhakka) and yogurt based mor kuzhambu is one of the favorite combinations for my husband. My mother in law used to prepare this at least a couple of times in a month. Mor kuzhambu also pairs well with parippu usili. That’s a favorite with my husband as well. For today’s thali, I had only the South Indian part of the meal planned. I had some cooked black eyed peas in the fridge so at the last minute I added the roti and curry also to the thali.

On days when I make rice and roti, my son will eat only the roti. Rice is for the days when he has no other choice. Well, I am not complaining much since I wasn’t a fan of many South Indian dishes at his age. Since he eats rice, I will take that for the time being.

I was able to cook with a lot of enthusiasm when I was started preparing the thalis. I have just four more to do now and somehow I am not finding that energy to get it done. I keep finding some or the other reason to keep postponing it. I guess for the last week of the marathon, I will end up cooking and posting on the same day. It’s the shopping that I have been postponing. Hopefully I will get it done soon!

Read on for the recipes and pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Mor kuzhambu
  3. Vazhakka
  4. Lobia curry
  5. Roti
  6. Cucumber slices


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once it pops, add 2 cloves of minced garlic. When it changes color a little, add two peeled and diced green plantains.
  • Now add the spice powders – 1 teaspoon each of red chili powder and coriander powder. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder too. Sprinkle a little water, mix everything carefully. Cover and cook, removing the lid to mix in between to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the plantains are cooked, turn off the heat. Serve with rice and any yogurt based gravy.

Mor kuzhambu

  1. Soak 1 tablespoon each of rice and toor dal in a small bowl for at least 20-30 minutes. Drain and grind along with 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds, 2 green chilies and 1” piece of peeled ginger. Make a smooth paste of this adding water as needed. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Once it pops, Add the vegetable of your choice for the mor kuzhambu. You can use ladies finger, ash gourd, plantains, yam etc. Add half teaspoon of turmeric powder and Let the vegetables cook. Once it’s cooked, add the ground paste and half cup of water.
  3. Now blend 1 cup of yogurt in the blender jar for a couple of minutes. Add this to the pan. Lower the heat and let it cook. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. This is to ensure that the heat doesn’t curdle the yogurt. Serve with rice and vazhakka.

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Pudina Lachha paratha

BM #116 : Week 3, Day 6
Theme : Indian Flatbread Thali

For the last day of flatbread week, I have a simple thali with pudina paratha. A google search for pudina paratha showed me that’s it’s mostly served as layered paratha (lachha paratha), so I also did the same. I love making lachha paratha, though it’s been a long time I made it. The thali here is a very simple one, the parathas are served with a simple dal and dal makhani. Dal makhani is one of my go to dishes when we have guests coming or to take for a pot luck. Rajma and chole are the other two favorites. When cooking with beans, the biggest advantage is that you can cater to more people without having to cut too many vegetables.

Though I enjoyed making the paratha thalis a lot, I made those back to back. As a result, at the end of the week, I was feeling bloated and heavy after eating such rich food for a week. At my age, you kind of need a little break between two thalis :-))! Next time I will plan better and spread these out over few days. That’s the reason why I decided to make a simple thali for the last post under this theme.

Scroll down for the recipes and more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Pudina paratha
  2. Dal makhani
  3. Moong dal tadka
  4. Green garlic chutney
  5. Yogurt
  6. Gulab jamun (readymade)
  7. Lemon Pickle

Pudina paratha:

  • 2 cups wheat flour/atta
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • Salt as needed
  • water to knead into a dough


  1. Wash, clean and mince the mint leaves. Add it to a mixing bowl along with the wheat flour, chili powder, oil and salt. Add water in 1/4 cupfuls and knead it into a soft smooth dough. Keep aside for 15 minutes to rest.
  2. Divide the dough into 6-8 balls. I usually make 3 chapatis from one cup of flour. Roll out into plain chapatis or if you want the lacha paratha layers, refer to the original post here for stepwise pictures.
  3. Cook on a heated tawa and repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve hot with a curry of your choice or with yogurt and pickle or chutney.

Dal makhani

  • 3/4 cup whole black urad dal
  • 1/4 cup Rajma
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1 big tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cream
  • Salt as needed


  1. Wash and soak both the dals together overnight or at least for 5 hours. Drain, rinse and pressure cook with about 3 cups of water. You need enough water so that the dal is completely submerged and there is about an inch of water above the dals. I cook for 25 minutes in Manual mode in instant pot (Pot in Pot method). Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan. Add the finely minced onions. Sauté until it’s done and add finely chopped tomatoes. You can add puréed tomatoes too. Add the spice powders, salt and ginger garlic paste. Mix well and cook until the tomatoes are done.
  3. Once the tomatoes are cooked and mushy and the oil floats on top, add the dal along with the water it’s cooked in.
  4. Add 1 cup of water (or more) to bring it to the consistency you prefer. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes in low heat. Keep stirring in between to prevent the dal sticking to the bottom of the pan. The longer it cooks, tastier it would be. You might have to add more water if it starts getting too thick.
  5. Add the cream and mix it in. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in a tablespoon more of cream at the time of serving.

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Avocado paratha thali

BM #116 : Week 3, Day 5
Theme : Indian Flatbread Thali

Mega blogging marathons need a lot of planning and I usually don’t participate since I have this habit of postponing till the last minute. Even for our regular monthly blogging marathons, I end up cooking only on the day of posting. The time difference between US and India work in my favor because I can cook a meal for lunch and post it by evening as we are 9 plus hours behind IST. But for a mega marathon and that too with a Thali everyday theme, planning was needed. Since I joined with just about 20 days before the marathon stared, I ended up continually cooking thalis last month.

The first thing I did after shopping was to cut all the vegetables (not onions and tomatoes, that needs to be done just before cooking). That helped a lot. Second thing was to cook rice before I went to sleep. That way, the next morning, I already had cut vegetables and cooked rice. That’s a much easier place to start. Third was to make a batch of plain chapati dough and another for thepla.

Whenever I could, I would soak and cook the dry beans also ahead. So when I am planned Chana masala for the poori thali, I soaked and cooked extra Chana. That way, I already had cooked Chana when I made chole for the chaat platter.

Once I had prepared a list of the dishes I wanted to make – the choices of Curries (with the A-Z theme in mind as well), parathas and rice, it was easy. All I had to do was to decide what curry to make that day and pair with what kind of paratha and rice. I also decided not to make sweets from scratch, so a couple of canned gulab jamuns was what I decided to serve as dessert.

It helps that I have to cook only for three people. Also since all the thalis have rice and two Curries, I make only 1 or 2 parathas per person. For today’s post, I made the dough only when I started cooking as it’s better that way with avocados. I served 2 chapatis in my husband’s thali. My son had 3-4 chapatis and he skipped the rice.

So when I start cooking for a thali, for most part, I already have cooked rice (which I keep for 1 minute in Manual mode in Instant pot for reheating), cut vegetables and mostly, dough for the parathas also ready. Any experienced cook would tell you that from this point, it’s easy to make two Curries and a few parathas :-).

Read on for the recipe and more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Avocado paratha
  2. Capsicum rice
  3. Green chutney
  4. Cucumber slices
  5. Shahi Paneer
  6. Dry peas (Vatana) curry
  7. Boondi raita

Avocado paratha

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
  • 2 cups wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt as needed
  • In a mixing bowl, add mashed avocados. Add the flour and spices. Mix and knead to a soft dough. If needed, you can add a tablespoon or two of water to bring it into a dough. I didn’t need any. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  • Take a small lime sized ball and roll it into a chapati. Cook both sides on a heated tawa with a little ghee if preferred.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve with any curry of your choice.

Capsicum rice:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1 big capsicum /bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cooked leftover rice
  • 1/4 cup frozen and thawed green peas
  • 2 teaspoons biryani masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • Salt as needed


  1. Heat ghee in a pan. Add jeera seeds. Once it crackles, add the diced capsicum. Sauté until it’s softened a little. Add the thawed green peas. Add the biryani masala, chili powder and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook for a minute or two.
  2. Add the cooked rice. Mix carefully without breaking the rice. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes until the rice is heated through. Turn the heat off and serve hot with curry or raita of your choice.

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