Archive for December, 2009

Rambling, Radishes, and Farewell To 2009 ~ A Feast! It Was Only Missing…


green chilies, luxuriating in summer sun

I have an old friend I’ll call S.

She lives in NH and I live in MA and we try to get together every so often.
Whenever we meet, I pass a small Indian market en route; every time,
I mention to her “one day we should go there —
you would love the array of spices etc”.

To which she replies: “yes, and then you can come to my house
and show me how to use them”!

We’ve been talking about this for months, but you know how that goes —
reality gets in the way. Yesterday we finally managed to pull it off.
A dinner at S’s house is never for two; between her kids and friends,
it ended up a small feast — just in time for the New Year.
This was a new and welcome challenge for me, but I was nervous!

I used a couple of recipes I’d bookmarked in the past, and a couple I got from newfound bloggers who are also participating in Nupur’s delightful marathon.
I did tone down the heat — my own tolerance has been slowly but steadily acquired, and I didn’t know most of the attendees well enough to gauge how heat would be received!

In restrospect, I would add more chilies. Otherwise very few changes were made; where they were, they are so noted.

Also, the photos aren’t the greatest I’ve ever taken 😦

Please do visit these talented ladies for the original recipes and better pics,
and please add all the chilies! πŸ˜‰

On the menu:

Mathangi’s decadent Dal Makhani ~ the only change here was fewer kidney beans.
If you’re like me and always skimp on the butter in the name of health, I say, try it this way just once. Sometimes it’s healthier to be sinful πŸ˜‰

dear Sudha’s Veg Biryani ~ I did add a fruit-and-nut garnish which was not exactly ‘sprinkled’, more like tossed on! And it’s obvious there is no turmeric in my version. I have never tried to cook five Indian dishes simultaneously — for a crowd to boot. I suspect turmeric isn’t the only thing I missed last night πŸ˜‰
Otherwise, this one is completely Sudha’s, and completely delicious!

Palak Paneer from Sandeepa, the best I’ve ever tasted.
This was nothing short of perfect, even though it had no milk — yup, I forgot it.
We did not suffer! πŸ™‚

Ashwini’s Punjabi Chole, to which I added more tomato than intended ~ hence the reddish tone. I loved the new flavor from the tea bag, Ashwini! πŸ™‚

Here’s the whole kit and kaboodle:

clockwise from bottom left: palak paneer, chole, veg biryani, naan (in covered dish), radish-snap peas saute, potato crisps, chick pea chaat, boondi raita and dal makhani

We also had an assortment of chutneys that S’s friend brought, bottled — I would call them sauces more than chutneys and I think she brought seven kinds! And some hot mango pickle from a jar (could not get to dear ISG’s for this!).

I have seen so many spreads from other blogs over the years — it’s always been a secret desire of mine — to post my own. Thank you all, for sharing your encouragement, inspiration, kindness, and friendship.

Oh, and of course — your wonderful recipes, too! πŸ™‚

So last but not least, my own little recipe:

Radish and Snap Pea Saute
don’t forget the mustard seed ~ yup, I did! πŸ˜‰

1 small onion, diced

2 bunches fresh red radishes, scrubbed, trimmed, and quartered
(if the greens are really fresh, you can save them for Anita’s haak
[though I like mine best with kohlrabi greens — not to mention the fab
sambhar that makes… oh my, for another day!] or add to this dish at the end)

2 handfuls fresh snap peas, washed

1 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
3-4 slit green chiles
a dozen curry leaves, more if really aromatic

salt to taste

As easy as it sounds:

Heat the oil and do the tadka. Add onion and saute a few minutes, until it begins to brown. Add radishes and saute a few minutes more, until the red starts fading to pink. Toss in the peas and saute a few minutes more, until the peas take on a brighter green color — add a sprinkle of water if necessary to avoid burning.

Cook this to your preference — I like it a bit crunchy — about fifteen minutes all told.

Salt to taste and serve hot.

radish fry with sugar snap peas

I have enjoyed this marathon of blogging, especially after a long sojurn.

Thanks, Nupur πŸ™‚

Of course life unexpectedly gets in the way at all times; the kids’ dad was in a car accident today. While there were no serious injuries, I may be out of the kitchen for a day or two, so… I hope this will be ok to serve as the rest of my marathon recipes. Thank you for all the kind comments — I will be back in short order, visiting all the other marathoners, and cooking up something special in a surprise gift ~ that made my day today! πŸ™‚

I am wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year!


Comments (22)

Kadhi Pakora ~ Light Style

Last night I was over the top with tooth ache.
The strongest medication in the house couldn’t touch it, but it sure touched me! Talk about a wordy post I wrote — ouch.

After that, I can only hang my head in shame, and very humbly offer this up as my next installment for Nupur’s recipe marathon.

Today I followed some good advice from the comments — cloves really did help!
Many thanks for that πŸ™‚

I was still craving comfort food tonight. I had kadhi pakora on my mind all day,
but I hardly felt like cooking, nevermind deep-frying.

Here is what I did, inspired by these pakoras, these baked goodies and this kadhi.

I followed the pakora recipe almost to the letter — skipping potatoes, and using ginger-garlic paste and green chile paste to avoid chewy items.

I baked the pakora batter in mini-muffin pans sprayed with Pam — a la the baked masala vadai recipe. They came out fluffy and light, a complete success.
I would make these again just for a snack.

For the kadhi, I followed Anita’s rule — with the small addition of curry leaves, simply because I love their fragrance and flavor.

The fluffy little “pakoras”, soaked in slightly spicy kadhi, made the perfect post-holiday indulgence — a very healthy dish in spite of itself — and it was easy on the ol’ tooth, too πŸ™‚

“pakoras” before baking

“pakoras” after baking

baked “pakoras” ~ the flip side

kadhi pakora ~ healthy and tasty!

Thanks to Nags, Koki, and Anita for the recipes and inspiration.

Comments (19)

Do You Have a Toothache? Aloo Gobi To The Rescue!


This is a longish post ~ be forewarned! πŸ™‚

Before I begin, please see yesterday’s post for an
addendum to the lotus root curry.

Incidentally, Wiki states that lotus flower is the national flower of India.
I didn’t know that? Read the entry here.

Now, on to today’s marathon recipe!

I have been nursing a marathon, on-again off-again toothache.
Today it’s definitely on-again, and I could hardly eat a bite.
I was hungry for something spicy, but couldn’t fathom the idea of chewing.

I am still trying to cook from the stores at hand; tonight they were just the ticket.

Here is what I came up with. Essentially, it is this recipe from dear ISG’s amazing repertoire — sans wadis, because, well… you need to *chew* those πŸ˜‰

Aloo Gobi Gravy (For a Toothache)
enough for a few meals at least, but I hope you don’t have a toothache that long!

In a big pressure cooker, season:

one healthy tablespoon of ghee
(I was after comfort food tonight!)

curry leaves

In the seasoned ghee, saute:

half a medium onion, diced fine
a few cloves of garlic, diced
a tablespoon of grated ginger

When fragrant, add:

one medium-sized potato, peeled and diced


Now, while all this is happening, take another pan and boil some frozen
cauliflower in a little water. Cook until the water boils off and the cauliflower is soft. Let the cauliflower brown in the hot pan. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn — shaking it back and forth a few times helps. This is the secret to frozen cauliflower, I have discovered. The browning gives a lovely taste.

caramel-colored cauliflower ~ yum!


Meanwhile, back at the pressure cooker… by now the potato is translucent.

1/2 c toor dal, rinsed well
water to cover (I used about 3 c)

Close the lid, bring up to pressure and cook as you would for any dal or sambhar (yes ok, this is practically sambhar. In disguise. I can’t help it. Sambhar is my comfort food! πŸ™‚ )

When the dal is cooked, allow the pressure to fall, and add:

1/2 c water from soaked tamarind, or 2 TB good-quality, bottled tamarind paste
(not “tamcon” in the little plastic jar, please)

1 TB jaggery
1 TB dhania-jeera pwd
1/2 tsp each jeera and methi pwd
(optional — I like them in sambhar)
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

and of course, the crowning jewel:

A heaping helping of ISG’s magic sambhar podi

Stir it all up well, then add:

the browned cauliflower
one cup of cooked rice

If the mixture is very thick, add a bit of water. Let it come to a boil, and use an immersion blender to puree.

All that fuss for a simple-looking dish… and it reminded me a bit of
this coorg-style gravy, only spicier.

This was just what the doctor (or dentist) ordered. Nutritious and filling with complete protein; smooth and comforting from the blender; rich with pure ghee and redolent with ISG’s magic sambhar powder.

Who could ask for anything more!

aloo gobi gravy ~ with a good bit of melting ghee ~ comfort food in
nana’s pastoral davenport

Bonus Sambhar Section
I have tried and loved all these recipes ~ many thanks to the chefs! πŸ™‚

ISG’s Dal Sambhar

ISG’s Hotel Sambhar

Shilpa’s Ash Gourd Sambar

Dr. Soumya’s Jackfruit Sambar

Indira’s Classic Shallot Sambhar

Mrs. Marthi’s Favorite Hotel-style Sambar

Menu Today’s Sambar/Kulambu section

Comments (11)

This Is Not a Banana Stem Curry

At the top for easy access!

Well, I am confused! We’ve got the elusive banana stem, a substitute (aka lotus root) and now (in some comments) lotus stem, too.

When I saw that, initially I was thinking lotus root (actually a rhizome, I learned) and lotus stem were different parts of the same plant. A little further reading and I am still unsure — wiki states that the ‘rootlets’ are pickled — but here’s another source showing pickled lotus flower stalks!

Is a stalk the same as a stem? That makes sense — but what about a rootlet?? Baby root, yes? no?

To add to this confusion — I know the following, based solely on my own limited experience:

1. lotus root — which I have bought sliced and water-packed in Asian markets — looks like a big
sausage link when whole, when cooked is fairly bland, something between the texture of a potato and a water chestnut. I’ve seen it in Chinese restaurants, usually in a mixed veg dish such as “Buddah’s Delight”, and and also in Japanese cookbooks (where it is called renkon), stuffed and sliced.

See this informative post for more, and an excellent photo.

2. lotus stem — which I bought once in the Thai section of an Asian market, in a jar, pickled — it was thin, white, and as I recall, very vinegary, crunchy and fibrous. Not at all like the rather bland lotus root, and I have never seen it in a restaurant.

See this tasty-looking recipe with a great photo of the little babies — called ‘rootlets’ in the post. And check out that salad — with green jackfruit no less! Sounds interesting.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I can clear this up once and for all πŸ™‚ In the meantime, for this dish, I can vouch for the lotus root as seen in the photo further down in this post πŸ™‚

this is not a banana stem curry

One of the most appealing things about Nupur’s year-end recipe marathon is the chance to go back over old bookmarks. I am having a blast revisiting these, as well as old posts of my own — many of which I haven’t seen in years. Today I came across this old lotus root post of mine, and this tasty-looking recipe from Vini.

Ah, but just like dear Vini these days, some veggies are elusive πŸ™‚

For months, I wished and hoped for a green mango.
It took me nearly a year to find something close.

Fresh drumsticks are becoming more prevalent in the markets here,
but mostly I use frozen.

When I found breadfruit, it was canned (well,ok… jarred).

Banana stem is one of those elusive veggies. Oh, how I long to find one! But I can’t seem to get my hands on it — canned, frozen, or otherwise. When I ask for it in the stores, I get odd, sympathetic smiles in return, as if the storekeepers think I am mad… (oh, sure lady… banana stem? How about a nice banana flower!) Hmph πŸ˜‰


I also wanted to use this marathon as an opportunity to cook, as much as possible, from stores already on hand. Looking at these two old posts, and then looking into my veg. drawer, I had an inspiration — perhaps lotus root could substitute for banana stem!

Reading Vini’s excellent description of banana stem once more only confirmed the hunch — “porous, absorbs flavors, retains crunchiness….” — hmmm!
It might not taste exactly the same, but it just might work.

The experiment was a huge success. Take the cover off simmering lotus root and you get a wee wafting hint of potato, but this won’t fall apart on you as potato can. Lotus root retains much of its crunchy texture; all in all a very interesting little tuber. As for the mustard paste — I couldn’t begin to describe the aroma; and I couldn’t get enough. Tantalizingly pungent yes, but not overly so — tangy, heady, spicy-amazing — this reminded me why I appreciate having the time to cook from scratch.

And who would have thought tamarind would make the difference — I hardly had enough left for a decent photo with rice — I kept going back for ‘one more taste’.

I followed Vini’s recipe to the letter — the only exceptions being:

~ I did not soak the mustard/rice/chiles long enough. Rather than two hours or more — it was more like one hour — I was in a rush πŸ˜‰

~ I used rosematta rice as that was handy.

While the type of rice wasn’t specified, I imagine the short soaking time combined with the heartier rice made for the little pleasantly crunchy bits in the ground paste.

~ Obviously, I replaced the elusive banana stem with lotus root!

Here are a few pics; for the real recipe please visit A Whirl Of Aromas!

Vini dear, wherever you are, I hope you’re reading this so you’ll know just how much I loved this not-a-banana-stem curry πŸ™‚

not banana stem — lotus root — packed in water and available at asian groceries

my very own dried chilies!
some of the cayenne peppers I grew this summer

my dried chile doesn’t look as appealing as the store-bought!

how fantastically flavorful does this look! ground mustard, rice and dried chiles

cooking the chopped lotus root with seasonings, just after adding a bit of water

not banana stem curry, but it sure tasted great ~ thank you, Vini!


I love the ease and convenience of this, my current fav tamarind paste in a jar ~ when I don’t want to soak and squeeze this is what I turn to ~ what about you?

Comments (16)

Merry Moong Dal Dilly Chillas!

Dear Nupur, creator of incredible edibles over at One Hot Stove, is leading a seven-day recipe marathon to take us into the New Year.

I have been away from regular posting for awhile, so this was the perfect incentive to get back in the swing. I’m looking forward to going through my bookmarks, visiting old friends, and meeting some of the many new bloggers on the block.

Thanks, Nupur!

I have had Ashwini’s Moong Dal Chillas bookmarked for ages (and not only did I love the look of the pretty chillas — I also loved the funny little tale of her husband describing them — check it out and see πŸ™‚ ).

Somehow, with soaking and grinding, I never got around to making them.
Now I have a few days off from work, so treats such as these are definitely in order.
Last night I soaked the dal; this morning got out the Mixie from Christmas Past and went to town with this spicy breakfast treat.

Ashwini’s recipe calls for green peas and cilantro, but I had neither.
Then I remembered how good moong dal tastes with dill — and o, joy!
I did have a bunch of fresh dill — a perfect complement to the sunny yellow chillas.

I made some thick and some thin, and each had something to recommend it. The thin chillas reminded me of tiny johnny-cakes, and were best with their crispy edges dipped in spicy ketchup; while the thicker ones had a meltingly soft center that really let the flavors of chilies and dill come through.

So without further ado, I give you Moong Dal Dill Chillas. The proportions are mine, but the recipe is straight from Food For Thought. Thanks, Ashwini!!

Ashwini’s Moong Dal Chillas with Dill
recipe from here

1/2 c split moong dal, soaked overnight in 1 1/2 c water
1/2 inch fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
3 big green chiles, seeded
pinch of hing
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

1/3 – 1/2 c chopped onion
1/3 c chopped dill

Drain the dal, reserving the water. Grind everything together except the onions and dill, to make a smooth batter. Use some of the soaking water if necessary.
I only needed a couple of TB.

Mix in the chopped onions and dill.

Heat some oil or ghee in a frying pan and drop small spoonfuls of the batter, spreading as thin as you desire. Fry until browned, then flip and fry the other side.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with spicy ketchup πŸ™‚

yummy dilly moong dal chillas ~ Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good bite! πŸ˜‰

Comments (9)

Have Yourself…

a Daisy little Christmas…

here’s wishing for peace on earth.

Comments (3)

Snowy Day and Easy, Tasty Mushrooms

The first measurable snow of the season made its way north overnight.
While not a storm of historic proportions as it was in parts further south, it still managed to dump about a foot of fluffy white stuff in my yard and on my driveway.

two hours worth of shoveling… thank goodness it was lightweight snow!

The snowblower wouldn’t start, so I spent a fun afternoon out in the cold and wind, shoveling and watching the birds feasting. There were plenty of juncos, but they scattered before I was finished and could play with the camera.

bird tracks in the fresh snow

hungry little downy woodpecker eyeing the suet

After all that shoveling, I was tired and hungry.

pinks was tuckered out too ~ watching all those birds is hard work!

I was craving something rich and creamy. Lacking much energy to cook,
I pawed through the freezer, dissatisfied. Then I peeked into my depleted
veggie drawer and my heart sank.

Two packages of sad-looking sliced mushrooms, and half an onion!

Needs must when the devil drives, goes the old saying… I had to make do.
The mushrooms were too far gone to eat fresh, but they might be ok cooked…

Oh! and my tongue tingled at the thought — I had plenty of goda masala
(well, Badshah Rajwadi garam masala, with stoneflower… close!) —
and I lovelovelove mushrooms with that masala!

Out came the frying pan and I tossed this together.

Easy, Tasty Mushrooms
I literally made this up as I went along — all ingredients can be adjusted to taste — but please use butter (or ghee). It’s only 1 tsp and this easily serves two. Mushrooms in oil just don’t taste the same πŸ™‚

Over med-high heat, in 1 tsp butter, saute until browned:

2 pkgs sliced mushrooms (12 oz each)
1/2 small red onion, sliced

Reduce heat and add:

1/4 c yogurt mixed with 1 tsp each ginger and garlic paste, 1 TB tomato paste,
1 TB dailya powder, and 1 TB goda masala

Mix well, adding water as needed (the mushrooms will give off some liquid) and cook over low heat about 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

Sprinkle with bhelpuri mix for a crunchy garnish.

(I did that after reading Mandira’s post!)

Next time I will add potatoes — which also taste great with that Rajwadi masala.

tasty mushrooms, ready in a flash

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

stellar Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick rendition…

Comments (4)

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