Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simple Paruppu Thogayal Varieties

Click the image to view and print the cookbook. This cookbook lists variations of the following Paruppu Thogayals ( roasted and ground lentil - chili paste)  from Tamil cuisine 

0.: Ver Kadalai Thogayal

1.: Pattani Kadalai Thogayal

2.: Uppu Kadalai Thogayal

3.: Paasi paruppu Thogayal

4.: Kadalai paruppu Thogayal

5.: Tuvaram paruppu Thogayal

6.: Kollu Thogayal

7.: Ulutham paruppu Thogayal

8.: Mysore Paruppu Thogayal

 Paruppu Thogayal :
When roasted lentils are ground into a powder with dry red chilies , we get a podi. When they are ground to a paste with water, we get paruppu thogayal. Mung dal, Tuvar dal and Chana Dal are most commonly used for traditional paruppu thogayals. But a variety of other paruppu can be used to cook up delicious thogayals. Unlike a podi, a paruppu thogayal cannot be stored for long. Refrigerated, they last for a week. They can be eaten mixed with rice and ghee / sesame oil. They also serve as an excellent side dish for Milagu rasam / Milagu kulambu / Vatral Kulambu / Kaara Kulambu
 & kootu. Rasam, Parupu Thogayal and sutta appalam is a very popular combination. 

·   After roasting lentils, soak in water for 10 minutes for a softer thogayal.  

·   Heat a spoon of oil. Add two pinches of mustard and 3 curry leaves. Mix in with thogayal for an extra burst of flavour.

·   Ver Kadalai / Uppu Kadalai / Pattani are available in shops  selling puffed rice. These are already roasted and so can be used to create instant thogayals.

·   If you make paruppu thogayal without coconut / tamarind / garlic / other strong flavourings, it becomes a pathiya thogayal, and can be served  to  invalids.

·   Instead of roasting lentils, you can also stir fry them with a bit   of oil to create thogayals with a different taste. Fried mung dal / Chana dal / Peanuts are available as snacks and you can use them to make instant thogayals.

Check out detailed recipes and great pictures from fellow bloggers.....

1. Rajeswari's Tuvaram Paruppu Thogayal

2. Vibass' Tuvaram paruppu Milagu Thogayal

3. Kribha's Poondu Paruppu Thogayal

4. Vidhya's Kadalai paruppu Thogayal

5. Ulutham paruppu Thogayal

6. Komala's Pasi paruppu thogayal

Since Paruppu thogayals are built on red chiles & lentils, the chili part of them take them to  
Kitchen Chronicles' "Think Spice- Red Chilies", an  event  started by Sunita Bhuyan, and the lentils take them to Mosoon spice's MLLA, an event started by Susan.

Top 10 uses for a Microwave in a South Indian Kitchen

Click the image on the left to see the cookbook. This cookbook lists 10 simple recipes designed to be cooked in a microwave, graded from easy to tough. The following recipes are listed : 

1.: Make Papad

2.: Reheating Rice / curries   

3.: Making Soup   

4.: Cooking eggs

5.: Making Idli  

6.: Roasting nuts 

7.: Cooking Noodles   

8.:.Cooking Vegetables 

9.: Reheating Bread

10.:Boiling milk 

 Microwave cooking – A Primer :

Microwaving is one of the easiest ways to cook. No smoke, heat, no need for constant stirring or watching. It is easy to
use and can dramatically reduce your cooking time. Understand the basic principles and you need not fear a microwave !


Unlike all other forms of cooking, microwave cooks from inside out. Heat is generated inside the food – not transferred from the outside. Microwaves vibrate water molecules in food. This vibration produces intense heat. This heat cooks food.

Microwave cooking generates steam. So if you cook food in a tightly sealed container, it will explode. Always use a loose cover and never use a tight lid while microwaving.

For the same reason, eggs, potato, egg yolk can explode because their outer layer acts as a tight cover. Do not microwave eggs with their shells and prick a few holes in potato & scramble the yollks before microwaving,

Metals reflect microwaves. So metal vessels cannot be used in a microwave. Plastic, earthenware, paper plates / cups can be used.

Remember the cooking times, especially for liquids. Heating water / milk for a long time might cause them to splash up when you take them out.

Timing would vary for each microwave. So keep these timings as rough guidelines. Note down the time your microwave takes and follow that exactly.

And this goes to Srivalli's Microwave easy cooking event.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tamil Thokku ( Thick, sour curries)

The logic behind  thokku : Stir fry chopped veggies till dry, blend to a paste with tamarind, red chilies and salt. 

Thokku is halfway between a thogayal and a pickle. Like a thogayal, goodies are blended to a paste with tamarind, but like a pickle, no water is added and the water content of ingredients used is reduced by slow cooking. The reduced water content and the acidic environment inhibit spoilage. Most thokku last for a week un refrigerated and for over a month refrigerated. Follow a few simple rules to make your thokku last long:
1. Use fresh, unblemished vegetables.
2. Wash and completely dry vegetables, bottles and spoons.
3. Never use a wet spoon or your bare hands to touch the thokku. Even a tiny bit of water can spoil it.
4. Aluminum, plastic or brass vessels react with the acid in thokku and should be avoided. Use glass / stainless steel  / porcelain jars.
5. Salt always has moisture in it. So dry roast it / dry it in sun for a day before using it.
6. Refrigerate thokku to make them last much longer.
7. Have a layer of oil over thokku to seal the surface.

Tips :

1. Thokku can be used as a dip, spread, curry or a pickle. You can eat it with flatbreads, with Idli / dosa /upma, curd rice, spread it over bread or eat it mixed with hot rice and ghee.

2. Almost all vegetables without too much water content can be turned into Thokkus. Experiment with exotic vegetables as long as you remain true to the spirit of the recipe.

3. When using sour stuff as the base, you need not add tamarind. If you do not have tamarind paste, just add a bit or raw tamarind (with the seeds / fibers removed)

4. Experiment using a variety of souring agents like mango / vinegar / lemon juice in place of tamarind.

5. Mix in a pinch of preservatives like sodium benzoate / citric acid to make your thokku last longer.

 Replace the vegetables with cooked meat and a variety of non veg thokkus like chicken thokku, mutton thokku, fish thokku or prawn thokku can be produced. The principle is the same – reduce moisture, add a souring agent and cook into a thick gravy.

 The variations of the following thokkus are listed in this cookbook

Onion thokku / Shallot thokku / Garlic thokku

Cilantro thokku / Pudina thokku

Thakkali thokku

Milagai thokku

Nellikkai thokku / kilakkai thokku / manga thokku /

Inji thokku

Chenai thokku

Mahali kilangu thokku

Sundaikkai thokku 

Fusion thokku ( Zucchini thokku, Cranberry thokku, Celery thokku, Bell pepper thokku..)

Since thokkus are built on red chiles, they are perfect for  Kitchen Chronicles' "Think Spice- Red Chilies", an  event  started by Sunita Bhuyan.

What people say - 2

  • "I discovered a cookery site I like a lot:  One Page Cookbooks.  Choose one from column a, one from column be, and then add in column c.  It’s that simple - my kind of cooking.  My favorites are the muesli and rolls (the latter being ten types of flatbread paired with ten sauces and ten fillings - to create 1000 different quick meals).  I need to print these out and post them on my refrigerator, and I’ll never be hungry again". Jean,San Francisco
  • "I like this concept: One page "cookbooks" focused on Indian cuisine. These are more like one sheet formulas, or Cooking for Engineers meets Ruhlman's Ratio. At the very least, a quick way to jog your brain out of a culinary rut. The latest one for biryanis will go in my recipe file, as will this one for traditional Bengali/Oriya sweets." Alaina Browne. General Manager, Serious eats 

  • " Thank you thank you thank you for One Page Cookbooks! I'm loving that half to death this week." Sarah 

  • "Your one-pagers are fun and ingenious"! Harold McGee ( Author, On Food & Cooking)

  • "I liked your book a lot and it has been a boon to me! I have tried the various combinations and each has turned out to be a delicious fare. I have been married for the last two years but cooking was always a chore to me! Your book has simplified it a lot! I have taken a print and kept it as my kitchen bible now". Shilpa, Bangalore

  • "One of the most intriguing sites I've seen in a while. Every post is a one-page grid of various ingredients that can be combined together into a large number of recipes. Literally a one page cookbook. I could stare at these posts all day long". Daniel Koontz,   Casual Kitchen.

One page Cookbooks - What people say..

One Page Cookbooks on B3ta, Twitter, & Evil mad scientist.

The Hindu on One Page Cookbooks

The Hindu, India's national newspaper profiles one page cookbooks.

Easy Orissa recipes 10

This cookbook lists 10 Orissa recipes, greatly simplified, so that a first time cook can easily cook them. The following recipes are listed in this cookbook.For detailed recipes & pictures, check out the links from my fellow bloggers below.

1.: Dahi Nadia ( Coconut yogurt curry)
2.: Badi Chura ( Badi : sun dried lentil dumplings; Chura – powder)
3.: Aloo Chakata
   (Aloo- Potato; Chakata : Boiled & mashed curry)
4.: Bhendi Bhaja
   (Bhendi: Okra; Bhaja : stir-fried curry).
Tomato Khatta  (Khatta : Sweet & Sour curries)
6.: Saaga
  (Saaga : Spinach based curries) 
7.: Chakuli
8.:.Badi Besara (Besara : Mustard paste based curry)
9.: Pakhala Bhata (Bhat : Rice) ( Fermented rice with yogurt)
Dalma  (Dalma : Lentil based curry)  

Orissa As early as 2600 years ago, Kalinga, as Orissa was then known, was a regional power. It controlled the trade routes in the Bay of Bengal, colonizing parts of Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Bali, Vietnam and Thailand still bear traces of Kalinga influence.  The fierce Kalinga was conquered in 300 BC by Nanda from Maghada (Bihar). After the overthrow of Nandas by Chandragupta Maurya, Kalinga declares independence. Chandra Gupta’s grandson Ashoka waged a bloody war and re-conquers Kalinga (and renounces war, sickened by the slaughter). A century later, Kalinga rises again under the Jain king Kharavela to conquer almost half of India. Various Hindu dynasties rule Orissa for the next 1500 years. Of these, Yayati 795 AD, who built the Puri temple was the most notable. In 1568, Orissa falls to Moghuls, whose rule lasts 200 years. Marathas rule for 70 years and British for the next 150 years (under whom almost a million starve to death due to famine (1865) and mismanagement). This once great nation which had remained a potent force for almost 1500 years was decimated in the last 500 years and is now counted among the less developed states of India, with many of its people earning a pittance as manual labourers in Indian metros. 

Oriya Cuisine :
The east Indian cuisine ( of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa)  is  characterized by the following :

Staple: Both Rice & flatbreads are consumed.
 Meats: Like all coastal regions, fish and other   seafood (crab, shrimp) are popular. Chicken and mutton are also favourites.

Typical breakfast : Bread (Luchi, poori, paratha, curry, porridge (rice flakes, suji, sago porridges)

Lunch & Dinner : Rice,  Lentils, veggies, meat

Oil : Mustard oil is preferred

Unique Bases: Mustard & poppy seed pastes.

Spices: All Indian spices ( except asafetida) are used. Panch phutana is widely used for flavouring vegetable curries.
Souring agent :  Ambula (Dried mangoes  is chiefly used in Orissa) &  Amchoor are preferred.

Badis : Sun dried, spiced lentil paste is fried and used in Oriya cuisine.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Most popular One page cookbooks

The posts listed below are some of the most popular. Stick them in your kitchen and you'll never run out of recipe ideas !

All one page cookbooks work the same way. Choose anything you like from column 1, column 2 and column 3. Cook as per master recipe. That's it! Learn one recipe and you've learnt them all !

The Hindu has nice things to say about One Page cookbooks !

1. Complete Indian cuisine in 4 A3 sized posters.
2. Chaat Varieties
3. Easy Podis ( Tamil, English)
4. Muesli
5. Cooking Solo for 500

6. Kitchen virgin survival manuals
7. Rotis
8. Biryani
9. Sambar
10. Simple Pickles

11.Vadam / Vadagam variations
12. Simple Aviyals
13. Kongunadu recipes
14. Instant Dosa varieties
15. Salad Varieties

16. Hotel room cooking
17. Thogayal
18. Pappu
19. Quickie Dinners
20. Quickie Breakfasts

Download the 1001 South Indian Curries eBook

All one page cookbooks are A4 sized images ( unless mentioned otherwise). If you have trouble printing them out, first click on them to get the full sized image. Now, save them to your computer. Then try using an image editing program like photoshop or try embedding the saved image in a word processing program. It should print okay.

People ask me all the time if cooking 1000 varieties of rasam / sambar is actually possible. The one page cookbook lists 1000 different, numbered recipes from 000 to 999, clearly proving it is possible. But wait, that is not all. In most one pagers, the last entry in each column is titled fusion, which means you can use any mix of the building blocks in that column. So the one pagers do not list just 1000 variations, but 9!*9!*9! ( read nine factorial cubed) variations. This is a ridiculously large number, which looks too silly to post here. So, you will not run out of recipes anytime soon !

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Paruppu Keerai Variations ( Spinach & Lentil curry of Tamilnadu)

Theme : Any edible green & lentil can be cooked together into a spinach – lentil curry : The Paruppu Keerai.

Variations :

·         Use various lentils as listed in column 1. Larger lentils need        to be soaked overnight before being cooked.

·         Use various edible greens as listed in column 3.

·         Use various flavouring methods as listed in column 2.


Key Skill : Preparing spinach.
Wash spinach well under running water to remove soil. Chop off roots. If the spinach has a soft stem, it can be chopped whole. If it has a woody stem, pick out the leaves and discard the stem. Remove wilted / yellowish leaves.

 Once you have mastered this essential skill, you are all set to cook the variations of recipes listed below. Click the image to view and print the cookbook. For detailed recipes and pictures, check out my fellow bloggers below :

 0.:  Tuvaram paruppu keerai
1.:  Paasi paruppu keerai
2.:  Mysore paruppu keerai
3.:  Kadalai Paruppu keerai
4.:  Kollu Paruppu keerai
5.:  Paasi Payaru keerai
6.:  Karamani paruppu keerai
7.:  Fresh parpppu keerai
8.:  Mulai katiya paruppu keerai
9.:  Fusion : Try using collard greens, kale , bok choy or any edible green from across the world.

 Paruppu keerai or mashed lentil – spinach curries are  mild curries and can be eaten mixed with rice. It can also accompany chapattis.  They are popular in western Taminadu (Kongunadu) and in Andhra ( Palakura pappu, Thotakoora pappu etc) . Lentils cook fast and taste great with any kind of edible greens.  Fresh lentils or smaller lentils like tuvar dal / mung dal / Mysore dal need no presoaking. But larger / whole dals need to be soaked overnight. Using sprouted lentils gives an extra healthy set of recipes. Sprouted lentils cook fast and need no pre soaking. A huge variety of fresh lentils are available in South India, and all can be used in these recipes. Experiment with any kind of lentil / greens  from across the world to cook up never – before- cooked paruppu keerais ! Since all the above recipes are one pot recipes and take less than 15 minutes to cook, there are little chances of a mess !

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

30 min South Indian Thali

Click the image on the left to see the cookbook. This cookbook lists 10 simple recipes that make a traditional South Indian Thali. These 10 recipes can be cooked in 30 minutes by anyone. The following recipes are listed in this cookbook

1.: Andhra Pappula Podi
2.:  Andhra Nuvvula Podi
3.:  Kerala Thenga Chammandi
4.:  Karnataka Shunti Tambli
5.:  Tamil Thayir Pachadi
6.:  Aviyal 
7.:  Kerala Mezhukuperatti
8.:. Papad / Vadam 
9.:  Peerkangai Kootu
10.:Chettinadu Kara Kulambu

South Indian Cuisine : Building Blocks
Lentils, Tamarind, Yogurt and Coconut – this is all you need to cook up a huge array of South Indian curries. Let us see how each building block translates into recipes.

Lentils :
Podi  (Dry lentil powders)  : Blend roasted lentils with chilies and salt.

Thenga Chammandi (Blended coconut curry): Blend coconut tamarind and green chilies to a thick paste. Eat mixed with rice. Called Thenga Thpogayal in Tamilnadu, this is a idiot proof recipe. 
Kootu : Blend coconut, green chili, cumin  & salt  to a paste. Mix in boiled vegetables.  Simmer for a few minutes.

Yogurt :
Thayir pachadi : Raw yogurt curry.
Mix in grated veggies, chopped green chlies and salt with yogurt.

Yogurt + Coconut:
Aviyal : Blend yogurt, coconut, green chili, cumin & salt  to a paste. Mix in boiled vegetables.  Flavour with coconut oil and crushed curry leaves.

Tambli: Blend yogurt, coconut, green chili, salt and a variety of additives  to a paste.

Tamarind :                                         
Kulambu: Mix tamarind paste with water. Add sambar/ kulambu powder and salt. Mix in boiled vegetables.

Cooking Rice:
Add one cup pf rice and two cups of water to a pressure cooker. Close and pressure cook on medium heat for three whistles. Let cool and open.

Universal Garnish for all southie curries:
Heat a spoon of oil. Add two pinches of mustard seeds, a few curry leaves and a pinch of asafetida.

Fenugreek leaf recipes 10

Click the image on the left to see the cookbook. This cookbook lists 10 simple recipes using fenugreek leaves. For pictures / detailed recipes, check out my fellow bloggers below:

1.: Methi raita 

2.: Methi Chutney  

3.: Menthya Tambli     ( Udupi)

4.: Vendaiya Keerai Poriyal   ( Tamil)

5.: Methi Saag   

6.: Venthiya Keerai Kootu    (Tamil)

7.:  Methi Dal  

8.:. Methi rice  

9.:  Methi thepla   ( Gujrati)

10.: Methi Poori

 Fenugreek: Latin for "Greek hay" was originally cultivated as a fodder for cattle. It is used both as a herb (fresh / dried leaves) and as a spice (seeds). Fenugreek belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae - the family covering lentils, peas and beans).

India (particularly Rajasthan) is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world.  In most Indian languages, fenugreek is known by the same name ' Methi" / (Menthi : Sanskrit) (  Venthiyam : Tamil). 

Culinary Uses of fenugeek leaves : Fresh leaves are used across India like any other edible green. They are cooked into a huge array of curries. Dried leaves ( Kasuri Methi) are especially flavourful and a few pinches can be added to almost any north Indian curry, turning them into methi curries. 

Medicinal Uses: Fenugreek is one of the world's oldest medicinal herbs.   Cooked leaves are rich in iron and help prevent anemia. A paste of leaves can be used as  tan external ointment to treat swelling, pain or burns. The paste is also used as a hair vitalizer, when rubbed into the scalp before taking a bath. The same paste can be used as a face pack and is believed to revitalize skin, keeping it fresh and young. 

Buying Fenugreek leaves :
1. Choose fresh looking leaves without discolouration, holes etc. Avoid wilted leaves.
2. Early morning / late evening are usually the best time to buy them in India as the fresh leaves get delivered to cities twice a day.
3. Wash leaves well to remove dirt and soil sticking to them. Add them  to a colander and wash them under running water.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fenugreek Seed recipes 10

Click the image on the left to see the cookbook. This cookbook lists 10 simple recipes with fenugreek seeds listed below.

For detailed recipes and pictures, check out my fellow bloggers below : 

1.:   Venthiya Poriyal (Tamil fenugreek dry curry)   

2.:   Hilbeh (Yemenite fenugreek spread)  

3.:   Tamil Venthiya Kulambu (Tamil fenugreek sour stew)

4.:   Universal South Indian Pickling powder

5.:   Menthi Podi (Karnataka fenugreek powder) 

6.:   Sprouted Fenugreek salad

7.:   North Indian Fenugreek Roti 

8.:.  Metkut (Marathi fenugreek powder) 

9.:   Marathi Methi Laddoo (Marathi fenugreek sweet balls)

10.: Venthiya Dosai (Tamil fenugreek crepe)

 Fenugreek: Latin for "Greek hay" was originally cultivated as a fodder for cattle. It is used both as a herb (fresh / dried leaves) and as a spice (seeds). Fenugreek belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) - the same family of all lentils, peas and beans.

India (particularly Rajasthan) is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world.  In most Indian languages, fenugreek is known by the same name ' Methi" / (Menthi : Sanskrit) (  Venthiyam : Tamil)

Culinary Uses : Roast and ground seeds are used in pickle powders & curry powders. Whole seeds are fried in oil and used as flavouring agents. Dried leaves are used in curries as flavouring. Fresh leaves are used like other edible greens.

Medicinal Uses: Fenugreek is one of the world's oldest medicinal herbs.  Fenugreek is widely used by nursing mothers as a galactogen (milk supply stimulant).  The seeds are steeped in boiling water to make tea, which alleviates fever and menstrual cramps. Eating fenugreek is also seen as a remedy for bronchitis, coughs, & respiratory problems. Fenugreek oil is used in the manufacture of hair tonics. Ground fenugreek seeds are mixed with water/ yogurt to a paste and  rubbed into hair, and washed away after 30 minutes to prevent hair loss.

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Cooking is fun - Duplication is a pain !

"It is extraordinary to me that the idea of creating thousands of recipes by mixing building blocks takes immediately to people or it doesn’t take at all. .... If it doesn’t grab a person right away, ... you can talk to him for years and show him demos, and it doesn’t make any difference. They just don’t seem able to grasp the concept, simple as it is". ( Thanks Warren Buffett !)

"What's angering about instructions in many cookbooks is that they imply there's only one way to cook a dish - their way. And that presumption wipes out all the creativity." Cook dishes your way - Download  1001 South Indian curries now and learn to cook, not to duplicate ! ( Thanks Robert Pirsig !)

"Recipe purity is no different from racial purity or linguistic purity. It just does not exist. Cuisines are alive and change all the time. What is traditional today was esoteric just a few decades back. So being a 'foodist' is as bad as being a racist !

About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

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