On the 6th annivesary of my American Moments food blog, I'm sharing a simple rice dish called Venn Pongal. Savoury Pongal or Venn Pongal as its commonly called in South Indian cuisine is a mix of rice with lentils and topped with an assortment of condiments. It is usually served as a breakfast dish with fresh coconut chutney and a lentil curry called sambar. Again, ghee is usually used to increase its taste, but a vegan version is shared here. A sweet version of this rice pudding called Sakkarai (Sugar) Pongal is also enjoyed by many.
Ingredients (for 2)
Here is a recipe for a vegan version of an Indian semolina pudding called Kesari. Though it doesn't have the richness of a traditional Kesari which includes ghee, this is quite light and guilt-free.
Ingredients (for 4)
The Hindi word Toor Dal is pigeon pea in English. We, Indians use a lot of lentils in our cooking as it takes care of our protein in our daily meals, especially for vegetarians. With the variety of lentils available and with the myriad of recipe ideas in our Indian cuisine, we are never lost for a dish to make for our friends and family.
This toor dal lentil curry is relatively easy to make and makes a good accompaniment for our rice dishes and our chapathis (wholewheat flat bread). As its pretty straighforward, I will not be posting step by step photos as I do with more difficult recipes.
Ingredients : (serves 3-4 as a side dish)
3/4 (three quarter) cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
3 and 1/2 (half) cups water
1/2 (half) tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried chilli (optional if you want a less spicy curry)
a pinch of asoefetida
1 small onion, sliced
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 green chilli (again optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 medium tomato, chopped small
1 stalk coriander leaves, chopped small
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
Salt per preference
1) Wash the toor dal, check for stones and put the dal in a pressure cooker with the water, turmeric powder and salt. After the first whistle, reduce fire to low and switch off after 10 mins. Leave to cool.
2) In a small sauce pan, heat the canola oil and fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried chilli and asoefetida.
3) Then add the chopped onion and fry for 2-3 mins. Next, add in the ginger garlic paste and green chilli. Fry further for 2-3 mins.
4) Add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders. Stir and fry the spice powders. Add salt per your preference.
5) Add in the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup water and let it cook and turn soft and mushy.
6) Add the cooked toor dal and stir well. Check for salt.
7) Lastly, add the chopped coriander leaves and the dried fenugreek leaves.
8) Serve warm with rice or chapathis.
Anu, a close friend of mine and a fellow member of our Book Club formed in the eastern part of Singapore, is an avid cook. I have known for many years and each time I go over to her place or she comes to one of ours, she'll bring one of her delicious treats. Once we savoured pizza toast using her own homemade pizza sauce, another time Anu made little dough balls using leftover dosa batter with a very delightful coconut chutney. Last week on Monday, we had a taste of her delicious Briyani using her own home made Briyani Masala.
We all cook for our family and friends but where do we have the time to make our masala powders from scratch? Roasting the whole spices and then cooling and later grinding them into a fine powder. And the proportions must be in the right amounts otherwise you will have in hand either a very bland masala or an overpowering one. I found Anu's Briyani Masala just right and very balanced. Not too spicy, not too pungent. Anu makes all her masalas from scratch - Briyani, Sambar and Rasam as well. She shared her Briyani Masala Powder recipe with me on Monday. Unfortunately, I will not be sharing the masala powder recipe here in this post as I am encouraging her (and empowering her) to start selling her masala powders to all who want a less pungent overpowering store bought ones. Hopefully, Anu will have a thriving home business selling spice powders soon!
This is how her Briyani Masala looked like :
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2-3 tbsps canola oil
1 cup Basmati Rice, soaked for 30 mins and drained
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 and 1/4 tsp of Anu's Briyani Masala
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (for the gorgeous red hue without the heat)
Salt to taste per your preference
1 medium sized potato peeled and cut into 1 inch long thick pieces
1 small sized carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch long thick pieces
2 long beans, washed and cut into 1 inch long pieces
A stalk of coriander leaves, chopped
1) Take a large pot and fry the onion and ginger garlic paste in canola oil.
2) Add the briyani masala, chilli powder and salt and stir for 2-3 mins.
3) Add in the vegetables and 1 cup water and stir and cook on low heat till water evaporates
4) Then, add in the drained basmati rice and stir gently ensuring you dont break the soaked rice. Stir till the oil is evenly coated on all grains of rice.
5) Transfer to your rice cooker. Add 2.5 cups of water and check for salt. Switch on your rice cooker and cook per normal.
6) Serve warm with plain dal and cucumber yoghurt raita.
Baby Eggplants in Tangy Tomato Gravy was a hit in my Diwali gatherings in Oct and Nov last year. It is my mom's quintessential dish and I must say it is quite a flavourful one After receiving several requests for her recipe, I decided to post it here. I have tried to make it numerous times but without success. Today's version, however, seemed close to what my mom churns out for us whenever we request for our gatherings and celebrations. Choose baby eggplants as they can be fried whole and they present well but other types of eggplants can also be used as well. If you are using other types of eggplants, please note that they should be cut into 2 inches. I have used coconut milk to give the gravy its thickness and also to keep it vegan but you can substitute with cooking cream.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish)
500gm baby eggplants
2bsp canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large tomato, cut into medium sized chunks
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp chilli powder
Tamarind Tomato Mix
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 2 cups of water
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 (three quarters ) tsp cumin powder
1/2 (half) tsp black pepper powder
1/2 (half) tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt (or to your preference)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsps coconut milk
coriander leaves for garnishing
1) Wash and cut the eggplants but not all the way through so it still remains intact at the stem. Soak in salted water for 10 mins. Then, drain away and rinse twice in plain water. This is to remove any bitterness present in the eggplants.
2) Prepare the tamarind tomato mix while the egglants are soaking. Dissolve 1 tsp of tamarind paste in 2 cups of water. Throw away any seeds and skin residue and only keep the tamarind solution. In this solution, add all the masala powders, tomato chunks, salt and sugar.
3) Deep fry the eggplants. This is not very healthy but I'm posting a very authentic recipe to show how it was orginally done. Please do try shallow frying or airfrying. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
4) Take a skillet or a flat pan and heat 2 tbsp canola oil. Fry the onion and curry leaves for 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 tsp chilli powder and be careful it doesn't burn.
5) At this point, add in the tamarind tomato mix and let the mix boil for 5- 10mins till the liquid is half in quantity.
6) Once the liquid has reduced in quantity, add in 2 tbsps coconut milk and stir. Followed by the fried eggplants. Its important you don't stir the eggplants too much as we are keeping them whole. Stirring them too much will dissolve them into the gravy.
7) Serve warm garnished with coriander leaves. Goes particularly well with Vegetable Korma and plain basmati rice.
Hi guys! I'm Nilofar Iyer and I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family and friends with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.