Puli Molaga (Hot chillies in tamarind sauce)


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These beautiful red chillies came from my neighbor’s garden (She generously supplies her garden veggies throughout summer).  So gorgeous….so hot 🙂 I love adding them in all my cooking from upma to fried rice.  A few days back my neighbor’s son walked in with the handful of these and said ” I want you to have this, they are special because these are the last chillies in the plant”. Thank God for these beautiful children filled up with so much love 🙂 I promised him I will make something special with his special chillies.

Puli Molaga is a simple side made by cooking the chillies in  tamarind sauce. You can think of it as the south Indian salsa and it is a multi purpose side that can be served with rice, rotis, idli/dosa or as a spread for breads and wraps.

  • You will need a cup of pearl onions. If they are smaller in size , you can add them as whole. The pearl onions I had were bigger in size, so I quartered them. Cut the chillies in half inch pieces. You will also need some curry leaves.

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  • For seasoning , you will need :
  1. Mustard seeds
  2. Urad dal
  3. fenugreek seeds
  4. turmeric powder
  5. jaggery / vellam / brown sugar
  6. Asafoetida / hing

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  • Soak tamarind in water. The longer you soak , the more you can get out of the tamarind. Ideally, you soak it for a couple of hours before you need it. I almost always forget to do that, so I just soak the tamarind in water and heat in the microwave for 45 seconds. This softens the tamarind and makes it easier to get the juice out.

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  • Dilute the tamarind juice with water. It is hard to correctly predict how much “puli” (tamarind) you will need. I always try to make more than enough and store the rest in the fridge and try to use it within a couple of days.

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  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan.  Fry the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the urad dal. When the dal turns to golden brown, add the fenugreek. Then fry the curry leaves and the chillies.

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  • Saute the pearl onions.  You can use shallots instead of pearl onions too.

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  • When the onions soften , pour in the tamarind juice.

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  • Add salt, turmeric, asafoetida and jaggery (brown sugar) to the curry. Adjust salt and brown sugar accordingly so that there is a perfect balance of heat, sweet, sour and salt.

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  • Allow the curry to boil and reduce. Do not cover with lid. Any time you need to boil tamarind solution (for any recipe) you should not cover the pan with lid.

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  • Cook until the curry thickens and the oil separates.

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As I mentioned earlier, this can be served with steamed rice, breads, rotis and wraps. My favorite part of this dish is the onions, soft and juicy soaked in all the spices…..I just keep digging for them 🙂

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Adukku pathiri ( with veggie filling)


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This is a Kerala recipe, Malabar to be precise. Pathiri is a pancake(steamed) made with roasted rice flour. “Adukku” means layers. The rice pancakes are layered with some filling (usually meat or sweet) in between them. I  made a veggie filling with my favorite vegetables and the typical kerala coconut seasoning. May seem like a lot of steps, but quite simple to make.

  • To make the filling :
  1. Red onions
  2. Green peppers
  3. Red peppers
  4. Mushrooms

(These are the veggies I am using (my favorite pizza toppings 😉 ). You can use any vegetables of your choice. Cut the vegetables thin.

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  • Heat a tsp f oil in a skillet and saute the onions and peppers.

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  • Add the mushrooms. Add salt and pepper.

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  • While the mushrooms are cooking , you can make the seasoning. You’ll need :
  1. grated coconut : 2 tbsp
  2. cumin : 1tsp
  3. green chillies : 3 or 4
  4. ginger
  5. a pinch of turmeric powder

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  • Grind the above ingredients without adding water. Grind them just enough that everything blends, no need to make a fine paste. This is the standard seasoning used in Kerala for the vegetable stir-fry (thoran). It is simple but fresh.

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  • Add the seasoning to the sauteed vegetables and cook for a minute.

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  • This concludes the making of the filling. This, in itself,  is a good vegetarian side.

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  • Now to make the pathiris (pancakes), you will need the roasted rice flour. This should be available in Indian grocery stores in some version. Pathiri powder, Idiappam powder, Appam powder, puttu powder…..any of these can be used. If you can’t find it, just regular rice flour will work too, though there will be a slight difference in the softness of the pancakes.

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  • To a cup of roasted rice flour, add salt, a tsp of oil and some chopped cilantro.

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  • Boil water in a sauce pan, and pour the boiling water to the flour.

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  • Pour enough water to wet all the flour and mix with a spoon (as it will be too hot to touch).

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  • After a couple of minutes, when your hands can bear the heat, knead it to a smooth dough. Rubbing oil in your palms makes it easier.

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  • Okay….now for the fun part 🙂 Traditionally this is done using banana leaves. If you are not lucky enough to get one in your place (like me), here is an easier alternative I learned from a friend. (Trust me, this is much easier than using aluminium foil or plastic sheet).  Wet a paper towel (bounty or brawny, something that won’t collapse when wet).

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  •  Place a small ball of dough on the wet paper towel and spread it with your fingers. Make two pathiris.

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  • Place the filling on one of the pancakes.

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  • Now place the other pancake over the filling. This can be easily done by flipping the other pancake along with the paper towel over the filling and then peel off the paper towel.

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  • Press down the edges to seal.

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  • To steam the pathiri, I used my steam basket. You can also do it in your idli/idiappam maker.  Place the filled pathiri along with its paper towel in the steam basket.

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  • You can also cover the top with another wet paper towel. Steam for 5-7 minutes.

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  • And thats it….. 🙂

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  • All there is left to do is , slice and serve 🙂

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  • This one is done with 4 layers. The procedure is same though, may be a few extra minutes of steaming to ensure the inner pancakes are cooked through.

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This post is a dedication to all my friends from Kerala who through the years have shared their language, food ,culture and above all , their love with me.  Wishing everyone a happy Onam and a prosperous year ahead  🙂

Broccoli-Cheddar soup


I am having one of those “My computer won’t recognize my camera”  kind of days 😦 – probably time for a new cable. Its a little frustrating as I had a new recipe to post.  I recently read Celeste’s post on tips for bloggers  and one of them was to be regular with the posts. So I decided to post a recipe that I already had posted on my facebook page months back. Seasonally, it could be a little early for thick and rich soup as the evenings are not that cold yet, at least in my part of the world, but hey…we are almost there. So, here it is :

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(Originally posted on my facebook page on January 17, 2013)

I fell in love with this soup, the first time I tried it in Panera Bread. Such a warm, comfy soup – perfect for the cold evenings. This is quite a rich soup, I made it for dinner this evening, and thats all we had. It is so filling. Now the kids want every wednesday to be “Just soup for dinner” day. 🙂

  • Veggies you’ll need : Broccoli, yellow/white onions and carrots.

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  • For the soup :
  1. sharp cheddar
  2. Half & Half milk – 2 cups
  3. butter – 1/2 stick
  4. all purpose flour (maida)- 1/4cup
  5. chicken broth or vegetable broth – 4 cups

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  • Spices:
  1. Salt & Pepper
  2. garlic paste or ginger garlic paste or garlic powder
  3. nutmeg or  a pinch of garam masala or pumpkin pie spice mix

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  • Heat a tbsp. of butter in a skillet and sauté the veggies with a tsp of garlic or ginger garlic paste or garlic powder. Add a pinch of nutmeg or garam masala or pumpkin pie spice mix. Add a pinch of salt too.

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  • Cook until the veggies turn soft, remove from heat and set aside.

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  • Melt 4tbsp of butter in a soup pot ( I am using a shallow pan for easy pictures)

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  • sprinkle the flour and whisk to make a smooth paste..

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  • Dilute the paste by adding half and half milk , little at a time and stirring to keep the mix smooth and lump free.

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  • Add in the chicken or vegetable stock. Add black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg or garam masala or all spice or pumpkin pie spice . ( I used pumpkin pie spice). I wouldn’t add more salt now, as I already salted the veggies, and the stock has salt in it too.

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  • Simmer for 20 minutes.

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  • Stir in the sautéed veggies to the soup and simmer for another 20 minutes.

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  • Grate the cheddar.

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  • Mix in the cheddar and simmer for 10 minutes.

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  • The soup should not be brought to a boil at anytime. Simmer all the way from start to finish.

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Treat yourself to this heart-warming soup 🙂 

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Spicy plantains (Ennai vazhakkai)


After six weeks of vacation, my own kitchen looks so new to me. Everything looks untouched as my husband had survived with canned soups and packaged salads and the kindness of our neighbors 🙂 Even cooking seems like a strange thing. I guess that is the point of a vacation : to refresh and renew.  I am slowly easing into the idea of cooking three meals a day, everyday 🙂

Here is a simple recipe that doesn’t ask for much, easy to make and easy to eat 🙂

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  • I use the green plantains we usually get in the Indian/Asian stores, but any green plantain is good.

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  • Peel the plantains and cut them in half. I do a very gentle peel, by removing only the hard skin out and leaving the layer of soft skin still intact. It adds a nice texture once cooked. If you don’t care for it , you can peel off that layer too.

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  • Bring a pot of water to boil and drop the plantains in. Cook for no more than 5-6 minutes.

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  • When you see the change in color, remove from heat.

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  • Cut the plantains in rectangles. (If you think  the plantains are overcooked, just allow them to cool down for 30 minutes before cutting).

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  • Mix 2 tsp. of turmeric powder, 3 tsp. of chilli powder (more or less as you prefer), 1 tsp. of black pepper, and salt with water to make a paste. You can also add garlic powder or paste.

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  • Rub the paste on to the plantains and set them aside for 15 mins. You can refrigerate them too, it helps the paste to adhere better.

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  • Heat oil in a skillet and fry the plantains to a golden brown.

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  • This is traditionally made as a side for rice. But in my house, this never makes it to the table 🙂 Kids enjoy it as a snack and they call it the “vegetarian fish”…. 🙂

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