Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Olan - Ash Gourd in Coconut Milk

A very traditional dish, the Olan is a standard in any feast in Kerala. Part of the sadya spread this is delicate dish is made in coconut milk, and has a very mild taste. Normally you would find vanpayar or black eyed beans in pod also added to this recipe.  But, we make it using just ash gourd at home, so here too I have omitted the beans.


Ash Gourd / White Pumpkin  - 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced
Coconut Milk - Fresh 1
Green Chili - 2
Curry Leaves - 2 stems
Coconut Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

If you are using fresh coconut , you need to take the second milk of the coconut,  else if using canned then use 1/2 the can mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water.   In a sauce pan cook the vegetables, sliced green chili in the coconut milk for about 10 - 12 minutes on low heat. Once the vegetables are cooked almost dry, add salt. Remove from heat and add the rest of the coconut milk or the first milk of the coconut. Garnish with the  curry leaves and coconut oil, stir and leave covered for few minutes.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegetable Kurma Without Coconut

This version of the kurma is without coconut - while adding coconut give the kurma a distinct flavor, I have changed it as I keep trying to reduce the amount of coconut I use while cooking. Even without the coconut you will be able to distinguish the South Indian flavor of this kurma. While adding vegetables are optional, you can add just one or combine couple of veggies to make this kurma. This kurma is very aromatic and the subtle blend of spices combined with cashews, make a very flavorful and rich gravy.

Vegetable  1 1/2 cups (cauliflower, carrot, potatoes, peas)
Poppy Seeds - 2 tsp
Cashew nuts - 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder
Cilantro leaves - a few
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

To Paste:
Onion - 3/4 cup
Tomato - 1 chopped
Ginger - 1" piece
Green chili - 1
Saunf - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 1 pod
Mint leaf - 2 to 3
Cardamom - 1
Clove - 2
Cinnamon - 1/2 " piece

Cut Cauliflower, carrots and potatoes in small pieces and keep aside. Now powder the poppy seeds followed by the cashew nuts , now add the rest of the ingredients listed under 'To Paste:' to a smooth paste. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the paste , turmeric power, red chili powder, coriander powder and cook until the oil separates, make sure to stir occasionally so that the gravy doesn't burn.  Once you notice the oil separate and the gravy is a golden hue add the vegetables and 2 1/2 cups of water.  Cover and cook on simmer until two whistles.  Remove from heat and cool. Once all the steam  has been let off, remove and move to a serving bowl. Garnish with Cilantro leaves.
This dish goes very well with piping hot rotis, appams & dosai.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ennai kathrikai /Eggplant in Oil

A lot of people either love eggplants/aubergine or hate them, while it is a very commonly used vegetable in many cuisines, somehow people end up making their minds either way. I should confess that not far back in the past I belonged to the later group. It is surprising how our palate changes with the years, how dark or green colored veggies no longer make you run. I can't count the number of excuses I have made to get away without consuming these beauties. Well times change and so did my, lets say, aversion. Today, I would be the first person to try out a dish that includes eggplants.
So, this is one dish you can try if you are trying out Eggplants and you like medium to spicy food. This will be an instant hit to those who already love eggplants in any form. The method for Ennai Kathrikai various from place to place in South India, there is gravy version (kuzhambu), a drier gravy version, a poriyal (stir fry) version, each has a very distinct taste and feel, but include the same main ingredients. Today I am presenting the drier version of the dish, this extremely flavorful recipe is perfect as a side for rice/ biryani. It is surprising how complex flavor belies the simplicity and easy of making of this dish.


Indian Eggplant/ aubergine - 12 , small rounds ones that you can get in Indian stores.

Red Onion - 1 cup chopped
Whole Black Pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp

Sesame seed Oil/ Gingelly Oil - 2 tbsp

Wash and cut crosswise the small aubergines bottom up leaving it still attached to the stem. Cut the tall length of the stem to closer to the head of the eggplant. Place these in a bowl full of water. Make a medium smooth paste of the the rest of the ingredients except the oil. Now fill each aubergine slit with the gravy you just made and keep aside.
In a wide saute pan heat the oil, once the oil is hot carefully place each eggplant next to each other. If you have any remaining gravy pour over the eggplants. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the eggplants over and then cover, and cook for another 10 minutes until both the sides are soft and the aubergines are fully cooked. As we are using little oil, make sure that you scrape the gravy off when you turn the eggplants over. Once you notice the oil leaving the sides of the gravy you can turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Walnut, Pistachio and Raisin Mini loaf

For a dessert that doubles as an energy bar, this Walnut, Pistachio and Raisin Mini loaf is ridiculously quick and easy. Serve these out instead of those heavy desserts we normally dish out for parties and festivals, it's a sure party pleaser.

Sesame Seeds - 1/2 cup
Almonds - 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 2 tsp
Unsalted Walnuts - 1/4 cup
Unsalted Pistachios nuts - 1/4 cup
Raisins - 1/4 cup
Honey - 2 tbsp
Salt - a pinch

Finely chop the walnuts and pistachio. Toast sesame seeds until it is a deep golden brown, keep aside. Then toast the almonds for 5 - 6 minutes. Grind the sesame seeds, almonds,sugar and salt to a powder. Put the powder in a mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and knead to form a stiff dough/batter. Shape the dough into a rectangular loaf about 1'' high and 1" wide, it will almost look like a stick of butter. Refrigerate for 1/2 hr before slicing and serving. You can also mix in other nuts & seeds and try different combinations of dried fruits that have been finely chopped.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Date Rolls

It has been a very long time since I blogged. The months have simply flown and finally I get down to posting. I having been so pampered all these months along with my little one by her grandmothers, that honestly , I hardly saw the kitchen during their stay. But now they have left and I am back in the kitchen; polishing on the kitchen skills that were getting rusty to say the least, to begin with. But all this time I have been collecting the pearls of wisdom that has been passed  to me over the various dishes and recipes they were making, I will be slowing posting the very many recipes I got from them, soon after I perfect them in my own way, sharing them with you in the process.

So today I thought I will start with something sweet! Date Rolls is one simple and nutritious dessert that every one would love.

California Dates - 2 cups
Milk - 1 1/ cups
Walnuts - 1/4 cup chopped
Almonds - 1/4th cup chopped
Sesame Seeds - 1/4th cup
Canola Oil or Ghee - 1 1/2  tsp
Salt a pinch

Grind the dates and 3/4th cup of milk until they make a thick smooth paste.In a saute pan dry roast the walnut, almonds and semsame seeds seperately and keep aside.  To the pan add 1 tsp of ghee and once the ghee heats up add the paste, rest of the milk and salt  and cook on simmer until the paste becomes darker and start to leave the sides of the pan and starts to become a thick mass. This should take  about 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to stir often. If you want at this point you can integrate the dry ingredients (walnuts, almonds and 1/2 of the sesame seeds) or you can wait until later. Remove the mixture from the heat and spread it on a alumnium foil that has been oiled and let it cool. Once cooled you can add the dry ingredients as a layer above the dates and then fold the auminum foil to create a large sandwich of dates with the walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds in between. Refrigerate for 2 hrs. Remove the top part of the foil and sprinkle some of the sesame seeds, turn over onto a plate and sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds. At this point you can cut it in any shape you want or you can cut unto thin stripes then again until the rolls are of desired lengths and make rolls by rolling it until it is smooth.
Just so you know this IS a sticky dessert, albeit a very tasty one.