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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Koshari

BM #110 : Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Middle Eastern recipes

Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. It is a fusion of Indian, Italian and Middle East flavors. It has rice and lentils, originated from khichdi, and it has pasta and tomato sauce, from Italy.

The dish looks complex, but it’s extremely easy to make. It has rice, chickpeas, green lentils, pasta and tomato sauce. Each of these can be cooked ahead to make serving easier. Some recipes online serves the dish in layers where as others mix everything and then top with the tomato sauce. I have tried both ways and I prefer the everything together version.

You might end up having more tomato sauce than you need, but it can be refrigerated or frozen until you can use it again. Some people like to have more sauce, so I prefer to make a little extra than running low.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups cooked Chana /chickpeas
  • 1 cup green/brown lentils (whole masoor dal)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 cup dried pasta
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (or 8-9 of tomatoes puréed)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Cook lentils separately until done. I pressure cooked it in Instant Pot for 4 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoon olive oil in a pan. Sauté washed rice for a minute. Add salt as needed and 1.5 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, Cover and cook until rice is done. Set aside.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Run in cool water to prevent sticking and set aside.
  4. In a pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. Sauté 1 chopped onion and minced garlic until it’s soft. Add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes ( or 8-9 tomatoes, purées) along with chili powder, cumin powder and salt. Simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, taste testing and adjusting the seasonings if needed. Set aside.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Sauté 2 large chopped onions until it’s brown. Take off the heat.
  6. Now to assemble, add the rice, lentils, cooked chickpeas and pasta in a big bowl. Taste and add salt if needed. In a bowl or plate, serve the rice mix topped with 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce and a little of caramelized onions.

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Dal Tadka

BM #109 : Week 2, Day 1
Theme : DEF – Curries

I am back in the blogging space after a really long time. Each time I take a break, it always seem to extend it beyond what I originally meant! Anyway, here I am finally with a theme that I should have kick started last month. It’s an ongoing alphabetical theme for the year and I have chosen Curries as my theme.

About the recipe here, it’s dal tadka. I have used red lentils (masoor dal) here, but this can be made with toor dal or moong dal with the same results. This pairs well with roti, naan or rice. It’s surprising that I don’t have any recipes for dal tadka in the blog though I have made this as part of some Thalis before.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masoor dal
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1.5 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
  • A pinch of kasoori methi, optional
  • Lemon juice to taste, optional
  • Salt to taste

For tadka:

  • 2 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or chili flakes

Method:

  1. Pressure cook 1 cup dal with 3 cups water And turmeric powder. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan, heat oil and sauté the onions. Once the onions turn pink, add the ginger garlic paste. Mix it in and add the coriander powder and garam masala. Mix it in. Add the dal and salt as needed.
  3. If the dal is too thick, add some water, half cup at a time. Once everything comes to a boil, add the kasoori Methi and lemon juice. Mix well. Take off the heat.
  4. For the tadka, heat ghee in a small pan. Add red chilies, jeera and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the chili flakes or chili powder. Take off the heat and add to the dal. Serve with rice or roti.

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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.

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