Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vazhaikai podi

Introducing a couple of items that we would not normally associate with a banana. One - a hot, spicy podi to go with white rice and the other - a saree. Yes, you read that right. A saree. Weavers from a town called Anakaputhur - barely 5 miles from my place in Chennai - are making wide range of sarees from banana fibre!

Coming to the recipe, plantain podi is one of my favorite recipe, which I am sending to the event 'Banana' hosted by Sameena in her blog 'My Culinary Creations'

Ingredients :

4 tbsp -- Channa dal
2 tbsp -- Urad dal
7-8 nos -- Dry red chillies
1/2 plantain
2 tbsp -- grated coconut (optional)
1 tsp -- asafoetida
1 pinch -- Tamarind
1 tsp -- oil
Salt to taste

Method :
--- In a medium heat, take a pan and add a tea spoon of oil and dry roast all the ingredient except plantain, salt and coconut if using. Roast the mixture till the dal colour changes to golden brown.
--- Transfer the mixture in a plate and keep aside to cool .
--- Meanwhile, peel the half plantain and dice them finely and cook them in the same pan. Just sprinkle some water and close the lid , will be cooked in minutes. Allow it to cool.
--- Once the dal mixture is cooled, grind them to a coarse powder, now add the cooked plantain, salt, and grated coconut if using to the powder and pulse the mixer for 2-3 times, just to mix them thoroughly.
--- Do not run the mixer in high speed, the banana will be get smashed, and you will not be able to enjoy the tiny bits of banana taste.
--- Enjoy this podi with steaming hot rice and a spoon of gingelly oil.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vazhai poo / Banana flower tomato curry

For the first time in the last 6 months of my Singapore life, last week I went to Buffalo Road in Little India. A friend of mine in Veena class referred this place when I asked where to get Vazhai poo and Vazhai thandu. As soon as I came out of the Little India metro station, I felt like I am in my home town market. Feeling like a child in a candy shop, went and bought vazhai poo, vazhai thandu, a big bunch of methi leaves and Gonkura leaves. True to our home town style, the owner lady threw in a bunch of curry leaves for free :)

Usually this much of Vazhai Poo would end  up as plate loads of Vadai or paruppu usuli or sambar. But I wanted to try vazhai poo tomato curry. I have seen a lot of people who keep their distance from  vazhai poo paruppu ususli because of the slightly bitter taste that vazhai poo brings. The tomato and onion in this curry offset that bitter taste and will bring those people right back to the dining table.

Ingredients :

1 cup -- Vazhai poo
1 no -- Onion, medium size
1 no -- Tomato, medium size
Chilli powder ***
Salt ***
Few strands -- Curry leaves
1 tbsp -- Tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp -- Garam Masala powder (optional)

*** As per taste.
You can increase or decrease any measurements according to your taste.

For Tempering
1 tbsp -- Oil
1 tsp -- Mustard seeds
1 tsp -- Channa dal
1 tsp -- Urad dal
1/2 tsp -- Jeera
1 no -- Dry red chilli

Method :
--- Clean the vazhai poo, by removing the strand with black head and a wing like wrapper from each florets and chop them finely.
--- Found a useful post in Sharmis Passion blog which explains 'How to clean vazhaipoo'.
--- Chop the onion and tomato finely.
--- In a pan add oil and heat in medium flame. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds.
--- When the seeds splutters, add a tea spoon of channa dal, urad dhal, jeera and dry red chilli to the oil. Fry it for few seconds till the dhal color changes to golden brown.
--- Saute the onion in the tempered oil for 2-3 minutes and add the vazhai poo and the tomato.
--- Now add the chilli powder, salt and little water to the vazhai poo mixture. Close the pan and cook for few minutes.
--- If you are using tomato paste, add now and cook for 2-3 minutes until there is no raw smell of tomato.
--- Spicy, tangy  vazhai poo curry is ready to serve with warm rice.

--- If using garam masala powder add it before turning off the heat.
--- You can add more water to get a gravy like consistency and use this as a side dish for Chappathi.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dhal Soup

Happy New Year to all.

Love, Give and Serve - Swami Shantananda Saraswathi.

Let us start the new year with a nice subtle tasting Moong dhal soup.

Few months ago I had this wonderful soup at Annalakshmi Restaurant, Singapore. I was able to persuade  the master chef who made this soup to share the recipe with me.

Simple and easy soup with easily available ingredients. On top of all its very healthy and full of proteins. Okay, I am not talking about the goodness of lentils again in this post. You can check about the nutritional facts of lentils here.

Ingredients :

1/4 cup -- Moong dhal
1 no -- Tomato medium size
1 no -- Green chilli
1 tbsp -- Butter
1 tsp -- Jeera Powder
1/2 tsp -- Turmeric powder
1 -2 no -- Garlic pod
2 tbsp -- Besan / Chickpea flour
2 tsp -- Corriander leaves finely chopped
Salt and Pepper powder to taste

Method :
--- Pressure cook the Moong dhal, until the dhal becomes mushy and disintegrate its shape.
--- While that is cooking, grind the garlic and the chilli to a fine paste.
---  Heat the butter in a sauce pan in medium heat. Add the ground garlic mixture and saute them for few seconds and add the besan / chickpea flour, turmeric and fry in the butter.
--- Once a nice aroma comes from the flour, add jeera powder, cut tomatoes and mix well.
--- Turn the flame to low and add the cooked moong dhal and mix well in the flour mixture.
--- Add 1 cup water and cook for few minutes. According to taste add salt and pepper. Please bare in mind that we used a chilli in the first.
--- After 5 - 7 minutes garnish with fresh corriander leaves and serve warm.

Sumptuous restaurant style soup is ready to serve. Try not to over power the taste with  garlic or Jeera. It will change the taste of the soup.