Vegetarian Concoctions

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:


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

img_2882.JPG img_2881.JPG                
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 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:


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 – Thai 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!


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!

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…



Sweets – Mysore 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).



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; – sorry- 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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