Winter is the time for Mustard Greens, and we love them. This recipe, with its origins in Sri Lanka and the South of India, treats them very simply without a lot of spice, and ensures that the flavours of the Mustard Leaves shine through. In fact, any greens can be used in this recipe – spinach, kale, chards and any local greens that might be in your area. Try it with cabbage too, its delicious.
Pakora are a favourite street food in India, and one that can easily be made at home. Recipes use a chickpea flour batter into which vegetables are dipped and then deep fried. I like to serve these Pakora with sea salt and lemon juice only, but they are commonly eaten with Indian sauces and chutneys. One word describes them. Delicious. Incredibly delicious. Have a glass of chai with them – I also love them with a small cup of spicy rasam.
In frying the pakora (also called pakoda, bhajji and bhajiya) the aim is to cook the vegetable in the same amount of time that the batter takes to become crispy. It is about temperature, so it is a good idea to test-fry a few pieces before cooking the whole batch.
The types of vegetables that can be used include potatoes, onion rings, eggplant, sweet potatoes, softer pumpkins, lotus root, cauliflower and greens such as spinach, kale and amaranth leaves. Make sure that any greens are really dry before using.
For a change we bring you a salad that features either boondi or puffed rice. You can buy these easily at your Indian grocer. If purchasing puffed rice from the supermarket, make sure that you are not buying sweetened cereal. You need an unsweetened one for this dish.
Boondi are a deep fried, pearl sized, crispy Indian snack food prepared from gram flour (chickpea flour) and few spices. Make sure you have the unsweetened variety of these also. They are available from Indian groceries. Boondi often comes with its own prepared spice mix included in the packet. You can add it to the salad.
Brinjal Rasam is a type of Mysore Rasam, but with eggplant added. It is a delightful combination – whether in sambar or Rasam, toor dal and eggplant are a match made in heaven. It is another recipe from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See.
One of the interesting notes that Ammal Auntie makes in Mysore Rasam is that the addition of Rose petals (or rose water) to Mysore Rasam (the second method) brings out the flavour and provides a nice rose scent. She is right! If you are going to try this, best leave out the asafoetida. The rose water has a tang of its own, and it tames some of the rasam’s spiciness. The scent is certainly there and it is not unpleasant, as strange as it may seem. It does go well with the eggplant.
Sometimes, particularly when cooking large batches of dishes, we skip corners and the steps that enhance the complexity and sophistication of the dish go by the wayside. And this is Ok – it still tastes jolly amazing.
This rasam is in that category. The recipe is for 2’ish cups (four small serves or 2 large ones), but it can be scaled up. This is the way that rasam is often cooked when 30 or so people need to be fed, and in our house, it might be made this way when it is 15 mins to dinner time and we just need to get it on the table.
There are two types of Bitter Melon (also called Bitter Gourd) – a light green Chinese variety and a dark green Indian variety (Karela). Both melons have the same hardiness and bitter flavour. The only real difference is the appearance. Indian bitter gourds are narrower than the Chinese type, rather like a zucchini. They have irregular ridges and triangle-shaped “teeth” all over the surface of the skin, along with slightly ragged ridges. Chinese ones can grow more more than 25cm long and they have blunt ends. Broader than Indian gourds, they have light green skins dotted liberally with wart-like bumps rather than teeth. Both types have thick skins and white seeds.
Luckily, both types are available to us locally. I have used the Chinese type in this dish, but either variety could be used. The Indian varieties would be more traditional.
Urad lentils, in all their forms, and one of our favourite lentils, partly because of a dal that we made a long, long time ago. We love it. My daughter and I, at our respective places, still often make that recipe in bulk and freeze it for those busy winter evenings when you just need to grab something from the freezer to avoid ordering pizza or buying bags of chips.
Urad dal needs special handling. It needs long cooking, and is best keep soupy (in my opinion). It is a common dal in North Indian cooking, especially in the Punjab, and goes well with tomatoes, onions, butter, cream and yoghurt.
Kootu is a favourite in our house – well, we just love toor dal, truth be told. With a snake gourd in the fridge, left over from making Snake Gourd Pachadi, we make this Snake Gourd Kootu. The same recipe can be made with cabbage, kohlrabi, amaranth leaves or spinach instead of snake gourd.
The gourd is finely diced in this recipe, so it disappears into the dal, and is a delightful surprise as you are eating. Gorgeous pops of green-tasting snake gourd in your mouth. It is wonderful served with rice.
This Kothsu (also spelled Gothsu or Kosthu) is a tamarind based South Indian curry that is made by roasting and mashing eggplant and popping it into a spicy tamarind gravy. It is the second Kosthu of this kind that we have posted. The first one, Brinjal Tamarind Kothsu, uses a different spice mix with the eggplant. These Kothsu recipes are different to many others as they are made with roasted eggplants which gives them a smoky flavour.
Some people get these two Brinjal Kothsu dishes confused with Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu, but they are different. Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu is made with toor dal and without tamarind. Today’s Brinjal Kothsu is made without any dal, and includes tamarind. There is only a little gravy which is thickened with some rice flour, so it just coats the eggplant. You can see that the two dishes are quite different.
This recipe can also be made with plantain (green banana) or onions instead of eggplant. See the notes below the recipe for more details.
A friend of mine makes the most beautiful yet simple potato dishes – sometimes with cumin and sometimes with sesame. Oh they are good – we eat them with ghee-dripping hot roti and a cuppa tea while we chat. There is nothing better.
Snake gourd is commonly available in our Indian and Asian grocery shops, so it appears periodically in our kitchen. This is an easy dish to make with the snake gourd – the ginger-coconut yoghurt a wonderful foil to the green crispiness of the vegetable. It is another of the wealth of yoghurt pachadi dishes (vegetables in yoghurt) of South India, Tamil Nadu in particular.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
What a powerhouse herb Tulsi is, everyone should have a plant or at least dried leaves in their pantry. We have a few recipes featuring it, and today, another one. An iced tea for the hottest of weathers. We have 40C days in Summer, sometimes hotter, so our minds will be on cooling drinks for afternoons under the grapevines.
To make these Okra Fryums they are soaked in yoghurt for 2 days and then dried. Traditionally they would be dried on rooftops in the hot sun, but as that is not possible here, a dehydrator will substitute. I used Vidhyas Home Cooking as a guide for making these.
Browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Vathal. Have a look at our Autumn Preserving article. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn recipes.
A bunch of beautiful spinach leaves from the garden – what can be better than cooking them with toor dal and coconut with a pepper hit? This recipe is a Palakkad recipe – from that region in Kerala on the border of Tamil Nadu. The area is a melting pot of influences especially Tamil and Malayalam. This dish is quite traditional. Some recipes include pepper and others do not. As it’s name indicates with pepper, that is how we cooked it. It is quite similar to a kootu, but subtly different. It is much like the Poritha Kuzhambu of Tamil Nadu.
In Kerala, many different greens are used for this dish, even cabbage. It can be made with chowchow, long beans, snake gourd and yellow pumpkin. Mixtures of vegetables such as plantain, carrot, yam, potato and chowchow, are also excellent. Indian greens include mulai keerai, paruppu keerai, thandu keerai, palak keerai, and ara keerai – oh to have the same range of greens here.
Mysore Rasam is similar to Kottu (Plain) Rasam, in that it includes toor dal to give the rasam a beautiful silky texture. It also uses the water from cooking the dal to round out the flavours. It is also rather like Plain Dal Rasam with different spices. And in this recipe, rasam powder is not used, rather the spices are sauteed and ground while the toor dal cooks.
You might also be interested in reading about the difference between Rasam and Sambar.