Search This Blog

Monday, December 24, 2007

Today happens to be Thiruvaathira, a festival celebrated by the Hindu womenfolk of Kerala. As like most other festivals, this one too has religious origins and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

This festival is marked by two unique recipes, Thiruvaathira Puzhukku, and Koova Paayasam which are considered an important part of the day's cuisine, and are prepared with much devotion.

Traditionally, no accurate measurements are taken for the same. perhaps that is the reason why it comes out so very tasty and unique each year. do try them out. they are very good for the health too and are a store house of nutrients.

Arrowroot Pudding (Koova Paayasam, or Koova Varakiyathyu)

You will need

  • 2 cups of Arrowroot powder

(traditionally, the roots are washed, and the milk is extracted from it by grinding with water. it is then sun-dried and stored for a whole year).

  • 1/2kilo jaggery, melted in two cups water and sieved for any impurities

  • 4 cups water (approx)

  • 1 cup frest coconut scrapings

  • 3-4 tbsp Ghee

Mix in the Arrowroot powder with water and the jaggery syrup. cook on low flame, stirring all the while. when it becomes a thick mixture, add the coconut scrapings and the ghee, and stir further till it becomes a really thick glazed, mass. It is delicious either hot or cold. traditionally, it is served with Kerala Papads and Puzhukku in plantain leaves.

Do try it out sometimes. maybe in smaller quantities. the quantity of the ingrediants may have to be slightly altered according to your needs. especially the water and the amount of jaggery. but the end result is really yum! you can substitute the jaggery with white sugar. but the traditional one is better, though the sugary one gives out a more appealing jade green colour.

Another dish that is prepared for Thiruvaathira is Puzhukku, which is fairly easy considering the nutiritious factor. traditionally, it is prepared with a variety of root vegetables, like yam, koorka, colacassia, kaachil, kaavithu; pulses like cheru payar, vella payar, muthira, and vegetables like pumpkin, raw banana, gourds, string beans, avarakka, etc. Avoid all 'english' vegetables. raw jackfruit is a must.

just chop them into medium sized pieces and cook them in salted water with turmeric and chilly powder. you may have to pressure cook the pulses and root veggies. just take care that the vegetables are not overcooked or mashed up. when everything is well cooked. meanwhile crush some freshly grated coconut and green chillies. add it to the mixture. keep stirring for a couple of minutes more. remove from fire and mix in 1 tbsp coconut oil or any cooking oil of your choice and a few sprigs of curry leaves. serve hot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pulinkari ( a vegetable curry with dal and coconut )


Ash gourd : 1 cup cubed
Boiled tuvar dal : 1 cup
Water : 2 cups
Tamarind extract : 3 tbsp approx (watery consistency)
Turmeric powder : ¼ tsp
Chilly powder : 2 tsp
Coconut : ½ cup grated
Cumin seeds : ¼ tsp
Salt : to taste

For tempering:

Mustard seeds : ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds : ¼ tsp
Chopped onions : 2 tbsp
Curry leaves : 1 sprig
Oil : 2 tsp

Cook the cubed ash gourd pieces in 1 cup water along with turmeric powder, chilly powder and salt. Add in the boiled tuvar dal and cook further for a few minutes. Now add the tamarind extract and let it boil for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, grind the coconut and the cumin seeds in ½ cup water to a fine paste. Add it to the boiling mixture. Check for seasonings, and remove from fire, after it boils for a minute. You can add a little more water if you find the consistency too thick.

In a small pan, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Add the curry leaves and the chopped onions. Fry till the onions are brown. Add it to the curry. Serve hot with boiled rice.

You can substitute the ash gourd for any other vegetables of your choice like yam, raw banana, drumstick, pumpkin, etc.


Those of you who are away from your homeland, will certainly know the value of those mouth watering and tasty dishes prepared by your mother. No exotic dish on this planet can surpass those simple down-to-earth meals cooked with the utmost love and affection, by your loved ones back home.
I am featuring two such recipes that are considered to be very common here, in Kerala. One is a curry which accompanies rice, and the other is a dry vegetable fry, or upperi or thoran as it is called in Malayalam. These are downright simple to prepare and nutritious too, for what they contain. Familiar or not, do try them out.

Kerala style raw banana and French beans fry (kaaya-payar upperi)


Raw banana (kaaya ) : 1 big, cut into small pieces
French beans (payar) : 1 cup, chopped
Shallots (sambar onions) : ½ cup crushed
Turmeric powder : ¼ tsp
Chilly powder : 1 tsp
Mustard seeds : ½ tsp
Curry leaves : 1 sprig
Oil : 1 tbsp
Salt to taste


Steam or par boil the chopped vegetables and keep aside.
In a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil, and splutter the mustard seeds. Put in the curry leaves and add the crushed shallots. Sauté till they turn a light brown colour. Lower the flame and add the chilly and the turmeric powder. Fry for a minute. Now add the steamed vegetables and the required amount of salt. mix thoroughly and sprinkle a little water if required. Cover and cook in low heat for five minutes so that it absorbs all the flavours. serve hot with rice and curry.

You can add in more vegetables like yam, beans, etc. if you like.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This is a low-fat version and comes out very well. It is a contribution of my friend Sreevidya, who lives in Canada. I tried it out and found that it is indeed excellent.

You will require:

Chicken : 1 kg cut into medium sized pieces.
Onions : 1 big, sliced thinly
Tomato : 2 , chopped
Green chillies : 4 Nos. sliced
Curd (Yogurt) : ½ cup
Ginger : 1 inch piece, grated
Garlic : 4 flakes, grated or crushed.
Turmeric powder : ¼ tsp
Chilly powder : 1 tsp
Coriander powder : 1 tsp
Coconut milk : 3 tbsp
Oil : 2 tbsp
Salt : to taste

Whole spices:
Cardamom : 2 pods
Clove : 4
Cinnamon : 1 stick

Coriander leaves : ¼ cup chopped
Mint leaves : ¼ cup chopped (optional)


Wash the chicken pieces and drain. In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp oil, and add the whole spices and fry for a minute. Now add the sliced onions and sauté till golden brown. Add in the grated or crushed ginger, garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, and fry further, till the tomatoes are reduced to a pulpy consistency. Add the sliced green chillies and fry for a minute.

To this mixture, add the turmeric, chilly, and coriander powders and sauté on low heat for a few minutes. Now, add the curd and fry till oil comes out. add the fresh coriander and mint leaves and sauté further. Put the chicken pieces, and the required amount of salt and fry for another two minutes. Add ½ cup of water , mix thoroughly, and cover and cook till chicken is done. It might take around 20 minutes and should be done on low flame. You may pressure cook if you are used to it. but be careful that the chicken doesn’t get ‘mashed’ up.

After the chicken is cooked properly, remove the lid, and add the coconut milk. Let it simmer on low heat for another five minutes. Remove from fire, and serve hot.

This goes well with rice as well as rotis. Our humble bread also is an excellent accompaniment. Do try it out and give me the feedback.
For those of you who are vary of the coconut milk, you may omit it and add ½ cup of plain milk as a variation.

Arabian rice pudding (Muhallabia)

Some time back, one of my friends gave me a recipe, which she said would be a sure success. When I went through it, I found that it was very similar to our phirni. It is very tasty with the added almonds and the delicate flavour of rose, and does indeed appeal to the senses.
Compared to other Indian desserts, which involve the use of loads of cream or ghee, this one is comparatively low fat, if you take care to use skim milk and sugar substitute. But I prefer the regular variety.

So, here goes.


Rice (any variety) I used Basmati. : ½ cup
Sugar : ½ cup or according to your taste
Milk : 5 cups
Almonds : ¼ cup blanched, de-skinned, and sliced thinly
Rose essence : a few drops

Soak the rice in a little milk for about half an hour. Grind to a paste. Keep aside.
Meanwhile, in a thick bottomed pan (I prefer the non-stick variety) heat the milk and sugar. Add the paste gradually, and keep stirring. The mixture will start thickening. Stir continuously so that no lumps are formed. Add the sliced almonds and keep cooking for about 5 minutes. Now add in the rose essence.

Remove and pour into individual bowls, cool and refrigerate. You can garnish with more sliced almonds, pistachios, and rose petals, for a colourful appearance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Masala Dal Vada (Parippu Vada)

These crisp, tasty vadas are an all time favourite of the south Indian, and goes very well with a hot cup of tea!

Masala Vada (Parippu vada)


Channa dal (vadaparippu) : 3 cups
Onions : 2 big, chopped finely
Green chillies : 6, chopped finely
Salt : 2 ½ tsp, approximately
Curry leaves (kadipatta) : 3 sprigs, chopped finely

Soak the dal for around 2 hours. Drain it, and grind it very coarsely, if possible, without using any water.

Mix in the chopped onions, green chillies, curry leaves and salt to it. shape into lemon sized balls, and flatten with palms.

Deep fry them in hot oil until crisp and brown on the outside. Serve with coconut chutney if required.

For coconut chutney

Grind together finely,1 cup of freshly grated coconut along with 3-4 green chillies, and the required quantity of salt. you can use ¼ cup of water to grind the above ingredients. Remove on to a serving bowl.
In one tsp of oil, splutter ½ tsp of mustard seeds, ¼ tsp of chana dal, 1 dry chilly broken into two, and a few curry leaves. Mix it in the chutney. This is the basic recipe for the traditional South Indian Chutney. You may adjust it’s consistency according to your tastes by adding or reducing the water.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Idly Manchurian

Here is another dish you can make with left-over Idlys. These days, Chinese dishes are very much in demand and you can surprise your family with this delicious Idly Manchurian.

Ingredients required:

Idlys - 6 large ones, cooled and cut into cubes
Onion - 1 med sized, chopped fine
Garlic - 3 flakes, chopped fine
Ginger - 1 tsp, chopped
Capsicum - 1/2, chopped
Spring onions - 1 tbsp chopped
Celery - 1 tbsp, chopped
Red chilly paste- 1 tsp
Soya sauce - 1 tbsp
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Tomato sauce - 2 tbsp
Ajinomoto - a pinch (optional)
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Method of preparation:

Heat a non-stick kadai or fry pan and pour 1 tbsp oil. Stir fry the cubed idlys till they turn a light,golden brown. If your pan does not have a non-stick coating, the idlys may stick on them. To avoid that, you may have to deep fry the idlys to a golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and lightly sauté the chopped onions, ginger and garlic. When they are soft, add in the capsicum and stir fry for a minute. Now add the red chilly paste, the soya sauce, and the tomato sauce. Stir well. Add the required quantity of salt and pepper powder.

Now add the fried idlys to mixture. Put in the chopped celery and spring onions. Mix well so that all the pieces are evenly coated. Remove from fire. Garnish with chopped spring onions, and serve hot.

· Alternatively, you can make a batter by mixing 3 tbsp cornflour, ½ tsp red chilly paste, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp soya sauce, and a pinch of ajinomoto. You can dip the idly cubes into this batter and deep fry to a golden brown!

quick'n tasty salad

Make medium sized pieces of:

Paneer or Tofu : 1 cup
Capsicum : ½
Firm tomato : 1 large (discard seeds)
Cucumber : 1 cup (discard seeds)
Onion : 1 med
Pineapple : ¼ cup

You will also need

Pepper powder : ½ tsp
Salt : to taste
Chaat masala : 1 tsp
Lemon juice : 1 tsp
Honey : 1 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves: 1 tbsp chopped

Mix in all the ingredients, toss well, cool in the refregirator, and serve on a bed of lettuce. This dish is quite versatile and you can add in more vegetables and fruits of your choice, or even boiled shredded chicken, if you wish. Do try it out.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Idly Delight

Idlys are an essential item of any South Indian family’s routine cuisine, and for this reason, it tends to get a bit boring at times, especially for children. So, here is my way of perking up those regular idlies, adding in more nutrition and taste to suit your needs! You may even make this dish with left over idlys.

You will need:

1. Idlies : around 10 no.s cut into cubes

2. Par-boiled chopped vegetables
(Potatoes, peas, carrots, beans) : 1 cup
3. chopped onions : 1
4. Red chilly powder : ½ tsp
5. Corriander powder : ½ tsp
6. Turmeric powder : ¼ tsp
6. Salt to taste
7. Cooking oil : 2 tsp
6. For tempering:
mustard seeds (rai) : ½ tsp
Urad dhal : ½ tsp
Dry red chilly : 1 no. broken into two
Curry leaves : a few
7. water : ¼ cup


Heat the oil in a thick bottomed or a non-stick pan and put in the mustard seeds, urad dhal, dry red chilly and the curry leaves.
Sauté the chopped onions for a while and add in the red chilly powder, turmeric and the coriander powder to it. mix well
Put in the chopped boiled vegetables and fry for a while. Mix in the salt. Take care while adding the salt, as the idly’s already have salt in them.
Lastly, add the chopped idlys and mix well. Sprinkle the water on it and cook for a minute, covered. Mix well and remove from flame.

You may garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and fried cashewnuts if needed.


An unavoidable part of the traditional South Indian Breakfast, Idly’s are considered to be extremely nutritious and very easy on our digestive system. Do try it out. Your family will love them.


Rice : 4 cups
Black gram (Urad dal) :1 cup
Salt to taste

Soak rice and urad dal separately for around 6 hours. Wet-grind both of them individually to a fine paste, and then mix it thoroughly. The batter should be thick. Add necessary salt to taste and let it ferment overnight.

Steam them in idly moulds for about 10 minutes. Your fluffy, white, idlys are ready to eat. Serve hot with plain coconut chutney or sambar.