Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Soy Chunks Curry

If there is a vegetable source that could almost taste like meat it is soy chunks. Soy chunks is also the healthier version of meat with all the protein content and none of the fat. Tempted enough to try it? :). But I have to warn you that it takes a while to get used to the taste of this one. Being a non-vegetarian myself though not an eager one, it took me a while to get hooked on to soy chunks and now I love it. It also depends on how you cook it, you need to be careful to squeeze out all the water content from the boiled soy chunks for it to taste well and infuse in itself the flavour of the curry you put it in. If you do cook it the right way, there is a quite a strong possibility that you will like soy chunks and if you are vegetarian, soy chunks can get you all the nutrients out of the meat. So go ahead and experiment on soy chunks and try to like it because its super healthy.


Serves - 3
Spice Level - High
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook time - 20 min

Soy chunks - 2 cups
Onion - 1 large, chopped well
Tomatoes - 3 medium sized, chopped into medium sized pieces
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1.5 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Turmeric - a pinch
Curry Powder/Masala Powder - 3 Tsp
Salt - as per need
Hing - a generous pinch
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Jeera/Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Oil - 1 Tbsp

How do you do it

1. Bring few cups of water to a rolling boil in a pan. Add the soy chunks pieces and boil for a couple of minutes, switch off flame. Close the pan with a lid and leave it like that for 20 min

2. After 20 min, drain off all the water, show the bowl of soy chunks under running cold water to cool and rinse. Now take few pieces of soy chunks in you palm and squeeze as much as possible to remove all the water. Repeat for all the pieces of soy chunks and keep aside. This step is important, if you don't squeeze out the water properly, they will smell differently when they are in the curry.

3. After squeezing all the water out, cut each piece in 2 or 4 pieces, the soy chunks tend to become bigger in size once they are on the curry.

4. Heat oil in a kadai. Add hing, mustard seeds, jeera seeds and let them pop. Add the onions, curry leaves and Ginger-garlic paste and cook until the onions turn translucent.

5. Now add the tomato pieces, turmeric and a pinch of salt and mix well. Close the kadai with a lid until the tomatoes cook and turn soft and mushy.

6. At this stage, add the curry powder and saute for a couple of minutes.

7. Add two cups of water to the kadai and bring to boil. Add in the soy chunk pieces, remaining salt and on medium flame let it cook with lid closed.

8. It would take about 15 minutes at this stage for all the water to be absorbed and a thick curry to be formed after which you can switch off flame.

This would be a good side dish for rasam rice, curd rice and Rotis.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kovakkai Masala Biryani | Tindora [Ivy Gourd] Biryani

S : I have decided to work from home tomorrow
Me: Yay! Super.

Me: I don't have to hurry up for lunch then! Do you have anything in mind for lunch?
S : Hmmm, How about that Kovakai [Ivy Gourd, Tindora] Rice you made the other day?

Me: What?!! you want that? Since when did you start liking kovakai? :)

If you are not a fan of the vegetable Ivy Gourd yet, I am going to tempt you to try this recipe and I am confident of converting you into a Tindora fan ;). This is a really flavorful Variety Rice that doesnt take too much time to put together and all you need is the raitha to serve it up with for a splendid meal. The roasted Ivy gourd and potatoes added to the masala coated rice is just finger licking good. I usually make this yummy and healthy Kovakkai Kootu, but decided to experiment using this vegetable in a variety Rice and it turned out to be a big hit at home :).


Serves - 2 
Spice Level - Moderate
Prep Time - 15 min
Cook time - 20 min

Ivy Gourd - 20 pieces, cut into think roundels , its called tindora in Hindi and Kovakai in Tamil
Potato - one, peeled, washed and chopped into thin tooth shaped pieces or cubed into small pieces
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Turmeric - 1 pinch + 1 pinch
Masala/Red chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Salt - as per need
Tomato - 1 and half tomatoes pureed
Onion - 1 Large, sliced thinly
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1.5 Tsp
Green Chilli - 2 , slit lengthwise and cut in half
Oil - 2 Tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 Tsp
Kitchen King Msala - 1 Tsp
Basmati Rice - 1.25 cups
Lemon juice - of half a lemon
Water - 2 cups

How do you do it

1. Wash the basmati Rice well and soak in water for 15-30 minutes. Drain and keep aside. In a large pan, bring to boil 2 cups of water along with 2 Tsp of salt. Once it starts boiling, add in the rice and simmer flame and close with a tight lid. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Switch off flame and fluff the rice well with a fork. Keep aside.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a kadai, add the chopped Ivy gourd and potatoes, 1/2 Tsp salt, and a pinch of turmeric and the Masala Powder. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium - high flame for the Ivy gourd and potatoes to crispen. Do not close the lid while cooking this. If you close the kadai with a lid, you will get a more boiled veggie texture and not a crispy one. Once they crisp/brown, remove from flame and keep aside.

3. Heat 2 Tsp oil in the same pan. Add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the green chilli and ginger garlic paste and cook until the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste fades and the onions are cooked well.

4. Add the tomato puree, 1 tsp salt, a pinch of turmeric and cook on low flame for 5 minutes.

5. Add the garam masala and kitchen king masala powder and cook for a couple of more minutes.

6. Now add the in cooked rice and sauteed veggies and mix everything together on low flame. Once mixed well, switch off flame.

7. Keep the pan with closed lid for 10 minutes so all the flavours are absorbed well into the rice.

8. Open the lid, add in the lemon juice, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl.

Seve this different and delicious Tindora Biryani with Raitha and Pappad.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sweet Cheeyum | Sweet Deep Fried Dumplings | Happy Tamil New Year

Wish you all a very happy Tamil New Year. Inniya Puthandu Nal Vazhthukal! There are so many Chettinadu sweet varieties in my "to-make" list and its becomes a good routine to use these happy and auspicious days to choose one of the dishes from the list. Today it was Sweet and Masala Cheeyum also known as Seeyum. If I have to translate this dish to english I would call them sweet deep fried dumplings. The sweet stuffing is made of moong dal, jaggery and coconut which is bound together to form a ladoo. This ladoo is dipped in rice-urad dal batter and deep fried. The advantage about this recipe is all the prep work can be done a couple of days in advance and on the day of the festival it takes only 15 minutes to finish the deep frying. The left-over raw rice-urad dal batter can be seasoned with onions, green chillies and made into a savoury item - Masala Cheeyum, so all in all two dishes for the work of one! :)


Serves - Makes about 10 pieces
Prep Time - 30 min + 2 hrs soak time
Cook time - 15 minutes

For the sweet stuffing

Moong Dal [Green Gram Dal] - 1/2 cup
Crumbled Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/3 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 Tsp
ghee - 1 Tsp

For the batter

Raw Rice - 1/2 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup
Salt - a pinch
Water as per need

How do you do it

1. To prepare the sweet stuffing, boil the moong dal until its 3/4 done. Make sure to drain the moong dal of all the water, let it dry for 15-20 minutes. Cool the dal completely and give it a few pulses in your food processor so that it crumbles. Make sure it doesn't become a paste. Just a few quick pulses for it to break down.

2. Heat a kadai, flame must be medium level. Add the broken/crumbled jaggery and sprinkle 2-3 tbsp of water on top of it. Let the jaggery loosen a little and form a thick syrup.

3. Add the dal, grated coconut, ghee to the pan now and mix everything well. Saute in low-medium flame for a few minutes until it forms a thick mass.

4. Switch off flame and mix in the cardamom powder. Cool the mixture.

5. Once cooled, make small lemon sized balls and keep them aside.

6. To prepare the batter, soak the rice and dal in enough water for 2-3 hours. Drain completely and grind to a smooth paste with as little water as possible. I used about 1/4 cup water while grinding. Add a pinch of salt, mix well keep aside.

7. Take half of the above batter in a bowl. Save the remaining batter to make masala cheeyum. The consistency of the batter should be little thicker than dosa batter consistency. So add water to get to that consistency. Adding too much water will make it very loose and the sweet balls will not coat well and the cheeyum might soak a lot of oil.  On the other hand if the batter is too thick, you will get a very thick outer layer, so be cautious in this step. Start with little water and then you can add more after testing a few pieces.

8. Heat a kadai with oil for deep frying. Maintain the flame in medium level. Dip the ball in the batter, coat it well with batter and drop them in oil. Deep fry to a golden brown and drain them using a slotted spoon. Put them on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.

Note: Bite into one of fried cheeyum. If you feel the outer batter layer is thick, add little water to make the batter loose, you will get a much thinner outer layer.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Home-made Ginger Garlic Paste

Coming to think of it, I have never made ginger-garlic paste at home, 5 years of cooking and I have always bought the ready-made paste :|. I did a recent survey of my pantry and realized I don't use a lot of ready-made products :), one of the few things I have gotten used to are the ginger-garlic paste and I wanted to cut it out. Another significant advantage is the super flavor and smell it adds to the dishes as there is a huge difference between the store bought paste and the home-made one. I have decided that I am never going back to buying the paste from stores after making this last month. You could make it in bulk, refrigerate it and this would keep well for a month. If you haven't thought about making your own paste, go ahead and try it and I am sure you would not go back to buying the ready-made version :).


Makes about 1 cup
Prep Time - 20 min

Garlic - 1 cup, peeled and washed, chopped roughly
Ginger - 1 cup, peeled and washed, chopped roughly
Turmeric - 1 Tsp
Oil - 1 Tbsp

How do you do it

1. Add ginger, garlic pieces, turmeric in your mixer grinder and grind. Add the 1 tbsp oil in shots so the mixer can grind easily. Do not add water - this will spoil the fridge-life of the ginger garlic paste. Grind until you get a paste consistency, transfer it to a dry bottle and refrigerate.

2. Always use a dry spoon when you need the paste, so that it doesn't go bad. Turmeric and oil are preservatives here. This quantity lasts for about a month in my kitchen and then I make another batch for the next month.  You could vary the quantities based on your needs.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Paneer Tikka Masala

Paneer dishes are almost always a super-hit at home and an even bigger hit during parties and so I like having a collection of different kinds of paneer recipes. Paneer tikka masala happened on the day I made Broccoli Paratha and Paneer Tikka which I used later to dunk into the curry. That day was a happy Saturday, I had tried three new recipes and all of them turned out great and I was really pleased with myself. Paneer Tikka curry takes a little bit more time that the usual Paneer recipes, as you need to make the Paneer tikka first which requires marination time, its not something that you can make at the last hour. It requires pre-planning but totally worth it to pamper yourself over the weekend, so go for it :).

You may have noticed that my posting frequency is dropping here, its just that I have my mind on too many things lately and largely preoccupied with them. Hopefully I can start to clear the pile on my wish list and I would be up in good spirits again and probably start a marathon blogging month soon to make up for the slow pace off-late!


Recipe Source - Monsoon Spice
Serves - 4
Spice Level - Moderate
Prep Time -  20 min + 1 hr marination time
Cook Time - 20 min

Paneer Tikka - 200 gms prepared , refer link to make paneer tikkas.
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1 Tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 Tsp
Kitchen King Masala - 1/2 Tsp
Tomato Paste - 1 tbsp
Kasoori Methi
2 Tbsp oil
Salt - as per taste

Paste 1

Onion - 1 Large, roughly chopped
Dry Red chilli - 2
Coriander Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp

Paste 2

Tomato - 3 Large tomatoes
Cashews - 12

How do you do it

1. Grind the ingredients under paste 1 and paste 2 separately without adding water and keep them aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onion paste and ginger-garlic paste for 5-7 minutes until the paste forms a lump , becomes a little dry and is cooked well. Make sure to cook it properly, if you do not saute the paste well, it will leave a bitter taste to the curry.

3. Now add the sugar, garam masala, Kitchen-King Masala, crush the kasoori methi between your palms and add it in, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the tomato-cashew paste now and stir well. Simmer flame and close the lid and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Add the tomato paste, salt, 2 cups of water and mix well. Close the lid again and boil the curry in low-medium flame for about 10 min.

6. Add the prepared Paneer Tikka pieces into the curry and let it boil for another couple of minutes. Switch off flame.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve this delicious Paneer curry with any Indian flat bread or Pulav of your choice.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beetroot Masala

There are a very few dishes that I make with beetroot, its not a popular vegetable in my kitchen though I would love for it to become one. I think it has to do with its sweet taste and sweet veggies never score with me. I normally make this easy and simple beetroot masala which is quite a good combination with curd rice, I pep up the spices really well so it negates the sweet flavor to an extent. So this recipe is for you if you have a similar story behind the beets or even otherwise ;).


Serves - 2
Spice Level - High
Prep Time - 15 min
Cook time - 15 min

Beetroot - 2 medium sized, peeled, chopped into tooth shaped pieces and pressure cooked
Onion - 1 , chopped well
Tomato - 2 , chopped well
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Ginger - Garlic paste - 1 Tsp
Masala [Curry/Chilli] Powder - 1 Tbsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - as required
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Hing/Asafoetida - a generous pinch
Oil - 1 Tbsp

How do you do it

1. After you pressure cook the beetroot , reserve any water that is left so it can be used in the gravy.

2. Heat a kadai with oil. Add the hing, mustard and cumin seeds. Let them pop/roast.

3. Add the onions and curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste and saute till the onions are cooked well.

4. Add the tomatoes now, some salt and turmeric and stir well. Close the kadai with a lid and on medium flame cook the tomatoes till they turn soft and mushy.

5. Add the masala powder now and mix well, add some reserved liquid from pressure cooking the beets. [not more than 1/2 cup]

6. Let the masala powder cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked beets now and mix well.

7. Simmer flame and let them cook slowly for about 10 minutes till the beets take in all the flavour. Add required salt in this stage.

8. Once the masala becomes thick, switch off flame.

Serve with curd rice for a very healthy and satisfying lunch :)

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