Dry curries / Salads / Sambhar & Rasams

Saturday Lunch Special!

When we were living inBangalore, Friday nights and Saturday mornings were what I most looked forward to. I had a six day week and Saturdays were my off days. My hubby had a five-day week and crazy work hours. He left home not later than 9 in the morning and I can count the number of days he got back before 10 at night. He hit the sack soon after dinner and wouldn’t be up before noon the next day. I used to join him in his lazy long slumber. Once up, we’d have a blast cooking together, and usually dished out a veritable feast on such days. I’m one of those rare girls blessed with a guy who loved to cook!

Saturday/Sunday mornings in Chennai were no different in terms of getting-out-of-bed time. Till two weeks ago, that is. I joined a yoga class a fortnight ago and have to get up by 5.15 (am!). I was scared I’d drop out in a few days, but it has been going fine so far. In fact, I love the amount of time at my disposal thanks to the early mornings and a good glimpse of cool Chennai mornings, which I never knew existed.

Today, I was looking forward to cooking with Ram after a long time. But urgent office work ensured he was away during the first half of the day. Fortunately, it turned out to be a very interesting time in the kitchen, thanks to my new-found interest in food photography, which in turn is a result of this blog. (I must confess here that I work with a compact digital, which is doing a reasonable job for now!)

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What made it all the more fun was the fact that I was preparing two dishes for the first time. My lunch menu card read like this today:

Multicoloured salad

Vazhathandu pachadi (Banana-stem raita)

Beetroot araithu-vitta rasam (Ground beetroot rasam)

Stuffed Bhindi (ladies’ finger) curry

While I’ve made the first two items on the list umpteen times, the other two made their debut with my kitchenware today. I have made rasam with water coloured by beet on days I make the latter curry. But today I worked with a friend’s recipe. Here’s how it is prepared:

Beetroot Rasam


Red chillies – 2

Dry coriander – ½ tsp

Jeera – ½ tsp

Chana dal – 1 tsp

Pepper ½ tsp

Tamarind paste -2 tsp (make it 3 if you like it tangy)

Tomato – 1

Beetroot – 1 small lemon sized piece cooked well

Coconut grated – 2 tsp

Oil – 1 tsp

(The quantities mention here will make rasam for two)

Heat oil in a wok and add chana dal and pepper. When the dal starts to darken, add the jeera, dry coriander and red chillies. Fry till chillies turn bright red

When cool, grind it into a paste along with the tomato, cooked beetroot and coconut and keep aside

Boil tamarind paste with water for 5 minutes or till tamarind stops smelling raw. Add the ground paste and boil for a further 5 minutes. Take off flame.

Heat ghee and splutter mustard seed. Add a pinch of hing and a few curry leaves. Add it to rasam immediately (it should make a crackling sound)

Stuffed bhindi curry is not the best of vegetables to go with this rasam, but I got some lovely tender ladies finger today and I did not want to let go of the opportunity to try it out. My mother makes stuffed parval (also called potol inBengal) and I made this in exactly the same manner.

Stuffed Bhindi Curry


Tender ladies finger – 200 gm

You can use a mix of any masala powder. You’ll require around 2-3 times the amount of masala you’d normally for the same quantity of vegetable. This is the mix of powders I used:

Sambhar/curry powder – 2 tsp

Chole masala – ½ tsp

Jeera powder – 1 tsp

Pepper-jeera powder – ½ tsp

Garam masala – ¼ tsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp



Wash and dry bhindi

Cut of the heads and ends

Make slits along the length for three-fourths the length of each finger

Spoon a little of the powder mix into the slits

Being a little conscious of the amount of oil used in cooking, I microwaved the stuffed fingers for two minutes, turned them around once and microwaved for a couple more minutes

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a kadhai (wok) and splutter 1 tsp of jeera

(I had half an onion left over from what I prepared for breakfast, so I chopped it up finely and added them at this stage. But isn’t essential)

Add bhindi and cook for about 5 minutes. Add more salt now if required

Take off heat and serve

Take some pictures and put them up on FB if you want to brag like me 🙂


Multicoloured Salad

This is my own version of a salad that I read up on pioneerwomancooks.com (It is an

Awesome site and a must-visit if you aren’t an addict already). I don’t know what Ree (What! You don’t know who Ree is! Please visit this site and you’ll know!) calls this salad though.


Whatever salad vegetables you like. The more colours, the merrier

I used cucumber, carrots and capsicum (red, green and yellow). You can add sprouts too

For the dressing:

Vinegar – 1 tsp

Soy sauce – 1 tsp

Honey (yes!) – ½ tsp

Green chilly – 1 slit

Ginger juliennes (meaning cut into thin matchstick-like strips) – 1tsp

Garlic finely chopped – 1 tsp (This is optional. I left it out today)

Oil (olive/sunflower) – a few drops (optional)


Mix all the dressing ingredients and keep aside. Add to salad veggies before serving

Banana Stem Raita

Banana stem chopped into tiny cubes – 1 cup

Roughly chopped coriander and mint leaves

Ginger – ¼ inch piece

Green chilly – ¼ inch piece or 3-4 black peppercorns

Curd – ½ cup


Grind coriander and mint leaves, ginger and green chilly/pepper along with salt.

Microwave chopped banana stem for 2 minutes. Let it cool

Mix ground paste, curd and banana stem

Variation: Just mix microwaved banana stem and curd. Add salt

Heat 1 tsp oil. Splutter ¼ tsp mustard seeds and 1 green chilly broken into half

Add seasoning and salt to the raita. Add some chopped coriander. Serve

You could substitute banana stem with cucumber or carrot too.

These two salad items are such a favourite of ours that we often have one large portion of each of these for dinner.

PS: I know I promised to share another of paati’s recipe today, but I wasn’t in the mood to make a solid south-Indian lunch. I’ll put it out in the next couple of days. But I hope the recipes today made up for the lack of anything great yesterday!

7 thoughts on “Saturday Lunch Special!

  1. Hey Nandini,

    Today mornin(Saturday Morning) I was just thinking what should I do for lunch, while Arvind was away playing cricket, you made my day 🙂 Or else he takes care of the cooking. Keep adding the recipes. I love it 🙂

    Sharanya Arvind

  2. Pingback: Upbeat about Beet « foodiliciousnan

  3. Pingback: Steamed veggies with caramelised garlic « foodiliciousnan

  4. First thing-I claim to know a big size ZERO about cooking. So don’t take this seriously if it doesn’t make sense.

    In the zero (or 1) size potatoes fried on the non-stick, where is the dhania? Can you get a good fry curry without dhania?


  5. Nandini,

    By the by, forgot to say the main thing–which is, your food blog is fantastic! This is my very, very first visit to a blog (I have been shying away from and not responding to all these blogs, linked-ins, yahoo so and so has called you as a friend, etc etc for years). And the dishes-and photographs of them (very useful in times of food scarcity-just looking fills your need)-great, great!!!

    One suggestion if I may–this black background makes it a bit dull and joyless. Can you change it to something lighter, brighter, more in keeping with your bubbling character? Light blue, or your favourite pink?


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