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

Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Sweet Lemons Pickle)

Mitha Nimboo (Sweet Lemons, Karinaaranga)
Mitha Nimboo (Sweet Lemons, Karinaaranga)

Nandyala is closer than ever here in Seattle for me. I am able to find all kinds of vegetables and fruits, which I’d normally find in India, without looking hard. Even in winter. Example is these sweet lemons or mitha nimboo. We purchased them last week from a grocery store named Lenny’s Market. I’ve never thought I’d see this type of lemons outside of India, but here they are, for sale in Seattle, unbelievably fresh and at low prices.

Usually, we prepare lemonade with sweet lemons. The lemonade tastes like plain, flat sugary water without the acidity and perfume of lemons. The juice is naturally very sweet, similar to kalkand water. Prepared mainly for children during hot summer months of Andhra. That’s only thing we do with them but LG of Ginger and Mango recently wrote a Kerala recipe with sweet lemons called “Karinaaranga Curry” (Lemon Curry) - combination of curry and pickle. I had to try.

Unlike the regular lemon pickle, there is no mandatory 2-week waiting for this one. Preparation method is also different. Here we steam-cook the sweet lemons as whole. Then cut and simmer them with pickle masala powder, salt, little bit of tamarind and jaggery. Curry leaves touch of tempering. That’s it. It’d be ready to have immediately with rice, and with breakfast items like upma, dosa etc. Mildly hot and spicy, little bit sour and bitter without the characteristic lemony puckering effect. Metha Nimboo pickle is definitely different from the regular pickle and worth a try. This is my first time; still it came out good and tasty. All because of Dear Inji Pennu’s neat recipe instructions. Thanks Inji Pennu and a very Merry Happy New Year to you!

Steam-Cooked Mitha Nimboo/Sweet Lemons ~ Ready for Pickling
Steam-Cooked Mitha Nimboo/Sweet Lemons ~ Ready for Pickling


Prep work:

1. Soak lemon-sized tamarind in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften. Squeeze juice and keep it aside.

2. Fill a big pot with water and bring it to a boil. Insert the perforated vessel suitable to steam cook. Drop 4 sweet lemons in it. Cover the pot and cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the firm skin softens a bit (like shown in the photo above). Remove them from the vessel. Cut - half and half and then quarter them to small pieces. Remove seeds.

3. Meanwhile prepare the pickle masala. Roast and grind following items:

1 tablespoon each - urad dal, chana dal, raw rice, coriander seeds
1 teaspoon - fenugreek seeds (menthulu)
8-10 each - dried red chillies and curry leaves
Roast them in an iron skillet one by one or all together to gold color.
Grind them all to smooth powder in a grinder or spice mill.

Preparing the Pickle:

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine tamarind juice and pickle masala. Stir in 2 cups of water and a tablespoon each- powdered jaggery and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the cut, steam-cooked sweet lemon pieces. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring in-between, until the mixture becomes thick. Keep the heat as low as possible to prevent burning.

Just before when you turn off the heat. Do the popu or tadka. In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of peanut or sesame oil. Add a teaspoon each - dried red chilli pieces, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Toast them to red and when mustard seeds start to dance around - add the whole thing to the pickle and mix thoroughly.

When the pickle is cool enough, transfer it to clean, dry glass/ceramic jar with non-reactive airtight lid. I’ve prepared this pickle last week and kept in the refrigerator. It’s good stuff.

Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Pickle with Sweet Lemons)
Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Pickle with Sweet Lemons)

Recipe source: Karinaaranga Curry (Lemon Curry) from Inji Pennu of “Ginger and Mango”
sweet lemons for sale in Chennai
More about sweet lemons - here
Mitha = sweet, Nimboo= lemon/lime

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Mitha Nimboo(Sweet Lemon) (Monday January 8, 2007 at 6:11 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ponganalu with Spinach and Sara Pappu

Somehow, I’ve been missing participating in Nandita’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event celebrating the much neglected, overnight fasting breakers - the morning mini meals (breakfast/tiffin). “A twist in the plate” is the theme for this month’s WBB. Taking an old recipe and adding our own touch and improving it a little bit is the idea behind the theme.

Ponganalu, the classic Rayalaseema breakfast, the recipe is fine on its own. Leftover dosa batter, onions, chana dal, green chillies and cilantro, mixed and cooked in a special ponganalu pan. The result is small goblets or space saucer shaped rounds - fun and tasty on their own. My twist to this old classic is adding a bunch of finely chopped spinach and few tablespoons of sara pappu (chironji) and watermelon seeds. Mixed with dosa batter and cooked to crispy, crunchy perfection in ponganalu pan. Less batter, more ingredients and better ponganalu, that’s papa johns pizza, sorry:), that’s my “twist in the plate” ponganalu and my contribution to Weekend Breakfast Blogging.

Spinach, Sara Pappu and Watermelon Seeds in Ponganala Batter

Cooking Spinach Ponganalu in a Special Ponganala Skillet

Spinach Ponganalu with Peanut Chutney ~ For Nandita’s WBB-”Twist in The Plate” Event

Detailed Recipe and images of traditional Ponganalu - Here
To purchase a skillet similar to Ponganala Pennam - Click Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Charoli (Sara Pappu), Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday October 31, 2006 at 3:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Lemon Cucumber Dal (Budamkaya Pappu)

Produce from Pike Place Market: Pear, Budamkaya, Poluru Vankaya(Asian Pear, Lemon Cuke & Brinjal)

For the last 3 weekends, we were going to pike place market (one of the tourist attractions of Seattle, famous for 3 F’s: fish, fresh produce and flowers. This place is like our ‘ritu bazar’ but in a grand scale.) just to browse and also for a walk. It’s about 15 to 20 minute walk from my home. Going there is easy, it’s all downhill but the return walk, oh boy, it’s steep almost 90 degree uphill, sweat inducing, power workout type of walk. Why walk, why not take car, you may ask. Of course we could, but there is a parking fee and we really should do some exercise. Particularly me who gained some weight during moving time. I have been checking out the stalls in pike place market and what I have noticed is it can be a tourist trap. But if you know where to find, you could get some good deals also. I was looking for such stalls and found two, so far. They sell some Indian vegetables like Asian pears, budamkaya (lemon cucumber or lemon cuke) and Poluru Vankaya (Thai Brinjal), along with some other farm-fresh produce. Last weekend I bought these vegetables and prepared a meal - a dal with budamkaya and a curry with brinjals and dessert is the plain fruit.

You know what we call pretty, plump babies affectionately in Telugu - “Budamkaya”. See the middle one in the photo above - this adorable, yellow colored, shot put shaped vegetable is called ‘Budamkaya‘ in Telugu and here sold as lemon cucumber or lemon cukes. Tastes mildly sweet with just a tiny hint of tanginess, like cucumber with lemon juice sprinkled on. Great on its own, lightly peel the cuke, cut into cubes, sprinkle some salt and pepper for a delightful healthy snack. We also prepare raita with yogurt, pickle (beautifully blogged by Sailaja of Sailu’s Kitchen) and dal with it. This vegetable with toor dal and in combination of rice makes an easy lunch and one of my favorite meals.

Budamkaya, peeled and cut into cubes, Onion and Green Chillies


4 fistfuls (¾ cup) of Toor dal:
Budamkaya: peeled and cut into cubes about 2 cups
1 medium onion and 8 to 10 green chillies - all cut into small pieces
Small marble sized tamarind
½ tsp of each - turmeric and salt or to taste
For popu or tadka:
1 tsp of peanut oil
½ tsp of each - mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, minced garlic and
Few curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces

Take toor dal, budamkaya(lemon cuke), onion, green chillies, tamarind and turmeric in a pressure cooker.

Add one glass of water. Mix the ingredients and close the lid. Pressure cook until 3 whistles. Turn off the heat and wait 10 to 15 minutes for the pressure to get released. Open the lid, add salt and with a wood masher or whisk, mash the dal to smooth consistency.

In a vessel, take 1 teaspoon of peanut oil. Heat and do the popu or tadka. Add and toast garlic, curry leaves, red chilli pieces, urad dal, cumin and mustard seeds- in that order. When the seeds start to splutter, immediately add the mashed dal to the tadka. Mix and cover with a lid.

Tastes great with rice or with chapati.

Vankaya Kura, Budamkaya Pappu and Annamu (Brinjal Curry, Lemon Cucumber Dal and Rice)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Budamkaya (Lemon Cuke) (Monday October 9, 2006 at 8:49 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Independence Day Food Parade Celebrations

On August 15th, 1947, our nation came in to our own hands. Finally we were free of uninvited people, at least physically. Since then August 15th became a day for feasts, festivities and for patriotic parades.

This year, I wanted to share the exhilarating feeling of joy and happiness through a fabulous food parade. Our food culture shows not only how diverse we are, but also shows how much patience, perseverance and perfection we have. With 40 or more food blogs (a budding new community in already well established blog medium), I thought we could all come together to celebrate this special day in a colorful way. Thanks for responding to my call with equal if not more enthusiasm and sending me these beautiful recipes from “The Land of Billion Recipes ~ Mother India”.

I’ve styled the food parade in a classic theme, with recipe photos for your viewing pleasure and complementing classical Indian music (you tube videos) for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

From Andhra Pradesh ~ The Rice Bowl of India

Endu Royalu Dosakaya Koora (Dried Shrimp and Dosakaya Curry)
From Kosta Region, From City of Victory ~ Vijayawada by Chandrika of Akshayapatra

Besan Chikki with Sorghum Roti
From Telengana Region by Pavani of Cook’s Hideout

Senaga-Pesara Payasam (Chana Dal~Moong Dal Dessert)
From Wanaparthy by Vidyanath Tirumala of Yadbhavishya

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani & Khubani Ka Meetha (With Apricots)
From Capital City Hyderabad by Radhika of Radhi’s Kitchen

Golden colored Majjiga Mirapa (Dahi Mirchi) with Rice and Dal
Traditional Andhra Meal From Me

From The Land of Nandis ~ From My Home in Nandyala
Peanut Pacchi Pulusu ~ A Refreshing No-Boil Peanut Rasam

Nannukanna by Thyagarajan

From Gorgeous Goa

Eggless Banana Rava Cake ~ From Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes

From Gujarat ~ The Birthplace of Gandhiji

Khichado with Wheat Berries and Toor dal
Makara Sankranti Special and A Good Breakfast Porridge ~ By Priya of Foodtravails

From Jammu and Kashmir ~ A Heaven on Earth

Modur Polav (Sweet Rice Pulao) with Saffron and Sugar ~ Part of Wazwaan
An Authentic Kashmir Recipe from a Kashmiri ~ From Anita of Mad Tea Party

Heaven on a plate ~ Kashmiri Pulao - From Archana Thomas of Spicyana
“May freedom continue to inspire the country, peace & happiness return to the valley!”

Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa (1892-1976) ~ Speaking the Language of Tabla

From Karnataka ~ The Land of Hampi

Badam Puri ~ Representing the Struggle for Independence
From Shankari of Stream of Consciousness

From Kerala ~ God’s Own County

Ela Ada ~ Rice Flour & Coconut Steam-Cooked Sweet
By Priya Baskaran of Priya’s Kitchen

Kaya Appam (Banana Fritters) ~ By Monisha of Coconut Chutney
Sweet fritters that are crisp to bite into and tender inside, bursting with the flavor of Bananas and Cardamom and sweetened with Jaggery.

Banana Halwa
Nenthra Pazham Haluva (Banana Halwa)
From Calicut/Kozhikode (land of Banana chips and Halwas) by Kerala Girl (KG)

Palappam (Lace, Milk Appam) From Gini of Salt and Pepper

Pal Payasam and Bonji (Rice Paysam and Lemon Juice)
Celebrating a Great Man’s Legacy, “My India and My Country” ~ From InjiPennu of Ginger and Mango

From Konkan ~ The Jewel of Western India

Gajbaje (Randayi or Mixed vegetable curry)
One of the Most Popular Dishes Among Konkanis ~ From Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes:

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan ~ Khayal Presentation

From Maharashtra ~ The Land of Shivaji

Varan Phala ~ From Madhuli of My Food Court

From Vibrant Punjab

Paneer Tikka ~ From Krithika of Manpasand

From Tamilnadu ~ The Land of Temples

Appala Kozhambu (Papad Curry) ~ Celebrating the Charming City, Chennai
From Chandrika of Akshayapatra

Somass ~ A Famous Sweet from Tamilnadu ~ From Sudha Vinodh of Samayal

Legend of Legends ~ Srimati M.S.Subbulaxmi

From West Bengal ~ The Land of Exotic Charms

Rasmalai ~ From Mandira of Ahaar

Hari Prasad Chaurasia ~ Traditional Indian Flute

Saluting the Flag with Tiranga Entries

Congress Curry ~ Three Cheers to Independent, Progressive, Democratic India
From Menu Today

Tiranga Rice ~ A Pan-Indian Recipe Inspired by the Tri-Coloured Indian Flag
From Lulu of Lulu Loves London

Psychedelic:) Tiranga Raita ~ From RP of My Work Shop

Tiranga Spiral Parathas ~ From Roopa of Crazy About Food, From Bangalore

Tiranga Puri ~ From Sudha of Food Newbie
Beetroot, Spinach and Wheat Flour ~ Representing the Tiranga of Indian Flag

Mysore Masala Dosa
Mysore Masala Dosa in Tiranga
By Madhu Raj of Ruchi, From City of Palaces, Mysore City

Tiranga Doodh Peda ~ From Vineela of Vineela’s Kitchen
Carrot, Coconut and Pistachios for Beautiful Flag Colors of India

Vande Mataram ~ For Fireworks

Independence Day Fireworks

Sweet Candy For Your Ride/Cubicle Home

Sweet, Tangy and Fragrant Candy from India ~ For Your Ride Home From The Parade

Thank you all for coming and congratulations to all the participants for the gorgeous recipe floats. Hope you had a wonderful time at the food parade.

Swatantra Din Subhakamana!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in ID Food Parade (Tuesday August 15, 2006 at 12:01 am- permalink)
Comments (87)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Reading

56 Dal Entries - JFI:Dal (Lentil) Roundup

Dosa - A Love Story

Monsoons and Coconut Trees - Breathtaking Oil Paintings

Migrating Back to India - Ten Points

Who is responsible for bombings in India?

Exercise in Writing - Once in a Lifetime (Short Story)

Sit and Roll Over, Find Your Own Keys

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday July 15, 2006 at 10:10 am- permalink)
Comments (6)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Red Bell Pepper Chutney

Red Bell Pepper Chutney

Of all different colored bell peppers, I like the red ones. Red bell peppers are matured green bell peppers and when bell pepper ages, not only the color but the flavor also changes. They become sweet, which is a surprise. Usually maturing into red signals the more fierce kind of flavor in vegetables, but here they mellow.

This favorite chutney of mine is prepared by roasting red bell peppers, onion and dried red chillies and by blending them including peanuts, jaggery and tamarind juice. The result is one of the flavorful and easiest Bharath-inspired chutnies you will ever try. Tastes superb with all the breakfast items, like idly, dosa, upma and also with rice, chapati or as a spread and dip for snack items.

Red Bell Peppers, Onion, Garlic, Dried Red Chillies, Roasted Peanuts, Tamarind and Jaggery - Ingredients for Red Bell Pepper Chutney


Cut to big chunks:
2 big red bell peppers
1 medium sized onion
6-8 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves

Heat about 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a skillet.
Add and roast the cut vegetables and dried red chillies on high heat. The vegetables should be very well browned and soft. Remove them from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, Soak tamarind, and Roast Peanuts:
- Small Lime sized tamarind in half-cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Or microwave for 30 seconds - This is to soften the tamarind, so it can grind well.
- Roast half-cup of peanuts until golden and remove skins. Store-bought un-salted, roasted peanuts are fine too.

Blend, in a blender or in a mortar using a pestle:
All the roasted vegetables
Tamarind, along with the water it soaked in.
Half cup of roasted peanuts
½ tablespoon of powdered jaggery
¼ tsp of salt or to taste
Grind them together to coarse puree, without adding any extra water.

Remove to a cup and serve with your favorite breakfast/lunch/supper items.

Red Bell Pepper Chutney and Besan Dosas
Besan Dosa and Red Bell Pepper Chutney

Recipe Source: My own creation

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Bell Pepper, Peppers, Dried Red Chillies (Tuesday June 20, 2006 at 9:21 am- permalink)
Comments (54)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Gram Flour Dosa (Besan Ka Cheela or Puda)

I like food items prepared with gram flour. Golden yellow colored flour not only tastes mildly sweet, it’s also gluten free and famously known for its anti-diabetic properties.

Other Bharatiya names for gram flour are - Besan (in Hindi), Sanaga Pindi (in Telugu) and Kadalai Maavu (in Tamil).

After bajjis and pakoras, my next favorite item with besan is dosas. Besan Dosa is a traditional Indian breakfast and evening snack item, prepared by mixing gram flour with a variety of finely chopped vegetables. The dosas are usually served with chutney and raita. They are quite easy to prepare and we can experiment with ingredient quantities quite liberally without any dire consequences.

For about 8 to 10 small size dosas

2 cups of gram flour (besan)
1 big onion, 6 green chillies, few sprigs of cilantro - finely chopped
1 big carrot - finely grated
1 tsp of each - cumin and ajwan (vaamu/carom seeds)
½ tsp of salt or to taste

Sift gram flour to aerate and to remove lumps. Take in a big vessel. First add cumin, ajwan, and salt. Mix to combine. Next, add the finely chopped vegetables. By gradually adding water, about 1 to 2 cups, mix and prepare besan batter to a medium-thick pouring consistency, like idly batter.

Heat an iron dosa pan and grease it with half-cut whole onion. When the pan is hot, pour ladleful of batter and spread into thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of oil or ghee on the top. Wait for bubbles to appear. When the underside starts to brown, gently lift and turn to other side. Cook the dosa until the second side is lightly browned. Remove and serve hot with chutney. (They are not that good when they get cold, so prepare them just before mealtime.)

Besan Dosa with Red Bell Pepper Chutney
Besan Dosas, Red Bell Pepper Chutney with Coriander Flower Garnish ~ Our Simple Lunch Today

More About Besan Dosa:
Video blogging of Puda by Jay Dave and Sisters (entertaining)
Kay’s Besan Cheela
Italian Version-Socca from Tasty Bytes

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Gram Flour (Besan) (Monday June 19, 2006 at 3:32 pm- permalink)
Comments (29)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Wheat Flour Dosa (Godhuma Dosa)

Goduma Dosa with Peanut Chutney
Wheat flour dosa (Godhuma Dosa) with Peanut Chutney

Easy, breezy and lacy - that’s how I’d describe wheat flour dosa. I prepare this traditional, lace like, instant dosa when I am low in appetite, ya that happens sometimes, or short on time, aren’t we always?

Recipe is really simple. Mix a cup of wheat flour (atta/chapati flour) with 2 to 3 cups of water. Stir in a teaspoon of black pepper powder and salt. Thoroughly mix the batter without any lumps. The consistency of batter must be like thick buttermilk, not too watery or not too tight. Don’t let the batter sit for long time, it will become gooey mass, and resulting dosas won’t be pretty.

To prepare dosas, lightly oil the dosa tava and rub it with a cut onion. Heat over medium-high. When the tava is hot, pour a ladleful of batter steadily from a height of 3 to 5 inches onto the tava. Allow it spread on its own in a thin lace like layer. Because wheat flour batter is very sticky, trying to shape the dosa with back of the spoon like we do for regular dosa won’t work. Please resist the temptation to shape and allow it to spread on its own. Sprinkle a half teaspoon of ghee or peanut oil and on high heat, cook. Within a minute or two, bubbles start to appear on the surface. Wait until the underside of dosa turns golden and then gently turn it to the other side. Cook for another minute or two. Remove and serve hot with peanut or coconut chutney.

Wheat flour batter spead thin in a lace like fashion on hot tava. Bubbles are appearing.
Wheat flour batter spread in a thin lace like fashion

 Turning to the other side to cook

Folding it into half to remove the dosa
With 4 plate-sized dosas like these, expect to get stuffed royally.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Wheat Flour (Durum Atta) (Tuesday April 18, 2006 at 3:24 pm- permalink)
Comments (44)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sesame Buns

Yay… spring has definitely sprung here! Plenty of sunshine days have arrived finally. Even the yeast is ready for some action. When I mixed a packet of yeast with warm water, zoom… it rose to the sky as if it was trying to kiss the sunshine. See.

Yeast in action
Yeast in Action

Recipes that need good fermentation like preparing bread, idlies, dosas and yogurt, are going to be easy from now on. Last weekend, I tried a recipe for sesame buns from my recipe book. I used to note down the western bread and cake recipes that caught my fancy in a notebook. That was before I knew about the foodblogs. I wasn’t even aware of copyrights etc., at that time, so I’m not sure where I got this recipe from, but definitely from a cookbook, or might be from TV. I am not sure. Whatever the origin, I am very fond of this recipe. Adding a bundle of sesame, gives the bread that nutty taste I like and the buns are great with soups, salads or for homemade simple sandwiches.

(Makes about 8 to 10 medium sized buns)

3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup quick oats
½ cup watermelon seeds (My addition)
1 tsp of salt and honey to your taste or ½ cup
Warm milk or water for mixing the dough into a ball
¼ ounce packet of active, dry ‘quick rise’ yeast or 2 tsp
Take 2 tablespoons of water in a cup, stir in a pinch of sugar. Pour the contents of yeast packet and stir. Keep it in a warm place and wait for it to turn bubbly, usually 5 to 10 minutes.

The dough at '0' hour The dough after one hour

The dough is shaped into buns is ready to go into the oven

Method: Take all the above ingredients in a big bowl and mix them thoroughly. Knead the dough for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and let it rise. Takes about at least one hour. I’ve kept it for about 3 hours.

Take the dough out and on a clean board, sprinkle in some flour, and deflate and knead the dough again. Do it for at least 2 to 5 minutes. Divide the dough into small balls, shape them into buns. Place them on a greased baking pan; leave space for them to expand. Wait for another 30 minutes for them to rise.

While the shaped buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the baking pans with buns in the oven and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Sesame Bun Sandwich
Sesame bun and dried soya chunks-eggs omelet sandwich.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Whole Wheat Flour (Monday April 17, 2006 at 9:34 am- permalink)
Comments (26)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney and a cup of shallot and carrot sambhar

How can anyone not like dosas? Just one bite, that’s all it takes to fall in love with them. They are such a knockout mini meal any time of the day. I often dream of starting my own franchise here, :) to cater freshly cooked dosas with all kinds of filling inside them. There is one already in New York, New Jersey area, called ‘Dosa Express’, which boasts about 50 different types of dosas - all kinds, from just plain dosa to dosas with variety of fillings, like cheese-potato curry combo etc.,

But if you ask me, nothing can beat the old classic, ‘Masala Dosa’. Crisp dosas filled with spicy powders, onion-red chilli paste and potato curry, if that’s not enough they are served with coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar. Can’t stand on your feet kind of knockout combo. Preparing this type of restaurant dosa at home is really easy, only thing you need is time and some planning.


A thick bottomed, flat, seasoned cast-iron pan
1 cup of rice
½ cup urad dal

Wash and soak rice and dal together in 2 to 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and grind them in a blender or wet grinder into a smooth batter. Add little water in-between for smooth grinding, if necessary. The consistency of batter must be like that of evaporated milk (commercial kind). Not too watery or not too thick.

Pour the batter into a big vessel, cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation. By morning the batter will be doubled, usually. Add half teaspoon of salt to the batter and stir thoroughly and the batter is ready for dosas. Place and heat the dosa skillet on the stove and follow the procedure shown in the pictures below.

Season the Dosa skillet with a teaspoon of oil and rub it with a cut onion. Onion not only gives nice flavor to dosa, also seasons the skillet.(this is an oldtime tip)

Pour a ladleful of batter on the skillet. Spread it around with the ladle.

With the ladle, shape and move the batter outwards in concentric circles - until it shapes in a circular, thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of peanut oil around the batter. Increase the heat high and cook it for few minutes.

Flip it to other side to cook for few seconds.

Reverse it again and quickly sprinkle some pappula podi(spicy dalia powder), apply red onion-dried red chilli paste around the dosa and then place a general portion of potato curry in the middle.

Fold the dosa in middle, remove and serve it immediately. This whole process must be done in maximum two to three minutes. Hot skillet and fast hand action is necessary and do not keep dosa on skillet for long, it’ll turnout hard and brittle, instead of soft and chewy.

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney & a cup of sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

Prepared in a style of Udipi restaurant dosa, Nandyala, India.
Potato Curry: Pressure cook/boil potaotoes until tender. Remove the skin, cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. Sauté finely chopped onions, green chillies and crumbled potatoes together. Season to taste - potato curry for dosa is ready.
Onion -red chilli paste: Cut one big red onion or 4 to 6 shallots into chunks. Add 6 dried red chillies and quarter teaspoon of salt or to taste, and grind into coarse mixture.
Pappula podi - recipe.
Coconut chutney - recipe.
Sambhar - recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 4:53 pm- permalink)
Comments (69)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ponganalu (Gunta Pongadalu)

Raayalaseema, Konaseema and Telengaana, these are the three regions in Andhra Pradesh, my home state.

Each region has its own way of cooking things and special recipes. In case of breakfast/brunch worth getting up early for, ‘Konaseema’ is famous for their ‘Pesarattu-upmacombination (beautifully put together by Sailu). I’m not that familiar with ‘Telengaana’ cuisine and ‘Raayalaseema’, where I’m from, has few special breakfast dishes unique to our region. One is “buggani” - prepared with puffed rice(murmura), I blogged already, and the other is “ponganalu” - rice lentil batter is seasoned with shallots, green chillies etc., then cooked in round impressions in an iron skillet until golden. These small pretty, dome shaped rounds are usually served with peanut chutney or coconut chutney.

In our homes, whenever relatives from other regions of Andhra or from other states visit us for holidays, out comes the “ponganala Pennam”(ponganala skillet). Round, golden colored ponganalu, hot off from the skillet, always elicits oohh… aahh… from our relatives and from their weird offspring (are there any other kind? :) ). Because they are unique to our region, preparing them is our showoff kind of thing, to out of staters who were related to us by marriages etc.,:)

Preparing ponganalu, it’s all in the skillet. Right kind of skillet delivers or breaks a ‘ponganam’. Nothing can beat an old world style, well seasoned iron skillet. They are the best and the place where you can buy is of course India. I’ve seen some non-stick skillets here in US in some Indian shops lately. They are also fine, if you don’t mind the non-stick coating.

For 3 to 4 batches of Ponganalu

Ponganala batter:
1 cup rice
½ cup urad dal

Soak them in water for about 6 hours. Drain (reserve the water) and grind them into smooth batter adding just enough water (add the reserve one, we kept aside). The consistency of the batter must be thick like idli batter or like condensed milk (commercial kind). Take the batter into a big vessel, cover and let it sit overnight for fermentation.
Sour and leftover dosa batter is perfect to prepare ponganalu. If you have some, try ponganalu with it, for a change.

Ingredients to prepare ponganalu

Seasoning (Add to the overnight fermented batter):
1 big red onion or 6 shallots - finely chopped
(Because we mix them in the batter raw, avoid yellow onion for its smell & awful rawtaste)
4 green chillies - finely chopped
Few springs of cilantro - finely chopped
A fistful of chana dal (soaked overnight)
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric and salt
Add all these ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly.
Also prepare peanut or coconut chutney.

Cooking: Place the ponganala skillet on medium heat. Add few drops of peanut oil into each impression. With a spoon or with a piece of paper towel, rub oil around, to season the skillet. When the skillet is hot and ready, proceed like this, following the images.

Pour a ladleful of batter into each impression.

Once all impressions are filled, cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes undisturbed.

Remove the lid; The batter will be set by now. Gently lift the ponganalu with a “ponganala lifter” or with a spoon. If properly cooked, they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes.

Turn each one to opposite side to cook.

Cook them another 5 minutes on medium heat undisturbed. Gently lift them from out of the skillet. When properly cooked they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes. Remove them all onto a plate. Season the skillet with oil, again repeat the steps to cook another batch. Medium heat is the key.(Cooking them on high heat in a hurry or on too low heat won’t work- usually the outcome will be messy ponganalu.)

Ponganalu with peanut chutney - Breakfast worth getting up early for.

Recipe Source & Origin: Amma and Rayalaseema (Andhra, India)
Also checkout ‘Ponganalu’ by Santhi, friendly, fellow Raayalaseema vaasi.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Monday March 20, 2006 at 9:08 am- permalink)
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Traditional Indian Iron Flat Pans and Skillet (To Cook Chapati, Roti, Dosa & Ponganalu)

For this week’s “Indian Kitchen” and in response to requests about my cast iron cookware - here are some my very well seasoned cast iron flat pans and skillet that I use regularly and specifically to prepare chapatis, sorghum roti, dosa and ponganalu.

Chapati pennam
Traditional iron pan with thin bottom to prepare chapatis(parathas, wheat rotis) - brought it from Nandyala (my hometown in India).

Roti Pennam to prepare Sorghum Roti
Traditional iron pan with round bottom to prepare Jonna rotte(Sorghum roti) - Brought it from Nandyala

Dosa Pennam
Thick bottomed, flat cast iron pan to prepare dosa, utappam, pesarattu etc - bought this at ‘Target’.

Ponganala Pennam
Traditional iron skillet with round impressions to hold the batter, to cook a South Indian breakfast called “ponganalu” - brought it from Nandyala.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Kitchen, Indian Utensils (Sunday March 19, 2006 at 3:24 pm- permalink)
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Coconut Chutney (Kobbari Pacchadi)

Coconut chutney is an example of how good a raw food can taste when prepared with right ingredients. Whoever came up with this recipe, my salute to them! People remember and replicate a good recipe; no wonder, this age old recipe continues to be popular and beloved by all who tried it.

Breakfast is not a proper breakfast without coconut chutney in Southern states of India (Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala). Perfect blend of different flavors and the ease with which it can be made - coconut chutney is a great example of traditional, health conscious South Indian food and a showcase recipe for raw cuisine. See the photo below, if you find coconut chutney looking similar in an Indian restaurant along with your dosas, idlies, that’s a sure sign that you are getting a proper south Indian food.

Fresh Coconut, Cilantro, Red onion, Ginger, Dalia(pappulu) and green chillies


1 cup of thinly sliced fresh coconut
¼ cup of pappulu(dalia, roasted chickpeas)
6 Indian small green chillies, chopped
1 tiny red onion or shallot, sliced into chunks
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro and 1/2 inch of ginger
½ tablespoon of tamarind extract
¼ tsp of salt
for popu or tadka
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, fresh curry leaves and few pieces of dried red chilli.
1 tablespoon of yogurt and one lime

Tadka/popu is done and ready to add to the coconut chutney Final step- adding the tadka/popu to coconut chutney

Preparation means grinding. Taste of coconut chutney varies with grinding method. Believe it or not, different grinding tools give different taste. The best taste comes out of using a stone mortar. Closest is the machine, which grinds with a stone. Last is the food processor or the blender etc., The taste is inversely proportionate to how easily you can grind it.

In a mortar or blender, combine all the ingredients (coconut, pappulu, onion, green chillies, cilantro, ginger, tamarind extract and salt). Add half to one cup of water and grind them until the ingredients are pureed. Transfer the mixture to a cup.

In a small pan, add half teaspoon of peanut oil, add the popu ingredients, sauté them until they start to splutter. Remove the pan from heat and add this popu to the pureed coconut mixture in the cup. Stir in little bit of yogurt now (our family variation). The chutney is ready. Just before serving, squeeze few drops of limejuice.

Traditionally coconut chutney is served with dosa, idly, vada, upma, utappam, pesarattu and pongal, as a part of morning breakfast.

Coconut chutney with popu/tadka just added
Coconut Chutney ~ South Indian Style

Note to reader: I use, tiny red onion or shallot (Indian onion, small baby onion) for this chutney. Either one is preferable than white/yellow onions (US). Red onion/shallots are less harsh in flavor when raw and don’t overpower the chutney with their bitterness.

Recipe source: Family- Amma & Attamma(mother and mil)
For several variations of this recipe, read the comments.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia), Coconut (Fresh) (Thursday February 16, 2006 at 8:13 pm- permalink)
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This Year I Dare (Food Wise)

Ilva of Lucullian Delights who started the meme “2006 Food Challenges” (or “This year I dare”), and Winslow of Seven kinds of Soy Sauce, they both tagged me, to share 5 things I want to do for 2006, food wise. So here they are…

1 Blog about Idly, Dosa and Vada, the delicious breakfasts of India, before my blogs one-year anniversary, in beautiful images.
2 Prepare and blog about traditional Indian sweets like ‘laddu’, ‘jangiri’ etc.,
3 I so want to prepare and blog about my favorite cake “German Chocolate Fudge Cake” and also, I don’t know why, but I’m very drawn to this American style, artery clogging, disgustingly decadent sweet “Krispy Crème Donut Pudding”. First, I’ve to find people to feed it. :)

4 Going minimal on every Wednesday - Reducing the food consumption gradually to a full day fasting. I call it, my ‘Yogi diet on Wednesdays’. I was doing this before I went to India last year, started it again last week; it takes some time to get along with the hunger pains.:)
5 Continue food blogging to improve my skills and knowledge.

Thanks Ilva and Winslow for tagging me to share my ideas for 2006. I’d like to tag Priya of Sugar and Spice, to share her food ideas for 2006 with us.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Thursday February 2, 2006 at 10:33 am- permalink)
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All last week, we were in Toronto. This was our first visit to this Canadian city and we also found that it is very tourist friendly. We stayed at a hotel in downtown. One of the things we liked about the city is its public transport system. Trams and subway system were excellent and we never had to use our car, it just sat in the hotel garage.

In addition to regular tourist attractions, we also visited India Bazaar on Gerrard street. Dined at a south Indian vegetarian restaurant on Gerrard Street called Udipi Palace. We enjoyed having hot masala Dosa, Idli and Vada. There is also a new grocery shop, Sabji Mandi, opened in Brampton. They had an outrageous opening sale going and I went nuts. Bought about 150 dollars worth of groceries there. The prices for items like rice, dals and vegetables were unbelievable. Two 10 pound Basmathi rice bags for $8.99, 8 pound dal bag $2.99! I think with the purchases I did, I am set for this winter.

Photos of Toronto in December winter weather:

Lake Ontario, on a very cloudy, wintry day
Lake Ontario- view from the top of CN Tower

CN Tower, Toronto
CN Tower, Toronto

Financial District, Downtown, Toronto
Financial District, Downtown-Toronto

For this week in Indian Kitchen:

Indian Sugar Purchased at Subji Mandi, Toronto
Indian Sugar (Large Crystal Type) Purchased at Subji Mandi, Toronto

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Sunday December 25, 2005 at 10:53 am- permalink)
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