Saturday, July 27, 2013


Apam is  a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It is a typical breakfast item in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is slightly sweet and usually eaten with sweetened coconut milk or chutney or meat gravy. I like it with coconut milk, that is the best combination.
There are different ways to make Apam, depending on the geographical location. Some people add toddy* to the batter to make it soft and for a "kick" as well. In Kerala coconut may be ground along with rice for the batter. In Tamil Nadu some people grind cooked rice for the batter. No matter what variation, Apam is a wonderful dish which can be addictive while eating.A special pan called Apam kadai is used to make Apam.
The other day we were discussing different food that we used to eat for breakfast in India. I cannot even dream to eat some of those in the morning now. Imagine we used to have Puri and potato for breakfast!
Anyway, I invited couple of my neighbors for breakfast this morning, because on of the uncles I had invited has never had Apam in his life. Now he can go to India and say that he had his first Apam In USA!
This is the recipe that I have been using for a long time.

2 C raw rice
2 C par boiled rice
1/2 C de husked black gram
coconut extract from 1 large coconut
1/2 t baking soda
6 T sugar

1. Soak rice and dal together for 3 hours.
2. Grind to thick, smooth batter. Add salt at the end. Allow to ferment for 18-20 hours.
3. Next day, grate coconut and take extract using 1-1/2 cups water. Strain well and pour on top of batter with sugar and baking soda. Let it stand for 2 minutes before mixing well. Batter should be thin.
4. Heat the Apam pan to medium heat high heat. There is no oil required if using non-stick pan.
5. Pour one cup of batter in the center of the pan. Hold the pan by the ears away from the heat and swirl it around so that a thin layer outside and thicker in the middle. Cover with the lid and lower heat to medium. Remove the cooked Apam when the sides are golden brown.

6. Repeat the process with remaining batter. Serve warm with sweetened coconut milk or chutney.
* Toddy is palm wine also known as "Kallu" in Tamil. It is alcohol taken from Palm tree.
Be sure to add the right amount of coconut milk. Excess of it can cause Apam to stick to the bottom.
The pan should be hot before pouring the batter. Reduce the flame after pouring. For best result avoid using Apam pan for any other purpose.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vazhakai Puli Kootu(Plantain stew with tamarind)

Every part of Banana tree is used in South Indian kitchens,from the trunk of the plant to fruit. A good friend of mine gave me her mother's recipe using plantain. It is a stew made with tamarind and can be had with rice. I made this kootu couple days ago for dinner. My son who usually doesn't like any kootu ate it 3 times. It was that good!

2 Plantain,peeled and diced 
1/2C tamarind extract(gooseberry size tamarind)
1/4 C black eyed peas, cooked and drained
1/2 C cooked toor dal
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 t channa dal
1/2 t urad dal
3 red chili
1/4 t rice
For tempering:
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/4 t urad dal
2 red chili
2 t coconut oil

1. Place plantain, tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt, asafotida and enough water in a medium saucepan and cook till plantain is soft.
2. Meanwhile, roast all the ingredients for masala with 1 teaspoon oil. Allow to cool and powder it. Keep it aside.
3. Add cooked dal and black eyed peas to cooked plantain. Stir in powdered masala. Cook          for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. 
4. Heat coconut oil and temper mustard and urad dal and red chili. Add it to the kootu. Serve hot with cooked rice.          

Vazhakai Podimas(Plantain Curry)

I had 3 plantains left in my refridgerator for a week. My mom suggested that I should use
1 potato with it and make this dry side dish for bitter gourd sambar. I used a lot of onion and green chilies for this dish.

3 plantain and 1 potaoto, cooked
2 onions, chopped
3-4 green chillies,chopped
mustard seeds,urad dal,channa dal for seasoning
1 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1t chopped cilantro
lemon juice to taste

1. Peel cooked vegetables and mash.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, urad dal and channa dal; stir till  they splutter. Add chopped chili and onion; stir till onion is cooked. Stir in turmeric powder and salt. Add mashed vegetables; stir everything for 2 minutes.  Check for salt. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve as side dish with rice and sambar.   

Vegetable Stir-Fry

Chinese food incorporates a lot vegetables in the dishes. Their food looks very colorful. Atleast once a week I make some Chinese dish. Yesterday I made Stir-fry for my husband. He had it for lunch with some white rice.

1 carrot
1/4 pepper (any color)
5 sugar snaps
4 string beans
4 broccoli florets
3 mushrooms
2 spring onion, chopped
2 pods garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
1 t chili sauce
1 t coriander-cumin seeds powder
2 t soy sauce
1 t rice c vinegar
Salt to taste
1 T corn starch
3 T water

1. Cut vegetables (except sugar snaps) into 2 inch strips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok to medium heat. Saute chili, garlic and ginger for a few seconds. Stir in the vegetables quickly for a few minutes.  Add tofu strips and continue to stir some more.
2. Add cumin-coriander powder, chili sauce, vinegar and salt and continue to stir.  Mix corn starch with water. Stir this in along with soy sauce for 2 minutes.  A
Garnish with chopped spring onion.  Serve hot with white rice or sticky rice or brown rice.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mung Dal Paratha

I never knew that Mung dal can be used to make Parathas. Heard about this from a friend recently and tried it out yesterday. Wow! It was too good and very filling. It tasted like eating roti with dal.

Ingredients for the stuffing:
1 C mung dal, cooked
2 greeen chili, chopped
chili powder, to taste
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 t pomegranate seeds(optional)
1/2 t aamchur powder(mango powder)
1 t fresh cilantro, chopped

For Paratha:
3 C whole wheat flour
enough hot water
1 t oil
1/2 t salt

1. In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for paratha together to make soft dough. Cover and keep aside.
2. Cook mung dal with enough water. Make sure not to over cook dal. Let it cool; add remaining ingredients for stuffing and mix gently.
3. Divide dough into big balls(15). Flatten each ball with rolling pin. Spoon 1 spoon of stuffing in the center; cover by folding edges for outside and roll again to make somewhat thick paratha. Repeat the process with remaining dough.

4. Heat griddle to medium; cook paratha on both sides. Drizzle oil and cook again on both sides till golden brown. Serve with any vegetable or plain with yogurt.


Maravalli Kizhangu(Tapioca) Dosa

Tapioca or Yucca is a root that is abundant in Tamil Nadu. It is energy boosting vegetable for farmers. I remember eating boiled Yucca for after school snack. My mom also used to make a sweet dish called puttu with it.  Brazilians use this vegetable to make cake and other savory dishes. There is one more dish that my kids love, Tapioca chips. Recently I learned yet another dish that can be made from this root, Tapioca Dosa. This can be prepared soon after grinding the batter. I served this for dinner tonight with coconut chutney.

2 C Par-boiled rice
1/4 C Toor dal
1 T Urad dal
4-5 red chili
curry leaves
2 C grated Tapioca
salt to taste

1. Wash and soak rice, dal and chili together for 4 hours.
2. Peel and grate Tapioca.
3. Drain water from soaked rice; grind along with Tapioca to a smooth batter. Stir in asafoetida, curry leaves and salt.
4. Heat griddle to medium; pour 1 ladle of batter, spread it to a slightly thick round; drizzle with oil and cook on both sides by turning once. Make soft dosas. Serve with any chutney of your choice.