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.

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.

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.

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.

Shahi Chole – White chick peas in a creamy cashew sauce

Background:

K loves chole. Except when I make it. So, over the years I have refrained from making this tasty side dish for fear that I might make a fool of myself yet again.

So, when amma was home yesterday I watched as she made it. Helped some with the prep and realized it was not all too difficult. So, here is the recipe just in case I forget it later.

Stuff you will need:

2 cups white chick peas soaked overnight
1 big onion – cut into big chunks
4-5 small tomatoes or 3-4 medium ones – cut into big chunks
1 cube ginger – peeled and cut into pieces
4 green chillies
Garlic pods – 3 pods (more depending on taste)
Cashews – 10-12 broken
Poppy seeds 1 tsp – dry roasted and powdered
Cinnamon – 1/2 stick
Cardamom – 4 pods peeled
Bay leaf – 1
Cloves – 2-3
Ghee/Oil – 2 tsp
Jeera (Cumin seeds)/Panch Puran – 1 tsp
Coriander – a handful, washed and cut

How to make it?

Dry roast spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and poppy seeds) and powder them. Crush onions in a food processor and set aside. Crush tomatoes with green chillies and ginger and set aside. Make a fine paste of cashews with water and set aside. Pressure cook the chole with salt and turmeric, drain and set aside.

In a wok, add ghee. One heated add panch puran or jeera and the powdered spices. Once the spices are fried add  garlic and fry till brown. Add onion paste and fry well till raw smell goes away. Add tomato paste and cashew paste and mix well and let simmer till oil separates out. Add the drained chole and stir well. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 mins or till done. Garnish with cut coriander. Add a dash of lime if preferred tangier.

Serve with rotis or puri.

Serves four

Special notes:

I prefer to grind onions and tomatoes separately because I believe onions need to be fried longer. I have not tried grinding all together. I feel it might not make much of a difference. Also, instead of roasting and powdering spices, chole masala might do the trick. I do not know as I have not tried. Cashews add a creamy texture and a sweetness that enhances the heat from the chilies.