Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ondelaga Kheer - Centella Milk Shake


Ondelaga ( Centella asiatica) also known as Saraswathi Soppu is a medicinal herb which  has numerous therapeutic properties. The creeper gives out single leaves on long stems and hence the name Ondelaga ( meaning one leaf or single leaf ). I have heard this herb being recommended  for children to improve their cerebral health and memory power. Known as Vallarai keerai in Tamil it is also used for culinary purposes. Chutny, dal , and tambli  are the dishes usually prepared using Ondelaga / Vallarai. I was surprised and even thrilled when my sister-in-law prepared a delicious Kheer using Ondelaga ! It is a delightful dessert when served warm, and a refreshing cool drink when chilled.


Centella / Ondelaga -  One bunch
Milk - 2 cups
Soaked rice - 1 tsp
Fresh grated coconut - 2 tbsps
Cashew nuts or blanched almonds( optional ) - 4 or 5 
Powdered jaggery - 2 tbsps
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch

1. Wash the Ondelaga leaves thoroughly along with the tender stems. 
2. Grind the washed herb with coconut gratings, soaked rice and the nuts ( addition of nuts makes the kheer creamy and thick) into a smooth paste adding little water if necessary.
3. Boil the milk for two minutes.
4. Stir in the ground paste and cook for two more minutes.
5. Blend in powdered jaggery and switch off flame.
6. Finally add the powdered cardamom.

 Start the New Year with the healthy and delicious Ondelaga Kheer either warm or chilled.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sivappu Puzhungal Arisi Sevai - Par Boiled Red Rice Noodles


Par boiled rice is known as Puzhungal arisi in Tamil. Traditionally Puzhungal arisi was obtained by  soaking and boiling the nellu / Paddy ( Rice along with the husk) in huge copper pots over fire wood stoves. The par boiled paddy was then drained and spread out to dry. The dried paddy was then manually pounded in  massive stone mortars using  heavy wooden pestles and dehusked. This procedure ensured that all the essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals from the outer core of the grain were moved in and tightly packed into the grain. The power packed Red Parboiled Rice / sivappu puzhungal arisi is known to be a highly nutritious cereal. 
To make the traditional  Sevai out of raw rice flour a double cooking procedure has to be followed. Preparing Sevai using par boiled rice is much  quicker and more easy, since the rice is already processed once.

 Par boiled red rice - 2 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsp

1. Wash and soak the par boiled red rice for six hours.
2. Grind the soaked rice with salt adding the required quantity of water.
3. The batter should be smooth and it should be of idly batter consistency. 
4. Steam the batter in greased idly moulds for fifteen minutes in a pressure cooker without using the weight . 

5. Remove the ' idlies' while still warm and cut them into strips.
6. Grease the insides of a chakli press or a sevai nazhi / sevai press and  pack it tightly with the steamed idly strips. I used a chakli press.

7. Press the Sevai on to a wide plate taking care not to allow the strands to pile up  in one clump. Press all the idly strips into sevai strands. Do not forget to grease the press every time you pack it with idlies.

8. Cool the Sevai thoroughly and then season it as per you wish.
Lemon sevai, coconut sevai, sweet sevai, curd sevai are few of the varieties which can be prepared using the pressed sevai strands.
Here is how I prepared Par Boiled Red Rice Vegetable Sevai :

Carrots - ( Peeled and chopped into thin and long sticks) - 1/2 cup
Capsicum - ( Chopped into thin long pieces) - 1/2 cup
Cabbage - ( chopped into thin long pieces ) - 1/2 cup
Onion - ( Chopped into thing long slices ) - 1/4 cup
Ginger - ( julienned ) - 1 tbsp
Garlic - ( finely chopped ) - 1tbsp
Tamarind - 1 small marble size ball (Soaked )
Red chillies - 4
Small Tomato - 1 ( Chopped)
Salt - 1 1/2 tsps
Sesame oil - 3 tbsps

1. Dry roast red chillies and grind with soaked tamarind and the chopped tomato pieces into a smooth paste and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadai and add ginger and garlic.
3. Add all the chopped vegetables and stir fry vigorously until they become crisp and cooked.
4. Blend in the tomato tamarind paste and fry for two more minutes.
5. Mix in salt and switch off flame.

6. Mix the vegetables gently with the cooled Sevai . Cooling the Sevai before seasoning will help in keeping the strands long and unbroken. 

PAR BOILED RED RICE VEGETABLE SEVAI  is an excellent all time meal especially for children.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rasavaangi - Delicious Brinjal In Lentil Gravy


We returned from our native village carrying with us not only  the pleasant memories about our temple visits, the river side walks, and the tranquility, but also some garden fresh vegetables that we purchased at the Village "Santhe' ( Weekly farmers' market). I especially loved the  Varikattarikkai - a seedless variety of pale green brinjals with purple stripes - for its 'butter like' 'melt in the mouth' property when cooked. I could not suppress the desire to prepare Rasavaangi  which literally means ' Delicious Brinjal' the very next day. The Rasavaangi turned out delicious indeed, but the stripes had magically disappeared after cooking! 


Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal - 1 tbsp
Split black gram dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 6
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fresh coconut gratings - 2 tbsps
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp

1. Heat oil in a pan and add coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal, black gram dal and red chillies and roast till they emanate a pleasant aroma.
2. Add asafoetida and fry for half a minute more and remove the roasted ingredients on to a plate.
3. Add the coconut gratings to the same pan and roast till the colour turns golden brown.
4. Cool all the roasted ingredients and grind them together into a smooth powder.

Brinjals - 200gms
Split yellow pigeon peas / Tur dal - 1 cup
Tamarind - 1 plum size ball
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Soaked and cooked chick peas - 4 tbsps
Sesame oil -  1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

1. Add two cups of water and turmeric powder to the tur dal and pressure cook till it gives out three whistles.
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the juice.
3. Wash and chop the Vaangi / brinjal and keep the pieces immersed in cold water to avoid discolouration.
4. Add the chopped Vaangi / brinjal and salt to the tamarind extract and cook till the vegetable becomes soft but not mushy.
5. Mash the cooked tur dal and add it to the vegetable and tamarind mixture.
6. Throw in the soaked and cooked chick peas.
7. Mix the Rasavaangi Powder with water to make a thick and smooth paste and blend it into the Rasavaangi.
8. Cook till all the ingredients blend well and switch off flame.
9. Heat oil in a seasoning ladle and add the mustard seeds.
10. When the seeds splutter add the curry leaves and pour the seasoning on to the RASAVAANGI.

Enjoy the Rasavaangi with steaming hot rice topped with a spoon of fresh ghee.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Urulai Kizhangu Kanji - Potato And Leek Soup

 I wondered how a Urulai Kizhangu Kanji would taste, while my daughter-in-law started preparing Potato and Leek soup for dinner. I loved the aroma when the soup arrived at the dinner table. The easy to make delicious soup is a nourishing and comforting meal by itself. I was very happy to eat potatoes in a healthy way.


Red Potatoes - 250 gms
Leek ( Chopped ) - 2 cups
Onion ( Sliced ) - 1
Garlic - 2 pearls
Olive oil or Butter - 2 tbsps
Celery / Coriander leaves / dill- for garnishing 
Salt - 1 tsp
Crushed pepper - 1 tsp


1. Thoroughly wash and chop the  potatoes into big chunks.

2. Wash and chop the leek and onion into thin slices. 
3. Chop the garlic into small pieces.
4. Heat oil / melt the butter in a vessel and add  garlic, sliced onion and leek.

5. Saute till it emanates a very pleasant aroma.
6. Stir in the chopped potatoes.
7. Cover the vegetables with water and cook on medium flame till the potato is cooked.

8. Switch off the flame and blend the vegetables till creamy using a hand blender.
9. Add more water or vegetable stock if the soup is too thick.
10. Simmer the soup till it is about to boil over.
11. Mix in salt and crushed pepper and garnish with celery / coriander leaves / dill.

Enjoy a bowlful of the hot and delicious Urulai Kizhangu Kanji / Potato And Leek Soup with a  soup stick or a slice of crisp bread.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quinoa Vegetable Upma


My mother always playfully  comments about my 'mozha neela naakku'. 'Mozham' is a Tamil unit of measurement used to measure the length of a flower garland or the length of a dothi. 'Naakku' 'means tongue. A measurement taken from the tip of the middle finger up to the elbow is termed as one 'mozham'. 'Mozha neela nakku' means a tongue as long as a 'mozham'! Please, please! Pause for a moment  before your imagination starts running amok ! Foodies who have sensitive taste buds and who love to indulge in spicy and tangy food are supposed to have 'mozha neela naakku' ! Such people tend to convert any and every given ingredient into a delicious dish appealing to their 'naakku'.
That is what I did when I found Quinoa - a novel ingredient for me - in my daughter-in-law's pantry.
 When ever I tried to South 'Indianise' an ingredient, at times it turned out quite good. And at other times it ended up as a big mess!  My poor son and daughter-in-law had to bear all my experiments patiently! They  did, and also encouraged me in my endless  innovations!
Luckily Quinoa Vegetable Upma turned out to be a big hit !

Quinoa - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tsp


Add two cups of water and oil to the Quinoa and cook on low flame stirring occasionally till all the water is absorbed. 


Oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split black gram dal - 1/4 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 1/4 tsp
Chopped green chillies - 1/2 tsp
Chopped fresh ginger - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Onion ( chopped ) - 1/4 cup
Chopped carrots, beans, cabbage - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Juice of one lime
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.

1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
2. Add black gram dal and Bengal gram dal and fry till they become golden in colour.
3. Add onion, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves and saute till the onion becomes pink in colour.

4. Add turmeric powder followed by the rest of the vegetables.
5. Cover and cook till the vegetables are almost done and add salt.

6. Fluff up the already cooked Quinoa. 

7. Add to the vegetables.

7. Stir and blend well.
8. Mix in the lime juice. 
9. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Relish the Quinoa Vegetable Upma with a cup of yogurt or any chutney of your choice.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sabsige Soppina Koottu - Dill In Dal


Dill known as Sabsige Soppu in Kannada is a 'must eat' herb for 'new born' mothers for its galactopoietic and antibacterial properties. It also helps in easy digestion. Each family has its own postpartum  recipes.Young mothers living in nuclear families are eager to share their recipes with each other. This was a recipe given to my daughter-in-law by  her friend Shashi. Dill Koottu ( Iyengar style ) with double boiled soft rice had been  Shashi's staple when she had delivered her two kids.


Dill leaves ( cleaned and chopped ) - 3 cups
Green gram dal - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Pea nuts - 1/4 cup
Wash green gram dal and peanuts. Pressure cook with dill and turmeric powder adding 2 1/2 cups of water.

Fresh coconut gratings - 1/4 cup
Dry roasted pepper - 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cleaned and chopped coriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Grind all the ingredients together into a smooth paste adding little water.

Combine the pressure cooked ingredients, ground ingredients and 3/4 tsp of salt and simmer till all the ingredients blend well.

Serve the hot and fresh Dill Koottu on steaming hot soft rice topped with a spoon of fresh ghee.