Thursday, June 12, 2014

A 10 - minute no-onion no-garlic potato gravy

It has been a hectic beginning to our summer vacation. We got our carpet replaced – a long over due project.  Since the carpet replacement involved emptying most of my closets and bookshelves, it seemed like a good idea to get rid of all the junk I have accumulated over the years.  We were able to donate a ton of stuff that we no longer use – books, toys, board games, clothes, shoes etc. to a local charity. 

As is the case, when I am involved in some project like this, I don’t find time to do groceries.  Other than potatoes (which I always seem to have enough of), I did not have much else to work with.
So for a few days, we had to make do with quick and easy dinners (some involving potatoes)  or leftovers.  We even ended up having maggi once!

My friend, Shashi had made an awesome potato masala.  She had this special masala powder from Delhi.   All she did was tadka with cumin seeds, mixed this masala with water and poured it into the kadai.  She let this boil for a bit, then added the boiled potatoes, and garnished with cilantro.  And voila!  A yummy potato curry was ready.

Since I did not have this masala at home, I improvised the first time I made this.  Mine did not have all the subtle flavors, but it was pretty good.  I have been making this quick curry regularly and get no complaints at home. And it only takes about 10 minutes or so to make after you boil the potatoes.

Here is what you need:

  • 5 - 6 potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 3 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. amchur (dried mango) powder
  • ½ tsp. fennel powder
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnish


Here is how I made it:

  1. Heat oil in a pot.  Add cumin seeds and hing.
  2. In a small bowl, take a little bit of water and add all the dry powders (red chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, amchur).  Mix well.
  3. Pour this gently into the kadai, being careful not to get splattered.  Add salt.
  4. Add a little more water and bring this to a boil.
  5. Coarsely mash up the potatoes with your hand so that there are some big chunky pieces.
  6. Add this to the masala.  Add more water if necessary.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 6 - 8 minutes till the potatoes absorb all the flavors.
  7. Garnish with cilantro.
 Serve with rotis or puris.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Simple Maa ki Dal with Greek Yogurt (no onion, no garlic, no cream recipe)

I have heard of Dal Makhani when I was growing up. Most restaurants that served North Indian food had this on their menu.  A really rich dal preparation made with tons of butter and cream.  I don’t think I have ever ordered this myself, but have tasted it occasionally in North Indian Thalis.

I had never heard of maa ki dal till I moved to the U.S.  My friend, Usha, makes this when she has us over for dinner.  She makes the whole thing in her crockpot and it tastes amazing.  Her recipe is not as rich and creamy as dal makhani, but tastes so good, that you will want to lick your fingers to get every last bit of flavor from the dal.

I don’t make this as often as I should – mainly because I don’t remember to soak the lentils/beans ahead of time.  But occasionally, when I am trying to do an inventory of the items in my pantry, I will find the whole urad tucked away in a corner, and will have a craving for maa ki dal.

no onion no garlic maa ki dal

I have not made this in the crockpot, but Usha says that it is a cinch to prepare.  She puts the rinsed dals with enough water in it in the morning and turns the pot on to low setting.  She makes the masala later and adds it to the cooked dal in the evening.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup whole black urad dal
  • ¼ cup chana dal
  • ¼ cup rajma
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ½” piece ginger, slivered
  • 3 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ½” piece ginger, slivered
  • 3 roma tomatoes or 2 regular tomatoes, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 – 2 tsp. kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  •  2 – 3 Tbsp. greek yogurt
  • cilantro for garnish

Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash and soak the dal for several hours.
  2. Rinse the dal.  Add enough water, salt to taste, slivered ginger, and hing.  Place this in a pressure cooker and cook for 12 – 15 minutes on low heat after the first whistle.
  3. Turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to release.
  4. Heat oil in a pot.  Add cumin seeds.
  5. When the cumin seeds change color, add the hing and slivered ginger.
  6. Add the coarsely ground tomatoes.
  7. When the tomatoes are pulpy, add the coriander, cumin, and red chili powders.  Mix well.
  8. Fry on low heat till the whole thing looks well done and oil starts to separate.
  9. Add the cooked dals.  Check for salt and seasoning.
  10. Simmer on low heat so that the lentils absorb all the flavors (about 10 minutes)
  11. Crush the kasuri methi in the palm of your hands and sprinkle on the dal.
  12. Smash up the dal with a potato masher.  My family likes the dal to be whole - so I did not do this.
  13. Turn off heat. Add cilantro.
  14. Before serving, add a dollop of greek yogurt.

Serve with rotis, parathas, or rice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Peerkangai Poricha Kootu (Ridge Gourd / Turai)

Peerkangai is one of those vegetables I always see in the Indian store but never buy.   It just looks like it would be time consuming to prepare. 

Last week, I caved in and decided to buy it – and I am glad I did.  The texture of the vegetable is great for kootu.  It tastes even better than soraikkai (lauki – bottle gourd).   My mom also makes a thogayal (chutney) with the peel.  I have to try that out sometime.

Poricha kootu is a staple in most Tamil homes.  We used to have it regularly.  It is also festive enough to be served as part of a wedding feast.  This kootu can be made with so many different vegetables (all type of gourds or pumpkins work well) or a mixture of vegetables.  Most often people eat this with rice, but my uncle, who was trying to cut down on rice, used to have this with phulkas.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 2 ridge gourds/peerkangai/turai
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
For the masala:
    • 1 tsp. oil
    • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 3 – 4 red chilies
    • 3 tsp. urad dal
    • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
    • ¼ cup grated coconut
For tempering:
    • 2 tsp. oil
    • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
    • 1tsp. cumin seeds
    • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
    • 1 tsp. split urad dal
    • 2 red chilies
    • few curry leaves


 Here is how I made it:

  1. Rinse the moong dal, add enough water and cook in a pressure cooker till done (about 10 minutes on low after the first whistle)
  2. While the dal is cooking, peel the ridge gourd.  Cut it lengthwise in half. Remove the pulp and seeds and dice it.
  3. Add enough water and place this in a pot.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes..
  4. In a small saucepan, heat a little oil.  Add the cumin seeds, red chilies, urad dal, and black peppercorns.  Fry on medium heat till the chilies change color.  Turn off the heat and let this cool.
  5. Add the coconut to the fried ingredients and grind to a smooth paste with a little bit of water.  Set aside.
  6. Drain most of the water out from the ridge gourd.  Add the cooked dal, salt, and turmeric.  Bring this to a boil.
  7. Add the ground masala paste and simmer for about five more minutes.
  8. Heat oil for tempering in a small saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, jeera, urad dal, and red chilies.
  9. When the mustard seeds sputter, turn off the heat, add curry leaves, and pour this over the kootu.

 Serve with rice or rotis.

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