Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thakkali Kai kootu / Raw tomato curry

My mother used to make this kootu with raw" nattu thakkali". We used to eat with hot rice, ghee and puli inji. A simple and satisfying meal. When I saw tomatillos in the supermarkets here,I bought them home thinking they were thakkali kai. I was all excited to make the same kootu.

It was an epic fail, i have to admit!

a) they were unbelievably tart and
b) it became so mushy! But the nerd in me did not want to accept that failure!

I learnt later that the tomatillos are not the same as raw tomatoes that we get in India. They are widely used in Mexican cooking for making salsas and other sauces which need the tartness! You learn something every day!

Recently, we visited a farm in sunny southernArizona, where there wide fields with okra, bell peppers, black eyed peas, beans etc. I hand picked some regular green tomatoes fresh from the plants. I wanted to try the same tomato kootu this and it was delicious.

So, here is the recipe.

Get ready

  • 4 green tomatoes/ thakkali Kai
  • 1/3 cup dry moong dal, washed and  pressure cooked with a little turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal / ulutham paruppu
  • Couple of squirts of asafetida
  • Curry leaves few
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste

To grind

  •  2 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 green chili ( more as per your taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds


  • Wash & chop green tomatoes into medium sized chunks
  • Cook and mash dal and keep aside
  • Grind everything under grind with little water
  • In a pan, add oil and do tadka with mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafetida.
  • Add the tomatoes and sauté for few seconds.

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  • Add a little salt, reduce flame and cook the tomatoes covered till soft.

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  • Add the mashed dal and little water.
  • Adjust salt to taste and let the tomatoes and dal come to a boil.
  • Add the ground coconut paste and cook for 3-4 secs.

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  • Turn the heat off.
  • Serve hot with rice, rasam or chapathi!

What's  your experience cooking  with tomatillos?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Vegetarian Enchilada

During my trip to the grocery store, I picked up a bag of Corn tortillas by mistake! I usually make a simple cheese quesadilla for my kids and was wondering what else to do these guys. Turns out there are lots of options including cutting them in strips or triangles and making tortilla chips, enchiladas etc. I decided to make enchilada's!

These babies are so hearty and filling with black beans, spinach and corn. I used the store bought enchilada sauce. Las Palmas is what I used, but if you want to make your own enchilada sauce, there are wonderful recipes available all over the net!

Get Ready ( Serves 2-3)

  • 1 can of black beans ( 15 oz ) washed and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 tso cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • a pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 green chili ( optional)
  • 1 can eenchiladasauce
  • Corn tortillas ( i used small)
  • Blend of mexican cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • Cilantro/ black olives/ green onions for garnishing


  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • In a skillet add olive oil and saute the onions till translucent. 
  • Add the green chillies for heat if you choose to use it
  • Add the chopped spinach and saute for few secs.

  • Add the back beans, corn, spice powders and salt to taste

  • Add a little water and then cook, stirring in between till the mixture is dry and come without sticking to the pan.Turn the heat off. Our tortilla stuffing is ready.

  • Take 7-8 corn tortillas and wrap them in a wet paper towel. Microwave them for 30 sec . This will make them soft and easy to roll with the stuffing.

  • Sprak your baking dish lightly with cooking spray or brush with some olive oil.
  • Spread couple of table spoons of the enchilada sauce at the bottom.

  • Spoon a small portion of your black bean, corn and spinach mixture in the centr of the soft corn tortilla. Roll them carefully and keep the seam side down into the baking dish. Do not over stuff them.  Use all the stuffing and the tortillas to fill your pan. You can see some of my tortillas got ripped, but it's OK!

  • Generously pour the enchilada sauce on the mixture.
  • Sprinkle cheese all over the sauce and bake till golden and bubbling. It roughly takes 25 -30 mins.

  • Make slices and serve with sour cream, salsa or guacamole. I had only sour cream on hand to indulge!
  • Garnish with cilantro or sliced green onions and balck olives. It is pretty obvious that i did not have any of those on hand:))

Enjoy Enchillada and play with your creativity for what you roll those tortillas with. I did not want mine to be too cheesy and did not add cheese in the stuffing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bhindi Masala / Okra masala

Hello friends! Been away from the blogosphere for a while! We are having scorching temperatures here and trying to stay cool seems a challenge!Here is a simple okra/ bhindi masala recipe made on a weekday! I used fresh and some frozen okra for this.

Did you know our " ladies finger " is called Okra in Africa, USA and phillipines! All other English speaking countries call them ladies finger! Many people are put off by the sliminess of Okra, but it is great source of fibre for our body. I have always made sambhar, vendaikkai fry, so cooking with tomatoes gave a different taste to okra for me.

Get Ready
  • 2 cups chopped okra/ vendakkai/ bhindi
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 big onion chopped
  • 1/4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida/ perungayam
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds


1. In a wide pan add 1 tbsp oil and sauté the okra with a pinch of salt for 10 mins. This helps to take the sliminess away. Set this aside.

2. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and add the cumin seeds. Let them crackle.
3. Add the onions and fry till soft.
4. Add the ginger garlic,tomatoes and fry for few secs.
5. Add all the masala powders , pinch of salt and fry for a few mins.

6. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.

7. Uncover, add the okras and mix well.

8. Cover and cook on low flame for 5-7 mins
9. Uncover, check salt and spices. Add red chilli powder or salt according to your taste.
10. Let it cook uncovered for 2 mins and is ready to eat.

Serve hot with  chapathi, rice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mango Ice cream

Mango season may be there in India, but not ! we do get mangoes from mexico, phillipines and other countries but not our yummy indian mangoes! US imposed an import ban on Alphonso mangoes in 1989 and you may find only pulp sold in cans here! Alphonso (known as Hapoos हापूस in Marathi) is a seasonal mango cultivar that is considered as one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. (source wikipedia). 

Alphonso mangoes are not a common variety available in south India. I grew up eating lots of banganapalli magoes which larger with unblemished golden yellow skin with sweet pulp and no fibres!

Most of the mangoes sold in the US are one of the following varieties: Tommy Atkins, Haden, Kent, Atasulfo, francis.

Some fun facts about mangoes! 
  • Mangoes are the most popular fruit in the World
  • Mangoes were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago
  • Mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D.
  • The paisley pattern, developed in India, is based on the shape of a mango
  • Mangoes are related to cashews and pistachios

  • Without further ranting, here is what you need! i think it is self explanatory that you do need a freezer to make ice cream!

    Ingredients for mango Ice cream!

    Mix condensed milk, mango pulp and cool whip till every thing is well incorporated.

    Transfer into a container, cover and freeze for 4-6 hrs.

    Serve for your guests or enjoy with your family! This ice cream is always a star in any dinner parties or pot lucks!

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    Colorful Black bean Salad

     Here is a very simple, hearty and delectable salad.

    The only job, trust me is to chop a few vegetables in to bite site pieces similar to the black beans. One can use chick peas, red kidney beans or moong beans. I used canned black beans plus what I had in my refrigerator. fell free to play with any veggies that you may want to use.

    Get Ready ( serves 4)

    • 1 15 oz can of balck beans, rinsed & drained
    • 1 small onion chopped ( red would be the best)
    • 1 orange bell pepper de seeded and chopped
    • 6-7 cherry tomatoes halved
    • 1 small mango chopped ( iused the one sliced from costco)
    • 1 corn steamed and separate the kernels ( frozen will work fine too)
    • plenty of chopped cilantro
    • 2 green chillies finely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp chaat masala
    • salt to taste


    Seriously nothing other than mixing everything and eating.

    one does not even need a dressing for this salad. The juice from tomato plus chaat masala will be sufficient.

    It is sweet, crunchy, spicy and wonderful!


    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Zucchini Moor koottan / Zucchini moru curry

    Zucchini / cougette is a type of squash available in summer in USA. I did not know that it is also called seemai sorakkai in India. I have never eaten in before I came abroad. I have made a simple vegetable dish with onion and channal dal which my kids love. Yes, sorry, i have never bothered to post that on my blog. Zucchini has a lot of water and can get easily over cooked which has happened to me ehile making kootu !

    I have also made  Zucchini Rice which tastes nice which you can check it out.

    This time i made a moor kootan with Zucchini and we all loved it. Here is the recipe!

    Get Ready

    • 1 zucchini washed and cut in big chunks
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
    • 1/2 cup plain yogurt/ thayir whisked

    To Grind

    • 2-3 tbsp grated coconut
    • 1/2 tsp rice
    •  1/4 tsp jeera
    • 1 green chili
    • small piece of ginger ( optional)

    To Temper/ tadka/ thallika

    • 1/2 tsp coconut oil ( or nay oil)
    • 1/2 tsp kadugu/ mustard seeds
    • 1/4 tsp vendhayam/ fenugreek seeds
    • 1/4 tsp asafetida/ hing
    • few curry leaves

    • In a bowl add 3/4 cup water, pieces of zuke, turmeric powder, salt and cook till zucchini is just soft. as I warned you it can get mushy pretty fast, so keep an eye on the cooking time.
    • Grind all the ingredients under to grind with little water to a fine paste and set aside.
    • add the whisked yogurt, ground paste to the cooked zucchini.
    •  adjust salt to taste.
    • Heat on low flame till the mixture gets frothy around the sides, turn the heat off
    •  in another pan, add oil and temper with kadugu, vendhayam, asafetida, curry leaves and por it on the zuke curry.

    Serve hot with rice, potato fry or as a side dish for idli, dosa or adai