Friday, January 23, 2015

Pazham Pori (Fried Plantains)

One of the fruits I dislike intensely is banana. Yes, I know I'm in a minority. I can't abide the taste or the smell or the consistency. Its just... awful. My kids love it. My husband loves it. And I'm sure you love it too. That is, if you are still here reading this post.

One of the tea time snacks my mother-in-law makes is hugely popular with everyone (except me, because of the above-mentioned banana). But for what it's worth, I thought some of you may enjoy it. This is sort of like a vegetarian posting a non-vegetarian recipe. I haven't eaten this myself but we do make it at home, and the looks on people's faces when they eat this is pure delight. So, please enjoy. And if you are like me and don't like bananas, please say so in the comments so I don't feel so much like an outcast!

Pazham Pori
(Fried Plantain Fritters)

3 Ripe Plantains (or those really long bananas, in case you cant find plantains). In Tamil its called Nendram Pazham, the closest equivalent in English is Plantain. Here's a picture.  

For the Batter: 
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Rice Flour
1 pinch of Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Sugar
Salt, to taste
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Powder

Oil, for deep frying

Mix all the ingredients for the batter together. Heat the oil in a wok or deep bottomed pan. Cut the plantains lengthwise or into small circles (as I have done here). Carefully dip the plantains into the batter to completely coat it, and then even more carefully, drop the battered plantains into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until evenly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on a paper towel. Repeat for remaining plantain. 

Serve hot. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I have long been an avid reader of Saveur magazine and their former Editor-in-Chief James Oseland. Being a food journalist, or a food critic (my favorite is Ruth Reichl - please read any and all of her books - they are all fantastic!) has long been a dream. Wouldn't that be a fantastic job? Travel the world eating amazing (and maybe sometimes not-so-amazing) food? Sigh. Maybe in another lifetime.

Anyways, getting back to Saveur. I have long been an avid reader but have been a little apprehensive about trying their recipes since they seemed daunting. This one though, I thought, I have to just try it and if it doesn't look or taste great, then that's fine, but maybe it will be awesome and I will then have a fail-safe Mediterranean flatbread recipe! And that's just what happened.

(not a great picture but had only my phone's camera on hand and had to take a picture quickly before everyone started devouring the bread)

Flatbread with Za'atar

(Recipe from Saveur Sept 2014)

1 cup Flour (I did whole wheat and all-purpose. But I assume the recipe calls for all-purpose only)
2 Tbsp Za'atar (this is a Mediterranean spice mix which is very versatile)
1 tsp Salt
6 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Water

To Serve:
a handful of Olives, chopped
Tomatoes, sliced
and Mint.

Mix together flour, salt, 1 tbsp of the oil and water and stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, then cover with let rest in a warm space for 10 minutes.

Mix together the za'atar and 2 tbsp oil in a different bowl and set aside. 

Roll out the dough into a circle (recipe calls for about a 10" circle, 1/6" thick, but you could just eyeball it). Heat a skillet over medium-high and cook the dough until golden brown and slightly puffed up, about 5-7 minutes, flipping once.

Spread the bread with the za'atar and oil mix. Serve with olives, tomatoes and mint on the side (I served it on the side because everyone in my family wanted to eat just the bread!).

This was delicious!! Try it.

Other recipes in this blog that use Za'atar:
Za'atar Platter, 
Whole Wheat Bread with Za'atar,
Za'atar and Goat Cheese Pull-Apart Bread.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chettinad Dāngar

The chettiars are an old banking and financial community in India, and especially present in southern India. The Chettiars are considered to be among the pioneers of organised banking in the country. They are also credited with introducing the concept of double entry bookkeeping, 'Pattru Varavu' in Tamil, commonly known as debit and credit. This community from the south of Tamil Nadu has left a silent signature on everything from manufacturing to banking, fertiliser and films. And on food. Chettiar cuisine is characterized by aromatic and spicy foods with fresh ground masalas and lots of seafood and meat, except beef and pork. 

Some chettiars are originally from Burma where they functioned as moneylenders and contributed significantly to the economic development of Burma. Hence a lot of chettinad food has Burmese and Malay influences. 

This dish is a spicy pickle/ side that tastes great with idlis and kuzhipaniyarams and dosas, and as a spread on toast. It is spicy, tart and sweet. 

Chettinad Dāngar

2 cups small Onions, chopped fine
1 cup Tomato, chopped fine
6-8 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
8-10 (or according to how spicy you'd like it) dried Red Chilles
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp Tamarind extract
1 tbsp (or according to how sweet you'd like it) Jaggery
3-4 tbsp Gingelly Oil
Salt, to taste

Roast the chillies without oil for 4-5 minutes. Cool and then break them into 3-4 pieces each.

Now add the Gingelly oil to the pan. Add the dry roasted chillies and fry them for a few minutes. Add the onions and garlic and salt and fry very well until the onions are translucent. 

Now add the tomatoes and stir fry until soft. Add the chilli powder and mix well. Continue to cook on a low flame. The oil will start to separate in the pan. Now add the tamarind extract. Continue cooking on low until the smell of tamarind has gone. Now add the jaggery and stir to combine. Cook on a low flame stirring occasionally until it becomes thick. Cook on low as long as possible for the best results. 

Let cool and transfer to a sealed container. This can last up to a week or longer in the refrigerator. Or, like in my house it can be finished in one meal since it's so delicious!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spinach Raita

I had this for lunch at a friend's and though I'm not a big yogurt fan, I loved this one. And it's so super simple!

Sonu's Spinach Raita

Clean and chop spinach leaves.
Put 1-2 cups of salted water to boil. When boiling, drop spinach in it for 3-4 minutes.

Drain well. Keep aside.

Beat yogurt lightly with a fork. Add salt and crushed jeera. Add the boiled palak, chill for ½ hour and serve with roti or rice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mustard chutney

A friend would send this sauce and some delightful kachoris over once in a while. Though I loved the kachoris, the sauce is what I craved. I finally got the recipe and here it is!

Warning: the chutney/ sauce has a raw mustard taste that is pretty spicy but so delicious

Pooja's Mustard Chutney

100 g yogurt (strain out water for 10 mts)
4 green chillies
½ tsp mustard sauce
1 T mustard oil

Steam green chillies (add chillies to boiling water, cover with lid and leave for 2 mins).

 Remove from pan and de-seed.
Mix chillies with a little yogurt and blend tog in a mixer. 

Then add the mustard oil, mustard sauce and rest of the yogurt. Adjust salt according to taste and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honey Chocolate cupcakes

My 6 year old came up with this recipe all on her own. She's the opposite of me - I need a recipe to make food, bake bread, desserts - atleast for the first time. She does not want the recipe. She refuses to use it and went ahead and made this with some basic knowledge of baking.

It was delicious. Do try it and let me know what you think! (this is the recipe in her words)

K's Honey Chocolate Cupcakes

(makes 3 cupcakes)

1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg
1 tbsp Honey
1 pinch Baking Soda
1 pinch Baking Powder
2 tbsp Chocolate, melted
4-5 Chocolate Chips
1 tbsp All-Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 200 deg C.

Mix the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and eat warm (with vanilla ice cream).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wild Rice Salad

I love the flavor of wild rice. It's nutty and soft and delicious. In India we use rice mostly as an accompaniment to curries and vegetables. But for a rice that's as flavorsome as wild rice, it needs to shine on its own.

Here's a simple recipe for a wild rice salad, the inspiration taken from many recipes around the blogosphere.

Wild Rice Salad 

2 cups wild rice, cooked
3/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup peas, cooked
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp English mustard (English mustard has more zing than regular mustard. If you don't have English, just use regular mustard)
1 tsp Green onion, chopped

Cook the rice. While the rice is still warm after cooking, add the dried cranberries so they plump up. Keep aside. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Mix the salad ingredients in another bowl. Combine the salad and dressing ingredients just before serving.

Obviously this recipe is very forgiving. Go ahead and substitute the nuts or use raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries. Skip the peas altogether if you don't like them. Go ahead and give it a shot. I made this for a light summer lunch and it was very well appreciated. Enjoy!