Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Sambar is a spicy and aromatic preparation very popular in the cooking of southern regions of India. It is liked by North Indians also and is taken mostly with idli, dosa, vada and rice.

Basically it is a vegetable stew made with tamarind and toovar dal. Each state in the South - Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, prepares it with a typical variation, adapted to its taste and environment. Andhra (especially Guntur) is famous for generous use of chili powder, oil and tamarind while in Karnataka palm sugar or jaggery with fewer chilies is used.

I have developed my own adaptation of Sambar by containing the common elements like toovar dal, tamarind, vegetables, sambar powder, and an oil-fried spice seed seasoning in different proportions, which suits the taste of my family members. My mother-in-law used to like hot and more flavorful Sambar and she used to call it ‘Chasak wali sambar’. I dedicate this recipe to her.


Section A (Dal):

Section B (Vegetables):

  • 1 bitter gourd cut in rings
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 5-6 pieces of drumsticks
  • 1 medium tomato diced

Section C (Sambar Powder):

Section D (Tamarind Water):

  • Tamarind paste (size of golf ball)
  • 2 pinches of asafetida
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves

Section E (Seasoning):

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp urad dal ( split skinned black lentil)
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2-3 pinches of asafetida

Section F (Garnish):


  • Boil ingredients of section ‘A’ in 4 cups of water. Keep it aside
  • Wash the vegetables of section ‘B’ and cut them into desired size pieces.
  • Prepare sambar powder (section ‘C’): Roast chana dal, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, dry grated coconut and red chilies for a few minutes, and then grind them to powder using coffee grinder.
  • Mash the tamarind (section ‘D’) in 1 cup water and strain.
  • Boil the tamarind water with red chili powder, salt, curry leaves and asafetida.
  • When it boils, add the vegetables and cook till done. Now add the prepared dal into it.
  • Bring to a boil and add the sambar powder. Simmer on low heat. Adjust the consistency of sambar by adding boiled water to it.
  • Prepare seasoning for the sambar (section ‘E’): Heat 2-3 tbsp cooking oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, when they stop spluttering add urad dal, red chilies, and asafetida and curry leaves.
  • Immediately pour the seasoning over sizzling sambar. Remove from fire after boiling.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and curry leaves before serving.
  • Serve with Idli or Dosa or Rice or Vada.


  1. You can omit section C if using readymade sambar powder.
  2. Fresh curry leaves are an essential element of authentic sambar; their aroma and flavor provide sambar with a distinct and pleasant herbal essence.
  3. More vegetables of your choice can be added to sambar.

Do You Know?

In regions that grow coconuts, notably Kerala, coastal Karnataka, Udupi, Mangalore and Tamil Nadu, Coconut Sambar is made with a paste of ground coconuts and spices. Grated coconut is roasted with lentils, cumin, few grains of rice, fenugreek, and red chilies. It is then ground into a fine paste, added to the vegetables and tamarind broth, and then cooked.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Peas Mushroom Curry

I am a great fan of mushroom. Whether it is soup or curry or pizza or omelet or pulao or barbequed, I always give it first preference.

To give this curry a rich cheesy flavor, I used Shredded Mozzarella Cheese and sour cream.


  • 1 cup green peas (Petite Frozen Peas are good)
  • 8-10 Button Mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ full cream milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cheese to garnish
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • 4 tbsp of cooking oil to fry masala
  • 2 tbsp of Cooking oil to stir fry mushrooms

For Gravy:

  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 garlic pods
  • ½” ginger piece
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  • Grind all ingredients for gravy to fine paste in mixer grinder.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a deep pan, on a medium flame. When hot, add the bay leaf, fry till light brown.
  • Add the onion masala paste and fry till masala leaves oil. Add two cups of water.
  • In a separate frying pan heat 2 tbsp oil and stir fry mushrooms till they begin to give off their juices. Add these mushrooms along with the peas to the boiling masala mixture. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add salt if needed.
  • Now mix sour cream and milk together in a small bowl. Add this to the pea mushroom curry. Stir well and turn off fire.
  • Garnish with grated cheese and chopped cilantro
  • Serve with Roti (Indian Flatbread) or Parathas(Pan-fried Indian Flatbread)

Do You Know?

Many cooks claim that rinsing mushrooms causes them to absorb too much water, so a quick rinse is fine, provided you promptly pat the mushrooms dry and don't leave them soaking in water. If you prefer not to wash mushrooms, be sure to wipe the caps clean with a damp paper towel. Both the cap and the stem of a white button mushroom are edible. Before cooking, just trim off the very end of the stem.

Chana Apple Pecan Salad

This salad is highly nutritious and filling. I like to prepare it as filler between lunch and dinner. Relative proportion of ingredients is ones choice.

I prefer freshly boiled Garbanzo and Bengal gram instead of tinned ones for salads. All ingredients should be freshly prepared for salads.


  • 1 cup boiled Kala Chana (Bengal Gram)
  • 1 cup boiled Kabuli Chana (Garbanzo)
  • 1 cup golden apples diced
  • 1 cup red hard tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup roasted Pecans chopped
  • ¼ cup onion chopped


  • 2-3 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp ginger grated
  • 2 Green Chilies chopped
  • 2 tbsp salad oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • Soak the Black Gram and Kabuli Chana, together, overnight in plenty of water.
  • Boil in salted water until soft. Drain and refresh with cold water. Drain and allow them to cool.
  • Dice cucumber, tomatoes and golden apple of the same size of Kabuli chana.
  • Chop onion, green chilies and cilantro leaves fine.
  • Roast the pecans and chop them in big size pieces.
  • Completely crush garlic so that it can blend with oil well.
  • In a small bottle, with a tightly-fitting cover, take the ingredients for Dressing. Put the lid on and shake the bottle to mix all the ingredients in it well.
  • In a big bowl take the salad ingredients and mix well with dressing.
  • Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
Do You Know?
If using only half an onion, use the top half and store the root end. The root end will stay fresh for a longer period of time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Carom Chicken

Carom seeds give a distinctive flavor to chicken. Quantity of carom seeds can be adjusted according to your own taste.


  • 2 Boneless and skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cup fresh yogurt
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp chicken curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • ¾ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Cilantro leaves for garnishing


  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add carom seeds, chicken, ginger garlic paste, curry powder, garam masala and salt. Cover, and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender.
  • In a bowl mix yogurt, sour cream, corn flour and ½ cup water to form a smooth paste. Add this to the chicken and simmer without lid for about 4-5 minutes. Now mix in lemon juice.
  • Garnish with boiled stuffed eggs. For this cut each egg lengthwise in to two. Fill egg with sour cream. Sprinkle salt, pepper powder and a pinch of roasted carom seeds over the eggs.
  • Serve hot with roti or paratha.

Do You Know?

Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small amount of raw ajwain will completely dominate the flavor of a dish.

In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee or oil. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but "brighter".

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mixed Dal Poha Cutlets

It is a fun to utilize leftovers to have a whole different presentation.One day I found in my fridge, some leftovers like poha, khichdi, chana dal and aloo methi sabji. I just combined these leftovers with boiled potato, chopped onion and green chilies and prepared crunchy delicious cutlets.

Exact amounts are not included because it depends on the amount you have left over. Just use your good judgment and imagination and enjoy your creation.



  • Mix all ingredients except oil and breadcrumbs.
  • Shape into cylindrical structures (you can give any shape you like). Roll each cylindrical cutlet in breadcrumb and refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Deep fry in hot oil till crispy brown. If cutlets are flat in shape, these can be stir fried.
  • Serve as a snack with chutney/ketchup of your choice.

Do You Know?

  • Proper refrigeration is essential for foods leftover. Consuming spoilt food can result in disaster. Beware that food gets spoiled before it looks, smells or tastes bad. Therefore use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure proper storage below 40 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Food should be reheated once and once only. A cooked item that is reheated for more than once can harbor bacteria which could make one seriously ill.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dahi Ki Arbi (Colocasia Curry)

Fried Colocasia (arvi/arbi) cooked in a thick masala gravy made of yogurt.


For Gravy

  • 1 big onion chopped
  • 2 chopped green chilies
  • 1” Ginger piece
  • 4-5 garlic pods
  • 1 tsp. Garam masala powder
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder


  • Peel, wash and slice the arbi.
  • Deep fry it until golden brown, drain and keep it aside.
  • Grind the onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies with all the masala powders.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add ajwain and masala paste, stir fry till oil separates.
  • Add two cups of water, salt and arbi (colacasia) and pressure cook it for 2 whistles (time for cooking arbi invariably depends on the size of arbi corms, smaller corms are tender and take less time to cook).
  • Churn yogurt using hand blender with corn flour and a cup of cold water.
  • Open the pressure cooker when it is cool. Add yogurt corn flour mixture to the arbi, stir and simmer on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Adjust the consistency of gravy according to your choice.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with paratha or roti.

Note: Remember peeling of arbi can cause itching in your hands so put a little oil ( any oil) on your hands and then proceed.

Do You Know?

Oxalic acid may be present in the arbi corm and especially in the leaves. Calcium reacts with the oxalate to form calcium oxalate, which is highly insoluble and is suspected to cause kidney stones by obstructing kidney tubules.

Healthy individuals can safely consume such foods in moderation, but those with kidney disorders, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or certain forms of chronic vulvar pain are typically advised to avoid foods high in oxalic acid or oxalates.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vermicelli Pulao

Vermicelli (a type of pasta) is cooked, like rice pulao, with vegetables. It tastes good with coconut chutney.


  • 1 cup Roasted Vermicelli (available in Indian Grocery Shop)
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 small potato cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 2-3 tbsp peanuts or any other type of nuts
  • 3 tbsp of cooking oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 5 curry leaves ( meetha neem ka patta)
  • 4 green chilies finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Finely chopped green cilantro leaves


  • In a pan heat oil on medium heat. Add mustard seeds, after they splutter, add chana dal.
  • Add Kadi Patta, peanuts, chopped onion, potato cubes, green chilies and green peas when chana dal becomes pale red. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add the roasted vermicelli, salt and black pepper powder. Add two cups of warm water and simmer it covered on low heat. Do not open and stir the vermicelli pulao for first 8-10 minutes. It should be cooked like rice pulao. When vermicelli is just done ( it may take 10-15 minutes) remove the pan from fire and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes without stirring it.
  • Take out in a serving bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Serve with coconut chutney.

Curd Rice

Curd Rice is truly a comfort food. It is a South Indian preparation. It tastes great with just a pickle or chutney.

My recipe to prepare curd rice is slightly different from the traditional recipe. I season the boiled rice first and then add the curd to it.


  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt/curd
  • 4-5 cashew nuts (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 green chili chopped fine
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 small piece of ginger chopped finely
  • 1 dry red chili, cut into pieces
  • A pinch of asafetida
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil


  • Heat the oil in a pan. Splutter mustard and then add asafetida, curry leaves and dry red chili. Add cashew nuts, chopped ginger, coriander leaves, and chopped green chili. Reserve a teaspoon of this seasoning to garnish the curd rice later. Add boiled rice and salt to the pan and stir well.
  • Take the seasoned rice out in a bowl and allow it to cool.
  • Beat the curd well and add to the rice. Mix well.
  • Garnish with seasoning and serve the curd rice with a pickle.

Do You Know?

Yogurt can be made from any variety of mammal milk, but is most often made from cow, buffalo or goat milk.

Kefir is an alcoholic version of yogurt. It has an alcohol content of about 2.5%.
Originally it was made from fermented camel milk, but now it is made from cow milk.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chicken Chattinad Style

Chicken Chettinad is an authentic south Indian dish. You’ll find this listed in almost every South Indian restaurant menu. Traditionally, this dish is very spicy and oily and is cooked with some distinct ingredients such as poppy seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds along with tamarind.

I have modified the dish according to my own personal preferences. Chicken is cooked with freshly roasted and ground aromatic spices that give a very special aroma to the curry. Heat level of chicken is also adjusted according to my family’s requirements. It tastes great with parathas (Indian Flat bread).


  • 1 pound chicken (you can use a whole chicken cut into small pieces or leg or thigh pieces)
  • 1 large onion sliced finely
  • 1 medium tomato chopped finely
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh grated coconut
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil or ghee
  • Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Chicken marinade:

  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or Paprika
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • ½ tsp salt

Spice mixture:


  • Mix all the ingredients of the marinade with the chicken and keep aside for 2 hours.
  • Heat a heavy pan or skillet on a medium flame and roast the ingredients of spice mixture for 3-4 minutes (do not burn the spices). Remove from flame and allow to cool. Grind the mixture into a coarse powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
  • In another deep pan, heat the oil and add the curry leaves. When they stop spluttering, add the sliced onions and fry till they are light brown.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and little salt; stir fry till tomato becomes pulpy.
  • Add the chicken and grated coconut, cover, and simmer till chicken is tender.
  • When the chicken is done add garam masala powder and lime juice; mix well and simmer for another 2 minutes. Turn off the flame and take out in a serving dish.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Do You Know?

Chettinad is a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu state, India. Chettinad is well known for its Chettinad cuisine, Mansions, and Temples. It is known for a variety of dishes which are popular for special style of cooking. Chettinad Chicken is the king of all of them.

In Chettinad food, the most important spices are marathi mokku (dried flower pods), anasipoo (star aniseed) and kalpasi (dried bark). In addition, tamarind, whole red chillies and saunf (Fennel seeds) are also used along with fragrant and aromatic spices such as black peppercorns, star anise, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves… all of which are ground fresh daily just before use.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Murgh Do Piaza (Chicken In A Fried Onion Sauce)

Dopiaza is a type of Indian curry where meat is cooked with lots of onions. It is especially popular in the southeast Indian city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh State. Dopiaza means "two onions," and indicates that onions are added at two times during cooking. A general rule of thumb is that the amount of onions used should be double the amount of meat. Water is not used at all when cooking a Do Piaza.

Dopiaza is made with lamb, chicken or fish. There are also vegetarian versions using okra. It is a great recipe for the onion lovers, absolutely delicious, not spicy hot, but mild and flavorsome.


  • 1 pound Chicken pieces serving size
  • 1 ½ pound onions peeled
  • 1” cube of ginger finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 bay leaves
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup cooking oil / ghee
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  • Add red chili, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala powders; yogurt and salt to the chicken and mix well to coat the chicken pieces and keep aside for about an hour.
  • Finely slice 2 onions and roughly chop the rest of the onions.
  • Lightly grease a heavy based sauce pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread half of the chopped onions on the bottom. Add the chicken pieces and layer the rest of the chopped onions on top.
  • Cover pan with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 20-25 minutes on slow fire until the onions are reduced to a pulp and the chicken is tender. At this stage liquid almost dries up. If some liquid is still there cook it on medium heat without lid till liquid evaporates.
  • Heat oil/ghee in another pan. Add bay leaves, sliced onions, ginger and garlic, stirring frequently fry for 8-10 minutes to a crisp golden color.
  • Mix in tomatoes and stir fry until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp and ghee separates.
  • Stir in chicken and onions. Mix all the ingredients well fry the mixture until it is well browned and a thick onion sauce has formed.
  • Add lemon juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with Naan or Paratha

Note: Remember, do not add water at any stage or you will ruin the dish. A “Do Piaza” cooks in its own juices.

Do You Know?

There are as many explanations for the name of this delicacy as there are varieties of onions. A legend traces the roots of this delightful dish to the court of the Grand Mughal Emperor Akbar who was inseparable from his favourite courtiers popularly known as the Navratnas or the nine gems. One of them Abul Fazal, a gifted poet, chronicler extraordinary, diplomat and an epicure was nicknamed Mullah Do Piaza and this, we are told, was his favourite dish.

Mullah Abul Fazal came to India from Iran along with Humayoon on his return journey.

It is also said that his home is said to have been an open house of sorts and by dinner time the guests would have crossed the expected numbers. To keep the proceedings smooth, the mullah would clap his hands at interval. This was a sign to the kitchen that onions should be added to the meat curry. In doing this he accidentaly discovered that the proportion of double the onions to the meat was an optimum one.

Thus was born the Do piaza ... It was said that he liked the dish called Do Piaza so much that he called this dish Syed ul Twam or the king of the dishes. He became famous as Mulla Do Piaza, because he never used to accept any body's invitation where Do Piaza was not served.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arhar Dal Ki Khichdi

Khichdi is an easy to digest and quick to make healthy Indian food. Basically it is a rice dish made of rice, dal with or without vegetables and meat but there are as many recipes for khichdi as there are households all over India. It can be spicy or rich or plain bland dish, made with a single lentil or combinations of 2-5 lentils.

I take rice and arhar dal in equal proportion and cook it more like a ‘pulao’ so that rice and dal grains can be seen separately.

Pour lot of sizzling ghee over the khichdi if you really want to enjoy it more.


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup Arhar dal/ Toor dal/ Pigeon pea
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • Butter or ghee to garnish
  • 2 tbsp crispy brown fried onion
  • Butter or Ghee to pour over khichdi
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak the rice and arhar dal in water for at least one hour.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a pressure cooker, on medium flame.
  • Stir in bay leaf, asafetida and cumin seeds. Fry till cumin seeds stop spluttering. Add chopped onion and fry till onion is brown. Add rice, arhar dal, red chili powder, garam masala, salt, turmeric powder and green chilies. Stir and add 3 ½ cups of water (remember rice and dal are pre soaked). Place lid and pressure-cook it up to two whistles (pressure release).
  • Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves, crispy brown fried onions and lots of butter or ghee.
  • Serve hot with chutney, raita, pickle, and salad

Do You Know?

Kedgeree, often thought to be an Indian dish, is made up of flaked fish, boiled rice, eggs and butter. According to some highly disputed sources, the dish originated from Scotland and was taken to India by Scottish troops during the British Raj, where it was adapted and adopted as part of Indian cuisine.

It is said that Indian khichdi is a modified form of the Anglo Indian Kedgeree.