Cheese Tomato Sandwich

Cheese Tomato Sandwich

Thinly slice 2 tomatoes into circles.
Take two slices of bread. Keep a cheese slice on it.
Sprinkle some oregano on it.
Stack the sliced circles of tomatoes on the bread.
Cover it with another cheese slice. Sprinkle oregano again.
Now cover with the other bread slice.

Toast on a buttered pan till golden brown. Delicious breakfast like this with coffee is to die for 🙂

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Veg Cheese Toast

VEG CHEESE TOAST

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Thinly slice one medium sized onion and half a capsicum.
Heat a pan with 1 tsp of oil, saute the onion and capsicum for a minute or two. Sprinkle little salt and sweet paprika for that flavor and color. Remove from heat.
Spread this saute-d veg mixture on one slice of the bread. Keep a cheese slice on top of it. Cover with the other slice.
Toast on a butter greased pan till golden brown.
Yummy Veg Cheese toast to gobble up is ready 🙂

Savory Oats

I generally like Oats Porridge with milk and sugar.  But to have variety, I tried making a savory version with mushroom and peas. Came out tasting very well and was enjoyed by the family 🙂

Ingredients:
Quaker Oats – 1/2 cup
Onion – 1 medium finely chopped
Button mushroom – 6 to 7 quartered
Frozen Green Peas – a handful
Green chillies – 2 slit in half

Method:
– In a hot pan, add 2 tsp of oil. Add the slit green chillies and the finely chopped onions.
– Fry for 2 minutes till onions are soft and transparent.
– Now add the mushrooms and cook till the mushrooms are soft to touch.
– This is the time to add green peas.
– Now add in 1 cup of water.
– When the water comes to a boil, add in the Quaker Oats and simmer the gas and cook till the Oats is soft and everything is blended well.
– Serve hot in a bowl.

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This dish is one bowl meal and perfect for dinners to keep us light and healthy at the same time.

Try it out and let me know 🙂

Adai, the Dal Dosa

I hope that there is no need for any introduction to the famous Saravana Bhavan restaurant of Chennai. During my younger years, it was the ultimate place to go and eat; of course, we’ve progressed to higher levels of eateries over the years.

The visits to Saravana Bhavan excited everyone. It was their sambar and coconut chutney that attracted people in huge numbers and some of them literally drank that sambar. I think there are many out there who still drink that tangy and spicy preparation.

There was this Adai with Aviyal combo which was my favourite, actually still is.  While Adai is basically Dal Dosa, the Aviyal is fantastic blend of vegetables in mild coconut gravy. Now that’s some combination, which has not found a match still.

Even if I make sambar or chutney to go with Adai, the taste buds beg for that Aviyal to be present. So, at my home there’s no Adai if there’s no Aviyal. Of course milagai podi is always there with anything.

Ingredients

Par-boiled / Idly rice – 1 cup
Raw rice – 1 cup
Toor Dal –  ½ cup
Chana Dal – ¾ cup
Urid dal – ¼ cup
Red chillies – 7 or 8
Asafoetida – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Salt to taste

–        Wash the rice and dals together 2 to 3 times and soak in water along with the red chillies for 2 hours.

–        Grind it coarse in a mixie or grinder, along with one green chilli. If you touch the batter with your hand, you should be able to feel the coarse rice against the soft dals. That’s the right consistency. Season the batter with salt. Add in 2 tsp of asafoetida and a few curry leaves and mix well. The batter needs to be fermented for a min of 3 hrs to get a tastier adai.

–        Adai is made just like a dosa on a hot tawa. The only difference is that once the adai batter is spread on the tawa, we make a hole in the centre of the adai, giving it a look of a spread out vada.  Use gingelly oil to sprinkle around the circumference of the adai and also in the hole that was made.

A variety of vegetables can be added to this batter to make it tastier. Finely chopped onions, grated carrots, finely chopped cabbage, Drumstick leaves, Banana flower are some variations you can try out. When vegetables are added to the batter, it results in a thicker Adai.

Adai made with sour batter tastes delicious.

Now, I made Adai the traditional way, like a dosa with a hole in the center and also fried a spoonful of batter in the Appam pan, with which I make the vella appams. Isn’t it double treat. Also, an tongue tingling tomato+onion+coriander chutney made the dish complete.

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Venn Pongal and Gothsu !!!

Venn Pongal

The standard item in a breakfast menu for the entire South India and competing mainly with Idly, Pongal is one of the delicacies which people love to begin their morning with.

Amazingly simple and similar to the Khichuri of North India, its the most famous comfort food, for us. Oh yeah, its really comforting writing about it. 🙂

Let’s see how to make this deliciously simple dish.

Ingredients

Rice – 1 cup

Split Green gram (Moong Dal) – 1/3 cup

Pepper corns – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Grated Ginger – 1 tsp

Curry leaves – a few

Cashew nuts split – 7 to 8

Oil – 2 tbsp

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Do not be scared at the amount of oil and ghee used here, just trust me and use it. You need it to achieve that perfect taste.

–        Fry the moong dal in a hot pan for a minute.

–        Add the dal to the rice. Wash well. Cook it in a pressure cooker.

–        Crush the pepper corns and cumin coarsely and keep it aside.

–        Heat the oil in a pan; fry the cashew nuts till golden brown.

–        Add in the grated ginger, curry leaves and crushed pepper and cumin.

–        Put in the cooked rice and dal. Season it with salt. Mix well. Now pour in the ghee and mix well.

The fantastic combo to Venn pongal is coconut chutney or Gothsu.

 

Gothsu

It’s a variation of the sambar.

Onion – 1 (finely chopped)

Tomato – 1 (finely chopped)

Brinjal – 1 medium sized (finely chopped)

Green chilly – 3 /4 (each slit into half)

Tamarind – the size of a small lemon

Moong dal – ½ cup

Curry leaves

–        Soak the Tamarind in water for 30 mins. Then crush it and filter it and make about 200ml of tamarind water.

–        Cook the moong dal in a pressure cooker, with a little turmeric powder.

–        In a pan, heat 2 tsp of oil, add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add in 1 tsp of chana dal, the slit green chillies, curry leaves and onion.

–        After the onion becomes transparent, add in the tomato and brinjal. Fry them well for a minute.

–        Pour in the tamarind water. Add salt and let it come to a boil. Add 1 tsp of chilli powder if you need it more spicy.  Simmer, cover and allow it to cook for 10 mins.

–        Now add in the cooked moong dal and mix well.

This Gotsu is great side-dish with idly, dosa, chapatti.

Alternatively, the chenna dal + coriander seeds (dhaniya) powder can be used, instead of the red chilli powder. Dry fry 2 tbsp of chenna dal with 1.5 tbsp of dhaniya and grind them to a coarse powder. Using this powder will make the Gothsu, more flavour-some 🙂

Kezhvaragu Vella adai

Karthigai deepam, which falls on the Pournami (Full Moon Day) of the Tamizh Karthigai month, is surely one of my favourite festivals.

Just as the North Indians light diyas during Diwali, we, tamilians light them during Karthigai.

Karthigai deepam – lights on karthiga pournima

Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai.
One of the earliest references to the festival is found in the Ahananuru, a book of poems, which dates back to the Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300 A.D.). The Ahananuru clearly states that Karthigai is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the Tamil month of Karthigai. It was one of the most important festivals (peruvizha) of the ancient Tamils. Avaiyyar, the renowned poetess of those times, refers to the festival in her songs.

LEGEND

There is an interesting story explaining the link between Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma began to quarrel as to who was the more powerful of the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to find the top and the bottom of the pillar.

Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for several years, neither of the two was able to find the ends the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none other than Lord Shiva.

Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the very names `Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ translate as `holy fire hill.’ The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are believed to be the miniature replicas of the fire linga. Every year thousands of devotees from Chennai and elsewhere flock to Tiruvannamalai to see the spectacular Karthigai Deepam there.

Source : Wikipedia.

The Mahadeepam lighted on this day at Thiruvannamalai, represents the endless fire called Shiva.

Childhood memories are often related to food or fun times.  Karthigai deepam was both fun and filled with yummy food. The foodies also rejoice during this festival as it is a gastronomical treat on this day.  Since this festival is during the end of monsoons and the so-called winter in Tamil Nadu, all these food preparations are made with jaggery.  It’s a healthier option to eat jaggery during these chilly months.  Puffed rice and jaggery is an excellent combination – it keeps us warm from inside.

It’s during this festival, we light up our homes with Agal vilakkus (diyas).  These Agal vilakkus are auspicious symbols and are lighted to ward off evil forces and usher in joy and prosperity. The beautiful kolams (rangoli) that decorate the house are a great attraction and we create designs using the Agal vilakkus on the kolams.

This festival also stresses on the bonding between brothers and sisters.

With so many things attached to this festival, it is surely a great time to celebrate.

I love to light up the agal vilakkus and make the home come alive with the bright light. We even burst crackers during Karthigai.

The Pori Urundai (Puffed rice, Puffed flat rice mixed in jaggery), the sweet appam and the awesome Kezhwaragu Vella Adai (Sweet Finger-Millet Pancake) are just an amazing variety of sweets to have during the winter season.

Even though the pori urundai is my absolute favourite snack, the kezhwaragu vella adai, beats everything, when it comes in front of my taste buds.

Kezhwaragu – the Finger Millet or Ragi is so rich in Iron and Calcium and a great enriching dish especially for children.

Ragi Jaggery Pancake (Kezhvaragu Vella adai)

Ingredients :

1 ½ cups – Ragi flour

½ cup – Whole wheat flour

2 cups – Grated jaggery

2 tsp – Cardamom powder

Ghee – For toasting

Method:

–        Measure 3 cups of water and bring it to boil, in a wide pan.

–        Now add to it, 2 cups of grated jaggery. It’ll be best if you find the dark brown variety of jaggery as that gives a far better syrup consistency.

–        Allow the jaggery to just melt. Switch off the heat and filter the jaggery water to remove impurities.

–        Now keep the filtered jaggery water again on heat and bring it to a boil.

–        Add 2 tsp cardamom powder to it.

–        When it just begins to boil, add 1½ cups of Ragi flour and ½ cup of Wheat flour to it.

–        Mix well so that lumps are not formed. Cover it and allow it to cool.

Ragi + Wheat flour mixed in Jaggery

–        Now, make them into small balls, about the size of a big lemon and flatten it on a greased plastic sheet. You can alternatively use a greased banana leaf for this purpose. Using ghee for greasing improves the taste.

–        Now, cook on a tawa on low heat. The colour of the pancake changes and small brown spots appear on it indicating that it is cooked. Make sure that it doesn’t get burnt.

–        Use ghee on both sides while cooking, just like paranthas.

Cook it on a tava on low heat. Apply little ghee on both sides.

Now, the yummy Ragi Vella Adai is ready to eat.

You can have them plain. Or coriander / pudina chutney or pickle is a great combination.

Yummy, healthy Vella Adai.

Its a favorite dish at home. The dough can be refrigerated and used later for emergency breakfast or evening tiffin cooking.

Spicy version of Kezhvaragu adai 

Take a cup of Ragi flour, add to it finely cut green chillies and finely cut onions. Add salt and a tablespoon of curd. Mix well. If required add a little water. Make into balls and flatten it and cook on tawa. Its tastes awesome with coriander chutney. And of course, milagai podi is a great combo too !!!