Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meen Kuzhambhu / Fish Kuzhambhu

In Tamil fish is 'Meen' and 'Kuz(l)hambu' is a tamarind based gravy which is spicy and tangy, more like the pulusu in Telugu. Meen kuzhambhu is the most common recipe in the southern part of India and is the most favorite recipe for fish. Growing up whenever Amma cooks fish its always been this kuzhambhu accompanied by a spicy fish fry.The menu never changed and we never got bored with this dish :). 
After venturing into a totally different style of cooking after marriage (Tanjore based) which was quite difficult for me adapt I was quite releaved to see that there was no change in this particular kuzhambhu made by my MIL :) . So this is the common recipe used in most of the household, with very slight changes, sometimes with coconut or without coconut. I personally prefer the no coconut version which is slightly more tangy than the other. My mother regularly adds 2 or 3 whole slit brinjals or some pieces of mangoes (when in season) which also enhances the taste greatly.

1/2 kg of any white fish( catfish, tilapia, trout..)
11/2 tsp chilli powder 
3 tsp coriander powder 
1 lemon sized ball tamarind
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced.
1/2 cup shallots/onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomato

2 tsp of Karu vadagam/kuzhambhu vadagam *
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp methi seeds/vendhayam
few curry leaves

Soak the tamarind in warm water and squeeze the thick pulp out of that (approx 2 cups).
If using Tamarind paste , mix 1tblsp of the paste to two cups of water. 
Wash the fish pieces with little bit of salt and keep aside.
In a kadai or sauce pan add 3 tblsp of gingelly/sesame oil.
When the oil is hot add the tempering ingredients, then add sliced garlic and chopped onion and fry till translucent.
Now add the chopped tomato, turmeric and salt.
Fry till the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp and the oil seperates out.
Now add the chilli powder and coriander powder and fry for 2 mins. Now add the thick tamarind juice stir and close with a lid.
Let it boil in medium heat for about 10 mins. 
Add the fish pieces one by one gently. Close with a lid and simmer for 10 mins. Do not over cook the fish as it will become mushy. 
Switch off the stove and let the kuzhambhu sit for atleast an hour before serving.

  • I have used sesame oil which needs an acquired taste, you can also use any other type of oil except olive oil.
  • Vegetables like Brinjal or mango can be added while frying the onions to bring out an extra flavour.
  • 1/4 cup of  ground coconut paste can also be added as a yummy variation.
  • The amount of onion should be very little as given in the recipe,more onion will give a mildly sweet taste to the kuzhambhu.
  • If the kuzhambhu is little thin or watery - fry 1/4 cup of chopped onion. Grind to a paste and add along with the tamarind juice.
  • * Vadagam is a homemade combination of different spices like fennel, methi, garlic onion , mustardd etc., bind using castor oil and sundried till its completly dry. This vadagam is regularly used for tempering especially for the tamarind based gravies.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Simple Garlic Bread - My Way

Whenever I make soup of any kind, I tend to make garlic bread. Usually I add the butter - garlic mixture to the sliced bread and broil in the oven for about 5-6 minutes. But for the past few years I have been making it in a different way and love the bread made this way to bits and pieces. It makes the bread soaked up with the garlic flavor, without making them too crusty. I came across this method of baking garlic bread when browsing through one of the cookbooks from the library. I don't remember the name of the book but this tip got struck in my head forever :) 

1 medium french baquette (I used a multi grain bread)
8 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 tblsp butter
3 tblsp olive oil.
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper as per taste


Preheat the oven 350F

Chop the garlic finely.I used a garlic press from Ikea, such a nice kitchen accessory.

Mix  it up with butter, olive oil, oregano salt and pepper.Let it sit for 15 minutes.

Slice the bagutte in to thin slices 3/4 the way (not into separate pieces).

Fill up the slits with garlic mixture.  Brush the remaining mixture on top of the bread.

Wrap it up tightly with aluminium foil

Bake in the 325F  oven for 20 minutes.

Note :  You can also decrease the amount of butter and increase the olive oil, that works great too.
Home made garlic bread  is always the best as you can control the amount of salt as well as butter as per our need.
For more crispier slices grill it in the broiler for a minute or two.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Banana Peppers/ Milagai Bhajji

Bhaji is a classic South Indian snack that is totally irresistible. My Mom makes this whenever we have guests and she makes it so perfect without any grease, even if you press it down with a news paper (oh , thats what we do to take the grease out of the bhaji...no power towels :)). Over the period of time I have learned that its the consistency of the batter that matters. It needs to be thick enough to coat the vegetable you are using, something like the idly batter. My all time favorite bhaji is with plantains(raw banana)..nothing can beat that, but today its gonna be  with banana peppers which is my hubby's favorite.

Banana peppers 4 
1 cup Besan flour/Kadalai maavu
1/4 cup Rice flour
1/4 tsp hing powder/asoefotida
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt as required
2 tblsp Idli /dosa batter  (or) 1/4 tsp sodium bicarbonate.

Cut the banana peppers into thin long strips. Remove the seeds.
Heat the oil in deep sauce pan.
Make a thick batter by adding 1 and 1/2 cup water and all the powders together. 
Whisk it well to form a smooth batter.
Dip the peppers in the batter and fry in the oil till golden brown.
Serve it with Coconut chutney or with your favorite dipping sauce.

Note: If the batter is thin or watery, it absorbs more oil, so add more besan flour to make it thick.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vennai Puttu For ICC January.

Iam participating in Indian Cooking challenge after a long time , so glad I did. Srivalli chose this months recipe as Vennai Puttu, a delicacy from Tamilnadu with the suggestion from Priya. So we had two recipes from Priya and Nirmala. 'Vennai' in tamil means Butter, so I guess the name of this dish resonates the texture of this sweet as it is melt in the mouth buttery, but as for the word puttu goes I have no clue :).

I have very vague memories of my grandmother making this for breakfast during summer vacation. She used to prepare the rice batter by personally grinding the rice with a massive hand stone grinder (Aatukal in tamil), make the porridge in the night and allow it to cool in individual cups or sometimes she puts them in empty coconut shells. Then in the morning we all would have our own pudding bowls, topped with extra ghee and freshly grated coconut.

I never knew the recipe till now, as my mother never made it but as soon as Srivalli announced this as the challenge all these memories came flashing through my mind.

I followed the exact measurements as per Nirmala. This sweet is meant to be mildly sweet 
as it is sometimes taken with fresh shredded coconut, so I did'nt add any extra jaggery. I also used some moulds to make it interesting for my kid.

1 cup raw rice 
2 cups water
1/2 cup jaggery
1/2 tsp cardomom powder
1/4 cup channa dhal
1/4 cup broken cashews
ghee as required

Soak the rice overnight or for minimum of 3 hours.
 Soak the channa dhal for 1 hour and cook in hot water for 20 mins.It should hold it shape and not mushy.

Melt the jaggery in about 1/4 cup of water.Filter and keep aside.
Grind the rice  to a smooth paste like Idli batter.
In a thick bottomed vessel boil the water. Keep the heat in medium.
 Add the rice flour batter to the boiling water, keep stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
Once the rice flour is cooked and turns thicker add the melted jaggery and mix well to combine.I have to warn you its get kind of messy at this stage :)

 Keep stiring till the mixture leaves the side of the pan. At this stage add the cooked channa dhal, fried cashews and 2 tsps of ghee.

 Mix well and the pour to the greased plate or moulds
Allow it to cool or set for 2 - 3 hours.
Then gently scrape the sides of the plate with a blunt knife and turn over. Serve with freshly grated coconut on top.

Stiring is very important and its better to use a non stick pan. But its okay to have very small lumps of rice flour tastes like palkozhukattai (kind of ).
I added the coconut to the bottom of the greased mould before adding the sweet, so that when inverting it comes out beautifully on the top.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Strawberry 'n Cream Jello Hearts

A very simple and delicious dessert for Valentine's Day.

1 packet of strawberry jello (30 gms)
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup or 5 oz can of Evaporated milk
Any white chocolate chunks - I used 4 mini toblerone squares

Add 1/3 cup of boiling water to the jello mix. Stir well to combine.
Combine the evaporated milk and the chocolate chunks in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 mins.
Stir well to combine. Add this to the Jello mixture.
Pour into the desired moulds or Ice cube trays.
Refrigerate for 30 mins or until set.

Condensed milk can also be used instead of evaporated milk, but it turns out a little more sweet.

Sending this post to all the following events out there
"Valentine Fest - Served with Love  st Sizzling Tastebuds

Check out my other heart shaped valentine treat  Shortbread cookies with chocolate dipping

Happy Valentines's Day  :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Spicy Egg Pepper Fry / Muttai Milagu Varuval

I never fail to make this egg pepper fry whenever I make biriyani or pulao of any sort.  The main ingredient used here is the pepper -jeera powder. I always have a small box of coarsly ground pepper -  jeera powder (in the ratio 1:2 ). It comes handy when you want to make quick rasam or to spice up an an egg omlette. But if you dont have that you can use the regular pepper and jeera powder seperatly.
This is a very quick and easy recipe and can be made for large crowds without any hustle or bustle :) 

4 eggs boiled.
2 garlic pods , finely chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds powder/ whole fennel seeds (sombhu)
1 tsp pepper powder
2 tsp jeera / cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry leaves powder or few sprigs of curry leaves.


Boil the eggs with a little salt for about 10 mins. Remove from the stove, cover the pan with a lid and rest the eggs for 10 mins.

Peel the skin gently and cut into halves. Keep aside.

In a pan take1 tblsp of oil. When the oil is hot add garlic and all the powders. Stir for a minute in medium heat. 
Add salt and 1/4 cup water. When the water starts to boil and reduced a little bit add the eggs , cut side down.

 Cook for 2 mins.Turn them gently and cook till all the water evaporates and masala coats the eggs.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Weekend Baking - Blueberry Muffin.

My Son has taken a sudden liking towards blueberries. Few months back he always said 'no' to this wonder fruit, but now he demands  blueberries in everything even in dosai's. I am so surprised to see his taste bud change in such a short time. So nowadays I always make sure to pick up a box of blueberries during my weekend shopping. I am not a big fan of blueberry muffin , but since I had some fresh fruit in the refrigerator wanted to give this recipe a try and am so glad I did, it turned out soft and delicious, we all loved it .
This is also a low calorie recipe with oil and yogurt.

Recipe source: Joy Of Baking

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup yogurt
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 190F
Prepare the muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift the dry ingredients , the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium bowl.
Add the oil and yogurt in a large bowl and beat well with a whisk.
Add in the slightly beaten egg, vanilla extract and mix well.
Now add the flour mixture and mix gently to incorporate. Do not overmix.
It is ok to have small lumps. Over mixing will lead to tough muffins.

Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter in to the prepared pan. 
Bake for 16- 20 mins or until the toothpick inserted in the center come clean.
Cool in the pan for 5 mins before removing and cooling on a wire rack.
Makes about 12 muffins.

Note: If using frozen berries, toss them in about a 2 tablespoon of flour from the flour mixture and then add to the muffin mix.
The sweetness was on the milder side for this recipe, so if you want a sweeter muffins increase the sugar to 3/4 cup.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Potato Podimas

This is the easiest way to make potato as per me. This simple side dish is made within 15 minutes and makes a great side dish for rasam or any spicy kuzhambhu/curry and you dont have to keep stiring and wait for the potatos to turn crispy and brown.

2 large potatoes
1 medium onion chopped
3 green chillies chopped
1 inch piece ginger
2 tblsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tsp mustard
1 tsp urad dhal
1 tsp channa dhal
few curry leaves(optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt as required

Boil the Potatoes in a pot or Microwave.Make sure that its not mushy.
If using a microwave -
Scrub and wash the potatoes. Pierce the potatoes all over using a fork. and then cook it for 2-3 minutes in high, or if there is potato option in microwave you can use that.
If using a pot -  boil the potatoes for about 10 mins

Cool and peel the skin and roughly scramble the potatoes.

In a non stick pan add 2 tsp of oil and when its hot add the mustard seeds.
When the mustard pops add the urad dhal and channa dhal.
Once the dhals are brown add the curry leaves, green chillies and ginger, give it a stir and then add onions.
Once the onions are translucent, add turmeric, salt and then the potatoes.
Sprinkle some water and stir well to combine. Add the chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
Reduce the heat to medium, close the pan with  the lid and cook for about 5 mins or till all the water is absorbed.

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