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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bok Choy Dal (Bok Choy cooked with yellow lentils)

"When is something classified as foreign ?". That is a question that has been on my mind for the last few days. Why are we hesitant or scared to accept something that has been branded 'foreign' ? Is it because we are unaware of its characteristics/benefits or is it because we think that it might end up corrupting our indigenous ways. But haven't many of these so called foreign things, become a part of our life over a period of time. So when does foreign stop being foreign ? I think that happens when it has been accepted and assimilated ( with a tweak ofcourse ) into our culture in such a way that it becomes difficult to filter it out.

For example, take the Bok Choy. It is chinese cabbage and lot of folks are not aware of it or prefer to cook it in a style that is more appealing to the Chinese or the Europeans. No wonder folks are hesitant to put it on their regular menu. But it is one wonder vegetable which is nutrient dense while being low in fat. Enough reason to consume it regularly. That inspired me to cook it in the way most greens are cooked in Odisha, i.e., with split moong dal. And it turned out to be delicious. I can also vouch that my son who will grow up eating this yummy dish will not consider Bok Choy as a foreign vegetable.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

Ingredients -

  • 2 heads of Bok choy
  • 1 cup split moong dal
  • 7-8 garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Remove the outermost leaves and cut off the end/stem (not too much but abt 1 cm ).

Wash with loads of water to rinse off any dirt and insects. Drain and then chop into small bits.
Crush the garlic flakes.

Dry roast the moong dal till it gives off a mild fragrance.

Cooking - Wash and cook the dal with 1 1/2 - 2 cup water for 1 whistle. Keep aside till steam escapes.

Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, throw in the mustard seeds and broken red chili.

Then add the garlic and allow it to brown slightly.

Now add the chopped bok choy, stir fry on high for 2 mins and then pour the cooked dal over it.

Let it simmer for 5-6 mins or till the bok choy is cooked yet firm.

Serve hot with rice or rotis ,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Home Makeover with #PaintFinder

Every living space has a story. One only needs to take in the wall colors, the decor and the furniture, and it conveys a message about the person who inhabits that space. Whether one is a moody drifter, a vibrant artist, an ever-ambitious achiever or even a cheerful soul, we all tend to lend our personal touch to our room and the house as a whole. And a clash of colors can turn out to be as disastrous as a clash of personalities.

With the festive season on the brink, a home makeover was imminent for us. And it can turn out to be quite a chore. Visiting the various showrooms, consulting people and then doing a cost analysis-benefit analysis is no small task. But then we stumbled upon this life-saver of a tool called the #PaintFinder on the Bed Bath & More website. With this easy to use tool, one can actually give a virtual makeover to any living space and then analyze whether the look and feel is what one had in mind. And what more, features like the Product Comparison and Paint Calculator help a lot in narrowing down the choices without any expert help. I especially liked the Paint Calculator which gives a cost estimate depending on the area that needs to be painted. For example, a standard room (10 ft x 15 ft) with a 8 ft wall comes to ( 10 + 15 ) x 2 x 8 = 400 sq. ft. Once we enter this area and the number of doors and windows, it automatically populates the price (approx). Great, isn't it !!

Now coming to the actual makeover and the most difficult task, i.e., getting a consensus among all family members. With my husband and I having almost diametrically opposite personalities, it gets a little tricky here. But with work keeping him out of the house ( he is a investment banker ) for most of the day and myself working from home most of the time ( I am a freelance writer ), we had different views on the color of each room. However, once we started looking at the virtual previews, we found ourselves agreeing one most of the spaces ( Thanks #PaintFinder ) .

We picked up a beautiful and warm red hue for the living space. Now both of us love to have our friends over for the weekends or festivals. A cheery and inviting atmosphere in the living room sets the right note for such gatherings. It encourages conversation, brings out the extrovert in us and whets up the appetite for the good things to come ( well, no gathering can ever be complete without great food ). And as our house is blessed with a rather spacious living room, the dark tone makes it look rather cozy and not too intimidating as some open spaces tend to be. 

We decided to extend this theme to the dining which is comparatively smaller in size. But a much
lighter red and the large windows did the trick and we found the dining area looking large and inviting at the same time.

The next most important space for me was my own personal space and the place where my husband
likes to unwind after a hectic day in the office. We picked this soothing and yet stimulating Purple. It is just the right shade for letting the creative juices flow and I prefer to undertake my writing assignments in this cozy corner of the house. Yet, this shade provides much peace when one seeks a spiritual retreat within the four walls of the house. Maybe it is the mix of cool shade like blue and a warm one like red that gives purple/lavender/violet this mysterious property.

Then came the room that is most important in every married couple's life. We picked up a amethyst
shade for this room to keep is relaxing and also to keep the romance alive. With complimenting accents of deep purple and silver, we realized that this would pretty much be the bedroom of our imagination.

The attached bedroom will also get a amethyst and neutral makeover to provide much needed succor to one's body and mind. 

With the colors pretty much finalized, we got a ballpark of the costs involved from the same website. One could not have wished for more.

This calls an end to the much exciting and happy activity of getting a home makeover. Now all that remains is for us to calculate the area of each room and order the paint sheet on the website. Thanks to Bed Bath & More, we could enjoy and complete the task in record time.

I am participating in the #PaintFinder activity in Association with BlogAdda & Bed Bath & More.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jhili (Or Jhiliya) (A very Odia legacy)

None of us are above greed. It exists in each one of us to some extent. While it is easier to recognise it when it exerts itself in more obvious ways, but it also affects some very sublime decisions that we may take. For example, the typical Odia fare from western Odisha is very much frugal and is devoid of spices like cardamom, saffron and rich nuts like almond and pistachio. But in our quest (greed) for a better taste makes us skip the indigenous ingredient and lean in favour of something more exotic.

I remember from my conversations with my grandmother that the green cardamom was a very late entrant into her kitchen. Bay leaves, peppercorn and cinnamon were the most popularly used flavoring agents. But over a period of time, cardamom became an intergal part of every sweet dish/mutton curry. Indigenous nuts like the peanut and charoli were overtaken by cashews and pistachios. In fact a lot of ingredients that we use today have slowly crept into our menu over the decades and have become firmly rooted over time.

I was ruminating over the indigenous Vs foreign debate last week when I suddenly remembered this dish cooked by my grandmother. A fitting tribute to the frugal yet delectable Odia cuisine, I decided to make it minus any adaptations (Read condensed milk, cardamom, cashews, and so on). Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 2/3 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup boiled rice
  • 1 liter milk
  • powdered jaggery as per taste
  • bay leaves for flavoring
  • a little bit of salt

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice for 5-6 hours. Drain the water and transfer it to a mixer. Grind into a smooth but thick batter (like Bara/vada batter or even thicker).

Cooking - Boil 3-4 liters water in a wide mouthed pot till it gets to the full boil stage. Pass the batter through a seive and let it fall into the boiling water. It will form thin elongated shapes or globules depending on the size of the holes and the thickness of batter.

Let it cook for 5-6 mins. Then drain the hot water and transfer the tiny globules it into cold water (abt 1 liter) . Let it languish for 15-20 mins or till it firms up.

Add milk to the mixture and put it on boil. Throw in the bay leaves.

Once the milk has sufficiently reduced,  add the jaggery. Boil it for some more time.

Switch off the burner and let it cool. It tastes good when at room temperature and even better if consumed the next day ( do not forget to refrigerate ).

Stays good for 3-4 days.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Embrace winter with A Makeover to Your Home

Embrace the beauty of cold weather, and bring to your home new colors of warmth. This
winter season, plan for a makeover of your home. With the changing season, change
everything outdated and add new home décor stuff to enhance the beauty of your house.

Decorate it with flower vases that are available in plentiful designs, both vintage as well as
modern. They are a must have to add strength and accentuate every place of your home. You can also fill your house with nature, find planters, available in different sizes suitable
for every room.

Bring in warmth with curtains in bright colors like yellow, orange and red. They beautify
the room and makes it cozier.

Add beauty to your bed with comfy cushions. Cover them with decorative cushion covers that matches well with the color of your bedsheet.

As it is winter, you just can miss out on quilts and blankets, pick the best, from a variety of quilts available online in ample of designs and prints like, bold flower prints, and check prints, geometry prints and paisley prints.

Online stores offer a variety of home décor stuff as well as necessities like crockery set, cutlery, bakeware and cookware, in fine quality with several renowned brands.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Any Time Is Now Entertainment Time !!

How much time do you spend commuting to work ? If the answer is anything beyond 20-30 mins, then you must reconsider what you do in those precious moments. Unless you are at the wheel and have your attention focused on avoiding potholes, cows, motorists who believe that they are carrying out some kind of circus act in the middle of a busy road and the dozens of other hazards that one encounters on the Indian roads, this free time can turn out to be some great 'me time' !! Whether it is reading that book you have been planning to read for a long time, listening to some great music to pep you up or even watching that much loved TV show which unfortunately clashes with your 'family time', one can really make some good use of the hours spent travelling.

And this is what I precisely do ! Since I do not prefer driving myself, the comfort and flexibility of public transport gives me enough time to watch a movie or catch my favorite cooking shows. While there are many Apps that let you watch your favorite show, it works out to be a somewhat expensive option as the bills for mobile data usage can be somewhat steep. But just imagine if you could enjoy the same viewing but at absolutely zero cost (i.e., without using mobile data). Now that would be just godsend.

But then, not everyone spends hours travelling for work or leisure. Some of us might be working out in the gym for up to two hours in a day or even cooking for 2-3 hours in a day. Why not get the maximum mileage out of that time ? The flexibility of taking your entertainment with you where ever you go certainly makes that feasible.

But why not watch TV together at home like one big happy family some would argue. Well, unlike the logic behind "the family that eats together, stays together", which is to allow a healthy conversation among the members, entertainment is a very personal thing. Just like the five fingers in a hand, none of the family members are alike and hence the differing need for different kind of entertainment. Hence, the discontent at having to give up one's favorite show or movie. But there is one device that can change it all. Yep, no more sacrifices or disagreements within the family. You can now surrender the remote and have it too, all thanks to Tata Sky+ Transfer. Transfer you favorite program to your mobile/tablet using the Transfer box and watch it later at leisure or pleasure using the Tata Sky Mobile App, the choice is all yours. Best part is that you do not need to pay any extra charges for mobile data as the transfer happens via the Wi-Fi dongle attached to the TataSky+ set-top box. Transfer you favorite programs to your mobile/tablet and watch whenever you have free time on your hands.

Now that is what flexibility is all about !! With Tata Sky+ Transfer , any time is now entertainment time.

Do watch this funny video for some useful tips on maintaining harmony within the family  -

Easy Chicken Curry ( Rice cooker method )

These days I am going though a lazy phase, which is quite ok considering that I have been blogging for 6 years now. I cook simple and nutritious meals that take less time and energy. Food is more about sustenance these days and I hardly feel like cooking or eating anything fancy. That gives me more time to read books (or sustenance for the soul as I refer to my best friends) and I have a big pile that is crying out to be read.

Hence, instead of the regular chicken curries that I make, I prefer cooking this one step chicken curry that hardly needs monitoring. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 500 gm chicken pieces
  • 1 large onion 
  • 7-8 shallots ( or one small onion diced into 4 )
  • 8-9 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 inch long ginger
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 large tomato
  • 3 green chilis (slit lengthwise)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • 1/4 salt to taste
  • 4 tsp mustard oil
  • a dash of soy sauce (optional)

Preparation - Wash and clean the chicken pieces.

Grind the onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and dry red chili into a paste.

Take the chicken in a bowl. Add salt, turmeric, the onion masala paste, 2 tsp mustard oil and soy sauce. Mix well. Let it marinate for 30 mins.

Cooking - Heat the remaining oil in the rice cooker pan. Add the marinated chicken and toss for 2-3 mins till the color changes. Then add the finely chopped tomato, shallots, green chilis, garam masala and some of the coriander leaves. Add 1/4 cup water. Mix and cover with the lid.

Give it a gentle stir/toss after 10 mins and cover again.

It will switch off automatically once the chicken is done. Add the remaining coriander leaves to the cooked chicken.

Serve hot.

Note - This is a semi dry curry but one can increase the quantity of water to get more gravy. However we need to switch it off manually before all the water evaporates.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bok Choy Stir Fry ( A low calorie delight !!)

Why Bok Choy when there are so many varieties of indigenous greens available to us ?? Well, for those who are quite determined to lose that extra flab, it is almost like a god-send vegetable. It falls into that hugely celebrated and much touted category of 'negative calorie' foods, i.e., those wonder foods that actually make your body expend more calories digesting them that what is ingested by means of consuming them.

Bok Choy or Chinese cabbage is one such food that is miraculously low on calories and fat while being fiber and protein dense. Plus, it contains almost all the essential vitamins and minerals. It does have that undercurrent of bitterness but that kind of adds to its taste. And garlic is one ingredient that works wonders with it. I personally love it with some multi-grain rotis and half a cup of plain yogurt for lunch. Read on for this simple stir fry recipe ( done in typical Odia style ) -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 heads of Bok choy
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • 7-8 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Remove the outermost leaves and cut off the end/stem (not too much but abt 1 cm ).

Wash with loads of water to rinse off any dirt and insects. Drain and then chop into small bits.

Cut the onion into small pieces and finely chop garlic.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, throw in the mustard seeds and broken red chili.

Then add the garlic and allow it to brown slightly.

The onion goes in next. And once it turns translucent, add the chopped bok choy.

Season with salt and cook on medium flame till it is cooked yet retains a crunch (the whites).

Remove and serve hot as a side dish with roti/rice.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Avocado Mango Mint Spread

For quite a few folks, when it comes to a sandwich spread, it translates into something buttery with a cheese/mayonnaise/hung curd base. This is perhaps the most important reason why it is one of the first things that goes off the menu when one is on a diet. But imagine a spread that is buttery, packs the same kind of punch and is, hold your breath, vegan to boot !!

That is where the delicious butter fruit or Avocado comes into the picture. With a texture and consistency that resembles butter, it is mildly flavored which makes it a great combination with other veggies and seasoning.

Read on for this low calorie spread made with avocado and some great Indian style flavors -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 avocado
  • 4-5 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp mint paste
  • 2 tsp grated mango
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Halve the avocado and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl.

Add all other ingredients to the same bowl. Mash together with a fork. Let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour for the flavors to come together.

Take it out and use as a sandwich spread or even a dip with pakoras /samosas.

Keep the rest in the fridge. Stay good for 2-3 days when stored with care.

Note - I prefer to add a few drops of EVOO to my spread. Gives a nice flavor.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ganesh Chaturthi Special Recipes

Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi falls on 17th September this year (2015). It is celebrated starting from Shukla chaturthi in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada and stretches for 10 days in some parts of the country.

Here is a list of some of the popular prasadams/neivaidyam (offerings) made to the elephant headed God in various parts of India -

Andhra Pradesh (also Telengana)

1. Kudumulu (Modak)
2. Pulihora
3. Undrallu
4. Annam Payasam
5. Chickpeas Sundal

Karnataka (similar to Andhra)

1. Undrallu Payasam
2. Groundnut Sundal


1. Modak
2. Puranpoli
3. Coconut Laddoo
4. Karanji
5. Patholi


1. Chuda ghasa
2. Chuda Kadamba
2. Rasi laddoo (Sesame seed laddoo)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Broccoli and Chicken Biryani ( Easy Rice cooker method )

By now most of you would have guessed that I am still trying to get my family to embrace Broccoli ( and they keep running away this superfood which they regard as some green headed Hydra). But not one to give up so easily, I tried incorporating it in salads, pasta, stir fry and then finally the crowd favorite 'Biryani'.

This one is a simple low-calorie and high fiber version that I cooked in that magical appliance called the rice cooker. I have a Panasonic one and it is a life saver when BESCOM is not playing truant. Have to pick up the kid or run down to the nearest kirana for something (yes, I still do that in the age of apps like BigBasket, Grofers and Zopnow coz I am a human and very much susceptible to short term memory outages when compiling those mile long grocery lists) ? No probs. It switches off automatically when the rice /curry is done. Only catch is that, since it does not employ artificial intelligence, the 'done' thing is determined by the water content. So, if you put less water, it switches off rather than burning down the contents of the cooking pan.

Ok. Getting back to my recipe, it is just comprises of throwing in everything (except rice) into one big marinating bowl and then cooking it in the rice cooker. Saves time and effort. And it save Calories too. (I know I am being lazy but I have a stack of books that I badly want to complete)

Read on -

Preparation Time - 25 mins (plus 1 hr for marination)

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup chicken pieces (medium sized)
  • 1 1/2 cup Broccoli pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 medium sized onion (chopped into thin long pieces)
  • 1 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup thick yogurt
  • 1 medium tomato (finely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 coriander powder
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • whole spices ( 1 inch cinnamon, 1 green cardamom, 2 cloves, 1 bay leaves, a small piece of mace )
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash and cut the broccoli into medium sized florets. Put them under running water to wash away any insects and eggs. Then soak in warm water to which some turmeric has been added.

Wash the chicken pieces. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the broccoli and all the remaining ingredients except rice, ghee and oil. Keep aside for 1 hour.

Cooking - Switch on the rice cooker. Add the oil and wait for it to heat up. Add the whole spices.

Once they release their fragrance, add the marinated chicken and broccoli. Cook uncovered till the chicken is half done.

Wash the rice and add to the rice cooker. Add 2 cups water. Adjust salt and ghee.

Close the lid. The rice cooker will automatically switch off when it is done.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quick Fix Pasta ( and some womanly gyaan on PMS blues )

Most women would agree with me when I say that we all could do without those crazy PMS symptoms. While a few lucky ones get away with minor mood swings, some of us end up becoming quite crabby and downright depressed. Personally speaking, those hormones make me take up the broom/mop/duster or whatever cleaning aid that I have at hand and go on a cleaning spree. But some of my friends suffer from worse predicament like bloating (damn..do I need to buy another pair of jeans just for those few days?) or they feel the need to keep munching/snacking constantly.

Now, while it is not possible to completely alleviate the symptoms, following a few simple rules makes it manageable. For example -

1. Reduce salt intake and increase the fiber intake - Most fried snacks are high on salt so they need to go off the menu. Also, it is a better idea to replace rice with daliya or pasta which are higher in fiber content.

2. Drink loads of warm water - It flushes out the system and reduces bloating.

3. Include herbs like garlic, ginger and basil in your diet .

4. EVOO works like a magic potion. Do try adding some to your salads and pasta.

5. Citrus fragrance is one great mood lifter plus the juice works as a detox agent. Go leverage both.

6. Exercise or even better, try yoga.

Ok. So, we are done with the gyaan. Lets move on to this simple recipe that actually uses some of the ingredients I have listed above -

Preapartion Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 100 gm Delmonte spaghetti
  • 1 cup broccoli floret
  • 3-4 fat garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 6-7 Italian basil leaves
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • salt 

Preparation - Wash broccoli florets under a tap. Then dunk into warm water for 5 mins. Any remaining insects or larvae will float up to the surface.

Cooking - Take water in a large saucepan. Get it to the bubbling point. Add salt.

Throw in the broccoli florets. Remove after a min and put into cold water.

Add the spaghetti to the same water. Cook till al-dente. Tip the saucepan contents into a colander and give it a gentle shake.

Put a wok on the burner. When it is warm to touch, add EVOO . Also add the chopped garlic and chili flakes. Just when the garlic starts to change color, add broccoli florets and spaghetti.

Toss for 2 mins before adding the grated lemon rind and shredded (by hand) basil.

Remove from burner and serve.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Loving Foodz ? Then Try Living Foodz !!

Just as the average Indian has discovered the joys of travelling and acquired an experimental palate, the time is ripe to reinvent the way one looks at food. From being a basic necessity in the league of 'roti, kapda aur makaan', food is now a trending entity that fuels the imagination of a million plus Indians. Hence the need for a foodtainment channel that caters to the ever growing need of amalgamating food with changing lifestyles but still retaining that very fabric of Indian-ness. And thankfully, the search has to an end.

Food Nirvana. A holistic approach to food. Food as the very extension of lifestyle. Food that is fun, vibrant and very very hip. If you have been looking for all that, then it's got to be 'Living Foodz', the latest foodtainment and lifestyle channel that will have you hooked from day one. Well, din't someone say travelling and fooding around go hand in hand ? Never mind if you have never heard of it !

The 'Living Foodz' channel is about to revamp our outlook towards food and entertainment. Food now goes beyond the kitchens and touches upon local cultures and traditions as well. Yep, sounds like a complete package and a lot more fun too. And there are loads and loads of health and wellness related tips and recipes for keeping you in great shape even as you learn to cook some sumptuous food.

Take a adventurous road trip with Gautam Mehrishi on 'Chef on wheels' as he explores divine food in the unknown reaches of India's interiors. If farm fresh produce excites you to no end and the mystery of the open kitchens of rural India mesmerize you, then this is a must watch for you. This is one series that has left me all nostalgic about the childhood trips to my grandmother's village even by looking at the promos.

But if you happen to be more inclined towards city hopping, join the dashing Ranveer Brar as he explores the 'gallis' and 'nukkads' of India on 'The Great Indian Rasoi 2'. Whether it is drooling over the sinful kebab's at Kareem's or grabbing a mouthful of tantalizing Aloo tikki chaat in Delhi, or sampling the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani and Shawrama rolls in Hyderabad, this bubbly anchor sure gives you an eyeful !

And if that does not satisfy the food and travel enthusiast in you, go globe trotting without a passport with the inimitable Vicky Ratnani as he takes you on a gastronomic world tour right from the confines of his kitchen on 'Vickypedia' or 'taste ka encyclopedia' as he puts it.

Did I just forget the raucous twosome of Rocky and Mayur ? Well, they continue to stir up food and fun, both in equal measures, on 'Food Express', an all new show.

All this and much more is waiting for you when 'Living Foodz' goes live on 11th September. Be sure to save the reminders and wait for the fun as it unfolds the foodie way. You can also check their Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates !!

Stay tuned for 'Living Foodz' where food is all about fun and more !!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ulli Sambar ( Spicy lentil cooked with Shallots )

Shallots or the tiny onions have a sweet and mild flavour. They Southern states of India, especially Kerala and Tamil Nadu employ a lot of shallots in their cooking while it is eaten mostly raw in the Eastern State of Odisha, mainly as an accompaniment for the watery rice dish of Pakhala.

Since, I bought a large lot of shallots for Onam, I was left with more than a handful even after I had finished with the Sadya which involved some marathon cooking. After making rasam the other day, I felt like having some delicious Ulli Sambar for lunch yesterday. It is just like any other sambar but no other vegetables should be added as the shallots have a very mild flavour. However I do add some carrots and a bit of a tomato .

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25-30 mins

Ingredients -

  • a fistful of toor dal
  • 1/2 cup peeled shallots
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • a lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 1 tsp sambar masala
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 green chilis
  • 1//2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a large pinch of asafoetida
  • a small pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tsp oil
Preparation - Soak the tamarind with 1 cup hot water for 10 mins. Squeeze out the juice and discard pulp.

Cooking - Wash and cook the dal with 2 cups water in a pressure cooker. Also add the carrots and tomato to the pressure cooker. Remove from flame after 2-3 whistles.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Open the lid and mash the dal.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add the green chilis, half of the curry leaves and the shallots. Fry for 3-4 mins.

Add the fried shallots to the mashed dal along with the tamarind water and the sambar masala.

Let it boil for 10-15 mins till the shallots are tender and the raw smell of tamarind goes away.

Heat the remaining oil . Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chilis. Fry for 30 secs before pouring it over the dal.

Serve hot with white rice , curd and some appalam.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Gopalkala (Janmashtami Special)

"Haathi Ghora Palki, Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki" - A very Happy Janmashtami to all my readers !!

Today's recipe is a simple yet delicious dish that is usually offered to Lord Krishna on his birthday. Most of you would be aware that milk products are the Lord's weakness and so most of his offering incorporate atleast one type of milk derivative. This one for example makes use of curd and buttermilk, but some folks do substitute the latter with some milk. The other major ingredient is 'poha' or chuda which is symbolic of his friendship with the poor Sudama.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup poha /chuda/rice flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 4-5 tbsp buttermilk
  • 4-5 tbsp curd
  • 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 chopped green chilis
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)

Preparation - Wash and soak poha for 2-3 mins. Drain for another 5 mins.

Take it in a mixing bowl and add chopped chilis, coconut, buttermilk and curd. Season with salt. Mix well.

Heat ghee for tempering. Add curry leaves and cumin seeds. Pour this spluttering mix over the contents of the mixing bowl.

Mix well and serve.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Broccoli Stir Fry ( Doing it the Odia way!!)

When it comes to exotic veggies, the culinary experts almost always advice folks to stick to the native method of cooking with a little tweak here or there. Subtle flavours, they say, get masked by the heavy use of spices which dominate Indian cooking.

But in the process, they render the veggies almost unpalatable. And this is especially true when it comes to the older generation. Try serenading your MIL with a zucchini boat or a broccoli soup. Chances are that they would blanch at the very mention of such a dish. 

However some of these veggies are quite loaded with mineral. For example, Broccoli scores quite a few points over cauliflower when it comes to the count of vitamins and minerals. So, I was in no mood to forgo the nutrition provided by this superfood. 

This is one great yet simple recipe where I have cooked Broccoli using a typically Odia method of preparation. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins (Broccoli takes a little less time to cook as compared to cauliflower)

Ingredients -
  • 1 medium sized Broccoli
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 dry red chillis
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/3 tsp garam masala
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • salt
  • 3 tsp rice bran oil

Ingredients - Cut the broccoli into medium sized bits. Dice the potato into 8 parts.

The onion should be cut into thin long strips. Chop the tomato into fine bits.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add 2 tsp oil. Add the broccoli florets along with salt and turmeric. Stir fry for 7-8 mins on medium to high flame or till the florets are almost cooked. Remove from pan and keep aside.

Heat a wok. Pour the remaining oil into it. Add the cumin seeds and red chilli followed by the onions. Stir fry till the onions turn golden. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 3-4 mins till the raw smell goes off.

Add the chopped tomato. Sprinkle red chilli powder and a little salt. Cover with a lid and cook till the tomatoes soften.

Add the fried broccoli and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for a few mins while taking care that the broccoli is not overcooked.

Add the garam masala and mix well. Remove from the flame.

Serve hot with rotis or white rice.

Click here to read the original recipe using cauliflower.

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