Murungakkai Sambar | Drumstick Sambar With Crushed Curry Leaves

Drumsticks, such a funny name, are stick shaped vegetables that grow on a tree. They are funny, skinny, long vegetables with a hard outer covering that gives them the name drumsticks. You have to be in the know to eat this vegetable, as you would never guess it. There is a soft interior that is delicious. The pieces of drumsticks have to be picked up with the fingers, the exterior is squashed in the mouth and the tender interior can be scraped out with the teeth. You come to love this little procedure. The harder skin, once all flavour is extracted from it, is discarded on the side of the plate.

Drumsticks are particularly delicious in Sambar and Rasam. They are best bought fresh, but frozen drumsticks are readily available in Indian groceries if you can’t find them locally. This recipe is from the classic book Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine, such a great book of classic South Indian / Tamil traditional recipes. The method is somewhat different to Meenakshi Ammal’s seminal recipes from Cook and See, in that the tadka is added to the base gravy before the cooked dal is added. Ammal usually also includes tomatoes in her sambar as well, and thickens the dish with a little rice flour or besan at the end. I have added the thickening trick to the recipe as it really does add to the texture of the dish.

Similar recipes include Poritha Koottu, Poritha Kuzhambu, Drumstick Kadhi, and Pitlai.

Browse all of our Drumstick recipes and all of our Sambar dishes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or browse our Late Spring dishes.

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Mysore Rasam | First Method

In the end, rasam is just flavoured water. But as Indian food is the most refined cuisine in terms of the layering of flavours to achieve complexity and exquisite balance, flavoured water is amazing! Hot, spicy, tangy, salty, herbaceous, it hits the palate like a flavour bomb, and stimulates all aspects of digestion. I am a lover of Rasam, and am generally found having multiple servings.

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 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.

In order to cook the toor dal while I potter around the house and garden doing other things, I have a little trick that I will share with you. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so first thing in the morning I rinse the dal and pop it into a saucepan with ample water. Then it is placed on the stovetop on the lowest heat available. Covered, I know that the dal will be perfectly cooked in 1 hour without me thinking about it. I do check the water level about half way through, but other than that, I can get on with the day without having to watch the pot. Perfectly cooked dal will be ready to make rasam for lunch. Or pop it on when you first get home from work or picking the kids up from school, and it will be easy to make rasam for dinner.

You might also be interested in reading about the difference between Rasam and Sambar.

Similar recipes include Tomato Rasam, Tomato Lemon Rasam, and Garlic Rasam.

Browse all of our Rasam recipes, and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Fresh Radish and Mint Chutney

This chutney was one of my first forays into the universe of Indian fresh chutneys, some many years ago. These days I make them a lot – not only are they wonderful in their own right and an important taste element in an Indian meal, they are also a great way to eat more vegetables, and a great way to use up any vegetable and herb that is sitting a little neglected in the fridge. They go great in sandwiches, toasties, and dolloped into soups too.

If you are trying to learn more about Indian cooking the importance of the Indian fresh chutneys is not immediately evident. They may not make sense to you – they appear in a separate section of cookbooks and it may not be evident how critical a part they play in any meal. It is only through diligent reading of many many blog posts or books, or a visit to India where you can eat in homes and local cafes, that the place of fresh chutneys in Indian meals slowly dawns.

Similar recipes include Andhra Eggplant Chutney, Andhra Spinach Chutney, Mint and Coriander Chutney, and Coriander and Coconut Chutney.

Don’t let a day go past without whizzing one up. Read about Indian Chutneys here. Browse our Indian Chutney recipes, our general Chutney recipes, and our pickle recipes. Or explore our Late Spring dishes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.

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Vendakkai Thayir Pachadi | Crisipy Okra in Yoghurt

Okra in Yoghurt is popular across South India, and it is surprisingly good – more than might be expected if you are used to okra cooked with tomatoes as is common in the Mediterranean, Middle East and the US. This recipe is a Tamil version – the Kerala version is similar but also contains coconut.

This is usually made for festival days or other special occasions, although it is wonderful to eat on any day. It is easy to make, taking no more than 20 mins. You will love it.

Are you after more Okra dishes? Try Okra with Apricots and Lemon, Okra in Mustard Oil, Stir Fried Okra with Sesame Seed, and Fried Okra.

Browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Indian recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or find some wonderful recipes to make in our Mid Winter collection.

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Easy Eggplant Kuzhambu | Eggplant in Coconut Gravy

Kuzhambu, a cousin to the Sambar, is easy to make as (unlike Sambar) it usually does not use the time-consuming toor dal. Toor dal can take a long time to cook unless you use a pressure cooker (I do not). Without a lentil to add bulk, Kuzhambu is often like a gravy, and excellent to eat with rice.

This is an easy eggplant Kuzhambu from the Monks who wrote the Monk’s cookbook – a collection of easily prepared South Indian and Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, perfect for the home kitchen and not dependent on dozens of ingredients. Every recipe is delicious.

You might like to read about the difference between Sambar and Kuzhambu.

Similar recipes include Simple Poritha Kuzhambu, Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Race Kuzhambu and Drumstick Sambar.

Try our Sri Lankan Long Bean Curry too.

Browse our other Kuzhambu recipes, and our Eggplant recipes . All of our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here.  Try Sri Lankan dishes too. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Pulissery | Simple Yoghurt Curry

A Yoghurt Curry, beautiful in its simplicity.

Puliseri, or Pulissery, is a yoghurt curry with simple spicing and thickened slightly with rice flour, designed to eat over rice. It can also be eaten as a soup, but this is non-traditional.

Pulissery is often associated with Kerala on the West coast of India, where it is also often cooked with vegetables. This recipe is from its neighbour, Tamil Nadu, and is kept simple without any additions.

The recipe is another from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See books, full of traditional Tamil recipes. This one is from a recipe in Volume 3, and she calls it the Raw Variety of Pulissery.

Similar recipes include Plain Pulissery, Pineapple Pulissery, Mango Pulissery, Pulse Ball Mor Kuzhambu, and Yoghurt Curry.

Check out all of our other Pulissery recipes, our Yoghurt dishes, and all of our Indian recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. You might also like to browse our recipes for Early Spring.

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Onion Kothsu with Tamarind

This Kothsu (Gothsu, Kosthu) is a tamarind based South Indian (TamBram) curry that is made by sautéing onions and popping them into a spicy tamarind gravy. While Eggplant Kothsu, with and without tamarind, is better known, this recipe with onion is just as tasty and enjoyable.

This is another Meenakshi Ammal recipe, a variation on the Brinjal Kothsu with Tamarind. This recipe is from Vol 1 of her 4 volume set of Cook and See, and appears in the Poritha Kuzhambu chapter. It is easy to make, and is wonderful with rice.

Are you after other Kothsu recipes? Try Brinjal Tamarind Kothsu, Cabbage Kosthu, Poritha Kootu with Sambar Powder, and Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu.

Or would you like other Onion dishes? Try Onion Jam, South Indian String Onion Salad, and Sambar with Onions. You might also like Fenugreek Kuzhambu with Onions.

Or browse all of the Kothsu dishes, and all of the Onion dishes. Meenakshi Ammal’s recipes are available here. Browse all of our Indian recipes and our Indian Essentials. Or simply explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Cumquat Rasam | Kumquat Rasam | Sweet, Sour, Hot, Delicious

Rasam, that tangy, spicy, soup-like liquid of South India, is commonly made from lemons, limes and oranges, so, with a surfeit of cumquats in the kitchen, we made a delicious Cumquat Rasam to eat over rice.

You may be wondering what a Rasam is. It is a soup-like dish which can be thick or thin, and is usually eaten as part of a meal and served with rice – read more about Rasam here.

Similar recipes include Kottu Rasam, Pepper Rasam, Lemon Rasam, and and Tomato Rasam.

I’ve been discussing the spelling of Cumquat with others. In many places it is spelled Kumquat, but the British (and Australian) spelling is Cumquat. Surprisingly, in India, which has followed the British spellings in other things, has chosen Kumquat. But actually, neither spelling is correct. The name derives from the Cantonese gām-gwāt 金橘, literally meaning golden orange or golden tangerine. Our transliteration of the Cantonese, with the g sound so close to the k sound, had become C(K)umquat. There are parts of the world that call them Chinese Orange – so much simpler.

Cumquat recipes include Cumquat Tea, Cumquat Rice, and Cumquat Chutney.

Browse all of our Rasam recipes, and our Cumquat recipes. Explore our Indian dishes, and our Indian Essentials too. Or check out our delicious Late Winter dishes.

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Green Mango and Coconut Rice

Perfect for hot weather. Cooling and delicious.

It is easy to have a thing for green mangoes, whether they are the sour type, or just unripe sweet mangoes, or the sour-sweet type. Here, we love them a lot.  (If you love green mangoes, you probably also love ripe, sweet mangoes of any variety.)

When it is green mango season, the local large Asian supermarket stocks all sorts of green mangoes in large boxes, a dozen layers deep, by their front counter. It is difficult to leave the shop without any. But even when it is not prime season, they seem to have some, so we enjoy them pretty much all year round.

This recipe highlights the crispy tartness of the green mango, together with a punch of chilli and a hint of salt – the three flavours that go so well together. It is all combined with rice – slightly hot and salty with the sweetness of coconut, the slight bitter punch of the fenugreek, and toasted peanuts and crispy fried dal for a crunchy texture. What could be better?

This dish works well as a snack, side dish or rice salad. Rice made with green mangoes is popular in South India , with Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu all making it a little differently. This one is Tamil in style.

Similar recipes include Kiribath – Sri Lankan Coconut Rice, Carrot Rice, Mango Rice, and Zucchini Rice. Green Mango dishes include Mung Dal with Green Mango, and Spicy Green Mango in Coconut Milk.

Check our different Coconut Rice Recipes. Browse our Green Mango Recipes, and our Sweet Mango recipes also. Or if you are looking for Rice recipes, they are here. Try our Rice Salads. Our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials here. Or simply browse our easy Mid Spring recipes.

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South Indian Boondi Yoghurt | Crispy Fried Balls in Yoghurt | Boondhi Thayir Pachadi

A delightful pachadi with texture. From Tamil Nadu.

There are North Indian and South Indian versions of Boondhi Yoghurt – those little crispy balls made from chickpea flour. The North Indian version is chock full of spices, but the South Indian version, as with so much of their food, has pared it back to essential flavours and textures to let the ingredients shine in the undercurrent of spice. Boondhi Yoghurt is very cooling – a great summer dish.

Boondhi is chickpea flour crispies deep fried with spices. You can buy Boondhi in Indian grocers, or you can make your own on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We have other Boondi recipes scheduled, so check back here later.

Try other Pachadi dishes with yoghurt – Ginger Coconut Yoghurt Pachadi, Cucumber Yoghurt Pachadi, and Carrot Sambol.

Are you looking for Tamil Pachadi recipes? You will enjoy them. Or perhaps Andhra style Pachadis? They are here. All of our Yoghurt dishes are here, and our Indian recipes are indexed here. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer recipes.

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South Indian Green Peas Soup

Have you ever before seen serve hot with soy sauce as an instruction for a soup? Well, now you have. In this Green Pea Soup recipe from Tamil Nadu, South India, that is exactly the serving suggestion. South Indian soups are unspiced but flavoursome soups that are probably hang-overs from the British occupation. Somehow they have snuck into parts of the South Indian cuisine. This one has a slight Indo-Chinese influence – thickened with cornflour and topped with soy sauce.

In my experience, South Indian soups are served in small amounts. I have had them both before a main meal and after, so traditions must vary across South India.

This soup is made from peas, carrots and cauliflower, and thickened slightly with cornflour. It’s delicious, in a 1970’s sort of way. I love it.

Are you looking for other South Indian Soups? Try South Indian Beetroot Soup, South Indian Summery Tomato Soup, South Indian Baby Corn Soup, and South Indian Cauliflower Soup.

Or perhaps you are after other (more spicy) Indian soups? Try Mung Dal with Coconut, Creamy Tomato Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger, and Simple Indian Dal Soup.

Or some Pea recipes? Try Carrots and Green Peas with Green Coriander, Green Pea Pilaf, and Buttermilk Sambar.

You can also browse all of our South Indian Soups, and all of our Indian Soups. Or have a look at our Pea recipes.  Perhaps you would like to explore all Indian dishes. Or maybe all of our Soups. Or simply take some time to have a look at our Late Spring dishes.

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Maddur Vadai

When the rains come, then snacks are needed, and it is the same here as it is in India, even though the temperatures are about 20C less than what they might be in India. Snacks means deep-fried too, but it it is a treat, who is to mind?

These are flat vadai, a little like thattai, and very delicious. Grab your flours from your Indian grocery and don’t substitute all purpose flours.

Maddur Vadai, named after the town of Maddur in South Indian, are also sometimes spelt Maddur Vadai.

Are you looking for other Vadai? Try Broad Bean and Mint Vadai, Paruthithurai Vadai – a Thattai Vadai from Sri Lanka, and Kothimber Wada. There are also Gram flour Vada that are made to go into a Kuzhambu, but can be eaten as snacks as well.

Browse all of our Vadai, and all of our Indian recipes. Our Snacks are here. Or relax and browse our Late Autumn dishes.

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Sundakkai Sambar | Fresh Turkey Berry Sambar

Who isn’t a fan of Sundakkai, those little bursts of crunch and flavour, also known as the Pea Eggplant. Pea-sized they are, but pack a punch in the flavour department. They are also called Turkey Berry, Devil’s Fig, Prickly Nightshade, Shoo-shoo Bush, and Wild Eggplant.

Fresh Sundakkai are used in dishes such as Sambar, Kuzhambu, Poritha Kuzhambu and Kootu. They are also sun-dried, a salty, slightly bitter vathal that can be used in Rasam, Sambar and Kuzhambu. I also like to powder the dried ones, after sauteing, and use quite untraditionally as a sprinkle over non-Indian salads and other dishes.

This dish is a Sambar made with the sundakkai. You will find it delicious with wonderful flavours. The Turkey Berries first need to be picked from their stems. This is the sort of job that is similar to shelling peas or peeling broad beans – best done while watching your favourite show on TV or sitting outside in the sunshine. Then rinse them well in cold water.

Some reading for you first.

For how to cook vegetables for sambar, read On cooking Vegetables for Sambar. For making sambar powders, go to Sambar Powders and a Simple Sambar. Finally this one will also help –  Sambar – hot, sour or salty?. A lot of info for a simple dish:)

Are you after other Sundakkai dishes? Try Sundakkai Kuzhambu (scheduled to be published in July 2018), and Sundakkai Vathal Podi.

Would you like other Sambar dishes? Try Drumstick Sambar, Seasoned Sambar, another version of Seasoned Sambar, and Moru Sambar.

Browse all of our Sundakkai dishes, all of our Sambar recipes and all of our Indian recipes. Or take some relaxing time to explore all of our Late Autumn dishes.

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Simple Poritha Kuzhambu | Poritha Kuzhambu with Chillies and Cumin | A South Indian Lentil Based Gravy with Vegetable

The second of three methods suggested by Meenakshi Ammal. A beautiful, flowing-textured dal-based dish perfect over rice.

There are three main methods for making Poritha (Poricha) Kuzhambu. The first uses sambar powder, and this recipe, the second method, uses a paste of chillies, cumin seed and coconut. The third method uses chillies and urad dal ground to a paste.

Poritha Kuzhambu (or Poricha Kuzhambu) is a style of kuzhambu that usually includes coconut in its ground spice mix – this is the most defining characteristic of a Poritha Kuzhambu. This recipe is lentil based which can be made with either Toor Dal as we do here, or Green Gram Dal (Mung Dal). Although some Poritha Kuzhambu recipes can contain tamarind, this one does not.

This dish is not spicy, with very little spice added – just chillies and cumin. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetable.

Sometimes Poritha Kuzhambu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. That is not entirely accurate. There is no real equivalent in our cuisine – perhaps it can be described as a Lentil Based Gravy with a Vegetable, to eat over rice. It flavours the rice and the rice compliments the kuzhambu. I love kuzhambu so much, I will also eat a small bowl of it like a soup.

Are you looking for other Poritha Kuzhambu recipes? Try Brinjal Chidambaram Kothsu, Poritha Kuzhambu with Amaranth, and Pitlai.

Feel free to browse all of our Poritha Kuzhambu recipes, our Kuzhambu recipes, and our Indian recipes. Drumstick recipes are here. You may also like to browse our easy Early Winter recipes.

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Simple Poritha Kuzhambu | A South Indian Lentil Based Gravy with Vegetable for Over Rice

A beautiful, flowing-textured dal-based dish perfect over rice.

Poritha kuzhambu  or Poricha kuzhambu is a style of kuzhambu that often includes coconut in its ground spice mix – this is the most defining characteristic of a Poritha Kuzhambu. This recipe is lentil based which can be made with either Toor Dal as we do here, or Green Gram Dal (Mung Dal). Although some Poritha Kuzhambu recipes can contain tamarind, this one does not.

This dish is not spicy, with very little spice added. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetable. You will enjoy it. It uses a per-prepared Sambar Powder, which you can purchase at an Indian grocery, or make your own.

Sometimes Poritha Kuzhambu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. That is not entirely accurate. There is no real equivalent in our cuisine – perhaps it can be described as a Lentil Based Gravy with a Vegetable, to eat over rice. It flavours the rice and the rice compliments the kuzhambu. I love kuzhambu so much, I will also eat a small bowl of it like a soup.

Are you looking for other similar recipes? Try Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind and Amaranth, Poritha Kootu with Sambar Powder, Pitlai, Poritha Kuzhambu with Chilli and Cumin,  and Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu.

Or Drumstick recipes? Try Sampangi Pitlai, Race Kuzhambu and Drumstick Kadhi.

Feel free to browse all of our Poritha Kuzhambu recipes, all of our Kuzhambu recipes, and our Indian recipes. Drumstick recipes are here. You may also like to browse our easy Early Winter recipes.

Continue reading “Simple Poritha Kuzhambu | A South Indian Lentil Based Gravy with Vegetable for Over Rice”