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Payatham Paruppu Masial ~ for CCC#56 July Week 4

Payatham Paruppu Masial

Payatham Paruppu Masial ~ Saturday evening snack

Hello friends! This is part of July Week 4 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

After last week’s struggle to choose one recipe from too many cookbooks, I started looking early this week. The result? I recalled all the books I’ve rediscovered over the past month — and I had no trouble choosing something! I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here. For me this has been a great exercise in both spontaneity and discipline (the former I have to a great degree — the latter I sorely lack!). Mostly I appreciated the fun of cozying up with a good cookbook evenings! Thank you, Srivalli, for the chance to participate and I hope you keep the CCC Challenge going 🙂

Dakshin

Dakshin ~ by Chandra Padmanabhan

I’ve had this book for years — mostly I enjoyed the photos and marveled at the sambhar recipes — some of which call for a *teaspoon*?!?! of toor dal. Someday I’ll try one one of those but I couldn’t bring myself to boil a teaspoon or two of dal in the hot summer kitchen. Instead I chose a quick recipe for a lazy Saturday night. I love the fragrance of fresh moong dal and this simple yet delicious recipe showcases it well. I made a few changes — added fresh brinjal from the garden and switched up the tadka process — but I was very happy with the end result. I now have work lunch for the week!

fresh garden veggies

fresh from the garden ~ brinjal, jalafuego peppers, and baby cilantro
(the summer squash went elsewhere!)

Payatham Paruppu Masial (Mashed Green Gram Dal)
From DakshinVegetarian Cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan

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For the dal:

1 c green gram dal (split moong)
3 c water
Juice from lemon-sized tamarind
6 green chiles, slit (I used 1 giant jalafuego)
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh brinjal, chopped small (my addition)

To temper:

2 tsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seed
1 red chile
1/2 tsp hing (I used garlic instead, and plenty of it)
few curry leaves (I am out of fresh, so used some curry leaves powder above)

Wash and drain the dal. In a heavy pan, add dal and water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover halfway, and simmer gently 1 1/2 hrs, stirring from time to time (I added chopped brinjal in the last 30 minutes). When cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not drain.

adding the brinjal

adding the brinjal to creamy moong dal

Heat the ghee and add the tempering. When mustard splutters, add green chiles, tamarind juice, turmeric, curry leaves, and salt. Simmer until raw smell of tamarind disappears*. Now add undrained, cooked dal. Simmer until blended.

tadka

doing the tadka in my new tiny blue tadka pan!

Garnish with cilantro and serve, hot or warm, with rice or roti.

*I put the slit green jalafuego chile, tamarind water and salt into the dal the last 30 minutes, along with curry leaves powder. In my tadka I had mustard seed, red chiles, and chopped garlic only.

Payatham Paruppu Masial

It’s finished! (and a bit messy)

So there you have it, quick and easy mashed moong dal from Dakshin. Makes me want to cook the whole book!

brinjal and korean squash

Tomatoes and brinjal, with korean squash climbing the trellis!

juvenile downy woodpecker

cute little juvenile downy woodpecker ~ they have a red cap when young 🙂

Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

 

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Cooking Out Of the Box, Literally ~ CCC#56 July Week 3

 

biryani from a mix

lamb biryani ~ out of the box

Hello friends! This is part of July Week 3 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

I hope you won’t think I am completely crazy when I tell you that I couldn’t settle on a recipe from a cookbook this weekend! But I promise I didn’t resort to an online search 🙂

It’s garden time in the north woods, and around here that means eating from the fridge and freezer to make room for all the good things to come. I found a pound of frozen lamb and made up my mind to use it in a biryani. After scouring my cookbooks (and I did search some good ones, including The Bombay Palace Cookbook by Stendahl and A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey), I found myself too lazy to start toasting and grinding. I had my lamb, but needed inspiration. I found it in a little pink box, which has lived in a cupboard affectionately named “little India” for over five years now — ever since I moved to the north woods of Michigan.

the front yard

leaning apple tree and euonymus bushes in the front yard

Over the years I have learned the difference between freshly made spice mixes and the packaged variety. I am not ashamed, however, to say I use packaged masalas — especially when I’m cooking something in a hurry for work lunch, etc… or when I am plain lazy. Searching in little India, I came across a little pink box of MDH Bombay Biryani Masala. Magic!

bombay biryani masala from MDH

the box from which I cooked!

Now I do use packaged mixes from time to time, but I do not often follow the recipes on the boxes. Why not use the recipe on the back of this? It was perfect. All the whole masalas were in the pouch along with the ground spices. I dug out a pair of reading glasses (yep, getting older!) and got to work. I switched up a few things here and there but basically followed the box recipe, which I give below, along with the changes I made. It came out great, I must admit!

Bombay Biryani a la MDH

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Wash and soak 1 lb basmati rice in 2x [its volume of] water for 20 minutes. (I had only 9 oz and used that).

Marinate 1 lb meat or chicken on the bone (I had boneless lamb), cut in cubes, in a mixture of ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, yogurt, and lemon juice (no measurements are given for this! I used about a cup of yogurt, 1 TB ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 TB lemon juice and very little salt –  seeing that’s the first ingredient of the packaged masala!).

Chop 6 oz (I used 8 oz) onions and 8 oz (I used 12 oz) potatoes into half inch dice. Fry in 4 oz vegetable oil (this was way too much for me so I used 1 oz ghee and 1 oz grapeseed oil, and that was a luxury!) until onions are brown and potatoes are cooked. Add 7 oz (I used 9 oz) chopped tomatoes and one pack of MDH Bombay Biryani Masala; mix well until tomatoes are soft. Add the meat and 3 c water; cover and simmer until meat is tender and liquid has mostly cooked down. Salt to taste.

Boil the soaked rice until half the water remains. In a large [dutch oven], layer the rice with the meat mixture. Add remaining water and steam until rice is fully cooked. Serve with yogurt or raita.

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The MDH Bombay Biryani Masala contains: salt, coriander, dried plum, red chili, fennel, mango, cassia, musk melon, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cardamom amomum seeds, garlic, black pepper, green cardomom, nutmeg, and mace.

I added: 1 small eggplant, cut into cubes, and 1 c frozen carrots

This was SUPER spicy and excellent actually, with the biggest black cardamoms I’ve ever seen included in the mix.

MDH bombay biryani masala

the contents of the spice pouch from MDH Bombay Biryani Masala

I am sure biryani is not a new process but my cooking photos are below — I added cashews and golden sultanas poached in ghee at the end — it was Saturday night after all!

veggies for biryani

tomatoes and masala added to the browned onions, potatoes, carrots and eggplant

lamb has been marinating in yogurt and gg paste

lamb is added, after marinating in yogurt, ginger and garlic

mix well!

mixed well and ready to cook

biryani base cooked

the biryani base is now cooked down and super-spicy!

the rice is added

layered with rice and ready to finish

garnished with golden sultanas and cashews

garnished with golden sultanas and cashews fried in ghee

biryani is done!

it’s done! gently turning it over

So there you have it — my “out of the box” lamb biryani. I made raita with — what else — some MDH raita masala (and one of the first little cukes from the garden).  I took a few pics but it was missing something — finally I figured it out. The pickle!

lamb biryani

lamb biryani with cucumber raita and mango pickle

Incidentally — the history of MDH spices (my favorite packaged mixes with the exception of sambhar podi, for which I turn to Sakthi) is very interesting and also inspiring. You can read about Mahashaya Dhampal, founder of the modern-day company, here; it is worth a look 🙂

And now, it’s time to start sifting through the cookbooks for next weekend. Happy Sunday!

bush pickles

bush pickles — cucumber for raita came from these!

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Tamba di Bhaji with Rainbow Chard ~ for Cooking with Cookbook Challenge

cookbook shelf

part of  our collection of cookbooks

Hello friends!

This is part of July Week 2 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

Actually, this is my first post for S’s Cooking from Cookbook Challenge #56. I’m sorry I didn’t get in last weekend but I’ll try to do two posts on another weekend to make up for it. I hope that’s ok 🙂

rainbow chard

rainbow chard

This was the perfect challenge for me, because I collect cookbooks. When I moved from Massachusetts to the north woods of Michigan, one of the first things I wanted unpacked was my collection — at least some of it — and Dear G obliged by building a bookshelf in the kitchen right under the new spice cabinet! Now it’s overflowing with his cookbooks and mine — maybe time for a new shelf this fall? 😉

I was so glad to get back to the bookshelf and away from the omnipresent online search for recipes. I spent several happy evenings this week dusting off some old friends from the collection, until I finally settled on a recipe from this tome:

India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pantrainbow pages

photo page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant – I just love the rainbow-colored pages of this one!

This giant book even comes in a “rice” bag!

book bag

cookbook bag!

ingredients for tamba di bhaji

ingredients for tamba di bhaji ~ simple and delicious

It’s garden time again, and the end of June/early July has been H-O-T hot! Thank goodness for that, because everything got a late start due to a lingering winter. We were nearly a month behind starting. However, as mom reminds me, my papa used to say the best garden he ever had was planted on the 4th of July! We were a bit ahead of that.

I have no complaints as there’s plenty of goodness in the gardens already. The early harvest includes mountains of swiss chard in every color. I thought their deep green leaves and rainbow stems would be a good substitute for red amaranthus leaves called for in the recipe I chose for the challenge. Dear G moved the peppers down to the back garden to change things up this year, and they are growing like mad. What a delight it is to go traipsing barefooted through the back yard, into the pepper plantation and pick out a fresh green chile for supper.

peppers and okra

part of the pepper plantation and okra in the fore

tender stems of rainbow chard

tender stems of rainbow chard

Tamba di Bhaji (with Rainbow Swiss Chard) adapted from:
INDIA Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant

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1 tsp grapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 green chiles (I slit mine)
1 large bunch swiss chard – washed well, tender stems chopped and leaves shredded
1-2 TB grated coconut (mine is frozen)
fresh curry leaves or curry leaves powder
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Cook the chopped tender stems in a small amount of salted water, about 10 minutes. Hold aside.

In your stir-fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook until nearly translucent, then add garlic and green chile — also curry leaves if using fresh. Cook a further 10 minutes and add the shredded chard leaves.

Stir well. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes, or until chard is wilted well. Sprinkle some water to be sure nothing burns. Stir in the tender stems, add curry leaves powder if using, coconut, and salt to taste. Mix well, reduce heat to low, and cook a further 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with rice for a quick supper. Also – don’t forget the black pepper at the end as it really makes the dish.

We had ours with Thai sticky rice – G’s new favorite.

supper!

tamba di bhaji with rainbow chard

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Thanks Srivalli for bringing back the Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group just in time for summertime veggies! I am already inspired for next week 🙂

early girl tomatoes

early girl tomatoes bleaching out

 

sweet peas

sweet peas in summer? only in the north woods 😉

part of the back garden - tomatoes and eggplant

part of the back garden ~ brinjal and tomatoes with marigolds galore

korean squash climbing the trellis

korean squash is already climbing the trellis

summer squash and okra

potatoes in boxes to the rear; back end of the pepper plantation; summer squash and baby lebanese zucchini plants; okra and garlic chives to the left

gongura seedlings

gongura seedlings

monarch on milkweed

all of dear g’s hard work planting and maintaining milkweed finally pays off with a beautiful monarch butterfly

Happy Sunday!

 

 

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Red Letter Birding Days

It’s been a slow start to spring and the garden isn’t even begun, but the yard is full of excitement nonetheless with a red-headed woodpecker visiting!

red headed woodpecker

red-headed woodpecker at the bottom of a little spruce tree in the front yard…

red headed woodpecker

and peeking around the front – here’s looking at you, kid!

snagging some corn

off to the trees with some corn to hide away…

red headed woodpecker

probably stashing that corn…

red headed woodpecker

hope he hangs around long enough for mom to see later this month!

Happy bird-watching!!

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And They’re Off!

Seedlings are popping up left and right…

seedlings

peas towering over the tomatoes and okra

onion seedlings

DG’s onion babies

tiny ground cherries

teeeny tiny Aunt Molly’s ground cherry seedlings

And while the plants are snug under the grow-lights, the birds are frolicking in the late spring snow.

ruffed grouse

secretive ruffed grouse – a treat to catch it around the feeders

redpolls, siskins and goldies

a couple of redpolls came to hang out with the siskins and goldies

nuthatch and chickadee

white-breasted nuthatch and a chickadee

male pileated woodpecker

male pileated woodpecker is stunning in the sun

sharp shinned hawk

and a wily sharp shinned hawk taking it all in ~ but he didn’t get lunch!

Waiting for the snow to melt to get those peas in the ground — happy Friday!

 

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Popsicle Sticks Growing

starting seeds in March

popsicle sticks growing!

Last year we planted seeds indoors at the end of March, and I was a bit disappointed with the size of some seedlings. This year we decided to plant at the beginning of March instead.

Dear G was in charge of the onion seeds: Utah Sweet Yellow and Walla Walla.

I started tomatoes: Orange Slice, Egg Yolk, Prudens Purple, Farmstead, Sweet Ozark Orange, Boronia, Isis Candy, Chocolate Cherry, Japanese Black Trifele, Cherokee Purple Heart, Brandywine Pink, and Black Krim;

eggplants: Orient Express, Orient Charm, and Thai Long Green;

okra: Chanchal and Clemson Spineless;

Alaska shelling peas, Hot Bhaji peppers, and Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry.

Here they are all cozy by the hearth 🙂

starting seeds indoors

waiting to germinate so they can go under the grow lights!

Happy indoor planting!

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Northern Goshawk

Check out what dear G caught on camera — high up in a tree after trying to catch its supper around the feeders! A Northern Goshawk — a large accipiter and a first for our yard. Wish I had been home but glad he managed to catch a photo — even if it is a bit far up.

goshawk in the yard!

majestic northern goshawk, high in a tree above the feeders

In other exciting news, it’s time to start sorting garden seeds. Indoor planting begins this weekend!

garden seeds galore!

treasure chest 🙂

Happy Thursday!

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