Protein rich South Indian lunch

BM #116 : Week 5, Day 3
Theme : Fruit platter

The thali here is not a planned thali. I was making lunch and was planning to cook quinoa for me. It was only when the meal was coming together that I realized it was a protein rich meal. Not every single item is protein rich, but most of it. Our usual lunches will have only one source of lentils or beans. We don’t make dal based sambar and then serve it with dry beans based Sundal. But I made an exception here since I had some leftover chickpeas and boiled eggs I wanted to finish off. Sometimes it’s the leftovers that craft the lunch at my place 😁.

We have started stocking up frozen vadas from Indian store. It’s a quick solution when you crave for a snack or when you don’t want to prepare a side dish for lunch. I thaw it in microwave and then cook for a few minutes in the dosa pan. That seems to work for me. The best part is I can serve a single vada instead of making an entire batch. So I decided to add the vada also to the thali, which my family loved.

Read on for the recipes and more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Quinoa
  2. Carrot and tomato sambar
  3. Chickpeas Sundal
  4. Sautéed Okra
  5. Masala eggs
  6. Yogurt
  7. Mango pickle (readymade)
  8. Potato chips (readymade)
  9. Urad dal vada (readymade)

Chickpea Sundal

  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon of mustard seeds. Once it pops, add salt as needed, a teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas. Mix carefully.
  • Let it cook for 3-4 minutes until flavors mingle well and chickpeas are heated through.
  • Now add 2-3 tablespoons of shredded coconut. Start with 2 and then add the third spoon if you want to. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Remove from heat and serve with rice and sambar.

Sautéed okra

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once it pops, add 3 cups of cleaned and sliced okra. Add salt as needed and 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Carefully mix.
  • Heat this on low to medium heat, stirring in between carefully a couple of times, until the okra is done. I don’t stir too many times to avoid breaking of okra. The sliminess reduces as the okra is cooked. Remove from heat and serve as a side dish.

Masala eggs:

  • Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric powder. Add 1/4 teaspoon sambar powder to the oil. Mix well with a spatula.
  • Now slice a boiled egg into two lengthwise. Carefully keep the flat side down on the masala mix. Cook for 45 seconds and carefully flip and cook the other side too. You can cook it for a longer time too if you want it more crispier. Remove from the heat and serve with rice.

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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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