Archive for the ‘Khichadi’ Category

Puli Pongal(Tamarind and chili pongal)

Friday, January 4th, 2013

If I said it is freezing cold here in Houston, I’m pretty sure people in the east coast are going to get mad at me, so let me just say that it got pretty chilly here for the past few days. I weighed out the options- hot bowl of soup, pasta, spicy paneer and gobi with fried rice or this pongal(N will be against the soup any day). Majority of the vote(including my son) fell for the pongal, so it was pongal for dinner.


This is something that my mom made when we were kids and it was hit especially in the winter. With the cold winds howling during the month of December/January, eating this hot pongal with mango pickle or puli mulagai pachadi or thengai thogayal and watching a movie was such a regular scene during those years! As mom makes this pongal, my dad will offer to do the pachadi, my sister and I will sit and talk in the kitchen with them and making dinner was such an enjoyable team work.

This is how it goes:

Rice(uncooked, not basmati)- 1 cups
Water- 3 cups
Tamarind- 1/4 tsp
For tempering:
Oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Chana dal- 1 tsp
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- one spring
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut- 3-5 tbsp(depending on your taste)
Red chilies- 2
Yogurt chilies-2
Salt to taste

Just sprinkle some water on the rice and blend it coarsely in a blender. Mix tamarind paste in 1 cup of water.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and fry well. Then add red chilies, yogurt chilies and coconut. Pour 2 cups of water, one cup of tamarind extract in water, then add salt and turmeric powder. Cover and let the water boil.

When the water has been boiling for 2-3 minutes, reduce the flame, slowly add the coarsely powdered rice and mix well. Cover and let it cook on low flame for another 10 minutes till all the water has been absorbed and rice is cooked. Mash it well.

Serve hot with coconut thogayal or mango pickle or avakkai pickle or mavadu pickle or this puli mulagai pachadi. Even the yogurt chilies used in the pongal is a good accompaniment! This is something spicy and tangy for the winter.

Do not use basmati as it will be very mushy once the pongal is done. If the rice is old rice, then the pongal will come out really well. Just check for water to rice ratio, I used sona masoori rice. If you want, reduce the amount of water just a little bit(1/4 cup), make the pongal and you can even make kozhukattais like arisi upma kozhukattai. That is how my son likes his upams.

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Greek hay- Cooking with Fenugreek

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Venthayam(Methi in Hindi and Fenugreek in English) is a regular herb used in South Indian cooking, atleast once a week. Most of the spice powders will have the addition of roasted fenugreek, and it is also common in pickles to act as a stabilizer.

Both the leaves and seeds are used for cooking and flavoring, though they taste slightly bitter. Besides cooking, Fenugreek has a lot of medicinal uses:

– Fenugreek seeds help to lower cholesterol levels.

– The seeds are used as a cure(to control) diabetes (Check with the doctor first before using, as there can be some side effects)

– For women, fenugreek seeds are a good cure for Menopause and PMS. Regular use of fenugreek will increase lactation for nursing mothers. But if taken during pregnancy, the fenugreek infused water can induce labor, because of this use, it is also given during labor to help in the process of child birth. Fenugreek seeds with rice or Urad Dal(black lentil gram) is made into a soft pudding and that also helps to strengthen the uterus.

– Soaking a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in half a cup of yogurt and taking it in the morning will reduce body heat.

– Fenugreek seeds with yogurt is a good cure for uncomfortable tummy (Diarrhea).

– When used with yogurt or vinegar as a conditioner, fenugreek seed paste can help in hair growth.

How to use fenugreek in cooking:

I like using fenugreek seeds for a spicy tamarind sauce and the leaves for a comforting rice dish(Khichdi).

Methi Khichdi: (Vegetables, rice and lentils with Fenugreek leaves)

Ingredients: serves-2

Rice- 1 cup
Lentils(yellow or green moong beans)- 1/2 cup
Salt- to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala powder- 2 tsp
Green chilies-2
Chopped Ginger and Garlic- 1 tsp each
Red onions- Chopped-1/4 cup
Fenugreek leaves- 1 cup
Mixed vegetables (carrot, peas,cauliflower, potato, beans)- all together- 1 cup
Olive oil- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks- 1″ piece
Bay leaf-1
Cilantro leaves- to garnish


This dish can be prepared as a one pot dish, in a slow cooker, in a pressure cooker or a rice cooker. With mild spices and vegetables, it is the comfort food for a weekend brunch or a weekday dinner. It is very simple to prepare this khichdi and you can throw in all the veggies you want if you want to clear out the fridge. Whichever way you cook, add lot of water to cook the rice.

Stove top: Wash the lentils and rice, keep aside.Heat olive oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks. Fry well for a minute, add onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the fenugreek leaves, chopped vegetables, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and stir fry well for another 2-3 minutes. Add about 6 cups of water, cover and let it simmer. Once the water is boiling, add the lentils and rice and simmer for 25 minutes or till the rice is cooked. Once in a while, mix the veggies and rice well and mash it as you cook. The more you mash them all together, the more tasty it till be. Once all of the veggies and rice is well mashed and is cooked through, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with spiced yogurt(Kadhi).

Pressure cooker: Follow almost the same method but instead of waiting till the veggies are cooked, add rice and lentils and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Rice Cooker: Cook till stir frying the vegetables in a pan. In the rice cooker, add water, rice and lentils and transfer the stir fried vegetables to the rice cooker. Cover and let it cook like normal rice.

Slow cooker: Stir fry the vegetables in the pan, transfer the rice, lentils and the vegetables to the slow cooker. Add atleast 8 cups of water (slow cooker needs more water than a rice cooker), set it on high (3 hours) or low(8 hours) for the rice to cook.

Cooking with Fenugreek Seeds:

Appalam Vathakozhambu (Poppadams in spicy tamarind sauce)

Can you cook without any vegetable to make a sauce? That too with poppadams? Sure you can. The simplest of all sauces in South Indian cooking, a favorite for summer season to have with yogurt rice.

Ingredients: (Serves-2)

Poppadams (about 14 each)

Green chilies- 2 each

Red Chilies- 2 each

Curry Leaves- 5

Tamarind- 1 small lemon size

Red Chili Powder- 1/2 tsp

Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Asafoetida- 2 pinches

Salt- to taste

Gingerly oil- 4 tbsp (You can also use light olive oil)

Rice flour- 1 tbsp

To be ground to a powder

Coriander seeds- 1.5 tsp

Red Chilies-4

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp


Soak the tamarind in about 200 ml of hot water. You can also substitute 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste for this. Squeeze out the juice from the tamarind, add another 100 ml of water, extract the juice again, filter and discard the pulp.

Roughly break the poppadams into two. Slit green chilies lengthwise.

Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel(kadai) and add hing and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dhal, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves ,red chilies and green chilies. Stir fry for a minute. Add the poppadams and salt and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and stir fry till the raw smell of the red chili powder disappears.

Pour the 300 ml of tamarind water into the pan and simmer for 15-20minutes(tiill poppadams are tender). The tamarind water should have reduced to at least 1/2 of its original volume.

In the mean time, toast(dry fry) the coriander seeds,red chilies, chana dal, fenugreek seeds to a golden brown color. Cool and grind to a fine powder. This powder is my version of the vathakozhambu powders sold in stores. I grind it fresh, but you can also sprinkle some store bought vathakozhambu powder if you want.

In a bowl, mix about 3 tbsp of water and rice flour into a thick paste. Add the ground powder to this paste and add these to the boiling kozhambu. Stir well to avoid any lumps.

Let it simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Switch off. Serve hot with rice and spicy potato stir fry or stuffed  okras.

The Methi Khichdi is my entry for Yasmeen Health Nut’s Bitter- Better Health Event.

The appalam kozhambu is my entry for cooking with fenugreek seeds byDenufood an event started by Priya.

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Khichdi with Kadhi

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Ultimate comfort food.Simple yet fulfilling  khichdi and kadhi is perfect for any weekday dinner or weekend brunch. The weather here has started to become quite chilly and it prompted me to make khichdi this weekend.

Though it is not the authentic regional khichdi, it tastes similar to one. I usually use whole green moong beans, soaking it in water for 15-20 minutes. If not, I also make it with tuvar dhal or yellow moong dhal. Usually I make khichdi as a one pot dish in a slow cooker or rice cooker to save time. The cinnamon gives it a whole refreshing aroma and adds secret kick of spice.

My neighbor M taught me the kadhi recipe(out of frustration I guess) as I’d I turn up in her house every now and then asking for the preparation. Initially though my kadhi was not like her authentic kadhi but after making it for quite some time(every weekend if I have to confess), I can say that its comparable but I adjust it to my taste every now and then.



Green moong beans – 1/2 cup

Rice 1.25 cups

Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Chopped Ginger- 1/2 tsp

Chopped garlic- 1/2 tsp

Chopped Onion-1/4 cup

Slit green chilies- 3

Mixed veggies(peas, cauliflower, carrot,potato)- 1 cup.

Garam Masala powder- 1 tsp

Salt- 1 tsp plus to taste

Oil/Ghee- 1 tsp

Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

Bay leaves, Cinnamon stick, Clove- 2-3 each.


Soak green moong beans overnight in water. Wash and drain.

In a non stick pan, heat ghee and fry cumin seeds. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and cloves and saute for a minute.

Add onions, green chilies, garlic and ginger and saute till brown. Add all other veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt turmeric powder and garam masala powder.

If you are using rice cooker/ slow cooker transfer the above said ingredients to a slow cooker, add rice and moong beans, required quantity of water(1 cup rice: 3 cups water hence here I added 6 cups water including veggies) and turn the cooker on(3 hours for fast setting-8 hours for slow cooking in a slow cooker)

If you are cooking it on a stove top pan, add the required amount of water, simmer but do not cover fully as the water may push the lid out(cook for about 20-25 minutes)

Depending on the cooking method used, check if veggies are soft and rice is cooked. Khichdi has to be slightly mushy so mash well before serving.Check seasonings, add salt if needed and garnish with cilantro. Pour a tsp of ghee on top if you prefer.Serve hot with kadhi or pickles.



Sour yogurt- 1 cup

Besan- 1/4 cup

Water- 1.5 cups

Salt- to taste

Red chili powder- 1/2 tsp

Broken red chilies- 2

Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Oil- 1 tsp

Jeera- 1 tsp

Hing- 1 pinch


Whisk yogurt with besan and water well so that it is without any lumps. In a deep pan or kadai(vessels with narrow bottom), heat oil and add jeera. When it splutters, add red chilies, red chili powder, turmeric powder, hing and salt. Immediately pour the yogurt mix into the pan and keep stirring for a minute- two. Reduce the flame for the kadhi to simmer. After about 10 minutes the yogurt would turn slightly glossy.  Let it simmer for another minute after this stage. You can switch off after this stage and serve it with khichadi.

This khichdi and kadhi goes to Think Spice Think Turmeric Event hosted by Sudeshna. started by Sunitha.

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