Monday, June 23, 2014

Paruppu Keerai - made in two ways!

Many people don't like spinach or broccoli. They turn their faces away.....keeps me wondering why they are like this! Have they ever tasted it actually to enjoy them? Well...... I love these two. I try and include spinach at least 3 times a week. It is a staple in our home. I am so happy that my kids too follow me in this. It is also comparatively cheap when compared to other veggies most of the year and it is packed with all the nutrition. With many different types of greens being available, it fits your bill easily and can whip up a meal easily - salad, soup, gravies, bread........these are only a few. So why say no to the special greens!

When I looked at this kind of spinach which they called Paruppu Keerai (Spinach in Tamil is Keerai) in Ooty, (the spinach with the same name that they call in Chennai looks a lot different and no beautiful purple shade) I fell in love with it immediately. Look at the purple shade in the spinach. It's lovely. Before my husband could even think, I had bagged a few bunches (he was a little worried about the size of the regrets since we always love to use the local grown veggies and fruits not to mention the ones from the beautiful hill station too).

I used them to make our family favorites. They were absolutely very very tasty. The kids even had extra helpings! It cooked very fast and tasted divine. The recipes here can be made with any kind of spinach and the amount of dhal too could be adjusted to your taste. They go very well with rice or any flatbreads.

Paruppu Keerai with Moong dhal


Split moong - 1/4 cup
Paruppu Keerai - 1 bunch
Green chilli - 1, slit


Oil - 1 tsp
Dried red chilli - 1
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split Urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp


Wash and chop the spinach. In a pot, bring to boil the split moong with 11/2 or 2 cups of water. When it is almost done, add the spinach and green chilli. Mix well and let it cook for some time.

It will get a little reduced in quantity, as both the dhal and spinach would have cooked perfectly. Add salt. Mix thoroughly and cook for a minute. In a separate pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, when it splutters add the remaining ingredients, fry for a minute and pour it in the spinach gravy. Enjoy with a steaming bowl of rice and roti!

Tangy and Spicy Paruppu Keerai or Keerai Pulipu


Paruppu Keerai - 1 bunch
Tamarind - a small lemon sized ball
Toor Dhal - 6 tbsp, cooked and mashed a little

Season with:

Oil - 1 tsp
Dried red chillies - 5 or 6
Green chillies - 5 or 6, slit
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp


Wash and chop the spinach. Extract the juice from tamarind with roughly 11/2 cups of water. Heat a pan, add the oil. When it is hot, add all the ingredients for seasoning and add the spinach. Mix for a couple of minutes. Add the tamarind juice. Let the spinach cook in the tamarind juice which gives the gravy a tangy taste. When it is almost done cooking add the cooked dhal and salt. Mix well and let it simmer for a few minutes. Adjust the consistency with water. It shouldn't be too thick or thin. I enjoy it equally with a steaming bowl of rice and with dosa or it!


The spiciness depends only on the red and green chillies. Feel free to adjust the chilli numbers to suit your family's taste.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Carrot Halwa

Heat heat..................................... I am trying to postpone a lot of things just because of the heat. I know it is ridiculous but sometimes makes you feel less energetic. I am back from vacation with lots of goodies.......made some........ate lots.......yet to do editing to post here.................

Finally, trying to stop my laziness and giving you all here is the flavorful carrot halwa made with carrots from Ooty. The carrots were so sweet. So imagine how sweet the halwa is going to be. Carrot halwa is a very traditional Indian dessert and it is apt for any occasion. It is easy to make and it has good nutrition. So everyone can indulge in the divine taste. Generally, it is made by cooking the carrots in milk, adding sugar till it is all cooked and then you add cashews and raisins fried in ghee or clarified butter. Some people also skip adding milk and pan fry and cook the carrots slowly in a couple of extra spoons of ghee. Trust me, it is just great that way too. I prefer to add milk, just to lower the amount of ghee used. 

I add cashews at the end many times. But I love carrots, walnuts, and raisins - it is THE ULTIMATE COMBINATION! Nothing can beat the flavor of this trio. So feel free to use chopped walnuts in the place of cashews or any other nuts of your choice.


Carrots - 1 kg, peeled and shredded (I got 7 cups of shredded carrots)
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 250 ml
Walnuts - 1/4 cup, chopped
Sultanas - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cardamom - 4


In a heavy-bottomed pan or nonstick pan add a tsp of ghee, carrots, and milk. Keep on a low flame and cook till the carrots and cooked and reduced to say about 1/3rd of the total quantity. It may roughly take 30 min or so. Add the sugar and cardamom. Continue cooking until the whole halwa comes without sticking. In another pan heat 2 tsp ghee. When it is hot add the chopped walnuts and sultanas fry for a couple of minutes and add it to the carrot halwa. Mix and enjoy warm Carrot halwa in a bowl or straight from the pan with or without vanilla ice cream. I love it both ways!

You can add more sugar depending on the sweetness of your carrots.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Soothing Buttermilk

What can be so refreshing and soothing on a hot day?  Well, it is none other than our good old buttermilk aka MOR (in Tamil) or Chaas (in Hindi). Any time of the day, you can drink. This not only quenches your thirst but also cools you down on a hot day. Make this ahead, pour in a transportable container, and could take it to your work or picnic or even when you go to park with your kids. It gives you energy while making you feel cool and satisfied. Many times I have packed the buttermilk for us when we go out and it is my husband's favorite drink to go during summer!

You can even make this adding just salt and water to yogurt and blending it or by mixing with a spoon too. It tastes great prepared in any method. Whether you make it leisurely or in a hurry, it always tastes delicious.

Here is my preferred way to make this special soothing buttermilk to keep me and my family cool.


Yogurt - 2 cups, plain (refrigerated)
Water - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 tbsp
Cilantro 2 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 sprig, torn
Green chilli - 1, thinly sliced
Lemon juice - 1/2 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch


Blend together yogurt, water, salt, and lemon juice for 30 sec. Pour it in a bowl. Add rest of the ingredients, mix, pour, and enjoy! What can be more simple than this?

The flavor, aroma from curry leaves, and is like a trip to heaven!


You can add ice cubes if needed. 
The addition of black salt or crushed and powdered cumin also gives a different flavor to the buttermilk.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Special Book!

A couple of months back I had participated in Akila's event Dish Name Starts with X. I had two entries - foxtail millet adai and foxtail millet blondies. Got lucky  - the blondies were the winner. Akila, very kind and sent me the book "Paneer" by the famous chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Thanks, Akila. I and my daughter are very busy going through it and are deciding to try out a few. My daughter is a great paneer lover - guess what!  she is trying to checkmark every recipe to try. Well, we are really having a fun time. Pretty soon will try and post paneer recipes from the book. 

Thanks again Akila!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Back from Vacation and a Special Menu

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Ooty to beat the heat. Cool enjoyable memorable....can add lots of words. Enjoyed the fresh grown vegetables and fruits there. At the last minute my husband suggested we go to the market and bag some of nature's fresh produce and it was really fun. Now I am back here in Chennai and it is like thrown straight into a frying pan. Scorching sun taking the toll and makes me think why did I come back from the cool place. Anyways the veggies and fruits that we got in Ooty keep me going to the kitchen to make some delicacies out of it. As soon as we came back I made a special meal for us. Wherever we go for vacation, after we are back, I usually make vathal kuzhambu (a traditional spicy tangy sambhar like gravy minus the dhal). We always enjoy that comeback meal. It is really comforting for us since it gives a kickback to our taste buds after eating a lot outside.

We got many vegetables - from carrots to varieties of beans and potatoes. Also got rambutans, Ooty special plums, avocado, mangosteens.

I chose to make zucchini thogayal (a chutney), baby radish vathal kuzhambu (would update the recipe for these two soon), tomato rasam, potato curry, and curd.

Homemade with special ingredients is always a treat and I would soon update with some special delicacies prepared specially with produce from our vacation soon. Keep checking! and thanks.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Arokya - Best Coffee Shop

There is a new Arokya coffee shop in Madipakkam, Chennai. This is their new venture. Arokya (Hatsun Agro Products) is a brand that sells farm-fresh milk - I love their milk quality. They recently opened a coffee shop and this is their first one - you get everything made with milk here. Coffee, tea, yogurt, frozen yogurt, smoothies, milk, and paneer. They are open at 5.30 in the morning which enables coffee lovers to have a wonderful sip and have a great start.

We went there a few times. They use full cream milk, standardized milk, and toned milk to make. You can choose your type of milk like in Starbucks.

I tried everything made with standardized and toned milk. Hot cocoa is so great that I feel I am not missing having the perfect cocoa. Fruit smoothies and yogurt drinks (Lassi) are great. Tea is ok.

They also sell yogurt with fruit toppings (strawberry and mango) which is yummy, my favorite is the strawberry one. They also sell paneer which is the only paneer that now I use. It is soft, fresh, and tasty. In their shop they also make paneer sticks made with their paneer - very good served hot in two flavors - ginger garlic and Italian style. Both are great. Sorry, we couldn't wait to take a picture, 'twas gobbled up in a jiffy.

The BEST one is their COFFEE - in 30 secs they decorate your coffee with coffee decoction - with lovely art that you wouldn't want to drink and destroy the art.

It is a great place to hang out with friends and family. You too enjoy your coffee and smoothies in Arokya.