September 29, 2007

Instant Sambar!

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The last time I wrote about whipping up a dish or two using instant food mixes, Linda of Out of the Garden suggested I should make it a series. So here's the next post in the "quick fix" series - instant sambar using MTR's Sambar Paste!

With the MTR sambar paste, all you need to do is boil toor dal and a vegetable or two that you like in sambar (I'm partial to vendakkai (okra) sambar!). You don't even need to add tadka (the paste includes mustard seeds, cumin seeds, etc.). Boil water, add the sambar paste and the cooked vegetable, and after about 5-6 minutes, mix in the boiled toor dal. Let this cook for 5-6 minutes more, and add fresh chopped cilantro before serving.

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Compared to the Priya's readymade Sambar that I tried the last time, this one is much, much better. The next time you're in a time crunch, give this a try.

September 24, 2007

Huli Avalakki (Tamarind Pohe)

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I've spent the past few days agonizing over what to make for RCI-Karnataka, wondering which one of my favorite dishes to make. My mom had some neat ideas, as did a cousin who even emailed me a few recipes. In the end, I settled on one that's never been a favorite - tamarind and jaggery flavored pohe (flattened rice). I figured this is as good a time as any to see if my tastes have changed...and what do you know, they have :) I know my mom will be surprised to hear this, but huli avalakki is something I'm going to try more often now.

Asha - thanks for hosting this!

Flattened rice/pohe - 2 cups
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1/4 cup
Coconut - 1 tsp (for garnishing)
Cilantro - for garnishing
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds
Urad Dal
Red chili
Peanuts, cashewnuts, almonds

Boil water and make a thick paste of the jaggery. Keep it aside with the tamarind paste.
Soak the pohe/flattened rice in warm water for 2-3 minutes and then drain the water away. Then mix the tamarind and jaggery paste to pohe and let it soak for 15 min (in the U.S., the flattened rice is thin and cooks in minutes).

Temper oil with mustard seeds, asafoetida, urad dal, red chili, and curry leaves. Add the crushed peanuts, cashews and almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes.

To this, add the soaked pohe and some salt and mix well. Garnish with shredded coconut and cilantro and serve hot (with spicy potato chips?).

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This is our entry to RCI:Karnataka hosted by dear Asha of Foodie's Hope. The event was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Corner.

September 23, 2007

Banana Blueberry Milkshake & Canoes

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I have talked about Michigan Blueberries before, but didn't get a chance to pick them up before this weekend. Since I picked up the pack of blueberries I have used it for our breakfast regularly. Yesterday I made blueberry buttermilk pancake, but forgot to take the picture. And today I made Banana Blueberry milkshake with honey. This has the consistency of smoothie, but made with milk instead of yogurt.

This was a great way to begin this gorgeous weekend. To make the most of it, we decided to go canoeing. This was my first canoe trip, a 3.7 mile trip from Argo park to Gallup park and it was fantastic! It took us about an hour and a half to finish the trip!

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2 ripe bananas
two handful blueberries
1 1/4 glass cool milk
1 tspoon honey (I used raw Michigan honey)

Just put everything in the blender and pour it to glasses and serve immediately.

Here are some pictures from our canoe trip. The day was warm, the water cool and we saw ducks, geese, heron and other birds on the way. It was the perfect end to the perfect day which began with a glass of simply delicious milkshake.

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September 18, 2007

Plantain Sabzi & Spicy Sambar

It's beginning to cool down here and almost instantly our taste buds are craving spicy, hot food. During the summer we were voraciously consuming watermelons and now the watermelon sits in the fridge looking at us desolately. I guess I have to figure out a spicy watermelon recipe. But back to the recipe. So this weekend we made dry plantain subzi to go with spicy sambar. And then sat in the dining room filled with sunlight to enjoy the meal.

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2 raw plantains
1 tspoon mustard seeds
1 tspoon chana dal

1 tspoon urad dal
1 pinch asafoetida
1-2 dry red chillies
few peppercorns
spring of curry leaves
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1 tspoon fresh grated coconut
Salt to taste
1 1/2 tspoon oil

Steam the raw bananas for 7-8 minutes. Peel and cut them in cubes.

Heat oil in a pan and
temper it with asafoetida, mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, red chillies and curry leaves.

Add the banana cubes and mix it well together. Then add turmeric, coriander powder.
Stir gently taking care not to mash the banana. Let it cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Then add salt and the fresh coconut and cook it for another couple of minutes.

Take it off heat and serve warm.

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This is my entry for JFI:Banana.

September 13, 2007

Masala Eggplant Sabzi

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It's time for the midweek post, so that means the recipe has to be quick, fast, filling and delicious :)

I have been trying to buy enough veggies to last for a week so that I can make a trip to the Farmer's Market. But I always buy too much. But it is hard to resist when there is fresh karela (bittergourd), lauki (bottlegourd), okra, eggplant , fresh greens, beans and many more stores in rows. I inevitably buy more than we need.

While buying lauki from a old local farmer last week, we got talking. He told me about his wife who is suffering from Parkinson's disease and that he has taken over the chores of the house including cooking. We traded some recipes, and I couldn't help thinking how personal and touching this experience was for me rather than just going to a store.

Back to the recipe, this is a simple eggplant recipe that I've tried with and without tomatoes. What I like about this recipe is that the eggplant doesn't turn mushy. It's simple and goes well with rotis and parathas.

1 large eggplant
1.5 in piece of ginger - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1 small tomato - chopped
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon coriander powder
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and chilli powder to taste

Cut the eggplants in medium cubes and soak it in water for 2-5 minutes.

Heat olive oil and temper it with cumin seeds. Add ginger and saute. Then add the chopped onions saute. Once they begin turning brown, add the tomatoes, coriander and turmeric powder.

Then add the eggplant and chilli powder. Mix well and let it cook on closed lid for 4-5 minutes. Then add salt and cook for another 3-4 minutes or till the eggplant is cooked. (Add little water if needed).

Garnish with cilantro (optional) and serve warm.

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September 09, 2007

Spicy Beetroot Soup

I have not been a great fan of beetroots. There, I've said it aloud! It's not that I don't eat it; I've had them in salads in restaurants. But somehow, I've never tried making anything at home with beets.
So I don't know what I was thinking, but when I saw a bunch of fresh beetroots at the farmer's market, I decided to pick it up and give it a try. But what would I make? Ofcourse soup I thought and a spicy soup... surely that will be a good trial. The ingredients were simple ... beetroots cooked with onions, ginger and garlic. Topped with fresh cheese and cilantro, this soup certainly won our hearts and... our taste buds.

4 medium beets -grated coarsely
1/2 red onion - chopped finely
1 large clove garlic - chopped

small cube ginger - chopped
1/2 green chilli - chopped
3 1/2 cups water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tspoon cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and

chopped cilantro - for garnish

Heat the chopped beetroots, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli with water in a large pot. Keep it on medium low and cook it with closed lid for 15-20 minutes or till the beetroot is cooked and soft.

Puree it in batches in a blender till smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.

Top it with cheese and cilantro and serve warm.

Some lemon juice would also work well.

This is my entry to the Annual Super Soup Challenge hosted by Running with Tweezers.

September 04, 2007

Dahi Chicken (Chicken in yogurt sauce)

The long weekend was just what I needed. Relax, rejuvenate and get away from the routine of the busy week. And after long conversation with my mom (and getting recipes for JFI: Banana!), I was in a mood for some Bengali meal. It was during this time, I came across the recipe for Chicken Dahi Bahar in Barnamala. The recipe was similar to our sunday chicken curry which I have blogged about before, yet just a little different.

So I tweaked it, like I usually do, and set to work. Along with Pita and salad, it was a great meal fit for lazy afternoons!

(adapted from Dahi Chicken Bahar)

1 ½ pound chicken (I used a mix of chicken breasts and thighs)

2 medium Onions - chopped
2 tbspoon Ginger paste
1 tbspoon Garlic Paste
1 1/4 cup Plain Yogurt - whisked
4 medium Tomatos - chopped
Green Chillies - slit

1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder

1 1/2 tspoon corriander powder

1 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste

2-3 tbspoon oil
Bunch of cilantro leaves - chopped


Mix chicken with half turmeric, ground pepper, yogurt and set it aside for 2-3 hours to marinate.

Heat oil in a pan and temper it with cumin seeds and green chillies. Then add onion and garlic. Saute on low to medium heat for 8-10 minutes.

Add the corriander & turmeric powder, and saute till it all mixes well together. Then add the Chicken yogurt mix & salt. Cook on medium heat stirring at regular intervals for 12-15 minutes.

When the oil separates, add 2/3 cup water, and the tomatoes. Let it cook on medium low heat for another 4-5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve hot, with rice, naan, chapati or paratha.

September 02, 2007


It's time for me to host this month's Jihva for Ingredients. This was started by Indira of Mahanandi and I thank Indira for the opportunity to host this round.

I've come to associate JFI with a celebration of ingredients and recipes - exotic and regular - fit for special occasions and everyday meals. And the more I thought about it, I wanted to feature an ingredient with the same features. And I picked Banana! We use almost every part of banana plant in our meals - raw banana, ripe banana, banana flower, banana stem - in our everyday meals and for special recipes reserved for festivals. And of course, serve food on banana leaves.

Here is a brief history of the origins of banana:

The true origin of Bananas, world's most popular fruit, is found in the region of Malaysia. By way of curious visitors, bananas traveled from there to India where they are mentioned in the Buddhist Pali writings dating back to the 6th century BCE. In his campaign in India in 327 BCE, Alexander the Great relished his first taste of the banana, an usual fruit he saw growing on tall trees. He is even credited with bringing the banana from India to the Western world.
Banana has been mentioned in the Buddhist Pali writings dating back to the 6th century BCE as well as in national epic poems of India. The popular name Banana was given by Arabic slave traders.

So let's celebrate banana and the banana plant this month. To participate in this event:

1. Prepare a dish with banana (green or ripe), flower, stem, or any other part of banana plant, and post it on your blog in the month of September. The choice of recipe is not restricted to Indian cuisine.

2. Please link to this event announcement.

3. Send me your recipe with the name of the recipe, name of your blog, permalink of the post and a picture (400x250) of your blog post to me at Please include JFI in your subject line.

4. If you are a non blogger, please e-mail me your recipe and picture and I will include it in the roundup.

5. I would have posted the announcement yesterday, but the logo design took me a day! So feel free to use the logo :)

I am looking forward to your creative ideas, essays and recipes.

Here are some of my previous entries with banana:
Banana Bundt Cake
Raw Banana Cutlets

Update: Plantains are starchy, low in sugar variety of bananas which trace their origins to India. The difference between banana and plantain is that plantains have to be cooked before eating. You can also use plantains for this round of JFI.


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