Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Boon called Telecommunication!

The way the world has advanced, and continues to do so at great speed, is kind of scary! At times I wonder how we managed before the boons of technology were bestowed upon us - like when we had to do all the washing by hand, or when we had to depend on snail-mail to communicate with someone overseas, or when we were anxious about a loved one who was late and there was no mobile phone to contact them. Although, I still do like the charm of handwritten letters and cards :)
Anyways, the reason for this ramble is that I felt like making my dear MIL's 'keerai kozhambu' and all I had to do was pick up my (cordless, see, another example for our clever technology) phone and dial the number to speak to her in the States, that easy! So, we chatted for a bit and she gave me the recipe and I made it for lunch today for the (adequately) impressed M! After all, mum's cooking makes our men all mushy :)

  • spinach, 1 large bunch - I used a tray of fresh baby spinach.
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped/sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked toor dal
  • 2 tbspns grated coconut - I did not have fresh coconut so I used desiccated instead
  • 1/4 tspn sambar powder or plain chilli powder
For tempering -
  • 1 tspn oil - use coconut oil for a more authentic flavour
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tspn cumin seeds (jeera)
  • a pinch of hing
  • 2 red (dry) chillies
  • 1/4 tspn chana dal
  1. Roughly chop the spinach. If you're using baby spinach like I did, then you don't have to chop it.
  2. Cook the spinach, garlic and onion together. I did it in the microwave. Let it cool completely.
  3. Then combine the cooked stuff with cooked toor dal, sambar powder and coconut in a blender. I just pulsed it a couple of times.
  4. In a saucepan/kadai, heat oil and add all the ingredients for tempering.
  5. Pour in the spinach and dal mixture and add water to get a sort of flowy gravy consistency.
  6. Add salt and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
  7. Keerai Kozhambu is ready to be served with hot rice.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A basket of fresh corn please!

I love warm corn on the cob with a just a hint of salt and lime! And the fact that it is low fat makes it an extra special favourite. So, the creamy, fresh corn is a regular resident of my kitchen.
One Sunday afternoon, M & I had the familiar craving for a chatpata (tangy) snack with tea. My pantry wasn't at it's very best, but I did have plenty of corn. So I went looking for corn recipes and found this one at vahrehvah.com. Quick and easy! Good old corn to the rescue :)

I think it'd be great for parties as an appetiser. I guess the patties can be made ahead of time and refrigerated/frozen and all that's left to do is shallow fry or deep fry them when needed. Maybe it could be put on the BBQ as well for a nice smoky flavour, and something to add to the veggie BBQ menu :)

We had ours with tomato ketchup and mayo, but I'm sure it'll taste great with mint & coriander chutney.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Having a good wife and rich cabbage soup, seek not other things' - Russian quote.

Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a negative calorie food. (Source: Wikipedia)

As a kid, cabbage was not one of my favourite things. I remember mum making either cabbage palya (a sort of dry, steamed salad) or cabbage huli/sambar (a sort of lentil stew). Then as I started cooking myself, the unfortunate cabbage was again on my list, as I loathed cutting it! I could never control it. It would just fall apart and spill over my chopping board, unlike other more disciplined vegetables that would stay put and get chopped obediently. However, I did start liking the flavour it had and actually quite started enjoying eating it. I would look at the fresh cabbage in the supermarket and although I'd put it into my shopping basket, the thought of chopping it would always lurk around in my head. But that was until M bought me a shiny extra-long knife! It makes cutting cabbage a breeze. It's also great for melons and pumpkins. Now, see, I know you must be thinking, 'of course, that's stale news!' but for me it was just a very recent discovery :)

So, today I made this very easy cabbage and potato dish. It's very healthy, is mildly spiced and tastes great with rice & dal (lentils) or with chapathis (Indian flat bread).
  • 1/2 a cabbage, chopped or sliced, as you like it
  • 2 medium potatoes, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium tomato, chopped
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic pods, grated
  • 1/2 tbspn ghee (clarified butter) you could even use oil
  • mustard seeds, cumin seeds (jeera), fennel seeds (saunf) - 1/4 tspn each
  • hing, garam masala, turmeric powder, sugar - a pinch each
  • red chilli powder, anardana powder (dry pomegranate), jeera powder - 1/4 tspn each
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander, chopped - to garnish
  1. Microwave chopped cabbage and potato until cooked.
  2. Heat ghee/oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add jeera, saunf and hing.
  3. Now add turmeric powder and immediately add chopped onion and saute until the onion is tender.
  4. Add ginger and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add chopped tomato and cook until soft.
  6. Add steamed cabbage and potato and give it all a good stir.
  7. Put in the masala powders, salt and sugar and mix well.
  8. Leave on low heat until most of the moisture is absorbed.
  9. Garnish with chopped coriander.
You could also incorporate some green peas and chopped carrots in this recipe for an extra boost of veggies.

For a quick bite at lunch, spread some tomato ketchup and mayo on freshly made chapathis. Place spoonfuls of the prepared cabbage and potato and roll. Easy and delicious. Wash it down with a tall glass of fresh spiced buttermilk, yumm!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A random medley turned yummy salad

We decided to have a quiet dinner at home on our anniversary. The usual suspects sprang to mind as I mused about the menu, but I wanted to make something else, something special. M nudged me for some Thai/Malay flavours and that got me started. I made a trip to the supermarket and built the menu as I walked through the aisles and here's what we had -

a beautiful, colourful and crunchy salad
Thai green curry with steamed rice
yummy, fresh fruits with custard for dessert
and a bottle of gorgeous red wine

A bunch of red roses and a scented candle made for a perfect romantic dinner :)

The salad, however, was the star of the night. We absolutely loved it! Inspired by the Asian flavours, I made up the dressing myself and it turned out real nice. I'm sure I'm going to make this salad again and again..and again! It's that good. Here's the recipe -

1/2 cup toasted peanuts
1-2 green chillies
a small chunk of ginger
1 small tomato, roughly sliced

1/2 a pack of mixed salad greens
2 carrots, julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 cup crimson seedless grapes, halved

1 tbspn lemon juice
a pinch of sugar
salt to taste
1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Combine the first set of ingredients in a food processor. DO NOT grind to a paste, just pulse it a couple of times to keep it crunchy and coarse.

Combine the second set of ingredients in a salad bowl. To this, add the peanut mixture you just prepared and toss well.
Flavour and garnish with the last set of ingredients.

It's best eaten immediately while it's still fresh and crunchy.
It tasted great with some crispy garlic bread.


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