Beerakaya Thokku Pachadi/ Ridge-gourd skin chutney

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

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Ridge gourd known as Beerakaya (telugu) or Turai (hindi) or Luffa (in other countries) is a dark green vegetable which is ridged on outside with white fibrous pulp inside. Ridge gourd contains abundant dietary fiber, vitamin C, riboflavin, zinc, thiamine, iron, magnesium and manganese.

It is highly recommended by health experts and doctors for its medicinal properties. Ridge-gourd is good for stomach and effective in reducing constipation, purifies blood, cures jaundice, beneficial for diabetics due to the existence of insulin,  aids weight loss due to its low saturated fat content, possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic properties, strengthens  immune system, excellent for skin care  and is utilized in making loofah sponge which is used as a body scrub.

Ridge-gourd is abundantly used in Indian cooking for making curry, dal or sambhar. We usually peel off the skin and use only the inner parts of the vegetables while cooking. In the case of ridge gourd, the maximum amount of nutrients are present in its skin. Once you taste this yummy chutney I am sure you will never throw away the skin again.

So here’s how we use the rough ridgy skin and make a delicious chutney which is best eaten by mixing with steamed rice and with a dollop of ghee on top….slurrrppp !!

Ingredients:

Ridge-gourd peel – 1 cup

Tomato – 1 small

Green chilli – 1 or 2 (as per taste)

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1/2 tsp

Methi – 4-5 seeds

Urad Dal – 1 tsp

Chana dal – 1 tsp

Sesame seeds – 1 1/2 tbsp

Dry Red chilli –  2

Tamarind – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – pinch

Salt – 1 1/2 tsp

Oil – 2 tbsp

For seasoning:

Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1/4 tsp

Hing – pinch

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Method:

1. Peel the skin, wash and cut into 1 inch pieces. Chop tomato into cubes.

(Tip: Separate and discard the stringy hard edges of the peel, if any)

2. Heat oil  in a pan. Add mustard seeds, jeera, methi, urad dal, chana dal and fry till dals turn slightly  brown. Next add dry red chilli, sesame seeds and fry for another minute. Drain the oil and transfer the mixture onto a plate.

3. In the same oil, add tomato, green chilli, ridge-gourd peels, salt, turmeric and mix well. Cook under cover till the peels become soft. Turn off the heat and let it cool down.

5. Transfer the dals mixture into a grinder. Add dhania powder, tamarind and grind into a coarse powder. Next transfer the cooked vegetables into the same grinder, add little water if required and grind till it becomes a coarse paste. Transfer the chutney into a bowl.

6. For the seasoning, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add all seasoning ingredients in the given sequence. Once the dal turns slightly brown, pour on this on the chutney and mix well.

7. Serve as a side with rice or rotis or dosas.

Vankaya Fry / Brinjal Fry

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

Brinjal is considered as one of the favorite vegetables in Andhra cuisine. There are so many versions of Brinjal fry and this is one of them. All you need is few brinjals and my home made Curry Masala powder. I would suggest you to make the masala powder in larger amounts and use it in all vegetable dry curries….it really adds a special taste.

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Ingredients:

Brinjal – 4-5 No’s

Green chilli – 1

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Chana dal – 1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – pinch

Salt – 1 tsp

Oil – 2 tbsp

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Curry Masala powder :

Grind the following ingredients into a coarse powder.

Roasted peanuts – 3 tbsp

Roasted gram  dal (putnalu)  – 2 tbsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp (vary as per taste)

Coconut gratings – 1 tbsp

Tamarind – small piece

Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp

Dhania powder – 1/2 tsp

Method:

1. Clean and chop the brinjal into cubes. Drop the cut cubes into a pot of water mixed with turmeric.

2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, chana dal, urad dal.

3. Once the dals turn slightly brown, add slit green chilli.

4. Drain the water from the brinjal and transfer the cubes into the pan.

5. Add turmeric, salt and mix well. Cook under cover for about 10 mins till the brinjal cooks.

6. Now add 2-3 tbsp of the masala powder as per taste and mix well.

7. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Idli upma (with leftover Idlis)

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

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Idli upma is a simple yet interesting dish that can be made using leftover Idlis. It is  so delicious that I deliberately make few extra Idlis so that I can use them up to make Idli upma.

Idli upma can be served for breakfast, evening snack or a light dinner.

Ingredients:

Idlis – 5-6 No’s

Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1/2 tsp

Chana dal – 1/2 tsp

Hing – pinch

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Salt – 1/2 tsp   

Green chilli – 1

Onion – 1/2 (finely chopped)

Chutney podi/ Idli podi – 1 tbsp (highly recommended)

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Coriander – 1 sprig

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

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Method:

1. Crumble the Idlis with you palm into a coarse powder.

(Tip: If you are using hot fresh Idlis, cool them well before crumbling as it is very sticky inside when hot)

2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and hing. Once mustard seeds splutter, add the green chilli and onion and fry till onion turns golden brown.

3. Next add turmeric, salt, curry leaves and the crumbled Idlis. Mix well and cook for 1 min.

4. Add the chutney podi and again mix.

5. Turn off the stove, squeeze in some lemon juice, garnish with coriander and serve hot !!

Mango Dal / Mamidikaya pappu

Preparation time:  20 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins

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Raw mangoes are a good source of vitamin A,B, and C and aid in strengthening the immune system by throwing away waste products from the body.  Mango Dal is a heavenly dish made with raw mango and tool dal.  It is a special dish that is close to everybody’s heart in Andhra region. I have grown up eating many variations of mango dal …. and every variety is tasty and special in its own way. Here’s my version of mango dal….

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Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup

Raw Mango – 2 small

Green chilli – 1

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Methi powder – pinch

Turmeric – pinch

Jaggery – 1 tsp

Salt – 1  1/2 tsp (vary as per taste)

Seasoning:

Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1/2 tsp

Dry red chilli – 1

Hing – pinch

Method:

1. Peel the mangoes and chop into big cubes. Wash the toor dal and soak it in water for 10 mins.

2. Pressure cook the mango pieces and toor dal in 2 separate bowls for 2-3 whistles. Mash the cooked tool dal and cooked raw mango and set aside.

(Tip:Do not add excess water while cooking the dal. Mango dal is best when it is thick)

3. Heat oil in a vessel, and add all the seasoning ingredients in the given sequence. Then add slit green chilli and curry leaves. 

4. Now transfer the mashed raw mango into this vessel and cook for 2 mins.

5. Next add the mashed dal. Then add turmeric, salt, jaggery, chilli powder, methi powder and mix well. Cook for 7-10 mins on low heat till all the ingredients mix well.

6. Serve with a dollop of ghee with hot steamed rice along with papad on the side!

Sabudana Khichdi/ Saggubiyyam upma

Sago or Sabudana is a common ingredient used in desserts and snacks during festive season in India.  Sago is extracted from sago palm trees and is packaged in the form of pearls. It is a starchy low-fat staple, which is full of carbohydrates and gives a quick boost of energy. It has a great cooling effect on the body and is easy to digest. Sago boiled in milk and flavored with sugar and cardamom is served to reduce stomach inflammation.

Sabudana khichdi is a very simple dish made with sago and peanuts that is served as breakfast in Maharashtrain house holds. It is a perfect dish during religious fasting days as it gives the required boost of energy from the carbohydrates in sago and protein content in the peanuts.
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Ingredients:
Sago/Sabudana – 2 cups (soaked for 2-3hrs)

Roasted peanuts – 3 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Sugar – 1 tsp

Potato – 1 medium size (cut into small cubes and boiled)

Green chilli – 2 No’s

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1/s tsp

Coriander – 2 sprigs (chopped)

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Turmeric – 1/s tsp

Oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

Soaking the Sago

1. Wash the sago thoroughly in a bowl under water till all the white residue is washed away.

2. Fill water in the bowl till all the sago is completely immersed and let it soak for 2-3 hrs.

(Tip: I used small size sago pearls, the soaking time may differ based on the type of sago used)

3. To check if the sago has swollen enough, press one ball in between your fingers, it should be spongy.

4. Squeeze the sago, drain out all the water and place the drained sago on a plate. Make sure the sago pearls are not too mushy, they shouldn’t stick to each other.

Mixing the khichdi

1. Roast the peanuts and grind them into a coarse powder.

2. Add the peanut powder, salt and sugar to the sago and mix with your hand.

3. In a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds, jeera, urad dal. Next add green chilli, potato and curry leaves.

4. Once the potato is slightly fried, transfer the sabudana into the pan and mix well. Cook for 3-4 mins by stirring continuously.

5. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

Paneer Paratha

Preparation time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

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Paneer, also known as cottage cheese in other parts of the world is widely used in North Indian cuisine. It is made from the protein part of milk by coagulating milk and separating out the water.  Paneer is a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin-D thus aiding in bone growth, muscle growth and overall health. (100gm paneer = 72 k.cal)

Many people avoid paneer believing that it is fattening and high in cholesterol. The paneer packets that are available in supermarkets have cream or malai added to it to improve its taste and texture, thus more fattening. Go with fat-free variety or homemade paneer  as it does not have any fat content. It is always recommended to use less oil or ghee while cooking paneer to keep it healthy and retain its goodness.

There cannot be a healthier use of paneer than stuffed paratha. Its goodness is retained, we need not add ghee or oil to the parathas as paneer already makes them sof and its yummm !!

Ingredients:

For the flour

Wheat flour (Atta) – 4 cups

Salt – 1/2 tsp

Ajwain/Carom seeds – 1 tsp

Water – as required for mixing the dough

For the stuffing

Grated Paneer – 3 cups

Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp

Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp

Coriander – 2 tsp (finely chopped)

Salt – 1/2 tsp

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl add the wheat flour, salt, ajwain seeds and mix. Add water slowly and knead into a smooth dough. Cover and set aside 20 mins.

2. In another bowl add all the stuffing ingredients and mix. Roll this into 4-5 lemon size balls.

3. Now roll the dough into balls slightly bigger than the stuffing.

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4. On a roti base, dust some dry flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a small donut size circle. Place the stuffing at the centre, and seal the stuffing inside by pulling all the sides together, making a ball. Repeat and make all the stuffed balls.

5.  Slightly flatten the stuffed dough between your hands. Now, dust some flour on the roti base and place the stuffed dough on it with the sealed side on top. Roll it into a big circle of about 7-8 inch diameter. If the stuffing starts sticking, sprinkle some more dough and continue rolling.

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6. Place the paratha on a tava/flat griddle on medium heat and cook for a minute till brown spots appear. Flip it over and similarly cook the other side. Apply ghee/butter on each side and cook for another minute till both the sides turn slightly brown.

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7. Serve with Curd or Pickle.

Carrot Peas Capsicum curry

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

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Winter is when carrots and peas are abundantly available and I love to use them in all the ways possible.  Carrot, peas and capsicum curry is not only very appealing to the eye, but also a perfect nutritional combination. The vitamins in carrots, carbs and protein in peas and antioxidant properties of capsicum make this dish a powerhouse of vital nutrients.

This dish goes well with rice, roti or puri’s. You can also use it as a stuffing for making kati rolls. Here’s the recipe..

Ingredients:

Carrot – 3-4 (cut into cubes)

Capsicum – 1 ( cut into squares)

Fresh/Frozen Green peas – 1 cup

Green chilli – 2

Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Jeera –  1/2 tsp

Urad dal – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – pinch

Salt – 1 tsp (vary as per taste)

Roasted peanut powder – 2 tbsp

Fresh coconut gratings – 1 tbsp

Coriander – 1 sprig

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Method:

1. Wash and chop all the veggies.

2. If you are using fresh green peas, boil for 5-10 mins.

3. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, jeera and urad dal.

4. Next add green chilli, carrots, capsicum and boiled peas.

5. Add turmeric, salt and cook under cover for 10 mins. Sprinkle water if required.

(Tip: I like all my curries dry, if you wish to make it like a gravy, you can add 1 tbsp of tomato puree here)

6.  Once the vegetables are cooked add roasted peanut powder, fresh coconut gratings, mix well and let it cook for 1 minute.

7. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or rotis.