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.

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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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Chena puzhukku – Green gram dal with elephant yam

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For the third day of serving root vegetables for the blog, I am here with elephant yam cooked with green gram dal along with ground coconut. This puzhukku was a new find for me, though we have had a fair share of kappa puzhukku (tapioca cooked and mashed a bit).

Elephant yam was a staple in my father’s childhood days it seems. Most of the veggies came from the backyard those days and these grew pretty easily. He tells us that the first time ever he saw cauliflower or cabbage was when he came to Chennai for his job, at the age of 19. Keep in mind that we are taking about late 1950s.

Today I see cauliflower a lot more than yam in the supermarkets. The ones here are picked from the frozen section. Even back home, I prefer to stay away from the vegetable as its a pain to clean it up. Root vegetables in general need a little more extra attention while cleaning up.Now if someone (like my dad, of course), takes care of the cleaning part, I like cooking and eating it :D.

Read on for the pictorial and the recipe.

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Pictorial:

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Pressure cook 1/2 cup green gram dal with 2 cups of diced elephant yam for 3-4 whistles. Let the pressure drop naturally.

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Grind together 3/4 cup coconut, 2-3 garlic pods, 2 green chillies (or per taste), 1 teaspoon jeer seeds using a little water to a paste.

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In a big pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1 dry red chilli.

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Once the seeds splutter, add the cooked green gram and yam mix. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspon turmeric powder. Pour some water if the mix is too dry – about 1/2 cup or so.

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Add the ground coconut paste and mix it in. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Taste test and adjust. Take off the heat. Ideally this is served with kanji/congee, but my husband is not a big fan of that – so this was paired with rice and rasam.

Recipe source: Chena puzhukku

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup green gram dal (pacha payaru)
  • 2 cups elephant yam, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt

For grinding:

  • 3/4 cup coconut grated
  • 2-3 garlic pods
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)

For tadka:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili

Method:

  1. Pressure cook 1/2 cup green gram dal with 2 cups of diced elephant yam for 3-4 whistles. Let the pressure drop naturally.
  2. Grind together 3/4 cup coconut, 2-3 garlic pods, 2 green chillies (or per taste), 1 teaspoon jeer seeds using a little water to a paste.
  3. In a big pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1 dry red chilli.
  4. Once the seeds splutter, add the cooked green gram and yam mix. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspon turmeric powder. Pour some water if the mix is too dry – about 1/2 cup or so.
  5. Add the ground coconut paste and mix it in. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Taste test and adjust. Take off the heat. Ideally this is served with kanji/congee, but my husband is not a big fan of it so this was paired with rice and rasam.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for recipes from other participants.

Radish Sambar

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Life keeps happening and sometimes I am a little late to catch up with the events.

Last October, I had a mail from a magazine editor from middle east to feature one of my pictures as their cover page. I was humbled, I was honored and of course, I agreed. The only drawback was that I didn’t have a high-resolution copy of the picture she wanted. It was taken in Chennai and so my hard disk back up was also there. I couldn’t get it done despite my two friends and my husband helping me with the resolution. Finally, I just gave it up and asked her to see if she can get it fixed. And I left it at that.

On a fine day a couple of months later, I sent a mail to know whether they really published the picture or not. They said they did and sent me a soft copy of the same. Another friend have picked up a copy of that issue for me now. It was a problem since I was looking for an edition 2-3 months after it was published.

Anyway long story short, I learned my lessons.

  1. Click high quality pictures
  2. Take online back ups regularly for each and every picture.

And another thing I did was to invest in some props. I had very few props with me. True, I am not earning an income from this space, but my pictures are getting published and there is a lot to be proud about that!

Coming to the pictures here, this was the first click I did with all my new set of wooden painted backgrounds and some new props. I know it doesn’t look fantastic or even meaningful (sambar and flowers?!?! Really!!??), but I am looking at it as practice sessions. And the more I use the props, the less guilty I feel. All these boards, even the bright red one below have been given more makeovers, so it doesn’t look all that bad.

Enjoy this serving of root vegetables in warm new set up and brand new props :-).

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BM #61; Week 4; Theme : Root vegetables

Pictorial:

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Makes about four servings. Slice 6-7 small radishes into thin rounds and pressure cook with 1/2 cup toor or moong dal.

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Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 2-3 green chillies, radish greens if you have them and enough water to cover it. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles until the dal is cooked completely.

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Once the dal is cooked and taken out of the cooker, add 3 cups of water to a pan. Add 4-5 curry leaves, 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste and two teaspoons of sambar powder.

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Mix well and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 6-8 minutes for the tamarind to cook completely.

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Add salt to taste, cooked dal and radish.

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Bring to a rolling boil, add a handful of coriander leaves as well.

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Prepare a tadka with a spoon of mustard seeds, few curry leaves,a good pinch of hing and 1 dry red chilli. Once the seeds splutter, add it to the prepared sambar. Mix well and serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

Makes about four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 small radishes
  • 1/2 cup toor dal or moong dal
  • 2-3 green chillies (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 4-5 curry leaves, optional
  • handful of coriander leaves, optional
  • salt

For tadka:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • good pinch hing
  • 1 dry red chili

Method:

  1. Slice 6-7 small radishes into thin rounds and pressure cook with 1/2 cup toor or moong dal. Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 2-3 green chillies, radish greens if you have them and enough water to cover it. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles until the dal is cooked completely.
  2. Once the dal is cooked and taken out of the cooker, add 3 cups of water to a pan. Add 4-5 curry leaves, 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste and two teaspoons of sambar powder.
  3. Mix well and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 6-8 minutes for the tamarind to cook completely.
  4. Add salt to taste, cooked dal and radish.
  5. Bring to a rolling boil, add a handful of coriander leaves as well.
  6. Prepare a tadka with a spoon of mustard seeds, few curry leaves,a good pinch of hing and 1 dry red chilli. Once the seeds splutter, add it to the prepared sambar. Mix well and serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

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Vazhakka kootu

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There are times when we want to go elaborate and there are times when you want to go simple. So when you chance upon a recipe that’s simple to make, tastes delicious, includes protein and veggies in one recipe, you know have hit jackpot.

This recipe is also a proof of how taste buds change over a period of time. My mom and grandma used to make this frequently when we were kids. We were never big fans of this dish then. It was something to eat, but only after you have expressed your disappointment clearly. Now that we have grown up, I find we like kootu. In fact, the pull towards this particular recipe was because it looked just like my grandma’s version! Ironical, don’t you think!? It would have been good if the sense came in earlier, but better late than never.

This version of koottu, though it looks very similar to my grandma’s version, is different. Garlic and onions were sparingly used in my grandma’s cooking. It has fennel instead of jeera and that makes a difference in a good way.The aroma is amazing and I have fallen in love with this version. Its a nice blend of my childhood memories with a modern day twist.

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BM #61, Week 1; Theme: Meal Ideas

Recipe source: My friend Purnima

Ingredients:

For pressure cooking:

  • 1/2 cup chana dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • one medium onion, diced roughly
  • one tomato, cut into two
  • one green plantain (vazhakka), diced roughly
  • 2-3 garlic pods

For grinding:

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 3 green chilies (or per taste)
  • one inch piece ginger
  • one teaspoon fennel seeds
  • salt as needed

Tadka:

  • one teaspoon oil
  • one teaspoon mustard seeds
  • one dry red chili
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • a good pinch hing

Method:

  1. The vegetables are going to get mashed when done, so you can dice them into rough big pieces.
  2. Pressure cook half cup washed chana dal with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, one roughly diced onion, a tomato cut into two pieces, one roughly diced vazhakka and 2-3 pods of garlic. Add enough water to cover the dal and veggies. About 1.5 – 2 cups.
  3. Cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is done. Turn off the heat and let the pressure drop.
  4. Grind 1/2 cup coconut with 3 green chillies (or per taste), one inch long piece of ginger and one teaspoon of fennel seeds. Add enough water to get a smooth, but thick paste.
  5. In a big kadai, add one teaspoon of oil. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds, one dry red chili, a good pinch of hing and few curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the cooked dal and veggie mix to it. Once it comes to a boil, add the ground coconut paste and salt as needed. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes.
  6. The consistency of the dal is determined by the water added to it. If you prefer it to be runny, you can add all the dal water and a little more. Else, drain some and add after checking the consistency.
  7. Serve with rice, papad and a spicy pickle.

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This post goes to Blogging Marathon #61. Check out the BM page to see what the other participants have brought to the table!

Parippu Usili

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I have been married long enough to guess almost correctly the contents of the grocery shopping bag if the man does the shopping. The bag would have beans, kovakka, cabbage and it would definitely have kothavaranga (cluster beans).

Cluster beans prepared as usili is his absolute favorite. We pair it with vatha kuzhambu or mor kuzhambu, basically with some gravy that doesn’t have lentils in it. That’s because enough and more lentils go into the preparation of usili.

I always thought the dish was time-consuming, so I would prepare double the quantity of the lentils and freeze one portion of the prepared usili. I don’t like freezing cluster beans as it becomes mushy when you defrost it. My MIL told me that instead of steaming I can pressure cook the ground lentils. The advantage is that I can get it pressure cooked along with rice, so it’s not an additional task anymore. These pictures were taken before the pressure cooker method, so it’s an improvisation that makes the dish a little more simpler.

Read on for the recipe.

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Pictorial

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Soak equal quantities of toor dal and chana dal for at least 3 hours. Here, I have used 1/4 cup each. The proportions and even the dal used vary from home to home.

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Cook your choice of vegetable with salt as needed and turmeric powder. Cluster beans or beans are popular options. Here, I have pressure cooked 2 cups of cluster beans with enough water for one whistle. Drain and keep the vegetable aside. 

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Grind the soaked dals into a coarse paste (no need to add water) with 3-4 red chillies with required amount of salt and a good pinch of hing. 

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Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or steam the ground dal mix for 10 minutes. Once it’s completely cooked, it would have become a solid block like idli. You will have to crumble it up using hands or a food processor. If you are pressure cooking, you can pulse this in the same food processor or mixie to get fluffy crumbled usili. Pulse in the mixer a couple of times to fluff up the cooked dal, do not grind into a paste. 

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In a pan, heat oil and splutter 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the crumbled dal mix and let it cook until the color changes slightly.

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Add the cooked vegetable and mix well. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Let the flavors mingle for 3-4 minutes and then take off the heat.

Since this side dish is high on lentils, it’s usually served with some gravies that doesn’t have lentils in it.

Ingredients:

To grind together

  • 1/4 cup toor dal, soaked for 3 hours at least
  • 1/4 cup chana dal, soaked for 3 hours at least
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 4-5 curry leaves, optional
  • salt as needed

For completing the dish

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 cups cluster beans, cooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt as needed

Method:

  1. Soak equal quantities of toor dal and chana dal for at least 3 hours. I used 1/4 cup each. The proportions and even the dal used vary from home to home.
  2. Cook your choice of vegetable with salt as needed and turmeric powder. Cluster beans or beans are popular options. I used 2 cups of pressure cooked cluster beans.
  3. Grind the soaked dals with 3-4 red chillies, a sprig of curry leaves, a good pinch of hing and salt as needed.
  4. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or steam the ground dal mix for 10 minutes. Once it’s completely cooked, it would have become a solid block like idli. You will have to crumble it up using hands or a food processor.
  5. If you are pressure cooking, you can pulse this in the mixer to get fluffy crumbled usili.Pulse, don’t grind. You will get a paste if you do it.
  6. In a pan, heat oil and splutter 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the crumbled dal mix and let it cook until the color changes slightly.
  7. Add the cooked vegetable and mix well. Check the seasonings and adjust per taste. Let the flavors mingle for 3-4 minutes and then take off the heat. Since this side dish is high on lentils, it’s usually served with some gravies that doesn’t have lentils in it.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 58