22 June, 2007

Ash Gourd Majjige Huli

June… A month of heavy down pours, loud claps of thunders, sharp lightening… Yes. I am talking about Indian Monsoon rain. It is raining here in UK but I still miss the monsoon rain. For me they were always wild yet serene. I miss the heavenly smell of damp earth when the rain hits the ground for the first time, first drop of rain falling on my face, subtle scents of jasmine from garden, aroma of hot cup of coffee, the swaying of palm trees, pittar-patter of rain drops on roof, knee-deep water on roads, the falling of mangoes and coconut in backyard… Ah monsoon… There is magic in that word, there is romance in season and there is life in it.
Magical beauty of monsoon cloud always reminds me the poems of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta. Meghaduta, the cloud-messenger is a collection of poems which narrates the story of a Yaksha (a divine attendant of Kubera, God of wealth according to Hindu mythology) who is exiled for a year from his home and his new bride. Yaksha during his exile passes his messages to his beloved through passing monsoon cloud and the poem beautifully covers the vivid journey of cloud passing through mountains, rivers, forests and the love, longing and passion these lovers share. No wonder monsoon is aptly called as lover’s season because monsoon brings with it a feeling of love, romance and longing.
If you want to see the true colours of India, visit her during the season of monsoon rains. It brings out the best colours of beautiful India with festivity and joy. How can you not fall in love with monsoon when you see kids dancing on streets, elders enjoying their cup of tea in the balcony of their home, mothers preparing naram-garam pakodas and coffee, lovers holding their hands and spending some intimate moments, farmers welcoming the rain goddess, the breath taking beauty of lush green landscape, palm trees gently swaying to the rhythm of rain… Yes, just thinking about brings lot of happiness and breath of fresh life for a people like me who are thousands of miles away from home. I do miss my home and I do miss monsoon…
Majjige Huli is one such recipe which brings back fond memories of home. Lightly spiced coconut and buttermilk curry is my favourite dish to eat with aromatic basmati rice and spicy mango pickle. It is one of the dishes which bring out the true taste of vegetable as usually only one vegetable is used to make it. My favourite vegetables for cooking Majjige Huli are green bell pepper, Thai eggplant (Udupi Gulla Badane), green tomato, chayote, yellow cucumber and ash gourd. Majjige Huli is much similar to Mor Kulumbu of our neighboring state and can be prepared with minimum ingredients and very little time.

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Ash Gourd Majjige Huli


Ash Gourd Majjige Huli
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients:
3-4 cups Ash Gourd, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
¾ cup Grated Coconut, fresh or frozen
1 cup Sour Yogurt or 1½ cups Sour Buttermilk
1 small marble sized Tamarind (Optional)
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
1-2 Green Chilli
¼ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard
1 Dry Red Chilli
A Pinch of Hing/Asafetida
Few Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil (preferably Coconut Oil)

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Ash Gourd Majjige Huli

Method:
Cook ash gourd in about 2½ cups of water with salt to taste and tamarind for about 5-7 minutes. Use tamarind only if the buttermilk/yogurt is not sour enough.
Grind grated fresh/frozen coconut with green chillies, jeera and turmeric powder adding little water to make a smooth paste and keep aside.
When ash gourd is cooked add this ground paste and mix well. Add little more water if the gravy is too thick and bring it to boil.
In a mean while, beat yogurt by adding little water at a time to get buttermilk consistency and add it to the curry and mix well.
Cook it for further 1-2 minutes in low flame and turn of the gas.
Heat coconut oil in a tadka pan and add mustard, hing, broken red chilli and curry leaves. When mustard starts to pop and sputter transfer the tadka to Majjige Huli and mix well.
Serve hot Majjige Huli with rice and pickle of your choice.

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Ash Gourd Majjige Huli

PS: We will be leaving for a short vacation; away from all hustle-bustle, ringing phones and mobiles, glaring computers… Talk to you all when we get back :) Will miss you all. Happy cooking and happy blogging buddies :)

18 June, 2007

Sweet 'n Sour Badane Palya

Brinjal, often described as ‘the king of vegetables’ … You either love it or hate it! Luckily I fall into the Brinjal lover category and so does my Appa. When we were kids, sometimes after school hours my sister and I would go to my dad’s clinic for routine dental check up and wait in his office till he finished his work. We both would sit in his office which had a glass partition and watch Appa treating his patients in fascination. We both never got tired of waiting for him to finish his work as the clinic was always filled with people and lots of small kids to play with. My sister and myself were quite used to the attention received by his assistants and patients and we enjoyed when we were called as Putani (small) Doctors. Appa being a generous soul would never take money for treatment from poor people or charge very less when they insisted on pay. Some of his patients were farmers and they would come with a big cane basket filled with fresh vegetables and fruits from their farm which would last for weeks.
So whenever my Appa got chance to buy vegetables he would jump at the chance and enjoy it. When most of the customers tried to negotiate the price with the vendor, Appa would stand quietly in one corner and watch them in amusement. Bargaining is something which my dad never liked and for this reason every vegetable vendor loved selling vegetables to him. Without wasting too much of time in picking the vegetables or negotiating the prices, he would come home with bag full of selected vegetables of his choice. It was a tough time for Amma as she had to throw half the rotten vegetables which those smart vegetables vendors used to sneak without my dad’s knowledge. Every time Amma would beg Dad to not to buy vegetables and waste half of money on rotten vegetables and he would smile charmingly and continue to shop for vegetables. I am not sure if he enjoyed buying the vegetables or enjoyed watching my mom grumbling for getting vegetables without checking properly. I remember the day when he got a dozen of tomatoes when the tomato prices were rocketing and only three were good enough for cooking.
One vegetable he would always pick was Brinjal/Eggplant. My Amma used to cook different delicious eggplant dishes using different varieties of eggplants. Back in my native, we get a special type of eggplant which is famously known as Udupi Gulla Badane or Matti Gulla which is excellent for Sambar, Majjige Huli (buttermilk and coconut based) and sweet and tangy Gojju. Gulla Badane is round shaped, light green coloured Brinjal and Amma used to cook sweet and sour Badane Palya which I remember relishing with steam cooked rice and chilled yogurt. This thinly sliced eggplant delicately cooked in a tangy tamarind puree and sweet jaggery and lightly spiced up with aromatic sambar powder to give it extra flavour and aroma is a favourite dish in our family. Unlike other usual Palyas where we just stir fry vegetables, this Badane Palya is packed with three different flavours. The finished product is a silky smooth eggplant which tickles your taste bud and makes very satisfying meal all together. This is my contribution to this month's JFI-Eggplant guest hosted by Sangeeta of Ghar Ka Khana.

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Sweet 'n Sour Badane Palya


Sweet 'n Sour Badane Palya
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients:
1 big Eggplant
1-2 Green Chillies
1 small lime sized Tamarind
3-4 tbsp Jaggery
1 tbsp Sambar/Rasam Powder(Acc to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 tbsp Oil
½ tbsp Channa Dal
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1-2 Dry Red Chilli
A pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
Few Fresh Curry Leaves

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Badane Palya

Method:
Soak tamarind in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes and squeeze out the pulp.
In a mean while cut the eggplant in the middle vertically and cut each halve into long, thin, vertical stripes. Chop these strips into 2 inch pieces and keep them immersed in cold water till needed. Soaking eggplants in cold water will help in stopping the eggplant pieces turning dark in colour.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add all the ingredients listed for tempering.
When mustard stars to pop and sputter add the tamarind puree, jaggery, slit green chillies and another cup of water.
Bring this mixture to boil and then add sliced eggplant pieces and mix them well.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes and sauté them in between.
Now add sambar powder, turmeric powder and salt to taste and mix them well.
Cook this uncovered in medium to low flame for another 5-7 minutes till all the water is evaporated and the eggplant is cooked well.
Serve this sweet and sour Badane Palya hot with steamed rice and chilled yogurt.

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Sweet 'n Sour Badane Palya

Tip:
Mix this sweet 'n sour Badane Palya with the left over rice and make a delicious plate of Brinjal Rice in a minute.


Did You Know?
The eggplant is part of the "nightshade" family which includes tomatoes, potatoes and sweet peppers.
The eggplant actually becomes bitter as it ages so use it promptly. The older the eggplant, the tougher the skin.
Eggplant is actually a fruit but is cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
Women in the Orient used to use the peel of the eggplant as dye to stain their teeth gray because that was the rage.
(Source: www.deliciousorganics.com)


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Badane Palya

13 June, 2007

A Century & Not Out!!!

"Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily trips. You will be surprised how they will set small flames of friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit."
- Dale Carnegi

Some 8 months ago when I started Spice Corner I had no idea it would become integral part of my life. One day while as usual browsing the internet, a newly wedded girl, away from her family and friends living in a strange country stumbled upon a magical world of Food Blogs. She looked at each and every blog with awe and started trying the recipes from there. Some turned out to be a crowd pleaser and some were absolute disaster. Slowly she started gaining confidence with cooking and started giving her own touch to different recipes. At last she decided to post her experiments on net so that she can keep track all the recipes which she learnt from her mother, MIL, cook books and blogs. Yes, Spice Corner was just a backup for all the recipes I tried and loved by my family and friends.
That was just the beginning… Never in my wildest dream had I imagined to meet so many wonderful people from all over the globe. Since then my whole purpose of blogging has changed and I have found a new meaning for blogging. Spice Corner is not just a food blog to me, its much more than that. It has become a very special place where we all blogger buddies gather and share not just recipes but our memories and experience. It has made me realize that friendship and love has no boundary and barrier. Spice Corner showcases my passion for food and life and I am enjoying each and every moment of it. Cooking is no more a chore, it is my passion. I have come a long way from a girl who would hesitate to boil the water to a woman who knows the joy of culinary adventure.
Thank you… that’s all I can say at this moment to each and every readers of Spice Corner. Thanks to my dear blogger buddies; you are my source of inspiration. Thanks to all those anonymous and ghost readers who left their trail in Spice Corner. And a special thanks to my hubby dear for his patience, guidance, encouragement and everything.
So my 100th post is dedicated to all you lovely bloggers out there… These are the recipes I tried from my fellow bloggers and have become my family favorites. Let the celebration begin...


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Gutti Vankaya from Indira's Mahanandi

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Palak Pakodi from Sharmi's Neivedyam

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Chane Gashi from Manjula's Dalitoy

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05 June, 2007

Green Bell Pepper/Capsicum Soup

Yeah, yeah… It’s still soupy soup season for us here. Unlike other parts of the world where everyone is basking in golden sun and sand, we, not so privileged ones are snuggling under cosy blanket with a bowl of hot soup and dreaming of all that glorious sunshine. I just have to close my eyes to feel that cool breeze from palm-fringed beaches and lush green fields in my native. We are almost there… Right now while writing this post I can see the sun peeping out of the clouds and smiling. Oh!!! When will he grow up and stop playing that silly peek-a-boo. May be he did hear me grumbling about the same thing again and again. It’s strange as how the weather can be so deceptive. We had early spring in this part of the world and according to the weather forecast (here they come) we are on the way to one of the hottest summers in the history and I am waiting for the day when I can start grumbling about hot and sweaty summer days. Oh!!! Let me stop sulking and come back to my favourite subject.
Here is the recipe of Green Pepper Soup which I found in one of my cook books by an anonymous author. I tweaked it to suite my taste and preference, as I usually do most of the times, to create a filling, good tasting bowl of soup. Although it’s little fattening with that cream I sneaked into it, you can always lighten it my using milk in place of cream and modify it to suit your needs. The peppery taste of green capsicum is mellowed with cream which gives it extra richness and taste. Serve this hot bowl of soup with some bread and boiled vegetables tossed in your favourite herb/spice mix. The recipe below makes 3-4 servings of soup.

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Green Bell Pepper Soup


Green Bell Pepper Soup
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20-30 mins
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients:
3 Green Peppers/Capsicum, finely chopped
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
¾ tbsp Maida/All purpose flour
4-5 cups Vegetable Broth (or use 2-3 cubes of Veg Stock)
½ cup Fresh Cream(adjust as per taste)
1 tbsp Lime/Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Butter/Oil
1tsp Dry Mixed Herbs
Black Pepper & Salt to taste

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Green Bell Pepper Soup

Method:
Heat butter/oil in a pan and add finely chopped garlic and onions. Sauté it at medium flame till onion turns translucent.
Now add chopped green peppers and sauté them continuously for about 5-6 minutes till the pepper become soft and skin starts to wilt.
Mix the Maida and cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes till the raw smell of Maida is gone.
Next add about 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring it to boil. Remove the pan from flame and let it completely cool down a bit.
Transfer the contents to a food processor and puree the mixture to smooth consistency without adding any more of water.
Transfer this puree back to the pan and add vegetable broth, dry mixed herbs and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Simmer and cook uncovered till the bubbles are formed at the surface, stirring in between.
When the bubbles are formed, mix the fresh cream, lime/lemon juice and adjust the seasoning per taste. Cook this for further 4-5 minutes in medium flame.
Garnish with microwaved pepper rings and serve with boiled vegetables and roasted new potatoes and bread of your choice.

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Green Bell Pepper Soup


Did You Know?
The bell pepper is low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium and high in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Magnesium.
Green, sweet bell peppers have 2 times as much vitamin C as oranges; red and yellow bell peppers have 4 times as much.
The nutritional value and health benefit of bell pepper makes it ideal for maintaining optimum health and weight loss. So don’t include too much bell pepper in your diet if you are interested in weight gain.
(Source: www.great-workout.com)


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Green Bell Pepper Soup

PS: Have you noticed a new Foodie Blogroll created by lovely Jenn of Leftover Queen which is for people who have a passion for food? Click here for more information about Foodie Blogroll and join the ever growing community of all the Foodies around the world.

01 June, 2007

Raw Mango & Spinach Dal

Luscious, succulent mango fruit!
How do we guard you from the brute?

King of fruits, without dispute

To you we all humbly salute!


Ripe, and unripe in forms many,

Enjoyed universally by all and any!

Ah., delicious and sweet as sugar cane,

Protecting you can be wildly insane!


Your name derives from the word "mAngaai"

You are linked to the legend of Surya Bai!

Food of the gods! How you enchant!

O’ tangy Drupe! Wishes you grant!


Akin to Maya - you are the fruit of gold,

That sages in Arunachala have extolled;

Witness to battle and thunder storm

You let Soorapadman take your form!


O’ earthy, ripe "Sappattai" delight,

Envy of the "Alphonso" this starry night!
Gazing at onlookers from the compound wall,

How gracefully you sway amidst trees tall!


Then, in the quiet afternoon Chennai sun,

When the siesta of ladies has just begun,

Fearless street urchin and vagabond alike

Gear up towards you to aim and strike.


Alas! Shouting to protect is of no avail,

For the wily ones on the prowl prevail;

As adroitly they grab and you will snatch
Pray,
can any match a more princely catch?


A well directed stone at you they throw

Following victory cries of "kokku"* ru kO!

Ah.. heavenly "kokku" sweet as cane,

Yes, protecting you is indeed in vain!


Mango mania… I just need to take a quick peek at food blogs and my heart goes mmmm….Mango. This is the magic of the “food of the Gods”. Ask any Indian child to share his/her childhood memories and mangoes will be golden part of his/her childhood. I remember the mango orchard in my grandma’s home, where hundreds of mango trees laden with beautiful shades of green and gold would lure me and turn me into mischievous brat. My mango memories match the vibrant golden colour of mangoes. We cousins a bunch of monkeys, loved eating mangoes the way monkeys eat them:) Raw or ripe, just bite and suck the whole mango and enjoy that sweet, sticky juice squirting all over our chin, arms and cloths. Pure bliss… Although eating mangoes from our orchard was fun, aiming a slingshot at our neighbour’s tree felt more appropriate ;) When confronted by our elders, we would innocently deny the fact that we stole mangoes from our neighbour’s tree. Staying in Pardes I can imagine the fruit markets in India with the bewildering array of mangoes, heaped lustily on straw baskets or placed in hay to ripen evenly from cool green to hot yellow. Most of my childhood memory strings are attached to the king of fruits and hence there is no question of I am getting tired of mangoes, be it rambling or eating. We Indians have been talking excitedly about the fruit for 3000, yes 3000 years, where as the western world has savoured it for only 300 years!!! More reasons to celebrate the mango season.
One particular dish I always liked was Amma’s Raw Mango and Spinach Dal. Everyday boring dal would dazzle with the addition of sour and tangy mangoes. The combination of mixed dals with power packed spinach and mango is a marriage made in heaven. Just few pieces of mangoes not only enhances the flavour but gives the much needed anti-oxidant supply to the body. Sweet, spicy and tangy dal will be ready to serve in no time.

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Raw Mango & Spinach Dal


Raw Mango & Spinach Dal
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients:
1 cup Raw Mango, diced into 1 cm cubes
2 cups Spinach, finely chopped
1 large Tomato, finely chopped
1 small Onion, finely chopped
½ cup Masoor Dal/Red Lentils
½ cup Split Moong Dal
½ cup Split Channa Dal
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ inch Ginger, crushed
½ tbsp Jaggary
3-4 Green Chillies, slit
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Coriander Powder
2-3 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp Fresh Lime/Lemon Juice (optional, use them if the mangoes are not sour)
1 tbsp Oil/Ghee
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1-2 Dry Red Chilli
Few Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
½ tbsp Ghee/Oil

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Raw Mango & Spinach Dal

Method:
Wash all three dals in water and add about 2½ cups of water.
Cook these dals in a pressure cooker with turmeric powder and few drop of oil for about 10 minutes or one whistle.
Cool the cooker before opening the lid.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add chopped onion.
Sauté the onion till it turns transparent for about 2 minutes and add slit chilli, crushed ginger, cumin and coriander powder.
Sauté it in a medium flame for a minute till nice aroma comes and then add finely chopped tomatoes, cooked dal, spinach and about 2 cups of water. Adjust the amount of water based on the consistency of dal.
Cook this on a medium flame for 5 minutes until the spinach leaves are half cooked.
Now add diced mangoes, jaggary and salt to taste and cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes till the mangoes become tender and all flavours blend well.
Just before switching off the gas, add chopped coriander leaves and lime/lemon juice. Omit lime/lemon juice if the mangoes are sour.
In a tadka pan, heat oil and add jeera, mustard, red chilli, hing and curry leaves.
When mustard starts to pop and splutter transfer this to dal and mix well.
Serve this hot and delicious mango-spinach dal with Chapatti or with Jeera Rice or with plain rice and papad.

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Raw Mango & Spinach Dal


Did You Know?
The name mango comes from Tamil. From man-kay or man-gay, it changed to manga.
The people who gave it the name manga or mango were the Portuguese. They first came to India, across the oceans, about 500 years ago. As they settled down in parts of India, they discovered the mango.
It was Portuguese who started experimenting with new varieties of mango -- the famous Alphonso or Mulgoa that we cherish today, is the result of their hard work.
Down the ages, several qualities have got attached to the mango. It is seen as a symbol of good luck and in many parts of west and south India, mango leaves are put up at the front door.
It is a belief that the mango tree has the power to make wishes come true.
The mango tree is also associated with the god of love "Manmatha'; its blossoms are considered to be the god's arrows.
It is said that the Buddha created a white mango tree which was later worshipped by his followers.
(Source:www.pitara.com)


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Raw Mango & Spinach Dal

PS: This is one funny Indian rap I recieved as forward. Click on the play button, play the song and enjoy!!! And no, I am not the composer!!! ;) Have a gr8 weekend:)


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