Monday, March 26, 2007

Tamil cuisine - RCI - April 2007

As one of the oldest vegetarian culinary heritages of the world, Tamil cuisine is characterized by its aroma and flavor. Achieved mainly by a combination of spices, recipes from the Tamil cuisine use a variety of ingredients like coconut, ginger, coriander, tamarind, curry leaves, etc. As rice is the staple food for most Tamilians, there are a variety of rice preparations that you will come across like lime rice, coconut rice, vegetable rice, tomato rice, etc. And of course there are the side dishes that accompany rice like kootu, sambar, rasam, mor kozhambu, puli kozhambu, vatral kozhambu, etc. A bowl of steaming hot rice with a dash of ghee, a piece of papad and a side dish served on a banana leaf is all but a simple Tamil meal.

Not to forget the sweets, tiffins and the savories that are so much a part of the Tamil cuisine. Some examples of tiffin include sevai, idli, dosa, adai, upma, vada, pongal, etc. served with coconut chutney and sambar on the side.

Snacks are murukkus in all shapes and forms - where there is a delicate balance of flour and spices rolled into a dough, made into different shapes and fried in oil for a longer shelf life. Some sweets include rava laddoos, coconut burfi, mysore pak, etc.

Some parts of Tamil Nadu like Madurai are famous for non-vegetarian foods that include goat meat, chicken and fish. A popular bread called Parota (a blend of flour and ghee) is consumed with a non-vegetarian side dish or vegetable kurma. You will also find similarities between Indian Tamil cuisine and Ceylon Tamil cuisine. Click here and here to learn more about Tamil Cuisine.

So, start your hunt for recipes from the Tamil cuisine and get cooking. Send in your entries by April 25th and I will do a roundup on May 1st. Please feel free to insert the logo in your post. Here is line up of the RCI event.

May - Andhra Cuisine - Latha from Masala Magic
June - Maharashtrian Cuisine - Nupur from One Hot Stove
July - Punjabi Cuisine - Richa from As Dear As Salt
August - Cuisine not finalized - Swapna from Swad
September - Karnataka Cuisine - Asha from Foodie's Hope and Aroma HopeOctober - Bihar/Orissa Cuisine - Sangeeta from Ghar ka Khana
November - Still open
December - Yet to decide cuisine - Trupti from The Spice who Loved me

Thanks for the overwhelming response to the event! Looking forward to all the great recipes from the different cuisines of India. Hope all of you have a lot of fun hosting and participating in this event.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Baked onion wheat biscuits, Masala alu paratha and Sindhi Koki - MBP March 2007

Here are a three more entries for MBP March 2007. It was fun trying out all the recipes for the theme 'Let's roll...'.

Baked onion wheat biscuitsThis is a recipe from Seema's Recipe Junction. Seema had taken recipe for methi biscuits I had posted earlier from Shammi's blog and spiced it up with jalapenos and onions. Since the recipe calls for rolling out the roti first I decided to submit it as an entry for MBP March 2007. Incidentally I had also sent in the methi biscuits entry for MBP February 2007.

Masala alu parathas
I found this recipe on Meena's Hooked on Heat. This is an alu paratha with a twist. The addition of fennel seeds and ajwain lends a touch of 'that something' in the background. This is a must try recipe.

Sindhi KokiI came across the recipe for Sindhi Koki at Manasi's blog - A cook at heart, lululoveslondon and Mythreyee's blog - Try this recipe. Here is my version:

Ingredients2 cups wheat flour
2 medium-sized onions (finely chopped)
3 green chillies (finely chopped)
1 tsp amchur powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbps fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
Salt to taste

1. Mix the wheat flour, onions, green chillies, amchur powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cilantro and salt and make a dough.
2. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
3. Roll out into parathas and cook with fat-free cooking spray.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Celebrating the regional cuisines of India - Blog event

Hi everyone

I have been toying around with the idea of starting a blog event. The event called as 'Celebrating the Regional Cuisines of India' (RCI) will be a monthly event and will feature recipes from one particular regional cuisine. You can submit recipes from major categories like starters/appetizers, snacks, side dishes, main course, salads, pickles, chutneys, desserts...anything to do with food, simply let your imagination run wild. Your posts can also include information and tips specific to the chosen cuisine of the month. Anything that will help us understand and appreciate the culture and food of the chosen region. You can post recipes either from fellow bloggers, the Internet, friends or family. You are welcome to submit more than one recipe.

It is a Herculean task to do this all myself so I thought it would be best to invite fellow bloggers to host the event every month. All you need to do is choose the cuisine and the month in which you would like to host the event.

I would like to line up the cuisine of the month starting April to December 2007. Since, this post comes at a very short notice, I will host the April event - the theme will be 'Tamil Cuisine'. I will post the detailed guidelines soon. Here are the broad guidelines for the RCI monthly event.

1. Each event will begin on the first of the month.
2. Post as many recipes as you like on your blog and email the following details to the host's email ID.
(a) Your name
(b) Link to the recipe from your blog
(c) A picture of the recipe
3. Do include any regional info you would like to share about the cuisine of the month in your post.
4. Deadline for all entries will be the 25th of the month.
5. The guidelines for the host of the month would be
(a) Announce the event on your blog at least 15 days in advance which means by the 15th of each month. You can also post reminders to the event on your blog. I will post this information on my blog too.
(b) Give a brief write up about the regional cuisine you are planning to host.
(c) Do a roundup of the event on the 1st of the next month.

So, let's get cooking and celebrate the food and culture of the myriad cuisines of India. If you are interested to host this event email me at with the cuisine and the month in which you would like to host the RCI.

Please feel free to send me comments and suggestions for the event.

P.S. Can anyone help me design a logo for this event?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spinach roti ~ MBP March 2007

Rolling it out… Here comes another entry for MBP March 2007. I found this recipe at Maa Inti Vanta. It was very easy to make and tasted good too. Here is my version.
Spinach roti

1 cup of frozen spinach
Wheat Flour - 2 cups
Besan - 2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 2 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Curd - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Fat-free canola oil spray

1. Thaw the spinach in the microwave and set aside in a bowl.
2. Put the wheat flour in a bowl and add the besan, cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and knead using curd and water. Set aside for 1/2 hour to one hour.

3. Roll out the rotis and place on a heated tawa.

4. Once slightly roasted spray the fat-free oil spray and turn to the other side. Repeat the process.
5. Serve hot with yogurt or any simple curry.

Kitchen notes:
1. The original recipe calls for ajwain. I did not have it on hand. Do add it if you have it in your pantry. It adds flavor to the rotis.
2. You can use ghee to roast the rotis.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

'H' is for Hara Alu

I was searching for a last minute recipe for Nupur's A-Z of vegetables. I came across this recipe at Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana. I am glad I tried out this recipe as it came out really good. I did make a few variations to the original recipe though. I roasted the potatoes in the oven instead of cooking them with the cilantro-green chilli gravy. Also the original recipe did not include onions and I added onions to enhance the flavor. The result was a cilantro spiced potato curry that was delicious. Here is the recipe.

Hara Alu

4 medium sized potatoes
1 medium onion (sliced thin)
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 green chillies
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt as needed
Oil as needed
1/2 tsp jeera
A few curry leaves

1. Peel the skin of the potatoes and slice them into rounds. Mix in 2 tbsps of oil and spread out on an oven safe tray. Ensure that all the potatoes are coated in the oil.
2. Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes until slightly brown.

3. Grind the cilantro and green chillies into a coarse paste.
4. Pour oil in a pan and season with jeera and curry leaves.
5. Sauté the sliced onions and ginger garlic paste.
6. Add the cilantro-green chilli paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

7. Add cumin powder and coriander paste and mix well.
8. Transfer the oven roasted potatoes, add salt and mix well till the potatoes are evenly coated with the cilantro-green chilli-onion mixture.
9. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Kitchen notes:
1. You can also add pudina/mint leaves along with cilantro.
2. Instead of slicing the potato into rounds, you could also cube them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pita pizza

Here is a quick and easy pizza recipe. Use store bought pocket less pitas and spice them up any way you want. You can customize each pita to suit individual tastes. Add less or more cheese, change the veggies, etc. and everyone in the family can have a pizza with their choice of toppings.

Pita pizza (for two)

Ingredients2 whole wheat pocket less pitas
1 medium bell pepper
1 medium onion
2-4 tbps of pizza sauce or marinara sauce
Red pepper flakes according to taste
Olive oil
Shredded mozzarella cheese as much as you want

1. Cut the bell pepper and onion into long strips.
2. Brush the pita bread with olive oil.
3. Spread the marinara sauce to cover the entire pita.
4. Spread out the onions and bell peppers on the pita.
5. Top it off with as much mozzarella cheese as you need.
6. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is all bubbly.

Pitas ready for the oven

7. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve immediately.

Pita pizza

Friday, March 09, 2007

'G' is for Gobi Masala

I adapted this recipe from the Indian Vegetarian Cookbook by Tarla Dalal. This recipe is very easy to make and tastes awesome. The major change I made to the recipe was to oven roast the cauliflower instead of deep frying as mentioned in the original recipe. I also added kasoori methi to give it a hint of the methi flavor. This is my entry for Nupur's A-Z of vegetables. Here is the recipe.

Gobi Masala


1 big cauliflower (use as much as you need as it will shrink once you roast in the oven)
1 cup crushed tomato
1 potato (boiled and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup green peas
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
2-3 onions finely chopped
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp kasoori methi
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Oil as needed

1. Break the cauliflower into big florets and spread on an oven safe tray. Coat with olive oil and bake for 425 degrees for about 60 minutes. Turn the cauliflower every 20 minutes as this ensures that it is evenly baked.
Oven roasted cauliflower

2. Sauté the onions in a pan.
3. Add the ginger garlic paste and the red chilli powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and kasoori methi and mix well.
4. Add the green peas and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
5. Next add the crushed tomatoes and cook till the raw smell disappears. Add water to make the gravy thinner.
6. Add the cubed potatoes and oven roasted cauliflower and let it come up to a boil. Season with salt.
7. Add the half and half and mix well.
8. Garnish with cilantro.

Gobi Masala

Recipe adapted from Tarla Dalal’s – The vegetarian cookbook

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jowar/Sorghum Roti - MBP March 2007

“Lets Roll !!!!!!!” - That’s exactly what I have been doing ever since I heard the theme for MBP March 2007. I have a long list of recipes, let's see how many will actually convert into posts. I am starting off by posting the recipe for jowar roti which I found in Shilpa's blog Aayi's Recipes.

The fact that I could actually make them is kind of a personal achievement for me. Of course, all the credits go to Shilpa. It means so much to me as jowar roti forms part of a regular meal in my in-laws house. Having spent very little time there, I never got to learn the technique of making jowar rotis. The entire process seemed so intimidating until I came across Shilpa's recipe. As far I know, I think the trick lies in forming the dough and this recipe is absolutely foolproof. You can never go wrong. I will continue working on this recipe until I actually roll out the roti with my palm. Click here for Shilpa's recipe. Also click here to learn how Indira of Mahanandi makes jowar roti. Here is my version.

Jowar/Sorghum Roti
1 cup jowar/sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups of water

1. Pour the water in a pan and bring it to a boil.
2. Switch of the flame and gently add the jowar flour and keep mixing till everything comes together.
3. Once the flour gets incorporated into the water transfer the dough to a smooth platform and knead until it becomes a ball.
4. Divide into equal portions and set aside.
5. Meanwhile, heat a tawa - on medium heat.
6. Sprinkle flour on the board and pat the dough slightly with your hand to make a small round.
7. Roll out into a roti using a rolling pin.

8. Carefully lift the roti and transfer to the tawa.
9. When one side is slightly cooked brush water on the side that is face up before turning it.

10. Remove when the other side is also completely cooked.
11. Serve hot.

Jowar roti
Makes 4 medium sized rotis.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Vegetable Manchuria

I think this recipe for vegetable manchuria is long due. Infact, I had wanted to post it along with these Indo-Chinese recipes and could not do it. So, I prepared a fresh batch of veggie manchuria and here comes the recipe.

Vegetable Manchuria

Ingredients for the manchuria1 cup finely chopped or grated cabbage
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
All purpose flour as needed to mix the veggies (app. 1/2 cup)
Water as needed to combine the flour and veggies
Oil for frying

Ingredients for the sauce/gravy1 tbsp - cornstarch (if using corn flour use 2 tbsp)
2 to 3 cups of water (as much as you need gravy)
1/2 tsp of Sriracha hot chilli sauce
1/2 tsp of Sambal Oelek
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 bunch of green onions chopped finely (reserve some for garnish)
Soy sauce - 2 or 3 tsp
Vinegar - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish

Method for the manchuria1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, salt and red chilli powder in a bowl. Add as much all purpose flour as you need to bind the veggies together.
2. Shape into round balls and deep fry in oil until brown on all sides.
3. Drain on a paper towel.

Method for the gravy1. Dissolve the corn starch in water and set aside.
2. Pour oil in a pan and add the green onions and garlic and sauté.
3. Add the cornstarch liquid, Sambal Olek, hot chilli sauce, soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. If you find the cornstarch thickening up then add a little more water. The sauce should have a watery consistency otherwise it will thicken up when cooled.
4. Check the taste and add salt if required.
5. Reduce the flame and add the fried manchuria. Mix until the manchuria is blended in the sauce.
6. Remove from the flame and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
7. Serve hot with vegetable noodles or vegetable fried rice.

Vegetable Manchuria in gravy

Monday, March 05, 2007

Remove Plagiarism

(Icon credit: Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook)

Click here and here to learn more.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

'F' is for French Beans Stew

This is a recipe from my childhood days back in India. I remember my mom used to make this stew very often and we would eat it with rice and papad. This used to be a Sunday special recipe at my home. I got the recipe from my mom and decided to send in this entry for Nupur's A-Z of vegetables. Once I made the stew I realized that I could eat it as it is, just like a veggie soup. Here is the recipe.

French Beans Stew
1 cup green beans (slit in the center and cut into 2 inch pieces)
1 medium potato (peel skin and cut into thin slices)
3 or 4 green chillies (slit)
A small piece of ginger - crushed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 or 3 tbsp light coconut milk
1 tsp of corn flour/corn starch
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Pour the water and milk in a pan and add the beans, potatoes, green chillies and ginger and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are cooked.

French beans and potatoes simmering in milk and water
2. Lower the flame and add the coconut milk and salt.
3. Dissolve the corn starch in water and add to the stew. This will make it slightly thick.
4. Garnish with cilantro.
5. Serve hot.

French beans stew

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vegetable pot pie for two

Health recipe!

This recipe is another inspiration from Ellie Krieger's 'Healthy Appetite' from Food TV. I was always fascinated by pot pies and loved watching Marie Calendar's chicken pot pie ads. A steamy hot vegetable filling oozing out of a thick biscuit-like crust always seemed so yummy. A couple of weeks ago I was watching this program on Food TV and Ellie Krieger made it seem so easy and I immediately put it on my ‘recipes to try list’. We had it for dinner and it was quite filling. The flaky crust with the steaming hot veggies was yummy. I made a few changes to the original recipe and here is the vegetarian version.

Vegetable Pot Pie

1 medium potato cubed
1/2 cup frozen green peas and carrots
2 stalks of celery chopped
1/4 cup French beans (fresh or frozen)
1 small onion
1/2 tsp of dried Thyme
1/2 tsp of dried Parsley
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp garlic paste
2 cups of vegetable stock (I used Wolfgang Puck's Organic Vegetable Stock)
Salt to taste (check the sodium in the vegetable stock before adding salt to the filling)
A few sheets of thawed Phyllo dough
Oil as needed

For the roux1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup of milk

How to make the rouxMelt the butter in a pan and add the all purpose flour. Keep stirring until the raw smell of the flour disappears. Add the milk and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.

Method for vegetable pot pie1. Pour 2-3 tsps oil in a pan and sauté the onions until transparent.
2. Add the garlic paste and sauté.
3. Add the celery and sauté for a minute or two.
4. Next add the cubed potatoes, green peas, carrots and beans and sauté until 3/4 cooked.
5. Add thyme, parsley and red pepper flakes and mix well.
6. Pour the vegetable stock into the pan, add salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.
7. Add the roux and mix well. The veggie mixture will slightly thicken.
8. Set aside and let it cool.
Vegetable pot pie filling
9. Transfer equal quantities of the veggie filling to an oven safe dish. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut into quarters. Place 3 or 4 sheets on the dish and tuck the edges into the dish rim. Optional: top the phyllo dough with grated parmesan cheese for an extra zing.
10. Brush the phyllo sheets with butter. I used fat-free butter spray.
11. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is all brown and flaky.

Vegetable pot pie

Tip: Thaw the Phyllo dough the previous day in the refrigerator. For use on the same day, remove from freezer 2 hours in advance and thaw outside. Click here to learn how to handle Phyllo dough.