Saturday, January 29, 2011

Photo of the Week ~The Calm woods of Kolli Hills



I have bragged enough and more about the ancestral home in the village located at the foot of the historical Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu :).

Soon after the Pongal feast, this year, we ; my in-laws, parents and myself, headed uphill for a day.

What you see here is just a section of the calm woods kissing the sky with the simple home garden towards the front, outside the house we stayed up the hill.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Parippu Vada



As you may know, Parippu vada is a well known teatime snack with a hot cuppa chaya in Kerala!

The crispy outsides and the chewy insides bitten into, wandering across your palate ultimately melting in your mouth alternated with the hot sip of chaya is irresistible not only to a Keralite but to anyone!

So, to make this simple and tasty snack,

You need:

Yellow split peas dal (pattani/peas parippu) - 1 cup
Shallots- 5-6 chopped
Ginger, minced- a tsp
Green chillies- 2
Curry leaves- a few
Asafoetida/kayapodi- 2 fat pinches
Oil- 1 cup, more or less; to deep fry


Method:

Wash and soak the dal for4 hours. Drain and pulse to a coarse paste in your mixie/blender along with the chillies ( instead of pulsing along you may even mince them and add it as such when you mix in ginger bits, onions curry leaves etc, if you like biting into the chilly bits ) and salt without or using minimum water. You can reserve 2 tsps of soaked dal and mix it along to the mixture after pulsing. Mix in minced ginger along with finely cut onions and chopped curry leaves, asafoetida and shape into round patties on your left palm with your right hand fingers.


Heat oil in a kadai and drop 3 patties one by one at a time, carefully.(Do not over crowd them as you may find it difficult to get them out in perfect shape and texture).
Flip them over after a few seconds, once they acquire a light golden brown hue and cook the other side.

Turn over again until they are cooked and attain a deeper golden yellow/brown colour.
Place them on a plate lined with a paper napkin to drain off excess oil.


Serve hot vadas with piping hot Chaya on a rainy evening :)


Note- I substituted 1/2 big onion, sliced, for shallots since I love the flavour of deeply fried thin n long onion strips embedded over the crispy vadas. Yet, small onions are suggested! :)

Paruppu vadai is a delicacy snack in Tamil Nadu as well, but calls for kadalai paruppu(bengal gram dal) or thuaram paruppu (thuar dal) or even both, rathen than the pattani paruppu here! Will post the recipe some time later :)

This recipe is submitted to Kerala Kitchen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photo of the Week ~ Start of a new series!



Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. - Walker Evans

Photo of the Week is a new series which I had wanted to start for a long time; the casual shots which my humble camera badly wants to bring forth in Spicy Chilly, the ones which get unnoticed among the regular stream of food fotos; happy moments, nature, street shots or even house ware, subjects are countless!

Hope you would enjoy the 'off track' food posts in this of mine, for a change, as I do.

Again, today marks another year since the author of this blog was introduced to this wonderful world. Hope she will be able to carry the series successfully till the same day, next year, with all your ardent support and love, which you continue to shower on her!

Cheers,
Bharathy

The picture was taken on Pongal day, just before the prayers, with the invisible pots of sakkarai and pal pongal in the background :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sago / Javvarisi Upma


Sago Upma is an easy to make meal which calls for less ingredients, less cooking time, more taste and contentment!

I tasted this yummy dish for dinner at my sister in law's house a while back and instantly fell in love with it!

Though the dish is meant to be taken as an evening snack, I make it for breakfast or dinner as it's heartily filling.

Try this and I bet you will decide making it often at home as it needs no onions or even vegetables!
I am not very sure about the nutritional part of the dish; sago being low in nutrient content, you may also try adding vegetables while making this.

The recipe which follows is the basic one for the sago upma which I had tried and relished as such!




Ingredients: (to serve 4)

Sago/ javvarisi/chavvari- 2 cups (pick up the right sized pack of sago pearls..ie..slightly smaller than pepper corns, not the opaque white ones but the transparent ones)
Thick sour curd- 1 1/2 cups
Moong dal/pasi paruppu/cherupayar parippu- 1/4 cup (dry roasted)

To temper:

Oil- 1 1/2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal- 1/4 tsp
Green chillies-2-3-slit lengthwise
Curry leaves- a sprig
Salt- to taste

Method: (seems a little elaborate, but believe me, it's breeze!) :)

1. Wash sago well to remove any dust particles present. Beat the thick sour curd for 2-3 seconds to make it smooth and homogeneous. Transfer to a clean wide utensil. Wash the mixie with 1/2 cup of water and add to the thick curd. Drain washed the sago and soak in the beaten curd, immersed in such a way that liquid part is an inch above the sago.

2. Let is sit for 8 hours (generally 4-5 hours is said to be enough, but I resort to longer soaking hours as we prefer a tangier version of the Upma). It shouldn't be too dry and should be hydrated well enough in the curd. If you feel the liquid part being absorbed, add a little water now and then to make the pearls moist and happy :)

3. Fluff it with a fork once in two hours to facilitate even soaking of the pearls. (if you soak it for overnight, fluff it after an hour or two after you soak and repeat it before you cook it in the morning).

4. After 8 hours, drain away the excess liquid from the sago (you can even reserve this as you need some liquid to be sprinkled while cooking).

5. Cook dry roasted moong dal until 'just' done in an open pan of boiling water. (To dry roast the dal, heat the dal for 3-5 minutes medium flame until it acquires a light brown hue and the aroma spreads).

6. Heat oil in a wide, thick bottomed kadai or in a nonstick pan, splutter mustard seeds, brown the urad dal and throw in the green chillies followed by the curry leaves. Mix in the drained sago and combine gently. Within a couple of minutes the sago pearls turn transparent.Mix in gently the cooked dal. Sprinkle water if needed. The upma should be moist.Close the pan with a lid for 2 minutes.Turn again. By this time the excess water would have been used up and sago get rids of its stickiness if any, and turns soft. Switch off the flame.The whole cooking process here takes not more than 4-5 minutes.

7. Enjoy the hot sago upma with coconut chutney.

I would highly recommend Varalakshmi Sago to make this upma. They are smaller in size than the variety I have used in the above recipe and of higher quality. The soaking time of this sago is only 4 hours and has a much better taste!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thellapulusu ~ The Mildly Spiced Traditional Coconut based Curry!





T hellapulusu meaning 'a white gravy', is a much common, homely coconut based curry we have for lunch, back in Kottayam ever since we can remember!

As kids, both sis and me loved this mildly spiced traditional curry which had varied vegetables cooked in it to perfection; a fine medley of spices, tanginess and sweetness, we never got fed up of!

Sis had already blogged about the thellapulusu with tomatoes and drumsticks cooked in it and all I had to do was download the pictures from the camera, copy and paste the recipe from her place, do a bit of variations and click the publish button ;)


To Serve 4, you need:

Brinjal - 2-3, each cut across into 2 large halves
1 drumstick, cut into 4" pieces
Thick tamarind water extracted from a small lime-sized ball of tamarind
Salt to taste

Grind to a paste:

1/2 cup grated coconut
4-5 shallots / ulli
1/2 tsp jeera
2 dry red chillies
A pinch of turmeric
A clove of garlic

For tempering:

A tbsp oil
A few fenugreek seeds / uluva / venthayam
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 shallots, minced
A few curry leaves


Method:

1. Boil 1- 1 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pan or a kadai with turmeric powder and salt.Transfer brinjal and drumstick pieces to it and cook till half done.

2. Mix tamarind extract with the ground masala paste, pour to this and continue to boil on sim until the vegetable pieces are soft. Add water as necessary to keep the consistency right (same consistency as sambar). Remove and set aside.

3. Heat oil and add all the ingredients for tempering. Once the mustard seeds have popped and the fenugreek seeds are roasted (take care not to burn them!), dunk them into the gravy. Mix well, adjust salt.




A little spicier version of the same pulusu made on another day, served hot with rice, vazhakka mezhukkupuratti and vendakka thoran.

Thellapulusu is also served as an accompaniment to Pal pongal in Southern parts of Tamil Nadu mainly in the village of Samooharangapuram of Tirunelveli district!

Here's Wishing you all a Very Happy Pongal before I pack off to our ancestral home for the festival!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meringue Mushrooms



I was literally carried away by the cute looking creative Meringue Mushrooms but ultimately gave up participating January's Sweet Punch after my umpteen attempts of bringing them into perfect shape.

When piped out they were rather bubbly than frothy, yet stood well in shape and came out light, pristine white, but too brittle once baked. I still can't make out where I went a bit wrong :)

Is it because I avoided using cream of tartar suggested in the recipe or the oven which took double the time of slow baking as suggested ?


Deciding to avoid applying melted chocolate to base of the buttons, I carried on clicking, stopping my son who eagerly reached out to grab them :)

When I hurriedly settled down to check the pictures in my PC, how they had turned out, I had to shout at him to leave them undisturbed until I confirmedthe clarity of the pictures but as soon as I got back to click more, the mushrooms had disappeared! :)

The Final Verdict- 'The-not-so-perfect-looking-mushroom-meringues' tasted puurfect and made us happy :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Maa Inji - Pachai milagu Oorugai / Pickled Mango-ginger with Green pepper!




Most of you had guessed it right :) but Mango-ginger is surprisingly unfamiliar to many, the humble root vegetable which belongs to the Ginger family has a bursting combo of the flavours of fresh raw mango and ginger!

I got introduced to this interesting vegetable in Tamil Nadu by my ma in law from whom I learnt this simple, guilt free, yet a much addictive pickle.

Cheers to Cilantro, Sumi and ? again who guessed the dish absolutely right as 'Pickle' :)



You Need:

Ma inji / Mango-ginger- peeled and cut - 1 cup
Fresh green pepper- 1/3 cup
Lime juice -2 tbsps
Red chilly powder- 1tbsp
Salt-a tspful or as needed
Gingelly oil- a tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida-a fat pinch
Curry leaves- a few (optional-I avoided them)
Hot water- 1/4 cup scant



Method:

Scrape away the thin skin of the mango-ginger. Wash and dry using a clean towel.Slice them into rounds and then across resembling 'half moons' as in the picture.The bigger half moons can again be sliced into two if needed.

Wash the green pepper with the stalks. Dry using the clean towel. Divide each stalk into smaller pieces with your fingers by careful pinches. A few corns may drop off from the stalks and do not worry about it. Dry well.

Heat oil in a small kadai, splutter the mustard seeds, stir in the asafoetida and the curry leaves followed by the red chilly powder. Be careful with the flame. I generally put off the stove at this stage to control the heat, acting on the chilly powder.Throw in the mango-ginger slices along with the green pepper. Let the flame be minimum to medium now and stir well to combine. Add salt and lime juice. Mix in hot water to add to the liquid part of the pickle.

Transfer maa inji - milagu oorugai in a clean dry ceramic container or a glass jar and refrigerate to keep well.

Enjoy with rice and curd :)



Friday, January 7, 2011

Guess the root vegetable :)

Location- S. Usman Road, T.Nagar, Chennai.

You can see fresh green pepper in the farther end, the street seller weighing for me :)

Now, friends, can you guess the root vegetable in the basket?
...and again what I made with this light brown colored root veggie along with the fresh green peppers? :)

Clue - towards the spicier side :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best of 2010 ~ A look back with Top Ten Recipes!

Seconds giving way to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to months….seasons…

I realize how fast time flies when I settle down to review the top posts at the end of each year; yet another year which has whisked past, packed with all mixed moments and memories of cheer, joy, tears, bitterness, disappointments, surprises …


The year had been a roller coaster one with a fabulous start on the first post.....

Pongal, the South Indian harvest festival, celebrated in our ancestral bungalow.



The most proud blogging moments were the ones when the post detailing the traditional South Indian harvest festival of Pongal , got approved by the Food Buzz Team and got featured for the month.




A recipe which got formed within minutes and made to reality within the next couple of hours! The hit post still surprises me with its amazing response, an example of a post which turns out to be overwhelming when you least expect , overtaking others which were worked on giving your heart and soul J





The name says it all!A bit of hard work and lots of creativity. Lavi, no words to Thank you my friend, for this has turned out to be the 3rd best post of the year!J






The exotic dessert which demanded a bit of creativity and lots of hard work ;)… won’t be the same for the seasoned bakers, anyway J.
One of my favourite bakes so far since we totally fell in love with the heavenly taste of the classic dessert!



Papaya Milkshake



A morning which called for a hurry burry breakfast.A simple spread of Idly and chutney, chilled milk on the kitchen counter, a ripe papaya in the crisper, idea by the husband and the pretty looking smoothie was born.The cute baby was photogenic and got extra popular :)





A Traditional Kerala recipe inherited from my mom. Many tried and got back with positive results.


Banana Fritters


Another age old and a common snack back in God’s own country.Thanks to my cravings which made me lay my hands on this one.


A simple and a common North Indian Side dish which surprisingly got into the best posts list.

Whole Green gram Payasam


Whole green gram cooked soft in rich coconut milk and jaggery and you get hooked to the authentic taste of this traditional payasam of Kerala, made for Onam.



Cubed potatoes cooked soft along with fresh and tender methi greens grown in the back yard.

Readers had obviously favorited the traditional recipes and Indianised bakes from my space for the year... :)
Happy moments like Chennai bloggers meet had been thrilling and funfilled!

The final day of the year pleasantly surprised me when 'The Hindu' published one of my recipes in the weekend Metroplus column.

To Sum up, I did have a contented and pleasurable year of blogging but am sure, still I have Miles and Miles to go..

I Sincerely Thank all my readers, followers and blogger buddies from the bottom of my heart for supporting me as always and I wish and hope this will continue for ever...

This goes to Valli's 'Best of year 2010' event!

Wishing you a Fabulous Year ahead, filled with Peace, Joy and Prosperity.

Cheers,
Bharathy :)