Cook's Hideout: October 2006

October 30, 2006

Palakura Pulusu (Spinach Soup)

I have been thinking of this recipe for quite a while now. With the scare on bagged spinach, I thought its better to be safe than sorry and didn’t buy spinach for almost 2 months. I bought a bunch from Indian store last weekend.
Palakura Pulusu

Palakura Pulusu
This is my grandmother (Dad’s mom) recipe and I had to call my mom for the exact ingredients and method. It is a very earthy, nutritious and low-fat dish.

Spinach – 1 bunch, washed and chopped
Red onion – 1 medium, chopped
Green chilies – 4, chopped
Tamarind pulp – 2 tbsp
Rice flour – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
For tempering (Tadka):
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (Menthulu) – ½ tsp
Dry red chilies – 2
Curry leaves – 4-5
Asafetida – a pinch

  • Take spinach and onions with 1 cup of water in a saucepan; cover and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add green chilies, salt and tamarind juice (add ¼ cup water to tamarind pulp to make the juice); cook for 10minutes.
  • In the mean time, mix the flour with ¼ cup water to make slurry with no lumps. Add this to the spinach mixture and cook for another 5 minutes till the mixture is slightly thickened.
  • Remove from heat and add the tadka or tempering. For tempering, heat 1 tsp oil in a small saucepan, add all the ingredients listed, let the seeds splutter. Add this to the spinach mixture. Serve with rice.
Palakura Pulusu

Pictures updated: June 2013

October 27, 2006

Tempeh Jambalaya

I get very excited when I go grocery shopping especially if its specialty store (My husband says I go into a trance when I start shopping.. hehehe). A month ago, we shopped at Whole Foods store and I was really awed by the array of organic products (including fresh veggies, fruits, packaged & frozen food) that they carry. I have to say prices are not cheap and I wouldn’t probably go there every week, but may be once a month for some special products (that are not available in regular grocery stores).
I ended up buying a lot of stuff which also included a package of tempeh*. After looking for recipes online and in my cookbooks, I came up with this Jambalaya** recipe.

Uncooked Tempeh(Photos Courtesy:

*Tempeh is a fermented whole soybean product. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher protein, dietary fiber and vitamins content compared to tofu, as well as firmer texture and stronger flavor.

**Jambalaya is a Louisiana Cajun or Creole dish. It is traditionally a one pot dish made with meats, vegetables and rice.

Tempeh – 8 oz. package
Celery – 2 stalks, chopped
Carrots – 2 medium, chopped
Peppers (any color, I used red, yellow and orange) – 1 cup chopped
Zucchini – 1 medium, chopped
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves
Chopped tomatoes – 16 oz. can
Vegetable Broth (low-sodium) – 2 ½ cups (or 1 vegetable bouillon cube)
Long grain rice – 1 cup
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Seasoning blend:
Cayenne pepper – 1 tsp
Paprika – 1 tsp
Pepper – ½ tsp
Dried thyme – ½ tsp
Dried Oregano – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp

  • Mix all the ingredients for the seasoning blend in a small bowl and keep aside. Make sure that all the veggies are chopped approximately the same size, so they cook uniformly.
  • Cut tempeh into 1” pieces and fry them in 1 tsp of olive oil till lightly browned on all sides. Remove and keep aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom pan***, add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they start to get slightly tender.
  • Add zucchini and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, rice, sautéed tempeh, seasoning, vegetable broth (or water) and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered till rice is cooked, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, leave covered for another 10 minutes, fluff with fork, garnish with green onions and serve with a dollop of sour cream.
*** I used Pressure Cooker and it about me 20 minutes to cook, excluding, of course, prepping time.

This is my entry for this week's Sweet Nicks ARF 5-A-Day Tuesday.

October 26, 2006

Pachi Pulusu

This is a quick and easy recipe from my mother-in-law. As the name suggests (Pachi=raw; pulusu=soup), there is very little cooking involved in this dish. It tastes awesome with vuthi pappu (plain dal).

Tamarind paste - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped fine
Green chilies - 4, chopped fine
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

For tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1tsp
Curry leaves - 6

  • Dry roast sesame seeds and grind into powder.
  • Add water to tamarind paste and bring to a consistency of your liking. Add chopped onions, green chilies, sugar, salt and sesame seeds powder. Mix well (you might want to use your hand to get uniform consistency).
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, add the seeds and curry leaves. Add this to the pulusu and serve with rice and dal.

October 23, 2006

Curry leaves Rice (Karivepaku Annam)

Whether you fry curry leaves (Karuveppilai, Kari Bevu, Karri Patta, Karivepaku) in oil or ghee they give out this distinct flavor that’s just delicious. Curry leaves give an oomph factor to many Indian dishes like pulihora (tamarind rice), dals and some curries.
We had a huge curry tree in the backyard of our house we used to live years ago. Fresh karipatta everyday right from the tree. Now I spend about $1 for a small bag with about 6-7 lean stems.
I wanted to make Meena’s Eggs in curry leaf gravy and bought two bags of them last week. But didn’t realize I was out of eggs (duh..) Instead I made this rice dish that’s just simply delicious that’s perfect as a quick weeknight dinner. Recipe is from an old telugu newspaper.

Rice – 1 cup cooked
Curry leaves – about 4 handfuls
Onion – 1 large
Green chilies – 4
Garlic – 3 cloves
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
  • Wash the curry leaves and grind them into a paste with as little water as possible.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add jeera and fry for 30 seconds. Add chopped onions, green chilies, garlic and curry leaf paste, sauté till onions are soft, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add cooked rice to the mixture along with lemon juice and salt. Mix well and serve as is or with any curry or chips.

October 21, 2006

7 Cup Sweet

Diwali is so much fun with lots of food and firecrackers. I miss the firecrackers part in U.S, but to compensate that I made this really sweet treat.
7 cup sweet tastes similar to Mysore Pak, but it is way easy to make. As the name suggests it has 7 cups (a cup could be any measure) of ingredients and that’s it, cook them all together to make this delicious treat. You can also make 5 cup sweet, by omitting 1 cup sugar and 1 cup coconut.
7 Cup Sweet
Updated Pic from April 2013

Besan (Chickpea flour) – 1 cup
Sugar – 3 cups
Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Ghee (or unsweetened butter) – 1 cup
  • Combine all the ingredients together in a heavy bottom pan on medium low flame.
  • Cook stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes or until the mixture starts to get frothy. At this stage, you have to be hovering around the stove more often, stirring. Keep stirring frequently for another 15-20 minutes.
  • After a while, the whole mixture starts to pull away from the bottom of the pan and starts moving with the spoon. Remove onto a greased plate at this point and allow to cool.
  • Score into squares or diamonds when slightly warm and enjoy the melt in your mouth taste of this simple sweet.

October 20, 2006

Pesara Garelu (Moong dal Vada)

Wish you all a very Happy Deepavali.

Pulihora (tamarind/lemon/mango rice) and garelu (vada) are the most frequently made festival food in our household. I think it’s the same case in most of the South Indian families.
My attempts in making garelu have not been very successful. First attempt failed because of too much water in the batter and I ended up making punukulu (after adding almost a cup of rice flour). Next time, I made sure that I don’t add too much water, but for some strange reason, my garelu were really hard. When I was almost on the verge of giving up my quest for making garelu, I stumbled upon these pesarapappu garelu. This recipe is from an old telugu (Eenadu) newspaper.

Pesalu (Green moong dal) – 1 cup
Minapappu (Urad dal) – ½ cup
Green chilies – 8
Ginger – 2” piece
Cumin seeds – 1tbsp
Salt – to taste

  • Soak moong and urad dal, separately, overnight. In the morning, grind them into smooth batter with green chilies, cumin, ginger and salt.
  • Heat about 1½ to 2 cups of oil (I used canola oil) on medium-high flame. When the oil is hot enough, flatten a lemon size batter either on your palm or on a plastic Ziploc bag, make a small hole in the middle, slowly slide the batter into the hot oil. Fry the vadas on medium flame on both sides, till slightly golden brown.
  • Serve hot with any chutney (tomato, coriander, ginger, mint or good old coconut).
This is my entry for VKN's VCC Q3 2006: Festival Food event and this month's JFI: Festival Food hosted by lovely Vee at Past, Present and Me.

October 18, 2006

Guinness Cake

Are you wondering why I have a picture of a beer bottle under Chocolate cake? I used it to make my cake. I was surprised when I saw the recipe (in Vegetarian times) too, but I wanted to try it out and what better occasion than my husband’s birthday. He loves moist chocolate cakes and he wanted me to make a cake with only chocolate and nothing else (no nuts or preserves or frosting). This recipe has ingredients like sour cream and beer that are not generally used to make a cake, but it still fit my husband’s liking with no extra stuff in it.
Very easy to put together, most of the ingredients were in my pantry, except of course the Beer. You need “Stout” like Guinness brand beer.

Stout – 2/3 cup
Butter – 10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp)
All purpose flour – 1 1/3 cups
Sugar – 1 1/3 cups
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – ½ cup
Baking Soda – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Eggs – 1 large plus 1 large yolk
Sour cream – 2/3 cup

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter an 8” round pan and line with wax paper or parchment paper.
  • In a heavy bottom saucepan, bring the beer and butter to a simmer on medium flame. Add cocoa and whisk well to incorporate. Remove from heat and cool slightly (about 10 minutes).
  • In the mean time, sift flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat the egg, yolk and sour cream with electric mixer until well blended. Add the beer + butter mixture to the eggs and beat till incorporated.
  • Add the flour mixture; beat on lowest speed for 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula and fold the flour till well incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into prepared pan, bake for 50-55 minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on wire rack. Cut and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, or just sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy.
I have to tell you, cake does have a slight beery smell to it, but it is so moist that you just want to have one more piece. Yummy..

October 16, 2006

World Bread day: Indian Naan

Bread is the staple food for almost all the countries in the world and it definitely deserves a day on its honor. Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte is hosting a wonderful blog event on World Bread Day and she invited all of us to blog about bread that is home-baked or even bought. My entry to this event is Indian Bread: Naan.
Five years ago in India, white bread was the only bread that I knew. After coming to the U.S. I heard and learnt about the various breads and the list keeps growing everyday (potato and wheat bread were the first ones I tasted). I know that many of these breads are now available in India too (culinary globalization... dont you think).
Growing up, bread was not a part of our every meals (our staple food being rice). My mom used to make Indian breads like chapati, puri or paratha may be once or twice a week and we kids used to consider that a feast (just a welcoming change from having rice everyday). Now, we have bread almost four times a week either for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I am sending Indian Naan as my entry for World Bread day.

All-purpose flour - 4 cups
Baking powder - 1tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Active dry-yeast - 1/4 oz. envelope
Sugar - 1tsp
Milk - 2/3 cup, lukewarm
Oil - 2 tbsp
Plain yogurt - 2/3 cup
Egg - 1, beaten (optional)
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Make a well in the center. Pour in the milk, oil, yogurt and beaten egg (if using). Beat well, gradually incorporating the surrounding flour to make a dough.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
  • Put a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 475°F.
  • Knead the dough lightly again and divide into six pieces. Roll each piece into a tear-drop shape, brush lightly with oil and slap onto the hot pizza stone.
  • Bake the naan for 3 minutes, until puffed up, flip and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove and brush lightly with ghee.
  • Serve hot or warm with a curry.
To get a soft naan, dough needs to be rolled out fairly thick (otherwise it is going to be hard and crispy). You can find more Naan recipes here, here, here and here.

October 11, 2006

Stuffed Zucchini with Sage

Meeta made her monthly mingle more interesting by making “Take Two” as the theme for this month. She wants us to make a dish with Zucchini and Sage.
To be honest, I have never cooked with sage and was always under the impression that it is used only in poultry dishes (Food TV knowledge). I learnt from my research on sage that it is slightly bitter in flavor and highly aromatic and it enhances meats and poultry and is delicious if used discreetly with beans, cheese, lentils and in stuffings. Even after all this research, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make a dish with zucchini AND sage (thought about making soup.. but I wasn’t sure if it has to be tomato base or roux base).
Finally I decided on making stuffed zucchini (inspired by this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini site). To be on the safe side I stuffed only one zucchini, in case this didn’t turn out too good, I can still make my soup with the back up zucchini. Luckily I didnt have to use my back up.

Zucchini – 1, cut lengthwise and halved
Quinoa* – ½ cup cooked
Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Red bell pepper – 1 small, finely chopped
Sage – 1tbsp (fresh or ½ tbsp dry)
Cheddar cheese/ Pepper Jack cheese – ¼ cup
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Tomato-Sage Sauce:
Tomato paste – 3 tbsp
Onion – 1 small chopped
Sage – 1tsp
Garlic – 1 clove
Salt and Pepper – to taste

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Gently scoop out the flesh of the zucchini with a spoon and roughly chop the flesh. Lightly season hulled zucchini with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a pan; add the onions, red pepper, zucchini and sage. Cook till the veggies soften for about 10 minutes.
  • Add cooked quinoa, salt and pepper; cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside.
  • In the mean time make the tomato-sage sauce; heat 1tsp olive oil in a sauce pan, add the onions, crushed garlic & sage and sauté till light brown. Add the tomato paste, 1cup of water, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes on low flame. Remove from heat and keep aside.
  • Mound the quinoa-sage mixture in zucchini quarters and sprinkle with cheese evenly.
  • Spread 2 tbsp of tomato sauce evenly in a baking pan, arrange the zucchini in a single layer, cover with foil and bake oven for about 15-20 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the cheese melted.
  • Serve warm with more sauce on the top.
So, the good news is I didn’t have to make soup with my other zucchini, but the bad news is I wish I stuffed the other one too.. LOL..
As far as sage is concerned, it has a strong flavor that reminded me of biting into raw turmeric, but it complemented my dish without overpowering it.
Ok then.. let me send this dish to Meeta and I’m dying to see what all of you guys have created with Zucchini AND Sage.

*Quinoa ((pronounced "keen-wa") is a super grain, unlike other grains, quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is a excellent source of calcium, potassium and zinc as well as iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
It has a mild, slightly bitter taste and firm texture. Grains quadruple in size after cooking and become translucent with an unusual white outer ring.

Note: You can substitute quinoa with brown rice.

October 09, 2006

Soyachunks-Aloo-Matar Masala

When I was in India, I never liked the taste or the texture of soy chunks (meal maker). Even after coming the U.S., the tried cooking with them once before and I didn’t like it. But after tasting soy meat and soy burgers and seeing recipes on other blogs, I decided to try our good old Nutrela soy chunks. Just to be on the safe side with the texture I bought mini chunks instead of the regular ones and I loved the way this dish turned out.
I took an easy route and made Soy chunks-matar masala recipe printed right on the box, with the only exception that I added potato to it. If you don’t buy nutrela brand soy chunks, here’s the recipe for you.

Soy chunks – 1 cup (boiled as per package directions)
Potato – 1 large chopped
Peas – ½ cup (I used frozen, thawed peas)
Onion – 1 medium chopped
Tomatoes – 2 medium chopped
Ginger+garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1tsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste


  • Fry the onions in 1 tsp of oil till lightly browned. Remove from heat, when cooled, grind into a paste.
  • Fry the boiled chunks in 2tsp of oil, till slightly browned on all sides.
  • Heat 1tbsp of oil in a pan, add ginger+garlic paste, onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add chopped potatoes and ¼ cup of water, cover and cook for 5 minutes or till the potatoes are just tender.
  • Add tomatoes and cook covered for 5 more minutes.
  • Add red chili powder, garam masala, peas, soy chunks and season with salt. Add some water if you want more gravy. Cook for another 5 minutes, garnish with coriander and serve with rice or chapathis.

We had our soyachunk curry with home-made naan. I will post the recipe on 16th October for World Bread day (event hosted by Zorra).

October 06, 2006

Broccoli-Edamame Saute

I dont have anytime to cook our lunch in the morning. I usually make more the night before and pack it up for lunch the next day. But some days after a long day at work, when it is almost impossible to get the dinner on the table, there is no way I can even think about lunch for the next day. On top of that, both of us work in industrial areas where there are nothing around in walking distance and will have to drive at least 10 minutes to get to the nearest Wendy's (where there are practically no vegetarian items on the menu except for yogurt w/granola and french fries).
So anyway this week, on one of my dog-tired days, I made this quick and easy edamame saute. I had chopped onions (left over from the day before) in the fridge and I used frozen broccoli, corn and edamame (fresh soybeans). All I had to chop was one tomato and that was easy.

Broccoli florets - 1 cup
Corn kernels - 1/4 cup
Shelled edamame - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1/4 cup chopped
Tomato - 1 medium chopped
Lemon juice - 1tbsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, saute onions till transparent and slightly pink.
  • Add broccoli, corn, edamame (thawed if using frozen), saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, cumin, chaat masala, chili powder and salt. Saute for another 5 minutes, dont let the tomato get mushy.
  • Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and mix well.

Pack it up in your lunch box, warm it at work and enjoy.

Note: After reading Mythili's post track your wealth, I realized that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables. So this is a great way to enjoy your energy packed veggies especially edamame and broccoli.

October 05, 2006

World Bread day

October 16th is World Bread day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte is hosting a blog event on this occasion. I didn’t know about this event until Zorra sent me the invitation and asked me to spread the word.

World Bread Day '06

This is what Zorra wants from all of us on the 16th.

Bake a bread with or without yeast, use sourdough, experiment with different flours, add some seeds… It's up to you! Let us also know which is your favorite bread, your "bread habits" and how much bread you consume. You never have baked a bread before? Well, give it try! It's easy and once you have this smell of your own fresh bread in your kitchen, there is no way back. If you have no time to bake a bread, you can buy one at your favorite bakery and write about the bread and also the bakery.

This is how you can participate:
  • Bake or buy a bread, take pictures (if possible) and blog about it on Monday, 16th October 2006 (feel free to write your post in your mother tongue)
  • Send an email to kochtopf(at)gmail(dot)com including
- your name
- your blog's name and your blog's URL
- the recipe name and the post's URL
- your hometown/region and country

I have confirmed with Zorra that Indian breads (Chapathis, Naans etc) are all welcome. She wants as many international recipes as possible. So guys, turn on your ovens or tawas and bring those delicious breads to the table on the 16th of October.


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