Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kothamalli thokku - Coriander leaves pickle

I am not the first one to send a child to college and neither will I be the last. This ritual old though it may be is new for us. I kept postponing thinking about it and then it happened. When I left for college I only cared about the fact that I was leaving home. Didn't spend too much time worrying about how my parents were going to miss me (or in my case they probably were thinking good riddance ;). Now I realize that being on the other side is just as hard or even harder.

Like most mother and daughter pairs we talked a lot, fought a lot, shouted at each other a lot and the most important of all DH and I had come to rely on her for a lot of things. Even though still a teen she had the maturity to understand. Her relationship with DD2 on the other was very different. She regressed by a few years and she behaved like she was the same age as her little sister.

Now all of us miss her and find it hard on weekends. Food wise I miss her even more - when I pass by by the aisles that have the food items she enjoys. I feel a tinge of guilt when I cook something that she likes and she cannot enjoy it.

Care packages have you heard of that? You ship overnight food to your away from home child. Luxury! Have not tried it yet though.

That is what is going on but that is not the reason that posts have been sporadic. That story is for another day.

Now on to some food talk,
Thokkus and pickles the mainstay of the summer months. If I have an abundance of tomatoes I make some tomato thokku which get used morning, noon and night. After tasting home made tomato ketchup store bought ketchup just don't do the trick so I make a batch of that. I had grown coriander leaves this season which gave an opportunity to make some coriander leaves thokku which I have been wanting to for some time.

I am used to buying coriander leaves that look like coriander leaves but does not smell like coriander leaves and I start to doubt if they are really coriander leaves. What if they are parsley? With home grown you will have no such doubt. The aromatic smell of those leaves will leave you mesmerized.

Saute the blackgram and urad dal along with the mustard seeds and red chilies. Get the tamarind pulp ready.
Blend the coriander leaves with the dal and the tamarind pulp and salt and saute in oil till it is shiny.

Unlike other pickles coriander thokku does not require that much oil but you can be liberal with the oil if you want to preserve it for longer.

Coriander Thokku - Coriander leaves pickle
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 3 cups of packed coriander leaves
  2. 1 tbsp bengal gram (kadalai paruppu)
  3. 7-8 red chilies
  4. 1/2 tbsp urad dal (ulutham paruppu)
  5. 1/4 + 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  6. tiny bit of asfoetida
  7. 1/4 cup of thick tamarind pulp from a small lemon sized ball of tamarind
  8. 1/2 tbsp jaggery
  9. salt to taste
  10. 2-3 tbsp of oil
  1. Wash and dry the coriander leaves completely. You can also sun dry it to make sure.
  2. In a wide mouthed pan, add a tsp of oil when hot saute the bengal gram, followed by the urad dal and remove when it is golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Saute the red chilies and mustard seeds and set aside.
  4. Add the coriander leaves, quickly mix it for a couple of seconds remove to a separate plate.

  5. Now add the tamarind pulp and heat it till it comes to a boil and then for a couple of minutes more and turn of the heat.

  6. Slightly powder the roasted dals first, add the coriander leaves,salt and the boiled tamarind pulp and blend to a thick paste along with the jaggery.

  7. Now heat the rest of the oil(I used 2 tbsp) and when hot add the mustard seeds and asfoetida. When the mustard seeds starts to pop, add the blended paste and saute it for about 5-10 minutes till it becomes shiny.

  8. Cool and store in glass containers. Stays good outside for 5-6 days but for a month or more in the fridge.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tandoori Paneer in a Tawa - Pan Roasted Tandoori Panner

Have not been able to post as regularly as I would like. This summer has been a time of many changes for us some inevitable but tough to handle just the same. There are lots of people for whom change is constant and they deal with it with grace. I on the other hand postpone thinking about change and live through it with trepidation and realize it is not that bad after all. Some changes are just plain hard like sending off your child to college.

With that said I am going to feel guilty every time I cook something she likes. DD and DD2 love paneer. Though I am a recent and reluctant paneer convert. I like the fact that any recipe made with it is hard to mess up.

A colleague of mine is on a diet or challenge of some sort. Any way, it was cottage cheese and fruits for breakfast one morning. She does not like cottage cheese so had this amazing pan roasted paneer(they are cottage cheese too right?) which need I say were fantastic. The recipes calls for only spice powders and ginger and garlic powder which makes the cooking that much faster. You can always use ginger garlic paste if you prefer. The cooking time will take a bit more.

Mix the marinade in oil and set aside. Cut the paneer into cubes or rectangles.
Toss the paneer cubes in the marinade. Heat a flat bottomed pan and lightly coat with oil.
Place the paneer pieces on the pan in a single layer. Let cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side till golden.
Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with onion slices and lemon wedges.

Pan Roasted Tandoori Paneer
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 12 oz block of Paneer (I used store bought)
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  4. 2 tsp ginger powder
  5. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  6. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 tbsp curry masala powder or tandoori masala (any kind of masala powder will work)
  8. salt to taste

  1. Cut the paneer into desired shapes. Thin rectangles is what works best.
  2. Mix the rest of the spices in the olive oil till smooth in a wide mouthed pan.
  3. Now toss the paneer with the spice mixture and set aside.
  4. Now heat a cast iron pan or any flat griddle spread with oil.
  5. Once the oil shimmers place the panner in one layer. Cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes or slightly longer till it become golden brown.
  6. Flip and cook on the other side til golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with lemon wedges and sliced onions.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bitter Gourd in a peanut gravy

For a lot of people bitter gourd means puckering of the mouth and generally avoiding it obviously because of the bitterness. To counteract the bitterness I add tamarind extract, jaggery and cook it down so the bitterness is mostly gone.

So I was intrigued when a colleague/friend got this smooth and creamy gravy which was not too bitter and not too sour or sweet but just right. So of course I asked for the recipe. The gravy was made by her neighbor as was just back from a trip to India. She checked for the recipe from her neighbor and texted it and here we go.

It is soon going to become one of my go to recipes for bitter gourd. Here some of my other bitter gourd recipes,
3 recipes in one
Broiled Bitter gourd
Bitter Gourd Recipes

The smooth gravy is perfect for any kind of Indian breads or even with rice.

Soak the bitter gourd pieces in tamarind extract. Saute the masala ingredients - ginger, garlic, whole spices, coconut and coriander powder
Blend the masala ingredients along with the peanuts to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a saute pan add cumin and mustard seeds. Saute the onions and tomato till the tomatoes get mushy. Add in the bitter gourd pieces and let them cook completely.
Add the blended peanut paste along with the tamarind pulp and water and cook till the desired thickness is reached or for about 8 minutes..

Bitter Gourd in a peanut gravy
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
  1. 8-10 bitter gourds seeds removed and cut into thick half moon slices.
  2. 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
  3. 6-8 small tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  4. seasonings: mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  5. tamarind extract about 1 cup + 2 cups of thin tamarind juice
  6. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  7. 1 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder ( or to taste)
  8. 1 tbsp of coriander powder
  9. 2 tsp of oil
  10. salt to taste
  11. 1 tbsp of jaggery
  12. For the masala
  13. 6-8 garlic cloves
  14. 3 inch piece of ginger
  15. 3/4 cup of roasted peanut
  16. 3-4 tbsp coconut
  17. 1 inch piece of cinnamon + 4-6 cloves

  1. Soak the bitter gourd in tamarind juice for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or more.
  2. While the bitter gourd is soaking get the masala ready.
  3. Heat oil in a saute pan and add the spices, remove to the blender and add the ginger and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Remove to the blender.
  4. Reduce the heat and saute the coconut for a minute, followed by the coriander powder saute for 1/2 minute and remove that to the blender.
  5. Add the roasted peanuts and blend to a fine paste adding 1/2 cup of water. Set aside.
  6. In a wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the seasonings. Add the onions and saute till it starts to brown.
  7. Add in the tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become mushy.
  8. Drain the bitter gourd and add the bitter gourds to the tomatoes. Let the bitter gourd be fully cooked.
  9. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder, salt and the blended masala paste and about 1 1/2 -2 cups or more of water and the tamarind extract. Let it boil in medium heat for about 10 -15 minutes. Check for salt and heat and if required add salt and chili powder. Mix and cook for a minute more and turn off the heat.
  10. Serve with rice or chapathi or paratha.

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