Monday, December 20, 2010

Tips for Healthy & Safe cooking

I have learnt from my MIL some tips related to cooking which i wish to share here. I am sure you must be aware of most of these tips. But beginners in cooking may find this useful. You may also provide some tips which you know which we can make use of.

1. When cooking rice in pressure cooker, put a piece of lime or tamarind in the bottom of the cooker where you add water. This will help is removing stains in the bottom of the pressure cooker.

2. When u feel you have added more salt in any dish, just boil some potatoes and add to it or fry tomato seperately and add to it. This will absorb the excess salt in the food to some extent.

3. To avoid bitterness in Bitter guord(paagarkaai), take some tamarind water and wash the cut vegetable in this water and sqeeze out the tamarind water once or twice. The bitterness also disapprears along with the excess water.

4. When cooking noodles or Pasta always add one drop of oil to it and cook. Also it is better to cook it 3/4th and then showing under running cold water. This will help noodles from sticking and will not be over cooked or mashed when eating.

5. If you have a microwave, you can always cook vegetables in microwave for 5-7 minutes (depending on the vegetable) and then just add oil and fry it in the flame for 5-10 minutes. This will save a lot of time and will also retain the color of the vegetables.

6. To retain color of the vegetable in any dry subzi or salad, add few drops of venegar. This should not be done frequently as it is not very good for health.

7. When making salad or raitha with cucumber, always add salt at the end. Otherwise cucumber will leave out water and make the dish look more watery.

8. To peel the skin of almonds quickly, microwave them for 2 minutes and then peel. It comes out v easily.

9. If you want to grind poppy seeds (khus khus) in a mixie along with some other ingredient, soak the poppy seeds in water for 10minutes before grinding. This will help in grinding the poppy seeds to a smooth paste.

10. For south Indian sambar, koottu etc, add one spoon of rice flour mixed well in water. This helps the dish to get a good blend. You may add more if you feel the dish has to thicken.

11. When adding jeera to rasam, do not boil rasam for a very long time after adding jeera. It gives a medicine smell to the dish if cooked for a long time. So add jeera at the end.

12. To increase the taste of rasam, always add half a spoon of jeera & pepper powder just 5 minutes before putting the flame off. You may keep this jeera & pepper powder handy and use it everytime you make rasam. Truly enhances the taste.

13. To get tamarind water from tamarind easily, keep the tamarind along with water in microwave for 2 minutes. It can be sqeezed out easily.

14. To make aloo Parata quickly, make 2 -3 holes in the potatoes with a toothpick or pin and keep the potatoes in microwave for 4 - 5 minutes. You can now easily mash it and make aaloo paratta quickly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Easy side dish for Roti / Onion Tomato Curry

Easy Side dish for Roti / Phulka. This Tomato Onion Curry can be prepared within 15 minutes and it goes very well with Roti / Phulkas.

Ingredients :
Tomato - 4
Onion - 3
Potato - 1 (optional)
Frozen Green Peas (optional) - 100 gms
Salt / Garam Masala / Jeera/ Sugar / Oil / chilly powder - as required.

Preparation :
In a kadai add oil and add Jeera. When it changes color add onions and fry till golden brown or till onion becomes transparant. Now add garam masala, chilly powder & Salt and fry for one minute. Then add the cut tomatoes and let it cook well till the tomatoes blend well stirring occationally.
Cut potatoes into v small pieces or you may even grate the potatoes to save cooking time. Add the potatoes & Peas and let it cook. Keep it covered stirring occationally to avoid sticking to the bottom. If you want this dish to be prepared v soon then you may skip potatoes & peas.

Garnish with coriander leaves. The Tomato onion curry is ready to be served with hot phulkas / Rotis

Bise Bele Bath / Sambar Saadam

Bise Bele Bath

Bise Bele Bath has it origin in Karnataka. Bise means hot & Bele means Dhal.

Though it is v famous in Karnataka, in Tamilnadu also this dish is made well in many houses & Hotels. Worth mentioning is the bise bele bath you get in Hotel Saravana Bhavan - Damn tasty. This has to be had hot with Papad, Potato Subzi & Onion Raitha.

Ingredients :
Rice - 1 cup
Thoor dal - 1/2 cup
Onion - 3
Potato - 2
Green peas - 100 gms
Carrot - 2
Tamarind - a big lemon size
Mustard - 1/2 spoon
salt / oil / sambar powder / Asafoetida - as reqd
You may add any vegetable of your choice. Onion is a must though.

To Grind Together :
Red chillies - 5
Coriander seeds / Dhaniya - 2 spoons
Channa dal/ Kadalai Paruppu - 2 spoons
cinnamon / Pattai - 1 small piece
Clove / krambu - 1
grated coconut - 3 spoons

Preparation ::

Wash rice and dal together. Add 4 - 5 cups of water and cook in pressure cooker for 4 - 5 whistles. Add little tumeric powder to this. You may also add salt to this.(optional) The rice should be cooked well. Keep it aside.Do not open the cooker now.

In a pressure Pan, add oil and add mustard.When it splutters add the onion and fry for for few minutes. Then add all other vegetables, Asafoetida, 1 spoon sambar powder (if available), tamarind water, salt(depending on how much salt you have added to the rice) and let it cook for sometime. You may close the lid and let the vegetables cook. This need not be overcooked since the vegetables should not get mashed.

In a kadai add little oil and fry the ingredients before grinding. Add them one by one in the order mentioned above. Do not over fry. Add coconut at the end and fry for just few seconds and switch off the flame.

Allow it to cool a little and then grind the above ingredients to a smooth paste adding water little by little.

When the vegetables are cooked, add this ground mixture to the boiling sambar and mix well. This sambar should be more spicy and little salty since it is going to be mixed with rice & Dal which is completely bland. Also the sambar should be more watery since bise bele bath should not be hard.

Now that the sambar is ready, open the pressure cooker in which rice is cooked and mix well with a hard spoon or laddle. The rice should get mashed well. You may even add little hot water when mixing the rice if it is little hard.

Now add the sambar with the rice & Dal and mix well. Add ghee on top to enhance the taste.

Bise bele bath is ready to be served with Potato fry / Papd / Vadam / Raitha

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vegetable Maggi Noodles

Vegetable Maggi

I know it is too silly to post Maggi as a receipe. But i am posting it for 2 reasons.

1. I always love the way they show Maggi in the TV. I used to wonder if we can make it like that ever.
2. My friend wanted me to post this receipe of Maggi with vegetables.

Ingredients :
Maggi packets - 2 in 1 pack
Potato - 2
Tomato - 2
Onion - 2
Peas - 1 cup
Carrot - 1

Preparation :
Add 4 cups of water to Maggi and boil for 5 minutes adding one drop of oil (to avoid maggi from sticking). Drain the water using a strainer and keep under running cold water. Drain excess water. Keep aside.
In a kadai, add oil and add onion. When Onions turn brownish add tomato. Add 1/2 spoon chilly powder and salt (chilly powder is optional and to be added only if you prefer the maggi to be little spicy).
Once it is well blended and tomatoes are cooked, add potatos, Carrots & peas. Sprinkle little water and cover with a lid and let the vegetables cook.
When vegetables are almost cooked, add the masala from the Maggi. Ensure no lumps are formed.
Now add the cooked Maggi to this and mix well. The Maggi should not get mashed.
Serve hot with Tomato Ketchup.

Mutter Paneer / Cottage Cheese & Peas Curry

Mutter Paneer / Cottage Cheese & Peas Curry

Paneer is always an interesting option for a gravy. Paneer doesnt require much of cooking time unless we have to deep fry and add to the dish.

 Ingredients :
Paneer / Cottage Cheese - 200 gms
Peas (Fresh or Frozen) - 150 gms
Onion - 4
Garlic pods - 2 - 4
Ginger - 1 small piece
Tomato - 5
Chilly powder - 1 spoon
Garam Masala , Coriander powder - 1 spoon each
Cornflour - 1 spoon
Cinnamon & Bay leaf - 1 each

Preparation :
Grind together all the onions, Ginger & Garlic. Keep aside in a container. Then grind the tomatoes seperately. (Do not add together with Onion)

In a kadai add oil. Then add cinnamon & bay leaf. Add the ground onion paste and cook for sometime. When the oil seperates (comes to the edges), add the tomato paste, 1 cup water, chilly powder, salt, garam masala & coriander powder. Let it cook for 10 - 15 minutes until well blended.

Add mutter(peas) to this gravy and cook till the mutter is almost cooked. Timing varies depending on whether fresh peas or frozen peas is used. But Paneer into small cubes and add when mutter is cooked.

Cook for 10 minutes. Stir occationally to avoid sticking to the bottom. Add  1 cpoon corn flour to 1/2 cup of water and add to the boiling gravy. You may alter the cornflour and water proportion depending on the thickness of the gravy.

Mutter Panner is ready to be served hot as a side dish for Rotis, Chapathy , Peas Pulao , Jeera Rice or with Plain rice.

Peas Pulao

Peas Pulao / Mutter Pulav

When we dont have any vegetable in our fridge this is the best and easy Pulao to make. This is v less time consuming and can be made with minimum ingredients.
I always have some stock of frozen peas as i love to use them in many dishes.
Enjoy this Pulav with some spicy north indian gravy.

Ingredients :
Basmathi Rice - 2 Cups
Fresh or Frozen Peas - 2 Cups
Onion - 3
Cinnamon - 1 small stick
Bay leaf - 1
Saunf / Bade Som / Sombu - 1 spoon
Oil / Ghee / Salt - As reqd

To Grind Together :
Coconut - 2 spoons
Ginger - small piece
Garlic - 4 - 5 pods (optional)
cinnamon - 1 stick
Saunf - 1/2 spoon
Green Chillies - 4

Preparation :
Wash rice and keep aside for 20 minutes.
In a pressure cooker add 1 spoon ghee and fry the rice. Keep it aside.
In the same pressure cooker heat oil, add saunf , bay leaf & cinnamon stick. When the saunf changes color add cut onions and fry till it gets brownish. Then add the ground paste to this and fry for 5 - 10 minutes till you get a good smell.
Now add the peas and stir fry for 5 minutes. Then add the fried rice to this, add salt and mix well.
Add 1 : 1 1/4 ratio water(for 1 cup rice, 1 1/4 cup water) to the rice. add one spoon ghee on top and close the lid. After 1 or maximum 2 whistles switch it off.

Peas Pulao is ready to be served hot with mutter paneer or Paneer butter masala or Mix Veg Kurma.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elaneer Payasam / Tender Coconut Kheer

  My Hubby loves this payasam. He says the best thing about this payasam is the feel of coconut flesh with every spoon.
There are many ways of preparing this one. I follow this method most of the times as this is v tasty and v easy to make. I feel, once in a while we should forget diet conciousness and treat our tastebuds to this delicious sweet.

Elaneer Payasam / Tender Coconut Kheer

Ingredients :

Tender coconut water – 3 Cups (you may consider taking 2 tender coconuts)
Tender coconut flesh – taken from 3 coconuts
Condensed Milk – 150 ml
Coconut milk – 150 ml
Milk – 1 cup
Sugar – 3 spoons
Elachi powder – ¼ spoon
Dry fruits like cashews, pistha & almonds – as reqd

Preparation :

Boil milk and allow it to cool.
Cut half portion of the tender coconut flesh into small pieces. Grind the remaining flesh along with coconut milk & Sugar in a mixie.
When it is well blended add milk, condensed milk, elachi powder and the finely chopped pieces of tender coconut flesh.
Fry the dry fruits in ghee and add it to the payasam.

Serve chilled.

(It is good to cut some portion of the tender coconut flesh and add it the payasam as it gives a nice taste when we chew the coconut flesh)

Molagu Kozhambu / Spicy pepper tamarind Curry

                        Molagu Kozhambu

This is a tangy curry. My MIL makes this so well. I learnt it from her. This goes well with hot rice or with VenPongal as a side dish. When mixing with Hot rice, add some Gingerly oil to rice first and then after 5 min add this gravy. It tastes yummy! Goes well with curd rice also.
We generally make this and store in the frigde for 3 - 4 days.

Ingredients :

Coriander seeds (dhaniya) – 2 spoons
Bengal Gram (Kadalai paruppu) – 2 spoons
Red chillies – 6 – 7
Whole Black pepper – 6 – 7
Curry leaves – 12 – 15 single leaves
Tamarind – a big lemon size
Gingerly Oil – 3 spoons
Mustard - 1 spoon
Salt – as reqd
Jaggery – gooseberry size
Rice Flour – 1 spoon

Preparation :
Soak the tamarind in warm water for 10 min.
In a kadai add 1 spoon oil. First add red chillies. When it turns little dark, add the coriander seeds then Bengal gram and fry till it gets brownish. Then add whole black peppers & in the end add curry leaves and fry for 1 minute and put it off.
Now add this mixture along with the soaked tamarind in a mixie and grind it well until you get a smooth paste.(Should be more watery than a paste similar to the consistency of Dosa batter).
Filter this with your hand or with a soup strainer to ensure no tamarind remains are left out in the gravy. You may add little water if required.
Now in the same kadai in which we fried the mixture, add the remaining oil. Then add mustard and let it splutter. Now add this gravy to the oil and let it boil. When the gravy boils well (the raw smell of Tamarind should go), add salt, jaggery and let it cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
Now mix rice flour to ¼ glass of water without forming lumps and add it to the gravy. This Helps in thickening the gravy and gets a good blend to the dish.

Serve with hot rice(add some gingerly oil to rice) with papad or vadaam.

Ven Pongal / Spicy lentil rice

Ven Pongal

This Rice dish is very famous in South India. This is had as a breakfast item served along with Chutney & Sambar / Gotsu.
In the month of Jan (Maargazhi), pongal is prepared and offered to god early in the morning. Ghee adds more taste to this dish. So, more the ghee, tastier it is going to be!!
This is a very tasty & much filling breakfast and will keep your stomach hungry free for hours :)

Ven Pongal (Lentil Rice)

Ingredients :
Rice – 1 cup
Green Gram Dal / (moong Dal) – ½ cup
Cumin Seeds (Jeera ) – 2 Spoons
Whole Black Pepper – 2 spoons
Curry leaves – as reqd
Broken Cashews – 2 Spoons
Ginger – one small piece
Refined Oil – 1 Spoon
Ghee – 2 Spoons
Salt – as reqd (I added 2 spoons)
Asafoetida (hing) powder - little

Preparation :
Wash Rice & dal together. Add 5 cups of water and keep in pressure cooker for 4 – 5 whistles. The Rice must cook well to get mashed.
In a separate kadai, add 1 spoon ghee, fry cashews separately and take it out.
Now in the same ghee add Cumin seeds & little hing powder. Add 1 spoon whole black pepper directly. Grind coarsely the remaining black pepper and add it to the mixture in the kadai. Fry till cumin seeds changes color. Do not over fry. At the end add the curry leaves & finely cut ginger and fry for few seconds and put it off.
Now when the rice is cooked, mash it well using a ladle or a hard spoon. Add salt. Add the refined oil to this.
If required you may add some boiling hot water to this if you feel the water quantity is less. It needs to be little watery at this level. Once it cools down, it will absorb the water and thicken.
Now add the fried mixture to this and mix well. Add one spoon ghee on top when done.

Serve hot with Tomato Chutney & ; Molagu Kozhambu(pepper tamaring gravy) or Kathrikai Gotsu (Brinjal gravy)

P. S : The cumin seeds should not get black. If cumin seeds get black, they taste bitter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wholesome Veg Soup


This is a really nutritious soup and can be had any time of the day. Doesnt involve much cooking process also. For kids who refuse to take vegetables directly, soup is the best form as it provides them with the required nutrients.
Ingredients :
Cabbage - 150 gms
Baby Corn - 3
Carrot - Scrapped - 1 cup
Beans - 100 gms
Peas - 1/2 cup
Onion - 2
Potato - scrapped - 1
Maida / All purpose floor - 2 spoons
Milk - 1/2 cup
Cornfloor - 1 spoon
salt / pepper - as reqd
Chop all vegetables in v small pieces. Grate Carrot & Potato.
In a pressure cooker, add 1/2 spoon oil, fry onions for few minutes and add all vegetables to this. Add required quantity of water, salt and cook till vegetables are well cooked and ready to get mashed.
Take out half of the cooked vegetable out and mash the remaining portion of vegetables well with the help of a wooden laddle. If you have a blender, it will do the job perfectly. otherwise we can mash well with a strong laddle. Do not add more water now. When water is less, vegetables get mashed well. We take out half portion only to get some feel of the vegetables in the mouth and is done only on personal preferences. We love to munch some vegetables in our soup, so i do it this way. When well mashed add enough water and let the vegetables boil
Now in a bowl mix the corn floor, Maida & milk and mix well without forming lumps. Add this to the boiling mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Corn & Mint Pulav

Corn & Mint Pulav

This Sunday my friend 'K' came home for lunch. Wanted to try something different. Tried this corn & Mint Pulav. Came out well. I also added Tofu since my son and her son likes Paneer a lot. This is optional though. But this is definitely a very easy & quick dish.

Ingredients ::

Sweetcorn - 2 (with Cob preferred, or else frozen can also be used)

Basmathi rice - 2 cups

onion - 2

Tomato - 4

cinnamon - 1 stick

Bay leaf - 1

salt / red chilly powder / oil - as reqd

To Grind together

Mint Leaves - 1/2 Bunch

Green Chillies - 4 (long)

Saunf - 1/2 spoon

coconut grated - 3 spoons

Garlic - 2 -3 pods

cinamon - 1 small stick

Preparation :

Soak the rice for 30 minutes

In a pressure cooker, cook sweet corn adding one cup of water. Take it out, peel the corn and keep it aside. In the same cooker, drain water add 2 spoons oil. Then add cinnamon, bayleaf & saunf. When it splutters, add onion and fry till it truns brown. Then add tomato, 1 spoon red chilly powder, salt & a pinch of sugar and let it cook well till the raw smell goes.

Now add the ground paste to this and cook till raw smell dissapears.

Next add corn & rice, add 2 cups of water & cook for one whistle.

If you wish, you can add some paneer cut into cubes when adding the corn & rice.

Tastes good with Mix veg Raitha