Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Superlative Subji - Ridgegourd Curry

ridgegourd curry

ridge gourd curry with spinach and cottage cheese chappatis

Why is it that everything with little kids is in the superlative? Everything they say/do is a matter of extreme emergency.

Take this scenario - they are laying in the sun, enjoying the unusual warm weather. "I'm burning hot! My legs are on fire.."

or in the evening, when it turns a bit chilly and the windows are still open "Mom, its freezing cold!! I feel like I am turning into ice!!!"

As they burst in the through the door, back from school - "It is like 500 degrees outside... we have to play outside, it is the best day of the summer!!"

They never get just plain hungry. They go from "I'm so stuffed" to "I'm really starving...when's dinner?"

Are all kids like this? or have I been blessed with a couple of really super, really cute, really adorable, but really dramatic little rascals?

Well, I'm sure any mom in the world with agree with me that their kids are just the cutest, bestest, goodest (oh yes, those are real words, ask any 5 year old!!) kids in the whole entire world.

On that note, here is a superlative curry recipe. I have been on a quest lately to make super nutritious meal for my family. I'm trying to pack as much nutritive value into each meal because I'm convinced that in this season of colds/flus, every body needs to build up their immunity the natural way.

This curry is full of vitamin rich vegetables, cooked with very little oil and robustly flavored with sambhar powder. The sambhar powder is a key ingredient in this curry and imparts a really wonderful spicy smoky flavor to the dish. The jaggery adds a mellow sweetness and packs a lot of iron. This curry goes well with chappatis, rotis or plain steamed rice. I served it with spinach-cottage cheese chappatis to add some iron, protein and calcium into the meal.

So here it is... a super good, super easy, super nutritious, super yummy - ridgegourd curry.


clockwise from right: ridgegourd, baby new potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes

1 medium ridgegourd or 2 small ones
2 small baby potatoes
1 small carrot
2 ripe tomatoes
1 small onion
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
3 tsp sambhar powder or curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 small lump of jaggery (or substitute 1 tsp brown sugar)
salt to taste
  1. Chop all the vegetables into medium cubes
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wide pan
  3. When it gets hot, add the cumin seeds
  4. When the cumin seeds are roasted, add the chopped onions
  5. Saute the onions well. Add the sambhar powder and turmeric powder.
  6. Add the jaggery and salt and fry well. The sambhar powder should smell roasted and wonderful at this point. Be careful not to burn it.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes turn pulpy.
  8. Add the carrots, potatoes, ridgegourd pieces and stir well.
  9. Cover and let simmer in its own juices till all the vegerables are done.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with chappatis, rotis, parathas or naan.

Here are some more superlative ridge gourd curry recipes from fellow bloggers: Nupur, Indira, Laxmi, Santhi. I'm sure there are a lot more out there!!

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Camouflaged Curry - Vegetarian Mutton Kurma

vegetarian mutton kurma

Vegetarian Mutton Kurma

My very first meal in the United States was an unforgettable experience. The office building in which I worked, had a cafeteria, a deli and a pizzeria. For lunch, my colleagues took me to the pizzeria where the individual pizzas were made to order. The aromas wafting throughout the room were incredible and I was salivating at the thought of biting into one of those luscious looking pizzas.

I ordered a pizza with pepper and onions and when I got it, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it. I couldn't see any peppers in the pizza and the onions seemed very crispy. I didn't really like the onions too much and picked them out of the pizza. Conversation around the lunch table turned to eating habits and I mentioned that I was vegetarian. A sudden hush fell around the table. Then someone piped up - "if you are vegetarian, why are you eating a Pepperoni Pizza?? "

Yikes!!! what I thought were strange looking, crispy onions were pepperoni slices.

I could not take a single bite of the pizza after that and I can tell you that to this day, many many years later, I am always very careful to order my pizza with "Onions" and "Pepper" - in that order - lest it be confused with "Pepper'n'onion" or Pepperoni!!!

Now, whenever I mention that I am vegetarian, my kids always yell "No, you aren't..remember the time when you ate pepperoni??" and then I always have to launch into my little story.

Have you had any such embarrassing food incidents? I'd love to hear them!!

Here's a recipe for a "vegetarian" mutton kurma that I got from a little recipe booklet that came with my pressure cooker. Not having had real mutton, I cannot vouch for the muttonness of the dish, but I can tell you that the gravy is lip-smackingly good. The fake mutton pieces are delicious and a perfect foil for the spicy gravy.

Don't be daunted by the long list of ingredients. You just have to throw most of it in the blender and grind 'em up. The results are well worth it :)

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)
2-3 big ripe tomatoes
3 tsps chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of baking soda
2 big red onions
4 green chillies
4 cloves of garlic
1 cm piece of ginger
1 tsp poppy seeds (khuskhus)
1 tsp anise seeds (ajwain)
2 tsps coriander seeds (dhania)
2 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1 spring curry leaves
a handful of cilantro leaves for garnish
1 tsp ghee
oil for frying
salt to taste

  1. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp ghee and a big pinch of soda to the flour
  2. Knead into a chappati-like dough with water.
  3. Cover and let it rest for 3-4 hours (I only let it rest for 1/2 hour and it turns out fine)
  4. Make 1/2 inch thick rolls and steam the rolls for 15 minutes. I steamed it in a pressure cooker without the "weight" on top.
  5. When the rolls are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1/2 inch slices
  6. Deep fry the pieces till they are a lovely golden color.
  7. Half the rolls are eaten at this stage in our house!!!
  8. Grind the coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, anise seeds, onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies, chilli powder and turmeric to a smooth paste with very little water.
  9. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy bottom saucepan.
  10. Add the cinammon stick, cardamom pods(whole) and curry leaves
  11. Add the ground paste and fry till this a wonderful aroma emanates from it and you start getting really impatient
  12. Add the tomato pieces and fry till the tomatoes get cooked well.
  13. Add salt, peas and the fried mutton pieces and 1/2 a cup of water.
  14. Let simmer slowly till the dough pieces are as tender as you would like them.
  15. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with chappatis, rotis or rice.

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