Saturday, April 1, 2017

Paneer Chettinad Masala

Chettinad cuisine is all about spices, the blend and perfect balance of which make the cuisine. Pepper, cumin, fennel, coriander cardamom, clove and the heat of red chillies with the balance of fried coconut,  all fried and blended, gives way to the fiery aromatic Chettinad masala. Unlike the addition of the flavorful garam masala to any side dish pertaining to the North, Chettinad masala curries have them all freshly fried and ground along giving life to the dishes.
My daughter was mentioning about this dish she tried past weekend which was a hit at home. I made slight changes, from the recipe she had tried and passed along, to suit my taste.

Paneer Chettinad Masala
 Prep Time : 10 minutes
 Cook time : 25 minutes
 Total time needed: 35 minutes
 Serves : 2-3


Cashew nuts- 2-3

To grind to a fine paste after sautéeing 

Oil- 1 tsp
Paneer or cottage cheese, 200 grams, cut into 1 inch pieces.
Coriander seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Fennel seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Black peppercorns - 5-6
Green cardamom - 1, just the seeds
Clove - 1
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch stick
Star anise - 2 petals from one whole star
Dried red chillies - 3-4
Grated coconut- 1/2 cup

To season

Oil - 2 tbsps
Chopped big onion - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves, a sprig
Green chilly - 1, halved and split lengthwise
Ginger garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Tomatoes chopped - 1/3 cup
Red chilly powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 2 fat pinches

Salt to taste
Chopped coriander - a tsp, for garnishing


Soak 3-4 cashews in 3 tbsps of luke warm water.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a non-stick pan and sauté coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and star anise in order with a gap of 3-5 seconds during each addition, feeling the aroma of each while getting fried. Add chillies lastly and sauté along for 5 seconds. Add coconut and sauté until brown and fragrant.

Cool and grind to a fine paste adding the soaked cashews and its water. You may add a little more water if needed to grind fine.

Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in the same non-stick pan and sauté the chopped onions until well browned followed by the green chilly.

 Add red chilly powder and turmeric powder, followed by curry leaves chopped tomatoes.

Let the tomatoes turn mushy. Stir in ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell disappears.  Add the ground paste at this point.

Sauté until oil separates.

Pour along 1/2 cup of water and add salt. Add along the paneer cubes and stir gently to combine taking care not to break the pieces. You may shallow fry the paneer cubes before adding. I added them raw, after a gentle rinse in luke warm water. Cook with a lid closed for 5 minutes or until the oil separates.

Garnish with chopped coriander. Paneer Chettinad Masala goes well with any main dish, steamed rice or any mildly flavoured rice like pulao or ghee rice. Pairs better with Indian breads.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Idly / Dosa Podi

Idli Podi

There would be no home in South India that has not prepared this spice powder as an accompaniment to the breakfast mains; idly or dosa. Each South Indian state has its own version. Chammanthi podi of Kerala has an addition of roasted coconut and curry leaves, while in Karnataka and Andhra, addition of roasted peanuts and more of chillies make it unique. In Tamil Nadu, roasted chick peas, sesame seeds add to the taste of Idly Milagai Podi.

The one I am posting now, is my mom's version of podi, we grew up savouring and a real special one. The fact that astonished me is that while each home , around the states has varied versions of the this spice preserve, the Reddiars of Kerala had a standard recipe of this one. In one word, truly addictive, with that perfect balance of chillies, garlic and dal with a touch of coriander!

My sis and me still have this habit of  having podi with hot idlies along with sambhar and coconut chutney. My brother, an idly hater who is forced to have them after amma's strict rules would have it with podi, sesame seed oil and lots of sugar :). Strange, but he still loves that way, all mashed up :D
My daughter is an ardent fan of this one, and demands in bulk!

This post is for Maria and Evin, the girls I love :)

Idly / Dosa Podi

Yield - 1 3/4 cups
Cuisine - South Indian.
Prep time - 10 minutes
Time needed for frying - 20 minutes 

Get ready with:

1 cup broken urad dal /uzhutham parippu (sun dried)
3.5 tbsp coriander seeds / kothamalli (sun dried)
50 nos medium sun dried and destalked redchillies / milagai (weighed approx 50 gms)
1/2 tsp Hing
1 tsp table salt
15 nos slender garlic pods (I used nattu poondu or country variety)
3-4 sprigs washed and wiped dry
Few drops of oil- for frying


Assemble the ingredients. As mentioned above, I sun dried urad dal, coriander and the red chillies. Esp the chillies until they were light and crisp. The hing, you see near the table salt, is the rock variety for the added flavour. The garlic is country variety which also adds to the final flavour.

Mince the garlic and let it sundry for a couple of hours. This is to absorb the extra moisture in them. The fresh garlic if used directly would interfere with grinding of dry powder, towards the final stage.

Heat a wide thick bottomed kadai with a few drops of oil. Add urad dal and coriander seeds and fry together in low-medium heat to 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden brown in colour. Transfer to a stainless tray. Always use a heat resistant metal tray as the fried ingredients transferred, tend to be too hot.

Fry the curry leaves for a few seconds and transfer to the plate. Do not bother to fry them until crispy. The heat of the dal is enough to turn the leaves, crispy.
 Fry the hing next, for a few seconds and transfer.

Trickle a few drops of oil and fry the chillies for a few seconds until the aroma emanates, taking utmost care not to burn them.

Let it cool to room temperature. Transfer to a mixie and pulse for a few seconds. Do not pulse too fine. Add the sun dried garlic bits, while still coarse and pulse / dry grind again. It's again a personal choice to make it a bit coarse or fine. I prefer my podi, slightly coarser.

Sun drying the ingredients before frying, enhances the shelf life. We do not want moisture in them so that it grinds fine after frying as well. If you cannot sundry, microwave the dal and coriander for a few seconds, toss and return for some more time. You can do the same with minced garlic too.

My family prefers  podi, a bit towards the spicier side. Addition of gingelly oil while serving would bring down the heat and spice levels . If you are still apprehensive, you may cut down the number of chillies to 25-30, for a milder version.

Bring down the numbers to 5-6, if you use larger cloves of garlic.

 2.5 kgs of  fresh podi for my daughter,  packed right away all set to go to the US.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Paal Poli ~ Pooris Soaked in Sweetened n Flavored Milk!

As the name says it all, Paal Poli is a  dessert made by soaking fried pooris in flavoured milk. Yes, it's just simple as it sounds! The best Paal Polis, I savoured are the ones made by my son-in law's grand ma, who resides in her beautiful ancestral home, in the neighboring village, Peruvalanallur! These cuties were what she opted to make, while throwing the feast for her grand kids. My husband and myself  couldn't make it to the village for her heartwarming lunch as the post wedding paraphernalia had  left us thoroughly exhausted. Back from the village late evening, my daughter hopped in with a lovely container in which soft paal polis were packed, with loads of love and care. I could feel that when the first bite hit my taste buds, and ah! I found myself devouring the heavenly morsels!!
I called her up, the next minute and typed the recipe, right away in my blogger. The simplicity of the dish surprised me that I had to suppress my urge to rush into the kitchen, knead the dough, fry the pooris and soak them, immediately!!

It had been been several months since then and had wanted to prepare the sweet as the first recipe for the year, but then got postponed. Better late than never!

Peruvalanallur athai's Paal poli, recreated, with lots and lots of love... :)

Paal Poli 

Makes 8 large or 10 medium or 13 small sized pooris
Serves 4-6

 Prep time: 20 mins
 Standing time; dough: 1-2 hours
 Soaking time of the finished dessert: at least an hour to *one day


100 gms all Purpose Flour / Maida -  ( this is between 3/4 to 1 cup)
2 tbsps rava (sooji/semolina) ( not roasted)
A pinch of yellow food colour
50-60 ml luke warm water

Oil- for deep frying

600 ml milk (I used milk with 3% fat content)
1/4 cup heaped white sugar
A fat pinch saffron

A few almonds and pistachios, chopped, to garnish


Paal Poli

Whisk together maida and rava in a bowl. Measure 60 ml of water in a microwavable jug and warm a bit. Just to make it luke warm. Dissolve a pinch of edible yellow food colour. Add to the flour mix little by little and knead well until you get a soft pliable dough like poori dough. I needed exactly 55 ml of water. Make into into a ball and cover with a wet kitchen towel or  cling film and rest it for 2 hours. We do not want the ball to get dried up in the outsides. So make sure you cover it to retain the moisture. After a couple of hours, knead again and roll equal sized balls ( 8 or 10 or 13 acc to your size preference) I divided into 8 balls to make larger pooris. Also I had spread them into slightly elongated ones than perfect rounds, since as to get larger semicircles as we fold them into half for serving.

Paal Poli

Heat oil for frying the pooris. Fry one at a time. Let them the soft and not crisp. Drain in paper towels so as to absorb excess oil. Keep them aside.
Soak saffron strands in 1/4 cup hot milk for 10 minutes. Heat the remaining milk in a sauce pan. Add sugar followed by the saffron milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for a minute in low flame and switch off. You don't have to thicken the milk.

Arrange the pooris in a tray, half folded and pour the hot milk over them generally so as to soak them. after an hour you may need to add more, as they absorb the milk. Whole pooris soaked in milk as such weren't looking pretty in pictures. So had to revise the garnish idea to make the dessert prettier. Thanks to Raks, my lovely buddy  :))) for the pretty looking garnish idea :).

They have to get soaked at least for 2 hours before serving. *You can prepare Paal polis,
 soak them up the previous day and refrigerate, for your guests. Thus, your dessert is done, hours ahead!  Oh yeah! I love them chilled :)

 Garnish with chopped nuts (microwave for a minute and toss). Sprinkle a few strands of saffron before you serve.
Sure to receive compliments!

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Easy Recipes for the Valentine Week!

The Valentine Week is on! Rose day, Propose day, Chocolate day,Teddy day, Promise day, Hug day  Kiss day and follows the Romantic Valentine day!

Starting with a Rose; proposal, being together like a chocolate, gifting a teddy, making life time promises, hugs and kisses for more closeness and the union of the soul mates; The Valentines Day!

Wish I could be a Lover again!

Here are a few recipes, you may try to make your Valentine happy :). Remember, you may not need to be a connoisseur or even a cook :) The heart to whip up a simple goodie is enough to show all your love to your loved one! :)

Starting with the simplest...
(Click on the name to direct you to the recipe.)

Blueberry Lemonade

Shortbread Hearts

Dark Chocolate Cake with Oreo Cookie Frosting

Jam Tarts

Crinkle Cookies

Date and Cocoa Truffles

Gooseberry wine~  Needs a standing time of 3 weeks. Still, if you can get hold of the berries, start today! Better late than never. Red Wine symbolise Love! :)

Melting Moments

Red Velvet CupCakes

Thumbprint Cookies

 Love each other, today and always.The world is all yours.
Happy Valentines Day!

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Burmese Yellow Fried Rice with Shallots and Peas!


ellow Rice is a "Burmese thing." A heartwarming combination of turmeric, cayenne and fish sauce mingled with the irresistible flavour of caramelised onions makes this dish unique!
As you might know, the most common staple food in Myanmar is white rice, which is eaten by finger tips as morsels dipped in curries by the Burmese. The ingredients are fresh and resemble the Chinese mode of cooking. Inspired by the Indian cuisine, parallelly, they use lesser amount of spices and more of garlic and ginger. In this particular rice dish, I have used fresh peas along with fried onions and other basic Burmese ingredients. Fish sauce is avoided in the below recipe, as my family members are vegetarians. I strongly suggest to use this important ingredient, though!

Burmese Yellow Fried Rice with Shallots and Peas
Adapted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time:10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes


* 1.5 tablespoons shallot oil
(For this we need 2 tbsps peanut orany neutral oil and 3 tbsps sliced shallots)

 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
 1/2 tsp roughly ground cayenne
 2.5 cups day-old cooked Jasmine rice
 1 teaspoon fish sauce (I omitted this)
 1/2 cup frozen green peas
 1-2 tablespoons golden crispy shallots (reserved in the first step)
 Salt- to taste
 Lime wedges for serving


To begin with, we need 1.5 tbsps of shallot oil. *For this, get ready with 2 tbsps peanut or any neutral oil and 3 tbsps sliced shallots
Heat oil in a skillet and throw in the shallot bits. Fry them stirring all the time, until crisp and golden. Drain in paper towel. Reserve for the last step/garnish.
Thus, you will end up with 1.5 tbsps of shallot oil and 2 tbsps of crispy fried shallots.

Heat the shallot oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat.Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have softened.  Add the turmeric and cayenne and give them a quick stir.

Crumble in the rice and give the mixture a stir, using the spoon to break apart any clumps of rice. Since I couldn't get hold of Jasmine rice, I used my regular parboiled rice. Add the fish sauce at this point if you wish to add and green peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have cooked through and the rice is heated through. And again, since I used fresh peas instead of frozen ones, I cooked them in just enough water, separately and added along the rice. Add the golden crispy shallots and give the mixture one last stir. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or platter and serve with lime wedges and hot chilly dip if desired..

Note: Fish sauce will have salt in it, so be careful when you add salt. If you do not wish to add fish sauce for a vegetarian version, add the needed salt.

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