This Gujarati Kachumber Salad is a no-brainer, and goes with almost any type of meal. Or have it for lunch with a bowl of chilled soup on the side. You need basic vegetables – onion, tomato and cucumber as well as lemon juice. The other ingredients are optional and can be mixed and matched with whatever veggie is on hand. The salad doesn’t really need a recipe. I used one as I wanted it to be authentic Gujarati. There are similar versions of the salad found in various Indian cuisines, with variations on the way the vegetables are sliced/grated, and which combination is used. Quantities are flexible and can be adjusted to your taste.
My first foray into Goan Cuisine, and it turned out so well! I found a large variety of vegetarian recipes to try out, and wanted to use ingredients specific to the Goan and Konkani cuisines. The Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal that I finally came up with, tick marked all the boxes I set for the post: Tasty, nutritious, easy, authentic and it incorporated the two ingredients I had been set for this month’s Goan Theme challenge from the FB group I belong to, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. More about this group, later on.
First, a little about some of the ingredients I used to make the Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal. The recipe I finally firmed up after browsing the internet and the few cookbooks I could find, needed kokum as well as terphal, a species related to the Himalayan Sichuan Pepper (which seems to be variously known as teppal, tefla etc). I consulted my daughter Mridula as to what the ‘tefla’ in the recipe was (I thought it was a kind of fish!) I could have tried sourcing the kokum and terphal in one of the many Mangalorean stores dotted around Bangalore, but then opted to buy them online from amazon as I was not sure I would be able to get the terphal spice elsewhere. The rest of the ingredients were ones I already had at home. Bitter gourd or karela is a favourite on my dining table. If you hesitate to take karela because of the bitterness, then do try it in this dish – the jaggery, the kokum and the spice all go to reduce the bitterness and in fact enhance the taste of the bitter gourd. And you know it is chock full of nutrition and health benefits, right?
Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.
Venturing further into North Eastern Cuisine, I made Assamese Aloo Pitika, the delicious Aloo Chokha look alike. Simple, very easy and with the mustard oil giving its unmistakable fragrance and its unique character to the dish, I can’t understand why I have not been using mustard oil more often in my kitchen. Its not that I am not used to cooking with mustard oil. In fact we regularly made aloo chokha aka mashed potatoes, with mustard oil and the stuffed red chillies from my husbands village in Eastern UP, and it would taste awesome.
This traditional stew from Arunachal Pradesh cuisine, Oying Vegetable Stew is simple, easy to make and delicious. There are just a handful of ingredients and no oil or spices are used. What makes the dish tasty is the freshness of the boiled vegetables and the flavours of the chilli and ginger. It healthy too, as well as vegan and gluten free.
You are going to love this chutney! Everyone at home did! Tomato Peanut Orange Peel Chutney Andhra Style – you can imagine the flavours and texture from each of the ingredients! Large yellow and red tomatoes from Lakshmi’s vegetable plot, bright fragrant orange peel, peanuts, chillies and spices and turmeric coming together with an incredible taste. Make sure you use juicy tomatoes for the chutney so that you do not need to add water during the process and dilute the flavours. (more…)
I fell in foodie love with these pretty pale green Patty Pan Squash when I visited the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City last week. I paired them with green capsicum in a Patty Pan Squash Mint Soup, and added mint and fresh orange juice for flavour and cumin and pepper powder for a touch of spice. Lovely purple edible hyacinth flowers again from the Greenmarket made a colourful garnish. (more…)
Rice based salads make a great summer’s day lunch: easy to put together, refreshing and and nutritious. And not just summer, its warming on a chill winter evening and just right when its pouring with rain. The Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus that I made last week was delicious and everyone at home loved it. It is a versatile salad and you could make it with vegetables of your choice. (more…)
Though the heat of the summer has been blistering, making it difficult to enter the kitchen, yet the season has its compensations. Bright green raw mangoes can be turned into so many tasty recipes, each being quick and easy to make. Raw Mango Rice or Mangai Sadam is a favourite with its sharp and tangy flavours. (more…)
It is Sri Rama Navami today and as I sat with my mother yesterday, I asked her for the recipes for the traditional dishes she used to make for this festival. The festival of Rama Navami is in April when summer is just beginning (though this year summer has shown its force since February) and the festive feast seems to be tailor made for the hot weather. Every item on the menu is cooling and refreshing. Panakam or Panagam is a traditional item in the food prepared by Tamilians on this day, and is easy to make.
A glass (or two, or three!) of chilled panakam is great for quenching thirst. With the flavours of cardamom, dry ginger (sukku) in the jaggery water, it is tempting to drink this throughout the day, and then to make it again and again on these hot and humid days.
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I have prepared the Panakam just according to my mother’s recipe, however as an option, lemon juice could be added – about 1 to 2 tablespoons for 3 cups of panakam. Pepper corns may be freshly powdered and added too, to give its distinctive flavours – about ½ teaspoon of pepper for 3 cups of the panakam. A pinch of edible camphor would enhance the flavours, but take care to use just a little as the taste can be overpowering.
Rama Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Sri Ram, the 7th avatar of the God Vishnu, as per Hindu mythology. According to the Hindu calendar, Sri Ram was born on the ninth day of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month. When we were growing up, at Kharagpur in West Bengal, this was an occasion for my parents’ friends to gather together and cook and enjoy a grand lunch. The thirst quenchers were the panakam and the neer mor (spiced buttermilk), along with a cooling salad of cucumber and moong dhal, green chilli and coriander leaves.
There would be a kheer or payasam, a sambar and tasty vegetables, rasam of course, by the gallon, and fried papads. My father and Manian Uncle (my dear friend Ravikumar’s father), would make their famous Badam Kheer instead of a standard payasam. All in all the food that day was a feast for the Gods, though it was we mortals who tucked into it with gusto.
The house would have been scrubbed and cleaned allover the previous day. Mango leaves would be strung across the main entrance, and early in the morning, my mother would wash the area outside the front door and lay out wonderful designs called kolam or moggu (rangoli) with rice powder. I would do my small bit, adding dots to the kolam wherever they were required. The house would be fragrant with the scent of flowers and incense and all the aromas from the kitchen.
Here is my recipe then for the easy to make panakam. I hope you enjoy making and having it!
Health & medicinal benefits:
The cancer and disease fighting properties of ginger and of tulsi (holy basil) leaves are being researched internationally and there are several articles accessible online explaining the possible benefits and the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger on health, such as this one from the International Journal of Preventive Medicine and the many possible medicinal properties of tulsi, as discussed in ‘A Herb for all Reasons‘.