Monday, November 30, 2009

Capsicum Paruppusili

Go to any traditional celebration like a wedding or an upanayanam in Chennai - you are bound to be greeted by the famous paruppusili, staring at you from the vaazha yelai (banana leaf). Paruppusili is basically a dry curry which is an amazing combination of lentils and vegetable tossed together with minimum tempering. A prominent hing signature adds a brilliant aroma to this dish. This paruppusili is mostly had with Mor Kuzhambu (the tamilian kadhi) or venthiya kuzhambu (a non-dal tamarind based gravy).

The procedure to make paruppusili is slightly longer than most south indian dry curries. But believe me, the effort would definitely be worth it. The most common vegetable used in paruppusilis is beans. But, any vegetable would actually go well with the legumes. This recipe is from my mother. I just substituted beans with capsicum.

Ingredients (serves 2 – 3)

• Toor dal: ½ cup
• Red chillies (long): 3
• Capsicum (deseeded and chopped): 1 and a half cups
• Oil: 4 – 5 tbsp
• For the tempering:
• Mustard: 1 tsp
• Urad dal: ¾ tsp
• Curry leaves: 15 – 20
• Hing: ½ tsp


•Wash and clean the toor dal. Soak for a minimum of 2 – 3 hours along with the red chillies
•Drain all the water. In a mixie, make a coarse dry mixture (without water) of the dal and the red chillies adding the required salt
•Now, steam them in the cooker for about ten minutes. I use idli plates to do it. But, it is upto you to use them or not
•Once steamed, let them cool. Crumble them into pieces. Now, run it in the mixie for exactly one whip. This removes all the lumps in the steamed mixture
•Now, a kadai
•Add about 1 – 2 tbsp of oil and fry the vegetable very well. Add a little salt so that it cooks faster. Once it is done, keep aside
•Now in the same kadai, add the remaining oil
•Finish off with tempering and add the dal mixture and fry very well. This requires tossing and turning of the dal constantly on medium flame
•Once this is done, add the cooked vegetable
•Toss it repeatedly so that the two blend well
•Hing should be prominent. So, adjust it to the point that it casually dominates the dish but not to the point of making the curry bitter. Adjust salt also
•Once you feel the two are blended, switch off the stove
•Serve with hot rice and ghee

Capsicum paruppusili is my contribution to ‘My Legume Love Affair – 17’, created by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by Sra

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rava Ladoo

I have a feeling ladoos are always the easiest sweets to make. Make a mix - of anything, drizzle some hot ghee over it and lo! Yummy ladoos are ready in a matter of minutes. And during diwali, this is one of the reasons why ladoos secure a definite place among the list of sweets-to-do in most households.

One of the diwali sweets this year at my home was - the easy rava ladoo. This is a popular diwali sweet in Chennai. Despite its tremendous popularity, each home has its own ways of making the rava ladoo. I have never tasted rava ladoos of two homes being similar. Well.. this recipe is from my mother and this yields about ten medium sized ladoos.
  • Bombay rava (suji): 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee: 1/3 cup
  • Cashews (broken into bits): 7 - 8
  • Raisins: 10 - 15
  • Grated coconut: 1/3 cup (optional)
  • Take a heavy bottomed kadai
  • Add 2 tbsp of ghee to it. Once hot, fry the cashews and raisins till golden brown. Keep aside
  • Add the rava and elaichi powder. Fry till a yummy aroma arises and it turns golden brown. Do this on a low flame. Let it cool down
  • Once it is cool enough for the mixie, run the rava and elaichi powder in the mixie till it becomes a reasonably fine powder. Run it a couple of times if the rava is stubborn. Empty into a large basin
  • Now, powder the sugar. Add it to the rava in the basin
  • Introduce the cashews, raisins and the grated coconut into the basin
  • Mix very well.
  • Heat the remaining ghee. Pour on top of this mixture
  • Make firm ladoos quickly
  • If making of the ladoos are a trouble, add a little more ghee to it. Else, sprinkle some warm milk on the mixture and try again. In a couple of trials, the ladoos should be done
  • Enjoy!
My Rava Ladoos are my contribution to "Sunday Snacks: Festive snacks of Navarathri and Diwali", hosted by Indrani

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Potato Halwa

What?? Halwa with potatoes?? Was my first reaction when I first saw this recipe. But, at the back of my mind I had resolved to make it whenever an opportune moment presented itself. Such a moment came few days ago. My in-laws had come to stay with us for a couple of days. So, I thought of trying this Potato Halwa. I had my own sweet share of anxieties, hows, what-ifs and buts before getting in. But, I took the plunge (thankfully!). What came out was a serious piece of dessert that can be served with your head held high even for the best of parties.

However, one area of caution (for people like me) is that while the dish cooks, it emits a certain natural smell of potatoes. Personally, I don’t like it. I was also scared this smell might remain in the final product. Fortunately, the halwa did not have even a trace of it. It is advised to add a slightly extra dose of cardamom, edible camphor and saffron so that this smell is camouflaged perfectly. My overall verdict: A very impressive dessert.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • Potatoes (peeled and grated): One and a half cups
  • Sugar: ½ cup (or more or less depending on how sweet you want the dish)
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Ghee: 1/3 cup
  • Water: ¼ cup
  • Cardamom (powdered): 1 tsp
  • Saffron: few strands
  • Edible camphor: one pinch
  • Yellow colouring: one pinch
  • Almonds: Chopped fine (to garnish)


  • Heat a heavy bottomed or a non-stick kadai
  • Add 2 – 3 tbsp of ghee
  • Add the potatoes, water, milk, sugar on medium flame
  • Keep stirring occasionally
  • After about 15 minutes, the potatoes would almost be done
  • From now on, pay close attention to it. Simmer the flame
  • Add the cardamom powder, camphor, saffron, and yellow colouring
  • Keep stirring it
  • It would solidify further
  • Now add the remaining ghee
  • After cooking for some more time, the halwa would completely comes off the sides of the kadai
  • It would be sort-of semi-solid in consistency. It would not stick to your fingers and you would be able to make an unsticky slightly hard ball out of it
  • This is when it is called complete
  • Pour the halwa into greased moulds of desired shapes
  • Serve warm or cool garnished with almonds
  • Done!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pav Bhaji

A makeshift kitchen that probably measures 6 x 6 ft, some hundred-odd customers at any given point in time.. a couple of service boys running around frantically, a pot of water to wash your hands, the background of blaring horns and most importantly, hungry growling stomachs and unbelievably tasty food!! I talking about the very famous Kaiyendhi Bhavan(s) of Chennai.. This literally means, 'a place where you receive your food with your arms stretched' (sorry.. lot of originality lost in my attempted translation).. This is probably one dimension of Chennai Street Food which I urge all my friends to explore, whenever they make a trip to Chennai. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

All of us love street food. We never get tired of it. (Wonder why we get tired of vegetables so easily!?!) A few attempts at making Chaat and other street food stuff got me pass marks with great difficulty. Going through Nupur's recipe of Pav Bhaji (the signature dish of Mumbai streets), and the associated reviews gave me an instant confidence of an impending victory with Pav Bhaji. I stuck to Nupur's recipe like I had been bound by glue. The only deviation was that I added the juice of one lemon to the bhaji after switching off the flame.

The Pav Bhaji was so good that, the first time I made it, even before I could click a snap, it was all gone. So, got to click this snap when I made it for the second time. This recipe serves four reasonably generously. The recipe is a winner all the way!


  • Potatoes (medium): 3, skinned and cut into large chunks
  • Cauliflower (medium): 1, florets measuring to 3 - 4 cups
  • Capsicum: 1, chopped
  • Tomatoes (medium): 5- 6, made into a paste in the mixie
  • Peas (frozen or otherwise): 1/2 cup
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Pav Bhaji Masala: 1-2 tbsp (according to taste)
  • Butter: 1 tbsp for the gravy + more to be smeared on the pav
  • Oil: 2 -3 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Lemon: 2 - 3
  • Onions (medium): chopped fine, to garnish
  • Corriander: chopped fine, to garnish


  • Dunk the chopped cauliflower florets in boiling water for a minute - to de-worm them (just in case)
  • Boil vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes and peas) for about three whistles, till they are tender
  • Take a kadai. Heat oil
  • Fry the capsicum for a whle
  • Then add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry well again
  • Add tomato puree
  • Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Saute very well
  • Close the lid and let it cook for some time
  • After the raw smell has disappeared, add the boilded veggies and pav bhaji masala and the butter
  • Keep sauteing and mashing till it becomes a smooth mixture
  • Add water if needed
  • Now, once it comes to a boil, keep the flame on an absolute low and let it remain there for about 20 - 25 minutes. This is when the wedlock of the veggies and the flavours takes place to give that irresistible taste to the bhaji
  • Keep stirring it once in a while. Adjust salt and the masala quotient
  • Once it is done, switch off.
  • Add the juice of one lemon to it. Mix well
  • Garnish with corriander leaves
  • Now, the bhaji is done
  • Halve the pav and toast on both sides on a pan. Add a good coating of butter in between and serve with the bhaji.
  • Sprinkle the bhaji with chopped onion, corriander leaves and a wedge of lemon
  • Absolutely divine! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Columbian Karamani (Lobhia) Rice

Weekday lunches are usually personal affairs for me. I am my customer. I am the final boss. This is my time to make and taste different flavours from other blogs that I passionately bookmark during my daily visits. I usually try to put something together in less than 15-20 minutes. This way, I will have tried something new, yet not spent too much time cooking..

One such a weekday lunch experiment was inspired by Meera's Columbian Rice. This rice is made out of Black-eyed peas or 'Lobhia' or 'karamani', as we call it. This just called for a couple of hours of soaking of the bean. You will practically sing through the remaining recipe. End result: Divinely flavourful, absolutely earthy rice!

Karamani: 1 cup (soak it for a couple of hours if you have time)
Rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Onion: 1, sliced
Bayleaf: 1
Red chilli: 2
Oil: 2 tbsp
Corriander leaves (to garnish)

Grind to a paste:
Garlic: 2 cloves
Corriander: 2 - 3 tbsp

  • Add some water to the karamani and cook it for about two whistles - till it is semi done
  • Reserve the cooking liquor
  • Wash rice, drain water and keep aside
  • Now, take a nonstick kadai. Heat oil and make the tadka
  • Add the onions and saute' till they are slightly brown
  • Add the ground paste of garlic and corriander. Saute'
  • Add the rice. Saute gently for a couple of minutes
  • Now, measure the karamani-cooked cooking liquor. Add water to it. On the whole, we need two and a half cups of liquid to cook the rice
  • Introduce the measured two and a half cups of liquid into the kadai
  • Lower the flame
  • Cook covered for fifteen minutes
  • Once done, mix gently
  • Garnish with corriander leaves - something that i skipped in all the hunger and hurry :)
  • Serve steamy hot!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cabbage Kofta Curry

It gives me enormous happiness in refering to my friend - R's visit again and again.. She gave me a great recipe of Cabbage Kofta curry. I could never believe this humble hostel vegetable could metamorphose into such a scrumptious party dish. After googling for some more information on the curry, I realised that there are umpteen variations to this dish. So, armed with the culinary wisdom R bequeathed me and some google-insights, I set out to make my own version of Cabbage Kofta Curry. This curry made out of cabbage balls, simmered in a rich thick gravy is a definite once-in-a-while indulgence!


For the koftas:
Cabbage: 1/2 of a slightly big cabbage, chopped very fine
Green peas: fresh or frozen: 1/4 cup
Green chilli: 1, finely chopped
Shajeera or Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp or to taste
Besan: About 1/2 of a cup (or more or less; since this is the binding agent which holds the koftas together)
Salt: to taste
Oil: to deepfry the koftas

For the gravy:
Onions (medium): 3
Tomatoes (large): 3
Garlic: 5 - 6 cloves
Ginger: 1/2 inch piece
Cashews: 7-8, soaked in warm water for half an hour
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp or to taste
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Oil: 2 tbsp
Corriander leaves, chopped: to garnish

For the tadka:
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon: 1 inch piece
Elaichi: 2
Bay leaf: 1
Jeera: 1/2 tsp

Method to make the koftas:

  • Wash and clean the vegetable. Chop into very fine bits. Now, in a pressure cooker, steam the cabbage and the peas in an open vessel for about ten minutes
  • Let the steam release. Cool the cabbage a bit, so that the skin on our fingers is not compromised
  • Now, preferably using a clean cloth, (or, if a cloth is not found handy), atleast using your hands, squeeze all the water from the vegetable. Do NOT throw away the vegetable water. This can be conveniently poured into the gravy at later stages
  • This step is very important because removal of all the excess water would mean that the koftas would be easy to make and difficult to break. If this step is not done, then, the whole kofta mixture would become soggy and would definitely not yield right results
  • Now, add the shajeera, salt, chopped green chilli, red chilli powder, and the necessary besan and make koftas out of them
  • Deepfry the koftas
  • Now, we are done with one part of the dish

Method to make the gravy:

  • Take a kadai
  • Heat oil and make the tadka
  • Now add the ginger-garlic-tomato-onion paste. Cover the kadai. Let it cook for about ten minutes on a slow flame. Just keep giving it an occasional stir.
  • Add salt and all other masala powders. Again let it cook for about 5 - 6 minutes
  • Once you feel it is done, add the cashewnut paste. Cook well again for about five minutes.
  • Add necessary water whenever you feel. The gravy should not be too thick because, after introducing the koftas into the dish, the koftas would soak up all the available water and the curry would turn out very thick.
  • After introducing the cashewnut paste, keep stirring because, this paste tends to stick to the bottom of the kadai
  • When the gravy has cooked enough, introduce the koftas gently
  • Keep the stove on a slow flame all the time, slowly toss the koftas around in the kadai. Do it gently so that the koftas do not break
  • Once done, garnish with corriander leaves
  • Done!
  • Serve hot with roti or naan!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Hostel days were total fun! It was even more fun when somebody went home and returned. For their bags would be loaded with all those lovely goodies. The next week or so would keep us busy, munching our hearts out. The best part was that knowledge of the existence of and access to those snacks was restricted to those who belonged to the room.

On one such an occasion, my roommate, who was from Bijapur regularly brought Chooda - a crispy savoury snack made out of rice flakes. I feel this low-fat chooda incarnated only to satisfy those 4-o clock snack-cravings. I wrote down this recipe, probably two years ago from Payaswini's cookbook- a nice collection of kannada recipes. I have tweaked it here and there to suit my tongue.


  • Thin poha: 4 cups
  • Peanuts: 1 cup
  • Cashewnuts (broken): 1/4 cup
  • Fried bengal gram: 1/2 cup
  • Dry coconut pieces (kopra): 1/4 cup
  • Mustard: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies (cut into bits): 4 - 5
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Hing: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 / 3 sprigs
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 2 - 3 tbsp


  • Take a heavy bottomed kadai. Keep it on slow-medium flame
  • Dry roast the poha gently till they become crisp. Take care while roasting. Ensure that they dont break. Keep aside
  • Now dry roast the peanuts and the fried bengal gram individually. Keep aside
  • Now add oil in the kadai
  • Add the mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle
  • Add the broken bits of the red chillies and curry leaves. Allow it to change colour
  • Now add cashews and kopra pieces. Fry them till golden
  • Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, hing, salt and sugar. Mix for few seconds
  • Now add the peanuts, fried chana dhall and the poha
  • Mix well, but take care not to damage the poha
  • Adjust salt and sugar
  • Done!
  • Store in an airtight container for future use.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kadai Vegetable

In reality, all of us have personal favourites. Be it a TV show, or an aunt, or an actor, or a cricketer - all of us are both perpetrators and victims of favouritism. And, we 'definitely' have our favourite food! Instinctively, we are drawn towards our favourite food..
If we introspect carefully, whenever we visit restaurants, we would probably be ordering a particular dish again and again - probably seeking some kind of comfort given the bewildering array of choices presented in the menu cards.. This definitely happens to myself and K. When at any restaurant, no matter what we order or dont order, Kadai Vegetable would eventually find its way up our table, and eventually, our stomachs!

Such personal favourites should be made at home, for sure. My search yielded these two recipes that came close to what I taste all the time. Making a medley of both these recipes, I have made my own. It yields yummy results all the time.

Ingredients (serves three)

  • Capsicums (medium): 2
  • Carrots (medium): 2
  • Beans: 6 - 7
  • Cauliflower: 6 - 8 florets
  • Potatoes (small): 2
  • Tomatoes: 2
  • Onions: 2
  • Paneer: 10 - 15 pieces
  • Green peas: A handful
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaves: 2 Nos
  • Oil: 5 - 6 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Cashews (optional): 5 - 6
  • Corriander leaves: to garnish
    To grind to a coarse powder:
  • Corriander seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies: 3


  • Chop all the vegetables into fairly big one 3/4 inch pieces. Do NOT chop them too small
  • Coarsely grind cumin seeds, corriander seeds and red chillies and keep aside. Dry roast it if you feel like to increase the aroma. Else, omit it
  • Fry one onion in one tsp of oil. To this, add curry leaves, cashews and tomatoes and make a fine paste
  • Now, in a kadai, add 2- 3 tbsp of oil and fry all the vegetables till they are done. No need to add paneer now. This can be added later. Keep the fried vegetables aside.
  • Now heat another kadai (or the same one, as per your wish)
  • Add oil and tadka using bay leaves
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and onions and cook well
  • Add the ground tomato paste and cook again till all the raw smell disappears
  • Meanwhile add the ground dry masala, turmeric powder, garam masala
  • When you feel the tomato paste has cooked enough, add the saute'd veggies and paneer
  • Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup water and cook covered till the vegetables are soft
  • Let the gravy thicken to reach the right consistency
  • Garnish with corriander leaves
  • Serve hot with rotis
  • Done!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Groundnut ladoos

Peanuts again!

If there were a club for peanut lovers, I am sure to be its President. I am one of those who can eat/enjoy groundnuts in absolutely any form. When I saw Valli's peanut ladoos which she had made for Ganesh Chaturthi, I instantly knew this is going to be yet another lip-smacking incarnation of the wonder nut!!

My recipe, which makes about 17 fairly big ladoos, is completely Srivalli's except that I had used 3-4 tbsp of ghee for double of her quantity of peanuts. My ladoos tasted a little more sweeter than they should have been because I had used two packed cups of grated jaggery instead of two loose cups.. This is one place to be slightly cautious.. Else, the ladoos were yummmmmmm!


  • Roasted peanuts: 2 cups
  • Grated jaggery: 2 cups
  • Ghee: 3 -4 tbsp (just to hold the ladoos together- add more if you feel like)
  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Method to make the ladoos:

  • M/W the peanuts till they are done or roast them in a kadai. I M/W-ed the nuts for about four-and-a-half minutes, just kept stirring once in 40 seconds or so. They were done fast.
  • Allow the nuts to cool and remove the skin
  • Grate the jaggery on the other hand and measure two (loose) cups
  • Add the nuts, jaggery and cardamom powder and start whipping in the mixie
  • The texture of the ladoos is a question of personal choice. I had mine about 90% smooth, just wanted one or two pieces of peanuts in between for texture
  • Empty the contents of the mixie into a wide basin
  • Heat 3 - 4 tbsp of ghee and pour on top of the mixture
  • Make ladoos
  • Done!
  • Finish of as many ladoos as you can while making them since you may not get to see them once you take them out of the kitchen :)
  • Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Masala Peanuts

Peanuts gently coated in spicy gram flour batter coupled with a hot cup of tea is a perfect way to spend pleasant winter evenings. Usha's recipe ended my search for a M/W masala peanut recipe. These addictive pop-ins are tremendously tasty, yet fabulously fast to make. My version takes about six-and-a-half to seven minutes in my M/W. This recipe serves three.


  • Peanuts: (1 cup)
  • Besan/Gram flour: 1/2 of 1/4 cup i.e., 1/8 of a cup
  • Rice flour: 1/8 of a cup
  • Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Oil: 11/2tbsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp + one pinch (or to taste)
  • Hing: 2 pinches
  • Water: 1/8 of a cup - to sprinkle
  • Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 2 pinches
  • Saunf (optional): 1/2 tsp


  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large M/W bowl
  • Add oil and mix well
  • Now sprinkle water little by little. This would mean some parts would turn into a lump. It is ok
  • Mix well
  • M/W for one minute
  • Now using a spoon, remove the lumps
  • Mix again and M/W for another minute
  • Keep M/W ing (30-40 seconds at a time) and mixing till the nuts turn dark brown
  • Let it stand for about ten minutes
  • M/W Masala peanuts are ready!


Chitrannam is definitely one of my favourite rice items. This is straight from my patti's kadai. My patti in turn, learnt it from her aunt, who hails from Bellary. It is a hybrid of tamarind rice and coconut rice - slightly blander than the former, but, spicier than the latter. The aroma of ground mustard seeds is definitely a bright underline in my patti's chitrannam.

To grind to a fine paste:
  • Grated coconut : 1 cup
  • Red chillies: 10 Nos
  • Mustard: 1 tsp
  • LG: 1/4 tsp
  • Tamarind: 2-inch piece
  • Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering:
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Groundnuts: 2 tbsp
  • Cashews (optional): 5 or 6
  • Channa dhall: 1 tsp
  • Urad dhall: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies: 2, broken into pieces
  • Curry leaves: 10 - 15
  • Coconut oil: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Gingelly oil: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Raw rice: 1 cup
Method to make Chitrannam:

  • Pressure cook the raw rice adding 1 tsp gingelly oil to it. The cooked rice should not be sticky Now, spread the cooked rice on a plate, preferably under the fan
  • Take a heavy-bottomed kadai.Add coconut oil and gingelly oil. (Both oils add to the flavour of the dish)
  • Temper using all the items listed above
  • Add the ground paste and fry very well till the raw smell of the tamarind and coconut disappear.
  • Add the cooked rice in it
  • Mix well
  • Done!
  • Serve hot!


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