Category Archives: healthy

Palak Thambuli (Spiced Spinach Yogurt Purée)

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For those of you not familiar with dishes from Karnataka, presenting to you the humble thambuli. This is a kind of raita containing a ground mixture of peppercorns, cumin seeds and some greens or roots like ginger. It is a staple in many homes in coastal Karnataka and regions in the western ghats, forming the first course of the meal. We were introduced to this dish at a very young age from my aunt who hails from Sirsi and from then it became my favorite, so my mum made it very often. This is usually eaten with rice right at the beginning of the meal and it’s known to help in digestion and has other medicinal values based on the type of thambuli. I’m posting this recipe following a request from a close friend, Shri. 🙂

Now that we’re done with my history with thambuli and other trivia, let’s move on to the recipe. 🙂 I made Spinach thambuli this time.

Spinach Thambuli

The Recipe:

Source – My aunt (Dodamma)
Cooking time – 10 mins

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup or a handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coconut, grated
  • 1 cup fresh curd (preferably cold from the fridge)
  • 4-5 peppercorns, or 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter (you can use oil if you don’t have or don’t like ghee)
  • salt to taste

For the seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • A few curry leaves

How to make it:

  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan and add the whole peppercorns, cumin seeds, and dried chili.
  2. Once the chili is roasted, add the chopped spinach and cook for around 3-5 minutes until the spinach is done. Let this mixture cool.
  3. Once slightly cool, blend it along with the coconut until it turns into an almost fine pulp.
  4. Now pour in the curd and add salt and give it one whizz, just sufficient to mix it.
  5. Heat a little more ghee in the same pan used earlier, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the curry leaves bits and hing and season the thambuli. Serve chilled along with rice right in the beginning of lunch.

Additional thoughts:

  1. It is suggested to use ghee or butter because that adds a special aroma that becomes characteristic to this dish, so try using it and you will notice a nice waft in the air and in your thambuli. 🙂
  2. A variety of thambuli can be made by substituting spinach with other ingredients like ginger, Brahmi (a herb supposedly good for the brain), doddapatre (another commonly grown herb in south India, known as omavalli in Tamil. I’ve  linked it to its closest cousin on wikipedia), and kachisoppu (another garden herb with berries, for which I couldn’t find a link). If you’ve come across other types, please share them with me. I’ll be happy to try it sometime.
  3. By the way, thambuli is pronounced as <thumb>(like the finger) and <uLi> (touching the tongue to your upper palette when you say the ‘L’ sound). 🙂
  4. Lastly, the picture shows some spring onions in the background. They are only present to beautify the photo and are not actually used in this recipe. 😛
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Lettuce wraps (Vegetarian)

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I was introduced to this tasty, crunchy snack at a friend’s party and ever since I’d been meaning to try making them at home. Thanks to Lekha requesting a recipe with Lettuce, I decided to get down to business and make them. I found this authentic and elaborate recipe which makes lettuce wraps like P.F. Chang’s here. I borrowed some elements, but finally made a much simpler version at home. This dish makes a great evening snack/salad and it also works well when entertaining people at home, since it can be left as a DIY dish. Here’s a picture that was once again snapped on my phone.

Lettuce wraps filled with stir fried tofu

The Recipe:

Source: Based on P.F Chang’s recipe

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 5-6 wraps

Here’s what I used:

  • Iceberg lettuce, use the inner hearts preferably
  • 1 cup of medium firm tofu (paneer may also be used)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 inch of ginger (thinly sliced)
  • 2-3 sprigs of coriander (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • soy sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)

How to make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and stir fry the onions, ginger and garlic, until the onions are translucent or just brown. Add the chilli powder and soy sauce.
  2. Add the firm tofu, crushing it with your hands as you drop it in. Use a fork and break the tofu in bits, like you’d scramble an egg.
  3. Add in the salt and sugar and mix well and let it cook a little until most of the water from the tofu evaporates (may be 5 – 7 minutes).
  4. Peel the required number of lettuce leaves, wash and dry them. Add  a couple of spoons of the tofu mixture on to the lettuce wraps. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and your lettuce wraps are ready to be eaten.

Note:  Super easy huh? I know! 🙂 And the best part is they’re healthy too. You can get creative and add all sorts of fillings. Just replace tofu with egg or paneer. Add some other vegetables like capsicum or mushrooms. May be even use corn and cheese for a filling. The possibilities seem to be endless and are tickling my stomach just as I type this out. So enjoy and let me know if you have other filling ideas. 🙂

N.B:  My mini marathon of blogging has taken a back seat as a result of my new found love of hiking in the weekends. The summer is great time to spend outdoors and I’m trying to do just that. I will try to post recipes as often as I can, but I’m calling of the marathon for now, so that I don’t compromise on the quality of my posts. 🙂

Chivda (Beaten rice snack)

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Week 2, Recipe 2

Well, I’m  now making up for what was supposed to be a post last week with a healthy and tasty snack. Wow, I sound like an advertisement for Maggi. 😛 Anyway, moving on to today’s recipe, I present to you a version of the Chivda! Chivda (Maharashtrian) or Chivdo (Gujarathi) is a light and crunchy making it ideal and ideal nibble food. My gujju aunt used to send  freezer bags full of fresh homemade chivda while I did my bachelor’s away from home, becoming my favorite snack to quell my late night hunger pangs. I’ve modified her recipe and converted it into an very efficient oven recipe, that I borrowed from Bhavna’s kitchen.

Chivda

The Recipe:

Source – Son chickamma (my aunt)

Active cooking time – 5 minutes

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 500 gms or 3-4 cups of thin beaten rice (poha/avalakki/aval)
  • 3 tbsp peanuts
  • 3 tbsp roasted bengal gram
  • 2 tbsp sliced dry coconut
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 4-5 chillies slit along the length
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • a generous pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tsp sugar (powdered)
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. If you’re following the oven method then, preheat the oven to 100 deg celsius. Keep the beaten rice ready in a  large flat pyrex glass or a baking tray.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once its smoking, add the mustard and let it crackle. Lower the temperature to sim andadd the coconut bits, the peanuts and the bengral gram and stir carefully until golden brown. Add the chillies and the curry leaves and turn of the heat. Add the turmeric and salt.
  3. Pour it over the beaten rice, mix well for a minute and place it in the preheated oven. Let it is stay in the oven for an hour, and mix the beaten rice once every 20 mins.
  4. If you’re not using the oven, then add the beaten rice to the pan and mix well. Keep mixing on slow flame for 25-30 minutes or until crisp.
  5. When it turns crisp, add the powdered sugar, mix well and continue the heating for another 5-10 mins.

Note: Using the oven recipe, reduces the actual cooking time and effort while making chivda. Don’t increase the oven temperature and then all you need to do is check on it once in a while and carry on with your other chores.

Majjige Huli (Morkozhambu)

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Week 1, Recipe 2

OK folks, so here’s the second recipe as part of the mini marathon this month. Majjige huli in Kannada or Morkozhambu in Tamil is a curd based sambar most famous for its appearance during weddings and the festive season. It is often served along with other types of sambar like hulthove in kannadiga weddings. This can be made with different types of vegetables and the popular ones are ash-gourd, ladies finger, drumstick. My mum also makes it with the leaves and stem from amaranth (known as dhantina soppu in kannada). This time I’ve made it with drumstick. Anyway, let’s get started with the recipe under the spotlight, Drumstick Majjige Huli.

Majjige Huli / Morkozhambu

The Recipe:

Source – Mum

Preparation time – 15 minutes

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Serves – 3-4

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 drumsticks (chopped) (or 1 big cup of veggies like ash-gourd or bhindi chopped into thumb sized pieces)
  • 2 tbsp channa dal (Bengal gram dal)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (Dhania)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 green chillies
  • 4 heaped tbsp coconut (grated)
  • 3-4 strands fresh coriander leaves)
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 cups curd (preferably slightly sour)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp freshly squeezed tamarind pulp (optional)
  • salt to taste

For the seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • a generous pinch of hing
  • a few curry leaves

How to make it:

  1. Soak the channa dal in warm water for 2-3 hours.
  2. Take 1.5 cups of water in a vessel and boil the chopped vegetable (drumstick in this case). If you’re using bhindi, first saute it in a pan with a little oil and then boil it in water. Add a small pinch of turmeric and salt to it.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, grind the dal along with the dhania seeds, jeera, red chillies and green chillies, coconut, coriander, and hing. Make sure to grind it into a fairly smooth paste.
  4. Add the mixture to the boiling vegetable. Add one cup of water and continue boiling for another 10 minutes until the mixture is cooked.
  5. Once ready, add the curd. Using tamarind is a good trick if you want achieve the right level of sourness when you don’t have sour curd. If you’re using the readymade concentrated tamarind, then 1 tsp should be sufficient.
  6. Upon adding the curd boil for a maximum of 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook at this stage since the the curd will begin to break away leaving behind water. Give it a quick taste check and its almost ready.
  7. Last step, seasoning. Heat the pan with oil. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Turn off the stove and add the hing and curry leaves and the dish is ready to be served piping hot with rice.

Note: In case you want to make this dish in advance and you’re not serving it right away, then hold off step 6 and 7. Keep everything ready and add the curd and boil for a couple of minutes just before serving.

My recipe is kind of a cross between the kannadiga and tamilian versions. Ash-gourd, drumstick and bhindi are the most popular veggies used. Have you ever eaten majjige huli/morkozhambu made of other vegetables? I’d love to try them. 🙂

Adai (South Indian Lentil Pancake)

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After a short lull, I’m back to the blogosphere with renewed energies and one thing I’m learning along the way is that blogging everyday regularly requires discipline. Having made that reflection, my aim in the coming days is to get at least 3 posts out every week. My test period is the month of July and by the end of 4 weeks I aim to have posted 12 good quality recipes. This might not seem like much, after the super-hit film, ‘Julie and Julia’, which I loved by the way. But I have decided to start with baby steps. 🙂

So here goes, Week 1, Recipe 1.

I’m really excited to share with you a recipe for Adai, a scrumptious, wholesome dosa-like pancake! Adai is a mixture of different lentils, rice and spices ground together into a coarse batter and is popular evening snack in Tamil households. I’ve borrowed this no-fail formula for my mum, who got it from my Paati. The recipe below produces enough batter to make around 10-12 palm-sized Adais. This is actually quite a filling snack (could even be my dinner) so you can’t eat too many together. It would be too heavy on your stomach as well. I normally make this batter and store it in the refrigerator for almost 2 weeks and it tastes perfectly fine (just follow the tip at the end of the post). Just a pointer, though very easy to make it requires the dals and rice to be soaked in water for at least 5 hours, so you need to plan for this a day in advance. Try it and let me know how it turned out. 🙂

Adai served with mint chutney and curd

The Recipe:
Source – Mum
Makes 10 – 12 palm sized Adai
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the batter
  • 1 1/4 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup Chana dal (dal from bengal gram)
  • 1/4 cup Toor dal
  • 1/4 Moong dal
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup Urad dal
  • 3 – 4 dried red chillies
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • salt to taste

While making the Adai

  • 1 big onion (chopped)
  • 3 heaped tbsp coconut (grated)
  • 4-5 curry leaves (chopped)
  • a few strands of coriander (chopped)
  • Oil (around 2-3 tsp for each adai)

How to make it:

  1. Soak the rice and dals together in sufficient water overnight. If you are running a little short of time, you could use soak them for 4 – 5 hours in hot water.
  2. After the dals have been allowed to bathe and swell wash them thoroughly. Put them in a liquidizer, add the dried chillies, hing, salt and 1/2 a cup of water and grind into a slightly coarse batter. The consistency of the batter should be much thicker than dosa batter. And be sure not to grind it completely smooth like you would with the batter for dosa or idli. The coarseness of the batter adds the characteristic taste integral to the Adai. Let the batter sit for 2 hours at least, before you make the first one.
  3. Add the chopped onions, coconut, coriander and curry leaves to the batter and mix well. Give it a quick taste check to make sure the salt is just fine.
  4. Take a flat pan (tawa) and heat on high flame. Add a little oil on the pan. When the pan is sufficiently hot, scoop 2 ladlefuls of the batter on the pan. Spread it out and make a small coin sized hole (around 1/2 an inch) in the centre of the adai. Drizzle a little oil around the edges and in the hole you just made. Now reduce the flame to medium high and cover with a lid for around a minute. Once it seems done on one side, flip it over and let the other side cook under slow to medium flame, just to make sure that the adai is completely cooked inside. Wait until it is golden brown or as crisp as you like it and then its ready to be served.
  5. Serve hot with curd. The adai tastes great plain or with curd, chutney, pickle etc. I served it with pudina chutney and cold curd out of the fridge. Delicious!

A couple of ideas:

  • As I said at the beginning of the post, I make the batter using these proportions and it serves the Husband and me for 3- 4 times over 2 weeks. So what I normally do is refrigerate the batter and pour out as much required into a separate bowl and add the onions etc. just while I make them. That way the batter stays fresh long.
  • You could try adding some chopped green chillies or pudina to flavor it up a notch further.

So how do you make your Adai? Have you tried any variations to the classic?

Mixed Vegetable Kootu

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Today I’d like to share the recipe for mixed vegetable kootu. It is a popular dish from the state of Tamil Nadu and forms an integral part of tamil feasts. It is a healthy combination of different types of veggies, lentils and a freshly ground paste of coconut and spices. While we were growing up, my mum regularly made different types of kootus, slightly varying the ingrdients and my sister and I loved it absolutely. I on the other hand don’t make them as often. I’m waiting to come into possession of a little jar that would be ideal for grinding masalas. Until then I need to manage with my big blending jar. Enough about my travails of being away from home, let’s get down to business. 🙂

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The Recipe:

Source – Mum

Cooking time – 30 minutes

Serves – 3-4

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup dal (you can use toor dal or moong dal)
  • 1 cup of chopped vegetables (carrots, peas, french beans, cauliflower, cabbage)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped (optional)
  • 4 heaped tbsp of grated coconut
  • 2 – 4 dried chillies (depending on the level of hotness you can handle)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • A generous pinch of hing
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Salt to taste

For the seasoning (Optional)

  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • A few curry leaves
  • 2 tsp oil

How to make it:

  1. Add a pinch of turmeric and cook dal with sufficient water. If you plan to use moong dal then roast it in a pan for a 2 – 3 minutes. It brings out a nice flavor. If you’re using toor dal, then I recommend you use the pressure cooker to speed things up.
  2. Take the cooked dal in a vessel, add 1 – 1.5 cups of water and the chopped vegetables, tomatoes and salt and cook for 15 minutes. I used only cauliflower and tomatoes today.
  3. While the dal and veggies are cooking, grind the coconut, cumin seeds, and dried chillies into a fine paste. Add this paste and a pinch of hing to boiling mixture when the veggies are 3/4th done. Boil for 5 more minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and wait till they crackle. Turn off the heat, add the dried chilli and curry leaves and quickly pour it over the kootu. (The kootu tastes great even if you don’t season)

Heeray Kaayi Mosaru Bajji (Ridge gourd raita)

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This is an interesting recipe for a raita, quite different from the conventional raita recipes but fairly simple to whip up. This dish has Havyaka origins from Karnataka, but it has been modified and innovated upon as it changed hands in my family. I borrowed this recipe from my mum. A cool thing with this dish is that its goes down well even with those who don’t usually like members of the gourd family. I have the husband as proof of that. 🙂

The recipe:

Preparation time – 5 minutes

Cooking time – 10 minutes

Serves 4

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ridge gourd (Thurai in Hindi/Heeraykai in Kannada/Peerkangai in Tamil)
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (til)
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cups of yogurt/curd

How to make it:

1. Wash, peel and chop up the ridge gourd into medium sized bits. You don’t have to be too careful with chopping since we’re cooking them very soon.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. When sufficiently warm, add in the chillies, urad dal and sesame seeds and fry until the dal turns golden brown ( it takes very little time).

3. Once the urad dal and sesame seeds are roasted add in the chopped ridge gourd and cook until it turns soft (around 5 – 7 minutes). Let this mixture cook for a bit.

4. Blend the cooked mixture, coconut, hing and salt in a mixer (or with a hand blender) into a fairly smooth pulp.

5. Add in the yogurt and give it just one whizz in the mixer and the raita is ready.

You can serve it along with rice, as a side dish to Sambar or Rasam. It tastes best when you use cold yogurt or chill it before serving. I love using this as a dip with dosas as well.

Until next time…keep the curry leaves ready!