Vegetarian Concoctions

July 26, 2007

Red Cabbage Morkootu

Filed under: Curd/Yogurt, Kootu, Red cabbage, Salads and Raita, South Indian, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 11:41 am

I am not an adventurous shopper when it comes to vegetables. My grocery list never features vegetables that I have not tasted. Bad! you may say for a food blogger…and I agree. I had not tried a new vegetable for almost 2 years after coming to the US and my husband on the other hand had stories to tell me on his cooking adventures as a bachelor. Anyone who knows him would have definitely heard this story least a few times.

During his first few weeks in the US, hubby spots Brussels sprouts in the grocrey store and they look like miniature cabbages. He buys a few, gets them home, steams them, adds salt and pepper and tastes. They are good! He loves them. So, now on he decides they will be a regular in his grocery list. Now, the story gets exciting. The next visit to the store, he spots Habanero peppers. Ah! cute little bell peppers, he thinks, ‘will be great for sambhar’. He buys about 30 and heads home to concoct the sambhar he will remember for a lifetime! And the fact that surprised me most was that he made it a point to finish all that sambhar in the next 4-5 days. I have to mention this here….he makes the best sambhar and he was my sambhar guru after we got married. But this definitely does not justify his courageous act.

I guess I just play it safe when it comes to food:) Anyway, I had been eyeing the red cabbage for a while and never actually bought them. Reason – hubby tried them once and said they tasted bitter to him. From a few shows on food network and a few recipies blogged by friends here I gathered enough courage to get a veggie-never-tried-before. What’s the big deal, you may think, but you see…I hate wasting or thowing away food in any form. So, I like to make sure we consume what we buy. This is what I ended up making with it two times within a week. It just tasted so good!

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Red cabbage – 1/2

Curd – 2 cups

Turmeric – a pinch

Salt to taste

For Grinding:

Black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Dry red chilli – 1

Green chillies – 2

Jeera / cumin – 1 tsp

Coconut (shredded) – 2 tbsp

Curry leaves – 6-7

Tur dal soaked for 1/2 hr (optional) – 1 tsp

For garnishing:

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Tur dal – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Curry leaves – a few

Oil – 2 tsp

Shread the cabbage and boil it with salt, in enough water to cover it. Grind the ‘for grinding’ ingredients above with minimum water. Once the cabbage is cooked, add the ground paste. Cook for a few minutes and reduce the heat. Beat the curds with the turmeric and add it to the pot. Let this heat through, but do not let it boil. Garnish.
Mor kootu is almost like avial. It goes very well with kalanda sadam (mixed rice like pulihorai, mint rice, coconut rice, lemon rice etc)

July 12, 2007

Kandathippili sathumudu (rasam)

Filed under: Arisithippili, Home remedies, Kandathippili, Main meals, Rasam, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 11:38 am

With astounding developments in science and medicine, there are so many quick cures to everyday ailments a man from suffers time and again. Diseases like small pox have been eradicated and life expectancy has gone up both in developed and developing nations. Having said this, there are so many new diseases infesting the human race. AIDS for example, was non-existant half a century ago and is now the most dreaded disease. There are drugs available for depression, restless legs and weight loss. Are these diseases? Can they not be dealt with without drugs?

My daughter’s pediatrician had prescribed Elidel for her eczema and after a month or so asked us to stop using it as it had a black box warning. Several drugs are withdrawn from the market after they start showing signs of side effects in the long run. How do I know if the second presciption ointment is safe for my child? Now, will you blame me if I turn to the trusted home remedies that our grandmas suggested for simple headaches, rashes and colds? I think not!

I saw this interesting titbit online and had to save it for this post:

“I have a sore throat.”

2000 BC : “eat this root”

1200 AD : “That root is heathen, say this prayer.”

1500 AD : “That prayer is superstition, drink this elixir.”

1800 AD : “That elixir is snake oil, Take this pill.”

1900 AD : “That pill is ineffective, Take this antibiotic.”

2000 AD : “That antibiotic is artificial, Here why dont you eat this root.”

And eat the root we will! Well make that bark. Kandathippili is available as 2-3 inch long sticks in herbal stores in the south. Does anyone know what the scientific name is or if it has another name? I have not been able to find it. Arisithippili (long pepper) is a relative of the black pepper (see picture right down below)This rasam (iyengars call rasam, sathumudu) is ideal for body aches and for the ‘not-feeling-that-great’ days. It is frequently made for postpartum meals in our custom.

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What you need:

Kandathippili – 5-6 sticks

Arisithippili – 4-5 grains

Sukku/soonth/dry ginger (see picture below) – 1 tsp powdered

Black pepper – 1 tsp

Jeera/cumin – 1 tsp

Red chillies – 2 nos

Hing – a pinch

Few curry leaves

Turmeric – a pinch

Tamarind – paste from 1 lemon sized ball

Ghee, curry leaves, Jeera and mustard for tadka

Heat up a small pan and roast the kandathippili and arisithippili till they brown and the kitchen is evidently fragrant. Add sukku, black pepper, jeera, hing, curry leaves and red chillies and roast for a few more minutes. Dry grind. (This powder can be made in excess and kept for a few days in an airtight container). Boil 3 cups of water with tamarind paste, turmeric and salt for 10 minutes or until the raw smell of the tamarind goes. Add the ground powder. Temper with rai, jeera and curry leaves in ghee.

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Sukku
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Arisithippili

July 5, 2007

Khasta Kachori

I have’nt been blogging for over a month now. No particular reason. I did make some interesting crunchies and munchies, but did not bother to take photographs. My husband even asked me if I was feeling well when I let him eat the spring rolls without capturing some shots for records. Photographing the food, for me, takes more time than cooking it. I do have a good camera, with the macro mode(which is quite a feature for photographing food!) capability, but my kitchen is not open to natural light. I have to take pictures during the day, with the lights on. Most times, I just cannot manage a decent shot indoors.

My typical photography sessions are filled with activity. I carry the food, the garnish, a cloth to spread on the ground and the camera to the patio. A pair of curious eyes watches me with interest. I spread the cloth and place the serving bowl on it. A pair of energetic legs jumps into action. I wipe the bowl for any unwanted traces of food, garnish it and switch on the camera. A pair of meddling hands is what I see through the viewer. Then I do a little pleading and screaming. More often than not, this just increases the levels of curiosity and activity. I threaten a ‘time out’ session and that doesn’t work either. I wonder how the father manages this dialogue so effectively. Finally, I turn to my saviour – ‘Barney’. He has came to my rescue more times than I can count. Works like a charm. With the little monkey safely watching the dino, I get back to work. After a couple shots I can see the head turn towards me again. I quickly take another shot and clear everything out before hurricane Ananya decides to change path.

Now you see why I am not really fond of the picture displaying part of the recipe writing process. Anyway, this is a picture sequence I had taken a few months ago and completely forgotton about. When I chanced to see it in my camera waiting to be uploaded, I didnt lose much time compiling this post.

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Khasta kachori is a recipe I learnt from a friend’s mom. She made the most amazing kachoris. This is what you need.

All-purpose flour (maida) – 2 cups

Ghee/butter – 1/3 cup

Moong dal – 3/4 cup

Saunf(fennel seeds) – 2 tsp

Dhania (Corriander seeds) – 1 tbsp

Jeera (Cumin seeds) – 2 tsp

Red chilli pwd – 2 tsp (or less)

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Garam masala – 1/2 tsp

Oil for deep frying

Soak the moong dal overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. Mix the maida and ghee with hand to a crumbly texture. Add water little by little to make a stiff dough. Let rest for 1/2 hr. Dry grind the jeera, saunf and dhaniya. Add oil to a pan and add the soaked moong dal.(Alternatively you can grind the soaked moong dal coarsely with minimum water and then roast it in a little oil till the water evaporates and it forms a crumb-like texture. Add the masalas and the dry powders and saute for a few minutes. Let this cool. Fill it in the dough (do not overfill) and flatten it out a bit. Deep fry till golden brown and serve with chutney or ketchup.

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