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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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

Method:

  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

Method:

  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

Method:

  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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Paneer paratha thali

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

Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, paneer was not something we grew up eating. Dishes like paneer butter masala and palak paneer were alien until I was in college. Eating at restaurants was also not a thing to do at the time. It was not only because of financial constraints, but also because of the belief that hotel food was not prepared with the high levels of hygiene that we maintain at home. It all changed around the time we started college, when better hotels started coming up, the younger generation started eating out and the buying power went up because of IT jobs.

Well, all I was trying to say was growing up paneer dishes was not common in our house. EXCEPT for this chapati. Though we call it paneer chapati, it’s actually a paratha. My mother used to make this paneer stuffed chapati every once in a while. She would make paneer from scratch and Use the leftover whey to prepare the chapati. Paneer would then be processed with a little coriander leaves, green chilies and salt to get a coarse mix that looks more white than a completely green paste. That’s the filling she used to make this paneer chapati. I always end up using more coriander than needed and end up with a green paste with no white to be seen anywhere 🙄!

I prepare this chapati once in a while and whenever I make it, I feel nostalgic. This really doesn’t need any side dish, not even yogurt and pickle. But amma always used to serve some curry, so for the thali here, I paired it with Chana dal with lauki and a tindora curry. I had some leftover rice which I made into onion rice. I keep making tomato rice or coconut rice or onion rice with leftover rice. It’s an easy way to bring some variety without too much of work involved. The rice doesn’t need any side dish but definitely pairs well with both the Curries and yogurt or chutney. We finished the meal with some readymade gulab jamun.

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The paneer paratha thali has

  1. Paneer paratha
  2. Green chutney
  3. Sautéed onion rice
  4. Tindora (Ivy gourd) curry
  5. Lauki Chana Dal
  6. Yogurt
  7. Salad
  8. Gulab jamun (readymade)

Paneer paratha :

  • For the dough :
    • Mix water and a little salt to 1 cup wheat flour and knead into a soft smooth dough. Set aside to rest.
  • For filling :
    • Process 1/2 cup of paneer with 2-3 green chilies, 1/4 cup packed coriander leaves and salt as needed in a food processor to get a very coarse mix.
  • To make parathas :
    • Take a lime sized ball of the dough and roll it out into a small circle. Keep a tablespoon of filling inside. Bring the sides to the center to close the filling inside the dough. Roll out into a paratha using flour to help with the rolling. Cook on a heated tawa and add a teaspoon of ghee to it. Cook both sides of the paratha and repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve with a curry of your choice.

Sautéed onion rice :

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil or ghee in a pan. Add one big onion sliced lengthwise along with 2 green chilies sliced lengthwise into two pieces. Sauté until the onions are soft and cooked. Add salt as needed.
  • Add 1 cup of leftover cooked (and preferably cooled) rice and carefully mix. Turn off the heat once everything is combined well and the rice is heated through. Serve with any curry of your choice or on its own too.

Lauki Chana dal :

  • Pressure cook 3/4 cup chana dal with 2 cups of diced and seeded lauki (bottle gourd) and water as needed. I cooked for 8 minutes in instant pot. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Heat a spoon of oil or ghee in a pan. Add one teaspoon of mustard seeds and once it crackles, add a medium chopped onion. Sauté it until it turns pink. Now add a chopped tomato, 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, salt as needed and 1 teaspoon chili powder. You can add a teaspoon each of garam masala and coriander powder too. Once the tomatoes are cooked and mushy, add the cooked Chana dal with the water it’s cooked. Add more water if needed and bring everything to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves. Keep covered until the time of serving.

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