Akki Roti with Methi / Rice Flour Roti with Fenugreek Leaves

Akki Roti is a breakfast staple in Karnataka, and being from Bangalore myself, this is one of my favorite breakfast/dinner items. This is an easy and quick to prepare dish and requires very simple and basic ingredients. I have used Methi leaves in this version to make it more nutritious. Grated carrots are also used commonly. Again, this is one of those recipes where keeping the base ingredients the same, you can play with different add-ons like different types of greens or nuts. Any type of chutney goes well with Akki Roti but some tangy and spicy tomato chutney sure tastes great with it!

Ingredients:

Rice flour – 1.5 cups plus extra for dusting
Methi/ Fenugreek leaves – 2 cups
Onion, finely chopped – 2/3 cup
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 4 tbsp
Green chillies, finely chopped – 2
Grated coconut – 4 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – for pan frying

Method:

  • Wash the Methi leaves well and chop them finely
  • In a mixing bowl, take all the ingredients (except oil) and mix well

  • Add water gradually and knead into a soft dough

  • Divide the dough into equal sized portions
  • Take a sheet of parchment or wax paper and apply few drops of oil
  • Place the dough on the paper and press with your fingers. Do not use rolling pin
  • Use more oil or dust with extra flour if it gets sticky
  • Spread the dough into a nice circular roti

  • Heat a tawa/griddle and apply 1/4 tsp oil
  • Once the griddle is nice and hot, transfer the roti. For easy transfer, flip the parchment paper with the roti on the pan and slowly peel off the paper and re-use for next roti. If you are using wax paper, be quick in removing it as it is not as heat resistant as the parchment paper
  • Cook the roti well on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side until it starts browning slightly. Use extra oil if needed

  • Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining rotis
  • Serve with your choice of chutney

Onion Bhaji/Fritters

Deep-fried Pakoras and Bhajis have always been my favorite and love having them as a side with rice/Sambar/Rasam. My mom regularly made these and regardless of what type she made (potato, raw plantain, etc), there always had to be onion bhajis as well made specially for my sister who always insisted on these! It worked out well for me as I got to enjoy more than one variety! This recipe is one step above the basic bhaji and uses aromatics such as garlic, cumin and curry leaves for an enhanced flavor. Enjoy these as a side for lunch/dinner when you are out of veggies or as a snack on a cold rainy day with some piping hot chai!

Ingredients:

Onion, sliced lengthwise – 1 cup
Besan/ Chickpea flour – 3 tbsp
Rice flour – 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Garlic, crushed and finely chopped – 1 to 2
Curry leaves, finely chopped – 6 to 8
Baking soda – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Oil – for deep frying

Yield: 2 servings

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the onions

  • Gradually add water to make a thick paste. Start off with 2-3 tbsp of water and add more if needed. The consistency must be like a paste, slightly thicker than you would use for potato or plantain bhajis

  • Add the sliced onions and mix well. The batter should only lightly coat the onion

  • Heat oil in a kadai/wok
  • When the oil is ready (a small piece of the batter dropped should immediately rise to the top), add the onions. Use your fingers to separate them out as you are dropping them in the oil so as to not form big lumps. Also, do not overcrowd them or they will become soggy
  • Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel
  • Serve as a side with any meal or as an evening snack

Butter Chicken

Ok, so this isn’t a dish you should be making often. This is my first attempt at making Butter Chicken and it turned out pretty decent! While this isn’t something I order at a restaurant (because I prefer spicy food), I enjoyed trying my hand at it. This recipe is from my sister who in turn got it from her friend back when they were in college together. I’ve made slight variations to the original recipe like the use of unsalted butter instead of salted. It’s great for a special occasion or when you have guests and goes well with steaming hot ghee rice.

Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
Chicken – 500 gms
Yoghurt – 1 cup
Salt 
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Garam Masala – 2 tsp

For the gravy:
Tomatoes – 6
Unsalted butter – 50 gms
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/3 cup
Chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Milk – 1.25 cups
Cream – 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Tandoori Masala – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 1
Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf – 1
Salt to taste

Method:

Marinating the chicken:

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the chicken and allow to rest for at least 2 hours in the fridge

Making the gravy:

  • Grind the tomatoes to a fairly fine paste
  • Soak the cashewnuts in hot water and allow to sit for about 15 minutes before grinding to a smooth paste 
  • Heat a wok and melt the butter
  • Add the bay leaf and stir
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till the liquid evaporates
  • Add the ground tomatoes  and cool till it turns very dry and the fat separates
  • Add the cashewnut paste
  • Add chilli powder and fry till the fat separates
  • Switch off the stove and then add the milk and a cup of water to get a gravy
  • Turn on the heat again and bring to a boil
  • Cover the wok and simmer for about 7 minutes
  • Once again, remove from heat and stir in the 3/4 cup of cream
  • Add garam masala, tandoori masala, sugar and salt
  • Add the chicken and cook on a low flame till it becomes tender
  • Garnish with 2 tbsp of cream and green chillies

Note:
– I didn’t use store-bought tandoori masala but instead made my own following this recipe; I left out ground ginger, ground garlic, nutmeg and paprika since I did not have these ingredients
– Adjust the amount of milk and cream in this recipe depending on how rich you want it to be and how much gravy you would like
– You can also add tandoori color to the marinade which I left out since I didn’t have any

Adhirasam

With Deepavali just around the corner, what better way to celebrate this occasion than with some delicious Adhirasams. This is a very traditional South Indian dessert and it also happens to be my most favorite! The preparation itself does take a bit of an effort, but with the right ingredients, proportions and consistencies, one should be able to make some great Adhirasams. It is very important that the right type of rice is used. Traditionally, this sweet is prepared with red rice but if you cannot find it, you can use regular Sona-masoori rice.

Adhirasam

Ingredients:

Rice, raw – 500 gms
Jaggery – 250 gms
Water – 100 ml
Oil – 4 tbsp + for frying
Poppy seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds, lightly crushed – 3/4 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
  • Drain the rice and spread it on a thin cotton cloth or paper towels and let it dry

Adhirasam2

  • When the rice is 80% dry, grind it into a fine powder. You don’t want the rice to be completely dry before grinding and you should be able to feel the moisture in the powder
  • Pass it through a sieve to remove any large, coarse particles
  • Add the poppy seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom powder and mix well
  • Take the jaggery and 100ml of water in a pan and bring it to a boil
  • Keep stirring and check for single string consistency. To check the consistency, take water in a small cup and drop a little bit of the jaggery in the water, If it does not dissolve in the water and you are able to roll it into a ball, then it has reached the right consistency

                                        

  • Pour it into the flour and mix well. The dough might seem loose but over time it will absorb all the moisture and get harder
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of oil if needed while mixing. Pour the remaining of the 4 tbsp of oil over the dough and let it rest for a minimum of 2-3 hours or overnight

Adhirasam5

  • When you are ready to make the Adhirasams, heat oil in a wok or wide pan
  • Divide the dough into small balls
  • Using an oiled banana leaf or wax paper, press them into flat circles using your fingers. Use oil to avoid the dough sticking to your fingers. Do not use rolling pin unless you place the dough between two sheets of wax paper but you might get the best results using your fingers to roll the dough

                 Adhirasam6                   Adhirasam7

  • Make sure the oil is hot enough. Right before dropping the Adhirasam, lower the heat a bit
  • Once you drop each of them, do not move away from the pan as it will cook pretty quickly
  • When it rises to the top, flip it and cook the other. It shouldn’t take more than a minute to cook an entire Adhirasam

                                  

  • Remove from oil and with the help of another ladle or spatula, squeeze out the excess oil right into the wok and place it on a plate covered with paper towel and repeat the process

Tips:

  • Do not use Basmati or Ponni rice. The Adhirasams will not hold their shape and disintegrate when frying
  • If the dough is very loose, add some rice flour
  • If the dough is very hard, add few tablespoons of milk
  • After frying, do not leave the Adhirasams on the paper towel for too long as it might become very dry

Egg Kurma

I had this dish on a Sunday morning. Piping hot, with dosas! It was delicious. A recipe from my sister-in-law’s family, egg kurma was a regular in her growing up days. It tastes best with dosai. The spice levels have been kept to a minimum but you could easily notch it up a bit.

Egg Kurma

Ingredients:

To Grind:

Tomato – 1
Coconut pieces – 1/4 cup
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp

For the kurma

Oil
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 2
Onion – 1, large
Tomato – 1
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Egg – 6
Fresh coriander – 1/4 cup
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Method:

  • Grind the ingredients mentioned under ‘To Grind’ to form a smooth paste; add a little water to reach a smooth consistency

Egg Kurma

  • In a wok, add oil
  • Add fennel seeds and allow to splutter
  • Add finely chopped onions and two slit green chillies and fry till the onions begin turning golden brown

Egg Kurma

  • Add ginger-garlic paste
  • Fry for a minute before adding chopped tomatoes
  • Add turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder and chilli powder
  • Stir for a couple minutes and then add the ground paste

Egg Kurma

  • Add about a 1/4 cup of water and mix well
  • Add salt to taste
  • Allow this to cook on a low flame for about ten minutes till you see the oil separating
  • At this stage, add about 3 cups of water (or more, depending on the consistency you need)

Egg Kurma

  • Bring this to a boil and allow the oil to separate (do this on a medium to low flame)
  • Add more salt if needed, at this stage
  • Break 6 eggs into the wok (you can break the eggs into a separate bowl and then add them; ensure that the eggs are whole and not whisked)
  • Once you add the eggs, do not stir
  • Cover the wok and cook on low flame for about 5 minutes
  • Then, stir slowly and check if eggs are cooked
  • Garnish with curry leaves and fresh coriander
  • Serve hot with dosai!

Cabbage Paratha

This is a healthy and easy to make recipe for breakfast or dinner. The taste of these parathas reminds me of my Mom’s Cabbage Puttu due to the use of similar ingredients. This is a really good way to use leftover cabbage.

Cabbage paratha

Ingredients:

Wheat flour – 1 cup
Besan/ Chickpea flour – 3 tbsp
Grated cabbage – 1 cup, tightly packed
Green chillies, minced – 2
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 2 tbsp
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Dhania powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1/2 tsp plus, for cooking

Method:

  • Remove any excess moisture from the cabbage ensuring it is dry. Also see note below.
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the oil 

Cabbage paratha 1

  • Add water as needed and knead into a firm dough. Add 1/2 tsp oil to get a smooth dough

Cabbage paratha 3

  • Divide into 6 to 8 equal portions
  • Roll each of them into thin circles (6 to 8 inches diameter)
  • Heat a tawa/griddle and place the paratha 
  • Flip a couple of times and when it starts changing color, apply 1/2 tsp oil and cook well on both sides
  • Serve hot with yogurt or your favorite pickle

Note: It is very important that you make the parathas as soon as you prepare the dough. In other words, make the dough only when you are ready to cook them. If left sitting, the cabbage will release water and the dough will become moist and sticky and will lose its firmness.

Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer

Ingredients:

Paneer – 400 gms
Cumin seeds – 1.5 tsp
Onion – 1/2
Asafoetida – a pinch
Tomatoes – 4
Capsicum/Bell pepper – 1
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Green chilli – 1
Ginger – 1-inch piece, minced
Oil

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan/wok
  • Fry cube-sized pieces of paneer in the oil until they are brown on two sides
  • Remove and set aside
  • In the same pan, fry bite-size pieces of capsicum until they become crisp (You can use the leftover oil from frying the paneer)
  • Remove and set aside
  • Meanwhile, make a puree of the four tomatoes and set aside
  • In the same pan that you fried and paneer and capsicum, add cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds on medium heat (if there isn’t enough oil remaining after frying the paneer and capsicum, add 2 tablespoons of oil)
  • Add finely chopped onion and fry till golden brown
  • Add pureed tomatoes, minced ginger, turmeric, red chilli powder, finely chopped green chilli, and coriander powder
  • Fry this until the masalas are cooked, and oil begins to separate
  • At this stage, add the fried paneer and capsicum
  • Allow the paneer to soak up the masala and mix well
  • Serve hot with roti or rice

Green Gram/Moong Bean Curry

This is yet another recipe from my sister. The only difference between her version and mine is that I make it like a curry while she makes it dry. I prefer it slightly watered down simply because I can have just a bowl of these lentils like soup for dinner. It’s hearty and healthy and so easy to make! You can even have it with roti or white rice.

Green Gram Curry

Ingredients:

Green Gram – 1 cup
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Cloves – 3
Onion – 1
Garlic – 5 cloves
Tomato – 1
Turmeric – a pinch
Chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil
Water
Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Soak the green gram in about 2 cups of water and rest overnight or for at least 6 hours
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker
  • Add cinnamon and cloves and fry for about a minute
  • Add finely chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent
  • Add finely chopped garlic and fry for a couple minutes
  • Add chopped tomato
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder and fry for a few minutes till the masalas are cooked
  • Drain the green gram and add to the cooker
  • Pour enough water to cover the lentils or as per required consistency and add salt to taste
  • Pressure cook for 3 whistles
  • Once cooked and pressure is released, garnish with fresh coriander

Note: If you prefer a dry consistency, reduce the cooked curry on an open flame; If you feel it’s too dry, add more water and cook on an open flame

Shrimp Biryani

I learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law and this has become one of my favorite shrimp preparations. I prefer using medium sized shrimp/prawn in biryani as opposed to the smaller ones that are typically used in curries.They are also a lot easier to clean as I usually get the fresh variety and peel/devein them myself. 

Shrimp Biryani

Ingredients:

Shrimp, cleaned and deveined – 25
Basmati rice, washed and soaked – 2 cups
Onion, finely chopped – 3 cups
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Bay leaf – 1
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 4 tbsp
Garlic cloves, crushed – 5
Tomato, finely chopped – 3/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind:
Coconut pieces – 1/4 cup
Green chillies – 2
Garlic cloves – 4
Ginger, chopped – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan
  • Add the crushed garlic and 2 cups of chopped onion and saute well
  • When the onion starts changing color, add the tomato and saute for few more minutes
  • Add turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and mix well
  • Add salt and enough water to cover the shrimp. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes
  • While the shrimp cooks, grind the coconut, ginger, garlic and green chillies together into a smooth paste
  • Heat the ghee in another pan, drain and add the basmati rice. Saute it for 3 to 4 minutes and transfer to a bowl
  • In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes
  • Add the ground paste and coriander leaves and saute for couple more minutes
  • Add the cooked shrimp along with any water remaining
  • Add the rice and add more water making sure that the total number of cups of water is twice as that of the rice
  • Add salt, cover and cook on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked

Meen/Fish Kuzhambu

Meen Kuzhambu is one of the most traditional and commonly prepared dish of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the few dishes the recipe for which is pretty much the same across all households and also, hasn’t been modified over time. It is said that this dish tastes best the next day and it is also adviced not to reheat the kuzhambu once it has been prepared. Fish that are typically used in this dish are Vanjaram(King fish), Kanangeluthi(Mackerel) or Shankara(Red Snapper). I have used Black Drum that is local to Texas. You can also use any freshwater variety. This dish tastes best when using the fish with the bones. Request your fish monger to cut them as steaks. I also add the head as it adds more flavor. There are lots of YouTube videos on cleaning fish heads but if you live in India, you can get it cleaned from the store itself.

Meen kuzhambu

Ingredients:

Fish slices – 10 to 12
Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 5 to 6
Tamarind juice – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind;
Olive oil – 2 tsp
Onion, roughly chopped – 2 cups
Tomato, roughly chopped – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves – 6
Curry leaves – 10

Method:

  • Clean the fish and set aside
  • Prepare the masala first by heating oil in a pan
  • Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, garlic and curry leaves followed by onion and tomato. Saute for 3-4 minutes
  • Remove from heat, let it cool and grind to a smooth paste 
  • Mix the paste with tamarind juice, turmeric, chilly powder and coriander powder
  • Heat the olive oil and sesame oil in a wide pan. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. You can substitute these with Vadagam
  • Add the mixture previously prepared along with salt and jaggery
  • Add water and bring it to a boil which will take 10-12 minutes
  • Once the curry comes to a boil and you notice the oil at the surface, add the fish pieces. Cover and cook for 10 minutes
  • Serve hot with rice

Tip: Use a wide pan so that there is room for all the fish pieces. This will also ensure they don’t break. Using an earthenware pot adds to the flavor.