Vazhakka MorKuzhambu lunch

BM #116 : Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Simple everyday thali

Green plantains (vazhakka) and yogurt based mor kuzhambu is one of the favorite combinations for my husband. My mother in law used to prepare this at least a couple of times in a month. Mor kuzhambu also pairs well with parippu usili. That’s a favorite with my husband as well. For today’s thali, I had only the South Indian part of the meal planned. I had some cooked black eyed peas in the fridge so at the last minute I added the roti and curry also to the thali.

On days when I make rice and roti, my son will eat only the roti. Rice is for the days when he has no other choice. Well, I am not complaining much since I wasn’t a fan of many South Indian dishes at his age. Since he eats rice, I will take that for the time being.

I was able to cook with a lot of enthusiasm when I was started preparing the thalis. I have just four more to do now and somehow I am not finding that energy to get it done. I keep finding some or the other reason to keep postponing it. I guess for the last week of the marathon, I will end up cooking and posting on the same day. It’s the shopping that I have been postponing. Hopefully I will get it done soon!

Read on for the recipes and pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Mor kuzhambu
  3. Vazhakka
  4. Lobia curry
  5. Roti
  6. Cucumber slices

Vazhakka:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. Once it pops, add 2 cloves of minced garlic. When it changes color a little, add two peeled and diced green plantains.
  • Now add the spice powders – 1 teaspoon each of red chili powder and coriander powder. Add salt as needed and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder too. Sprinkle a little water, mix everything carefully. Cover and cook, removing the lid to mix in between to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the plantains are cooked, turn off the heat. Serve with rice and any yogurt based gravy.

Mor kuzhambu

  1. Soak 1 tablespoon each of rice and toor dal in a small bowl for at least 20-30 minutes. Drain and grind along with 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon jeera seeds, 2 green chilies and 1” piece of peeled ginger. Make a smooth paste of this adding water as needed. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Once it pops, Add the vegetable of your choice for the mor kuzhambu. You can use ladies finger, ash gourd, plantains, yam etc. Add half teaspoon of turmeric powder and Let the vegetables cook. Once it’s cooked, add the ground paste and half cup of water.
  3. Now blend 1 cup of yogurt in the blender jar for a couple of minutes. Add this to the pan. Lower the heat and let it cook. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. This is to ensure that the heat doesn’t curdle the yogurt. Serve with rice and vazhakka.

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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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Shahi Paneer

BM #115 : Week 4, Day 1
Theme : A-Z theme, Curries

I make quite a lot of paneer Curries, but I have never made Shahi Paneer before. I assumed it would be full of cream and cashews from the royal name it carries. I was surprised to know that it is yogurt that makes this curry smooth and creamy. There is a little bit of cream of course, and it does add a depth to the curry but you can omit it if you are short on it. I always substitute milk for cream if I don’t have it with me.

I followed this video recipe to prepare the curry and I have already made this a couple of times. I skipped all the initial spices of cloves, cinnamon and cardamom as my family is not too keen on it. But add it for a richer flavor if you like it. I was making this for a friend of mine who was visiting me. I was half way through cooking when she came and she helped me with the final part of the cooking. They make this curry often and I learnt two things from her. One, add more kasuri methi than what I usually add. I am a little scared of adding too much, so I stick with a teaspoon or so, but she added more than that and I loved it. And two, I didn’t realize that my homemade yogurt was sour and it needed a bit of sugar to balance it out. I do add a bit of honey to paneer gravies, but I don’t always taste test before serving. So it’s a good thing to do before serving the dish to your guests to make these adjustments.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe Source : Rajshri Foods

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons oil or ghee
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon kasoori methi
  • 2 cups diced paneer cubes

Method:

  1. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Sauté the onions. Add ginger garlic paste and green chilies. Sauté until onions turn soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and all the masala powders. Add half a cup of water if the curry is dry. Cover and cook until tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy.
  2. Turn of the heat and let the tomato mix cool completely. Once it’s cooled down, blend into a paste.
  3. Add it back to the same pan and heat it back again. Add half cup of yogurt and 2-3 tablespoon cream. Add about one cup of water to bring it to the consistency you prefer. Mix well. Once it starts to simmer, add crushed Kasuri methi and paneer cubes. Let it cook for a minute or two and turn off the heat.
  4. You can add a spoon of sugar if it’s too sour because of the tomatoes or homemade yogurt. Add a dash of cream at the time of serving.

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Paneer Mushroom Curry

BM #114 : Week 4, Day 1
Theme : A-Z theme, Curries

This month’s alphabets for the A-Z theme are P, Q and R. I finished Q first since that’s the difficult one but for P, I knew it was going to be paneer. I have an Instant Pot Palak Paneer recipe, but decided to make this curry since I had some paneer and mushroom to be used up. I came across this recipe in YouTube and gave it a try.

My husband and son loved this curry. My husband loved the flavor of yogurt here. The recipe calls for fried onions, I used the store bought one, but you can make it at home as well. You can skip it if you don’t have it, but it gives a good flavor, so it’s definitely good to add it.

Coming from Southern part of India, rice is a must for us. It’s a good thing that these kind of Curries pair with rice as well. What I do sometimes is serve this with rice for lunch and serve it again with chapati for dinner. That way it doesn’t feel like you are eating the same curry again.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Cook Book (YouTube)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced paneer
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 finely chopped green chilies or per taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fried onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or per taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 teaspoon ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon dry desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. In a big bowl, add the diced paneer and mushrooms. To this, add the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, chopped green chilies, chopped coriander, fried onions, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Mix carefully until the paneer and mushrooms are well coated with the yogurt mixture. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer jar, grind almonds(or cashews) with the desiccated coconut. Once it’s powdered well, add chopped tomatoes and make a purée out of it. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Add finely chopped onions and cook until it turns pink. Now add the tomato almond purée and cook for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to medium low.
  4. Add the paneer mushroom mixture and cover cook until the mushrooms are done. Keep mixing in between to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can add a little water if the curry looks dry. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve with cooked basmati rice or roti.

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