Monday, April 30, 2007

Baby Lima beans Curry

This is a quick to make curry, that is delicious with rice or any flat bread.

What you need to make this curry:

1 packet (around 1lb) frozen Baby Lima Beans
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 green chilies, sliced
2-3 medium sized tomatoes
½ -1 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

For Tadka/Talimpu/seasoning:
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp each, Chana dal, Urad dal (optional)
1 tsp each, mustard seeds, cumin seeds
1 sprig, curry leaves
Grind to paste:
1-inch ginger piece
2 cloves garlic

Prep Work:
Thaw frozen baby lima beans by leaving the packet in tap water for 30 minutes.
Peel ginger; make a coarse paste of ginger and garlic.

  • In a saucepan, heat oil; add the tadka items in the order given, one by one. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add chopped onion, green chilies, and turmeric powder. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or, until the onions become translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, lima beans, salt and red chili powder. Mix well and cook covered on medium heat until the tomatoes cooked well to a pulpy consistency.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste, mix well. Adjust salt. Cook for another 3 minutes on low heat.
  • This curry should not be very runny. If it is, cook uncovered for 5 min, stirring.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Note: If using store bought ginger-garlic paste, add it along with onions rather than at the end. Same applies for pre-made, refrigerated one.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Methi Bhath (Rice with Fenugreek leaves) with tomato raitha

Methi in a pot... from backyard
I learnt about this rice preparation from my friend and neighbor, UB. This is my take on it.
What you need make this Bhath:
2 cups good quality Basmati rice
2 medium bunches of fenugreek leaves. Should roughly be 1 cup, packed.
6-7 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch each
5-6 cardamom pods
2-3 dried bay leaves
2 star anise
1 medium sized tomato, diced finely
1/2 medium sized onion, sliced finely
4 green chilies, slit in the middle
1 tsp Ghee (clarified butter)
1-2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp, finely chopped fresh cilantro
To be ground into masala paste:
1 tsp dhania seeds (dry coriander seeds)
2 cloves
1-2 cardamom pods
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
a pinch jeera seeds
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
Prep Work:
Wash Basmati rice, soak in water (enough to cover 1 inch above rice level) for 30 minutes
Roast all ingredients listed under the masala paste except for ginger, garlic, coconut. Start roasting dhania seeds and keep adding other ingredients in the order given
Once the spices are cooled, grind them into a semi-smooth paste.

  • Drain Basmati rice. Boil in 5-6 cups of water. Once its more than half way thru, drain excess water, cover and cook on a very low flame until its done. When to drain, mash one grain between fingers, if it is soft outside and only a small strain is raw inside, that's the time to drain.
  • Cool rice for 15 min.
  • In a wide sautepan, heat ghee and cooking oil on medium-high heat.
  • Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, star anise. Saute for a minute
  • Add onion and green chilies, little salt. Saute until the onions become translucent and light brown.
  • Add ground masala paste and red chili powder. Saute for 1/2 minute, stirring continuously.
  • Add methi (fenugreek) leaves. Saute until the leaves are wilted, stirring continuously so that leaves would form lumps.
  • Add diced tomato. Saute until the tomatoes start become like a paste.
  • Add the cooked rice, salt and cilantro. Fold gently, break open any lumps formed by the methi leaves.
  • Cook covered on a low setting for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve with tomato raitha
My entry for JFI-Green Leafy Vegetables, Methi Bhath with Tomato Raitha.

Tomato Raitha:

Chop 1/2 tomato, 1-2 green chilies. Mix, add yogurt and 1-2 tbsp water to make 1.5 cups raitha. Add salt to taste, mix well. Serve with any rice dish like pulao, biryani.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spaghetti with Spinach pesto and Asparagus

Presto Pasta Nights

Two days back dinner was spaghetti with spinach pesto. I have been toying with the idea of making pesto with spinach, but, was skeptical how it would taste. And then, I saw on some show (sorry forgot the name....oops) baked fish served on green pea paste. I was thinking, if a paste of frozen green peas (thawed, of course) could taste good, my spinach pesto should also taste good (not sure what kind of psychological logic this would qualify under....may be just meanness? :-) )
So, I set out making spinach pesto, within seconds, realized, no pine nuts! I found some peanuts and some cashews. Dismissed peanuts as I couldn't contemplate the taste of peanuts, spinach and basil together (must try some other time). Finally decided on cashews. The result is spinach-Cashew pesto, which is out of this world. I would highly recommend trying out this pesto; you won't be disappointed.

What you need to make this spaghetti dish:

1 package spaghetti (I used whole-wheat)
4 asparagus stalks
1 medium sized tomato
salt and black pepper powder to taste
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves

To make Pesto:
5-6 fistfuls fresh baby spinach
1 fistful fresh basil leaves
3-4 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 fistful cashews, dry roasted
salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, enough to make pesto
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 pinches red chili flakes (optional)
Prep work:
Break Asparagus where the stalk breaks, cu into 1-inch pieces.
Since the fiber in Asparagus in the skin, do not discard the tough piece. Peel it and use with rest.
Dice tomato.

  • Make pesto by either grinding in mortar and pestle or in food processor. Start with spinach, basil leaves, cashews, salt, garlic, pepper, red pepper flakes. Keep adding olive oil to get manageable coarse paste. Add Parmesan cheese, blend lightly.
  • Boil Spaghetti as per directions on the package. Take Spaghetti out into a bowl with tongs. Pour some 'spaghetti water' (water in which its cooked) over to prevent sticky spaghetti.
  • In the same water, cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes until its done, but crunchy to bite. Take out and add immediately to ice cold water. Once cooled, drain and keep aside
  • In a wide sautepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. Add dried basil, Asparagus, Spaghetti. Mix well.
  • Add one cup 'spaghetti water' and pesto. Break pesto carefully and fold gently so that it coats spaghetti well. You may add some olive oil to ease the folding. Adjust salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with diced tomatoes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lentils and Kale Pappu (Andhra Style Preparation of Lentils and Kale)

Victor Hugo was right when he said, "Necessity is mother of invention".
We lived in a small city in US, few years back; it was very hard to find Desi greens. So, I started incorporating the fresh greens that we get in mainstream market into my Andhra cooking. That’s when this ‘pappu’ happened. My initial trials with regular ‘kandi pappu’ (toor daal or pigeon peas) were not that exciting. The strong flavor (smell) of Kale completely overpowered delicate flavored toor daal. My search for a legume that can absorb Kale’s flavor without sacrificing its own flavor came to an end when I made lentil-kale soup. Wonderful! Lentils compliment Kale very well. I moved ahead and made this pappu. Ever since, I stayed faithful to this combo and make it often. This became one of my comfort foods. Try it and let me know.

What you need to make this Kale Pappu:
2 cups brown lentils
1/2 medium sized onion
1-2 green chili (optional)
1/2 bunch Curly leaf Kale
3 cloves garlic
2 small segments of tamarind or ½-1 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2-1 tsp paprika or red chili powder
Salt to taste
For popu (tadka/seasoning):
1-2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tsp each, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves
½ tsp hing or asafetida
Prep Work:
Wash lentils well and soak for one hour. Discard this water.
Dice onion, slice jalapeno.
Kale – Wash kale well, take the veins out carefully and chop finely (not too fine).
Pound garlic cloves slightly.
Tamarind – if using dried segments, soak for 30 minutes, mash well and take pulp out.
  • In a saucepan, boil lentils in 4-5 cups of water, occasionally mixing.
  • When the lentils are halfway done, add onion, green chilies. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions become soft.
  • Add kale. Cover and cook on a low flame for 6-7 minutes or until kale is cooked well (meaning, kale can retain its shape, not mushy), and the lentils are well cooked.
  • Add garlic cloves and tamarind. Make sure that lentils are well cooked.
    Or, in a pressure cooker, add lentils, water, onions, green chilies, kale, garlic cloves, and tamarind. Make sure the tamarind is not touching lentils; otherwise, lentils won’t be well done. Cook until 2-3 whistles depending on the cooker you are using.
  • Add salt, turmeric, paprika or red chili powder. Mash well to form a coarse paste. Please do fancy with the ideas of using blender or mashing it into a homogeneous paste.
  • Now, move to popu step. In a small sauté-pan, heat cooking oil, add all popu items one by one in the order mentioned. When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add this popu to the mashed mixture. Mix well and return the pappu to low flame and cook for 2 mins.Serve with roti or boiled white or brown rice.

Left: Pappu without tadka, before mashing. Right: Lentils and Kale Pappu
My Contribution to JFI-Green Leafy Vegetables

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kale and Lentils Soup

This is a nutritious soup and one of my favorites.

What you need to make this Soup:
6 cups vegetable broth
1.5 cups brown lentils
1/2 bunch Curly leaf Kale
1 tbsp butter or cooking oil
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots (optional), diced
a pinch paprika or red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste
A very small pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
Prep Work:

Wash lentils well and soak for one hour. Discard this water.
Kale – Wash kale well, drain, take the veins out carefully and chop finely (not too fine)

  • In a saucepan, heat butter or oil. Add bay leaves, and garlic, sauté for a minute.
  • Add onions, carrots, celery, little salt and sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
  • Add broth and lentils. Let it boil.
  • When lentils are cooked halfway, add kale, paprika or red chili powder, black pepper powder, and nutmeg powder. Simmer until the lentils are well done.
  • Pick and discard bay leaves.
You may serve the soup as it is with Avocado or blend it and serve as a creamy soup, garnished with a teaspoon of heavy cream.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brussels Sprouts with Coconut and Ginger

People are clearly divided when it comes to this tiny cabbage lookalike. Either they hate it or love it. This cutie has won less hearts not because it lacks beauty but has a strong uncompromising odor. Before you draw to a conclusion and jump onto the bandwagon, let's do the reality check. Yes, Brussels sprouts emit a strong sulfurous smell; only if its overcooked. Why blame this humble (ahem!) veggie.
Although this is a winter veggie, I found this fresh in the market and since its cold this weekend, thought I would prepare it as I usually make it, with coconut and ginger.
In Andhra another "smelly" vegetable, cabbage is cooked this way. The peppery taste of ginger and delicate essence of coconut balances the robust flavor of these little cabbages.

To make this Iguru (dry curry), you need:

10 - 12 Brussels Sprouts
1/2 medium onion, chopped (optional)
1 green chili, chopped (optional)
1 -2 tbsp cooking oil
salt to taste

For popu (tadka or seasoning)
1 tsp each chana dal, urad dal, black mustard seeds (rai), jeera
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
To be ground into paste:
1 inch ginger
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1-2 green chilies

Note: Using water to make the paste will spoil the taste and brings out notorious odor of Brussels Sprouts. If can not grind without water, chop finely and add to the curry 2 minutes before finishing.
  • Halve Brussels Sprouts and chop (not too finely)
  • In a sautepan, heat cooking oil, add tadka items one by one in the order given.
  • Once the mustard stops spluttering, add onion and chopped green chili. Saute until the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add chopped Brussels Sprouts, salt. Stir well.
  • Saute until the the Sprouts are almost done.
  • Add the ground paste. Stir well, cover and cook for 1 minute on very low setting of stove. (if the sprouts are soft to bite and little crunchy, they are done). Care should be taken not to overcook.
  • Serve with rice or rotis
This dish can be made as Upvaas dish by eliminating onion.

Miriyala Chaaru (Andhra Pepper Rasam)

This weekend, its very cold here in Houston, so thought I would make Pepper Rasam.
Rasam is South Indian thin soup that is often made with spices like pepper, ginger, garlic, cumin, limes, . Modern chefs even use pineapple, raw mango and other exotic.

Before the advent of Spanish, who brought chili peppers to the Subcontinent, Pepper (from peppercorns) used to be THE spice. I salute this ancient spice, whose existence can be found in almost every cuisine.
Like Indian Garam Masala, everybody has their own recipe for this heavenly preparation. Here is my take on it. This item appears frequently in variations at our dining table as its easy to prepare, tasty and above all, very healthy. Whenever somebody shows any symptoms of cold, they would promptly be fed this Rasam.

What you need to make this Rasam:

1/2 lemon sized tamarind
5-6 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped cilantrosalt to taste

To be roasted and ground into coarse powder:
1 tablespoon senaga pappu (Chana dal /split chickpeas)
1 teaspoon kandi pappu (toor dal /split pigeon peas)
1 tablespoon dhanyalu (dhania/whole dry coriander seeds)
1 teaspoon jeelakara (jeera / dry cumin seeds)
1 teaspoon miriyalu (whole black pepper)
a pinch of menthulu (methi seeds/dry fenugreek seeds)

For popu(tadka) or seasoning:
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon each black mustard seeds, and cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
1/2 teaspoon each turmeric powder, and hing
1 sprig curry leaves


  • In a sautepan, roast chana dal, toor dal, dhania, jeera, peppercorns, methi in the order mentioned. Start with Chanadal, when its half done, add toor dal and keep adding other ingredients.
  • Pound the roasted ingredients into a coarse powder.
  • In a saucepan, boil water, tamarind and the ground powder for 5-7 minutes.
  • Strain the liquid, discard pulp. This liquid is unseasoned Rasam.
  • Add salt and cilantro. Stir well and keep aside.
  • In a small sautepan, heat cooking oil, add the items listed for seasoning in the same order.
  • Once sweet aroma starts coming from the seasoning, add the seasoning to Rasam.
  • Bring rasam back to stove and let it simmer for a minute.
  • Serve hot with boiled rice

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging