Archive for the ‘Home made basics’ Category

What’s cooking? Well, a dozen recipes and more….

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Well, a lot has been happening at home though I have not posted much. Just to name a few, I went back to school for sometime, been studying and working and also taking my son to his favorite activities etc., etc., Luckily my mom was here to put up with all of my stress and she took care of me and the cooking(talk about a treat!!).

I did take pictures of her recipes right from milagu kozhzmbu, parupusili, thavalai adai, home made idiyappam, pulikaichal, ennai kathirikkai kara kozhambu, appams,Kozhukattais, aloo stuffed peppers etc etc., But I had no time to post it. Actually my new year resolution was to post one recipe a week and I did post a couple for the first three months, so I guess it balances out.

Here are a few I want to share:
– My son now expects me to cook like her(!!!). She made alphabet dosa’s, animal shaped dosa’s, sunflower dosai’s for him for lunch with an array of chutneys in his lunch box that I even got a call from his teacher who was amazed by mom’s food art. Needless to say, he loved eating the same old dosas with a new twist.


– And I felt like a little kid too, with her packing my breakfast and lunch box every day with different items! When I came home, dinner was done, all the chores were done and all I had to do was to play with my son, eat dinner and go to sleep!

Some of the recipes I will be posting in the coming days will be

-Mint rice with fried potatoes
-Egg curry
-Wedding pulao
-Thavalai adai
-Home made idiyappams
-Soft and fluffy stove top rotis

I am starting off with Pulikaichal(Tamarind gravy? Sauce??). This is very typical Iyer/Iyengar comfort food. I know this is old stuff, but sometimes old recipes are the ones we yearn for, don’t we? I often felt like, my mom made this on xyz occasion- wish I was there now, so why not pulikaichal first?

Mom says Iyers use dry chilies or chili powder while Iyengar version is roasted pepper and cumin.

Ingredients: To make a thick 100g paste of Pulikaichal, you will need:

Channa(Chick peas) – about a handful, soaked in water for 5-6 hours.
Tamarind paste- 2 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Dry chilies-4 to 5 and green chilies 1-2 or 1/2 tsp red chili power
Ginger- 1 inch piece, chopped finely
Curry leaves- one sprig
Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
Sesame Oil- 4 tsp
Chana dal and Urad dal- 1/2 tsp each
Peanuts 1-2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Optional-Turmeric powder


Soak the dry chickpeas in water for 5-6 hours, then drain the water, pat the chickpeas dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Dry roast the coriander seeds and fenugreek seeds to a golden brown color, let it cool down and powder it as a fine powder. Set aside.

Heat oil in the pan(kadai, preferably), add mustard seeds- when it splutters add dry chilies(and green chilies if you are adding them or red chili powder), saute well, add chopped ginger, asafoetida, urad dal, chana dal ,curry leaves and then chick peas and pea nuts and roast to a golden brown color.

Mix tamarind paste in 1/2 cup water, pour it into the kadai. Let the mixture simmer for 20-25 minutes. If you add more water it will take a long time for it to reduce down and thicken.

When the oil separates out after about 20 minutes, add the dry roasted coriander and fenugreek powder and the pulikaichal will come together. Mix well. Add salt now(not when it is boiling). Transfer it to a clean, dry bottle or container and let it cool down. Always add salt at the end for pulikaichal.

My mom said she did not add excessive oil as she wanted it to be thick and stay in my refrigerator for a long time. If you like, you can add 1 tbsp oil more. She also says turmeric powder is not needed, but if you want, add it along with the chilies.

Thats all! Store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

When you need tamarind rice: Cook basmati rice and let it cool down. Add about a tsp of this pulikaichal, 1 tsp of sesame oil, a pinch of salt and mix it well.

You can do the same for rice noodles too.

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Spinach,Corn &Pepper Subzi and Eggplant Raita

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Last week, my cousin and her family visited us for the holidays and naturally I took a break from cooking at home to eat out. One of our favorite places to eat out these days is the Maharaja Bhog restaurant. Since they have different subzis every time we eat there, I try some of those at home for rotis these days. That day we had spinach,corn,pepper and paneer gravy and it was so simple, yet so rich and tasty. I made it today to go with pooris for our lunch.

If you need a variation from aloo palak,palak paneer or dal golas in palak gravy, try this corn and palak subzi.

Ingredients:(serves 2-3)

Tightly packed baby spinach- 2 cups
Chopped onion- 1/4 cup
Tomato(small to medium size)- finely chopped-1
Sweet corn(I used frozen)- 1/2 cup
Green pepper-1 (Finely chopped)
Oil- 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala powder- 3/4 tsp

Heat oil in a pan and add fennel seeds, when they start to sizzle add half the onions, half the salt and stir fry. Once onions turn pinkish in color add tomatoes and spinach, stir fry till spinach wilts. Transfer to a blender, let it cool down and blend to a smooth paste with about 1/2 cup of water.

Heat oil in the pan again and add the rest of the chopped onions,salt and stir fry well. Once onions turn translucent, add peppers and corn and stir fry well. When peppers are half cooked, add the spinach puree, garam masala powder, another 1/2 cup of water, cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes.


That is it, the gravy is ready to serve! If you like, you can add paneer also or you can add some cream to the gravy for richness.

The second recipe is something very simple. My mom makes this way tastier and better than my version. It is called sutta kathirikkai pachadi(roased eggplant raitha). After eating out for a couple of days we made something simple at home, and it was this raitha and lemon rice. This raitha goes well with coconut rice or vathakozhambu also. This is very tangy, mildly spicy and down to earth comfort food.


Small eggplants- 5
Well whisked yogurt- 1 cup
For tempering:
Oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- one sprig
Chana dal and urad dal- 1/2 tsp each
Hing- 1 pinch
Red chili- 2
Salt to taste

Wash and remove the stem of the eggplant, cut the eggplant into four but do not slice it completely. Heat oil in a pan and slowly add each eggplant to the pan. Sprinkle salt on top and roast the eggplants(or you can even do it in the stove flame). Do not roast it so much that it gets bitter but just so that it is cooked through.


Transfer the eggplants to a bowl, mash them well.

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds,when they splutter, add hing, curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal and red chilies and fry well. Pour this over the mashed eggplants, add yogurt and mix well. Serve with dal rice, vathakozhambu rice, lemon rice or tamarind rice.

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Summer Special- Vadams!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Making vadams in the summer is one fun activity that we never missed out growing up in a small town in Tamilnadu. The D-day will be selected carefully so that it is not too hot in April or in May and neither is it windy that all the vadams will get a generous shower of dust and sand from the storms. My mom usually grinds the vadam batter in the grinder as she sends it out to the entire family and it was our duty(sis and I) to arrange the vadams for drying in the sun. Usually the sun drying process runs for a week- we start of with Javvarisi vadam(sago vadam), then comes ommapodi and arisi vadams (crispy rice noodle vadams), then stuff like tomato vadams, yogurt chili(more milagai) and we end it up with an aromatic pickle season starting with mango avakkai and finishing off with vadu mangai or mahali pickle.

Let’s face it, we did not have all these TV channels or Youtube at that time and managing two kids at home along with a generous dose of cousins who arrive for the summer vacations the best activity(which is useful for everyone) was this vadam making.

Looking back I just cannot control my laughter on how many mischiefs we have done with just making vadams- from taste testing the batter to checking if they are done (again eating it while it is baking in the sun calling it as a big help to mom) to chasing away crows and competing with cousins on the many shapes you can make with the already ooey-goeey batter, gosh life is(was!!) beautiful :)

Since we spread it on a sheet, I use the liners from IKEA and I just use it for that purpose. Sometimes I have seen people use a cotton sheet or even rough plastic papers lined up as a sheet- but if you think of the layer that is going to adhere to the vadams, I’d say better get a clean and sturdy plastic sheet.

Ingredients:(This quantity should be enough for 4-6 months I guess)

Sago-(Javvarisi)-1/2 kg (either the pearly white sago or the slightly bigger size sago)
Green chilies- 4-5
Salt- 1/2- 3/4 tsp
Gingerly oil(Nallenai)- 4 tbsp
Water- atleast one liter
Lemon juice- from juice of one lemon


Wash the plastic sheet with water the night before you are going to make vadams, let it air dry. The next morning, wipe it with a clean cloth and apply the gingerly oil all over the sheet. I usually wash the surface that I am going to spread these sheets just so that even if there is any dust it will not fall on the vadams. If you are going to keep in indoors, thats fine too.

Soak the sago in minimum amount of water for 8 hours(overnight). If you are using the smaller size sago, just mash it with a masher, else you can also blend it in the blender without adding water(the water used to soak would do). Blend salt and green chilies to a smooth paste with a little amount of water. Heat the water in a thick bottomed utensil(say pressure cooker) and when it boils, carefully add the sago and the chili-salt paste, mix well and continue cooking on a low flame till the sago reaches a glassy, translucent stage. If you think that the water is not enough, add warm water as required as it thickens. It should not be too runny or too thick. Switch off. Add lemon juice and mix well.

Start scooping about a tbsp of the batter and place it on the sheet. You do not have to spread it as the batter will be quite runny and will take its desired shape.

Let it dry in the sun for atleast a day, if you can turn it without the vadam sticking to the sheet the next day, then turn all the vadams and let it dry in the sun for another day. Once when both sides are thoroughly sun dried, store it in an air tight container. The vadams will shrink in size and will almost crumble when it is totally dry.

When you are ready to serve, heat oil in a kadai and deep fry required number of vadams. Serve it as a snack or as an accompaniment with rasam rice, sambar rice etc.,

Sis and I love gobbling up the vadam batter itself :)

Make sure that you do not add too much of salt as when it is dried in the sun, it will get really salty, so use minimum amount of salt. You can always add more when you taste the batter.

For variations you can boil tomatoes in water, remove skin and blend it, sieve it to remove any seeds and add it to the vadam batter to make tomato vadams too! Very colorful and tasty kind of vegetable vadams are variations of the usual sago vadams.

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Postpartum recipe series

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

No, I am not a know it all. Just that I wanted to share some of the recipes that are in use for postpartum which can heal the body and relieve the aches and pains of labor.

After giving birth to R, I was so hungry and N called the cafeteria for food. When we toured the hospital I had asked about vegetarian food and I was told, yes it was available. Little did I know that the vegetarian option was soy burger with fries, veggie pizza, pasta alfredo, tomato soup and broth. Ofcourse, I like all of them, but it was not appropriate for the situation. It was a funny and irritating scene- there I was fuming and ready to let it all out on N, and poor N who was with me since morning who also did not have any food, did not want to order any of that as he knew it is going to increase my anger. We had packed only food for N since I knew I will be given food at the hospital.(Lesson learnt: pack some extra food just in case as hospitals provide patient freezers and microwaves)

After a quick phone call to our neighbor, he brought some idlis to the hospital and boy, that tasted like nectar!

Basically postpartum recipes are easily digested food like idli or idiyappam, hot rice with moong dal and vegetables and lots and lots of ghee. The idea is to soothe the insides for mommy as well as to provide nourishing food to make up for all the energy loss. Such simple foods will also not cause a problem for the baby if the mom is nursing.

Though in India such postpartum recipes are prepared for 60 days after birth of the child, here I was told to start eating all vegetables(even cabbage and potatoes) so that the baby will get all the nutrition. I did a mix of both, traditional postpartum recipes for twice or thrice a week and normal food for the rest of the days.

The first on my list is Garlic kozhambu which is good for digestion.

Ingredients for Garlic-Pepper kuzhambu: (Makes about 200 ml)
List 1:
Whole black Peppercorns- 2 tsp
Toor dal- 2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Dried red chilies- 2
Curry leaves- a fistful (2/3 of a cup)
Peeled garlic cloves- 10 or 12
List 2:
Tamarind paste- 3/4 tsp (dissolve in 2 cups of water)
Salt to taste
Sesame oil(Gingerly oil)- 2 tsp
Ghee- 2 tsp


Fry all the ingredients in list 1 in sesame oil. Transfer to a blender, add salt and blend to a coarse powder. Add tamarind paste and then blend it to a smooth paste. Transfer to a sauce pan, add another glass of water, check for salt and tanginess(add more tamarind paste if you like). Simmer it till the water evaporates and you can see the kozhambu coming together like a thick paste. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Add the ghee and switch it off. The more ghee and oil it absorbs the tastier the kozhambu will be.

Instead of blending the garlic you can boil whole garlic pieces in the kozhambu after frying.

This can be stored in the freezer for upto three months also.

Serve the kozhambu with hot rice topped with ghee(must), poppadams and some sort of plain kootu(vegetables cooked with moong dal). It’s enough if you eat a handful of this rice with kozhambu, not like a plateful!

You can add more garlic to make it garlic kozhambu or more curry leaves to make it curry leaf kozhambu also.


Well not really warning, but suggestions:

This is only for postpartum do not eat it when you are pregnant.

You have to have it with hot rice topped with ghee otherwise there is no purpose of having the food.
Since this kozhmabu already has garlic and pepper, do not serve this with any sort of greens(spinach for example)
And of course, do not eat it with potato curry :)

Since this is a real healing food, I am sending this Garlic-Pepper kozhambu as an entry for Siri’s Healing food event, hosted this month by Sara.

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