Tomato-Cilantro Thokku

 

 

tomato-coriander-thokkuTalking about pickles how can one miss out on the ubiquitous tomato-coriander that find their way into our dishes?

Last week was satisfying as I got to make more than one pickle in a couple of days’ time.  Soon after preparing lemon pickle I was informed that Ar and As were planning a homecoming for the weekend.  The immediate plan was to make one more pickle to be sent back with them and who else  but tomato and coriander came to my rescue! I decided to make a combo, the thokku way and  was too happy with the outcome.

It took me less than an hour to process and get the pickle ready. I used the pressure cooker to reduce the volume of the puree and it helped in fast reduction and avoided mess while cooking.

Ingredients

Ripe (firm) tomato 1 kg

Cilantro (coriander) leaves 3 cups (loosely packed) or 2 cups (well packed)

Tamarind 100 g (free from fibers)

Sea salt 3 tbsp

Red chili powder 3 tsp (heaped)

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Asafotida ½ tsp

Fenugreek powder ½ tsp

Sugar 1 tsp

Sesame oil 3 tbsp

Method

  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes to soften it. Use just enough water to soak the tamarind.
  • Clean the cilantro leaves and let the water dry out to get moisture-free leaves.
  • Remove the stalk point from the tomatoes and quarter them for easy blending.
  • Transfer the tamarind and half the tomato to the blender and blitz  to get a smooth puree. Transfer to a bowl and now transfer the remaining tomato the blender. Add the cilantro laves also and blitz to get a coarse puree.
  • Heat the oil in the pressure pan on a low flame and when the oil gets hot add fenugreek powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, asafotida and mix well. Transfer the two portions of the puree to the pan and add salt and sugar.
  • Close the pan, add the weight and let the mix cook on high flame for three whistles.  As the mix gets cooked the entire place will get filled the aroma of the pickle.
  • Wait for the pan to cool down and open the lid to see the thickness of the pickle.  If it has reached a gel like consistency wait for the pickle to cool down completely and transfer to airtight bottles for storing.
  • In case the the mix is a bit liquid like in consistency heat on low flame to thicken the mix. Do keep an eye on the mix and keep stirring to avoid burning of the pickle.

 

 

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Chef’s Note

  • Before storing the pickle add a tablespoon of vinegar on the top to store the pickle longer
  • Minimal water to soak the tamarind helps in thicker puree.
  • Coarsely ground cilantro gives a lovely bite to the pickle besides the bursting flavor
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Murungai (Drumstick) Rasam

 

 

murungakarasam

 

Drumstick in any form as the pod, leaves or even the flowers is used in South Indian cuisine or even among the Bengalis very frequently. The flavor and its loaded mineral content makes it a much sought after vegetable. Very often the fruit finds its place in sambars, vatha kuzhambu or avial. The leaves are sauteed and cooked as a  stir fry in an onion-tomato base  or they are used as a topping in adai.   The tender drumsticks are a hot favorite with Bengalis who cook it with fish or potatoes.

Murungakai rasam is also quite popular as it is a very aromatic rasam. I used the pulp from the fruit and also the leaves to make the rasam and it was a good decision.

Ingredients

Drumstick      10 to 12 pieces (3″ long)

Tomato            1 big or 2 medium-sized

Tamarind       1   gooseberry-sized ball or 1 tbsp pulp

Rasam powder    2 tsp

Salt              1 tsp

Arahar dal  2 tbsp

Turmeric powder ¼  tsp

Moringa leaves   1 tsp (separated and cleaned)

Ghee 1 tsp

Mustard seeds   1 tsp

Pepper powder ½  tsp  (optional)

Asafotida  ¼ tsp

Water 4 cups

 

Method

  • Add water and turmeric powder to arahar dal and pressure cook the dal along with tomato for 4 whistles to get a soft texture.  Cook the moringa pieces in the cooker in a bowl while cooking the  dal.  Scrape out the flesh from the skin and add to dal-tomato mixture. Keep the seeds separately. Mash the dal, moringa flesh and tomato to a pulpy consistency and keep it ready.
  • Add salt and rasam powder to tamarind extract/pulp and add a cup of water and boil on medium flame till the raw rasam powder smell is gone (about 5 to 7 minutes). Make the volume to 1 liter.
  • Add the dal-moringa pulp to the rasam when it starts boiling  and simmer it till the rasam starts frothing. Add asafotida powder, cooked moringa seeds and switch off the flame.

In a thick-bottomed ladle/wok heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts spluttering add pepper powder (if used) ans switch off the flame. Add the moringa leaves to the seasoning while hot and let the leaves get crisp. Transfer the seasoning to the rasam and enjoy one of the most flavorsome rasams.

Murungaka rasam

Chef’s Note

  • Freshly roasted rasam powder  can be used in place of ready powder.
  • Some like to drop drumstick pieces in the rasam instead of pulping it like I did.

No garnishing with curry leaves or cilantro is done in this rasam as the flavor of moringa can get masked. Moringa leaves are used for garnishing and to add to the flavor.

murnga rasam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Udupi Rasam

udupirasam

 

Time we visited the coastal Karnataka after reveling in the land of mangoes for a festive cuisine …. Udupi rasam! No meal offered in the Udupi temples/Dharmasthala or any of the Brahmin Mangalorean wedding feast is complete without the famous Udupi rasam. The specialty of the rasam powder for this is the inclusion of mustard seeds as also fenugreek seeds. Furthermore, the ingredients are roasted in a generous amount of coconut oil and often the tempering is also done in coconut oil. Naturally with so much of coconut flavor to it, fresh coconut is only optional. The powder is made in bulk and used for other stir fry dishes too. I used coconut oil minimally to roast the condiments and I love the aroma of ghee in tempering; so tempering in ghee. To balance the heat from the chilies I used coconut and also jaggery. Byadagi chilli is used to give the vibrant color and one can use a mix of normal red chilies and Byadagi chilies to give color and taste.

This recipe is adapted from the recipe from  Chitra Amma’s Kitchen

Ingredients

Tamarind 1 lemon/gooseberry sized ball or  1 tbsp of pulp

Green chili 1 (slit)

Arahar dal 2 tbsp (to be pressure cooked)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Tomato 2 medium-sized

Fresh coconut 1 tbsp (grated)

Curry leaves frpom 3 sprigs

Salt 1 tsp or as per taste

Jaggery powder ½ tsp

Ghee 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Water 4 cups

 

For rasam powder

rasam condiments

 

Red chillies 4

Byadage chilies 4

Coriander seeds 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1tsp

Urad dal 1 tsp

Coconut oil  ¼ tsp

 Mustard seeds 1/3 tsp

Fenugreek seeds ¼ tsp

udupi rasam ingred

Method

  • Add turmeric powder to the washed arahar dal and pressure cook the dal for 4 whistles.
  • For rasam powder: In a wide and thick-bottomed pan add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and dry roast till the color starts changing to brown. Remove from fire and transfer to a platter to cool.

Add the coconut oil to the same pan and roast the chilies, followed by cumin seeds, coriander seeds and urad dal. As the aroma is released switch off the flame and transfer to the platter to cool down.

Powder the roasted condiments to a slightly coarse texture.

  • Blanch the tomato in hot water or by microwaving for a minute. Blend the blanched tomato, coconut and curry leaves to a smooth paste.
  • Extract the pulp from tamarind soaked in warm water into the cooking vessel or add the ready pulp and make up the volume to 1 cup. Add salt and slit chilly and keep it on slow fire till the raw smell of tamarind is gone.
  • Add the mashed dal and tomato-coconut paste to the vessel and make up the volume to 1 liter.
  • When the mix starts boiling add the rasam powder, asafotida, and jaggery. Switch off the flame when the mix starts boiling and gets frothy.
  • Temper the mustard seeds and transfer to the ready rasam.

udupi saaru

Note

Normally this rasam uses coconut oil for tempering and those who love strong coconut flavor can use coconut oil. The condiments are also roasted (fried?) in a fairly large scoop of oil

Red chili is commonly used in tempering but I decided to skip it.

 

 

 

Raw Mango Rasam

mango rasam

 

Mango and rasam?!

Anything can happen in the land of mangoes! Raw mango is a good sour base and can replace  tamarind in rasam. If anything, I realized that mango rasam is not so uncommon a rasam; I was quite surprised to note that this rasam is quite popular in Andhra and is known as mamidikaya charu. Mango has been taken to new heights by using ripe fruits of mango in rasam by mango fans.

A little bit of research showed that rasam powder is often used in this dish but I decided to add the aroma of fresh spices and enhance the flavor with a dash of ginger and slit green chilly. Needless to say this was a great success.

 

Ingredients

Raw mango 1 medium-sized

Tomato    1 medium-sized (optional)

Green chilly 1

Ginger 1” piece (grated)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Salt 1 tsp

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Arahar dal 2 tbsp

Water 4 cups

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee 1 tbsp

Asafotida  ¼ tsp

Jaggery powder ½ tsp

For Spice powder

Dry  red chilies   4

Peppercorn  ½ tsp

Cumin seeds  ½ tsp

Coriander seeds  1½ tsp

Fenugreek seeds   ¼ tsp

 

Method

 

  • Add turmeric powder to washed arahar dal and pressure cook till soft. Mash the cooked dal and keep it ready.
  • When the dal is getting cooked prepare the spice powder by roasting the spices listed in a few drops of ghee (in the order given) on a low flame just to the point when the aroma is released. Ensure that the color does not change. Powder finely when the spices are cooled.
  • Blanch the tomato and dice the peeled mango. Transfer the mango pieces, tomato and curry leaves to a blender and blitz it fine.
  • Transfer the blended pulp to a thick-bottomed pan, add salt, grated ginger, and slit chilly and add a cup of water and cook on a medium flame. When the mix starts boiling add the mashed dal and make up the volume to 1 liter with the remaining water.
  •  When the rasam starts foaming add asafotida and jaggery powder and remove from flame.
  • Heat the ghee in the tempering ladle and let the mustard seeds splutter and transfer to rasam.

 

manga rasam

Note

If you prefer to use rasam powder in place of freshly done powder, let it boil for 5 minutes in a cup of water before adding the pulp. Where you like to enjoy the exclusive flavor of mango skip tomato.

As the pulp gives a thick consistency, if you like a thinner consistency use just a tablespoon of arahar dal.

No coriander leaves required in this rasam.

Mysore Rasam

IMG_2024

Exotic … is how one describes this rasam! As the name implies, this rasam has its origin from Karnataka and unlike rasam known as “saaru” in this region, it is called Mysore Rasam. A specialty of this rasam is use of coconut, and as is the trend in Karnataka, desiccated coconut is used in many dishes, a tradition that possibly evolved as a technique to preserve excess coconuts from spoiling. I prefer to use fresh coconut as desiccated coconut gives a different aroma akin to coconut oil. No rasam powder is used here as the ingredients are freshly roasted and powdered. Another feature of Karnataka is add jaggery to rasam. Actually I prefer to add either jaggery or a pinch of sugar in rasam as such as it enhances the taste.

This rasam is normally thick in consistency and makes a wholesome mix with steamed rice.

Ingredients

Tamarind  lemon-sized/gooseberry-sized ball (1 tbsp pulp)

Arahar dal  2 tbsp (to be pressure cooked)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Tomato 2 medium-sized (blanched)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Water 4 cups

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee  1 tbsp

Powdered Jaggery ½tsp

For rasam powder

Red chilies     5

Peppercorns     1 tsp

Cumin seeds     1 tsp

Coriander seeds  1 tbsp

Chan dal        1 tsp

Grated Coconut  2 tbsp

Method

  • Add a few drops of ghee in a wok and roast the spices for the powder in the order chilies, pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and chana dal. The spices should be roasted on a low flame and just till the aroma is released to retain the aroma. Transfer to a dry plate and in the same wok dry roast the coconut till the moisture is gone. Transfer to the plate and wait for it cool. Transfer the cooled spices to a blender and blitz it to get a slightly coarse powder. Keep the powder aside and in the same blender puree the blanched tomatoes and fresh curry leaves.
  •  In the meantime pressure-cook the dal after adding turmeric powder to it and keep it ready.
  • Add salt to the tamarind extract in a wide vessel and boil it till the raw smell of tamarind is gone as it happens in less than 5 minutes. Add the puree and boil for another 2 minutes or a minute longer and add the mashed dal. Make up the volume to 4 cups or roughly 1 liter. When the mix starts boiling add the spice powder, jiggery, and asafotida. Switch off the flame as soon as the rasam starts frothing and boiling.
  • Heat ghee in a wok and add mustard seed when the ghee is hot. As soon as the seeds splutter transfer the tempered seeds to the rasam. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy one of the heavenly rasams!

IMG_2022

 

 

Chana Pulao

IMG_1959 - Copy

 

Often we look for wholesome, simple dishes that can be done quickly when in a hurry or as a takeaway lunch to work.  Chana pulao is one such dish that is so packed with flavors that it does need not even need a raitha or any other side dish as it stays quite moist too. All one has to remember is to soak the chickpea overnight or keep a bowl of boiled chickpeas in the refrigerator for ready use.

      I prefer to use Basmati rice as it adds to flavor but this time  I used ponni rice to if it can work in case one were to use leftover rice from earlier cooking  and the flavor was no less.

Ingredients  (gives 4 servings)

Basmati rice  1 cup

Cooked chickpeas 1 cup (from a handful of dry legume)

Cinnamon 1″ piece

Cloves 3

Onion 1 (big) quartered and sliced to thin julienne

Tamarind  2 or 3 scales (soaked to soften)

Tomato 1 big pureed with tamarind

Grated ginger 1 tsp

Garlic paste  ½ tsp

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Chana masala 1 tsp (heaped)

Red chilli powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp or to taste

Oil  1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Water  1 cup (2 cups if using ponni or sona masuri rice)

Coriander leaves for garnishing  2 tbsp

 

Method

  • Add the cinnamon and cloves to the overnight- soaked chickpeas and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles.
  • While the chickpea is getting cooked wash the rice in water, drain off the excess water and leave it for 10 minutes.
  • Dice the onions, puree the tomato and tamarind and keep them ready.
  • As soon as the chickpeas are done, open the cooker, take out the bowl of cooked chickpea. Place the dry cooker on high flame and heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds to the oil and as it starts spluttering, lower the flame and add garlic paste and saute. When the color starts changing add the onion and saute on low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, chilli powder, and saute well for another  2 minutes.
  • Add the puree, chana masala, turmeric powder, salt, and stir well. Transfer the cooked chickpeas to the mix. Add water, mix well, and cover the cooker with the lid; add weight and cook on medium flame for two whistles.
  • Switch off the flame and leave the rice to cook in its steam for another 15  minutes. Open the cooker 15 to 20 minutes  and fluff it with a fork before transferring to a bowl.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

IMG_1958

 

Chef’s Note

  • For those who prefer the tanginess of lemon juice to tamarind, skip tamarind and add the lemon juice before fluffing up the rice.
  • Those who love the strong flavor of mint to coriander can substitute coriander by mint leaves.
  • In case you were to be using leftover rice, make sure the rice is grainy.  Add a spoon of oil to rice, micro or warm it a bit and fluff it up. Make the gravy as instructed (skipping rice) as a thick mix. Transfer the rice to a plate, add the gravy and mix gently but well.

Upside-Down Cornmeal Muffins

Inspired by a post in Home Bakers Guild for a contest and my earlier browse through the blog  from Tadka Pasta I decided to bake this healthy muffin with tweaks to suit my need. The vibrant color from the tomatoes with chillies to contrast and flavored with bell pepper gives it an inviting appearence.

A wholesome and healthy breakfast of two of these muffins baked the previous day, warmed in micro on a particularly busy morning, is good to keep one going till lunch time. Egg substituted by flax seed powder as a binder makes it quite a healthy bake, and for those who are not fond of corn meal or find it difficult to procure it in the market, wheat grit  should serve as a good substitute. As  I used equal measures of corn meal and all purpose flour, the muffins were soft but quite spongy.

cornmeal muffin

Makes 8 large muffins

Ingredients

To line the bottom of the muffin cups 

Finely diced tomatoes  1 cup (2 large tomatoes should work. Ensure they are firm)

Finely diced large green chilies (deseeded)  1 tsp

Dry mix

Corn meal 1 cup

All purpose flour 1 cup

Salt 1 tsp

Red chill powder 1 tsp

Baking powder  1½ tsp

Baking soda ½ tsp

Cumin powder 1 tsp

Black pepper powder ½ tsp (optional)

For the wet mix

Yogurt 1 cup

Cheddar cheese ½ cup

Melted butter  3 tbsp (app ¼ cup)

Fresh Corn kernels  ½ cup (frozen corn can also be thawed and used)

Diced green bell pepper ¼ cup

Flax seed powder in water  1½ tbsp

Water or milk ¼ cup

Method

  • Take the flax seed powder in a in a small bowl or cup and add 3 table spoons of water. Whisk well with a spoon or fork till it starts thickening. Leave the mix in the fridge for cooling for 15 minutes to 30 minutes. This process helps in giving a moist texture to the muffins.
  • Grease the cups of the muffin pan and line them with the diced tomatoes and chilli and keep them ready.
  • Set the oven at 180°C and preheat  for 10 minutes to reach the baking temperature.
  • Transfer the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well with a spatula.
  • Take the ingredients mentioned under wet mix in another bowl except the corn and bell pepper. Add the flax mix from the fridge and whisk to get a smooth paste. Pour the mix into the bowl with dry ingredients and fold in gently. Add the corn and bell pepper and fold into the batter.
  • Ladle out the batter into the muffin cups up to two-thirds level and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Do a tooth-pick to ensure it is baked well. Leave in the oven for anther  5 minutes to rest.

IMG_1879

  • Detach the muffins from the tray with a thin wooden spatula (ice cream stick ideal)  and invert on a wire tray to cool down.
  • Eat hot or store in an airtight box for breakfast 🙂

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Chef’s Note

  • If you do not like the granular texture (actually it gives a lovely feel) you can make the corn grit less coarse by blitzing for a few seconds.
  • Ensure that you remove the muffins from the pan before it cools down totally to avoid the tomatoes from getting moist and soggy.
  • You can substitute corn kernels with fresh green peas for variation in taste.
  • Adding fresh coriander leaves will add loads of flavor.  For those who like a bit of experiment try flavoring with kasuri methi!
  • If you like it as bread loaf bake in a bread loaf tin and enjoy!