Thursday, September 1, 2011


For me, any kind of food that reminds me of Amma is soul food. Because she put her heart and soul into whatever she cooked... and all her love. Rasam was almost a daily affair. You could use a readymade powder (MTR is best) but nothing beats the rasam powder you can make at home. Have with rice or drink as soup... Of the many varieties of rasam (more to follow) this one is the simplest.

Basic rasam powder
1tbsp tuvar dal
1tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1tbsp pepper corns
3 red chillies (would recommend adding more pepper if you want it spicy)
A pinch of asofoetida powder

Dry roast all ingredients and powder finely.

Ingredients for rasam
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of jaggery
1 small piece of tamarind
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 green chillies slit
1tbsp boiled tuvar dal (optional)
1tsp mustard and 1tsp cumin (for tempering)
Salt to taste
1tsp ghee
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing

Mix the tamarind with water and squeeze out the juice. Make 3 cups and bring to boil in a vessel. Add turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes, salt, slit green chillies and jaggery. Add 1tbsp of the rasam powder. Check for taste... if you want it spicy add a little more. Boil for 5-7 minutes on medium heat till tomatoes are tender. Add tuvar dal, adding water to bring to rasam consistency. Lower flame and boil for 5 more minutes till a thin foam like layer appears on top. Switch off flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. In a pan, add ghee, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they splutter, switch off flame. Add a pinch of asofoetida... and pour over rasam.

Tip: If you want to omit tamarind, squeeze juice of a lemon at the end (after you remove rasam from the stove)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kerala Upma

I had never tasted tapoica in this form until I got married. All credit goes to Amma for making me fall in love with this signature Palakkad speciality. Enjoy.

3 medium sized tapoica (available frozen at Lulu, Khimji's Mart, etc)
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 inch piece of ginger chopped
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
2 tsp channa dal
1 tbsp oil
Curry leaves
Salt to taste

Chop tapoica into medium sized cubes and boil with salt and turmeric in water. Strain when tapoica becomes soft but don't overcook. Let it cool.
In a pan, add a little oil, add mustard seeds, the dals and curry leaves and allow to temper. Then add chillies, ginger and onions and saute well.

Add the tapoica pieces and mix well. After five minutes switch off flame.

Vengaya Sambhar - Sambhar for the Soul

This is a Tambrahm Sunday favourite... and usually had with potato podimas. Usually brunch if you woke late and skipped breakfast. Amma's signature dish that the taste buds still remember after so many many years... Enjoy!

4 medium sized onions, chopped (not finely, but into medium-sized chunks)
1 marble sized tamarind
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 small cup tuvar dal (boiled and beaten well in a blender)
1tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asofoetida
A small piece jaggery (optional)
1tbsp oil
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing

For the sambhar powder
2 tbsp channa dal
4tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp methi seeds
4-5 curry leaves
6 whole red chillies (adjust this according to taste)

Roast the ingredients for sambhar powder in 1tsp of oil. Remove. Chope the tomatoes and saute in the oil. Grind all adding a little water till it reaches a fine paste consistency.

Soak the tamarind in 3 cups of water. Fry the onions till golden brown in a pan adding roughly 2tsp of oil.

In a vessel, add tamarind water, turmeric powder, jaggery and salt and bring to boil. Add the sauted onions, and keep flame on medium. Once the raw taste of the tamarind has gone, add the sambhar paste. Let it boil for a while. Add water according to what consistency you prefer. Add the dal water. Keep on medium flame until a foam like layer appears on top. Switch off flame, garnish with coriander leaves. In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil, add mustard seeds and one red chilli. Let the mustard splutter and then pour it over the sambhar.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kadalai Sundal

Since I am more the ‘savoury’ and ‘spicy’ kind than the sweet one, my prasadam is usually more of sundals. This is a deviation from the normal kadalai sundal and a recipe I learnt from my aunt with some additional touches from moi.

250gm chickpeas (Kabuli channa)
Salt to taste
3tsp mustard seeds
2tsp split urad dal
1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
4 red chillies
2tbsp oil
2tbsp finely chopped mango pieces
2tbsp finely chopped coconut pieces
Curry leaves for garnishing

How to prepare
Pressure cook chickpeas with salt until soft to touch (but not overboiled). In a pan, lightly roast coriander seeds, and red chillies. In a mixie, powder finely.
In a pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add urad dal and curry leaves. When it gives off a slightly roasted smell, add the powder. Add the chickpeas and salt and mix well. Switch off the flame. Finally, add coconut and mango pieces. And serve to the Gods.

Lemon Rasam

Drop the tamarind and still bring on the tangy taste. Lemon rasam brings in the flavor of green chillies and ginger along with the goodness of tuvar dal. Goes well with rice, pappadums and spicy potato curry. Or simply, have it as a hot soup. Perfect for these chilly winter evenings.

3 cups of water
½ inch ginger mashed
2 green chillies, slit
1tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp of boiled tuvar dal
2 medium sized tomatoes
1tsp ghee
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
A small piece of jaggery
2 small lemons
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.

To prepare
In a vessel, bring water to boil. Add turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, jaggery and salt to taste. Bring to boil on medium flame. After 7-8 minutes (after the tomatoes have cooked well), add dal and add water to bring to rasam consistency. After a lather-like foam appears on top, switch off flame. Take a small pan, add ghee, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once it splutters, switch off flame. Pour over rasam. Garnish with chopped coriander seeds. Finally, add the juice of two lemons and stir lightly. Piping, hot rasam is ready to serve.

Manga Curry

This is a simple green mango pickle that can be made in a jiffy. An important part of every Kerala sadya and Tam sadi served at the top left-hand corner of the banana leaf. Goes with curd rice, dosais and well, almost everything. And tastes real yum!

2 big green mangoes
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp red chilli powder
3 tsp asafetida
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp til oil (or normal refined oil. Til oil gives a special taste)

To prepare
Chop mangoes into very fine pieces. Mix well with salt and red chilli powder. In a pan, add oil. Heat, add mustard seeds. Once the mustard splutters, add asafetida and switch off flame. Once the oil is cool, add to the mango pieces. Mix well. It will keep well outside for 3-4 days. After that, store in refrigerator.

Monday, September 22, 2008

All things low cal…

I am a big fan of Tarla Dalal… especially after I met the lady personally and interviewed her a few years ago. She was promoting her new book, Cooking with one teaspoon of oil. I learnt that tasty food need not be drowned in fat… So I decided to cook sensibly at least for 20 days of the month. The best solution? I use my old, battered microwave to the maximum for boiling vegetables! So here is the first in a series of low-fat, low-cal food that is yummy too!

Triple Magic

Beetroot, julienned: 2 medium
Capsicum, julienned: 2 medium
Carrot, julienned: 2 medium
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Oil: 1 tsp

Boil the vegetables (without water) in a microwave safe bowl covered with cling film for about ten minutes on high. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add a teaspoon of oil and microwave again for a minute. Serve hot with chappatis and onion raita.