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.
COOKING TIME: 40 minutes
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
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.
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.
COOKING TIME : 1 hour
SERVINGS : 3
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
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.
TIPS : Half a cup of thick curd can be mixed with the cooked dish. This is optional.
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.
COOKING TIME : 45 minutes
SERVINGS : 4
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
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.
Most of the non vegetarians relish a meal with mutton fry with potatoes. Any simple meal becomes a delicious one with this side dish of fried mutton with baby potatoes. This mutton fry is a good accompaniment for any rice based meal and it is easy to make too.
Wash mutton pieces and peel the skin from baby potatoes. Chop the shallots, onions and tomatoes. Clean the ginger piece and mash it and keep aside. Keep a pressure cooker with oil over medium flame. First add aniseed and then curry leaves. Then put the chopped shallots, onion, tomatoes and ginger and saute. Finally add the mutton pieces along with Turmeric powder, Chili powder, Pepper powder, Cumin powder and salt. Close the lid and cook for 7 to 8 minutes adding a cup of water. Open the lid ( when it is cool) and add the baby potatoes and pressure cook again for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring the gravy without closing the lid over low flame till you get the dry mutton potato fry of your choice.
Any occasion and any time is suitable to have the snacks like Bajji, Bonda, Vada and Pakoda. Though “Bajji” is an oily dish, it is a filling snack which can be consumed along with either a cup of coffee or tea. One is sure to find them in every tea shop in any street in Tamil Nadu. Before the advent of the introduction of fast food items like noodles, burgers and pizzas, these tiffen items like vada, Bajji etc were made as evening snacks at households for the kids who returned from school.
SERVINGS : 5
COOKING TIME : 20 MINUTES
1. Bengal gram Flour ( Besan or kadalai maavu ) : 2 Cups ( 200 grams)
2. Rice Flour : 2 Tablespoon
3. Salt : 1 Teaspoon
4. Chili Powder : 2 Teaspoon
5. Asafoetida : 0.25 Teaspoon
6. Soda Bi-carb (Cooking soda ): A pinch
7. Water : 2 Cups ( 400 ml )
8. Oil ( any refined oil) : 1.5 Cup ( 300 ml)
9. Veg ( Raw Banana of “monthan variety “, Onion -1, Brinjal-2 , potato, other vegetables like g chili called Bajji chili and even bread slices are also used for making “Bajji”.
Take 2 or 3 vegetables of your choice. Potato, Onion and Raw Banana need their skin to be peeled. Chop them to medium size ( neither too thin nor too thick) slices and keep aside. Both asafoetida and salt can be added to the water. Use a sieve to clean up the gram flour and add Baking soda. Now mix the gram flour with chili powder and water to a smooth consistency. The batter should be like dosa batter. Heat up oil over high flame and dip the vegetable slices 3 or 4 at a time in the batter and slide into thehot oil. The sliced vegetables should be evenly coated with the batter. Turn the Bajji pieces to the otherside so that they are cooked evenly.
Tips : Drain the oil on the Bajji on tissue papers and serve it with Coconut chutney.