Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tonight we are gonna do it Madras style

Tonite we are doing it Madras style. It is uttapam, sambhar, and coconut chutney. My husband isn't too much into this kind of thing...but too bad for him! I only serve it every once in a while. Since it seems novel, he appreciates it.
The recipe below isn't really helpful unless you have access to ready made dosa/idli/uttapam batter. I am just sharing because it is a favorite meal of mine, plus I feel accomplished for serving it even though I buy a ready-made batter.

For the uttapam: I buy Saravana Bhavan's ready made dosa/idli/uttapam batter from Lulu Hypermarket. Just pour into a hot pan like a pancake and top with chopped onions, chopped green chilies, cilantro, ground coconut, and a few slices of tomatoes. Making dosa batter from scratch would be above my level of cooking skills, though I have been told it is very easy. I have used the boxed Gitz dosa mix before, but I don't recommend it.

For the sambhar: boil toor/arhar ki daal. When it is done, add in a medley of vegetables of your choice, plus some garlic, ginger, and onions chopped. To be true to a sambhar recipe, I recommend tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, eggplant, drumstick vegetable, pearl onions, green beans, and some type of pumpkin. (I buy a packet of pre-cut up mixed veggies called "sambhar vegetables" from Lulu Hypermarket) and cook them till tender, add in about a cup of tamarind water, add in sambhar masala to taste---about 2 tbs (I use Eastern Brand), salt, and a tempering of mustard seeds and dried red chilies, and curry leaves.

For the coconut chutney: in a blender blitz 1 cup fresh ground coconut flesh, 3 chopped green chilies, 1tsp ginger, and some water, and salt to taste, stir in lemon juice, temper with a few curry leaves, 2-3 dried red chilies, a pinch of mustard seeds, and a pinch of unsoaked uraad daal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Still so much to learn

Whenever my mother in-law comes to visit, I am always in awe of how much more I have to learn about desi cooking. My MIL came to our house for the birth of my second daughter to snuggle the new baby and also to help out with the cooking and all. This time she made a delicious chicken dopyaaza "istew" twice. I really liked it. She wrote down the recipe for me, but I am going to cook it myself and try it out before I post it.

Today our housekeeper made khatti daal and I made bhuna gosht (recipe here on blog). We are going to have it with white rice and brown Arabic flatbread. We will also have a "Punjabi salaad," which is what the housekeeper calls a plate of sliced salad vegetables such as cucumbers, daikon radish (mooli), carrots, and tomatos. I like to sprinkle this with some lemon juice and a dash of chaat masala, but my husband prefers it plain. Plus I am lazy. So I usually serve it plain. With a daal, I usually put a chutney or two on the table. Tonight it is a Lebanese chili chutney from the local grocery deli, and some Mitchell's brand mango kasaundi. So that is our dinner. Oh, and there is some left over soya ki sabzi, which in this case is dill cooked with potatoes in a dry masala. The housekeeper made it yesterday.

My MIL tells me that people from her region in U.P./Lucknow usually serve one or two dishes, but set the table with a large variety of chutneys to eat with rice or take a nibble of while eating the main dishes. This is a good idea because it makes the table spread seem more abundant even when you have only cooked the bare minimum of dishes. She says that when she moved to Punjab after her marriage, her Punjabi neighbor would tease her by saying that all she served was chutneys and raitas. I happen to like the idea and I copy it myself.