Sunday, June 24, 2007

Katharikkai Kichedi Kuzambu - JFI Eggplant

Eggplants, Katharikkai as called in Tamil Nadu - a Foe turned into Friend. Never used to like them till before marriage. I guess I started appreciating them only when I stepped foot in the US and truly found how difficult it is to get some good old Indian veggies here. It then dawned on me that I was being punished for hating those cute little "eggplant" guys. I started to crazily buy Indian veggies whenever I see a fresh one .. The love for eggplant should have started then. My mom used to cook many varieties of dishes using eggplant. Her stuffed baingan being my favourite. My brother, who was not a big fan of them then, used to pick a big fight with mom whenever she makes them. Well.. gone are those days. There comes a time when everyone realises the goodness in "Eggplants" :) The huge eggplants that one can find here.. well it was not of much use to me until my husband taught me the art of seasoning and deep frying them. Oh my God.. thats pure heaven. The real winner though was my mother in law, who while visiting US taught me this "Kichedi Kuzambu" using the big eggplants that you get here. I never thought I will like Kichedi Kuzambu using katharikkai.. but one has to taste to know. The dish was a huge success and has become a regular at our household.

So, when the JFI event for eggplant was announced, I immedietly knew what to make. The easiest and the simplest.. but doesn't compromise in taste. Now on to the recipe and then off it goes to the "JFI - Eggplant" event hosted by "Sangeeta of Ghar ka khana". Thanks Sangeeta for hosting the event.


Eggplant - 1 medium sized
Onions - 1 cup
Slit green chillies - 2
Red chilles - 2-3
Curry leaves
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Urad Dal
Channa Dal
Turmeric powder

Eggplant roasted and ready to be peeled
Mashed eggplant
  • Cut the eggplants into big chunks
  • Roast them in a deep tava with 2 tbsps oil on medium high until cooked. The skin should be glossy and wrinkled.
  • Take them out and let cool. Once cooled remove the skin and mash the eggplant coarsely.
  • In the same tava, heat 1 tbsp of oil.
  • Burst mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal and curry leaves.
  • Add the mashed eggplant, 1/2 cup water and the tamarind paste.
  • Also add turmeric, hing and salt.
  • Let boil until raw smell from eggplant disappears.
  • Add curry leaves at the end and let simmer for a couple minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander.

Note: This can be had with ghee, rice and pappad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Belated Father's Day wishes for all the wonderful Dads out there including my very own. My dad has been a great inspiration and a good example for both my brother and I. We will always be grateful to him for that. We would not have become the persons we are now if not for him. Dad, We Love You.

RCI Maharashtra - Kothimbir Wadi

Maharashtra is a nature lover's place, provides loads of fun for adventurers with its lush green and unspoiled landscape. A land of bio-diversity, Maharashtra is a home to rare species of animals and birds. Hmmm.. Is there even an introduction necessary for the cuisine, I can just smell it from miles away. For Maharashtrians 'Anna he poornabrahma', no wonder the food is so rich and satisfying. They consider food equal to the creator himself. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of Maharashtra cuisine is my friend Suchi's very appetizing meal spread. Maybe because she was the first Maratha I knew. That was probably the earliest influence Maharashtrian cuisine had on me.. and it was a very good one. She had cooked every single marathi dish for us and we have enjoyed each and every one of them.

So, this time I wanted to try something that I never ate before.. that way the traditional recipe won't influence me and I can add my own variations. The choice was made with the help of my dear friends Rady, who is a great cook and a proud Maratha and Deepi, well she is an all rounder, cooks, entertains, knits, embroiders.. the list is never ending. "Kothimbir Wadi" sounded very tempting. Uses lot of coriander, thats always a plus since I simply love the aroma of corianders and it is deep fried.. so its a treat. It could also be a nice evening snack for my hungry hubby. So, I started to look at different recipes for kothimbir wadi including the one Rady sent us. So many variations.. confusion mode.. adding my twist mode.. voila have my own recipe mode. It turned out to be such a simple and easy recipe, that everyone enjoyed including my toddler pie Nikki.

To top it all of.. hubby dear helped with decorating the serving plate and taking pics. He proudly calls himself my "Photo director". Now off this goes to RCI Maharashtra event hosted by Nupur of "One Hot Stove". Thanks Nupur, for taking the time.

Dough ready to be steamed in Idli vessel


Wheat flour - 3/4 cup
Besan flour - 1 cup
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Coriander - 2 whole bunches, chopped finely
Garlic cloves - 7-8, minced
Ginger - 1 tbsp, grated
Cabbage and carrots - 3/4 cup, shredded
Chilli powder
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - pinched

Steamed dough ready for deep fry


1. Mix wheat flour, besan flour, coriander, cabbage & carrots, ginger, chilli powder and salt together. Set aside.
2. Do tadka with mustard seeds and pinched curry leaves. Add it to the dough.
3. Add yogurt to this mixture. Knead to incorporate.
4. Now start adding water sprinkling a little at a time till it forms a nice dough.
5. Make small logs out of the dough and steam them in a Idli cooker without weight or an Idli vessel. Steaming should only take 5 minutes. Oversteaming may cause cracking of the dough.
6. Take them out. Let cool and cut into 1 inch thick slices.
7. Heat oil in a deep kadai. Deep fry the pieces. Serve with yogurt mix or mint chutney.

Note: The pieces can be eaten as such without deep frying. Tava frying can also be done in place of deep frying.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cooking for Toddlers - Not so infamous "Potato Rice"

Feeding a toddler as of now is the most difficult thing that I have done. Are you familiar with phrases such as "I don't want to eat", "All Done, Thats it" ? Do you run behind your toddler trying to feed him/her but in the process end up feeding the carpet and the walls ? Do you, after the whole fiasco sit and wonder if only they can eat without throwing a fit, how simple and relaxed your life would be ? Howdy partner.. we are totally in the same boat. My daughter is one such kid.. A total angel until meal time arrives. Then she unleashes the little devil inside. Ofcourse if there is one upside to this story then it is getting a good workout before every meal :)

Keeping that in mind, I thought I would share the recipes of the toddler food that I make for my kid.. the ones that she very rarely likes and enjoys. I am sure this doesn't mean that your toddler might like it and gobble it up.. but its just one more option for you in the tedious process of thinking what to make for him/her. First in this section "Cooking for Toddlers" comes the not so infamous Potato Rice.


Basmati Rice (Cooked) - 3/4 cup
Onions (finely chopped) - 2 tbsp
Potato - Peeled and cubed - 1/2 cup
Almonds - handful
Pulav powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Fresh ground pepper - 1/4 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Salt - as per taste
Jeera - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp


  • Microwave the potato for 3 minutes on high. Set aside.
  • Grind the almonds into fine powder and keep aside.
  • Take a deep pan and heat butter / ghee.
  • Splutter jeera. Add onions and saute.
  • Add pulav powder, turmeric and hing to the sauteed onions. Fry for a minute.
  • Now add the boiled potatoes and saute for couple of minutes on low flame.
  • Add the cooked rice and salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the ground almond powder and pepper. Mix well on low flame for a minute.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with yogurt.
Note: I always add hing and turmeric in most of my daughter's food as a way for her to get used to the Indian taste. Also, hing and turmeric are considered to have lots of medicinal values.

Trivia Facts:
  • Refering to its strong odour, asafetida is also called the devils dung or the stinking gum.
  • Asafetida is considered native to Iran. The trader caste of Hinduism and followers of Jainism, who are not supposed to eat onions use this as a substitute for onions
  • The "asafetidda bag", containing the paste of asafetida was hung around the neck of children and considered a remedy for cold and flu in the 1900's.
  • Turmeric, hails from the family of ginger and is considered to have ayurvedic properties.
  • It is being investigated to have benefits in the treatment of alzeimer's, cancer and depression.
  • It is considered an very effective antibacterial agent and a readily available antiseptic for cuts and bruises.
Information obtained from

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TOMATO PULAV - The Life Saver

I came here to the States as a person who had absolutely no cooking skills whatsoever. Not that I didn't so much as take a look at the kitchen before marriage. I used to help my mom a lot.. but something like the Santa's little helper "The Elf" and not so much as the Santa himself. My mom always played the old guy role because of the fear of me burning down the house. I used to cut, clean, stir, wash, wipe, clean, serve.. but not COOK. So, you can imagine how confused I should have been when my husband took me grocery shopping the day we landed here. I had no clue what to buy. So, I came up with the simplest tomato rice.. just by guessing what my mom would have put into the gravy. Tomatoes never let u down.. the rice did turn out good. This dish is a slight modification of the same recipe. The tweaks had been adopted from the "100 Rice Delights" book by the famous culinary expert of Tamil Nadu "Mallika Badrinath". I have watched lots of cookery shows that she hosted and used to adore her style of cooking with ease. Her "Mathiya Unavu Vagaigal " - transalated as "Lunch Varieties" was one of the first few books that helped me understand cooking. My father in law brought this book for me the day before we had to board the flight. Probably knowing my cooking skills at that time he feared that I might fail to feed his son.. which probably would have happenned if not for the book :) On to the recipe now..


Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 3 big ones
Coconut Extract - 1/2 cup (optional)
Garlic - 4 cloves minced
Green chillies - 6
Onion - 1 diced
Coriander leaves - A bunch, chopped finely
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Bay Leaves - 1
Cardamom - 3
Cloves - 3
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Fresh ground pepper - 1/4 tsp


  • Cook basmati rice in 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup coconut milk (If not using coconut milk use 2 cups water) in an electric cooker.
  • In the mean time boil tomatoes in water, remove skin and mash. Set aside.
  • Spread cooked rice on a wide plate and let cool.
  • Heat ghee in a wide bottommed vessel.
  • When hot add mustard seeds and splutter.
  • Now add the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves.
  • Give it a couple seconds and add the minced garlic, green chillies and onions.
  • Add the chopped coriander. Finally add the tomato paste and cook till oil seperates from sides.
  • Reduce the flame to low. Stir in the cooked rice to this mixture while still on flame. Mix well and let stand for 3 minutes stirring frequently and taking care not to burn.
  • Remove from heat. Sprinkle ground pepper and serve with cucumber raita.