Saturday, September 19, 2009

Achamma's sambar - the ultimate homemade sambar

I would like to thank all my readers for wishing me well when I was ill. I've recovered now. Thank you so much.
Most of you may think that it's a good day for me today. But, no. It's quite the opposite. A very sad day for me. Why? Read on.

I love my grandma. She was a small statured, plump woman and the cutest, sweetest and the most warm-hearted little person I have ever known. I loved her cooking. She was a great cook and I don't know how she really did it. It was like as if she had some magic potion which she used in all her dishes to create those wonderful, aromatic and delightful dishes. Anything she cooked tasted like heaven.

She never had recipe books nor did she ever have to measure ingredients. Everything was in her little silver-haired head and the magic at her finger-tips.

Today, sadly, is her first death anniversary and the following recipe,I, fondly, share in memory of the sweetest and most lovable grandma in the world.

This sambar recipe is a bombshell and it comes from her and She didn't forget to hand it down. So, today my mom still makes it for all at home and when we (my siblings and me) got engaged to be married, my mom handed it down to us. It's always been compliments galore for me, when I make this sambar.

I wish my gramma were here today.I miss her ever-so-much.
"Achamma this post is in memory of you. Sure, you are looking down on me now."

I have made this sambar using Okra( Ladies finger). Some alternatives for okra are drumsticks, white pumpkin( winter melon), brinjal( aubergine) or shallots. My favorite is shallot sambar but could not find any this time.

Ingredients: (serves 3-4)

  • Toor dal - 1/2 cup
  • Tomato - 2 (cut into quaters)
  • Ladies finger (cut into 1 inch long pieces)
  • Tamarind - size of a bing cherry
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tspn
  • Asafoetida( Hing) - 2 pinches
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tspn
  • Grated coconut - 1/3 cup
  • Curry leaves - 7-8 large leaves ( plus more for tempering)
  • Chopped onions - 1/4 cup
  • Coriander powder- 4 tbspns
  • Chilli powder - 1 tspn( or to taste)
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
  • Dried red chillies- 2
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 2 tbspns
  • Wash the dal. Pressure cook it with tomatoes and 1-1/2 cups of water. ( 2 whistles will be sufficient)
  • In the mean time, take 1/2 tbspn of oil in a pan and saute the okra till the slime disappears. Set aside (If using drumsticks or the other alternatives, avoid this step)
  • Add 1/2 cup of water to the tamarind and extract tamarind juice from it and discard the pulp. Set aside.
  • In another pan, add another 1/2 tbspn of oil and add Hing.
  • Then add fenugreek seeds. When it turns light brown and splutters, add coconut, curry leaves and onions and fry.When the coconut turns a golden brown and a wonderful aroma arises, add coriander powder and chilli powder. Toast well. Stir constantly. ( abt 5-6 mins on medium-low flame) . Then grind this to a fine paste and set aside.
  • When the dal is cooked, add the vegetable to the dal and cook along with salt, turmeric powder, tamarind extract and the ground coconut mixture. cook for about 5-6 mins.
  • If the sambar is too thick, add as much water as required to make a consistency that satisfies you.
  • Finally, temper mustard, curry leaves and red chillies in 1 tbspn of oil and add it to the sambar.
  • Serve with rice, idly, dosa or methu vadas.
Luv 'n' luc'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not again.........

Hi all,

Just a small note to inform you all that I'm down with a horrible cold, throat infection and fever again. Just the weather taking its toll. See you soon.

Luv 'n' luc'

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fruit and Nut Oatmeal cookies.

When I receive an invitation from friends to enjoy a nice home cooked dinner or lunch at their home, I have the habit of carrying some goodies for them. It is not about giving them something in return for their invitation, but just a token of my appreciation. I usually like to pack something homemade, as opposed to store-bought, because I think it is worthwhile putting in a little time and effort for your friends, especially, when they slog away, making a good meal for you. But, I have to admit that I do have times when I have had, absolutely, no time on my hands and retreated to giving store bought stuff. (Guilty )

There was this one time when a friend invited me for dinner and I decided on baking these cookies for her. She is new to baking and so I had packed these cookies for along with the recipe as well. Such an easy recipe that I knew she will not have any trouble, what so ever, baking these anytime. I was sure she would love the cookies and the recipe. Sure as I was, she remarked that these cookies will never go out of style in her home and has showered me with praises.

How I came about this recipe .....when I was in India for a holiday, my sister, Preetha- who is a passionate foodie, made some of these delicious oatmeal cookies for us. She is a fantastic cook and there, you have the answer to where this recipe comes from . So, it is "SHE" actually deserves all those praises.

I love baking and especially when the results are so good, who wouldn't?

Ingredients:( makes about 45 cookies)

Butter - 1/2 pound(2 sticks/225 gms)
Light brown sugar (firmly packed) - 1 cup
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 2
Pure vanilla extract - 1 tspn
All purpose flour( maida) - 1-1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1 tspn
Salt - 1/2 tspn(optional)
Uncooked oats - 3 cups (quick or old fashioned oats)
Raisins and chopped walnuts - 1-1/2 cups


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C)
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and sift twice.Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar till creamy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla and beat.
  • Add the sift flour mixture and mix well.
  • Stir in oats, raisins and nut. Mix well with a wooden spoon.(mixture will be thick and sticky)
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls( or easier with a small ice cream scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet .
  • Don't press the dough down or try to shape them, as they will shape themselves while they bake.
  • [ NOTE : make sure to drop the dough 2 inches apart from one another as they will spread out while baking. If each scoop of dough is dropped too close to one another, you will get one super sized oatmeal bar and not separate cookies.]
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  • Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer the cookies gentlt to a wire rack to cool off completely.
  • Store in airtight containers.

Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paruppu pradhaman/ Paruppu payasam

I just recovered from an ankle injury and fever. That's my reasonable excuse for not being able to post any news recipes or check out your posts. I'm sure all of you understand and I don't have to apologize. It's good to be back :)
Onam is coming up, on September 2nd this year, which is on wednesday. For those of you who want to know the significance of Onam, click here. Onam too, like Vishu, is celebrated with pomp and splendour in Kerala. Onam is the time of harvest and prosperity. Onam sadhya is similar to what we have for Vishu . I have mentioned about Vishu in one of my previous posts. To read about it, click here .
So here is a very traditional recipe of a very rich payasam called paruppu pradhaman. This is a thunderbolt recipe. Will definitely create an everlasting impression. Extremely scrumptious. The wonderful warm taste of jaggery and the bite from the dal is what makes for it's unbeatable flavor. The creaminess that the coconut milk renders to the payasam ................Unbelievable.
Actually, words cannot do justice to the taste of this payasam. You have to try it to believe me.

Usually, my mother adds ghee-roasted coconut pieces as well, to garnish the pradhaman. I forgot to set aside some coconut for garnish, so, I have not used any.

  • Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

    Moong dal - 1/2 cup
    Water- 1-1/2 cups + 1 cup
    Coconut milk - 400 ml
    Jaggery - 9 small peices ( Abt 3/4 cup)
    Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn
    Ghee - 1 tbspn
    Cashews and raisins - 3 tspns each.
  • Dry roast the moong dal in a pan, on medium heat, till a nice aroma arises and the yellow dal turns golden color. (Takes about 6-8 mins)
  • Take a pressure cooker and add the dal and 1-1/2 cups of water. Cook for 2 whistles.( or till just done. The dal should not be mushy)
  • In another pan, melt the jaggery with 1 cup of water and strain the jaggery to remove the dust at the bottom.
  • Add the cooked dal to this melted jaggery and let it simmer on low heat for about 20 mins.
  • Add the coconut milk to the above mixture, cook on medium heat for 10-15 more minutes. Stir constantly. ( Add more water to the payasam if it is too thick)
  • Add cardamom powder.
  • Heat ghee and roast the cashews and raisins separately add to payasam.( If u have small, sliced coconut pieces, you can fry that and add it too)
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. ( I like it at room temperature)
Luv 'n' luc'


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