Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jack Fruit Seed and Green Banana Mezhukupuratti (Vazhakkai and Chakkakuru Fry)

This simple traditional dry curry is a Kerala classic. I was very fortunate to find some jack fruit at the farmer's market and saved the seeds for this. Jack fruit seeds have a taste similar to chestnuts; they are also delicious in Molakootal, Molagushyam, Aviyal, etc.

Both bananas and Jack fruit seeds are a bit starchy and benefit from abundant hydration to make them soft and tasty. Hence the traditional method of cooking them in water before seasoning them. Any kind of green bananas (plantains, large or small eating ones, etc) may be used; the only requirement is that they be green and not at all ripe. Since the mezhukkupuratti (often called "fry") is not particularly spicy, it goes well with Sambar, Rasam, or other spicy curries.

If you don't have any Jack fruit seeds, no problem - make the curry with bananas alone or with yard long beans, cooked adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, etc.

You might not want to use an unseasoned iron wok as the bananas will turn quite dark; so use a well seasoned wok or kadai or a non-reactive one. The darkening does not affect either the taste or the quality of the curry; it just isn't pleasing aesthetically.


1/2 cup Jack Fruit Seeds
1 dried Red Chile, broken into two
2 Green Bananas, any kind
1 pinch Turmeric
1 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 or 2 Dry Hot Red Chiles
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves


Crush the Jack fruit seeds slightly and remove the tough skins from them; cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Place them in a pan with the broken chile and a cup of water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer while preparing the bananas.

Peel the outer green layer from the bananas; and cut them into bite-sized chunks.

The jack seeds should be tender now. Add the banana pieces to the jack seeds along with turmeric and salt; cook until soft but not mushy; bananas do not take long to cook. Let cool. Drain if there is too much liquid left.

Heat the oil in a stainless steel kadai (Indian wok) or skillet and add the red chilies and mustard seeds; when mustard starts popping, add the curry leaves and the cooked vegetables.

Cook over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes or so turning the veggies gently until they are dry and a little caramelized.

Serve hot with rice/rotis, Sambar/Rasam or any dals, etc. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding is a toothsome and luscious dessert. I really like all the crispy, crunchy, crusty bread; in fact the crusty bread is what makes it truly delectable. Even though the recipe called for canned pumpkin, I used a fresh pumpkin since that's all I had in my pantry; but then I always have a pumpkin or a winter squash of one kind or another waiting in the wings :D. These wonderful veggies last for days or even weeks without getting spoiled.

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen's pumpkin bread pudding; I really liked her lazy method :D. I have tweaked it to reduce the amount of fat and have included the vegan option! I also used fresh and whole dry spices; but dry and purchased ground spices may be used instead. Oh, and make sure you do use a crusty bread like Italian, french, or a baguette - preferably a day old; it will be lot easier to cut. Of course it does not mean you cannot use a fresh bread; as you would expect, I ended up using a fresh french bread. When using fresh bread, cut it into a few pieces and let it dry out a little by leaving it open to air-dry.

One 9x13 pan


4 cups Pumpkin cubes
1 stick Unsalted Butter/Earth Balance (1/2 cup)
10 cups Crusty Bread
1 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
4 Tbsp Rice Flour
3 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, chopped
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
4 All Spice berries
5 whole Cloves
1/8th of a Whole Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
3 cups any Milk


Cook the pumpkin until soft; let cool.

Place sugar, salt, cornstarch, spices, etc. in the carafe of a blender; add about a cup of milk and process to liquidize everything.

Add the cooled pumpkin cubes and the rest of the milk a little at a time and process until pumpkin is pureed and well combined.

Start heating the oven to 350 degrees F; place a 9"x13" baking pan with the butter in it to melt and brown slightly. If using Earth Balance, just let it melt; do not brown.

Add the bread cubes to the melted fat and mix well.

Pour the pumpkin mixture evenly over the bread cubes making sure all the bread cubes get moistened.

Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the top browns a little.

Remove from the oven and let cool a little.

Serve warm with Raisin Sauce and/or whipped cream/topping. Enjoy!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Chutney With Roasted Dals

Kozhakattais & Sweet Potato Chutney

This deeply sunset colored chutney is a delicious addition to any meal; it is a very gratifying result of my experiments to incorporate more veggies into chutneys in place of coconut. I love coconut, but am trying to cut down fats. The dals add toasty flavor and richness to the chutney.

The fresh red chiles available in autumn impart zing and enrich the color of this beautiful chutney made with the deep orange colored sweet potatoes sold as "yams" in the United States. If fresh red chiles are unavailable, use dry red ones; if using dry chiles, add them to the hot oil first and toast along with the dals. You can spice it up by adding more red chiles if you wish.

About 2 cups


1 medium Sweet Potato (Yam)
1 tsp Oil
2 Tbsp Chana Dal
2 Tbsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 pinch Asafoetida
3 stems Fresh Curry Leaves
1/4 cup fresh Coconut (or 2 Tbsp dry, unsweetened)
4-6 fresh hot Red Chiles
2 marble-sized lumps dry Tamarind (or 11/2 tsp concentrate)
1 Tsp Sea Salt


1 tsp Oil
1 dry red chile
1/4 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Urad Dal
a few fresh Curry Leaves, minced


Soak the tamarind lump in a couple of tablespoons of warm water.

Heat the oil in a small pan and toast the fenugreek and dals until dals are red-gold; add asafoetida and cook for a couple of seconds. Let cool.

Scrub and wash the sweet potato well; cut into chunks. It is not necessary to peel.

Combine all the chutney ingredients including the curry leaves (stems and all) and grind to a nice smooth puree.

Prepare thalippu by heating the oil; add chile, mustard seeds, and dal. When the mustard seeds pop and dance, remove from heat and add the curry leaves carefully.

Pour the thalippu over the chutney and mix well before serving.

Serve the chutney at room temperature or cold with your favorite snacks (upma, dosas, idlis, toast) or meals. Enjoy!!

Any leftover chutney may be stored in the fridge; the chutney stays fresh for a few days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Autumn Splendor Roasted Vegetables

Autumn Splendor!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope that you are blessed with abundance, peace and joy on Thanksgiving day and everyday!

Autumn splendor roasted veggies will remind one of the gorgeous deciduous trees whose leaves exhibit brilliant colors in the fall - they are beautiful! Roasting the veggies seem to concentrate their sweetness and flavors. I add some roasted tofu to make it hearty. I use both cream and orange fleshed sweet potatoes for this colorful dish. Absolutely delish!

This wonderfully trouble free dish never ceases to amaze - everyone loves it! Served with a bowl of Butternut/Pumpkin soup or Broccoli/Corn chowder, it makes a very filling and nutritious meal. The last time I made it, Keeshu even made a wrap with the leftovers!!


1 recipe Roasted Tofu (optional)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Cayenne (red Pepper) (optional)
4 Fresh Rosemary sprigs
6 Fresh Thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Sweet Potatoes
2 Red Onions
2 Carrots
2 large Bell Peppers (Red, Yellow, Orange, etc -assorted colors)

Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Red Onions, and Assorted Bell Peppers ready for roasting

Wash and cut the veggies into large chunks and place in a rimmed baking pan to fit.

Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle turmeric and cayenne if using.

Add a generous grinding of pepper and a nice sprinkle of salt; toss to coat.

Set the oven to 400 degrees F.

Tuck the herbs among the veggies and place in the oven.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized. Shake the pan and turn the veggies a couple of times during roasting so everything roasts as evenly as possible.

If the tofu is prepared ahead, warm by placing in the oven for the last 10 minutes of roasting.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes; combine the tofu with the veggies or serve them separately - as you wish.

Serve hot. Enjoy!!

Autumn Splendor Roasted Vegetables

There are a few pieces of eggplant hiding in the roasted veggies; I added a couple since a friend was asking about different ways of using eggplant and I told her she could include them here ;D. I gave her some and she loved it!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roasted Tofu

Roasted Tofu is wonderful by itself or can be added to other dishes like mattar paneer, Sag Paneer, Spring Rolls, Pasta, Autumn Roasted Vegetables, Fried Rice, etc.

Tofu ready for roasting


1 block Firm Tofu (14 oz)
1/2 medium Red Onion
1 clove Garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 -2 pinches Cayenne OR Red Pepper Flakes
2-3 Fresh Rosemary sprigs
4-5 Fresh Thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce, or to taste


Drain the tofu well and cut into bite-sized cubes. Place in a rimmed baking pan coated lightly with oil. The baking pan should accommodate the tofu in one layer.

Mince the onion and the garlic if using, and sprinkle over the tofu.

Sprinkle the salt, cayenne and turmeric, and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Drizzle the oil and soy sauce all over; toss to coat evenly and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes (tofu may be marinated overnight also).

Turn the oven on and set the temperature to 400̊ F.

Tuck the herb sprigs among the tofu cubes.

Roast the tofu for about 25 to 30 minutes stirring and turning a few times so all the sides brown and caramelize a bit; but watch carefully to prevent burning the onions and garlic. If the veggies are browning too much, you can move the baking pan to an upper rack and also reduce the temperature of the oven to 375̊ F.

Remove the tofu from the oven as soon as it is done; remove to a serving dish.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Peerkankai Tholi Thogayal (Ridge Gourd Peel Chutney)

When we have a thogayal for a meal, one of the frequently asked questions is "whose tholi (skin or peel) thogayal is it today?" ;D. Luscious thogayals are often made with tender skins or innards of veggies when a recipe calls for peeling or hollowing them and you don't want to throw away perfectly good and nutritious scraps.

Today's thogayal utilizes the skin of peerkankai; when the ridge gourds are peeled for dishes like masiyal, some of the flesh is peeled away as well - what a waste of good food! This tasty thogayal is very similar to Pumpkin Thogayal. Of course, it goes without saying that the whole veggie may be used to make the thogayal as well. Other vegetables that make great thogayal are carrots, eggplants, various winter/summer squashes.

We love to spread this chutney (and others) on toast; it makes a wonderful savory breakfast or snack. It is also great as a sandwich spread and a delicious dip for fresh breads.


Peels of 1 or 2 Peerkankai (ridge gourds)
1-2 tsp Oil
3 Tbsp Urad Dal
3-4 hot dry Red Chiles
1 Pinch Asafoetida
1 marble sized lump Tamarind (or 1 tsp concentrate)
Sea Salt to taste


Soak the tamarind lump in a couple of tablespoons of warm water.

Heat the oil in a small pan and toast the chiles and dal; add asafoetida and cook for a few seconds.

Stir in the peels and salt; cover and cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the peels soften. Let cool.

Combine all the ingredients and grind to a nice puree.

Serve with dosas, idlis, with meals, on toast, etc. Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

I often use both the dark red and the lighter red colored beans for this deliciously colorful dish. Rajma is traditionally served with a simple Pulav but is equally delicious served with plain rice or rotis. It also makes a lovely meal just by itself with a dollop of plain yogurt.

You can substitute Sambar/Rasam powders, Pav Bhaji Masala or Chana Masala spice mixes for the Garam masala; I have tried them all and all are good.

8 Servings


2 cups Red Kidney Beans
1-2 Tbsp Oil
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Carrot, diced
2 - 3 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 or 2 Jalapeño or Serrano Chile, minced
11/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp Ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1/2 tsp Paprika
4 ripe Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tsp Garam Masala (optional)
4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, Garlic Chives or Green Onions finely chopped


Soak the beans overnight, drain, rinse and cook in fresh water to cover until soft but not mushy either in a pot or using a pressure cooker.

Heat the oil; cook the onions, green chiles and ginger with a pinch of salt until golden.

Stir in the spices and cook for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook until they are soft.

Stir in the carrots and the beans with their cooking liquid; simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure they do not burn.

Let rest for a few minutes.

Serve hot sprinkled with your favorite green herbs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mango Kadi (Mango Stew)

My grandmother made Mango Kadi (also known as molagushyam) with green and/or semi-ripe mangoes - to use up all the windfalls of mangoes from the orchard - and the simple but delicious taste is unforgettable! And depending on the mangoes, the kadi could be tart or sweet; a little jaggery or brown sugar may be added if the kadi is too tart for your taste. Kadi may be served as a chutney-like side dish with mild flavored curries like poricha kuzhambu, molakootal, simple dal, etc for a nice contrast in flavors.

Since I prefer eating most fruits, especially mangoes, fresh rather than cooked, this kadi is an exception if and only when there is an abundance of mangoes and if they are unripe or under-ripe. Kadi, Pulisseri, or Pachadi are the perfect dishes to make if the mango is too tart for eating fresh and/or too ripe for making pickles.


2 green/semi-ripe mangoes
1/2 tsp Sea salt or to taste
1 pinch Turmeric
1 - 2 Tbsp Jaggery (optional)
2 or 3 dry red chilies
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig fresh Curry Leaves
1 tsp Coconut oil


Wash well and lightly peel the mangoes; cut the flesh away from the seeds into irregular pieces.

Combine mango pieces with the salt, turmeric, one red chile broken in half; cook in a scant cup of water until soft. Add the jaggery if desired while the mangoes are cooking. Add a little more water as necessary; you don't want too much liquid left at the end but still nice and juicy. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat a small pan with the oil and add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. When the seeds brown a bit, pop and dance, add the broken chile and curry leaves; cover and cook until the sizzling subsides - a few seconds. Remove from heat and add to the Kadi.

Let the Kadi rest covered for a few minutes.

Serve the Kadi hot, warm, or at room temperature with rice/roti with other favorite accompaniments. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Sri Lankan Spices

Kabocha Squash

Roasted Pumpkin soup with coconut milk is to live for! I wanted to use up the huge Kabocha squash; seemed like a good idea to roast it. When I spotted the can of coconut milk, the inspiration to make this soup dawned :D.

This spicy soup wakes up taste buds! While Jaffna Curry Powder lends the unforgettable taste and zing, coconut milk adds to the mellow sweetness. For more about Jaffna curry powder check here. Adjust the curry powder according to your own taste and tolerance. Any winter squash may be used to make this recipe; I have used Kabocha as well as Butternut squash, small Pumpkins, or a combination.

Roasting brings out the wonderful flavor of the squash; it can be eaten as a dish in its own right. Bake two - one to eat as is and one for soup - leftover roasted squash is perfect to make this soup - yum! This soup tastes even better the next day; reheat just until hot and steaming and serve.

6 Servings


1 medium Winter Squash or Pumpkin
1 tsp Sea Salt
5-6 fresh Thyme Sprigs
Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 large Shallots
1 - 2 fresh Red Chile, minced
1 pinch Asafoetida
1 stem Fresh Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 to 11/2 tsp Jaffna Curry Powder
1 can (14 fl. oz.) Coconut Milk
4 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro


Scrub well and wash the Kabocha or other winter squash you are using. Carefully cut into quarters and remove seeds and strings. Kabocha does not need peeling but butternut does.

Place the cleaned squash in a lightly oiled baking pan; brush lightly with oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and place the thyme sprigs on top.

Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized; turn the squash once of twice during roasting. When the veggies are soft, remove from the oven and let cool. Remove and discard the thyme stems.

Heat the rest of the oil and cook the mustard and cumin seeds until they dance, pop, and are fragrant.

Add the chile, shallots, asafoetida, curry leaves and a pinch of salt; cook stirring until the shallots begin to caramelize.

Stir in turmeric and curry powder and cook for about a minute.

Stir in 2 cups of boiling water and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Slightly mash the roasted veggies with the back of a spoon and add to the simmering water; let the soup come to a boil.

Stir in coconut milk and a bit more boiling water to get the right consistency; add up to a cup of water.

Simmer until the soup is hot but not boiling; turn off the heat. Allow the soup to rest for about 10 minutes.

Check for salt before serving.

Serve the soup hot with a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!!