Copra Chutney Powder (Chutney Podi)

One of my favorite accompaniments to dosai is chutney podi. It can be made ahead or even store-bought. While some brands are pretty good (my favorite is the coarsely ground kind from Grand Sweets, Chennai), I tasted this home-made version at my brother’s place and realised how addictive it tastes! It’s a recipe from my sister-in-law’s family. It’s super easy to make and can be stored up to two weeks. This podi does not require any sesame seed oil or ghee. You can have it as is, given that the copra is quite oily in itself.

Ingredients:

Copra/Dry coconut – 2 cups, finely grated (see note)
Garlic – 1 pod
Dry red chillies – 12
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Roasted Split Gram – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Oil

Method:

  • Blitz the copra in a food processor or grate finely and set aside
  • In a pan, dry roast the cumin seeds; allow to cool
  • In a pan, add a drop of vegetable oil and fry the dry red chillies; allow to cool
  • Combine the cumin seeds, dry red chillies and the whole garlic (cloves separated but unpeeled) and blitz them in a blender along with salt
  • Add the coconut and roasted split gram and blend again till the entire mixture is well-combined and ground well (it will not be a fine powder but a coarse one; ensure that everything is blitzed to as small a piece as possible)
  • Store in an air-tight container
  • Serve with dosai or idly

Note: I ground the copra in a food processer. And then ground it again even more finely in the mixer. If you do not have a food processor, you could grate it as finely as possible (exercise for the arms!) and then grind it in the mixer to get a finer powder. Another option is to slice the copra and then grind it in a mixer. Whatever works for you!

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney is a staple south Indian recipe. Every household has its own version and it is crucial to a breakfast of dosai, idli or uthappam. As a child I remember spreading this chutney on a slice of bread, toasting it on a tava and then eating it with sugar. That hit of spice and sweet is yummy! Or you can stick to its more traditional use 🙂

My version is fairly simple and straight-forward. You can very easily leave out the coriander leaves, tamarind and roasted gram dal and you will still be left with a delicious chutney. 

Ingredients:

To Grind

Coconut – 1/2
Green chillies – 3
Ginger – 1 tsp, chopped
Roasted Gram dal – 2 tsp
Coriander leaves – 1/3 cup, chopped
Tamarind – 1 cm piece
Salt to taste

To Temper

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Curry leaves – 4
Oil

Method:

  • Grind all the ingredients mentioned under ‘To Grind’
  • Add enough water till you get a thick chutney consistency or more if you prefer it to be watery
  • Transfer to a clean container 
  • In a kadai, heat oil and add mustard seeds
  • Once they crackle, add cumin seeds, ural dal, dry red chillies and curry leaves
  • Add to the chutney and mix
  • Serve with dosai or idly

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

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

Hash Browns

My husband and I love the hash browns that is served in American breakfasts. He was the one who made them at home the first time and they turned out pretty good! We don’t cook with potatoes too often and on the rare occasion that we do, we enjoy going the extra mile to make something special. Hash browns are a delicious accompaniment to scrambled eggs or omelette and butter toast. If you make them really small, it can also be served as an appetizer. 

Hash Browns

Serves: 5

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 4
Butter – 5 tsp
Oil – 2.5 tsp
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Peel and grate the potatoes using a food processor or a hand grater
  • Place the grated potatoes in a tea towel or muslin cloth and squeeze out all the water (you can do this in small portions)
  • Heat a pan with a teaspoon of butter and half teaspoon oil
  • Place the potatoes in the pan to form a thin layer and a rough circle (about 10 cms in diameter)
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper
  • Using a spatula, press down on the potatoes
  • Cook on high heat till the potatoes turn a lovely golden brown
  • Flip the potatoes and cook till the other side browns as well
  • Serve immediately

Note:
– This recipe makes about 5 hash browns, each having a diameter of approximately 10 cms. This size also makes them easier to flip
– I use a combination of butter and olive oil to cook the hash browns. You can use either
– It’s important to cook the hash browns on high heat as that helps the potatoes to turn a nice golden brown
– Do not worry about the shape of the hash browns. Just ensure you make a thin layer

Purple Cabbage Poriyal

Poriyal, as it is called in Tamil, is a South Indian dish prepared by cooking vegetables with some basic tempering and finishing off with some grated coconut. It is very light and refreshing since it does not involve any masalas or spices and so goes well with spicy curries/kuzhambus. This is the basic recipe for poriyal and you can use any vegetable of your choice. Typical variations include green cabbage and peas, green beans and carrot, plantains or lady’s fingers/okra. I have used red/purple cabbage just so you can try this recipe if you have purple cabbage lying around and don’t know what to do with it. Normally, the basic ingredients you will find in this dish are mustard seeds, dry red chillies, curry leaves and coconut but a tip that I learnt from my mother-in-law is to use green chillies instead of dry red chillies and crushing it with some coriander and garlic. This sure does make a difference!

Cabbage Poriyal

 

Ingredients:

Cabbage, chopped – 4 cups
Onion, finely chopped – 1 cup
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 8 to 10
Green chillies – 2
Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves
Coriander leaves, chopped – 4 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 3 tsp
Coconut, grated – 4 tbsp

Method:

  • Using a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic, green chillies and coriander together
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and urad dal
  • When the seeds splutter, add curry leaves and the crushed mixture
  • Follow by adding onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes
  • Add washed and drained cabbage and saute for few more minutes
  • Add salt and about 2 cups of water. Cover and cook
  • Once the cabbage is cooked well and all the water is absorbed, add the grated coconut
  • Mix well and saute for 2 minutes before removing from heat
  • Garnish with extra coriander leaves if desired
  • This usually goes well with rice and sambar or puli kuzhambu

Channa/Chole Masala

Channa or Chole Masala is one of those comforting dishes I make not too often only because I enjoy it more that way! This is a very simple recipe wherein you can throw together whatever ingredients you have on hand and make a delicious dish. It’s suitable for a rainy weeknight dinner and I love it paired with poori.

Channa/Chole Masala

Ingredients:

Channa/Dry chickpeas – 1 cup
Cloves – 3
Cardamom – 3
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Tomatoes – 2
Onion – 1
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/4 tsp
Fresh coriander – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lime
Oil

Method:

  • Soak the channa in about 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • Pressure cook the soaked channa along with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom for about 4 whistles using the same water it was soaked in
  • Once the pressure is released, ensure the channa is well-cooked (check by pressing the channa in between your fingers; it should give easily)
  • Fish out as many of the spices as you can and discard
  • Transfer this cooked channa to a bowl along with any remaining water and keep aside
  • In the same pressure cooker, heat oil
  • Add sliced onions and fry till golden brown
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a couple more minutes
  • Puree the two tomatoes and add it to the above mixture and fry for a few minutes
  • Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder
  • Mix well and cook till the oil begins to separate from the masala
  • Add about a cup of water from the cooked chickpeas and mix well
  • Tumble in the chickpeas without the water
  • Mix well and add salt to taste
  • Add more water according to desired consistency
  • Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes before adding garam masala, lime juice and fresh coriander and mix well
  • Turn off heat and serve hot with roti or poori

Potato Fry

Potato Fry

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 3
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Rice flour – 1 tsp
Salt
Oil – 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Wash the potatoes and place them in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover them
  • Add a tablespoon of salt and pressure cook for about 4 whistles or until the potatoes are cooked
  • Peel and chop the potatoes
  • Add salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and rice flour
  • Toss the potatoes to make sure they are all evenly coated
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the potatoes
  • Cook on a medium flame till the potatoes turn golden brown
  • This dish tastes good with puliyogare, vegetable rice or even curd rice

Pudina/Mint Chutney

One of the best uses of pudina or mint leaves is to turn them into a delicious chutney and it also happens to be my favorite mint dish. Mint as a medicinal herb should be included in our diet whenever possible and can be used for various purposes such as in biryanis for its flavor, in beverages for its sweet aroma or in side dished like the one below.

IMG_4648

Ingredients:

Oil – 3 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Fried gram/ Pottukadalai – 1/4 cup
Peanuts – 1/4 cup
Pudina/ mint leaves – 2 cups
Tamarind – quarter size piece
Jaggery or sugar – 1/4 tsp
Coconut, grated – 3/4 cup
Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan
  • Add urad dal and red chillies
  • Add the fried gram and peanuts and saute well
  • When the dal and peanuts start changing color, add the mint leaves and saute until the mint wilts
  • Add coconut, jaggery and tamarind, mix well and turn off heat
  • Let it cool. Add salt and grind first without water so that all ingredients are powdered
  • Add water and grind into a smooth paste
  • Serve with dosa or idli

Palak Paneer

I’ve never been a huge fan of Palak Paneer but my sister makes this quite often and it tastes so good that I decided to try it out myself. Surprise, surprise, it elicited more words than the usual ‘fine’ and ‘good’ from my father. He said this is one of the best dishes I’ve made and that I must post it on the blog!

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

Paneer – 360 gms (1 packet)
Spinach or Palak – 280 gms (1 packet)
Onion – 1, medium-sized
Tomato – 2
Garlic – 3 cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Dry red chillies – 3
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Salt
Oil

Method:

  • Cut the paneer into cubes and fry in about a tablespoon of oil; keep aside
  • Add spinach to about a cup of boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes till the leaves wilt. Allow this too cool and grind in a mixer
  • In a separate mixer, grind onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and dry red chillies (do not add water)
  • Heat oil in a pan and add turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala
  • Fry the masalas well for a minute and then add the onion-tomato paste that you have ground
  • Cover with a lid and allow this mixture to cook. This should take at least 5 minutes
  • Once this is cooked, add the ground spinach and cook for a couple minutes before adding salt
  • Mix well and add the fried paneer
  • Cook for couple more minutes and take off heat
  • Serve hot with chapathi