Spring time! Aviyal – Mixed Vegetable in Creamy Coconut Sauce

“People are like stained windows, they sparkle and shine when sun is out” – Elisabeth Kubler-Rose

Happy, spirited up are the day when vitamin D is activated. Yes much awaited Sun is finally here in my part of the world. Warmth, colourful blossoms and green “the” colour is just wonderful.  And all of sudden there was big shift, slipping to few 10’s of degree, rain and grey sky….I was said welcome to Belgium! But flowers are still smiling, dancing along with rain and green is getting intense!  The weather and nature are like artist and poems quite unpredictable yet beautiful! 

Spring time reminds me about fresh vegetable in India and this recipe is loaded with many vegetables in coconut sauce. This is very popular recipe from south India Kerala – God’s own country, which is usually is made with coconut paste, mum makes them with fresh thick coconut milk, more rich and creamy. When mum visited me in Finland in 2011, she smuggled brought all veggies and our home grown coconut and we prepared this recipe, yes two years back…I did tell you my hard drive cries most of the time for some fresh air! 

Till I enjoy the sun, rain and weekend…..you enjoy the aviyal (Mom’s version, not an authentic version) and glimpse of spring from my part of my world!! 

                 Airy light papads …or call it as flying breads

                 My mint plant is growing very happily at home!

Ingredients

Vegetables (All together you need 300 grams)
White pumpkin
Beans
Carrot
Yam
Raw Banana
Potato
Brinjal / Eggplant
Drumstick

100 ml Yoghurt
200 ml Thick Coconut milk (or coconut cream)
1/4 tspn Turmeric powder
1 spring of Curry leaves
4 to 5 Green chillies (ground to paste)
Salt according to taste

For Tempering 
2 tbspn Coconut oil
3/4 tspn Mustered seeds
A pinch Asafoetida
2 spring of Curry leaves

Method
Steam all vegetable along with some water, till it is half cooked, along with green chilli paste, turmeric, salt and one spring of curry leaves.
(You can steam all the vegetable in pressure cooker without weight, or pot boil till it is half cooked.)

After vegetable is half cooked, add coconut milk along with water from vegetables and slowly bring it a boil till it thickens, then add yoghurt and give it a boil for just two minutes. (Don’t over boil them, else the yoghurt will curdle)

Next do the tempering. Warm coconut oil, add muster seeds, let it splutter then add Asafoetida and curry leaves let it splutter. Then add to the vegetable mixture

Rich, flavourful aviyal is ready to serve with rice and crispy papad! 

Happy Diwali

Though this space has been sleeping for a while, due to some technical difficulties but we are here to wish you all a very happy Diwali with most famous motichoor ladoo (store brought) from Coimbatore and water rangoli. May the twinkling lamps illuminate your lives with endless joy, eat loads of sweet, delicious food and if possible say no to crackers.

Present – Tamarind rice / Puli sadam / Pulihora

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist 
That’s exactly how i see life now. Flooded with all love, attention, care from loved ones. Living to fullest in the present is the most beautiful thing. All I do is reach dear ones, talk endlessly over cup of tea, food and cakes. Past few weeks has been so much full of food, specially when most treasured friends cook everything special, it can’t get any better. One of the best experience from last week was when i went with my God mother to meet her friends (most of them were senior citizens) and did henna tattoo for them all (just for fun) their motherly affection, warm hugs, i came back home teared eye feeling human connection is the best in world.  

My study days used to start with things to do and end with seeing how far i reached. Now i wake up seeing glowing snow, tad bit of sunshine, decent hours of work, loads of giggle and end with yoga lessons. No wish list, no to do list, feed people, spread happiness and be merry. I’m very often asked so whats next? i say “let future be a surprise, i’m enjoying the present”. Though i know, what needs and have to be done for which i’m giving my efforts. I wouldn’t take it seriously but rather leave life to unfold itself. Efforts would never go vain. This attitude brings rays of thoughts then i see myself in the mirror and say not sure what is tomorrow, live now you deserve it! I know this a transition phase, i’m sure there are some challenges and reality check waiting for me, till they arrive i’m brave enough to live the way i want. 

Yet again this post is from winter 2010, mum cooked this rice. It is my most fav since childhood. Sometime i can’t believe how picky eater i have been since kid, this used to be one of those food (among very few) when i ate without any drama. This tamarind mix can be made well in advance and preserved. It stays for few months (say two months). You could also freeze it so it stay even more longer. It used to be one of goodies things that mum packed for me every time i flew from India or when she was here. On a busy/lazy days this mix can be mixed with warm fresh rice. It goes every well with potato chips, papads or scrambled eggs. For those who are wondering what those colored little things are? it is called vathal (Indian rice fryums, experts correct me if i’m wrong, which has to be fried before it is served) i adore them only to eat and not to fry. So people another recipe from mum. Do enjoy and live happily since you deserve the best “ting” :) 

Ingredients 
200 gram Tamarind
1 1/2 glass of water
1 tspn Fenugreek  seeds 
4 tbspn Sesame seeds 
100 ml oil

1/2 tspn Mustered seeds
1/2 tspn Cumin seeds
2 Spring of curry leaves
1 tbspn Split yellow chickpeas 6 tbspn un-roasted ground nut 
6 Green chilies slit
6 Red chilies
1/4 tspn Turmeric powder
Good pinch of Asafoetida powder
salt to taste

Method
Soak tamarind in water for about 20 – 30 minutes. Pulp tamarind to thick juice, if required add more water to extract tamarind juice and set them aside.

Dry roast fenugreek, sesame seeds separately till you get good flavors and grind them together into fine powder then set ground powder aside

In heavy bottom pan, add 100 ml of oil, once oil warms up, tip in mustered seed. Be careful since mustered will start to splutter. Once they stop to splutter add in cumin seeds.

Then add in split chickpeas and un-roasted ground nut. Fry for three minutes till raw flavors vanishes. Next added in curry leaves, green chilies and red chilies ( again green chilies can splutter).

Tip in turmeric powder and pour tamarind pulp. Add salt.
Now let them boil on medium heat till oil comes out, almost to a paste consistency.
Next add ground powder and pinch of asafoetida powder, give it a good mix.

Tamarind mix is now ready.

Slowly add in tamarind mix to warm rice till it reaches desired taste, if required add more salt. After it is mixed let them sit for about three hours for flavors to set in. Goes well with papads or simple potato chips!

Wish list – Kashmiri pulao

Hola gente! I had tank list of dreams to chase soon after PhD, like very student have, to do this to do that, my list is still growing. One on the priority is to travel to Spain, Iceland, Athens and once again to Rome to eat all over again and again! let me see how far i can go. When mum was here we planned but couldn’t get them working, winter was too rough on her. But we had gala time with heavy baking and shopping. She flew to India and i’m back to work as post doctorate researcher for short term, not doing much of research work i seriously mean it! You know dissertation hang over, i need full solid holiday to get out of it, which i hardly see any near! There are more than 15 recipes, many trip photos to edit and post, which should be one among the  wish list….so better get active and stop ranting (note to self).   
Lets go to Kashmiri pulao which mum made last year, for my Finnish God parents they thoroughly enjoyed it. Since combination of fruits, nuts and salty rice is something special. Not many may like and i can’t handle pineapple there. The very tiny tinky pineapple in photo was used just for the photoshoot. The use of fruit can be according to ones own choice, make sure to mix the fruit with lukewarm rice just before you serve, to prevent cooking of fruit, if done well in advance pulao may become slushy.

Ingredients 

150 gram basmathi rice
1 tbspn ghee
1 tbspn oil
1 large onion sliced
2-3 green chilies slit 
3 bay leaves 
1 star anies 
2 mace of nutmeg
good pinch of black cumin seeds/shajeera
5 cloves
2 inch cinnamon 
1/4 tspn ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
Water required according to rice variety ( I used 1 and half glass of water)
Cut fruits 100 gram or more depending on your taste (we used apple, orange, grapes, mango, pomegranate and pear)
Almonds 10 numbers  skinned and fried to golden brown  (to skin soak almonds in water and peal the skin)
Cashews 10 numbers  fried to golden brown 
1 tbspn of finely chopped coriander 
Method
Soak basmathi rice for 30 minutes. In a big pot (heat medium high), add oil and ghee. When oil warms up, add in cinnamon, cloves, star anies wait for 30 seconds for them to warm, then quickly add in bay leaves, mace of nutmeg, green chilies. Next onion goes in soon after the spices starts to splutter, fry the onions till they turn transparent or pale pink, don’t fry for too long or colour of rice will change (manage heat accordingly). Followed by quick frying of  ginger garlic paste till raw flavor subsides. Drain the rice and and add in and fry for about 2 minutes. Add required amount of water, salt and cook for 2 minutes on high heat, then turn it to medium heat for about 12 – 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes if the rice is 75 % cooked and turn the heat to low. (If you are using hot plate turn off the heat) and let them rest for another 10 minutes. After which give it a very gentle stir. Mix cut fruit, chopped coriander and fried nuts with lukwarm rice and serve immediately!

To prevent oxidation of fruits squeeze few drops of lemon juice. 

A guest post by Anamika Arun from Taste Junction – Aloo Paneer Kofta in Makhni Gravy

My fingers are still dancing on key boards non stop! I never thought that writing thesis would need creativity, it not only needs some but a LOT taking away all the oxygen and blood from brain. There is no realization of what day it is or if at all it is morning or night. Though I knew this how it will be, living thro’ it is very challenging. Am waiting for my mom to arrive to give me a hug and a bowl of warm food…sometime to get to kitchen for a simple dinner is like moving a mountain!
With this scenario Anamika of Taste Junction wholeheartedly volunteered to write a post for me. Not so long ago Anamika stopped by my blog, I visited hers just few time, sincere apology to her and to many others, since i’m doing no justice, but shall return back to normal mode within two months! Her blog as it says is a junction where cuisines from world meets. I was seriously surprised when she gave me options to pick for a guest post, she sounded like a pro chef! From all her great recipe dahi vada stole my heart, exactly what i would like to enjoy now …so why wait for here is very talent Anamika from Taste Junction. And thanks  bunches Anamika for understanding and coming over you saved my nerves
Just like any home reflects the personality of the resident; so do I feel about the virtual window or the blog. The moment I visit a new blog, I immediately personify the blogger with the cues of the space. And though technical aspects have a huge role to play in that, yet there are some sure sure-shot giveaways, like the choice of color schemes, fonts and writing style.
So the very first time I visited Ananda’s blog (which unfortunately was not too long ago), I felt a sense of calmness and aesthetics. And after lingering a little more than I needed to, admiring her beautifully captured images and thoughtfully prepared delicacies, I knew it was not going to be a short stay. 
So here I’m, pleased to take this appreciation a step further with a guest post, while she dedicated herself to some meaningful research. I’m sure her tired body and mind can get a bit re-engerised after having some home made comfort food.
I’m sharing with you all a popular North Indian curry – Aloo paneer kofta in makhi gravy. You might even be knowing this dish as “Malai kofta”. Difference is that malai kofta is sweeter with cashews/ rasins/sugar and richer with cream, while this is lighter and bit on the spicier side than sweet. But to offset the spicy koftas, I add it to sweet makhni sauce to get a good balance.
Koftas are deep fried dumlings of spiced and mashed vegetables. This one is made with potatoes and cottage cheese. But ‘kofta” of spinach, carrots and cauliflowers, lauki are also very popular. If you prefer you can bake the dumplings than frying, but of course the taste and texture will be little different.
Aloo Paneer Kofta in Makhni Gravy Recipe
Ingredients
For the Kofta:
3-4 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
3 tbsp of crumbled paneer
2 tbsp of grated carrots
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1- 2 finely chopped green chillies (as per taste)
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chaat masala (optional)
½ tsp red-chilli powder
Salt To Taste
Oil for frying
For the gravy
½ kg tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp cashews
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
2-3 black peppercorn
1 cinnamon
1 clove
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter
Pinch of sugar
Salt as per taste
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp kasturi methi
½ tbsp oil 
1 tbsp butter
Method – for kofta:
Heat oil for frying in kadahi/ deep pan. Mix all the ingredients of the kofta in bowl. With a lightly greased palms, make small balls of the mixture. 
Check if the oil is hot enough by putting a small drop of mixture. If it immediately comes on top, oil is ready. Now place koftas in it at high (gas mark 6) and then reduce it to medium-high (gas mark 4) to get crispy koftas. 
Once well browned on both sides, drain on tissue and keep aside. 
Method – for gravy:
Add ½ tbsp oil in a pan. Then add butter to it. Once butter melts, add bay leaf, cumin, peppercorns, clove & cinnamon. Let the cumin splutter 
Then add the cashews & fry it for a while till lightly browned 
Now add chopped tomatoes along with salt, sugar and all spices, except garam masala & kasturi methi 
Add milk & cook tomatoes till all pulpy. Remove from stove & let it cool. 
Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon and put in blender and blend it as puree with very little warm water (I like to keep some texture, but depends on you) 
Put it back in the pan and bring it to a boil. Add kofta balls and add garam masala and crushed kasturi methi. 
You can finish the dish with a tbsp of cream and chopped coriander. 
If serving later:
Always add koftas to gravy only 10-15 mins before serving, since once added to gravy, kofta becomes soft and breaks. You can even warm up the kofta and gravy separately before adding it so that they do not beak and are at same temperature.