Friday, June 25, 2010

Apple vattal kuzhambu - Sun dried apples in tamarind gravy

I was wondering not knowing how to use the sun dried apples which my cousin had brought from Kashmir. My son said that my daughter - in - law used sun dried apples (Apple vattal ) to make a 'trail snack' along with nuts, chocolate chips and other dry fruits. This snack he said restored energy during their trekking expeditions.

As I was just getting ready to mix a trail snack my aunt called up and said that her 'vella pachadi ' and ' vattal kozhumbu' with apple vattals had turned out very good. With a little hesitation I prepared this novel vattal kuzhambu, but my family enjoyed the new dish very much.

Sun dried apples ( cut into small pieces ) - 1 cup

Tamarind - 1 lemon size ball
Jaggery - 1 lemon size piece
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder ( Unroasted spice mix) - 2 tsp
Rice flour - 2 tsp
Gingelly oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Broken red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - a few

1. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
3. When the mustard splutters add fenugreek seeds and then the bengal gram dal.
4. When the dal becomes golden in colour add red chillies, curry leaves and the apple pieces.
5. Lower the flame and quickly add asafoetida, sambar powder and rice flour and stir.(Take care not to burn the sambar powder).
6. Add the tamarind extract, salt and jaggery.
7. Boil the vattal kuzhambu until it reaches a sauce like consistancy, stirring now and then.

Enjoy the pleasant flavour of apple in your delicious vattal kuzhambu. It tastes heavenly with hot rice topped with a dollop of ghee. You can also enjoy it with pongal, upma, dosai, adai or chapati.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Urulaikizhangu patani thair pachadi - Potato, peas and yogurt salad/raita


This is another of my favourite dishes which my mother prepared often.We usually had this side dish with mango rice,vangi bath or any other 'variety rice'.It goes very well with vattal kuzhambu and hot plain rice.On very hot days when we are not in a mood for hot and spicy side dishes,we can certainly enjoy this simple and cool nutritious pachadi with vegetable pulav, chapaties and other main dishes.

I wanted to post this recipe since a very long time but some how it got postponed.The moment I went through the list of vegetables to be used in the contest announced by Manjula's kitchen I was inspired to do this post.The only variation I have introduced here is the addition of green peas which my mother did not use in her dish.

Potatoes - 2 big ones
Cooked green peas - 1 cup
Yogurt - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 1/2 tsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 pinch
Tur dal - 2 tsps
Curry leaves - a few
Broken red chillies - 3
Sugar - 1/4 tsp

1. Wash and pressure cook the potatoes .( Cut into half if they are too big so that the inner core gets cooked well).
2. Cool the potatoes very well and then peel.
3. Crumble the cooked potatoes taking care not to mash them up into a paste.
4. Blend salt and sugar with the yogurt.
5. Add crumbled potatoes and cooked green peas to the yogurt and mix well.
6. Heat oil and add mustard seeds.
7. When the mustard splutters add tur dal and fry till it is golden in colour.
8. Add fenugreek seeds and then the red chillies followed by curry leaves.(Fenugreek seeds impart a good flavour to the pachadi.If the bitter taste is not prefered this ingredient can be ommitted.)
9. Pour seasoning on the pachadi and mix well.
Chill the pachadi. Add some more yogurt and fluff it up before serving because the potatoes tend to absorb all the liquid when chilled.
Enjoy the urulai kizhangu patani pachadi as it is or with your main course.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chinna vengaya vadakkal-Baby onion/Shallot fry


My mother is not very fond of onions.But she has never denied us the pleasure of savouring onions in the various delicious dishes she specially cooked for us.Vengaya vadakkal (Onion fry) is her speciality and on the days she prepared this dish none of us even glanced at sambar or rasam. We gorged on the onion fry with steaming hot rice for lunch and dinner.We ate it with any 'tiffin' during tea time.We even used it as a spread on the bread and tucked it in greedily.
Since onion shrinks drastically after cooking mother had to chop a mound of onions, intermittently sniffing away the stream of 'tears', to make a large quantity of fry that was required to satiate the needs of our huge family.She cut the big onions lengthwise,into thin slivers and cooked it with spice and salt,and finally gathered it into a whole flavoursome mass.
I have used the same method here to prepare the 'chinna vengaya vadakkal'.

Baby onions/shallots - 500 gms
Chilly powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsps
1. Peel,wash and drain the onions.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
3. When the mustard splutters add curry leaves and then the onions.
4. Add chilly powder,coriander powder,cumin powder,turmeric powder and salt.(I used my home made spice powder).
5. Mix well with a spatula, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes on low fire.
6. Remove lid and stir the fry so that the spices get evenly distributed.
7. Sprinkle little water if necessary and cover and cook again till the onions are cooked.

8. When the onions start looking glassy remove lid and keep frying till the oil separates.

Enjoy the chinna vengaya vadakkal as a main dish with hot rice or as a side dish with your favourite meal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mango Mania! Maha Mango Mela! The great mango festival!


Mango has been woven into the very fabric of our Indian society. The epics, the puranas, Indian mythology, history, legends and folk lores are all infused with mango stories. Litrature, poems, devotional songs, folk songs and film songs have incorporated the mango fruit in various contexts.
Mango motifs are extensively used in temple architecture and sculptures. Mango motifs in combination with other designs lend an ethnic charm to dress materials. The traditional "Manga border" in sarees is still in vogue. Rows of mango motifs strung together to form a necklace called the Manga Malai is a traditional jewellary which caters to ones aesthetic sense.




Mangoes have a great medicinal value as well as nutritional value. Mango leaves play an important part during festivals and poojas.The leaves which are supposed to spread possitive vibrations, are used for decorating the entrance doors of homes on auspicious days.The mango and mango leaf motifs are also used in 'kolams' (Designs made with rice paste on the floor as decoration).

Now that the season is on and the king has arrived,we thought it would be befitting to celebrate the king of fruits.Thus was born the idea for a " MAHA MANGO MELA -THE GREAT MANGO FESTIVEL! - A tribute to the King of Fruits.
We decided to have a family get together and have all the mango based dishes for dinner. My little grand daughter was highly thrilled by the idea and she prepared herself to stage a puppet show with an 'Akbar,Birbal and mango' story.
The entrance door was decorated with mango leaves. A kolam was drawn at the entrance floor. The fragrance of raw mangoes and ripe mangoes emanated from the kithen. Dish after dish was getting ready and my husband and grand children were flitting in and out of the kitchen in spite of their various chores for,'sampling' the dishes!

Finally the guests were there.They settled down with the welcome drink MANGO PANAKAM/PANNA and watched the puppet show with enthusiasm.The little one gave a grand performance with great involvement.The sound effects were taken care of by my grand son and his tabala.

Birbal presents the great emperor Akbar with a basket of home grown mangoes.The queen nearly faints with excitement at the sight of the delicious fruits.Akbar decides to tease his queen by playing a practical joke on her.He sends her to fetch some cold milk to go with the sweet mangoes, and in the meanwhile eats up all the mangoes and leaves the peels and the seeds in the queen's plate.The queen returns eagerly with the milk and is horrified when the emperor admonishes her of being greedy, and hogging away all the fruits, leaving only the peels and seeds on her plate.The desperate queen looks up to Birbal for help.Birbal immediately flashes a question at the emperor - If the queen who has at least left the seeds and the peels on her plate is termed greedy, what should the emperor who has polished up his plate without even leaving the seeds and peels behind, be labelled as?
The emperor and the queen are pleased with Birbal's wit,and they gift the wise and witty Birbal with gold and silver nuggets.
The show was a grand success and the hall thundered with applause! A BADSHAH WITH HIS FAVOURITE KINGS
Dinner time! We were little apprehensive if the guests would be overwhelmed with the all- mango dinner. TIME FOR DINNER THE FIRST COURSE
(Check my last few posts for all the recipes of all these dishes!)
The main course was MANGO RICE with cucumber raitha. Another side dish was TAENGA MANGA BATANI SUNDAL. Roasted masala papads topped with a salad of finely minced carrots,onion,cucumber,tomatoes and raw mangoes was another crunchy side dish (planned and prepared by my grand daughter).We also had MAVINA HANNINA SASIVAE which was a great hit.The next course was the most unavoidable rasam and rice. Finally we had curd rice with AVAKA MANGO PICKLE.
MAMBAZHA HALVA prepared with sweet ripe mangoes was the sweet for the event.We enjoyed a double dessert of vanilla ice cream with ripe mango cubes, and MANGO MOOSE which was a surprise additional dish prepared and presented by my sister's daughter-in-law.

Every one enjoyed the unforgettable event and the all- mango dinner.
Here I would like to share the MAMBAZHA HALWA recipe with all of you.

Pulp of sweet mango fruit without fibre - 500ml or two glasses
Sugar - 2 two glasses(same volume as fruit)
Unsweetened condensed milk - 1 tin (I used Milk Maid)
Ghee - 1 glass ( Only the required amount will be used)
Besan ( Bangal gram dal flour) - 3tbsps
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch
1.Dry roast besan till it gives out a pleasant aroma.
2.Combine the roasted besan and the fruit pulp smoothly using mixer.
3.Take a heavy bottomed vessel and add the fruit and besan mixture (besan gives'body' and a distinct flavour to the halwa),milk maid and sugar.
4.Place the vessel on the flame and keep stirring.
5.Keep adding ghee little by little as the halwa thickens and starts to leave the sides of the vessel.
6.When the halwa becomes a mass and starts to develop 'craters',add some more ghee and switch off flame.
7.Mix in the cardamom powder and pour the halwa on a plate.

Scoop out the warm flavoursome halwa on a serving plate and enjoy as it melts away in your mouth.