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If there is a green variety that is not available in Chennai markets  but  in our native village , it is pasarai.

It is pearl sized tiny greens that spreads on the garden floor.  It requires the least attention from the gardener , requires minimal water.  The tiny succulents cover the earth as a thick blanket with tiny yellow flowers. So they are also called as ‘payviri’ in tamil :)

It is also called as “Siru pasalai” , “Tharai Pasalai” in Tamil and chicken weed in English.

20141214_150113Botanical name: Portulaca quadrifida

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It belongs to the family of purslane and according to this article , it is “Used for asthma, cough, urinary discharges, inflammations and ulcers.”

Facts apart , most of the city dwellers know them as herb, whereas , back home, my mom cook a delicious meal out of them . The tiny leaves are going to take some of your precious time to sort out , but believe me, it is worth every second spent . The plant roots at every joint , so you need to separate the stem and leaves out . For me , it  easily takes 30 minutes to sort and get  just a fistful of cookable  greens.

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The recipe is simple like any other musical, but the taste is extraordinary and no other greens can give such an aroma and flavor to the dish.

Ingredients:

Toor dall – 1/2 cup

Pasarai keerai – fistful

Medium Onion -1 ( cubed )

Big tomato – 1 (cubed)

Dry red chillies – 5 numbers

Garlic – 10 small cloves ( or 5 big cloves )

Tamarind – Lemon size.

Method :

Pressure cook toor dall and chilled , add the greens , onion , tomato , garlic . Cook them till the greens are thoroughly cooked . It takes relative longer time to cook the succulent pearls than the other amaranthus kind of leaves. You can pressure cook them again if you want, I cooked them in an earthen pot on simmer. Take care not to add water more than what is needed to cook the veggies. When cooked, drop the  tamarind in the hot mixture. This softens  the tamarind but not fully cook it. This is a key trick not to cook the tamarind as the rawish taste of tamarind adds a nice punch to the dish . The dall is smashed with salt added and never returns to the stove. The smashing – You can use Kal Chatti and mathu , the traditional tools  or a hand blender will also do the job in a hurry. When the dhall is pureed , stop the churning and prepare the tadka .

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Tadka :

Oil

Curry leaves

Vadagam

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a kadai , splutter the crushed vadagam (If not , mustard and urad dall) followed by the curry leaves.

While it is still hot , pour it on top of the dall. Churn quickly to integrate the tadka into the dish. By now,the aroma might have invited all you family members to the dining table . :)

Enjoy the masiyal with hot rice and rice papads.

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PS: If  you are on a mission to grow these in your backyard, terrace or balcony , save those remains of the keerai stems , lay them gently on the soil, in couple of weeks time, you will see the green carpet decorating your garden space.

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Do You Know?

Do you know the name of this greens?

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Sirukeerai / Amaranthus

Today morning,I harvested my first organic greens from my terrace garden. It was also the first time I had succeeded in raising a plant from its seed. I feel proud and accomplished even though all I did was to sow and sprinkle water and keep it in the full sun. It feels good to be harmonious with nature :-).

The day had started with light showers in my neighborhood and the greens waved as if they were welcoming me. I snipped off the top leaves thanking nature for the first promising harvest. I knew there is no need to ‘deweed’ or ‘triple wash’ the leaves as I knew them right from the time they germinated.

It is true, happiness is gardening :-)

Poha upma was introduced to me in Mumbai when I went to my sister-in -law’s house in 1998. It was one super easy dish I learnt from my s-i-l as a beginner in kitchen. If you do the tadka right and garnish right , there is no failing.  :)

Here is the dish which is great to whip up quickly in a busy morning.  I have used brown rice flakes as a healthier alternative.

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Ingredients :

Brown rice flakes / sigappu arisi aval / brown poha  – 4 cups after soaking

Onion – Big size – 1 number

Cooked potato – 2 numbers

Tadka ingredients as seen in picture

Soak the poha after washing it thoroughly for 10- 15 minutes. Drain the excess water .

Cook potato in a cooker with salt needed  and dice it. Heat oil in a pan, throw in mustard, urad dall, gram dall, chili, ginger  and curry leaves. Add onions and when they turn translucent , add potato dices , salt and poha , give a gentle stir and turn off the heat. Cover it for 5 minutes .  Add some asafoetida and garnish with finely chopped coriander /cilantro .

I have added onion to my taste, if you like to add more, please do and increase chillies proportionally. We can also add crushed roasted peanuts for crunchy texture , more veggies for a wholesome meal . Those who like tangy sweet twist , can top it with sugar sprinkle and lime juice squirts. The choices , as you see,  are many , define the dish as you want , it is the fun that is all it  matters . :)

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Have a great time cooking!

Chocolate chip muffins

As every weekend comes by, I start with a desire to bake something , then get distracted with other handful of hobbies (hehe..) and look forward to another weekend all over once again .

Last weekend was something different, our neighborhood Nilgris got renovated and restocked with fresh ingredients. We came across chocolate chips and baking chocolate bars. There started the desire to bake  some muffins to stock for breakfasts.

It was Sunday morning and I wanted to surprise the kids. Followed this recipe with mild modifications.

Ingredients:

Maida /All purpose flour – 2 cups

Sugar – 1/2 cup

Key brand baking powder – 3 teaspoons

Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Milk – 1/2 cup

Fresh curd  – 1/4 cup

Sunflower oil – 1/3 cup

Egg- 1

Semisweet chocolate chips – 3/4 cup

Vanilla extract -1 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 210 degree celsius.

Mix all wet ingredients well  and  add in flour and rest of the dry ingredients (Hold the chocolate chips ), beat until the batter is smooth and without lumps.

Stir  in the chocolate chips.

Line your cupcake molds with oil/ butter, fill it upto 2/3. Place it in a baking tray / metal plate , place them on a rack so they are in the middle of the oven to ensure even baking.

Bake for 20 plus minutes, know the doneness by poking in middle of the cups.

I was  so enthused to bake, that I forgot that I ran out of cupcake molds, so stainless silver tumblers came to the rescue :)

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The muffins were warm and welcoming , that it did not last past 10AM, so, when you plan to make these lil muffins, expect them to  magically disappear.

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Parathas are the latest craze in our home. Soft pliable roti wrapping softer cheese leaves you with lingering taste of spices and creaminess.

I am not a fan of store brought paneer, but prefer the firmness of the cubes for kurmas. However, for parathas, you need soft cheese that will work with you as you knead the stuffing. Home made paneer is the best way to get soft cheese.

In making paneer, there were several attempts to reserve the white cloth I use for making paneer to ‘keep’ it as paneer cloth. Either, it will end as craft cloth for my kids, or even worse cleaning cloth for my maid. :(

I thought to give the paneer cloth an ‘identity’..also it should serve the purpose of filtering the whey water in a more elegant way.

Surukku pai/ string bag:

My grandma had this all the time, where she kept coins and her tobacco. The coins bearing a ‘signature’ smell that shall laugh at us with a jingle will make us plead her for buying candies. The ‘santa’s’ bag well tucked in my grandma’s Saree was my inspiration for this little diy project.

Cut a circular piece of white cloth, about 12 inch radius. Cut two inch wide strips of cloth on the bias , length should equal the perimeter of the circle. (Use your calculators :-) )

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If you are joining multiple patches like me, make sure to cut the edges in a 45 degree angle and patch. Sew the both sides of the strip on the edge, run a chord inside the channel. The surukku pai/ cheese cloth bag is now ready.

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Spread this over a strainer, pour in your curdled milk, pull the string, pour chill water over if you want to arrest the cooking, knead as you like, hang it wherever you like. Wash and reuse the bag as many times you want, it is all yours :-)

Enjoy a diy time !

 

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