Archive for the ‘South Indian Thali’ 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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Recipe Marathon: Day 7: Ghar ka Khana (Simple home made meal)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

To all the Iron chefs out there reading this post, howdy!!

Are’nt we the iron chefs? We don’t have a fully equipped kitchen, or an Infra Red stove and grill, or a fast freezing nitrogen gadget, neither do we have a sous-chef who can do the cutting and prepping work for us, yet we manage to put up a glorious show every day. And the only thing that we most definitely have is the judging part of our home made meal :)

I believe that even if you are offered the chance to eat food prepared by the world famous chef’s, nothing can match the taste of simple dal and rice. You travel to 100 different places, yet at the end of the day don’t you crave for a simple aloo paratha, dosa, khichdi or rice?

But the real test is, can we make a idli taste like idli and not like a bullet :)..or a fluff up a roti that does not turn into a plastic sheet after few minutes..

I faced that test last year and I am talking from that experience, cooking a simple South Indian meal. And that was also due to IKE (no, don’t worry, I am not going to talk about the hurricane again). We had got our cozy nest and we had the house warming ceremony few weeks after IKE showed its force. The point is, we couldn’t find someone to gather the veggies needed, cook for the D-day and transport it for the house warming.

And our priest knew the situation and gave us a simplified list of food to cook. Nothing major- Just what you will find in a South Indian home every day. Sambar, Rice, Rasam, Dal,Poriyals, Kheer, Savory Pongal, Sweet Pongal, Vadais and Kozhukattais (modagams).

And there we were, N and I, standing near the stove in our cramped kitchen in the apartment, taking turns to cook these stuff for us and the guests for the Graha-Pravesam from 2 in the morning of the D-day. If you are wondering, no, none of our relatives were able to make it.

There was nothing special to cook, no biryanis, no baking involved, but what we think as simple food really took 5 hours to make. But seeing these dishes on the plates, all our guests oohed- and aahed and said that is what they were waiting to savor, a simple home cooked meal. And nothing can beat that compliment.

And that is what I am going to serve for the host Nupur, my fellow runners in this marathon , and our readers for the final day of the recipe marathon before we welcome the new year. Better said, we are welcoming the new year with a feast!

This feast is also for special bloggers who gave me constructive criticism when I started blogging and still keep checking on me from time to time (There, I could see that smile on the corner of the mouth), from awards to advice, thanks for your support. And because of this marathon, I got some blogging buddies and yummy recipes to try out.


The traditional thali (plate) featured above has:

Cabbage-Okra Stir fry
Lemon Tomato Rasam
Drumstick Sambar
Carrot Kheer
Mango Pickle
Jeera Applam

Here are the recipes:

Rice: Plain cooked rice, made in a pressure cooker.

Dal- tuvar dal cooked in a pressure cooker and mashed.

Ghee- Home made ghee from butter recipe is here.


Cabbage-Okra Stir fry- Caught my eye after Nupur tried it, I just followed the recipe, but added a bit of achar masala for the spice.


Lemon Rasam- Made it in my lead vessel (eiya sombu), recipe can be found here


Sambar- Recipe can be found here

Carrot Kheer:
Carrots -2- medium size
Sugar- to taste
milk- 1 cup, water- 1 cup, sweetened condensed milk- 1 tbsp
cardamom powder- 1 pinch
saffron – few strands
badam-cashew powder- 1 pinch


Grate the carrots. Mix together a cup of milk and a cup of water. Boil the grated carrots in this till mushy, and till the milk has reduced down. Add a tablespoon of condensed milk, sugar to taste and badam-cashew power,garnish with cardamom powder and saffron. Serve chilled or warm.

Hope that was a fulfilling meal. Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

I don’t make many resolutions ‘coz I know I have to try hard to keep up 😉

But seems like my resolution of a healthy 2010 is already in the bin and I have hit the sack before New year (Got a flu,been drowning Nyquil for the past few hours).

Couple of ideas if you are planning to be in Houston and not going to go partying :)

The Meenakshi temple at Pearland always has a New year program with food stalls from famous restaurants in Houston. That means everything from Pizza to Chole batura to Pav Bhaji will be available at these stalls. Sometimes, you can also pick up stuff like calendars, decorative materials etc., etc., There would also be cultural programs at the wedding hall.

BAPS- Swami Narayan Mandir had some special programs and fire works for Diwali. That fireworks show was much better and brighter than the one on July 4th!! But BAPS also has an amazing canteen (now you know why I have a food blog) and their chinese food -gobi manchoorian is one of The Best you can have.

Sugar Land is celebrating is 50th Anniversary and there is going to be a party at Sugar Land Town centre with the music and lights and it is separated into party for adults and kids at different timings in the evening.

Houston City centre is also having a band (Blues brothers tribute) and fire works!

Wherever you are, stay safe and enjoy! And do check out this space from time to time.

For folks who can read tamil and have been reading these posts on this marathon, my thank you’s in election style -” Periyorgale, Thaimargalae, Nandri, nandri”.. Meendum varuga..Vanthukitte irrunga :)

If you missed any of the posts during this marathon:

Day 1: December 25 : See the recipes here

Day 2: December 26: Check out what’s cooking here

Day 3: December 27: Still going strong, see the delicious recipes here

Day 4: It is all about Spice

Day 5: Veggies, Grains and more!

Day 6: Colors of Food

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