12 September 2019

Pongal /Khichdi

(SALT) PONGAL (South Indian Style Khichdi)

Rice - 1 cup
Split green gram - 1/2 cup
Black peppercorns - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cashews - a few
Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped
Salt to taste
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 2 tbsps
Curry leaves - a few

1. Heat a pan and dry roast the green gram for just a minute. Transfer to a clean dish. Wash along with rice and pressure cook with 4 cups water upto 4-5 whistles, reduce and cook for 5 mins more. Remove from flame.
2. Add salt and mash while still hot.
3. Coarsely grind the peppercorns and cumin seeds. They need to be just broken down, not powdered.
3. Heat ghee in a pan, add cashews and roast till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
4. Add the curry leaves, ginger to the same ghee and saute for 1/2 a minute. Turn off flame and add broken peppercorns and cumin seeds. Give it a quick stir and add to the Pongal.
Serve hot.

12 July 2019

Lemon Rice

One of the simplest Rice varieties out there is the Lemon Rice. It's very simple to mix up and you can add variations of your own too!
Here's my mom's version..

Ingredients :
Rice - 1/2 cup
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bengal gram(chana dal) - 1/4 tsp
Asafetida (Hing) pwd - 1/8 tsp
Turmeric pwd - 1/4 tsp
Green chilies - 2 medium
Curry leaves - a few
Lemon - 1 medium
Chopped capsicum, carrots, boiled peas (optional) - 1/2 cup
Method :
1. Pressure cook rice with equal measure of water, basically Pulao consistency. Once pressure subsides, transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature. Gently fluff it using a fork.

2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds & let splutter.

3. Add chana dal, chopped or slit green chilies, curry leaves and fry for a minute. If using vegetables, add them in at this point and cook till 3/4th done.
NOTE: Add salt to taste if adding veggies else add them later directly to the rice.

4. Add hing pwd, turmeric pwd, give a quick stir and remove from flame.

5. Add the tempering mix to the rice along with salt and gently mix till all the rice is well-coated.

6. Once well-mixed, squeeze half  lemon and check taste. Squeeze the other half if you want it more tangy.
Serve slightly warm.

1 July 2019

Thandu Keerai and Koottu

A lot of us cook Foxtail Amaranth/Thandu Keerai in many ways.
Here's an interesting tidbit about the greens from my mom. She grew up in a village near Madurai and I love hearing her interesting food stories!

So near her village, these greens would typically be sown right after harvesting Turmeric for Sankranti/Pongal. This is or was, a practice unique to the Melmangalam Taluk.
The greens would be ready for harvest 6 months later. Hence they would be called Manjal thottam Keerai or Aaru maasam (6 months) Thandu Keerai. Cool right?

By the way, I'm in love with this Storage Basket + Colander from Amazon. A blessing when washing greens especially.
Click the image or Check it out here..

 Multi purpose washing bowl

Without much ado, here are the 2 dishes made with the greens
1. Thandu (Stem) Poricha Koottu
2. Puliyitta Keerai (leaves cooked with tamarind)What's left will be combined with leftover Tomato Rasam, given a quick simmer and finished off with dosas that night. :)


Amaranth Stems (chopped) - 1 cup
Split Green Gram (moong dal) - 1/4 cup
Rasam powder - 1 tsp (If rasam pwd isn't available use the spice paste)
Salt to taste

For Spice Paste (if Rasam pwd not available):
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsps
Dry red chili - 1 medium
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp

Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split Black gram (Urad dal) - 1/4 tsp

1. Cook the chopped stems and moong dal separately.
2. Transfer both to a sauce pot and add salt to taste.
3. Add Rasam powder or ground spice paste, mix and simmer-cook on low for about 7-8 mins. Remove from flame.
4. Heat oil in a tempering ladle, add mustard seeds and let splutter. Add urad dal, roast till light golden and add to the Koottu.
Serve hot.

Amaranth leaves - 2 cups (washed, drained & roughly chopped)
Split Pigeon Peas (Toor dal) - 1/4 cup, pressure cooked till soft
Tamarind - half a lemon's size, juice extracted upto 1 cup
Green chili - 1-2, medium
Salt to taste
Vattralkuzhambu Powder or Sambhar powder - 2 tsps
Fresh coriander, chopped - a handful

Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Hing - 1/2 tsp

1. Blanch the greens in very little water. Let cool, then coarsely grind.
2. Add the ground leaves to a sauce pot along with slit green chili, tamarind water and salt to taste and let simmer on low flame till raw smell leaves the mix.
3. Lightly mash the cooked lentils and add to the greens mix. Add the Vattralkuzhambu or Sambaar powder, chopped coriander leaves and simmer on low flame for about 5-7 mins. Remove from flame.
4. For tempering, heat oil, add mustard seeds and let splutter. Switch off flame, add hing, mix well in the oil. Add to the keerai and serve hot.

21 June 2019


There are many ways of cooking greens, especially in the Indian cuisine. Two methods that are my favourite from Mom's kitchen are - Masicha Keerai or Mashed Greens and MorKeerai, literally greens cooked in Buttermilk.
Featured here - MorKeerai, literally greens in buttermilk.
A simple, yummy and healthy recipe that can be prepared using almost any variety of greens, Spinach or variants of Amaranth.

There are many ways of making this, here's a simple method from my mom's repertoire..

Greens of choice (Spinach, Arai keerai, Mulai keerai) - 1 medium bunch
Whisked yogurt - 1 cup
Green chili - 1 -2 medium
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Black gram - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chili - 1 medium

1. Blanch a medium bunch of greens with salt and turmeric pwd. Cool and mash or coarsely grind.
2. Slit 1-2 green chilies and add to the mashed greens. Cook on low flame.
3. Add 1/4 tsp rice flour to whisked yogurt and add to the mix. Let simmer but take care not to let it boil.
4. Check for salt and remove from flame.
5. Temper by heating 1/4 tsp sesame oil, add mustard seeds, black gram and 1 small dry red chili.
Serve as is. Best part, it can be served at room temperature and as a raita too.

20 June 2019

Sooji Halwa (using Jaggery)

As we look to move away more and more from refined foods, it's high time to go back to roots and use what our ancestors did. White sugar for one is not used in my home anymore. We prefer jaggery in its whole or powdered form, or honey and cane sugar.
This Halwa comes out absolutely superb using jaggery and a must, must try..


Ghee (Clarified butter) -¼ cup
Sooji / Semolina – ½ cup
Jaggery (roughly powdered) – 1 cup
Elaichi powder – a pinch
Salt – a pinch (optional)
Water – 2 cups
Cashews and raisins, roasted in ghee

1. Heat water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Heat ghee in a non-stick wok. Add sooji and roast till you get a nice aroma.
3. Add the boiled water and stir quickly to avoid lumps.
4. Stir well till sooji absorbs all the water and is well cooked.
5. Add the jaggery and stir on low flame till jaggery dissolves and mixes well.
6. Add the roasted dry nuts and cardamom powder. Stir again for 3-4 minutes and remove from flame.
Serve hot.

10 June 2019

Mango Kadhi

Come summer and we start experimenting with mangoes in every way we can. From Aamras to pickles, to raitas, to desserts, innumerable possibilities.
Using Mangoes in savoury dishes is an interesting pairing. Slightly sweet, tangy, this Mango Kadhi is a recipe my mom learnt from her mom. Here it is for you all to try :)

3 cups beaten yogurt (slightly sour)
1 ripe Mango (not too ripe, fibreless variety works best)
1 1/2 Green chilies
1/2 inch Ginger
2 tbsps Grated Coconut
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 medium Red Chili
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Curry leaves, a few
1. Grind coconut, green chilies and cumin seeds to a fine paste using a little water.
2. Quarter the mango and cook in very little water, only till the skin is tender. Take care not to overcook.
3. Whisk together the yogurt, salt, ground paste.
4. Add the semi-cooked mango quarters and let simmer on low flame, stirring continuously but not vigorously.
5. After about 5-7 minutes, check for salt and remove from flame.
6. For tempering, heat oil, add mustard seeds and let splutter.
7. Add the red chili, curry leaves and finally the fenugreek seeds. Let brown slightly and add to the kadhi.
Serve hot with rice, rotis, Indian String hoppers, dosas or Adais. The list is endless :)

7 June 2019

Sweet Pongal


Rice - 1 cup
Split Green gram - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Jaggery or sugar - 1 1/2 cup (Jaggery best)
Cashews and raisins - a few
Cardamom pwd - 1/4 tsp
Clarified butter( Ghee) - 2 tbsps

1. Heat a pan and dry roast the green gram for just a minute. Transfer to a clean dish.
2. Wash rice and pressure cook along with the roasted green gram, milk and 3 cups water. Let cook upto 4-5 whistles. Reduce flame and let be for 5 mins more. Turn off flame. Basically we need it mashy.
3. Once pressure subsides, mash the mixture while still hot.
4. Add jaggery/sugar to a large wok and 1.5 tbsps water and let dissolve on low flame. Let simmer till you get a sticky consistency. When you test the syrup between fingers it should be sticky like melted toffee, but no string.
5. Now add the mashed rice mix little by little and stir well with the jaggery/sugar syrup.
6. Heat ghee in another pan, roast the cashews and raisins till golden brown. Add to the pongal mix along with cardamom powder. Stir on low till it starts to thicken.
Remove from flame and serve hot. An extra dollop of ghee when serving is absolutely recommended 

Carrot Bhaat

A very simple, healthy and wholesome dessert that you can whip up quickly.

1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup well-cooked rice
3 cups full fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom pwd
1 tbsp clarified butter(Indian ghee) for roasting dry nuts
Sliced dry nuts of choice
1. Cook carrots in 3 cups milk till they are cooked and milk reduces to half the volume.

2. Mash the cooked rice and add to the milk mixture.
Stir well leaving no lumps.

3. Add sugar, stir again. Let simmer till the mixture thickens

4. Add cardamom pwd, dry nuts(roasted in ghee). Remove from flame and serve hot.

3 January 2019

Kathirikkai Rasa Vangi

Now this is quite an interesting dish..
The main dish is done Sambhaar style (baby eggplants dropped in whole with just a quarterway slit), left to settle for a bit and then the thin surface liquid is removed and used as Rasam. 
Basically a 2 in 1 dish! Amazing isnt it?!

Eggplants (preferably baby ones) - 5 to 6
Toor dal - 3/4 cup
Tamarind - small lemon size (juice extracted)
Curry leaves
Salt to taste
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp

Spice powder:
Dry red chilies - 6
Coriander seeds - 2 tsps
Bengal gram (chana dal) 1 1/2 tsps
Grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp

Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chili - 1 small
Hing pwd - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves for garnish

1. Heat 1/ 2 tsp oil in a small pan and roast the spices listed under spice mix till golden brown. Take care not to let them darken.
Let cool, then dry grind to a coarse powder and keep aside.

2. Wash and remove stem from the eggplants. If using the baby ones, simple make a cross quarter way through. If using the normal size ones, cut them into quarters.

3. Pressure cook toor dal with little turmeric powder till done.

4. Heat 1/4 tsp sesame oil in a saucepan and give the eggplants a quick toss.

5. Add the tamarind extract, salt and let simmer on medium till the raw aroma of tamarind leaves and eggplants are half-cooked.

6. Reduce flame, add the cooked dal and simmer for 5 mins more.

7. Now add the ground spice powder as per taste and check for salt. Add torn curry leaves as well.
Let simmer for just 2 -3 mins more.

8. Remove from flame and add chopped coriander leaves.

9. For the tempering, heat 2 tsps sesame oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, red chilli and hing. Pour over the sambhar.

10. Stir and let settle for a bit till the thinner 'rasam' is left on top and dal settles at the bottom.
Gently transfer the rasam to another vessel and voila, 2 dishes from one!
Serve hot.