Monday, October 5, 2015

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu / Okra curry in Tamarind Sauce

BM # 54
Week :1 , Day: 3
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu ! I have to repeat this name at least ten times to remember.Seriously Vendakkai is quite tough to pronounce, but I am trying to get a hang of it. I better do !. Well this dish from the Tamil Spread was nominated as the best dish. My son loved it and so did my DIL ! I had never made a Kuzhambu before and I knew that this dish would be a hit the minute I finished cooking. The aroma of the Kuzhambu filled the house. 

The dish is served with rice and my friend Valli tells me that we can make a variety of these!May be next time.

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu is a part of the Tamil Spread I made for The BM Buffet and my Day 3 post under Curries and Side Dishes.

Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu
Serves 2- 4
Recipe Source : Valli

6-8 shallots
100 gms lady finger
1 medium tomato
2-3 tbsp tamarind pulp
Few curry leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp red chilly powder
1-2 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste


Heat oil.
Add lady fingers, saute.
Remove the lady fingers and keep aside.
In the same oil , Add mustard seeds , as soon as they pop, add curry leaves.
Add chopped garlic.
Add the onion shallots and saute.
Add chopped tomatoes and saute till mushy.
Add the spices.
Add tamarind pulp, ladyfingers and mix well.
Add a cup of water and pressure cook for just one whistle.
After 2-3 minutes,Gently release the pressure , and serve hot.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Potato Kurma from Tamil Nadu

BM # 57
Week :1 , Day: 2
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread

Among the Thali's I served for Buffet on the Table, Tamil Spread had maximum dishes and they fit so well with our theme of curries and side dishes this month. So here is a Potato Kurma ! I could call this an award winning recipe as everyone loved it.

Kurma or Korma is a vegetable curry which can be either curd based or tomato based. I had only heard on Navratan Korma ,and the Vegetable Qorma that I made for the alphabet "Q" while we did Cooking with Alphabets. When I had to make my Tamil Spread Valli suggested a Yam Kurma. I am not a yam person, in fact no one really cares for it so wanted to play safe. Potatoes are always the safest, so I decided on Potato Kurma, and I am glad I did . This is on our daily menu now.

Potato Kurma
Serves  2
Recipe Source : Cooking for all Seasons

2 onions, small, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, medium, finely chopped
2 cloves
1" piece cinnamon
1 green cardamon
3/4 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled , cut into slightly bigger cubes
1 tbsp coconut paste
1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch turmeric
1-2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Heat oil.
Add whole spices.
Add onion, saute till pink.
Add ginger garlic paste, saute.
Add tomatoes, let cook till mushy.
Add coconut paste, fennel powder and the rest of dry spices.
Add potatoes.
Mix well.
Add 1 cup water and pressure cook for 2 whistles, simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Let the pressure release, check if potatoes are done, serve hot.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Masala Beans Poriyal

BM # 57
Week :1 , Day: 1
Theme: Curries and Side Dishes
Tamil Spread

October begins and with this we begin with our regular three day marathons. September is a busy month with Mega Marathon running for the complete month. This time we had Buffet on the Table and it sure was one of the most interesting marathons, leaving us with many bookmarks. At the same time, I have some posts which could not be published during September,..well I would have gladly published , but this time we had a clause of max 4 posts a day ! I have plenty of drafts, and I am so happy that Valli decided to announce themes which helped us to post the unpublished posts.

So for Day 1 I have a Masala Beans Poriyal, which was a part of the Tamil Spread I served for Buffet on the Table.

Poriyal is a Tamil word used for a dry saute vegetable. This is a side dish along with Sambar ,Rasam and rice. Poriyals could be classified under comfort food. These are light and quick to prepare. A tempering of mustard seeds and some lentils is a must .Curry leaves naturally are a must in South Indian Cuisine.

There are many variations with Poriyal and the most common ones are with Potato, Mix vegetable and Beans. For the Tamil Spread I made two Poriyals, since it was a spread. Both the Poriyals are very different from each other. For the beans Poriyal, I made a spice powder, which made the dish absolutely exotic. I am sure I can put it under my party menu. Everyone simply loved this Poriyal. 

Masala Beans Poriyal
Serves 4 - 6
Recipe Source : Chandra Padmnabham

Spice paste
2 tsp oil
3 tbsp split Bengal gram
1 tbsp black gram
2 tbsp coriander seeds
4 dried red chilly
1/ 2 tsp asafoetida
4 tbsp fresh coconut
A marble sized tamarind ball, without seeds or strings
1-2 tsp salt

500 gms French beans, trimmed and chopped fine
Salt to taste

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black gram
1 tsp Bengal gram
1-2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilly, halved
1 sprig curry leaves

Heat oil for spice paste in a frying pan.
Add all the ingredients under spice paste, except coconut, tamarind and salt.
Fry over low. Heat, tossing gently, till the daals turn golden and the spices lend a wonderful aroma.
Add coconut, tamarind and salt.
Grind to a thick , fine consistency, adding 1-2 tbsp water.
Keep aside.

Place beans in the same pan with salt and 1 cup water.
Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or till the beans are tender and have absorbed all the water.
Remove beans from the pan and keep aside.

Heat oil for tempering.
Add all tempering ingredients in the  order mentioned.
Mix in the spice paste and fry over low heat for 5-6 minutes.
The mix should be dry and crisp.
Add the beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or till well blended.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Recap - Buffet on Table

The month of September is a hectic month where we post a recipe everyday. We work with themes which are mutually decided by our blogging group. This mega marathon has some or the other kind of twist or challenge, which makes it interesting to go about.
Here is a recap!

We decided to name it Buffet on Table and had five themes. We decided to make Combos for the first week . The combos had to be from different countries. A very interesting theme where foods that pair with each other were cooked . There is a vast variety of these , here is what I chose for Combo theme.

For the second week we focused on Indian States. India is a land of diversity. Cuisine differs across different regions as a result of variation in local culture, geographical location and economics. It also varies according to the season . During the Indian Food Odyssey we travelled through all Indian states and presented their special cuisine , but for this marathon I cooked from six selected states . I made complete spreads , check out for yourself.

Next in the series are condiments across countries. This is one of the most interesting themes, and since this was a Mega Marathon , I wanted to make special condiments , these can be used to enhance your dishes.

Breakfast is an important meal of the day . Each country has their own special breakfast and it is rather interesting to see how different countries serve their breakfast. I did make a couple of breakfast spreads during our Around the World in 30 days, but the quest to learn more is always there, so with Breakfast across countries as the week 3 theme here are a few more spreads from different countries. I have a spread from our own country India too where I have breakfast from all the four regions .

The last weeks theme is the most interesting. Bloggers choice where we choose to blog just about anything. Since I love traveling , I have shared my travel and food experiences in the last week.

With this we come to the end of this recap of Buffet on Table !Hope you enjoyed it.
A big word of thanks to Srivalli, my fellow bloggers, my family , these marathons cant be complete without them !

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Haridwar , Food and Religion

BM # 56
Week : 5 , Day: 3
Theme: Blogger's Choice

Today for the last day of this marathon I will take you to Haridwar , a city in Uttarkhand. This was not the first time I was visiting this city, my sister in law lives there and so we have been visiting it since a long time.

Let me tell you a little about this paradise of nature lovers.

In Sanskrit, Hara means "Lord Shiva" and Dwara means "gate" or "gateway"Hence, Hardwar stands for "Gateway to Lord Shiva". Hardwar has been a typical place to start a pilgrim's journey in order to reach Mount Kailash, the eternal abode of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath, the northernmost Jyotirlinga and one of the sites of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit and Gaumukh, the source of River Ganga. Har ki Pauri or footsteps of Lord Shiva is considered the most sacred site in Hardwar. Mind you a dip in the river is considered very auspicious.

Pooja being performed at Har ki Pauri

Something that is not well known today to Indians and probably to those settled abroad, in an ancient custom detailed family genealogies of Hindu families for the past several generations are kept by professional Hindu Brahmins popularly known as Pandas, at the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in hand written registers passed down to them over generations by their Brahmin ancestors which are classified according to original districts and villages of ones ancestors, with special designated Brahmin families being in charge of designated district registers, even for cases where ancestral districts and villages that have been left behind in Pakistan after Partition of India with Hindus having to migrate to India. In several cases present day decedents are now Sikhs and many maybe Muslims or even Christians. It is common for one to find details of up to, or even more than, ones seven past generations in these genealogy registers kept by the Pandas of Haridwar. On our recent trips to Haridwar I was very keen to see this register and my hubby made sure I saw it.

Here is a glimpse of it where my son has signed way back in 2008 when my BIL passed away.

A visiting family member is required to personally sign the family genealogical register furnished by ones Family Panda after updating it for future family visitors and generations to see and to authenticate the updated entries.

The most sacred ghat within Har Ki Pauri is Brahmakund. The evening prayer (Aarti) at dusk offered to Goddess Ganga at Har Ki Pauri . Har refers to God and Pauri refers to steps .this is an enchanting experience for any visitor. While walking to the ghats you see many of these small time food joints, where they cook in bulk and the poor are fed. The vendors try to convince the passer by to feed the poor , the food quality is of course very poor and it is a sad sight to see beggars and poor people in that state.

On reaching the ghats one has to find a suitable place to sit and wait for the aarti.

 About 21 Brahmins line up to recite shaloks for the Ganga Pooja

Playing Holi with Gangaji.

Aarti preps going on

 The lamps are really hot so they need to be holded with a thick wet towel

The complete Brahmkund is surrounded by priests doing the Aarti

The Market area

The main city has narrow lanes and a bustling market, which has shops lined on either side. Most of the shops sell religion related stuff and knick knacks. I was not very keen on buying things but keen on exploring the shops which sold mouthwatering food. Incidentally this city has only vegetarian cuisine. 

I cannot forget the taste of the Poori chola sold at Mohans , every time we have visited this city we made sure we ate these. Like a ritual after the aarti we gorged on these Poori chola with Aaloo sabzi. This is a complete treat and the taste is absolutely mind blowing. The market is lined up with these chola Poori walas but nothing can beat Mohans . They also sell Halwa , gulab jamuns and malpuas. This was our day 1 experience , and I was eagerly waiting for The next day to try more stuff.

Next day my cousin took me to the market and I did some prop shopping. On the way we saw freshly baked Indian Cookies flavored with cardamon. Yes you guessed right, nankhatais. The vendor had a custom made oven where he had a tray on which he placed these little bites to be baked. This was one of the most rustic ovens I had ever seen and the cookies were warm delicious , melt in the mouth kinds, after buying a small pack of these we headed to a famous Bhagwati Chole Bhature wala . Chola Bhatura is a very very common dish , but tell me how many of you have heard of Tari? Tari is like a soup. The chola is boiled and the water in which they are boiled is reserved. This water is then tempered and served as Tari along with Chole Bhature. This was absolutely new for me and I thoroughly enjoyed this soup.

Haridwar is also very famous for its chaats. Right outside my sis in laws hotel we have two Chaat  vendors. One sells fruit Chaat and the other sells burgers. The Chaat is quite common but the burger was very interesting. It had a bun, a patty and then chutneys and even curd. A true desi burger. Which was delicious to the core.

Ok let's take a break from food and let me tell you that Haridwar is also one of the four places; where Kumbh Mela occurs after rotation of every twelve years and Ardh Kumbh after every six years. It is said that drops of Amrit (Elixir) fell in to the Brahmkund of Har-Ki-Pauri, therefore considered that a dip in the Brahmakund on this particular day which is very auspicious and when Jupiter (Brahaspati) comes to the sign Aquarius (Kumbh) once in every twelve years the Maha Kumbh fair is celebrated at Haridwar. The last time the Kumbh was held we visited this fair and here are some glimpses of it.

Beyond the mystic aura and mythology, Haridwar casts a magic spell on the visitor. 

I would have loved to stay on in this place and gorged on some more famous food available there, but what we had to head ahead towards the hills and so the trip to this holy city came to an end...but before I end let me give you just one more place  to explore while you are in that city.

Hoshiarpuri Restaurant , which is very famous for its Parathas and I love it's Kadhi Chawal, Baingan ka Bhartha and Raajma Chawal.

I cannot end this post without thanking my 12 year old niece, Tanya who made special Shahi Paneer for me , since she knew she had a blogger aunt who would be really pleased by this  gesture. I have to admit this was one of the best Shahi Paneers I have had till date! A cook in making Tanya, great job and Thanks dear !

With this post we come to the month long Buffet on the Table!, hope you enjoyed what I served you.

For me with every Mega Marathon, its a real learning process and I enjoy it thoroughly.

My humble Thanks to Valli for organizing these and of course a big word of thanks to all my fellow blogger friends and viewers.

Do come back for a recap soon , and of course we shall begin our regular marathons from the first week of October, just the way they are normally scheduled.

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