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.

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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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Quick meals Saravana Bhavan

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BM # 70
Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Thali
My plan for the thali week of blogging marathon was to pick three thali meals from Saravana Bhavan, a leading South Indian restaurant. I prepared this quick lunch meal from their menu. But somehow I had to let it go of the idea and use posts already in my drafts.
Saravana Bhavan has 4 kind of lunch thalis – South Indian meals, North Indian meals, Mini tiffin meals and Quick lunch meals. I have tried to recreate their quick lunch meals. The menu shows the platter has sambar rice, variety rice of the day, curd rice, a porial (vegetable preparation), sweet, pickle and papad.
Looking at the plate, I wish I had the big steel plate with compartments for each of the dishes. That would have made the meal a lot more impressive and a lot like how they serve at the restaurant. Just like in the menu, the meal has
  • Sambar rice
  • Kadamba rice using ready made paste
  • Curd rice
  • Peas carrot beans porial (recipe below)
  • Pickle
  • papad
  • Semiya Kesari

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 70 .  Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, cut into circles
  • 1 cup chopped beans
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoon grated coconut
  • 2 green chillies or 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and 4-5 curry leaves (if you have it). Once the mustard seeds pop, add the vegetables and slit green chillies. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  2. Sprinkle a handful of water and cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring in between to prevent the vegetables from sticking at the bottom.
  3. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix everything to combine well. Taste test, adjust spices if needed. Serve with sambar rice.

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North Indian Thali

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Good thing happen quite unexpectedly at times. Like the phone call you get from your close friend saying that she is free to come and stay with us for a few days. When she came, it was celebration time. Loads and loads of foodie time. We hogged on lunch buffets, Thai restaurant dinners, hot chocolate at malls and thali meals at Indian restaurant. Luckily for her and me, she returned before we burst at the seams :-)).

But hey, we deserved all our treats, because we walked an hour one way to get to the Indian buffet place. So two hours of walking for 40 minutes of eating is completely justified…in my book at least.

Coming to the thali here, this is very similar to the one we had at one of the restaurants. Its  basically rice and roti with dal, 2 curries, pappad, curd, salad and pickle. We were served meeta rice at the restaurant, but I didn’t make any dessert as we had some truffles to finish off.

The thali has:

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BM # 70
Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Thali
Recipe: Dal Tadka
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup moong dal
  • a good pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 2 green chillies or per taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 medium tomato, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt as needed
  • 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
Method:
  1. Wash and soak the dal. Pressure cook it along with turmeric powder and enough water to soak it completely. Let the steam release naturally.
  2. In a small kadai, heat oil or ghee. Add the jeera seeds and once it changes its color, add the onions and slit green chillies. Saute until the onions turn pink.
  3. Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute more. Tomatoes go in now. Add the coriander powder and garam masala and mix everything well. If the curry looks dry, add a little bit of water to stop the masalas from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mash the cooked dal with a ladle and add it to the pan, along with a cup of water. You might have to add more water to bring it to the consistency you prefer. Let the dal boil for 4-5 minutes for the flavors to mingle. Add chopped coriander leaves at the end and turn off the heat. Serve with rice or roti.

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Sadya on a plate – 2016 Onam

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BM # 70
Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Thali
A proper thali meal needs some planning in terms of preparation and execution. People mostly prepare a thali or any elaborate meal when there is some festival or guests are visiting. In my case, my fridge was empty to prepare a thali meal, but my drafts section was full. So I am taking you back to a meal I prepared in September this year for Onam.
With my dad visiting us, there was some motivation in preparing this mini sadya. If it was just the three of us, I don’t think I would have bothered. We had a full sadya the next day at a friend’s place, so Onam really was good :-).
Though the plate looks messy, it has twelve dishes in there. The chips and pickle are ready made, but everything else was prepared at home. Funniest part was that my fridge was equally empty that day also, so this is literally what I scrapped from all my resources – fridge, freezer and pantry.I wasn’t planning on capturing the sadya on camera, but I am glad I did!
The meal has

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 70 .  Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

Recipe source: Ramya’s recipe

Ingredients: 

To grind:

  • 1/3 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 green chilli or per taste

Other ingredients:

  • 2 cups pineapple chunks (I used canned)
  • pinch turmeric powder
  • salt as needed
  • 1/3 cup yogurt, whisked well
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Method:

  1. Cook pineapple chunks with a little water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Add salt as needed.
  2. Grind the coconut, mustard seeds, jeera and chilli to a smooth paste adding water as needed. Add this paste to the cooked pineapple. Let it boil for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat.
  3. Whisk the yogurt well and add it to the pineapple mix. Mix well and take off the stove.
  4. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a small pan for tadka. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once the mustard pops, take off the heat and add it to the kichadi. That’s it!

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Tamil Nadu Thali – Full Meals

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Let me stop you right there. I didn’t make this spread. My mother in law did.

This spread was made for our friends who visited us when my in laws were here in US. My contribution was minimal. In fact, I don’t think my role went beyond clicking this.

The highlight of the meal was the sweet. Amma had made 7 cup cake, a melt in the mouth burfi whose ingredients add up to 7 cups. It came out perfect. I have taken stepwise pictures when she was making it,so its going to be a separate post. You can check out the post for 7 cupcake with step wise pictures here.

The gulab jamun was brought in by one of the visiting families. It was equally delicious. But then, dessert always taste good, doesn’t it?

Most of the recipes here are typical everyday food, but when prepared together they become a wonderful feast. Scroll down to see more pictures and recipe links!

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BM 61, Week 1

Theme: Meal Ideas

On the plate:

Lemon rice

Serves 1 as a main meal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • salt

For tadka

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
  • 2 tablespoon peanuts or cashew nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

  1. Cook rice, set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan.
  3. Add the mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the hing, urad dal and peanuts.
  4. When the dal turns golden brown, add the turmeric powder. Give a good stir and take off the heat.
  5. Add the lemon juice and salt as required. Mix well and add the cooked rice.
  6. Taste test and adjust salt or add more lemon juice if needed. Serve with papad.

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