Thursday, April 29, 2010

Re-creating the taste from Eden

Eden-One of the most frequented restaurants by vegetarians in Chennai. This unassuming place has stood the test of time and I must commend them for maintaining the consistent good quality and taste over the many years. I guess I went to Eden way back in 1998 for the first time. Not only did they have some really 'wow' food, but their offerings had some catchy names too. It might not sound like a great deal now. Back then, dessert names like "The last time I ever saw my waist" or "Death by Chocolate" was considered very fancy and Eden was a "hep" place to have a meal.

Well, the reason behind the whole prelude is that I was and am terribly impressed by one of their main courses called "Baby corn mushroom saute". Its a Tomato based Baby corn and Mushroom gravy served on a bed of herbed rice. And I was in a mood to re-create the taste in the confines on my kitchen because other than Eden, I havent found that entree in any of the other restaurants. And I remember the taste so well, after being a big fan all these years of this particular dish. So I took it up as a challenge and I was successful in recreating that taste, according to my palate though...:-)...So, without further ado, here we go with the recipe. [With a few little tweaks here and there...but the combined end result was as good...]

Sweet corn/Methi Pulav served with Tomato Gravy

Sweet corn-1 cup
Dried fenugreek leaves[Kasoori Methi]-1/2 cup
Onions-1, finely chopped
Cardamom-2 pods
Cinnamon-1 small stick
Green chillies-2, slit through the centre
Salt-As per taste
Basmati Rice-1 cup[soak for 10 minutes]
Water-2 cups
Oil/Butter-2 tbsp

  1. Heat Oil[and/or butter...I prefer adding a bit of both] in a wide mouthed vessel and add the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Wait for 5 seconds and add finely chopped onions, green chillies and saute until the onions are soft and pink.
  2. The add the sweet corn kernels and saute for about a minute and then add the Kasoori Methi.
  3. Saute them together for about 2-3 minutes and add 2 cups water and salt as per taste.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, add the Basmati rice and cover and cook for exactly 10 minutes in medium heat and switch off stove. Wait for another 5 minutes to open and check the cooked rice.
Note: I always cook Basmati rice only for 10 minutes, no matter what the recipe because that's the time it takes to cook anyways. The secret is the 10 minute soaking time that softens the rice a bit before cooking. Not only do you get a nice aromatic flavour, the grains also stay separate even after cooking.

For the Gravy

Onion-1, finely chopped
Tomatoes-5 or6, finely chopped
Green chillies-2, slit at the centre
Coriander powder-1 tbsp
Red chilli powder-1/2 tsp
Salt-as per taste
Thick Coconut milk-1/4 cup
Baby corn-1/2 cup, cut into long strips
Mushroom-1/2 cup, rough chopped
Capsicum-1/2, chopped into 1 inch strips
Oil-2 tbsp
Coriander-finely chopped, for garnish[optional]
  1. Heat Oil in a kadai/wok and add finely chopped onions and saute just until brown.
  2. Add green chilli and saute for half a minute and then add coriander powder and red chilli powder and mix over stove for about 10 seconds.
  3. Add the finely chopped tomatoes and salt and cover and cook on medium flame until the tomatoes are really squishy and resemble a gravy.
  4. Saute the baby corn, mushroom and capsicum separately until they are cooked yet crunchy to bite into.
  5. Add the sauteed corn/mushroom/capsicum mixture into the tomato gravy and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk to the gravy and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes.
  7. Switch off stove and garnish with finely chopped coriander.
To serve
Make a bed of rice on a plate and create a well at the centre of the plate. Spoon in the gravy just before serving. This allows the gravy to sort of seep through the rice slowly and gives a rich flavour.
For doing a picture and because we were eating it only after a while, I have done the picture with the rice and gravy separately on a plate.

Apeit Buena!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Tam-Bram ubiquitous Thogayal

No meal in a Tam-Bram house is complete without a Thogayal atleast once a week. It is either consumed as part of the main course by mixing with rice and eating with a Kootu for an accompaniment or like a pickle with the main course. No amount of praise can do justice to the Thogayal. It stays for longer than Sambhar/Rasam/Kootu and it tastes just as yummy. When you have unannounced visitors dropping in for a meal, the Thogayal acts like a ready-mix that you can just mix with rice and serve as a 'Variety Rice" with a raita or papad or both. So here's my tribute recipe blog to this lovely find by our ancestors.

Most Thogayal is prepared in a similar manner, except for a variation in the main ingredient of a Thogayal. Hence for ease of understanding, I am mentioning the list of ingredients that are used for all the Thogayal's[pardon my apparent murder of the English language using the plural form for Thogayal...but in the matters of the tummy, such minor faux-pas must be ignored]

Oil-preferably Gingelly Oil or Nalla Ennai[else Sunflower oil is fine too]
Kadugu or Mustard Seeds
Ulutham Paruppu or Urad Dal
Kadla Paruppu or Channa Dal
Red Chillies
Tamarind paste or tamarind soaked in water

Roast all the above ingredients in oil until crisp and allow to cool.

1)Coriander or Kothamalli Thogayal

Blend all the roasted ingredients alongwith washed and cleaned coriander leaves to a fine paste.

2)Mint or Pudina Thogayal
Blend all the roasted ingredients alongwith washed and cleaned Mint leaves to a fine paste.

3)Onion or Vengaya Thogayal
Add sliced onions to the Thogayal ingredients and roast alongwith the other ingredients until the onion is transparent. Allow to cool.
Blend all the roasted ingredients in the blender to a fine paste

4)Curry Leaves or Karuvepillai Thogayal
Add washed curry leaves to the Thogayal ingredients and roast alongwith the other ingredients until the curry leaves are crisp. Allow to cool.
Blend all the roasted ingredients in the blender to a fine paste. Add water if necessary.

5)Coconut or Thengai Thogayal
Blend all the roasted ingredients alongwith grated coconut to a fine paste, adding water, as required.

6)Ridge gourd or Peerkangai Thogayal
Add skinned and chopped peerkangai the Thogayal ingredients at the end and roast alongwith the other ingredients . Allow to cool.
Blend all the roasted ingredients with a bit of grated coconut in the blender to a fine paste. Add water if necessary. The coconut gives a nice consistency to the Thogayal.

7)Brinjal or Kathrikkai Thogayal
If roasting Brinjal over gas, wash and coat the Brinjal with oil and roast directly on flame until the skin of the Brinjal is charred. Then drop the brinjal in water to be rid of its skin.
Blend all the roasted ingredients with roasted brinjal and some grated coconut to a fine paste. Add water if necessary. The coconut gives a nice consistency to the Thogayal.

8) Coriander and Mint Thogayal
Blend the roasted ingredients with a bunch of washed and cleaned Coriander and Mint leaves to a fine paste.

Chutney Attack

I can confirm that all cooks go through a crest and trough in their cooking moods. While it is an exhilarating high on some days and you want to cook all that you can, it is an abyssmal low on some when you are happy either doing a make-over of left-overs[to save that "good cook" reputation] or just making something plain and simple...well, for some reason, I dont seem to want to get away from cooking. So on low days I cook simple stuff and on high days...well, its not-so-simple stuff. And when i get into these "Attack" moods its simply experimenting all the way. Here are some tried and tested Chutney recipes that I have managed to post after a long time. I suppose I could post the pics later...But as for the recipes, here we go.

Coconut Chutney
Green Chillies
Odacha Kadla[you can substitute this with Cashewnut or Peanut or roasted Channa Dal]

  • Mix all the above ingredients in a blender/mixer to a fine paste.
  • You can consume the chutney as it is as an accompaniment for Idly/Dosa or add a seasoning of Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Asafoetida and Curry leaves in oil.

p.s: I have not mentioned measures as you can add the ingredients depending on what taste you want dominating in the chutney

Peanut Chutney
Roasted Peanuts
Green Chillies
Big onions
Tamarind Paste/Tamarind the size of a small gooseberry soaked in hot water

Mix all the above ingredients in a blender/mixer to a fine paste.
You can consume the chutney as it is as an accompaniment for Idly/Dosa or add a seasoning of Mustard seeds and Curry leaves in oil.

p.s: I have not mentioned measures as you can add the ingredients depending on what taste you want dominating in the chutney

Chettiar Vengaya Chutney
Sliced Onions
Red Chillies
Tamarind Paste/Tamarind the size of a small gooseberry
Oil-to roast

Saute/fry all the ingredients in oil except Salt and Sugar. Allow to cool.
Mix all sauteed ingredients alongwith salt and sygar in a blender/mixer to a fine paste.
You can consume the chutney as it is as an accompaniment for Idly/Dosa or add a seasoning of Mustard seeds, Urad Dal, Asafoetida and Curry leaves in oil.

p.s: I have not mentioned measures as you can add the ingredients depending on what taste you want dominating in the chutney

Monday, November 17, 2008


The humble Idli or Idly, often referred to as the poor man's meal is a great divider. Obviously from an epicurean perspective. Those who like it, love it. Those who don't cant stand the sight of it. Idli is of many types. By this, I don't mean the soft ones and the ones that can bounce back on you, when you throw it on a wall. What I meant was the different kinds-Malligai poo Idly or the normal white idly, Kanjeevaram idly, Rava Idly, spicy rava idly, Vegetable idly and the list goes on. The most popular is the Malligai poo idly and the Rava idly. While the former takes a day's preparation, the latter can be done in a jiffy...jiffier, if you have MTR rava idly mix. I am not blogging this recipe to tell you how to make MTR rava idlis. They are like a dummies guide. All over everywhere. This blog is dedicated to the various enhancements I have tried out in making these Idlys. Each time it is a different enhancement ingredient. But the taste is just as good as any other.

Make the idly batter/MTR rava idly batter and keep it ready. Line the idly plates with a bit of oil so it can recieve the steaming contents.
Option 1-Idly Toppings:
  1. Place a spoonful of idly batter on the idly plate and top it with any leftover "porial". May be, 1 tsp on each idly.
  2. Its a great way to get the kids[of all ages] to eat the idlys, provided, they have the right accompaniments.
Note: You can any of the following as a topping and give the Idlys a twist in the tale
  1. Grated carrots
  2. Grated Cauliflower
  3. Fried Onions
  4. Soya chunks[The picture here is of Idly's topped with soya chunks porial I had made that afternoon]
  5. Left over vegetables/porial
  6. Spinach[washed, finely chopped and microwaved for 1 minute]
Option 2-Masala Idly
  1. Mix left over chutneys/gravies with the idly batter and blend them well.
  2. Place a spoonful of idly batter on the idly plate and place one cashewnut on the Idlys. It looks nicely presented too, when done.
Note: You can any of the following to the batter.
  1. Dal
  2. Chutneys/Thogayal[Mint/Coriander/Curry leaves/Onion]

I have included only those recipes that I have personally tried. If you have experimented with any more options, do let me know. It would be interesting to try them out...

Until then, enjoy!

Dosai amma Dosai...Amma panna Dosai...

My husband can be fed Dosai or Dosa[as the non-south Indians refer to it] as a meal anytime of the day and he will polish them off without any fuss. Well, obviously, because its his favourite food...snack...tiffin. Well, a dosa can be a fast food or a slow food, or a "fast" slow food, if you had the batter in the refrigerator. Store-bought batter also serves the purpose.

In my quest for the perfect Dosai, I finally mastered the art of making the batter a while ago. But I have started blogging my recipes only recently and hence am publishing it now. Besides, my 1 year old also loves the dosai for a meal. Hence the title of this blog.

Dosai can be eaten plain, with "molaga podi/ennai or ghee/nei", with chutney, sambhar, thokku, "nei sakkarai" or with all of these for each mouthful. And after having relocated out of India where the only place you can enjoy a dosai is at home, barring a few restaurants which serve pancakes masked as Dosai, eating crispy dosai becomes an even more enjoyable thing to do. So here we go, with the recipe for making Dosai, Coconut chutney and Sambhar...yummmy, my mouth waters even as I type this blog because thats the dinenr today and it is ust awaiting a diner. So here it is:

Boiled Rice/idly Rice-4 cups
Urad Dal[ulundu]-1 cup
Salt-1 tbsp Method

  1. Soak rice and Urad dal separately overnight[because it is easier...but 3 hours is enough soak time]
  2. Grind the Urad dal to a fine paste first and transfer to a vessel. Add ust about enough water so that Urad dal paste is not too light. You must be able to make a soft ball with the paste.
  3. Grind the rice into a fine paste and transfer it to the same container as the Urad dal paste.
  4. Add 1 tbsp salt and blend them well.
  5. Allow to ferment overnight for making crispy dosais next morning.
  6. If you stay in a country where overnight is not enough time for the batter to ferment, allow it to stand for 1 day and 1 night. That is usually enough.
  7. Put the pancake girdle on the gastop and wait until it has heated up well.
  8. Ladle one big portion of the batter to the centre of the pan and ladle a pancake size dosai on the girdle.
  9. Add a bit of oil to cook the dosai. Turn it to cook on the other side, after one side of it is cooked to a nice brownish color.
  10. Continue to do as many dosais as you need.
  11. Serve with Molaga podi/ennai, chutney and/or sambhar.
Note: In case you want to make smaller portions of the batter, just remember the ratio 4:1 for Rice: Urad Dal. Some do 3:1 and some do 5:1 as well. But then 4:1 is what I follow and it has worked fine for me each time. Some also add Methi/Vendayam/Fenugreek seeds to the Urad dal to enable the batter to get fluffy and nice. The Kitchen is yours. Indulge in your fancies.

Coconut Chutney


Coconut-1 cup
Green Chillies-3 numbers
Groundnut/Odacha Kadala-1/4 cup
Salt-taste wise
Kothamalli/Green Coriander-small bunch[optional]

For Seasoning
Oil-1 tsp
Mustard-1/4 tsp
Asafoetida-a pinch
Curry Leaves-10 numbers

  1. Blend the all the ingredients in a mixie and voila! the coconut chutney is done. Adjust the ingredients as per your taste and choice and so you can make it spicy, medium or not-so-spicy.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai. When smoking hot, add the mustars, asafoetida and curry leaves and fry until the curry leaves are crisp. Then add it to the chutney.

Note: Adding the Kothamalli gives a nice green colour to the chutney. Else, the Kothamalli looks off-white.


Dosai is best served with Sambhar for an accompaniment. And I must thank "Kala", my dear household help in Chennai for being a saviour and helping me with this recipe. One day, I had run out of Tamarind and was cursing myself for not buying it when I had been to the supermarket just a few minutes before. And Kala saw that I was not happy with something and asked me what was wrong. I casually mentioned to her saying that there was no Tamarind and hence I can't make Sambhar. She had a quizzical look on her face because she found it to be funny. Now, that reaction was something I hadn't expected. So, I asked her about it. She said, I never use Tamarind to make Sambhar. Now, it was my turn to give that "funny look". What I had thought was impossible all this while, was not an issue at all for her. Making Sambhar without tamarind. She just went on to make the Sambhar using her method that day, to prove her point. Boy, was I pleased! Not only did she come as a saviour with her Sambhar recipe for dinner that day, but also has changed my Sambhar making process forever, well, almost! Except on rare occassions, I only make this Sambhar and it is time-saving and easy too. You can never go wrong with this method. So, here we go with the recipe.


Toor Dal-1 cup
Onion-1, finely chopped
Tomato-4, finely chopped
Garlic pods-4 numbers
Green Chillies-2 numbers, slit vertically
1 tsp of black pepper, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds combined together
Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
Water-4 cups

For Taste
Asafoetida-1/4 tsp
Sambhar Powder-1 tbsp
Salt-as per taste

For Seasoning
Oil-1 tsp
Mustard-1 tsp
Curry Leaves-10 numbers
Coriander leaves-1 small bunch
Ghee-1 tbsp

  1. Pressure cook all the ingredients in the cooker for 7-8 whistles.
  2. When cooled, Mash the pressure cooked items well and add the asafoetida, salt and sambar powder. Add a pinch of sugar/jaggery to give it a tangy taste. Check the taste and add/adjust the salt, sambhar powder accordingly.
  3. Boil the sambhar well.
  4. Heat oil in a kadai and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and fry until the curry leaves are crisp and add the seasoning to the sambhar. Then add a dollop of ghee and top it with finely chopped coriander leaves.
  1. You can microwave any of the following vegetables for about 4 minutes and saute it lightly in oil and add it to the sambhar before boiling it-Beans, carrot, ladiesfinger, red/white pumpkin cut into 1 inch pieces.
  2. I add a dollop of ghee to Sambhar because it gives a nice aroma and twist to the sambhar. In case, you are literally counting your calories, you can avoid this.
Enjoy your Dosai, Chutney and Sambhar and do let me know your feedback and comments.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


The thing I found about meself was that I have the enthusiasm to make a blog[well, not sure what else to say..type/write blog sounds too routine]...But I always forget to do a pic. And its not once, but has happened a zillion times. I kick myself after I have started serving the food because then it is too late to do a picture of the semi consumed food. So, I have now vowed to do a picture of anything I cook. There might be a picture overload. But then, that is better than no picture at all.

Blogging keeps me occupied during the grey weather days. It also gives me a high when someone tells me that they went through my blog and found something of interest there and also tried it out. Some of them have asked me if I would be able to publish pictures of before and after...of a dish. I won't promise but I will do my best. My kitchen has stuff strewn all over when a in the process of making soething. Although, it is a much neater place once a done. When I have to publish a picture, I must work on the aesthetics as well. So, I shall first try to practice working with a fairly acceptable looking kitchen, even when am cooking. Then I shall do the pictures. Until then, enoy the recipes that I erratically publish.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Pasta Salad

This blog is dedicated to those who don't care what goes into their food, as long as it tastes good. So am not including any specific ingredients. Just those that I have used the many times I have cooked the salad. Ye..salads are usually not cooked. But when the making process invloves even a wee bit cooking, then obviously you cook a salad. hahaha...ok, poor joke. Now we go straight to the reipe. It takes anywhere between 10-25 minutes, depending on the quantity you want to cook, of the salad.

Pasta Salad

Penne Pasta-100 gms[or multiples of it, cooked as per the instructions on the packet. Usually cooked in water to which salt has been added...for 10 minutes or more until it is biteworthy and soft]
Salad vegetables-cut into chunk size pieces or juliennes or small pieces, depending on one's patience and liking. I always but cut veggies. Heehee...hence the big explanation for how the veggies can be cut
Balsamic Vinegar
Natural Salad dressing[usually has garlic, paprika, salt and pepper added to it]
Butter-1 tbsp or more, as per your calorie conscius approach

Salad Vegetables: I usually use 2 or 3 or all of the following:
Red/green/yellow capsicum
Spring onions

  1. Add butter into a wok and add all the vegetables and lightly saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onions become soft.
  2. Add the cooked pasta into it and toss for 1 minute.
  3. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and natural salad dressing. Depending on how tangy you want your salad, adjust the quantity of the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Toss it well before serving.
You can eat this salad warm or cold. Either ways, it tastes just as yummy. This salad can be used as a starter, snack or a meal, depending on the size of your healpings and you can't go wrong in making this.

Each time I post the picture in the beginning. Let me round off this blog with a picture of the salad. Bon Apetit!