Archive for category In my kitchen

vegetable salna (diluted curry)

If you happen to travel to the southern most states of India such as Kerala and Tamil nadu, one cannot miss the sight of fast food shops on street, one after the other, some sell fried rice and noodles, some ‘parotta and salna’. These street side shops are a life-saver for the working class.  It’s a quick 10 minute fast-food that you can grab and go and it’s pretty delicious.

vegetable salna and parotta

I tried making the parotta (yes,  from scratch) to go with this curry, but there’s definitely lot of room for improvement, hence I shall save that for a later post.   If you are interested, you can find tons of recipes online to make it from scratch.  Coming back to the highlight of the post, ‘salna’, which is a diluted form of curry cooked with pieces of meat such as chicken or lamb or just some veggies.

you will need:

  1. ½ red onion or 4-5 pearl onions chopped coarsely
  2. 2 tomatoes chopped coarsely
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 4 cloves
  5. 1 stick of cinnamon
  6. 2 tsp of fennel seeds
  7. 1 tsp of poppy seeds
  8. 1 tsp of black pepper corns
  9. 4-5 garlic cloves
  10. 1” piece of ginger
  11. ½ cup shredded coconut
  12. 4 cashewnuts
  13. 1-2 tsp of red chilli powder
  14. 1 tsp of coriander powder
  15. ¼ tsp of turmeric
  16. 1 cup of veggies (peas, carrot and cauliflower)
  17. salt to taste

make it:

to grind:

* In a wide pan, add 2 tsp of oil, and add items 1- 11 and fry them for 5-7 minutes until the onion and tomatoes get partially cooked.

* Add the chilli + coriander + turmeric powder, mix well and let it cool for 10 minutes.  Add the cashews to the mix, and grind everything to a coarse paste by adding ½ a cup of water

for the curry:

* If you have a pressure cooker pan, that is ideal, else, a wide non-stick pan is sufficient.

* Add 3 tsp of oil, once the oil is heated, add the vegetables of your choice, sauté for 4-5 minutes.  If you like chunks of tomatoes and onions in the curry, you can add like 1/2 of chopped red onions and 1 tomato and fry them with the vegetable for 3-4 minutes (they really don’t need to get too soft)

* Add the ground curry paste, add 2 cups of water, salt to taste and let it come to a boil (should take about 7-8 mins)

* Close the cooker and let it pressure cook for 1 whistle or pressure release.  If using a pan, let it cook for 15- 20 minutes, until vegetables get cooked and you can see a layer of oil forming on the surface of the curry.    Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with Parotta, Idli or Dosa.

Note:  This curry is supposed to be liquid and runny than the usual consistency of curries, so you might not see it thickening that much, as we added at least 2 cups of water.  However, due to the cashews and coconut from the ground paste, it will tend to thicken a bit


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cilantro mint chutney

With the winter setting in, I want to use up all (at least most of the mint leaves) and trim out the plant to move indoors.  The smell of mint is a bit too strong for me to make a chutney by itself, hence I chose to use some cilantro leaves as well.

you will need:

*) 1/2 to 1 cup of mint leaves washed (no stems)
*) 7-8 strands of cilantro leaves (stems are okay)
*) 1 inch ginger
*) 5-6 dry red chillies
*) 3 tbsp of broken urad dhal (optional, but if you have, worth adding it)
*) 1/4 cup of shredded coconut flakes
*) 1 lemon size tamarind soaked in water for 20 mins or you can substitute with lime juice
*) salt to taste

make it:
*) In a wide pan, add a tsp of oil, and fry the urad dhal until golden brown, set it aside
*) Add the chillies + ginger, fry for a few secs, add the coconut flakes, the mint leaves + cilantro, fry until the leaves shrink(about 4 minutes)
*) Let it all cool for 10 minutes and grind them coarsely by adding the tamarind soaked water (if using lime juice, add the lime juice and 1/4 cup of water to grind)
*) Add salt to taste, serve with idly/dosa or rice

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dry chutney spice powder for idly/dosa

This chutney powder is a staple in most of the homes in south india especially the states where the people enjoy fresh idly and dosa for breakfast or dinner. For those who are unfamiliar with the terms idly/dosa – these are indian pancakes made by grinding rice + urad dhal(a type of lentil upon grinding is mixed with rice flour), fermented overnight and can be cooked as pancakes (dosa) or steam cooked.

To go with the rice pancakes, you can either make a wet fresh chutney or quickly mix up this spice powder with a tablespoon of oil or ghee and this is your instant chutney. I used to buy this powder, but not anymore.

Roasted ingredients for spice powder

you will need:

1) 3/4 cup of channa dal
2) 1 cup of urad dal (slow roasted for 10 mins)
3) 12 – 15 red chillies dry
4) 1 tsp of hing (asafetida)
5) 1/4 cup of sesame seeds slow roasted for 4 mins
6) kosher salt to taste

make it:
* Slow roast the #1 and #2 for 10 – 12 mins separately – this is very important, else, just the outside will cook and the inside of the lentil will remain raw, which will give a raw taste to the powder upon grinding. Keep it aside
* Slow roast the chillies, set aside (approximately 3 mins)
* Slow roast items #4 and #5, set aside
* Let it all cool for 30 mins, and grind to a coarse powder and add salt to taste
* Let it cool on a wide plate for an hour and store in a bottled container or in a Ziploc bag and you can freeze up to 3-6 months

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no-knead pizza….. an inspiration and examination

Inspired from several blogs, I finally bought all the tools needed to make a home-made pizza (at least I think…).
a pizza stone, pizza cutter, cornmeal, and the sauce.. this took sometime for me to figure out walking through the aisles to figure out what is a pizza sauce!! at first I thought, I could find it next to the pasta sauce, no luck there, so I went to sauces/dressings, and no luck either, so I finally bought a small can of Hunt’s tomato sauce (with basil and oregano).. is this the right sauce to use on a pizza? Or there is something really called a pizza sauce?

Lets jump to the recipe now…

For the crust:
* Take out a grapefruit size dough from the no-knead dough (if you have one; after it has risen for at least 2 hours) or make the usual pizza dough. If you are using the no-knead version, it would be wet and soggy, add 1 handful of flour at a time, to knead into a nice soft ball; while kneading I liberally added some olive oil as well
* Let it sit in a well oiled bowl for about 30 mins for a rise

For the toppings:
* 1/2 green peppers finely sliced
* 1 onion sliced lengthwise
* 3 tbsp of the tomato sauce (note: I do not know whether this is the right kind yet)
* 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
* 1/4 tsp of garlic salt
* 1/4 tsp of italian seasoning
* 10 cherry tomatoes sliced into 2

Make it:
* If using a cookie sheet, sprinkle liberally some cornmeal and flour to keep the pizza from sticking
* On a well floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a round shape, add the tomato sauce, followed by evenly spreading 1/2 of the cheese, peppers, onions, tomatoes, chilli flakes, garlic salt and topped with the remaining cheese
* Preheat the oven to 400, and bake it for 20 minutes, until the cheese comes together

Now to the examination part,

* When slicing, I felt the crust below the tomato sauce was kinda soggy
* Or may be I rolled the crust too thin in the middle, unlike the ends
* And since I used a no-knead pizza dough (2 parts AP flour: 1 whole wheat flour: 1/4 bob’s red mill 10 grain cereal), even after so much kneading and adding a whole lot of flour, the dough was not stable enough to slide off the pizza, hence I had to give up the pizza stone and baked it on a cookie sheet
For the next time, I am going to use Bread Flour as suggested here

You are welcome to give me any suggestions to improve my next pizza-making experience!

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the grainy artisan bread

Its been few months that I updated anything in this space, and I am back to baking breads @ home. To keep me motivated, recently i even purchased a pizza stone to bake no knead breads. Well this is the first bread I baked on my new pizza stone. From what I read, they say that the pizza stone gets seasoned by use. So I just started using the first day.

The ingredients for the bread are the basic flour + salt + yeast + water a n d about 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill whole grain cereal and I substituted 1/4 of the flour with whole wheat flour; hence why this one is turned out a bit denser.


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