Todays recipes are influenced by my love for south indian food, spinach cooked lightly with coconut and lentils and then ground to a paste, eaten with a dosa or as I prefer it, with soft fluffy rice flour rotis. The amazing food of dhakshin india or south India barely calls for lot of spices, the magic is created by just using very few basic ingredients. I use coconut oil when I cook south Indian food, the fragrance of the ingredients being sauted in this oil is just too heady. Of course when I talk of south India, its just a general grouping of the food.. For me the masala dosa, idli, utappas and the avials are food which I relish. Collage days breakfasts mainly consisted of idli sambhars and medhu wadas at the canteen, served with fresh coconut chutney. Even today, when I go back to Pune for my visits, I try my utmost to go to Vaishali restaurant , I have yet to eat a better dosa elsewhere, standing in the line for a seat just wets the appetite more. The SPDP or sev puri dahi puri fusion is a must have there and the horlicks milkshake is to die for… All Puneites will definitely vouch for this famous udipi restaurant.
Back to the recipe, spinach chutney has been cooked at our home since many years, a favourite of my daughters. While cooking this chutney , try not to over cook it as we want to retain its fresh green colour.his chutney can be eaten hot or at room temperature, do try both these recipes, simple home food at its best.
3 TBSPS COCONUT OIL
1 TBSP CHANA DAL
1 TBSP URAD DAL
1/4 TSP HING
6 DRY RED CHILIS BROKEN INTO PIECES
12 SLICED SHALLOTS
1 SLICED TOMATO
4 TBSPS GRATED FRESH COCONUT
2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED SPINACH (LEAVES ONLY, DISCARD STEMS)
1 TBSP TAMARIND PASTE OR LIME JUICE
1/2 TSP TURMERIC POWDER
SALT TO TASTE
HEAT COCONUT OIL IN A PAN, ADD THE CHANA DAL AND URAD DAL.. SAUTE TILL GOLDEN BROWN.
NOW ADD THE HING, BROKEN RED CHILLIES AND SLICED SHALLOTS
SAUTE ON MEDIUM HEAT TILL ONIONS TURN A PALE GOLDEN COLOUR
NOW ADD THE SLICED TOMATO AND GRATED COCONUT AND SAUTE TILL TOMATO SOFTENS AND BLENDS WELL WITH THE ONIONS.
AT THIS POINT ADD THE SALT AND TURMERIC, TAMARIND PASTE, AND THE SPINACH
SAUTE FOR A FEW MINUTES UNTIL SPINACH WILTS AND SHUT OFF THE HEAT.
DO NOT COVER THE SPINACH AT ANY POINT
WAIT FOR A FEW MINUTES AND GRIND THE SPINACH MIXTURE TO A FINE PASTE, ADDING COLD WATER TO MAKE GRINDING EASY..
CHECK CONSISTENCY AND SERVE WITH ROTIS.
Now the rice flour roti, eaten all over India but with different names , called akki roti in the south and chawal ki roti in the north. It can be eaten plain or with some spices and chopped onions added to it. These soft white rotis are really light on the stomach.
RICE FLOUR ROTI
1 CUP FINE RICE FLOUR
1 CUP WATER
1 TSP OIL
1/2 TSP SALT
ADD WATER TO A PAN, AND BRING TO A ROLLING BOIL
ADD SALT AND OIL
NEXT ADD RICE FLOUR, THE MIXTURE WILL IMMEDIATELY BECOME LUMPY.
SHUT OFF THE HEAT AND COVER THE PAN TIGHTLY AND LET THE FLOUR COOK IN ITS OWN STEAM.
AFTER 10 MINUTES, REMOVE THE MIXTURE ONTO A PLATE AND KNEAD IT TO SMOOTH DOUGH, COVER WITH A WET NAPKIN.
HEAT THE TAVA OR FLAT GIRDLE
MAKE SMALL BALLS FROM THE DOUGH AND ROLL OUT THE ROTI.. IF YOU FIND IT STICKY, ( WHICH IT SHOULD NOT BE) JUST DIP THE BALL IN DRY RICE FLOUR AND ROLL OUT THE ROTI
PUT ONTO A HOT TAWA AND COOK ON BOTH SIDES TILL PUFFED UP AND BROWN SPOTS START APPEARING
REMOVE AND KEEP WARM IN A HOT CASSEROLE DISH.
The indian comfort food which we all have grown up with is Dal and chawal, right from the time when we are babies, we are fed dal and khicadi, wholesome food and protein packed. Dal or lentils, as it is known in the west is a must at almost every meal in India. It is the source of protein for most vegetarians. There being a vast variety of lentils, each having a different texture after being cooked , gives options to the home makers in giving a varied menu to her family,. Of course each region or for that matter home, will surely have their own favourite dal. The south indians, love their sambhars and rasams both made of Tur dal or split pigeon peas, but having a different texture, while a sambhar is thick , rasams are like a thin spicy broth. The north Indians love the whole moong dal , which is cooked to a creamy thick consistency and served in the Gurudwara at langars, which is a community kitchen where meals are served free of charge.And so on, the ways of cooking the humble lentils differ from state to state, in some parts of India, dal is cooked on a charcoal flame or sigris, for a few hours gently simmering away to give a beautiful aromatic and creamy result. Dal is mostly eaten with rice or sometimes with some indian flat bread like chappatis or parathas. The Indians love their dal, to the extent of incorporating it into their desserts like the maharashtrain puran poli, which is an Indian flatbread stuffed with a boiled and mashed chana dal which has jaggery and cardamon powder added to it, when well made it literally melts in the mouth. And the Bengal moong daaler payesh which has a creamy consistency and is made with milk, moong dal and jaggery.
Dal in the sindhi home which has received world wide fame is the Dal Pakwan, a dish of simple boiled chana dal topped with a sweet and sour chutney and onion relish or kechumbo as its called in sindhi and served with a pakwan which is a cummin flavoured flat bread deep fried to a crunchy crispness. The pleasure derived in every bite of the contrasting textures is what has made this breakfast dish so popular. Today I will share with you a simple coconut dal recipe, It is a recipe given in our cooking group, by our group member Neetu. I have tweaked the recipe a little and made a few changes. Do try this amazing dal, which can be eaten with rice or phulkas. The addition of coconut cream takes its texture to a new level..
1/2 cup yellow moong dal, soaked and boiled to a mushy consistency.
6 tbsps of fresh grated coconut
4 dry red chillies, broken into pieces
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsps coconut cream [ I used kara]
2 tbsps coconut oil
Ingredients for tempering
1 sliced big onion
3 whole dry red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cummin seeds
1/4 tsp hing or asafoetida
A sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp of ghee
Boil and mash the dal, keep on a simmer.
In another pan,add coconut oil and grated coconut.. saute for a while and add the broken red chillie and garlic, saute till fragrant. grind this mixture with a little water till smooth and add to the dal along with the turmeric powder, season to taste with salt.
At this point, your dal will be a pretty peach colour., simmer for abt 5 mins more.
Add coconut cream, check the consistency of the dal which should not be watery .
Next, heat ghee in a seperate small pan and add mustard and cummin seeds to the hot ghee, also add the sliced onions, curry leaves, hing and whole red chillies.. saute till fragrant and add this tempering to the simmering dal.
Serve dal with rice or phulkas.. enjoy.