Sambar Recipe ( सांबर )

Turned out great. Quantity overshot a lot, did not need that much!

Probably cooked around 16 cups (4 quarts in a 5-qt pot), needed only around 6-10 cups of sambar.

This was very easy to cook using prepared sambar powder. Only thing is that it needs a number of ingredients.
Sambar is great in that one can add any vegetables. For me, drumsticks are a must. For fun and because I like the texture, I also added Woodear mushrooms from the local Korean shop!
Serve sambar with rice or dosa or idli.

The tricky thing here is how much hot red chilli to add. Chillies or chilli powder can't be added as salt can, it requires cooking, so difficult to adjust it while cooking. I added 4 chillies, 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, along with the 2 tablespoons of sambar powder (which also has the chilli spices), and it turned out a bit on the hot/spicy side. So for the recipe below, I removed the 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, though if you like things hot, feel free to add it.


Time: 60-90 minutes
Serves: 10-16 (makes around 4 quarts or 16 cups)

Toor dal - 1/3 cup
Masoor dal - 1/3 cup
Wash dals, soak in cold water for around 30 minutes.
Then add 3-5 cups water as needed, boil it, lower to simmer and cook until they almost dissolve. No need to mash it, just fine with boiling. Takes around 30-40 minutes.

Tamarind - soak 1-2 tablespoons in 3/4 cup warm water for 30 minutes then filter it out to get tamarind juice. Or use 1 tablespoon tamarind paste and add it while cooking.

In parallel, cook the sambar. Some recipes call for just boiling all the vegetables with the spices, while some saute vegetables and then proceed to boiling. I prefer the latter, though I'm told it probably makes no difference in the final taste.

Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds - 2 teaspoons
Curry Leaves (kadi patta) - 10-12
Dry red whole chillies - 3-5
Oil - 2-4 tablespoons

Rajma, Rice, and bibaDa

This happens to be a Punjabi dish, and my recollection of eating this in Maharashtra and Gujarat is in a combination of Rajma, Rice, and bibaDa.

bibaDa (बिबड़) is a Jowar pappad (ज्वारी, sorghum pappad) - certainly can't get it anywhere in the US, nor it is easily available in India, have to travel to interior towns in Maharashtra to find someone who even knows about this. Like pappads, it is a crispy snack, can be baked or fried. I prefer the baked variety - put this in a toaster oven, watch it very carefully, one or two seconds more in the toaster oven, and it will burn completely to black. Cooking time in a toaster oven is around 30-60 seconds - keeping a watch all the time. It has a smoky, crispy taste, and closer to a tortilla chip than to the more popular chickpea pappads.

Rajma (राजमा) is kidney beans - an amazing store house of good nutrients - high soluble fiber, fat-free high quality proteins, minerals, and lots more as a search on the web reveals, and in the curry dish below, with rice and bidaDa, it tastes great too!

Rajma (राजमा) Curry

Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-6

Red kidney beans soaked overnight - 2 cups
Onions, finely chopped - 1-2 large
Tomatoes - 1-2 large, chopped
Ginger and Garlic - 1 tablespoon each, finely chopped
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - as needed
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Cumin Powder - 1 tablespoon
Garam Masala - 1 tablespoon
Oil - 3 tablespoons
salt to taste
finely chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
5-7 cups water

Steel Cut Oats

Had enough of rich buttery high-fat foods, loaded up on red-meat and sugary snacks, and now looking to fix everything wrong in your body?

Have no fear, oats to the rescue - it has soluble fiber to help reduce harmful cholesterol. So, fix yourself up with a regular serving of oats. Additionally, filling yourself with oats means less space in your stomach for all that other stuff that you crave but is not good for you.

Rolled oats, as well as instant oats, in my opinion, don't taste very good - soggy, no texture, insipid food. Steel-cut oats are a world apart - they have a hearty taste, nice chewy and nutty texture - good taste, and good for you - and there is no catch!

Steel-Cut Oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into two to three pieces.
A popular brand is McCann's Irish Oatmeal. But for those eating this regularly, look for steel-cut oats in your local bulk-grocery store - bulk-bin purchase, in stores such as Whole Foods, will get you 5 times more oats for the same price.

There are many ways to cook steel-cut oats, here's the way I cook them. Other alternatives for faster cooking involve soaking overnight (in hot water - in cold water it does not help at all), or using the pressure-cooker.

Each quarter- to one-third-cup dry steel-cut oats is one serving, around a cup of cooked oats.

Time: 40 to 60 minutes - but varies with size of the cut - larger grains take longer time. Just be very careful, overcooking makes everything too mushy and very easy to overcook in a covered pot and under-cooking oats taste too raw.

Servings: 6-8

1.1 to 1.5 cups steel-cut oats
4-5 cups water

Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Good to use a glass cover to watch when oats start to boil over in the next step.

To the boiling water, add all the oats.
Pot should be watched when boiling - use a large pot, and lower the heat to medium, to prevent it from boiling over.

Chicken Curry

There are literally millions of chicken curry recipes out there.

The key to this one - slow cooking. Found this in the book by Khalid Aziz, titled "Step by Step Guide to Indian Cooking". Modified it a lot, but kept the slow cooking part.

Time: 2-3 hours.

Chicken - 1 pound boneless, skinless, chopped to bite-size pieces
or equivalent (1.5 to 2 pound) with bone
Onion - 1 pound, chopped
Tomatoes - 1 pound, chopped
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
Black Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seed - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon Sticks - 2
Coriander Seeds - 0.5 teaspoon
Garam Masala - 1 teaspoon
Ginger - 4 tablespoons
Garlic - 4 tablespoons
Red Chilli Powder - as needed
Oil - around one-fourth cup

Heat Oil, when hot, add black mustard seeds.

Use electric chopper to chop all the onions, leave one cup of onions aside, and then add the chopped onions, with the cumin seeds, to the frying oil once the mustard seeds start popping.

Add 1 cup of onions, roughly cut ginger, and garlic (skin removed) to the electric chopper, and chop this mixture real fine.

Once the frying onions are nearly transparent, add the finely ground onion/ginger/garlic mixture to the frying pan, cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Then add the dry spices - turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, chilli powder, all as needed.

Cook for a minute or two, and then add chopped tomatoes.

Cook for 5-10 minutes, all this on medium heat.

Then add the chicken pieces, cook for 3-5 minutes, then lower the heat, add water as much as needed to make the curry, and cook on low heat for 60-90 minutes - more if using chicken on bone (2-3 hours).

1) Add half to one cup of plain yogurt after adding the chicken.
2) Add chopped spinach - during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
3) Add half-stick of butter
4) Add chopped cliantro at end

vaa.ngyaachii bhaajii (वांग्याची भाजी)

Serve with rice and varan (yellow lentil soup), or with chappati.

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Eggplant - 1 large, to fill 10" saute pan (but use larger pot for cooking)
Chop into small pieces (0.5-1" cubes)
Black Mustard Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 1/2 teaspoon
Green Chillies - chopped, as needed
Water - 1/2 cup
Oil for frying

Heat oil
Add Mohri (black mustard seeds), when pops, add Jeera (cumin seeds)
Add chopped green chillies, to taste - should be hot/spicy
Cook for a minute or so, then added chopped eggplant, with turmeric.
Coat eggplant well with the cooking oil, and then add water - half a cup
or less, cover and let it cook - 10-15 minutes.
Add more water if needed, then add salt to taste.

Scrambled Eggs, My Style

For one person.

Time: around 15 minutes.

Eggs - 2 large
Onion - upto 1/2 cup, chopped
Tomatoes - diced, 1/5 cup
Green chillies - chopped, as needed
Garam Masala - 1/4 teaspoon
Fresh Ground Black Pepper - upto 1/4 teason, as needed
Milk or cream - 1 tablespoon
Olive Oil - 1 teaspoon

Heat oil in a frying pan, medium heat.

Add green chilles, onions, cook over medium heat, 2 minutes. Onions barely soft at this time, not fully cooked.

Add garam masala, cook for a minute more.

Add tomatoes, cook for 3-4 minutes, may increase heat a bit here. Use only a small amount of diced tomatoes - around 2-3 tablespoons - to prevent any water from remaining in the dish at serving time.

In a bowl, break the eggs, add salt, milk or cream, fresh ground pepper (lots!), and whip this together.
Add this to the frying pan, cook over for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Stir and scramble the mixture twice or thrice, turn off heat just before the eggs are cooked - they will continue to cook in the pan. At the end, the eggs should be fully cooked, but still moist.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Add a tablespoon of shredded cheddar, if desired.

Serve with bagels topped with cream cheese.

At the end, onions should still have a crisp snap to them, and eggs should be moist, not too firm.

saabudaaNaa khichaDii (साबुदाणा खिचडी)

Comfort food: Sabudana Khichdi

In Marathi: साबुदाणा खिचडी

Time: 30-60 minutes (4-8 hour including soaking time)
Serves: 3-6

Sabudana (pearl sago) - 1 pound (around 2 cups)
Peanuts - 1/2 pound
Cumin Seeds - 1 tablespoon
Green Chilles - chopped, as needed
Boiled potatoes - chopped in small cubes, two large
Curry Leaves (kadi patta) - 2 to 4
Salt to taste

Wash sabudana in water for a minute, drain nearly all of the water, level should just cover the sabudana, and leave in covered vessel for half-hour. Then drain all water, and leave covered for 4 hours or overnight. When done soaking, no liquid should be left, and all the grains should be soft but not mushed together - pressing between fingers should find no hard material in the middle, should be soft all the way.

Toast the raw peanuts in a pan, and then let them cool down. Then coarsely grind the peanuts in a blender or mixer or similar.

Heat oil, add curry leaves, cumin seeds, green chilles, fry for a minute or so. Add cubed potatos, cook until brown, around 5-10 minutes.

Add the sabudana and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the color turns from solid white to more of a translucent color, stirring frequently to prevent clumping.
Mix peanuts into the sabudana, cook for 5-10 minutes more, until color turns light-brown.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with plain yoghurt.

More details, external link: Aayi's recipes

mirachiichii bhaajii (मिरचीची भाजी)

In Marathi: मिरचीची भाजी
The name makes it sound scary-spicy hot - but it isn't.

Imagine a yellow lentil soup, with spinach, and peanuts. Yum-yum-yum. Not spicy-hot at all, the mirchi is to taste only.

Ambat Chuka (khatti palak - leafy greens - green sorrel) or use spinach as a reasonable substitute - 10 oz package
Toor Daal - 1/2 to 2/3 cup
Peanuts - 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Chopped Green Chillies 4-6

- boil all of above until nearly cooked (30 or so minutes)

Ambat Chuka - add after above is nearly cooked
- boil more, around 20-30 minutes

Do the tadka (phodni), by frying the following, and then adding to the food above:
Chopped Onions - 1 cup or so
Garlic - 2 teaspoons
Black Mustard Seeds
Garam Masala
Oil as required
- heat oil, add mustard seeds, when they start popping add onions, cook until soft, add garlic, cook for a few more minutes. Add garam masala, cook for a minute, then, add this mixture to the spinach/daal.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with chappati, or fine with rice too.

varaN (वरण)

Comfort food: Yellow lentil soup. Eat with rice, or with chappati.
toor dal = tuvar dal = arhar dal = yellow lentils = tur dal

In Marathi: वरण

Time: 40-60 minutes.
Serves: 3-4

Toor Daal - 1 cup
Water - 4-8 cups, as desired
Ginger - 4-6 slices
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon

Wash toor daal, mix all the above, bring to boil, cook until yellow lentils are really soft, around 30-40 minutes.

At end, use back of big spoon or spatula, to blend the lentils in the water, for a thicker consistency.

To eat, pour over rice, mix, and if not watching cholestrol, add ghee, or butter! Can also be eaten with chappati.

Variation: add a tadka or phodni to the dal. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, when popping add cumin seeds, chopped onions. Cook until onions become transparent, add spices - cumin powder, coriander powder, as needed, then add chopped tomatoes, cook for 5-7 minutes.
Then, add all this to the dal.