Monday, December 10, 2012

Red Chori Beans Curry in Coconut with Raw Green Jackfruit - Konkani Style (Bagdo Kadgi Koddel)

Koddel is a Konkani preparation commonly made in all Konkani homes. When Garlic is used for the seasoning, some also call it Bendi. I like to pair the beans with seasonal vegetables like Chinese Potato (Kooka), Raw Green Jackfruit (Kadgi) or Plantain Stem (Gabbo). Since Raw Green Jackfruit  (the canned variety) is easily available here, I use it often.

The beans used for this recipe is Red Chori Beans, known as Bagdo in Konkani. The beans are easily available in Indian stores all over US. I paired them with Phulkas and Salad.

~ Bagdo Kadgi Koddel ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Red Chori Beans/ Cow Beans/ Bagdo - 1 cup
Raw Green Jackfruit (semi-cooked, cleaned) - 14 oz. 

Koddel Masala -
Grated Coconut - 3/4 cup
Tamarind pulp - 1 tbsp
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety) - 3-5
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch

For Seasoning -
Garlic pods (peeled and crushed) - 3-5
Coconut Oil 

Clean, rinse and soak the beans overnight or for 8-10 hours. In a small frying pan, heat a few spoons of coconut oil and roast red chillies. Grind to a smooth paste along with grated coconut, turmeric powder and tamarind with little water. Pressure cook the beans with tad bit salt for couple of whistles. Allow to cool.
In a deep bottomed vessel, bring the masala to boil. Add water as per consistency required and add the Jackfruit pieces. Simmer on low flame for 5-8 minutes till completely cooked. In the same frying pan used before, heat a few spoons of coconut oil and saute crushed garlic pods. Once light brown, pour the seasoning over the cooked curry and cover with a lid. Mix before serving. Pair with steamed white rice or Phulkas/ Rotis.

Note: The seeds are very delicate and tender once pressure cooked. Do not stir a lot, else they turn mushy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

White Pigeon Peas in Coconut - Konkani Style (Dhavi Tori Ghashi)

Come winters, beans, lentils and legumes of different sorts gain the center stage in my kitchen. Sometimes, out of necessity and more often out of need. Its easier to fix up dinner with a bag of beans than run to do groceries in chilly weather where fighting windchill, getting a frostbite on your hands and ears are more scarier than managing with what you have in the kitchen. For one, I choose to go with latter. I am also glad that  I have the choices which folks belonging to my generation happily use and choose. For instance - frozen meals, canned food (BPA free variety if you are very picky), frozen package of individual or mixed vegetables, prepared foods if you are too sick to cook which make your life a bit easier. If everything else fails, there are plenty of restaurants/ pizzerias which will gladly deliver food at your doorstep.

White Pigeon Peas - Raw and Soaked
I used this particular type of bean found in Southern India. Its known as Pigeon Peas in English. In Konkani cuisine, the beans are known as Tori and there are two different varieties of this bean - white one (Dhavi Tori) and black one (Kali Tori). I had earlier posted a recipe on the black variety of this bean here. The bean is very tasty, has a tad bit nutty and creamy flavor and the skin has a tough texture, but packs quite a punch when used in curries and gravies.

Ghashi is a particular variety of Konkani curry which has the regular masala of coconut, red chillies and tamarind. The finish is provided with a seasoning of mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds. My Ma and Grandma avoided the use of Cumin seeds for the seasoning, I follow the same practise. I have used Yam (Suran) as a complementary vegetable in the curry.

~ Dhavi Tori Ghashi with Suran ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes

White Pigeon Peas / Tori (Dhavi Tori) - 1 cup
Yam (Suran) [Fresh or frozen] - 1 cup
Coconut Oil

Ghashi Masala -
Grated Coconut - 3/4 cup
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety) - 3-5
Turmeric powder - a pinch

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Clean and soak the beans overnight and pressure cook them for couple of whistles along with Yam if you are using the fresh variety. Save the stock for Saaru
Heat a spoon of oil in a small frying pan and roast the red chillies on low flame. Allow to cool. Grind to a smooth paste along with grated coconut and tamarind. Bring the beans to a boil, adjust salt and add the ground masala and Turmeric powder. If you are adding frozen Yam, add it at this stage. Once thoroughly cooked, turn off the flame. This process takes around 15-20 minutes.
In the same frying pan used before, heat a few spoons of coconut oil and season with mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, add curry leaves and red chillies. Pour this seasoning over the cooked curry, cover with a tight lid. Mix before serving with Rotis/ Steamed Basmati Rice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Curry Leaves Rasam (Karibeva Saaru)

Few days back, I happened to buy two packets of Curry Leaves from Indian grocery by mistake. Curry leaves are known as Karibeva Pallo in Konkani. The problem is the leaves dry very soon in the crisper of my fridge and the potency is lost in the bargain. Ma suggested a Rasam (Saaru) she has been making using these leaves and she uses this recipe when she has a huge bunch of these leaves. The recipe is very similar to Lemon Saaru recipe, but I tweaked it a bit. The taste is spicy and tangy, a bit unique for my palate.

Few of my friends get roughly powdered  curry leaf powder (home made) which sees them for a few weeks after they arrive to US. Some even oven roast, dry and crush the dry leaves to a powder and store for long term use.

Curry leaves bright and green
Curry Leaves have the following health benefits -
- They help is eye sight and hair growth.
- They aid in weight loss.
- Its also believed to be useful for memory growth and enhancing better cognitive abilities.

In India, everyone owns a Curry Leaf sapling or a shrub (if they are lucky) in their backyard. Its easier to distribute amongst your friends and family which is invariably how my mother ends up with a huge loot of these leaves. In US, no such luck. Whenever I buy those small plastic packets stuffed with the bright green leaves for $ 0.50 at Indian grocery, I feel a bit sad. Its like hapless splurge! In hindsight, I better not grumble as some of my closest friends have to drive for good 15 miles to reach Indian grocery and get their groceries for the week. A sense of self-imposed optimism always works well they say. I envision that some day when I own a backyard of my own, I will plant a Curry Leaf sapling first.

~ Curry Leaves Rasam ~
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Curry Leaves - 4-5 sprig
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies (make a tiny slit in the centre of each of the chilli) - 2
Tamarind pulp - 1/3 cup
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Ghee/ Oil

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red Chillies (split into two) - 1

In a small frying pan, heat a tsp of ghee/ oil, sear the green chillies gently. Be careful and make sure to make a slit else sometimes due to pressure built in, the chilli seeds fly everywhere. Once blisters are formed on the skin, keep them aside and allow to cool.
In the same pan, roast curry leaves and allow to cool. Grind the roasted green chillies, curry leaves, coconut (grated) to a smooth paste with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Bring this paste to a gentle boil, add little water, turmeric pulp and adjust consistency and salt as required and cook till the raw flavor of curry leaves goes off. The reduction allows flavors to concentrate.
In the same frying pan used before, heat a tsp of ghee/ oil. Once the ghee/ oil is hot enough, season with mustard seeds. Once they begin to splutter, add cumin seeds and curry leaves. Pour this seasoning on the cooked broth, cover with a lid. Serve hot with cooked white rice.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cucumber Idli - Kadamb (Taushe Idli)

Do not know if I have ever confessed but I love one salad vegetable a lot - Cucumbers. This all began when Ma would insist that we eat one salad item as kids (which we hated at that time). I began with Cucumbers and Baby Onions. Few times, I would use Small Baby Onions and slather them in lime juice and salt (the ones we get in South Canara). They are available in the local markets as Bundled Onions (Ghonche Piyav) and are usually sold as a cluster of 20-30 onions. We always had 2-3 of the bundles as reserve stock in my Ammama's (Grandma) pantry comprising of vegetables, lentils, pulses, spices and flours. All the grand kids would compete on who would jump higher to grab the onions from the bundle. She would tie them with Plantain threads (Vayu) and suspend them to an iron rod which was hung between the wooden beams. We had traditional wood ceiling in our grandparents home. She would stock up Chinese Cucumber (Magge) and Ash Gourd (Kuvale) in this fashion.

My Ma made Cucumber Cake in the traditional Aluminum oven with sand at the bottom during our summer vacations. The cake was baked on the gas stove on very low flame cooked for a long period of time. The cake was so big that we would never be able to finish all of it. Some of the portions went to our extended family and friends. She also occasionally makes Cucumber Dosa (Taushe Bhakri) which turns out very tasty. A special variety of Cucumber which are pale light green skinned are best for this variety of Dosa. This is usually available during monsoon season in India. Another item Ma frequently makes is Cucumber Idli. Its also known as Taushe Kadamb. I wanted to steam these Idlis at home on many occasions but the lack of essential ingredient - Turmeric leaves (Haldi Paan) held me back. This time, I had a good stock of them and used the fresh leaves for the Idli. My Ma uses dried Curry leaves stem (Shigir in Konkani) to stitch the Idli containers made from Jackfruit leaves also known as Khotto. I used our good old toothpick to stitch the leaves together. The aroma wafting in the kitchen when the Idlis are steaming is simply awesome. It takes me right back to my parents home. 

The Idli is supposed to be eaten with fresh home made butter (Loni) and is best enjoyed when eaten straight out of the steamer when its piping hot. The essence of Turmeric leaves seeps in the Idli thereby taking it a few notches higher in terms of flavor and uniqueness of this Idli. I have also tried to steam the Idlis in pressure cooker (without the whistle) and they turned out fine. Take your pick for choice of steamer. Either ways, the result should be the same. The preparation is a bit labor intensive but the taste compensates for all the hard work.

~ Taushe Idli - Kadamb ~
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 Idlis

Cucumber (Grated, seeds removed) - 1 and 1/4 cup
Idli Rava - 1 and 1/4 cup
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/4 cup

For Steaming -
Turmeric leaves - 4

For Garnish -
Home made Butter cubes

Contraption -
Idli moulds - 6

Lightly rinse the Turmeric leaves. Cut a tiny portion from the tip and the bottom of the leaf. Dab the leaves with a kitchen towel to absorb any excess moisture. Allow to dry on a mat.
Peel the cucumbers and remove the seeds. Grate it using the biggest holes on the box grater (I use a box grater which has many options for grating). Collect the cucumber water as well and do not discard it.
Once done, measure the amount of grated coconut. Add equal amount of Idli Rava. Add salt and keep it aside. The water from cucumber is absorbed by Idli Rava. Keep aside for 30 minutes. Heat water in an Idli steamer. Lightly grease the Idli moulds with Oil. Once the water in the Idli steamer is hot enough, mix the grated coconut to the previously mixed batter.
Place the leaves inside the Idli mould and pour the batter inside the mould lined with turmeric leaves. Bring the edges together and stitch it with a toothpick. Steam with the lid on for 15-20 minutes.
Check if done using a knife. Leave aside for couple of minutes and unmould by running the knife across the circumference of the mould. Serve hot with a cube of butter.

Step-by-Step Illustration -
1. Rinse the Turmeric leaves, dab the extra moisture with a towel and dry them out in a cool place.

2. Grease the Idli mould with oil, add the turmeric leaves one at time in each mould as shown.

3. Add the batter over the lined turmeric leaves and stitch the two ends of the leaf with a toothpick.
Steam for 15-20 minutes in an Idli steamer.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pumpkin Side Dish - Konkani Style | Pumpkin Sukke (Duddya Sukke)

Pumpkin is the flavor of the season. I see Pumpkins in all shapes and sizes appearing at the local grocery store. Lucky me, our local grocery store sells slices of Pumpkin. They are individually cling wrapped and packed which makes grub-for-two a snap.

Ma makes use of Pumpkin (Duddi in GSB Konkani) for Gajbaje, Duddya Sukke, Duddya Phodi. Recently, I was craving for the sweet and spicy flavor of Sukke. Sukke is a quintessential Konkani dish and typically has a semi-dry to dry texture. More often than not, its served as a side dish. The highlight of this dish is the finish, which is garlic seasoning aided with coconut oil. It certainly offers a different layer of flavor to the dish. Since its made with Coconut, I prefer to pair it with a lighter dish like Tomato Rasam (Saaru) etc. One could also pair it with Phulkas/ Rotis. If you like the marriage of sweet and spicy, then you are ought to love this simple dish.


~ Duddya Sukke ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yellow Pumpkin (skin peeled, diced into chunks) - 3 cups
Jaggery - 1/2 tsp
Coconut Oil

For Sukke Masala -
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Red Chillies - 3-4
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 3/4 cup

For Seasoning -
Garlic cloves - 5-6
Coconut Oil

Wash the Pumpkin and trim the tough skin from the surface. This can be a bit difficult considering that the skin is a tough one. Dice the Pumpkin into chunks of 1/2" each and set aside.
In a pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and roast Coriander seeds, Urad dal, Red chillies on low-to-medium flame. Allow to cool completely. Grind to a smooth paste with grated coconut and little water. Save the rinsed water as reserve to be added later.
In the same pan, heat the ground paste and add the Pumpkin pieces now. Mix gently so that the masala coats all the pieces evenly. Bring to a boil, add the reserved water, add salt, jaggery and cover with a lid. Let it simmer and cook till completely done and the nature of this dish is semi-dry to dry.
In a small frying pan, heat few teaspoons of Coconut oil. Crush the garlic cloves lightly and add to the hot oil. Allow the garlic to sear and brown lightly. Pour this seasoning all over cooked Pumpkin in masala. Mix gently and cover with a lid. Serve hot and pair with Tomato Rasam and cooked rice of choice or Phulkas.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bansi Rava Upma | Broken Wheat Upma (Bansi Rava Rulav)

Any self-confessed Konkani would wax eloquent on his love or hatred for the most common breakfast item - Rulav or Upma. There are different variations followed by most homes, but the conventional Rulav recipe remains the same. You can either love it hate it, but the dish is here to stay. I am a self-confessed Rulav lover. Rulav is a Konkani version of Upma and is usually made with Ghee aided seasoning and bits of Cashew Nuts. In my home, we rarely use onions and vegetables for Upma hence by default the Upma always ended up being a sweeter version.

A specific type of Rava is used for this dish which is the darling of many Konkani homes - Bansi Rava. The rava is essentially broken wheat and upon cooking renders itself to a soft, smooth and chewy sago like texture but very pleasing for the palate. The tiny broken grains proliferate in size once they come in contact with hot water and since the broken pieces cook very fast, its become a very popular go-to breakfast dish. The tiny wheat granules are made from broken wheat and is a healthy and low-calorie alternative to high-carbohydrate items. The rava can also be used to make Masala Upma, Peas Upma, etc. The dish is very portable and holds well for lunchbox as well.

I am extremely fond of this Rava and could not find a similar tasting brand in US, so the only option for me was to lug a small bag and enjoy hot Rulav in chilly winter mornings for breakfast.

~ Bansi Rava Rulav ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Bansi Rava - 1/2 cup

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Green Chillies (split lengthwise) - 2
Red Chilli (split into two) - 1 
Urad Dal (split) - 1/2 tsp
Chana Dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - small pinch
Cashew Nuts (chopped) - 2 tbsp

Hot water - 1:3 (for any standard measurement)
1 part of Rava with 3 parts of hot water

For Garnish -
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup

In a deep dish, lightly toast the chopped Cashew Nut  pieces in little ghee. Once lightly browned, transfer to a separate dish. In a separate vessel, bring hot water to boil, add desired amount of salt and sugar in it and stir well. 
Add a bit of Ghee in the same pan used before for toasting Cashew Nuts and season with Mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, add curry leaves and Green chillies along with one red chilli. Give a good shake and add the rava now. Toast it well on low heat till nutty aroma oozes from the rava and the color turns a shade darker. This process takes around 2-4 minutes.
Once the rava is toasty enough, add the hot water, give a gentle stir and cover with a lid. The rava cooks very fast in less than 7 minutes. Once water's evaporated, open the lid and garnish with grated coconut. Mix well and serve warm with Sev.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sprouted Mung Bean Curry with Cashew Nuts - Goan Style (Mung Gaathi with Biyo)

Sprouted Mung Gaathi with warm Phulkas


I am just back from India vacation and its taking a lot of effort on my part to get back to the daily routine. Ma pampered me a lot and now I have to force and drag my homesick self to the kitchen. Given a chance she will gladly cook for me day and night (I kid you not!) but this time I put my foot down and said NO. Many times we had home style lunches and dinners and we also went out often and met most of my family members and relatives. I am glad that Ma got some break due to the outings. Sometimes I get very annoyed seeing her in the kitchen all the time. I also realize that my parents have grown old and do not have the same energy levels as before. I was delighted to spend my time with my parents and together we had a gala time. We enjoyed out time together and chatted till our jaws ached. Now, back home its not an ideal situation but I am learning to move along though I'm feeling homesick yet again.

While in India, I got to know about Sandy and the mayhem she caused everywhere on East Coast of USA. I spent long hours watching CNN and the destruction left me teary eyed. My area has been badly affected as a result of Sandy. I see rebuilding and reconstruction effort everywhere and it makes me sad to see nature's fury which sometimes lies beyond the human realm of control. Things are getting better and slowly, bit by bit every effort is being made to ensure things are back to normal. For now, I don't have access to Indian groceries and I am managing with what I can procure from my local stores.

One of my favorite ingredients to cook with is sprouted Mung Beans. There is a different sort of deja vu when you soak the seeds, see them germinate and then the beautiful sprouts peeking out of the seeds - such a tiny experiential joy yet, so nurturing and nourishing. Ma often reminds me to eat them because of the cooling properties of Mung Beans especially the sprouted ones. 

Back home, Ma makes two varieties of sprouted Mung Beans - Muga Ghashi - Konkani style and Mung Gaathi - Goan style. Goan cuisine is close to my heart and part of my heritage as much as GSB Konkani food which is also a domineering part of my ethnic origin.

Mung Gaathi is often prepared on days when vegetarian diet is followed in Hindu homes which is on Monday and Thursday. My Maushi in Goa strictly follows the routine even to this day and by any chance if you reach home for lunch, you are sure to have a hearty thali served with one green vegetable, one bean/lentil/sprouts based dish, a small piece of stuffed Mango pickle (Bharlele Tor) and a shallow fried item. I had earlier posted a short-cut version here which I resort to when I don't have time. This recipe which I have posted today is a bit long drawn but made during festivals with cashew nuts. Typically, its paired with Puri/ Vade (made with Wheat flour and tad bit Rice flour). I have a small community of friends and family in Goa and everytime I visit them, they fondly remember my favorite dishes and make them for me without fail. Aren't they sweet? 

Today, years later when I tell my Aunts about my interpretation of their recipes, they gush and feel happy and nice. Gaathi as its called popularly in Goa has a thick, non-runny consistency and is often made with added Cashew Nuts/ Biyo or the tender version of these nuts available mostly during Yugadi/ Gudi Padva time in the market. They are also known as as Bibbo/ Bibbe/ Biyo

~ Mung Gaathi with Biyo ~
Prep Time - 8-12 hours of soak time
Cook Time - 30 minutes

Mung Beans/ Green Grams (sprouted) - 3-4 cups
Jaggery - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 2 pinches

For Gaathi Masala -
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Black Pepper corns (whole) - 4-6
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Red Chilli (Byadgi variety) - 1

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 4-5
Coconut Oil

Sprouting the beans - Soak the Mung Beans  in water overnight. Rinse the beans on day 2 and cover with a wet cheese cloth. On Day 3, tiny sprouts will spurt from the beans.

Par-cook the beans in hot water with turmeric powder, jaggery and salt. In a small frying pan, heat coconut oil and sear the green chillies. Make sure you slit the chillies else the seeds burst owing to high pressure built inside. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool. In the same pan, roast coriander seeds, red chilli and whole black pepper corns. No need to add extra oil. Roast for 2 minutes and allow to cool. Grind all of the above to a smooth and thick paste. Add this paste to the cooked sprouts and bring to boil. Simmer with lid on 5-10 minutes.

For seasoning, in a small frying pan, heat oil and season with mustard seeds once hot. Once they splutter, add curry leaves and turn off flame. Pour this seasoning on the curry and mix well. Serve hot with Puris/ Phulkas/ Vade.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cream of Broccoli Soup (Without Cream)

With the onset of Fall, I gravitate to the hearty and comforting soup-bread routine. That pretty much sums up the dinner at times. I searched for various cream of vegetable soup recipes online and most of them used roux - the classic base for any white sauce and cream which I prefer to skip. I replaced the roux with potatoes (you will still get close-to-creamy texture) and added milk instead of cream. This may not be a classic cream of broccoli recipe but serves the needs (calories) and nutritional requirements of my family. 

The body of the soup is more often than not, very thin and finely blended. To build it up, I created a good base with Celery and Onions. For a touch of green, I added few sprigs of Arugula popularly known as Rocket. All this brought together with a pat of butter (its about 25 calories) and milk. We enjoyed the soup with Garlic Crostini made out of soft Baguette.

In Summer this year, I watched a documentary narrated by Anthony Bourdain, incidentally one of my favorite food writer and travel narrator, suggesting the method followed by Chefs in French cuisine  for Cream of Veg. soups of any kind. The restaurant style pureed soups are apparently strained through a sieve multiple times for a silky, smooth texture. I didn't bother to do that, besides it leaves your soup with coarse home made flavor.

~ Cream of Broccoli Soup ~
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Broccoli (cut into tiny florets) - 4 cups
Warm Milk (reduced fat) - 1 cup
Celery (finely chopped) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Red Onions (finely chopped) - 3/4 cup
Potato (medium sized, diced) - 1
Arugula (coarsely chopped) - 1 cup
Whole Black Pepper (coarsely crushed) - 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil
Butter (unsalted) - small pat
Hot Vegetable stock - 2 cups

For Garnish -
Red Chilli flakes - a pinch
Bread croutons - 4-5 per serving

Contraption needed -
Immersion Blender/ Heavy duty Blender 

Cut two large heads of Broccoli into tiny florets. Remove the tough fiber from the stem and chop the tender core and add to the florets. In a separate utensil, bring to boil the reserved vegetable stock. 
In a deep bottomed non-stick vessel, heat a pat of butter and splash of olive oil together. This prevents butter from burning. Saute red onions and celery. Let it wilt and cook to reduce in size. This process takes around 10 minutes. 
Add the Arugula, Potatoes and Broccoli now, season with salt and pepper. Add the hot vegetable stock and bring to boil. Warm up 1 cup of milk and add to boiling broth. Simmer and bring the veg. broth to boil, cover with lid on and let it cook till vegetables have fall-apart texture. This takes roughly 15 minutes. Turn off flame and allow to cool. Once semi-cool, blend it to a coarse puree. Serve warm or bring to boil before serving. Add more/less milk as per texture desired. I prefer to have thick consistency. Add a ladle of soup in a soup croc and garnish with red chilli flakes and croutons. Serve hot with hunks of toasted Peasant Bread/ Baguette. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Weekday Tomato Sandwich

Few weeks back, I committed myself to a resolve to write down few of Ma's signature recipes lest I forget them. For me, Ma's signature recipes evoke lot of happy emotions and pleasant thoughts. A few weeks back, I had blogged about My Ma's Mixed Vegetable Kurma which is very dear to me.

The second on the list is Weekday Tomato Sandwich. I cannot decide whether I like this Sandwich more or I am simply smitten by the tangy bites of tomatoes slathered with Chaat Masala, bits of onions and coriander leaves with an occasional spicy surprise of green chilli bits thrown in. This Sandwich was typically made on a weekday at my home. The ingredients are simple and can be put together in a snap. They need to be eaten hot, straight from the pan and turn soggy very fast hence are not ideal for lunchbox meals. I adore the taste of this yummy, crunchy Sandwich with a hot cup of filter coffee.

If you are serving the Sandwiches for kids, substitute green chillies with red chilli powder or simply omit it. For best results, use a Cast Iron pan for golden crust formation.

~ Weekday Tomato Sandwich ~
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 Sandwiches

White Bread Slices - 4

For Filling -

Tomato (ripe, chopped into tiny bits) - 1 large
Onion (chopped into fine bits) - 1/3 cup
Cucumber (peeled, deseeded, chopped into bits) - 1/4 cup
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
Green Chillies (finely chopped) [optional] - 1 tsp
Chaat Masala - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - For frying

Contraption - Cast Iron pan

Chop all the vegetables into fine bits. Add salt and Chaat Masala few minutes before preparing the sandwiches. Mix well and spoon 2 tablespoon of the filling between bread slices.

Heat a Cast Iron pan. Drizzle ghee on the sides if needed. Roast the Sandwich on both sides. Use a flat steel spatula to flip them. Cut them into 2  triangle shaped servings with a bread knife and serve hot with filter coffee.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tamarind Rice ( Puliyogare/ Pulihara/ Puliyodhare)

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi All!

Since the Ganesh Chaturthi and Gowri Pooja came around mid-week, it was a bit crazy and hectic. The mid-week storm, gusty winds and rainy day played truant but did not dampen my spirit. I was happy to find Plantain leaves (Keli Paan), Betel Leaves (Padi Paan) at Indian stores. I found a good bunch of sweet smelling Pink Carnations and Daisies in alluring shades of burgundy, yellow and purple. The fresh flowers adorning nooks and crannies of the pooja corner, scent of floral Agarbattis certainly added a sparkle to the festive atmosphere.

Now, I am not big on sweets neither is the husband. So, I decided to make a simple dish for the festival. It also was a good opportunity to replenish my Puliyogare Gojju stock which was almost over. In India, I never made Puliyogare from scratch and relied on the small North Karnataka store in Rajajinagar near a friend's house which supplies the best Gojju in Bangalore in my opinion. I never knew that the Gojju is available as a ready mix, until my friends Mom introduced me to the store. In US, the small packet of store bought MTR Puliyogare mix seemed a bit bland and more sweet and I enjoy my food when its spicy. Surprisingly, it didn't pique my interest and that's when I decided to make my own Puliyogare Gojju mix. For the longest time, I used Coconut powder (unsweetened) but now have begun using scraped pieces of Copra which are easily available at Indian stores.

I make a small batch of this mix and it comes handy for 5-6 meals. My Ma uses Black Sesame seeds and I use White seeds since I had them handy. The black seeds enable the dark brown color for Gojju. On weekdays when I don't have the energy to cook, I turn to this Gojju for serving a nourishing meal. The good thing is both of us are big fans of Puliyogare, so more reasons to enjoy this dish. Its an extremely portable dish and is our favorite for lunch box.

~ Puliyogare ~
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


Puliyogare Masala Powder -
Copra (grated) or Coconut powder (unsweetened) - 4 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
White/ Black Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Black Pepper corns - 2 tsp
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Chana Dal - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - Just a pinch
Red Chillies (split into two) [Byadgi variety] - 8
*** Dry roast all of the above one by one and then allow to cool.
Grind to a fine powder ***

For Seasoning -
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Chana Dal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprig
Red Chillies (split into two) [Byadgi variety] - 2-3
Coconut oil - 1/2 cup
Peanuts - 1/2 cup

Puliyogare Gojju -
Tamarind pulp (very thick) - 1 cup
Jaggery (scraped into bits) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Puliyogare Masala powder
Seasoning Ingredients


To Make Puliyogare Gojju -
Microwave Peanuts for 3 minutes till they get toasty. Allow to cool till they attain a  crunchy texture. 
In a bowl, add warm water and soak the tamarind for 10 minutes. Extract the thick pulp and remove any fibre, residue from the pulp.
Heat oil and season with mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the Chana Dal, Urad Dal, Red Chillies and Curry leaves. Add the Peanuts now and saute. Be careful and step back as they splutter rapidly once added in hot oil.
Add the Tamarind pulp now, add jaggery bits. The consistency will be thick like a sauce, bring to a boil. Adjust salt, add turmeric and red chilli powder. Once its par-cooked, add the powder mix. The powder absorbs the mixture quickly and the whole mass will come together like a thick chutney. Once oil oozes out, turn off flame. Store in an air-tight non-reactive jar for future use. It has a shelf life of 1 to 1 and 1/2 month.

To Make Puliyogare -
Cook Rice of choice. Heat a pan with little coconut oil, add the rice and mix well. Add the Gojju and mix well (2 tbsp of Gojju mix for 1 cup of cooked rice with 2 tbsp of coconut oil). Add salt only if required. A perfect tasting  Puliyogare is tangy, salty and sweet. Serve warm as a meal on its own.

Note - The Tamarind affects the quality of Gojju made. I use dark variety of Tamarind (the round blob variety) which I get from India. If the Tamarind has impurities, get rid of them before use, else the impurities will seep in, spoiling the Gojju mix. Use Copra if available instead of Coconut powder.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Prawn Rice with Coconut Milk | Goan Kolambi Bhaat

Recently, at our local grocery, I found small Prawns in the seafood section. Its a rare discovery considering that the usually sell the slightly bigger, plump ones which I don't fancy. I made Goan version of Prawn Rice with Coconut Milk. The taste was awesome and I relished it to the core. In US, Prawns are popularly referred to as Shrimps and they sell different varieties - the shelled ones, cooked ones, semi-seasoned ones, de-veined and peeled ones.

I grew up in a community of a seafood lovers and was probably the only vegetarian amongst my friends for the longest time. Shrimps are expensive in India (atleast while I was growing up) and for every birthday party there was Shrimp Rice with Peas. Since I was the only vegetarian I had limited choices but I often wondered why my friends were crazy after Shrimp Rice. They would perpetually haggle and argue over who got more shrimps on their plate. I now know why they did that.  :-)

In GSB Konkani, Shrimps are known as Sungat and Kolambi in Marathi. Few of my favorite Shrimp recipes are Sungta Phanna Upkari (a spicy broth of shrimps cooked in onions and red chillies, Prawn Balchao (a spicy Goan pickle made with Shrimps in a vinegar based sauce), Prawn Koliwada (deep fried spicy Prawns cooked Koliwada style), Shrimp Dangar (a Goan shallow fried cutlet made with Shrimps) and Kolambi Bhaat (Prawn Rice cooked in coconut milk).

One can substitute coconut milk with water, but the taste is a distant departure from the original one. This recipe is from my Maushi from Mapusa, Goa. The days you find a bunch of big Prawns from the fish market, fret not. Just chop them up once cooked. In addition, she adds Tomatoes and Peas which I avoided. A dash of Goan Garam Masala gives the red color. If you omit it, you will get a pale jade like green shade for the rice.

~ Kolambi Bhaat ~
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Shrimp (peeled, deveined and cleaned) - 15-20
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Lime juice - 1/2 tsp
Sea Salt/ Rock Salt
*** Marinate the cleaned Shrimp in all of the above and set
aside for an hour *** 
Rice (Long grain Basmati) - 1 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Coconut Milk - 1 and 1/2 cup
Red Onion (finely chopped) - 1 cup
Peas (cooked) [optional] - 1/2 cup
Tomato (finely chopped) [optional] - 1/2 cup

Cinnamon - 1" stick
Cloves - 3
Star Anise - 1

Goan Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green Chillies paste - 1 tsp

Coconut oil 
Wash and rinse the Basmati rice. Soak in filtered water for 1/2 hour. Peel, devein and clean the Shrimps with sea salt to get rid of the smell. Pat dry and transfer to a zip lock bag. Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and lime juice. Refrigerate for an hour.

In a non-stick pan, heat few spoons of coconut oil. Season with whole spices of Cinnamon, Cloves and Star Anise. Add very finely chopped onions and saute them till they turn reddish pink and wilt down. Add grated coconut now and roast it well. This process takes around 10 minutes. The flame should be on low-to-medium.

Add the ginger paste, green chilli paste and garlic paste now and saute till the raw flavor goes off. Add a hint of Turmeric powder for a golden glow. Add Goan Garam Masala powder and mix well. Add Peas and Tomatoes now and saute well. Fry this paste till the oil oozes off and it becomes semi-dry. Add the marinated shrimps now and toss to have an even coating of masala on the shrimp. Add Rice and toast it well, till you get a nutty aroma. Add 1/2 cup of water to coconut milk and mix well. Add this to rice and masala, mix well. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, till completely done. Fluff it gently with a fork and leave undisturbed with lid on for 5-8 minutes. Serve warm with Raita.

Note - Sprinkle sea salt on shrimps, mix well and rinse them thoroughly with water. This helps to get rid of the sea smell and you can proceed with cooking thereafter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black Beans Goan Style Curry (Black Beans Tonak)

The peculiar tasting daily curry made in many Goan Hindu homes - Tonak is a personal favorite. I usually make Tonak with Goan Garam Masala. The masala is very potent and flavors curries and gravies perfectly. This curry is popular in Goan homes for breakfast, lunch or dinner and goes well with Goan Pao, pillow-soft freshly baked and sold by the local Poder at the crack of dawn, hence the dear dish every Goan adores to bits - Pao Tonak.
Cooked Black Beans

Different vegetables used for Tonak are Adsaney, Mushroom (monsoon special umbrella variety) and Yellow Peas. For some reasons unknown, the quality of Yellow Peas I get at my Indian grocery is very bad and part of the reason why I never make this dish often. Recently, I got my hands on Black Beans and I was sold to the idea of making Tonak with these shiny, black jewels.

The Black beans are a staple and regular part of many Mexican dishes like Mexican Black Bean Rice, Burritos stuffed with bean rice and Tortillas stuffing. I am smitten by the creamy flavor of the beans. Pair them with some fresh homemade Phulkas and your senses are sure to be vowed.

~ Black Beans Tonak ~
Prep Time: 8-10 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings

Black Beans (soaked overnight, pressure cooked) - 2 cups

Red Onion (finely chopped) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp

Goan Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Coconut Oil

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 2 tbsp

Soak the Black Beans overnight. The next day pressure cook them for couple of whistles with little salt. Drain and keep aside. 
In a Kadhai, heat few spoons of oil and saute chopped onions. Get them to a reddish pink color. Add grated coconut and roast this mixture together on a low-to-medium flame. Once the onions have wilted and are cooked down and the coconut gets a toasty texture, turn off flame and allow to cool completely. Save 1/4 cup of the onion-coconut mixture and keep it aside. Grind this to a paste with Turmeric powder and little water. Save the rinsed water to be added later to the curry.
In the same Kadhai, heat a tsp of coconut oil and lightly warm the 1/4 cup of onion-coconut mixture. Add the ground paste now and add enough rinsed water to make a broth. Add Goan Garam Masala, little Salt and cooked Black Beans and bring to a boil. Simmer on low flame for 5-8 minutes. Turn off flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with Pao/ Phulkas.

Note - Use any Garam Masala of your choice if you don't have Goan Garam Masala. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guacamole - A Mexican Avocado Dip

Guacamole with crunchy Pita chips

Guacamole is a dip sauce made out of Avocado, a fruit native to central Mexico. It is one of my favorite go-to Mexican recipes. Mole is sauce in Mexican and hence Guacamole. Avocados get a bad reputation owing to the high-calorie content of the fruit pulp. The origin of Guacamole can be traced back to the times when Aztecs lived in Mexico, making it a food of choice owing to the 'good fats' found in bulk in this fruit. The healthy unsaturated fat in Avocado is a great energy booster and is a healthy substitute for spreads on toasted bread, warm tortillas, rotis and dips instead of  good old butter. Traditionally, the entire dip is mushed and mixed in a Molcajete, a traditional Mexican tool carved out of a single basalt lava rock. Avocados grow in plenty in California and are part of many dishes hailing from that region.

Halved Avocados with the pit

After coming to US, I found there are dozen different varieties of Avocados. The one I've used here is called Hass Avocados and grows in abundance in California. The pulp of this Avocado optimally suits the mole requirement. Its got a blackish green skin and has a firm to soft texture depending on the ripeness. It is the tiny baby among the different varieties of Avocado family. The Guacamole serves apt for dips aimed for quick entertaining. The flip side of using them is they oxidize very fast and have to be quickly mixed in before serving. A splash of lime juice prevents them from quick oxidation. I like to enjoy them with crunchy Pita Chips or multi-colored Corn Chips.

~ Guacamole ~
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Processing Time: 5 minutes


Avocado pulp (scored and pulp scooped) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Red Onion (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
Red Tomatoes (cored and finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
Green Chillies (thinly sliced) - 1
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
Lime juice - 4 tbsp
Toasted Cumin powder - 1/3 tsp


In a pestle and mortar, crush the red onion, tomatoes, green chillies lightly along with salt and 1 tbsp of lime juice. Set aside. 
Just before serving, halve the Avocado. Score it with knife to form horizontal and then vertical incisions to form a criss-cross web. Take a large tablespoon and scoop out the pulp of the fruit. Add to the previously mixed ingredients. Add a dash of toasted cumin powder and the reserved lime juice and give a good mix with the back of a pestle. This will even out the chunks to form a gloppy paste. Leave a few chunks in the mix to add texture. Adjust salt and spice as per taste. Serve with crunchy Pita Chips.

Note: Add lime juice to the Avocados once you add them to the mixing bowl to prevent the pieces from getting oxidised.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jackfruit Chips (Ghare Karo)

Jackfruit Chips are one of my childhood favorite snack items. These chips are made from a special variety of unripe Jackfruit kernels which yield good, tasty chips. The kernel of Jackfruit from which the chips are made are known as Gharo (in Konkani), Karo implies chips hence Ghare Karo

Growing up, my grandparents' sprawling backyard had few of my favorite trees easily touching 50 metres in height. We had a massive Jackfruit Tree which was used for Ghare Karo, a large Mango tree which bore tangy-sweet Kairi, a sweet smelling Champa tree (Champe) which blossomed with divine smelling Champa flowers of light orange shade, followed by a medium high Guava tree which yielded  pink, ripe Guava (Peru or Pear) during summer season. Needless to say, our favorite summer activity was to raid the trees. My Grandfather (Ajja) was the only one who supervised the tree and chose the Jackfruits to be used for these chips. He loved the tree and guarded it like a pot of gold. The tree was in demand just for the chips and a source of joy for all of us. With the onset of summer, all cousins and relatives would call us to book for a Jackfruit from the tree. Later my Grandparents moved from that home and the tree was chopped off, only to retain the trunk. Everytime I visit India, I make a point to visit the old home. Large buildings have mushroomed, but the tree stands tall with the trunk sans the foliage, a silent testimonial to an era gone by.

The chips were made by all the family members as a joint activity. Three, strong red and crimson Laterite bricks held a wide mouthed Iron Kadhai which was used once a year, specially lugged and hauled from the family attic, cleaned and sun-dried. The entire cooking was done in the backyard. The flames went high and the heat left us teary eyed all the time. All the kids had paper cones ready to enjoy the fresh batch of these fried chips. We squealed with joy when the salt water was added to the oil, the sound only indicating that we would be enjoying the chips soon.

The biggest chore in making these chips is separating the kernel from the bark of Jackfruit which is a super labor intensive activity. The entire family participated in the activity by oiling their hands and pulling out the kernels, de-seeding them and then slicing them for the chips. Once done, the chips have to be stored in an airtight container. The chips remain fresh and crisp for 2 weeks if stored well.

~ Ghare Karo ~
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes for each batch

Jackfruit Kernel (Gharo) (sliced into thin strips) - 4 cups

Salt Water Concentrate -
Water - 1 cup
Salt - as per taste
Turmeric powder - 1/3 tsp
*** Mix everything to form a solution ***

1. Slice the kernels into thin strips and keep aside. If they are wet, air-dry them by spreading them on a paper towel.
2. Mix all the ingredients of salt water concentrate to form a salty yellow solution. If the salt is less, the chips will not catch the salty taste. Adjust salt as per taste.
3. Heat oil in a big Kadhai and let the oil be smoking hot. Pour a handful of sliced pieces of Jackfruit and stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to each other. Once they are done (they will get a reddish-orange color and will become crispy), add 2-3 tbsp. of the salt water concentrate. Give a good stir and pull them off heat and transfer to a paper towel to absorb excess oil. 
4. Store in airtight container and enjoy.

Note: The chips are made from unripe Jackfruit kernels. Not all unripe Jackfruit kernels are suited for making these chips.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Ma's Mixed Vegetable Kurma

My Ma's Mixed Vegetable Kurma is a recipe which is very dear to my heart for many reasons. This is one of my Ma's signature recipes.

When I was a teenager, Ma got a chance to participate in a community kitchen event for charity. She signed up for it and gave a commitment almost 3 months before the event was slated to be held. Just a months before the said event, she fractured her right leg owing to which she was bed ridden for few weeks. With the event around the corner, all of us advised her to back out because there was no way she could have pulled it off. She chose this recipe of Mixed Vegetable Kurma. Finally, the decision was taken by her and she agreed to do it although her health was in shambles. I was the Sous Chef and together we cooked for a large gathering of 450 people. I distinctly remember the day when we sat in our tiny kitchen chopping the vegetables one by one and offering her a helping hand. For the first time, I saw 2-3 industrial size cooking utensils used in my home. There were no fancy gadgets nor Italian modular kitchen with marble floor to boot, just a small 3 burner gas stove, a 10X8 kitchen and nerves of steel to see the event through finish. Finally, she taste tested and approved and it was delivered to the venue for the event. Everyone liked her dish and we were relieved to know it was over.

I learn a few additional things from that event - Honor a promise made even if its hard. Keeping a promise for a cause strengthens your character and broadens your viewpoint in life at large. Few days back, I was browsing through my blog to check if I missed any one of Ma's signature recipes, I found this one missing. I asked her for the exact recipe and she went on - little bit of this and sprinkle that and a pinch of this. She rarely measures the ingredients for her daily cooking and the taste is perfect.  Finally, she measured everything and gave me the recipe. Thank you Ma. You are precious. 

I used Carrots, Green Beans, Lima Beans, Peas and Cauliflower. I forgot to add Potatoes as I was in a hurry to wrap up the dinner. Do add a couple for diversity of flavors and textures. If you are pressed for time, add a pack or two of frozen vegetables.

~ My Ma's Mixed Vegetable Kurma ~
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Cauliflower (cut into small florets) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Potatoes (peeled, cubed and rinsed of starch) - 1 cup
Fresh Green Peas - 1 cup
Carrots (peeled, chopped into small chunks) - 1 cup
Lima Beans- 1 cup
Onions (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
Coconut oil 
Turmeric powder - 1/3 tsp

Kurma Masala -
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Onion (chopped finely) - 3/4 cup
Ginger knob - 1"
Garlic pods - 2 
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Tomato (pureed, best if whole canned are available) - 1
Clove - 4
Cinnamon stick - 1"
Peppercorns (whole) - 5-8
** Grind everything to a paste, except pureed Tomatoes **

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 3 tbsp

1. Chop all the vegetables into uniform pieces and cook with hot water and little salt. Drain and keep aside.
2. In a mixer, blend the grated coconut and green chillies. Add the rest of the ingredients including the whole spices and blend to form a thick paste. Do not add a lot of water. Rinse the blender and save the rinsed water as well.
3. In a deep bottomed pan, heat a few spoons of coconut oil. Add the onions (1/2 cup) and brown them. Once done, add the ground masala and saute on a medium flame. Once the masala is half way cooked, add the pureed tomatoes and cook till the raw aroma goes away. This process takes 15-20 minutes. If the masala dries out, add little rinsed water to awaken it. Stir occasionally to bring it all together.
4. Add the par-cooked vegetables now and add little of the rinsed water from the ground masala. Add the turmeric powder and salt. Adjust taste and bring to a boil. The Kurma gravy is thick and not runny in consistency. Simmer on low flame, covered for 5-8 minutes. Turn off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with Phulkas/ Rotis.

Note: I used whole canned tomatoes, its easier to puree them as compared to regular store bought Tomatoes. Ma's Kurma recipe uses all ingredients raw, so no need to pre-roast the ingredients.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Brinjal-Drumstick Sambhar (Gulla Maskasange Kolmbo)

Brinjals/ Eggplant are in season these days. Ironically, whenever I found a nice plump Eggplant, the freshly plucked Drumsticks were out of sight and vice-versa and that prevented me from making this Sambhar for the longest time. Finally, the day dawned and I found them both at the local Indian store and I was darn happy. This is a variety of Sambhar I grew up eating. Incidentally, this is my Dad's favorite dish and he enjoys this Sambhar served with cooked white rice along with Papad and Vodi.

In India, my parents use a special variety of Brinjal known as Gulla which is available only for a short time during particular months of the year in Udupi/ Mangalore region and surrounding areas. Since I can't find them here, I use the purple skinned Brinjal also known as Japanese Eggplant. Gulla is Eggplant, Maskansang is Drumstick hence Gulla Maskasange Kolmbo.

Another interesting thing about this dish is the vegetables cook quickly, all you need is boiled Toor Dal to put everything together. This in turn helps me save a lot of time and on a busy day it matters quite a lot. 

~ Gulla Maskasange Kolmbo ~

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Eggplant (diced into big chunky cubes of 2") - 5 cups
Boiled split Pigeon Peas/ Toor Dal - 2 and 1/2 -3 cups
Sambhar Powder/ Kolmbo Pitti - 2 tbsp
Drumstick (peeled and cut into 3" sticks) - 2 cups
Asafoetida - 1/5 tsp
Tamarind pulp - 1/2 tsp

For Seasoning - 
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Ghee/ Oil

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 3-4 tbsp

Rinse the vegetables, trim off the tip and stem of eggplant. Dice them into large chunks of 2" pieces. Peel the Drumstick with a peeler to get rid of the thick green fiber and cut them into sticks which are 3" long. Cook the vegetables with lightly watered down boiled Toor Dal. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame, covered with lid on till par-cooked.  This takes around 5-8 minutes.
Once par-cooked, add salt, add Sambhar powder, and tamarind pulp in little warm water. Mix well to get a smooth paste, add this paste to the boiled vegetable-daal broth - adjust salt, spice level, add asafoetida and adjust consistency as desired. Simmer for few minutes till completely cooked. Turn off flame and set aside.
In a small frying pan, heat few spoons of oil, season with mustard seeds and once they splutter  add curry leaves. Pour this seasoning over the freshly made Sambhar and garnish with chopped Coriander leaves. Mix few minutes before serving, goes well with cooked Basmati Rice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Malabar Spinach Side Dish - Konkani style (Vaali Upkari)

Currently, the month of Shravan is going on. It also means lot of fresh vegetables and greens available in the market. 

For vegetarians it does not make a difference but strict non-vegetarians pine for the month to end to begin meat eating once again. I recently made Malabar Spinach side dish which is very tasty and simple to make. I make use of both leaves (Paan) and tender stem (Tarne Dentu) for this dish. This vegetable side dish is commonly made in many Konkani homes and finally garnished with grated coconut. A dash of red chilli powder is added to camouflage the bland taste of vegetable. The taste of this vegetable dish is an acquired one and it takes time to get acquainted to like it or for that matter hate it. I also enjoy Malabar Spinach Ambat with Papaya (Vaali Papayi Ambat).

~ Vaali Upkari ~
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Malabar Spinach | Vaali - 4-5 cups
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 tsp
For Seasoning -
Garlic pods (crushed) - 2 
Red Chillies (split into two) - 2 
Coconut oil 

For Garnish -
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/4 tbsp

Wash and rinse the spinach leaves and separate the tender stem from non-tender ones. Use the tender ones for this side dish. In a deep bottomed vessel, heat few spoons of coconut oil, once the oil is hot enough, season with crushed garlic and red chillies. Add the spinach leaves and tender stem now and adjust salt and add a dash of red chilli powder. Sprinkle a little water and bring to boil. The leaves wilt to 1/4 of the size once they cook. Simmer with lid on low flame till completely cooked. Garnish with grated coconut just before serving and serve warm as a side dish.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Passion Fruit Juice

My Ma has a green thumb and she adores her plants, her tiny garden and loves the baby saplings. A tiny sapling growing into a a fruit bearing tree certainly adds to the motivation. When we were kids, she potted few seeds of Passion Fruit which were gifted by a dear friend. The fruit grew into a wild climber and crawled over half of our house and atop the terrace. There was a certain method to the madness as our house now had a canopy of green foliage. For couple of years, we enjoyed a pleasing harvest of Passion Fruit during summer days. 

Passion Fruit Pulp

Finally, the climber took official possession of our property so much that the house was completely covered with the tendrils, woody twigs and wild vines. The beauty of the vine were the fruits which bore a light green color (there are many different varieties of Passion Fruit) and the flowers looked very pretty, purple like a dainty dame. The vine caused damage to the property and much to our dismay, a professional tree feller was called to trim the vines. I assume that the poor plant was dejected and sadly thereafter the climber stopped growing beyond a expected height. That was the tragic end of Passion Fruit saga in our home. Ma felt sad as we could not salvage the climber and restore her to grow and flourish. Finally, we moved from the home and the new owner weeded her out which breaks my heart as I write this. I choose to address the climber as 'her' as Ma personified the climber as a woman who bore children and needed constant help and care.
Purple Passion Fruit

For the first time we got these fruits as a gift, we did not know what to do with it. Happens in your home? I am sure. Finally, after some expert intervention, my Ma figured a way out to deal with the pulp. Hence, I decided to post the recipe for everybody's benefit. I found Purple Passion Fruit at Whole Foods. The store associate told me that they are very seasonal and are available for a brief period of time is US during late summer. The taste of this fruit is very mild, natural, a bit tangy and tastes better when freshly extracted. It comes very close to Rasna Mango, a summer beverage I loved as a kid. 

~ Passion Fruit Juice ~
Processing Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 oz of concentrate

Passion Fruit: 6
Sugar - 2 tsp/ Fruit
Ice Chips

Contraption Needed: Large Sieve

Rinse the fruits and halve them. You will spot a yellow pulp which is seeded. Extract the pulp in a large metal sieve. Add sugar to the pulp and stir well with a strong ladle. This is a painstaking process and could take long. At regular intervals, add little water to support the stirring process. Extract the concentrate in a bowl. Store the concentrate in a non-reactive jar and use within 3 days. For making the juice, use 1 part of concentrate for 3 parts of water. No need to add extra sugar. Serve with ice chips.