Friday, September 26, 2014

Black-eyed Peas Sundal

I miss being in Chennai during the festival season.  Even if you don’t celebrate everything, the charge in the atmosphere gets you in the mood.  I think I have mentioned in previous posts that my mom did not keep golu, but I loved looking at all the dolls in Kadhi Bhandar, Poompuhar, and in the street side shops on Mada Street.  It felt like the whole city was one big doll exhibition!  

The clothes and jewelry stores doing brisk business, especially with Deepavali just around the corner, the flower vendors selling their wares to all the mamis getting dressed up for vetthilai paaku, the small street-side stores that sell mini mirrors, combs, and bangles that are part of the goody bag treats – I really miss all that excitement!

Here Navarathri is so low key.  If I did not keep Golu, it would be just a mundane routine for 10 days.  I am glad that my mother-in-law started this tradition for me, because now my kids have some memories to associate with Navarathri – maybe not as colorful as mine, but still better than not doing anything special.

For today’s sundal, I soaked black-eyed peas this morning before going to school.  It really doesn’t need that much soaking, but since I wanted to make it as soon as I got back, I soaked it in the morning.  Like all other sundals, this one is also very simple to make and cooks very easily.  

Here is what you need:

  • ½ - ¾ cup dried black-eyed peas
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 2 red chilies
  • a bit more hing
  • 3 – 4 curry leaves
  • 2 – Tbsp. coconut, grated

Here is how I made it:

  1. Soak the black-eyed peas for 3 – 4 hours
  2. Pressure cook the peas with salt and hing.  ( I cook it for about 5 minutes on low after the first whistle)
  3. Remove the peas and drain the water.
  4. Heat oil in a saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, cumin, hing, and red chilies.  When the mustard seeds sputter, add the curry leaves.
  5. Add the cooked peas and mix well.
  6. Fry this for a couple of more minutes. Turn off the heat.  Add the coconut and mix well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pattani Sundal (Green Peas Sundal)

For the first day of Navarathri, I made pattani (green peas) sundal.   I love sundals.  They are so simple and easy to make and taste great.  For Navarathri, we make a different sundal everyday, for nine days.  Coming up with nine different sundals is always a challenge.  After the first few days, you need to get creative with your choice of grains.  I am thinking of posting my sundal recipe for each day.  Let’s see if I am successful.

Green Peas Sundal

Today, my husband has a dinner with colleagues.  It is just my mom, my son, and me for dinner.  My mom said that she will just have dosas with some left over batter and that she doesn’t want anything else.  So I got a pizza for my son.  So the only cooking that happened today at home was the sundal :)

Here is what you need:

  •  ½ - ¾ cup dried green peas
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 2 red chilies
  • a bit more hing
  • 3 – 4 curry leaves
  • 1 – 2 tsp. masala powder
  • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds 
  • 2 tbsp. channa dal
  • 3 red chilies
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds


Here is how I made it:

  1. Dry roast all the ingredients for the masala powder.  Let it cool, powder it coarsely and store in an airtight container.
  2. Soak the green peas overnight (I soaked it in the morning and made it in the evening).
  3. Pressure cook the peas with salt and hing.  ( I cook it for about 6 – 7 minutes on low after the first whistle)
  4. Remove the peas and drain the water.
  5. Heat oil in a saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, cumin, hing, and red chilies.  When the mustard seeds sputter, add the curry leaves.
  6. Add the green peas and mix well. Add the masala powder and toss to coat.
  7. Fry this for a couple of more minutes.

Yummy, simple, healthy, sundal is ready!

Note:  You can add coconut or ginger also to this.  I did not.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dahi Balle

Navarathri is just around the corner.  I normally call people over in two or three groups - so that we can actually have decent conversations with each other.  But, we only have one weekend to celebrate the festival this year.  So I have invited all my friends for an open house dinner on Sunday.  It is going to be a super busy weekend because I have a full day classes on Saturday, an hour or so away from home.  I don’t like to do potluck for Navrathri and cook all the food at home.  Most years, I spend the few days leading up to my party cooking.  This time though, my mom is here and I am not feeling too stressed about the cooking.

I tend to agonize about the menu for days before coming up with something I am happy with.  Even after that I keep obsessing about the food and other arrangements, worried that I won’t have enough,  or that I am forgetting some important detail that is going to mess up everything.  I make extensive lists, who's coming, age group, what I am going to give them with vetthilai paaku, what I have to make when, grocery lists etc.

Anyway, I have finalized the menu and am hoping that things turn out the way I want them to.  One of the things I am making is dahi balla.  This is a great dish to  make ahead of time because it freezes well.  It is also easier to make than regular medhu vadas because you don’t have to shape them into vadas, but can drop spoonfuls of dough into the oil – so it gets done much faster.

Here is what you need:

(To make about 20 – 25)

  • 1 cup whole urad dal (dehusked)
  • 3 – 4 green chilies
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1½ - 2 cups yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. chili  powder
  • sprinkling of chaat masala
  • 1 tsp. fresh roasted and powdered cumin powder
  • tamarind chutney
  • cilantro chutney
  • cilantro
  • sev

Here is how I made it:

Soak the urad dal for a couple of hours.  Grind it along with the green chilies to a smooth paste adding very little water.
Add salt to the batter and mix well.
Heat oil in a deep pan.  Drop spoonfuls of dough (so that they look like doughnut holes) into the hot oil.  

Fry on medium heat till the vadas turn golden brown.


Remove from oil and immediately put these in hot water.  Let these sit in the hot water for about a minute.

Squeeze out the water completely and place these on a serving dish. Repeat till all the batter is done.
Meanwhile, beat the yogurt till it is creamy.  Add salt, chili powder, and chaat masala power. Mix well.
Pour this over the vadas.  Top with little more chili powder and the roasted cumin powder.
Just before serving, garnish with the chutneys, cilantro and sev.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bisibele Bath with Leftover Sambar

We have been extremely busy the past few weeks.  My brother and my sister-in-law visited us for the first time!  School has stated in full swing.  Soccer is going on.  My classes for getting my Teaching License are also going on.  On top of that, I have additional meetings and seminars to attend because I am a first-year teacher.

Sometimes, it feels like I am just letting a lot of things slip through my fingers, because I am not keeping track of them!  We forgot our son’s back-to-school night last night,  and I am not responding to e-mails and stuff because I don’t respond right away and then forget that I am supposed to.  With Navarathri also around the corner, I have to find a way of being better organized! 

Anyway, coming to today’s recipe – I make this occasionally when I have a lot of left over sambar. Sometimes I make sambar to go with idli and dosa and then have around half of it left.  Or, I may make it for a party and realize that I have made too much.  This is a great way to elevate the status of you regular, everyday sambar to an awesome Bisibele Bath.

You can make fresh rice or use left over rice.  If you make rice like I do, I like my grains to be separate and not mushy.  For bisibele bath though, it is nice to have mushy rice.  So if I am using left over rice, I add a little water to it and microwave it for five minutes to make it mushy.

Here is what you need:

(To feed 3 – 4 people)

  • 2 tsp. ghee (or oil)
  • 2 – 3 red chilies
  • 1 Tbsp. cashews
  • few curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 10 – 12 pearl onions, their tops and roots cut off and peeled
  • ½ green pepper, diced
  • ½ cup veggies of your choice - you can add some carrots, potatoes, beans or peas (depending on what vegetable you have already used in your sambar)
  • 2 – 3 cups leftover sambar
  • 1 ½ cups rice, cooked (you can make it a little mushy)
  • salt to taste
For the Masala Powder:
  • 3 red chilies
  • 1 Tbsp. channa dal
  •    Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 small piece of flat cinnamon
  • ¼  cup grated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. cup fried gram dal


Here is how I made it:

  1. Dry roast all the masala powder ingredients (except coconut) till the dal turns golden brown.  Add the coconut to the pan and sauté for a few minutes till the moisture is absorbed and it looks dry.
  2. Grind this to make a coarse powder.  Set aside.
  3. Heat ghee/oil in a pot.  Add red chilies, cashews, curry leaves and hing.  Mix well.
  4. When the cashews start turning golden, add the green chilies and pearl onions (if your sambar already has pearl onions, you can skip this)
  5. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the peppers and any other veggies that you are using.  Let this cook till the veggies are almost done.
  6. Now add the leftover sambar and bring it to a boil.
  7. Add the masala powder.  Mix well.
  8. Gently fold in the cooked rice.  Check for salt.
  9. Cover and let this simmer for 5 – 10 minutes on low heat.

Serve hot with papadums and raita

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