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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Peas paratha thali

BM #116 : Week 3, Day 1
Theme : Indian Flatbread Thali

I loved preparing thalis for the Indian bread week. More than me, my husband loved it. Once the COVID19 quarantine started in March, we haven’t been to any of the restaurants. My husband’s preference for eating out is going to Indian restaurants. So we have been missing all the ghee laden yummy delicacies like parathas. So he was happy that I was making it at home.

Though the taste is good when we make parathas at home, it’s never the same as the restaurant version. It’s because of the amount of ghee used. I don’t think any of us add as much ghee as they add in the restaurants. So its not floating in ghee when we make it at home. It’s healthier for sure, but that luxury factor is a little less :-).

For the first day, I have a peas paratha thali. I prefer paratha with just yogurt and pickle/chutney, but my husband likes to pair it with a curry. Rice and yogurt with pickle is a regular way to end the meal for South Indians, so it’s an everyday thing. For the thali, I prepared two Curries instead of one.

I made only four parathas in total. For me and my husband, one paratha with two Curries followed by rice is a good meal without it being heavy. My son skipped the rice, so two parathas was enough to fill him ….well, for a few hours. Now that he is in his teens, “mom, what’s there to eat?” is a constant question at my place :D.

Read on for the recipe for peas paratha. I will be updating the post for the curry recipes later.

The thali has

  1. Peas paratha
  2. Plain rice
  3. Green chutney
  4. Pickle
  5. Papad
  6. Aloo matar
  7. Khatta meetha kaddu ki Subzi
  8. Yogurt

Peas paratha Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • Salt as needed

For the dough

  • 1 cup atta / whole wheat flour
  • Salt as needed
  • Water to knead into a dough
  • Ghee as needed to make the parathas

Method:

  1. Make the dough first. In a big bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix. Add water in 1/4 cup fulls and keep mixing until a dough starts to form. Knead until you get a soft dough. Cover and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Make the filling while the dough is resting.
  2. For the filling, cook the green peas first. You can microwave it or cook in boiling water. Drain and let it cool lightly. Once cool, pulse it a couple of times in a mixie jar or food processor to get a very coarse paste. Do not process it until it’s a smooth paste.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add jeera seeds. Now it crackles, add finely minced garlic cloves and green chilies. Once it’s cooked, add the ground paste and salt as need. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to avoid it sticking to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare parathas with a small ball of peas as filling. Here is a link on how to roll and fill a paratha. Serve with any curry of your choice or with yogurt and pickle.

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Chaat Platter

BM #116 : Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Platters

I have a picture of a chaat lunch in my drafts folder, I had taken the picture because it was filling out our dining table with the various chutneys and yogurt and the fillings and everything. I actually had to stand on top of a chair to take a picture of the whole meal. It looked nice and so I had planned a chaat platter for the mega marathon.

Once I had the recipes in place (ragda patties, Chole tikki and pani puri as bass recipes), I happened upon the world of food boards/ charcuterie boards. You have to look up that hashtag in Instagram or give a google search to see what a visual treat that it is!! It’s chopping boards or cheese boards or trays completely filled with food. I have seen Charcuterie or cheese boards before, but the boards can be of any theme of your choice. And so I decided to do a chaat platter like a food board.

The biggest advantage of serving a food board is that you can choose and make whatever combination you like. With these base recipes of Chole, ragda and pani puri, you can make a whole lot of chaat recipes. The same patti can be used for ragda patties, Aloo tikki Chole and Aloo tikki chaat. For pani poori, you can have variations like boondi pani puri, Dahi poori, Chole pani puri, ragda pani puri on top of the regular potato and Chana filling. You can try any combination you want. Usually I make a couple of different kinds of pani, but with so many options, I decided to stick with just the regular pani.

I usually make the chutneys too at home, but this time I had some readymade chutneys and so used that. I have linked the recipes that I use below, but the platter has the readymade one. The puris are also readymade. The chaat masala is homemade, mine finished during the peak coronavirus times, so made it at home since I had all the individual spices.

The platter has

  1. Aloo tikki / Patties
  2. Ragda
  3. Chole
  4. Yogurt
  5. Green chutney for chaat (readymade)
  6. Tamarind chutney for chaat
  7. Coriander leaves
  8. Chaat Masala (recipe below)
  9. Chopped onions
  10. Panipuri pooris (readymade)
  11. Panipuri Paani
  12. Boondi (readymade)
  13. Potato filling for pani puri (recipe below)
  14. Chole filling for panipuri(recipe below)
  15. Lime wedges

Potato filling for pani puri

  • Mash one boiled potato with salt and chili powder to taste. Sprinkle chaat masala and some finely chopped coriander leaves, if preferred. Use as stuffing for pani puri.

Chana filling for pani puri

  • In a bowl, add half cup of cooked chana. Add some chopped onions, chaat masala, chili powder and salt to taste. Mash with a fork but leaving some Chana in chunks and some mashed. This helps it to hold together well making it easy to scoop and fill the Puris.

Chaat masala recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ajwain seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoons dried mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons amchur
  • 2 tablespoons kala namak

Method: Dry roast coriander, cumin and fennel seeds over medium heat until it turns a little darker. Once it’s cooled down, grind into a powder with the rest of the ingredients. Store in a dry airtight jar.

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