Some Indian Food recipes and Kitchen Tips

Tips on Indian Cooking

When I started cooking first I had to learn everything by trial and error. These are some of my recipes for my daughters who are both newly married [:-)] whenever they feel nostalgic for Mom's cooking. Others are also welcome !

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Preparing a Meal for Two

Our menu is this:


Drumstick sambar

Tomato Rasam

Potato kari

Cabbage Poriyal


How to start your cooking:

Rice: Two cups (or one cup if you eat very little rice)

Tur Dal : 1 cup

Moong Dal:1/4 cup

One drumstick, two tomatoes, a handful of small sambar onions, one big onion, 1/4 kg of cabbage, 1/4 kg of potatoes, 3 green chillis, 1 tsp of coconut(optional) Curry leaves, coriander leaves

Setting the Pressure cooker:
First you have to set the pressure cooker. Before you do it, soak the tamarind in a small vessel with enough water.

Wash the rice, add two and a half cups of water for each cup of rice you use. Keep in the bottom container.

Next wash the tur dal and add 3 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric powder, half tsp of jeer(cumminseeds) and a tsp of oil (for the dal not to overflow the vessel). Keep this in the middle container of the cooker set.

Next place washed potatoes on the top container (without water).

Pour water in the pressure cooker till the trivet at the bottom is covered in three centimetres of water.

Slide the cooker vessels set of three containers prepared as above, into the cooker. Cover the pressure cooker, put the weight on and when it whistles twice, reduce the heat to minimum. Wait for 8 minutes and switch off the heat. When you wait for this;

Prepare the Vegetables:

Wash all the vegetables. Shred cabbage into fine pieces. Peel sambar onions and slit them lengthwise, if they are big. Slit two green chillis. Chop the tomatoes and onion. Cut the drumstick (or any other sambar vegetable) into one and a half inch pieces.

Start cooking:

Keep the cabbage in the microwave, or steam it, with half a cup of water till done. When it is hald done stir in half tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric.

Keep a pan on the stove. Put in a tsp of oil. Put in half tsp mustard, half tsp of urad dal and hald tsp of channa dal. When they turn brown, lower the heat and put in a few curry leaves and a red chilli (or green chilli, if the vegetable is red in colour, like carrot) slit in the middle. Stir for 10 seconds and add the chopped big onion. Saute till transparent and add the cooked vegetable (here, cabbage) along with any leftover water from cooking it. Stir fry till the water is absorbed. Check for salt and add if you need more. Stir in a tsp of grated coconut and take it off the heat.
Cabbage Poriyal is ready.

Getting the pressure-cooked items ready:

By now pressure cooker would have cooled. Remove the vent weight and open the cooker. Take the containers ot. Put the potatoes under cold water to cool them enough. Peel them, cut them into small cubes and keep aside.

Take the Tur dal and pour the exces water on top and a tsp of the cooked dal into a small vessel for use in the preparation of Rasam. Mash the rest of the dal for using in sambar.

Take the rice vessel out. Spoon it into a microwave dish, spread with a fork and let it cool. (Otherwise the rice would stick to each other in the hot steel vessel.) You can reheat it in the microwave at the time of eating.

Alternate choice is to cook the rice just before mealtime. Then you can use it straight from the cooker vessel. You can do this when you have guests and you use the cooker later at the end of preapring all the dishes, to prepare only rice in large quntity. For a small family meal, you need not use the pressure cooker twice.


Squeeze the tamarind in the water and strain it through your hand to keep only the juice. Add some more water and squeeze the juice out fully.

Pour one fourth of it into the rasam vessel. Keep aside for preparing rasam.

Add the mashed tur dal to the rest of the tamarind water and mix well.

Heat a pan with 2 tsp of cooking oil. Splutter half tsp mustard, half tsp urad dal, half tsp cumminseeds, a pinch of asofoetida, a sprig of curry leaves in quick succession.

Put in the slit green chillis, chopped sambar onions, 1 tsp red chilli powder (or 2 tsp sambar powder, if you have it), 3 tsp dhania powder and saute for a minute on low heat. Add one chopped tomato and a tsp of salt. Saute well on low heat;the tomato would get mashed with salt.
Add two cups of water and when it boils add the cut drumstick pieces (or any other vegetable like brinjal, carrot or broad beans). Keep on high heat till the vegetable is half cooked and the raw smell goes off.

Now add the tamarind+tur dal mix with enough water into the pan. Check for salt and add if needed. When it starts to boil, simmer it till the vegetable is cooked and the sambar is ready. Take it off heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.


Take the rasam vessel and add a tomato to it. Squeeze it into the rasam waterbase. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt as needed. Keep aside.

Grind 1 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp of cumminseeds coarsely. Adda single clove of chopped garlic.

Heat 3/4 of oil in a small pan. Splutter half tsp of mustard , a slit green chilli (or red chilli), a pinch of asofoetida and a sprig of curry leaves in this. Pour in the rasam water into this. Let it come to boil.

Put the ground pepper mixture and a few chopped coriander leaves in the serving bowl. When rasam starts to boil take it off the heat and pour into the serving bowl. Rasam is ready.

Potato Curry:

Sprinkle 1 tsp of chilli powder, 1tsp of coriander powder, a pinch of turmeric and 1 tsp of salt on to the cooled and chopped potatoes.

Heat a pan with 2 tsp of oil. Splutter 1 tsp of mustard and a few curry leaves. Lower the heat. Put in a pinch of asofoetida. Now add the prepared potato pieces. Slowly saute the mixture over medium heat till the pieces are roasted, turning them once every few minutes. Take it off the heat when golden brown.

Now all the items in our menu are done. Of course you have set the curds the previous night as per the instructions in the last post.

If you want you can fry some appalams too to make it a special meal. If you add payasam and vadai and a pachadi to the menu, it becomes a feast!

Our South Indian Meal is ready!

Monday, December 04, 2006

An Introduction to South Indian Meals

South India is famous for its paddy fields and people eat rice as the staple diet. In today's health-conscious era, we can make rice-eating a healthy habit. Make sure you prepare food made out of different kinds of cereals like wheat, ragi, millet, oats etc., at least for two mealtimes. The remaining main meal can be made with rice and Southies cam simply relish their staple food without feeling guilty! Rather than using raw rice, buy parboiled rice as it has more nutrients. Brown rice is even more nutritious.

In a South Indian Meal, cooked rice is mixed with curries of different consistencies and eaten with an accompaniment of vegetables. The first course is eaten with Sambar or any Kozhambu(curry). Then you mix it with Rasam and eat it as the next course. The third and final course is rice mixed with curds. This is the daily meal pattern for most of us. On special occasions, some more varieties of kuzhambu (curry)may be served before sambar. There are also the 'podi' varieties which can be had with rice before Sambar.

The side dishes of vegetables can be prepared in any number of forms such as koottu, kari, poriyal, pachadi, thuvaiyal, sweet pachadi, pickles etc.,

Let us assume you want to cook a South Indian vegetarian Meal for two. The menu is usually Rice, Sambar, Rasam and curds with side dishes of vegetables numbering anything from one to ten, depending on the occasion. (For Ekadasi festival some prepare 21 varieties of vegetables!) Preparation of vadai and payasam along with this menu makes this meal a 'virundhu saappadu', i.e., special gourmet meal for special occasions like festivals, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations or simply entertaining guests.

However, let us see how we prepare daily meals for two. You need a pressure cooker or rice cooker to save time and energy. Remember to keep all the ingredients needed at hand. Prepare the vegetables beforehand and keep them ready before switching on the stove.

The side dishes can be prepared out of any vegetables available locally. Certain basic metods of preparation suit certain vegetables better. For example, cabbage can be made into poriyal or kootu. Potat can be made into dry stir-fry (kari) or pasty paal kootu(milk curry). The most common methods of preparing the side dishes is kari, koottu and poriyal. You choose your menu adjusting for the tastes of your family and also for the balanced nutritive value of the entire meal.

Remember to make one kari, one poryal and one koottu in a meal. This way the combination tastes better. If you are preparing only two vegetables, make one kari and either one koottu or one poriyal to make the combination of the tastes more interesting.

Generally you need these items in your kitchen shelf, to start with:
(You can add more items if you start cooking more complicated dishes as you become an expert in cooking)
Rice (Parboiled or raw)

Tur Dal
Channa Dal
Moong Dal
Urad Dal

Spices and Condiments:

Sambar podi

Coriander powder

Turmeric Powder

Chilli Powder

Rasam Powder

Pepper Cummin seeds powder

Asafoetida(Heeng or Perungayam)

Mustard seeds

Methi seeds

Cummin Seeds



Red chillis

Any vegetable oil (use Safflower or canola oil or gingelly oil or peanut oil -except cocnut oil, any would do- for added health benefit but rotate the choice of oil every week to include variety as research says variety is better!)

Now that you have stocked your kitchen shelves, shop for vegetables on a weekly or better still, daily basis to keep them fresh for your cooking. Some staple itms you should have handy are:
Sambar Onions
Green Chillis
Curry Leaves
Coriander Leaves

Because you may need one or more of the above every day. Other vegetables can be bought according to the menu you decide from day to day.

Now you are ready to start! In the next post we'll start cooking!