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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Onasadya Series (Part 3)

The final part of the Onasadya series ...

Onam is synonymous with the 'Pookalam' or elaborate flower arrangements in every household . Big floral carpets are made with a variety of flowers in different colors. Most 'pookalams' are artistic ones and there are even competitions to pick out the best among them.

Today I am making a spicy curry with shallots ( this theeyal is among my favorites ), a coconut milk based mild curry and a simple mix veg stir fry !!

Ulli Theeyal

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 pinch fenugreek seeds
  • 2 pinch cumin seeds
  • 2 pinch black pepper seeds
  • 2 pinch coriander seeds
  • 3-4 tsp grated coconut
  • 2 dry red chili
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 3 tsp oil 
  • 14-15 shallots (peeled)
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 2 pinch fenugreek seed
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 garlic flakes (crushed) (I prefer to omit it)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Heat 3 tsp oil in a pan. Add the fenugreek, cumin, pepper, mace, clove, cinnamon and coriander. Roast till they give off a fragrance. Then add coconut and fry it to a brown color. Finally add red chili and turmeric and remove from flame after a few seconds.

Grind into a mixture once the spices have cooled down a bit.

Cooking - Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add red chili and mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves and shallots and fry for a minute.

Add the ground pasta and tamarind pasta along with 3-4 tbsp water.

After 2 mins, add jaggery, garlic, asafoetida and salt.

Cook for a few mins and then remove from the flame.

Serve once cool. 


Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups ash gourd
  • a handful of beans (use any variety)
  • 2-3 green chilis
  • 2-3 chopped shallots (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped ginger (optional)
  • a pinch of mustard seeds (optional)
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil

Preparation - Wash and soak the beans overnight.

Cooking - Cook the beans with a little salt in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add curry leaves, ginger, mustard seeds and green chilis. Follow this with the shallots. Fry till translucent.

Add the ash gourd pieces along with salt and a little water. Cook covered till soft.

Add the cooked beans along with thick coconut milk. Cook for 5 mins more.

Remove from the flame and serve warm.

Note - I added some red chili to the tempering and that caused the milky white olan to get this yellowish tinge. Most people just cook the olan without any tempering (a few green chili and curry leaves are boiled with the ash gourd) and drizzle the coconut oil right at the end.


Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 3 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped beans
  • 5-6 finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1-2 chopped green chili
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 dry red chili
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Mix all the ingredients in a bowl except for oil, salt, red chili, asafoetida and mustard seeds.

Let it sit for 20 mins.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok . Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and red chili. Once seeds start spluttering, add the vegetables . Sprinkle salt.

Mix well and cook covered for 10 mins or till done. Remember to give a quick stir every 3-4 mins.

Remove from wok and serve.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Onasadya Series (Part 2)

Continuing the Onasadya series...

Sadya or banquet always refers to a traditional vegetarian meal served on a plantain leaf. It incorporates all tastes like sweet, sour, bitter, salty, astringent and pungent/spicy. While some districts prefer to use the pink/red Matta rice in the Sadya, others use the white rice.

One of the biggest attractions of Onam, which is actually a 4 day state holiday in Keralal, is the snake boat race or Vallamkali ( it is still in my bucket list and looks like it will remain so for another year atleast ) !! Along with the annual rice harvest, the celebration also commemorates the annual visit of the Asura king Mahabali who was relegated to the underworld by the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu. Slightly diverging from the topic, I would like to add that Mahabali still commands a lot of respect in Kerala and is not the devil incarnate as people from North assume him to be. Those who like books can actually try reading Asura by Anand Neelakantan . It is a beautiful book about the 'asura' way of life and is sure to change your perceptions.

Coming back to the food, it is the very popular Avial (mix veg) along with the sweet and sour dishes of puli inji and pacchadi. Read on -


Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 raw banana
  • 1 carrot
  • 7-8 beans
  • 1-2 drumstick 
  • 1 potato
  • 1/2 cup yellow cucumber
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • a few pieces of raw mango
  • 1 tbsp curd
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • 2 green chilis
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 1/5 mustard seeds
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 tsp oil

Preparation - Cut all the vegetables into long pieces.

Grind the grated coconut with cumin seeds and green chilis.

Cooking - Boil 2 cups water in a wok. First add the carrot, green banana, potato, yellow cucumber and beans. Let it boil till half cooked.

Then add the drumsticks, pumpkin and raw mangoes. Sprinkle the turmeric. Boil till all the veggies are soft.

Add the ground coconut and cook for a few minutes.

Remove from the flame and add the curd. Stir well and return to flame. Cook for 3-4 mins.

Heat the oil in a tempering pan. Add curry leaves , mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Pour the tempering over the vegetables and mix in.

Puli Inji

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
  • 5-6 finely chopped green chillis
  • a lime sized ball of tamarind
  • 4-5 tbsp powdered jaggery
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 tsp oil
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • Salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the tamarind in hot water for 30  minutes. Squeeze and extract the juice.Throw the pulp.
Wash and peel the ginger. Chop finely along with the green chillis.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves.
Add the chopped ginger and green chillis. Fry on medium flame for 2-3 mins till light brown.

Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder, asafoetida powder and salt to taste. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes on medium flame.

Finally add the jaggery and allow to boil till the consistency becomes thick and saucy.
Remove from stove and allow it to cool down. Goes best with curd rice.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last for a month.


Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cup chopped yellow cucumber
  • 3-4 finely chopped shallots
  • 2-3 chopped green chillis
  • 1/2 inch chopped ginger
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut 
  • 2 garlic flakes
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp powdered mustard seeds 
  • 1 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Grind grated coconut with garlic and cumin seeds into a smooth paste. Beat the yogurt lightly and then add coconut paste to it.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add chopped cucumber, shallots, ginger, green chili, torn curry leaves and salt. Add about 1/2 cup water and allow to cook till soft.

Remove from flame. Add the mustard powder and the yogurt-coconut paste. Mix thoroughly.

Return the wok to the flame. Keep stirring for about 5 mins and then remove from the flame once the raw smell goes away.

TO be continued...............

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Onasadya Series (Part 1)

I am no expert when it comes to Kerala cuisine. The food from God's own country is quite delectable but goes up a few notches to turn into something heavenly during the Onam celebrations. I was first introduced to it during my school days when my best friend's family celebrated Onam. And so, when I set out to recreate the magic of the 'Onam Sadya', I took a lot of help from the cookbooks, blogs and of course my lovely next door Aunty. There might have been a few omissions as she hardly speaks Hindi and her English is not very good either.

I would have loved to do the whole thing (24-28 dishes) as it is a visual treat to watch all those colors come alive on a verdant canvas (banana leaf). But since I have a kid who is a handful and there is no helping hand, I decided to make it into a series. Apart from the regular sambar, rasam, avial and thoran, there are lots of special recipes that are cooked especially during Onam. Today's recipes are Erissery (a delectable Pumpkin curry) and Kalan Kerala Curry ( raw banana cooked in yogurt ) .

Read on for the recipes -


Preparation Time - 20-25 min

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups Pumpkin cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut 
  • 2 pinch jeera seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1/3 mustard seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/4 turmeric 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Cooking - Cook the pumpkin with salt and turmeric till the cubes soften. Mash the pieces with a spatula.

Grind the coconut with garlic, green chili, turmeric, pepper powder and jeera. Add to the wok and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Heat 2 tsp in a pan. Add the broken red chili and mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the chopped shallots and curry leaves. Add about 1 tsp grated coconut. Fry till the onion and coconut turns brown.

Add to the pumpkin curry and mix together.

Serve with rice.

Kalan Kerala Curry

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups Raw banana
  • 2 1/2 cups yogurt
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • 2-3 shallots
  • 1-2 dry red chili
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch of fenugreek
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Mix the raw banana slices with salt and turmeric.

Grind the coconut, shallots, green chili and cumin seeds into a smooth paste with 2 tsp water.
Whisk the yogurt and mix in the coconut paste.

Cooking - Cook the banana slices with 2 cups water and the pepper powder. Let it turn soft.

Remove from the flame and stir in the yogurt-coconut paste. Mix thoroughly.

Return it to the stove and cook with constant cooking till it steam starts to rise.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add red chili, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. Once it starts spluttering, add curry leaves. Pour it over the curry and mix in.

To be continued......

Monday, August 24, 2015

Food Woes Galore !!

Many many Apps ago, a young couple decided to ring in their one month anniversary with a movie and a dinner. As neither of them possessed any significant culinary skills, they were at the mercy of a cook, or Amma as they lovingly called her. A sweet old lady she did her best to accommodate their wishes when she was not foisting her idea of good food on them. The problem that was accentuated by the fact that neither understood each other's language. So, at times request for a khichdi produced a biryani or a simple 'baingan ka bharta' became 'baghara baingan'. Their initial bewilderment gave way to nonchalance which then turned in resignation after sometime. In short, they became immune to the surprises sprung on them by Amma. "At least the food is hot, fresh and passably good", they would tell everyone and a times, even themselves.

So, with the day being a special one, they wanted to do away with such surprises. Hence, the sweet old lady was given a day off in advance. The morning dawned all bright and sunny. The guy wanted to do something special for his lady and hence he decided to bring her breakfast in bed. Now the gal was feeling very lucky and had her hopes all soaring. But just then, her reverie was broken by the smell of something burning in the kitchen. She rushed to the scene of the crime just in time to see the guy struggling with a omelette which was stuck to the non-stick pan (??). The bread was still stuck in the toaster and it was definitely past the edible stage. Feeble attempts at a chocolate milkshake had resulted in a messed up counter and yielded a liquid concoction that resembled the muddy run-off after a particularly bad downpour. Still marveling at the special skills that could even make an omellete stick to the 'non-stick' pan, she did not take a moment longer to banish him from the kitchen.

Image courtesy :

Image courtesy :

Cleaning up the mess took up most of the morning and by the time she was done, it was brunch time. After the morning debacle, they no longer had any inclination to put their culinary expertise to test. So, it was pizza to the rescue which thankfully gets delivered it 20 mins when the rain Gods are merciful. The hungry couple devoured most of it and refrigerated the leftovers.

Image courtesy :

Cut to the evening. The movie started on time and tuned out to be eminently enjoyable. Such that they were left craving for more when it ended just after 9 pm. Their appetites had been whetted and all they wished for was a lovely dinner to conclude the evening. But their romantic thoughts quickly dissipated when they encountered the scene outside the multiplex. Exiting the parking lot, they joined the long queue of cars that were moving at a snail's pace. It had rained while they watched the movie and traffic had come to a complete standstill.

By the time they had negotiated their way though the ocean of slow moving traffic from Madhapur to Gachibowli, it was already 10:30 pm. And thanks to the incessant rainfall, none of the decent looking restaurants were open. After ducking in and out of lanes to find a place that was still open, they settled on a modest looking place called 'Raj Bar and Restaurant' (no reference to DDLJ but adding Raj to the name of every other establishment became quite fashionable thanks to the character essayed by SRK). However, it turned out to be a different story inside. The place was over-flowing with booze and strange looking patrons. They quickly located a table near the door (just in case any emergency arose) and gestured the lone waiter to come over. A liquor brochure was duly placed on their hands. When they insisted for the proper menu, a battered looking leaflet was handed over to them. Picking it up gingerly, partly to prevent it from disintegrating further and partly to avoid contact with whatever germs it harbored, the lady glanced over it. "Tandoori Chicken ?"."Khatam ho gaya". "Kadhai Paneer ?". "Khatam to gaya". "Chilli Chicken ?". "Hau. Time lagega". "Kitna time?". "Aadha ghanta lagega Sir". Now having spent a few years in Hyderabad, they were aware of the peculiar habit of the natives to underestimate everything ranging from a period of time to a specific distance. So, most of the time, 'aadha ghanta' stretched into hours while 'baju wali galli' referred to a lane more than half a kilometer away. Hence, keeping the time frame in mind and reconsidering the steadily thinning crowd in the restaurant, the couple decided to beat a hasty retreat.

It was now close to midnight and the downpour had significantly watered down their expectations. Their next stop was a tiny 'dhaba' that had an extremely limited menu which was displayed on a small blackboard. Battered Chickan - 80 Rupees. Tanduri Chickan - 110 Rupees. Tanduri Roti - 25 Rupees. Lassi - 50 Rupees. Dismissing any thoughts of cruelty that the chicken might have undergone and shrugging off the spelling errors, they ordered for a plate of Butter Chicken and tandoori rotis to go with it. With hunger playing tricks on their imagination, they visualized being served succulent pieces of chicken dunked into a aromatic red gravy and soft white rotis to go with it. Unfortunately the dish that appeared in front of them resembled bits of leftover chicken thrown into a serving bowl along with yesterday's gravy. In addition, an oil slick no less than 2 cm deep floated on top of it. The charred tandoori rotis perfectly complimented the disaster. Having no other option, they tried forcing a morsel into their mouth. It turned out to be full of chillis and they had to order lassi to douse the heat. The lassi was too sour and after 2-3 sips, they could no longer take it. Cursing their fate, they paid the bill and left for home.

The evening had left them with a bad taste in their mouth and a rapidly expanding hole in their stomach. The lady proceeded to warm the pizza leftovers and Mi-lord proceeded to make coffee (his only saving grace in the kitchen) and simultaneously raid the pantry/fridge. Finally, the evening that started with plans of an candlelight dinner ended with them having to appease their hunger with a mismatched meal of pizza leftovers, a Spanish omelette, a few cookies and an extra large cup of coffee. If only it had been TinyOwl to their rescue. They could have chosen the restaurant and cuisine even as they watched the movie and the food would have been delivered to their doorstep at their preferred time. But since this incident happened in the dark ages before the Apps appeared on the scene, our couple endured this horror and lived to narrate their story

Take precaution to save yourself from such a disaster and download the app for your Android (click here) and iOS phone (click here) respectively. Issued in interest of all netizen's convenience.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fast is Airtel 4G

Speed thrills but not necessarily kills. Yep, I am not talking about that number flashing on your bike/car speedometer but about super fast internet speed. And real speed is what you get with Airtel 4G !! Not convinced with the claims ? Still skeptical about what difference an extra G could make ?Then take the Airtel 4G challenge ! If your network turns out to be faster, then you will be rewarded with free lifetime mobile bills. And if you lose ? Well , you have nothing to lose as you can always switch to a faster internet network (aka Airtel).

Not only has Airtel become the first telecom operator to free us from the shackles of slow internet speed by introducing 4G, it has also made 4G available at affordable rates, namely, at the price of 3G data packs. That will put to rest any concerns that the 4G plan might just throw the monthly budget off balance. Changing to a new SIM is also quite easy. Just tweet #GetAirtel4G and the free SIM gets delivered at your doorstep. Just a small rider. This works only if you already have an Airtel connection . For others, a few necessary documents also need to be submitted while applying for the 4G SIM card. With the services already rolled out in 296 cities and many more in the pipeline, make sure you get onto the bandwagon before everyone else does. Once in a while, it feels good to get some exclusive bragging rights. Don't you think so ?

But make sure that you do have a phone that is 4G compatible. If not, browse through the new Airtel site for a list of phones that works with 4G.

Just imagine the endless possibilities when one has access to lightening fast internet speed. Smooth movie downloads (without all that time spent in buffering), finding a restaurant in seconds, checking out its reviews in another few (this is equally important if you do not want to end up with a bad taste in your mouth or a hole in your pocket) and beating friends hands down when it comes to finding any answer ( Google Baba ki jai ho ) ! It also means freedom from staying awake at ungodly hours and praying that everyone else is fast asleep so that you can download that latest bollywood/hollywood blockbuster in peace. And bidding goodbye to those frustrating transactions failures that happen due to a slow internet.

They say a habit good only till one is able to kick it. So, get rid of the bad habit of chronically slowly internet connection and experience true freedom. Test the limits of your multi tasking capabilities and explore endless possibilities with the thrilling speed of Airtel 4G. Download multiple files simultaneously and carry on a video chat without any interruptions. Experience a real time chat that actually feels like that is happening in real time.

This post is written for Airtel .

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Masor Tenga (A simple Assamese Fish Curry)

"Your place or mine ??". "Let's go to yours. I have spent most of the morning cleaning up mine. Don't want to mess it up just yet".

Before most of you start smirking at the impure thoughts that have started to form in your heads (thanks to watching repeated episodes of that immensely popular show Savdhan India), let me inform you that it was just a banal discussion about where the kids should play. It has become the topic of regular conversation among my neighbors ever since the Dengue infested mosquitoes have started swarming Bangalore.

It was on a day like this when I had ended up exhausted with a marathon cleaning session and did not want to do much cooking. I remembered the fish sitting in my fridge. Thinking about a simple fish curry to go with white rice, I jogged my grey cells which are dying off at an alarming pace thanks to the Saas Bahu soaps that I am forced to watch these days. Masor Tenga. I did not have elephant apple which is the souring agent of choice but I went ahead with lemon juice instead. And it was just what I wanted for lunch.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 pieces Rohu fish
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3-4 green chilis
  • 2 pinch fenugreek seeds
  • 1 /2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • good quality mustard oil
  • lemon juice as per taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Wash the Rohu fish and pat it dry. Rub 1/4 tsp turmeric and salt to taste over the pieces. Let it marinate for 10 mins.

Chop the tomato into small pieces.

Cooking - Add sufficient oil for shallow frying the fish. When it is hot and just about to start smoking, add the fish. Fry on both sides to a light brown on medium flame. Remove from the pan and keep aside.

Add 2 pinch fenugreek seeds to the oil. When it turns brown, remove the seeds from the pan.

Add the slit green chili and chopped tomato. Cook till the tomato turns mushy.

Add the remaining turmeric and a little salt. Cook for 2 mins.

Add 1 1/2 cup warm water . Bring to boil and add the fried fish. Lower flame and let it simmer uncovered for 10 mins.

Switch off the flame. Add lemon juice as per taste and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serve immediately with white rice.

Note - One can use the sour country tomatoes instead of lemon juice for better flavor !!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Broccoli Carrot and Baby Corn Soup

Today's recipe is a simple vegetable soup loaded with fiber and nutrients. As is typical of Oriyarasoi recipes, it is easy to prepare and tasty to eat !! This clear soup is sparingly flavored with some light soy sauce and chilli sauce. As I have mentioned before, soups are integral to any weight loss diet and act as great fillers in between meals.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup Broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot (sliced into 2-3 mm pieces)
  • 1 cup sweet corn ( chopped into medium sized pieces )
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3-4 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli sauce ( or as desired) 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash the vegetables thoroughly. Drain off the excess water.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a large pan. Throw in the garlic and fry till brown.

Add all the vegetables and stir fry on medium flame for 3-4 mins.

Pour in the vegetable stock and season with salt. Bring to a quick boil and let it simmer for 15-18 mins.

Remove from the flame and pour into the soup bowls.

Season with soy sauce and chilli sauce as per taste. Serve immediately.