Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind

Poritha Kuzhambu is a delicious dish defined by the addition of coconut and cumin seeds. Many of our recipes for this dish have been made without tamarind, but today’s recipe includes that wonderful, sour tang.

What makes Poritha Kuzhambu different from Sambar and Pitlay is its ground masala with coconut, cumin and urad dal (black gram dal). Some households use black pepper instead of cumin. Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind can be made with a medley of vegetables or a single one, often with the addition of a legume. Meenakshi Ammal always suggests using only one vegetable for Poritha Kuzhambu and a mixture of vegetables for Kootu. Although in this one, when listing the vegetables, she seems to relax that rule just for a moment for this recipe, suggesting that vegetables can be used in combination, but later instructions imply again that for Kuzhambu, one vegetable is best.

Another feature of Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind is that it often includes lentils and/or beans together with the traditional toor dal (red gram dal). We have made this with toor dal and chickpeas. Delicious!

This recipe is indeed one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from the first volume of Cook and See. This recipe is a tangle! Like the first ones in the book, for Sambar, this recipe definitely takes some detective work to untangle. Thoughts have been put down without logic and structure, so I have done my best to add sequence and process to the instructions. I do hope that you enjoy.

Would you like to try other Poritha Kuzhambu recipes? Try Simple Poritha Kuszhambu, and Ammal’s “Method Three” Poritha Kuzhambu.

Are you looking for general Kuzhambu Recipes? Try Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu and Race Kuzhambu.

Why not browse through the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here. She certainly is my guru of Tamil cuisine.

Then browse all of the Poritha Kuzhambu recipes. All of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes can be browsed here. Have a look at all of our Indian recipes. Or you may like to explore our Early Autumn recipes.

I would also suggest trying the Kootu recipes – these are very similar but have a thicker consistency.

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Vegetables with Indian Flavours

How quirky the British can be at times, especially when it comes to all things Indian. British Indian cuisine is a food genre all to itself, with little relationship to the food of India. The famous Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, is British, not Indian. Vindaloo is a term used for any hot curry in England, not the specific and terrifyingly hot pork curry of Goa on the coast of West India, with its roots in the Portuguese occupation.

And there is another dish – Indian Ratatouille. Yes, my friends, it is a thing. Throw a few spices at a ratatouille and you have Indian Ratatouille. The French food masters must be turning in their graves.

And then Ottolenghi takes this (perhaps somewhat arrogant) British invention and makes it even more Indian – throwing out some of the the traditional vegetables, adding potatoes and okra, beans and tomatoes, and incorporating Bengali spices, tamarind and curry leaves. Has he insulted the French, the Indians and the British? Probably not, because the result is divine – let the food speak for itself, despite its name.

“A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other, but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.”

I cannot bring myself to call this dish Indian Ratatouille, so for me it is Vegetables with Indian Flavours. Panch Phoran is an Indian whole seed mix – it is available at Indian groceries, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of fenugreek, fennel, black mustard, nigella and cumin.

This Ottolenghi dish is from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Caponata and Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa.

All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes. Browse all of our Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

Recently in the kitchen we have renewed our love affair with miso soup. While others will tell you to spend time making stocks and broths for miso soup, and cook any number of ingredients, I have a wonderful, never-fail, 5 minute approach to making miso soup. The secret is, there is little that needs to be pre-cooked for miso soup. The most I do is to soak some cute little beancurd bows (but even the pre-soaking can be skipped), and perhaps some noodles. They soak while the kettle boils and the ingredients are sliced. Mix miso with hot water until dissolved, pour into a lovely bowl, add the thinly sliced ingredients and a few other flavour enhancers (see my post), the noodles if using, the beancurd perhaps, and sip contentedly. Deep flavours, comfort and nourishment. What more could you want?

Ottolenghi’s approach to what I consider to be his version of my miso soup (without using miso, let me be clear). Yet his is faaaar more complicated. It is a kitchen-sink style approach. Perhaps he should use miso! He considers this recipe to be a variation on Asian soups such as Thai tom yum or Vietnamese pho. The key is the stock, which must be rich and hearty, with many layers of flavour. And, miso or not, the broth is extraordinary! Hot and sour as promised. Earthy and deep, yet with a lightness too. It was a real surprise.  Make double and freeze half.

He doesn’t add noodles, but you can. I recommend making double the amount of broth, make the mushroom soup as-is, then decide how to use the second half with the noodles. Mushrooms and noodles. Greens and noodles. Fried tofu and noodles.

It’s interesting to me that he doesn’t include dried shiitake mushrooms in the stock (and sliced for the soup). Dried Shiitake are a vegetarian’s best friend when it comes to dark, flavoursome broths. Anyway, this is how I make an Asian Stock that is so delicious it is worth keeping some in the fridge and freezer, and using it for whatever you are making – rice, risotto, noodles, …. Ottolenghi’s is rather similar, come to think of it. But my broth is light and summery, his is deep and earthy.

You’ve guessed it, this is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More. In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms in Terracotta, Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, and Slightly Pickled Mushrooms with Tamari and Sesame.

Browse all of our Soups and all of our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Vegetable Pulao from the Beaches of Goa

Ah, the beaches of Goa. How they stretch on and on for miles and miles. Once pristine in the days when I began to visit Goa, now the popular beaches are littered with refuse at high tide. It is not a pretty sight, but thankfully the government is working to return them to their former glories.

Yet, Goa remains beautiful and worth visiting for a slow and relaxing holiday. On one of my visits, staying with some friends who run a small B&B and lovely restaurant, Mario made this pulao for a Sunday Lunch. It remains a favourite and always, always, brings those beaches back to me. I remember being woken every morning, not by the sounds of the waves, but by the sounds of the kitchen hands beginning their preparations for the day. The happy sounds of their chopping and laughter would filter through to our bedroom and we would always wake to amazing aromas and great food.

This recipe begins cooking the rice on the stove top and finishes it in the oven, similar to the Obla Chaval method.

Are you after other recipes from Goa? Try Goan Rechad Masala, Ladyfingers Recheio, and Sweet Surnoli Dosa.

Are you after other Pulao dishes? Try  a Sago Pilaf, Green Pea Pulao and Cauliflower Pilaf.

Try some mixed Rice dishes too. Try Masala Lemon or Lime Rice, Tamarind Rice (Puliyodharai Saadham), and Urad Dal Garlic Rice.

You can browse all of our dishes from Goa, and all of our Pilaf/Pulao recipes. You might also like all of our Rice recipes too.  Or browse all of our Indian recipes. Alternatively, take some time to explore our easy Late Autumn dishes.

This is one of our Retro Recipes, vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006.. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

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Green Papaya, Snake Bean and Tomato Salad

Celebrating tomatoes, we are making tomato salads each day this week. It is the middle of Autumn and the last of the best tomatoes are available – soon the less flavoursome winter tomatoes will be available. We have been making simple, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern salads, and some more unusual ones. Today we use cherry tomatoes with green papaya in a South East Asian style salad. I hope you enjoy it.

The salad incorporates the papaya with the tomatoes along with snake beans and shredded snow peas. The dressing is sweet and added texture is given with peanuts. I like to add some crispy fried onion too, the type you can buy from Asian and Middle Eastern shops. It adds a salty textural element.

Similar recipes include Longan and Green Mango Salad, Maharashtrian Cucumber Salad, and Locquat Salad.

Browse all of our Salads, Green Papaya recipes, and our S. E. Asian dishes. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices

Here is another Poritha Kootu – Mung Dal with vegetables – for a quick and delicious meal. This version is not spicy, very little spice is added, just chillies and cumin with coconut. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables.

Sometimes Poritha Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It is a reasonable description, as it is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, and contains multiple vegetables rather than just one.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Spinach with a Peppery Coconut Gravy (Keerai Molag00tal), Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Amaranth Leaves Masiyal, Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Kootu recipes here, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Gujarati-Style Green Beans

Green beans are a delight through Summer, fresh, green and crispy. They are great in salads, or even cooked for long periods of time in a gorgeous tomato sauce.

The recipe today is an Indian dish, in the style of the state of Gujarat, which sautés beans with garlic, chilli and spices. How delicious!.

Similar recipes include Avial, Green Beans with Freekeh, Walnuts and Tahini, and Bean Paruppu Usili.

Browse all of our Green Bean recipes and all of our dishes from Gujarat. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Poritha Kootu

We have been posting some Poritha Kootu recipes recently and (at least for a while) this is our last recipe for a Poritha Kootu that does not include tamarind. In the future we will post a few recipes that do contain tamarind, but for now our focus has been with those that don’t, as it is the most common way to make this dish.

This version uses toor dal for a change. Our previous recipes have used mung dal, but Meenakshi Ammal recommends toor dal for this one as it is a better fit for the flavours used.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Are you after Sambar and Kuzhamu recipes? Try Moar Kuzhambu (with yoghurt), Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu (Lentil Balls in Spicy Gravy). Try these Sambar recipes: Classic Seasoned Sambar Version 1, Version 2, Version 3 and Version 4. You can also try a Buttermilk/Yoghurt Sambar.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes, and all of our Toor Dal recipes. Our Indian Dishes are all here and our Indian Essentials are here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Green Beans Braised in Tomato and Olive Oil

In Turkey, slow braised vegetables in olive oil is common. It’s a cooking method that creates fabulous flavours. These green beans are cooked with tomatoes, olive oil and onions until meltingly soft – and the sauce! Oh my!

The method of cooking is very similar to a la Grecque style of cooking, where wine and olive oil are used to slowly cook the vegetables. This dish  has no wine, but uses lemon juice instead. Indeed France, Italy, Greece, all over the Middle East and Sephardic Jewish communities all have similar recipes for long cooked beans with tomatoes and olive oil. No wonder! It is delicious, with the beans absorbing the flavours of the sauce as they soften and meld into the dish.

Similar recipes include Gujarati Green Beans, Green Beans with Freekeh, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Baby Sweetcorn and Green Bean Salad.

Browse our Green Bean dishes and our Turkish recipes. Our a la Grecque  recipes are here. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Ma Karal | Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

At last we have a snake bean dish for you. Snake beans are generally available at Asian and Indian groceries. They are long beans, with a tougher outer layer than, say, our green beans. They are terrific in Asian and Indian dishes. Today we make a Sri Lankan curry, using Coconut Milk, Pandan and the Sri Lankan Curry Powder, Badapu Thuna Paha. If you can’t find this spice mix in your Indian and Sri Lankan groceries, and don’t want to make it, use any warming roasted curry powder (as spicy as you like – or not). At a pinch you could use Malay Curry Powder, Sambar Masala or Garam Masala.

Green Beans are a good substitute for Snake Beans if you can’t locate the longer ones.

Similar recipes include Sri Lankan Okra in Coconut Milk, Sri Lankan Mung Dal with Coconut Milk, and Sri Lankan Fenugreek Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our Sri Lankan dishes, and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of our Bean dishes are here. Or explore our Early Spring collection of recipes.

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South Indian Baby Sweetcorn and Green Bean Soup

This is our second Baby Corn Soup; this one includes green beans for added crunch and fresh taste. It is another soup from Vol 4 of Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See, written by her daughter Priya Ramakumar. They are reminiscent of, say, 1970’s style soups – simple, no fuss, delicious. many of them (but not this one) are Anglo-Indian. I adore them – they are such a contrast to other elements of Indian cuisine.

As explained in previous posts, Soups as we know them are uncommon in India. But in South Indian, the TamBram community does make some very simple and un-spiced soups, probably influenced by the British, and perfect for using up left over odds and sods of vegetables.

Rather than being served in large bowls like we might serve a soup, it is served in small bowls, unaccompanied by crusty bread, grated cheese, olive oil for drizzling, or croutons. Actually, it is a really nice beginning to a hot and spicy meal.

Several of the soups in this volume of Cook and See show the growing love for Chinese food in India at the time that the volume of recipes was written. The nod to Chinese fare is created by a drizzle of soy sauce on top of the soup. Baby corn, after all, is associated (probably incorrectly) in many countries as being quintessential Chinese. This Indo-Chinese cuisine is very popular.

Baby corn is available at most Asian Grocery shops.

Similar recipes include South Indian Baby Corn Soup, South Indian Spring Onion Soup, and South Indian Cauliflower Soup.

Or browse all of our Indian Soups here, and all of Meenakshi Ammal’s dishes. Our Indian Recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials here. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Green Beans with Freekeh, Walnuts and Tahini

Feekeh! No longer an ingredient that we need to travel across town to buy.  With several Afghan shops closeby in my new neighbourhood, those sorts of ingredients now go on the weekly shopping list. Oh, the joy!

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More, one of my fav of his books. Beans are cooked and mixed with walnuts, then drizzled with a minty-tahini dressing. The dressing is what ranch dressing would taste like if it spent a few months traipsing through the Middle East, so they say.

Yotham advises beans of the best quality for this dish. He also says that the walnuts can be omitted, but we are loving them so much this season, so they are definitely in. They provide a texture in this salad that is otherwise missing.

Similar recipes include Freekeh Pilaf with Herbs and Yoghurt Dressing, and Cyprian Grain Salad with Freekeh.

For Green Beans, try Five Bean Glorious Salad, and Green Bean and Carrot Poriyal.

Browse all of our Green Bean recipes and all of our Freekeh dishes. Our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or explore our Mid Winter collection of recipes.

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Sri Lankan Okra Curry

Oh the joy of Okra, and in this dish they are quickly cooked so remain crisp and crunchy. They say that okra is good for your brain cells, so eat as many as you can! We have focused on okra recently, so there will be an ever increasing set of recipes for you to choose from.

You can also make this dish with asparagus or broccoli.

Look for okra in your local Asian and Indian shops, even Asian-owned green grocers. You will get them more cost-effectively there – about 25% of the price you might pay elsewhere.

Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Read more about Okra here. Then try Vendakka Khichadi, Crispy Okra in Yoghurt, Okra with a Cumin and Yoghurt Sauce, Sri Lankan Okra in Coconut Milk, Okra with Onions Subzi, Ladyfingers Masala, Okra Stuffed with OnionsWarm Salad of Charred Okra, and Okra with Mustard Oil.

What about other Sri Lankan dishes? Try Sri Lankan Okra Curry with Coconut Milk, Sri Lankan Long Bean Curry, Mung Dal with Coconut Milk, Crunchy Crackers, and Sakkarai Pongal.

Or browse all of our Okra recipes, and all of our Sri Lankan dishes. Or explore our Indian recipes and our Indian Essentials here. Alternatively, explore our Mid Autumn collection of dishes.

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Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayo

After years of not using mayonnaise in my salads (I don’t eat eggs so don’t make my own and don’t love it enough to purchase it), I whipped up my Mother’s very retro eggless mayo that she always made with a can of condensed milk, white vinegar and mustard (or other flavouring).

Now we have a couple of salads that use mayo – A Quick Tomato Salad with Mustardy Mayo, and today’s salad which is sort of a wild variation on Salade Niçoise. Salade Nicoise is a salad that originated in the French city of Nice. It is traditionally made of tomatoes, olives, and other accompaniments, dressed with olive oil, or in later years, mayonnaise. This is a variation on that theme that I quite love.

Are you after other Tomato Salads? Try Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes, Tomato Salad with Balsamic and Majoram, and Tomato Salad with Parsley Oil.

Or perhaps Fennel Salads? Try Fennel and Feta Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate, Fennel Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, Fennel Salad with Fresh Prunes, and Nashi Pear, Celery and Fennel Salad with Panch Phoron Crunch.

Or are you after Potato Salads? Try  Beautiful, Simple Potato Salad, Potato Salad with Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella, and Crushed New Potatoes with Horseradish and Yoghurt.

Why not browse all of our Tomato Salads, indeed explore all of our Salads. Or simple spend some time with out Mid Autumn Recipes.

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Sampangi Pitlai

We are working through the different types of Poritha Kuzhambu, where the spice paste is fried in ghee before being ground. There are Poritha Kuzhambus, Poritha Koottu and Pitlai, Gothsu and Masiyal. They can be with and without tamarind, stuffed full of vegetables or just one or two.

This is our second Pitlai, Sampangi, which traditionally has drumsticks as part of the vegetable mix, with 3 or 4 others. The spice mix used in this recipe differs from the first Pitlai recipe – it does not include coriander or channa dal (Bengal Gram), but does include peppercorns. The chillies are ground in the paste rather than left whole in the tadka. I have been explaining to some people recently how subtle differences from recipe to recipe results in a different dish, and the taste difference is remarkable IF we allow our tastebuds the time to register. This isn’t so common in our society, we eat so fast, but in India these differences are important. The other key difference in this recipe is the variety of vegetables, as many as 4 can be used in this dish, rather than 1 or 2.

Are you looking for similar recipes? You must definitely try this Pitlai, and Amaranth Greens Soup/Pitlai, as well as Poritha KootuPoritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Onion Kothsu with Tamarind and Dal Tadka.

Are you looking for all of our other Pitlai recipes? They are here. And browse other Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu dishes. Explore all of our Kuzhambu recipes and all of our Sambar dishes. You might like to browse our Indian recipes and our Indian Essentials. Or simple take some time to check out our Early Autumn collection.

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