Vada Curry

Vada Curry is a recent addition to the breakfast items of Chennai. Besides, it is one of the most sought after breakfast dishes. Vada Curry can be served along with dishes like Idli, dosa, appam as an accompaniment. Also, it can be relished alone on its own too.   It has ‘Channa Dhal’ ( Bengal gram dhal ) and so consuming it has all benefits of the dhal.

Vada kari
  • Cooking Time : 1 hour plus 3 hours of soaking the Dhal
  • Servings : 3

INGREDIENTS :

  1. Channa Dhal ( Bengal Gram Dhal ) : 1 Cup ( 160 grams )
  2. Aniseed: 1 Teaspoon
  3. Garlic cloves: 2
  4. Onion: 2 ( 150 grams approximate )
  5. G. chilli: 4
  6. Tomato: 2 ( 100 grams)
  7. Ginger & Garlic paste: 1 Teaspoon
  8. Turmeric powder: 1 Teaspoon
  9. Chili powder : 1.5 Teaspoon
  10. Coriander powder : 0.75 Teaspoon
  11. Mint, Coriander and Curry leaves: a few sprigs
  12. Salt: 1.5 Teaspoon
  13. Oil: 1 Tablespoon
  14. Water: 2 Cups
  15. Bay leaf: 2
  16. Cardamom: 1
  17. Cloves: 2
  18. Cinnamon: 1 small piece

METHOD:

Wash and soak in water Bengal gram dhal for 3 hours. After this, drain without water and grind it coarse in a blender with 0.50 Teaspoon aniseed, 2 garlic cloves and 0.75 teaspoon salt without adding water. Steam the dough as you do for ‘idli” for 10 minutes in an ‘Idli maker’ and break them into small pieces. Chop the Onions, Green chilli and Tomatoes. Keep a skillet over medium flame and add oil.

Once it is hot, add the remaining aniseed with all the spices whole – Bay leaf, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Cloves. Later, the chopped onions and green chilli can be added. Fry it for a few minutes and then put the chopped tomato pieces along with cleaned Mint, Coriander and Curry leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes and add the Ginger Garlic paste along with Turmeric Powder, Chili Powder and Coriander Powder. Once the mixture is half cooked, pour the water with salt and let it simmer. Add steamed Vada pieces and stir well for 10 minutes over a low flame. Mostly, Vada Curry is served watery.

Vada Curry

Tips: Ground Dhal can be shallow fried in a ‘tawa’ instead of being steamed. But it should not be fried crisp. I have given the steaming method as frying with oil is avoided for health benefits.

AGATHI KEERAI

Unlike most of the greens which grow as herbs or plants, these ‘Agathi Keerai’ are leaves of a tree known as the ‘August tree ‘ or ‘ the hummingbird tree ‘ in English.  It has a slight tangy bitter taste to it though it has several benefits such as fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals.  It is an easily available greens throughout all the seasons of the year in the southern states of India. Besides, cooking it without spices makes it an easy dish to prepare.

AGATHI KEERAI
AGATHI KEERAI

COOKING TIME:  40 minutes
SERVINGS:  4

INGREDIENTS :

1.  Agathi Keerai bunch: 1
2.  Mustard seeds: 1 Teaspoon
2. Onion:  Big 1 ( approximate75 grams)
3. G. Chili: 2
4. Garlic Cloves: 6
5. Coconut gratings: 0.25 Cup
6. Oil: 1 tablespoon
7. Salt: 0.75 Teaspoon
8. Water: 0.25 Cup

METHOD:

Choose a green tender bunch of these greens without mature yellow color leaves.  Remove the tender leaves from the stalks and wash them thoroughly.  Chop them into tiny pieces and keep aside.  Cut the onion, green chilli, garlic cloves into small pieces.  In a skillet, add the oil and keep it over medium flame.  First, put the mustard seeds to splutter and then the chopped onion, green chilli and garlic pieces to saute for a few minutes.  Then add the chopped greens with water and cover it with a lid to cook for 7 to 8 minutes turning the greens well now and then.  When the greens are cooked well, mix the salt and coconut gratings. Let it simmer over low flame for another 5 minutes till the water is fully absorbed.
Tips:  This is a side dish which is a good combination for rice-based simple meals.

KARUVADU KUZHAMBU (DRY FISH CURRY)

Karuvadu Kuzhambu

Any day you feel like having a spicy, hot curry with rice, especially on a day when the usual non-vegetarian items like fish and meat are not easily available in the market, you choose to go for ‘Karuvadu kuzhambu” with the readily stocked dry salted fish at home. Besides, adding local fresh vegetables like Drumstick, Brinjal and even potato helps to add taste and nutrition to it.

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SERVINGS: 6
COOKING TIME: 1 HOUR

INGREDIENTS:

1. Dry Fish : 250 grams
2. Shallots : 100 grams
3. Tomato : 100 grams
4. G. chili : 2
5. Garlic Cloves : 10 no
6. Curry leaves : 3,4 sprigs
7. Brinjal ( Egg plant) : 3 ( 100 grams)
8. Drumstick : 1
9. Turmeric Powder : 1 Teaspoon
10. Chili Powder : 2 Teaspoon
11. Coriander powder : 2 Teaspoon
12. Tamarind : Big piece ( 30 grams )
13. Coconut Gratings : 0.5 Cup
14. Oil : 2 Tablespoon, preferably Gingelly Oil
15. Mustard : 1 Teaspoon
16. Fenugreek : 1 Teaspoon
17. Cumin :1 Teaspoon
18. Water : 2.5 Cups
19. Salt : 1 Teaspoon

METHOD :

Soak the dry fish for 5 minutes in water and remove the scales, fins and other unwanted parts of the fish. After cleaning, wash the dry fish several times in clean water and keep aside applying the turmeric powder. Chop the shallots, Tomatoes, vegetables and make the Coconut gratings to a smooth paste. Soak the tamarind pulp in water. Once done, squeeze it and keep 1.5 cup tamarind water ready.

Keep a vessel preferably a mud pot over medium flame and pour oil. Add first the mustard seeds, followed by the fenugreek and Cumin. After this, add the chopped onions, green chilli, garlic cloves and curry leaves and saute for 5 minutes. Once cooked to a golden brown, add the Chopped tomatoes along with the vegetables and fry well for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, salt with 1 cup water and cook for 10 minutes covering it with a lid. Pour the squeezed tamarind along with 1.5 cups water and add the dry fish to cook for another 5 minutes. Check if the vegetables are cooked well. Finally, mix the coconut paste to the gravy and stir well. Let it simmer over low flame till the oil separates on top and you get the correct consistency of the curry.

Karuvadu Kuzhambu is ready to be served with hot rice.

Tips : Taste the curry before adding salt as the dry fish has already salt in it. Fried Pappad or ‘paruppu thuvaiyal ” is a good side dish for this dry fish curry with hot rice.

VAZHAITHANDU PORIYAL ( BANANA TRUNK )

VAZHAITHANDU PORIYAL

Vazhaithandu is the inner part of the banana trunk. Once the banana fruit is harvested, the trunk is also consumed and is a very healthy vegetable.

 

Most parts of a Banana plant, like the fruits both ripe and raw, flowers and the tender core of the trunk as stem are consumed in Southern India.  Besides, the remaining leaves are used as plates for serving food.  The Banana plant has an enormous number of uses. The stem has many vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is highly sought after for its fibre content.  Cleaning all the outer layers and the fibre from the stem takes some time.  After chopping into tiny pieces, they can be cooked along with dhal or simply served as a salad.

VAZHAITHANDU PORIYAL
VAZHAITHANDU PORIYAL

COOKING TIME : 1 hour
SERVINGS :  3

 

INGREDIENTS :

1.  Vazhai Thandu ( Tender Banana stem ) :  1 medium size one
2.  Green Gram Dhal :  1/3 Cup  ( 60 grams }
3. Onion : 2
4. G. chilli: 3
5. Turmeric Powder : 0.5 Teaspoon
6. Cumin Powder : 0.5 Teaspoon
7. Coconut Gratings : 0.25 Cup
8. Oil : 1 Tablespoon
9. Mustard seed : 1 Teaspoon
10. Curry Leaves : 2 sprigs
11. Salt : 0. 5 Teaspoon
12. Water : 1 Cup

 

METHOD:

Wash the green gram dhal with water and soak in water for 15 minutes.
Remove the thick outer layer of the stem until you get the tender core of the stem.  Once done, chop the tender core into tiny pieces removing the fibre which comes out constantly. Keep a bowl of water or sour milk to put the chopped pieces to keep them from changing colour.  Also, cut the onions and green chilli into small pieces.

 

Cook the soaked dhal in one cup water over medium flame covering it with a lid in a skillet for 10 minutes.  When the dhal is cooked nearly 3/4th, add the chopped “thandu” along with cumin powder and  turmeric powder.  Cook the dhal thandu for another 7 to 8 minutes.  Keep another frying pan over medium flame with oil.  Add mustard, chopped onion, green chilli and curry leaves and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the cooked dhal thandu to it. Finally, mix the salt and coconut gratings into it.

 

VAZHAI THANDU KOOTU
VAZHAI THANDU KOOTU

TIPS :  Half a cup of thick curd can be mixed with the cooked dish. This is optional.

KOVAKKAI ( IVY GOURD )

The botanical name of Kovakkai is Coccinia and it is known by different names in  the Southern states of India. Besides, it is commonly cooked and consumed as an unripe fruit.  Throughout the year this vegetable is available in the market .  Also, it is a rich source of beta-carotene.

Kovakkai
Kovakkai

COOKING TIME :  45 minutes
SERVINGS  : 4

INGREDIENTS :

1. Kovakkai ( Coccinia ) :  300 grams
2. Onion : 2  ( 100 grams)
3. Tomato :  2 ( 100 grams )
4. Turmeric Powder : 0.5 Teaspoon
5. Chili Powder :  1 Teaspoon
6.  Salt :  1 Teaspoon
7.  Oil  :  2  Tablespoon

METHOD

Wash the vegetable thoroughly in water and chop each one vertically into 5, 6 thin slices. In addition, slice the Onion and Tomato similarly.  Keep a skillet with oil over medium flame and add the sliced vegetables along with Onion and Tomato.  Cover it with a lid and cook for ten minutes stirring it often.  When it is half cooked, add the Turmeric powder with Chili powder.  Cook  for another ten minutes reducing the flame.  When it is cooked well and tender, sprinkle the salt.  Once done, remove from fire and serve along with rice as side dish.
Tips  : Before cooking make sure that the kovakkai is fresh and firm to touch.