Pumpkin kootu without coconut

1pumpkin kootu

Yesterday, I posted a kootu recipe with spinach and lentils and coconut in it. Today’s recipe is also a kootu, but with pumpkin, moong dal and no coconut. This is a very simple dish to make and tastes excellent. My son likes this dsh since its not very spicy and has a very mild sweetness from the pumpkins. Sometimes the pumpkin gets replaced by a combination of chayote/chow chow and carrots.

This is my friend’s recipe and  one I had tried many times now. I have been using  powdered hing for a long time now, but I am slowing making the switch to whole asafoetida. Hing aids in digestion and is used in almost all the places where you use lentils and beans. There is a nice and noticeable difference in aroma and flavor when using the whole hing.

The problem with whole hing is that it comes as a block and becomes rock hard in a day or two after you open the packet. My MIL told me that it is soft when its right out of the box. So that’s the time to cut it into very small pieces or make small balls using your hands. You have to store the pieces in air tight jars with a tablespoon or two of whole wheat sprinkled in. The wheat prevents the pieces from sticking together and becoming a solid mass again. At the time of cooking, you take a small piece and use it as usual. If a couple of pieces stick together, you can soak it in water overnight and by next morning, it would have melted. The flavor of whole hing is so much better than the powdered version.

Read on for the pictorial and the recipe.

4pumpkin kootu

Serves : 3

Recipe Source: My friend Mangalambigai

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 1 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium tomato
  • about 1 cup of chopped pumpkin

For the tadka

  • 1 teaspoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 red chillies, optional
  • 5-6 curry leaves

Method:

In a steel bowl, add the washed dal, chopped tomato and pumpkin pieces, jeera seeds, a good pinch of hing and salt as needed.

Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and enough water so that it covers the dal completely by about an inch on top. Pressure cook for about 3 whistles.

Once the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and mash it a little using a ladle. Heat oil or ghee in a separate pan, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the red chillies and curry leaves. Add this tadka to the kootu and serve hot with rice, papad and pickle. If the kootu is dry, you can add more water and bring it to a boil.

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Keerai Mulagootal – Keerai Kootu

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Indian meals have at least one lentil based curry everyday. I use the term curry on a broad sense here. When we say Indian curry, the image is that of a creamy, red color gravy with ghee or oil running on the top. But that’s not what you eat at home everyday. Everyday cooking is a completely different than what you get in restaurants.

On an everyday basis, rice is served with a lentil based gravy and some veggies on the side. A popular South Indian gravy is sambar, which is toor dal or pigeon pea cooked with vegetables in a tangy tamarind base. Rasam is another one. In my house, the Kootu comes to a close third place.

There is no single recipe for sambar or rasam or kootu. There are so many different variations for each of these. You can make sambar 5 days a week and yet come up with five completely different flavors each day. For example, this kootu here is a combination of spinach with lentils and coconut. I have another version coming up soon which has pumpkin cooked with dal and with no coconut. So the taste is completely different even though the base of the dish is same.

Kootu is usually a mix of one or  more vegetables cooked with lentils and then rounded off with ground spicy coconut paste. So the recipe has three components. Cooked lentils, cooked vegetables and finally the roasted and ground coconut spice paste.  The coconut paste imparts flavor and it also helps thicken the gravy a bit. What goes into the coconut paste also differs from recipe to recipe. And sometimes its completely skipped also.

Today’s recipe is spinach kootu. This is about a bunch of spinach cooked with lentils. I cannot say that I was a big fan of this preparation when I was a kid, but it is one of my favorites now. I love my mother in law’s mixed vegetable version a lot. It is her weekend special along with masicha keerai (spinach, mashed and cooked in a tamarind base). I am yet to blog that recipe, but will do it soon.

Read on for the recipe.

keerai_mulagootal3

Recipe adapted from: Subbu’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

To saute and grind:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons urad dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • water as needed

For the kootu:

  • 4 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup moong or toor dal, cooked separately
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chillies

 

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Dry roast 2 tablespoons urad dal, 3-4 red chillies. Once the dal turns brown, add 1 teaspoon jeera seeds and turn off the heat. Once cool, add to a mixer jar along with 1/4 cup coconut. Grind to a smooth paste adding a little water.

 

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan, add one teaspoon mustard seeds and 2-3 red chillies to it. You can do the tadka later, but sometimes, I prefer to do it together. Add a little water and let it cook. Once it splutters, add about 3-4 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach.

 

Cook 1/2 cup moong dal (or toor dal) with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder separately. Add the dal to the spinach once its cooked.

 

Mix well, add water as needed and add the ground paste. Mix everything in, adding salt to taste. Add water as needed to bring it the consistency you prefer. Serve with rice and pickle.

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Parippu Usili – Pressure cooker method

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My husband is a big fan of parippu usili. Which is bad, because making usili is kind of time consuming. First, there is this matter of soaking beans. So waiting time of a couple of hours. Then you have to roughly grind it and then steam it using steamer or idli vessel until cooked. So in addition to the steaming time, there is a whole bunch of extra vessels involved now. And then you have to cool it and crumble it again. So some more time until the dal mix cools down. So all in all, though the actual effort is not much, there is a whole lot of extra vessels and some waiting time too.

So can you imagine the world’s laziest person making this dish on a regular basis?

Yeah…I didn’t think so too.

But my husband hasn’t given up hope yet. He still gets cluster beans every single time he goes to the Indian store. But compared to before, I make this more often. Ever since my mother in law taught me an easier way to prepare usili. The pressure cooker method.

There is a lot of wait time in this method too, but the number of vessels involved is lesser and the quantity of usili you get is more. I serve usili with rice, so I have to cook rice anyway. The usili gets cooked along with rice in the pressure cooker. I just reuse the same vessel which I use for soaking the dals for pressure cooking. So no extra vessels. The mixer jar which we use for grinding the dals is used again (without washing, so that its not wet) to pulse the dal once it is done pressure cooking. This way, you get a lot more lighter and fluffier usili than crumbling with hands would give. Also, this gives more quantity since you have less clusters. Technically, there is not a lot of improvement than the traditional method, but to me somehow, this method feels easier.

4parippu-usili

Usili has lot of lentils in it, so it usually gets served with a gravy that doesn’t have any lentils on it. Here, I have served it with moru curry (buttermilk spiced with onions, ginger and chillies), coconut sambar and a coriander leaves thogayal.

Rice and vadam (fries) complete the dish. A South Indian platter like this is my husband’s favorite :-).

Read on for this slightly different preparation than usual.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup toor dal (pigeon pea dal)
  • 1/4 cup chana dal
  • 3 red chillies
  • a good pinch of hing
  • salt as needed
  • 2 cups of chopped beans or cluster beans
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

 

Soak 1/4 cup toor dal and 1/4 cup chana dal for 2-3 hours at least. Drain water completely and pulse a couple of time in a mixer/blender along with 3-4 red chillies with required amount of salt and a good pinch of hing.

 

You want to get coarsely crushed dal at the end of it, not a smooth paste. Don’t bother cleaning the mixer jar. Set it aside. Take the dal mixture in a pan and pressure cook it along with rice. I cooked it for 5 whistles.

 

Once the pressure is released and the dal is cooled down a bit, transfer it back to the mixer (see, I told you not to wash :D, we don’t want it wet) and pulse again for a couple of times to get a kind of fluffy and crumbled dal.

 

Cook two cups of chopped beans or cluster beans with salt as needed separately. Here I have cooked it in Instant pot for 2 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Now to assemble this dish together, heat 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoons of mustard seeds and curry leaves, if you have. Let the seeds splutter.

 

Add the dal mixture, see how fluffy it has become by pulsing in the mixer!! Add the cooked beans and mix well. Let the flavors mingle for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Serve with rice and any sambar of your choice.

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Palak Paneer

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Palak paneer is one of my son’s favorite dishes and that is an achievement indeed. He hates rice, but when I think about it, even I wasn’t a big fan of rice or  koottu or most South Indian foods at his age  . I wouldn’t protest since I didn’t know any better, but I didn’t exactly love the food I was served either. And look at me now…I love all foods and South Indian is my favorite. So maybe it’s just a game of not giving up now and feeding him even though he eats with a look of martyrdom and a loud sigh. And hope that he will learn to love it as time passes by.

But some recipes are his favorites. Palak paneer is one of those. Even if you serve it with rice, there are no complaints. There is obvious delight and no questions are asked. I won’t say that I make it regularly, but I do make it at least once a month. Don’t want to jinx the special status of the dish by making it regularly. 

I used to try my friend’s recipe for a long time, but now found another recipe at this site and that’s what I have been making for the past couple of times. Basically it’s spinach cooked with ginger, green chilies, garlic and onion. A few more items and the dish is complete. Palak paneer is a mild dish and you usually don’t add a lot of spice powders, letting the spinach shine over everything else. 

Read on for the recipe. This serves about 4-5 people. 

4palak_paneer

Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or per taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder 
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 cup thick yogurt, optional
  • 3 bunches of spinach, about 750gms, chopped roughly 
  • 200 gms paneer 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cream, optional

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of jeera seeds. Once it changes color, add 1″ piece of chopped ginger, couple of chopped green chillies and 3-4 crushed or chopped garlic cloves. Once this turns golden in color, add one roughly chopped medium onion. Sauté until it turns pink. 
  2. Chop and add one medium tomato to the sautéed onions. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add all the spices – 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, a pinch of ground nutmeg and salt as needed. Cook for a further minute or two. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt and mix well. You can switch off the heat and let the curry cool a bit before adding the yogurt if you want. I didn’t do that. 
  4. Add 3 bunches of spinach, about 750 gms, that’s roughly chopped and cook until it shrinks in size and is wilted. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Take off the heat and let it cool down. 
  5. Purée this mixture in a blender. Now add it back to the pan and bring it to a slow simmer. Add the cubed paneer pieces as well and let it cook together for a few minutes. You can add a few tablespoons of cream if you wish. Take off the heat and serve hot with chapati or jeera rice. 

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Chole

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Sometimes it is a race against time even though you think you are well prepared. That is the case here. I had cooked the dish and prepped the pictures a long time before the publish date, yet here I am rushing to make it for the deadline!

Anyway this is a simple recipe for chana masala or chole. This is from Vasantha Moorthy’s vegetarian menu Cookbook. I already have a chole recipe on the blog but the method of preparation is a little different here. 

I am not a fan of recipes where you have to grind the raw onions first. I prefer to cook them before grinding, else I feel that the raw smell never quite goes away. But I learned it only recently that the trick is to cook the ground onion paste in oil before adding anything else, especially veggies like tomatoes which has high water content. I am not sure whether it works every single time for everyone out there, but it sure did for me when I tried it a couple of times. 

So read on for the recipe and serve it with hot baturas!

2Chole

  1. Soak 2 cups white chana(garbanzo beans) overnight. Pressure cook the next morning until cooked well. Drain and keep aside. 
  2. Grind two medium onions, 2″ piece of ginger and 4 garlic cloves into a paste.
  3. Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil, sauté 4 sliced green chillies. Add the onion paste and cook until the raw smell of onions go away. 
  4. Add 3 tablespoons coriander powder, 2 teaspoons chili powder (or per taste), 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Purée three big tomatoes and add it. Cook mixing in between to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 
  6. Add the cooked chana and salt as needed. Add water as needed to get to the consistency you prefer. Cook on medium to low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle chopped coriander on top and serve with batura or pooris or chapati 
  7. You can grind a handful of the curry (after adding the chana) and add it back and cook for a few minutes. This is to give the curry a smooth and thick consistency. 

1Chole

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Masala Eggs

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During the days  before marriage, eggs were a staple in our pantry and masala fried eggs were one of the regular recipes.  It’s a simple preparation and very tasty if you like eggs. I had completely forgotten about this until my friend’s mother prepared it sometime back. 

Soon after, I also started preparing these again. I prefer sunny Side eggs over hard boiled eggs because of the simplicity of preparation. But with the instant pot,  making hard boiled eggs is so much easier. All it takes is 6 minutes in the manual mode and immediate pressure release. You get perfect boiled eggs all the time! 

Though very easy to make, it qualifies perfectly for a protein rich dish. Without really planning it, the last few recipes has fallen under the quick and easy category. Hopefully I will be able to continue it for the rest of the week as well. 

Read on for the recipe. 

1masala_eggs 

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 hard boiled eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoon chili powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1.5 teaspoon pepper powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder,* optional
  • Salt as needed
  • 2 teaspoons oil

*replace all three with one single tablespoon of sambar powder

Method:

  1. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half if preferred. Else you can keep the egg whole as well. 
  2. Heat oil and add the chili powder, pepper powder, turmeric and salt to the oil and fry for a few seconds. Make sure that the kitchen is well ventilated, else when the masalas cook they might make you sneeze.
  3. Once the masala is cooked (roughly 10-15 seconds or so), add the eggs. Add more oil if needed. Let the masalas coat the egg. Flip sides and let it cook for a 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and serve with rice and sambar. 
  4. Alternatively you can make a paste of the masalas with a little water. coat the eggs with it and then cook the eggs for a minute or two till done. 

Note: you can use a Tablespoon of sambar powder instead of chili and pepper powders. The masalas can be adjusted according to your spice level preference. 

2masala_eggs 

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Mixed Vegetable Curry

For this week’s Cooking from Cookbook event, this is a take on vegetable Sagu from Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Cookbook. Sagu is a mixed vegetable curry from Karnataka and is served with chapati, poori, set dosa etc. It is very similar to vegetable kurma. 

I have tried the recipe from the book without any modifications. However an online check told me that coriander seeds is not commonly included in the ground masala paste. So I might be leaving it out the next time I am making the recipe. I am not very sure about the authenticity of the recipe, but it was a tasty one for sure!

Read on for the pictorial. 

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups diced mixed vegetables (carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, beans, green peas etc)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes , chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt 
  • Oil and ghee to sauté
  • Chopped coriander leaves to decorate 

For the masala

  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds*
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted gram dal
  • 2-3 green chilies (I didn’t have any so used red chilies)
  • 2 cloves 
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2″ ginger piece 
  • 3 tablespoons grated coconut

*skip if you don’t have. Most of the online recipes don’t have this listed. 

Fry the masala items from the list above until the onion in 2 teaspoons of ghee. Take off the heat. 

Now add a little more ghee if needed and sauté the onion, ginger, chili and coconut. Grind into a paste adding a little water if needed and the rest of the fried masala items. Set this aside. 

Heat oil and sauté the onions in the same pan. Once it’s done, add the tomatoes and sauté until it’s soft. Add turmeric powder and salt as needed. 

Add the diced vegetables and a little water to help the vegetables cook. Cover and cook until the vegetables are done.

Add the ground paste, chopped coriander. Let the curry cook for a few more minutes. Taste test the seasonings and adjust if needed. Serve with chapati. 

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Cuban Black Beans

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Like always, my little break from the blog turned into a big vacation! I would love to tell you that I am back refreshed and energetic from my ‘break’, but that would be a big fat lie. The thing is, with the long weekend and an upcoming actual vacation, its been a little hectic here. The to-do list is long as always, but this time I am not working myself up too much over it. The mantra is to finish as much as I can and leave the rest as it is.

Coming to the recipe here, I was supposed to post it last month for the Latin American theme for Blogging Marathon 76. But though I was done with the cooking and clicking, I never got the time to sit and edit the pictures and upload it to the blog. The recipe is from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. We had some friends coming over and we served this in Chipotle burrito bowl style. The bowl had brown rice, black beans, grated Mexican cheese, tomato salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and some lettuce.  It was one of the best meals to date. The best compliment I received was the empty bowl of beans and rice and satisfied smiles :-).

Read on for the recipe, its one of my favorites already!1cuban_beans

Serves 8-10 people

For the beans

  • 1 pound black beans (~1/2 kilo)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt as needed

 

Wash the beans thoroughly and soak it overnight. The next morning, rinse the beans and add to a big pot along with about 7-8 cups of water. Add one large chopped onions, one diced bell pepper, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for an hour. Since I used the electric pressure cooker, I cooked it for only 25 minutes. For the sofrito (onion garlic base for the beans), warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add one diced green pepper, 3 chopped garlic cloves and one large chopped onion.

 

Cook until the onions are pink. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin, salt as needed and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.

 

Add the prepared sofrito to the black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the beans to a low boil and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is thickened and the beans is cooked well. For me, it took another 25 minutes to get to the thickness I liked. Add vinegar to taste. Take off the heat and serve with rice.

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Strapatsada – Greek Scrambled Eggs with tomato sauce

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Flavors of Greece
Recipe:  Strapatsada, Greek Scrambled eggs 

Like I mentioned yesterday, my well stocked Draft section was of no use when it came to this week’s Blogging Marathon theme. So what you see here is what got served for lunch today. I picked up the book Cooking with Loula from the library last week and was looking for ideas for my posts. Strapatsada, scrambled eggs cooked in a tomato sauce was the first one I zeroed upon. The pictures in the book are really nice, especially the one for this recipe.

The recipe didn’t disappoint, I loved it on top of toast. There is a spoonful of sugar there, but that doesn’t sweeten up the dish. It just enhances the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. The next time I am making it, I would cut the water to half the quantity to reduce the cooking time. Feta is an acquired taste, so skip it if  you don’t like it. All in all, this is a simple recipe with basic ingredients and is quite filling when served with bread.

Read on for the step wise pictures and the recipe.

2Strapatsada

Recipe source: Cooking with Loula book;  Serves : 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 medium tomatoes, grated or 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 75 gms crumbled feta cheese (about half cup)

Method:

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a thick pan. Saute one medium onion until turns pink. Add 3/4 cup canned tomatoes or grate three tomatoes and add it to the onions. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar along with 1/2 cup water.

Bring it to a slow boil and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid is evaporated and begins to caramelize.

Beat 6 eggs in a separate pan. Season with salt and pepper, keeping it in mind that Feta cheese also has salt in it. Add the beaten eggs to the tomatoes.

Cook, stirring continuously to distribute the egg evenly. When the egg is cooked completely, turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of Feta cheese. Mix it in. Serve on top of toast.

3Strapatsada

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Ulli-Mulagu Chammanthi

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 3

Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys

Dish: onions crushed coarsely with chillieso

It’s funny when you look at your blog at times. I mean, there are so many recipes here that I am proud of, but a lot of them are not everyday dishes. The more I dig into it, the less I find everyday stuff. 

Take this onion chammanthi for example,this was one of the regular dishes back at home. My mom would take some onions and some chilies, pulse it a couple of times in the mixer with salt, add a bit of coconut oil to it and serve with Dosa for my younger brother. It was, and is still, his favorite. I add a tomato too while pulsing and eat as a salad with rice. It’s heavenly for me. 

Food is always an acquired taste and the dish might be a turn off for many people out there (raw onions with chilies, really!?), but I like it…a lot. It was simple food at its best. Traditionally, this chutney is served with boiled tapioca (kappa puzhingiyathu). The onions are a little more crushed in my mom’s version, but i stopped mine here way before that. 

Anyway, I have to make an extra effort to get the everyday dishes in here. Until then, read on for the recipe for ulli chathachathu(crushed onions). 

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Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pearl onions or 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 green chillies, or per taste
  • salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

  1. Pulse the chillies and onion with salt as needed in the mixer jar a couple of times. You shouldn’t grind it. The aim is to crush the onions and chillies together a bit, not to puree it. I used a mortar and pestle for this step instead of the mixie. 
  2. Remove the chammanthi to a small bowl, add in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and mixing it in. Taste test and if you feel like it, add one more teaspoon of oil.
  3. Serve with kappa puzhingiathu(boiled tapioca), dosa or even with rice.

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