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.

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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.

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
  • 2 bunches of spinach, about 600gms, 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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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

Gutti Vankaya Kura (Stuffed eggplants)

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As February was ending, our Blogging Marathon creator (and the main reason why my blog is still alive) Valli’s birthday was coming up and we bloggers decided to throw her an online food party. We all chose recipes from her blog and surprised her with wishes and food from all corners of the world. I went straight to the root and took the first recipe that she published. Gutti Vankaya Kura.

I paired it for a meal with her coconut rice.

Ever since making it for her birthday, its kind of become my regular dish. May be I will take better pictures the next time I make it. Right now I am clearing my drafts and thought its a good time to post this recipe.

This curry is a flavor burst and so I thought it better to pair it with simpler recipes. May be I will pair it with biryani and see how it turns out to be! Read on for the recipe and step wise pictures.

1gutti vankaya kura

Recipe source: Cooking for all seasons

Dry roast 1/3 cup peanuts, 3-4 dry red chillies in a pan. When the peanuts are brownish, add 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, 1″ stick of cinnamon, 3-4 cloves and fry for a minute. Add 1/4 cup dry or fresh coconut and saute until the coconut changes color and releases a sweet aroma. Remove from heat.

When the dry mix is cooled down, blend it along with a small diced onion (or 4 pearl onions), 2 cloves of garlic and 1″ piece of ginger. Grind without adding any water.

Cut a ‘plus’ in the brinjal, cutting it through till the stalk. Keep the stalk intact so that its not cut into four pieces. Carefully fill the brinjal with the prepared peanut mix. I was able to fill 7 small brinjals with this amount.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add one chopped big onion and saute till pink. Follow it up with a finely chopped large tomato.

Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, salt as needed and cook until its mushy. Add the stuffed brinjals carefully and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Slowly turn it over (stalks help ;-)!). If you have any left over ground mix, blend it with some water and add to the curry.

Add enough water to help with the cooking and to have a bit of gravy. Lower the heat and cover and cook for about 25 minutes, carefully turning the brinjals once or twice in between. Turn off the heat with the veggies are completely cooked and oil floats on top. Serve with rice or roti. Pairs well with coconut rice.

Ingredients:

To grind:

  • 1/3 cup peanuts
  • 3-4 dry red chillies
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1″ stick of cinnamon
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1/4 cup dry or fresh coconut
  • 1 small onion (or 4 pearl onions)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1″ ginger piece

For the gravy:

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt as needed
  • 4-6 brinjals*

*the size of the brinjal vary vastly, so its difficult to give a finite number here..

Method:

Prepare the ground masala first: 

  1. Dry roast 1/3 cup peanuts, 3-4 dry red chillies in a pan. When the peanuts are brownish, add 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, 1″ stick of cinnamon, 3-4 cloves and fry for a minute. Add 1/4 cup dry or fresh coconut and saute until the coconut changes color and releases a sweet aroma. Remove from heat.
  2. When the dry mix is cooled down, blend it along with a small diced onion (or 4 pearl onions), 2 cloves of garlic and 1″ piece of ginger. Grind without adding any water.

Prepare the curry:

  1. Cut a ‘plus’ in the brinjal, cutting it through till the stalk. Keep the stalk intact so that its not cut into four pieces. Carefully fill the brinjal with the prepared peanut mix. I was able to fill 7 small brinjals with this amount.
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add one chopped big onion and saute till pink. Follow it up with a finely chopped large tomato. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, salt as needed and cook until its mushy.
  3. Add the stuffed brinjals carefully and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly turn it over (stalks help ;-)!). If you have any left over ground mix, blend it with some water and add to the curry.
  4. Add enough water to help with the cooking and to have a bit of gravy. Lower the heat and cover and cook for about 25 minutes, carefully turning the brinjals once or twice in between.
  5. Turn off the heat with the veggies are completely cooked. Serve with rice or roti. Pairs well with coconut rice.

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