Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beans Paruppu Usli

Always think of my dear athai paati... when I make paruppu usli... She taught me a small trick... and it works the same way...every single day... hehehe... I even got amma to try this recipe... and am really glad amma, appa, Keke (my lil bro) and Mr.B like this a lot... Always make this with mor kozhambu or vatha kozhambu... It tastes like heaven :)

What I used

3/4 cup channa dal
1/4 cup toor dal
1/2 cup fresh string beans chopped
4 dry red chillies
2 tbsp of oil
mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
curry leaves
Salt to taste

How I made it
Soak the dal and chillies in cold water for 2 hours. Then drain this completely ( there should be absolutely no excess water). Then grind this into a coarse mixture ( remember do not add water at all). In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the hing and curryleaves and then add the beans... Saute this for 2 minutes and add the coarsely ground dal mixture. Add a little salt and then place a lid on the pan and reduce the flame. Cook this for 5 - 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, add another tbsp of oil and then cook on medium flame. You can sprinkle a little bit of water at this point if you find it is too dry.Stir this and break up if you have any lumps of dal. Remonve when the dal and beans have cooked.

Soft and tasty Paruppu usli ready...

1. Amma generally steam cooks the ground dal before adding them to the beans. This makes the usli a little crispy... This is highly recommended when you make larger quantities.

2. Athai paati doesnt pressure cook the mixture, she just places the lid and cooks it in the pan on low flame.. This makes the usli softer ... this is recommended when you make smaller quantities. When you close and cook, the steam condenses on hitting the lid and this drops as water back into the dal and cooks it :)...

3. Never try to steam this mixture in the microwave...I tried this once and ended up with a lumpy hard mass of dal. Then I had to grind it again to get it to the right consistency.

4. You can also use Vazhappu (Banana Flower) to make paruppu usli... that turns out well too..

Microwave Mor Kozhambu

Microwaves have made life so much easier... When it comes to cooking for just 2 people or just yourself... It really comes handy... I have started experimenting the age old recipes in my lil microwave and they have turned out to tasting really authentic...Am Planning to post a few here..

What I used

2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut
1 green chiili
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
A small piece of ginger
1 cup sour curd (yogurt)
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of Hing
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
a few methi seeds (fenugreek)
curry leaves
1 Tsp of oil
1/4 cup Any vegetable of your choice
(pumpkin, okra, carrot)

How I made it

Grind the coconut, jeera, green chilli and ginger into a paste. Microwave this chutney for a minute ( just to get the raw smell of ginger out). Whip in with the curd, add salt, turmeric powder and keep this aside for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cook the vegetables for 2 - 3 minutes in the microwave and add them to the curd mixture. Season this with a little mustard, methi seeds, hing and curry leaves. Just before you serve, heat the mixture in the microwave for 2 minutes. Just until it is slightly warm. Serve this with hot steaming rice and paruppu usli...

This makes a lovely... simple yet yummmmy lunch...


1. Amma generally fries the okra... before adding to the mor kozhambu... That is simply declicioso...
2. Do not let the curd mixture boil ( or heat too much). This might curdle the whole thing. You should just slightly warm the mixture.
3. The mixture will initially be in a dirty white color, once you heat it, it turns into a beautiful lemon yellow "Mor Kozhambu"... So make sure you do not add too much turmeric... a small pinch goes a long way... :)
4. You can also use the normal stove top to make this :)

Healthy Bhel Puri

Chaats... how can one not like them...Its my all time favorite snack... I have been experimenting on various chaats these days, and people in my neighborhood... call me the "Chaat lady"... hehehe...Here is my recipe for a healthy bhel puri... or should I just say.. healthy bhel...:)

What I used
2 cups of bhel (pori)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 chopped cucumber
1 tomato finely chopped
1/2 onion finely chopped
a handfull of roasted peanuts
2 tbsp of sev (oma podi)
corriander leaves for garnish
1tbsp of mint chutney
1 tbst of sweet n sour chutney
A pinch of salt
A pinch of chilli powder
A pinch of chaat masaala.

For the Mint Chutney

1/2 a cup of mint leaves
1/2 cup of corriander leaves
1 green chilli
Juice of a lemon
A pinch of salt
A pinch of chaat masala

For Sweet n Sour chutney

Tamarind ( size of one lime)
2 tbsp of jaggery
2 dried dates
A pinch of salt
A pinch of chilli powder
A pinch of chaat masala

How I made it
Mint Chutney : Wash and chop the mint and corriander leaves. In a blender add all the ingredients specified above, sprinkle a little bit of water and grind it into a chutney. Keep this aside in a small bowl.

Imli Chutney: Soak the tamarind in 1/4 cup of boiling hot water. After 15 minutes, extract the puree. Add the other ingredients and grind in a blender. Remove this and heat this mixture until it comes to a boil. Cool this chutney and strain it.

For the Bhel:

Add all the veges, peanuts & bhel and the chutneys, and mix well. Check for taste and add the chaat masala, chilli powder and salt. Garnish with Sev and corriander leaves.

You can also add some crushed puris or mathis.

This recipe is simple, healthy and very tasty... Try it ... :)

Plain Dosa

Dosa is my all time favorite....Lots of Dosa innovations have happened over the years...masala dosa, chilli cheese dosa, tomato dosa, green dosa, onion dosa, vegetable dosa... these are just a few... But somehow, the taste of the simple plain home made dosa... can never beat anything...

Have it with a tsp of dosai podi, yogurt, and a lil sugar (for sweet people like me ;)..) ... You just wont believe... you will eat a minimum of 10 dosas....

What I used

1 cup of Urad dal
4 cups of Idli Rice
(Par boiled rice / Puzhungal arisi)
1 tsp of methi seeds
(fenugreek / vendayam)

How I made it

Wash and Soak Par boiled rice for 5 - 6 hours and Urad dal for 1 - 2 hrs. Add the methi seeds to the urad dal when and soak them as well. In the grinder(blender), grind the urad and rice seperately. Mix the two batters, add salt to taste and leave it to rest and ferment over night. On the next day morning, mix the batter well and add a little water to thin it out.

Place a flat gridle pan (tawa) and bring it to medium heat. You can use a non stick pan or the iron tawa. Spread a table spoon of batter on the pan. Make the desired size dosa, use a circular clockwise motion, and draw the batter from center to the circumference. Add 1/2 tsp of oil around the dosa. It takes 2 - 3 minutes for the dosa to brown on one side. Then gently flip the dosa to the other side, add 1/2 tsp of oil and cook for 1 minute. Remove and serve hot with chutney, sambar or the magic milagai podi..


Check out my tricks for idli batter. It is the same, except you can grind the rice smoothly for dosa.

If you are in a hurry, Try grinding the urad & Rice together... this works for dosa too...

At home, generally a amma makes idlis with the fresh batch, makes yummy dosa with a a day old batter , and the third day it becomes... Uthappam... and the fourth day... if there is any batter remaining... it becomes "kuzhi paniyaram"

Idli / Dosai Milagai Podi (Chutney Powder)

Here is my mom's recipe ... Her secret ingredients are coconut oil & sesame seeds and this gives a special aroma to the "idli podi"... this is so simple to make... Try this once and you will never think of buying from the store again....

We generally mix this with a little gingely oil (sesame oil) and serve this with idli, dosai, adai etc... I even eat this with chapathi and poori :)...

And some funny ways to mix chutney powder... Mr.B mixes a little curd/yogurt with it... and I top that combination by adding a little sugar to the mixture ;)

What she uses
1/4 cup channa dal
1/4 cup urad dal
10 - 12 dry red chillies
2 tsp of sesame seeds
1/2 tsp of coconut oil
1/2 tsp of sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar
a smal piece of raw hing (or use powder)

How she makes it

In a pan dry roast the sesame seeds. Then add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and fry the raw hing piece. Reduce the flame to medium - low heat, Add the chillies and saute for 2 - 3 minutes. Spread the chillies, hing and sesame seeds on a plate and let it cool. To the pan add 1/2 tsp of coconut oil, add the dals and roast them until they are golden brown. Cool this and add a pinch of sugar and salt. First grind (use a mixie or a spice grinder) the chillies coarsely and then add the dal and grind this into a slightly coarse powder. Check for taste. It might initially seem to be a little spicy hot, but once it rests for a day, the flavors and the tastes will blend with each other.


1. Keep the pan on medium heat, else the chillies and dal might get burnt and believe me, this causes a lot of smoke.
2. While tasting, if you find the powder very bland, then you can roast more chillies , saltand grind it again.
3. If you find it too spicy, then roast some more dal , salt and add it to the powder.
4. If you find it too salty, add 2 more chillies and a little dal.
5. Though you can store this for 3 - 6 months, mom prefers grinding it in smaller batches, in that way it stays fresh and spicy.

Mini Sambar Idli

Mini Sambar Idli... This is my little brother's favorite. My mom always used to make this just for him whenever she made idlis... To top it off...She would add a dollop of extra special love (ghee). the aroma would literally pull you into the kitchen...

What I used

Idli Sambar
30 Mini Idlis
1 tsp of ghee
Corriander leaves

How I made it

Use the mini idli molds instead of the regular idli ones. In a bowl of Idli sambar, add 15 mini idlis and soak for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp of ghee and garnish with corriander leaves. Serve hot. Am sure the kids will love this.

Idli Sambar

Idli Sambar, got this recipe from my MIL, believe me it is out of the world.... I have really started liking this sambar a lot... The trick is to add moong dal in addition to the toor dal... and adding more tomatoes, and cutting down the tamarind...

What I used

One Onion - chopped
2 big tomatoes - chopped
1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup moong dal
Tamarind ( half the size of a golf ball)
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp of sambar powder
3 tsp of oil for seasoning
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds (methi)
Curry leaves and corriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste
2 cups of water

How I made It
Pressure cook the dal seperately. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of water for 15 minutes and extract pulp. In a small cooker add 2 tsp of oil, add the onions and saute until they are transparent, add the tomatoes and saute until they become soft. Slit the green chillies and add them to the gravy. Add the sambar powder, turmeric powder and saute until the raw smell of the sambar powder goes off. Then add the tamarind pulp and salt and cook for a few minutes. Mash the dal well and add it to the sambar. Add another cup of water ( check for sambar consistency). Taste it and add a little salt or dry chilli powder if needed. Pressure cook this in low flame (for one whistle). Once the pressure releases, Season the sambar with mustard & methi seeds. Garnish with curry and corriander leaves. Serve hot with Idli, Vada, or Pongal.


Pressure cooking the second time, helps all ingredients to blend well and the sambar is of smooth consistency.

In addition to onion & tomato, you can also add other veges like carrots, brinjal (eggplant), drumstick

Make some mini idlis and dip them in a bowl of sambar... Garnish with a tsp of ghee and some finely chopped onions and corriander leaves... Yummy mini idli sambar plate ready :)

Make some medu vada... Soak the vada for 10 - 15 minutes in hot sambar...Garnish with a tsp of ghee and some finely chopped onions and corriander leaves... Yummy sambar vada plate ready :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009


IDLI is a staple breakfast for most South Indians... And am sure all the moms prefer to make the batter over the weekends... so almost every household, the monday mornings would start with hot n steamy idlis... Eat them with simple coconut chutney / tomato chutney / mint chutney.... or simply idli podi....Or even better... idli sambar... It is so heavenly and they pump up your mornings....
As a kid, I never used to like idlis, but with all these cereals and oats breakfast...... IDLIS have become a craving & a luxury...I am so glad, I got my own grinder... now I can make idlis whenever I want ...Yuhoooo...

What I Used

1 cup of Urad dal
4 cups of Idli Rice
(Par boiled rice / Puzhungal arisi)
1 tsp of methi seeds
(fenugreek / vendayam)

How I made it

Wash and Soak Idli rice for 5 - 6 hours and Urad dal for 1 - 2 hrs. Add the methi seeds to the urad dal when and soak them as well. In the grinder(blender), grind the urad and rice seperately. Mix the two batters, add salt to taste and leave it to rest and ferment over night. Place a layer of wet muslin cloth on the idli plate, and pour batter up to 3/4 in each mold. Donot mix the batter, because this may flatten the batter and idlis will turn out flat / hard. Steam cook this for 7 - 8 minutes. And serve hot with sambar, chutney or idli podi... Yummy idli ready.

1. With the skyrocketing prices of rice... Idlis have actually become a luxury... so I tried to mix 2 cups of idli rice with 2 cups of Long grain rice (I get the Blue ribbon brand from Costco). And luckily they turn out really well...Some of my friends have also tried 4 cups of long grain rice... But somehow, I like this better...
2. If you use a mixie, you might want to try 3:1 measure for rice: dal. If your idlis turn out hard, then you will need more urad dal. If your idlis turn out flat, you will need more rice.
3. The Urad dal normally takes 30 - 40 minutes to grind (depending on the grinder and the dal). Add in the water in small quantities in 5 minute intervals. This helps to make a fluffy batter.This should be very smooth and nicely aerated.

4. The rice would take 20 - 25 minutes to grind, just sprinkle water as you grind. Stop when the rice is a little coarse. Do not grind it very smoothly.
5. Mix the batter with your hand... this helps it to ferment better, using a spatula may not help sometimes.
6. During winter, heat the oven for only 2 minutes on 250F and then place the batter inside overnite. This helps the batter to rise even in cold weather.
7. Remember to leave room for the batter to rise in the vessel you place it. Mom generally places the bowl of batter on a plate, so that even if the batter rises and overflows, the mess is easier to clean.
I use a piece of wet paper towel on my idli plate. This makes life so easier, I dont have to think about washing and drying the idli muslin cloth.

Rava Upma

What do I say about this.... the very first rava upma I made was for Vembu thatha (mom's dad)... when I was 10 yrs old... He was really kind enough to appreciate my efforts ... he told mom... "Enna nanna upma pannirku paaren... thuli kooda ennaiye vidaama...." (She made some real good upma... without using any oil).... hahahaha....and made me feel so proud... Little did I realise ... upma tastes really good only when you add oil....

It has taken me this long to master this recipe... now Mr.B proudly proclaims... that I make the best rava upma ;).... better than his granma, his mom or even my mom.... My bro, mom, dad, MIL & FIL also second this ... hehehehehe...

What I used
1 cup of rava
2 - 3 cups of water
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 green chilli (chopped)
1 inch cube ginger (finely chopped)
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1tsp of channa dal
1 tsp of urad dal
curry leaves
2 - 3 tbsp of oil
salt to taste.

How I made It
In a non-stick pan, dry roast the rava place it aside. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and add mustard, once the splutter, add the dal, onions, curry leaves, chillies and ginger. Saute this until the onions are transparent. Add the rava and roast this for another 3 - 4 minutes. Boil 3 cups of water seperately. Add this boinling water to the roasted rava mixture and keep stirring. This will help avoid lump formation. Add another tbsp of oil & salt and mix well. Leave this on low flame to cook for 10 minutes. Once the rava is cooked, add another tbsp of oil & increase the heat to medium high. This will help to raost the bottom layer. Serve hot with some chutney or just sugar.

You will be roasting the rava 2 times, this will avoid getting lumpy or sticky upma.
This recipe calls in for a little extra oil... but believe me it will taste heavenly :)

Add 2 cups of water intially, then add little by little when the rava cooks. Do not add too much of water as it may become sticky and runny.

Goms paati used to
garnish the upma with grated coconut instead of using onions... and top it with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil... this taste toooooooo good too.

Amma also adds tsp of turmeric, 1 cup of chopped vegetables (potato, carrot, grean peas, tomato)... and this makes yummy kichdi... Serve this hot with cocounut chutney....

Sweet Somasi

This recipe has been passed down 3 generations... Paaru paati, then amma... now me... I vividly remember paati... making a sambadam ( box) full of somaasis for all the kids.... and amma used to make them every now and then... I was suddenly craving for these and made exactly 10 of these yummy treat :)...

What I used

1 cup of rava
1 tbsp of maida (all purpose flower)
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup of water
Oil for frying
For the filling
1/2 cup of roasted split gram (pottu kadalai)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cardamoms
1 tbsp of chopped nuts (optional)

How I Made it
Mix the rava, maida, salt and sprinkle water and make this into a smooth dough. Set this aside for an hour. (Just sprinke water, and make it a little hard, this way the somasi stays crispy). For the filling, grind the gram dal, sugar and cardamom into a powder. Check for taste and add more sugar if needed. Mix in the chopped nuts.

Divide the dough into 10 parts. Roll out the dough into small puris ( Use a round cookie cutter / lid of any jar and trim the edges). Add 2 tsp of the filling in the center of the puris and fold them in half. This forms a semi circle. Seal the edges using a fork. Deep fry these in oil until golden brown. Cool these and serve. You can also preserve these in air tight containers. This makes a wonderful evening snack :)

1. The dough consistency - if it is too soft, the somasi will not be crispy, if it is too hard, the somasi will become hard.
2. while frying, the oil should be on medium heat, if it is very high, they will brown immediately.
3. Just place the correct amount of filling and ensure the edges are sealed properly, else they may open while you are frying and spoil the oil.
4. Fry only 2 - 3 in a batch. This helps them cook evenly.

Tamil Nadu style Biriyani

Biriyani from the south... We usually cook all the veges and rice together with the masala.. doesn't that make life a lot more easier ;), unlike the elaborate Hyderabadi style Briyani... where the rice and gravy are spread in layers (which ofcourse is the king's style of eating biriyani).... The freshly ground spices gives it the extra kick....Serve this with some vege raita... it simply is awwweeessssooommmeee...

What I used
2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
2 bay leaves
1 anise star
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 onion cut length wise
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup of green bell peppers
1/2 cup red bell peppers
1/2 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup string beans
5 florets of cauliflower
1/2 cup potatoes
1 cup of rice
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tbsp of thick curd
2 cups of water
2 tsp of ghee
Salt to taste

For fresh garam masala
2 green cardamoms
2 cloves
1/2 tsp of pepper corns
1 tsp of corriander seeds
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cinnamon sticks

How I Made it

In a pan, dry roast all the spices in low flame and grind this into a powder. Heat the ghee in a pan add a tsp of fennel, one anise star, 2 bay leaves and fry for a minute.Then add ginger garlic paste and shallots and cook until the raw smell disappears. Add the onions and saute until they become transparent. Add the chilli powder and 1 to 2 tsp of the freshly ground garam masala and saute for 2 minutes. Add all the vegetables and salt and saute for another 3 - 4 minutes. Add the rice and fry for another 2 minutes. Then add 2 cups of water and mix well, check for salt and spices and mix in the yogurt. Pressure cook this on medium flame. Garnish with mint leaves and serve hot with yogurt raita.

For the Raita - Mix in 1 cup of fresh thick yogurt with 1 cup of finely chopped cucumber, onions and tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt and chilli powder. Garnish this with corriander leaves. You can also add a dollop of sour cream to make this more creamier and rich :)

Yummy Biriyani Ready !!!

Cut the vegetables into 1 inch (larger) cubes (this way they will cook evenly with the rice).
You can use normal rice (Basmati rice is optional). But use only 2 cups of water and see to that you do not over cook when you leave it in the cooker.

You can use any mix of the vegetables. Or just use onions and mushrooms for a yummy mushroom biriyani.
You can also substitute the yogurt with coconut milk... this is just to neutralise the spicyness of the garam masala...

Vatha Kozhambu & Potato Kari

I guess I have a lot of fans for my Vatha Kozhambu .... mostly the bachelor guys...So here you go...This is mostly amma's way of making vatha kozhambu.... just that I let it reduce for a little longer... Eat it with "sutta Applam" (roasted pappad) or "Potato kari with onions"....
Its just DIVINE...
Amma... this reminds me of the enumerous saturday afternoons that we used to spend together... chatting and munching this deadly combo... Love it amma...and miss them a whole lot....

What I used

1 onion chopped
1 golf ball size tamarind
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds (methi)
2 tbsp of oil (sesame)
2 tsp of Toor dal
3 dry red chillies
1 tsp of sambar powder
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
2 cups of water

How I made it
Boil a cup of water and soak the tamarind for 10 minutes. Extract the pulp once it is cool. In a pan add 2 tsp of oil and add the toor dal and fry this, then add the onions and saute them until they soften. Reduce the heat to low and add the sambar powder and another tsp of oil and fry until the raw smell of the sambar powder goes off. Then add the tamarind pulp and salt and mix well and allow the mixture to reduce. Check for the taste and add another cup of water.Once the mixture boils down, add another 2 tsp of oil and remove from the flame. For seasoning, in a pan heat a tsp of oil and add the mustard seeds, once they splutter add the methi seeds, red chillies and the curry leaves and pour this on the vatha kozhambu.

This is really easy, and if you reduce this mixuter until the oil seperates, you will be able to store it for 8 - 10 days. However, it tastes so good... you would not want to keep it aside ;)

Tips: You can also substitute, okra, drumsticks, pumpkin for the onions. The most famous ones are frying up a tbsp of manathakkali (black nightshade) vathal, or sundakkai (turkey berry) vathal and adding it finally while seasoning.


2 Cups of cut potato
1 cup of chopped onions
1 tsp of mustard seeds
2 tsp of oil
tsp of red chilli powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
salt to taste
Curry leaves.


Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and once the splutter add the cut onions and saute until they become transparent. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and fry for another minute. Now add the potato, salt and then place a lid and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Remove the lid and then cook on medium heat until the potatoes get crispy. Add the curry leaves and serve with rice and vatha kozhambu....

This is a deadly combination.... You will simply love this...