Sambar

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Sambar is one of my all time favorites. So is it for DD ๐Ÿ™‚ From my childhood, this is one thing that I have consistently liked. Usually in my home, mom mostly prepares Palakkadan Sambar. Taste-wise, no doubt I like that better, but when it comes to ease of making it, the regular sambar is the best. Especially because I just make it all in one shot, in pressure cooker. There would be rarely any South Indian family that doesn’t have sambar atleast once a week ๐Ÿ™‚ These days, things are a little different though, specially when you are in other countries ๐Ÿ˜›

Though there are various curries that could be used with rice like rasam, moru, dal etc. etc., according to me, there is no replacement for sambar. Till I met people from other states, I was thinking that Sambar is made of assorted vegetables and thats the only way it could be made. But from friends and colleagues, I came to know that they make Drumstick sambar, Raddish sambar, Okra sambar etc. Its individual preference, but atleast the place I come from, Sambar is a lovely combination of lentils and all kinds of assorted vegetables. The aroma of sambar can awaken your pallets. The best part is that it is such a healthy dish to have. I don’t know why I didn’t post this recipe earlier ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Toor dal(yellow dal) – 1 cup
Shallots – 4-5 nos
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – 1 inch sized ball
(If you are using tamarind extract – 1 tsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Sambar powder – 1 heaped tsp
Tomato – 1 no, cubed
Assorted vegetables cut lengthwise:
Carrot – 1/2 no
Drumsticks – 1 no
Green Beans – 9-10
Raw banana – 1 no, small sized
Baby brinjal – 2 nos
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1 tsp)
Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coriander leaves – 3 strands

METHOD:

1. Soak toor dal in water for sometime, say 30 mins. Boil it in cooker and give 3 whistles. Mash the cooked dal to form a thick smooth paste.
(For those who do not know how much quantity of water to use to boil the dal, use 1:1.5 ratio of dal vs water)
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water for few mins and extract the tamarind juice.
3. In the same cooker, to the dal, add shallots, asafoetida, tamarind, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder, tomato, all the cut vegetables, 1 spring curry leaves and salt. Add 3-4 cups of water also.
4. Close the pressure cooker and cook sambar in high flame. After 2 whistles, keep in simmer/low flame for 5 mins.
5. Once all the steam escapes, open the cooker and mix the sambar well. At this time, you can adjust the consistency of the sambar by either adding more water or boiling it for some more time to make it thicker.
6. In a pan, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Then add broken red chillies and curry leaves to it. Switch off the stove and add this tempering to the sambar.
7. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and sambar is ready in no time.

Serve with Idli / Mini Idli / Dosa or rice!

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Sharakkara upperi(Plantain chips coated with jaggery syrup)

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Sharakkara upperi is nothing but a sweet version of plantain chips. The plantain is fried and coated with a jaggery syrup and seasoned with some special flavors. An absolutely charming snack, that you can keep on munching without realizing that it got over in no time.

Let me be honest here. I will not say that making this is easy. Atleast it wasnโ€™t so for me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Frying the chips is the easier part. Getting the right consistency for the jaggery syrup and mixing the powders to the chips and getting it dried up is the tricky part. I made it once and it did not come out well. Well, also coz I got the measurements of the powders wrong and I didnโ€™t stir the chips long enough to coat it well with the jaggery till it all dried up. But the second time, I was lot more patient with my attempt and I got it right. Phew @#%&@!* ๐Ÿ˜€ I didnโ€™t want to take risk, so I made it with just 1 plantain and it got finished the same day!!!

Tips: 1. After you fry the chips, drain/take out all the extra oil in the chips.
2. If you plan to make plantain chips and sharakkara upperi together, fry the sharakkara upperi first. This is because, while frying the plantain chips, you will sprinkle saline solution. And salt will make the sharakkara upperi ooze out water and it could get sticky and prevent it from being crispy.
3. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil – 2 cups
Coconut oil(optional) – 1/2 cup
Raw Plantain/Nendrakkaya – 1 no
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Jaggery – 1/3 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 1 tbsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Powdered sugar – 1 tsp

METHOD:

1. Remove the plantain skin well. You would need to use a small knife for ease of removing it. Do not use a peeler!
2. In a bowl of water, put some turmeric powder and immerse this plantain in it.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a kadai(deep cooking pot).
4. Take the plantain and wipe it well using a kitchen towel. Cut the plantain into 1/4 inch slices(round pieces) and cut each 1/4 inch slice into half.
5. Heat oil(+coconut oil) in a kadai. Put the plantain slices(halves) into hot oil.
6. Cook in medium flame till the plantain pieces cook well and get crispy.
7. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.
8. Remove the chips from oil and place on kitchen towel till the excess oil is removed.
9. Meanwhile, melt jaggery in a pan using water.
10. Stir continously till the jaggery starts to thicken. (It shouldn’t be too thick nor watery).
11. Put the fried chips/pieces into the jaggery syrup and stir continuously.
12. Put the cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, cumin powder and ghee to this and mix well.
13. Once all pieces are coated well with the jaggery syrup, remove from heat and allow it to cool for sometime. Add powdered sugar to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other.

Plantain Chips

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Plantain chips or โ€˜Upperiโ€™ is not the same as Banana chips. Atleast in the US, thatโ€™s a huge difference. Banana and plantain are 2 different fruits. Some of these information you realize or learn only when you have to deal with it ๐Ÿ˜› To me, banana and plantain was one and the same. When I had to make chips, which is made of Plantain(Nendrakkaya), I had to be sure not to pick raw banana instead. To me it was a new thing that I learnt this time ๐Ÿ˜› Some of you, like DD, might think that how could I not know the difference and how can I act dumb!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But for me, it was the same experience as finding out that Lime and Lemon are 2 different fruits and are NOT the same ๐Ÿ˜€

Whether or not I should make plantain chips was a difficult decision to make. Its so much more easier to just buy it from stores. But when I thought I will make a special page for Onam, I thought I should try every recipe however tedious or easy it is. After I made it, I felt so happy because these things are so easy to make at home and I feel our generation already doesnโ€™t know so many cooking techniques our previous generations practised. Afterall, Kerala is famous for its Banana chipe or rather Plaintain chips. So I feel proud that I learnt how to make the most popular snack of my homeland ๐Ÿ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil – 2 cups
Coconut oil(optional) – 1/2 cup
Raw Plantain – 1 no
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Salt – to taste(approx. 1/4 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Remove the plantain skin well. You would need to use a small knife for ease of removing it. Do not use a peeler!
2. In a bowl of water, put some turmeric powder and immerse this plantain in it.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil(+coconut oil) in a kadai(deep cooking pot).
4. Also, mix salt in approx. 1/2 cup water and keep aside.
5. Once the oil is heated, take the plantain and wipe it well using a kitchen towel. Using a slicer, slice the plantain into thin slices and put into hot oil. Slice it directly into the oil to prevent plantain slices from sticking to each other.
6. Let the plantain cook in medium-low or low flame. You will have to let it cook for a long time for it to get crispy. So ensure that it doesn’t burn or turn brown in the process of frying them.
7. Once the plantain chips is almost getting ready(when it makes a hissing sound), sprinkle the salt water on the chips evenly(Be careful when you do this. The oil will splatter. A splatter guard will be handy in this case.)
8. Take out a plantain chip and if it is not chewy/uncooked, remove the chips and place on kitchen towel till the excess oil is removed. Else continue to cook till the chips are crispy.

Sambaram(Flavored Buttermilk)

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Sambaram or Morumvellam, as we call it, is a perfect drink on a hot summer day. Sambaram is nothing but seasoned buttermilk. There is nothing like tender coconut water or buttermilk that can cool down your body in summer. And both of these things are very commonly found in Kerala. I remember when we were kids, we would buy the sambaram pouches that was supplied by โ€˜Milmaโ€™ on our way back from school ๐Ÿ˜€

Samabaram or moru can also be used to mix with rice when you donโ€™t wanna make any curry specifically. For any feast(served for occassions like onam, weddings or bโ€™day), there is an order followed for the dishes served on the leaf. Parippu/Dal followed by Sambar is given in the 1st serving. Rasam followed by sambaram is usually the 2nd serving. Usually since both rasam and sambaram are good for digestion and is very liquidy, people tend to take it in glass and drink it at the end of the meal. Try sambaram this onam and end your meal with this cooling agent ๐Ÿ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Or
Buttermilk – 2 cups
Green chilli – 1 no
Ginger – 1/4 inch
Curry leaves – 4-5 leaves
Shallots – 2 nos
Salt – 1/2 tsp

METHOD:

1. If using yogurt: Mix the yougurt and 1.5 cups water in a bowl and whisk it well. It shouldn’t have any lumps. Else, take the buttermilk in a bowl. Add salt to this and mix well.
2. In a mixie/blender, pulse the remaining ingredients couple of times.
3. Put this in the buttermilk and mix well.
4. While serving, you could strain the sambaram, to filter out the solid ingredients ๐Ÿ™‚

Pineapple pachadi

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Pineapple pachadi is a sweet and sour side dish used for meals. Especially during onam, when there are many dishes that fill the banana leaf(For Onam, meals or food is served on Banana leaf), pineapple pachadi is a popular pick. It is a perfect blend of the sweetness from pineapple, the sourness from yogurt/curd and heat from green chilli. The seasoning or flavor of thick coconut-cumin-mustard paste makes it yummy ๐Ÿ™‚

Pachadi can be make from different vegetables like Beetroot, Okra(Vendakka), Ripe mango etc. Made this for the first time and I was thinking that I might not like it due to it sweetness. But surprisingly, it was good!!!

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Pineapple – 100 gm or 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Yogurt – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 1 no
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Salt – to taste(apprx. 3/4 tsp)
Oil – 1 tbsp

To grind:-
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup, approx. 65 gm
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Green chilli – 1 no

METHOD:

1. In a saucepan, heat some water(approx. 1 cup). To this, add the finely chopped pineapple, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and half the salt.
2. Cook covered till the pineapple pieces cook well and becomes very soft(that it can be mashed). Add water if you think that the pineapple will stick to the pan.
3. Meanwhile grind the ingredients mentioned under ‘To Grind’ section into a smooth paste using a mixie/blender.
4. Once pineapple cooks, add the ground coconut mix to the bowl and mix well.
5. Let it boil for few mins and cook through in medium flame.
6. Add the yogurt/curd and mix well. Reduce the flame to sim once you add yogurt/curd. Let it stay for a minute or so.
7. Add the remaining salt and mix well. Remove from flame.
8. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once mustard seeds splutter, add broken dry red chilli and curry leaves. Remove from flame once it splutters.
9. Put this on the prepared pineapple pachadi and give a stir.

Serve with rice!

Olan(Cowpeas ‘N Pumpkin stew)

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Olan is one of those dishes that you should make when you absolutely want no spices or masala. It is a simple dish made with the most simple ingredients and yet is a wholesome dish. Another easy dish that has a definite spot in your Onam sadya leaf ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the color of this dish. The color itself is an indication of the simplicity of this dish. Usually this is made using pumpkin, but you could use squash instead.

INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Squash/Pumpkin – 100 gm/1 cup
Cowpeas – 1/2 cup
Green chilli – 3 nos, slit
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut milk – 5 tbsp
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(approx. 1/4 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Soak cowpeas in water for 8 hours or overnight. Boil it using little salted water in a cooker(give about 5-6 whistles).
2. In a pan, put little water(approx. 1 cup), sliced squash/pumpkin, slit green chillies, curry leaves, coconut milk and salt. Boil these in medium flame.
3. Add the cowpeas when the pumpkin/squash is half cooked. Cook covered till the vegetable cooks through. Add water if needed.
4. Remove from heat and pour coconut oil and give a good mix.

Serve with rice!

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Potato Kootu Curry(Coconut milk based potato gravy)

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Potato kootu curry is NOT one of the most popular kootu curry for onam sadya. In most homes, kootu curry is made of either raw banana or yam or black chana/kadala. The preparation of these kootu curry will also be very similar to any other preparation using coconut and jeera paste. However, I stick to this kootu curry when it comes to sadya/feasts since that would be a different taste from the other dishes. This is a preparation style of southern most Kerala bordering Nagercoil. My mom introduced this dish to one of our sadyas back in our school days and ever since I have loved this side dish.

I was thinking it will go well only for a rice combo plate. But last time I made it, we had this curry with poori and we liked it quite good. This is a very simple dish and gets ready in no time. Try this for your onam sadya this time and enjoy the difference ๐Ÿ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Potato – 1 no. medium sized, cubed
Onion – 1/2 of a medium sized, cubed
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cloves – 3 nos
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cardamom – 1 no
Coconut milk – 3 tbsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Coconut oil – 1.5 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 1 no
Salt – to taste(approx. 1/2 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Take some water(little over 1 cup) in a pan. Put cubed potatoes, cubed onions, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, half of curry leaves and salt in it.
2. Let it boil. Cook covered in medium flame till the potatoes cook through. Add water if needed.
3. Reduce the flame and put coconut milk and give a good stir. Cook for 3-4 mins and remove from stove.
4. In a pan, heat coconut oil. Put mustard seeds and once it splutters, add broken dry red chilli and remaining curry leaves. Saute till dry red chillies turn slightly brown.
5. Pour this onto the potato gravy kept aside and give a good mix.