During the Chinese New Year period, here in Singapore, you get lots of different types of Mandarin oranges. I love Mandarin oranges and during that time, on a call with my mum and sister, we started talking about the Orange Kozambu my mum used to make. Inspired by that call and the two cartons of Mandarin oranges I had in the house, I made some of this delicious kozambu. I made it slightly different from how my mother makes it, making it more like my Milagu Kozambu and I felt this was a better way to make it as it kept for more than a week in the fridge. This is perfect with some rice and any stir-fried curry on a cold or rainy day. You can increase the number of peppercorns depending on your spice tolerance.
2 mandarin oranges
2 tsp Peppercorns
7-8 Red Chillies
2 tsp Urad Dal
3 tsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
3 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
Tamarind piece as big as a piece of lime (make sure you remove all fibre from the tamarind as well as any seeds which may be there). Alternatively, you can use 1-2 tbsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsp jaggery powder
¼ tsp Asafoetida
2 tbsp Gingelly Oil (if this oil is not available, then use the oil you use for your daily cooking)
Peel the oranges and remove any fibre from the peel as well as the segments.
Chop the orange peel into fine pieces and remove the seeds from the segments and chop them also finely.
Wash the peel and the segments and keep them aside.
In a pan, heat about 1 tbsp gingelly oil and after the oil warms up, add the tamarind piece, peppercorns, red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida, cumin seeds and coriander seeds and fry them until the urad dal turns a golden brown colour.
If you are using tamarind paste, don’t add the paste to the oil, instead, you can use it while cooking the kozambu.
Once the spices cool down, blend them to a fine paste and keep aside.
Heat the balance gingelly oil and when the oil warms up, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
Then add the chopped mandarin orange peel and segments and fry for about 5-7 minutes, until the peel is fully cooked.
Then add the blended paste and enough water to make the kozambu to the consistency you require. This kozambu will thicken slightly when cool, so thin it accordingly.
Add salt to taste as well as some jaggery if you find it spicy and let it cook till the orange peel and segments are fully cooked and the mixture becomes thick and reduces.
Check for seasoning and switch off the gas.
Serve hot with rice and any curry. Potatoes go very well with this kozambu.
A very traditional tambram dish, Vazhakai Podimas is a healthy plantain stir fry which barely uses any oil. So this is a very good alternative for those who want to eat green bananas, but don’t want to fry them.
4 medium-sized raw bananas
4 tbsp grated coconut
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp split urad dal
1 tsp green chilli paste or 2 green chillies, chopped
3-4 curry leaves, torn
1-2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Wash the raw banana and discard the top and bottom. Cut the bananas into 2-3 large pieces.
In a large pan heat water and once the water comes to a rolling boil add the raw bananas and cook them for about 5-6 minutes until the bananas are cooked. You can also steam the bananas.
Once the bananas are cooked evenly and the skin darkens, remove them from the water and peel the skin. Because it is fully cooked, the skin should come off easily.
Take out the cooked raw bananas from the water and allow them to cool completely. Peel the skin and grate them after peeling.
Now add the grated ginger, coconut and salt and gently mix so the grated raw banana does not get mushy.
Heat the oil or ghee in a pan. Once the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. At this point, add the urad dal and let the dal slightly brown.
Then add the green chilli paste or green chilles and curry leaves and stir well.
At this point, add the grated bananas which has been mixed with ginger, coconut and salt and mix gently so the tempering is mixed with the vegetable.
Drizzle some lemon juice and serve hot with any south Indian meal like sambar or rasam.
During the last Krishna Jayanthi festival, while I was speaking with my mum, she told me that Lord Krishna loves aval or poha which are flattened rice flakes and that I should include this dish when I make my neividhyam to the Lord. I had not made this recipe before so I asked her the recipe and this is what she told me. The result was a sweet dish which was not too rich and once that took me barely 15 minutes to make. All the ingredients are usually pantry staples, so if you are in a hurry and have these ingredients on hand, you can make a quick offering to God in 15 minutes or less. The colour of your dish will depend on your jaggery, so try and get the darkest jaggery you can find.
Sweet Aval or Poha
1 cup aval or poha
½ cup powdered jaggery
¼ tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp grated coconut
1 tbsp ghee
5-10 cashew nuts
Wash the poha well, drain and keep it aside
In a pan, heat the ghee and when the ghee heats up, fry the cashew nuts to a golden brown colour. Drain into a kitchen towel and keep aside.
In the same pan, add the powdered jaggery and 1 tbsp of water and bring the jaggery to a nice rolling boil.
When the jaggery has completely melted, add in the washed and drained poha and mix well.
Add the cardamom powder and coconut and mix well.
Add in the fried cashew nuts, mix well and switch off the gas.
Remove to a serving dish and serve hot.
Note: I used organic powdered jaggery, so I didn’t have to strain it. If you are using the lump jaggery, chop enough to make ½ a cup and heat it with a tablespoon of water. Once the jaggery syrup has cooled down, strain it to remove any impurities and continue with the recipe.
In a vegetarian diet, lentils or dals are a very important source of protein and most Indian households, especially those who follow a vegetarian diet try to incorporate some lentils in their diet daily. But then the problem comes that we end up eating the same three or four types of lentils daily. Fed up, a couple of weeks back, I tried a new recipe which was surprisingly easy to make and very yummy to boot. The addition of yoghurt and milk elevated the recipe and make it special.
½ cup Yellow Moong Dal
½ cup Masoor Dal or Orange Dal
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ghee
½ tsp green chilli paste or 1 finely chopped green chilli
¼ tsp ginger paste or 1 inch finely chopped ginger
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 to 3 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp garam masala Powder
1 tbsp kasuri methi
3 tbsp beaten yoghurt
3 tbsp milk (either skimmed or full cream)
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Wash and soak masoor and moong dal in warm water for about 20 minutes.
After that, add half the turmeric powder and pressure cook the dals for about 3-5 whistles until the dals are very soft and mushy. This can also be done on the stovetop.
When the cooker has cooled down, open it and whisk the dals until they become a homogenous mass.
In a pan, heat half the ghee and add in the cumin seeds and let them splutter a bit.
Now add the green chillies and ginger and saute for a few seconds.
Then add the onions and saute till the onions become translucent in colour.
Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become soft and mushy.
At this point, add ½ the red chill powder, the balance turmeric powder, salt and garam masala and saute till the masalas are incorporated.
Pour this masala over the cooked and whisked dals and mix well.
Add the yoghurt and milk and water to bring it to the desired consistency. Keep it on a slow to medium flame until the dal comes to a rolling boil.
In the same pan that you made the masala, heat the balance ghee and once it heats up, crush the kasoori methi in the palms of your hands and add it as well as the remaining red chilli powder and saute for a few seconds before pouring it over the dal.
Cover for about 10 minutes before serving so that the flavours get time to infuse.
Enjoy with rice or any flatbread
Notes: The recipe called for fresh cream which I substituted with skim milk. It didn’t detract from the taste and you can add in 1-2 tbsp of cream instead of milk.
If it’s summer, then it’s time for pickles. Everyone has their favourite type of pickle and while I enjoy a good lemon or mixed pickle, any mango pickle is by far my favourite. If given a choice, I would pick mango over any other pickle. The Mango Chunda is also one I enjoy, but it is S’ favourite pickle. Every trip from India, whether it is us or my parents, had to involve at least a few bottles of the chunda.
This pickle is from the western state of Gujarat and does not involve any cooking. The pickle is made from shredded mangoes and is sweet and sour, with a hint of spice and is made by keeping all the ingredients in the sun for up to a month until the sun cooks the pickle. But because we had not been to India for a while, one day, I found the instant version of the pickle and decided to make it. It was an instant hit, so I decided to post it here, so I can reference it later.
Instant Mango Chunda
2 large green mangoes
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp roasted cumin powder
Rinse, dry and peel the mangoes. Grate them and keep them aside.
Measure the grated mangoes and put them in a large pan
In the same pan, for 2 cups of grated mangoes, add 2 cups of sugar
Add the salt and turmeric powder and mix well.
Switch on the gas and let the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar dissolves, reduce the flame to low and let the sugar syrup cook to single string consistency. This should usually take about 6-8 minutes and you will know when it reaches one string consistency when you take a drop of the syrup and your index finger and thumb and move the fingers apart and you can see a string forming.
At this point, and this is very important, switch off the flame and immediately transfer the mixture to another bowl. Don’t forget to do this step. If you don’t transfer it immediately, the chunda will become hard. I did this the first time I made this recipe and since then have learnt my lesson.
Let the mango sugar mixture cool down completely.
Once it is cooled down, add the chilli powder and cumin powder and mix thoroughly.
Store in a dry glass or ceramic container and it will remain fresh for up to a year. Though if your family is like mine, it won’t last that long.
Notes: I used country sugar instead of white sugar, hence the dark colour. You can also substitute brown sugar or jaggery. Also I used the same quantity of sugar to mangoes, but if your mangoes are especially sour, you may need to increase the sugar to compensate for the sourness. You can also increase the chilli powder according to taste.