Potato Sabji with South Indian flavors

Quick and Easy with flavors you don’t want to miss!

Urad daal and curry leaves are very prominent in South Indian preparation. The two ingredients add distinct aromas making any dish instantly tempting.

South Indian Potato Sabji

Cooking time - 15 min Prep time - 15 mins
Ingredients -
3 large potatoes, washed; peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I do it without onion)
1 tsp urad daal
1 tsp channa daal (optional)
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
for tadka -
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
6-8 curry leaves, roughly chopped
5 dried red chillies, roughly chopped
3-4 tb poon oil
2 tsp salt or to taste
shredded coconut and chopped cilantro for garnish

A frying pan works better than a deep pan or kadhai due to larger surface area.

Prepare tadka in a pan over medium flame. Add urad daal and chana daal to tadka. Let the daal turn golden brown. Next goes red chilies and finely chopped onion, ginger and turmeric powder. Sauteé the onion for another 7-8 minutes. It’s time for curry leaves, let them fry for a minute and then add chopped potatoes. Sprinkle some salt. Mix well and let it cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. Remove the cover and let them cook further.

Garnish with fresh coconut and chopped coriander leaves.

Tip –

The subji tastes better if potatoes become slightly crispy. Once potatoes become tender, remove the cover and let them cook further for a two – three minutes. This way potatoes don’t become soggy.

पालकाची ताकातली भाजी (Palakachi patal bhaji)

Spinach goodness with Garlic tadka in one pot dish 

This is yet another Maharashtrian classic recipe. Spinach cooked with buttermilk and besan (chick pea flour), ginger and green chilis, chana daal and peanuts for added crunch; topped with garlic tadka; you cannot go wrong with this one. I  enjoy it with rice, bhakri or even like soup. It’s quick and delicious.

palkachi patal bhaji

Ingredients

a bunch of spinach - washed and chopped
1-2 tea spoon grated ginger
1/2 cup yogurt or buttermilk
4-5 tea spoons besan (chana daal flour)
3-4 tea spoon chana dal
3-4 tb spoon peanuts (ground nuts)
4-5 green chillies - chopped.
3-4 aamsul / or 1/2 tea spoon tamarind paste
1 tea spoon sugar
For tadka -
mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, turmeric curry leaves, garlic, green chillies 
and oil/ghee
salt to taste

Soak chana daal and peanuts in water for an hour so that they cook faster. It’s better to use non-roasted peanuts as they absorb water nicely and taste better when cooked.
Get water boiling, add chopped spinach leaves, peanuts and chana daal and grated ginger and aamsul. Use just enough water to immerse spinach. Let the spinach and daal cook for 5-7 minutes. In another bowl, whisk yogurt and besan and add it to the cooked spinach, let it simmer for another 3-4 minutes. I like to add one/two chillies while the spinach is cooking and rest I use in tadka.

Nest step is to prepare tadka and add it to the cooked spinach. I prefer Ghee to oil for this dish. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and if you like, add a few coriander seeds. Once they start splattering, add hing and turmeric powder and then garlic and green chillies and curry leaves. Add this seasoned ghee/oil to the spinach mixture. Add salt and little bit sugar. The “patal bhaji” is ready.

A little bit of sugar nicely compliments the tangy touch added by aamsul. The garlic tadka makes this simple dish out-of-this world! i

A Quick Note –
To maintain the nutritional value of spinach, it’s important not to overcook the tender leaves. Add spinach after daal and peanuts are cooked, spinach takes hardly 2-3 minutes of cooking time.

Sending this to ‘Flavors of Maharashtra‘ event hosted by SeduceYourTasteBuds and Simply.Food 

Masala Khakra

A very easy-to-assemble dish, goes well with any potluck menu or as a quick appetizer for your Indian party. Make it byte sized and enjoy at your next cocktail party.

masala khakra

It’s very easy but very tempting –

A good packet of Khakra - my favorite is Deep Khakra
finely chopped tomato
finely chopped onion
finely chopped cilanto
chaat masala
red chili powder
salt
lime juice 

Chop onion, tomato and cilantro and mis together chaat masala, red chili powder and salt and some lime juice. Make sure you spread this masala on the khakra just before serving to avoid soggy khakras. Deep packet comes with a special masala an that works very well with this dish.

My new affection : Oatmeal

When I saw my friend eating oatmeal at Starbucks, I literally laughed at him. It looked like baby food to me. But the price and especially the three toppings – brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts caught my attention. Since then I have become a big fan of oatmeal.

Chinese tradition believes that the most important meal of the day is the first. So why not make it nutritious and delicious? I like to start my day off with this big bowl of warm and hearty old-fashioned oatmeal graced with fresh fruits such as strawberries, banana, red apple and walnuts and honey.

And here is another way to have it as a snack – Healthy and Hearty Homemade Granola Bars

Stay tuned for more info on instant oatmeal vs old-fashioned rolled oats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Salad

Once my friend from China shared her secret behind her zero size figure – ‘Jīng jìjié xìng chī’ That means ‘Eat Seasonally’, a basic mantra of Chinese Medicine. What could be a better season to enjoy salads other than Spring? The vegetables at farmer’s market looked so fresh and luscious, even I was tempted to try my hands on salad. I am not a salad person but I am proud of my creation 😛 So simple and so yummy!

Prep time : less than 10 minutes.

Ingredients :

a bunch of your favourite greens - lettuce, spinach, arugula
2-3 tangerines
1 medium cucumber
1 small avocado
1 medium beet - boiled, peeled and sliced (optional)
1/2 cup boiled red beans
handful of chopped roasted walnuts
handful of dried cranberries

For Dressing -
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-4 springs of fresh cilantro or your fav herb
black pepper
a pinch of salt
olive oil (optional)

Arugula and baby spinach are my favorites in salads. As you can notice, this is a salad with bold flavors; peppery and slightly bitter arugula, tangy and sweet tangerines, sweet beet roots, smooth avocado, creamy goat cheese and crunchy walnuts; all add a different dimension to the big bowl.

The amount of ingredients depend on how much salad you intent to prepare.

Wash the greens and chop roughly if necessary. Slice tangerines into pieces, dice cucumber and avocado into small pieces. Don’t forget to dress avocado with some lemon juice or orange juice immediately. Beet is optional and can be replace with carrots to balance the sweetness. Beans are also optional but they add protein boost to any salad. Mix all ingredients together except for cheese and walnuts.

In a separate bowl, prepare the dressings. I like to use juice from tangerines but fresh orange juice works equally well. Add some salt and black pepper and finely chopped cilantro or mint or any other mildly flavored herb. Add some olive oil, if you like. Toss it with the salad and garnish it with crumbled feta / goat cheese and some walnuts.

Sit back, relax and enjoy your hard!

The Pongal

It was a Saturday morning, 11 am; my friend and I were waiting to be seated in a room packed with people and filled with aromas of Sambar and Madras Coffee. The heavy rains did not have any effect on turnout at this small local restaurant, ‘The Pongal’. As soon as we settled down, my friend ordered two plates of pongal. Wait, what? Isn’t it a name of a festival? Before he could explain, the food arrived. And oh my god it was nothing less than a festive moment. On a big banana leaf, there lies a big serving of ‘pongal’, two very tempting Medhu Vadas along with green chutney, red chutney and a bowl of Sambar. It looked like rice and dal with no tadka but lots of ghee, quite similar to our Moogachi Khichadi. I have never had pongal like ‘The Pongal’ anywhere else. This is an humble attempt to recreate the taste of Venn (Khara) Pongal.

Serves :4 Prep time + Cooking Time : 20 mins

Ingredients :

1 cup Rice
1 cup moong dal
4 cups water
2 tbsp fresh coconut
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp peppercorns
For Seasoning 
2 tbspn ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 green chillies
a pinch of hing powder
4-5 curry leaves
handful of chopped cashew nuts

Soak rice and moong dal in cold water and keep it aside as you prepare other ingredients. Finely chop fresh coconut and ginger. Slice green chilies in halves. Add 4 cups of water in pressure cooker, few peppercorns, ginger and coconut pieces. Drain the excess water from rice and dal and add both to this water. Add turmeric powder and close the lid. Let it whistle for 2-3 times. Once pressure goes down, open the lid and mix salt with it. Transfer it to a serving bowl, so that it retains the water content. If you keep it in pressure cooker for longer, the pongal may become dry.

It’s tadka time! Heat the ghee in a small tadka pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing powder in the same order. Add curry leaves, cashew nuts and green chilies. Wait for 1-2 minutes till cashew become golden brown. Add this sizzling ghee on the pongal. The cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing add so many flavors to this simple dish, you won’t be able to wait longer. Traditionally it’s served with coconut chutney, sambar and Medhu vada.

Pongal 101 –

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu and it coincides with the festival Makar Sankranti celebrated throughout India. Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over” or “spill over” which symbolizes material abundance in household.

Pongal is also a name of a popular rice dish unique to Tamil cuisine. There are two varieties – Venn (white) pongal which is a spicy (khara) version made using rice and moong dal quite similar yet different than moogachi khichadi (Maharashtrian comfort food); typically served at breakfast or brunch.

Sakkarai (pronounced Shakra) Pongal which is sweet, similar to Narali bhaat but it contains jaggery typically made during festivals and offered to God as prasadam.