Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zucchini Korma

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 26
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Zucchini Korma 

April has come to an end, and with this recipe, we close our month long Mega Marathon that ran from A to Z and with recipes from four Indian states. I started with Gujarat, then came Maharashtra followed by Punjab and finally Tamil Nadu. With a lot of snack recipes to curries, sweets, savories and rice dishes, today brings a hard stop to the event. The letter today is Z and the obvious choice from Z would be zucchini in all cuisines. I am doing Tamil Nadu, so the green colored vegetable made its appearance in a korma. 

Years ago when I was not so connected to food and recipes, I ordered a Vegetable Korma dish at a restaurant as they listed it under curries and I was looking for an alternative to vegetable makhanwala, vegetable kolhapuri and vegetable handi. What appeared was a lightly colored dish and on tasting it we realized it had coconut. I was so stunned to find that as I never expected a curry to have coconut in it! Little did I know that this dish is just written along with the other vegetables, it is actually from a different state and coconut is an essential ingredient in it!

Now with my knowledge much broader, I know what dish will have which ingredient. Not only that, now each of my recipes at home taste different as I understand the importance of coconut, poppy seeds and watermelon seeds in each of the curries. Earlier it would all taste similar with garlic, ginger, onion and tomato in all the curries! 

So coming to the recipe, a Korma (from Turkish kavurma), also spelled kormaa, qorma, khorma, kurma, or qovurma, is a dish originating in South Asia consisting of meat or vegetables braised in a spiced sauce made with yogurt, cream, nut or seed paste. The most famous type of korma is the one with mixed vegetables in it, but adding just zucchini was a great idea too. The gravy was just like any other korma and the zucchini gave a crunch to the dish, with its slightly hard skin and tender flesh. I served it with Malabar Parathas, the flaky ones we can buy off the shelf. Along with that, was a bowl full of Yogurt Rice, a Tamilnadu special and the combination was perfect and we enjoyed a hearty weekend lunch.


Zucchini 2 medium Onions 1 medium, diced
Tomatoes 1 medium, diced
Cashew nuts 1 handful
Fresh Coconut 1/4 cup shredded
Curry Leaves 3-4
Mustard seeds a pinch
Bay leaves 1-2
Green chilli 3-4
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Oil 2 tbsp


Wash and dice the zucchini and set aside. In a pan heat a tbsp of oil. Add chopped onions, cook them and then add tomatoes. Also add the cashew nuts and fresh coconut. Let the mixture cook till it becomes mushy.

Turn down the flame and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, let them pop and then add curry leaves, bay leaves and green chilli. 

Next, add the zucchini and saute till it becomes little soft. Add the prepared curry, turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix well and cook covered till the gravy and zucchini comes together. 

Turn down the flame, add cilantro and serve warm with Malabar Paratha and onions.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

Friday, April 29, 2016

Yogurt Rice | Thayir Sadham

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 25
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Yogurt Rice

Guess what, it is time for the last but one dish on this month's Mega Marathon. After traversing through four states of India, I will end the journey tomorrow with the letter Z. For today, the letter is Y and my state of choice is Tamil Nadu. I hate to stereotype a state or a group of states with their food habits but I must admit that the southern states have the best rice dishes in the country. While their lemon rice is such a delight, the bisibelle bhaat is no less. The coconut rice, tamarind rice, biryani and so on. The list of deliciousness is endless! 

Out of all the rice dishes, Thayir Sadham or Curd rice is a common dish. While most rice dishes are served warm, this recipe is served chilled. A humble combination of rice, yogurt, milk and vegetables, the rice is tempered with urad dal and curry leaves. Serve a South Indian a hearty meal, but he or she is unlikely to be appeased unless the meal is suitably concluded with curd rice, which has a soothing effect, balancing the effect of other spicy dishes!

And of course, a Tamil Nadu state roundup of recipes is complete without a rice dish, so I chose this one for Y. My mom used to make yogurt rice with all the ingredients of the traditional recipe except milk. I read a lot of recipes online and all of them had milk as a common ingredient. So I decided to add it and was really happy with the result. Also, while we never mashed the rice, mashing them and mixing with milk and yogurt gave a really good combination. 


Rice 1 cup

Onions 1/2 medium
Green Pepper 1/4 medium
Red and Yellow Pepper 1/4 medium
Carrot 1/2 medium
Cucumber 1/4 medium
Yogurt 1 1/2 cup
Milk 1/2 cup
Salt, Cumin powder


Curry Leaves 3-4
Urad Dal 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds a pinch
Cumin seeds a pinch
Asafoetida a pinch
Dried red chilli 1-2
Oil 1 tbsp


Cook the rice in 1 1/2 cup water. Cool and set aside. Make fine dice of all the vegetables. Mix yogurt and milk and set aside.

When ready to make, mash the rice lightly. Mix in salt and cumin powder. Add the vegetables, yogurt and milk mixture and mix well.

In a tempering pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter. Then add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add curry leaves, urad dal and dry red chilli. Let the chilli pop and then the dal become golden colored.

Add the tempering on the mixed rice and blend in. Top with cilantro and serve chilled.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Xtra Spicy Tomato Onion Chutney

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 24
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Xtra Spicy Tomato Onion Chutney

It is hard to believe that the Mega Marathon is coming to an end. Before I started out, it seemed like these 30 days with 26 days of continuous blogging will be very tedious. But it turned out rather easy to keep up with the Marathon. Today is day 24 and we have just two to go. The letter for today is X and it seemed like a tough one to crack. But once I started listing out what I want to make, I ended up with two options. I even made the two but finally decided to post this one.

To explain why the recipe is called in such a funny way because of two reasons; one because it is supposed to start from X and second because I made a simple replacement of chilli type and the result was a fiercely spicy one!! So the name is perfect for the chutney I ended up making. 

Most recipes that call for dried red chilli generally refer to either Kashmiri chilli or the long red chillies. However the day I made idlis and wanted to make this chutney, I was out of both! So i ended up using the ball type red chillies and they made my chutney super hot and the color slightly faint. I would strongly advise to use a milder chilli so that you can get a bright color but not end up with a very spicy one!

This chutney is from the Southern state of Tamil Nadu. Generally enjoyed with Idlis or Dosas, this tomato based chutney tasted really good with rasam and rice too. The traditional recipe calls for adding mustard seeds in the pan with all the ingredients while cooking. However, we like our chutneys tempered and so I modified the recipe to temper it with mustard. The red chilli on top of the chutney is just to show the kind I used to make the chutney Xtra spicy! From start to end, the recipe needs 15 minutes and the end result is a really delicious chutney to enjoy with all sorts of dishes. 

Adapted from here.


Onions 2 medium, diced
Tomatoes 3 medium, diced
Tamarind 1 inch piece
Jaggery 1 tbsp
Curry Leaves 3-4
Urad Dal 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds a pinch
Dried red chilli 3-4
Salt 1 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp


Heat oil in a pan. Add urad dal and dried red chilli. Once the the dal is fried to a nice golden color, add the curry leaves and onions and saute. Let the onions cook before adding the tomatoes. 

Add the tomatoes and cook it all till it becomes mushy. Adjust the amount of salt needed and mix well. 

Turn down the flame, add the jaggery and tamarind and mix well. Once it cools down, blend to a paste. Generally prepared dry, you can add some water if you prefer a slight wet version.

Just before serving, heat some oil, add mustard seeds and dry red chilli. Once the mustard seeds pop, add the tempering to the chutney. Serve with idlis/dosas.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wheat Rava Sakkarai Pongal

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 23
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Wheat Rava Sakkarai Pongal

While drafting this post, I cannot believe it is almost the end of this Marathon with just three days to go! Today's letter W was on my mind for a very long time. I thought I would make a sweet dish to balance all the savory things I posted in the last couple of days. I came across Ashoka Halwa from the state and it had wheat flour, but it was not the best recipe to post as a wheat halwa I thought. 

After some research I found that Godhumai is the Tamil word for broken wheat and I knew I had my dish. Godhumai pongal was a very popular dish and I found it on multiple blogs. I picked an idea from here and another from there, but largely I followed this one. Another reason to make this dish was that Tamil Nadu cuisine would be incomplete without a pongal recipe!

In Gujarat, we have a very popular sweet dish by the name Lapsi. The word lapsi means broken wheat and it is also the name of the sweet dish made from it. On reading about Tamil cuisine, I realized it is a similar dish, just made with added green gram dal. So I quickly got out all the ingredients and made the pongal. This is the first pongal I made and we were pretty glad with the result. It turned out rather well. 

The recipe calls for pretty straightforward ingredients; broken wheat, dal, jaggery, ghee and dry fruits of your choice. From start to finish, it just takes about 10-15 minutes and you get a bowl full of yummy sweet pongal!


Wheat Rava/ broken wheat 1 cup
Green Gram Dal 1/4 cup
Water 3 cups
Jaggery 1 cup
Cardamom powder a pinch
Cashew Nut, pistachio, raisin, almond a few
Ghee/ clarified butter 3-4 tbsp


Pressure cook rava and gram dal in 3 cups of water. Once cool, mash it a little and set aside.

Cook the jaggery in a tbsp water till it reaches a hard ball consistency. Once done, add the rava and gram dal; mix well. Cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes and then add cardamom powder and turn down the flame.

Heat ghee in a small pan, add the raisins and slivered almonds, pistachios and cashews. Fry till golden brown and then add it into the pongal. Mix well and serve warm.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vermicelli Upma

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 22
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Vermicelli Upma

Today is the 22nd day in the Blogging Marathon, and as you know, I am exploring the cuisine from the state of Tamil Nadu this week. For the letter V, the simplest choice would obviously be anything that starts from Vegetable. Coming to Tamil Nadu, I am beginning with an almost clean slate as I hardly have anything from the state on my blog. So the options were plenty; Vegetable Korma, Salna, Pulao and so on. But I decided to pick a recipe whose ingredient begins with V. So the obvious choice was Vermicelli.

For a family that enjoys hot breakfast each day, it is sometimes tedious to think of a new item each day. While poha, upma, dhokla etc are pretty common in Gujarati households, it sometimes gets quite boring. That is exactly when we start exploring other cuisines and look for ideas. Vermicelli Upma is one such dish; borrowed from Tamil Nadu but commonly made in our house. Reasons are plenty: the dish is similar to the upma that we are fans of, the ingredients are easily available as Gujaratis love their Sweet Vermicelli and because it is pretty quick to make.

So coming to the dish, I looked up various sites for an 'authentic' recipe from the Southern state, but found that all the recipes differ from one another; only in terms of the vegetables added. The method to cook the vermicelli is pretty straightforward, one can follow it from the back of the packet and the spices are pretty similar to the ones used in rava upma. And so I decided to just make the dish the way my mom made it and added vegetables as per the picture on the packet of bambino vermicelli!

The recipe has two parts to it; first cooking the vermicelli and then adding it to the spices and vegetables. The entire process does not take too long, making this perfect for breakfast or evening snack. While I added onion, peppers, carrots and peas; one can add other vegetables like french beans to the upma too. I like to have it with chai, people sometimes prefer having it with coconut chutney too. The choice is completely yours.


Whole Wheat Vermicelli 1 1/2 cups
Onion 1 medium
Green and Yellow Peppers 1 each
Peas and carrots 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Cumin Seed 1 tsp
Green Chilli 1-2
Curry leaves a few
Cashewnuts 2-3
Urad dal 1 tsp
Oil 2 tbsp
Salt, Lemon Juice


Dry roast the vermicelli in a thick bottom pan. It just takes a couple of minutes, so keep an eye.

Boil two cups of water and add the vermicelli in it. Turn down the heat. Add half a tbsp of oil and let it stand for a few minutes. Drain and set aside. Dice the onion and peppers. In hot water, add peas and diced carrots so they are partially cooked.

In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and once they pop add the cumin seeds. Let them pop and then add cashew nuts, urad dal, split green chilli and curry leaves. Fry the cashews and then add diced onions and peppers. Let them cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the drained peas and carrots. 

Once the vegetables cook in about 3-4 minutes, add the vermicelli, salt, lemon juice and mix well. Turn down the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ulundu vadai | Urad dal Vada

Blogging Marathon# 63 -Journey through the cuisines: Day 21
State: Tamil Nadu
Dish: Ulundu vadai | Urad dal Vada

A new week, a new state in the month long Blogging Marathon. I can't believe it is the last week and we have just six more days to go. Not to forget it is going to run from U through Z. When I started listing down the recipes I was going to make, I was terrified of this week as the letters were such. But soon I narrowed down to recipes from the state of Tamil Nadu that could easily fit the criteria! 

Today is the first day and the letter is U. While hunting for recipes from the state that begin with U, I came across multiple recipes with one common ingredient: Urad dal. Of course we all know that a lot of recipes from Southern India contain Urad Dal, idli, dosa and loads of paniyarams. But apart from these, there is one dish that happens to be my favorite and it never made it to the blog. It was of course Urad Dal vada or more traditionally known as ulundu vadai. So finally it is up and I am super happy!!

The ingredients of the vadai is pretty straightforward: Urad Dal with spices and ingredients of your choice. The options for add-ins are: Shallots, coconut, peppercorns, curry leaves, cilantro, green chilli and ginger. One can pick the ingredients they like and leave the rest. The taste is great with any combination of these ingredients. A firm believer that onions and shallots are interchangeable, I learnt while making the Tamil Nadu fare that the taste is phenomenally different when shallots are used. Pretty glad to learn that! 

While making the ulundu vadai, I went all out and added all the ingredients listed above; maybe because I seldom make fried things and so I wanted to have it all in one go! The vadai tasted really good and we enjoyed them with a lot of Sambhar and Cilantro Coconut Chutney.


Urad Dal 2 cups
Shallots 1-2 medium
Ginger 1 inch
Green Chilli 2-3
Shredded coconut 1/4 cup
Black peppercorns 1 tsp
Curry Leaves 3-4
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Cilantro 1/4 cup
Oil to fry


Wash and soak the urad dal in 2 cups water for 4-5 hours. Once it is soaked, drain and grind the dal along with ginger, green chilli. Use as little water as possible. I made the batter a little coarse, but you can make it super fine too.

When ready to make the vadas, mix salt, lightly crushed peppercorns, coconut , diced shallots and roughly chopped cilantro, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Make sure the consistency is right, as too thin a batter will make vadas soaked in oil and thick batter will make vadas that are too hard.

Heat oil to medium. I tried multiple ways to shape the vadas; on an upside down plate, bowl, wet fingers and what not! Finally this technique worked: Place a small amount of batter on a ziplock bag. Make a hole using wet fingers. Wet your fingers and transfer the vada onto your fingers. Slowly drop the vadas in hot oil and fry till golden brown. 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

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