Friday, September 25, 2015

Celery Leaves Thogayal / Desi Style Celery Leaves Pesto

The celery leaves are mostly thrown away but they are delicious and nutritious. They are packed with the intense flavor of celery. Here is a simple desi style recipe using celery leaves -celery leaves chutney or thogayal, which is a kind of pesto. It just takes 10 -15 min to make this and tastes great with rice.


Celery leaves- 1 cup, packed
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Urad dhal - 2 tsp
Asafoetida- 1/8 tsp
Black pepper, whole- 1/4 tsp
Red chilli - 3 or 4
Tamarind - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Water - 2 or 3 tbsp
Oil - 2 tsp


Wash and chop the celery leaves.

Heat oil in a pan. Add all the ingredients except, leaves, salt, tamarind. Fry them till golden brown and keep it aside.

In the same pan, add the leaves and tamarind and stir fry for 2 minutes till the leaves are wilted and cooked.

Cool. Grind to a paste with salt and a little water as needed.

Mix it with hot rice and a spoon of sesame oil and enjoy your meal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mani kozhakattai - Spicy Podi and Moong Usli Kozhakattais

Kozhukattais are simply great. You can make with broken grains or flour. They are simple yet nutritious. Sometimes they may be time-consuming to prepare but its all worth when you eat them. Good food makes your tummy. Just like kozhukattais. There mare many varieties and this mani kozukattai (aka ammini kozhukattai) are miniature beauties - mini balls of rice flour rolled, steamed, and seasoned. Some of the varieties of kozhukattais are made as part of offerings for the pooja. Ganesha, the elephant God loves these kozhukattais, and hence please include this in your menu for Ganesh Chathurthi. It is a great way to spend a family quality time - rolling these small balls and having a nice talk, just like how in the olden days, a few family members gathering and doing this. I enjoyed doing this with my daughter. If they don't roll it exactly also, it is quite fine. All it matters is the fun that you have making and eating them. 

When I grew up, we had a family with elders (grandparents) as our neighbors. The grandma, whenever she made these, she would give us a cup of these. I used to enjoy her preparation (Also, she is great at making urad dhal and rice papads. She makes at home - very very yummy! I miss all those). In our home, we don't make this kozhukattai very often, but we enjoyed the bowls of these kozhukattais we received with great love and affection. The grandma is no more, but the memories are still alive. Anyway, remembering her, here is the recipe for mani kozhukattais. Please make sure to share this with whom you love too.

Basic Mani Kozhukattai


Serves 2 to 4 as a snack


Rice flour - 1 and 1/2 cup
oil - 1 tbsp
water - 2 and 1/4 cups


In a heavy bottom pot, boil water. When it starts boiling add 1 tbsp oil and a little salt.

To this add the rice flour.

Lower the flame, mix thoroughly well for a few minutes, and make sure there are no lumps. Cover with a lid and set aside for 15 mins.

When the heat is bearable warm, knead into a smooth ball.

Take small amounts of it and roll into balls.

Arrange them on a plate and steam for 3 to 5 mins.

Steamed balls or mani kozhukattais are ready. This yields about 5 cups of rolled balls.

Moong Usli Mani Kozhukattai


2 cups of steamed balls or kozhukattais
Moong dhal, split - 1/4 cup
Red Chilli - 1
Asafoetida - 1/8 + 1/8 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 3 to 4 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 or 2 sprigs


Soak the split moong dhal with red chilli for 30 min. To the soaked moong and chilli add 1/8 tsp asafoetida, salt, and grind to a coarse texture.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the seasonings. To this add the ground moong mixture and cook. Scramble it till it is completely cooked and doesn't stick to the pan.

Add the steamed mani kozhukattais and gently fold in to mix thoroughly.

Serve hot-hot.

Spicy Podi Mani Kozhukattai


3 cups of steamed kozhukattais
Sesame oil - 1 to 2 tbsp
Mustard seed - 1/4 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Coconut - 1 and 1/2 tbsp, grated
Idli milagai podi - 2 tbsp
Curry leaf - 1 or 2 sprigs


Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, urad dhal, asafoetida, and curry leaves. 

When the seasoning is done, to that add the coconut and idli chilli powder.

Then add the steamed mani kozhukattais.

Gently fold in to coat the seasoning mixture evenly.

Serve hot.


Variations of these kozhukattais are innumerable. Sometime soon, I will post different flavors of these miniature delicacies.

If you are going to make sweet versions, add a pinch of salt to the basic mani kozhukattai recipe. If you are planning for a savory version, add about 1/4 tsp salt.

Idli milagai powder can be substituted with chilli powder.

I will soon post the recipe for homemade idli milagai powder. It is available in stores too.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Vella Aval

Vella aval - as the name says it is aval or flattened rice flakes mixed with jaggery and nothing fancy about it.

This is a very simple traditional dish - a very filling and nutritious snack or dessert. This is one of the easiest healthy traditional recipes which is forgotten by many. It is a perfect neiveidhyam. God Krishna loves aval and hence it is a perfect offering for Krishna Jayanthi. Also, this is perfect for Ganesh Chaturthi. Flattened rice flakes, soaked in water and cooked with jaggery to make this yummy delicacy. Within 15 to 20 min. this can be prepared - when the aval soaks, get ready with jaggery, mix it up and enjoy. Since this can be prepared in such a short time, this can be a great after school snack. I use both the regular aval and rosematta aval and are equally flavorful. Try this for Ganesh Chaturthi.


Serves 8 to 10

Aval / flattened rice - 2 cups
Jaggery - 1 and 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp
Cardamom - 2 or 3, crushed or powdered
Ghee - 6 to 7 tsp
Cashews - 6 or 7
Almonds - 6 or 7
Raisins - 1 and 1/2 tbsp


Wash the aval well and soak with water. Let it be just immersed. Soak for 3 -4 min. Do not soak for longer, else it will result in a mushy aval.

In the meantime, in a pan, add the jaggery and heat till the jaggery dissolves. Filter and discard impurities. Heat the jaggery water till it becomes a little thick. Add the crushed cardamom.

Filter the soaked aval and fluff it up.

Add this to the jaggery mix and gently fold in the aval and mix thoroughly.

Add 4 or 5 tsp ghee and mix well. Continue cooking on a low flame till the jaggery is completely absorbed. Make sure the texture is maintained.

Heat the remaining ghee in a pan and fry the nuts and raisins till golden brown. Add this to the aval jaggery mixture.

Fold in well gently. That's it. Delicious vella aval is ready.

By the way, my quilled Krishna is cute, right! Check out my jazzling creations blog for a few more pictures of quilled Krishna!


Always use thick or extra thick aval. Thin flakes will result in a mushy texture.

Color depends on the type of aval and jaggery too.

I will post the picture soon for the vella aval made with regular aval.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Madhu Vargam

Happy Sri Jayanthi or Krishna Jayanthi!

Madhu Vargam is a very simple dish that is traditionally made on the Sri Jayanthi (Janmashtami, Gokulashtami) and Sri Rama Navami in all Iyengar homes. When we were young, we used to wait in line during the special pooja times. After the pooja, we do our namaskarams and then we get theertham, a small spoon of madhu vargam. It tastes heavenly for it is made for God Krishna. A small spoonful in your hand is enough to make you smile. In a few minutes, you can make this and use it as offerings for your pooja. 


Coconut - 4 tbsp
Jaggery - 1 tbsp, shredded
Cardamom - 1, crushed


In a bowl, take all the three ingredients and mix.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Maa Vathal

Mango season is completely over. Like every mango season, we enjoyed this year too in our home, we enjoyed mangoes in every possible way. I love enna mangai pickle which is made with maa vathal. Maa vathal is nothing but sun-dried mangoes and this is made in all Brahmin homes during summer along with other mango pickles. Traditionally, raw mangoes are chopped, mixed with salt, and then sun-dried for a few days. This sounds very simple and it is. But make sure you dry it well...I mean it should be bone dry. This can be preserved for a year and used whenever needed.

I used the mangoes from my cousin's home. They were so tasty. We ate so many pieces when I was chopping them. To make this maa vathal, you can use both raw and semi-ripe ones. The ones from my cousin's home were semi-ripe and very tasty...Yes! homegrown, organic, and full of natural sweetness full of flavor in every bit. I couldn't say here how many mangoes to be used since we were eating them too. Managed to keep aside some to make this vathal.


Mango raw - 4 1/2 cups, chopped into chunks
salt - 1/3 cup
turmeric - 1 pinch


To the measured amount of chopped mangoes, add salt and turmeric.

Mix well and let it soak for 1 day or two. During this time, due to the action of salt, there would be juice in the bowl.

Just scoop out the mango pieces, line in a plate or cloth in a single layer and dry it out in the sun. Reserve the juice.

Later, take the chunks off the sun, cool, and add it back to the bowl with the salty mango juice. Let it soak. Again, the next day, scoop out the mango chunks and dry it the sun. Repeat this till all the juice is absorbed and the mango pieces are bone dry.

Store it in an airtight bottle. This can be preserved for a year or more and used now and then.


Make sure to do this on a very sunny day.

The seeds can also be used along. When needed, break the seed coat and get the seed inside. Soak it in water, grind along when you make milagu kuzhambu (tangy and spicy pepper gravy). It helps in controlling diarrhea.

Keep in an airtight container and make sure no moisture is there or else mold will grow.