Vadacurry with Idli

BM #106: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

The first time I had vada curry is when our friend’s mom prepared it for us. It’s not a dish I grew up eating, but the first time I had it, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a complicated process to prepare these, but it’s a fairly easy one. First you have to soak Chana dal and then grind it fennel seeds and dried red chilies. It’s ground to a coarse paste and steamed as small vadas. The gravy for this is the common onion tomato base with the usual spices. The vada is then broken into smaller pieces and added to the onion tomato gravy.

The only difference I see in my friend’s mom’s recipe from the other ones in internet is that she keeps a little bit of vada batter aside and uses it to thicken the gravy later. In the other recipes I see coconut being used for this purpose. The smell and taste of fennel seeds here is absolutely divine. Mine doesn’t have that much fennel, so feel free to add a bit more ground fennel seeds to the gravy if preferred.

This is a typical breakfast/dinner dish and is usually served with soft thick dosas or idli. This was dinner getting packed as lunch next day for my husband:-).

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend’s mother

Ingredients:

For vada

  • 1 cup Chana dal
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • Salt as needed

For curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Soak the dal overnight or for at least 3 hours. Drain the water completely and pulse it in a blender with fennel seeds, chilies, chili powder and salt. It should be a coarse paste and not a smooth paste. Remove the ground paste to a bowl reserving about 2 tablespoons ( roughly a handful) of it back in the blender. The reserved batter will be blended with water to use for thickening the gravy later.
  2. Take a marble sized ball from the vada batter. Flatten it and place it on a steamer rack. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Steam for 12 minutes. Set aside.
  3. For the curry, heat a tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onions till it’s pink. Add the ginger garlic paste and mix it in. Add the tomatoes and all the spice powders and salt. Mix everything well and let it cook until the tomatoes are really mushy and almost like a paste. You can add a little water whenever it looks dry or if the curry starts sticking to the pan.
  4. At this point, add 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings.
  5. Break each vada into smaller pieces, roughly 3-4 pieces per vada. Add the broken vada to the gravy. If the curry is dry, add more water. You are looking for a chili like consistency.
  6. To the reserved vada batter, add 1/4 cup water and grind to a very smooth paste. Add this to the gravy and bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds if preferred. Taste test again and adjust seasonings if necessary. Take off the heat and serve with idli or dosa or even roti.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this Week

Pav Bhaji

BM#102: Week 2, Day 2
Theme : 
Restaurant recipes

Pav bhaji is an easy recipe to make and it’s always a crowd favorite. This and Chole bhature were my son’s regular orders at Indian restaurants when he was younger. He has started sampling more dishes now, but this is still a strong favorite.

I make pav bhaji for weekend dinners every now and then. I usually buy bread from the stores, but the batch you see here is served with homemade bread. My bread baking skills are mediocre at best, so the fact that bread come out nice and soft is a great achievement for me.

The main vegetables in this dish are cauliflower and potatoes, but you can add a lot more veggies too. Sometimes I add a pack of frozen veggies to make it more nutritious. I use readymade Pav bhaji powder for the masala which is readily available in Indian stores. The bhaji is topped with some chopped onions and a squirt of lemon right before eating, this elevates the taste of the dish a lot. The bread is used to scoop up the curry.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves :4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 small green capsicum, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons readymade pav bhaji masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 tablespoon each of Oil and butter
  • Chopped onions and lemon wedges, for serving

Method:

  1. Pressure cook potatoes, peas, cauliflower and carrots with water to partially cover it. Cook for 2 whistles or until the vegetables are done. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a pan, add the sliced onions and capsicum and sauté for a few minutes until the onions are pink. Add ginger garlic paste. Add the tomatoes and cook. Once the tomatoes are done and soft, add turmeric powder, pav bhaji masala and salt. Mix well. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of chili powder if you want to increase the spice level more.
  3. Add the cooked vegetables along with 3/4th of the water in which it’s cooked. Reserve the rest of the water. Using a potato masher, mash the vegetables roughly. I like it a little chunky, so I mash it too much. Bring it to a boil and simmer and Cook until the desired consistency is reached. If the curry is dry, add the reserved water. Taste test and adjust the seasonings.
  4. Serve with pav (bread) and chopped onions and lemon wedges.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the recipe from other Blogging Marathoners.

Podi Kathirikkai

BM# 101: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : 
1 ingredient, 3 side dishes

I was introduced to podi kathirikkai (eggplants prepared with a spice powder) by my mother in law. It took me a little time to warm up to this dish but soon it was a favorite. I make this when I want a change from my usual method, which is a simple eggplant sauté with salt and sambar powder. Earlier I used to add homemade idli podi to brinjal instead of preparing the spice powder from scratch. That works decent, especially if the idli podi is coarse and not finely ground, but it’s not the same as the original.

The recipe for the ingredients to grind varies from home to home. My mother in law uses Chana dal, coriander seeds and dried red chilies, but I have seen recipes that have coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts, black pepper etc. I have added urad dal also to the mix. The base recipe is the same, sauté brinjal until it’s mostly done and then add the prepared podi (powder) to coat evenly. It’s important that you take care not to overlook the vegetable. If it turns mushy, it won’t be good. So keep a close watch when cooking this curry.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves : 3-4

Ingredients:

To roast and grind

  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Chana dal
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 3-4 dried red chilies

For curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10-12 small Indian eggplants, sliced into thin long pieces
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Heat a pan and add all the ingredients under toast and grind. Keep stirring and once the dals turn slightly brown, remove to a blender jar. Once it’s cool, grind into a powder, don’t add any water for grinding. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the sliced eggplant. Let it cook in medium heat, stirring in between.
  3. Once it’s 3/4th cooked, add the prepared spice powder and salt. Mix gently until the vegetables are coated with the powder. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes and turn the heat off. Serve with rice and sambar of your choice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the recipe from other Blogging Marathoners.

Chana masala

BM# 101: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : 
Creamy gravies

Last month, my old neighbors had come over home. With the kids at school, there was enough time to relax and catch up with each other. We had a mini pot luck and had a great lunch. I had made three gravies that day, two of which I am posting for this theme. I hadn’t picked this theme when I was preparing the meal, it was just good luck that I took pictures of the thali. My friends had brought in vegetable biriyani and bisibela bath. It was served along with the Chana masala, Chettinad mushroom curry and a mixed vegetable curry. Do check out the carrot halwa recipe too, it is a simple and easy way to make this great dessert.

Coming to the Chana masala recipe, this is again from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. After trying the mushroom curry recipe from the book, I made this first when we had some friends coming over. I didn’t have enough time to soak Chana, so I cooked it for one hour in Instant Pot before making this gravy. If you have time, you can soak the Chana overnight and cook it before making this curry. I already have a recipe for Chana masala in the blog, but this recipe has enough differences to make a separate post.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Vegan Richa’s Indian kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 2″ long piece of ginger
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • A good pinch of hing
  • 2 teaspoons Chana masala or Garam masala
  • Salt as needed
  • About 2 cups of water*
  • Coriander leaves and lemon juice for garnishing and serving

*You can use the water Chana was cooked in.

Method:

  1. Drain and Pressure cook the soaked Chana with enough water until it’s done. Let the pressure release naturally. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chilies and 1/2 cup cooked (and cooled) chickpeas. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Add the chopped onions and cook till it turns pink. Add all the masala powders – cumin, turmeric, chili, garam (or Chana) masala, hing and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the puréed tomato paste. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring in between to prevent tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a little water in case that happens. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes until the mixture is dry and starts to leave the side of the pan.
  5. Add cooked chickpeas and about 2 to 2.5 cups of water. You can use the water in which Chana was cooked. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, taste testing in between to adjust the seasoning. Take off the heat and serve garnished with coriander leaves, minced onion and lemon juice. This pairs very well with rotis and plain basmati rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the recipe from other Blogging Marathoners.