Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Amiri Khaman

I'll never make an author, and there's a good reason why. I'm lazy. The more I think about how much there is to do, the less I feel like doing it. I'm ok if I just start writing without any plan in mind - that way I can write a lot... but give me a something specific to write about, and inevitably I end up only thinking about writing it. With that attitude, once I actually finish writing, I dont bother to look at it again. The very thought of having to revise or rewrite is anathema, and has always been that way. (A little revision and rewriting back in school might have paid better dividends... but hey, laziness rules!) Hats off to novelists who revise their manuscripts and rewrite and then perhaps rewrite some more...

So basically that's what happens as far as the food events are concerned... I think "Oh yes, i can make something for that event" - and then I go ahead and think some more, flip through my recipes to see what would be suitable, then decide on a recipe, then think some more about actually making the recipe... and the next thing you know, the time for submission is over, and another event is past.

I've had all November to take part in Suganya's
"Vegan Month" event. Plenty of time to think about what to make. I saw myself making at least half a dozen vegan items, but in the event, all I've been able to manage is one recipe, and that very nearly at the last minute. BUT... considering my success rate in events past, I think I'm ahead of the game at this point!

Amiri Khaman is a recipe that appeared in my inbox from Tarla Dalal's website. It seemed different (ish), something I'D never tried before, so I went ahead and made the recipe. Its name is a bit of a puzzle because there's nothing particularly "amiri" (rich?) about it. It's just a fairly easy snack to make and quite nice to eat especially when it's hot. But I suppose that's as good a recommendation for a recipe as any!

This is my very-nearly-last-minute, nearly-missed-it entry for Suganya's Vegan Month. I've pretty much followed Tarla Dalal's recipe except that I used fresh Thai red chillies instead of green. And because I didnt have any fresh lemons or limes (or even lime juice from a lemon-shaped knobbly yellow squeezy plastic bottle), I used sumac in its place. It worked quite well because sumac is a bit sour-tasting - but I would recommend fresh lemon juice as laid out in the original recipe. There's nothing like fresh lemon or lime juice for that juicy sharp sourness.

Recipe for:
Amiri Khaman

1 cup split yellow gram (yellow moong dal)
6 fresh green or red chillies (or to taste)
1" piece ginger
1 tsp soda-bi-carb
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon (or enough sumac to taste)
2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste

For the garnish

2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 cup sev (thin deep-fried gramflour noodles, as required)


1. Soak the dal for at least 6 hours.

2. Leave 4 tablespoons of the dal aside and grind the rest with the chillies and ginger.

3. Add the whole (unground) dal and mix.

4. Add the soda bi-carb, turmeric powder and salt and keep the mixture aside for at least 4 hours.

5. Steam the mixture in a pressure cooker for 12 minutes or till done. I used idli plates, but you can also spread the mixture to 1/2" thickness on a flat greased plate and steam it.

Ready for steaming

Just out of the steamer.

6. Cool and crumble.

7. Add the sugar, sumac/lemon juice and a little salt, and mix well.

8. Heat the oil in vessel and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the chopped garlic and asafoetida and fry again for a few seconds.

9. Pour this mixture on top of the crumbled dhoklas, add the chopped coriander and mix to distribute evenly.

10. Serve garnished with the sev. If you have mint chutney or tamarind chutney, so much the better.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

KiwiGee's Recipes from Down Under - Konkani style potato fry

Here's another recipe sent by a newly inducted Kiwi Gee (she's now a citizen of New Zealand) in Wellington, one that was imparted to her by a Konkani friend of hers, Gayathri. According to Gayathri, this style of doing a "fry" can be extended to other vegetables such as parval, kumara (sweet potatoes), yam, Bangalore katrikai (chayote squash), eggplant, carrot and even karela (bitter melon or gourd). It's a simple way of adding a crunchy outer layer to these vegetables. I used potatoes because - well, I like 'em, and also because I didnt have any parval handy. I hardly ever do.

In Kiwi Gee's words: "If the veggies are fresh, they would normally have to be cut, washed and then dipped in a dry mixture of breadcrumbs, rice flour, chilli powder, turmeric, hing and salt individually and then shallow fried on the tawa. But for frozen veggies which are already cut small and are moist after microwave cooking, just pour the mixture and mix it thoroughly and shake till each piece is coated."

The traditional ingredient to use is fine semolina, but dry breadcrumbs can be used instead. I can vouch for the added crunch that the semolina gave to my crispy fried potatoes - I cant imagine that breadcrumbs would do better. But feel free to try it both ways!

Recipe for:
Konkani style potato fry


2 cups potatoes (with skin), cut into 1/2cm cubes
Breadcrumbs or rava (semolina) 2 tbsp
Rice flour 2 tbsp
Chilli powder 2 tsp (or to taste)
Turmeric ½ tsp
Hing (asafoetida powder) - pinch
Salt to taste
Oil – as reqd (any oil is fine)


1. Cook the veggie (whatever it is) in the microwave till it is done. (I pan-steam/fried my potatoes).

2. Then add semolina, rice flour, chilli powder, turmeric, hing, salt. (I pre-mixed it all in a bowl.)

3. Toss it all (or stir gently) till each piece of veggie is coated.

4. Heat oil in a pan and then shallow fry on medium high, turning the vegetables occasionally until they turn crisp on the outside.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

JFI Tur Dal - Tur dal chutney

There's a classic accompaniment to vattha kuzhambu that my mother used to make for my dad, years and years ago, when we lived in Tanzania. It's called "paruppu thogayal", a bland (in the sense of no chillies being added) chutney made of roasted tur dal. Since vattha kuzhambu isnt made with the addition of cooked tur dal, this chutney was a way of adding protein to the meal. I dont remember if I loved the chutney as much as my dad, but since my mother hasnt made it in years (since Tanzania, if memory serves me right), we kids cant have been that fond of it.

Anyway, I've never made it before nor seen how it was made, so I didnt quite know the method. I was looking for recipes using tur dal for
Linda's JFI Tur Dal event when I came across a "tur dal thuvayal" recipe on the Net - I think it was on the ForumHub site, but for the life of me I cant find that chat link again!

Top: Moong dal; Bottom: Tur Dal

Anyway, apart from the main item, Tur Dal, it called for red chillies, raw garlic and some moong dal - these three ingredients completely threw me off the scent, as it were. I didnt think it was a variation of the paruppu thogayal my mother used to make... until it came to grinding the roasted dal. Then the aroma instantly made itself the familiar yet long-forgotten one of paruppu thogayal.

Since I used raw garlic, red chillies and moong dal to make this chutney, it wasnt quite my mother's version. Call it a grown-up version, if you will. I cant say that I fell in love with this version any more than I did with the original... but it wasnt bad either. It's just that the roasted tur dal flavour is VERY intense. Of course this is only my personal opinion of the chutney... chances are there are people who slaver just at the thought of it! So here it is, my entry for JFI - Tur Dal.

Recipe for:
Tur dal chutney

1 tsp payatham paruppu (moong dal)
1/4 cup thuvaram paruppu (tur dal)
5-6 dried red chillies (or to taste)
3 garlic pearls
1/2 tsp oil
salt to taste
Water as required


1. Heat the oil and fry the dals and red chillies separately over a medium flame, stirring constantly.

The dals should be golden brown (take care not to burn them) and the red chillies should turn darker in colour. Let cool completely.

2. Grind the fried dals, chillies, garlic with 4-5 tablespoons of water to a smooth paste.

Dont worry about adding more water - the chutney solidifies quite a bit after grinding as it absorbs the water.

3. Add salt to taste and mix well. This can be served with rice and ghee or as a side with dosas or idlis.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

KiwiGee's Recipes from Down Under - Groundnut chutney powder

It's been so long since I've posted a recipe on here, and I was feeling so reluctant to move my a** after a hugely long travel blog that I decided the only to ease myself back into the food blog world was to post a simple recipe. Preferably from someone other than me. That someone, of course, is my Kiwindian friend, KiwiGee, and the star of the recipe is the groundnut.

This recipe has been languishing in my "recipes to make" folder for ages, mainly because I was not able to get my hands on copra (dry coconut). On being informed that desiccated coconut would do just as well, I bought a bagful - only, of course, to have two holidays come up in quick succession with not much time in between for anything much except to write a Slavonian

And now, since no more holidays seem to be in the offing this year, I have no more excuses to put off writing food posts! So here goes.

In her email to me, KiwiGee said: "This recipe is a variation of the traditional thengai podi (for Tamilians) and chutney podi (for Kannadigas). I learnt the original chutney podi from my MIL and the variation is from sister Gayathri in NZ. I tend to use quite a few peanuts in my cooking nowadays as I keep exploring more and more avenues of vegetarian iron sources…"

So here it is, the perfect vegetarian iron source and a very scrummy powder to mix with plain rice and ghee.

Two things to note:

1. Powder the peanuts separately and do it in short bursts so as not to heat the motor of your mixie. Otherwise you'll end up with peanut butter. Which is nice enough, but not the result we're looking for here.

2. Be careful even while grinding the desiccated coconut - it also tends to exude oil and lump up if you run the mixie for too long and the coconut gets warm.

Recipe for:
Groundnut chutney powder


250 gms peanuts (I cheated a bit and used ready roasted peanuts)
50 gms dried red chillies (not Indian red – u’d die then, this is the mild sort that I get here* - in NZ)
50 gms copra (dried coconut, grated fine), or unsweetened desiccated coconut
Salt – to taste
Hing powder – a pinch
Jaggery (or sugar) – 1 tbsp
Tamarind - 1 tbsp (small ball) - NOT the paste!
Methi (fenugreek) seeds – 1 tsp


1. Dry fry methi seeds till they are dark brown, keep aside.

2. Dry fry peanuts (if using raw ones) till they go slightly brown, keep aside.

3. Then dry fry the copra/desiccated coconut powder, red chillies and tamarind and keep aside. (Note: I tore up the tamarind into small pieces so that they would fry more evenly) Let all the ingredients cool completely.

Important: All the ingredients have to be dry fried separately as indicated. This thing won’t work otherwise…

4. First, grind the red chillies, along with copra, tamarind and methi seeds as finely as you can.

This picture is at the half-way stage of grinding!

5. Then grind the fried peanuts to as smooth a powder as possible, after adding hing and salt.

Beware: the peanuts are really oily so they can stuff up your food processor when you grind them. That’s why you need to grind them last, after all the other stuff has been reduced to powder…

6. Mix well and store in dry bottles/jars. DO NOT refrigerate.

7. Serve with ghee and hot rice (yuM).

Can also be used as side dish for idli, dosa and with sandwiches etc…