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

Summer Corn Salad

A friend of mine brought this salad to a potluck lunch last year and it is one of the best things I have eaten. Simple but packed full of flavor! It’s also versatile enough to play around with the ingredients. Toss in some cooked rajma or pasta. You can add some chaat masala or coriander-chilli chutney for an Indian twist. You can even throw in some shredded chicken. My friend recommends the use of black salt in this salad. I didn’t have any, so I ended up using regular salt. It’s a good salad to prepare ahead and perfect on a hot summer day. Thank you, V, for bringing this to school 🙂

Ingredients

Corn – 4 cobs
Bell pepper – 1/2
Spring Onions – 1/2 cup, chopped
Tomato – 1/2
Potato – 1/2, boiled
Lime – 1/2
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Yogurt – 3 tbsp
Garlic – 3 cloves
Tortilla Chips – 1 cup, crushed

Method

  • Place the corn in a pressure cooker with water. Cook for one whistle. Once pressure releases, remove the corn and slice length-wise such that you get the kernels.
  • Add chopped bell peppers, tomato and potato
  • Add spring onions (all of the white part and some of the green)
  • Refrigerate this mix

Assembling

  • Just before serving, add salt and black pepper to taste
  • Mince the garlic cloves and add to the yoghurt. Add this dressing to the salad
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lime
  • Toss in crushed chips 

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

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

I have learnt a few different ways of preparing quinoa and feel that it goes so well with chickpeas. In fact, sometimes when I make Chole Masala, I have it with plain cooked quinoa instead of rice, which also is a better choice if you want to avoid rice for dinner. This salad is healthy but at the same time filling. I have used carrots for some sweetness but you can add other vegetables and/or greens and make it more nutritious!

Ingredients:

Quinoa – 1 cup
Vegetable broth – 3 cups
Chickpeas, cooked – 1.5 cups (see note below)
Carrot, grated – 1 cup
Cilantro – 7 to 8 stalks
Garlic – 2 cloves
Ginger, grated – 1/4 tsp (optional)
Green chili pepper – 1/2
Olive oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Juice of half a lime/lemon

Yield: 2 servings

Method:

  • Wash the quinoa well
  • In a pan, add the quinoa and vegetable broth. Cook covered, on medium heat for 15 -20 mins
  • Reduce the heat to low when most of the liquid is absorbed. Once cooked, you can fluff it with the help of a fork and allow it to cool a bit
  • To prepare the cilantro dressing, in a mixer or food processor, take cilantro, garlic, ginger, green chili pepper, salt and lemon juice and pulse a few times until coarsely ground
  • Now, with the mixer on, keep adding olive oil until the mixture emulsifies. You can also add the oil and beat with a whisk instead of using the mixer. Note that the quantity used here serves 2. You can also prepare more and refrigerate it for about a week

  • In a big mixing bowl, add the quinoa, chickpeas, grated carrot and the dressing and toss well
  • Serve warm or chilled

Note: Soak chickpeas in water for 8 hours or overnight and pressure cooker on medium heat for 2-3 whistles. You can substitute the vegetable broth with chicken broth or just water. Using the broth will give some added flavor.

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

Whole Wheat Pizza with Vegetables

I love love love pizza! It’s one of those decadent dishes that instantly improves my mood. As a kid, I remember buying those white pizza bases from the neighborhood grocery store and cooking them on the tava with our favorite toppings. But I’ve been meaning to try making the base at home using whole wheat flour and finally got around to it. The idea of making your own pizza dough can be quite intimidating but it’s really not that different from making chapathi dough. The only difference is the addition of yeast and waiting a few hours for it to rise. While the entire process is a tad time-consuming, the effort is well worth it. Topped with my homemade tomato sauce, vegetables of your choice and lots of cheese, this pizza makes me very happy! And hope it does the same to you!

Whole Wheat Pizza with Vegetables

Ingredients:

For the pizza dough:

Warm Water – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Active Dry Yeast – 1 envelope (2.25 tsp)
Whole Wheat Flour/Atta – 2.75 cups
Parmesan Cheese – 1/4 cup (optional)
Salt to taste

Toppings:

Tomato Sauce – 2.5 to 3 cups (you can find recipe here)
Mozzarella Cheese – 2 cups
Bell Peppers – 2
Onion – 1
Chilli Flakes – 2 tsp (optional)

Method:

Making pizza dough:

  • In warm water, add sugar, oil and yeast; set this aside

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • In a wide bowl, combine the flour, salt and cheese

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • To this, slowly add the water mixture and form a dough; the dough must not be too soft or hard but firm

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • Wrap the bowl with cling film and set aside in a cool place for at least 2 to 3 hours till it increases in size

Whole Wheat Pizza

Assembling the pizza:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit or 215 degrees Celsius
  • Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray with oil 
  • Divide the risen dough into 4 portions (you can either make 4 small pizzas or 2 large ones)
  • Take the first portion and roll out as thinly as possible (I don’t pay much heed to shape and focus on making it thin instead)

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • Transfer to the prepared baking tray
  • Using a fork, prick the rolled out dough (This is to prevent the dough from puffing up)

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • Spread the tomato sauce all over the dough (use a little more than half cup for each of the 4 small pizzas)

Marinara Sauce/Tomato Sauce on Pizza

  • Add sliced onions and bell peppers (about 1/4 cup each for every pizza)
  • Sprinkle mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup for each of the 4 pizzas)
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of chilli flakes if using

Whole Wheat Pizza

  • Bake for 20 minutes till the edges begin to brown and the cheese melts
  • Serve hot!

Whole Wheat Pizza

Note:
– I have adapted the pizza dough recipe from here
– I used active dry yeast. You can even use instant yeast in which case you can make the pizza immediately
– I used a red and green bell pepper and had some leftovers. You could use just one if you like
– I have refrigerated leftover dough for about 3 days and it has been usable. You could try for longer if you like
– While spreading tomato sauce on the base, I like to cover the edges as well as I don’t like them getting crusty
– Other toppings you can use include baby corn, mushrooms, chicken, paneer, fresh basil or even just cheese
– I used home-made tomato sauce. You can use the store-bought kind as well

Hummus

Hummus

Ingredients:

Boiled chickpeas – 3 cups
Olive oil – 9 tbsp
Tahini – 4 tbsp (refer note below)
Juice of 1 lemon
Garlic – 1 clove
Black pepper powder – 3/4 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor or mixer
  • Blitz till you get a smooth consistency
  • You can add more lemon juice or olive oil to reach the desired consistency
  • Transfer to a dry container, drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle a little cumin powder to garnish
  • Serve with chips or vegetables like carrots and celery

Note:
1. Instead of using canned chickpeas from the store, you can boil your own. Soak dry chickpeas in water overnight or for about 6 hours. Then, place in a pressure cooker with water about an inch above the chickpeas. Pressure cook for about 5 whistles till cooked. Once pressure is released, drain the chickpeas and set aside to cool completely
2. Tahini is a paste made using roasted sesame seeds. To make this, dry roast white sesame seeds till they turn golden brown.

Tahini

Tahini

Set aside to cool. Then, place in a mixer and and grind for about 2 minutes till you get a crumbly powder. Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of sesame seed soil and blend again till you get a thick paste

Tahini
3. Traditionally, extra virgin olive oil is used to make hummus. Since I didn’t have this, I used regular olive oil
4. Before transferring the hummus into another container, check for seasoning. Add more lemon juice and cumin powder if desired and blend again
5. Hummus can even be used as a spread in sandwiches

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Wild-Rice Stuffed Squash, this recipe, with an Indian twist to it, will make a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal and will be a delight for vegetarians. The rice itself is kept simple with minimal ingredients and the sweetness of the squash compliments the beans very well.

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

Acorn squash – 2
Basmati rice – 1 cup
Rajma/ red kidney beans, boiled – 2/3 cup
Green chillies – 2
Onion, finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Garlic cloves, minced – 3
Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 3 tbsp
Olive oil – 3 tsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Cut the squash into halves lengthwise and remove the seeds
  • Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil that has been slightly brushed with oil
  • Cover tightly with another sheet of foil and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender and can be pierced with a knife
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan
  • Add green chillies and garlic and saute well
  • Add onions and coriander leaves and saute for few more minutes
  • Add coriander powder, cumin powder and pepper powder and mix well
  • Add the beans and rice
  • Add 2 cups of water and salt. Mix well
  • Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked well and fluffy
  • To serve, place the squash on a plate with the cut side facing up and fill the center with the rice

 

Rajma Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash Tips:

  • Slice off any pointy ends from the squash while still leaving the outer cover intact, so that it sits flat on the baking sheet.
  • The Rajma rice can also be served by itself with mint chutney or raita
  • Do not overcook the squash as you want the outer shell to be intact so that eating from with it easy

Guacamole/Avocado Dip/Butter Fruit Dip

My husband and I absolutely love guacamole. This creamy dip is super healthy (if you leave out the chips!) and is perfect for snacking. Avocados aren’t easily available in India except in some gourmet food stores. It’s known as Butter Fruit in India and in Coorg (Karnataka) is mixed with sugar and eaten like a dessert. (Google tells me it’s largely grown in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Sikkim) In the US, guacamole is widely popular and is even sold pre-packaged in grocery stores. I have been fortunate enough to eat really good guacamole in the land of its origin, Mexico. And I now make it regularly at home because it’s the closest you can get to the real deal.

Guacamole/Avocado Dip/Butter Fruit Dip

Ingredients:

Avocados – 3
Lime – 1
Jalapeno pepper – 2 tbsp, chopped
Onion – 1/4 cup, chopped
Tomato – 1/2, chopped
Fresh coriander – 1/4 cup, chopped
Salt to taste

Method:

  • Scoop the flesh out of the avocado using a spoon
  • Then, use a fork to mash the avocado till only a few or no lumps remain
  • Add the juice of one lime and mix well
  • Mix in the onion, tomato, coriander and salt
  • Serve immediately with chips or as a topping for tacos or eat as is!

Note:
– It’s important that the avocados you use are ripe and not hard. They should mash easily with a fork. If they aren’t ripe you will not get a creamy texture
– Guacamole is best consumed immediately. The addition of lime juice not only adds flavor but also helps preventing it from discoloring

– If you do not have jalapeno pepper, use half a green chilli without the seeds; you could even use green capsicum
– You can even add a tablespoon of parmesan cheese to this dish; that’s how most restaurants served it in Mexico

Guacamole/Avocado Dip/Butter Fruit Dip