January 14, 2019

Thalagam Kuzhambu | Pongal Special from Tamilnadu

It's amazing to note that most of our Indian festivals (and therefore rituals and food) revolve around the seasons  : Holi to celebrate the arrival of spring and Pongal / Sankrathi / Lohri to celebrate the Harvest Festival (much like the Thanksgiving festival of the West), Onam etc .

Today, as part of week #177 Harvest Harmony theme for #foodiemondayChallenge, we present traditional dishes made during these celebrations. 

Today, we see how to make “Thalagam Kuzhambu” that’s made in the Tirunelveli side of Tamilnadu and served with Manjal Pongal. We however, relished this as a breakfast with Rava Pongal (semolina and split green gram based Pongal). 

Let’s get to the recipe.

Prep time - 20 mins, Cook time - 20 mins , Serves - 6 adults generously 

Thalagam Kuzhambu - Pongal special Vegan, GF Side Dish
{This dish is also made for Aridra Darshanam around the Pongal festival}

Cuisine : South Indian , Course: Side Dish {This can also be a side dish for Chapati / Poori / Curd Rice or even Steamed rice)


Mixed vegetables - Cut into big chunks - 2 cups **
Tamarind - one medium gooseberry size - soaked in 1 cup of hot water
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Gingelly / Sesame / Coconut oil - 2 TBSP (divided use)

(**I used Ashgourd, Drumsticks (Murungakkai) Red Pumpkin (Parangikai), Chow Chow, Raw Banana (Vazhakkai), Arbi / Colocasia (Sepankizhangu), Flat beans (Avarakai), Sweet Potato and French Beans. Brinjal may also be used, but I didn’t use). You may use few or all of these  vegetables.  You may also add Mochai (shelled field beans)

To grind:
Coconut - 1/2 cup
Urad Dal - 1 TBSP
Channa Dal - 1 TBSP
Dry Red chillies - 8 to 10 (I used Guntur Chillies)
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp (or a generous pinch)
Raw rice - 1 TBSP
Sesame Seeds - 1 TBSP

Sesame Oil / Coconut Oil - 1/2 TBSP
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Broken Red chillies - 1 or 2
Curry leaves - Torn

Method (See notes at the end of this for more details)

Stage 1 :

  • Soak the tamarind in very hot water and meanwhile prep the veggies. 
  • Wash and chop the vegetables into large chunks. 
  • Pressure cook these vegetables with ONLY turmeric and very little water for 1-2 whistles. release pressure immediately. Drain the water and reserve. The vegetables should be slightly soft and cooked but not mushy . 
  • In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds and rice separately till they are nice and aromatic. Transfer to a flat plate. Add half the oil to the hot pan, fry red chillies, urad dal, channa dal , asafoetida till golden brown. Transfer to the same plate. 
  • Now switch off flame, and add the coconut and roast in the retentive heat. Barring 2 tsp of the roasted coconut, add the rest to the fried and “to grind” ingredients. 
  • Cool all fried ingredients and grind to a slightly coarse paste using 1/4 cup or more of water.  

Stage 2:

  • In the same pan or any thick deep bottomed pan, add the tamarind extract and add 1 cup more of water, let it come to a rolling boil and the raw smell of the tamarind disappears. Now add salt, ground paste and a little more water and let it all simmer in a thickish gravy and starts leaving on the sides. 
  • Now add the cooked vegetables and the drained water. Adjust salt and seasonings and let it simmer on a low-medium flame for 8-9 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved 2 tsp of roasted coconut now. Once it begins to boil, prepare the tempering. 
Stage 3:

  • In a tempering pan, heat the remaining oil. Splutter the mustard seeds, curry leaves, broken red chillies. 
  • Pour the tempering over the prepared Kuzhambu and serve hot.
PIN for later

  1. Vis a vis the traditional sambhar, this has no methi or dhanya (coriander seeds) for the masala. Also, traditionally following vegetables are NEVER used in this kuzhambu - Tomato, Onion or Garlic. 
  2. Any combo of veggies can be used. I used what was available. Apparently a mix of minimum 7 veggies needs to be used for this. 
  3. Do not add salt while cooking the vegetables, a lot of water will be released and the veggies get overcooked. Pressure cook for just 1-2 whistles with little water and a generous pinch of turmeric.  
  4. This Kuzhambu thickens quite a bit over cooling, so add a little more water while it simmers and add salt so it retains the required consistency upon cooling. 
  5. It stores well under refrigeration for 3-4 days. Can be used with even Thengai SaAdam (Coconut Rice), Ellogarai (sesame flavoured rice) or even Thayirsaadam (tempered Curd rice)  

January 12, 2019

Ginger Carrot Soup - GF and Vegan

As readers of this blog would know by now, we are soup lovers as a family. And have many variations with slight but significant changes over the other and with the same main ingredient - be it Broccoli, Cauliflower, tomato or carrot. I have already posted two / three versions of soup with Carrot , with Carrot Lentil Soup being one of the kids' favourites 
- and this is another of them. 

Considering the theme we are running this week under Winter Warmers, Soup is one of the oft repeated dishes for a snack / brunch or even Sunday brunch during the fleeting winters that our city has to experience.

And Ginger is a natural body warmer, with adrakwali chai (ginger spiced tea) being a favourite amongst tea drinkers. Well, my kids loved ginger in this form and with a grilled veg sandwich, it becomes a complete meal by itself. Go on, do try this and let me know how you liked it. 

Some other soup varieties on this blog you may like (almost all of them are both Vegan and GF)
Today's recipe is one which comes together in under 15 mins and while you toast the sandwiches / bread to go with this, the soup is ready. Let's get to the recipe:

Prep time : 10 mins,  cook time - 10 mins , Serves - 2~3 kids generously
Vegan, GF Carrot Ginger Soup


Carrots - 100 grams (diced medium)
Onion - 1/2 (minced)
Ginger - a generous grate (1/2 TBSP)
Veg stock / hot water - 3 cups (prefer the former)
Italian seasoning - 1/2 tsp
Salt and pepper - to taste
Cubed potato - 1 small OR 3 TBSP cooked red lentils (you can use leftover dal like I did)
Olive oil - 1 TBSP

In a pressure cooker / soup pot, add the olive oil, saute the onions till translucent, add the ginger, potato, carrots and saute for 3-4 mins till ginger envelopes the veggies. 
Now add the vegetable stock, salt , pepper and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Let the pressure come down on its own. Drain (retain the water) and puree the filtered veggies to a smooth paste, add it back to the filtered stock, adjust salt and seasonings and let it simmer for 2-3 mins on a low flame.
Serve hot with any bread. I served it with grilled veg sandwich as a winter special dinner

Sending this to BM#96 under "Winter Warmers" theme for Kids Delight, hosted by PJ, event by Valli.  

January 11, 2019

Semolina Pizza Muffins ! Winter Warmers | Kids Delight

Continuing with Winter Warmers Theme this week, we have a delectable savoury bake (almost like a grab n go breakfast) with these Semolina Pizza Muffins. It has the warmth from the cheese and I have added more vegetables like Bell Peppers to give it a twist to the usual savoury Muffins. 

You can add any veggie of your choice, but make sure all the vegetables are pat dry and don't have any moisture that might tip off the balance of the batter. I liked it mainly coz there is no fermentation time, no yeast required yet gives the flavour of the muffins without any all purpose flour. Adapted loosely from here, do check out below as to what is used to give this volume without any maida / all purpose flour used.

I was looking for options using the star ingredient after making the Baked Upma and this savoury muffin was an unusual bake for me and the kids :)

Similar differently tasty muffins / cupcakes on this blog- 

Prep time - 15 mins, Bake time - 18 ~22 mins, Makes - 6 muffins


Dry Ingredients:
FINE variety Roasted Semolina / Rava / Sooji - 150 grams
Salt - 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Pizza / Italian Seasoning - 1 tsp
Red Chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp (opt.)

Wet Ingredients:
Grated Cheese (I used Mozzarella) - 1/2 cup
Grated Peppers - 1/4 tsp
Finely minced chillies - 1/2 tsp (opt.)
Deseeded and minced tomatoes - 1/4 cup
Minced carrots - 2 TBSP
Slightly sour yoghurt - 1/2 cup (whisked well)
Oil (any neutral oil) - 2 TBSP

Preheat the oven and line the muffin moulds or use paper muffin cups (I used the latter)
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients well except the soda and salt. In another bowl., whisk the oil, yoghurt well. Add the veggies (dabbing them in tissue paper to remove any excessive moisture) and chillies if using. Now add the salt and mix well. 
Add the roasted semolina in batches till you get a thickish batter. Let it rest for 10 mins. Just before spooning into the muffin moulds, add half the cheese and all of the baking soda. 
Whisk thoroughly and pour immediately into the moulds filling them 2/3, top with rest of the cheese and place immediately in the oven.
Bake for 18~22 mins or till the cheese melts. Serve immediately as these don't keep well for storage.  

Sending this to BM#96 under "Winter Warmers" theme for Kids Delight, hosted by PJ, event by Valli. 

January 10, 2019

Sugarfree Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins topped with Oats Streusel | #ImprovCookingChallenge

This year, I am excited to join another group - Improv Cooking Challenge, and we post on the second Thursday of the month with two ingredients chosen for that month. This Jan, we have two exciting ingredients- Oatmeal and Honey. Normally, this would be a simple challenge for those who eat sweetened Oatmeal for breakfast, unfortunately as a family we prefer something savoury. 

I have turned the combo ingredients into another breakfast-on-the-go dish with this Sugarfree Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins. Cinnamon is a great pair with Apples and it made perfect sense to make these cute pick-me-ups. Thanks Nichole for adding me on, this is my recipe for this Month's challenge.

Let's get to the recipe. 
Sugarfree Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins
Cuisine : American, Course : Snack / Breakfast

Prep time - 15 mins; Bake time - 20~22 mins. Makes - 10~12 medium muffins.
Loosely adapted from here 
(1 cup = 240 ml)

Dry Ingredients:
Wholewheat flour - 1 1/3 cup
Homemade Oatmeal flour - 1 cup ( I just blitzed Quick Cooking Oats into a fine powder)
Baking powder - 1.5 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 0.5 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp

Wet Ingredients:
Honey - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2/3 cup
Finely chopped apples - 2/3 cup
Neutral oil - 1/4 cup
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Ripe Bananas - 2 medium

Streusel Topping (all mixed together)**
Oatmeal - 2 TBSP
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Palm jaggery - 1 TBSP

**2 tsp of all purpose flour + 1 tsp Melted butter may also be added to the Streusel but I have skipped both. 

Preheat oven to 180C. Line / grease muffin moulds. 
Into a large bowl, sieve all dry ingredients twice over . 
In another bowl (I used a blender), blend all wet ingredients except finely chopped apples. Add this fruit puree to the dry ingredients and fold in the apple pieces and mix till no dry streaks are seen.
Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the muffin moulds upto 2/3. Top with the streusel mixture. 
Bake for 20~22 or till a skewer comes clean. Cool on wire rack, serve warm. 
Keeps upto 1 week under refrigeration and perhaps more if frozen. Warm for a few seconds before serving. 

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page. 
If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board. https://www.pinterest.com/cookaholicwife1/improv-cooking-challenge/ 

Oatmeal and Honey Recipes 

Broccoli Pasta in White Sauce | Kids Recipes

This week for Winter Warmers under Kids Delight, I present three kid-approved dishes that warm you up from the inside. We have a plethora of broccoli during winters and as the little one loves it, I used it to add to her bi-weekly sunday favourite - Pasta in Cheesy sauce (the other fortnightly Sunday, she likes it with Red sauce along with her sister - talk about catering to two palates! Whew :))

This is a crowd pleaser for kids parties too and the picky kids might single out the veggies, but at my home its a sure shot way to add more veggies into her customised dish. I used wholewheat flour and skimmed milk to the sauce instead of all purpose. But you can use your usual  white sauce/ bechamel sauce in this dish.

Other Broccoli dishes on this blog:

Tandoori Malai Broccoli
Vegetarian Steamed Dimsums
Roasted Bell Pepper-Broccoli Salad with Feta and Orange Vinaigrette
Bolivian Purple Cabbage Salad with Broccoli (Vegan,GF)
Broccoli and Apple Garden Salad
Broccoli Pepper Corn Pizza
Lemony Broccoli Stir Fry
Stuffed Broccoli-Palak Parathas
Healthy Broccoli Soup

Let's get to the dish now. 

Prep time - 10 mins | Cook time - 15 mins | Serves - 2


Dry Pasta - 2/3 cup
Italian seasoning (dried oregano, basil etc)- to taste
Olive oil - 3 tsp (divided use)
Salt - to taste 

White Sauce:

Wholewheat flour - 1 TBSP
Skimmed Milk - 1 cup (200 ml)
Grated Cheese - 1/4 cup
Nutmeg (grated) - 1/8 tsp
Salt + pepper - to taste 
Oil (from above 3 tsp) - 2 tsp


Broccoli, Carrots, French Beans -or as per one's preferences


Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Drain with a tsp of oil and keep aside. While the pasta is cooking, blanch the veggies and drain. 
In a pan, heat 2 tsp of oil, add the wholewheat flour and roast it till it turns fragrant. Take it off the stove, add the milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and whisk well without any lumps. Add 1-2 tsp water if required to get a free flowing sauce (it thickens on heating and again cooling). Bring the sauce back to the stove, simmer for 1-2 mins and take it off the stove. 
In a non stick pan, add the remaining oil. Saute the veggies, pasta. Adjust seasonings and salt. Pour the sauce and let it mix with the veggies and pasta for a minute more. 
Serve immediately topped with the remaining cheese. I served it with Olive and Sea Salt Focaccia for dinner. 

Sending this to BM#96 under "Winter Warmers" theme for Kids Delight, hosted by PJ, event by Valli. 

January 7, 2019

Methi Kadhi - Version 2 | Gluten Free Dish

As a family, we consume greens regularly. Be it methi or palak or shepu(Fresh dill) or chawli (amaranth) , they find a place in our weekly menu rotation. In Bangalore where I grew up, I enjoyed a plethora of abundant greens all through the year. Here in mumbai, spinach and methi are available too most of year, but we avoid it during the rains. 

However with the ultra short winter that Mumbai experiences, methi comes alive and we rush to make various dishes with it like the following. The importance of including methi in our diet can be read here. I already have a methi Kadhi on the blog, but Nisha's recipe was too inviting to pass up cooking with this favourite green :-) 

My elder one loves Kadhi only with Jeera Rice and Potato Dry Saute. And that's what it was for the lunch box. The morning light at 6:30 am in the winter wasn't enough at all, therefore the pics were shot in the incandescent light. I should have clicked another set of pics after she left, but the day got too busy :-) nevertheless, the Kadhi tasted yum and the flavour deepens with each day and so it was lipsmacking even on day 3 (post refrigeration).

This recipe is adapted from Nisha Madhulika - one of my favourite Vlogger - was fascinating in that methi lends itself to a beautiful kadhi (gramflour yoghurt curry) that’s perfect with steamed rice / parathas or best with moong khichdi. And that's the ONLY reason why, despite having a methi kadhi recipe already on the blog, I bravely (and fortunately) ventured to make another version of Methi Kadhi. 

Kadhi is a favourite with both me and the husband and although the rest of the family doesn’t prefer it as the first choice, I would love to drink the kadhi sometimes as a soup / meal by itself. 

Other kadhis on the blog are : 

Do check out some of the other family favourites using fresh Methi:
And many more dishes.   Now let’s get to the recipe. 

Fresh methi was suggested as a theme by our fellow blogger Sasmita for this week of #foodiemondaybloghop for week #177MagicofFreshMethiLeaves

Prep time - 10 Mins, cook time - 15 Mins; serves - 2~3 adults generously 

Methi kadhi - gluten free accompaniment to any flatbread / steamed rice or khichdi
{{Can be Vegan too}}

Cuisine : indian, course : Side Dish

You need:
Chopped fresh methi leaves - 100 grams
Homemade yoghurt -200 ml (vegans can sub with cashew or rice yoghurt)
Besan / gramflour - 2/3 cup
Water - 3 cups (1 cup =200 ml)
Salt to taste 

Tempering 1 : 
Oil 1 tbsp, turmeric 1/2 tsp, cumin seeds 1 tsp, chopped green chillies 1/2 tsp, grated ginger 1/2 tsp, crushed coriander seeds 1/2 tbsp

Tempering 2 :
Oil 1/2 tsp, cumin seeds 1/2 tsp, Broken dry red chilli 1, Kashmiri red chilli 1/4 tsp 

  1. In a bowl, whisk the gram flour, yoghurt, half of the water to a smooth pouring consistency. In a pan, heat oil and make the first tempering, once the cumin seeds brown a bit, add the methi leaves and sauté well for 1 min. Add 1 cup water and cover and cook the methi for 3-4 mins till done. 
  2. Now add the gram flour - yoghurt batter , stir continuously on a medium flame for 4-5 mins. add salt , and remaining water and let it cook for 8-10 mins on low flame , stirring it occasionally. 
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Make the second tempering and pour onto the kadhi. Serve it hot or warm. 

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