Sunday, July 26, 2015

Coriander leaves Rice - Kothamalli Sadham

Have you tried growing coriander leaves? If you have I am sure you'd know what I am talking about. The aroma and taste of fresh herbs is unmistakable. I was lucky to have some fresh grown coriander leaves. This recipe for coriander rice is what came to my mind immediately. Everything the leaves touch comes out with an amazing aroma. I am not fond of raw coriander leaves so I do not sprinkle them on top of everything. I like the leaves to be cooked.

Coriander rice can be made in a couple of ways. One way is to make the spiced coriander paste and mix it with cooked rice. The other way is to cook the rice in the spice paste. Though both methods are almost the same amount of time I personally prefer the second method.

Roast the dals and red chilies and take them to a blender. Next saute the onions, green chilies, coriander leaves and tamarind. Powder the dal first and then add the coriander onion mixture and blend to a paste.
In a pressure cooker add oil and the seasoning, saute the onions till it is brown.
Add the blended coriander paste saute for a couple of minutes. Add the soaked rice and mix it in.
Add the required amount of water, salt and cook the rice for 3 whistles till it is completely cooked.

Coriander Leaves Rice - Kothamalli Sadham
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 cups of Ponni Rice (use Basmati rice if you prefer but the cooking time will vary)
  2. 3 cups of packed coriander leaves
  3. For the spice Paste
  4. 1/2 tbsp Bengal Gram (kadalai paruppu)
  5. 1 tsp split urad dal (ulundham paruppu)
  6. 2 red chilies
  7. 4 green chilies chopped
  8. 1/4 cup of roughly chopped onions
  9. a small piece of tamarind
  10. For seasonings
  11. 1 tbsp finely chopped onions
  12. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  13. 1/2 tbsp chopped cashew nuts + 1/2 tsp of ghee (use oil for vegan)
  14. salt to taste

  15. 2-3 tsp of oil

  1. Wash and soak the rice for at least 20 minutes or so.
  2. In a saute pan heat about 1/2 tsp of oil and when hot add the Bengal gram and saute till it turns color, add the urad dal and let it saute till that also starts to turn light brown and then add the red chilies and saute for about 1/2 minute. Remove to a blender.
  3. Now to the same pan add a bit more oil and saute the onions till they are translucent, add in the green chiles saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the tamarind piece and the coriander leaves and saute till the leaves are wilted.
  5. Run the blender with the dal and chilies till they are powdered a bit. Now transfer the onion and coriander mixture and a tbsp of water and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  6. In a pressure cooker heat a tsp of oil. Add the seasonings, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds start to pop then add the curry leaves.
  7. Add the onions and saute till they start to turn brown, add the coriander paste and saute for a couple of minutes.
  8. Drain the water from the rice and add to the coriander paste and mix it well.
  9. Add the required amount of water (see Note:). Add salt and let it come to a boil. Close the lid and cook for 3 whistles. [This time is if you are a rice that requires more water and longer cooking time than Basmati rice. For Basmati rice after the lid is closed lower the heat to medium and cook for 7 minutes and turn off the heat]
  10. Roast the cashews in either ghee or oil and add on top of the rice before serving.
  11. Note: When adding water to cook rice for rice dishes, if the rice is pre-soaked reduce the required amount of water by 1/2 cup. This will ensure that the rice is cooked separate and not mushy.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tapioca - Yuca - Roast - Maravalli/Kuchi kilangu varuval

Tapioca, Cassava, Yuca - this is a tuber with many names. In Tamil it is called Kuchi Kilangu or Maravalli Kilangu. In our neck of the woods it was commonly referred to as Kuchi Kilangu. Whichever name you know it by they are delicious and easy to cook though the peeling of the skin and cutting might take longer than the actual cooking.

Tapioca chips or kuchi kilangu chips as they are called in Tamil was a favorite snack item when we were kids. The thick cut and crunchy chips with spicy seasoning but a sweetness of its own was a lot different than eating the ubiquitous potato chips and they were not as common as the potato chips. To confess I had not eaten boiled tapioca or cooked fresh tapioca before I came here to the US, unless I ate some without knowing what it was.

I used to be so fond of it that it was regular on my weekly grocery list. Then as with everything else it completely stopped. A couple of weeks ago I picked it up to roast it and now I am hooked again.

Tapioca Roast - Kuchi Kilangu Varuval
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 2 medium size tapioca, peeled and cubed 1" pieces - about 4 cups
  2. 1 tbsp sambhar powder or 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
  3. salt to taste
  4. seasonings: cumin seeds
  5. 1/2 tbsp oil

  1. Boil a pot of water and add the cubed tapioca and let it cook for about 6-8 minutes. Check often because you don't want this to be mushy. It should be fully cooked but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan add oil and when hot add the cumin seeds.
  3. Add in the drained tapioca pieces and stir fry for about 6-8 minutes. Toss at regular intervals and do not let it stick to the bottom.
  4. Add salt and the sambhar or chili powder and continue to saute for another 6-8 minutes till it gets crispy and the spice powder is well coated. You can saute it longer if you want to get it even more crispier.

Serve as a side for rice or as an appetizer.
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spicy Okra Masala

Okra is a favorite vegetable for a lot of people, cooked okra I mean. That does not necessarily mean a lot of people with it regularly. Like it's other name lady's finger, the tender pods are the tastiest. While nothing more than a simple stir fry is enough or paired with a tuber like potato or taro makes them even more tasty. I will be remiss if I don't mention my most favorite preparation of all the tamarind gravy or pulikulambu.

While the recipes mentioned above are the ones I fall back to whenever I cook with okra, the recipes with okra are by no means confined to that. Like most people I do not cook okra all that often because I am afraid of the slime. Unless the okra is fresh the slime tends to overtake and I need to change cooking vessels a couple of times before I am done. Last year I found a farmer's stand that sold fresh okra. This year I did the next best thing and decided to grow okra myself. What a difference fresh okra makes.

Don't get me wrong fresh okra has slime but it does not tend to stick to everything that comes in its way. I am reluctant to make North Indian or more precisely Punjabi style vegetables with onion and tomatoes that are a perfect side dish for chapatis or rotis mostly because the dish tends to become slimy. So when I got my hands on some super fresh okra this is the dish I wanted to give a try. I am so glad I did, the slightly tangy masala with the crisp but fully cooked okra with some super soft chapthi were a delight.

Wash and dry the okra and chop them into 1/4 inch pieces.
Add oil to a saute pan and saute the okra till it starts to turn color, set aside. Add more oil to the same pan, add seasonings and saute the onions till it starts to change color. Add the spice powders.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy. Add tamarind pulp and cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.
Add the sauteed okra and cook for another 5 minutes or so till the masala becomes thick.

I used sambhar powder in this recipe, so it cannot be called Punjabi by any stretch of the imagination. So with that in mind let's checkout the recipe,

Spicy Okra Masala
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. About 2 cups of chopped okra
  2. 1/2 onion diced fine
  3. 2 juicy tomatoes (preferably tart) chopped fine
  4. 1/2 cup of tamarind water from about a small grape size piece of tamarind
  5. 2 tsp of sambhar powder
  6. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  7. 2 tsp of red chili powder
  8. salt to taste
  9. seasonings: mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  10. 2 tsp of oil
  11. Wash the okra or lady's finger about a couple of hours or even the previous night and spread it on a kitchen towel to dry so the moisture is completely gone.

  1. Wash and pat dry the okra and let it air dry (see note:) and dice the okra into about 1/4 inch length.
  2. In a saute pan add a tsp of oil and saute the okra till they start to turn brown on the outside. Set aside.
  3. Wash the pan if it is dirty or else in the same pan add the rest of the oil and when hot add the seasonings.
  4. When the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till it starts to turn brown on the edges.
  5. Now add the powders, turmeric, chili and sambhar powder, give a good mix and add the tomatoes. Saute for a couple of minutes and add the tamarind pulp.
  6. Mix, add salt and cover and cook for 5-8 minutes till the mixture is mushy.
  7. Add the sauteed okra pieces and cook for 5 more minutes till the mixture thickens. Check and add more salt if required.

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