Masala Chappathi/Paratha – A twist to the regular roti.

Background:

I love parathas. Specially when I don’t make them. 🙂 After a hectic Saturday filled with friends and family, I was not keen on standing in the kitchen for a long time. Scanning my shelf that contained cook books, I extracted Mallika Badrinath’s 100 Tiffin ideas. Thumbing through the chappathi section I saw this recipe for Masala chappathi that involved a lot of different spice powders mixed in with wheat flour and made into a dough with milk and thick curds. Intrigued I set out to make my version of these masala chappathis.

Following a nudge from Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons, I would like to submit this as an entry for the Roti Mela event she is hosting.

Stuff you will need:

2 cups – whole wheat atta (Whole wheat flour or Durum wheat flour)
Paratha masala – 2 tsp (Available in Indian groceries. Can be substituted with a mix of cumin/coriander/red chili/sea salt powders.)
Kasuri methi – 2 tsp (Dried and crushed fenugreek leaves)
Ghee – 3 tsp
Salt – to taste
Sugar – to taste
Thick curds – 1/2 cup
Warm Milk – 1/2 cup

How to make it?

To the atta, add the dry ingredients and the ghee. Work the flour till the ghee is all mixed in. Now add the curds and the milk and knead till you have a firm soft dough. Rest covered for 30 minutes. Knead again and let rest till ready to roll out the dough.

When ready, make equal sized balls of the dough (I get approx 8 – 10 for the measure of atta I use). Using a rolling pin and a flat surface, roll out the dough using a scoop of atta to flour the surface if the dough sticks. The key is to roll out the dough in a circle and get it as thin as possible. Once done, transfer to a heated flat pan and cook on medium high heat constantly turning the chappathi till both sides are well cooked. Store in a casserole to keep warm till ready to eat.

Serves two

Special notes:

I only add ghee while making the dough. Some people like to make the dough sans ghee but smear ghee once the chappathi is done. Both works well. These can be had with pickle and curds or with dhal as my husband prefers it.

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Fragrant vegetable rice – colorful, tasty and simple

Background:

I usually make this when I am tired of pulav and other varieties of mixed rice (think lemon, puliogare, coconut, biriyani or bisi bele baath). The reason I love this is because I make it infrequently and it is a very versatile dish lending itself to immense customization.

I called it vegetable rice because that is all it is – vegetables and rice.

Stuff you will need:

Rice – 1 cup (I use sona masoori)
Tomatoes – 5 small – chopped to fine pieces
Onion – 1 medium – Chopped to fine pieces
Ginger – 1/2 inch cube – chopped fine
Green chillies – 3 slit and halved
curry leaves – 2 sprigs – chopped roughly
Garlic – 2 pods – chopped fine
Carrots – 2 medium – chopped fine
Green pepper – 1 medium – chopped fine
Green peas – A handful
Oil – 1 tbsp
Cumin – 1 tsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp

How to make it?

Pressure cook rice with 2.5 glasses of water for 3 whistles and set aside to cool. In a shallow wok, heat oil. Add mustard. When it pops add cumin, asafoetida and turmeric. When cumin browns add ginger, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Saute a bit and add onions. Saute till pink and add tomatoes. Cover and cook till tomatoes are formless. Add rest of the vegetables and cook till all moisture is absorbed into the vegetables and the mixture looks kind of dry. Turn of heat and set aside.

Now fluff the rice cooked earlier such that grains are separate. Now, slowly add the rice to the cooked vegetable mixture taking care not to make the rice grains mushy. The finished product should be reddish yellow, rice looking whole dotted with vegetables.

Serves two.


Special Notes:
Try this basic recipe with different types of firm vegetables to get different flavors and tastes. This does not require masala powder but one can try and experiment by using other spices.

Molagai Thokku – Spicy green serrano pepper relish

Background:

Molagai thokku was my dad’s favorite relish. Ever. Even as he struggled with diet restrictions following hospitalization and a low sodium diet, My mom’s mom created a molagai thokku minus the salt with plenty of jaggery. Appa loved it and would devour it creamy thayir sadham.

So, when Amma spied a bag full of lush green serrano peppers I had bought from our local farmer’s market, she asked me if I would like the thokku. I was all for it and she made the prep as I watched on.

What better way to usher in Mother’s day than a shared cooking experience?

Stuff you will need:

Serrano peppers – 1lb
Salt to taste
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Gingelly (Sesame) oil – 2 tbsp
Tamarind – lump the size of a small lemon
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Jaggery – A ball the size of a small lemon

How to make it?

In a non stick pan or wok, heat a bit of the gingelly oil and temper mustard, urad dhal till reddish brown. Add asafoetida and the chillies and the tamarind. Saute till color of peppers turn a dull green. Set aside. When cool, add salt and grind to a fine paste.

In the same wok, add the remaining oil and heat. Add the ground chilli paste, jaggery and saute on low-medium heat till the oil separates out.

Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an air tight container. Keeps a couple of months in the fridge.

Special Notes:

Use Jalapeno peppers for a milder tasting relish.

Sevai – Steamed, extruded thin rice noodles

Background:

Making sevai the traditional way is a labor of love, not to be taken by the faint of heart. Ok! I kid. It definitely is a laborious process but the end product is so dadgum good that it makes the pain worthwhile. Amma makes this every time we have guests visiting. Finely made sevai serves as a benchmark of the kind of esteem the host holds you at.

More than just being a food item, Sevai in my eyes represents the epitome of motherhood. The love, the patience, the hard work and at the end of it all no visible traces that it existed at all.

So, inspired by this, here is my tribute to the person who I hold dearest in my heart – Amma.

Stuff you will need:

2 cups parboiled/idli rice – soaked overnight.
Salt to taste
Idli steamer
Seva nazhi or extruder.

How to make it?

Grind the soaked parboiled rice using a traditional grinder to a soft batter. Mix the salt in when almost done grinding. The consistency should be that of dosa maavu. Pour it and it should fall easily.

In the idli plates, smear oil or spray with cooking spray. Ladle out the batter in the cups and steam on high for about 7 – 10 minutes. Lower flame, remove idli plates and scoop out the steamed batter. These should look like small idlis sunken in the middle. Pop four such idlis into the extruder and turn to get silky soft thin rice noodles. Remove and cool. Repeat the process till batter is done.

Using the sevai as base, separate into as many heaps as required and make puli sevai (mix puliogare), lemon sevai (prepare as you would for lemon rice), coconut sevai (as done for coconut rice) or serve just as is with mor kuzhambu and pappadom as a side.

Serves four.

Special notes:

Sevai is just a base like rice. Use your imagination to come up with new varieties like masala sevai, cumin pepper sevai, thayir sevai etc.

Mor koozhu – Buttermilk and rice tempered heartily with mustard, sundried chillies and lentils

Background:

Mor koozhu or Mor kali always reminds me of my dad’s grandmom (Periamma paati as we called her). I had the good fortune to have heard tons of mythological stories from her, have my hair braided with flowers and in general get to know the grandmom who gave me my grandmom. In her last years when she would often visit us, she would ask my mom to make this for her. She loved the sour taste of the buttermilk and the crunchy seasoning that also included mor milagai fried in oil. Savory, not definitely health food but a cup of which has the uncanny ability to transport me to the agraharams of yore.

Stuff you will need:

Rice flour – 2 cups
Butter milk – 1 cup
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Mor milagai (deep fried) or red chillies – 5

Curry leaves – 1 sprig washed and chopped
Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp

How to make it?

In a broad vessel mix rice flour, salt and buttermilk to a nice pouring consistency. Add water if you have to. In a frying pan, heat gingelly oil and season mustard till it bursts, add urad dhal, curry leaves, asafoetida, red chillies or mor milagai and saute. Now pour the rice batter and turn slowly till oil is absorbed. On medium heat turn every so often till the mixture solidifies and does not stick to the pan. Cover and cook on low heat for five minutes till rice flour is completely cooked.

It is OK to stop at this stage and serve hot. Or continue to turn and heat on low medium heat and add some more oil till the mixture drys up and crumbles into tiny balls.

Serves four as a snack

Special Notes:

Definitely a snack that is high on oil and has no nutritive value but definitely ranks high on the taste scale. Typically made as a palaharam in the good old days.