When one attends a typical Tamilian Wedding, one is sure to be feasted on a Paruppu Usili. I remember since childhood always looking forward to this dish. And I never stopped. I don't remember Amma preparing this at home during my childhood. It was only much later that she finally started making it herself. There are so many ways to make this. Most times we follow the shortest method to arrive at the most delightful dish one can imagine.

I already posted a Usili, then recently ended up making it again in 3 different ways. And of course the vegetable that goes in also changes the way it tastes. I have known this being made with French Beans, Banana Blossoms, Cluster Beans, Banana Stem and the latest addition made by Amma were these beautiful Red Capsicum. 

Though Green Capsicum is common at home, Red and Yellow makes it sometimes to the pantry. And one such time, it also ended up as an Usili.


Capsicum Parupu Usili


Recipe: Red Pepper With Chickpea Saute | Capsicum Parupu Usili
Soaking Time : 30 minutes
Preparation Time : 20 minutes

Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli


Ingredients

Red Pepper/ Red Capsicum - 1 large
Channa Dal / CheckPeas - 1/2 cup
Red Chilis, dry - 3 -4 
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - few leaves
Mustard Seeds, Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp

Utensils Needed - Non Stick pan

Method to prepare:

Wash and soak Channa dal for 1 hr. Grind coarsely along with Red chili and salt.

Chop the Capsicum into long pieces. Heat a non stick pan with oil,  season with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. 

Once the mustard splutters, add the channa dal coarse mix along with capsicum. Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Keep stirring in between to ensure it doesn't get stuck to the bottom.

Serve this with Sambar and steaming rice.


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Navrathri is nearing and everyone in India is busy in buying dolls. Preparing different Neivedyams for evening pooja for distribution is a real fun. There are different dishes prepared during these 9 days. Each one follows their own custom of doing it.

Each day one Sundal; Savor (any dhal sauted with mustard seeds, green chili or spices) or Sweet (with jaggery). On Fridays we prepare Puttu for distribution. Saturday we prepare Ellu podi. Rest of the days as per their custom and convenience. But each day has got specific neivedyams for a specific God.

Sundals - All the dry beans can be used as plain or sprouted to enhance its nutrients.




For sprouting, I normally soak it for 24-36 hours minimum exchanging water 3 times (every 12 hours). Then drain it for 5 minutes. Knot this in a muslin cloth (or any thin kitchen towel). Keep it on the table and cover it with a wooden basket (or any plastic one with holes) – I mean cover it ¾ only. After 12 hours start sprinkling water to keep it moist. Any hard dhals can be sprouted like this. But moong dhal doesn’t take much time to sprout. By this way you increase the protein content of dhals.

For all beans (except mentioned specifically here), to add spice use my SIMP powder - or else roast red chili, channa dhal, coriander seeds, curry leaves and hing in 1 tsp oil and powder it coarsely in the mixer to sprinkle it at the end.

Kondakadalei Sundal  - Kabuli black channa – sprouted one.

Sprout them as mentioned above, cook in pressure cooker till soft and termper with mustard seeds, curry leave and one tbsp of SIMP powder.


Sprouted Kondakadalei Sundal   - white one
Sprout them and temper them the same way mentioned above.


Sprouted moong dhal
The same way, but need not be pressure cooked - can be steam cooked to avoid nutrition loss.



Mochai Sundal (Lima Beans) – plain one
The same way of channa Sundal


Karamani vella Sundal (Black eyed beans with jaggery)

Soak one cup of  karamani for 5 hours. Pressure cook it for 2 whistles. Drain and keep it aside. Melt ¾ cup of jaggery (or less than this) with ¼ cup of water. Strain for impurities. Add 1 tbsp of fresh coconut, ¼ tsp elaichi powder and boil it again for 3 minutes. Now add the Karamani and cook for few more minutes.

Peanut Sundal

For this you have to use raw (not roasted) ones with skin. Soak them for 5 hours and pressure cook along with salt for 2 whistles. Then temper it with mustard seeds, one red chili, curry leaves and a pinch of hing.

Red beans Sundal
The same way of Channa Sundal


Kollu (Horse gram) Sundal - sprouted
The same way of Channa Sundal


Jaggery Puttu


This is very famous during Navrathiri. I never miss the Friday during the 9 days to collect this delicious puttu from my friend’s house. Though looks very tedious to prepare, it is easy if you practice. When you follow the steps clearly, it won’t go wrong. The texture must be so soft. That’s the secret of this recipe.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour 1 cup
Jaggery ¾  cup
Fresh coconut 1 tbsp
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Cashews few broken

Preparation:

If you are using raw rice, soak for 30 minutes and then dry it on a towel. Grind it in mixie to fine powder. Sieve well. Dry roast this flour well till the colour changes to light brown.

Take one cup of water with a pinch of salt and haldi. Heat it. When it is lukewarm start adding this water slowly to the roasted flour. At one stage you will get soft granular consistency. You can hold the flour. But if you open your hand, it will flow. That’s the right consistency. Stop adding water at this stage. You might use the full 1 cup water or less than that. It all depends on the rice. I never used more than ¾ cup.

Steam this for 10 minutes along with coconut and elaichi powder.

Now prepare the jaggery syrup with ¼  cup of water. Once it dissolved, strain for impurities. Again boil it till you reach soft ball consistency. If you add ½ tsp syrup to water, you should be able to form a ball (not too hard). Switch off the stove, and add this to the steamed flour slowly and mix well. Break any lumps. Add the fried cashews along with the ghee. That’s it. It’s very tasty and soft too. 

Sesame balls

On Saturday they used to prepare yellu podi (sesame flour with jaggery). I just love this. Some used to prepare it in ball shape and distribute. Here is my version.

Ingredients:
Sesame Seeds 1 cup
Jaggery ¾ cup
Desiccated coconut ½ cup
Cashews broken 2 tbsp (fried or raw ones as per your choice)
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Melted Ghee optional 1tbsp

Preparation:

Roast the sesame seed into slightly brown stage as shown in the photo (if you get roasted ones, use it directly). In ME we always get fried sesame seeds. Add all the ingredients except cashews and grind it in mixie. If you have traditional grinder it will be very tasty. When you do it with traditional grinder no need to add ghee as the seeds will release its own oil. Still if you add little ghee it gives nice aroma.

Once it is grinded well add the broken cashews and shape it to small balls. Sounds tricky, but when you shape it, you will find it very easy.
Not only during navrathri festival, it can be prepared once a week to have healthy snack.  


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Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Steamed savoury snacks
Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Savoury steamed dumplings with blackgram dal filling

I hail from Palakkad and our cuisine is a combination of the best from the regions of Tamilnadu and Kerala. Every festival is celebrated with sweets and savouries that are unique to that festival. The traditional sweets made for Ganesh Chaturthi in Palakkad, are 'vella kozhokottai' (Steamed jaggery and coconut filled sweets) and 'sugiyan' (Fried jaggery and coconut balls). The savouries comprise of vadai (savoury fritters) and many varieties of savoury kozhokottais (steamed dumplings).

Kozhokottai (pronounced as koyo-ko-tie, the 'y' is pronounced with a roll of the tongue), is much loved and for some reason I seem to make it only during Ganesh Chaturthi and not otherwise. It is said to be Lord Ganesha's favorite snack. Our's too! It is basically a sweet or savory filling wrapped in rice flour dough. This is then steamed till the rice flour covering becomes translucent. The feeling as you cut through the covering and bite into the filling can only be described as 'heady'!

There are two methods to make the covering. The popular method involves using pounded rice flour. I used to follow the rice flour method until my sister told me to try the one I am sharing here. I find the results so good with this one that I haven't bothered to look back! Using raw rice batter yields a softer covering as compared to the one made with shop bought rice flour. This is because shop bought rice flour does not contain moisture.


Recipe: Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Steamed savoury snacks
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 15 pieces
Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


Ingredients:
Covering:
1.5 cups, raw rice
1.5 + 1.5 cups, water
3 tbsps. oil (I use sesame oil)
1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
1/2 cup Black gram dal (Urad dal)
Water to cover the dal
salt to taste
1 green chilli
A sprig of curry leaves
3 tbsp. of fresh grated coconut

Method:

Filling:
Soak the split, husked, black gram dal in just enough water for at least half an hour.
Drain completely and add the chopped green chillies and chopped curry leaves. Mix in salt.
Grind without water to a rough paste. (We do not want a soft paste. The paste has to be dry and retain some coarseness due to broken dal). See picture below.
Steam the mixture in a steamer or cooker (without weight/whistle) for about 15minutes till done.
Cool and crumble to granules. Mix in grated coconut to distribute it uniformly throughout the mixture. Set aside and prepare the covering.

Covering:

IMG_9064
Rice flour dough for covering

Soak rice in 1.5 cups of water for at least an hour.
Grind to a smooth paste with the water used for soaking. Do not add more water.
In a heavy bottomed vessel or wok, heat the oil. Add 1.5 cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil.
Now pour the rice paste into the water stirring all the while to avoid lump formation.
You will not be able to avoid the lumps completely but keep stirring and if any lumps form on the sides of the vessel, scrape it back into the center.
Cook, stirring till all the liquid forms into a rough ball, leaving the sides of the vessel. It will take about 5 to 6 minutes on medium flame.
Cover with a tight lid and let the dough cook in residual heat without disturbing for another 10 minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and let cool till warm enough to handle.
Turn onto a large 'paraat' or plate or working space.
Grease hands lightly and knead the dough till firm, smooth but soft.

Formation of kozhokottais:
Pinch a ball of dough about the size of a table tennis ball. Roll it between your palms to a smooth sphere. Flatten lightly and keeping it on a clean surface, keep pressing with light fingers to form a disc about 5 to 6 cms in diameter. The disc should be about 2mm in thickness.

IMG_9096
Shaping the kozhokottai

Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold to a semi circle and press the sides of the semi circle to seal the opening.
Similarly form the rest of the kozhokottais.

Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Second setting
Serving kozhokottais
Steaming:
Place the kozhokottais on a greased plate, in a steamer and steam till the covering turns translucent and cooked. About 15 minutes.
If you do not have a steamer, heat water in a pressure cooker. Place a deep vessel filled upto 1/4 of its height with water. Now place the plate of kozhokottais over the vessel. Cover the cooker and steam for 15 minutes with the lid on and no weight, on moderate heat.
When cool enough to handle, remove the plate from the steamer/cooker.
The kozhokottais are now ready to be served.
Traditionally it is eaten without any accompaniment and tastes good.
I however like it with a dash of spicy szechuan sauce - an unusual combination for a traditional delicacy.



Special Notes/Tips:
  • Do not hurry up and skip the part where you have to fit the lid and let the dough cook in the residual heat because, the five minute steaming helps the uncooked areas to cook through well.


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Regional Gravies...that's our theme this month at Beyond Curries. If that doesn't tickle your foodie soul, nothing else will!

India being a nation of diverse religion, we enjoy a splendid variety of regional food, the sweets, the snacks, the festival foods and the mighty curries. It's so exciting to know that though people of different regions and caste, do not know much about the culture or customs of each other, yet the food breaks the barrier and we can see the South Indians enjoying North Indian Delicacies, while the people from north go ga-ga over the Idlis and Dosas of South. The Gujratis love to eat Mumbaiya Pavbhaji,while the Mumbaikars crave for Khaman Dhokla. The Sindhis incorporate Punjabi meals like Paneer Paalak in their cuisine, while Punjabis find Sindhi Kadhi irresistible. And these are just few examples. If you look out for the People swearing by the taste of Bengali Rosgollas, Rajashthani Gattey ki Kadhi, Hyderabadi Biryani, etc we can obviously go on and on and on.......

Isn't it amazing to know that the food knows no boundaries????

Well coming to today's recipe, it is one of the Maharashtra's most loved Curry, called Usal.
Usal is a simple yet flavorful curry made with sprouted beans. Depending upon the type of dried beans used, its called as Matki chi usal (Moth Beans), Moong Chi Usal (Whole green grams), Vatana chi Usal (Made with dried white peas), so on so forth....

Photobucket

There are obviously many ways to cook this healthy curry, and the one shared here today is one of the simplest method, involving least of spices and using mixed sprouts instead of just one. Does anything get better than this?

Photobucket


Recipe: Mixed Sprouts Usal
Prep Time: Check out this article for all the queries regarding soaking and sprouting different legumes (Thanks to Jaibee for providing the link)
Cooking Time:25 minutes
Serves:Two Adults
Recipe Level: Basic
Spice Level: Low or Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka


Ingredients:

  • Mixed Sprouts 2 cups
  • Onion 1 large
  • Tomato 1 (plump one )
  • Green chillies 1 or 2 ( As per taste, in our case 1 green chilly is just enough)
  • Ginger 1 inch piece
  • Salt as per taste
  • Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder ( or better still, Ghoda Masala ) 1/2 tsp
  • Oil 2 tsp
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice and coriander leaves for garnishing
Special Utensils:

I prefer to cook this curry in Pressure cooker. Could be cooked in any pan too.
Procedure:
  1. Prepare mixed sprouts or one can use store brought sprouts too.
  2. In a pressure cooker (Or a pan) add 2 tsp of oil, add finely chopped onions and saute till light brown in color
  3. Add grated tomato, chopped ginger and green chillies. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and stir and cook well till mushy mixture is obtained. If using pressure cooker, just add the spices and a cup of water, close the lid of pressure cooker and wait for 2-3 whistles.
  4. Whisk the gravy well with wooden whisker/ Churner (Mathni) and add sprouts.
  5. Add salt and some water. Kindly note that this recipe is not of dry Usal, but with some gravy, so add at least 2 cups of water. If using pressure cooker, cook for 2 whistles.
  6. Add garam masala powder and cook the curry till sprouts take up the flavor of spices.
  7. Adjust the consistency of gravy as per choice, making it dense if eating with roti or making it runny if opting to relish it with Pav (Dinner rolls).
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves, squeeze out some lemon juice and enjoy a hearty bowl of healthy bliss!

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Always make a sensible choice while sprouting mixed beans, since beans tend to take up long time to soak and sprout while others like moong beans are much quicker to amaze you with tender shoots.
  • If buying sprouts from store, please rinse it well with water. Though it takes away some nutrition, but saves you from consuming chemicals, mud particles, or the germs if the beans are handled un-hygienically while soaking and sprouting. The best thing is to sprout your beans at home.
  • You can serve it with some farson, sev papdi or Mumbai bhel , and chopped onion to make misal and if to that you add some fresh curd while serving, then it becomes dahi misal...both being the famous street food of Maharashtra.


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