Monday, September 30

Oats Kozhukattai

Oats as we know is very rich in fiber, low in fat and is a low calorie food apart from being good source of vitamin B1, calcium, iron and protein which is why we prefer it as a wholesome breakfast. What is more convenient about oats is that it suits all ages from a few months old baby to even a 100 years old person as it is simple to digest. Making a relish able dish with it such as this oats Kozhukattai is a real feast for both palate and health.

Serves:  2

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  15 minutes

1.      Oats – 2 cups
2.    Water – 1 ½ cups
3.    Oil – 1 tbsp
4.    Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
5.     Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
6.    Urad dal – 1 tbsp
7.     Green chilies – 3
8.    Curry leaves – 1 sprig
9.    Asafoetida – 2 pinches
10.  Coconut grated – 2 tbsp
11.  Salt to taste


Step 1: Heat oil in a pan and temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, urad dal, curry leaves and chopped green chilies.

Step 2: Add the oats and fry with the tempering for few minutes.

Step 3: Mix grated coconut to it. Add water and salt and mix well to form soft dough like consistency.  Turn off heat.

Step 4: When it is cool enough to handle, mould a portion of dough inside the fist in form of pidi kozhukkatai as in the picture below. Repeat for the entire dough before it comes to room temperature as it will become brittle then.

Step 5: Steam cook the moulded kozhukkatai in a steamer or idli cooker for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Serve hot with any spicy chutney of your choice.

Monday, September 23

Gooseberry/ Amla Pickle or Nellikai Oorukai

Gooseberry is one vegetable whose nutrient power stays intact in any form we take them: fresh berries, pureed, cooked, sundried, pickled, powdered or whatever. It is such a sought for item in Ayurveda; which is  used in healing so many diseases and helps in leading an immune, long & healthy life. Intensely rich in vitamin C, Amla does a good fight against common cold and other such infections. Available almost through the year, it is a common man’s inexpensive and natural remedy for hair & skin care. Vitamin C is one nutrient that our body cannot store and use, so we need to supply it every day; pickle is an easy way to achieve this because we can store pickle and consume in small quantities regularly as it is not viable to add fresh amla in everyday cooking.

Serves: NA

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 minutes


1.      Gooseberry (Amla) – 1 kg
2.    Gingelly oil – 200ml
3.    Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
4.    Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
5.     Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
6.    Chili powder – 3 tbsp
7.     Salt – 3 tbsp
8.    Jaggery – ½ tsp
9.    Fenugreek roasted and powdered – ¼ tsp


Step 1: Wash, pat dry and steam cook the gooseberries whole to a soft texture. I do not add water or salt to the berries while pressure cooking for 6-8 whistles. This is most of the cooking time; tempering the pickle takes around 10 minutes.

Step 2: Once the pressure subsides and is cool enough, the berries can be taken out and deseeded easily by hands as they already are almost split up into wedges.

Step 3: Now heat Gingelly oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds in it, sprinkle asafoetida and add the gooseberries.

Step 4: Add salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, jaggery to it and mix well with light hand so that the gooseberry wedges don’t get mashed up.

Step 5: Once mixed well, taste and adjust spices; add fenugreek powder and mix well. It is added at the end so that the aroma is arrested inside the pickle.

Step 6: Save it in an airtight container and refrigerate for longer storage. Relish with curd rice, parathas, khakhras and so on.


*After cooking the gooseberries sometimes there is some amount of moisture let out by the vegetable; this can either be used in the pickle or be used in a different recipe such as gooseberry soup or so. I prefer not to use it in the pickle as moisture reduces the shelf life of pickle.

Friday, September 20

Masaal Vadai/ Gram Dal Fritters

We had a potluck last week with some friends and had prepared masaal vadai as one of the items; Shiva Shankari had mostly made it and it was a super hit item which all of us liked very much. This is a conventional item in most south Indian homes but we at home are more acquainted with medu vadai so its an exiting dish for me. I had tried this once with ‘pattani paruppu’ instead of gram dal, when we had my sister and family at home; it had turned slightly watery and so, thanks to Shankari only this time I learnt it right from her. 

Yields:  35 Vadais approx.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes

Soaking Time: 2 hours

Cooking Time:  30 minutes


1.      Gram dal or Pattani paruppu – 500 gm
2.    Onion – 3 large
3.    Ginger chopped – 2 tbsp
4.    Curry leaves chopped – a fistful
5.     Coriander leaves chopped – a fistful
6.    Green chilies – 4-5 finely chopped
7.     Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
8.    Salt to taste
9.    Oil for deep frying


Step 1: Wash and soak gram dal (or pattani paruppu if you are using that) for 2 hours.

Step 2: Drain the water completely; leave the dal in a colander for few minutes to drain out water thoroughly. This is where I had made mistake in my first attempt.

Step 3: Save a fistful of soaked dal and grind coarsely the rest of the dal in a mixer jar without adding water.

Step 4: Collect the ground dal in a mixing bowl, add to it the retained whole dal and all other ingredients except oil and mix well. Adjust salt and spices.

Step 5: Heat oil in a deep kadai; take lemon sized ball of the batter and pat into 3" diameter discs with the help of your palms (use very little water if necessary to grease palms). Fry 5-6 in a batch and repeat for the entire batter.

Step 6: Serve hot as is or with coconut/ pudina chutney.


* Thin discs fried in simmered heat for long time render crisp vadais while fatter ones are soft.

*Vadakari is a spicy curry made out of left over masaal vadai as an accompaniment for aapam or poori or idli or dosa.

Wednesday, September 18

Baked/ Roasted Potatoes

Many of us are fond of French fries but we resist for the sake of health; potato is good while the way we cook them makes it bad for health. This recipe is a kind of solution for French fry craving in a guilt-free way. Very less oil, that too olive oil and minimally spiced; there is absolutely no reason for holding back, after all potato is very beneficial for health if we cook them right. Potato is good for skin, brain, heart, kidney and tongue also ;). People restricted for carb intake must consult doctors though.

Serves:  2

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  15 minutes


1.      Potatoes – 4
2.    Olive oil – 1 tbsp (can use as less as 1/4 tbsp)
3.    Salt to taste
4.    Pepper crushed – ¼ tsp


Step 1: Wash the potatoes well by brushing the skin to remove all dirt & mud and pat dry. Chop roughly into cubes without peeling.

Step 2: Sprinkle salt, crushed pepper and drizzle olive oil over it.

Step 3: Microwave it for 5 minutes; take out toss and again microwave for 5 minutes. Repeat if necessary, the potatoes should be soft till center; do not overcook the vegetable.

Tuesday, September 17

Raw Banana Fry/ Vazhaikkai Varuval

I have been making this recipe countless times post my marriage as Kundan is so very fond of it. While people with diabetes are generally advised to avoid ripe bananas, raw bananas are quite beneficial to them; also as it is rich in fibre it is a preferred vegetable for weight loss. This might seem like a simple and silly to post recipe; but the reason I do it is because I see people adapt different techniques and each have its own set back. I have arrived at few steps to make a tasty-less oil-quick way to make Vazhaikkai Varuval/ raw banana fry; it is more a compilation of tips than the recipe itself (For people who already do it this way this might be a redundancy).

Serves:  3

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time:  15 minutes


1.      Raw Banana – 2
2.    Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
3.    Gram flour – 2 tbsp
4.    Curry powder (sambar milagai podi) – 1 tbsp
5.     Salt to taste
6.    Asafoetida – 2 pinches
7.     Rice flour or corn flour – 1 tbsp (optional)
8.    Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp
9.    Refined oil – 1 tsp
10.            Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp


Step 1: Wash, peel (avoid peeling if you can eat it with peel, it is good for health) and slice into 2-3 mm thickness. Collect the slices in a wide bowl.

Step 2: Add all dry ingredients except mustard seeds and toss well to coat the slices with spices. Then drizzle oil and toss again, rest for 5 minutes if possible. Taste and adjust spices.

Step 3: Heat a tsp of oil in a thick bottomed kadai or non-stick pan and splutter mustard seeds in it. Add the marinated raw banana slices to it.

Step 4: Mix with light hand to coat the slices with tempered oil; spread them in single layer or as thin as possible, sprinkle just 2 tbsp of water and cook closed for 5 minutes in simmered heat. Beware you don’t overcook them even a tad bit; else they tend to break while tossing or flipping.

Step 5: Open the lid, toss or flip slices with dosa ladle and cook for another 10 minutes by flipping once or twice in between for 10 more minutes in medium heat.

Step 6: Finish frying it the way you want: very crisp – stirring for 3 minutes in high heat; slightly crisp – stirring for 1 minute in high heat (Avoid corn flour/ rice flour or add a little) and for completely soft just turn off heat (Avoid corn flour/ rice flour).

Step 7: Serve with any variety rice or sambar/ rasam/ dal rice.


*Choosing the right vegetable is must: too young ones (small in size and thin ones) or too mature ones (ones that are spongy or turning yellow) are not the right choices for this recipe. It should be nice green, firm and matured.

*Immersing sliced raw banana in water (which people do to prevent it from getting black) will make it broken while frying. Marinating once you slice them is enough to prevent oxidation.

*Alternatively, you can mix all the dry ingredients in a small bowl and marinate the vegetable using some oil. Setting them aside for 5 minutes helps the marinade to seep into the vegetable.

*If we do not marinate and directly start adding spices to the kadai/ pan, the oil absorption would be too high; 1 tbsp + 1 tsp oil is bare minimum for a crusty banana fry.

*Cooking with lid closed with sprinkled water lets the vegetable cook well and later we fry open to get the crisp; this way the vegetable is soft inside and crisp outside. Starting to fry them from the beginning without cooking will cause the fry to be chewy but uncooked.

*For fresh serving I prefer crisp ones and for lunch pack I prefer soft or slight crisp ones as crispy ones become soggy.

Monday, September 16

Risotto With Idly Rice

Last Friday, I tried this risotto recipe with the idly rice (Earlier I had tried my ‘Humble Risotto’ with brown rice). Though this is not as creamy as Arborio rice, I would consider it a closer variety we’ve in India. I also experimented in substituting cucumber for zucchini, which both of us didn’t appreciate very much but it can be just skipped if zucchini is unavailable. I’ve not used cream in this recipe, Italians do not use them at all; the creamy texture of risotto is rendered by the starch released by Arborio rice and slow cooking is another imperative process in risotto making.

Serves:  2

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 minutes


1.      Idly rice – 1 ¼ cup
2.    Butter – 1 tbsp
3.    Zucchini (I used cucumber) – 1
4.    Carrot – 1
5.     Bush beans – 5
6.    Tomato – 1
7.     Onion – 1
8.    Garlic – 4 cloves
9.    Italian seasoning – 2 pinches
10. Salt to taste
11.  Pepper crushed – ½ tsp
12. Olive/ shaved parmesan cheese for garnishing (optional)
13.Vegetable stock or hot water – 3 ½ cups approx


Step 1: Clean and chop all vegetables into small chunks and mince garlic.

Step 2: Hand pick the rice to clean it as we are not going to wash it.

Step 3: Melt butter in a pot and sauté ginger and onion in it for a minute and then add carrot and beans.

Step 4: When the veggies are half done add the rice and fry for a couple of minutes.

Step 5: Add ½ cup stock or water and cook it open in low heat, once the liquid is fully absorbed add another ladle water/ stock repeat this ladle by ladle.

Step 6: When the rice is half cooked add required salt, cumber and then tomato and repeat adding stock/ water.

Step 7: The right way of making risotto is cooking it until there is just a light crisp in the centre of the rice grain though some prefer to cook it completely soft and gooey.

Step 8: Sprinkle crushed pepper and Italian seasoning and adjust salt and spices as required.

Step 9: Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese or olive.