Beans Paruppu Usili – Dry curry with lentils and string beans

Background:

K and I love the Paruppu Usili/Morkuzhambu combo. So much so it is our weekend ritual. It defines our idea of a good Saturday or Sunday. Feast on this exotic combination and wrap up the afternoon with a siesta. Because usili takes a good amount of work compared to the other dry curries we make, it is accorded a special place on our Menu Honor Roll.

Stuff you will need:

Green string beans – 2 lb – chopped into small bits
1 cup – thuvar dhal
1 cup – mix of channa dhal/moong dhal and urad dhal
Salt to taste
Long Red chillies – 10
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsps
Turmeric – 1 tsp

How to make it?

Cook beans with salt and set aside. Soak the dhals together for about an hour and grind with red chillies, salt and asafoetida using little water. Steam the ground dhal paste using idli plates. Remove, cool and crumble.

In a big kadai or wok, heat a generous measure of oil. When heated, add mustard seeds and wait till the pop. Add the crumbled dhal paste and fry till golden brown and dry. When done, add the drained cooked beans and mix in. Cook on low heat for about five minutes when the curry comes together. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serves four

Special Notes:

Paruppu usili can be had all by itself or as a side with rice and morkuzhambu.

Rang birangi dhal – Mix of lentils simmered in a tomato onion gravy

Background:

A good way to use up small amounts of dhals leftover. It is wholesome, nutritious and pretty filling. Goes well with rotis and or parathas. Also good as a hearty soup.

Stuff you will need:

A handful each of the following mixed, washed and soaked overnight or through the day.

Masoor dhal
Channa dhal
Kabuli channa
Cow eyed peas
Black whole urad dhal
Green whole moong dhal
Rajma

Onion – 1 large
Plum tomatoes – 4-5
Garlic – 1 pod chopped
Ginger – 1 inch cube chopped
Green chillies – 3 slit
Spring onion  – 1 chopped to garnish
Shahi Dhal masala – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Ghee – 3 tsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tsp
Jeera or panch puran – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful chopped

How to make it?

In a small pressure cooker heat ghee and add the panch puran or jeera. When it browns add ginger, garlic and green chillies. When they are fried, add turmeric, kasuri methi and dhal masala and stir a bit. Add onions and saute till light pink, add tomatoes and salt and close and cook till ghee separates out. Now add the soaked and drained dhal. Add three cups of water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. When done garnish with spring onions and cut coriander leaves

Serves four

Special notes:

Adjust water to achieved desired consistency of dhal. A dash of lime juice may be added if needed.

Godhuma Dosai – Wheat flour crepes/pancakes with green chillies and ginger

Background:

Days when I have had enough of quick and easy upmas and pongals, I turn to this favorite. Easy enough to whip up and a novel change from the rice based dishes, K and I love it with a side of peanut chutney

Stuff you will need:

Wheat flour – 2 cups
Rice flour – 1 cup
Salt – 1-1/4 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Buttermilk – 3/4 cup
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Black pepper – 2 tsp – broken into halves
Water – 6 cups
Green chillies – 1 – chopped
Ginger – 1/2 inch cube – chopped
Oil to shallow fry

How to make it?

Mix all ingredients and blend well with a hand blender. Let it sit for 30 minutes. On a flat tava or pan spread a few drops of oil and then ladle out two scoops of the batter in a random fashion. The batter being watery will form unusual patterns. DO NOT try spreading like you would do a dosai. Add drops of oil along the sides and cook on medium high heat till edges brown and the surface looks cooked. Turn over using a flat spatula and let cook for a couple of minutes before transferring to a plate.

Serve hot with chutney

Makes 15 crepes

Special Notes:

Curry leaves are optional. Experiment with Wheat flour/Rice Flour proportion to make dosais softer or crispier. Rice flour makes it crispy while Wheat Flour makes it softer.  To make peanut chutney roast peanuts and grind with salt, a pea sized bit of tamarind,2 read chillies and some water.

Lemon and rice make for a spicy lunch

Background:

Lemon rice for me is like a quick fix. A last minute resort when I can’t think of what to make to supplement what I already have. The dish I make when I have a get-together and get this sinking feeling food is not going to be enough.

Stuff you will need:

Rice 1 cup
Lemon/Lime – 2 – squeezed
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Bengal gram dhal – 1 handful – soaked for 30 mins and drained (optional)
Peanuts – 1 handful – dry roasted
Curry leaves – 1 sprig – chopped
Ginger – 1/2 inch cube chopped
Green chillies  – 2 slit
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Gingelly oil – 2 tsp
Canola oil – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Salt to taste

How to make it?

Pressure cook 1 cup rice with 2.5 cups of water. Once done add gingelly oil and spread out to cool. In a small pan heat canola oil , add mustard and when it pops add urad dhal, soaked and drained bengal gram dhal, asafoetida, turmeric, chillies, ginger, peanuts and curry leaves. When fried, remove from heat and add juice from the lemon/lime and salt to taste. Pour this mixture on top of the cooled separated rice and slowly mix in without mashing the rice.

Serves two

Special notes:

I soak and drain bengal gram dhal because it makes it softer. That step can be omitted. I usually serve lemon rice with vadam or any kind of poduthuval.

Eggless Dates and Walnut cake – Flavorful and nutritious

Background:

I bake this cake whenever I am in the mood for a bread like cake that goes well with chai/coffee or as an evening snack or even may be as breakfast. I got this recipe from my friend Akay who I believe in turn got it from another friend who in turn got it off Aayi’s recipe blog. I have tailored it to suit my tastes and is usually a hit whenever I take it to a party. Since it is egg-less, it is appealing to sworn vegetarians 🙂

Stuff you will need:

Dates 20 – 20
Milk 3/4 cup (I used 2% milk)
Sugar 1/2 cup
All purpose flour (Maida or wheat flour) 1 cup ( I have tried it with atta and it does come out well)
Oil 1/2 cup (I used canola oil)
Baking soda 1 tsp
Walnuts 1-2 handfuls broken

How to make it?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Warm milk for a minute in the microwave. Soak the dates in milk while prepping other ingredients like breaking walnuts or measuring out flour. Mix the baking soda with flour. Grind milk, dates well in a mixer. In a mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, the date milk mixture well. Slowly add flour and baking powder mix into the wet ingredients ensuring no lumps and an even batter. If the batter is too tight loosen with little warm milk. Once done fold in the nuts and pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 350 for 40 -45 minutes or till a knife inserted comes out clean.

Remove from over and cool before cutting into slices. Serve warm with tea or coffee.

Serves five.

Special Notes:

Experiment with adding cinnamon or cardamom or even vanilla. Add a handful of raisins for a different taste and texture.

Pakoras/Bhajji – Deep Fried Vegetable Fritters

Background:

Snowy, icy bad weather days lend themselves to hot pakoras and spiced sweet chai. Today was one such day and I made molagai bhajji. These mildly spicy light green colored peppers make excellent fritters.

Stuff you will need:

Mild green colored peppers – 8 cut into half or into thirds
Bengal gram flour – 1/2 cup
Rice flour – 1 cup
Maida – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 2 pinch
Baking soda – 1 pinch
Curds – 1 ladle
Refined Oil

How to make it?

Heat oil in a shallow pan enough to deep fry. Mix all ingredients together with water to make a nice batter that coats evenly (not too thick, not to watery).  Dip peppers after slightly salting them into the batter. Coat nicely and drop into hot oil sliding them by the side. Remove when golden brown to a plate lined with tissue paper to drain excess oil.

Serve hot with ketchup

Serves two

Special Notes:

Potatos, Onions, Green plantain, Eggplant, Green peppers can be made into bhajjis in a similar fashion.