Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Tofu Jalfrezi

Jalfrezi (Jal=spicy, frezi=suitable to diet) like its name suggests, is a diet-friendly preparation. I call it company food. When friends drop by unexpectedly, if I have peppers at home, then jalfrezi it is. With rice or chapati, it makes a quick and decent meal. The vegetarian version of jalfrezi is commonly prepared with paneer, peppers, onion and tomatoes. For today’s meal, I replaced the paneer with tofu. As you may already know, tofu enjoys vibrant vegetable supporting company. And in jalfrezi, the jazzed up tofu sure tasted good.

Tofu and Bell Pepper


Preparation is like saying one, two, and three. That easy.

Cut a red onion, two tomatoes and one big bell pepper into chunks of one-inch size. Slit a chilli pepper lengthwise to two or four thin pieces. Cut extra-firm tofu into one-inch cubes.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add and toast a pinch of cumin. Add onions, tomatoes and peppers. Grate a half-inch piece of ginger over the skillet. Stir-fry for about five minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Sprinkle the turmeric, salt and garam masala powder to taste. Mix, and then add the tofu cubes. Keep the heat medium, and cook for another couple of minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lime juice. Serve hot with chapati or rice.

Tofu Jalfrezi with Chapati ~ Meal Today

Jalfrezi, the tech type.

~ Indira
(Busy days. See you again on Sunday.)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper, Tomato, Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Peppers, Red Onions (Tuesday March 4, 2008 at 6:07 pm- permalink)
Comments (2)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Green Tomatoes

Photo Purchase Keywords: Tomato, Coconut
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

During winter time, I tend to look for the greenest, unripe tomatoes at the grocery stores. I keep them in a basket on the kitchen countertop at home. Though it takes two to three days to mellow, the resulting home-ripened tomatoes are worth the wait for their flavor : my solution to poor quality tomatoes of winter season.

Last weekend, I purchased two pounds of “just looking at them will make your mouth pucker” kind of firm-fleshed, unripe tomatoes. I couldn’t resist making an old classic with them for today’s meal. The following recipe is a traditional preparation from Nandyala, India. The intense, tangy ruchi of unripe tomatoes is matched by fresh coconut sweetness and chilli-ginger spiciness. A good meal to have on a mind numbing, cold winter day.

Unripe Tomato and Fresh Coconut
Unripe Tomato and Fresh Coconut ~ Ingredients for Kura


1 teaspoon peanut oil
Pinch each - cumin and mustard seeds
4 - green, unripe tomatoes (Round, Big variety)
4 - green chillies (Indian or Thai variety)
2 tablespoons - grated coconut, fresh
1 tablespoon - grated ginger
Salt and turmeric to taste

Wash green tomatoes and then cut them to bite-sized pieces - about four cups.

Place a wide skillet on stove-top. Add and heat peanut oil. Add and toast cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the tomatoes. On medium-high heat, cook the tomatoes to tender-soft (but not too mushy or paste like).

Meanwhile, take the coconut, green chillies and ginger in a blender or Sumeet style mixer. Add a pinch of salt. Blend to fine paste.

Add this coconut-chilli paste to the simmering tomatoes. Also stir in the turmeric and salt. Mix. Cook, covered for another five minutes.

Serve the tomato kura hot with chapati or parathas for a light meal.

Unripe Tomato Kura
Kura with Unripe Tomatoes ~ Meal Today

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala

- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Fresh), Ginger & Sonti (Tuesday January 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm- permalink)
Comments (22)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Chipotle Chilli Chutney

My enthusiasm for food blogging events has been going south in recent months. I am not able to muster up much energy like before. Even my beloved event JFI, featuring an ingredient that I worship (chillies) couldn’t pepper me enough. The motivation is there, but I don’t know what’s going on with me, it’s not manifesting into actual results. Well, I guess this is another food blogging phase that I have to go through.

After observing my mental struggle, my kind husband Vijay offered some help. “Tell me what to do, I will make it and will take the pictures. But in writing and publishing the results, you are on your own buddy”, he said. How can I resist such affectionate offer? So here it is, the chipotle chilli chutney for JFI: Chillies. My recipe through Vijay’s magic hands.

Chipotle Chillies, Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic
Chipotle Chillies, Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic ~ Ingredients for Chipotle Chilli Chutney


Chipotle chillies - 6
Cherry tomatoes - 1 pound
Garlic cloves - 6
Sea salt and cane sugar - Half teaspoon each
Peanut oil - 1 tablespoon

Soak the Chipotles:
Take chipotle chillies in a cup. Pour and cover with hot water, about half cup. Soak until pliable about 30 minutes.

Grill the Tomatoes and Garlic:
In a wide cast-iron skillet, heat the peanut oil to smoking point. Add and brown the garlic first, then add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are lightly browned. Turn off the heat and cool completely.

Transfer the chipotles and the water they soaked in to a Sumeet style mixer. Pulse for few minutes. Add the roasted garlic, tomatoes, salt and sugar. Blend to smooth. Remove to a clean, glass jar.

Chipotles bring not only spiciness but also a unique smoky flavor and the chutney tastes terrific with chapatis, French fries etc.

Chapatis with Tomato Dal and Chipotle Chilli Chutney ~ Our Meal Today and
My Contribution to JFI:Chilli, Hosted by Lovely Nandita of Saffron Trail

Kitchen notes:
Chipotle chillies are mature jalapenos that have been dried and smoked, can be purchased at Mexican grocery shops. Unlike the Indian variety dried red chillies, Mexican originated chipotles have a hard bark like skin. Prior soaking in water is needed for easy, smooth blending.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Peppers, Dried Red Chillies, Jihva For Ingredients (Wednesday August 1, 2007 at 2:44 pm- permalink)
Comments (17)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Tomato Pulusu from Nandyala

During peak tomato season, when tomatoes are at their best and prices are low, my mother, Rajeswaramma would prepare this tomato pulusu. With ripe tomatoes, fresh coconut, and toasted coriander seed seasoning, tomato pulusu is nothing but taste buds tingling tomato love.

While picking tomatoes for tomato pickle, I found this precious looking tiny tomato (shown in the photo). I guess it belongs to one of those heirloom varieties. It looked so pretty and different. I did not put it in the pulusu. I photographed it and ate it like that, adding little sugar. Tasted good!

Tomato, Fresh Coconut, Coriander Seeds


Cut and cook:
Rinse 8 ripe tomatoes and cut them to large pieces.
In a saucepan, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and toast the popu or tadka ingredients (cumin, mustard seeds - a pinch each). When seeds start to splutter, add the tomato pieces. Stir in chilli powder, salt and turmeric to taste or quarter teaspoon each. Mix and cover with a lid and cook on medium high for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring in-between.

Blend and Add:
While the tomatoes are cooking, in a spice grinder, take 3 tablespoons of fresh grated coconut, add a tablespoon of toasted coriander seeds. Also 2 cloves and half inch piece of cinnamon stick. Grind to fine consistency.

Add this paste to the cooking tomatoes. Stir the mixture together and gently press the softened tomatoes with the back of the spoon to mush them. Add about half cup of water. Mix and taste it for spices and adjust the salt and chilli levels to your liking. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer on medium-low for another 10 to 15 minutes. When the pulusu starts to become thick, then turn off the heat.

Serve the tomato pulusu piping hot with chapati, puri or rice with little bit ghee drizzled on.

Tomato Pulusu with Chapati ~ Taste buds Tingling Tomato Love

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Thursday July 19, 2007 at 9:22 pm- permalink)
Comments (16)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Tomato Pacchadi (Tomato Pickle)

Tomato Pacchadi (Tomato Pickle)

A new grocery shop has opened in the neighborhood recently and they had a grand opening sale on some items. Good looking tomatoes, still on the vine were advertised for 49 cents a pound. The deal was irresistible and I bought 20 pounds thinking of making tomato pickle.

There are mainly two ways of tomato pickle preparation that I am familiar with. The sun-dried method and the stove-top simmering method. Both produce excellent tasting pickles of different personalities. The first one needs super bright sunshine. It’s hot here in Seattle since last week, but it is no way near Nandyala hot. So, I decided on stove-top simmering method. Mainly, it’s fail-proof and produces tomato pickle of high quality that’s ready to eat as soon as it’s done simmering.

Like in any pickle preparation, the ingredients quality matters a lot for tomato pickle also. Tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes with thin skin and little bit under-ripe are the best. Traditionally, tomato seeds and skin are included in pickle for that special texture and extra something they bring to the end experience. Sesame oil, tamarind, fenugreek, red chilli powder, iodine-free salt, asafetida, garlic, and fresh curry leaves – total eight ingredients are needed, which can be purchased at Indian grocery shops for low prices.

Surrounded by all natural ingredients, simmered tomatoes in tomato pickle sure make a bold, declamatory statement on taste buds. Sweet, sour, salty and spicy, the rich taste of tomato pickle is an addictive one. We particularly like it with upma, pongal, and yogurt rice. Also as a spread on chapatis and on toasted bread.

Tomatoes for Pickle


Tomatoes: 25 tomatoes rinsed and wiped dry with a clean towel. Coarsely chopped - about 15 cups.
Tamarind: 3 index finger-length tamarind pods soaked in half cup hot water and juice extracted. Or about ¼ cup thick tamarind pulp (added to enhance the tomato’s sweet-sourness quality).
Sesame oil (non-toasted variety from India, not the Chinese type) - ¼ cup
Red chilli powder - ¼ cup
Iodine-free salt - ½ cup
Fenugreek powder - 1 tablespoon

For Popu or Tadka:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 sprigs curry leaves, about 15 fresh curry leaves
10 garlic cloves - thinly sliced lengthwise, (like sliced almonds)
¼ teaspoon asafetida (inguva)

Sliced to Chunks

In a big, non-reactive pan, add and heat sesame oil (¼ cup). Add the tomatoes to hot oil. Also the red chilli powder, salt and tamarind pulp. Mix and cover the pot. Cook on high heat, stirring in-between for about 30 minutes. Tomatoes will be mushed down and you will be seeing lot of tomato juice trying to lift the pot lid and splash the counter-tops.

At this stage, add the fenugreek powder. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot and simmer until the tomatoes become thick but spreadable like jam. It takes easily an hour. Fine-tune the balance and adjust salt and chilli levels to your liking. The next step will be adding the toasted popu or tadka ingredients.

In a skillet, heat the sesame oil (2 tbs) until a garlic piece tossed in it sizzles. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic first and then the curry leaves. Toast to pale gold color. Turn off the heat. Stir in asafetida. Mix and immediately add the toasted skillet contents to the tomato pickle.

Stir so that everything gets well combined. Simmer, uncovered for about ten minutes, gently mixing. Turn off the heat and let the pickle cool. (Do not cover the pot.)

Fill the completely cooled tomato pickle in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. It stays fresh for a month, and stores very well even without refrigeration.


After one hour of simmering

Tomato Pickle ready to be placed in a jar

Tomato Pickle
Rosematta and Yuba Vegetable Congee with Tomato Pacchadi

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala
If you are planning to make it with regular salt, reduce the quantity by couple of teaspoons, also adjust the salt level to your taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Monday July 16, 2007 at 9:10 pm- permalink)
Comments (47)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

The art of Tomato Pacchadi

Sun~Kissed Tomatoes of Summer

Sliced to Chunks

Simmering with Spices

Reduced and Ready to Bottle

Tomato Pacchadi (Tomato Pickle)


Thanks all for your interest in tomato pickle. Here is the Recipe:
The Art of Making Tomato Pacchadi

If you think you have benefited in some way, by using any of Mahanandi’s recipes and you want to show your appreciation by donating some money, here is Mahanandi’s Cause.
“Provide the Seeds to Sow”. Spread the word and donate.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Thursday July 12, 2007 at 9:09 pm- permalink)
Comments (30)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Dazzling Dals ~ Sprouted Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal Sprouts

Whole masoor dal is quick to sprout. Just few hours soak-time in water and few hours hang-time in a cotton cloth under the warm rays of the sun. That’s about it. Like the sensitive student that staunchly strives to deliver a stellar performance, masoor dal swiftly transforms itself from drab brown to dazzling shade of orange-brown within a day. Truly impressive.

This is the first time I did the sprouting thing with whole masoor and I found the process undemanding and the sprouts pleasant tasting. I remember from science classes that the sprouting process turns the starches in lentils and legumes into more digestible sugars. Whole masoor dal provides a textbook example. Prominently perceptible sweet taste, crisp texture, delicate and a delight, masoor dal sprouts are a must try for sprouts connoisseurs. I totally recommend.

Sprouted Masoor Dal Stew

This is what I’ve prepared with sprouted masoor dal. A light and easy, low-calorie stew with a taste that humbles even the contrived sprouts-cynic. That’s how I felt after the meal.


1 teaspoon peanut oil
2 each - curry leaf sprigs and garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¼ tsp each - cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida(inguva)
1 onion, 2 tomatoes and 3 green chillies - finely chopped
2 cups sprouted masoor dal
¼ tsp each - turmeric and salt, or to taste
1 lime - juice squeezed
Few Springs of Fresh Coriander

In a big saucepan, heat the oil until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Lower the heat to medium. Add the curry leaves and the garlic to cook to pale brown. Toss in cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida. When seeds start to jump, add the onions, tomatoes and chillies. saute for few minutes until they soften.

Stir in sprouted masoor dal, turmeric and salt. Add about a cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer until the dal reaches fall-apart stage, about 10-15 minutes. Add lime juice and few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves. Mix and serve warm. It tastes good on its own. No rice or chapati is needed to enjoy the sprouted masoor dal and that makes it a perfect meal for calorie-conscious.

Sprouted Masoor Dal with Farm Fresh Carrots and Cherries ~ Humble Meal on a Hot Day

Whole masoor dal (brown) and Split masoor dal (Red) can be bought at Indian groceries and also at natural food stores in bulk bins here at US.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Masoor Dal (Red Lentils), Sprouts (Molakalu) (Monday July 9, 2007 at 9:09 pm- permalink)
Comments (18)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Matar Paneer with Fresh Summer Peas

Plump and firm, fresh peas of summer are a sight to behold. Bouncing out of pods, with that smooth pearly finish in pleasant green and warm sheen, they seem fit for a necklace rather than that endless pit we call stomach.

After the classic south Indian style Guggullu, the next best recipe with freshly shelled peas is the famous north Indian specialty called “Matar Paneer”. Matar means Peas in Hindi language. There are so many different ways to prepare this recipe. Mass produced for buffet, the much-maligned style with frozen peas is sadly how most people get acquainted with matar paneer. Over-cooked in overtly-spiced sauces, poor peas and paneer would evoke pity instead of poignant piquancy. Even the hardcore buffet connoisseurs can’t help but pass the peas. Thus punished, the curry remains in the pan, to spend the night in refrigerator feeling the onion raita’s aroma, all to face another day of reheating and rejection. The sob story of restaurant style matar paneer is truly pull-at-the-heartstrings, tearjerker of bollywood.

In contrast, the home-style version is an Indian housewife’s summer romance with sweet peas. It’s a joyous celebration of nature’s bounty. Fresh cow or buffalo milk churned to paneer, a cup of peas freshly shelled from the pods, few tomatoes plucked from the vines - if you stop and think for a minute, it’s easy to imagine how the recipe originated and the reason it got so famous. A treat for dulled taste buds as well as a sight for sore eyes, fresh peas of summer make matar paneer a pleasure to savor.

Peas, Paneer, Tomatoes and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Matar Paneer


1 cup fresh shelled peas
½ cup each - paneer cubes and roasted cashews
4 tomatoes and 1 onion - finely sliced
1 tablespoon - ginger, garlic and cilantro (GGC) paste
1 tablespoon - clove,cinnamon,coriander and cumin (CCCC) powder
½ tsp each - salt and turmeric (or to taste)
¼ tsp - chilli powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon oil

Grind roasted cashews to fine powder in a mixer or spice grinder.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add and saute finely chopped onions till translucent. Add the GGC paste, cook for few seconds. Next, tomatoes turn. Cook them till they turn to mush when pressed with the back of spoon. After spoon-mushing tomatoe pieces, stir in cashew powder, CCCC powder, salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Also green peas and paneer cubes. Add about a cup of water. Mix and simmer covered for about five to ten minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Enjoy with rice, parathas or chapatis.

Matar Paneer with Parathas and Cucumber Raita ~ Enjoying the Goodness of Seasonal Vegetables

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Tomato, Cashews, Peas (Bataani) (Thursday June 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm- permalink)
Comments (44)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Tomato Flowers

Tomato Flowers
Tomato Flowers from Our Patio Garden

Flowers in Food Blog World:

Pea Flowers

Caterpillar or Mulberry?

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Tomato (Saturday June 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm- permalink)
Comments (10)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Tomato Bath

JFI, an online food blogging event celebrating the natural ingredients is hosted by sweet and talented RP of My Workshop for April. The ingredient she picked for JFI is Tomatoes. What a fine choice it is to celebrate the spring season with beautiful colors and flavors of tomatoes!

The sheer number of tomato based recipes can be overwhelming and sometimes it is reassuring to go back to an old favorite. So I picked a recipe. A Tiffin box favorite from my childhood called tomato bath. Yes, you read it right. The recipe has bath in its name. In this traditional south Indian recipe, toasted semolina is generously bathed and simmered in tomato juice. Not one or two tomatoes, but a lot of tomatoes are used to prepare tomato bath. This is the main difference between regular upma and tomato bath. Because of generous tomato addition, pale wheat colored semolina changes to bright orange color and the tomato dominates the flavor profile. It’s easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. A must try for tomato fans.

Tomato and Semolina


2 cups semolina or suji
4 ripe tomatoes - finely chopped (about 2 cups)
6 green chillies - finely chopped
1 small red onion - finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger - grated
¼ cup each - fresh green peas and charoli nuts (or your choice)

Seasoning: (added to bring crunchy bite and fragrance to tomato bath)
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
6 fresh curry leaves and a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp each - urad dal, chana dal, cumin and mustard seeds

Place an iron skillet on stove top. On medium heat, add and roast semolina/suji to pale gold color, stirring in-between.

Meanwhile, proceed with tomato bath preparation. In a wide pan, add and heat oil/ghee. Toast the ingredients listed in seasoning in the order mentioned. When mustard seeds start to jump around, add green chillies, onion and ginger. Cook for few minutes until the onions soften. Stir in chopped tomatoes and fresh green peas. Cook until tomatoes become mush.

Add about 4 cups of water along with half teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring the water to a boil. At this stage, pour in the roasted semolina/suji at a constant flow/speed, continuously stirrng. Take care not to form semolina lumps. Stir, stir and stir. Sprinkle charoli nuts. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the whole thing comes together to a moist firm mass.

Serve hot with coconut/peanut chutney or with a cup of yogurt.

Tomato Bath with Yogurt and Cucumber Slices ~ Our Weekend Brunch and
My entry to JFI: Tomatoes hosted by RP of My Work Shop

JFI Notes:
I’ve planned to invite hosts for Jihva (June 07- April 08) on April 2nd. If you are interested to host the event, please visit tomorrow to read the guidelines and pickup your time slot. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Suji/Semolina, Jihva For Ingredients (Sunday April 1, 2007 at 11:45 am- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Dazzling Dals ~ Tomato Dal

Dazzling Dals ~ Tomato Dal (Tomato Pappu)

I get lot of questions about the recipes I write at Mahanandi. Some show a mix of disdain and curiosity typical of a museum visitor and some convey a genuine interest. I live in a foreign country, still I cook and write about the food of my home. I guess it is expected to get both types of comments on my recipes.

When people show genuine interest, it feels good and I try to respond to their comments. One such genuinely interested person is Linda of Out of the Garden food blog. From her comments, I had a sense that she is very fond of one particular recipe of mine. So, whenever Linda inquired about the details, I replied her with equal enthusiasm. Guess what! She not only used the recipe to prepare the dish, but she also perfected the process and wrote about it on her blog. The recipe is none other than the dazzling dal, my beloved amma mudda. Linda’s description of amma muddas truly conveys her enthusiasm and a delight to read. I thank Linda for treating the recipe and the feelings associated with it with respect. I will think of her amma mudda post as a great gift to Mahanandi on its second anniversary.

Here is one more dazzling dal recipe - tomato dal. A basic and beginners favorite in Indian cooking, tomato dal is a simple and flavorful main course dish. Can be served with rice or chapatis for a hearty, satisfying meal.


• ½ cup toor dal and 1½ cups of water
• 1 big ripe tomato - cut to chunks
• 1 small onion - cut to chunks
• 6-8 green chillies - finely chopped
• ¼ tsp turmeric and marble-sized tamarind

- Take them all in a pressure cooker and cook until the dal reaches fall apart stage. Usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes in a pressure cooker. Once the valve pressure is released, remove the lid and add about half teaspoon of salt. Mix and mash the dal to soft consistency with a wood masher.

In a separate vessel, do the popu or tadka (toasting cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves etc in oil). Add the mashed tomato dal to the popu. Mix and serve hot with rice or with chapati.

Tomato Dal mixed with Rice and on the side Green Brinjal Curry ~ Our lunch today
and my entry to JFI: Tomato hosted by Lovely RP of My Workshop

Recipe source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jihva For Ingredients (Wednesday March 28, 2007 at 5:22 pm- permalink)
Comments (50)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Cherry Tomato ~ Basmati Pulao

Tomatoes from My Container Garden

The past week before going on a weeklong working vacation to DC with Vijay, one thing I did was picking the cherry tomatoes from my container garden. There were almost two pounds of tomatoes from 4 plants. I picked even the unripe ones, thinking the plants were not going to survive this hot weather without getting water daily. By the time we returned, we were like fried puris all red and puffed up, whereas our plants were all shriveled up and looking tired because of extremely hot weather. I think there is one more crop in them, that’s all.

Cherry tomatoes have thin skin, filled with juice without lot of thick flesh, just like the tomatoes that I would find in India. That’s why I prefer them for planting for my container garden every year. They are perfect for curries, rasams, salads and for rice. And one of the best recipes that truly do justice to the incredible flavor of summer tomatoes is tomato pulao. I often prepare it during this season. Quite easy, a one-pot meal and always a crowd favorite, if you haven’t tried tomato pulao yet, trust me and give it a try. Juicy tomatoes and fragrant basmati rice cooked together is a taste that would make you whistle summer tunes.:)

Summer’s Tomato Bounty


Tomatoes and Veggies:
15 to 20 cherry tomatoes or 1 pound ripe tomatoes of any variety - chopped
1 onion and 6 green chillies - finely chopped lengthwise
½ cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup of frozen fresh chickpeas
(available as ‘Choleye’ in Indian grocery shops-frozen section. Green peas fresh or dried, or roasted cashews - they all taste good with this rice. Your choice.)

Basmati Rice:
1 cup of basmati rice and 2½ cups of water

For Masala:
2 each - cardamom pods and cloves
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon of black peppercorn
Coarsely grind these together.
Salt, bay leaf and ghee or oil to taste

1 In a large saucepan, heat ghee/oil. Add and saute the onions until soft and red.

2 Add the green chillies, masala powder, bay leaf and chickpeas, saute for few minutes.

3 Stir in the cut tomatoes, juice, seeds everything. Increase the heat to high, cook them covered until the tomatoes when pressed with a spatula turn to soft, concentrated mush.

4 Stir in the basmati rice and salt. Add water and mix. On high heat, bring the water to boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Mix only once and resist the temptation to stir frequently (frequent stirring breaks the rice and makes a soggy mess.) Turn off the heat and leave it to rest for about 5 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle fresh cilantro, gently mix taking care not to brake the basmati rice.

Serve with kurma and/or raita (yogurt is mixed with salt, finely chopped onions, green chillies and grated carrot, cucumber).

From Pot to Plate ~ Tomato : Basmati Pulao with Raita ~ For Green Blog Project”

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Basmati Rice, Chickpeas-Black (Thursday August 3, 2006 at 2:04 pm- permalink)
Comments (36)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Coriander~Tomato Chutney

Coriander-Tomato Chutney and Fresh Coriander

We had my dear friends comeover for weekend visit. They brought ThumsUp, lots of laughter and fun stories to share and we on the other hand fed them until they said no more. All and all we both filled up each other to our heart’s content.

What’s good company without good food so I tried some new recipes for them. One is dear Karthi Kannan’s (writes at Kitchenmate and proud mother of cutest toddler ever) coriander chutney. She mentioned in her fabulous food blog, that this chutney is her favorite recipe and got it from her mom. What I liked about her recipe is - no prep work is needed like roasting peanuts or cracking a coconut open as with peanut and coconut chutneys. Also it uses one whole bunch of cilantro. During summer, the sky-high prices of cilantro come to earth level at Boardman. 2 bunches for 1 dollar here at local farmers market. Not bad, right? Perfect recipe to finish off lot of cilantro in one setting, I thought, so prepared the chutney for utappams and it was indeed tasted super. Sometimes cilantro can be overwhelming, but here in this chutney roasted tomato and onion addition, balanced out the intense cilantro flavor, making it pleasant chutney to have.

I followed Karthi’s recipe mostly. First chopped one red onion, 8 dried red chillies and 3 tomatoes to big pieces and roasted them in an iron skillet until they are golden brown and wilted. Meanwhile I washed and chopped a big bunch of fresh cilantro (leaves and branches included), added them to the skillet for few minutes of saute. Took them all in a blender, added a small piece of tamarind and a pinch of sugar and quarter teaspoon of salt - blended them to coarse puree. Removed the chutney to cup and added the tadka (toasted cumin, mustard seeds and urad dal in 1 tsp of oil) to the chutney.

We had the chutney with utappams. My friends who are very much interested in our food blogging wanted to play food stylists. Grated carrots and red radishes for the chutney, was their contribution, which made it look more attractive, I think. Thanks my dear friends for the stylish touch and thanks Karthi for this wonderful recipe.

Coriander-Tomato Chutney with Utappams
Coriander-Tomato Chutney with Utappams

Coriander~Tomato Chutney Ingredients:
1 big bunch of fresh coriander
1 red onion
3 tomatoes
6-8 dried red chillies
1 inch piece of tamarind
A pinch of sugar
Salt to taste or ¼ tsp
For Popu or Tadka:
1 tsp of peanut oil
¼ tsp each - cumin, mustard seeds, urad dal and few curry leaves

Recipe adapted from:
Food blog: Kitchenmate

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Kottimera(Cilantro) (Monday July 10, 2006 at 2:01 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Spaghetti in Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce

(Imitating Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meal episode narration
for this month’s IMBB-Make it in 30 minutes)

Hi I’m Indira Singari, I’m going to prepare a 30 minute meal today. Spaghetti in spicy cherry tomato sauce. Who said we couldn’t have pasta in a spicy sauce? You know, I’ve tried commercial pasta sauces but my tastebuds, once you are used to spicy stuff, it’s tough to go back to that kind of childhood bland, flat taste. giggle… ok enough of chit chat…

Going to the pantry area… Grabbing 2 pints of cherry tomatoes. You know, I like cherry tomatoes. They have a very thin skin and have more zing than the romas. I bought two of these boxes for 99 cents each from the local grocery shop. What a deal, you know. gigggle…

Next thing on the list is, pasta - I’m in the mood for thin spaghetti. So thin spaghetti it is then. Also to add to the tomatoes… here is a teaspoon of cumin, 5 dried red chillies and 4 big garlic cloves. I see some nuts in my cupboard, ya…grabbing those…hmm…Quarter cup of watermelon seeds and a tablespoon of chironji(sara pappu), just to give that extra nutty sweetness to the tomato sauce. It’s going to be one Yum O sauce… giggle… I’m also going to add boiled and sliced eggs to the pasta as a side dish. 4 eggs are enough…

Garbage bowl is a handy one, I can carry all these in this big bowl and later when I am chopping I can dump all the waste like eggshells etc in the bowl. Believe me, it’s one handy thing to have by side. … giggle

Ok… first cooking the pasta: place the big saucepan on the burner. Fill two thirds of pot with water. Nothing is wrong with tap water, so fill it up. Drop 2 teaspoons of salt into water and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Also in other saucepan, take pot full of water, add eggs and pinch of salt, cover and cook them.

Prepping the cherry tomato sauce: It takes at least 5 minutes for water to come to a boil, so in the meantime, we prepare tomato sauce. Let’s go…Separate 10 cherry tomatoes from the box and keep them aside. You are going to see what I’m going to do with them later. Ok, back to tomatoes. Take the remaining cherry tomatoes in a blender; add cumin, garlic, dried red chillies and a teaspoon of salt. Blend them finely. This is going to be our spicy sauce… it took less than one minute, the time it takes to open a can of tomato sauce. giggle…

Now cooking the sauce: heat a teaspoon of EVOO.. that means extra virgin olive oil giggle…and drop one or two finely minced garlic. Also watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu). Sauté them till golden, then add the pureed spicy tomato sauce and one cup of water. Close the lid. Hmmm that starts smelling good. Cook this mixture on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between.

Checking on the water — the water is boiling ready now. Add the pasta, you know, some people like to break the pasta to half before adding to the water. But I like them long, so here they go into the boiling water. I’ll wait for 5 minutes then I remove them. Checking the other pot…the eggs are cooked perfectly. I’m going to take them out of water with a big spoon.

Now getting ready to plate the meal: everything is coming together perfectly, ahh… the smell… I wish you could smell the tomato sauce… all that cumin, garlic… it’s like heaven in here. giggle… Ok, slice the cherry tomatoes we kept aside, to halves. Place them on a round plate to the edges. Peel and slice the boiled eggs into thin strips.

Pasta is cooked perfectly… slurping one spaghettial dente, just perfect. Pour the whole thing into a colander to drain the water. Add the spaghetti to the spicy tomato sauce and stir. Look how beautiful it looks… Wheaty white spaghetti in ruby red tomato sauce… Gorgeous!

Plating: Grab a couple of forkfuls of pasta and place them on the plate. Arrange some more sliced cherry tomatoes and some egg slices around the pasta to give that pretty look. Our 30-minute meal is ready. For dessert I’m going to have one of those muffin sized Mango Halwa pieces, I prepared yesterday. Just perfect to end the meal.

Tasting: Yum O…not only appealing to the eyes, this super simple meal has everything going on for it. It has carbos, nutty fat, eggy protein and veggies in the form of cherry tomatoes. Even more its spicy…taking a bite…hmm… loving it.. giggles

Hey I’m Indira Singari, you can prepare a great, satisfying meal in just 30 minutes. See… Signing off…(Camera focuses on the meal.)

Spaghetti In Spicy Tomato Sauce
30 minute meal - Spaghetti in Spicy Tomato Sauce served with cherry tomatoes and boiled egg slices

2 fistfuls of thin spaghetti
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
5 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin
¼ cup of watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu, charoli)
Olive oil and salt to taste
Additions: 4 boiled eggs- yellows removed and sliced thin

Thanks “Too Many Chefs” for hosting this month’s IMBB event.
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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Pasta (Friday March 24, 2006 at 2:56 pm- permalink)
Comments (34)

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Ridge Gourd in Tomato Sauce (Beerakaya Pulusu)

Ridge Gourd, Beerakaya, Turai

Ridge gourd is often compared to zucchini, the squash. But the comparison is like saying potato and sweet potato are the same. Except for where they come from, there is no comparison at all taste wise, between those two.

Ridge gourd has a firmer, less watery texture than zucchini, and the flavor is much more intense and sweet, where as Zucchini seems to be full of water and nothing else when cooked and too bland to taste. Given a choice, ridge gourd clearly comes out as the winner, taste wise. Though I dislike character less personalities in life, I do like the bland zucchini. It took some time but it won me over. In case of ridge gourd, I may have made complaining noises about other veggies but never about ridge gourd or ‘beerakaya’ we call it in Telugu. Be as curry or chutney or in dal, I relish ridge gourd in all forms. I even tried growing it here, when we were in Houston albeit unsuccessfully, not good seeds.

Here is a recipe of ridge gourd in tomato sauce, Vijay’s favorite and My Mother-in-law’s recipe:

Ridge Gourd, Tomato, Onion, Dhania Powder, Green Chillies and Turmeric


2 young looking, fresh ridge gourds
Scrape the skin and ridges, wash, then cut into bite size pieces
4 ripe juicy tomatoes - finely chopped
1 onion - finely chopped
4 green chillies
1 tablespoon of coconut powder
½ tsp of dhania(coriander) powder & turmeric
¼ tsp of salt - or to your taste
Popu ingredients - 1tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves & minced garlic

You know the drill. Heat peanut oil, do the popu, sauté onions, tomatoes and green chillies. Add chopped ridge gourd and all the seasoning. Stir to mix and cook, covered. Tomato juice and water that comes from cooked ridge gourd pieces is going to be enough to make the curry a stew/kurma type. So don’t add any extra water, unless you want a watery, thin version. Cook till ridge gourd pieces are tender and the sauce thickens. Serve it warm.

Though I have to say my favorite is always the dry curry recipe, that I posted a while back, I also make this sauced version sometimes, because Vijay likes it. Either as a sauce for pasta/with chapati/ or with rice, this curry tastes good. Sometimes, we do the dunking thing with toasted garlic bread. Good eat, any way you prefer.

Cooking Ridge gourd (Beerakaya Curry
Cooking ridge gourd (beerakaya, turai) in tomato sauce.

Recipe source: Attamma(MIL)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Indian Vegetables, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd) (Wednesday January 11, 2006 at 1:59 pm- permalink)
Comments (23)

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