Sandya’s Sunday Lunch

JEERA RASAM, PARAPU USILI AND MOR KOOTAN

Sandya, my niece sent me some more recipes. this would be sunday lunch at her home. Serve with steamed rice and some papadum. I make a different version of jeera rasam; I tried this after she sent me the recipe.The only change was that I added 4-5 cloves of garlic, which of course is optional. The rasam was spicy, tangy and perfect with rice. I had to pour some in a cup and drink it as a soup. This is perfect if you have the sniffles; it surely clears up your sinuses.

Jeera rasam

  • Soak 1tsp tur dal, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp pepper corns, and a handful of curry leaves for 30 min and grind in a blender
  • In a kadai or saucepan, take the juice of a lemon sized tamarind (lemon sized tamarind soaked in hot water and squeeze and discard tamarind and use the juice. Alternatively, use 1 tsp tamarind concentrate with 2 cups water). Add 1 chopped tomato, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 3-4 cloves of garlic (optional) and boil well.
  • Add the ground paste and adjust consistency by adding one cup water if required. Let it boil until it is frothy on the top.
  • Add ghee to a pan and add a tsp of mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter add to the rasam. This is called tempering. Add coriander leaves as garnish. Serve hot with steamed rice or drink as an appetizer soup.

Parupu (Lentils) usili

This is a dish you will love to eat over and over again. The lentils are roasted and golden and have a nutty flavour; the chillies combined with stir fried beans. I could just eat this by itself!


Courtesy: Geethas Kitchen

  • Soak 2 cups tur dal, 2 tsps channa dal, 3 red chillies in 3 cups water for 2 hours.
  • Grind without adding water with a few curry leaves and 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder into a thick paste
  • Steam as balls in a steam or on an idli tray
  • Once it cools, pulse in blender till it crumbles (pulse 2-3 times-do not grind). Set aside
  • Stir fry any finely chopped vegetables of your choice- beans/ cluster beans/ broad beans/ vazhai poo (banana flower). Set aside.
  • In a kadai or pan heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 red chillies, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and a couple of curry leaves.
  • To this add the crumbled dal/lentils and saute on a medium flame until it becomes mildly crispy and brown.
  • Then add the stir fried vegetables and saute for another 2 minutes and serve with steamed rice.
  • The is a perfect dish to eat if you do not want carbs, just leave out the rice

Mor kootan (Coconut and yogurt sauce)

Mor kootan is a curd/yogurt based sauce which is perfect with rice. In the north of India a similar dish called khadi is made. In the south we use coconut and has a very different taste. It is a mild sauce with the coconut and yogurt mellowing down the flavours of the chillies.

  • Grind 1 cup sliced or grated coconut, 2-3 green chillies or jalapeno chillies, 1 tsp rice powder, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 cups curd/yogurt. Do not add water; grind till coconut and chillies are finely ground. Keep paste aside
  • Add 2 tsp coconut oil to a kadai/ sauce pan
  • Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 red chillies, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and a couple of curry leaves.
  • When mustard seeds splutter add 1 cup of bhindi(okra)- cut to 1 inch pieces or cooked arbi (colocasia) or green peppers (capsicum) and fry till the vegetable is cooked. You could also use raw plantain, ash gourd or pumkin.
  • Add ground paste and mix. Add salt and 1 cup water
  • Take off heat once it starts bubbling.
  • Serve with steamed rice

Paneer And Veg Kathi Rolls/ Frankies

Kathi rolls and Frankies were not something I grew up with in the south of India. We had our masala dosas which are rice crepes filled with a potato filling and a coconut chutney on the side. In the south, people believed in sitting down for meals and eating and relishing it. I have read that Khati rolls originated in Calcutta and Frankies in Mumbai; two cities hustling and bustling even back when I was a kid. I had not visited either place until I was an adult. I grew up in a sleepy small town called Bangalore where street food included masala puri, nippatu chat and gobi manchurian. Since I had not travelled beyond the Vindhya mountains I had not come across food like kathi rolls and frankies. Kathi rolls are found on almost every street in Calcutta and oh, so scrumptious. Both Kathi rolls and frankies are rotis stuffed with meat or veggies and maybe cheese and rolled to be eaten on the go. Sometimes, an egg is added to the roti. Today you find this everywhere even in the ‘not so sleepy’ city of Bangalore.

This is my version, inspired from the streets of Calcutta and Mumbai. To be more decadent, a nice flaky ceylon parantha could be used instead of a whole wheat roti. It is spicy and tangy. You could fill it with chicken tikka or panner tikka or any vegetables or meat of you choice. Kebabs go really well with this. I have used tamarind and coriander chutney but a yogurt dip (yogurt mixed with coriander chutney) may also be used.

Paneer Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet paneer 200 g
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • To be mixed to a paste: 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp ginger paste, 2 tsp chat masala, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 -1 tsp chilli powder, salt, 1 tbsp yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves

Directions:

  • Cut paneer into cubes. Coat paste on paneer and let it marinate for 30 minutes
  • Heat oil, add onions and fry till golden brown
  • Add tomatoes and fry till tomatoes are well cooked and oil separates (you see some oil on the sides of the pan)
  • Add the paneer and keep cooking till it is almost dry. Keep mixing to avoid burning

Mushroom Capsicum Pepper Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp chat masala
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp oil

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add onions and fry for a few minutes
  • Add mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the capsicum/green peppers and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, chat masala and chilli powder
  • Set aside

Onion garnish

Slice one red onion, squeeze 1/2 a lemon on it. Add 1/2 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp chat masala, 1/4 tsp salt. Mix and set aside.

  • tortillas/ chappati/ ceylon paratha
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • coriander chutney, store bought
  • sweet tamarind chutney, store bought

Method

  • Heat rotis/ paratha drizzling some oil on it
  • Place some paneer or veggies on the rotis
  • drizzle some coriander and tamarind chutney on it
  • Add some onion garnish
  • Roll and serve hot

Breakfast and dinner- Recipes by danya

Maharashtrian Poha (Beaten Rice) and Punjabi Dal

When I started asking recipes from family, Danya was one of the excited nieces who sent me recipes. I remember visiting her in Mysore and showing her how to bake banana bread years ago. I heard she makes a really good banana bread. Her husband raves about her cooking. Danya is working on her PhD and will soon be Dr. Danya! In her spare time she enjoys cooking.

Here are two recipes. This is her version of a maharashtrian poha – a quick and tasty breakfast or anytime snack and punjabi dal (lentil soup eaten with rice or roti/naan). Danya said that the punjabi dal was a recipe her mother has been using for almost 30 years. The recipe was given to her mother by her aunt, Shanti.

Poha is beaten rice and you get both white and red variety. She has used red poha. In Tamil, poha is called aval and in Kannada it is called avalakki. In the south of india, a similar dish called aval upma or avalakki uppittu is made. Usually potatoes are not added and mustard seeds are added instead of cumin seeds. Garnish with grated coconut.

  1. Rinse two cups of poha and drain using a strainer. (Do not let it sit in the water; it will get soggy)
  2. Sprinkle salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and set aside.
  3. In a pan, heat 2 tsp oil and add 1 tsp cumin seeds.
  4. Add 1 cup chopped onions, 1-2 chopped green chilli (optional), 1/2 cup peanuts, 1 tbsp curry leaves (optional) and saute till onion turns golden.
  5. Add 1 chopped potato, salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Sprinkle a little bit of water and let the potato cook. Keep stirring.
  6. Once the potato is cooked well and dry, add the poha (beaten rice) and mix gently. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a tsp of lemon juice(optional).
  8. Serve with a cup of masala chai, tea or filter coffee (that would be another post)

Punjabi Dal

  1. Measure 1/3 cup each of toor dal, masoor dal, yellow moong dal, urad dal and channa dal.
  2. Pressure cook all the dals with three times the water.
  3. Soak 4 red chillies in warm/hot water. Chop one onion, four tomatoes and 5-6 cloves garlic. Grind the chopped onions, tomatoes and garlic along with the chillies and the water the chillies are soaked in. (This gives it a mild color). Remove the seeds from the chillies if you prefer less spice.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 2 bay leaves.
  5. Once the cumin seeds splutter, add 1 1/2 chopped onion and saute till golden brown.
  6. Add the paste, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, a 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, chilli powder, crushed kasuri methi and salt.
  7. Bring to a boil and cook it well.
  8. Add the cooked and mashed dal and boil.
  9. Check salt and adjust. You can add 1/2-3/4 tsp amchur powder for a tangy taste (optional). Amchur powder is dried mango powder.
  10. Simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped coriander/ cilantro leaves and ghee. Serve with rice, roti or naan.

SPENAT SOPPA (SPINACH SOUP)

The other day, when we were sitting at the dinner table and asking the kids to tell me what their favorite food was. (Now that they are young adults they hardly complain about my food and eat what I make). so I asked them to list 5 of their favourite dishes that I make. Some of them were poori masal, gnocchi, masala dosa, pasta and spinach soup amongst others. The spinach soup was something my older son liked and one of the only soup he would eat as a kid. It has been over 10 years since I have made it and it had totally slipped my mind.So I was surprised that he mentioned it. The recipe was from my ICA recipe book from my Sweden days. It is a pretty simple and easy soup and calls for frozen chopped spinach since fresh vegetables were not as easily available in the winter. Of course, I am sure things have changed, I lived there 20 years ago.

You need cream for this soup, and as I am lactose intolerant I kept some aside before I added the cream. I served it with some homemade ciabatta bread, cheese and maple butter. I am pretty happy with the way the bread turned out. I have tried making bread and it never comes out perfect and my goal is to learn to make perfect bread by the time the stay-at-home orders are done or till I run out of flour and yeast.

This soup has very few spices, and lacks strong flavours but not bland. Most of the flavour comes from the buljong or the soup cubes. I used 2 tsp of Better than Bouillon but you can use any knorr vegetarian soup cubes (or maggi cubes). I sprinkles some parmesan cheese and chilli flakes at the end for more flavour

Ingredients

  • 500 g frozen spinach, thawed lightly and chopped (fresh spinach can be used, chopped)
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (maida)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bouillon cubes (stock or soup cube- knorr or maggi)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli pepper (optional)

Directions

  • Heat butter in pan
  • Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes
  • Add spinach and saute for a few minutes
  • Sprinkle all purpose flour and mix
  • Add water and broth cubes. Cover and cook for around 10 minutes
  • Mix in cream and add salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Serve with bread or a boiled egg
  • Sprinkle cheese and chilli flakes and serve hot

VERSATILITY of a Banana (Plantain) Plant- using every part of the plant

Banana/ Plantain plants are one of the most versatile plant you can find. Almost every part of the plant, not just the fruit, is eaten. What is the difference between a banana and a plantain. A plantain is a starchier banana which is used both raw and ripe. They are usually larger than a regular banana. The raw plantain is used extensively in cooking and is cooked extensively in India, the Caribbean, Central and South America and parts of Africa and South Asia. The ripe plantains can be steamed or deep fried. The spices added to it are different in different parts of the world but it all starts with the humble plantain. The plantain stem, flower and fruit can be eaten. The banana stem is very high in fibre and good for you. The leaves are used as plates or package food and they are biodegradable.

South Indian meal served on a plantain/ banana leaf

I had posted a raw plantain roast sometime ago: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2019/03/22/vazhakkai-roast-raw-banana-stir-fry/ and podimas- substitute raw plantain for potatoes https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/04/01/mashed-potato-the-indian-way-potato-podimas-urulaikizhangu-podimas/and here is a recipe of my banana bread: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2016/11/02/banana-bread/

My sisters in law, Pushkala and Brinda, sent me recipes that they had cooked with the banana stem and banana peel. You can also cook the banana flower too. These recipes are traditionally from the South of India.

pushkala’s Vazhai Thandu Pachadi (Plantain Stem Curry)

  1. Oil hands before cutting the plantain stains as they can stain your fingers. Cut vazhai thandu (plantain stem) into small pieces and wash in water mixed with little yogurt. This avoids discoloring of the stem. Use a wooden stick or chopstick and twirl in the water. A lot of the fibre entangles in the stick, remove and discard. You may find chopped plantain stem which will make your life easier
  2. Soak one lime sized tamarind and extract juice or use 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
  3. Pressure cook cut vazhai thandu (plantain stem) in tamarind extract with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon jaggery/ brown sugar
  4. In a blender, grind 3 tablespoon grated coconut, 1/4 spoon mustard seeds and 2 green chillies into a paste
  5. Add paste to cooked vazhai thandu and cook well
  6. In a pan, take a tsp of coconut oil, add mustard, red chillies and curry leaves
  7. Garnish with 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,5-6 curry leaves and 2 red chillies. When the mustard seeds splutter, pour over pachadi and serve with steamed rice or any indian breads
banana stem
Vazha thandu pachadi

Plantain peel with green gram (moong) curry

This is a recipe from Brinda: Invariably every year I buy some raw nendran banana fruit for making chips. For the chips, the fruit is peeled, sliced and deep fried in oil.
Then, I use the peel to make a curry.
Before peeling the fruit, I wash it thoroughly in water and then peel. This peel, rich in fibre and nutrients is cut into small pieces. To one cup of peel, add one cup of green gram or cow pea and cook in a pressure cooker with little water and turmeric powder under medium flame for about 10 minutes. (Allow about six whistles in an indian pressure cooker). (or in instant pot for 4 minutes). When the pressure subsides, open the pan add salt and cook. Grind one tablespoon of grated coconut, 3 red dry chillies and one teaspoon peppercorns. Add this mixture into the pan and cook for about five minutes. Remove from flame and garnish with curry leaves and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Serve with steamed rice or chapati/ roti.

maple butter

A couple of months ago, we were at this fish and steak restaurant, McGraw’s, supposed to have the best fish and steak in this part of the world. It is always crowded and everytime we go, we see at least one person there who is a neighbor or from the University we work in. So it is either really good (which it is) or we live in a really small town.Anyway, they always have fresh bread and they serve with a butter. I usually do not touch the butter, but once I tasted it and it was the best. It tasted like desert; it was heaven on a platter. When I asked what it was they said it was maple butter.

I had to figure out how to make it and of course, I googled. Some of them said to boil maple syrup to certain temperature and to check using a candy thermometer which I don’t own. I found this really easy recipe in All Recipes and The Spruce Eats. Believe me when I say it is simple to make and OH! So Good! Spread it on freshly baked bread or a muffin or maybe even on a pancake or waffle!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • a pinch salt
  • a pinch cinnamon or pumpkin spice

directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and with an electric mixer, beat till soft and fluffy
  • Serve with warm toast
  • Can be stored in a bowl or rolled in parchment paper for later use.