Saturday, July 31, 2010

Aloo Mattar

One of the first dishes that I had tried out during my school days was the simple Aloo Mattar. A basic vegetable gravy without much fuss of complex techniques or ingredients.

So while thinking up options for dinner last night, I decided to make Aloo Mattar to go with our chappathi dinner. There are multiple ways to whip up the basic gravy - you can just use plain chopped onion and tomatoes or use a paste of sauteed onions, tomatoes and cashews. The variations are endless for this versatile dish.

Aloo Mattar


3 to 4 Large potatoes boiled and cubed
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen) - slightly boiled
2 onion, finely chopped
1 onion, ground to paste
2 tomatoes
1 long green chilly - slit lengthwise
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cloves
1" cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 tsp jeera
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp fesh yoghurt
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped


1. Boil the tomatoes, deskin and grind into puree. Keep aside. 2. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the Jeera, clove, cinnamon, bay leaf and green chillies.3. Add the chopped onions and the ground onion paste and fry for 3-4 mts. If it sticks to the pan, add some water and fry until the raw smell is gone. 4. Add all the spice powders except the garam masala and fry for a minute. 5. Add the tomato puree and fry until the raw smell is gone.6. Add 1/2 cup of water, boiled potatoes and peas and combine well. 7. Add salt and sugar. 8. Cook for 5 -7 minutes until the gravy thickens. 9. Check for taste and adjust seasonings. 10. Add the curd and mix well. 11. Keep on flame until the gravy gets a creamy texture. 12. Add the lemon juice and mix well. 13.Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rotis.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pavakkai Fry (Deep Fried BitterGourd)

Deep Fry is a taboo in our home - to the extent that we microwave appalam and pappad!! So it is on rare occasions that we fill the pan with oil. Last week, I found a batch of fresh bittergourds at Suriya Greens on my way from work. Since PK was not in town - I thought of indulging myself with one of my favorite dishes - Deep Fried Pavakkai (Bittergourd).

One of the fondest memories from my school days has been lunching with my Best Friend - L at her house stuffing our faces with yummy sambar rice, spicy potato fry and awesome pavakkai deep fry. We never cook bittergourd at my place and so it was a revelation to try the simple yet comforting pavakkai fry. While aunty always says that it goes well with curd rice - I normally have it like a main course with the rice becoming an accompaniment.

And after so many years - even now when I visit aunty, I know that she would not send me back without a sample of her now famous pavakkai fry.

Pavakkai Fry


1/2 kg Bitter Gourd
2 tbsp Red Chilly Powder
a pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


1. Wash and cut the bittergourd into round slices.2. Remove the seeds (giving it a "polo" like shape). 3. Soak the ringlets in a bowl of water with turmeric and salt (helps remove the excess bitterness). 4. Drain the water and allow the ringlets to dry. 5. In a bowl, mix the salt, chilly powder and turmeric well. 6. Toss in the bittergourd ringlets until it is well coated with the masala. 7. Allow it to marinate for 15 minutes. 8. Heat Oil in  a deep bottomed pan. 9. Deep fry the ringlets in batches until they turn brown. Remove and allow it to drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Some of the ringlets may turn out soft and not crisp - this is fine. Serve with curd rice.

While I am not a big fan of deep frying (infact I am paranoid about it)  this is one exception when I go around looking for comfort food. - And it never fails to remind me of the peaceful days spent during my schooling.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chicken Korma - Comfort Food!

It has been quite sometime since my first write-up. With a laptop crash (that lasted for nearly two weeks - thanks to running helter skelter for file retrival) and Aditi starting school, it has been a hell of a couple of weeks!!. And now for the last one week - we are all down with sniffles and sneezes. So to cheer up the folks at home (and to limit the time spent in the kitchen),we decided to make a simple rice and chicken curry yesterday.
It is one of the best comfort foods (especially when one is fighting a battle with the common cold) and the chicken korma recipie from
Sailu's kitchen is one of my favorites. I have modified it to suit the ingredients in my pantry - but with all the additions and deductions, it still creates a "feel good" effect. This recipie here is an adapted version with a higher heat quotient - because of adding pepper.

Nilgri Chicken Korma ( Serves 2-3)
Ingredients: 1 kg chicken (cleaned and marinated in masala of turmeric,chilli powder and curd)

2 large onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsps ginger garlic paste
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tbsp finely minced Garlic

1 tsp red chilli pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste2-3 tbsps oil
chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Roast and Grind:
1.5 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp saunf1 tsp khus khus
1″ cinnamon2 cardamoms
5 tbsp grated fresh coconut
8 cashew nuts
1 tbsp roasted chickpeas
Roast: (in 2 tsps oil for 5 mts)
10 -15 curry leaves
8-10 shallots/sambar onions
4 green chillis
3 tbsps chopped coriander and mint leaves
1 Make a paste of ingredients under grind and roast by adding a few tbsps of water and keep aside.2 Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add curry leaves and saute for few secs. Add the minced garlic, chopped onions and fry till transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for 3 mts. Add red chilli pwd, turmeric pwd and salt and combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 mts.3 Add the ground paste and cook over medium heat for 7-8 mts.4 Add lemon juice and the chicken pieces and combine. Cook without lid for 5-6 mts. Add 3 cups of water and cook with lid on simmer till the chicken is tender and the gravy thickens. (You can also use a pressure pan and allow it to cook until one whistle) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
If you are conscious about the use of coconut, you can reduce the quantity of grated coconut and increase the khus khus slightly.
Serve hot with steaming plain rice or chappathis. Yumm!! Best cure for gloomy days

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