Chaat – Bhel Puri a.k.a crunchy colorful spicy salad

Background:

Quick and easy. My favorite snack and at times dinner. Packs in goodness of colorful veggies and the crunch of desi sev and puris. Lends itself to infinite customization and can be made with as many or as less ingredients on hand.

Stuff you will need:

2 cups bhel mix or a combo of thin sev, murmura (pori) or even mixture
2 tbsp date/tamarind sauce (available at Indian stores)
2 tbsp mint or coriander chutney
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp chaat masala
2 carrots peeled and grated
2 handfuls sprouted whole moong
1 small onion peeled and chopped fine
1/2 inch ginger peeled and grated
1 green chilly chopped fine
2 medium tomatoes chopped fine
1 potato steamed and cubed
Coriander – chopped fine to garnish
Salted peanuts – a handful

How to make it?

In a large bowl combine all the chopped and grated veggies. Add the peanuts. Add the sauces and the chaat masala. Mix well. Add the 2 cups of bhel mix. Fold in. Mix well and serve garnished with chopped coriander.

Serves two

Special notes:

2 tbsps of thick yogurt may be added to give a different taste to the dish. Get creative by adding colorful peppers chopped well. Or pander to a sweet tooth by adding chopped apples or green apples.

Morkuzhambu – Buttermilk gravy spiced with coconut and cumin

Background:

Considering parupu usili is a favorite in our household and morkuzhambu is often spoken of in the same breath, it is only natural that I feel the need to record my way of making this no fuss side.

Stuff you will need:

Thick curds – 1 cup
Coconut gratings – 2 handfuls
Green chillies – 5
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Bengal gram dhal  – 1 tsp pre soaked
Curry leaves – 1 sprig chopped
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Oil to season
Okra or pumpkin: 10 pieces each about an inch long.

How to make it?

Grind coconut, green chillies, cumin seeds, soaked bengal gram dhal to a fine paste using little water. Beat the curds to fine consistency and mix the coconut paste in. Add salt. If adding okra, fry it in oil till brown and add it to the curd coconut mixture. If using pumpkin cook it in little water ahead of time and add to mixture. Now heat this concoction on low flame stirring occasionally till the sides start to bubble. Turn heat off and garnish with mustard seeds tempered in oil. Add curry leaves and mix in.

Serves four

Special Notes:

If too much of coconut is not desired using a little more of the bengal gram dhal while grinding the paste. Morkuzhambu can also be made without any vegetables. Goes well with hot rice and parupu usili.

Homemade Thayir, Dahi, Curds or Yogurt in colder climes

Background:

As a new bride I struggled to make thayir like amma made. I tried to emulate what I had seen her do with drastically different results. Over the years, talking to old hands at this, I have discovered a way that makes my thayir almost as good as hers. This applies to colder climes.

Stuff you will need:

2% Milk – 1 liter
Left over thayir – 1 tbsp

How to make it?

Boil milk till it really is ready to boil over. Remove from heat and let cool till you can put your hands around the vessel and hold it there for 10 secs. At this point stir in the thayir. Close the vessel. If you are doing this overnight, let the microwave run for about a minute or two empty. When done, move the vessel containing the milk and close. Leave undisturbed for about 8 hours. Thayir is ready.

Serves four

Special notes:

I have experimented with putting it in the oven and leaving the oven light on, the thayir sets no doubt but becomes sour quick.

Kadalai Kuzhambu – Spicy tamarind soup with groundnuts

Background:

For a twist in the regular vatral kuzhambu, my mom adds ground nuts or kabul channa. As kids this was one of our favorite dishes. So, with amma visiting I figured this was the best time to record the recipe for later.

Stuff you will need:

Tamarind – the size of a small lemon soaked and juice extracted
Brinjal – 2 small – quartered
Groundnuts/Kabuli channa – soaked and cooked – 2 handfuls
Bengal gram dhal – 2 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Red chillies – 2
Coconut – shredded 1 handful
Salt to taste
Sambar powder – 1.5 tsp
Rice flour – 2 tsp
Mustard – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs chopped
Jaggery – 2 tsp powdered

How to make it?

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add mustard when the oil is hot. As the mustard pops, add urad dhal and bengal gram dhal. Add coconut and fry till reddish brown. Add the chopped curry leaves, brinjal and saute. Add tamarind pulp extract, salt and sambar powder. Allow the kuzhambu to boil till smell of sambar powder goes away. Add boiled groundnuts (kadalai) or kabuli channa and jaggery. If the kuzhambu is watery thicken by adding rice flour mixed in water. Simmer for about five minutes and turn heat off.

Serve hot with rice, a dollop of ghee and appalam or poduthuval

Serves four

Special notes:

This kuzambu can be made with chenai kizhangu (yam) instead of brinjal.