Category Archives: Chutneys and Powders

Peanut Chutney Powder

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“OMG! Ma where is the chutney powder?” And I somewhat listless, half listening “hmm in that box there…” and she goes “What? It is over! When are you going to make some? What I am going to eat this dosa with now?” and now I am paying attention ’cause she has started to complain…”Oh Ok, I will make it soon”….
And a week goes by and then two and now she wants chutney powder on her toast..and the third week and she wants it on her tortilla!! And “You still have not made it!!”
After all the complaining, I finally get down to the task of making it!! That’s my younger daughter who is so fond of this stuff, that she will eat it with anything and everything…
Somehow while growing up, having this peanut chutney powder at home was a given for granted, we pretty much ate it with everything..idli, dosa, chapathi, rice, bread, just about anything…So this is a family recipe. And a must have in my home. It is delicious and very simple to make…

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Yummy Idlis tossed in Peanut chutney powder and Sesame oil.

You will need:
Channa Dal – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 cup
Dry Red Chillies – 2 cups (1 cup Byadgi chillies, 1 cup Guntur Chillies)
Peanuts – 1/2 cup
Sesame Seeds – 1/2 cup
Hing – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – 1 small lime sized ball
Curry leaves – a handful
Salt to taste
Copra or Dessicated coconut – 1/2 cup (you cannot replace with fresh coconut; if you don’t have any, omit it)

Method:
1. Dry roast the Peanuts in a non stick pan on medium heat until golden brown. Do not burn the peanuts, that usually changes the taste of the peanuts and makes them bitter. Transfer to a plate and cool.
2. In the same pan, roast the channa dal with a few drops of oil on low-medium heat until golden. Transfer to a plate and cool.
3. In the same pan, roast the urad dal with a few drops of oil on low-medium heat until golden. Transfer to a plate and cool.
4. Roast the dry red chillies, curry leaves, tamarind and hing with a few drops of oil until the chillies are slightly roasted. At the end, add the grated copra or dessicated coconut and toss and then Transfer to a plate and cool.
5. Dry roast the sesame seeds in the same pan until they pop. Transfer and cool.
6. Allow all roasted ingredients to cool. Meanwhile, remove the skin of the roasted peanuts and keep them ready.

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7. In a dry blender or a food processor (or a mixer) grind the red chillies, tamarind, sesame seeds, salt, copra, curry leaves and hing until somewhat smooth.
8. Then add the remaining ingredients and dry grind until a somewhat smooth (slightly coarse powder).
9. Spread on a large plate or tray, cool and then pack in an airtight container.
10. Keeps for atleast a month.

Serve with idlis, dosas, inside a chapathi roll, on bread toast or even as a topping on upma/poha etc.

Enjoy!

 

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Chutney Magic

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Chutney Magic

Today I would like to share with all of you two simple chutney recipes. If anything, Andhra Pradesh is known for its spicy food and finger licking chutneys aka “Pachadis”. Pretty much any vegetable can be converted into a delectable chutney.
True to my Andhra genes, I love spicy food and spicy chutneys. Mixed with hot rice and a hint of ghee will take you into a blissful state!! Of course for the conscious eater staying away from carbs, these chutneys can be used as a spread on whole wheat toast or inside a whole wheat tortilla to make a wrap or as a dip with whole wheat crackers! Take your pick on how you would like to eat these..but definitely don’t miss out on these super delicious chutney recipes!!

My first recipe is called “Cleaning my fridge out Chutney” 🙂 Which is actually an Onion-Tomato Chutney recipe that tastes great with Dosa, Idli, Rice, Bread, Rotis etc. any which way you want to eat it.

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You will need:
2 Large Onions – Peel, wash and chop into chunks
1 Medium Tomato – Wash and chop into cubes or slices
4 to 5 green chillies
a handful of cilantro or coriander leaves
a few mint leaves
a small piece of tamarind (1/4 lime sized)
1 Garlic – Peel
Hing
Salt to taste
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
Oil for frying – About 2 tsp

Method:
1. Chop all the veggies as above.
2. Heat a frying pan with 2 tsp oil on high heat.
3. Add all ingredients except the salt and coconut as listed above together into the frying pan.
4. Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes on high heat until the veggies are slightly charred and roasted. (see in picture below).
5. Turn off the stove, add the grated coconut and cool.

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6. Combine all the roasted ingredients in a food processor or mixer, add salt and grind without adding any water. Grind until coarse.
7. This chutney does not require any additional seasoning. If you would like, you can always season with mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and dry red chillies.
8. Serve with hot rice as below or use as a spread.DSC_0035

Next on my list here today is a Zucchini Yellow Tomato Chutney. This super delicious chutney tastes great with just about anything. My family loves it and it is a great way to have your kids eat veggies!!

Zucchini Yellow Tomato Chutney

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You will need:
1 Large Zucchini – Wash and Chop into cubes or slices
1 Large Yellow Tomato – Wash and Chop into cubes; If you don’t have yellow tomatoes, you can use a red tomato or a green tomato instead; Or you can even omit the tomato completely
2 pods garlic – Peel (This is optional, for those who do not like the taste of garlic just omit it)
4 to 5 green chillies
a small piece of tamarind
a handful of cilantro
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp Grated coconut (optional)
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Method:
A similar method as above.
1. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat, add cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds.
2. Add all the veggies except the salt, add the tamarind also.
3. Saute on high heat until slightly charred and roasted. (will take about 4 to 5 minutes)

4. Turn off the stove. Add 1 tbsp grated coconut, Cool.
5. Add salt and grind in a mixer or food processor with adding just about 1/4 cup water. Grind coarse.

6. You can omit seasoning or season if you prefer with mustard seeds, hing, cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilli.
7. Serve with rice or as a spread.

Thanks for stopping by!! Happy Cooking..

Methi Rice (Rice with Fresh Fenugreek)

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Methi or Fenugreek is by far my most favorite greens. I love the fragrant, slightly bitter taste of this leafy vegetable. Indian cooking uses methi in plenty of dishes and in various forms. Methi Parathas, Methi Dal, Methi Matar Malai, Methi Khakras etc are common methi dishes that are very popular.
However, this morning had me craving for a traditional methi rice dish that is typically made in my home. The good thing about all these wonderful food blogs in blogsphere is that you get to here stories and recipes about homemade dishes that you probably will never find in any cookboook 🙂 This is one of those kind of recipes…

Simple and easy to make…the main ingredients in this dish is “Vangi Bhaat Powder” and of course Methi.

Vangi Bhaat Powder as the name implies is typically used to make Brinjal/Eggplant Rice – “Vangi” means Eggplant/Brinjal in several Indian dialects/languages.This recipe uses the same powder except replacing the Brinjal with Methi.So, let’s start with the powder…

Vangi Bhaat Powder:

Fresh and Fragrant Vangi Bhaat Powder

Fresh and Fragrant Vangi Bhaat Powder

You will need:
1 Cup Channa Dal
1 Cup Urad Dal
3/4 Cup Dry Red Chillies (I use a mix of Guntur Spicy Red Chillies and Byadgi Red chillies that have the fiery red colour)
3/4 Cup Dhaniya
Hing – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon bark (Dal chini) – about 10 small pieces
Cloves (Laung) – about 10

In a pan dry roast each of the ingredients separately on medium flame. Ensure that you keep stirring while roasting the dals. Roast the dals to a golden brown. While roasting dry red chillies, you may add the hing/asafoetida powder and add a few drops of oil. While dry roasting Dhaniya, you may roast the cinnamon and cloves with it.
Roast and allow to cool.
Combine all of the ingredients and grind into a fine powder.

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My mom and aunts make vangi bhaat powder in small batches as and when needed, as it tastes best fresh. I am a little lazy, so I grind a slightly bigger batch and store in an air tight container. This stays pretty fresh too and it always easier to have this powder handy. It can be used in multiple dishes 🙂

Methi Rice:

Delicious Methi Rice

Delicious Methi Rice

You will need:

Fresh Methi – 1 Bunch
Vangi Bhaat Powder – 2 Tbsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cooked Rice – 2 Cups
Oil – 3 tbsp
For Seasoning:
Mustard seeds
Urad Dal
Curry Leaves
Hing/Asafoetida

Method:
1. Remove the tender methi leaves and discard the stalk.

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2. Wash the methi leaves and chop fine.

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3. Cook the Rice in a rice cooker (I use Sona Masoori Rice, 1 cup rice to 2.5 cups water ratio). After the rice is done, spread in a large platter or mixing bowl to cool. Add salt as required on the cooked rice.

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4. In a Pan, heat about 2 tsp oil. Season with mustard seeds, hing and urad dal.

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5. When the dal turns golden brown add the curry leaves.

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6. Then add the chopped methi and mix well.

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7. Add turmeric powder and mix.

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8. Add salt to taste(just enough for the methi -so about 1/4 tsp). Mix.

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9. Add about 1/2 cup water.

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10. Cover with a lid and cook until all the water evaporates.

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11. Add the Vangi bhaat powder.

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12. Mix well.

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13. Add the methi mixture to the cooled, cooked rice. If it seems too dry, add about 1 tbsp oil. Mix well. Ensure that you mix gently so as to not break the rice. Mixing with hands actually works out best, it allows to mix evenly.

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14. Serve with papad. You can even serve with Raita…

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Enjoy!

Mahashivratri

I read in a blog by Sadhguru of isha foundation, the true significance of Mahashivratri – Kind off a long read, but very beautiful and insightful…

“In the Indian culture, at one time, there used to be 365 festivals in a year. In other words, they just needed an excuse to celebrate everyday of the year. These 365 festivals were ascribed to different reasons, and for different purposes of life. There were to celebrate various historical events, victories, or certain situations in life like harvesting, planting, and reaping. For every situation there was a festival. But Mahashivarathri is of a different significance.
 
The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivarathri. Among all the twelve Shivarathris that occur in a calendar year, Mahashivarathri, the one that occurs in February-March is of the most spiritual significance. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we establish a certain festival which is night-long. One of the fundamentals of this night-long festival is to ensure that – to allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way – you remain with your spine vertical – you stay awake.
 
Mahashivarathri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path. It is also very significant for people who are in family situations, and also for the ambitious in the world. People who live in family situations observe Mahashivarathri as Shiva’s wedding anniversary. Those with worldly ambitions see that day as the day Shiva conquered all his enemies.
 
But, for the ascetics, it is the day he became one with Mount Kailash. He became like a mountain – absolutely still. In the yogic tradition, Shiva is not worshipped as a God, but considered as the Adi Guru, the first Guru from whom the knowledge originated. After many millennia in meditation, one day he became absolutely still. That day is Mahashivarathri. All movement in him stopped and he became utterly still, so ascetics see Mahashivarathri as the night of stillness.
 
Legends apart, why this day and night are held in such importance in the yogic traditions is because of the possibilities it presents to a spiritual seeker. Modern science has gone through many phases and arrived at a point today where they are out to prove to you that everything that you know as life, everything that you know as matter and existence, everything that you know as the cosmos and galaxies, is just one energy which manifests itself in millions of ways.
 
This scientific fact is an experiential reality in every yogi. The word “yogi” means one who has realized the oneness of the Existence. When I say “yoga,” I am not referring to any one particular practice or system. All longing to know the unbounded, all longing to know the oneness in the Existence is yoga. The night of Mahashivarathri offers a person an opportunity to experience this.
 
Shivarathri, is the darkest day of the month. Celebrating Shivarathri on a monthly basis, and the particular day, Mahashivarathri, almost seems like celebration of darkness. Any logical mind would resist darkness and naturally opt for light. But the word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” “That which is,” is existence and creation. “That which is not” is Shiva. “That which is not” means, if you open your eyes and look around, if your vision is for small things, you will see lots of creation. If your vision is really looking for big things, you will see the biggest presence in the existence is a vast emptiness. A few spots which we call galaxies are generally much noticed, but the vast emptiness that holds them does not come into everybody’s notice. This vastness, this unbounded emptiness, is what is referred to as Shiva. Today, modern science also proves that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. It is in this context that Shiva, the vast emptiness or nothingness, is referred to as the great lord, or Mahadeva.
 
Every religion, every culture on this planet has always been talking about the omnipresent, all-pervading nature of the divine. If we look at it, the only thing that can be truly all-pervading, the only thing that can be everywhere is darkness, nothingness, or emptiness. Generally, when people are seeking wellbeing, we talk of the divine as light. When people are no longer seeking wellbeing, when they are looking beyond their life in terms of dissolving, if the object of their worship and their sadhana is dissolution, then we always refer to the divine as darkness.
 
Light is a brief happening in your mind. Light is not eternal, it is always a limited possibility because it happens and it ends. The greatest source of light that we know on this planet is the sun. Even the sun’s light, you could stop it with your hand and leave a shadow of darkness behind.
 
But darkness is all-enveloping, everywhere. The immature minds in the world have always described darkness as the devil. But when you describe the divine as all-pervading, you are obviously referring to the divine as darkness, because only darkness is all-pervading. It is everywhere. It does not need any support from anything. Light always comes from a source that is burning itself out. It has a beginning and an end. It is always from a limited source. Darkness has no source. It is a source unto itself. It is all-pervading, everywhere, omnipresent. So when we say Shiva, it is this vast emptiness of existence. It is in the lap of this vast emptiness that all creation has happened. It is that lap of emptiness that we refer to as the Shiva.
 
In Indian culture, all the ancient prayers were not about saving yourself, protecting yourself or doing better in life. All the ancient prayers have always been “Oh lord, destroy me so that I can become like yourself.”
 
So when we say Shivarathri, which is the darkest night of the month, it is an opportunity for one to dissolve their limitedness, to experience the unboundedness of the source of creation which is the seed in every human being. Mahashivarathri is an opportunity and a possibility to bring yourself to that experience of the vast emptiness within every human being, which is the source of all creation.
 
On the one hand, Shiva is known as the destroyer. On the other, he is known as the most compassionate. He is also known to be the greatest of the givers. The yogic lore is rife with many stories about Shiva’s compassion. The ways of expression of his compassion have been incredible and astonishing at the same time. So Mahashivarathri is a special night for receiving too.
 
It is our wish and blessing that you must not pass this night without knowing at least a moment of the vastness of this emptiness that we call as Shiva. Let this night not just be a night of wakefulness, let this night be a night of awakening for you.”

But, as with any festival our local temple here celebrated Mahashivratri with great “Bhakti”(Devotion) and “Sambrahma” (Celebration). Even though many spiritual seekers and devotees observe “Upvaas” (Fasting) on Mahashivratri, we did go all out and cooked a massive feast at our temple for the non observers of “Upvaas”. I will leave you wonderful readers with some pictures from our Community cooking…Hope you enjoy these and thanks for stopping by.

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Idli

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Weekend Cooking – Bhel Puri

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This weekend was busy with catching up on a lot of household chores. Cooking was actually not one of my priorities – we made do with Cereal and Oats for breakfast, a quick sandwich meal on Saturday and a quick one pot Vegetable Pulav on Sunday. On Saturday evening though I did make a quick snack for my daughter – Bhel Puri – A very popular Indian street snack..simple to put togther if you have all the ingredients handy. Life is much easier nowadays with several brands of Bhel mixes available in the market. I still prefer making my green and sweet tamarind chutney’s at home. Somehow the store bought varieties are a little stale to taste. These chutney’s can be made and stored ahead of time to be used whenever you need to make a quick snack.

 

Delicious and Crunchy Bhel Puri

Delicious and Crunchy Bhel Puri

You will need:
Muri or Mamra – 4 cups (I usually roast the mamra in a pan without any oil for a few minutes on a low flames. This makes the mamra crunchy, especially if it is soft or stale and has been sitting in your pantry for a while.)
Roasted Peanuts – 1 handful
Roasted channa dal (chutney dal) – 2 tbsp
Any spicy mixture – 1 tbsp (optional)
1 medium Onion – Chopped fine
1 medium Tomato – Chopped fine
1 small Potato – Boil, peel and cube
1 small Carrot – grated (I did not have any at home that evening, but I usually add this in my bhel , it tastes great and is veyr nutritious)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
Green Chutney – 2 tbsp (or according to taste) – Recipe below
Sweet Tamarind Chutney – 1 tbsp (or according to taste)- Recipe below

For Garnishing: Chopped cilantro and Fine Sev (store bought)
Method: Mix all of the above in a large mixing bowl. Garnish with sev and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Yummy Bhel Puri

Yummy Bhel Puri

For the Green Chutney:
1 small bunch Cilantro – Wash
1 small bunch Fresh mint leaves – Wash
1 handful spinach leaves – Wash
1 medium Onion – Peel and Chop
1 medium Tomato – Wash and Chop
5 Green chillies – Wash
1 small piece ginger – Wash and Peel
Salt to taste

Grind all of the above into a smooth paste with some water. This chutney stores for 1 week in the refrigerator and can be used as a spread on any bread/roti also.
For the Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
2 large Golf ball sized Tamarind – Soak in 4 cups of water
4 Pitted Dates – Soak with the tamarind
3 tbsp Jaggery
1 small piece ginger – grated
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Amchur or Dry Mango powder
2 tsp Black Salt or Kala namak
In a blender, grind the grated ginger, soaked dates powdered jaggery together. Squeeze the tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind. Add the jaggery, date and ginger paste to the thich tamarind pulp. Add black salt, amchur and red chilli powder. Boil on stove top until the sweet chutney is thick and reduced to half the quantity. Cool and refrigerate. This can be stored for atleast 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Will be posting my Mixed Vegetable Pulav recipe shortly 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

An Indian Pickle Party

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Talk about pickle to an American and the image that conjures up in their mind is that of a dill pickle or a pickled cucumber, basically some vegetable soaked in brine and vinegar..
To an Indian pickle conjures up images of spicy, red, oily, delicious concoctions and the taste buds usually begin to salivate at the mere thought of a pickle 🙂 Usually, the South Indian pickles are spicier than their North Indian counterparts which are sweeter and tangy to taste. Pickle in South India is eaten as a side to rice and curds or mixed with rice and ghee. It is eaten as an accompaniment to rice or sometimes roti/chapati, hot bajjiyas or pakodis. In North India, pickle is eaten as a side to hot fluffy parantas and curd.. Anyway which way you eat it, you are just going to love the taste of Indian pickles 🙂

Here below is my top favorite 4:

A Pickle Party

A Pickle Party

Avakaya (Mango Pickle) – The traditional Andhra Mango pickle made with mango, mustard and methi powder. Easy to make and very tasty if you have the right kind of mangoes. The Mango’s for these need to be super raw, green and hard. When you cut the mango for this pickle be sure to cut it with the seed, that just adds the flavor and texture to the pickle.

Spicy Avakaya

Spicy Avakaya

 

Chintakaya Thokku (Raw Tamarind grated pickle) – As the names suggests this is typically made with raw tamarind and green chillies. A very tasty pickle, it is very important that you have right kind of tamarind for this pickle. Super delicious with rice or as a spread on bread!

Chintakaya Thokku

Chintakaya Thokku

 

Gongura (Sorrel Leaves Pickle) – One of my favorite Andhra pickles. Made with sour sorrel leaves or gongura and red chillies, this pickle is super tangy, spicy and very flavorful when mixed with rice.

Gongura

Gongura

 

Mango Thokku (Raw Mango grated pickle) – Another one of my favorite mango pickles is this grated pickle variety. A tradition at our home (mom makes it really well!!), this pickle is made with grated mango, chilli powder and mustard/methi powder. Super easy to make when you have the right kind of sour raw mangoes. Also great with hot rice and a little ghee.

Mango Thokku

Mango Thokku

Hope you enjoyed my photo essay on pickles. Thanks for stopping by.

Adai (Rice and Lentil Crepes) with Coconut Chutney

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Adai – a very traditional South Indian breakfast dish is a classic twist to the Dosa. Adai is typically made with Rice and mixed dals. Traditionally, this South Indian breakfast item is made in Tamil Nadu and some parts of Kerala and Karnataka. But the deliciousness factor and the nutritional value places it in the top breakfast category..It is easy to make and does not require any fermenting time like the Dosa counterpart.
Typically Adai is served with “Avial” – which is a mixed vegetable and curd curry that deserves a post of its own 🙂 Here I have served it with tasty coconut chutney.

Adai served with Coconut Chutney

Adai served with Coconut Chutney

You will need:

For the Adai Batter:
Rice – 1 cup (I use Sona Masoori or Long grain rice)
Toor Dal – 1/4 cup
Urad Dal – 1/4 cup
Channa Dal – 1/4 cup
Moong Dal – 1/4 cup
Dry Red chillies – 4

Wash the rice and dals. Soak all of the above in plenty of water overnight. Grind into a coarse batter with water. Add salt as needed.
The batter should look like this:

Adai Batter

Adai Batter

I prefer plain Adai. My family prefers Adai with chopped onions. You can add finely chopped onions, chopped curry leaves, grated or small pieces of coconut and grated ginger or grated carrot to your batter.

Adai batter with chopped onions and curry leaves

Adai batter with chopped onions and curry leaves

Method:
Once the batter is ready, you can make Adai on a griddle much like how you would make dosa. Pour a ladleful in the center of a pan and circle the batter and spread into a semi thick pancake/dosa. Drizzle oil and cook on both sides until crispy.

Coconut Chutney:

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

You will need:
Fresh or Frozen grated coconut – 1 cup
Chutney Dal/Roasted gram dal – 2 tbsp
3 green chillies
tamarind – 1 small piece
ginger – 1 small piece
garlic – 1 pod (optional)
hing (Asafortida) – 1 pinch
salt to taste
fresh cilantro – a few sprigs

Combine all of the above, add a little water and grind into a smooth paste. If you are using frozen coconut, make sure you use warm water while grinding. Seaosn with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves

Adai with coconut chutney served…

Adai with coconut chutney

Adai with coconut chutney

Crispy Adai

Crispy Adai

 

 

 

Tomato Chutney

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This tomato chutney is a very popular one amongst all my friends. A small story to go with this – When I first landed here, all of 21 and newly married, I got invited to this Indian party. It was a party to celebrate one of our dear friend’s first anniversary and my first large party gathering here in the US. And as most Indian parties are, this was a potluck party where each guest was to make a dish for dinner. And since I was a brand new bride they gave me the simplest dish on the menu..almost like it was an afterthought dish 🙂
At the end of the party however, everyone wanted to know who made the Tomato Chutney – and wanted a recipe for it 🙂 And for the next one year every potluck party i got invited to I was asked to make “Tomato Chutney” 😦

This is actually a very simple recipe..a very delicious one neverthless.

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney

You will need:
Tomatoes – Ride and Red,  6
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For dry powder:
Methi (Fenugreek) seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Dry roast in a small pan. Cool and grind into a smooth powder. Keep aside.
For seasoning:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Hing (Asafoetida) – a pinch
Oil – 3 tbsp

Method:
1. Wash and Chop the tomatoes into small cubes and keep aside.
2. Prepare the dry methi-mustard powder as above.
3. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and hing. Allow to splutter.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder and chilli powder.
5. Mix well and cook on an open pan until all the water is evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked and come together.
6. You will see that the oil will leave the sides. Ensure you cook on a low to medium flame so as to not burn the dish.
7. Turn off stove, add the powdered methi-mustard and mix well.
8. Serve.

Tomato Chutney served on toast

Tomato Chutney served on toast

This chutney can be served as a spread or side to roti, dosa, idli or rice. It stores for a week in the refrigerator.