Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cabbage Molagoottal

Aparna had been asking me to post some of the traditional items in our family. And, today I did try something traditional out of something unusual. I have never seen molagoottal with cabbage (only with all vegetables or green leaves - keerai). Initially wanted to make cabbage thoran, but there was nothing to make a gravy from and the summer heat was really making us sick (by giving us a cold!), so instead thought of making something with pepper - hence molagoottal.

---For 2 people---
Cabbage - 2 cups
Toor dal - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 2-3 (up to your liking)
Black Pepper seeds (Peppercorns) - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Salt - per taste
Gingelly oil /sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil - 2 tsp
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch

1) Cut cabbage, mix with turmeric, salt and steam (I don't pressure cook it as it tends to overcook it. When I don't pressure cook, I add salt after vegetables are somewhat cooked)

2) Roast Red chillies, peppercorns and urad dal in 1/4 tsp of gingelly oil till urad dal is light brown. Remove and cool.

3) Pressure cook toor dal

4) Grind the roasted chillies, peppercorns, urad dal with shredded coconut

5) When cabbage is cooked, add cooked toor dal and the ground mixture. Keep on medium-hi flame for 5 more mins

6) For tempering, heat coconut oil, splutter mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, curry leaves and a tbsp of shredded coconut. Once coconut is decently fried, pour it on the cabbage.

Simple. Molagoottal is same as porichcha koottu minus the fried coconut tempering! Can be made with other veggies such as Avaraikkai (snow peas/sno peas), Podalangai (Snake guard), Elavan/pooshinikkai (white pumpkin), Mathan/parangikkai (red pumpkin/banana squash), chenai (yam), vazhakkai (raw banana/plaintain), peas, carrots, chow chow (chayote squash). Generally does not have beans/cucumber varieties though, but it is really up to us. Keerai molagottal is also called keerai masiyal.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dessert - 2 : Badam Cake (er.. halva)

This one was truly an exhilaration turning to a fiasco. But, the taste came out good and I could muster enough courage to actually gift it!

Recipe is from my mother-in-law and hers tastes heavenly!

Badam/Almonds - A fistful (Soak in warm water for 5mins - peel off skins - soak in warm milk for 15 mins)
Cashews - A fistful (Soak in warm milk for 15 mins)
Sugar - 3 cups
Milk - 3 cups
Ghee - 1 cup

1) Grind badam and cashews to a smooth paste with the milk in which they were soaked - like butter - it will come to about a cup. If it comes to 1 1/2 cups adjust milk and make it 4 cups in total.

2) Add sugar and start stirring keeping the kadai in medium to medium-high. Be careful of milk not getting burnt at the bottom.

3) Keep adding ghee little by little say every 5-10 mins. You could melt it a wee little bit. The stirring will go on for an hour.

4) When ghee leaves the sides and stirring becomes really difficult remove and pour to a greased tray.

5) When it gets cool and not too hard, cut into squares or diamonds.

Since I kept it in medium-low heat, I stirred it for 2 hours. This ghee leaving sides thing is tough to figure out - if I waited for the ghee to come out, I couldn't stir and was scared of the milk mixture getting burnt - so finally when K said it tastes good and it felt like a thick consistency I removed from fire. But, I should've waited for just 5 more mins. Mine became Badam halva instead of Badam cake even after refrigerating it!!! At least I know how to make Badam halva now!!! ;-)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

10 Things I Miss Of Mom's Cooking Meme

Pushpa of PuSiva's Culinary Studio has tagged me with this meme. Now that is a nice feeling.

Have been missing home for quite some time now - and this one is making me more homesick!!! Our food was mostly varieties of kuzhambu, rasam, butter milk and curry with rice everyday. But there are so many festivals, vrathams, ceremonies and functions in our households that there is a lot to make, eat and relish. I miss almost all of what my mom makes, but here are things which I like the most and she is the best.

1) Vaazhaippoo paruppu usili : Made from plantain's flower and dal/lentils. Paruppu usili recipe is available at Shammi's and Indira's site. And, I do make paruppu usili out of beans but do miss the traditional vazhaippoo paruppu usili.

2) Thakkaali thokku : Thakkali is tomato in Tamil. Even my dad agrees that nobody can get mom's taste in this. This one is a simple but time consuming recipe where she grinds tomatoes then keeps it on the flame for about half an hour or so. Sometimes she adds onions, but I like it best when it is plain. It is a standard when we travel in trains to accompany the chappatis, idlis and curd rice.

3) Rava urundai : I already have told about this. This lovely aromatic sweet is low in fat but not sugar. It has equal quantity of rava and powdered sugar, little bit of cashews and cardamom. That is it. I still don't know how my mom's tastes so unique.

4) Paahakkai pitlai : Pitlai is a type of Kuzhambu. Paahakkai is bitter guard. This aromatic and tasty concoction is again simple, delicious and very healthy.

5) Mysore pak : Check Indira's site for the recipe. My mom's is similar - the proportions vary slightly. Again my mom's tastes very different from the rest and is the best.

6) Capsicum podi potta curry : This is simple - she just adds besan and curry powder, but it is tasty and till date I have not been able to make it the same way she does.

7) Godhumai (Wheat) halva : This is laborious! And I have seen my mom do this without the aid of a mixer - with the traditional stone to grind wheat - extract juice thrice - add jaggery ghee and keep stirring. The extracting of juice is quite laborious. She does this only for shraddhams, but you can imagine how much I used to look forward to shraddham because of this!!! :-)

8) Ellu saadham : On Saturdays of the month of Purattaasi (Sep-Oct) there is either chakkarai pongal (Sweet Pongal) or ellu saadham (Sesame rice). I love sesame - the seeds - the sweet ellu urundai (chikki made from sesame), the oil. The oil (nallennai) is used for cooking. In fact nallennai is used for almost everything (except ones that need frying). I have never seen my house without sesame oil or the seeds. But what I miss most is ellu sadam that mom makes. I have to get the recipe from her for this.

9) Chakkaravalli kizhangu chips : Chips made from sweet potato. This is traditional in our family for kanu (one day after Pongal). Simple and delicious. I tried this and needless to say - what a fiasco!!! I need to get mom's tips on how to not make them stick to each other.

10) Vaazhaithandu mor koottu : This is a Koottu made from butter milk, coconut, green chillies, cumin and stem of plaintain. I love this primarily for its fibre and the sour taste from buttermilk - not to mention the ground coconut.

There are so many more items - like ezhu kari koottu (made on Thiruvadirai and Pongal), Aviyal (on a grand Sunday). I so very much look forward to festivals for the amazing varieties of food!!! :-)

Would like to pass on this meme to:

Aparna of Shakahari Sapadu
Shankari of Stream of consciousness
Shalini of Samaithu paru

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Opinion: The complete concoction called "Sambhar"/"Kuzhambu"

When my friend and I were talking for only one and a half hours the other day, the topics were mostly around what she cooked and what I did. Suddenly, I was telling her how I find Kuzhambu or Sambhar like a complete concoction - in terms of health.

Well, it has vegetables, pulses - equate it to vitamins, protein. It has the following tastes - tangy, salt, hot and bitter. Bitter how??? Methi (Fenugreek) seeds that we put for tempering (tadka/thalichchu kottaradu) are bitter. If you add jaggery as some do, it has a sweet taste as well and according to ayurveda, we are supposed have all tastes for a balanced meal - this comes close. It also has little bit of cereal (my mom adds a little bit of Rice flour to it in the end). It has turmeric that is good for the brain. Tamarind has iron content. Mustard in tempering has a heat producing effect so do the chillies while methi is cooling! If you add coconut, then that is cooling as well. Whoever invented this is a genius! Rasam is not like this - at least not so many veggies and no methi to give that cooling effect.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Experiment: Chutney - Peanut chutney

Today's evening tiffin is our traditional Idli but with peanut chutney. Refer Indira's recipe

I omitted onions and garlic and instead of a cup of peanuts added 5 fistfuls. Instead of 5 red chillis just a single red chilli and generous amount of tamarind paste. It was most funny to roast a single red chilli. Salt as usual is "kan dittam" - as per my eye's measurement. It is tasting lovely! Thanks Indira.

One tip on taking the skins off the peanuts. In India we winnow it out. That is - after roasting peanuts simply crush with hand to remove skins then, spread a newspaper and winnow the husk out. How to winnow - hold the plate and move it up and down (huh - it is too darned difficult to explain these things!!!) - husk will come to the front, that is all. We call it "podaikkaradu" in Tamil with a plate like thing called "muram". We remove husk from rice and aval/nel pori (kurmura) this way mostly.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Experiment : Dessert - 1 : Gulabi Phirni

I think I am hooked on to Ashwini's blog - recipe is right here. I meant to post this when I tried the recipe two weeks back, but, never mind. Basically, I need this blog so that I can tag all the food items I keep reading and drooling about.

I pretty much followed her recipe - used 2% reduced milk instead of combination of whole milk and normal one. Did not have rose water, but had gulkand luckily. Gulkand reduces heat in the body so this recipe has gone straight into my healthy dessert list. I had to keep it on medium heat for 35 mins or so. The results were too good. A little too sweet but worthwhile the effort of stirring for that long. Instead of matkas, I froze them in the coffee mugs!!! :-) I think it is Gulkand that increases sweetness, may be sugar can be reduced to compensate.

Experiment: Steamed Cake - 1 - Tavsalli (Konkani)

I am completely unaware of Konkani cooking, but it seems easy and interesting thanks to the food bloggers. So, this afternoon's experiment is Tavsalli by Ashwini.

Do I ever follow a recipe? I thought the photo looked like rawa instead of semolina - so I used the fine suji (bombay rawa) and musk melon since the english cucumber purchased 2 weeks back has died in spite of being in the refrigerator. I reduced jaggery to 1/4 cup thinking musk melon would make it all up. I haven't tasted tavsalli in my life before. But, 1/4 cup seems less for my taste bud. While frying the rawa I was reminded of Rawa urundai (Amma is an expert at this one and hers is best when all of us get together and eat rawa urundais from each household). So, thinking of that, I fried rawa using 4 tsp of ghee. K said "Ok" Then he said "Nanna irukku" (in spite of the lesser jaggery, guess he is trying to be nice!). We could not eat more than 2-3 pieces, it feels full. But, I still think this is a healthy recipe and a nice cake! :-) I will follow the recipe next time.