Feb 19, 2007

Nalagri (Sambar)

This is a very simple recipe for Nalagri.
Just do everything that you would do for making Rasam.


What you need to make Nalagri
  • 3-4 tsps Rice
  • 3 tsp Dhania (Coriander seeds)
  • 1/2 Coconut

Preparation for making Nalagri
  • Soak the rice for around 30 minutes or till the rice grains become soft to the touch (they should break easily).
  • Grate the coconut.
  • Put the rice (without water) , coriander seeds and grated coconut into a mixer and make a smooth paste of this. It will not be dry because of the coconut but you could add a little more water to this while grinding so that you get a smooth paste.

Method to make Nalagri
  • Do everything exactly that you would do for Rasam but right after adding the tomato and tamarind water, add the paste to it. Do the rest of the stuff as described in the Rasam recipe
  • Voila you have Nalagri

My fundas
  • I love to use pumpkin (kaddu?) in this along with black chana (chickpea) as vegetables. It really gels well with the taste.
  • Ladies finger (Bhindi/Bendekayi) also tastes very well in Nalagri.

Feb 17, 2007

Rasam (South Indian Soup?)

This is the most favoured companion to rice on most South Indian plates and palates. It easily mixes with rice and also can be accompanied by various dry curries of southern india thus lending a variety for the meal. It can be done with or without vegetables too.
There are many variations to the Rasam but I will describe here the one I make usually. I think it serves 3-4.

What you need to make Rasam
  • 1 cup Thur Dal (type of lentil) (cup you would use for serving in a thali)
  • 1 medium sized ball of tamarind (you have to remove the seeds ofcourse, the ball should fit into your fist, some people like the tanginess of tamarind so the quantity is according to your tastes)
  • 2 cups water (+1 cup if you will add vegetables to rasam)
  • Any Vegetable (optional)
  • 2 Red Tomatoes
  • 2 spoons of Rasam powder (then again if you want it hotter add more)
  • 2 strands of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Mustard seeds for seasoning
  • 2 tsp Oil for seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar (for emergency removal of over-hotness/over-spicyness)

Preparation for making Rasam
  • Wash the Thur dal thouroughly (I usually wash it three times, everytime with fresh water)
  • Wash and cut the vegetables (except tomatoes).
  • Soak the tamarind ball in water. Leave it in till actual use.
  • Put the thur dal into a container, add the water to this, add in the vegetables if any, place the uncut tomatoes on top of this heap.
  • Pressure cook this whole thing.
  • Wash the coriander leaves and cut into small pieces.

Method to make Rasam
  • Open the cooker only after it has fully cooled down (I have tried being a rebel and the cooker doesnt really care)
  • Remove the tomatoes from the container and keep separately in a shallow vessel.
  • Place the container with the rest of the stuff on a lighted stove. Keep the flame medium
  • Add a pinch of turmeric to this and allow it to boil.
  • In the meanwhile mash the cooked tomatoes. Take care not to burn your fingers. Use a ladle or something like that.
  • Some people dont like the seeds of tomatoes in the rasam (they say it gives a little sourness, I dont think so), some dont like the outer skin of the tomatoes.
  • The skin can be removed very easily after a tomato is cooked before mashing.
  • If you have to remove the seeds then tough luck because you will need to mash thoroughly and filter carefully.
  • Add the mashed tomato into the container on the stove. Allow it to boil a little.
  • In the meanwhile squeeze the soaking tamarind in the same water so that its juices get mixed with the water. Do it for a few minutes.
  • Now pour the tamarind water (none of the solids) into the container and allow it to boil.
  • Add the rasam powder and allow it to boil
  • Add salt and yes, boil!
  • Add coriander leaves and keep it boiling.
  • Taste the rasam now and you will know if there is anything less (salt or rasam powder etc). Add whatever is required.
  • Make sure you boil the whole thing thoroughly.
  • You know its done when you taste it and you taste rasam and not spicy or tangy water.
  • Remove from flame.
  • Place a small kadai (you get special ladles for this in India) on the flame and add the oil to it. After it heats, add the mustard seeds and let it sputter.
  • Remove the kadai from the flame and pour its contents on the rasam. Mix.
  • Your rasam is now seasoned too.
My fundas
  • Eat hot with hot rice.

Rasam Powder

On popular demand I bring you the recipe for the invigorating Rasam powder!

What you need to make Rasam powder

  • 1/4 kilo Lal Mirch (Red chillies)

  • 1/2 kilo dhania (coriander seeds)

  • 100 gms Jeera (cumin seeds)

  • 100 gms Kali Mirch (black pepper)

  • 300 gms Methi (Fenugreek seeds)

  • 50 gms Rai (Mustard seeds)

  • 10 strands Kadi Patha (Curry leaves)

  • 10 gms Hing (Asofoetida) (For those in India a medium sized SSP HIng box)

  • 1 tsp Ghee (use the spoon you eat with)
In South India, the preferred varities for red chillies are from Guntur or Byadgi regions available under the same names.
The guntur variety is roundish and imparts a rich red colour to the powder
The byadgi variety is less spicy, hence you would have to use 1/2 kilo if you choose this.

Preparation for making Rasam powder

  • Wash curry leaves and dry thoroughly in the sun. It should not have any moisture on it.

  • Clean the red chillies. Its upto you whether you want to remove the cap.

  • Place a heavy bottomed vessel(kadai) on the stove (switched on).

  • Keep the flame low.

  • Switch on the exhaust fans please :)

  • Put the coriander seeds into the kadai. To this also add the curry leaves. Roast both together constantly stirring. Take care that it does not burn. Roast till it turns a little brown.

  • Pour this out to a big container. (You will keep adding the rest of the ingredients after preparing them to this same container).

  • Now its the turn of the red chillies. Put the red chillies into the kadai. I am sure we wouldn't keep giant kadais at home hence you wil have to roast the chillies in parts. Roast the red chillies till they are warm to the touch. Its also necessary that you keep turning the chillies around in the kadai so that they are all evenly warm

  • Pour this out to the same big container as mentioned before.

  • (You could roast the chillies in the end also because the air does get swamped with "chilliness" and you will end up sneezing and watery eyed.)

  • Put the cumin seeds into the kadai. Keep moving it around while it crackles. Stop when it changes colour a little bit.

  • Pour this out to the same big container as mentioned before.

  • Please note that that the kadai would get pretty hot over time and ingredients could burn if you are not watching.

  • Now for the black pepper. Take 1/2 tsp of ghee and put it into the kadai. To this add the black pepper and roast for a veyr little while. It will crackle and spurt a lot so you will have to keep a lid handy to cover it. Ofcourse leave a little place for your spoon to enter and stir :) (Tough job)

  • Pour this out to the same big container as mentioned before.

  • Take 1/2 tsp of ghee and put it into the kadai. Put the fenugreek seeds into this. Roast till it becomes a brown.

  • Pour this out to the same big container as mentioned before.

  • Now put mustard seeds and asafoetida into the kadai and roast a little.

  • Pour this out to the same big container as mentioned before.

Method to make powder

  • Allow the contents of the big container to cool down to room temperature.

  • Now either you could use a Mixer/Grinder which you have at home or you could take it to your friendly neighboruhood rice mill and grind all the contents together. It should be ground to a fine powder
My fundas

  • You will have with you around 1 and 1/2 to 2 kilos of Rasam powder which could last from 8 months to a year for you depending on usage.

  • Please keep this powder in an air tight container at all times.

  • My advice would be to pour out little quantities into a smaller box and use this daily instead of opening the big air tight box everyday.

  • If you do not want to end up with this humonguos quantity of powder just reduce the quantity of ingredients proportionally.

  • The main ingredient being the red chilli, if you reduce it by half for example then you will have to reduce all the other ingredients also by half.

  • And yes, the key to making your rasam less spicy is not in the ingredients of the powder but in the quantity you dunk into your rasam itself ;)

Feb 15, 2007

Shavige Payasa (Vermicelli sweet dish)

Being a traditional (hyuck hyuck) south Indian I want to embark on my food journey with a sweet. I choose Shavige Payasa because its my all time favourite.
Six years later I finally got around to updating the picture on this post. A well deserved one if you had seen my earlier pic. And this time around my darling dotzy helped me make it. We made it as Prasadam for Krishna Janmashtami. Her first dish and really my first too. I was this kid who did not like any South Indian snacks. Pongal, Uppit, Dosa, Idli, Chapathi would all make me want to starve than torture myself into eating them. After endless evenings of making the Shavige payasa for me as a substitute snack she found it wiser to teach me to make it. So everytime I came home from school to inedible snacks as mentioned above I would just make myself yummy Shavige payasa! Its a totally different story that my daughter does not share my sweet-tooth gene. She had to be implored to eat the prasadam! But the recipe is a keeper. Its easy to make!

What you need to prepare Shavige Payasa

1 cup Vermicelli
3 cups + 1 tbsp Milk
1 - 1 1/4 cups Sugar
10 Almonds blanched, skin removed and cut into smaller chunks (optional)
10 Pista blanched, skin removed and cut into smaller chunks (optional)
10 Cashews
10 Raisins
5-6 strands Saffron
4 tsp Oil/Ghee


If not already broken, break the vermicelli sticks to pieces of half an inch to one inch long.
Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed vessel and fry the cashews in it. Remove and keep aside.
Put in the vermicelli into the vessel and saute in ghee till it roasts a little and a nice aroma emanates from it.Remove from flame and keep aside
Soak the saffron threads in a tbsp of warm milk for 10 minutes. Crush the strands in the milk

Method to make Payasa

Pour the milk imto the heavy bottomed vessel and bring it to a boil on medium flame.
Add the roasted vermicelli and allow to cook in the milk till it gets cooked and becomes soft to the touch. This  takes about 10 minutes. Alternately cook the vermicelli in 1 1/2 cups of water and then add 1 1/2 cups of milk to it.
Add the sugar and allow it to dissolve. Stir a few times.
Add the almonds,pista, cashews, saffron and dried grapes and cook together for another 5 mins.

Shavige Payasa is ready to eat.
Some like it hot , some like it cold, some like it in a biiiig cup lukewarm :)
And oh, if you dont want it too liquidy reduce the quantity of milk


I intend this blog to be "A Complete Idiot's Guide to the World of Cooking".
Wait did I get it wrong?
Should it be "An Idiot's Complete Guide to the World of Cooking"???

Well, whatever! You get the picture right? *Click* Thank you!

So, what will the posts look like? Definitely not like Nita Mehta's or Sanjeev Kapoor's cookery books. They will be more down to earth (my level re). Ingredients would have local/colloquial names or these would be furnished on request. Pictures speak a thousand words so I will try to put these up for reference too. Most times I am confused between dalchini and cinnamon not knowing they are the same thing or are they? What I also hope to achieve is to quantify quantities. What does "a cup of curd" mean? Which cup do I use? A "tablespoon of oil" anybody?

Anyway, I hope you stick by me in this journey of invigorating smells and heavenly tastes. Please step in, the ribbon is cut!

Disclaimer : This above is the Vision of this small enterprise of mine and cannot be achieved right from the start but one will definitely work towards it
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