Thursday, May 26, 2011

Manga Rasam - Raw Mango Soup

Once again it is mango season. It is time to include mangoes in almost all the dishes prepared for a full meal. Pickles, curries, salads, dals, sambar, morkuzhambu and chutneys, mango rice, sweets like halwa and payasam prepared out of ripe mangoes - the list of mango based dishes is endless. At least one mango dish a day, is the order of the day, as long as the season lasts!
Here is a recipe for Rasam which is an integral part of a South Indian meal - prepared with raw mango.

Raw mango chopped - 1 cup
Tur dal - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Powdered jaggery - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1 1/2 tsps
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Red chillies - 5
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - one small piece
Curry leaves - a few
Ghee - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves ( chopped ) - 1 tbsp
1. Wash and chop mango with peel and pressure cook with dal and turmeric powder adding 3 cups of water.
2. Heat one drop of ghee in a pan and fry asafoetida.
3. Add coriander seeds, pepper, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chillies and roast together till it emanates a very pleasant aroma.
( If asafoetida powder is used, add it just before the curry leaves ).
4. Lower the flame and add curry leaves and roast till they become dry.
5. Allow to cool and powder the roasted ingredients and keep aside.
6. Mash the cooked dal and mango retaining a few mango pieces as they are.
7. Add salt and jaggery and boil till they blend with the cooked dal mango mixture.
8. Add rasam powder and wait till it starts boiling.
9. Immediately add 500ml of water in a slow stream, holding the water jug high up , so that the rasam is topped with foam.
10. Lower the flame and add coriander leaves.
11. Cover with a lid and allow the rasam to gather more foam on top.
12. Switch off flame when the raam is just about to boil. Over boiling will kill the pleasant aroma of rasam.

13. Heat ghee in a seasoning ladle and add mustard seeds.
14. When the mustard seeds splutter add the seasoning to the rasam.

Enjoy the flavoursome Manga Rasam with hot rice topped with a spoon of pure ghee or  relish  the tangy rasam sip by sip from a tall glass topped with a dash of ghee.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vazhai Poo Curry - Banana Blossom Curry

Vazhai Poo or banana blossom is harvested from the banana tree, when the flower is distanced 'four fingers' ( abut four inches ) away from the banana bunch.
The efflorescence looks like a huge teardrop shaped bud, with each deep purple bract tightly covering a row of banana blossoms. Removing the bracts and finding the florets is as enjoyable as a treasure hunt. Preparing the florets for cooking is another interesting activity which can be indulged in by all the members of the family on leisurely days.
The Tamil names used to identify the inedible parts of banana blossoms are very amusing. The whole family has an exciting time finding and pulling out the stigma or 'kallan' meaning thief, encased inside each floret! The sepals or 'paavaadai' meaning skirt, covering the florets is also removed with the same gusto!

Chopped banana blossoms - 2 cups
Green gram dal - 1/2 cup ( soak for ten minutes )
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split black gram dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 2 ( broken )
Curry leaves - a few
Fresh coconut gratings - 4 tbsps


Grease your fingers well before chopping the banana flower to prevent black stains on your hands.

1. Remove the bracts and separate the florets.
2. Work towards the pointed tip of the flower till no more florets can be separated. The resulting yellowish pendant shaped portion is the 'heart' of the banana flower which can be chopped and used for the curry.
3. Open the florets one by one by rubbing the tip gently, using the tips of your forefinger and thumb.

  The stigma is seen  like a pin or match stick in the centre.The pink plasticky sepal is seen at the bottom on the right hand  side corner of the picture.

4. Pull out the hard plasticky stigma from the center of the floret,  and also the plasticky sheath like sepals which cover each floret.
5. Chop the florets and immediately immerse in watery butter milk to prevent  blackening of the flowers.


1. Boil 3 cups of water with turmeric powder and asafoetida.
2. Squeeze out the chopped banana florets from the butter milk and add to the boiling water.
3. Cover and cook on low fire for about ten minutes.
4. Wash and drain  the soaked green gram dal  and add to the cooking florets.
5. Cook without lid till the lentil is just done and not mushy.
6. Add salt and cook till all the water is evaporated and switch off flame.
7. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
8. When the mustard seeds splutter add split black gram dal and roast till golden brown in colour.
9. Add broken red chillies.
10. When the chillies are crisp add curry leaves followed by the cooked flowers and lentil.
11. Stir well till all  the moisture disappears.
12. Switch off flame and garnish with fresh grated coconut.

Savour the flavoursome Vazhzai Poo Curry with hot rice and sambar or with curd rice.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kancheepuram Idly - Spicy Steamed Lentil Dumplings

Kancheepuram idly is specially prepared as an offering to Lord Varadaraja Perumal at the Kancheepuram temple. The spiced up idly batter is steamed in baskets ( kudalai ), hence it is also known as KUDALAI IDLY.
Steaming the batter in banana leaf cups ( donnai ) adds an extraordinary flavour to  Kancheepuram idlies. I requested our family priest to make a couple of dannais during one of his visits and steamed my Kancheepuram  idlies in them.

Split black gram dal - 1 cup
Green gram dal - 1 cup
Beaten rice - 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Idly rava ( broken par boiled rice )- 1 cup
Salt - 2 tsps
Sugar - 1 pinch
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Black pepper - 2 tsps
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 1 tbsp
Chopped green chillies - 1 tbsp
Chopped fresh ginger - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - a few
1. Wash and soak black gram dal, green gram dal, beaten rice and feugreek seeds for one hour.
2. Wash and drain the idly rava and keep aside.
3. Grind the soaked lentil mixture till it becomes smooth and fluffy.
4. Add the drained idly rava and grind for two more minutes.
5. Blend the salt and sugar into the ground batter.
6. Store in a big container with a lid and leave it overnight for fermenting. The batter will rise to twice its volume after fermentation.
1. Heat oil in a pan and add crushed black pepper and fry till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
2. Next add the cumin seeds.
3. Add bengal gram dal and fry till it is golden in colour.
4. Add chopped green chillies and fresh ginger.
5. Finally add curry leaves and pour the seasoning into the idly batter, and mix well.( cashew nuts or fresh coconut pieces can also be added to the seasoning).
6. Grease the banana leaf cups with ghee and fill  the cups with the seasoned batter.

7. Place the batter filled donnais on the idly plates and steam for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker without the weight.


Peel out the Kancheepuram idlies from the donnais and serve them hot with chutney, molaga podi or onion sambar.


These idlies can also be cooked directly on the idly plates,  just like the normal idlies. But lining the idly plates with greased banana leaf strips will impart the special aroma to the Kancheepuram idlies.