Friday, March 11, 2011

Simple Kadi (Yogurt Curry)

Yogurt curries are ubiquitous all over India, but are made differently depending on the region; some are sweet-tart with fruits or sugar while others are hot and spicy without even a hint of sweetness. In South India yogurt curries are thickened with a coconut masala and called Mor Kuzhambu, Kootu/Curry, or Pulisseri, etc but in the North and West, it is typically made with besan (garbanzo flour) and called Kadi which may include vegetables or pakodas. And depending on the amount of Besan you use, the kadi can be thick or thin. It is a great way to use up old soured yogurt and leftover pakodas; addition of pakodas also can cause the kadi to thicken quite a bit as they absorb a goodly amount of the moisture. Buttermilk can also be used to make Kadi but less water may be required as buttermilk is typically not very thick.

Here is a recipe for mild Simple Kadi. This Kadi may be a North Indian type. It is based on my recollection of a Kadi made by Rema who grew up in the New Delhi area.


1 cup sour Yogurt
4 Tbsp Besan
1 tsp Sea Salt
3 cups water
1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 or 2 Hot green or Dry Red chilies
A few Curry Leaves
1 medium Onion, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced (optional)


Combine besan, salt and yogurt with the water and mix well using a wire whisk.

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan; when hot add the mustard and cumin seeds and swirl to evenly heat them.

When the seeds sizzle and pop, add the chilies, onion, ginger and the curry leaves and cook until onions begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the turmeric and the yogurt mixture and cook stirring frequently until the kadi is almost boiling.

Turn heat down and simmer the kadi very gently for a few minutes - about 10 minutes.

If you have leftover pakodas, this is the time to add them.

Remove from heat, cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Kadi is delicious served over plain rice with Sprout Salad, sprouted/regular bean chundal, and/or a green veggie. Enjoy!!

Double Mushroom Soup With Swiss Chard

Double Mushroom Soup With Chard is a hearty and filling soup. It is adapted from a recipe from the Follow Your Heart Soup Cookbook. I had fresh Portobello, brown crimini mushrooms, and a bunch of Swiss chard to use up - so it was soup for dinner! Other leafy greens may be substituted for the Swiss Chard. Apparently Portobellos are simply larger crimini mushrooms! You may use other fresh mushrooms like white button, shiitake, and/or dried mushrooms also. Ajwain seeds have an intense celery flavor and enhances the hearty flavor of the mushrooms.

A bit of sharp Cheddar cheese (2-3 oz) makes a fabulous addition for those who include dairy in their diet. If you are using cheese, stir in after removing the soup from heat.

4 - 6 Servings


8 oz. medium-sized Portobello mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. Brown crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 lb Swiss Chard, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Large Onion, chopped
4 Tbsp Butter or 2-3 T Oil
4 Tbsp Whole Wheat, Unbleached, or Rice Flour
2 Cups hot Milk, any type
1/2 tsp Ajwain Seeds, freshly ground
1/2 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne (ground red pepper)
2-4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp dried Oregano Leaves
1 Tbsp Fresh Basil leaves, torn
Sea Salt to taste


Keep the Swiss chard stems and leaves separate as the stems take a bit longer to cook.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large pot and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes; stir in the soy and cook until dry and slightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Using the same pan, add the rest of the oil, the onions, garlic, a pinch of salt and cook until they are pale gold.

Sprinkle the flour along with spices and stir and cook until the flour is browned and fragrant.

Slowly add 2 cups of hot water stirring constantly until all is mixed well and smooth without any lumps.

Stir in the stems of Swiss chard and cook until they are tender.

Add the chard leaves along with the herbs and cook until wilted.

Save a few pieces of the mushrooms for garnish; add the rest to the soup along with the milk and cook stirring until very hot but not boiling.

Remove soup from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Serve hot. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vellai Appam (Savory Indian Pancake Balls)

Whether they are called Vellai appams, Paniyarams, or Mor appams, these little savory pancake balls made from leftover Dosa, Idli, or Adai batters are scrumptious served hot off the pan. They are so good that I often make extra batter when making dosas, idlis, or adais just to make these. These appams make lovely appetizers, breakfast, brunch and tea time treats.

Vellai means "white" in Tamil and Mor means "buttermilk". If the appams are made from Dosa or Idli batter, they are white and hence Vellai as opposed to the plum-colored Neyyappams made with brown sugar. If the batter has not fermented well or is too thick, tart buttermilk is added as remedy and the resulting appams are called Mor appams. Let the batter ferment for a day or two at room temperature depending on the weather. If you are not going to use it right away, refrigerate it until needed; it will last for a few days in the fridge. I have referred you to the freshly ground traditional batters; the quicker versions using flours will work well also - check this or this.

Cooked Mor or Vellai appams will last one day at room temperature; freeze in appropriate containers or resealable freezer bags for longer storage and warm as necessary. Warming in a toaster oven or a hot regular oven will insure that they will retain some of their crispness.

Here is another good use for the special appa karai, Paniyaram, or abelskiver pan; you can also buy a special tool for turning the appams. I absolutely love the pan but since I find that a bamboo skewer works great for turning the appams, decided not add to the clutter of my gadget drawer :D. Besides, my mother, grandmother, and all the aunts always used a thin wooden or metal skewer.

NOTE: If you do not have the special pan, the batter can be cooked using an egg poacher, griddle, or a skillet. Pour small spoonfuls and cook over low/moderate heat with a few drops of ghee/oil; flip over and cook so that both sides are nicely browned. Although these will not have the spherical shape, they will still taste wonderful.

4 Servings


2 cups leftover fermented Dosa, Idli, or Adai batter
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 hot green chili, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves, minced
4 Tbsp Cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 pinch Cayenne (optional)
A little ghee/oil for cooking


Mix the batter with the veggies, herbs, spices and salt.

Coat the 'appa karai' or abelskiver pan lightly with a little oil or a cooking oil spray and heat over moderate heat.

Test the pan by dropping a tiny bit of batter on the pan; if it sizzles, the pan is ready.

Pour about 1/3 teaspoon of oil/ghee into each indentation, fill each with the batter up to the rim, cover and cook.

Keep the heat low to medium so the batter cooks slowly; adjust the heat as necessary.

When the edges change color and the bottom has browned, loosen edges carefully with a skewer or a small spoon and turn them over to cook the other side; add a few drops of oil/ghee.

When the appams turn a rich golden brown with no uncooked batter inside (check by inserting a skewer through an appam), remove them to a paper towel lined basket or bowl.

Repeat the above steps to cook the rest of the batter.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Although they need no further adornments, they are delicious served with Coconut, Green, Sweet or Tomato chutneys or ketchup. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mango Pickles (Manga Curry)

Mango Pickles
Mango pickles are an indispensable condiment on the banquet as well as daily menus particularly in Kerala. In India, tart green mangoes are grown especially for pickling. There are many types of pickles made with mangoes - from tiny marble-sized to large mature ones. This particular one can be made with any green mango that has yet to think of ripening - they should be tart and not have even a hint of sweetness.

Note: I have made this pickle with firm  ripe mangoes! Just goes to show that rules don't always have to be adhered to - especially in the kitchen :). My family adores the sweet and sour taste. I make this with a little less red chile powder and add a big pinch of citric acid. Citric acid is available in Indian Markets.

Sesame oil is available in Indian markets. Green mangoes are usually available year-round in Indian, Asian, and Latino markets. Choose mangoes that are fresh looking, plump, firm and without any blemishes. If the mango was not very tart, Amma used to add a tiny bit of citric acid (about a 1/4 tsp or so) to amend the taste.


1 Large green Mango
1 Tbsp Oil (preferably Indian Sesame Oil)
1/3 tsp brown Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds, coarsely powdered
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 - 2 Tbsp Hot Chile powder (cayenne)
1 Tsp Sea Salt


Trim stem end of the mango and cut into small pieces; it can also be finely chopped if you wish.

In a large enough pan that will accommodate all the ingredients, heat the oil.

Add the mustard seeds to the oil; when they start popping turn off the heat; add the rest of the spices in the order given.

Stir in the mango pieces and the salt; mix well.

Spoon the pickles into a sterile glass jar, cover and allow to marinate for about a week at room temperature. Shake the jar a couple of times daily to make sure that all the mango pieces get coated with the spicy brine that collects.

When the mangoes have softened, the pickle may be refrigerated. Use a clean, dry spoon to take out the pickles as needed.

Serve with rice dishes, breads, curries and snacks. Mango pickles are particularly delicious served with regular Yogurt Rice or a Non-Dairy Yogurt Rice.  Enjoy!!

Ripe Mango Pickles