Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lobia Masala / Black-eyed Bean Curry




The relaxed day of the week, the day we love to be on bed as long as possible, wake up a little late and laze...skip breakfast as the time has already gone past...

This has inevitably fallen on such Sundays' brunch menu. The time spent in the kitchen is comparatively less, a  rice and curry and  phulkas to compliment, if in a mood to go a bit elaborate, I simply love whipping this up as it is a family favourite.
How do I save time on such a lazy morning? I prepare the 'to sauté and grind to a paste' part the previous day and the meal gets ready in a jiffy!


The basic gravy is made just like in Mushroom Masala, one of the most popular posts. 


To Serve 4, you need;

1 cup of cow peas / lobia (white or yellow or red or a combination as I do)
2 Green chillies- slit lengthwise
1 tbsp oil
  1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  1/2 tsp curry powder
  1/2 tsp garam masala
  1/4 tsp pepper powder
  
  1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Fresh coriander leaves-to garnish 
Salt- to taste

To sauté and grind to a paste

2 large or 3 small, sliced thin or minced-big onions
2 tbsps oil
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1-2 tomatoes- cut into 8 pcs each





                  I used a combination of yellow, white and red lobia


  • Wash and soak the cow peas (lobia) in luke warm water for 3-4 hrs. Drain and pressure cook until 2-3 whistles adding enough water and a little salt.You can also cook them in a pan but ensure they are cooked well and soft.
  • Meanwhile, heat the 2 tbsp oil in a kadai or a non stich pan and sauté the sliced onions until golden brown in colour.
  • Add garlic paste and cut tomatoes. Sauté well till the raw smell disappears and the tomatoes turn pulpy.
  • Cool and grind this into a smooth paste adding very little water if needed. Keep aside.
  • Heat the 1 tbsp oil mentioned formerly. Add green chilles, chilly powder, turmeric, pepper powder, garam masala and salt in that order.
  • Add the ground paste and mix well adding a little water. Press or mash the cooked cow peas twice or thrice (not too much or else will be mushy) and simmer along stirring now and then till the gravy reaches the right consistency.(You may need to add, more or less, one cup of water while it simmers).The curry thickens while cooling down.
  • Serve hot garnished with minced coriander leaves and fresh cream if you prefer.Cow peas masala goes best with any variety of Indian roti or Pulao.


I served the curry  piping hot with a bowl of warm ghee rice.:)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pacha Andiparippu Aviyal / Raw Cashew & Coconut Curry



Aside dish which is made for special guests. A preparation reserved for special occasions.The Aviyal I love to make & savour. A unique dish of God's own country!
A dish which is never photogenic. The curry which made me struggle with lighting, focus and sharpness; yet not up to the mark. In short, the food to which I had surrendered in terms of photography.
I had pictured the dish a couple of years back with my basic Canon PowerShot. It was horrendous!
I shot it again a year back, with my next level camera. It was miserable!
During my third attempt I had to come to the conclusion that I can't capture a better image than this.

Put away the beauty and take my word, it is one of the richest and tastiest side dishes in a *Sadya (feast) menu and the easiest to make!

I am not sure about the availability of raw cashews or pacha andiparippu around you, which is the most ideal to prepare this, but I feel you can go ahead with the regular cashews, soaked in warm water for a few hours or until it turns soft. I haven't tried this way and so suggestions are most welcome.



These raw cashews are available in Alappuzha, where I was born and we had grown up nibbling these, though as kids we weren't much inclined to taste 'curries' made with them.
Now in T.N I get these rare cuties from the cashew farms in Neyveli which belong to my ma in law's cousin.
I got a fresh batch last week and here's how I prepared the curry just like my mother does..

Ingredients:

Raw cashews/ pachandi parippu - 2 cups, cleaned and washed in running water.
Drumsticks, cut into two to three inch long pcs - 6-8 pcs
Chilly powder - 1 tsp (yes, you need some extra as cashews suppress the heat!)
Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp
Jeera- 1/4 tsp
Small onions-4-5 nos

To grind to a smooth paste

Grated coconut - 1 cup
Garlic cloves-2

To season

Coconut oil-2 tsps
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Finely minced small onions- a tsp
Curry leaves- 1-2 sprigs

Method:

Boil cashews and drumsticks in just enough water adding chilly and turmeric powders.Crush jeera and onions in a hand mortar or give a quick pulse in your mixie. Stir into the curry. Add salt. Grind coconut and garlic to a smooth paste.Stir in the paste while the cashews and drumsticks are half done.Simmer until the curry thickens and the cashews and drumsticks turn soft (but not mushy).
Heat oil in another pan, crackle the mustard seeds, caramelise the minced onions and throw in the curry leaves. Pour the seasoning over the curry.



The Aviyal tastes best with Rice and Sambhar and fairs well with Indian breads.

Find the same recipe at my sister's place here.
I love this recipe as well!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chuvanna Cheera Mezhukkupuratti / Stir-fried Red Spinach




The wonderful varieties of spinach available in T.N had always surprised me. Most of them are available through out the year and the best greens restricted to the summer. A few of them are Arai keerai, Mulai keerai, Siru keerai,  Pulicha keerai, Venthaya keerai, Manathakkali keerai and Vallara keerai.
The widely available varities of cheera (spinach) in Kerala are always mainly, Chuvanna cheera, Pacha cheera  in those road side vegetable shops other than the home grown greens.

Surprisingly I had not seen this Chuvanna cheera or Red spinach anywhere in TN all these years and had wondered whether it cannot be grown here. I had come across the Pacha cheera /Green spinach named Thandu keerai now and then, but never the Red ones!

 During my short visit to ktm, last Christmas, I came to know about the Malayala Manorama delivering seeds to the readers on a weekly basis. Lucky Me! it was Red spinach and pea seeds for the week. When I carried the black tiny seeds home to T.N  I still had doubts whether they would survive in the red soil.

I prepared 2 pots; layered with sand mixed with organic manure and red soil. The seeds were sown and Yeah! I screamed with delight to see the young healthy red plants popping up in less than a week!!



The first harvest was done in a month and a half and the second and third harvests in the following months. As soon as I got back from my holidays I could see the bed ready for the fourth harvest. When I cleaned and chopped the leaves I realised the yield had been better than the previous ones.
And hence I decided to make Mezhukkupuratti, cooking the leaves bringing down the quantity to the dining dish, in a nutritious, guilt free and  flavourful way.



Here's how I prepared it,

Red spinach / Chuvanna cheera / Sigappu thandu keerai- a big bunch
Small onions - 7-8 nos, chopped
Green Chillies- 1-2 slit lengthwise
Oil- 2 tsps
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp

The Red spinach is cut across the stem, a few inches above the root.The bunch is washed well in running water to remove sand and then chopped fine, the stem as well as the leaves.Keep this aside.

Heat oil in a large wide kadai ( I use iron wok), splutter mustard seeds, sauté onions and green chillies for not more than 10 seconds and transfer the chopped spinach to the kadai. Sprinkle water and close the kadai with an appropriate lid. Lower the flame between sim-medium.
Open now and then to check the spinach cooking and sprinkle water if needed. Remove from fire once cooked (when the stems turn soft).

Serve hot with rice and curry.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce



With those busy days getting back, I am literally struggling to click a picture of something I cook, edit, type and blog!As like any active enthusiastic blogger, the drop of 'hits' terrifies me to an extend and urges to 'blog something at least from the drafts if you hold'.

I had badly wanted to bake this cake ever since Sis posted and got me a pack of brown sugar(since I don't get it in my town, bah!) during her following visit and urged me to make! Being an ardent 'date hater' I had second thoughts baking this, fearing the flavour of this dry fruit and when sis assured about the cake surprisingly not having that dominating flavour of dates, I made up my mind to lay my hands on it!

Alas! the cake tasted much better than I expected with the dominating flavour of orange and vanilla on the other hand and the invigorating taste of the hot toffee sauce making it all the more appealing, hiding the mild flavour of dates!

She has the step by step version of the recipe adapted from, A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman and all you have to do is hop on to her space to know how to bake this yummy cake!

Take my word, if you like those fruity Christmas cakes, you will seriously fall in love with this one!