Menthi Pudina Pachadi

Fenugreek and Mint Chutney

[puh cha di ~ Telugu; may thih  ~ Hindi]

I hate to confess. In my newfound fervor for blogging, here’s the scene behind the closed doors – the laundry basket brimming with soiled clothes waiting to be picked up for a wash, washed clothes given the silent treatment inside the dryer, living room screaming to be re-claimed from my toddler’s toys scattered all over and I dare say anything further than this, lest I start to feel a panic attack. They have a way of making me sluggish, I’d rather say overwhelmingly so. Not so funnily enough, instead of attending to the chores left to be deliberately forgotten, all I want to do is blog more and cook less today.
When the clock struck 11:oo subtly reminding me of the upcoming lunch hour, I wanted to wash my hands off with just a one dish wonder. Well, my toddler has to eat, so rice has to go in the cooker. How about just a little something with rice then?
Skimming through the refrigerator, I found a bunch of methi leaves promising me that perfect escape from kitchen slavery. It reminded me of the flavorful chutney my mother-in-law had made long back and how I had licked it off my plate. Quick to realize that I ran short of methi leaves, I picked up a small bunch of mint leaves as well and made this recipe. The outcome surprised me, as mint and fenugreek aromas did not wage a war. Instead, they were sitting hand in hand in perfect harmony giving a well-balanced sublime flavor, that kept me asking for more. The nuttiness of the peanuts and the silent sweetness of the jaggery lifted my soul as they sank into the depths of my gut.
Don’t wait until your laundry fills up to try it. It is a perfect accompaniment for Dosa, Idli, Chapati or simply steamed rice (as shown here).
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 small bunch of Fresh Methi / Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 small bunch of mint / pudina leaves (an addition to the original recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts roasted
  • marble sized Tamarind
  • marble sized Jaggery
  • 3-4 dried Red chillies
For tempering:
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • a pinch of Hing / Asafoetida

How it’s done:
  • Peanuts are easily roasted, heated in the microwave for about 2 mins in 30 sec intervals. Just remember to check in between. Or they can be dry roasted the regular way on a kadai or skillet.
  • In a kadai or small skillet, temper mustard and hing in 1 tsp hot oil. With a spoon, scoop out only the spluttered mustard and hing and keep aside.
  • Add the remaining oil to the kadai / skillet. When hot, add in the red chillies and tamarind and sauté until the red chillies are brown. Do not burn the tamarind. Scoop them out and keep aside.
  • In the same skillet, sauté the methi and mint leaves until all of the sizzling stops. They can be sautéed separately as well. Spread them out on a plate and let cool.
  • In a blender, grind all the ingredients except the tempering, together with salt,  jaggery and some water to a smooth paste. Add water just enough to let the blades move. Too much water tends to ruin the flavor, not only the consistency.
  • Remove into a bowl, garnish with the tempering and serve.

{Just washed fenugreek leaves}

{Roasted Ingredients}

{Menthi koora Pachadi ready for tasting}
Tip:
If methi and mint leaves are not sautéed well enough, the chutney can turn out bitter.

Hesarubele Carrot Kosambari

Lentil and Carrot Salad

[hay suh roo bay lay, koh sum bury] (Kannada)

This is a totally unassuming, what you see is what you get kind of dish. Simple, Easy and tasty as much as it is pretty.
Traditionally, kosambari is made as part of a festive spread and vice versa.
I am going to let you in on the secret of making kosambari, any kind for that matter. You have got your base covered if you have these:
  • lemon
  • coconut
  • cilantro/Coriander
  • tempering
Any combination of vegetables and lentils can be used with the above ingredients to make a tasty kosambari. Here are a few other possible yummy combos:
  • Soaked bengal gram/split chana dal and minced cucumber
  • Soaked bengal gram/split chana dal
  • Soaked split yellow dal
  • Mincedcucumber
  • Grated carrot
  • Radish and Carrot
Last one sounds weird? It is an awesome way to include raw radish into your diet and tastes wicked awesome too. Still skeptic? Carrot neutralizes the pungency of radish and makes for a wonderful co-ingredient. Try it and you’ll agree with me. Take a look here.
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 Carrot grated
  • 1/8 cup split yellow dal, soaked in water for 2-3 hours
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut
  • 3-4 stems cilantro
  • salt
For tempering:
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp Hing/Asafoetida
  • 2 green chillies minced
How it’s done:
  • Wash the dal again and drain off all the remaining water. Though it seems redundant, this is an important step as it rids the dal of the soaked in smell.
  • Heat oil in a small kadai or skillet. When the oil is really hot but not smoking, add in the mustard seeds. Oil is hot enough when the mustard seeds start spluttering as soon as you add them. Add hing and green chillies and sauté until they turn a slight white. switch off and keep aside. Do not skip the tempering as the spluttered mustard, hing and green chillies mix is what lends the kosambari it’s characteristic taste.
  • Add the tempering to the other ingredients, mix and serve immediately.
Tip:
When part of a full course meal, kosambari is always made last so it can be served fresh immediately as the salt makes it watery if it sits longer.

Vijayadashami platter

Yesterday being “Vijayadashami”, the last day of the Dasara / Navaratri (festival of nine days) called for a special platter. Here’s what I prepared to celebrate this significant day.

Clockwise from top left to bottom left:

Will be posting the recipes individually for these, soon.

MaaviLakku

Maavizhakku [Maav viLakku]; Maavu – Flour, ViLakku – oil lamp with a wick, which literally means an oil lamp made of flour in Tamil.

It is a sweet dish prepared especially on a PurattAsi (Perataashi) Shani kizhamai i.e, a Saturday in the PurattAsi month of the Tamizh calendar, as an offering “Naivedhyam” [Nai vay dyum] to Lord Srinivasa, PurattAsi Shravanam being his birth star. Time and all else permitting, this ritual can be performed on all the four Saturdays of that month, if not, at least on two Saturdays either the 1st and 3rd or the 2nd and 4th. I was able to observe the ritual neither on the 1st, 2nd nor the 3rd Saturday and hence performed the ritual with two Maavilakku’s on the 4th or last Saturday as per elder’s suggestions.

My earliest memories of “Maavilakku” are that of watching my aunt Ve [Vay] religiously and devoutly create them on all the Saturdays of that month, during my growing up years at my taatha’s (maternal grand dad) place. In orthodox Iyengar families like my Taatha’s, the procedure to prepare Maavilakku was rather uncompromising due to reasons of “Madi” and hence consisted of starting from scratch with soaking rice in water for a few hours, then lightly dried, pounded with a wooden food pounder and repeatedly sieved to derive the rice flour of the required consistency. Now-a-days, self confessedly, such rigorous care is not possible for most of us and therefore, I have simply started with ready- made rice flour.

Similar forms of this sweet aka “Tambittu” [ Thum bit too] are prepared in Karnataka among several other sects of brahmin communities too, may be on a different festive occasion like Mangala Gowri Vrata or Shivaratri.

Things you’ll need:

The ingredients listed below make for a medium-sized lamp or two small lamps. If you need to increase the quantity, just make sure to add equal proportions of Rice flour, Jaggery and grated coconut.

  • 1/2 cup Rice flour
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery mashed / grated
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 4 cardamom powdered
  • a pinch of Saffron
  • 1 tbsp milk (for the saffron to leave color)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp Ghee


How it’s done:

  • Mix together in a bowl, grated coconut, jaggery and powdered cardamom and set aside for 15 mins so the jaggery melts and blends in.
  • Warm up the milk – either microwave or keep in a bowl of hot water and soak the saffron for 10-15 mins until it leaves color.
  • Add in the rice flour, saffron milk and 2 tsp of ghee to the coconut jaggery mixture and mix well. Do not add any more milk or water to this.

To offer prayers:

  • Shape the dough into a small hill with a shallow pit at the top and part it in the middle.
  • Place two cotton wicks in the left partition and wet them with ghee. Pour the remaining ghee in the right partition.*
  • Light the cotton wicks and offer prayers to Lord Venkateshwara.
  • Wait for the light to subside on its own. The “Maavu” can now be distributed as Prasadam or on a pair of betel leaves and betel nuts (in pairs) aka “Tambulam“.

* When posed with my questions, my dear aunt Ve would explain that the left side (to you when facing the God) with the lamp lit in it signifies Lord Srinivasa himself and the right side with the ghee symbolizes goddess Lakshmi and the shape of a hill signifies the Tirumala hill itself.

More details on the Whys and How’s of this ritual can be found here and here.

Tips & Warnings:

Optionally Pacchakarpooram (not the camphor used for MangalArati) can also be added to prepare the Maavilakku. However, my personal experience forces me to caution against using it unless you are aware of its effects when used in larger quantities. In any case, if you are still tempted to use it, the size of a mustard or two is more than enough for the quantities given in my recipe.