No Fuss Spicy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

She lies squinting in the afternoon sun. Looking up at the blazing ball of fire, she defies the curly strand resolutely falling her way. She wonders if hell was right in the middle of the sun. Would she go? Go to hell, that is. Umm.. she has her chances. Spilling milk, tearing pages off a school book or rather any book and stuffing ones mouth with heapfull of sugar does make one go straight to hell. For sure, thought she.
But then like how it is with most six-year olds, her thoughts jump from dreary to the quixotic in no time, wondering if the sun is made of honey or lime or both. The dreamy spell is broken by shrill cries of mother. Lengths of the roof covered in leaps and bounds, spirals of stairs run in twos and threes, the little girl runs blind, her curls flying behind her like a short cape. Huffs and pants, she stands erect and stares straight. A little sentinel to attention.

Flavored with garlic

Flavored with garlic

Mother hid a smile. She knew she was being appeased. Propitiated for those tight hugs and extra kisses, and for those moments when the curls would be delicately touched and taken behind a ear only to fall right back into an eye. For those special moments mother was being assuaged. Mother knew it. And she knew she knew it.

Well today no matter what, lunch will be eaten in peace sans objections, sans tantrums and grimaces, clever mother put out a plate which would have been shunned on any other day. But not today. Not after a morning of mess and shenanigans. And the little sentinel ate silently. The one with the largest sweet tooth, the stuffer of anything saccharine, sugar stealer, ingenious chocolate hider. That one, battled her candied tongue and slurped spicy tangy tomato rasam that day. Quietly. Obediently. Fully unaware that her runny nose needed all that pepper and spice. I know now for sure, coz she is me.

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Cut to present day. And I war with my seven-year old to stop slurping the tangy South Indian soup. It has pepper and garlic and red chiles and its hot and medicinal. I mean, she is supposed to dislike it. All kids do. But here is mine. Sprawled on the floor, demanding more ghee and more rasam in her bowl of soft white rice. It’s close to eight years now, and I still stare at my girl in disbelief. She is so unlike me. Gone on the father, I mutter. Both have an unbelievable palette for spicy tangy tart stuff.

white rice is the best

white rice is the best

Saccharine love has diminished over the years, and rasam which was once gulped like venin, is now savoured with abundant paraphernalia.

Rasam is a South Indian tangy drink usually served with rice and other interesting sides. And if you are ever caught nursing a bad cold or a sore throat then this peppery drink will surely be guzzled down your food pipe… hot 😉

Lentils, lemon, beets are used to make a variety of rasam. But the most common and easiest and popular one is the tomato rasam. The method I use is handed over to me by my brother in laws wife, and it has never been easier to make it since. One of my most favourite ways lately.

that very essential dollop of ghee!

that very essential dollop of ghee!

Make sure you have a potful of hot boiled rice, white or brown. Some ghee to serve. And I usually accompany the meal with some vegetable side like the one shown below. A cabbage carrot beans melange. Dry sauté with a tempering of curry leaves, green chilies and garnished with grated coconut and cilantro.

keep it light and simple

keep it light and simple

I have no idea about the science behind this, but I am making this statement – Food, especially, Indian Food tastes better when you eat with your hands. Its more intimate, more comforting. I can’t explain. It just is. So try it. Learning to use chopsticks was hard?! try scooping off watery rasam from a flat plate with your fingers. That’s art too.

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 red ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped.
  • 1/2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 1 small onion or few baby onions/shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or as per your taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated – optional.
  • coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

In a thick bottomed pan, heat ghee. Splutter mustard seeds. saut̩ red chili, curry leaves and sliced onions till pink. Throw in chopped tomatoes along with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and fat leaves the sides. Approx 10 minutes. Once that is done, add 1 glassful of water. Give it a boil. Grate garlic and sprinkle pepper powder Рgive it another boil. Switch the flame off, mix in juice of 1/2 a lime and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot!

Life's good

Life’s good

Note: Quantity of water can be increased or decreased according to the consistency you prefer. I like mine thin and runny, so I usually add more than a glassful.

Note: Tamarind, boiled lentils, rasam powder are all variations. You can try different types by adding these accordingly.

Note: For those who do not like to use onion and garlic, you can skip both, and flavour the soup with a bit of asofoetida or hing.

Eat it hot!

Eat it hot!

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with another main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

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Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa - veganised!

Curry Laksa – veganised!

The craving was irrepressible.
But with the man travelling and child snubbing this divine curry noodles, I stalled the idea of dishing it up just for me. But then, it arose again… that insatiable appetite for one heavenly bowl of noodles, veggies, broth, herbs and tofu. I had to make it. Just had to.

Soul Food!

Soul Food!

Curry Laksa is a Chinese inspired Malay spicy noodle soup. Originally made the non vegetarian way with a lot of chicken or fish or shrimp. It is basically coconut based curry spiced with oriental flavours like turmeric, soy and chilies, thick or thin noodles and garnished with laksa leaves or curry leaves. Indians will totally relate to the flavours and taste, because many of the ingredients used in this are regularly used in Indian cooking too.

 Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Ideally thick Hokkien egg noodles are preferred to dunk in a spicy vegetable laden stew, but if you cannot get your hands on some, use the regular variety. I used traditional thin hakka noodles. Some recipes call for thin rice vermicelli too.
Bottomline – It’s the curry that calls, the carb can be of any kind 😉

Spicy Earthy noodles

Spicy Earthy noodles

There are many different types of laksa, but what is common to all is the broth, spice paste and noodles. The most well known varieties of laksa are the slightly sour fish soup based Assam Laksa and the Curry Laksa which has coconut milk.

Curry Laksa is a meal in itself. You don’t need any accompaniments with it. Lot of vegetables, noodles and a protein like tofu or paneer and you are so good to go! The vegetables can be anything you like, anything your refrigerator caters. So don’t go hunting for the specifics. I just pretty much threw in whatever I had.

An interesting twist to this dish was to top with sautéed mushrooms and red onions. Dust it off with sesame seeds and it was the most heavenly first bite I have had in a very long time 🙂

Soupy Slurrpyy

Soupy Slurrpyy

The Recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 pack hokkein egg noodles, boiled as per instructions on the pack.
  • 1 cup thin sliced vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, beans etc
  • 3-4 tbsp red curry paste or as per your liking
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • a handful of curry leaves or if you can find laksa leaves
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Garnish: 5/6 basil leaves, few stalks of coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fried tofu or sautéed paneer pieces, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and red onions. 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, Lime wedges.

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Fry the red curry paste till the raw smells disappears. Now throw in the veggies, add a bit of salt. Cover and cook till almost done.
Add soy, turmeric, salt pepper, sugar. give a mix. Stir in the coconut milk. Once it has boiled. Stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 2/3 minutes or so. Throw in the curry leaves and lemon grass stalks Cover and boil for 5 minutes.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

How to Serve:

Remove the lemon grass stalks from the broth before serving.

Take a deep bowl. Place a forkful or two of noodles. Pour the vegetable-coconut broth. Top with some sautéed mushrooms and onions, some fried tofu or paneer. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A drizzle of lime juice. Torn basil and coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve.

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

Note: For sautéing the mushrooms, onions and tofu. I sliced them thinly, gently sautéed in a bit of oil. Sprinkled salt and pepper powder. Hardly takes 5 minutes.

Note: Laksa is usually soupy and the noodles float in a water like broth. Now to make the soup, vegetable stock is preferred rather than plain water. Since I did not have any, I made a thick vegetable stew in coconut milk. It tasted more intense and enveloped my noodles well in a spicy tangy gravy.

all season food, this is.

all season food, this is.

The above is a not a perfect authentic recipe. I changed and customised it according to our likes and the ingredients available. So this recipe might just serve as a rough inspiration to cook the dish. So feel free to play around!

Happy Cooking dear readers 🙂

Appams and Vegetable Stew

My eyes widened with surprise. ‘They have an english name?! Really? Oh wow’.
Hoppers, he said.
‘Hoppers? So funny’, I was skeptical. He didn’t bother to elaborate and I googled an hour later 🙂

Lacy Hoppers is the anglicized name given to these lacy soft delicious pancakes made with rice and coconut milk. A speciality of a state tucked away in the south west corner of India. Kerala.

Vegetable Stew and Appams, a Kerala Speciality

Vegetable Stew and Appams, a Kerala Speciality

Kerala, commonly referred to as ‘God’s own Country’ is dotted with majestic hills, serene backwaters and palm fringed beaches. Along with its incredible beauty, highest literacy in a state, the place boasts of many gastronomical surprises. Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish, poultry and red meat. Since coconuts grow in abundance, the keralites use them in and on everything. Literally.

Creamy coconut gravy

Creamy coconut gravy

A thin vegetable stew simmered in coconut milk, flavored with whole spices like cinnamon and bay leaf and garnished with a tempering of curry leaves. Sounds good? Yes, even better with soft lacy pancakes. I used to make them so often earlier. And then in between I just stopped. I don’t know why. Maybe we got bored and then I simply forgot about them. Well, the husband reminded me and out came the aching desire to eat these hoppers with a runny stew.

Appams are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. They take their shape from the small Appachatti in which they are cooked. They are fairly neutral in taste and mostly served with some spicy condiment or curry. These hoppers are made from a batter using rice, yeast, salt and a little sugar. After the mixture has stood for a couple of hours, it can be fried in the appachatti with a little oil. It is mostly served with Kadala (Chickpea) curry, mutton or vegetable stew or egg roast.

PLAIN HOPPERS/AAPPAMS

In an appam chatti

In an appa chatti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, soaked. I used normal kolam rice.
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces
  • coconut water to grind, optional.
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • little oil to make the appams.

Method

Soak the rice for at least 3/4 hours. Grind the soaked rice, cooked rice and coconut using coconut water to a smooth paste. Add salt and sugar. Let it stand for at least 6 hours.

Before using the batter, add baking soda. Mix well. Now heat an appa chatti or a you can use any non stick small wok. Add just nne drop of oil to ensure that the batter doesn’t stick. Now drop a ladlefull of batter. Pick up the appa chatti in your hands, twirl it, so that the batter forms a lace around the middle portion. Place back on flame, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or till the sides start to leave the pan.

Serve with any curry, or stew or any non vegetarian curry of your choice.

Note: The batter though fermented is not one bit sour. Maybe because of the natural mild sweetness from the coconuts and the addition of 1/4 tsp of sugar.

Thin soft delicious

Soft Lacy Delicious

VEGETABLE STEW

Simple flavorful curry

Simple flavorful curry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup assorted vegetables, I used carrots, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, peas and capsicum – chopped.
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic, minced
  • 3/4 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 big bay leaf
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 4-5 pods of black pepper
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cups coconut milk, I used store brought.
  • Tempering: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and few sprigs of curry leaves.

Method

In a pot, heat coconut oil. Saute the whole spices till fragrant. Now add the ginger garlic, green chilies and onions. Saute till they just turn pink. Add all the chopped vegetables, along with salt. Pour half the coconut milk along with 1/4 cup water. Mix, cover and let it simmer till the vegetables are almost done.

Now stir in the rest of the coconut milk and let it boil for a minute or two. Make a tempering of oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour over the stew.

Serve hot with appams or plain rice or dosas.

Note: Since coconut milk is used generously, the stew needs to be spiced in order to be enjoyed with lacy appams. So I would suggest up the heat from the green chilies and peppers according to your taste.

Add any vegetable of your choice

Add any vegetable of your choice

Roasted Tomato Soup

Gorged on those cookies? Took more than a bite of that super moist Christmas cake? Could not say no to those scrumptious cheesy deep fried appetizers? Pigged out at parties? Drank more than what your self could handle? hmm…

Well, its time to cleanse guys. Detox they call it. To stop the binging. To start the healing. To start another year, fresh and healthy. To make resolutions – which usually don’t last more than a week 😉 Oh! We’ll save that for another post.

For now, it’s time to soupify your palette.

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

What I have here is a simple delicious luscious tomato soup recipe. Light, flavorful and so simple, you will find yourself making it more often than required. Best enjoyed with some home-made croutons or bread sticks, this one is sure a keeper.

I have a little soup lover at home. Along with the love comes the pricky palette which is SO not easy to please. Many of my tomato soup attempts tasted like ‘ketch-up’ to her and she hates ketch up. So, when I tried this particular method, you can imagine me heave such a sigh of relief when the bowl was polished off in no time. And she comes back for more.. yay! That’s my girl!

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

The recipe:

To make 2 bowls of soup:

Ingredients

  • 4 red ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 tiny potato
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, I used the fresh green variety with stalks.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven at 200 C. Cut all the veggies in circles and arrange on a greased baking tray. Throw in the garlic pods too. Brush all with olive oil. Sprinkle sugar evenly all over the vegetables.

Ready to go into the oven

Ready to go into the oven

Roast all the veggies for 15-20 minutes until roasted and browned. Turn the tray in between for even baking.
Once done, remove. cool. Blend into a smooth fine paste using little bit of water. Be careful not to add too much water, else the soup will be runny.
Run through a sieve. Boil again, check consistency. If too thick, add water or milk accordingly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot topped with little cream or cheese.

Best with: Croutons, bread sticks, crostinis or toasted bread.

low cal and super healthy

low cal and super healthy

Note: For those who do not have an oven. Take a wok, heat olive oil in it, saute garlic, onions, potato and lastly tomato, sprinkled with a little bit of salt. Sprinkle some water. Cover and let it cook. Once done, proceed as mentioned in the recipe above.

Note: The potato is added to give volume or thickness to the soup. The addition of potato eliminates the use of thickening agents like cornstarch or flour in milk.

Note: The bits of sugar on the vegetables help in caramelizing the veggies.

Note: To give extra kick to your soup, try adding one tiny green chili to the veggies on the baking tray. Spicy, salty, tangy and a little bit of sweet – all at the same time. Yummy!

For those chilly cold evenings..

For those chilly cold evenings..

Chilly winters call for some of this luscious soup.
So bake it. Make it. Lick it. Love it.

-Namrata

Wonder Veggie Kale – in a Stew and a Salad

I had seen it numerous times. On the net, in newspapers, on other blogs, on tastespotting and other food display sites. But never at my local vegetable market or for that matter in a supermarket too. So, when the most-health-conscious-paleo-obsessed-organic-freak friend of my husband dropped a bunch at our place, I was surprised. And Happy.

Kale Leaves

Kale Leaves

Kale Leaves. The wonder plant. Recently crowned as ‘Queen of Greens’, this gorgeous green is a nutritional powerhouse.

Glorifying the innumerable benefits, we love Kale as it is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. It is high in Vitamin K, A and C and filled with powerful antioxidants. Being a fabulous anti-inflammatory food, it is also great for cardiovascular support.

The clincher:
Can you believe, per calorie kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk! Yea. It rendered me speechless too.

Dal.. Wholesome and Tasty

Dal.. Wholesome and Tasty

So, when our dear friend, who, by the way the husband adores and is truly our one stop search for any information on food-health and diet, got us a bunch of Kale greens, I skipped into the kitchen. 🙂

Dishing out a very Indian Daal/Lentil Stew and a more sophisticated salad was a breeze.

You treat it as how you would treat any other green like spinach, fenugreek or amaranth. It is happy to be sautéed, baked or slow-cooked in a soup or stew, all of which break down its slightly bitter, tough exterior.

But kale can also be cajoled into a surprisingly delightful exquisite salad, it just needs a little hands-on tender love to turn it from sturdy to silky. So, when eating raw, you massage the leaves gently to ensure maximum flavour and right texture.

Kale Pomegranate Toasted Almonds

Kale Pomegranate Toasted Almonds

RECIPES

KALE LENTIL STEW

Kale Lentil Stew

Kale Lentil Stew

I made this in a south Indian style daal/stew, to be eaten with hot steaming rice and some poriyal/kootu.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toor/arhar daal, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 bunch of Kale leaves, washed, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger julienne
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil, I used ghee
  • 6-7 shallots or pearl onions, sliced thin
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or as per taste
  • 1 dry red chili
  • salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

I used a pressure cooker to boil the lentil. You could do that in a pot too. In the cooker, add soaked toor dal, salt, turmeric, 2 cloves of garlic and little ginger, one green chili and chopped tomato. Whistle for 3-4 counts.

Now, in a wok, heat 1 tbsp ghee. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Throw in the shallots, rest of the garlic, ginger and green chili. Saute till the onions turn pinkish brown. Now, throw in the chopped kale leaves. Sprinkle little salt. Mix well and cook till the leaves are almost done. Takes about 3-4 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. give it a boil or two.

Just before serving, heat another tbsp of ghee, throw in the dried red chili and red chili powder, immediately switch the flame off. This tempering is now poured over the ready daal. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice or chappathis.

If you would like to enjoy the dal as a soup, cut down the green chilies and ignore the red chili powder. What you then get is a bowl full of lentil-kale highly nutritious soup!

Tempering of Red chilies and Ghee

Tempering of Red chilies and Ghee

KALE POMEGRANATE TOASTED ALMOND SALAD

Salad

Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sea salt or rock salt according to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped or shredded
  • 1 tablespoons seeds of pumpkin and sunflower – optional
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries – optional
  • 3 tbsp toasted almonds, slivered

Method

Place your washed chopped kale leaves in a big bowl.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Mix well to combine and then pour over the kale.

Massage the leaves gently for 3-4 minutes, until the leaves start to soften and wilt, and no longer tastes bitter when you try it.

Sprinkle mint, seeds, pomegranate, cranberries and almonds over the top of the kale and serve.

Note: don’t omit the almonds! They add such crunch to the salad, you will be surprised.

Note: I omitted the cranberries and seeds, because I didn’t have any in hand, still the salad tasted great.

Note: Play around with the ingredients, throw in what you have, omit what you don’t. And if you have more ideas, do drop a line.

Wonder Veggie

Wonder Veggie

For those who live in India, you can buy Kale Leaves from the innumerable stores of Godrej’s Nature Basket.

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

I remember posting a recipe for pumpkin soup earlier. But this one is different. So cliched you would say. No, really. It’s different. A Thai version spiced with red curry paste and laced with coconut milk, gives the soup a spicy yet cooling effect. Cryptic? No, its simple. Red paste to heaten and coconut to cool.. getting both flavors without much harm done. So simple. And well so is the recipe.

Garnished with a little cream

Garnished with a little cream

Soups and stews are antagonistic to desserts where photography is concerned. To bribe anyone with pictures of soup is a mammoth task. I attempted various ways and I stumbled all the times. Soups make dreadful shots. I have no conniving methods(Read: Awesome clicks:) ) to garner attention to this post of mine.

I haven’t posted many yummy eats of mine just because I was not happy with the pictures. But perfecting shots is no piece of cake. And many a recipes were deleted in lure of those beautiful clicks. I was going to take a long time to improve, but that doesn’t mean, I should deprive you lovely people of fantastic simple procedures that I chanced upon. So, here I am.

Now, don’t mind the pictures, enjoy the rains with this spicy tangy yummy soup.

For rainy evenings....

For rainy evenings….

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped pumpkin
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic pods, minced or you could use 2 straws of fresh green garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste – or as you like it
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp flour or powdered oats
  • salt to taste
  • Oil or butter – just a blob
  • Basil leaves to garnish – optional
Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Pumpkin, Red Curry and Spicy soup

Method

In a deep pan or pressure cooker, heat oil/butter. Saute the garlic and onions till pink. Mix in the red curry paste now. Throw in the pumpkin, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Cook till done. Once it’s cooked, run a blender through the mix. If you like, you could strain the concoction or use it as it is. Now, mix a tsp of flour or oats to the coconut milk. Stir it in the pureed mix. Give it a good boil or two. If its runny, add more coconut-flour mix and if its thick, stir in some water or plain milk. Season with salt and garnish with chopped basil.

We have the spice from the red paste, a mild sweetness from the coconut milk and tang from the tomatoes. So many flavors!!

Slurrrp it away with toasted bread.

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste

Hint of coconut to beat the heat of red curry paste