Brinjal Gothsu / Eggplant Gothsu

Gothsu is a traditional South Indian side dish mainly used as an accompaniment for idli, dosa, upma and Pongal. It is made with brinjals as the primary ingredient as the smoky aroma of the vegetable combines well with the tamarind and the tempering of lentils. The Indian spices are brought to the forefront in this tangy gravy.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 big eggplant/ brinjal [This is the big purple eggplant that is available in Indian stores. Some would identify it as bhartha baingan.]
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped [If you use small onions / shallots, then take around 12 of them]
  • 1/2 cup tamarind extract
  • 1 tbsp chana dal/ bengal gram dal
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp sambhar powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander for garnish
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Brinjal Gothsu

Brinjal Gothsu


Method:

  • Roast the brinjal on an open and low flame after applying cooking oil on it. For ease of cooking, pierce the brinjal in multiple locations with a fork.
  • After a few minutes, the brinjal will shrink in size – at this point switch off the flame. Wait for it to cool down and peel off the skin of the brinjal. Once the skin is peeled, rinse the brinjal in a bowl of water to prevent the smoky smell from overpowering the dish.
  • Once the peeled brinjal has cooled down, mash the brinjal nicely by hand for at least 10 mins till you can feel a smooth texture. This can also be done in a mixer but I prefer doing it by hand. This also helps me to keep a check in case there are any insects in the brinjal.
  • Now in a pan add a little oil and then add the chana dal. Once the dal turns golden brown, add in the coriander seeds and red chillies. Roast the mixture well and switch off the flame. Let it cool for around 10 mins. Then pulse them into a fine powder in a mixer.
  • Take oil in a pan and wait for it to warm up a bit on a low flame. Add the chopped onions and saute them till they turn translucent.
  • Once the onions turn into a light pink colour, add the tamarind extract, sambhar powder, asafoetida and salt. Add very little water at this stage. Stir them well and let this boil on a low flame for around 7 mins.
  • Now add in the ground powder from the mixer along with a cup of water and allow this to boil for another 5 mins.
  • Finally add in the mashed brinjals to this gravy and mix well. Add in another cup of water and salt at this stage. If the consistency is too thick, you can balance the water accordingly. Let this boil for another 5 mins. If you cover the vessel with a lid, it will cook and boil faster.
  • Brinjal Gothsu

    Brinjal Gothsu

  • Before serving, add the sesame oil and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Tastes good when served hot.

Tips:

  • Make sure you get the right brinjal for the recipe – do not use the smaller version.
  • Use a low flame to roast the brinjal and keep turning it to make sure it’s roasted evenly.
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Chayote Sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi

Chayote is a light green, pear-shaped tropical squash with coarse wrinkles and can be used in a variety of preparations. It is a good source of dietary fiber and has Vitamin C in it. Commonly known as chow chow, this ingredient works well in dry as well as gravy based curries. The mild flavour of chayote makes it perfect to take on the addition of spices which seep into it to give an enhanced taste. While peeling chayote, you can apply oil to your palms for ease. Make sure you peel it well, as the outer skin is rough. For those staying in Singapore, chayote is available in NTUC and the other supermarket stores.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 600-700 gms (2 medium sized) chayote, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 big onion, finely diced
  • 1-1.5 cups tomato puree (homemade or ready made)
  • 1-2 inches of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder>
  • 0.5 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp oil

Chayote sabzi

Chayote sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi


Method:

  • Place a pressure cooker over a medium-low flame and add 2 tbsp of oil to it.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Add the onions and cook gently till they are soft, but not browned.
  • Once the onions are soft, add in the tomato puree and cook till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now add coriander, kitchen king and red chilli powders followed by salt and turmeric.
  • Cook covered, stirring occasionally till the mixture thickens and releases oil.
  • Add the chayote pieces and mix well till the pieces are fully coated with the tomato-spice mixture.
  • Add 1 – 2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want the final gravy) and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • Switch off the flame and let the cooker cool down.
  • Taste the chayote and gravy and adjust the seasoning.
  • Add garam masala and crushed dried fenugreek leaves.
  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • The amount of water you have to add depends on the chayote type you are using as the water content may vary.
  • Do not overcook the chayote as it will turn into mush.

Cauliflower in Yogurt Gravy / Dahi Wali Gobhi

My travel tales generally have a strong association with food. As a child, I used to travel to North India for vacations. I clearly remember yogurt was extensively used to make the gravy for side dishes that go along with rotis. Cauliflower is a vegetable that blends easily into any form and is generally liked by everyone. The yogurt gravy in this recipe adds a tangy flavour along with the kick of the spices. The florets soak in the spicy essence of the gravy and end up being a delight on the taste buds.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 400 gms cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup yogurt/dahi
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp gram flour/besan
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander to garnish

Cauliflower in yogurt gravy

Cauliflower in yogurt gravy


Method:

  • Wash the cauliflower and cut them into small florets. Use the picture below as a size guide.
  • Washed cauliflower florets

    Washed cauliflower florets

  • Soak the florets in warm salted water for about 15 mins. After 15 mins, drain away the water to remove impurities. Lay the florets out on a kitchen towel so that excess water is absorbed.
  • Heat oil in a pan and let it warm a bit. Then add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add in the cumin seeds.
  • Add the grated ginger and saute well.
  • Now add in the cauliflower florets and turmeric powder and mix them well so that the yellow colour spreads evenly.
  • Next, add the green peas, salt and 2 cups of water and cover with a lid after mixing well. Cook this stage on a low flame.
  • While this is cooking, take a bowl add the curd, a bit of salt and gram flour and mix well. I used Greek yogurt which is a bit thicker than homemade yogurt. Adjust the consistency of yogurt as you see fit.
  • After the florets have cooked through, remove the lid and add in the yogurt mixture to the pan. Also add the garam masala powder.
  • Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Let this cook for another 5 mins. You need not cover the pan at this stage.
  • Switch off the flame and serve hot with rotis. Also goes great with steamed white rice.

Tips:

  • Don’t overcook the cauliflower. You want them to retain their shape.
  • Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you may need to add some water to thin the gravy.

Spinach Corn Sabzi / Palak Corn Sabzi

Spinach is a vegetable that is very rich in iron. It is recommended to include spinach as a part of your diet on a regular basis. Spinach is used in gravy side dishes in Indian cooking. One of my favourite combinations is to use spinach with corn. The sweetness of corn brings some order to the fiery Indian spices used in this dish. Since it’s a gravy dish, you can also easily transform it into a Spinach Corn Rice that can be served with papads or wafers. It also works beautifully as a lunchbox recipe. Try it out and you will become a fan of this combination!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 2 packets of spinach
  • 1.5 cups corn kernels
  • 3/4 can of tomato puree or 3-4 tomatoes blended in a mixer
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Spinach corn sabzi

Spinach corn sabzi


Method:

  • Wash the spinach leaves well (at least 3-4 times) and cut off the stems. Cut the leaves into big pieces.
  • Fill a vessel filled with water and heat it till it boils. When the water starts bubbling vigorously, add the cut spinach leaves and let them boil for 3-4 minutes. Switch off the flame. Now wash the leaves immediately in ice-cold water – this helps in preserving the green colour of spinach. This process is called blanching.
  • Meanwhile boil the corn kernels in salted hot water for at least 10 mins. Alternatively, you can pressure cook the corn kernels for 3-4 whistles depending on the rawness of the kernels. Frozen corn kernels take more time than fresh corn kernels.
  • In a blender / mixer, puree the blanched spinach leaves into a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
  • Take a pan, add oil and cumin seeds in it. Once the cumin seeds splutter, add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn light pink in colour.
  • Next, add the tomato puree and salt and mix well. Let this cook on low flame for 5 mins. The rawness of tomatoes should not be felt in the paste.
  • Once the tomato puree is cooked through, add in turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder and mix the spices well.
  • Add the spinach puree, cover the pan and let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Finally, add the boiled corn kernels and cook for another 3 mins.
  • Switch off the flame and serve hot with rotis. Also goes great with steamed white rice.

Tips:

  • Make sure you have ice-cold water ready once you add the spinach leaves into the boiling water.
  • Do not overcook the spinach leaves. Once they become a rich, dark green, turn off the flame immediately.
  • Make sure the corn is tender when you add it in. There’s not much cooking time given for the corn in the final stage, and it may taste raw.

Beetroot and Paneer Curry

As I explore cooking, I have come to realize the versatility of beetroot in curry and dessert preparations. Apart from the immense health benefits, it cooks quickly and can be used either grated or diced – which adds a lot of texture to dishes. Paneer acts as a good ingredient in gravy dishes as it soaks in the flavours of the curry beautifully. This also adds variety to the standard lunchbox recipes as it is an unusual combination which has a great balance of taste and texture. For vegans, you can substitute tofu instead of paneer and it tastes equally good.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 2 beetroots, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 250 gms paneer, cubed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala /Kitchen King powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil

Beetroot and Paneer Curry

Beetroot and Paneer Curry


Method:

  • Take a pressure cooker and add oil in it. Add the beetroot cubes, onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and salt in it. Add 1.5 cups of water and close the lid. On a low flame, let the cooker steam out 3 whistles. Then switch off the flame. After this, wait for the pressure of the cooker to release naturally.
  • Open the lid and add in the coconut milk, paneer, coriander powder and garam masala powder and bring the curry to a boil on medium flame. Stir the gravy so that the added spices coat the paneer and beetroot nicely. If the gravy seems thick, add a little water as per your judgement.
  • This curry is absolutely delicious and goes great with rice and rotis.

Tips:

  • Don’t add too much water. If you want a thinner gravy, use a combination of coconut milk and water.
  • For a deeper taste, cook on a very low flame once you add the paneer and spices and let it rest for some time before eating.

Mushroom Peas Masala/Mushroom Matar Masala

Mushrooms are healthy and nutritious for the body. They add great taste and texture to dishes. Served in a gravy / sauce base, they play well with Indian spices. They pair very nicely with peas to create a wonderful flavour combination. I also know that among vegetarians there are many who do not like mushrooms. The advantage of this mushroom masala curry dish is that the taste of mushrooms gets camouflaged in the onion-tomato gravy. You might actually like mushrooms served like this. Mushroom and peas form a winning dish – give it a try!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1.5 tbsp cashews
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

Mushroom peas masala

Mushroom peas masala


Method:

  • Soak cashews in water for 15 mins. Using a mixer, blend into a smooth paste.
  • Separately, blend the tomatoes into a smooth paste and set aside.
  • Take a saucepan and add oil in it. Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  • Add the chopped onions in it with a little bit of salt and ginger-garlic paste and sauté it till translucent.
  • Now add the tomato puree and let the mixture simmer on low flame till the raw taste of tomatoes goes away.
  • Once the mixture turns semi-dry, add in the cashew paste along with garam masla, red chilli powder, and Kitchen King powder. Add in 1/2 cup of water and let the gravy come to a boil.
  • Meanwhile dry sauté the mushrooms in a different pan. Let it shrink and release water. Once the mixture looks dry, and there’s no water in the pan, switch off the flame.
  • Now add the sautéed mushrooms and green peas into the cashew based gravy and add another 1/2 cup of water. Leave this gravy to simmer on low flame for 10 mins. Switch off the flame.
  • Finally add the coriander leaves as garnish. This gravy dish is best served with warm rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • Make sure you sauté the mushrooms well. For an extra layer of flavour, you can add a little butter and toss the mushrooms in it once they dry out.
  • Mushrooms are great at absorbing flavours. Play with the spices to get a taste you like.

Yellow Pumpkin and Spinach Sambhar

I like to use yellow pumpkins extensively while cooking – they are versatile and can be used in sweet as well as savoury preparations. In South India, Sambhar is a very common dish made using lentils and / or coconut. In this version of Sambhar I have trimmed down both these ingredients and made a non-traditional version. There was no compromise from the taste aspect as this dish turned out to be delicious. You will be surprised what a good combination yellow pumpkin and spinach make with each other!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients for Sambhar:

  • 1 medium size pumpkin, peeled and diced into medium cubes
  • 3 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of tamarind extract
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for curry paste:

  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Yellow Pumpkin and spinach kozhambu

Yellow Pumpkin and Spinach kozhambu


Method:

  • Dry roast the chana dal and urad dal till golden brown in a small fry pan. Let it cool down for 10 mins.
  • Grind the roasted dal along with ingredients for curry paste into a smooth paste. Use a little water during the grinding process.
  • Now take oil in a vessel and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add in the curry leaves and saute them for a minute. Add in the diced pumpkin cubes along with some salt to taste and mix well.
  • Add the tamarind extract such that the pumpkin cubes are immersed in the tamarind water (you may need to add a little water). Cover the pan with a lid and allow the pumpkin to cook on a low to medium flame.
  • Once they are just soft, stir in the spinach leaves, cover the vessel with a lid and let it cook till the spinach is just wilted.
  • Ready to serve state

    Ready to serve state

  • Now add in the curry paste along with 1 cup of water and let it come to boil on low flame. Then turn off the flame and let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes (covered with a lid). Serve it hot with steamed rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • Make sure to let the dal cool before grinding.
  • When grinding, make a smooth paste – otherwise the final texture will be grainy.