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!)
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:
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:
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 🙂
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!