Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cluster Beans in a peanut masala - Kothavaranga Peanut masala curry

Cluster Beans as the name suggests grows in clusters and makes it hard to harvest them. If you are not careful you might uproot the whole plant. I do not buy kothavaranga as they are called in Tamil that often. On a whim I decided to grow and they have been fairly productive all summer. There are not that many recipes with cluster beans that I am familiar with. The most common recipe with them is to make a paruppu usili. For those not familiar with what paruppu usli means, it is a blended, then steamed lentil mixture, roasted and mixed with vegetables. An extremely tasty and filling side dish.

Besides this I am not very familiar with many recipes. Of course like every other vegetable they can be stir fried with onions and coconut. For cluster beans cooking addition of asfoetida(perungayam) is a must. I sought my mother's help in finding some interesting recipes to try and this peanut masala curry was one she found for me. I am not exactly sure from where, either a TV show or a magazine.

The recipe can be made dry or a with a bit of moisture depending on your preference. I made it with a bit of moisture to be mixed with rice and it would have worked perfectly for roti/chapathi as well.

Dice the cluster beans, par boil them, drain and set aside. Prepare the masala ingredients.
Blend the masala to a smooth paste. Season and saute the onions, mix with the vegetables and add the blended masala paste.

Cluster Beans in a peanut masala - Kothavaranga Peanut Masala Curry
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 lb of cluster beans or Kothavaranga (3 cups small dices)
  2. 1/2 onion finely chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves sliced
  4. seasonings: mustard, cumin seeds, split urad dal, curry leaves and asfoetida
  5. 1 tsp of oil
  6. salt to taste
  7. For the masala paste
  8. 1/2 tbsp of raw rice
  9. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of roasted and skin removed peanuts
  10. 5-6 red chilies (depending on the heat of the chilies)
  11. 2 tbsp of fresh or frozen grated coconut
  1. In a sauce pan, take the chopped cluster beans, sprinkle salt and turmeric powder (I did not use it) along with a tbsp of water and let cook for 6-8 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking prepare the masala paste. Heat a saute pan and in low heat roast the rice till starts to get brown. Remove to a blender. Roast the chilies for about a minute and set aside. Add the coconut and roast for another 4-5 minutes till it changes color.
  3. Add the roasted peanuts to the roasted rice, chilies and coconut and powder them. If you want a dry curry remove the powder and set aside. Since I wanted a gravy consistency I added about 3 tbsp of water and ran the blender for 1/2 minute more. Set aside.
  4. In a flat bottomed pan or kadai, heat oil and add the seasonings, urad dal first and saute till it turns brown followed by cumin seeds and then mustard seeds and when it starts to pop add the asfoetida.
  5. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent, add in the cooked beans and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the masala paste and salt and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.
    Serve with rice or roti.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Vendakkai Kaara Kuzhambu (Okra in Spicy Sauce)

Lady Fingers or Okra as they are called are one of the favorite vegetables in our house, cooked usually as a stir fry like in this recipe here, and tend to vanish very quickly. I hesitate just a teeny weeny bit to cook them as Kuzhambus because of the slime, the longer they have been sitting in the refrigerator the slimier the Kuzhambu tends to become. If the slime can be taken dealt with, they taste excellent when cooked as Puzhi Kuzhambu or Kara Kuzhambu. To keep the slime at bay wash the okras and dry out the moisture before chopping and roast separately till they start to turn color and blackened on the edges. This Spicy Kara Kuzhambu is best eaten with rice and some dal.

Originally Posted : 6/25/07 9:53 PM

This is a recipe that I go back to every time I get some fresh okra. Like I mentioned in the first paragraph I save making this only when there are fresh okras which I seem to have plenty of these days. The recipe itself is fool proof so I won't tinker with it much. The channa dal tends to thicken the curry a little so if you want to swap it out for coconut, by all means.

Vendakkai Kaara Kuzhambu
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
1. 1/2 lb Okras cleaned and cut into ¾ inch pieces
2. 1/4 Medium Sized Red Onion Chopped
3. 3 Garlic pods chopped
4. 1/4 cup tamarind pulp (soak the tamarind in water and extract pulp)
5. seasonings - split urad dal , methi seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds
6. salt to taste
7. 3 tsp of oil
8. 1/2 tsp of jaggery or palm sugar

1. 1/4 Red Onion chopped roughly
2. 2 tbsp Corriander seeds
3. 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
4. 1 tsp pepper corns
5. 2 Red Chillies
6. 1 tbsp of channa dal (kadalai paruppu) [can use coconut instead]

Roast 2-6 in a little bit of oil, remove and add the onions and saute till translucent. Blend to a smooth paste.

1. In a pan add a little bit of oil and add the okra pieces and saute till they start to turn slight brown/black around the edges. Set aside.
2. Add a little bit more oil, when hot add the urad dal, methi seeds, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard seeds start to pop add
3. the onion and saute till translucent, add the garlic pieces and saute for a few minutes
4. now add the sauteed okra pieces and saute for a few more minutes.
5. Now add the blended paste, enough water, salt
6. Cook for 3-4 minutes
7. Add the tamarind pulp and cook till the required consistency is reached.
8. Add the sugar when ready to turn off the heat.

Serve with rice.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slightly Spicy Tomato Ketchup - Recipe

Tomato Ketchup? Who doesn't have this in their fridge or pantry? We do and it is used as condiment for a lot of things. I naturally gravitate towards making some spicy and ever so delicious tomato thokku when I have excess tomatoes that have to be used. Like the linked recipes, one is done completely on the stove top and the other is using an electric rice cooker. If cooking on the stove top, it requires stirring occasionally, if using an electric rice cooker you can let it stew for about an hour, turn it off and then proceed on the stove top.

For ketchup you can use either of those methods to stew the tomatoes first and then proceed . I did the recipe completely on the stove top this time but doing it either way works because the mixture has to be blended and then strained. A hand blended will come in very handy. While a regular blender will work just as well, a bit messy that's all.

Have you tried the spicy tomato ketchup that is available these days? I prefer that to the regular old ketchup and I like the low salt ones. So making it at home I can combine both the tastes that I want and make my own! I used Jamie Oliver's recipe as a guide and did my thing. It was actually a fun recipe to try out. The vegetables I used onions, chilies, ginger and garlic, the proportion and what goes in there is totally flexible. I used about 1/2 lb of vegetables to about 5 lbs of tomatoes. I skipped the cloves, coriander and basil leaves. All of these have a tendency to take over so. If you like the smell or taste of any of these by all means use them.

While 1 1/2 hours seems like a long time, the process is very simple, occasional stirring is all that is required when the tomato pulp has been prepared.

Prepare the tomatoes. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and saute the vegetables other than the tomatoes along with salt and pepper for about 4-5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and continue to cook till the tomatoes fall apart.
When the tomatoes are completely stewed, blend with a hand blender till smooth.
Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan, add the vinegar, sugar and let cook till the sauce has thickened to ketchup consistency.
Cool and transfer to sterilized jars.

Spicy Tomato Ketchup
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:1 1/2 hours
  1. 5 lbs of tomatoes washed and chopped
  2. 1/2 lb total of onion, green chilies, ginger chopped and garlic chopped (I used 1 red onion, 5 garlic cloves, 2 inch piece of ginger and about 10 green chilies)
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 1 1/4 cups of apple cider vinegar
  5. 1 tsp of salt
  6. 1 tbsp of olive oil
  7. 2 tsp of pepper powder
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil and add all the vegetables excluding the tomatoes. Add the black pepper and salt. Let the vegetables saute for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till it disintegrates, becomes liquidy at first and then starts to thicken about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Let the cooked tomato mixture cool for a bit and blend with a hand blender.
  4. Strain the blended mixture through a fine sieve a couple of times till it is a smooth and shiny sauce.
  5. Take the sauce, vinegar and sugar in a clean thick bottomed pan and let it continue to cook till the sauce thickens and becomes the consistency of tomato ketchup. Check the taste and add more sugar, vinegar or salt if required.
  6. Let cool and pour them into sterilized bottles and refrigerate.

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