Coconut sambar lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 5
Theme : Simple everyday thali

For today’s thali, it’s once again a mix of rice and roti. Meals like this make my life easy since the roti part is really attractive to my son. For me and my husband, the South Indian part holds more attraction. Anyway, we can all agree that when everything is together in a plate, it definitely feels like a feast.

The plate has a lot of regular recipes that I prepare, but even for the regular dishes, recipes can vary. For example, for the spinach kootu, I used the leftover coconut paste from making a porial. I just made a smoother paste of the coarse paste I already had. The difference is the presence of garlic which changes the taste of the dish than usual. The rajma also is free of onions and garlic making it Jain style. The real reason was that I was out of both items than intentionally making it Jain style. I used canned tomatoes for it. It’s rare that I am out of onions, but it does happen once in a while.

Onions and tomatoes are really vital in cooking for me. So I am always stocked up in both. When Covid 19 was at its peak here in NJ, I started stocking up on canned tomatoes. I always have a can or two as a back up. But during Covid time, I started buying packs of 12. I find it really helpful when you want to stretch the window between the grocery shopping. A pack of 12 comes for a long time for me, but it’s comforting to know that I have a back up in case I am not able to shop that week. Read on for the recipes.

The lunch plate has

  1. Rice
  2. Coconut sambar
  3. Spinach kootu
  4. Beans Parippu usili
  5. Rajma
  6. Roti
  7. Yogurt (not in the picture)

No onion no garlic Rajma recipe:

  • 1 can red kidney beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked rajma
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 3 big tomatoes, puréed or chopped very finely or half of a 14 oz canned tomato
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala or pav bhaji masala
  • Salt as needed
  • A handful of Coriander leaves for garnish

Method

  1. If you are using dried red kidney beans, wash and soak them overnight. Pressure cook in Instant pot for 30 minutes with enough water to cover it completely. Once done, let the pressure release naturally. If using canned kidney beans, wash and drain the beans. Set aside.
  2. heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add the chopped green chilies, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. Mix with a spatula and then add the puréed or finely chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Add the garam masala. Cover and let the tomatoes cook, mixing once or twice in between till the tomatoes are soft and mushy and oil floats on top. Now add the rajma, with the water it’s cooked in if you started from dried beans. Else add the beans and a cup of water. Add more water if it’s too thick. Let it come to a slow boil, stopping when you feel that the consistency is perfect for you. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Add chopped coriander leaves on top. Serve with rice or roti.

Keerai kootu

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bunches of spinach – about 4 cups
  • 1/3 cup of cooked moong dal
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • For tadka
    • 1 teaspoon oil
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon urad dal
    • A pinch of hing

Method:

  1. Make a smooth paste of coconut, red chilies, cumin and garlic, adding a little water. Set aside.
  2. In a big pan, add the chopped spinach and a little water. Let the spinach cook completely. Now add the ground coconut paste. Add dal. Mix well and let it cook for 4-5 minutes, adding a little more water if it’s too dry. Taste test and turn off the heat when it reaches the consistency you like. Prepare the Tadka in a separate pan with mustard seeds, urad dal and hing, add it to the kootu. Serve with rice.

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South Indian veggie meal

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

The thali here is from my drafts. We were visiting my brother in law last Christmas. I had a little bit of this and that in the fridge that I wanted to finish before we went on our vacation. I didn’t want to come back to really sorry looking veggies in the fridge.

Like I mentioned in the last post, when there is a bit of this and that left in the fridge, I always make a poricha kuzhambu. But this time I had more than a bit. So I made a thali specifically to finish off everything. That’s why the dishes there aren’t exactly traditional. I mean, you won’t find mushrooms in a South Indian thali. I had made rasam also to pair with the dry sautés, but forgot to add in the picture.

Thogayal is kind of a thick chutney that you can pair with plain rice and also as a side dish to curd rice. My mother in law makes podi kathirikkai (brinjal with a prepared masala powder) from scratch but I sometimes take a shortcut and use idli milagai podi as a substitute for the masala powder.

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Vangi bath / Brinjal rice
  3. Potato fry
  4. Green gram sundal
  5. Podi Kathirikkai (Brinjal with masala powder)
  6. Pepper mushrooms
  7. Coriander thogayal
  8. Yogurt
  9. Rasam (not in picture)

Green gram Sundal:

  1. Pressure cook 1 cup whole green gram for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep aside. If possible, prepare this a day ahead. The green gram should be cooked completely but not mushy.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and once it crackles, add the cooked and drained green gram.
  3. In a blender jar, make a coarse paste of 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 3 green chilies, 2 pods of garlic and 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
  4. Add the prepared paste to the green gram. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder. Mix in carefully.
  5. Let it cook for a couple of minutes for flavors to mingle. Remove from heat and serve with rice.

Potato fry

  1. Pressure cook 3 big potatoes for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally and once it’s cool enough to touch, peel, dice and keep aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add 2 teaspoons of sambar powder and salt as needed to the oil. Give a quick stir and add the diced potatoes. Mix carefully as to not break the potatoes. If it’s still really hot, it might- like mine did.
  3. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, mixing in between. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Remove from heat.

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Poricha Kuzhambu lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Simple everyday thali

When we were in Chennai, we used to do grocery on Saturdays and Fridays were our “clean out your fridge” day. So it was not unusual for Fridays to be poricha kuzhambu day. That’s because it’s the perfect dish to use up all the bits and pieces of leftover vegetables. If the veggie tray had one left over carrot, 2 tiny eggplants, one sad potato without friends, half of a green plantain? No problem – peel and dice them all and use it up for poricha kuzhambu!

Here in US, we have bigger fridges and I buy more grocery than in India. No power outages and bigger fridges help with that. Also the fact that shops are a little further away, makes me want to cut down the grocery shopping to once in 2-3 weeks than weekly. What I am trying to say is that now when I make this kootu, it’s intentional and not for using up the bits and bobs of leftover veggies.

The meal above wasn’t planned to be an elaborate one. My menu for the day was just rice with poricha kuzhambu and chips. But since it doesn’t take a lot of time of prepare the kootu, I decide to expand the menu and include a pepper kuzhambu and two vegetable sides. Like I mentioned earlier, already cut vegetables make cooking a breeze. My husband was really happy to have a full meals like this and that of course makes me happy :-).

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The meal has

  1. Rice
  2. Poricha kuzhambu
  3. Pepper kuzhambu
  4. Long beans stir fry
  5. Kovakka stir fry
  6. Masala eggs
  7. Yogurt
  8. Potato Chips
  9. Banana

Poricha kuzhambu:

  • To grind together
    • 1/2 cup grated coconut
    • 2 red chilies
    • 2 teaspoons pepper corn
    • 1 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 3 cups chopped mixed vegetables*
  • 1/2 cup of cooked toor dal (or any dal of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A sprig of curry leaves

* I usually use a mix of any of these veggies – carrots, beans, potatoes, green plantains, chow chow, cluster beans, brinjal, zucchini etc

Method:

  1. Make a smooth paste of the items to be ground together, adding a little water.
  2. Peel and dice the vegetables of your choice. Add enough water to submerge the veggies and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and cook. You can either pressure cook it for 2 whistles or cook in a pan until it’s done.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground paste. Mix and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Now add the cooked dal and salt as needed. Add more water if it’s dry. Let it cook for another 6-7 minutes and remove from heat.
  4. Prepare a tadka with oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add to the poricha kuzhambu and keep covered until the time of serving.

Long beans mezhukku piratti :

  1. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan. Add 3 cups of long green beans cut into 2” long pieces along with 2-3 green chilies sliced lengthwise and salt as needed.
  2. Cover and cook over medium to low heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring in between to ensure even cooking. Once the beans are cooked, remove the lid and cook for a couple more minutes for any water from condensation to dry out. Remove from heat and serve with rice as a side dish.

You don’t always get small bananas here in US. Even though it’s not as good as it’s back home, whenever I see it, I buy it. We don’t finish it fast enough and there is always a couple that gets over ripe and gets wasted. Yet I reminds me of home when I see it.

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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

Method:

  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

Method:

  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

Method:

  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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