Cook's Hideout: April 2007

April 29, 2007

JFI-WBB: Green Leafy Vegetables - Methi Upma

Hearty congratulations to Indira on the 1st anniversary of Jihva for Ingredients blog event and making it such a big success. This month's theme is "Going Green with Green Leafy Vegetables" (keeping Earth Day in mind) and Indira & Nandita (@ Saffron trail) have come together to make it JFI & WBB joint event.
To cover all the bases for this event, I incorporated greens for a breakfast recipe and also made it on a weekend. Here's my entry "Methi Semya Upma". This recipe is extremely simple and quick to make.

Semya (Vermicelli noodles) - 1/2 cup
Methi (fresh or frozen) - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 large, chopped fine
Green chilies - 4, chopped fine
Lemon juice - 1tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Red Chili - 1 (optional)
Curry leaves - 6
Salt - to taste

  • Bring 3 cups of water to boil, add semya and salt. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1tsp of oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and chana dal. Saute till the seeds splutter.
  • Add onions, curry leaves and chilies. Saute till onions turn transparent, but not brown.
  • Add the chopped methi leaves (thawed if using frozen) and salt, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked semya, stir well and continue cooking for couple more minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, mix well and serve hot.

Note: If the vermicelli turns into a blob, just add some cold water to refresh it. Cooking vermicelli separately (my mom's trick) makes the noodles nice and separate and not sticky.

April 24, 2007

Peerkangai Kootu (Beerakaya Kootu)

This is my entry to Lakshmi’s RCI (Regional Cuisines of India) event. I have very fond memories of the places and food from all the south Indian states. When I was 12 years old, my dad (he is an avid traveler) took us for a 2 week South India tour on LTC. He planned along with few of his colleagues, hired a big AP Tourism bus and off we went on the trip that I still remember very vividly. There were about 30-35 people altogether including 2 drivers (who by the way became good friends with us kids).
We started off our trip in Karnataka (HYD-Hampi), visited Gomateshwara in Shravanabelagola(fun walking up the mountain as kids), beautiful temples of Bellur, Halebid, Mysore etc. Then came beautiful Kerala – Cochin, Trivandrum, Gokarnam etc. Finally it was the temple state of Tamil Nadu – Madurai, Kanchi, Tiruchirapalli, Trichy, Ooty, Palani, Coimbatore etc.
As I was typing this, I was wondering how in the world did we cover so many places in 2 weeks and would I be able to do something like this for my kids in the future (would I have the patience and stamina to do it when I get to my parents age). Along with experiencing the rich culture of our country, we even got to taste the different cuisines in different states. I wish I was a little older and a little more interested in food at the time. But I still remember the freshly made coconut chips from Kerala and the smell of freshly made idlis from the street stalls wherever we went.
I would have to thank Lakshmi for coming up with this event. It has made me very very nostalgic and I could probably fill up pages about this trip with the places we visited, food we had, things we bought, our fights on the bus etc. So I’ll stop right here and get to my recipe.

This recipe is from our neighbor in India, who is a Tamilian. The only change I made is to add a potato along with ridge gourd. I just love the combination of spices, lentils and veggies in this recipe.

Peerkangai (Beerakaya/ Ridge Gourd) – 1
Potato - 1 small
Toor dal – ½ cup
Tamarind paste – 1tbsp
Salt – to taste
For the masala paste:
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Pepper corns – 12
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
For tempering/ popu:
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing - pinch
Curry leaves - 6


  • Heat 1tsp ghee in a pan, add the ingredients for making the paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Remove, cool and grind into a paste with little water.
  • Cook dal, chopeed ridge gourd and potato together in pressure cooker till done.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, add urad dal, cumin & mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves, when the seeds splutter, add the dal mixture, tamarind pulp, salt and the ground paste.
  • Cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes. Serve with rice and papad.

April 22, 2007

Majjiga Pulusu with Greens

After seeing the different recipes for Mor Kozhumbu/ Kadis/Majjiga pulusu on various blogs, I wanted to post Andhra version of majjiga pulusu. I used potato, carrot, spinach and bachali kura (Poi/ Pasali Keerai/ Basella alba Stewaret). You can also use bottle gourd (sorakaya), okra etc.
This dish is usually served with small lentil vadas (dumplings) on the side. Vadas are extremely simple to make; ingredients as exactly same as the masala paste. If you plan to make the wadas, just use a bit more of all the ingredients and grind into a thick paste without adding water. Make into small dumplings and deep fry. Enjoy them as is or soaked in the majjiga pulusu. Yummy!!!!
Potato - 1 medium, cut into thick long slices
Carrot - 1 medium, cut into thick long slices
Spinach - 1/2 cup, chopped
Bachali Kura - 1/2 cup, chopped
Yogurt - 1 cup (sour yogurt is preferred)

For the paste:
Chana Dal - 1tbsp
Toor dal - 1tbsp
Raw rice - 1tsp
Grated coconut - 2tbsp (fresh or dry)
Ginger - 1/4" piece
Green chilies - 3-4
Coriander seeds - 1tsp
Cumin seeds - 1tsp

For popu:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chilies - 2
Hing - pinch
Curry leaves - 6

  • To make the paste: Soak rice, chana and toor dal for about 30 minutes in warm water. Grind them along with all the other ingredients into a smooth paste with water.
  • To make the pulusu: Boil potatoes and carrots with turmeric and salt in about 1 cup of water. When these veggies are slightly tender, after about 10 minutes, add the chopped greens and boil till they wilt.
  • Meanwhile whisk yogurt into smooth consistency with no lumps.
  • Add the paste, yogurt, salt (to taste) and turmeric to the boiled veggies. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 10 minutes. If you think the mixture is too thick, add water to bring to your desired consistency.
  • Remove from heat when it comes to a slow simmer and do the popu. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a small pan, add the popu ingredients and when they splutter, add to the majjiga.
  • Serve with rice and vadas.
Personally I don't like soaking my vadas in the pulusu. I usually have them on the side. Adding them directly to the liquid is purely personal taste and choice.

Here are some of the similar recipes from other Hideouts:
Asha's Poosanikai Mor kuzhambu
Shivapriya's Tomato Kadhi
Ratnavalli's Majjiga Pulusu
Priya's Majjiga Pulusu
Prema's Mor Kuzhambu
My own Tomato Kadhi

April 20, 2007

Mixed Vegetable Pasta

What do I do when I have to cook for myself and all that I have in the fridge is some left over pasta and some lonely veggies. The best part about cooking for myself is I don’t have to worry if my DH is going to like it or not. So I went with my whim and I made myself a big bowl of mixed vegetable pasta.

Cooked pasta – 1 cup (I used whole wheat penne rigate)
Onion – 1 medium
Carrot – 1 large
Green pepper – 1 medium
Zucchini – 2 medium
Corn kernels – ½ cup (I used frozen corn)
Tomato – 1 medium
Lemon juice – 1tbsp
Red pepper flakes – 1tsp
Garlic powder – ½ tsp
Herbe de provence (or Italian seasoning) – 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper – to taste
  • Dice all the veggies to approximately the same size.
  • Heat 2tsp olive oil in a large pan on medium heat, add onions, carrots and green peppers and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are slightly tender.
  • Add zucchini and corn and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and herbs. Cover and cook until tomatoes are tender but not mushy, about 3 minutes.
  • Toss pasta with the veggies, season with salt and pepper and let the pasta heat through for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add lemon juice, mix well and serve hot with generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
You can also add/ substitute broccoli, asparagus, green beans, yellow squash, peas etc. to this dish. (These are the veggies I can think of from the top of my head right now). Also this makes lot of food for one person.

April 13, 2007

Cabbage Rice

Simple to make and full of nutrients, this dish is great for week day dinner and tastes even better for next lunch. Cabbage is usually used in Chinese fried rice, but I have never tried using it in Indian style rice. It turned out pretty good and as I said tasted even better in the lunch box.

Basmati Rice – 2 cups, cooked
Shredded Cabbage – 1½ cups
Carrots – 2 medium, diced
Frozen Peas – ½ cup, thawed
Onion – 1 medium
Green chilies – 4
Curry leaves – 6
Peanuts – ¼ cup
Cashews – 3tbsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Sambar powder – 2 tsp (I used MTR sambar powder)
Lemon juice – 1 to 2 tbsp, depending on how tangy you want (I used juice of 1½ lemons)
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, chopped fine
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste

  • Cook basmati rice with ½ tsp of oil. Let it cool completely (spreading on a large platter would help, but not necessary).
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan, add mustard seeds and after they splutter, add onions, green chilies and curry leaves. Sauté till onions are translucent, but not browned.
  • Add the cabbage and carrots, cover and cook on medium heat till the veggies are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Stir in the peas, turmeric, salt, sambar and red chili powder. Cook uncovered on medium high heat till any water in the veggies is evaporated.
  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 tsp of oil in a small pan and fry the peanuts and cashews till lightly browned. Remove and keep aside.
  • To the rice, add turmeric, cabbage mixture, fried peanuts and cashews, lemon juice, cilantro and mix gently.
Adjust salt and serve with raita and papad.


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