Back again!

Its been 2 years since I posted any recipe, and in the mean time many things have happened. The most important of which has been the move from Canada to India. It was a tough decision to leave the place that had been home for over 7 years. A place that was comfortable and most of all the huge circle of friends we miss everyday. The decision was made mainly for our parents who were at an age where they needed help in regular activities and with my kiddo ready for grade school we had to make the decision soon so as to make the transition easier for him too.

The past 1.5 years has been tough, negotiating the difference in attitude and approach to solving issues and having to travel frequently, overcrowding, making new friends and just being surrounded by people all the time.

Now that I have sort of settled, I decided it was time to revive my blog. My love for cooking has not waned but being in India i now crave for the variety of cheeses, and foods i would get in Canada. Not just that, to have local, regional and Indian restaurants at every nook and corner of the city makes it easier to order in or eat from outside at the drop of a hat. I hope to try various regional cuisines from different parts of India. I have also started to bake a lot as there is not much variety in bakery food.

So you will see all these in my future blog posts! 

Tomato Rice

In tambram households kalanda sadam or pre-mixed rice is a regular affair. Of the various kalanda sadams such as puliogara, ven pongal, lemon rice, curd rice, tomato rice is a very tasty way to start off lunch. At my home its usually a lunch box recipe which my husband enjoys very much.

Ingredients
Rice - cooked and fluffed - 2 cups
Tomato  - 2 large
Green chillis - 2 nos diced
Turmeric - 0.25 tsp
Sugar - 0.5 tsp
Salt to taste

Tempering
Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp

Garnish
Curry Leaves - 6-7 shredded
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp (finely chopped)

Method
  1. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Cool. Peel the skin and puree.
  2. In a pan add oil and the tempering ingredients and when the chana dal turns golden brown, add the pureed tomato.
  3. Add chopped chillis, coriander leaves. Cook the tomato puree until oil floats on top.
  4. Add sugar, salt and turmeric mix well.
  5. Remove from flame. Add the cooked rice. Mix until well coated.
Garnish and serve warm.

Arachu kalakki

Arachu Kalakki is a type of kadi that can be made in a jiffy. The name itself means arachu - grind kalakki -mix. So its just grind and mix to make this dish which gets done within 10 minutes.  My mom in law used to make this quickie whenever we had very little time to make dinner. In Tambram households one can always find baby mango (whole) pickles (vadu-mangai), usually home made when in season. My mom used to make mango pickle during summer when women carrying big baskets of baby mangoes used to sell them door to door. These will be washed, measured and salt added proportionately, and placed in big "Bharanis" and left to marinade. It will be a week or more before you can taste the pickle. Chillis and other spices are added to make chilli mango pickle.

The glory of mango pickle is exalted in this saying which i have heard my amma say "matha ootatha sadam mangai ootum" meaning even if your mother does not feed with her own hands, if you have mango pickle you will eat the rice.

So why did I say so much about the mango pickle in a blog post for arachu kalakki? Well pickle is the important ingredient in this dish. If you do not have baby mango pickle, you can use amla(gooseberry) pickle too. On our recent trip to India I picked up a couple of bottles of vadu mangai pickles. But they were so very spicy that we could not even take a bite without downing a couple of glasses of water, so I set them aside for the arachu kalakki.

Ingredients
Vadu Mangai -- 3-4 baby mangoes with some gravy
Coconut flakes - 5 tbsp
Asafeteida(hing) - 1/4 tsp
Cumin (Jeeragam) - 1/2 tsp
Red chillis - 1-2 (optional- depends on the spicyness of the pickle)
Salt (optional again depends on the pickle)
Yogurt (preferably sour) - 4 tbsp
Water as needed

Tempering
Cooking oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 0.5 tsp

Garnish
Curry leaves - 5-6 leaves shredded

Method
  1. Grind together all the items under ingredients to a smooth paste by adding required quantity of water. Taste test and add salt or chillis as needed and grind again.
  2. In a saucepan pour the grind and add water to bring it up to desired consistency. Put on medium flame.
  3. Once the liquid starts to froth, remove from heat. Do not boil as the yogurt and water will separate. Add the garnish.
  4. Prepare the tempering and pour over the grind.
Arachu kalakki is ready and is best eaten with rice and idiyappams.

Hara- Bhara Kebab

The first time I ate this kebab was at a restaurant in the middle east. My husband ordered this and said its very tasty, lets try it. We wait for 15 min and the appetisers are in front of us. I take a look and say, its looks like a normal cutlet and take a bite. "Ummm..." thats all i was saying for the next 10 minutes between bites. The next thing my husband knew was i was polishing off the shared platter..:))
Well now a days I make it quite frequently as my kiddo too loves to snack on something in the late afternoons after school. To its credit this kebab is very healthy needing very little oil and having as much green veggies as you can find.

I am submitting this to Priya's December roundup of Cooking With Seeds - Peas. This is the first time I am participating in a cooking event and I am very excited about it.

Ingredients
Potatoes - 2 nos cubed and boiled until tender
Green peas (fresh/ frozen) - 1 cup (boiled in salted water)
Spinach (chopped) - 1 cup packed
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 tsp (grated)
Green chilly paste - 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Chaat masala- 2 tsp
Cooking oil - for shallow frying
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


Method
  1. In a kadai add 1 tbsp oil. Add the chopped spinach leaves. Saute for a few minutes until wilted.
  2. In a mixer, add the spinach, 2 tbsp boiled green peas, coriander leaves, chilly paste and ginger and grind to a thick paste.
  3. In a bowl, add the potatoes and partly mash them. Add the grind green mixture and mix well.
  4. Add the rest of the peas, salt and chaat masala, mix well cover and set aside in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. In a pan add some oil for shallow frying. In a separate bowl mix the cornflour in some water to from a thin paste.
  6. Make patties out of the peas- potato mixture, dip in cornflour and shallow fry until golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with tomato chutney for a that yummy taste.

Couscous Upma

Couscous is a Moroccan pasta made from semolina, watered and rolled into small pellets, dried and seived to an acceptable size. The boxed couscous that we get here cooks very quickly and has high nutrition value with high vitamin and low fat content.

I made a quickie upma out of it and it turned out to be delicious and light, a perfect way to start the day.

Ingredients
Couscous - 2 cups
Water - as per the instructions in the box (usually 1.5 times that of couscous)
Mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes) - 1 cup (chopped finely)
Salt to taste
Hing (asofeteida/peringayam) - a pinch

Tempering
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Red chillis (dry) - 1-2 nos crushed

Garnish
Green onions - 2 nos sliced
Curry leaves - 6-7 leaves shredded


The Method
  1. In a pan add oil and prepare the tempering. Once the mustard crackles, add the vegetables, and saute for a few minutes in medium heat until partly cooked. 
  2. Add water and let it come to a boil. Add salt and asofeteida.  
  3. Add the couscous and cook as per the instructions in the couscous box.
  4. Fluff with fork and garnish with green onions and curry leaves. 
Mix and serve warm either as such or with lime pickle or tomato chutney for kiddies.

Barley and Green Lintel Salad


I am trying out different grains and today its the turn of the barley. umm... know what my earliest memories of barley are associated with? you guessed right, sick days....
Amma would make soup from barley add a bit of sugar and it will be given to us, to keep up the strength, over the few days when no food would taste good. It's been a long time since I had any barley, so this week I wanted to try this super grain used in a salad, which I saw featured in a magazine. I tweaked and adjusted the recipe to suit my pantry.


Ingredients
Pearl Barley -0.5 cup
Green lintels (whole moong dal) - 0.5 cup
Water - 2 cups
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cucumber - 1 no diced
Cherry tomatoes - a handful halved
Green onions - 2 nos chopped

Dressing
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
Honey - 1 tbsp
salt and pepper to taste

Method
  1. Pre-soak green lintels(whole moong dal) for 1 hour.
  2. Barley and green lintels cook at the same rate. Boil water and add salt to taste. Add barley and lintels and cook at low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Drain any remaining water. Let it cool.
  3. Add the diced vegetables cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Prepare the dressing add to the salad and toss just before serving.

Maladu - Dalia laddoos


This is one of the first sweets that come to mind which amma used to make in a jiffy. Appa and I had the sweet tooth in the house and usually it started off with "onnume illai chapadarathukku" (there is nothing to eat)
amma: "murukku, mixture irukke, poyi eduthukko". (there is murukku and mixture, go take it)
me: "sweet onnum illai" (but there are no sweets)
amma: "maladu pannatuma." (shall i make maladu? )
me: ok (very very happy that amma consented to make something sweet)

In the present day my son loves this quickie and it is one of very few sweets he likes. He is more of a savoury person and I make it quite often. In tamil brahmin weddings, maladu is one of the primary sweets given to the invitees as cheeru. It is usually made to order and is big in size(almost the size of an apple) than the ones made at home.

Ingredients

Dhalia(pottu kadalai, porikadalai) - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp

Method
  1. Powder the dhalia and sugar together in a mixie to a fine powder. Set aside.
  2. Add cardamom powder and mix well.
  3. Heat ghee. Add it little by little and roll the mixture into small lemon sized balls. You will need to re heat the ghee often to make the laddoos as warmer the ghee the less it is needed for making laddoos.
Store in an air-tight jar for upto 2 weeks (if it will last that long!). The powdered dhalia- sugar mix can be prepared and stored ahead until needed and will be even quicker to prepare.