Vadacurry with Idli

BM #106: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

The first time I had vada curry is when our friend’s mom prepared it for us. It’s not a dish I grew up eating, but the first time I had it, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a complicated process to prepare these, but it’s a fairly easy one. First you have to soak Chana dal and then grind it fennel seeds and dried red chilies. It’s ground to a coarse paste and steamed as small vadas. The gravy for this is the common onion tomato base with the usual spices. The vada is then broken into smaller pieces and added to the onion tomato gravy.

The only difference I see in my friend’s mom’s recipe from the other ones in internet is that she keeps a little bit of vada batter aside and uses it to thicken the gravy later. In the other recipes I see coconut being used for this purpose. The smell and taste of fennel seeds here is absolutely divine. Mine doesn’t have that much fennel, so feel free to add a bit more ground fennel seeds to the gravy if preferred.

This is a typical breakfast/dinner dish and is usually served with soft thick dosas or idli. This was dinner getting packed as lunch next day for my husband:-).

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend’s mother

Ingredients:

For vada

  • 1 cup Chana dal
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • Salt as needed

For curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Soak the dal overnight or for at least 3 hours. Drain the water completely and pulse it in a blender with fennel seeds, chilies, chili powder and salt. It should be a coarse paste and not a smooth paste. Remove the ground paste to a bowl reserving about 2 tablespoons ( roughly a handful) of it back in the blender. The reserved batter will be blended with water to use for thickening the gravy later.
  2. Take a marble sized ball from the vada batter. Flatten it and place it on a steamer rack. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Steam for 12 minutes. Set aside.
  3. For the curry, heat a tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onions till it’s pink. Add the ginger garlic paste and mix it in. Add the tomatoes and all the spice powders and salt. Mix everything well and let it cook until the tomatoes are really mushy and almost like a paste. You can add a little water whenever it looks dry or if the curry starts sticking to the pan.
  4. At this point, add 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings.
  5. Break each vada into smaller pieces, roughly 3-4 pieces per vada. Add the broken vada to the gravy. If the curry is dry, add more water. You are looking for a chili like consistency.
  6. To the reserved vada batter, add 1/4 cup water and grind to a very smooth paste. Add this to the gravy and bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds if preferred. Taste test again and adjust seasonings if necessary. Take off the heat and serve with idli or dosa or even roti.

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Moong dal with Dill leaves

BM #106: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

My husband’s lunchbox and my son’s lunchbox are completely different. My husband prefers rice and my son doesn’t like rice. I serve rice to my son when he is back from school and pack something light for his lunchbox. Pasta is the only thing they agree on.

Here is a sample of my husband’s lunch. I usually pack a salad or a cooked vegetable on the side, but I was out of time to do so. Dal with dill leaves is a recipe I learnt from my friend and I love it.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend Devi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1″ piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 cup chopped dill leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

Method:

  1. Wash the dal and pressure cook with the diced tomatoes, onions, chilies , ginger, garlic and turmeric powder. Add about 2.5 cups of water or until the dal is completely submerged and water floats about an inch on top. Pressure cook for 6 whistles (6 minutes in Manual setting in Instant Pot) or until the dal is cooked completely. I use pot in pot method. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the cooked dal. Add salt as needed and garam Masala. Roughly chop the dill leaves and add it to the dal. Let everything cook together for a couple of minutes. You can add more water if the dal is dry. Taste test, adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve with rice, pickle and chips.

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Black Bean Pasta Salad

BM #105: Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Pasta Salads

This is yet another recipe from my bookmarks, this again is from Pavani’s space. She had made this salad for one of the meets and I had gotten the recipe from her. I made the dressing from her space, but not the vegetables. My son is not a fan of pepper or onions, so I ended up adding corn and tomatoes.

The recipe is a summer salad that’s served chilled. That makes it a good choice for lunch boxes as my son can’t heat his lunch. The weather here is not so cold that we can’t have these kind of salads now and then.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

  • 8 oz pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup thawed corn
  • 1 large tomato, chopped

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain. Set aside to let it cool.
  2. In a small bowl, mix everything for the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To a mixing bowl, add the pasta, drained black beans, chopped tomatoes, corn and then mix in the dressing. Taste test and adjust seasonings, if needed.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve.

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Sun-dried Tomato pasta salad

BM #105: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Pasta Salads

The recipe here is from Pioneer woman’s blog, but Pavani was the one who suggested it to me. That was at least a couple of years back. She had prepared it for one of the meets and I got the recipe from her later. I had made it many times when I initially got the recipe, but soon forgot about it. This week’s theme again reminded me about this wonderful salad and so here it is, finally!

The quantity of pasta here is quite a lot. I usually prepare the tomato paste and use it with a small quantity of pasta and olives as needed. The paste has a good shelf life but for me, it gets over very fast. I also skipped the cheese since I didn’t have any that day. I packed this for my son’s lunch couple of times last week. He really loves this!

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • One 7oz jar of sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil, if needed
  • 16 oz packet of pasta
  • 1 small jar of pitted olives, drained and chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Few basil leaves, optional
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Method:

  1. In a food processor, add the tomatoes with the oil, garlic cloves, vinegar and salt and pepper. Blend until you have a paste like mix. You can add more olive oil if there’s a need. I didn’t have to add any. Keep aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Let it cool. Add chopped olives, tomatoes and 3/4 of the tomato paste. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Add few shredded basil leaves and cheese at the time of serving.

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