Monday, December 2, 2019

Pudina Tokku - Mint Leaves Relish

PUDINA TOKKU
South Indian kitchens were always armed with huge jars of Pickles and Relishes to last for an entire year. In my younger days I could not relish even Sambar and rice without a Pickle or Tokku on the side. Some times the 'side' became the 'main' when I decided to enjoy Pickle or Tokku  mixed with rice! Times have changed. The huge Pickle Jars of ancient days have become show pieces of antique value. Umpteen varieties of Pickles and Tokkus are available in various food stores. Once when I came across a store bought Pudina Tokku bottle at a friend's place I could not contain the urge to prepare it immediately!

                                                         
INGREDIENTS                                                                            
                                                                                         
 Mint leaves / Pudina - 1 big bunch
Tamarind  - A small plum size ball ( Soaked in little warm water )
Salt - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 6 ( Broken )
Jaggery - A small plum size piece
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp ( Dry roasted and powdered )
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil - 3 tbsps
METHOD
1. Wash the mint leaves thoroughly retaining only the tender stalks.
2. Heat 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and fry the red chillies till they turn crisp.
3. Add the mint leaves and keep stirring till the leaves wilt and then switch off flame.



4. Grind the fried red chillies, mint leaves, soaked tamarind and salt together into a smooth paste adding little water if required.
5. Heat the remaining sesame oil in a kadai and splutter the mustard seeds.
6. Add asafoetida and turmeric powder followed by the ground mint paste.
7. Add jaggery and cook on low flame stirring all the time.
8. When the Tokku thickens and the oil comes out, mix in the roasted and powdered fenugreek seeds.
Allow it to cool down and store the Pudina Tokku in a clean dry jar.  Stays fresh for a longer period of time when refrigerated.

                                                          
Enjoy any meal with Pudina Tokku on the side. Or enjoy Pudina Tokku Rice by mixing half a teaspoon of Tokku with one cup of steaming hot rice.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pumpkin Soup - A Baby Friendly Soup for one and all

PUMPKIN SOUP
My youngest grand daughter was three months old when we visited her at Portland during the Pumpkin Fest season. We cooked pumpkins every other day and enjoyed many spicy as well as sweet dishes ranging from Sambar to Halwa making the best use of the season. My little grand daughter's happy face as she relished the simple Pumpkin Soup with a click of her tongue after every spoonful will always remain fresh in my mind.

                                                                      
INGREDIENTS
Pumpkin - 1 Small ( To make 4 cups when chopped )
Fresh ginger ( finely chopped ) - 1 tsp
Garlic - ( Peeled and chopped ) -1 tsp
Salt  - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon ( Optional ) - 1'' piece
Olive oil or Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
METHOD 
1. Wash, peel and chop Pumpkin into cubes.

                                                                             
2. Heat oil  - I like using Sesame oil - add cinnamon, ginger and garlic and saute till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
3. Stir in the Pumpkin cubes and roast for two or three minutes till a few pieces acquire reddish brown patches here and there.

                                                                             
4. Cover the pumpkin cubes with water and cook on medium flame till the vegetable becomes mushy.

                                                                                  
5. Remove the cinnamon stick after the vegetable cools down , and blend the mushy pumpkin adding enough water depending on the consistency required. I added 5 cups of water to obtain a thick soup.
6. Add salt and cook the thick soup and switch off flame when it is about to boil.

                                                                                 
Garnish with a dash of pepper powder and the Baby Friendly Pumpkin Soup is ready to serve.

                                                                     
Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds for older children and adults.

                                                                                 
 The crunch you get now and then lends an interesting texture to the smooth and silky thick soup.