Vegetarian Concoctions

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 Several drugs are withdrawn from the market after they start showing signs of side effects in the long run.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

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March 29, 2007

Bread sticks

Filed under: Basil, Breads, Cheese, Garlic, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 11:04 am

Horrible horrible week. The past week was sick….literally. First the kiddo, then me and then H. The only silver lining was that all of us did not fall sick at the same time. Getting better was no fun either. Disinfecting three whole baskets of laundry and cleaning up the mess we called our home took up another 3 days. I was dragging myself to work in the morning. Getting back home in the evening was worse…just thinking of all the work that lay waiting. If this was not enough, TEAM-INDIA added to our misery*. We played against Sri Lanka and the rest is history that I hope will never be repeated again. It took me quite some time to digest the fact that we did’nt even make it to the top eight teams. Half way through our innings I switched off the TV. What a shame!

What better way to vent out my anger and frustration than cooking?…and thats what I did. Baking, actually. Since my sourdough bread success story, I have been tempted to experiment with various breads and bread sticks seemed to be the simplest to start off with. I had made some a week earlier and they turned out soft and delicious. Here is my second attempt captured for records:

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What you need:

All-purpose flour – 2 1/2 – 3 cups

White unsalted butter – 1/2 stick (4 tablespoon)

Commercial yeast – 2 tsp

sugar – 1 tsp

Salt – about 1 1/2 tsp

Water – as required

Cheese sticks:
Cheddar cheese – 1/2 cup

Garlic sticks:
Garlic – 1 clove
Garlic salt and dried basil to garnish

Combine sugar and yeast in warm water and let rest for about 10 mts till bubbly. Add the flour, salt and butter. The butter should be at room temperature and softned when added. Incorporate the butter into the flour with your hands and then add enough water to get a soft and workable dough but not sticking to your hands while kneading(see tip 1 below). Add extra flour if needed. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes while pushing the dough away from you with your palms. Brush some olive oil on it and let this rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hrs in a warm place till it doubles in size (tip 2). Punch back the dough and now add your flavourings (tip 3). I made two kinds: cheese and garlic. To half the dough I added shedded cheddar cheese and to the other half minced garlic. Then I shaped them into sticks and garnished the garlic one with garlic salt and dried basil. You can really get creative with the flavors and shapes here. I placed the sticks on baking trays 3-4 inches apart and let the dough rise one last time – about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs (tip 4). This went into a 375 degrees preheated oven for about 25 minutes till the crust is golden brown. Brush some butter on the crust as soon as they come out of the oven (tip 5) and serve with your favourite soup or marinara sauce.

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With the few tips I learnt about bread making from an expert bread-maker, I guess I should send it to Sushma’s Monthly cooking tipology:

1. After the rise, the bread gets softer and hence stickier. So, the dough should not be too soft when you knead it in the first place.

2. If you don’t have a pilot lamp or a light in your oven or a warm corner in your kitchen to help rise your dough, you could place the dough in a small enclosure close to a saucepan with boiling water. This also helps in keeping the crust soft.

3. Some herbs and spices seem to inhibit growth of yeast. Hence, it is best to incorporate the flavors in the bread during the last rise.

4. The more number of times you punch back your bread and let it rise again, the finer will be the pores in your bread. If you want your bread to have big pores, just let the dough rise once and bake.

5. If you want a soft crust, like our bread sticks here, always brush the crust with molten butter as soon as they come out of the oven. If you want the crust to be hard/crisp, like in sourdough bread, skip the butter on the crust.

*CRICKET – the sport. The ICC world cup games are on in West Indies.

March 15, 2007

Pudina pacchadi(Raita)

Filed under: Curd/Yogurt, Mint leaves, Salads and Raita, South Indian — Hema @ 2:02 pm

Simplicity is a virtue. Be it a human’s character or a food’s preparation. Exotic is good and fun for a change, but definitely not for keeps. A man could be a great fan of Aishwarya Rai, but isn’t the simple girl next door his true love?(unless, of course, the man happens to be Abhishek B ūüėÄ ) Likewise, eating out is fun. But, is not simple dal-chawal or thair samdam (curd rice) the ultimate comfort food?

A simple yet elegent companion for your favourite rice treat. That is the way I would like to introduce this pachaddi. No hard work, minimal cooking time, but unequalled satisfaction to the tongue. Looking to make a quick side dish to go with your meal? This is it! So friends, keep it simple, keep it sweet and before I start sounding too much like Sandra Lee and you think I am making something semi-homemade, here goes:

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Mint leaves – a bunch

Curd – 3 cups

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Udad dal – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Oil – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

Chop up the mint leaves coarsely. Heat up some oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the udad dal and hing. After the dal browns up, add the mint leaves and cook for a minute. Add the curd and salt after it cools down. Now, simply serve it with rice or paratha.

March 8, 2007

Pesarattu (Moong dal adai)

Filed under: Ginger, Whole moong dal — Hema @ 12:45 pm

The mere mention of Pesarettu, adai or dosai takes me on a joy ride down memory lane back home in India. Our kitchen springs up in front of my eyes. I see a girl, wearing a white and navy blue school uniform with her long hair oiled and plated up with a red ribbon, sitting on the kitchen counter watching her mother prepare dosais. A little boy comes in looking unkempt and points at his growling stomach. Both kids are instructed to wash their hands, legs and face, change their clothes and then come back with their tiffin plates. They frown and drag themselves into their respective rooms and come out after a while looking pretty much the same.

A plate is hurriedly rinsed and they sit on the kitchen floor with the plate in front of them in great anticipation. A bottle of til oil and a box full of molagai podi (gun powder) are given to them for self-service. Dosais are tossed endlessly into the plate one by one freshly prepared, right out of the tava.They gobble up the thin, white discs in no time and fight for the crisp outer circle. The mother shakes her head disapprovingly and asks them to get another plate, so they will stop fighting over every dosai and they refuse. They just like to eat from one plate…‘is se pyar badhta hai’…they announce, brilliantly quoting Aamir khan’s famous dialogue in Andaaz apna apna. After about 20 minutes of tossing and gobbling, the kids seem satisfied.

‘So, what’s for tomorrow’s tiffin’ asks the little boy.
‘I’m thinking adai’ says the mother
He lets out a happy squeal and sticks his tongue out at his sister.
The girl looks dissapointed.
‘And pesarettu for you’ says the mother looking lovingly at her daughter.
Its the sister’s turn to stick out the tongue at her little brother.

Ah! happy memories:) This is how my amma made pesarattus:

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Whole green moong dal – 4 cups

Raw rice – 1 cup

Ginger – a 1 X 1 inch piece

Green Chillies – 4-5 nos

Salt to taste

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Soak the dal and rice for 3-4 hours in warm water. Grind with ginger and chillies and little water to make a thick batter. Add salt to taste. I like to grind it course, so there is a crunch when you bite into it. I like to add some mint or cilantro leaves into it. Ladle some batter on the tava and spread it out by patting it with the back of the ladle. Pour a few drops of oil and turn it over after one side is browned and crisp. Serve it with molagai podi, white butter or any pickle of your choice.

February 27, 2007

Potato and Leek soup

Filed under: Barley, Celery, JFI, Leeks, Mixed Veggies, Orzo, Parsley, Potato, Soup's on, Soups — Hema @ 4:43 pm

It is¬†crunch time!¬† I did’nt realize February has but 28 days. It has been a busy month and I have missed out on posting a strawberry treat for AFAM.¬†Reading my previous post on hot and sour soup, Asha¬†suggested that I send my soup for Alanna‚Äôs ‚ÄúSoup‚Äôs on‚ÄĚ event. I sent in the link to Alanna without even mentioning the event in my post:) hehe…stupid me. That, obviously is not¬†acceptable. So, here is another soup that I brewed up¬†keeping in mind the¬†deadlines for¬†two events: the “Soup’s on” and ……..yeah, you got that right “JFI-Potato“.¬†This time, it is my¬†chance to say¬†‘Ek pathar se do shikaar‘(two prays with¬†one stone). I¬†mixed and matched ingredients from¬†4 different recipes¬†in¬†3 different books (Potato, leek and pea soup, Spinach and orzo soup, spring soup with barley and leak and carrot soup). Hence,¬†the recipe¬†is very versatile and additions and deletion can be¬†made according to taste…just make sure you¬†use the potatoes and leeks though, if you want to retain the name on it. Potato gives the soup its texture and leek¬†its fabulous flavor. Here is what you need:

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Potatoes – 2 nos medium sized

Leek – 1 no

Bay leaves – 2 nos

Red onions – 1/2 medium sized

Garlic – 2 cloves

Parsley – 1/2 bunch

Celery – 1 stem

Barley – 2 tbsp uncooked

Orzo – 2 tbsp uncooked

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Water – 5-6 cups

Chop up the potatoes, leeks and celery to 1/2 inch pieces. Heat up olive oil and saute the onions till they are translucent. Add the garlic and bay leaves and saute for a minute. Add all the veggies and cover it up with water. Add salt and let this simmer away till the veggies are cooked well. Take half the soup out, let it cool down and then puree it. To the other half that is on the stove, add uncooked orzo, barley and chopped parsley. Continue cooking till the pasta is done. Dilute it further if required. Now add the pureed half and add salt and pepper according to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

February 23, 2007

Hot and sour soup

A Chinese soup. Well, Indo-chinese to be precise. Chinese was the first international cuisine to crop up in India with the ever famous hakka-noodles, manchurians and chow-meins. They had the same chinese names, but the flavour was suited to the typical Indian tongue – hot and spicy. I have, till date not visited a chinese restaurant in the USA. The reason – within the first few days of my arrival, I was enlightened by some of my fellow Indian-students who got here before me, on various food issues for a vegetarian in the USA.

First of, Chili is not chilli but beef. Always notice the number of ‘L’s in¬†the word.¬†(The restaurant ‘chilis’ caught my attention soon after I arrived and was dissapointed to find out what the word actually meant. The red chilli logo was decieving too. I have never visited chilis either.) Pepperoni toppings on pizza¬†can very well be misunderstood for tomatoes. Hot dog is not actually dog meat. Chinese is not the Chinese we get in India – very very bland here. Thai food is closer to IndoChinese food than Chinese.

Based on the vital advices of my seniors, I drew lines on where to eat and where not to. I have now realized that the Chinese we get in the US is lot more authentic than what we get back home. In fact Indo-chinese is an entirely different cuisine. I have seen menu cards at Chinese restaurants and a lot of dishes look and sound delicious and the best part of all is that, they carry a number of vegetarian items too. Who cares if it is bland? I can always add an extra splash of hot sauce to my order. So, once I convince my husband, we will be heading out to a good chinese restaurant soon.

Until then, I shall seek solace in the taste I believed to be Chinese. This recipe for hot and sour soup is adapted from the my new recipe book – Tarla Dalal’s Chinese recipes. (BTW did you know she has her own blog now?) As always, I checked the list of ingredients and put in my own measurements with a few additons and subtractions:

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Shredded carrots and cabbage –¬†2 cups

Spring onions – 10-12 stems

Soya sauce – 1 tbsp

Balsamic vineger – 2 tsp

Cornflour – 1 1/2 tbsp

Grated ginger – 1 tsp

red chilli flakes – 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)

oil – 1 1/2 tsp

sugar – 1/2 tsp

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Ajinomoto (optional) – a pinch

Thai peanut sauce – 1 tsp

Mix the cornflour with a little water. Switch your stove to the maximum heat level and let your pan heat up till it is scotching hot. Add the oil and immediately the veggies. Saute for a minute and add the red chilli flakes, ginger, sugar, salt and the ajinomoto. Add 2 cups of water and reduce your flame to medium heat. Add the soya sauce and the cornflour. My secret ingredient РThai peanut sauce. Just a tsp to soften the flavor of the soya sauce. Taste for salt and heat and add pepper accordingly. Let this simmer for a couple minutes and you are ready to serve it.

 

January 29, 2007

Ingi (Ginger) Thughayal

Filed under: Chutneys and Thughayals, Ginger, JFI — Hema @ 8:29 pm

As soon as I saw the ingredient for this month’s JFI, the first thing that came to my mind was our morning cup of tea.¬†Ginger is such a versatile ingredient that finds its use¬†in various cuisines and is an¬†extremely medicinal root as well. Cakes, breads, cookies, beverages, sauces and our very own Indian pickles, murabba, curries, kashayams…the list is endless.
Thughayal is a thick-chutney like dish that is eaten mixed with rice and sesame oil. Appalams and vadams or even potato chips are a great accompaniment to this rice. Curry leaves, cilantro, mint leaves, coconut,¬† eggplant,ginger and¬†onion are very common thughayal varieties. And since it is ginger¬†month in the blog world, that’s the one¬†I picked!

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What we need:

Ginger peeled and cut into small pieces – 2 tbsp

Udad dal – 2 tbsp

Red chillies – 3 nos (this is 8/10 spicyyy…reduce if required)

Tamarind extract – 1 tbsp or tamarind concentrate – 1 tsp

Asofetida(hing) – 1/8 tsp

Sesame oil – 1 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Mustard – 1 tsp

Heat up the pan and spoon in a tsp of oil. Add the Udad dal, hing and red chillies. Use the block¬†hing if possible. Roast till the dals turn brown. Add the ginger and saute for a minute. Turn off the heat, add salt¬†and let things cool down before transfering to a blender. Add the tamarind extract and grind into an ‘almost smooth’ paste¬†with minimum water. Heat up the rest of the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add it to the thughayal and it¬†is ready to¬†be packed off to JFI-Ginger!

January 22, 2007

Pudina (Mint leaves) Vatral kuzhambu

Filed under: Indian, Main meals, Mint leaves, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 3:17 pm

Vatral kuzhambu or more commonly called vetha kuzhambu is a sambhar-like¬†preparation made¬†without the use of any cooked dal. It is a spicy concoction made with lots of tamarind, typically¬†one vegetable and of course some spices. Though traditionally, dried vegetables (vatral) like sundakkai and manathakalikkai were used to make this kuzhambu (hence its name), baby onions, egg plant, potatoes, carrot, radish¬†or any other fresh vegetable or even ¬†a combination of vegetables can be used. Venkaya (baby onion) vethakozhambu happens to be my and almost everyone else’s favourite. Pudina (mint leaves)¬†and vendiyam (methi/fenugreek leaves) come a close second for me.

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Here’s what you need:

Mint leaves – A big bunch

Tamarind – 1/2 cup thick extract

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Sambhar pwd – 3 tbsp

For tempering:

Sesame oil – 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Hing – 1/3 tsp

Red chillies – 2-3 nos

Tur dal – 3 tsp

Chana dal – 2 tsp

Methi/ fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp

Curry leaves – about 10

Salt to taste.

Always use sesame oil for vethakuzhambu. It just tastes a whole lot better. Heat up the oil. Add Mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the dals, red chillies, methi and the hing. [The block hing (the one sold as a block-not the powdered one) tastes better. Powder it coarsely before adding it to the oil.] Once the dals turn brown, add the curry leaves and the sambhar pwd. Saute for just about 5 seconds and add the mint leaves. Saute for a minute or so till the mint leaves turn dark green and reduce in volume. Add the turmeric,tamarind extract and salt. Tamarind concentrate does not taste as good in this recipe. Add some water and let this boil up for about 15-20 minutes. Add more water later if needed. If the kuzhambu gets very watery, just dissolve some rice pwd in water and add the paste. Boil until it thickens up to the required consistency.

Vethakuzhambu easily keeps for about 15 days in the refrigerator. In fact it tastes even better as it gets older. So, make sure you have made enough to last at least a couple days! Mix it with rice and a drizzle of sesame oil or eat it with curd rice Рbut eat with your hand and not the spoon, for, the hand smells divine long after the meal is digested.

 

October 23, 2006

Happy Deepavali – Good wishes and a request!

Filed under: Diwali, Ginger, Roots, herbs and spices — Hema @ 2:43 pm

To all Tams out there – “Deebavali Vazhthukkal – Ganga snanam aacha?”, to the Hindi speaking¬†junta – “Diwali ki shubhkamanayen” and to the Gujus –¬†“Saal Mubaarak”. Since, these are the only three language I can communicate in, its “A very Happy Diwali” to the rest of you. Now, would you do me a favour? Could you leave me a comment wishing me back in your mother tongue and also specify the language you speak (It doesn’t necessarily have to be an Indian language)?¬† This will serve as a reference for me and many of you who would like to leave comments to our fellow-bloggers for the next year.

So! it is that time of the year again –¬†Lights, fireworks, bakshanams(treats), new garments and loads of FUN!!! For those of you who have read my last post¬†may remember that¬†I had managed to get a solemn promise from my MIL that I would be the one handling the stove and she would be the one dispensing recipes. Well, I guess it was too much to ask:) She made Mysore pak, and Thattai while I was at work and they are just amazing. Let me get straight to the point and take you to my table right away.Here is what I have for you…


 

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Sweets РMysore Pak(MIL), Gulab jamun, Gajar halva, Badam Halva(FIL)

Savoury – Mixture, Thenguzhal, Ribbon pakoda, Thattai(MIL)

And my entry to JFI for Diwali treats – Deepavali marundu (marundu is Tamil for medicine).


 

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The bakshanams for diwali can vary every year, but traditionally, one item that is always made at home is the marundu. A small ball of this sweet and spicy concoction is important to prevent/cure the indigestions caused by the different treats you gobble up at a steady rate through-out the day.  (p.s this lets you get out and enjoy the fireworks and not visit the restroom more often than necessary; Рsorry- just had to put this in). Anyway, jokes aside, here is the recipe for Deepavali marundu. I have the names of ingredients in Tamil and will soon find out the names with which they are more commonly called and also post a picture of all the herbs/barks/spices.

Sukku (dry ginger) – 2 medium pieces

Athimadhuram – 1 bit

Kandathippili – 7-8 bits

Arisithippili – 1 tbsp

Chittarathai – 1 bit

Molagu (Black pepper)- 3 tsp

Omam (Ajwain) – 1 tbsp

Sombu (saunf/flennel seeds) – 1 tsp

Jadikkai – 1 tiny bit

Jadi patri – 1 tiny bit

Elaichi (cardamom) – 4

Cloves – 4

Cinnamon – 2 small pieces

Jaggery – amount as mentioned in the method

Honey – 2 tsp

Ghee – 3-4 tbsp

Put the dry ingredients in a cloth/paper towel and beat with a hammer. Then dry-grind the ingredients. It is important to beat it up first since some of them are too hard to be dealt with the grinder as is. Sieve the ground mixture and again dry grind anything that did not pass through the sieve. Repeat the process 2-3 times. Mix the sieved powder with a little bit of water to get a lump. Now, grate and measure up an equal amount of jaggery. In a pan, put a tbsp of ghee and the jaggery and heat till the jaggery dissolves fully and bubbles up in the sides. Add another tbsp of ghee and add the marundu ingredients. keep stiring till it leaves the sides. Add another tbsp of ghee if it sticks to the bottom during the stiring process. Before taking it off the stove add the honey. The marundu will harden up after cooling as any other sweet. So make sure you take it out what it is still soft and workable.

I know what most of you are thinking right now. Is it absolutely necessary to use all the above ingredients? Well no. I have a very simple recipe for making it with what you would have handy all the time.

Grated fresh ginger –¬†1/2 cup

Ajwain – 3 tbsp

Black pepper – 1 tbsp

Mix the ajwain and pepper, powder and dry roast for 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsp ghee to a pan and roast ginger. Mix the powdered indredients to the ginger and grind. Do not sieve. Rest of the process is as above. Add jaggery in equal amout to the ground mixture. You could use any other spice (except dry ginger) that is called for in the original recipe if you have it in hand. Simple?

Rest of the recipes will follow……….

 

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