Malini’s Mavinkai Chitranna (Raw Mango Rice)

My friend, Malini designs clothes. For the past ten years I have been wearing clothes designed by her. Her creativity does not stop there; she is an amazing cook too. This is her recipe. Do try it out.

In this recipe, we use raw mango and usually the mango used for pickles. Those mangoes are much more sour than the totapuri mango, which is nice to eat with some salt and chilli powder. Because the mangoes are very sour, the number of chillies added are more. Even then the dish does not turn out very spicy because the sourness balances the spiciness. Some jaggery is added to balance the flavours. I make a big batch of this every year and freeze them in batches. This way, i can still make mango rice when the mango season is over.

Mavinkai Gojju (Mango Paste)

Ingredients
  • grated raw mango 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp methi seeds
  • 10-12 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp jaggery (brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add methi seeds and red chillies and fry for a few minutes on a low flame
  • Grind methi-chilli mixture with the other ingredients to a fine paste
  • This paste can be stored in the freezer. Freeze in small containers for a one time use

Mango Rice

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mango paste
  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice (or any left over rice)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered dry coconut or grated coconut (optional)
  • a handful of roasted peanuts (optional)
Directions
  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and red chillies
  • When mustard splutters add the rice and mango paste and mix gently and thoroughly
  • Sprinkle coconut powder and peanuts and mix
  • Serve hot with raita or yogurt or papad or potato chips
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South Indian Egg Curry (and Egg Roast) – Egg curry two ways

This is a perfect recipe for Easter, especially if you have boiled eggs and are not sure what to do with it other than the usual.

This was a recipe my mom made often when I was growing up, maybe because it was quick and easy to make after a long day at work. She would also sometimes add potatoes to it. She fried the boiled eggs before adding to the curry. The eggs then are slightly crispy on the outside. I usually avoid this step to make it more healthy. You could serve this with dosa, roti or rice. I remember as a kid, eating it with bread. The bread soaks up all the curry and it tastes really good. Even today, after I pour the curry into a serving bowl, I sometimes wipe the remaining curry with a piece of bread and eat it.

I had posted an egg curry sometime ago, this is another easier version. I made this when I had teachers from Bavaria staying at my house. They enjoyed the egg curry and tried their hand at making appam. Monika and Anne, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

6 eggs hard boiled, (shelled and halved)

¼ tsp turmeric

1 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated (or 1 tsp ginger paste)

4-5 garlic pods, finely chopped or grated (or 1 tsp garlic paste)

2 green chilies halved lengthwise

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

½ tsp mustard seeds

A pinch asafoetida

2 large onion, sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

200 ml coconut milk

Chopped coriander/ cilantro 2-3 tsp

Method

Heat oil. Add asafoetida and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves and sliced onions, and green chilies. Sauté till the onions are golden brown. Add finely chopped garlic and ginger. Then add the coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder. After a minute add tomatoes and saute till tomatoes are cooked. Add salt and mix.

There are two ways to serve this.

Egg Roast: Place eggs on a platter. Spoon the mixture on the eggs and sprinkle cilantro on it. This can also be served as an appetizer or a side for any meal.

Egg Curry: Take half this mixture and grind to make a smooth paste. Return the paste to the pan and add coconut milk and cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame or till you get the consistency you want. If it is not spicy enough add some chilli powder and mix. Add eggs gently and heat through. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or bread.

Vazhakkai Roast (Raw Banana Stir Fry)

My colleague and friend, Kalpana, brought a similar dish for lunch. It looked interesting and I had a bite, it was really good – spicy and the banana was cooked perfectly. When I usually cooked raw banana, I cut into smaller pieces and stir-fried them. But this way, it is almost crispy on the top and soft inside. This was inspired by her dish.

These raw bananas are usually of a certain variety (nendrakai or the Kerala plantains). It is widely available in India and is available in Asian/Indian supermarkets in the US.

Ingredients

  • 2 raw bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 9-10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (add more if you would like it spicier)
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Peel raw bananas. Slice them into 3/4 inch pieces. Place them in a bowl of water mixed with a tbsp of yogurt. This will help avoid oxidation of the banana. Also slightly oil your knife before cutting to avoid the knife to get sticky
  • Heat oil in a large flat bottomed skillet.
  • Add asafoetida, mustard seeds, and curry leaves.
  • When mustard starts to splutter, add the chopped onion and garlic.
  • Fry till golden
  • Drain and add all the spice powders to the slices and mix and coat well
  • Add banana slices to the pan and stir gently.
  • Cover and let it cook.
  • stir gently every 5 minutes. If required sprinkle some water and let it cook
  • It should not be overcooked, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside but there should be a bite to it
  • Turn off heat and serve as a side dish with roti or rice or even as an appetizer.

Diet, You Say!

Our Zumba instructor, Bhavana, has been asking us to go on the GM diet for a few months. We always had excuses – dinner party, special lunches or travelling to places with amazing seafood. Even though I told her I eat in moderation, she thought it would be good to cleanse the system. It was three of us who decided to go on the diet and we decided to diet for 3 days, maybe 4, because we had a lunch on the 5th day and did not want to miss that. So you can see that we all love food! We had fun dieting (again not a word you think of when you think of the D word). Fun, because we dieted together, sharing food and sharing lots of laughs at our misery! So this recipe is dedicated to Bhavana, Uma and Ram. Thank you Bhavana for putting up with us and our moves. We are like Lucy in this video ‘I love Lucy’. https://youtu.be/XYvr6U5xv9w . We really feel for you but are so thankful to you for pushing us to exercise and eat healthy. I cannot believe I ate fruits while everyone else was eating pooris!

Diet conjures images of insipid food, boiled, tasteless, boring. But for me it was a challenge. How do I make food interesting, tasty, scrumptious even. The path to good food is flavour. I hardly used oil in this but packed it with flavour!

The first day was just fruits, except for bananas. My friend and I brought our cut fruits and ate it for snack and lunch. I made some fresh watermelon juice for the evening. Btw, if you prepare to eat fruits the whole day, be prepared to visit the restroom many times.

Day 2, was only vegetables, no potatoes except for breakfast. Food can never be boring for me. I went to the vegetable market and picked up different vegetables. Stir fry, it was. Cauliflower rice seems to be the craze in the USA, so I decided to try it out. Day 3, fruits and vegetables, no bananas and potatoes, so soup it was. The truth is I feel good. My stomach has gone down a bit, the weighing scale is being good to me. But of course I will start eating carbs and sweets again, but surely will add more fruit in my diet. Eat anything you want but in moderation is my motto!

Cauliflower Rice

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into flowerlets, washed and drainer
  • 2 tbsp onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Pulse cauliflower in a food processor. It should be powdery, not a paste
  • In a pan, heat oil. Add onions and cauliflower and saute for a few minutes. Sprinkle some water, add salt and fry till cooked. It should not be overcooked.
  • Serve instead of rice

Stir Fried Veggies

Pack it with flavours and you will not miss the oil, the soy sauce and the chilli sauce you might add otherwise. There is added sugar in almost everything processed, so read the labels.

  • 2 cups of 3-6 veggies of your choice (carrot, beans, mushroom, capsicum, broccoli, baby corn), cleaned and cup into pieces
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oil (when on a diet; otherwise increase it if you want)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil ( I had both, so added both. you can add just one)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  • Heat oil in a wok.
  • Add onions and fry for a minute. Add chillies, garlic and ginger. Add vegetables according to their cooking time. Add the broccoli and capsicum last as you do not want them to overcook and get mushy. Add salt
  • Fry till vegetables are cooked, not overcooked.
  • Sprinkle and mix the herbs.
  • Add lemon juice and mix. Taste for seasoning.
  • Serve with cauliflower rice

Throw It Together Vegetable Soup

How do I make soup with no readymade stock, my friend asked! Pack it with flavour, you do not need Maggi. Throw in vegetables you have, maybe some leftovers (you get my drift) and make a hearty soup. I always make a batch for atleast two meals. Since it had no stock, I made a paste of grilled tomatoes and eggplants to give it heartiness and depth. Grilling tomatoes brings out a sweetness

  • 1 eggplant, grilled on stove and skin removed
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • veggies of your choice (I used the same as above).
  • Also had some grilled pumpkin which i threw in (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp leftover cauliflower rice (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  • Grill tomatoes and 3-4 cloves of garlic in the oven. Remove skin of tomatoes (Heat oven to 200ºC/400ºF, grill for 25-30 minutes)
  • Grill eggplant, remove skin.
  • Grind together grilled tomato, garlic and eggplant to a paste.
  • Keep aside. (Add some olive oil, sumac or chilli poser and a dash of lemon juice and you can serve it as a dip)
  • In a pot add onions, rest of the garlic, chillies and vegetables that take longer to cook. Save broccoli, capsicum for the last.
  • Add 3-4 tbsp of the tomato – eggplant paste
  • Add water and salt and let it cook on a low flame for 30 minutes
  • Add rest of vegetables and cook for a few minutes
  • Add chopped coriander and lemon juice
  • Serve hot

Mushroom Spinach Pasta with Roasted Pumpkins and Carrots

I come home after a couple of days from a trip and look into my fridge. I have been eating out and all I wanted was some home cooked food. In the fridge, I have one small onion, two slices of pumpkin, a bag of spinach, a packet of mushrooms and a carrot. So I whipped up pasta with all these ingredients in less than 40 minutes. This is an easy and quick weekend dinner recipe.

Ingredients

  • 200 g button mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped spinach, washed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, quartered and sliced into big cubes
  • 1 cup pumpkin, cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 – 200 g spaghetti
  • salt to taste
  • pasta seasoning
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (optional)
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF
  • Toss pumpkin and carrots in 1 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pasta seasoning
  • Roast this in the oven for 20 minutes, make sure the pumpkin is cooked
  • Boil water in a large pot. Salt it and add a tsp of oil
  • Add spaghetti and let it cook for 10-12 mins or till the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain and save 1/4 cup cooking water
  • In a saucepan, heat olive oil
  • Add onions and garlic and saute
  • Add mushrooms and saute. When cooked, add spinach and saute for 4-5 minutes
  • Add the roasted pumpkin and carrots.
  • Add cooked pasta, 1/4 cup cooking water, salt, and pasta seasoning
  • At this point, you can serve the pasta
  • Optional – Add coconut milk, mix and serve
  • Optional – Grate some goat cheese and add. Serve hot

Vegan Lentil Mushroom Burgers

Leftovers, what do we do with that. Cooking for 2 or 3 is something I cannot do. In our family, we are small eaters but I still cook for an army. I can eat the same dish for another day, maybe. But then, I have a yearning to make something completely different with all the ingredients.

In my fridge, I had finely chopped sautéed mushrooms (which I usually have – I throw them in soups, in omelettes or in pasta), Indian mashed potatoes and soaked lentils and pita bread. The inspiration here was falafels. I threw the veggies and lentils together, some chopped onions and made a burger, tucked it in pita bread and dinner is ready.

These burgers are delicious, healthy and protein rich. If you have some of these leftover, which is highly doubtful, make a curry and toss them in.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams mushrooms, (button, oyster or a mix of different mushrooms) chopped
  • 1 big potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/2 cup channa dal (split chickpeas) or any lentil of your choice
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro or parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

Method:

  • Wash and soak lentils in water for at least an hour.
  • Grind coarsely in a mixer or food processor and keep aside.
  • In a frying pan, heat 2 tsp oil.
  • Add one chopped onions, garlic and ginger and saute till golden brown.
  • Add chopped mushrooms and saute until they are cooked.
  • Take off heat and cool Transfer to a bowl, add mashed potatoes, chopped chillies, rest of onions, cilantro, cumin powder, and lentils and mix.
  • Shape into patties, pack the mixture tightly so it will not break.
  • Place on an oiled baking tray.
  • Bake in a preheated oven (350ºF / 180ºC) for 15-20 minutes
  • It can also be fried in a pan. Heat some oil in a pan and pan fry them.
  • Turn them halfway through.
  • Serve on a burger bun or toasted pita bread.
  • Top with condiments of your choice (cheese, pickles, jalapenos, goat cheese, chutney, thinly sliced tomatoes or thinly sliced cucumbers)
  • This can be eaten without the bread or served as an appetizer with some chutney or sour cream.