Saturday, 23 April 2011

Mini Idli – Sambar

Another of V's favourite. He loves to hold the small idlis and gobble them up. We try our best to make him eat slowly. But he somehow manages to eat them really fast.

Its such a pleasure to see him eat like that. I think why cant he eat everything like that???

I make this once in 10 to 15 days. He gets excited when he sees the idli cooker and the mini idli stand on the counter.

For the idlis, grease the mini idli stand and keep it to the side. Add water in the idli cooker and get it to a rolling boil.

In the mean time, take sufficient amount of Idli / Dosa batter in a bowl. If you need, add boiling water to get the consistency for idli batter. Now add enough salt and a pinch of Soda-bi-carbonate and mix well. You will notice that the batter rises almost immediately. Spoon out the batter into the idli stand. Put this in an idli cooker and steam for around 20 mins.

Look at the mini idli stand ready to go into the idli cooker.

This sambar is a little different (and easy) from the regular sambar. This is how they make at my house when they make idlis (every day). Its more watery than the usual sambar. You can make it thick if that’s how you like.

1/2 cup Toor Dal washed
1/2 Onion sliced thinly
3 Red Chillies torn in the middle
3 tsp Chopped Tomato
¼ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
½ tsp Mustard Seeds
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
10 to 15 Curry Leaves
½ tsp Tamarind Concentrate
¼ tsp Hing
2 tbsp Oil
Salt to Taste
Chopped Coriander Leaves for garnish

  1. Pressure cook Toor Dal, Onion, Red Chillies, Chopped Tomato, Hing in 1 and a half cup of water till done (it takes about 3 whistles for me). Mash it well.
  2. In a separate pan, heat Oil.
  3. When hot, add the Fenugreek Seeds, Mustard Seeds and Cumin Seeds and let them crackle.
  4. Add the Curry Leaves and fry for a minute.
  5. Add the Tamarind Concentrate and cook for 2 minutes. Add a little water if necessary.
  6. Transfer this to the pressure cooker along with 1 and a half cup of water and Salt.
  7. Mix well and bring to a rolling boil and turn off the stove.
  8. Garnish with Coriander Leaves and serve hot with idlis.

Note 1: If you haven’t made idlis till date, I would suggest you watch it (either live or on the web) to know the consistency of the batter. It will be a trial and error later. But atleast you have a base to work on.
Note 2: If you want the sambar to be thick, add less water when mixing the salt.
Note 3: I like to put my idlis in a bowl, add the sambar and leave it for some time to cool and soak.
Note 4: If there’s any left over, I mix the idlis and sambar and put in the fridge. It tastes much better when the idlis are soaked well.

This goes to the following events:

Srivalli's Breakfast Mela
Suma's Cooking with Whole Foods (Legumes / Beans) - Toor Dal / Pegion Peas that was started by Kiran.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Semiya Pulihora / Spicy and Tangy Rice Vermicelli

This is another of my regular dishes. I make this when I am crunched for time. Its simple, easy and very delicious (atleast according to me).

I've always liked my Pulihora with Lemon. In my house they used to make it with Tamarind most of the time.

I don't give V as he "rejected" it twice. I guess this needs to be altered for his taste. Since I make this when there's not enough time, there's no chance of altering it. I think I'll just let him grow a bit more before giving it again. When I make this dish, there's always some thing in the freezer for him.

Now to the recipe:

250 gms Semiya / Vermicelli / Rice Noodles
Zest and Juice of 1 big lemon
1 Green Chilli – slit vertically
1 tsp Mustartd Seeds
2 tsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Urad Dal
15 to 20 Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp Ginger Paste
1/4 tsp Hing
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tbsp Oil

  1. Cook Semiya according to the package instructions. Please see Note 1 below to see how I cooked it.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the Oil.
  3. When hot, add the Mustard Seeds.
  4. Once they splutter, add the Hing, Chana Dal, Urad dal and the Green Chilli and fry till they start to change colour.
  5. Add Curry Leaves, Ginger Paste and fry for a minute.
  6. Add the Turmeric Powder and Lemon Zest and mix well.
  7. Turn off heat and add the Lemon Juice and mix well.
  8. Pour over the Semiya and mix well. I use my hand to mix it.
  9. Serve hot.

Note 1: In a pan, pour enough water so the broken semiya will immerse fully. Add salt to this and get to a rolling boil. Put the semiya into the water and immerse well. Let it cook till its done (approx 4 to 5 mins). Drain immediately. Pour cold water on it to stop cooking. Add 2 tsp Oil and cover the semiya well. This will prevent the semiya from sticking. If possible, spread out the semiya. I don’t spread out the semiya. Its easy enough to separate it when you are mixing.

Note 2: You need to be real fast when you are making the actual "sauce" as the Dals can burn very quickly once they start changing colour.

This goes to CBB Series 3 - Evening Tiffins at Tickling Palates.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Growing Herbs

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I am writing a detailed post as to how I planted my herbs this time round.

I used decent sized pots as I didn't want to replant them. I bought basil and mint seeds. For coriander, I used the seeds from my pantry. I soaked them for around 12 hours and crushed them between my palms before planting them.

I bought a big bag of Miracle Grow all purpose compost. It has fertilizer that feeds the plants for 3 months. I also got potting grit. I mixed the compost and grit in the ratio of 1:1 and filled the pots till about an inch from top.

Then I poured water so it sinks in. I planted the seeds – taking care to space them properly. I covered the seeds with some more compost and lightly watered the top. Don’t use a gush of water here as this might displace the seeds.

I then put cling film on top of the pots to maintain the warm temperature needed to propagate. Once I saw quiet a few saplings, I removed the cling film so the plants can breathe and grow. Now they are growing quiet well.

You can use perlite instead of potting grit. The place I went to had potting grit. They didn't have perlite. This is mainly for drainage and aeration for the roots so there's no water clogging. I hadn't done this last time and my mint plant was infested with fungus gnats. I had to completely dry the soil to get rid of them.

Water the plants only when you find the top soil relatively dry. This way, there's no danger of over watering the plant - which will lead to water clogging.

Its been 3 weeks since I planted my herbs. Look at the stage they are in now.

Basil - overcrowded again

Mint - slow as usual

Coriander - doesn't it look beautiful???
As you can see, I think Coriander will be the first herb that I use. When I read on the net, they said to wait till its about 6 inches tall to start using it. I am supposed to cut the top 3 inches to encourage more growth. That seems pretty straight forward.

I also read on how to harvest the Basil. It's a bit confusing. I think I'll see something on you tube regarding this.

I haven't even thought about harvesting mint. Its so slow.

One thing's for sure – from my previous experience, the taste of store bought herbs is no where near the home grown ones.

Good to know
  1. Almost each seed grows into a plant. So its very very important to space them properly. Some seeds are very tiny and difficult to handle, but its very important to space them.
  2. For coriander, each seed sprouted into 2 or more plants.
  3. Coriander has a long tap root. So its important to plant it in a long pot.
  4. The first set of leaves that come out are not of the actual plant. I call them base leaves
  5. Its always good to read up on the plant you want to plant. I hadn't done that the first time round and I realised that much later.
I'll let you know when I start using my herbs.

BTW, I've planted some sunflower seeds last weekend. The weather's supposed to be bad this weekend. If its not too bad, I plan to do some more gardening.

I guess the gardening bug has bitten me... I am not complaining. :-)

This goes to Kirthi's Herbs and Flowers in my Platter - Coriander leaves/Cilantro that was started by PJ of Seduce your Tastebuds.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Idli / Dosa Batter

This is something I wanted to post when I get the fermentation process right. I've never been able to get it right. Especially in winters. I've tried this method twice till now and it has come out right both the times.

When I was due to deliver, my parents came to Glasgow about a month is advance. My father stayed for about 2 weeks and left before my delivery. He came back after my delivery. Since he was coming back in such a short time, he didn’t have much luggage. He asked me if I wanted anything. I thought I might never get this chance again and told him to get the Ultra table top grinder.

Its been with me ever since (about 2 and a half years now) and makes my life easy when I have to make Idli / Dosa batter. To top it, my mother gave me a recipe so I can use the same batter for Idlis and Dosas. I've been using this recipe for a while now and the idlis and dosas come out really well.

I used to use yeast for fermentation. But I didn't like the taste. We did get used to it as we wanted to have dosas, but I wasn't satisfied as V was not enjoying his dosas. He loved them when we went to India in October. But here, we had to force him to eat.

Recently, I thought I should try not using yeast. When I made dosas, me, P and even V saw the huge difference in taste. We didn’t force V to eat. It was more like the dosas they make at home in India. Although the fermentation process takes a longer, we decided we will not use yeast anymore.

That's the dish I use for fermentation. The batter is fermented in this photo.
Here's how I make my batter:

1 cup Urad Dal
5 cups Rice – I use long grain
1 cup Thick Poha
2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds

  1. Soak Poha and Fenugreek Seeds together in about 3 cups of water for 4 to 6 hours. Wash Rice and Urad Dal and soak them together for 4 to 6 hours. I sometimes soak for around 8 hours also.
  2. Grind the Poha and Fenugreek Seeds first.
  3. Once they are ground to a smooth paste, add the Rice and Urad Dal. Add 2 cups of water and let it grind to a smooth batter. This takes me about 40 mins.
  4. Preheat the oven to 100 deg C.
  5. Once the batter is done, remove into a huge dish. Remember, once fermented, it’ll more than double in volume.
  6. Put the dish in the oven and keep the oven light switched on over night or for atleast 10 hours.
  7. Try to refrain from opening the oven door frequently as this will cause the heat loss.
  8. Your batter is fermented once it has become 2 and a half to 3 times in volume.
  9. If you take out the top layer, you should see the batter is light and fluffy.
  10. Mix well so the air comes out from the batter.
  11. You can remove and put it in the fridge now.
  12. I like my batter to be a bit sour. So I put it back into the pre heated oven with the light on for another 10 hours or so.
Fluffy batter

Note 1: This is a long process and this is the way I follow it to get the taste we like.
Note 2: If you are using a mixie, you might not want to use so much rice as this might burn your mixie.
Note 3: Some friends replace rice with rice flour for dosas. In such cases, the ratio should be 1:6 for Urad Dal to Rice Flour. I am not sure about this as I haven't tried it. But my friends who have used this combination say it works fine for dosas. I do not know anything for Idlis.
Note 4: In another option, you can use Urad Dal Flour and Rice Flour.The ratio should be 1:2. Again, I haven't tried this and this method is mainly for dosas.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

50th Post and Mamidikaya pappu / Mango Dal

My 50th post. Its taken me 7 months to get to this. A bit too long for a lot of you. But its OK for me. I am happy I am still posting after 7 months. I haven't given up... yet.

When V was staying in India, my parents told me that Mamidikaya Pappu was one of his favourite dish. I had totally forgotten about this. P was working on Saturday. So I took V and went to the Asian shop first thing in the morning. I was there by 10. Not many people had been there so every thing was still fresh.

I saw these small green mangoes and thought I bought them on instinct. I wanted to make this dal and see if V still likes it. I am so glad I bought the mangoes. V absolutely enjoyed it. He doesn't eat on his own anyway. We need to keep him busy and feed him.

Its extremely easy to prepare as well. I guess I'll be making this more often - atleast till V gets tired of it. Here's the recipe...

1 cup Toor Dal - washed
1Kg small green Mangoes - the tangy variety - cut into bite size pieces
3 Green Chillies - slit vertically
1 Onion - chopped
2 tsp Chopped Tomatoes
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
20 Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp Hing
2 tbsp Oil
Chopped Coriander Leaves to garnish
Salt to taste

  1. Pressure cook Toor Dal, Mangoes, Chillies, Onion and Hing in 3 cups of water for 3 to 4 whistles.
  2. Once its cooked, mash well.
  3. In another pan, add Oil.
  4. Once hot, add the Fenugreek Seeds, Mustard Seeds and Cumin Seeds.
  5. Once they crackle, add the Curry Leaves and fry for a minute.
  6. Now add the chopped tomoato and cook till the oil separates.
  7. Add this to the cooked dal, add salt, mix well.
  8. Add a cup of water and boil till you get the desired consistency.
  9. If you feel the "tanginess" is not enough, add some lime juice.
  10. Garnish with Coriander leaves.
  11. Serve hot with Rice and Ghee or Roti.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I made small rice balls for V. I generally do this so I can feed him fast. But this time, he picked up and started eating them on his own. We were shocked. Here's how his rice balls looked.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Spring's Here & Herb update

Yeah... Spring's here. Though its cloudy, windy, gloomy and raining most of the time, the temperature's quiet pleasant. Sun does peep out towards evening most of the days. When the sun comes out, it feels its summer. Its been so good.

My herbs are doing well. I remember my second batch of Coriander in September last year couldn't stand on its own. Though the leaves did come out, the stems were too weak and it was falling into the pot. That's not the case now.

The stems are strong enough and Coriander is growing steadily. The base leaves have come out for all and the actual Coriander Leaves are coming out on atleast 5 to 6 plants. It shouldn't be too long before I start using it...

My basil as usual was the first to sprout. That also just has the initial base leaves but I can see teeny weeny basil leaves forming on most saplings. When I bought the Basil seeds, P asked if we actually need Basil plant as I don't make much. I said I want to try out so many recipes and the Basil from the supermarket is not very fresh most of the time. Any suggestions to recipes using Basil are welcome.

As usual Mint was the last to sprout. Its way too tiny (though the actual mint leaves are sprouting from one or two plants) and there's nothing much to write about it.

Coming weekend (if the weather permits), I plan to plant Sunflowers (for my son), Marigolds and Garlic Chives. I got these mini bio degradable pots in which I plan to propagate and take the plants outside in may / june.

But the Scottish summer is known for its untimely rain. So I might invest in a Green House. Not the sturdy building, just the "plasticky" one that has stands inside and I can zip up. If any one’s used that, please let me know how it works out. I might think of a cold frame as well. That's more sturdy.

I'll write another post with detailing how I planted my herbs this time round. It's a bit different from last time.

Until next time, I leave you with the photos of my growing herbs. BTW, we've put our garden furniture out. I hope the summer is good for us with less rain.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Alu Matar

No... I am not away. I was extremely busy last week. With the world cup matches and other things. Just didn't have the time or the energy to write anything. But today I thought its high time I posted something. So I am giving you this recipe.

I prepare Alu Matar in 2 ways. This one is the simpler one. I'll post the other one another day.

I love to prepare this dish as it has absolutely no frills attached to it and I can never get it wrong (that's the main reason).

One of the easiest dishes to make to have with chapati. Finishes by the time the chapatis are done. It goes well with rice as well.

3 Medium Size Potatoes - peeled, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 Onion - Chopped
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 Cup Fresh / Frozen Peas
Salt to taste

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and add the Cumin seeds.
  2. Once they start spluttering, add the Onion and fry it till brown.
  3. Now add all the dry spices and salt and fry for 2 mins (take care the spices don't burn).
  4. Add some water and put the potatoes and the peas.
  5. Cook till the potatoes are done. Adjust water as needed.
  6. Get the desired consistency and take off the stove.
  7. Serve hot with roti or rice.