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Rice & Dal/ South Indian

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chettinad is a region in south Tamilnadu and is well know for its unique cuisine which emphasize the use of various whole spices and fresh coconut. This month’s SNC challenge was a savory curry made in chettinad style. This was my first time preparing Chettinad cuisine and since I have not tasted this particular curry, I was not entirely sure about what to expect or how it should really taste. But take my word for it. it was absolutely delicious. The addition of coconut, cashews and roasted chana dal adds a whole new dimension to our regular onion-tomato gravy and also alters its texture in a soothing way. Curry leaves and the roasted chana dal reinforce the south indian flavors while chana dal pakoda with crushed fennel seeds offer a new surprise at every bite. All in all, it’s a wonderful dish, you can serve it with rice or idli or dosa.chettinad pakoda kuzhambu 2

south-vs-north-blue

 

Thanks to Priya from Priya’s Versatile Recipes for sharing this Chettinad speciality with us.

 

 

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chana dal pakodas dipped in South Indian gravy makes a perfect pairing with rice.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

For preparing Pakoda -

  1. Soak chana dal for at least two hours. 
  2. Grind chana dal with some fennel seeds and dry red chilis to a coarse paste. Add water only if needed.
  3. Heat enough oil in a pan so that you can deep fry multiple pakodas at a time. Make pakodas with your fingers and drop them in hot oil on low-medium heat. Fry them until golden brown. Keep them aside.chana dal pakoda

For preparing gravy -

  1. Grind all ingredients listed under "To Grind" above to a fine paste with some water.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan / kadhai, heat some oil and all whole Garam masala listed under "For Seasoning" and fry for a minute or so or until you can smell it.
  3. Add chopped onions and garlic and fry it for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomato and let them cook for  sometime.
  5. Now add the coconut paste and also add 4 cups of water. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt and give it a stir. Let it cook for 5 minutes with lid on.
  7. Add pakodas and let it simmer further for 2 minutes. Add more water if needed. Pakodas will absorb the water so make sure you add enough.

Serve it hot with rice / idli or dosa.

chettinad pakoda kuzhambu 1

Desserts/ Festival Special/ Maharashtrian/ Smoothie/ South Indian

Moogachi Kheer / Parippu Kanji – A Festive Lentil and Jaggery Porridge

A healthy festive drink!

Last Monday we celebrated Akshay Trutiya, a religious occasion which calls for a sweet treat. “Akshay” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and this day falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the 3 and 1/2 “the most auspicious days” or also known as “Sade-Teen Muhurt” considered by Hindus. It’s believed that Akshay Trutiya was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa’s dictation. It’s considered auspicious to start a new venture or a new job, buy new property and jewelry too.

Every year my aajji used to celebrate Akshay trutiya by buying a gold coin and visiting the Vishnu temple. And I used to wait for her to come back so that I could get the prasad – the sweets! She tried making new sweets every time and this Moong Kheer (Porridge) was one of those innumerable treats I have had from her. Parippu Kanji

Traditionally it’s served warm but I like it chilled too. A very simple lentil kheer with just over 3 ingredients. Easy to make yet rates quite high on healthy spectrum which is quite unusual for an Indian sweet.Here is what you need.

Moogachi Kheer

Moogachi Kheer

A festive healthy drink!  the two words fit in one sentence quite rarely!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Lightly toast the moong dal with some ghee in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Do not let them turn brown. You should be able smell their nutty aroma.Toasted Moong Dal
  2. Add one cup of water to moong dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistels. They should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot. It will have soft and smushy texture.
  3. Meanwhile, add jaggery in 1/2 cup water an dlet it dissolve completely. Strain the mixture in order to separate any impurities. Keep it aside.
  4. Using a potato masher or churner, mash the lentils so they become creamy but still have some bits in it.
  5. Put these cooked lentils and the jaggery solution in a pan and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
  6. Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.
  7. Take it off the heat and then add the powdered ginger and the cardamom. Stir well.

Let it cool a bit before you pour it in glasses. Serve it warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.

Tips:

  1. Toasting helps to bring out the nuttiness which makes the kheer more flavorful. But be careful not to turn them brown or it would overpower the taste.
  2. Before adding milk, stir frequently as it doen't contain lot of liquid and it may stick to the bottom and burn.
  3. Add basil leaves and a pinch of saffron before serving. Adds another dimension to the simple flavors.

Paruppu KanjiI recently came to know that this is also known as Parippu Kanji or Paruppu Kanji where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is  porridge in Tamil and it’s almost synonymous to Shivratri in some communities.  I think it completely makes sense. The kheer made of moong dal, a rich source of protein yet easy on digestion system and jaggery which is unrefined sugar, high in energy,  added with milk, sounds like a perfect recipe which is light but nutritious for a fasting day. Enjoy your healthy treat!

Breakfast/ Maharashtrian/ South Indian

उपमा / उप्पीट / Upma

Upma doesn’t really need any introduction. It’s as famous in Maharashtra as in South India. We also have a slight modified version of Upma + Turmeric powder which we call “सांजा  / Sanja”.  Very simple, yet wholesome healthy dish  great for breakfast. Upma with a bowl of soup has become our favorite choice for dinner.

Upma

It’s actually quite versatile recipe and can be made with semolina which is made of wheat, idly rava (made with rice),  vermicilli and even oats or couscous. Also you can add veggies if you like. I am giving our traditional home recipe.

 

Breakfast/ Roti Paratha Dosa & More/ South Indian

Pesarattu Dosa / Green Moong Dosa

Pesarattu – a famous dish from Andhra Pradesh. Not only easy to make but also easy to digest. I love these because they are so light and great for breakfast. Savory and nutritious.

Pesarattu - Green Moong Dosa

Pesarattu - Green Moong Dosa

An Andhra speciality

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Soak whole moong and raw rice in water for 6-7 hours
  2. Grind all ingredients together with soaked moong and rice to a coarse paste.
  3. Add water as needed to form dosa batter.
  4. On a hot tawa, pour a ladderful batter and make crispy dosa.
  5. If you like, add chopped onion and cilantro on top. 
  6. Once the bottom side becomes golden brown, fold it in half and serve with ginger chutney.
Desserts/ Quick n Healthy/ South Indian

Ulunthan Kali

This was my first time participating in Indian Cooking Challenge and I was very excited about it. Srivalli had asked us to prepare a traditional sweet from Tamilnadu. I had never heard the name before and surprisingly none of my Tamil friends were familiar with its name – “Ulunthan Kali”. As Srivalli explained, its known by various other names such as  Kummayam or Adi Kummayam or more popularly Thiruvadhirai Kali. The recipe was given by Padma.

The most impressive thing about this dish is its ingredients.; urad dal, rice, jaggery and sesame oil; all combined together to make a deliciously healthy dessert. The jaggery I used was quite pale in color, next time I plan to use darker jaggery to get a nice golden brown color.

ulunthan kali

Ulunthan kali

Ulunthan kali

A traditional dessert from Tamilnadu.

Note - Sesame oil can be substituted by ghee.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Dry roast urad daal and rice separately on a medium flame. Set aside to cool down.
  2. Grind daal and rice to make a fine powder (consistency of fine rava)
  3. Heat a few table spoons of water in a pan and dissolve the jaggery.  Once it dissolves completely, switch off the heat, strain the water and keep it aside.
  4. In the same pan, take 2 cups of water, add the jaggery syrup to it and bring it to boil.
  5. Add the daal and rice powder to the boiling water, and mix well. Add cashews if you like.
  6. Let it cool for 4-5 minutes, until it reaches halwa like consistency. 
  7. Add sesame oil or ghee and mix well. Let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Finally add some cardamom powder and keep the lid closed and take it off the heat.
  9. You might want to add a pinch of salt to balance out sweetness.

When I told my colleague that I was going to try Kali recipe, he got very excited. He started explaining me the recipe and he referred Sesame oil as “Nalla Ennai”. Sesame oil is so good for health that they refer to it as “Good Oil” in colloquial Tamil. I must admit, I really liked the flavor.

Urad daal helps improve our immune system and jaggery is rich in calcium and iron. This sweet is so nutritious that it’s given to girls especially at the time of puberty to strengthen their spinal cord and back bones. I really liked it.

South Indian/ Subji / Curry

Potato Subji with South Indian flavors

Quick and Easy with flavors you don’t want to miss!

Urad daal and curry leaves are very prominent in South Indian preparation. The two ingredients add distinct aromas making any dish instantly tempting.

Potato Subji with South Indian Falovors

Potato Subji with South Indian Falovors

The south Indian flavor is infused by Urad daal and curry leaves.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

A frying pan works better than a deep pan or kadhai due to larger surface area.

  1. Prepare tadka in a pan over medium flame.
  2. Add urad daal to tadka. Let the daal turn golden brown.
  3. Next goes red chilies and finely chopped ginger and turmeric powder.
  4. It’s time for curry leaves, let them fry for a minute.
  5. And then add chopped potatoes. Sprinkle some salt. Mix well and let it cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on.
  6. Remove the cover and let them cook further.

Garnish with fresh coconut and chopped cilantro.

Tip –

The subji tastes better if potatoes become slightly crispy. Once potatoes become tender, remove the cover and let them cook further for a two – three minutes. This way potatoes don’t become soggy.

Breakfast/ Rice & Dal/ South Indian

The Pongal

It was a Saturday morning, 11 am; my friend and I were waiting to be seated in a room packed with people and filled with aromas of Sambar and Madras Coffee. The heavy rains did not have any effect on turnout at this small local restaurant, ‘The Pongal’. As soon as we settled down, my friend ordered two plates of pongal. Wait, what? Isn’t it a name of a festival? Before he could explain, the food arrived. And oh my god it was nothing less than a festive moment. On a big banana leaf, there lies a big serving of ‘pongal’, two very tempting Medhu Vadas along with green chutney, red chutney and a bowl of Sambar. It looked like rice and dal with no tadka but lots of ghee, quite similar to our Moogachi Khichadi. I have never had pongal like ‘The Pongal’ anywhere else. This is an humble attempt to recreate the taste of Venn (Khara) Pongal.

Serves :4 Prep time + Cooking Time : 30 mins

Ingredients :

1 cup Rice
1 cup moong dal
4 cups water
2 tbsp fresh coconut
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp peppercorns
For Seasoning 
2 tbspn ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 green chillies
a pinch of hing powder
4-5 curry leaves
handful of chopped cashew nuts

Soak rice and moong dal in cold water and keep it aside as you prepare other ingredients. Finely chop fresh coconut and ginger. Slice green chilies in halves. Add 4 cups of water in pressure cooker, few peppercorns, ginger and coconut pieces. Drain the excess water from rice and dal and add both to this water. Add turmeric powder and close the lid. Let it whistle for 2-3 times. Once pressure goes down, open the lid and mix salt with it. Transfer it to a serving bowl, so that it retains the water content. If you keep it in pressure cooker for longer, the pongal may become dry.

It’s tadka time! Heat the ghee in a small tadka pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing powder in the same order. Add curry leaves, cashew nuts and green chilies. Wait for 1-2 minutes till cashew become golden brown. Add this sizzling ghee on the pongal. The cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing add so many flavors to this simple dish, you won’t be able to wait longer. Traditionally it’s served with coconut chutney, sambar and Medhu vada.

Pongal 101 –

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu and it coincides with the festival Makar Sankranti celebrated throughout India. Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over” or “spill over” which symbolizes material abundance in household.

Pongal is also a name of a popular rice dish unique to Tamil cuisine. There are two varieties – Venn (white) pongal which is a spicy (khara) version made using rice and moong dal quite similar yet different than moogachi khichadi (Maharashtrian comfort food); typically served at breakfast or brunch.

Sakkarai (pronounced Shakra) Pongal which is sweet, similar to Narali bhaat but it contains jaggery typically made during festivals and offered to God as prasadam.

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