Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thavala Vadai

Thavala Vadai is a very traditional vadai loaded with proteins. This is just not ordinary vada but just a little bit more than that....the highlight is the chopped tiny tiny coconut bits in each and every bite. Generally, dhal vada is made with mostly channa dhal. But for thavala vada, there is a mixture of dhals and some rice added to it. This may look similar to Kunuku (yet another snack from Iyengar cuisine), but it is different. One of my cousins gave this recipe to me and this is a keeper. It is one of the best snacks for a weekend and its a crowd-pleaser. Just serve hot-hot with coconut chutney or just simply!. Every bite of it is truly heaven! Trust me...go ahead and give a try.


Idli rice - 1/4 cup
Sona masoori rice -1 tbsp
Chana dhal-1/4 cup
Toor Dhal- 1/4 cup
Moong dhal- 1/4 cup
Urad dhal - 1/4 cup
Red Chillies - 3
Coconut - 1/4 cup, chopped
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida  - 1/8 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Oil - to deep fry


Soak rice, moong dhal separately. The rest of the dhals can be soaked together. Soak for about 2 hours.

Grind rice, red chillies and the dhal mixture to a coarse paste adding water as necessary. Next, add the moong dhal and just run the blender once. 

The batter should neither be thick or thin. The below picture shows the consistency.

To the batter, add salt, curry leaves, turmeric, chopped coconut pieces, and mix well.

Heat oil in a heavy pan. Flatten a portion of the batter in your hand and shape it around and drop in hot oil. Deep fry till it is golden on both sides.

Serve immediately.


Instead of shaping in hand, a big spoon can be used to drop the batter into the oil.

Finely chopped onion and green chillies can also be added according to preference. The vada can be made flat and crispy crunchy.

Add chillies according to your spice level.

This is best served hot. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Corn Rava /Corn Meal Kozhukattai

Today, we celebrate a festival, Karadayan Nombu. Traditionally we make kozhukattais with rice rava on this occasion. Both sweet and savory versions are made.  I wanted to make a cornmeal version of the rice kozhukattai today, which I had made a few times before. I used Quaker's white and yellow cornmeal. The kozhukattais turned out to be yummy. These steamed delicacies are great for any occasion. Here is a simple recipe for the savory version.

(makes 14 - 16, for 1 cup measurement)

Corn meal - 1 cup, (white/ yellow)
Corn - 1/4 cup, frozen
Thattapayar (moth beans or adzuki beans) - 2 tbsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp
Water - 2 cups, hot


Oil - 3 tbsp
Mustard- 3/4 tsp
Split urad dhal-3/4 tsp
Chana dhal - 3/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4tsp
Curry leaves -1 sprig, torn
Green chillies - 1 or 2, chopped (optional)


Soak the beans for 4-5 hrs, cook, and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and when it is hot enough add the seasonings and fry till golden. Add the corn and saute for a min. Then add the cornmeal and saute till nice aroma arises, maybe 3-5 min. Then add the cooked beans, coconut, salt, and hot water.

With white cornmeal

With yellow cornmeal

Continue to stir and cook till the cornmeal absorbs all the water, and comes easily as a mass without sticking.

Cool a little bit. When it is bearable warm, take handfuls and shape into balls or in oblong shape.

Steam for 10- 12 min.

Transfer to a bowl and the steamed kozhakattais are ready to be served.

Serve hot with chutney, sambhar, pickle, or butter.


Any bean can be used. If it is smaller in size, shaping the kozhakattai is easy.
Adjust salt and green chillies according to taste.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cranberry Jam

Cranberries are considered a superfood, as they are very rich in phytonutrients. Last fall, we enjoyed lots of cranberries. Some people are fine to eat cranberries as such, some with a little salt to balance the tartness. But, for me, I like it cooked into various sweet or savory form. The tartness is too much for me to eat it raw. I have made this jam a couple of times and its one of my favorite cranberry recipes. This year, I and my friend Ms. S, had loads of fun making this and enjoying this jam. We both made this jam 4 years back. We had a great time back then and now. Cooking together for sure makes not only yummy food but sweet memories too. Every minute of it, quite enjoyable. So, coming back to the recipes below is the recipe of ruby-colored jam made with tart rubies. This is made with very simple ingredients that are available every day in our home and can be made in about 30 min. :-).


Cranberries - 5 cups
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cups
Apple juice - 3 and 1/2 cups
Apple - 1 cup, shredded


Take the washed cranberries in a blender and just run it a couple of times, just to macerate a little. In a heavy bottom pan, stir the mixture of cranberries and 2 cups of apple juice on a medium flame. 

In about 10 mins, it will start to thicken and now add the shredded apple, remaining apple juice, and sugar. Simmer for another 15 - 20 min, stirring now and then to prevent scorching. 

For the above measurements, by 25 -30 min, the jam would be in a nice consistency and switch off the flame. 

Let it cool, transfer to jars and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy your toast. 

 Makes about 2 cups.


You can use the whole cranberry, but the jam will be chunky. You can halve and use too, totally personal preference.

The jam may look a little thin, but it will thicken on cooling.

It stays good for 3 months in the refrigerator.

This can be made with frozen cranberries too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Turmeric Pongal

Have you ever wondered how many favorites foods you have that your mom cooks? I often think about them, make and enjoy them with my family. My mom, is a wonderful cook, cooking amazing yummy food every day. She has a lot of magic in her hands. She cooks regular Iyengar cuisine most of the time though she also cooks a little of others too. But, each and every recipe of hers is a keeper, whether it is a simple dal, sambhar, curry, rasam, sweets to the most complicated pickling....she is the best. No wonder I loved her cooking and learned a lot from her. Like for everyone, she is my best teacher. 

I have many favorites from her cooking and one among them is Manjal Pongal or Turmeric Pongal. She makes this on auspicious Fridays in the Tamil lunar months of Aadi and Thai. This can be made on any day and its best served with puli kuzhambu, a tangy gravy made with tamarind. I can guess what you are thinking - pongal with turmeric....Turmeric pongal, has a very distinct flavor though it is similar to the regular dal rice...Pssst....there is a secret ingredient....not ghee but coconut oil. Yes, the coconut oil gives a wonderful flavor to this rice, quite different from the regular meal. 

Turmeric has been used for a very long time in Indian cuisine. No meal is cooked without turmeric, at least a pinch of it is used. It has a unique spot in our culture. It is offered to the ladies when they come to our home, right before we do any pooja we make small tiny Ganesha out of turmeric and start our prayers. It is used in Ayurveda as well as in many simple home remedies. The rhizome which is mainly used in powdered form, has tons of health benefits right from antiseptic, to treat cold, cough, actually, the list can go very long. Nowadays we can find turmeric capsules and recent research is carried out for its benefit in treating cancer. No wonder, our great forefathers used this in everyday cooking to lead a hale and healthy life. Last Friday, was an auspicious day of the Thai month for us, made this pongal and I am posting the recipe here for you to try.


serves 4 people

Rice - 1 cup
Toor dhal-  1/4 plus 2 tbsp
Water - 2 cups plus 1/2 cup
Salt -1/2  tsp
Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
Coconut oil - 6 tbsp


Wash rice and toor dhal. Add water, turmeric, and cook or three whistles in a pressure cooker.

Once the pressure is all released, add salt and mash a little but not completely.

Then add coconut oil and mix thoroughly.

Somebody here is sneaking a ball of pongal.......

Serve with puli kuzhambu.


For the type of rice that I use, 2 cups of water are sufficient. Adjust water according to the type of rice you use.