24 February 2012

Raw banana (plantain) kababs

Vazhakka or plantain is one of my favourite vegetables. There are at least three favourite ways I make this in true Tambrahm style. One is a roast, where it is sliced thinly and slow roasted until it turns crispy. The other way to make it is to cube it, cook it and saute it with whole red chillies, udad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves with a garnish of coconut. The third one is a vazhakka podimaas. All three taste yummy with rasam-rice or mor kozhambu and rice. 


Since there are three yummy ways to make this vegetable, I rarely end up making anything else. This time I picked up the plantains with the sole idea of making kababs so they don't end up in one of my favourite curries. I did a quick google search for plantain kababs and the one that appealed most was from Vah Chef Sanjay Thumma. Mine is an adaptation of that recipe.


Kababs are best served with roomali rotis, which are not that difficult to make at home provided you have a tough aluminium/ cast iron kadai that you can turn upside down on the flame and cook the roti on the upturned kadai. Please don't try this with your expensive teflon coated non-stick kadai. 


Also, there is no need to indulge in the dramatics of the chef in the Punjabi restaurants of the 80s and 90s where they would throw a roomali roti in the air in open buffet counters to grab the interest of the diners. 


Roomali Roti




 For the dough, I use a mix of 3 parts atta and 1 part maida, salt and water, rest it for 30 minutes and then roll them out into big sized rotis as thin as i possibly can. I cook this on the upturned kadai kept over a big flame for a few seconds until golden spots appear and repeat on the other side. Fold into quarters and keep in airtight casserole until ready to eat.


Carrot-Radish-Rocket Salad




You can serve this with sliced onions soaked in vinegar for some 30 minutes. I shredded a radish, carrot and sliced a small bunch of rocket leaves-dressed it with lemon juice, salt, pepper and tiny pinch of sugar. It tastes better if you cover this bowl and leave it in the fridge for sometime.






Dinner is served


Recipe for Raw Banana Kababs
Makes 16-20 1" kababs




Ingredients
2 raw bananas
1 potato
1 medium carrot
3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup grated paneer / tofu
handful of finely chopped coriander
1 heaped tsp amchoor powder
1-1.5 tsp salt


Dry roast till fragrant:
1 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera) or cumin seeds
1 tsp aniseed (saunf)
1 tsp coriander seeds
5-6 whole black peppers
4 cloves
2 green cardamoms


Once cooled, grind to fine powder in spice grinder


Directions:
Halve the raw bananas. Place 1 L water to boil and put the halved bananas. Boil for around 10 minutes, until bananas are tender. Remove from water. Cool, peel and grate.


Pressure cook potato, peel and grate.


Peel carrot and grate.


Add the grated raw banana, potato, carrot along with all the other ingredients included freshly ground spice powder and 1-1.5 tsp salt to the mix and knead until all ingredients are well mixed to make a smooth dough.


Roll into small lemon sized balls and flatted on palm to make 1" sized patties. Place on hot greased tava and cook on medium flame until golden brown. Flip and cook on other sized for 5-7 minutes until golden, adding some oil around the sides, if required.


Serve with roomali roti, salad and chutneys.


I served it with a simple shredded radish-carrot-rocket salad seasoned with salt, sugar, pepper & lemon juice and spicy green chutney.

18 February 2012

Morkeerai or Spinach and yogurt stew : Garden to plate

TamBrahm cooking or the recipes from Tamil Brahmin households could well vary from house to house. While I've eaten Tambrahm food all through my growing years (albeit sometimes reluctantly) - when this recipe for Morkeerai came to me for posting in Tambrahmrage Cooks - I was surprised I've never eaten this. I'd never even heard my grandmum, aunts or mum mention this ever. 


Spinach patch
Chilli Plant
Plucked and ready for the recipe
Spinach seeds

Since we have having a good crop of spinach and chillies currently in our small terrace garden, this seemed like the perfect way to use freshly grown produce. The procedure to make this Mor-Keerai (more:buttermilk and Keerai:spinach in Tamil) seemed to be like that for Mor-Kozhambu. Grind fresh spice paste with coconut, add it to sour yogurt / thick buttermilk and bring to a simmer. Spinach was an addition to the regular mor-kozhambu recipe.

I loved the subtle flavours of this stew. You can use any seasonal fresh greens such as amaranth, water amaranth, agathi keerai or Bathua. I have promptly passed this recipe on to my mom.




 More Keerai served with Carrot Curry and Brown Rice





Recipe for Mor Keerai
Spinach and yogurt stew
Serves 3-4 
Originally posted on our other blog 


Ingredients
2 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp raw rice
1/3 - 1/2 cup coconut scrapings
2 sprigs curry leaves
Handful of coriander leaves
4-6 green chillies
2 cups thick yogurt
3 packed cups of finely chopped spinach leaves
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp udad dal
pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure coconut oil (optional)


Directions

1. Soak 2 tbsp chana dal and 1 tbsp rice for about half hour.
2. Grind to a fine paste: 
1/3 - 1/2 cup coconut scrapings 2 sprigs curry leavesHandful of coriander leaves4-6 green chillies-depending on how spicy they are& the soaked chana dal and rice.
3. Mix this paste into roughly 2 cups of thick sour yogurt
4. Wash and finely chop spinach leaves to get 3 cups packed
5. In a kadai, heat 1 tsp oil-temper 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 tsp udad dal and pinch of asafoetida. Add chopped spinach with a pinch of salt. Saute for a few minutes until wilted. Sprinkle some water and let the spinach cook thoroughly. 
6. Add the curds with spice paste to the cooked spinach and salt as required. Once this starts frothing, remove from flame and garnish with pure coconut oil. Dont let the curds boil or it will split.
Serve with hot rice and a vegetable curry.


6 February 2012

Black eyed peas curry with fresh ground masala

Do you follow the Tambrahmrage Blog? If not, check it out now so you are not deprived of the laughs we have been having over the last few months. I am happy to announce that Saffrontrail along with the Tambrahmrage blogger have started another blog called Tambrahmrage Cooks. It is traditional tamil brahmin cooking served with dollops of sambar humour and real audio files means that you literally hear the recipes from the Maamis' mouths.

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This post is hot off my kitchen counter. I made this for lunch today and one taste of it finally made me shake off my blogging lethargy. My generous self felt that this recipe MUST be shared with the world at large. And here it is for you...



You can use any beans for this curry. Some of them I can think of are dried peas (white / green), green moong, whole masoor, moth beans, rajma beans, fresh lablab (mocchai) or anything else. Simple rule to remember is, if the beans are dried, soak them overnight.

Red Chauli - Dry (click for a larger picture)
Fresh beans like mocchai can be pressure cooked without soaking. 4 hours should do for the smaller varieties like moong, masoor, moth, black eyed peas (white/red), while the bigger beans like rajma or dried peas do well with an overnight soak.



Black Eyed Peas Curry with fresh ground masala
Time taken - Under 30 minutes with a pressure cooker
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
3/4 cup black eyed peas (I used the red Chauli)
3 medium tomatoes

To be ground into a paste:
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh coconut
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 medium cinnamon stick
3-4 cloves

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
asafoetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garam masala powder or 1 tsp rasam/sambar powder

Lots of finely chopped fresh coriander

Directions
Use a pressure cooker with separators. In one compartment, place the rehydrated peas with just enough water to cover.
Halve the tomatoes and place in another compartment. No water required in this.
You can cook rice in the third compartment if you want to serve this curry with rice. Pressure cook for 2 whistles and keep on sim for 5-7 minutes and remove from flame. Open when cool enough.
The peas should be cooked to very soft but maintain their shape. Tug off the tomato skins, mash with fingers and keep aside.
In a large kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil, add 1 tsp cumin seeds, fat pinch of asafoetida. Once the cumin splutters, add the ground paste to the oil and fry on medium flame for around 5 minutes, until oil separates and the onion and garlic is cooked off.
To the cooked paste, add the cooked black eyed peas and the mashed tomatoes. Add turmeric, salt and garam masala powder. Bring to a simmer. Add some water if it is too dry. Let this simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from flame and add fresh coriander.

If you don't have / use / like a pressure cooker-
Boil the soaked beans in plenty of water for around 45 minutes (until really soft) and blanche the tomatoes in boiling water, peel and mash them with fingers-proceed with recipe.

Serve with steamed rice or rotis.

The fresh mocchai beans are still in season. You must give this recipe a try with them. No soaking required, directly pressure cook as directed above.