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

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Carrot – Chow chow kootu

BM #105: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Easy side dishes for rice/roti

This is yet another of my mother in law’s recipe. Again I took stepwise pictures when she was cooking to make my life easier :-). Kootu is one of the regular dishes our households. My grandma used to make it and my in laws also make it regularly. It’s one of those dishes I used to hate as a kid, but have developed a taste as an adult.

Kootu for most part, uses up leftover bits and pieces of veggies, but for this particular kootu, we bought veggies specifically for it. Amma had prepared it recently when we were visiting our brother in law at Texas. She had prepared it for a crowd of 12 plus people. It was really delicious and I asked her to prepare it again when she was visiting us in Jersey.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 chow chow/ chayote, diced
  • 2 medium carrots , diced
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • Water as needed
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal

Method:

In a thick bottom saucepan, add the diced carrots, chow chow, moong dal, turmeric powder and salt.

Add enough water so that it is just a little short of covering the veggies. Mix everything well. Turn on the heat.

Let the veggies and dal cook.

Meanwhile, grind a teaspoon of jeera/cumin seeds, 3 red chilies (or adjust per taste) and half cup shredded coconut.

Grind to a smooth paste. Set aside.

When the vegetables are cooked and the dal is also done, add the ground coconut paste.

Let the kootu boil for 5 minutes. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a small pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds and once it stops popping, add a spoon of broken urad dal. Wait for the dal to turn golden brown.

Add the tadka to the kootu. Serve with rice and papad.

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

Cabbage Moongdal curry

BM #105: Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Easy side dishes for rice/roti

This is a new recipe for me and I learnt it from my mother in law. I clicked the step wise pictures when she was cooking to make it’s easier for me to try it later when she is not around. I have already made this multiple times after she left and this has become an alternate way to prepare cabbage. My go to recipe has always been coconut based cabbage Thoran.I have seen recipes where moong dal is cooked first and then the veggies are added. Here, everything is added together and yet the dal cooks to perfection. It needs to be stirred in between, but it’s mostly a handsfree kind of recipe. You don’t have to babysit it continuously.

Turmeric is usually not added to cabbage. But it’s my father in law’s way of preparing and my husband loved (and still loves) the bright color. So my mother in law adds it whenever she prepares it too. You can skip it if you want.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon broken urad dal
  • 2-3 green chilies, chopped
  • 1/4 cup moongdal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 of a small cabbage, chopped (about 2-2.5 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and once it’s done popping, add the urad dal. Mix a little so that it turns a little golden.

Add chopped green chilies. Sauté for a minute until it is fried a bit.

Add moongdal and water. You needn’t to wash the dal.Add cabbage in a heap in the middle and add the turmeric powder on top.

Cover and cook until the dal is done, stirring in between. You may have to sprinkle some more water if the cabbage seems to stick to the bottom of the pan before the dal is cooked. Remove from the heat and serve with rice and gravy of your choice.

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

Kanchipuram Idli

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

Me and my husband are both from middle income families where eating out was a rarity. It wasn’t financially feasible for our parents plus there was this firm notion in their minds that outside food is substandard. After we got married and moved out of my in laws place, me and my husband used to eat out a lot. The kitchen was always closed on weekends.

My in laws and my dad still look at eating out as wasting money, but my mother, who was held back by the financial situation while we were growing up but more so by my dad, was quick to change. She always liked eating out, but lacked company to do it. I remember her trying kanchipuram idlis at a South Indian restaurant we had visited once. So when I made kanchipuram idlis recently, I was thinking of her :-).

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the batter:

  • 1/2 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup parboiled rice
  • 3/4 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • Salt as needed

For making the idli:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

  1. Soak the rice, fenugreek seeds and dal together overnight. Grind next morning using a grinder or mixie. Set aside to ferment. Refrigerate once the batter is fermented and has doubled in quantity. This usually takes about 8-10 hours depending on the weather.
  2. When ready to prepare the idli, crush black pepper and cumin together using a mortar and pestle. Heat ghee and add the cumin pepper mix. Add cashews and sauté until it changes color. Remove from heat, let it cool completely and then add to the batter.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and the dry ginger powder also to the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the idli molds and steam for 10-12 minutes until the idlis are cooked through.
  5. Take off the heat, serve with sambar and idli podi.

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