Molake saaru / Bean sprout curry

This protein rich bean sprout tastes out of the world in a chili coconut curry. Very healthy and yummy too!
What I used: Serves 4
2 cups of sprouted whole green gram/whole beans / molake kaalu*
2 cups of potato cut into large chunks
2 tsp chopped mint or 2 tsp dry crushed mint leaves
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1tsp garam masala powder
2tsp red hot chili powder (add less or more as needed)
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cilantro seed powder
2tsp ginger garlic paste
1 large onion chopped
2 medium tomatoes chopped
3tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
*To make the bean sprouts:
You may use any dry beans/whole grams/whole lentils of your choice. Soak them in ample warm water overnight. In the morning, drain the water, pour it into a wet muslin cloth, tie it into a bundle, place a heavy weight like a heavy pan or fairly heavy paper weight rock on it, Place it in a warm place for a day. The beans will sprout. It is great to eat them as is, or they can be used in stir-fries, pilafs and curries.   

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium heat, add 3 tsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the chopped onions and mint leaves. Fry to a golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste, potatoes and tomatoes, and cook until it is all soft.
Add all the powders, salt, and cook covered for 7-10 minutes on medium heat.  Once the powders blend with the oil and tomatoes to form a uniform curry, the oil will start to separate. Add in the coconut milk, and bean sprouts, cook it covered for another 10 minutes on low heat. Check to see if the sprouts are cooked, let it stay crunchy and half cooked.
Tip: If you want a runny curry for rice, add in extra coconut milk. This curry serves as a thick curry side dish for pilaf, or can be eaten with chapathi/rice. Enjoy!

Kempu soppu saaru / Red spinach and lentil curry

My friend Roopa made this once, when I had been to her house for lunch. It was so good. I have geographically moved away from her, and I miss her cooking. Her perfect jamoons, spicy fish fry and her lamb pilaf.The curry is pretty easy to make, boil the greens and lentils together, temper it, and you are done!
What I used: Serves 4
1 cup thogri bele (toor dal/masoor dal) Soak in 1 cup of water for 15-30 minutes, that way it cooks faster.
1 cup of fresh greens coarsely chopped (a single green or a combination of many, like spinach, dill, cilantro, dantu (red chinese green or amaranthus)
2 tsp curry powder
3-4 fresh garlic petals, slightly crushed with a rolling pin
1 small sized shallot/onion chopped
1 medium sized tomato chopped
1tsp coconut flakes dry/fresh (optional)
Salt to taste

To temper: 1 tsp ghee/oil, a little mustard and cumin seeds. A few green chilies, curry leaves and a pinch aseofotida.

In a thick bottom pan/cooker pan, add in all the vegetables, greens, soaked dhal, curry powder and salt. Cook for 12-15 minutes on medium heat. Pressure cooking it is faster. One or two pressures are ideal. Once they are all soft and cooked, use an egg beater, or a manual hand churner, and churn the mixture for about 30 seconds, so the dhal and greens blend. Temper it.
In a small pan, on medium heat, add ghee. When it shimmers, add mustard and cumin seeds. Cover; when they are done splattering, add red chilies, curry leaves, and hing. Cover. When that is done splattering, turn off the heat. Toss it into the cooked dhal mixture. Stir in and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve hot with ragi mudhe or soft cooked rice and a dollop of ghee. Enjoy!

Sesame lamb curry


This is a great old curry that boasts of sesame roasted and ground to give a nutty and rich flavor. Try it
What I used: Serves 4-6
2 lb/1kg lamb meat with bone cut into 2 inch servings
Whole garam masala (4-6 cloves,1 inch cinnamon, 2 cardamoms, 2 bay leaves, 1tsp fennel seeds)
1 tsp black pepper seeds
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2-3 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp cilantro seed powder
2 cups red onion diced
¼ cup white sesame seeds
3 tsp whole tamarind or 1 tsp tamarind paste
¼ cup dry coconut powder
4tsp canola oil
Salt to taste
 
Use a large, heavy-based pot. Over medium heat, add oil. Toss the whole garam masala and pepper seeds. Toast for 2-3 minutes until aromatic. While they are toasting, add onion, and sesame seeds. After the sesame seeds turn golden brown, add the tamarind dry coconut. Turn off the heat and let cool. Grind to a fine paste.

Back in the large pot, Add oil, on medium heat, and add the remaining onions and lamb. Roast for 5-7 minutes until it browns. Add the ground masala paste. Let is simmer until all the raw smell disappears and the oil begins to separate. Add the chili, cilantro and turmeric powders, roast a few minutes. Add salt and turn down the heat to low, cook for 30-45 minutes covered on a low simmer. Don’t stroll away and leave it unattended. Cooking time depends on how tender the raw meat is. If required, pressure cook a couple of minutes.
Now the oil from the lamb as well as the curry would have separated. The meat should cook through completely. Turn off the heat right about now.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and onions. Serve piping hot with steamed rice or chapathis and a light yogurt salad. Enjoy!

Spaghettini with vegetables

I have taken a liking to pasta over the past few months. This thinner form of spaghetti is faster to cook. The dish is a quick way to satisfy your lunch cravings. The ingredients needed for this dish will surely be in your pantry and refrigerator. A great olive oil can do wonders to this simple dish.
What I used: Serves 4
1 lb raw spaghettini
1 tsp finely chopped or crushed garlic
2 cups of fresh vegetables chopped (broccoli and carrots)
½ cup of corn
½ cup of chopped white onion
4 tsp of great olive oil
1 tsp of red chili flakes
A few sprigs of freshly chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Boil the spaghettini according to instructions on the box. While that is boiling, in a medium saucepan add the crushed garlic and olive oil. Set it on medium-high heat. As the garlic simmers in oil add in the onions, then broccoli, carrots and onions after a minute. Saute them for a few minutes until the vegetables are a crunchy, add the chili flakes and salt. Turn the heat down to low.
Drain the spaghettini, toss it into the mixture and serve hot. Enjoy!

Chicken heart fry

My husband is a big fan of these gizzards and hearts. No matter how many times I refuse to make it, he buys it and throws it in the freezer. Today, I looked up the nutrition facts of these things to find an excuse not to make it anymore, and I did. These so called heart, liver or gizzards that is rich in minerals and iron, and high in cholesterol! Back in India, moms always made it, constantly telling us how good it was for our body. Now, I have a chance to turn their saying around. It is good once in a while, as an appetizer, I believe.

What I used: Serves 2-3 as appetizer
3 cups of raw chicken hearts
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 cup of onion chopped
1 cup of green pepper chopped
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp pepper powder
¼ tsp of turmeric
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp dry coconut
Salt to taste
1 tsp salt
Boil the hearts in ample water and salt until it is cooked. Drain. Reserve a little liquid. In a saucepan, add oil and let heat on medium –high. Add in the onions and cook until soft. Add the cooked hearts, ginger garlic paste, and toss in the powders to roast for a minute. Lower the heat to medium, add in the vinegar, ½ cup of the reserved water and salt, cook covered on low for 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped green pepper and roast for another minute. Do not overcook; the hearts will get hard instead of soft and chewy. Serve hot as an appetizer. Enjoy!

Vegetable Kootu (Vegetables and lentil curry)

Kootu is a vegetable lentil dish that comes together in a semi solid taste that is less runny than the regular curries, and not as dry as the fries and dries. All of them will have a variation of lentil and vegetables in them. This dish uses vegetables and dhal.
What I used: Serves 4 as a side dish for rice/chapathi
2 tsp urad dhal
2 tsp channa dhal
2-4 red chilies (depending on how spicy you want)
½ tsp pepper seeds
½ tsp jeera/cumin
2 tsp fresh/dry coconut
1 cup thogri bele/toor dhal
4 cups fresh diced vegetables, any or all of them (chayote squash, carrot, beans, potato, bean and peas)
2 tsp oil
A sprig of curry leaves
¼ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
Pinch of hing/asafoetida
Soak the dhal in ample water for 15-30 minutes. Bring it to half boil, add in the diced vegetables and cook them all together with a little salt. After about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, they should soft, but not squishy.
Dry roast the channa and urad dhals, pepper, cumin and red chilies until you can smell the aroma, add in the coconut and set aside to cool. Grind it to a fine paste with some water.
In a saucepan, add oil and heat it on medium-high. When it shimmers, add the curry leaves and mustard. When the splattering subsides, add in the grated ginger, and the ground masala paste. Let it boil for a few minutes. Add the cooked dhal and vegetables into it and cook covered on low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle a little hing and serve hot with rice or chapathis. Enjoy!

Tandoori turkey wrap/stir-fry

This is very simple and quick to make. It tastes its best when wrapped and eaten warm. Yum!

What I used: Serves 4 or makes 8 wraps
2 lb ground turkey or meat of your choice
2 tsp tandoori masala powder
1 tsp cilantro powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 cup yogurt
1 cup fresh/frozen peas
1 cup finely chopped red onions
Salt to taste

In a large thick bottom saucepan, on medium-high flame, add the ground meat and fry until brown. About 7-10 minutes. Add in all the other ingredients except onions. 

Fry on the same heat for another 7-10 minutes. Add raw diced onions before it is served with chapathi/naan or plain cooked rice. It can also be used as filling to make a yummy wrap. Enjoy!


Making an open wrap

Lay the chapathi/tortilla on a flat surface. Spread the filling in the center.

Make chapathis of the size you desire, or buy ready made tortillas, whatever works for you.



Fold one edge towards the center.


Starting at the corner of the folded edge, roll the tortilla with both hands, pull the filling along tightly and roll it towards the other end of the tortilla, gathering the filling along the way.




Place the rolled tortilla on a rectangle piece of tissue/foil or clear wrapping sheet. Make sure the wrap is a half the size or a little smaller than the roll, so when you wrap, the open end is visible. 



Fold one edge on the top of the close end of the roll, towards the center. Now roll the paper over the filled tortilla, tightly packing in the remaining paper towards the other end. This makes an open wrap. Done!

Cabbage Kootu (Cabbage lentil dish)

Kootu is a vegetable lentil dish that comes together in a semi solid taste, that is less runny than the regular curries, and not as dry as the fries and dries. All of them will have a variation of lentiland vegetables in them. This dish uses cabbage and channa dhal.

What I used: Serves 4 as a side dish for rice/chapathi
2 tsp dhanya/cilantro seeds
½ tsp pepper seeds
½ tsp jeera/cumin
2-4 red chilies (depending on how spicy you want)
2 tsp fresh/dry coconut
1 cup channa dhal
3 cups chopped/shredded cabbage
2 tsp oil
A sprig of curry leaves
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 small onion chopped
1 small tomato chopped
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
Pinch of hing/asafoetida
Soak the dhal in ample water for 15-30 minutes. Cook it until it is nearly done, but has not gotten soft. Set aside.
Dry roast the cilantro, pepper, cumin and red chilies until you can smell the aroma, add in the coconut and set aside to cool. Grind it to a fine paste with some water.
In a saucepan, add oil and heat it on medium-high. When it shimmers, add the curry leaves and mustard. When the splattering subsides, add in the grated ginger and onions. Roast for a minute, add in the tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the ground masala paste and let it boil for a few minutes. Add the cooked dhal and cabbage into it and cook covered on low heat for about 7-10 minutes until the dhal is soft enough to eat. Sprinkle a little hing and serve hot with rice or chapathis. Enjoy!



Avarekai uppittu/upma – Spicy cream-o-wheat and green kidney beans

Uppittu or upma is a very common South Indian breakfast. The basic ingredients are rava (semolina/cream of wheat), salt and chilies. This recipe can be altered according to the your taste, by adding in vegetables and beans. This version with avarekai is an authentic classic.
What I used: Serves 4
1 cup of medium rava/semolina
1 tsp urad dhal/uddina bele
1 tsp channa dhal/kadale bele
½ tsp mustard seeds
4-6 red hot chilies coarsely broken
A sprig of curry leaves
1 cup of fresh/frozen avarekai
2 and ½ cups of boiling water
2 cloves and a ¼ inch of cinnamon
½ tsp grated ginger
½ cup onions chopped
½ cup tomatoes chopped or 3 tsp lime juice
1 cup any other vegetables of your choice (finely chopped/grated carrot, peas, chopped beans)
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro to garnish
Salt to taste
3 tsp of oil/ghee
A few whole cashews (optional)


In a small pan boil the avarekai in 2 and ½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. On another burner, set a shallow pan to heat on medium. Add a tsp of oil, and roast the channa and urad dhals to a light brown, add in the red chilies and curry leaves, after a few seconds, add the rava and roast them all on medium heat, until they are aromatic. Set aside.

In a saucepan on medium-high, add 2 tsp of oil, as it shimmers, add in the mustard and cover. When the spluttering subsides, add in the cloves, cinnamon and onions. After a minute, add the ginger and  tomatoes, when they all get soft, add in the vegetables and roast well. Now pour in the boiling avarekai and water into this and give it a good boil. Check t see if the vegetables and beans have cooked. If they are soft and about ¾ th done, we are good. Lower the heat from medium-high to medium, Hold a spoon or ladle in one hand, stirring the boiling mixture, then in the other hand, gently pour the rava little by little, constantly stirring the mixture to get rid of any lumps. Once all the rava is in the water, stir it real weel making sure there are no lumps. Cover it and let it simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and a spoon of ghee. Serve it hot. Enjoy!


Cherry wheat cake

Happy birthday dear Umakka! Made this specially for you. I know you are thousands of miles away. So my sons did the honors and we will eat it on your behalf..:-)

What I used: Makes one 9 inch cake
2 cups fresh cherries halved and seeded
¾ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Sieve the flour salt and baking powder, set aside. Cut the cherries in half and remove the seed. In a small saucepan temper the cherries and 2 tsp sugar together. Set it on a colander and let drain for about 30 minutes.
 Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Using a spatula, mix in the flour mixture and gently fold it in. Now add the cherries and milk alternatively until
Take a large metal foil and cover the cake pan. Lightly grease it or spray oil. Pour the cake batter into the tray. The batter will be thick, not to worry, as it will not sink the cherries. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely. .
Dust it with confectioners’ sugar. You may drizzle a light icing on the cake too. Decorate it with cherries. Enjoy!
video

Pork stew and Brioche

This is a slight modification of my cousin Chitti’s all time famous lamb stew. It is her family’s favorite especially on a wintry afternoon. I used pork instead of lamb. I absolutely loved it, and so did my kids. Thanks Chitti. Here is her recipe.

What you need: Serves 4-6
Vegetables cut into big chunks (½ cup carrots, 1 cup  green beans, 1 cup  green peas, 1 cup potatoes, 1 cup lima  beans)
2 lb lamb/pork cut into cubes
2 inch cinnamon stick
3-4 cloves
2 tsp ginger finely chopped
5-6 hot green whole chilies
3 medium onions chopped
3-4 medium tomatoes chopped
¼ cup mint chopped
¼ cup cilantro chopped
½ cup fresh coconut ground to a smooth paste
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp pepper
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large quart pan. Add the spices, ginger, green chilies and onions, fry to a golden brown. Add the tomatoes, cook till they are soft.  Add the mint.  Now add the mutton and fry till the mutton seals.
Now put the chopped vegetables, turmeric powder and salt. Stir for a min. Add the grated coconut and 2 cups of water to this. Close the lid.  Cook it   for 3-4 whistles or till the lamb is cooked.
 You can add more water if you like. Add pepper and give a good boil. Garnish it with fresh cilantro. Serve it with toasted brioche or regular bread. Enjoy!

Avial - Curry loaded with veggies and coconut

This is my good friend Pavi’s recipe. She makes authentic vegetarian dishes, many without onion and garlic. Avial is a typical dish of South India especially Kerala, Tamilnadu and Udupi. It is a simple veggie coconut curry seasoned in coconut oil. Thanks Pavi, my sons and I ate it all up!

What you need: Serves 4
6 cups mixed vegetables, any or all of them (Potatoes, Carrots, beans, Lima beans, Peas, Ash Gourd, Orange Pumpkin, Chayote squash, raw green bananas, yam)
Coconut - 1/2 - 3/4 cup
Cumin seeds/Jeera - 2 teaspoons
Hot Green Chilies - 3-6
Sour Thick Butter Milk - 1/2 cup
Seasoning:
Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
Coconut/ Vegetable oil - 2 tsp

Pressure cook the vegetables until they are soft yet firm or cook them on a stove top with a little salt and very little water. While that cooks, grind the coconut, cumin seeds and chilies to a thick paste in a blender. In a pan add vegetables and then the coconut paste and bring to a quick boil. Add butter milk. 

In a separate pan heat coconut Oil and add curry leaves and mustard seeds. After splatter subsides add this to the vegetable coconut mixture. 

Serve hot with rice and a teaspoon of ghee. Enjoy!

Cabbage stir-fry in pita pockets

What I used: Serves 4
3 cups shredded or chopped cabbage
3 green hot chilies slit
1 cup onions  or scallions/green onions chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
¼ tsp mustard seeds
A few curry leaves
2 tsp olive oil
8-10 pita bread halves

Heat a large saucepan on medium-high. Add in the oil, mustard seeds, chilies and curry leaves, toss in the onions as they splutter. Add the cabbage and stir fry for 5 minutes. Let the cabbage stay crisp and not get soft. Add in the cumin powder, turmeric and salt. Set aside.

Warm the pita bread halves on a pan, and fill them with the spicy cabbage. There is your hearty lunch. Enjoy!

Methi / Fenugreek Paneer/Tofu curry

What I used: Serves 4-5
1 lb paneer cut up into cubes (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with tofu)
½ cup dry methi leaves (kasuri methi) / or 1 cup fresh fenugreek greens
½ cup of coconut milk (canned/fresh)
2 Bay leaves
½ tsp garam masala powder
1 large onion chopped
2 medium tomatoes chopped
3 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
To grind:
8-10 small hot green chilies
¼ cup fresh cilantro
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cilantro seed powder
1 tsp ginger garlic paste

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium-high heat, add 3 tsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the chopped onions and bay leaves. Fry to a golden brown. Crush the dry methi leaves, or if using fresh, then chop it finely, and add it in with the tomatoes and cook until they are soft on medium heat.
Make a paste of all the grinding ingredients in a blender. Use a little water if needed.  Add the ground paste into the simmering mixture. Add in the paneer cubes and let the mixture simmer on low. That should take about 5-7 minutes.
Once the mixture forms a uniform curry, the oil will start to separate. Pour the coconut milk, and cook it covered for another 5 minutes on low heat. It tastes so good with chapathi/tortilla, but can also be eaten with rice. Enjoy!

Soy and Avarekai curry


My son wanted to eat chicken, on a festival day (Technically Hindu Indians do not eat meat on the day of the festival), so this was the best disguise I could find - soy. Thanks to my dear friend Sri, who introduced me to these high protein soy chunks. I made an avarekai curry with it. The kids just couldn’t get enough of it. All of us were happy now.

What I used: Serves 4
2 cups of dry soy chunks
1 cup of fresh or frozen avarekai/ green kidney beans
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
1tsp ginger garlic paste
2 bay leaves
½ cup of coconut milk
1tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cilantro seed powder
3tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

First get a large pot of water boiling. Add a tsp of salt, and add the dry soy chunks. Let it cook well until they are soft and spongy to touch. Drain them in cold water, and squeeze off the excess water. Set aside. 

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium heat, add 2 tsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add half of the chopped onions and bay leaves, cook covered. Fry to a golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste and tomato, and cook until it is soft and pulpy. Add cilantro seed powder, turmeric, and garam masala powder and avarekai. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the drained soy chunks. Cook covered for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring once in a while. When the oil begins to separate, add the coconut milk. Cook on low heat for about 7-10 minutes, or until the soy is tender and cooked through.

It tastes good with chapathis/tortillas or parathas, and yum with rice too. Enjoy!

Ragi dosa (Finger millet crepe)

This is a healthy whole grain dosa that warms your stomach on cold winter nights. It is quick to put together and goes great with any curry or chutney you have lying around in your fridge. 

What I used: Serves 4
1 cup whole ragi flour/finger millet flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup fine chirotee rava/semolina
1 cup yogurt
Warm water 1 cup or more
½ tsp jeera
Pinch of hing/asafoetida
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients to form a fairly runny batter. Let stand for 15-30 minutes. Prep a dosa or pancake pan by smearing it with an onion. Cut an onion into half, dip it in oil and smear it on a hot pan just before you pour the batter. This gives you a natural nonstick coating.
Pour the batter and  create a circular crepe with the ladle. Let it cook to a golden brown. Gently turn it over to the other side and let it cook the same way. Serve hot. Enjoy!


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