Friday, February 27, 2015

Manathakkaali Kai Kara Kuzhambu | Manithakkali Puli Kuzhambu | Night Shade Fresh Berries Tamarind Curry

Manathakkaali Kai Kara Kuzhambu | Manithakkali Puli Kuzhambu | Night Shade Fresh Berries Tamarind Curry is a healthy tamarind based, spicy curry made with  fresh fruits of  Black Night Shade plant. Its botanical name is Solanum Nigrum and in Tamil, it is called Manathakkali or Manithakkali. The health benefits of this manathakkali are well known to everyone. It is very good in treating any ulcer especially mouth ulcer, good for diabetics, effective in de-worming, treating cold & cough, etc.

Whenever I buy this Manathakkali keerai, I usually select a bunch with lot of these fresh berries, sincerely pluck them out  which would be about 2-3  tablespoons at the maximum, keep it safe in the fridge and use while making kara kuzhambu along with other veggies. That is the love for these berries, I have. But now is the season to get these berries alone in large quantities in Chennai and I buy a cup to make this yummy kara kuzhambu with these berries alone.  The tangy & spicy gravy with the little bitterness of the berries tastes great with the hot steamed rice and roasted papad.
Many make this kara kuzhambu with dried manathakkali (manathakkali vatral) which I don’t like because of its highest salt content. But those who can’t get these fresh berries can make this gravy with the dried ones.

Here we go for the recipe.
  • Fresh Manathakkali   1 cup.
  • Shallots  – 5 Nos.
  • Green chilli ( slit into 2) – 1 No.
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Corinader powder – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Tamarind – gooseberry size
  • Salt to taste

To Roast & grind:
  • Shallots – 5 Nos
  • Garlic – 3 pods
  • Tomato – 1 No.
  • Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Jeera | cumin seeds – ½ tsp
  • Coconut gratings – 2 tbsp

For seasoning:
  • Gingelly Oil | cooking oil – 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
  • Mustard – 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds | vendhayam – ¼ tsp
  • Curry leaves – few

  1. Clean manathakkali from any  leaves & sticks and wash very well in running water 3 times  and keep aside.
  2. Soak tamarind in ½ cup water and squeeze the juice.
  3. In a tsp of oil, add the items given “To roast & grind” except coconut gratings  and fry for 2 minutes & allow it to cool. Grind this with coconut gratings into a fine paste by adding little water.
  4. In a kadai, heat oil and season with the items given “For seasoning”.
  5. Then add onion, green chilli & manathakkali and sauté for 5 minutes in simmer.
  6. Add all masala  powders and sauté till the raw smell of masala goes off.
  7. Add the tamarind juice & salt and bring it to boil.
  8. Finally add the ground masala paste and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Switch off  & serve.

Healthy,  flavourful  Manathakkali Kai kara Kuzhambu is ready to serve. It tastes good with hot steamed rice & appalam. We enjoyed this curry with Dhal Spinach!

  • Try to use shallots & gingelly oil which add unique taste & flavour to the gravy.
  • Be sure to sauté the berries in oil (step 5) which will reduce the bitterness of the berries a bit.
  • You can add a piece of jaggery at the end.
  • You can skip coconut gratings if you don’t like to add.
  • While using dried berries, make sure to wash very well and keep an eye while adding salt to the gravy.

Tags: Manathakkali kai curry recipe, How to use manathakkali kai for making kuzhambu? Healthy Kuzhambu recipes, South Indian kuzhambu recipes, Manathakkali kai puli kuzhambu recipe, Manithakkai kara kuzhambu recipe, Night shade fresh berries gravy, Wonder berries tamarind curry, Manathakkali kai gravy, Kuzhambu varieties, Vegetarian curry recipes, Manathakkali Recipes, Chettinad Recipes, Chettinad style kuzhambu recipes
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Puffed Phool Makhana | Roasted Fox Nuts | Popped Lotus Seeds

Puffed Phool Makhana | Roasted Fox Nuts | Popped Lotus Seeds is a  healthy snack to munch on with hot tea without any guilt since it is very low in calories. The lotus seeds are the seeds of lotus plant, as the name says and the plant normally grows in wet lands. These seeds are very popular in North India and in some of the Asian countries. In Northen India, these seeds are used to prepare recipes on vrat | fasting days just like sabhudhana | javvarisi is used. These seeds are rich in all essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals & antioxidants. Hence it can be consumed by people of all age groups and gender.

The lotus  seeds are versatile to use in any of our Indian recipes for making kheer, curry, etc and can be fried just like our popcorn.  It is a popular street food in Northen India just as we see popcorn everywhere in southern part. But in taste as well as nutrition point of view, the puffed makhana are better than popcorn. Hence whenever you get a chance, buy a pack and try this simple recipe which will take hardly 10 minutes…
  • Phool makhana | Lotus seeds – 200 gms
  • Oil | butter – 1 tbsp
  • Red chilli powder – ¼ tsp
  • Pepper powder – ¼ tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Salt to taste.

  1. In a thick bottomed, broad kadai, add oil or butter and heat.
  2. To this add makhana and stir now and then.
  3. When the makhana gets heated up, it will become almost double in size.
  4. Keep on stirring till you get a fluffy, crunchy seeds.
  5. Finally add all the spice powders, switch off & mix well.
  6. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.

Enjoy when you feel like munching a snack with your hot cup of tea…

  • Adjust the quantity of spice powders as per your taste.
  • Normally 10 minutes of frying is enough to get a crunchy makhana but check before adding spice powders since some may take a longer time.

Tags: Roasted phool makhana recipe, How to prepare crunchy makhana at home?, Puffed lotus seeds recipe, Popped foxnuts, Vrat recipes with foxnuts, Pooja recipes using makhana, Roasted foxnuts, Roasted gorgon nuts, 
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Product Review for Eastern Condiments

I was really surprised when I got a message from Mr.Shylesh asking for unbiased review for some of  the products of  Eastern Condiments P Ltd. I gave a thought about it for quite some time. But what on earth will make foodies like us be happy other than tasting different flavours? In addition, I am being backed up with the best food critics, my son & my hub J...So I decided to take up that assignment. Few weeks ago, I’ve received a pack containing masala powders for Chicken Fry, Rajma Masala & Kuzhambu Masala form Eastern. It has taken such a long time to use their products and prepare a write-up since I got held up with so many other important works.

Now a days I’m  seeing many ready made masala powders lined up in the departmental stores at Chennai but I used to buy a very few which either would take a very long time for preparation or yield a large quantity that may take a long time to be consumed by a tiny family like us. I choose those few too from the same brand which I’ve been using them for many years. All other masala powders would be from my own kitchen. Frankly speaking I never tried any of the Eastern Masala products before even though they are in the industry for so many years. I think they have not concentrated much on the Tamil Nadu market when I started buying ready made masala. On going through their website I came to know that they are very famous in the Middle Eastern countries as well as USA. When I enquired some of my relatives and friends abroad, they told me so many of their products dominate the shelf space there.  So I’m lucky to try their products now.

First I tried their Chicken Fry masala as per the ‘majority votes’ I got.

I have never made chicken fry so quickly in my whole life. The only work involved is just cleaning the chicken and then marinate with the Eastern spice powder for half an hour. That’s it. You are ready to go. Fry in oil, drain, serve hot and enjoy with your family as a snack or side. It is as simple as that.

The masala powder is well balanced, that is, the spice and flavours are not overpowering. It is just like what we prepare at home, except for the salt. In the recipe, they have not mentioned about adding salt, as they have listed it in their ingredients list. But I found that the salt was totally missing in their masala and I’ve added it. Thank God that I’ve checked while marinating the chicken itself. My suggestion is to check out this salt part in their spice powder and mention about adding salt in the recipe on their masala packet.

On the whole as I said, it is like our home made masala, anyone can go for Eastern Chicken Fry Masala without any second thought. My biggest worry about ready made masala powders is about the food colour but in this I don’t find any in the ingredient list, may be Kashmiri chilli powder added gives the perfect colour. I recommend this spice powder for all those new cooks as well as those experienced who want to make some add on to their spread during busy days, parties, holidays, etc since it is just like frying pappads. This same spice powder can also be added for making vegetarian dishes like Gobi fry, Paneer fry, etc.

My rating for Chicken Fry Masala is  9/10

Next comes Kuzhambu Masala:
For using kuzhambu masala, I’ve prepared Vendaikkai Puli Kuzhambu and it was so yum & finger licking good. Since I’m good in making this vendaikkai puli kuzhambu, everyone who happen to taste my food is familiar with the taste of mine. Even when I specifically asked about any taste difference,  nobody could find out that I’ve used some other masala. I’ve checked with my friend at office and she could not notice any difference. Honestly I should say this is a home made masala which everyone prefers. 

Eastern have suggested this kuzhambu masala for so many kuzhambu varieties but I recommend this for all tamarind based curry like Puli kuzhambu. Vatha kuzhambu, milaku kuzhambu, Meen kuzhambu, Muttai kuzhambu, etc. My next try would be Meen kuzhamabu with the remaining Eastern kuzhambu masala powder.

My rating for this Eastern Kuzhambu Masala is 10/10.

Finally I made Rajma Masala yesterday for chapatti.
I have followed the procedure given on their packet to make Rajma Masala. In their Rajma Masala, garam masala powder dominates. On the whole masala flavour overpowers everything which I believe, will not be liked by many. The  colour of Rajma Masala powder is also not appealing, but I’m not for any artificial colour, for sure. May be the colours of cloves, cinnamon powder & others supersede the colour of chilli.  I recommend to use their rajma masala, a little along with chilli powder to make the curry perfect.

My rating for this Rajma masala is 7/10.

Note: This is an unbiased review which is purely based on my own taste & preference.

Tags: Product Review, Eastern Condiments P Ltd, Eastern products review, Eastern masala products review, Eastern Ready made masala powders, Eastern ready made masala products review, Eastren chicken fry product review, Eastern Kuzhambu Masala product review , Eastern Rajma Masala product review

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Onion Tomato Chutney | Red Chutney | Easy Thakkali Vengaya Chutney

Onion Tomato Chutney | Red Chutney | Easy Thakkali Vengaya Chutney is the best match for soft idlies and sponge dosas.  My grandma used to make this chutney by grinding manually and we ate as many number of idlies/dosas until when we were asked to stop dumping anymore. Those were the days, we used to keep on moving, hardly sit at one place and so whatever we ate, would get digested immediately. Of course our metabolism would be higher at younger age.

Coming to the recipe, there are many methods of preparing this chutney and this recipe, which I’m going to share here is the simplest one. This simple onion-tomato chutney, with the right combination of onion, tomato and spice powder  would be a perfect accompaniment for our South Indian breakfast like idli, dosa, idiyappam, kuzhi paniyaram, etc.
For grinding:
  • Onion (chopped) – ½ cup
  • Tomatoes (chopped) – ¾  cup
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste.

For seasoning:
  • Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp
  • Mustard – 1 tsp
  • Urad dhal – 1 tsp
  • Shallots (finely chopped) – 5 Nos
  • Curry leaves – few.

  1. Grind all the ingredients given to a fine paste. No need to add water.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai, season with mustard and urad dhal.
  3. Then add finely chopped onion and curry leaves. Sauté till onion becomes translucent.
  4. To this add the ground paste with ½ cup of water. Allow it to boil.
  5. Cook covered in simmer for about 5 minutes.

Tasty Vengaya Thakkali Chutney is ready to enjoy with hot steaming idlies | spongy dosas. We have enjoyed this chutney with Mudakathan Dosa and we always have this chutney with a tablespoon of sesame oil over it.
  • Depending on the sourness of tomatoes, qty of red chilli powder may be varied.

Tags: Easy chutney recipes, Onion tomato chutney, thakkali chutney recipe, vengaya chutney recipe, onion tomato chutney recipe, chutney for hot steaming idlies, spicy chutney for sponge dosa, Dip for soft idlies, South Indian chutney varieties, South Indian breakfast recipes.

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