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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bisi Bele Huli anna / Bisi Bele Bhaath

Need a brilliant one pot meal loaded with nutrition - think Bisi bele Bhaath (baath) / bisi bele huli anna. You could cook it in a rice cooker or a pressure cooker. This is a very versatile dish and could be made with any vegetable of your choice.

Etymology: Bisi bele bhaath literally means hot dal and rice. My ammama tells me that adding vegetables must have happened eventually :-). Traditionally this dish must be the kannadiga version of the tamil Venn pongal (made from rice and moong dal). Bisi Bele bhaath uses Tur dal instead of moong. This Karnataka cuisine classic includes everything from the basic food groups
- wholesome goodness of vegetables
- protein from tur dal
- Flavour and digestive properties of red chillies, tamarind pulp, salt, turmeric, khuzhambu powder, asafoetida (hing)
- antiseptic properties of turmeric powder
- Essential carbs from the brown rice (i prefer brown rice, you could use any rice of your choice)
- Vital Vitamin A from curry leaves
.. and lots more!

The Recipe...
You need: Serves 2
Brown Rice- 1 cup
Tur dal- 1 cup
Tamarind pulp - 1/2 cup
Khuzhambu powder - 1 tsp
salt to taste
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp or lesser
hing - a pinch
curry leaves -5
Vegetables of your choice
(I used Red cabbage, carrots, beans, potato, Bengaluru kathrikkai (chow chow))
oil (to saute' vegetables) - 1/2tsp
Cilantro / corainder leaves for garnish

Bisi bhelle Masala / powder (serves 2)

Dry or Fresh Coconut (shredded) - 2tbsp
Corainder seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2tsp
Chana dal - 1/2tsp
Urad dal - 1/2tsp
Rice - 1/4 tsp
Red chillies - 2

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1/2tsp 
jeera / cumin - 1/2  tsp
Curry leaves - 5-6
hing - a pinch
red chillies - 2
clove- 1 (optional)
elaichi - 1 (optional)
dalchini (cinammon) - small piece (optional)

  • Wash tur dal and rice, dice vegetables and wash well and soak for a few minutes (Saves energy)
  • Dry  roast bisi belle masala ingredients and fine grind them into a powder
  • Saute vegetables in a tsp of oil and add salt, turmeric, khuzhambu powder, hing and curry leaves. 
  • Drain and mix in washed rice and tur dal and saute for a minute
  • Add the Bisi Bele masala powder and saute for half a minute
  • I like to add a few corainder leaves /cilantro  while the dish is cooking apart from using it for garnish
  • Add the tamarind pulp and pour enough water to cook the rice, dal and vegetables
  • you could add water to vary the consistency of your dish (you could cook it a bit put together or do it the traditional way which is a bit flowy )
  • pressure cook upto two whistles or in a rice cooker until done
  • Tempering : Add ghee in a kadai, mustard seeds, let it crackle
  • add (cumin) jeera, curry leaves and green and red chillies and saute 
  • Pour over the rice and serve with yummy raitha or mooru khuzhambu
  • Garnish with cilantro/corainder leaves. 

  • I skipped the tempering to avoid use of excess oil 
  • You could use dry coconut for the masala powder and refrigerate it for future use 
  • You use this powder to make your thoran /poriyal/ dry vegetable fries (a brinjal, potato fry with this powder tastes like heaven)

PS: This is how my amma makes it so I follow the same recipe...There could be let me know of you prepare it differently!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegetarian / Vegan Chocolate Raisins Cake

This cake is very close to my heart because this is the first cake recipe I ever tried. I must have baked a hundred of them over the last few years!! :). The title says vegan...becuase chocolate powder used in this recipe is pure coco and not dutch processed or milk chocolate( :))

Here is the simple, sweet and quick whip up recipe with minimal number of ingredients....It is low in calories and vegan too!!

You need:
2 cups whole wheat flour  (jndian roti flour/ atta)
1 cup raw sugar (or light brown sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp elaichi (Cardamom) powder
1tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp chocolate powder unsweetened
2 tbsp raisins
1/3 cup olive oil or roasted almond powder
1/2tsp salt
1 cup water or milk

  • mix all the dry ingredients together
  • add oil/almond powder, water and lemon juice or orange juice and mix well
  • Grease a 8x8 pan and pour the contents
  • (I use even the pre heat time ) bake at 350 f or 25-30 minutes 
  • Do the fork test and if it comes out clean, are done!

Who knew that the yummiest, moist Chocolate Cake ever is so easy to bake..try it and let me know how it tastes....a slice anyone?
Sorry about the uneven hubby couldn't wait for the cake to cool!!!So now you know why we are asked to wait until the cake is

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random musings

It is a crusade of sorts against junk food and excessive dependence on unnecessarily packaged, or canned food. I keep requesting friends and family not to expose their children to store bought snacks and cookies. Before we reach out to buy a plastic wrapped cookie pack, we need to think about all the chemical formulations which must have gone into extending their shelf life. This applies to store bought diced fruits, frozen vegetables, and juices as well. Do we really need to feed our ourselves and the future generations with all this junk and the unnecessary dosage of chemical.
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As a rule, any organic or health food is never "yummy". Food processing companies have been constantly feeding our imagination with numerous ads and campaigns. And the entire population has actually bought the idea of convenience over healthy food habits. It hurts to see children get stubborn about eating out all in the name of finding a small plastic toy in their meal pack.

It pains to see that these companies do not look beyond marketing techniques, sales reports and year wise profits. These numbers and figures seem more important than the health and well being of population in general. Are there FMCGs which thinks beyond sales reports and marketing plans and genuinely think about public health?...My search is on...

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The food processing industry may have penetrated an average family's pantry to a great extent but things can change, parents need to put in effort to save their children from kidney failures, gall bladder issues, fertility and neurological problems. Lead and other metal deposits from canned food, BPA from plastic bottles, tertra packs and other plastic packaging, are the silent killers. The sooner we wake up the better for all of us..We need to reinstate our faith in Vasudeva Kutumbam (sanskrith)- which means - the whole world is one family....tragedy for any one member in the family ripples out to affect everyone among us....Doesn't the same fundamental prove right with every issue our planet is facing today?...I pray for everyone of us to live minimal and remember that our planet is not ours but has been loaned to us by our future generations...We are responsible for what we do today, as it is sure to leave an impact for our future generations to deal with. We think about accumulating wealth and money for our children and leave out the most important point...a healthy living environment for them to enjoy all the money we plan to leave....all this reminds me of H G Well's idea of the 22nd century ....:(...i just hope it wont turn out as bad as he imagined it to be...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vegetarian / vegan whole wheat Ginger Snap cookies

I had promised that I would make a batch of yummy ginger snap cookies and post it on my blog. These were an eggless version of the AT - recipe...Better late than never! Though the baking and the picture clicking happened a long time ago, I could get to writing about it only now....
These cookies are aptly called "Snap cookies". I am not sure if it is because of the time required to make them or the snappy gingery flavour....They are wholesome and yummy - Made from whole wheat and jaggery or light brown sugar..

You need: makes about 25 cookies
whole wheat flour - 2 1/4 cups
baking soda -1 teaspoon
ground garam masala (Indian all spice mix)- 2 teaspoons (or lesser)
ground ginger - 2 teaspoons
salt -1/4t
Jaggery - 2/3 cup or Light brown sugar - 1 cup
butter / oil - 4tbsp
lemon or orange zest - 1 tsp
Vinegar or lemon juice- 1tbsp
Elaichi powder - 2tsp
water - 1/3 cup or as required (the dough must be consistent enough to be rolled )
one bowl of raw or white sugar to roll cookies

  • Use the middle position in the oven and preheat at 350 F  
  • Mix jaggery or sugar and oil and whisk them together with your hand (preferably)
  • Once they blend well, add dry ingredients into the suagr oil mixture
  • Add orange or lemon zest, (Cardamom) elaichi powder, water, the lemon juice/vinegar
  • to make even sized cookies, use a tablespoon, scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl.
  • Shape each spoonful into a ball and roll the ball in some raw sugar.
  • The dough will look a bit mushy and wet, moisten your hands with water before you roll out the cookies.
  • Once it's coated evenly, place in on a cookie sheet. Pat it down gently in the middle
  • Space cookies 2" apart and Bake at 350 for 10 minutes exactly
  • Thing to note: Let the cookies remain on the sheet for 1 minute.
  • Shift them onto a different plate or a cooling rack
  • once cool; store them in an air tight container
Yummy home made easy cookies in a Snap!!

Sugar facts
Raw sugar is the minimal processed version of the sugar derived from its source, say Cane.  For example, the Turbinado sugar. It is not exactly Raw in nature, it is just that it goes thru minimal processing and cleaning.
Image source: wiki

White sugar is sugar  from cane minus the molasses spun out by a centrifugal process.
Image source: wiki

Brown sugar is nothing but white sugar with molasses added back to it.
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Other natural sweetner choice?- How about Jaggery?  Another version of the cane-juice processed traditionally on high flame but not put through centrifuge.
Image source: wiki

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Italian all the way - Know your pasta!

I love pasta and to be specific, the whole grain and multi-grain variety. I cant tell you enough about my maida Phobia. I was introduced to different pastas during my Business School intership at Bambino Agro Ltd. For people who don't know, Bambino is a generic pasta/vermicelli brand in India. The project I worked on was their new product launches (Varieties of Pasta) (inventory management, raw material sourcing among a few other topics). Although international brands were available locally, they were too expensive for an average middle class kitchen pantry.

I have had my family members ask me questions about pasta ever since my internship...Being the pasta guru in the family ("smiles"), I have taken it upon myself to clear their doubts and provide well researched answers to their FAQs. Not that I am an expert, but yes, my research interests are a mixed bag. I love researching about food, among everything else. (Force of habit I guess.)

International vegetarian cuisine are always a draw for me. A small introduction to the shapes and their names would work well at this point.

We find pasta in long, tubular, spirals, rounds, and other fancy shaped varieties. Wiki mentions that pasta was introduced to Italy thanks to the silk route and European trade with china.

The varieties...
Spaghetti,  is the most popular pasta and works well with simple olive & tomato sauce due to its thin, round strand like shape. It is generally difficult to eat them with chunky veggies and sauces with meat chunks.
This is a whole wheat version.

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Bucatini is a thick, round strand with a hole in the center

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Conchiglie : Look like tiny shells

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Fettuccine :(look like a flatter versions of spaghetti)...

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 Farfalle : Are the bow tie shaped pasta
Image source: wiki

LINGUINE  are flat, smooth strands of pasta and generally a preferred pasta in fancy Italian restaurants

Image source: culinariaitalia.files.wordpress

FUSILLI they look like drill bits or rather corkscrew :-) and look very pretty in a soup or a salad. Look at these lovely tri coloured fusilli
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PAPPARDELLE are very similar to fettuccine, but are wider. they taste really good with strong sauces and flavours. However I have never seen them paried with white sauces or cream based sauces

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RIGATONI Ridged, tubular shape works with chunky sauces and baked dishes

PENNE is another very popular tube shape pasta which complements most sauces and ingredients; It is generally very chewy so holds up well in baked dishes.

Image source: wiki 

ORECCHIETTE are very cute cup shaped pasta which are good to go with a vegetable of your choice. This works well in string flavoured sauces
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TAGLIATELLE looks similar to fettuccine, but is a wider and more substantial pasta served generally with meat and tons of vegetables and chunky sauces
 Image sources: wiki
Bavette is an imaginative version of Spaghetti as it is flatter and has a slightly convex shape. This helps them  capture a wide variety of flavours and also work well with lighter and delicate sauces as well.
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Orzo pasta is in the shape and size of a rice grain. Works well in a wide range of recipes, say in soups, salads and as side dishes served with meat or grilled veggies.
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Vermicelli literally means little well in soups, sauces and is a great dessert ingredient...who doesnt love a bowl of yummy vermicelli kheer/payasam. :-). I make crazy varieties of main course wiht this pasta variety.>>here is the link to an earlier post
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While researching for shapes and varieties of pasta, I came across this comprehensive list here
Go pasta way, say once a week and enjoy your meal!!!

Special mention - Coconut

God's own country, Kerala.

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Think of this land of backwaters and luscious greenery and you think of long winding canals lined with coconut trees. Not just Kerala food, but cuisines from southern karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are known for extensive use of coconut, banana and jackfruit. No meal is ever cooked with out coconut making an appearance in the ingredients list (at least for one dish).

Coconut and banana in particular are two wonder plant varieties. I call them this because every part of the plant species are used in some form or the other. Take the case of coconut, apart from the edible part of this "nut". shells, fiber and the roots are used to make different things to fit into our lifestyle. Coir mattresses, ropes, door mats, carpets and much more. Icing on the cake being, any product made from coconut coir is eco-friendly and supports small and medium scale industry in regions where coconut palm grows is in abundance.

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Can you imagine eating a plate of Idli, dosai / dosa or oothappam with out that cup of fresh chutney? People familiar with coconut chutney would know what I mean!!!

We can make two simple varieties of coconut "dips" (too much of Food One being the simple raw ingredients chutney and the other roasted ingredients thuvayal (or kobbari pacchadi in telugu)

I thought I would write about two very yummy coconut chunteys in this is the simple coconut chutney and the other a slight twist to the usual chutney called the Manga-thenga chutney

Coconut Chutney (serves 4)

what you need
Raw coconut - 1 cup
putana /groundnut/almonds - 2 tbps
Green chillies - 4/5
Tamarind - 1 small strip
salt - to suit your taste
hing - 1 pinch
curry leaves

Grind everything together and temper it with mustard seeds, urad dal and red chilli (optional)

The variation I was talking about is called the Manga-thenga chutney (raw mango and coconut respectively in tamil).

What you need

Raw coconut (shredded) - 1 cup
Raw mango - (cubed/chopped with the skin) - 2tbsp
roasted groundnuts - 2 tbps
Green chillies -2
Red chillies -1
Sun dried tomatoes - 4-5 pieces
salt - to suit your taste
hing - 1 pinch

curry leaves
cilantro/coriander leaves

Grind everything together and temper as usual with mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal and red chilly. Garnish with cilantro(coriander leaves)

Enjoy these chutneys with idli, dosai, adai or pesarattu. or mix in curd to make a yummy thayir pacchadi or raitha! PS: Coming up...Coconut thuyaval and more on my love for this very versatile "fruit. Until then take care and eat healthy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pesarattu - Payaru Dosai - (moong dosai)

Pesaru means Moong and attu is dosai (tamil) in telugu. Pesarattu is a trademark Andhra favourite generally served with a rava upma, allam pacchadi and coconut chutney. It is mostly eaten for breakfast, but it fill your tummy for lunch and dinner too!

What you need Serves 4

Moong dal with the skin (I used split variety with the skin this time) - 1 cup
Raw rice - 1/4 cup
Par boiled rice  or Idli rice - 2/3 cup
green chilies
red chillies
curry leaves - 12 -15 leaves
Coriander leaves /cilantro - handful
You must pre soak moong and rice, ideally over night or 8 hours. Proportions to mix in whole green moong and rice varies from one person's version to another. But ideally it is better to have more of moong and less of rice.

and grind it just before your attu session. My amma's way is to grind the ingredients long with some red and green chillies, curry leaves and ginger.
These ingredients give the dish an extra punch.

Rice is just to bring in that crispiness to the attu. A good pesarattu is tava roasted with finely chopped onions, cilantro/coriander leaves and ginger.

Here is a nutritious pesarattu served with Mango-Coconut (Manga-thenga) chutney and Podalanga (Snake gourd) seeds chutney 

Try out this dosai variety and let me know. :-)

  • Pesarattu when served stuffed with yummy semolina upma-  is called the famous MLA pesarattu
  • People with diabetes and those who want to avoid rice can mix in soaked semolina, broken wheat or even steel cut oats. They all work well. 
  • Pesarattu is ideal for winters as idli and dosai batters need to be fermented and this becomes difficult when its chilly outside :-) 
  • Pesarattu batter should be used when fresh ground and not be allowed to ferment as it increases gas (moong is a legume remember!). Refrigerate the batter for later use...Take care not to use any batter beyond three days from when it is ground.


Soba and other Japanese noodles ..YUM

Among the innumerable things we cook at home...Soba was on the menu during the weekend. I had an array of colourful veggies in the refrigerator and had a pack of these yummy Japanese noodles.

And, this yummy veggie delight had to happen.

Not only the Chinese cuisine, but the Japanese cuisine boasts of a decent spread of noodle recipes and varieties. Every variety I know of is made of buck wheat dough.

Know your noodle, the Japanese Style

Japanese noodles come in four forms, Ramen, Shirataki, Soba, Somen, and Udon

Ramen - The dough is kneaded with soda water to allow rising before the dough is pulled to form the noodle. Ramen is a thin noodle variety and is of Chinese origin. Ramen basically is a Japanese version (read corruption) of the name Chinese name"Jo mein" which translates to hand pulled noodles in Chinese. These noodles fluffy cos of the soda water and work well in soups. And this name has no connection to the brand Top

Then Japanese market has a wide variety of Ramen noodles, depending on the geographic location and the  in Japan.

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Ramen soups are categorized by flavors and are mainly of four kinds
  • shio ramen (salt flavored soup), 
  • shoyu ramen (soy sauce flavored soup),
  • tonkotsu ramen (pork bone soup),
  • miso ramen (miso flavored soup). 
Regular Ramen toppings include leek, seasoned bamboo shoots, dried seaweed such as Kombu, grilled pork, boiled egg etc.

Shirataki - noodles with very low carbohydrates and calories made from a plant called Konjac plant. These noodles, also called Yam noodles, is wet packed and ready for use out of the packet. These noodles are said to have no bad carbs and are said to be a good form of starch in your diet.

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I also remember seeing Tofu Shirataki noodle in the Asian market. And it is said that this noodle variety has been gaining popularity in the USA. These noodles are great in salads, soups, and even desserts!

Soba  - This is the noodle variety I bought home this time. They are  medium sized, buckwheat-based noodles with uses in cold and hot recipes. These noodles are inexpensive and have been found to be served on local food stalls and road side cafe houses. Soba is quite starchy and tends to absorb flavours well.Ypu could have guessed this by the creamy texture of the bowl of Soba I made.

Image source: wiki
We find two major varieties of this noodle,
  • Sarashina soba: thin, light-colored soba, made with refined buckwheat
  • Inaka soba: "country soba", thick soba made with whole buckwheat
Types of dishes:
Cold Soba is served with a dipping sauce and is a summer favourite.Hot Soba soups are served in a broth and topped with vegetable of choice.


There are various varieties of Soba noodles based on regional preferences.Another very interesting fact about Soba is that in most regions of Japan, it is eaten during festive occasions and particularly on the New year's eve. As such Japanese are known for their extensive hospitality and as part of this culture, people welcome their new neighbors by giving out soba. Soba, when compared to pasta or bread, also scores high on content of amino acid.

Somen - very thin, wheat-based noodles served cold with mildly flavoured dipping sauce and toppings. Although, winter calls for hot somen dishes (quite similar to ramen and Soba noodles)

Image source: wiki
It is better to cook these noodles in high heat (boiling is done similar to other pasta/noodle). Somen noodles work well in salads and stir fry.

Udon - thick, wheat-based noodles varitey which is hand rolled. It is best when served hot with dipping sauce and toppings. Cold serving recipes also exist for this noodle...the possibilities are endless!

Image source: wiki

Hmm...all this food talk has rats running in my tummy...let me enjoy this bowl of yummy Soba stir fried with red cabbage, red and yello bell peppers, onions and carrots. Tempered with ginger and green chillies and vinegar. Ah! divine.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Plantain in mustard masala (dry) - aava pettina aratikaya

This is one of those easy to cook recipes with a load of nutrition from plantains, and all the spices(mustard, cumin etc). I can gobble up any amount of thoran and fries before it reaches the dining table.

Plantain, banana stem (vaazhai thandu), banana flower and (sweet) banana are feature regularly  in our diet. I am a total foodie, a health conscious one at that.... because my amma repeats the nutrition chart with every meal she

Health facts

Plantain, Banana and its stem are known to be effective in treating high blood pressure and Renal diseases (Kidney). There is a difference between the usual banana we eat as a fruit and the raw green plantain we cook. Although all of them are botanically the same, the difference is in the sugar levels in each variety.This is why plantain is considered better for people dealing with diabetes

Banana Stem - Vaazhai thandu
Image source: wiki
Banana flower - Vaazhai poo
Image source: wiki

Banana varieties - (L-R) Plantain, red banana (nendram pazham), small banana (malai pazham), regular banana
image source: wiki
I love raw banana in any form, in avial, kootu, fry or as simple plantain chips! yum...The recipe featuerd in this post is is one of the most common plantain fries I make at home. Nothing fancy about the dish, just that we need to fold in a masala paste into the regular plantain fry.

 Plantain in mustard masala

What you need : serves 2
Raw plantain - 2
salt-to your taste
hing (asafoetida)-pinch
Turmeric powder-pinch
Khuzhambu powder - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 6-8
coriander leaves /cilantro - finely chopped for garnish
Water - 1/2cup
oil - 1tsp (I prefer coconut oil)

Mustard seeds - 2tbsp
Jeera/Cumin - 1tsp
Methi seeds - 1/2tsp
Green or red chillies -2
Ginger - 1/4 " piece

  • Slice the plantains into any shape you prefer - cubes/rounds/ 1" long pieces
  • Dry roast the masala ingredients and grind into a fine powder
  • Par boil sliced plantain in 1/2 cup water with salt, hing and turmeric in a covered container (saves energy)
  • Once the planatain seems to be al-dante (half done), add the paste and cook
  • Add oil and curry leaves to the cooking plantains and gently mix everything in and cook until the paste looses its raw smell
  • Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves
Yummy fry is ready to be served with rice or carb of your choice!

  • Andhra cuisine has a dish called Ava pettina aratikaya koora (avalu means mustard in telugu, aratikaya - raw banana)
  • Telugu and Bengali cuisines are known for their extensive use of mustard masala in their cooking.
  • Raw banana based recipes are common in South and East Indian, Sri lankan, Thai, Indonesian, Singapore and Malay cuisines

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thiruvadhirai Kali and Kootu

Kali is a sweet rice recipe paired with Savoury Kootu on Thirvadirai. This festival was on Jan 1st this year.

Thiruvadirai is one of the 27 stars or the "Nakshathirams" of Hindu astrological calender.One specialty about this day is the sighting of - Arudra or thiruvadirai star, considered auspicious by hindus. The festival, Thirvadirai, is celebrated in the month of Marghazi (November-December), on the day considered to be the ascent of thiruvadirai star. (Each day in the calender is associated to a specific star -one among the 27 stars in a hindu calender). People offer a rice based sweet dish to Lord Shiva - as he is associated with the Arudra star. Other star is sravanam or Thioruvonam is associated with Lord Vishnu.

As part of the ritual, I made Thiruvadirai Kali and Mixed veg kootu for the day.

Kali with roasted almonds and raisins

You need: Serves 4
Raw rice (I use brown) - 1cup
Moong dal (with the skin)- 1cup
Jaggery - 1/2cup (vary the quantity to suit your requirement)
Shredded coconut - 2tbsp
Elaichi powder - a pinch
raisins - 2tbsp
Roasted almonds - 2tbsp (coarse crushed)
Ghee - 1/2 tbsp

  • Dry roast the rice until it turns crisp and you sense a faint aroma..this would take a minute or so...make sure you do not roast for may turn the rice tasteless
  • Roast the moong dal for a minute or less.
  • Coarse grind rice and moong dal (helps in cooking faster)
  • Soak jaggery in a cup of water and strain it to remove sand and dirt
  • Pressure cook (two whistles) - the rice and moong dal with this jaggery water, 2 cups of water and pinch of salt (you may skip the salt), elaichi powder
  • Heat ghee in a kadai and add your raisins and almonds and mix it with the contents in the pressure cooker. Garnish with shredded coconut
Basic difference between kali and Chakkarai pongal is that we dry roast ingredients for kali and use raw rice and dal for pongal.

It is customary to cook a five or seven vegetable kootu for thirvadhirai. Odd numbers are considered auspicious in hinduism. This festive kootu calls for root vegetables ( I used roots vegetables and more!)

You need: Serves 4

Drum sticks - 2" pieces (say ten of them)
yellow pumpkin - cubed- 1/4 cup
Winter melon - cubed - 1/4 cup

Potato- cubed - 1/4cup
Yam (Suran)- cubed - 1/4 cup
Cucumber - cubed - 1/4 cup
Cluster beans - 1" pieces - 1/4 cup or less

Fresh Peas or pre soak dry peas - 2tbsp
Curry leaves - 8-9 
Hing/asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric powder - a pinch

To Grind

Red chilliles/green chillies - 4-5
fresh coconut - shredded- 1/2cup
Cumin seeds -2 tsps
Corainder seeds - 1tsp
tamarind pulp - 3tsps
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1/2tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
curry leaves - 4-5
oil - 1/2tsp

  • Pressure cook all the vegetables with salt, turmeric powder and curry leaves
  • Roast corainder seeds, and chana dal grind them into a fine paste with fresh coconut, tamarind pulp, cumin, chillies 
  • Heat oil and temper mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin  and your paste and vegetables and cook until all the ingredients blend evenly

Hindu Mythology associated with the festival

Ancient texts mention Arudra as being largest of the stars, even larger than the Sun. Tamil scholar Kandaswami Mudaliar said that Arudra star, if placed with in place of the Sun in our the solar system, would extend beyond the earth and touch Sevvai (Mars). The Aruda star is called Shiva Semporjyoti or Golden Red Flame due to its red brilliant appearance in the sky. Hindus believe that this radiant light denotes Lord Shiva's association to his function as one of the trinities (Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma). This day of marghazi,  Thiruvadirai star and new moon coincide, and that is when Lord shiva is said to perform his ecstatic dance, The Thandava. In Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, a magnificant abhishekam is performed for Lord Natarajar. Kali is offered to the Lord and distributed as prasadam.

Why Kali?
A devotee called Sendanar could offer only kali. He had the habit of eating only the left overs from what ever was offered to Lord Shiva and later distributed among devotees. It is believed that Lord shiva himself came down to eat the humble kali offered in Nataraja’s sanctorum. From the day of that miracle, kali is considered the special offering to Lord Nataraja on Marghazhi Thiruvadirai.

This day is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of  Saint Thiru Gnana Sambandar , in Seerkhazhi ,Tamil Nadu, India. Another Shiva bhakta, Saint Manickavachakar's birthday, also falls on this day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Puli Inji with green chillies

As the name suggests, is a dish made from Puli - tamarind and Inji- ginger. This tangy, hot and sweet side dish is a favourite in any Palakkad Iyer household. Festivals and special luncheons are never served without this dish to go with Saambhaar, rasam, kootu and poriyal/thoran. Hmm.. I love a nice saadhya/saapadu served on a fresh banana leaf. Coming to the recipe, this is my amma's version with fresh green chillies and ginger. As usual, my recipes include very little or no oil at all.

What you need ...
  • Ginger - grated - 3/4 cup
  • Green Chillies - chopped - 1/2 cup or less
  • Tamarind - size of a small lime
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • coriander seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • jeera - 1/4 tsp
  • Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch
  • Red chillies- 2
  • curry leaves - 4/5
  • Asafoetida - 2 pinches
  • Salt 
  • Jaggery - 3 tbsp
  • Oil- 1 tsp
  • Heat oil in a kadai and add the tempering ingredients - mustard seeds, jeera, coriander seeds, methi seeds red chillies and curry leaves
  • once the mustard crackles, add green chillies and saute for a minute
  • Add ginger and then add salt, asafoetida (hing), turmeric powder
  • Soak the jaggery in just enough water and strain it for sediments
  • Add the tamarind pulp a few minutes later, add jaggery water and cook until done (until ginger and tamarind looses their raw smell)
  • Let the cooked mixture cool and then grind

Puli inji goes well with thayir saadham (Curd rice)....YUM! Can be stored in the refridgerator for over a week. You could use it as a spread for your "bombay style" sandwich. I use it to make vepudu/thoran/poriyal.  This dish is a great digestive, no wonder it is a staple during festivities. We add jaggery to balance the heat from the ginger. Tamarind brings in the acid component to blend the heat from chillies and sweetness from the jaggery perfectly. Try it and enjoy!


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