Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fresno Chili Pepper Chutney

Fresno chili peppers have a bright red color and they are spicier. These spicy chillies can be used in a variety of ways right from an additive for spiciness to stand-alone chilli pepper sauces. I made this chutney a couple of years back after I bought these peppers in the farmers market. Then, this became a hit in our home and we make it now and then. A similar kind of chutney with dried red chillies is common in south India. This recipe gives the measurement for this kind pepper. This can be served with idli, dosa, paratha or curd rice. Also, it can be used in making sauces and dips. This can be used for adding heat to stir-fries and noodles. Possibilities are endless. Just try and give me the feedback.

The given quantity of oil is essential for the taste as well as for compensating the heat. This is made with fresh peppers and the oil also helps in preserving it for a few days. It stays good for a week refrigerated. 


Fresno chili pepper -2 cups, sliced, maybe 7 or 8 peppers

Salt - 1 and 1/2 tsp

Tamarind - 1 and 1/2 tbsp

Sesame oil - 1/4 cup

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp

Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp


Blend to a smooth puree - Fresno chili pepper slices, salt, and tamarind. There is no need to add water. Pepper has the necessary water

Transfer to a bowl. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds. When it splutters, add the asafoetida and pour it into the chutney. Mix the oil thoroughly. 

Serve with idli, dosa, or yogurt rice. Also can be used as spreads for spicier sandwiches and in noodles too.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Bottlegourd/Opo & Cilantro Chutney

This is a very simple and flavorful chutney that can be prepared very quickly. It pairs well with idli, paratha, or dosa. This can be served as a dip with pita bread or chips. This is vegan too!

Bottlegourd aka opo, lauki, doodhi or sorakai is a water rich vegetable that is rich in Vitamin C and K. It helps in reducing blood sugar, weight control, and also helps stay cool. This vegetable is easy to grow! It doesn't demand lot of requirements and gives an amazing yield. This vegetable is very budget friendly. I started growing this in my backyard during the pandemic and still continue it. With its tremendous growth, there is a good supply of this veggie and this chutney can be made with minimal cost. Yes, this is a pocket friendly recipe! With the hike in the food cost, it is a great idea to grow some veggies that will give more yield for more sustainability.

Here are a couple of points to note when making this chutney:

I used the tender bottlegourd grown in my backyard. When you shred, don't have to remove seeds if it is tender. Else, remove the seeds and grate it.

It contains lot of water and hence cooking the bottle gourd is necessary for the process of making this chutney. Else it will be very watery. It cooks quickly in its own juice in about five to six minutes for the above quantity. 

Cilantro adds a flavor boost along with the peppers while the roasted dalia help to get a little thicker chutney. Overall, the blend of these ingredients makes a perfect and tasty chutney.

I am linking this to Blogging Marathon, Wonderful Wednesday, and Thursday Favorite Things. Not only this chutney is delicious, this veggie can be used in a couple of ways listed below. I have a few more in the sleeve, and will share them soon.

 Bajra BottleGourd Roti

BottleGourd Chutney/Thogayal

Bottlegourd/Opo Kheer

Instant Pot Vegan Bottlegourd and Masoor Dal Curry


Bottle gourd - 2 cups, shredded
cilantro - 3/4 cup
salt - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1/4 tsp
Dried red chillies - 2
Serrano pepper -1
Roasted dahlia - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seed - 1/4 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp


Heat 1 tsp of oil, add the red chillies and serrano pepper. Fry for a few seconds. 

Then add the shredded bottle gourd and saute for about 5-6 minutes till it is cooked.  

Switch off the flame and add the cilantro. Mix as this heat will just wilt the cilantro. Cool for a couple of minutes.

In the meantime, dry roast the dalia and add to the bottle gourd. Add salt, tamarind, and grind to a smooth texture. There is no need to add water. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat 1 tsp of oil. Do the tadka with mustard seeds, split urad dhal, asafetida and pour it on the chutney.

Serve with idli, dosa, or paratha as a side or with pita bread as a dip.

Published: Sep 2020
Updated for reader satisfaction and photos: May 2022

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Peerkangai Paruppu Thogayal

Chutneys and sauces are often made with locally available veggies and form an integral part of any cuisine. So, we grew up with lots of thogayals... made of legumes and veggies or herbs, or a combo of these. Most of the time dinners may consist of rice, thogayal, some fryums, and/or gravy curries. Especially in the winter months, these are awesome for the cooler temperatures as the food would be served hot. Every family will have variations in the combination of ingredients for the thogayals (and hence many varieties with different flavors) and the sky is the limit for the recipes when it comes to making thogayals. They taste yum with steaming rice with a dollop of ghee. Also, they can be used with idli or dosa too. 

I harvested the first batch of ridge gourds this year and immediately used it for this thogayal. Every time, I use urad dhal for these kind of chutnies. In many homes, chana dhal is used. Toor dhal is mostly used for parupu (or pappu) thogayal. I used more of toor dhal in this recipe and hence the ridge gourd thogayal has a taste familiar with the family of parupu thogayals. Tasted divine with steaming ghee rice.When you process the vegetable, its enough if you peel the ridges alone. Its is also fine if you completely peel the vegetable. In the Andhra cuisine, they make a chutney out of the peel alone too. 

Fresh Ridge gourd from the plant

Very tender


Peerkangai - 2 cup, small dice

salt - 3/4 to 1 tsp

Toor dhal - 2 tbsp

urad dhal - 1 tbsp

tamarind - 1 tsp

red chillies -5


oil - 2 and 1/2 tsp

mustard - 1/3 tsp

Split urad dhal - 1/3 tsp

Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp


Heat oil in a pan. Add the dhals and the red chillies and fry till golden brown. Keep aside. 

Heat 3/4 tsp oil and add the chopped ridge gourd and saute. 

In about 8-10 minutes, it would have cooked. Switch off add let it cool. Add salt, tamarind, and grind the roasted dhal - veggie mix to a coarse or smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

Heat the remaining oil and do the tadka. Add it to the ground thogayal. 

Serve with steaming rice and a dollop of ghee.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are easy to grow, needs a little care to train and remove the suckers. All through out summer and till end of fall, it keeps producing delicious tomatoes. A day doesn't go without using tomato in our home. Either in salads, curries, or soup tomato is used everyday. Not to mention we are tomato soup lovers. We got good yield with better boy hybrid, cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes. We had so much of cherry tomatoes that I made this soup (and pasta sauce using cherry tomatoes which I would post soon) a few times. 

This soup is easy to make and more satisfying with a slice of bread (with a sandwich, a pesto - cheese quesadilla or a grilled cheese). That I would call "comfort zone". This is an amazingly delicious soup with minimal ingredients. It is a thick, creamy and satisfying soup with a velvety finish even without the cream. The cream is for garnishing and if needed can be avoided to make a vegan version. 


serves 4

Cherry tomatoes - 3 cups, heaped, whole tomatoes

Onion - 1/2 cup, sliced

Garlic- 2 cloves

oil - 1 tsp

salt - 1 tsp

pepper - 1/3 tsp

Cream- 1 or 2 tsp (optional)

Basil - a couple of leaves (for garnish)

water- 3 and 1/2 cups


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl and mix. Spread it evenly as a single layer in a baking sheet. Roast for 45-55 min., take it out and cool a bit.

Add it to the blender along with water and blend to a smooth consistency. Transfer to a sauce pan and simmer for a couple of minutes. 

Ladle into four serving bowls. Garnish with cream, chopped basil, and serve.


Check on the oven after 40 minutes. With different capacities of oven, cooking time may slightly vary. It is always good to keep an eye to prevent burning. Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Bottle Gourd Kheer

With the bottle gourds growing in your garden, you have fresh ones at your disposal. This helps you to plan effectively what you can make and plan well ahead. But, sometimes, even without planning you can just pick one, and start cooking when your heart and tummy is craving for somethings. Bottle gourds are 95% water and doesn't have a strong taste. So it is easy to utilize them in sweet as well as savory recipes. Having made a lot of savory ones, wanted to make a dessert, and kheer comes to my mind immediately. The kheer is a very simple yet creamy dessert made by reducing milk and sweetening it. Grains or veggies can also be added to milk to make flavorful varieties. Bottle gourd kheer tasted great like carrot kheer (one of my favorites). I used the thick shredded ones, so that it will retain a little bit of shape after cooking. The addition of almond when reducing milk, makes it a little soft, and the soft bite along with the bottle gourd tastes delicious. In simple words, this simple kheer is one of the greatest tasting kheer. It can be served warm or chilled. In both ways, it is yum, yum, yum!


Serves 4 to 8, depending on the size of servings.

Bottle gourd -  2 cups, shredded

Ghee - 2 tsp

Cardamom - 2, crushed

Milk - 4 cups

Sugar - 1/2 cup


Heat 4 cups milk with 1 tsp ghee. After about 25 min, add 1/4 sliced or chopped almonds. Continue reducing, stir often to prevent scalding in the bottom. 

 In the meantime, melt 1 tsp ghee in a pan, and add the grated bottle gourd. Saute till it is translucent, about 7 min.

When the milk has reduced to 2 cups (takes about 35-40 min), add the crushed cardamom, cooked bottle gourd, sugar, and simmer for 3-4 min.

Garnish with some pistachio or sliced almonds. 

Serve warm or cold.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Tinda Gourd and Tomato Kootu

Tinda gourd is also known as apple gourd. I have never tried tinda gourd before. I bought these seeds and tried growing them. Initially picking at the right stage was a little challenging. My friend RK, suggested the size guide to pick tender ones as they have used these for many many years in their family. Knowing the right stage to pick, we are enjoying this veggie a lot now. In fact, it has become one of our favorites too. This is how the gourd looks, and how is it inside if it is picked tender.

Kootu is a gravy kind of curry made with dal, and with or without the addition of spices. Again the choice of dhal and the spices allows us to make kootu a versatile curry. This curry is mildly spicy with the addition of serrano pepper. Split moong dhal has the highest protein content and is easily digestible too. This curry or kootu is a simple and tasty dish that can be served with rice and roti. 


serves 4

Tinda gourd - 3 cups, diced

Dal - 1/4 cup

Tomato - 1/2 cup, chopped

Salt - 3/4 tsp

Serrano pepper - 1

Red chilli -2

Coconut - 1 tbsp

Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

Water - 2 to 21/2 cups


Ghee - 1 tsp

Mustard - 1/4 tsp

Urad dal - 1/4 tsp

Cumin - 1/4 tsp

Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp

Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Cilantro - 1 tbsp


In a saucepot add the dhal, 2 cups water, and serrano chili and cook  In about 13-15 min, the dhal would be almost cooked. 

Add the gourds and tomatoes. Add water if necessary, maybe a quarter cup, and continue cooking. In about 8 min, the gourds would have cooked and become tender bur will have a little crunch.

Now add salt, turmeric and cook for a couple of minutes. Add coconut, check salt, adjust the consistency, and simmer for a couple of mins. 

In a pan, heat ghee and add red chillies and mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add split urad dhal and cumin. When they turn golden in color, add asafoetida, curry leaves and pour it on to the kootu. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve with rice or roti.