Spicy peanut chutney aka savoury peanut butter – healthy too!

Background:

Looking for healthier alternatives from the regular coconut chutney that is a side to most of the ‘tiffin’ I make, I discovered ‘peanut’ chutney when one of our friends visited. From then on, it is a standard fixture in my house with dosas and as a spicy spread on bread.

Stuff you will need:

Peanuts aka Groundnuts aka nala kadalai – 2 handfuls
Dry red chillies – 2 – 3 depending on taste
1 pinch asafoetida
Marble sized ball of tamarind
Salt to taste

How to make it?

In a small pan roast peanuts till they start popping. Add red chillies and saute for a min before turning heat off. Let cool and grind with water, tamarind, salt, asafoetida and the chillies. Depending on taste, make it a smooth chutney or leave it a little coarse. Enjoy as a side to dosa, idli or as a spread on bread or like hummus on a pita bread.

Serves two

Special notes:

Optionally one may season the chutney with mustard seeds tempered in oil.

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Pasta Upma – A different spin on pasta and upma

Background:

I make this when I am tired of the regular varieties of upma that cannot handle masala all that well. This is also a good way to use leftover pasta. This recipe is versatile and lends itself to many variations.

Stuff you will need:

1 cup pasta (penne/fusili/macaroni/shells) – boiled, drained
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 small tomatoes – finely diced
1 small onion – chopped fine
2 green chillies – slit
1 inch ginger cube – chopped fine
1 medium size carrot – chopped
1 small green pepper – chopped fine
Green peas – handful
Sweet corn – handful
Salt to taste
Small bunch of coriander – trimmed and chopped rough

How to make it?

In a non stick pan, heat the oil and add cumin seeds. When it browns, add ginger, green chillies and saute. Add onions and saute till translucent. Add tomatoes and cook till oil separates out. Add rest of the chopped veggies, salt and cover and cook till vegetables are cooked but not mushy. Now add the boiled and drained pasta and mix gently to evenly coat. Remove from heat and garnish with cut coriander. Serve hot.

Serves two

Special Notes:

Feel free to add garlic if liked and other vegetables like potato, red peppers, beans or eggplant. Also experiment with the spices to achieve different tasting upmas.

Poondu Rasam – a flavorful garlic soup with tomatoes and lentils

Background:

Poondu rasam is the somewhat distant cousin of the regular rasam I made. One that visited once in a blue moon. Being married to a person who’s definition of masala started with garlic, it is not easy to incorporate this pungent pod in most of my dishes. I would sneak it in sometimes in other stronger tasting side dishes. Rasam being the delicate soup it is was not one to mask the flavor of garlic rather the one to highlight it. On rare days when I felt the rebel in me peek out I made this.

Stuff you will need:

A marble sized ball of tamarind soaked and juice extracted
2 small tomatoes diced
1 green chilly slit
1 pod of garlic – crushed or finely diced
Salt to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 pinch of asafoetida
1 handful thuvar dhal – cooked and mashed
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 handful coriander leaves chopped roughly

How to make it?

In a thick bottomed vessel add diced tomatoes, tamarind juice, salt, turmeric and asafoetida. Cook on medium heat till it starts frothing and raw smell of tamarind goes away. Add the cooked and mashed thuvar dhal and add water if volume is less. In another small pan heat the ghee and add mustard seeds till they start popping. Add the green chilly and the diced or crushed garlic. When done add this to the boiling rasam. Garnish with cut coriander and cover to lock in flavors.

Serve four

Special Notes:

This rasam does not call for rasam or sambar powder that is a staple of most paruppu rasams. However the green chilly may be substituted by 1 tsp of sambar powder.