Kuzhi paniyaram or guntha ponganalu: Toad in the hole – India ishtyle

I first encountered these little balls of deliciousness – crisp and browned on the outside and deliciously, steamily soft on the inside at an aunt’s place in Bellary. Being brought up on a diet of sambar and koora (dry vegetable curry), with an occasional biryani thrown in for the sake of Hyderabad, we hadn’t been exposed to the finer side of  South Indian cuisine very much! This aunt, Meera kaaki, was one of those very painstaking cooks who MUST get it right – and boy, did she!
Oops, i still haven’t told you what this thing is, right? It’s Tamil name is kuzhi paniyaram but i much prefer the hilariously descriptive Telugu version – ‘ guntha ponganaalu’ – literally – ‘ the thing which swells in the hole’!!!!
Meera kaaki served it with the most awesome peanut chutney and i tried for years before finally cracking it! Being the nutrition conscious niece of Malathi Mohan, i had to find ways to make it lower in fat and here’s my version.
The picture, btw, was part of, operative words, being ‘part of’ Kanchana’s brekker today – the other parts consisting of a large bowl of leftover pasta and Boost as a pre-breakfast ‘digestive’! The post breakfast thing you see on the plate is a glass of banana mango milk shake – and no, this is NOT my biggest glass! I had to put in a tiny glass (my share) to fit the whole thing in the frame! Let’s get to the matter though.
Guntha ponganalu with peanut-mint chutney
Dosa batter – well, if you have a family with a large appetite, about 8 to 10 cups. For normal human beings 1 or 2 cups should suffice!
Ponganala pan – here’s a picture of it – scroll right on the main picture above.
Oil – a couple of tsps.
To make the ponganaalu, heat the pan on the stovetop on medium heat, add a few drops of to each of the holes and swirl around. Lower heat, pour in enough batter into each hole till it’s almost at the brim. Cover and cook on a low flame till the appams swell ( get it??) and the batter draws away from the sides. Test by peeking under one – with a skewer, silly – till they’re golden brown. This should take about 3 minutes. Turn over each appam and let cook, uncovered for a further two minutes.
Peanut and mint chutney
Peanuts (surprise!) – 1/2 cup
Mint – 1 cup
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Chana dal (bengal gram) – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 lump about the size of a chana dal
Green chilies – 3
Red chilies – 3-4 – believe me, the kick is worth it!
Tamarind or tamarind paste – 1 tsp
Jaggery – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – about 1/2 tsp
Coconut grated – 1 to 2 tbsp.
Cabbage – shredded – 1/2 cup – this recipe actually calls for more coconut but i have substituted a lower cal option. You are free to choose to pile ’em on but jes’ giving a statutory warning here!
Sesame oil – preferred – but can do with any other oil too – no, no, Arch NOT diesel oil!
Heat oil in a saucepan, add asafoetida and peanuts and roast for 3-4 minutes till the peanuts smell ‘roasty ‘. Add the mustard, let ’em pop, add the rest of the ingredients except the jaggery and stir fry on a high flame for about 3-4 minutes. Switch off, add jaggery and grind to a rough paste adding about 1/2 glass water – makes a thick, ‘sitting-on-the-plate’ and not ‘me-running-behind-to-catch-it’ kind of consistency!
Dat’s it! Eat! And tell what you think..  😉
 And finally, ta-da, the first batch of Kanch’s breakfast!

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0

Cabbage molagootal: Of New brides and strange foods

Twenty nine years ago and counting, I’d come to Madras as a new bride, entering a new home and a new culture and many strange new foods i’d never heard of, much less encountered!
Some i took to my heart some i preferred to meet just occasionally and some – topping this last list is something called ‘maahaani’ in Tamil and Malayalam and sarsaparilla in English ( always wondered how something so stomach-churningly smelly could have such a pretty name, conjuring up rose arbors , lavender sachets in frilly lace and peaches and cream and all things nice!) which i’d prefer to keep out of my life and my kitchen altogether!
Ouch – all you maahaani lovers out there, don’t throw stuff at me – i can’t actually keep it out as in OUT coz’ of a maahaani-loving husband – sigh….
One of the dishes i grew to like and make frequently is something called ‘kosu molagootal’ – ok, the cat’s outta the bag, i’m married to a Palakkad Iyer! Kosu (pronounced with and elongated ‘o’ is cabbage as opposed to “kosu” pronounced with a shortened ‘o’ which is the byproduct of eating too much chana and is guaranteed to clear the space around you in seconds!) p.s. – let you in on a secret – i mixed these up many times in the process of learning Tamil, resulting usually in much hilarity!
Molagootal – i am informed – is a ‘kootu’ made without pepper (i.e molagu vittitu panninadu – made leaving out pepper – weird way of naming a dish by mentioning that which is left out – rather like he-who-shall-not-be-named). This is one injunction i prefer to ignore because just 4 or 5 peppercorns added to molagootal elevate it mightily!
Here goes my version:
Cabbage – chopped fine –  2 cups
Green peas – 1 tbsp (optional)
Cooked tuvar or moong dal – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
2 small red chillies
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp urad dal
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp  jeera
4-5 peppercorns
Grated fresh coconut                                    (mine’s fresh from the freezer 😉
1 tsp coconut oil
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves to garnish + 1 pinch hing
Cook cabbage and green peas with the turmeric till almost done (in an iron kadhai if you have one. no? go buy one!). In a separate saucepan, heat 1/2 tsp coconut oil and fry the red chillies, 1 tsp each of jeera and urad dal and the pepper. Add coconut and switch off. Let it cool and grind to a fine paste using a little water. Add this past to the cooked vegetables and bring to the boil. Add cooked dal, simmer for 3-4 minutes to blend the dal and veg together and switch off. Heat the remaining 1/2 tsp oil and add mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp each of urad dal and jeera and curry leaves and hing powder. Switch off when seasoning is ready and drop into the dal.
Molagootal is now ready! Very simple, very low on fat, high on veggies and very tasty. Serve with rice, a salad and a pickle. Jokes apart, Palghat does have a very healthy cuisine – that should keep hubby quiet for a while- along with the molagootal!

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0

Apple crumble: Exams and apple crumbles… daughters and fans!

Kanch goes in for a NESTA exam today – that’s the US certification exam to become a fitness trainer (phew, my daughter, just imagine – considering i barely know my toes from my fingers when i’m asked to bring the two together ;)!
Excited call about a couple of hours later saying she’s passed – obviously being the mom that i am and the daughter that she is – my thoughts of celebration turn instantly to food – what shall i make ???
Open the fridge and stare at it for a while before registering a few cubes of cheese, maamidi taandra (aam paapad) and assorted vegetables – none of which look particularly celebratory to me. Panic- till i sight some..many apples! Apple crumble – quick and delicious and easy enough to whip up so she can walk into a house filled with the smell of cinnamon and baking – yay!
Start coring the apples – completely forgot to peel them, btw! – and my thoughts zing back some 4 decades and my mother’s first attempts at baking. Mom, while not very skilled – was an adventurous soul, if nothing else and we’ve eaten many a strange result of one of those ‘adventures’! Still alive to tell the tale. Back in the sixties and seventies, pre-internet and almost pre-cookbooks (okay, okay, prehistoric if you must say so!), there were very few home bakers and recipes were passed around carefully and preciously. My mother, being crock-full of confidence, disdained pieces of paper and preferred to commit recipes to an uncertain memory 😉
She comes back from work one day with a recipe (mindmap!) for apple pie that she’d overheard an Anglo-Indian friend of hers discussing with another friend. Since her mind was at the same time, a bit preoccupied with breech presentations and caesarian sections, she decided to gloss over the parts that she had missed out on. The result was a lumpy thing that fell apart when you tried to pick it up! Mom decided that merely slicing apples was too easy to be quite right so she ground them up. Then again, just 50 or was it 100 gm of butter – couldn’t be quite right, right? Let’s slather it on! I remember feeding bits of apple pie to Tommy, the dog (mentioned earlier in these chronicles), and Tommy being gloriously sick the next day.
Let’s hope this apple crumble doesn’t have the same effect on you 😉
Apples – don’t forget to peel and core – 6 – slice and squeeze juice of about 1/2 a lemon to prevent them from discolouring
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Oats – 1/2 cup
Flour (maida) – 2 tbsp
Cold Butter – 3 tbsp
Cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
Whizz all ingredients from 2 to 6 in a mixie till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and is not wet. Layer in a flan dish and sprinkle oats mixture in top. Bake at 200 C for 25-30 minutes till done and the crust is golden.
Serve with whipped cream. Well, ice cream if you must but it’s not a patch on the real stuff…

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0

Rice balls or kozhakottai with rasam: Wet Monday mornings and conversions

Now we’ve spent much of Sunday in making rasam powder, yes? Hope you’ve made enough rasam for Monday too coz we here are about to be beamed up to an elevated level – a rasam based dish. First, we start with picking out the pieces of pineapple you put in yesterday and realised you didn’t REALLY care for at all!! (jes’ kidding, we are quite sure you loved them, it’s only that pesky 4 year old of yours who didn’t like them!)
I’ve been watching Masterchef Oz for years with great relish and Masterchef USA ( a very second rate show – food and drama wise!) when Oz gets over and I really have nothing else to watch – sad state of affairs…and i kept dreaming about making this dish till……i finally did!
Tiny rice kozhakottais with rasam
4 cups rasam
¾ cups rice flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp of water
1 tsp gingelly oil
1 fried curd chili crumbled (mor mozhaga/
 majjiga mirapakaaya)- optional
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp urad dal
1 large pinch jeera
1 large pinch hing pwd
½ green chilli – chopped
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Salt
Method: Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, wait till it splutters, add all the other ingredients except rice flour and water. Add water and salt (go easy with this coz the chilis are salted already) and pour in the rice flour, stirring all the while. Switch off and continue to stir till the rice forms a ball around the spoon. Let cool a bit and then shape into tiny balls – about the size of the small marbles (golis). Place in a greased colander and steam for 7-8 mins on high till soft but springy.
To serve, pour rasam in each bowl and add  about 7-8 kozhakottais to each serving. Top with coriander and serve.
And if like me, you are an Andhra who can’t live without ‘skin potato’ curry, here’s a variation:
Scrub and cube potatoes (death to those who peel them!) and roast over a slow flame with just hing, turmeric, salt and chili powder till you get a crisp curry. That’s it! for the curry i mean. Add this curry into the rice mixture and then make balls and continue as you did before. You now have a gourmet Masterchef dish made from humble rice, potato and rasam. For those lazy bones who can’t be troubled with all this – plain rice and roast potato curry with rasam will do!! And don’t cry!
For those active bones who DID, in the elimination challenge – here’s a 9 on 10 from each of the judges and off you go to the balcony! Oh, i forgot to add – a wet Monday morning in Madras is an inspiration to laziness 😉

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0

Pineapple rasam: Of Dad in the kitchen…

 
My dad wasn’t very often in the front of the kitchen cooking, but what he did every single day was the backend work of chopping vegetables – and believe me – chopping veggies for a family of three hungry kids with, as often as not, a few guests thrown in for good measure, was no small task! Mum, despite being a doctor and working eight days a week, dad constantly touring on his engineering job, always seemed to find the time to welcome guests; very often guests came to stay for months on end – for medical treatment under Mummy’s eye, for a holiday or generally because someone was out of a job and needed somewhere to park self and family till the next job turned up!
 
As kids, we loved it when guests came because there were always more kids to play with, fight with, make up with….woke up many mornings to find a few extra heads on the pillow next to me….and the excitement of waiting for these many cousins to wake up so we get down to the serious business of playing…
 
Today, i wonder how these many mouths got fed by mom and dad with their extremely busy schedules… I remember once an uncle coming with his family of five to stay with us for several months because he had a brain tumour and was being operated on. My mother was very tied up with her work at the hospital and it was one of those times when the cook had decided to take a holiday! Daddy got into the act, hitching up his lungi, tying a make do turban (towel!) around his head and chopping and cooking away with zest!
 
All that thunder and lightning – literally because my dad would sing loudly and tunelessly through this whole operation while our dog Tommy howled alongside – either in harmony or despair at my dad’s singing! – enough indeed to produce a nawabi feast – was needed to make saaru (rasam) – that his mom- my appamma- was justifiably famous for!
 
Here’s my appamma’s rasam – my addition is pineapple – to satisfy family’s sweet cravings! The most important ingredient is the rasam powder – which MUST be made like this ONLY – if you want the rasam gods to smile on you, that is!!
 
Rasam powder (saarin  podi):
 
Chili powder – 2 measures ( my measure is abt 1/2 cup)
Dhania – 2.5 measures
Pepper – 1/2 measures
Jeera – 1/2 measure
Methi seeds – 1/4 measure
Mustard – 1/8 measure
Curry leaves – 1 measure – washed and dried
Asafoetida – 2 lumps the size of tamarind seeds
Home made ghee (i buy butter and make ghee)
 
Roast each of these ingredients (except chili powder) separately (i never said it was going to be easy!) on a low flame in a few drops of ghee each.
 
Cool and powder to reasonable fine powder in the mixie, adding the chili powder. This quantity lasts for about a month for a family of 4.
 
Now to the actual rasam itself – which is simplicity itself.
 
Two ripe tomatoes – preferably the sourer country variety – chunked and crushed
Tamarind paste – 1 flattened teaspoon (or to translate from Telugu ‘thala kottesi’- head lopped off!)
Cooked toor dal – 2 tablespoons
Turmeric – 1 large pinch.
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Rasam powder – 3 tsps
Salt
Water – 3 cups
Pineapple pieces – optional
 
Boil the tomatoes, tamarind paste and water. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes more. By now you should be fainting  with the heavenliness of the aroma and everyone in the house should be coming around to sniff and ask when lunch is going to be ready 😉
 
Switch off. Garnish with coriander.
Tadka – 1 tbsp ghee, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, a pinch of hing and a sprig of curry leaves.
 
Bask as the compliments roll in 😉

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0