Holiday Weekend Cooking

I have always loved cooking new foods… searching out the most authentic ingredients and methods, and along the way, inevitably learning about the countries and cultures from whence they come. In all my culinary exploration, however, never have I found myself adopting a cuisine. Over the holiday break, I missed the healthy way I’ve been cooking and eating for nearly a year now. I missed simple, yet complex dishes like dal with rice and a little spoonful of ghee. I missed making my own yogurt — a food I never loved before. I missed mustard seed, cumin, and curry leaves. I missed heat. I marveled at the thought that I have learned the difference between mellow, warm heat from dried red chiles, and searing, hot heat from fresh green ones. All in all, I missed Indian food. I didn’t realise, until I left it for a time, how much it has become my own.

That said, what better way to get the new year off to a good start than by cooking up a storm! I decided to try a few things I’ve been drooling over.

Last night I made Asha’s pearl onion theeyal and IndoSunGod’s kathrikkai mor kozhambu. For a sweet, I tried my hand at Menu Today’s puran poli. I love knowing that I can have all these good things in their time, and still be eating well.

indosungod’s mor kozhambu
indosungod’s mor kozhambu with brinjal ~
rich and tangy

mt’s puran poli, ready to seal
getting mt’s poli ready to cook ~ I was not prepared for the bright yellow dough, as I had only added a pinch of turmeric

mt’s puran poli, brown and crispy outside
hardly round, but looking pretty crispy outside…

I put the fork there to encourage the kids to try the “sweet bread”

The polis turned out wonderfully, if not as thin as they should be. I only made half the recipe, and now do have some leftover filling in the fridge.

And here is today’s cooking, it all its flavorful glory. A week’s worth of lunches, and a good supper to boot!

spinach dal with kala jeera
spinach dal with smoky kala jeera

Kala jeera with spinach dal? I wasn’t sure, but Bhargavi used it in her spinach pulao … and I was nearly out of cumin seeds, so I gave it a try. I made a regular spinach dal with toor dal, but in place of cumin I used kala jeera for the seasoning. It gave the dish a whole new dimension.

ingredients for carrot-celery sambhar
carrots, tender celery heart, masoor dal, onion and tomato

Last week I went by a little store which is part Indian grocery and part lunch-counter. Along with my bay leaves, I took a cup of delicious sambhar back to work. I wanted to replicate it at home. The only vegetable visible was one, count’em, one, slice of carrot. It was rather thin, but had a rich flavor I had not tasted in sambhar before. Today I made a simple carrot and celery sambhar with masoor dal in place of toor. Not quite my little lunch-counter dish, but it came out rather well!

Some time ago, I bought a package of moong dal vadas. They were low in fat. They looked user-friendly. However, none of my internet nor cookbook searches held any clue as to their proper use. The package simply said “cook before eating”. I soaked them in boiling water, browned them in Pam, and plopped them into the sambhar. I’m sure someone out there knows where they really belong… please send help 🙂

moong dal vadas ~ where do they belong?
moong dal vadas back left: as packaged; back right: soaked in boiling water; front: browned. cute little things, aren’t they…

carrot and celery sambhar with brinjal-spinach fry
the carrot-celery sambhar with masoor dal — to go with it I made a simple stir-fry of two baby brinjals and a sliced garlic clove, with a handful of spinach tossed in at the end, all sprinkled with garam masala

Thanks Asha, ISG, and Menu Today for the great recipes!



  1. shilpa said

    Hi dear,
    Did you roll out the outer and inner stuffing first? The first picture of puran poli looks very different from what we do. My version is here, please have a look

  2. shilpa said

    Btw..hats off to you for trying out so many things….

    Hi Shilpa, and thanks. No I didn’t roll them first (looks like I did, I know!). I pressed out the dough (outer) by hand to a circle, and of course it was so thin I worried about a thick ball of filling. So I pressed that out as well. I can see this one will take lots of practice, but it tasted good! 🙂

  3. indosungod said

    Linda you sure were busy over the long weekend. I am glad you tried the Mor Kuzhambu and liked it. Puran Poli looks delicious. Your sambhar looks creative, sorry can’t help you with you Moong dal Vadas have never tasted or seen them before but I always make sambhar with carrots and green beans so you are not alone.

    Hi ISG — glad to know I’m not the only stranger to those store-bought vadas. The mor kuzhambu is even better the next day, just as you said. I love anything with the little eggplants but that was something special! 🙂

  4. Asha said

    So this is what you been doing on a lazy Sunday?!:D:D

    Obbattu as we call it for Puran Poli looks delicious!! Just as I make it.I just put a ball of filling and gather the cover over it and roll out.
    Your way is easier and practical.I will make my versoin (they are all similar)next month for Shiv Ratri!
    All the dishes look great Linda.Thanks for trying all these.Enjoy!

    Can’t wait to see your version, Asha. I know every time I see the filling is in a ball. I am new to working with all dough, so when I saw how thin and sticky it was I got nervous 😉 Still tasted ok tho! Thanks for your encouragement 🙂

  5. giniann said

    Linda, totally admire your interest and dedication to Indian cooking. I have never tried any of the things you cooked, except for sambhar.
    Can’t help you with moong dal vadas, but I don’t think they are supposed to go into the sambhar.

    Hi Gini, and thanks. I know they don’t go in the sambhar; I felt it yesterday when I put them there and after tasting it, I KNOW they don’t 😉 They are tiny things and I have no idea what to do with them. BTW your photo is great! Nice to put a face with the name 🙂

  6. Nidhi said

    So you had a nice sunday evening try dishes from peoples blog. Now that sounds good…and the dishes look perfect. That spinach dal is looking divine.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.


    Thanks so much, Nidhi! Your tomato soup looks great — will try that one very soon. That’s the fun of all this — trying others’ recipes! 🙂

  7. pelicano said

    hey linda–
    i’ve seen your posts on shilpa’s site and even read over your blog entry on pasties a few months back…i live down in green bay…not far from you am i? i admire your interest in indian cuisine…i myself have been exploring it since i was about 10, and i must say it is a labyrinth!! each of the 26 states could be said to have a unique style, and then that is furthur divided into provinces and cities with their own styles as well(such as hyderabadi food is very different from the rest of andra pradesh)…there is no end to the variety, and only rarely do i find myself making the same dish twice:-) if you’d like to know about vadas….i’m the vada king!(self-imposed crown 🙂 they are best made fresh and they are not that hard to make after you “get the hang of it”…i have lots of recipes collected, so if you like email me and i can go into them more. as you may know, they are usually made of skinned dhals, but there are some special ones made from grain or dhal WITH skin(see shilpa’s posts for “maddur vadas” and “gharyo”…hope you try them homemade as their crispiness is part of their allure… 🙂

    Dear Vada-King,

    Please do send us all the recipes you have collected! I tried your link but I didn’t see a blog 🙂 Incidentally, I’m not in the midwest, only wish I were! Eventually I will retire there! And with my limited knowledge, I agree about the variety and unique attributes of every recipe, from every part of India. The easy interaction of the internet was made just for folks who are always interested in expanding their horizons, don’t you think? 🙂

  8. Dilip said

    gosh what a lovely collection of dishes…hey I am not a great Puran Poli fan but Jyostna loves em…I will pass on your post…she will drool for sure…thanks for sharing lovely dishes….enjoyed reading your post….~smile~

    Thanks for the kind words, Dilip… just as soon as I find some good looking dill (not easy in wintertime here) I am going to make your moong dal with dill. That is so creative and always on my mind to try! 🙂

  9. pelicano said

    hey linda-
    yes, i must agree wholeheartedly that the internet has provided a wonderful arena to share recipes and knowledge of food about cuisines that are rarely in print on this side of the planet, in short it has brought much of the world together, just, as i’m sure you know, like food itself does…:-) you are lucky not to be in the midwest right now…it is sooo cold right now that i would like to be anywhere else, but i guess that’s what makes spring all the more welcome! happy cooking; there are many fine cooks who visit your pages!

    Hi Pelicano, once more I concur — food brings folks together and I am most fortunate to have so many fine folks visiting me 🙂 I did send you a note about your vada recipes; if you are willing to share I am a willing student!

  10. Krithika said

    You have been busy Linda. They all look so good. I think you need practice to make puran poli. That’s what I make it with wheat flour. Easy to roll 🙂

    Thank you Krithika… next time I practice, I am going to try the wheat flour as you suggest (you mean atta?). I have some filling left so can practice the dough 🙂

  11. sandeepa said

    Hey Linda
    Lots of lovely food there. You know the moong dal vadas are they same as “Vadi”. I am not sure if it same thing, looks similar, but in traditional bengali cooking we use “Vadi”, not in Dal but in some typical sabzi

    Hi Sandeepa, thanks for passing by with that tip — much appreciated! I will look up “vadi” and see what I can see 🙂

  12. Menu Today said

    Hi Linda,
    You tried so many dishes. Moong dal vada looks great. Thanks for trying my version of Puran Poli. It turned out very well. All came out very well. I liked the pic of Sambar. Thanks.

    Hi MT — the puran poli sure tasted great, but they didn’t look near nice as yours 🙂 Glad you liked the sambhar, thank you! 🙂

  13. sailaja said

    I really admire your dedication to Indian cuisine and your relentless effort in mastering the art of Indian cooking. Hats off to you, Linda.

    The recipes in this post are not easy and for someone who is totally new to Indian cuisine, you are fantastic. Awesome pictures and you make me proud, Linda.

    Sailaja, reminds me of when you visited my blog during your Jihva for Dals — it makes me feel proud if I made you proud. Thank you once more for your kind encouragement! Now I’ve got to find some green brinjals to cook up your latest … 🙂

  14. Saffron said

    What a feast you have cooked up Linda! What a wonderful start to the New Year…healthy and yummy dishes.!


    Thank you Saffron! Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year full of health and yum 🙂

  15. Vani said

    Wow! You sure were super-busy, you superwoman you! Lovely pictures, as always! Am really impressed with your puranpoli – I’ve never tried it myself coz I think it is too much work and only accomplished cooks can make it. Kudos, Linda!

    Aw, thank you so much, Vani! I tend to be stubborn and try things even though I *know* only accomplished cooks are supposed to make them… I guess we have to begin at the beginning yes? Worst can happen is we feed the birds with a mishap, and begin again 🙂

  16. Mythili said

    Oh my !!!! You are amazing, Linda. Kudos to you … you rock. Totally !!! Great presentation there and like Vani pointed out… yes you are a superwoman..


    Hi Mythili, hugs to you and thanks so much for all your kindness! Have missed seeing you around and hope to see lots more great recipes and pics from you this year… it’s the wonderful folks like you who inspire me to keep on cooking :):)

  17. atulya said

    Dear Linda,

    The moong dal wada is known in another name in my house at UP, ( I am from Kerala and married to an UPite. This is Known as Mangoudi,(Man gow di). This is actually made be soaking moongdal at night and grind it without water in morning, fluff it with hand and add heenk and salt and chilly and make it into drops to cloth and dry it in sun.

    This is made in summer and procured for winter, when sabji price is high rocketed.

    We make mangoudi sabji like this

    First fry this in oil (jsut put little oil and shallow fry it)
    take out and put it in cooker, add little water (and cook for a minimum time, say a whistle and off the cooker, being UPite, we add cut pototoes at this stage)

    And now u can use this for any subji. mainly we do with pyaas tomoato tadka or with coconut milk gravies. it have high nutrient value. we sometimes make pulav too with this by boiling/cooking this rice and then add all veges.

    Liek this Urd Mangoudi and Wheat mangoudi”s are also made.

    I do also own food blog, but nothing much posted to it. ( and write normal shortstoreis etc in


    Hi, Atulya,

    Thank you so much for this fabulous information about mangoudi! It was very interesting to hear how it’s made. I will definitely try using it as you suggest. Will have a visit to your blogs now — best wishes and thanks again!

  18. Shirley said

    Oh my, my, I’ve to try your sambhar. I usually use cauliflowers, and pinch of tumeric with the chana dal, I should really make use of my garam masala spice which been sitting in the panty for sometime hahaa, thanks for sharing, cheers !:)

    Hi Shirley, cauliflower in sambhar sounds good too! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  19. Sushma said

    Wow, you made nice puranpolli’s Linda.. It really amazes me to see how beautifully you cook so many indian dishes

    Thank you Sushma — these were fun to make and tasted great — MT’s recipe! I need a little practice on the technique 😉

  20. InjiPennu said

    You are too much. Look at what you do….aaarghh…. you make us all feel guilty by making too many dishes on a Sunday afternoon and above all that, all those dishes are foriegn. I cannot blv one day I am gonna make three French dishes — that too on a Sunday afternoon… are too much! 🙂

    I want to see what French food you’re making, Inji 😉 Happy to see you back!

  21. Trupti said

    Wow…what a cooking spree! That is such a neat idea to add the wadis to the sambhar…..must have been a mouthful! I do make Wadi curries, usually with tastes good…but I cook it in the pressure cooker with onions and a tomato for a little bit of gravy.
    Puran Poli is a delight to eat, isnt it? Good job Linda…

    hope weather’s warming such luck here…

    Now that I have a pressure cooker again, I’ll be on the lookout for that recipe, Trupti! Snow predicted today 😦 . It is supposed to warm up sometime beginning June, I think… hang in there! 🙂

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