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.