Sunday, March 29, 2015

Homemade yogurt Indian style

My husband is a total thayir sadam (yogurt/curd rice) case.  This is to say that no matter what is for dinner, his meal is not complete without some rice mixed with yogurt. I, on the other hand, could go for days without eating yogurt.  Of late though, I have made it a point to have yogurt with dinner.  This is my one daily source of calcium and I have been making a conscious effort to add this to my diet.


I make yogurt at home. I cannot eat store bought yogurt.  I don’t like the texture and the taste.  Homemade yogurt tastes so much better, and you know exactly what goes in it.  My yogurt sets 99% of the time – whether it is summer or winter.  And in Colorado, we have some pretty cold winter days.

I use 2% milk, because that is what we buy from our local dairy.  If you use full fat milk, the yogurt comes out creamier.  If you make it with skim milk, it will be a bit watery.  

I use my homemade yogurt as a starter for the next batch.  If I run out or if I have been away on a long trip, then I get some starter yogurt from my friends.  If you don’t have access to good starter, you can use store-bought yogurt (make sure that this has live cultures) to get going.  Make the first batch with the store-bought yogurt.  Then use the homemade yogurt as starter for your next batch.   Make consecutive batches from the homemade version.  After a few batches, maybe three or so, you will have perfect desi yogurt!
Even though I make yogurt all the time, I still get a kick out of seeing perfectly set yogurt.

Here is what you need

  • 4 cups 2% milk (you can use any kind)
  • 2 Tbsp. starter yogurt

Here is how I made it

Pour the milk into a microwave safe glass bowl.  Heat it at 100% for 6 minutes.  At this point the milk is just beginning to boil.

Let this cool for a bit (in summers I let it sit for 45 minutes and on colder days I let it sit for about ½ hour).  The milk should not be too hot or cool.  A good way to check is by putting a few drops on the back of your hand.  It should feel warm.

Now add the starter yogurt and mix well.

Cover this with the lid.  Wrap this whole thing in a kitchen towel and keep it in the oven.  I don’t preheat the oven or turn the light on.  I just keep it there so that the temperature is constant.

After about 6 – 8 hours the yogurt should be set.

My mom sometimes adds a slit green chili to help the process.  If I am having trouble with a batch, then I add the green chili, but otherwise, I just follow the steps above.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Aloo Gobi - dry

“What’s for dinner?”  Some days, I just wish I didn’t have to hear those words.  Coming up with something different to make every night is really tough.  Especially if you haven’t had time to go grocery shopping.

The last couple of weeks I have had parent teacher conferences on Thursdays and so haven’t been able to make it to my Indian store on the day they get vegetables.  I have been improvising by making soups, pasta, chole, pulavs etc.  I also had idli and dosa batter so that we could just make sambar and have that for dinner one night.

I always have potatoes on hand.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you will know that my family loves potatoes.  I also had some cauliflower left - and not much else.  Since both my husband and son love aloo gobi, it meant that I did not have to make two different things for dinner!

I make this a few different ways – sometimes dry and sometimes with a bit of gravy – depending on my mood.  Since I had ghugni, I decided to make this dry.


Here is what you need:

  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1” piece ginger, slivered
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 3 - 4 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. amchur powder (dried mango powder)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp. kasoori methi
  • some chopped cilantro for garnish

Here is how I made it:

  1. Heat oil in a pan.  Add cumin seeds.
  2. When the cumin seeds change color, add garlic and ginger. Sauté for about 30 seconds.  Now add the onions.
  3. When the onions turn translucent add the green chilies, tomatoes, and salt.  Mix well.
  4. When the tomatoes get mushy, take a small bowl with a little bit of water, add all the spices (turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and amchur powder).  Mix well and pour this into the pan.
  5. Fry this on medium heat till the spices are well blended and the masala smells great.
  6. Add the diced potatoes. Cover and cook for 5 – 7 minutes.
  7. Add the cauliflower.  Mix well.  Cover and cook for a few more minutes – maybe another 10 minutes so that the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked but still firm.
  8. Take the kasoori methi in the palm of your hand and crush it over the pan.  Mix well.
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with rotis.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pidi Kozhukattai with Broken Wheat (Steamed broken wheat dumplings)

I make pidi kozhukattai occasionally.  My kids don’t eat it – so it is only for my husband and me.  I have made it a few times for company – when we had our family reunion and when my friends visited. 

It is such a traditional Tamil Nadu “tiffin” and almost always made at home that you won’t find it in any restaurants.  I never used to like this dish growing up – my grandma used to make this regularly, and I remember complaining about it.  But now, I love it.

Steamed broken wheat dumplings

Last year, my mom visited us during summer vacation.  She has only visited us during winter and when school is in session.  So it was nice to have her at home when we could actually spend time together.

She had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and had completely changed her diet and exercise habits.  She reduced the amount of rice in her diet and went for regular walks every day.  I had stocked my pantry with a lot of other grains so that she could substitute those for rice.

Since I had some company to eat South Indian food for lunch, I made pidi kozhukattai for us one day.  Instead of using idli rice, I used cracked wheat to make this.  It turned out great!  I think the same recipe could be used to make pidi kozhukkatai with oats too.  I will try it out one of these days and let you know.


Here is what you need:

  • ½  cup toor dal
  • ½ cup moong dal
  • 1 cup broken wheat
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. channa dal
  • ¼ tsp. hing
  • 3 red chilies, broken
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ cup grated coconut (optional)
  • non-stick cooking spray

Here is how I made it:

  1. Coarsely powder the toor dal and moong dal. Mix this with the broken wheat. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or kadai.  Add mustard seeds, channa dal, and hing.
  3. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the red chilies, green chilies, and curry leaves.
  4. Gently add 5 cups of water and salt to taste.
  5. When the water comes to a boil, add the coconut and the broken wheat mixture, stirring constantly making sure that there are no lumps.
  6. Cover and cook till all the water is absorbed.
  7. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  8. Grease a few idli plates with non-stick spray.
  9. Make oblong balls of the upma with your hands and place them on the idli plates – two to three to a mould.
  10. Steam in a pressure cooker for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve with vathal kuzhambu or puli milagai

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