Recipes: Tomato Onion Chutney

The other day while making dinner, I realised I needed to make some kind of chutney to go with dosa or adai. I didn’t want to make one with coconut which is what is traditionally made for these dishes since I didn’t have enough coconut on hand to make it, so came up with this tomato onion chutney which was super yummy!

Tomato Onion Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • 1 tsp roasted Bengal gram
  • 1 tsp seedless tamarind (If using tamarind paste, you can use about 1/2 tsp)
  • 6-8 dried red chillies (more or less depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated jaggery (can omit or substitute with brown sugar)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a pan and when warm add the mustard seeds and let it pop.
  • Next, add the urad dal and Bengal gram dal and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the dried red chillies and stir for a few seconds. Then add the sesame seeds and give it a good stir.
  • Then add the tamarind and stir for a few seconds.
  • Now add the garlic and let it saute for a minute and then add the onions. Let the onions become translucent.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add the tomatoes and stir until the tomatoes become mushy and cooked. You can also add in a pinch of salt to help this process. At the point add the jaggery if using.
  • Switch off the gas and let the mixture cool completely before grinding it to a fine paste. Add salt while blending and adjust as per your taste. You can add a bit of water while blending if you feel the need.

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Recipes: Pineapple Rasam

A special variety of Rasam, this one is made usually during weddings and is something we don’t usually make during a normal lunch. I have made this many aeons ago and so this week when I opened a tin of pineapple, I decided to keep aside some to make this yummy rasam.

Rasam is a spicy soup made in south India using tamarind juice, pepper, tomato, cumin and other spices and each household has their own unique recipe which they make on a daily or regular basis. Rasam has a distinct sour, peppery and chilly taste that makes it a true repository of flavours. Rasam is either eaten along with rice or savoured after a meal. The British also adapted this rasam and what is Mulligatawny Soup is nothing more than rasam. In Tamil, this word translates to “Pepper Water”

Rasam prevents constipation, is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, facilitates digestion, is rich in antioxidents, helps in weight loss, is an excellent food for patients recovering from illness and the best food when introding babies to solids.

Pineapple Rasam

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Toor Dal
  • 6 rings of pineapple
  • 1 tsp rasam powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp peppercorn
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Pressure cook the toor dal with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and enough water till it is soft and mushy. Keep aside.
  • Chop 2 of the pineapple rings into small pieces and keep aside.
  • Chop one tomato into small pieces and keep aside.
  • Powder the cumin seeds, peppercorns and 2 dried chillies into a coarse powder and keep aside.
  • Blend together the balance pineapple slices into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Blend the remaining tomato into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • In a largish pan, mix together the tomato puree, 1 cup water, the remaining turmeric powder and half the quantity of the blended peppercorn, cumin and dried chilli powder and let it start boiling.
  • When it comes to a boil, add the pineapple paste and rasam powder and let it continue to boil. Allow the pineapple paste and tomato puree to cook well.
  • In a separate pan, add the ghee and when the ghee warms up, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the red chillies, after breaking them into halves, the asafoetida, rest of the ground pepper-cumin-chilli powder and saute it for 20 seconds
  • Add the chopped pineapple and tomato pieces and saute it for 2 minutes in a medium flame
  • Add the ingredients in the pan to the rasam which has been boiling all along.
  • At this point, add the mushed dal and mix well.
  • Then add 1.5 – 2 cups of water and keep the flame in a medium level until the rasam starts to froth. Finally, garnish with coriander leaves and remove from flame.
  • The delicious and spicy pineapple rasam is ready to serve. Serve with rice and an Indian dry vegetable stir fry.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have access to rasam powder, just omit it, the taste should be just as good.
  • You can also blend together some garlic pods along with the cumin seeds, peppercorns and red chillies for a different taste.
  • This is wonderful as a slightly spicy and tangy soup during the winters.

Recipes: Kashmiri Potato Yakhni

“Gar Firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”

This quote, attributed to the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in the 17th century when he first visited Kashmir can be translated as, “If there is a heaven on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”. The Mughal Emperor was so impressed by the beauty in Kashmir that he would often say, if one has not visited this beautiful paradise, they are missing out on something worthwhile.

When I made my Kashmiri Pulao, I wanted it to be accompanied by a gravy dish from the same region. But as I discovered, since vegetables are scarce in the region, it is difficult to find vegetarian dishes here. So I adapted a mutton dish which I found online and created a potato yakhni. This may not be absolutely 100% authentic, but I was impressed with the taste.

Yakhni essentially means a gravy based dish and is a light curry or broth which has to include two main ingredients other than the meat – yoghurt and saffron. Yakhni came to be known in Kashmir during the Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule. Yoghurt-based meat curries were part of Persian cuisine, and the Emperor introduced this style of cooking to his new state when he annexed it in 1586. Yakhni dishes are also seen in Greek and Turkish cuisines, but what sets the Kashmiri Yakhni apart is the absence of tomatoes. Certain recipes also avoid onions and garlic since the Kashmiri pundits didn’t use those ingredients in their cooking.

So after this short lesson on the Kashmiri cuisine, let’s go on to the dish!

Potato Yakhni

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 green cardamoms
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp warm milk
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder (saunth)
  • 2 tsp fennel powder
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and keep aside.
  • Dissolve the saffron in the warm milk and stir a bit. Keep aside till needed.
  • Heat ghee in a deep bottomed pan. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, whole red chilli and cook on low flame till the spices begin to crackle.
  • Now add the chopped potatoes, turmeric powder, salt and saute for about five minutes on a medium flame.
  • Whisk the yoghurt well and add it to the potatoes. Make sure your flame is on low so that the yoghurt does not curdle.
  • Mix together the fennel and ginger powders and add it to the gravy.
  • Then add the red chilli powder and cook till the mixture thickens slightly.
  • Next, add the dissolved saffron along with the milk and stir for a couple of minutes. Check for seasoning and remove from the gas.
  • Serve hot with Kashmiri Pulao.

Notes:

  • If you want to make this with mutton, wash the mutton well and just replace the potatoes with the mutton.
  • To make fennel powder, simply grind 2 tbsp of fennel seeds into a fine powder. You can also find this readymade in Indian grocery stores. The same store will also have dried ginger powder available.

Recipes: Kashmiri Pulao

Kashmir – the very name is so evocative and exotic. The northern most state in India, this snowy region is quite devoid of vegetatation and so recipes from this region feature more meat and game than vegetables. Everyone, including the Hindu brahmins eat meat and vegetarian recipes are sparse on the ground in this state.

S loves Kashmiri Pulao which is found in the menus of most restaurants and wanted me to make it over the weekend. I checked around and found a recipe I liked, but omitted the fruits that more often than not are found in restaurant menus. This one is a slightly plain recipe, but you can always add fruits if you like.

Kashmiri Pulao

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 20 minutes, drained and kept aside
  • 2-3 small onions, sliced finely vertically. If you are using bigger onions, cut horizontally in half and then finely vertically
  • 1 pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk for 15-20 minutes.
  • 10-12 cashew nuts
  • 10-12 almonds
  • 3 cloves
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp ghee

Method:

  • Dissolve the saffron strands in the warm milk and keep aside.
  • Heat 2-3 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry the sliced onions until the onions are crisp. You can sprinkle a pinch of salt while frying them. Once the onions are crisp and brown, remove them to a plate with kitchen paper and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add in the cashew nuts and almonds and fry until they are brown and crisp. Remove and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add more ghee if needed and fry the cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon and saute for around 30-40 seconds.
  • Then add the chopped green chillies, ginger and fennel powder and saute for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the soaked and drained rice and season with salt and saute for a minute.
  • Then add the dissolved saffron with the milk and saute for a couple of seconds.
  • Transfer this to a rice cooker and add the appropriate amount of water (around 1 cup). If you are cooking on the stovetop, continue cooking covered with the lid on till the rice is almost cooked.
  • When the rice is cooked in the rice cooker, fluff the rice with a fork and add the fried onions and nuts and mix well. Let it be on warm mode for another five minutes before serving it hot with a Kashmiri Yakhni.
  • If cooking on the stovetop, when the rice is almost cooked, fluff the rice and add the onions and nuts and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes more till the rice is completely cooked and then serve hot.
  • If you want to add fruits, you can add chopped apples, pineapple and pomegranates which you can add when you add the onions and nuts.
  • Enjoy the delicious Kashmiri Pulao and think of the frozen beauty of this state while eating it. I served this with a Potato Yakhni which I will put up very soon and link it here once I upload the recipe.

Recipes: Simple Chana Dal

Today was one of those days when I didn’t really feel like cooking anything! But I had to make something for S and the children, so thought of making a very simple dal to go with a vegetable stir fry. Here’s a very simple dal which you can make in minutes, but which is so hearty and tasty.

Simple Chana Dal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chana dal (Split chickpeas), soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated or finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Boil the soaked chana dal in a pan or the pressure cooker with the turmeric powder and asafoetida until it is cooked and slightly mushy. At this point, beat it well till it becomes a homogenous mass. Keep aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat the ghee and when it becomes warm, add the cumin seeds and let them pop. Break the chillies into smaller pieces and add it to the oil. Then add the ginger and garlic and stir for a few minutes till the aroma is released.
  • Next, add the onions and saute till the onions become translucent.
  • At this point, add the tomatoes and a bit of salt to cook the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes become mushy and completely cooked.
  • Then pour cooked dal into the tomato-onion mixture and bring it to a rolling boil. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  • Crush the kasuri methi between the palms of your hands and sprinkle this over the dal. Boil for another 5 minutes and switch off the flame.
  • Drizzle the lemon juice over the dal and serve hot with rice and a dry vegetable or even with Indian flatbreads.