Archive for the ‘Cooking Ingredients’ Category

A Better-Bitter recipe from a reader

Friday, July 1st, 2011

This is quite a special recipe story. Sonia, one of our readers sent me a recipe for cooking bittergourd. Nothing exciting about it, right? Nope. She sent it to me when she learned that I was expecting a baby and I had just started eating bittergourd, thanks to the Gestational diabetes scare. Thankfully, I did not get that GD. Those days I just had one trick of cooking BG, trying the recipe from here, but Sonia sent me more than one way of removing the bitterness from the gourd.

This incident happened last year, if I remember well, it was in July 2010. I was thinking on publishing her tips on cooking the gourd, but I was so tired due to pregnancy and then came the baby and the whole world vanished from my sight. All I could think of was little R. I guess it is about time I publish the recipe. Sorry for the delay Sonia. Do send me the special kofta recipe you were talking about, I promise I will publish it asap with pictures :)

Tips and Tricks on cooking bittergourd:

We have just given approximate measurements for ingredients assuming that the cooking is for 1 or 2 bitter gourds. Depending on the number of gourds you use, please adjust all other quantities accordingly.

Making Stir fry’s:

Chop bittergourd in to rings(half moon shape). Then marinade the rings with 1/4 cup of chopped onions, pinch of asafoedita, 2 tbsp of gram flour, salt and red chili powder to taste.

Remember not to add any water as onions will give out water needed to make a coating. Heat oil in a kadai, splutter mustard seeds(or the tadka you’d normally use) and stir fry the onions and gourd till crispy.

Serve this as accompaniment for rasams or sambhar or Mango Morekozhambu(kadhi).

For making Bajjis:

Slice the bitter gourd into thick rings. Add salt and leave aside for 10 minutes. Discard the water released by the bitter gourd as that will carry the bitterness. Pat them dry. Then add red chilli powder(to taste) , a pinch of asafoetida and mix well.

Dust the rings with with 2 tbsp of rice flour, keep aside for 5 minutes for the coating to stick and then deep fry in oil. This makes a good crunch munch accompaniment for rice or even as a snack with a hot cuppa chai!

For crispier karelas:

Instead of adding rice flour, soak 1 tbsp of plain uncooked rice for half an hour. Grind this rice, 1-2 whole red chillies, hing, one teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 tbsp of besan (optional) into a smooth paste. Dip the marinated karela into this and deep fry. Serve as accompaniment or as a snack.

So, are there any more ways of cooking bittergourd? Let me know and I will update this post.

NOTE: This is not included in the postpartum of lactation recipe series that I am writing for the past few days. In general bitter gourd is not included in the diet of lactating moms.

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Olive oil and Indian Cooking

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Indian cooking and olive oil…No, I wouldnt have thought about it till a few years ago. Growing up in Tamilnadu, I had this strong feeling that sesame oil( Gingerly Oil or Nallennai), Butter, Ghee, Sunflower oil or coconut oil are the ones to be used for cooking. Olive oil is something for western cooking was the idea I had.

Gingerly oil(Nall yennai- Good oil) is what we would use for stir frying vegetables, adding tadka to sambars or kootus. Gingerly oil is also used to mix with rice and eaten with podis(powders) or thugayals.

Here is the info about gingerly oil I got from wikipedia.

Sesame seeds were one of the first crops processed for oil as well as one of the earliest condiments. In fact, the word ‘ennai’ that means oil in Tamil language has its roots in the Tamil words eL(எள்ளு) and nei(னெய்), which mean sesame and fat. In the Tamil language of India, Sesame Oil is called “Nalla Ennai”(நல்லெண்ணெய்), which literal translation in English is “good oil”.

In general though at home, For deep frying pooris or snacks like murukku, bajji, bondas or pakoras we’d use sunflower oil.

Coconut oil was reserved for aviyal(Steamed vegetables in yogurt sauce) or making plantain chips. There are still debates about coconut oil and cholesterol though. Some say it is good for the heart and some people say it causes heart disease. Any ideas on these are welcome and I’d be happy to learn about it.

So, coming back to cooking with olive oil. I was skeptical at first. I couldnt think of making typical iyer/iyengar sambars or vatha kozhambu with olive oil or aloo curry or yennai kathrikkai curry with olive oil.

Yet, I decided to try one day with just making a kari(stir fry) with olive oil. As usual I added mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and the veggie. I couldnt see/smell/taste any specific difference when I tasted it and so I gave it to hubby for the ultimate taste test. Nope, he didnt taste anything different either.

So slowly I started cooking with olive oil for upmas, sambars, vatha kozhambus and karis. I have even sauteed vegetables for biryani/tomato rice with olive oil. There is no difference in taste and I didnt miss any flavors.

But the one disadvantage was that I couldnt use it for steaming. That kinda turned out to be smelly :(

Here is the list of my success and failure for Indian Cooking with Olive Oil.

Success in substituting olive oil for other oils:
I use light flavor olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil.

All sambars, vatha kozhambus, kootus.
All stir fry karis
All variety rices like vangi baath, tomato rice, lemon rice.
All gravies like paneer butter masala, chole masala, rajma masala, koftas, dals…
For tadkas

Not so good taste when I used olive oil in:
Steaming idlis,
Steaming dhoklas.

Havent tried (still debating)
Pouring olive oil for making dosas and adais.

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