Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mangai Thokku - Grated Mango Pickle

Summer and Mangoes are synonymous in my opinion. Back home mangoes were a plenty, loved eating the green raw mangoes with some salt and chili powder more then enjoying the creamy sweetness of the ripe ones. Kili Mooku Maangai (Parrot Beak Mango) was made just for this purpose rarely have I seen it being eaten ripe. But sour mangoes are very very rare here, most of them are green and hard but when cut open the flesh is yellow and is sweet. But I hit pay dirt the last time I bought some green mangoes from the Indian grocery store. The mango rice was delicious with the sourness which I least expected and the rest that got made into sambhar was equally delicious. So I ran back to the store to get a few more to make some mango thokku. If the mango is sour can thokku be far behind?

    Green Earth
    A sunny spot, a flower pot, some soil and seeds is all that is required to grow greens of any kind. Swiss Chard proved especially suitable, profilic in leaves production and resistant to pests that seem to plague Amaranth and some of the other greens that are more familiar to me. I tasted Swiss Chard a couple of years ago for the first time and have been hooked. Taking the lead of an article in NPR's Kitchen Window planted a few seeds last summer. I was amazed by the bounty lasting through October. I sowed some seeds a couple of weeks ago and they are sprouting already. Ready to join me in some Swiss Chard growing?


1. 2 big firm green raw mangoes (grated about 2 cups)
2. 1/2 cup sesame oil
3. 2 tsp methi-fenugreek seeds
4. 2 tsp mustard seeds
5. 1 tsp asfoetida
6. 1 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
7. 1 tbsp salt or to taste

Mango Thokku

1. Roast 3,4,5 one by one and set aside, cool and powder
2. In a Pan (kadai) heat about half of the oil and add the grated mango and saute for a about 8-10 minutes, till they start to lose the moisture.
3. Add the powdered mixture, chili powder and salt and mix
4. Let it continue to cook, now heat the rest of the oil splutter mustard seeds and add it to the mango.
5. Continue to cook till oil starts to separate on the sides.

If you are like me and would love something spicy for breakfast, this is a perfect spread for bread, English muffins or even bagels. Spread some cream cheese, spread a layer of the mango thokku.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spciy Brinjal Curry aka Brinjal Sherwa

I bet you have heard of Free Range Chickens but Free Range Kids? It was the name that got me reading this article. As for the lady who run this website she's after my own heart. At DD's insistence we were watching ET, as for me did not need much insisting, love watching the movie, would have watched it atleast 5-6 times. During the scene were the older brother and his friends drive ET around in a bicycle, we(the adults) were discussing about how kids usually know the nooks and cranies in their neighborhood. But stop that was while we were growing up not today, kids might not know even their own backyards, no wonder the above mentioned article hit a chord.

    Green Earth
    Are slugs green? I am not talking about the garden slugs, those mollusks that move every so slowly eating plant but about slug-lines, the commuting solution to HOV lane regulation, high gasoline prices and the ever clogged roads. Listening to this article on NPR this morning - something that is good for the wallet and good for the environment. What more can any one ask. As for the garden slugs away from the plants they play a very beneficial role in the garden by recycling organic matter.

Brinjal Sherwa
I chanced upon this blog written by Malar Gandhi called Kitchen Tantra. If you are non-veg fan head on over there for some amazing briyani recipes. Well what sent me to the kitchen almost immediately was this brinjal dish called Vellore Mullu Kathirikkai Serwa. Pretty much followed the recipe but the scallions.


1. 8-10 Brinjal cut lengthwise with the stem.
2. 4 tomatoes chopped fine
3. 1/2 Medium Red Onion chopped
4. 5-6 garlic cloves chopped fine
6. 1 1/2 " ginger grated
7. 2 tsp chili powder
8. 1 tsp turmeric powder
9. seasoning: pepper corns, methi seeds, curry leaves and mustard seeds
10. 2 tbsp tamrind extract from a small grape sized piece of tamarind
11 1-2 tsp oil

To Powder
1. 2 tsp methi seeds
2. 2 tsp cumin
Roast the above and powder (in a coffee grinder)

1. In a kadai heat oil nad add the seasonings and when the mustard seed starts to pop add the onion and when translucent add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute or two.
2. Add the brinjal pieces and saute till the brinjal starts to turn color
3. Now add the chili powder, turmeric powder,salt and the tomatoes.
4. Mix close the lid and let it cook till the tomatoes turn mushy.
5. When it is mostly cooked and the brinjal is soft add the cumin and methi powder.
6. Mix, check the taste and switch off the heat.

Serve with rice. Tastes great with chapatis too.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kothavaranga (cluster beans) Paruppu usili

Every morning when I take the bus or train I unconsciously search for familiar faces, when I spot them, begin to feel all warm and comfortable. I see this lady eating bagel at the starbucks in the pavillion of the building I work in on most days and I minute I see her there at the usual spot, begin to feel all is going to be fine that day. The same thing happens with food, when presented with an array of different foods the one we graviate towards is the one we are most familiar with. Paruppu usli is well the opposite, I only tasted it when I was well into my 20s. But from the first taste I have been hooked. But after the first time there is not many times I have cooked it. But when I saw these lovely cluster beans at the store, this was the first dish that came to mind. Based on my mother's recollection of a recipe that was given to her by a dear neighbor.

    Green Earth The nearly $4 gas price has done more for the environment than any dire warning by scientists. I read the buses and rails are running full capacity. Tip 1: Drive smaller cars. Combine trips. Tip 2: Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. The washington post reports that this will save way more than symbolic acts like Lights Out on Earth Day.


1. 1 1/2 Cups of cluster beans chopped into small pieces
2. 1/4 cup of channa dal (kadalai paruppu or bengal gram)
3. 1/2 cup of toor dal
4. 3 red chilies
5. 1 tsp of asfoetida
6. Curry leaves
7. Mustard seeds
8. salt to taste
9. turmeric powder.

1. Soak the channa and toor dals for about 20 minutes
2. And make it a slightly coarse but thick paste (go easy on the water) along with the chilies, asfoetida and salt
3. Now steam cook the dal paste, make balls, flattern them and steam (use the idli moulds) for about 8-10 minutes till cooked. When cool, use the hands and break the dal into tiny pieces.
4. Meanwhile boil the cluster beans with some turmeric powder and salt till soft.
5. In a pan heat a tsp of oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.
6. Add the cooked dal and saute till it starts to change color and gets roasted
7. Add few drops of oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan
8. Now add the cooked clusters beans and fry for a few more minutes.
1. Do not overcook the dal paste, it tends to harden.
2. The dal can be cooked with liberal amounts of oil for a crispier usli.

Serve with rice and any kind of spicy kuzhambu. We had them with some spicy brinjal curry (recipe coming up soon)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bell Pepper and Zucchini Raita

Happy Mother's Day
Wishing you a Very Happy Mother's Day. Moms! you are the Best.


DD2 warmed the cockles of my heart when she presented this amazing box of choclate truffles this morning. I am wondering how could this be(how did the teacher manage to get a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds to make truffles?). Besides being a wonderful gift it seemed so appropriate. DD had planned for it to be revealed this morning just as I was starting to despair that the kids had forgotten about the event. Those were some of the best choclates ever.

Can anything be more sweeter?

    Green Earth
    Tip 1: Turn off lights around the house when not in use.

    Tip 2: During winter, reduce the heater to below 60 during the night. Leave the windows open during the Spring and Summer months and turn on the air conditioner only when absolutely necessary.

Bell Pepper and Zucchini Raita
Raita make a great accompaniment to Biryani, Pulavs or other spiced dishes. I am not a big fan of raw onion raitas though nothing can beat their taste. Vegetable raitas besides being colorful also provide much needed vegetables on a non-veg day. We had them with Goat Biryani.


1. 1 Medium Sized Red Bell Pepper, deseeded and cut into small cubes
2. 1 Zucchini Cut into small cubes
3. 2 Red chilies broken and seeds removed
4. 1 tsp of mustard seeds
5. 1/4 tsp cumin powder
6. 1 Cup Yogurt
7. salt

1. In a pan heat oil add the mustard seeds when they start to pop add the red chilies, saute for a second
2. Add the bell pepper and saute for a few minutes then add the Zucchini
3. Saute till they are slightly soft but still crunchy.
4. Add salt and the cumin toss and turn off the heat.
5. Whisk the yogurt to smooth
6. Wait for the veggies to cool and add them to the yogurt.

Serve with any flavored rice of choice.

Thanks to Vani of Mysoorean for bestowing this award on my blog. As per rules of the game, I have to come up with 4 sweets that I love. My ammayi's gulab jamoons, the best in the whole world. Soan Papdi, Pal Payasam and Godhmai Halwa also made by ammayi. I have a sweet tooth and can pop them into my mouth as soon as I wake up.

It is hard to pass it on to just 4 food blogs. I would like to pass it on to all the food bloggers who put their heart and love into their blogs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spicy Pepper Shrimp Masala

Are you enjoying the beautiful Spring weather? We caught a lucky break this weekend, sun, no humidity and a gentle breeze. For you allergy sufferers, I hope you get to enjoy at least a bit of the beautiful weather.

    Green Earth

    Tip 1: Take the bus to work one day a week. or telecommute if the option is available.

    Tip 2: Run the washer or dish washer only when full.

Shrimp is one of our favorite items and though kids are not too fond of spicy but with shrimp they seem to ignore the spice. Pepper gives any dish the peppery spicy taste clearing our sinuses but without any of the stomach burning after effects of the red chiles. Unlike regular potatoes which are starchy and fall apart, Chinese potatoes retain their shape and give some crunch. This is a slightly dry gravy perfect with rice. Shrimp cooks very quickly and to avoid getting them rubbery, they should not be overcooked.


Spicy Pepper Shrimp Masala
1. 10-15 Medium sized shrimp + 1 cup chinese potatoes (optional)
2. 1/2 Red Onion sliced and cut in half
3. 10-15 Pearl Onions sliced
4. curry leaves 10-15
5. cumin seeds
6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
7. 1 tsp red chili powder
8. 1 roma tomato chopped fine
9. 2 tsp tomato paste
9. salt
10. 1/2 tbsp oil

Clean and wash the shrimp and marinate with chili powder and salt and set aside for 1/2 - 1 hour

For the Paste
1. 6-7 garlic cloves
2. 1 inch piece of ginger
3. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
4. 1/4 -1/2 tbsp peppercorns (adjust to taste)
5. 2 red chiles
6. 1 tbsp grated fresh coconut

Saute the garlic and ginger and set aside. Saute the rest of the ingredients and blend to a past with the minimum amount of water.

1. Heat oil in a wok, when hot add the cumin and curry leaves
2. Add the onions and saute till it starts to turn slightly brown.
3. Add the shrimp and saute for about 3-4 minutes till they turn slightly brown. Set them aside
4.Add the chinese potatoes if using and saute for a few minutes (I used frozen ones which are precooked, if using fresh cook them first)
5. Add the ground masala paste and saute for a few minutes, add the tomatoes and tomato paste and continue to saute till they start to leave the sides. (about 8-10 minutes)
6. Now add the shrimp and mix till they are coated well. Turn off heat.

Other Shrimp Dishes
Shrimp Biryani
Shrimp Curry with Peas and Chinese Potatoes

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spicy Potato Curry and a Quiz

I am glad that the Mylie Cyrus exposure onthe cover of the Vanity Fair magazine did not register a blip on our radar screen. The simple reason being, we do not have cable television and Hannah Montana does not weave her charm in our drawing room. The downside of this I don't get FoodTV which is the one channel I miss from our Cable devouring years. The urge to get cable has been tremendous but with this recent debacle of a wholesome TV Teen star the urge has been conquered. "Mission Accomplished" - how can I not bring that in to the conversation when it is May. 5 years into an unpopular war and no end in sight. Hopefully I won't have to eat my own words Bush style ;)

    Green Earth - Discussion
    Green Earth is going to follow a discussion format this week. The issues raised here are from comments. Ideas,comments,inputs encouraged and appreciated. Silent spectators jump in and participate.

    Discussion 1:
    MS of Sometime Foodie is maintaining a map on her blog to track the miles food travels to reach her plate. How many of you watch the food you eat in those terms? As for me I try my best but being a locavore is not always easy. She also posed a question regarding cutting down the use of paper towels in the kitchen - using cotton towels reduces the usage of paper towels to a great extent.

    Discussion 2
    Sandeepa's question regarding trying to get rid of plastics and getting caught up in cycle similar to the corn-ethanol-rising food prices crisis and the wastage of food /cutlery in schools. She also brought up the issue of kids lunch boxes. Are there safe alternatives to plastics?

    Getting rid of all plastics is not an easy task, they proliferate everywhere and in some cases there are no safe alternatives.
    Schools these days are doing a lot more to address the wastage issue. In our county for instance schools compete for being the greenest. Kids are asked to bring lunches in reusable containers and reduce trash. Small steps but very important tool in educating kids and teaching them the value of conserving and respecting our environment.

    In a party we attended recently at a friend's house, a guest took a marker pen and wrote the down the intials of each of the guests on the respective plastic glasses (they were of the use and throw kind). I was amazed at the end of a 4-5 hr party every guest had their original glasses in their hands. On the other hand imagine how many glasses each one would have used in that time frame. I am sure most of us are a little uncomfortable in doing this because of being branded a tight wad. But all of us know this approach makes a lot of sense and about time don't you think?

QUIZ - Whose gushing comment was this and about whose kitchen?
"It's so normal! It's so kitchen-like!"

Finally on to our yummy spicy potato curry.


Spicy Potato Curry
Ever since I cast my eye on the spicy potato curry dish on Lavi's - Home Cook's Recipes I have been eagerly looking forward to cooking it. If you dig spicy food, potatoes and black peppers this is one dish not to be missed.

1. 8-10 baby potatoes
2. 1/4 cup tamarind of the ingredients are the same. Add when the potatoes are about half way cooked add the tamarind juice.

Tastes fantastic with rice.