Dal is the mainstay of Indian vegetarian cuisine, providing a healthy dose of protein in each serving. Dal refers to dried pulses that have been been stripped of outer hull and split (Source: Wiki). There are a variety of dals like Toor Dal (split yellow pigeon peas), Masoor Dal (red lentils), Moong Dal (mung beans), Chana Dal (split chikpea) and Urad Dal (split black gram). Some dal preparations involve whole (unsplit) lentils and it would be specified as such in recipes.

Tadka Dal is the basic preparation of split dal, where the dal is cooked until soft and tempered with spice & flavor infused oil. The process of infusing oil with spices is called tadka or baghar. The ingredients in the tadka vary by region and personal preferences. Common tempering ingredients include mustard seeds, cumin seeds, panch phoran, asafoetida, garlic, ginger, green and red chilies. The recipe here is for a basic South Indian dal using Toor Dal.

Tadka Dal - Thick
Basic Tadka Dal

Recipe Name: Basic Tadka Dal (Indian split lentils Soup/Split lentils in tempered oil)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes (20 minutes to cook lentils and 10 minutes to prepare the tadka dal)
Serves: 4 people
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy
Recipe/Post by: Vani
2 cups Toor Dal/Split Yellow Pigeon Peas
6-7 cups Water
1 tsp Turmeric (optional)
2-3 Green Chilies/Serrano Peppers, chopped
1 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Cilantro/Coriander Leaves, chopped
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tbsp Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 spring Curry Leaves
1/8 tsp Hing/Asafoetida

Special Utensils:
Pressure Cooker

Tadka Dal Ingredients
Ingredients for Tadka Dal

  1. Wash toor dal in 3-4 changes of water, until the water runs clear.
  2. Cook the dal, water and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Once the steam starts to escape, add the cooker weight and cook until 2-3 whistles, until the dal is well cooked and soft.
  3. Once the pressure from the cooker is released, heat oil in a separate pot. Add mustard seeds. They will start to crackle in about a minute or so. Then add asafoetida, curry leaves and chopped green chilies/serrano peppers. Fry for 20 seconds.
  4. Pour in the cooked dal and salt to taste. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  5. Add lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve with rice or roti/bread.
Special Notes/Tips:
  • If not using a pressure cooker, the dal can be cooked in a large pot with water and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Clear any froth that forms at the top. Cook on low until the dal is soft. Add more water, if needed. Cooking this way increases the cooking time by at least 15 minutes.
  • The consistency of the dal can be varied. For a thinner version, add more water while cooking dal.

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Like Idlis, Sambar is another speciality of Tamil cuisine. It's a stew like dish made with lentils and vegetables. Traditionally sambar is prepared using toor dal (toovar/thuvaram paruppu/pigeon peas). Vegetables are boiled in tamarind extract (water squeezed from soaked tamarind) along with spices and then the cooked dal is added to the tamarind gravy.

This Idli Sambar recipe is from my grandmother and she used mung/moong dal (skinned yellow mung beans/payatham paruppu) instead of toor dal. This is also a no fuss recipe. Simply add all the ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook it for 2 whistles. Hot and tasty sambar is ready without much work in the kitchen.

The best way to enjoy this sambar is to dunk idlis in a bowl of sambar or place idlis on a plate and pour the sambar on top of it (yes, don't bother about etiquette) and just dig in! You got to believe me when I say this. The measurement I have given below will make about 4-5 cups of sambar and you would think it would be sufficient for at least 3 people. But you are wrong, when I make this sambar for the two of us (my husband and myself) I hardly get to taste it. Also the idlis vanish in no time.

Idli Sambar

Recipe: Idli Sambar (Spicy Lentil & Vegetable Gravy for Idlis)
Prep Time: 10 mins (for cutting vegetables)
Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Serves: 2-3 people
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy to Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Madhu

1 tsp Oil (Vegetable/Canola/Sunflower)
¼ tsp Mustard seeds
¼ tsp Fenugreek/methi seeds
1 Green chili, medium size, slit lengthwise
1 Onion, medium size, cut into thin strips
1 Carrot, medium size, cut into discs
1 cup Beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup Green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 Tomato, medium size, chopped into cubes
¼ tsp Tamarind paste
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Sambar powder (home made or store bought)
Salt to taste (¾ to 1 tsp approx)
Asafoetida/Hing a small pinch
1/3 cup Moong Dal
2 cups Water

Special Utensils:
Pressure Cooker

sambar recipe
Ingredients for Idli Sambar

  1. In a pressure cooker add the oil. Once it is hot add the mustard and fenugreek seeds.
  2. As soon as the methi starts to turn brown add the sliced onions and green chili and fry until the onions turn translucent. Add little salt at this stage so that the onions would cook quickly.
  3. Then add all the vegetables one by one.
  4. Next add the tamarind paste, turmeric powder, sambar powder (I use store bought), salt, hing and water. Taste the water to check for salt/spice.
  5. Wash and rinse the moong dal and add it to the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Close the cooker with the lid.
  7. Cover the steam vent with a small cup. This is done to quicken the cooking.
  8. Once you see the steam escaping from the vent (it make about 20-25 minutes) put the cooker's weight and wait for the whistle.
  9. Just leave for 2 whistles and remove the cooker from the stove. Open the cooker once the pressure releases and garnish it with coriander/cilantro leaves.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • If you have a small cooker, this sambar can be prepared in a pressure cooker directly. If you only have big cooker then do the tempering and frying in a deep vessel which would fit inside the cooker and then place that vessel in the cooker and leave it for 2 whistles. Don't forget to add water in the cooker before placing the vessel inside.

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Dosa, Dosai or Dosay is one of the culinary delights from South India that is originated in what is now southern Indian state of Karnataka (Source: Wiki). If soft, spongy and fluffy Idli is called as the queen of South Indian breakfast then undoubtedly crispy and delicious Dosa is the undisputed king of South Indian breakfasts!!! Loosely translated as crispy, savoury pancakes or crapes, the varieties of Dosas can range from popular and very famous Masala Dosa (Rice crepes stuffed with spicy potato curry) to the lesser known Adai (lentil based crepes) and Uttappam (pancakes cooked with vegetable toppings).

Some of the popular varieties of Dosas are,
Sada/Plain Dosa: Regular dosas made using fermented rice and lentil batter.
Rava Dosa: Instead of the regular fermented rice and lentil batter, this dosa is made with semolina (rava) as the main ingredient. This batter doesn’t need fermenting and the dosa is lacier with crisp texture.
Masala Dosa: It is same as Plain/Sada Dosa but has spicy potato curry stuffing. It is the most popular Dosa.
Mysore Masala Dosa: Mysore is a beautiful ‘palace city’ from south Indian state of Karnataka. This type of Dosa is smeared with spicy red chutney (either in a form of paste or powdered form) and stuffed with spicy potato curry.
Paper Dosa: This is an extra-crispy Dosa and is as thin as paper. It can be served as Plain Dosa or along spicy potato curry.
Onion Dosa: This is made using usual fermented batter of rice and lentil and is served with lightly fried red onions.
Ghee Dosa: Here, Ghee or Indian clarified butter will be used in copious amounts in the making of this Dosa.
Set Dosa: Here soft, spongy dosas made using fermented batter of rice and lentils are served in a set of two or three along with spicy Potato curry.
Benne Dosa: Very popular Dosa from a city called Davanagere in Southern Indian state of Karnataka. Benne in Kannada means butter and as the name suggests, big dollops of butter is served along Dosas.

Regular and most common Dosa batter is made using rice and split black lentils that are soaked in water and then ground to smooth paste. This batter is then fermented overnight or for one full day. The batter is then poured into hot, greased Tawa/griddle and spread out into thin circles and cooked with oil or ghee (clarified butter) till golden brown and crisp. Unlike pancakes, Dosas are golden brown and crisp on one side and white and soft on other side. These crispy savoury pancakes tastes great as they are but when served with Sambar (Vegetables cooked in spicy lentil gravy) or Chutney (usually made using coconut, tomato etc which are in wet paste form and also made using lentils and selected spices in powdered form) they are nothing short of heaven!

Dosa, Crispy Savoury Rice & Lentil Crepes

Recipe: Plain/Sada Dosa (Crisp savoury rice and lentil pancakes from Southern India)
Prep Time: 4-6 hours of soaking time & 8-14 hours of fermenting time (depending on temperature)
Cooking Time: 3-5 mins per Dosa
Makes: 12-15 large Dosas
Shelf Life of Dosa Batter: 3-4 days after fermentation when stored in refrigerator (in cool climate or 2-3 days in hot climatic regions)
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy to Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Sia

2½ cups Rice (Use either Raw rice/Long grain rice/even broken Basmati rice)
1 cup Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
¾ - 1 heaped tbsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
¾ - 1 cup Avalakki/Poha/Beaten Rice (Optional. If you don't want to use Poha, increase the amount of Rice used to 3 cups (when using sturdy mixer grinder) or 4 cups (when using wet grinder))
¾ - 1 tbsp Salt (Adjust acc to taste)
Water for grinding

Special Utensils:
Wet grinder or Mixer or Food processor for grinding
Non-stick Tawa/Griddle or Cast-iron Tawa/Griddle
A ladle for pouring the batter and spreading it
Wooden (if using non-stick tawa) or metal (if suing cast-iron tawa) spatula
Lid to cover the Tawa/Griddle
Thick paper towel or large peeled onion for greasing the tawa/griddle (if using cast-iron tawa)

For Dosa Batter:
  1. Take rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds in a large bowl and wash them 3-4 times to remove dust and other impurities.
  2. Once washed, soak them in enough water (2 inches above rice-lentil level) for at least 4-6 hours or preferably overnight.
  1. The next morning, drain water from soaked rice and lentils.
  2. Add poha/beaten rice and grind them in batches, adding little water, to a smooth paste. The best equipment to grind is wet grinder or heavy duty Mixer but food processor will also work just fine.
  1. Once the rice-lentil is ground, transfer it into a large mixing bowl so that the batter doesn’t overflow when it ferments.
  2. Add salt to taste and enough water to make batter. The consistency of the Dosa batter should be of pouring consistency such that it thickly coats the spoon dipped in it and it should be easily spreadable.
  3. Cover and keep it in a warm place for 8-10 hours or overnight for the batter to ferment well. If you are living in a cold climate, heat your oven at 50 degree C for about 5 minutes and switch it off. Place the mixing bowl/container (make sure it is not plastic container) in oven and close the door. Or simply switch on the oven light and place the bowl right under it for the batter to ferment.
  4. You can also place this bowl over a large plate as when batter ferments and rises, there is a chance of it pouring down on counter-top. By placing big plate underneath you just have to clean the plate and not end up cleaning the messy countertop of oven!

Step by step instructions for preparing Dosa batter

Dosa Preparation:
  1. Mix the fermented batter well and keep it aside.
  2. Heat the tawa/griddle on medium flame.
  3. If using cast-iron tawa, fold the paper towel into a wad and dip it into a bowl of cooking oil. Gently squeeze the wad to remove excess oil and rub it all over the griddle to grease it. Or, cut peeled onion in half. Pour a tsp of oil in the centre of griddle and use halved onion and rub it all over the griddle. Back in my native, we use dried yellow pumpkin stem to grease the griddle.
  4. Increase the flame to medium-high.
  5. Depending on the size of your tawa/griddle, pour ½ - 1 cup of batter on centre of tawa/griddle (similar to as you would for the pancakes). Now begin to start spreading the batter in sweeping circular motion starting from centre using back of the ladle.
  6. Cover the griddle with lid and reduce the heat to medium flame. Cook it undisturbed for 2 minutes.
  7. Open the lid and you will see tiny holes formed on the surface of Dosa. Drizzle a tsp or more of oil/Ghee on the surface of Dosa and also around its edges and let it cook for another minute till its upper surface is cooked well (it will no longer look soft or runny).
  8. Using wooden (for non-stick griddle) or metal (for cast iron griddle) spatula, carefully remove the Dosa from griddle and flip it. Ideally, the cooked surface should have turned golden brown in colour and crisp. Allow other side to cook for another minute after flipping.
  9. Once cooked on both sides, flip the dosa again and fold it in half and transfer it to clean and dry plate.
  10. Repeat the same procedure to make Dosas. Grease the griddle (if using cast-iron tawa), pour the batter, spread it in circular motion, cover and cook, drizzle oil/ghee, flip and cook, fold and serve!

Serving Suggestions:
  1. It is best to serve Dosas immediately as soon as they are taken out from tawa to enjoy the crisp and delicious Dosas. Dosa is usually accompanied with Chutney (Coconut chutney, Chutney Powder, etc) or Sambar (lentil based vegetable gravy). Some also prefer them with Honey and Ghee/Butter. And there is another popular way of serving dosa and that is with Potato Bhaji specially made for Dosas and is known as Masala Dosa.
  2. You can also make a stack of Dosas and serve later, just like pancakes. Just ensure to keep the Dosas warm till you serve them in a closed dish. However, these Dosas will not be as crisp as the ones you serve immediately.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Generally the ratio of Rice:Urad Dal is 3:1 if using sturdy Indian Mixer Grinder or Food processor and the ratio of Rice:Urad Dal is 4:1 if using wet grinder. This ratio may vary from one household to another.
  • If long grain rice or raw rice is not available in nearby stores, you can also go ahead and use broken Basmati rice. I have been using them since past one year and they have never failed me in making crisp Dosas.
  • The tawa/griddle should be heated at right temperature and hence it is best to keep them at medium-high flame. If it is over heated, there are chances of Dosas getting broken while spreading the batter.
  • If the tawa is over heated, fold a sheet of paper or paper towel into thick wad and dip it in a bowl of cold water. Squeeze excess water and then rub it all over the surface of griddle. This will cool the tawa/griddle slightly and ensure that the Dosa will spread evenly without breaking.
  • Addition of Poha/Beaten rice gives that wonderful golden colour to the Dosa and also makes the dosa very crisp (A tip from my MIL). If you do not want to add poha/beaten rice, then increase the quantity of Rice used to 3 cups instead of 2½ cups.
  • Addition of ½ tsp sugar to dosa batter results in nice brown rings tracing the motions of the ladle as even slight sugar can caramelize without adding flavour or taste!
  • Addition of fenugreek seeds not only helps in fermenting the Dosa batter, it also gives nice spongy texture and acts as a cooling agent to our body.
  • Use of sesame oil enhances the taste of Dosa.

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In South, Sambar (Lentil based gravy) is the main starter in lunch/brunch/feast. It is used as side dish like dip for tiffens too. The main spice mix is ready made Sambar Powder, which is always kept in stock. Normally it is prepared in bulk and stored in air tight containers for 6-8 months. So summer is the ideal time for preparing the ready mixes. Alternatively this can be dry roasted in winter and prepared. The smell and aroma of this powder will induce sneezing.

Sambar Powder

Recipe: Sambar Powder (South Indian Lentil Gravy Spice Mix)
Preparation & Cooking Time: 1 hour (Approx)
Makes: 1 kg Jar full (Approx)
Shelf Life: 6-8 months when stored outside & upto a year when kept in freezer
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy
Recipe/Post by: Viji

500 gms Dhania/Coriander Seeds
300 gms Dried Red Chillies
1 cup Tur Dal/Split Yellow Lentils
¼ cup Channa/Gram Dal/Split Chickpeas
¼ cup Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ cup Black Pepper Corns
2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
50 gms Dried Turmeric Fingers (Virali Manjal)

Special Utensils:
Clean and dry jar for storing
  1. Clean and dry every thing in the sun and grind it in the flour mill. Or else, you can dry roast them and grind it in the flour mill.
  2. Spread them on a paper to cool before you store.
  3. For daily use, use a small container with spoon.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Alternatively small amount can be grinded in mixer too. This one will be coarse in texture.
  • Adding gram chal will make the gravy thicker. So the quantity is according to one’s choice.
  • Keep this powder ready to make sambar at any time.

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There are always some basics to any cuisine that we got to learn, before we embark ourselves into that journey. And Ginger Garlic paste is one such basic for any Indian Cuisine. Having this paste handy helps a lot in cooking dishes fast. Along with the spices, Ginger Garlic paste enhances or rather is a mandatory ingredient for all non vegetarian dishes and masala based Vegetarian gravies.

There are always other spices or ingredients added to this and ground. But the most basic paste would be with just Ginger and Garlic. We call this Allam Vellulli Mudda, Allam Tellapaayalu Mudda in telugu. At times, we grind it with Coriander or Kothimeera too. Ginger Garlic paste is one of the normal paste that we end up making on Sundays and I mostly plan to make huge quantities to last me for days

Amma always make fresh past on Sundays, for the Sunday special. She says fresh paste gives lot of flavour to the meat. But I always felt even the batch that stays up for more than a week, is good enough. So decide on how much is required for you to last sometime. There is something undoubedlty endearing about this Ginger Garlic paste as it revokes fond memories of my childhood Sundays spent helping Mom in peeling the garlic and grating the ginger. And its one of the first things I learnt in understanding our cuisine.

We always add equal quantities of Ginger and Garlic. This proportion may vary depending on individual taste.

Ginger Garlic Paste

Recipe: Allam Vellulli Mudda (Ginger Garlic Paste)
Cooking Type : Basics / Essentials
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Shelf Life : Max 2 weeks on refrigeration
Usage : Kurmas, Pulaos, Biryanis, Non Veg dishes
Makes: 100 gms of Ginger Garlic paste
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli

Ginger - 100 gms
Garlic - 100 gms

Special Utensils:
Knife, Grater, Mixie
  1. Clean and Peel Garlic and Ginger. Wash and chop them into small pieces, so that they can be easily ground to a smooth paste.
  2. In the mixie, take both and run it once or twice. Do not add water. If the quantity is enough, there is no need to add water. You will have problem only if the quantity is not enough, then you won't have a smooth paste, just add 1 tsp of water, enough to get a smooth paste.
  3. Store the paste in an air tight container. Storing without water gets the paste to retain its smell and improve life span.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Never add water while grinding. Always spoon to stir/ scoop out the paste to container.
  • Grinding without adding water, improves shelf life. It can even be stored for more than two weeks. But if you have time and need fresh flavour, grind it every week!
  • Some even add turmeric and salt, Vinegar for improving the shelf life. This way it can stay even for a month. I have never stored it beyond 2 weeks, so I wouldn't be able to confirm that.
  • Garlic can be easily peeled by pressing the pod/flake on a surface, and just removing the skin. Else you soak the garlic in water for 10 mins and the skin just peels off.

Ginger Garlic paste, along with peeled fresh ones!

  • I add about a teaspoon of this paste to dishes which involves chicken or Meat (1 kg of meat). There is no need to add too much of this paste, its enough to add taste and flavor.
  • To vegetarian dishes, about a quarter of tsp or half is enough. Depending on the dishes, its either added before onions or after onions are browned. But one thing to remember is to always frying it well before adding wet ingredients.
  • Some are of the opinion that adding more of ginger garlic paste enhances the non-veg dishes, but its actually the other way. More of this paste changes the taste and there could be tummy upsets if we consume more than what's required.
Special Notes on Ginger:
  • When you get ginger in bulk, you wash and remove the skin cut it into chunks and freeze it. Then whenever you need it, take whatever is needed, use a grater (lemon zester) to grate it. The gratings are so fine that it resembles ginger paste. Also wash the skin very well and store it in the freezer and you can use it in tea for a mild ginger flavor.
So get this paste ready in handy for more on Easy Indian Cooking!

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South India and especially Tamil Nadu is famous for many things and not limited to it's world famous temples, sculptures and other natural and man made wonders. The cuisine also holds an undeniable position of which Idli is the most famous and common dish in any family in Tamil Nadu. Following is my version of the versatile tiffin. Idli can be served with chutney (a spicy dip made with coconut/tomato/onion as the main ingredient), sambar (a stew like dish made with dals and vegetables) or idli milgai (chili) powder (a spicy powder made with dried red chilies and dals). Soon to follow is my grandmother's easy recipe for Idli Sambar.

Idli, Steamed Rice Cakes

Recipe: Idli (Steamed Rice Cakes)
Prep Time: At least 3-4 hours for soaking the rice and urad daal plus 15-20 hours of fermentation
Cooking Time: Steaming each batch for 10-15 minutes
Makes: 35-40 medium size Idlis
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy to Intermediary
Post/Recipe by: Madhu

2 cups Par Boiled Rice
1 cup Raw Rice
1 cup Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils (skinned black gram)
1 teaspoon Fenugreek/Methi Seeds (Optional)
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil (Optional)
Salt to taste

Idli Batter Procedure:
  1. Wash and soak together the rice for at least 3 hours. Soaking urad dal for 30 minutes is sufficient. If using fenugreek seeds, soak it separately in hot water so that grinding will be easy.
  2. Drain the urad dal reserving some of the soaked water.
  3. If using a wet grinder (which is recommended for getting soft spongy idlis), switch it on, add 1/2 cup of the reserved water and let the motor run. Then slowly add the urad dal and fenugreek seeds (if using). Grind it at least for 25-30 minutes until it’s nice and fluffy. Add water as necessary.
  4. Transfer the dal batter to a big container.
  5. As mentioned earlier add some water and switch on the grinder and add the drained rice little by little, adding water if necessary. Grind it until the texture resembles that of semolina (sooji/rava). The rice batter need not be as smooth as the urad dal batter.
  6. Now add the urad dal batter to the rice batter and let the grinder run for 1-2 minutes until both the batters blend.
  7. Transfer the idli batter to a big container (so that the batter does not overflow while it ferments). Add salt and oil, and mix it with your hand thoroughly. Mixing it with clean hand instead of a ladle is recommended so that the heat from the body aids in better fermentation.
  1. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave it undisturbed for at least 15 hours. Sometimes the batter may overflow causing a mess on the floor. I usually place the bowl on a big plate, so that even if the batter pours down only the plate has to be cleaned.
  2. If you are not living in India or live in cold temperature places, you could use the oven to ferment the batter. Either switch on the oven light and keep the bowl right below the light so that the heat will help in fermentation. Or you could switch on the oven for 10 minutes and switch it off. Then place the batter inside the oven. If following the latter method, don't use a plastic bowl to store the batter.
  3. After fermentation you should be able to see that the batter would have risen and increased in quantity. Once the batter has risen it can be used immediately to prepare idlis. If you are not going to make it immediately, store the batter in the refrigerator or else the idlis will be very sour.

Idli batter in Idli moulds before steaming

Idli Procedure:
  1. Grease idli moulds with ghee/oil. I use a non stick spray. I also spray below each plate so that the batter from the plate below does not stick to the top plate and you will get full idlis after steaming.
  2. Depending on the size of the idli plates fill between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter in each mould. Do not mix the fermented batter. Spoon the batter from the bowl as it is.
  3. You could use a pressure cooker or any vessel for that matter to steam idlis. I steam mine in a pressure cooker. Before filling the idli plates, add some water in the cooker (about 1 inch) and switch on the stove. So by the time you are done with the batter the water will start boiling and you can place the idli stand in the cooker and close the lid. Since the water is already hot and steaming the idlis cook very fast. Around 9-10 minutes you will see steam escaping from the lid's vent.
  4. After 5 – 7 minutes open the lid. Use an oven mit or kitchen towel to remove the idli stand because it will be very hot.
  5. Remove each plate one by one, give a quick wash showing the back sides of the plate, under running water. This will loosen up the idlis and will help in scooping out the idlis from the plate.
  6. Run a knife or a butter knife around the edges and remove the idlis from the plate.
  7. Drizzle few drops of sesame oil over the idlis while serving and enjoy it with your favorite chutney or sambar and finish the meal with Viji's fresh Filter Coffee.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Idli can be prepared using idli rava which is readily available in stores. In that case the measurement will be 2 cups of idli rava and 1 cup of urad dal. Soaking of idli rava is not necessary. My grandmother used to soak it in warm water. I have tried both and have not found any difference in the idlis. If using idli rava, soak the urad dal and grind it as mentioned above. To the batter mix the idli rava and salt; mix together and ferment the batter as usual.
  • I usually grind the rice little smoother (instead of the sooji texture I have mentioned) and use the same batter for preparing dosas. The idlis will turn out soft and spongy regardless of this.
  • During summer, urad dhal can be soaked in fridge and ground to get more batter and fluffy idlis.
  • Adding methi seeds serves two purposes. One, it gives the extra softness to the idlis and is also a cooling agent and cools our body system. The idlis will have a cream color as against pure white if using methi seeds.
  • The method of adding water first and then the dal/rice in the grinder was told by my mother in law which in turn she read from a magazine. This method definitely yields more fluffy batter and idlis.
  • At higher temperature, grinder motors and mixie motors tend to cause irregular fermentation due to heat generated which may cause in resulting sour batter. Using fridge water takes care of that.
  • Oil can be added to the batter before scooping on to the plate to enhance the taste. Add Oil and mix it well. This can be done about 2 hours before steaming the idlis, so that the batter ferments again. Some advice against mixing the batter after fermentation, as air percolated during the process will result in porous formation.
  • Also if you are hesitant about running the plate against running water, you can dip the spoon or knife in water and gently loosen the idlis from the moulds.
  • You don't need a pressure cooker for steaming idlis. Simply use any vessel which is big enough the fit the idli plates stand you are using. Add some water to the vessel and heat it while you fill the batter. Place the stand inside the vessel and close it with a lid. If the lid does not have vent for the steam to escape, leave a small portion of the vessel open. Steam it for 10-15 minutes. Insert a toothpick or a knife in the center of the idli and if it comes out clean the idlis are ready. Switch off the stove and serve it after a couple of minutes.
  • You also don't need an idli stand for making idlis. You can fill small cups with the batter and steam it. Or else pour the batter in one big round vessel (like a cake pan) and then steam it. This may require additional steaming time. Remove it and cut into wedges before serving.

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Mango… It is hard to describe what mango means to a Mango-eccentric person like me. Those who love to eat ripe, juicy, sweet Alphonso are sure to know what heaven means! In India, especially in Mumbai, we are blessed with great varieties of mangoes. Alphonso, Badam, Totapuri, Rajapuri, Daseri, Langda... you name it, we get it here in Mumbai. No child would have grown without sucking those tangy Kacha Kairis (unripe mangoes) with salt and red chilly powder, eating outside school gates (don’t know about boys, but female folks will nod in yes for sure). Almost all of us have fond memories of relishing sweet mangoes in hot summer afternoons. I have so many fond memories of my childhood where I enjoyed eating succulent portion of mango attached to its seed and not bothering about the mango juice trickling down the arm!!! Who cares for the food etiquette when you are enjoying the King of fruits?

Mango ~ The undisputed King of fruits in India, is incorporated in Indian Cuisine in various ways. Panna (a cooler made from roasted and pureed raw mango), milkshakes, dips, pickles etc. And there is one more way of having your mango......as a Murba (murrabah)!

Murba is a grated Mango pickle that is sweet and bit tangy. It has the consistency of a marmalade but with lots of grated slivers of mango in it. It could be used as spreads onto anything and can be used as a relish. Goes well with all types of parathas (stuffed flatbreads), koki (Double cooked flatbread) and puris (fried flatbread) too.

Mango Murba

Recipe: Mango Murba (Grated Mango Pickle/Jam)
Prep & Cooking Time:
50 to 75 mins (Approx)
1 kg of mangoes will yield almost 2 medium sized jars
Recipe Source/Inspiration:
My Mother-in-law
Shelf Life: 4-5 months when kept outside & upto a year when refridgerated
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy to Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Alka

1 kg Raw Mangoes (Preferably Rajapuri or Totapuri (Magnifera indica) variety of mangoes. Mangoes have to be raw and firm)
1 kg Sugar or 1.25 kg if you want it more sweet and less tangy (The proportion should be 1:1 or 1: 1.25 of mangoes : sugar (in kg))
6-7 Green Cardamoms
1½ tsp Red Chilli Powder
A glass of Water
1 tsp or little more Lemon Juice

Special Utensils:
Clean and dry glass jar for storing.
  1. Wash, pat dry and peel the outer skin of the mangoes. Grate them with a manual grater.
  2. In a thick bottomed pan or vessel, mix sugar and water (water should cover the sugar, so adjust the amount of water you need).
  3. Heat it, while mixing at frequent intervals till sugar dissolves completely. Skim off any grey or white foam, which are impurities from the sugar.
  4. Now add lemon juice. It will help to avoid crystallization of sugar. Add the grated mangoes, few cardamoms and mix properly. Beware of the spluttering.
  5. Let it boil for few minutes and then put it on medium flame .
  6. Keep on stirring carefully at regualr intervals. It will take almost 50 to 75 minutes to be cooked properly.
  7. Add red chilly powder anywhere in the mid of procedure.
  8. When the mixture reaches a consistency similar to that of easily spreadable jam, its supposed to be done.
  9. Let it cool completely, and store it in clean, airtight glass containers (jars).
  10. The shelf life of this murba is 4-5 months without refrigeration and about a year if refrigerated, provided that no wet spoon is used to take out portions from the jar, and the lid is secured properly.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Some prefer this murba to be very smooth as jam, in that case cook it on low flame, for some more time.
  • For this Mango Muraba, preferably use Rajapuri or Totapuri (Magnifera indica) variety of mangoes. Please note that the mangoes have to be raw and firm.
  • The proportion of sugar and mango needed for this Mango Muraba is 1:1 or 1: 1.25 of mangoes : sugar (in kg)

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Filter Coffee: South Indian Welcome Beverage

Posted by Sia | Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | , , | 37 comments »

Welcome to Beyond Curries, a group blog. The present generation brides/wives don’t get an opportunity to sharpen/learn the culinary skills before marriage. This is mainly due to their ambitions, commitments and career demands. They enter the era of family with little or sometimes no knowledge about cooking. There are aspirant learners from other parts of the world to learn and understand Indian Cuisine. The main motive of starting this group blog is to give varieties under one roof through different authors from different parts of India. More than showcasing our talents and posting recipes; sharing our knowledge to help the novice with the basic steps to be followed in Indian Cooking is our main objective. When you go with the stream, you can learn, understand and experiment the famous gravies and other dishes commonly referred as “Curries”. Enjoy the recipes, ask your doubts and appreciate the authors’ selfless work. The more you give support and show your interest in learning, the more you will get.

Let me welcome everyone with a cup of Filter Coffee.

A welcome beverage in Southern part of India. Either traditional coffee filter (as shown below) or coffee maker is used to prepare hot aromatic coffee. For a small nuclear family, traditional filter is used which consumes less coffee powder.

Filter Coffee served in Traditional Way

Recipe: Filter Coffee
Prep & Cooking Time:
20 mins
2 People
Around 250 ml
Cooking Level: Beginners/Easy
Recipe/Post by: Viji

What you need:
Fresh coffee powder which is specially grounded for filter. While grinding you have to mention that it is for filter and not coffee maker. Both are different in texture. Go for pure coffee (Peaberry) and don’t add chicory. I stick to Coffee Day brand. Each brand is good in its own way.

2 tbsp Fresh Coffee Powder (specially ground for filter coffee)
200 ml Fresh milk
80 ml Boiling Water
Sugar white/brown sugar cubes, as per taste

Special Utensil:
Coffee Filter
  1. For two people (around 250 ml), spread 2 tbsp of coffee powder on the top cup with porous bottom and gently press it with the sieve press. Don’t over do. Remove the press.
  2. Boil the water
  3. Take 80 ml boiled water in a glass and pour it evenly and gently on the powder.
  4. Close the lid.
  5. After 5 minutes, check the filter. If you can see only the residue, decoction is ready at the bottom.
  6. Take 200 ml fresh milk and boil it till they start raising.
  7. In a dabarah (stainless steel cup) pour the milk. Add the coffee decoction to it. Finally add the sugar. Pour it back and forth (from dabarah to tumbler) till it is frothy. Traditionally it is being served in dabarah and tumbler. But now the porcelein cups are very handy ofcourse. Serve it hot with any snacks. Nothing can beat the real taste of filter coffee.

Step-by-step instruction for making Filter Coffee

Special Notes/Tips:
  • The coffee powder must be be fresh.
  • Use fresh milk –don’t reheat the boiled milk.
  • Always use the first decoction (if you prepare for only two people). The second one will be watery. By practice we can judge the quantity of powder and water to be used for two people without wastage. It will be neither too thick and nor watery.
  • Always boil the milk in milk pan. I mean don’t use that vessel to boil/cook something else. Milk should be boiled well till they start raising.
  • Never add the milk to decoction. Always add the decoction to milk.
  • Add less sugar. For a cup of coffee ¾-1 tsp white sugar is more than enough. Too much sugar will spoil the coffee taste.
  • Pour back and forth the mixed coffee to get frothy on top. I mean don’t pour milk, decoction and sugar in a cup and mix everything with a spoon.
  • Enjoy the aroma of filter coffee at home.

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Beyond Curries Recipe Index

Posted by Sia | Monday, April 13, 2009 | | 4 comments »

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North Indian Cuisine
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  • Samosa (A video tutorial to make deep fried Indian puffs stuffed with spicy mixture of portao and green peas)
Rice & Grain DishesDals, Beans & Lentil Dish
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  • Rasgulla (Indian cheese balls in sugar syrup)

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Appetizers, Starters and Snacks
  • Patties (Spiced lentil stuffed potato cutlet)
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  • Bori (Crushed and sweetened flatbread)
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  • Dal Chawal (Quick & simple Lentil Soup served with Rice)
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Subji & Quick Stir Fry
Jams, Pickles & Preserves

South Indian Cuisine
Breakfast & Tiffins
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  • Lemon Rice (Lemon Flavoured Rice with toasted Peanuts and Spice, Lentils & Curry Leaves Tempering)
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Andhra Cuisine


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Street FoodDals, Beans & Lentil Dishes
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  • Mathan Erissery (Red pumpkins in coconut gravy, Kerala/Palakkad speciality)

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Tamilian Cuisine
Appetizers, Starters and Snacks
Dals, Beans & Lentil DishesRice & Grain Dishes

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