Monday, 11 May 2015

Mysore sihi kootu

Sihi kootu is one mixed vegetable gravy which finds a regular place in our menu. I remember clipping this recipe from a kannada magazine long time ago.
This mysore style kootu is prepared in and around Bengaluru and Mysuru region. It is one of the tasty mixed vegetable curry of Karnataka and is a popular vegetable and dal medley featured in any Karnataka Brahmin's house.You can find this in their wedding feast too.
Kootu requires specific kind of vegetables to get that special taste. Use only those vegetables that are specified in the ingredient list. Sweet tasting vegetables with mild odor are used. There are two versions of this curry-  Sihi kootu  with red chillies and MeNasina kootu which also has pepper corns and white poppy seeds for extra punch. There is no souring agent added in this. If souring agent like tamarind, tomatoes, yoghurt are added then it called HuLi.

About other mix vegetable gravies-
Like various regional parts of India ,Karnataka too has many mixed vegetable curries.Very few ingredients go into the masala paste and so vegetables should be carefully selected. Bitter tasting  or slimy vegetables are not used.

Sihi kootu, Yogiratna, & Tarkari huLi from Mysuru region and Gajbaje & Valval from mangalore region, have less masala these tastes good with both rice, chapatti or puris .These are prepared using  sweet tasting gourd, beans and root vegetables. Gajbaje has around 50 such vegetables and making them is one of the most interesting and satisfying project for me.
Vegetable saagu and Vegetable kurma from Bengaluru hotels are spicy  and they also include vegetables like radish, kohlrabi, cauliflower.

Vegetable rassa from North Karnataka is delicious with any millet roti  or puris.

For the dal-
100g  (150 ml) split pigeon pea (tuvar dal, arhar dal)
¼ tsp turmeric pd
½ tsp oil (coconut or peanut or sunflower or ricebran)
For the ground masala paste-
4 red chillies
½ tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp split black gram (urad dal)/ split chickpea (chana dal)
1 tsp white poppy seeds/ rice grains
½ cup (100ml) grated coconut
2 cups mixed vegetables choose a few from this list – Beans, Carrot, Ridgegourd, Yam (suran/ elephant foot), potatoes, drumstick/moringa pod, green peas, winter melon/ petha / ash gourd, ivy gourd / tendli, yellow pumpkin, malabar cucumber, chayote squash/ chow-chow.
½ cup chopped dill (leaves and tender stems )
Other ingredients
1 tsp Jaggery /sugar/brown sugar
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
For tempering
2 tsp oil or ghee
½ tsp mustard
Fistful or peanuts
½ tsp asafoetida/ hing


Lightly roast  pepper corns, urad dal and when urad dal is golden, add broken byadgi red chillies and fry for few secs.
Lastly add poppy seeds/ rice, fry for few secs and switch off the heat.
Put this into a mixer jar along with grated coconut.

Grind into a fine paste adding about ¼ cup water. 

Soak tur dal for 1 hr and rinse it well with fresh water. Pressure cook the dal with turmeric and oil.
You can add french beans, carrot, ivy gourd, green peas into this dal.

Cook separately other vegetables (soft and easy to cook) along with salt and jaggery so that they do not become mushy. 
Take boiled tuvar dal, cooked veggies, chopped dill  and ground masala paste in a big thick bottomed vessel and boil well. You can add curry leaves at this stage or later in the tempering.
Add water to make it into a thick gravy of pouring consistency.

Heat  ghee and add  mustard seeds and  fist ful of peanuts. When they start popping switch off the heat and add asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour this tempering over the kootu.

You can turn this into spicy menasina kootu by using 1 tsp pepper corns and 2 dry red chilli instead of 4 dry red chilli.Use poppy seeds instead of rice grains .Vegetables used in this are ½ cup French beans, 1 cup Hyacinth beans (avare kaalu/ ), 2 cups amaranth leaves and 2 peeled and chopped potatoes. 
Try out this recipe. It's one of the beautiful way to cook a balanced meal and you will rarely come across this in restaurants. 
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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Vaishnav mooli sambharia - radish with fenugreek seeds, ginger and chickpea flour

Most of us like to cook elaborate meals on some days. But on busy weekdays when the schedule is tight I am sure you will appreciate some simple recipes such as these. This dry stir-fry is excellent with roti. Looks attractive in your lunch box too.

1.5 big radish  or 2 medium sized (peeled and chopped into finger chip sized  or smaller cubes)
You can use its tender leaves too. Totally it should measure about 500ml.
3 tbsp chick pea flour or besan
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut (can use frozen)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves ( use this only when you are not adding radish leaves)
3/4 tsp Salt

For tempering-
2 tbsp oil ( I have used coconut oil, as we are cooking with coconut oil this month)
1 green chilli, chopped into big pieces
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida pd (hing)

Masala -
2 tsp coriander- cumin pd
1/2 tsp red chilli pd
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi pd )
1 tsp ginger paste (you can use frozen)
1/2 tsp amchur pd ( do not use this if you love radish and its taste)

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Put the fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and when mustard starts popping add green chillies and asafoetida. ( take care as some times seeds from chilli may jump out).

 Put radish pieces over the tempering and also add 3/4 tsp salt. Mix well.

 The leaves will start shrinking. Cook on a medium flame covering the vessel with a lid.
 Stir frequently till tender. It will take about 8-10 mins.

Add the remaining masala pd and ginger. Mix well.

 Finally sprinkle the besan all over the vegetable. Do not stir and cook for another 5 mins on a low flame keeping it covered.

You can sprinkle little water around the edges if  you find the vegetable too dry as it might get stuck in the bottom.

 Stir well so that the radish gets a good coating of the masala.

Garnish with coriander leaves (if using) and grated coconut.

Note- If you are eating this after few hours then heat the vegetable for another 2-3 mins after adding coconut. This will stop the vegetable from spoiling.

For all those who come from cooking without kitchen-
You can make this using Instant chickpea masala pd for stir-fry.
Take oil, radish and salt in electric rice cooker pan.
Cover and cook till radish is cooked.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp of Instant masala pd over this and cover and cook for 5 mins.
Mix well till the pd coats the vegetables.

Try out this recipe.It's one of the beautiful way to cook radish. 
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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Indian freezer cooking menu plan-1( Dal makhani, Green peas kurma, Rajma paalak)

I have adapted 3 of my regular recipes for once a week/ month cooking menu. These are useful when you want to cook in bulk and freeze for later use. As pulses and leafy vegetables freeze well, I cook them into gravies and freeze them. Shift them from the freezer to the refrigerator shelf,  6-8 hrs before you need it.
1. Cook them in your weekend and use them for week day dinners. Or
2. Sometimes I prepare 3 gravies in the weekdays so that I can get the much needed leisure or finish other errands on weekends.

Following this menu plan is easier if you pre-prep your vegetables after the trip to the grocers. Stock up the ingredients and use your food processor to cook this. Wash and cut leafy vegetables, ginger, garlic and freeze in small portions. Also have some boxes of grated coconut, tomato-onion masala and mint-coriander chutney in your freezer. Just by adding these in your preparations you can create a completely new serving.

Cook the beans in the pressure cooker or use canned pre-cooked kidney beans. Make 1 batch of tomato-onion gravy and use 1/3 of it for each of the 3 gravy. You could give a special touch to each gravy by adding a special ingredient at the time of cooking or reheating.
   I have adapted Tomato green peas kurma and Rajma palak from chef Sanjay Tumma's Vahrehvah video's in Youtube. If you want independent recipes for the above gravies then you can watch his videos.

Things you need to keep ready

 1. Soak 200ml rajma/kidney beans for 6-8 hrs drain out the water and rinse in fresh water. Pressure cook with 4 cups of water and 1.5 tsp salt till soft. Drain the liquid and do not discard it.You can use the liquid in which you had cooked to make the gravy. Under cooked beans are harmful so take care to cook the kidney beans until they are soft.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, use canned, drained (because it has more salt) and rinsed beans.

2. Soak ½ cup(100ml) split lentils (split urad dal or chana dal) for 2-3 hrs. Then sieve and rinse in fresh water by keeping the sieve under running water. Pressure cook with 2 cups water.

3. Soak 200ml dried green peas for 6-8 hrs drain out the water and rinse in fresh water. Add 3 cups of water add Pressure cook for 1 whistle and then cook uncovered till peas are soft. If you pressure cook it for more than 1 whistle, the peas will become mushy. Using dried green peas gives you a thick creamier gravy but you can use frozen or fresh green peas too.


Daal makhani or daal maharani
  • 1.5 cup cooked rajma/kidney beans + 1 cup water/water in which it was cooked
  • 1 cup split urad beans with skin- chilkewali urad daal (for dal makhani) or split chick pea- chana daal (for daal maharani)
  • 1/3 recipe of tomato onion masala (about 200 ml)
Special touch-
  • ½ tsp garam masala pd
  • 1 tsp aniseed (saunf/ badishep) toasted and crushed
  • 100ml milk or fresh cream
  • Tempering of ½ tsp mustard, ½ tsp  cumin,1/4 tsp asafoetida in 2 tsp oil

Split lentil and kidney beans
Adding tomato-onion masala

roasted saunf/ aniseed

Dal makhani

Palak rajma

1.5 cups cooked rajma

200 ml cooked, chopped frozen spinach (you can put freshly chopped spinach leaves too)

1/3 recipe of tomato onion masala (about 200 ml)

Special touch-

100 ml yoghurt or homemade curd/dahi(optional. Add if you want a creamier gravy)

Tempering of ½ tsp cumin, chopped green chilli or ground green chilli paste

Tomato green peas kurma

1/2 of the cooked dry green peas (you can use fresh green peas too)

1/3 recipe of tomato onion masala (about 200 ml)

Special touch-

100 ml yoghurt or homemade curd/dahi

½ tsp sugar

100 ml chopped green part of spring onions/ scallions

Tempering of 10-12 curry leaves, 1 kalpasi (dagad phool- it’s a lichen used as a spice, or use 1/2 tsp  goda masala or pulav masala instead)

click on the picture to see kalpasi kept in the bowl on the right
spring onion/scallions added

Preparing individual gravy-
Heat oil and add the make a tempering by popping seeds, add any other ingredient given for each tempering. Fry for a few secs. Add the cooked beans along with its liquid, tomato onion masala, salt and cook for some time (about 20 mins on slow heat). When it is thoroughly heated and the beans absorbs all the flavor add beaten yoghurt or milk and mix well. Simmer for another 5 mins. Repeat the process for the other 2 gravy.

Transfer this lentil/ daal into a shallow wide bowl and cool it completely. Shift into a freezer friendly container. You can refrigerate this for 2 days or freeze it for 3 months.

  1. If you are serving it for a party make a fresh cumin/jeera tadka/ tempering and pour it over the dal after reheating.
  2. Freeze left over cooked green peas and kidney beans in freezer . Use this for preparing Rajma chawal- kidney beans and rice or Rajma matar- kidney beans and green peas in your next menu plan.
  3. You can add water when reheating the thawed lentil curry if it is too thick.
  4.  Cooked beans and tomato onion masala contain salt so taste the gravy and add salt only if required.
  5.  Instead of cooking completely you can just cook beans, prepare tomato-onion masala  and save them in portions. Just mix them and reheat adding tempering and special ingredients on the day you need.

  This recipe is really useful. Share it with your friends who are interested in Indian inspired bulk cooking.
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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tomato-onion masala- freezer friendly

Making tomato- onion masala in bulk and freezing this into small portions cuts down your daily cooking time, it also saves you a lot of clean up. It's time to take out your food processor or slicer from the back of your cupboard.


4 tbsp oil
3 cups onion (sliced lengthwise- about 600 ml)
6-7 tbsp tomato puree (thick puree from tetrapack) or 3 cups sliced or roughly crushed tomatoes
1-2 tbps ginger paste (you can use 1 cube of frozen paste)
2 tsp garlic paste (optional)
3 bay leaves (halved or quartered)
1 '' cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp red chilli pd & 2 tsp coriander pd- you can add these now or later when you are preparing any recipe.


Heat oil and put in cinnamon and bay leaves.
Add garlic and ginger paste and fry till they start turning golden brown.

Fry onions till soft. Add 1 tsp of salt when you are frying as this will quicken the process.

You can add tomato puree or sliced tomatoes, chilli pd, coriander pd and turmeric pd. Stir-fry for few mins if you have used tomato puree. If you have added chopped tomatoes then cover and cook till sliced tomatoes turn mushy.
Cool this in a wide plate or a shallow bowl. When it is completely cool divide this into 200 ml portions and freeze in labelled airtight plastic boxes or zip log bags. You can freeze this for many months. Do not freeze it in a big box, because each time you want a portion you will have to defrost it and refreeze the remaining and this will spoil the masala. Alternative method is to cut the frozen masala into small portions using a sharp knife.

Uses- You can prepare many gravies like chole, rajma, green peas kurma, dal makhani and base for baigan bhurta, egg curry, paneer bhurjee, vegetable upma, pav bhaji, marinara sauce, tomato rice and hundreds of other tomato- onion based cooking.

This saves you lot of time and energy when you are cooking for a party or bulk cooking to prepare freezable gravies.

  This recipe is really useful. Share it.

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