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.
Continuing on my Navaratri Sundal recipes, this is a super easy recipe that barely took any time to make. And because there is no soaking involved, this is perfect for those times when we need to make something quickly. It is also a good evening snack.
Green Moong Sundal
½ cup green moong dal
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated coconut
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 curry leaves
1/8 tsp asafoetida
Lemon juice to drizzle to taste
Salt to taste
Finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Soak the green moong dal for about an hour in warm water.
After an hour, wash the dal well and keep aside. Heat water in a pan and add a tsp of oil and a bit of salt and add the moong dal. When the water starts to boil, reduce the flame to a low medium and keep stirring in between so that water does not overflow the pan.
Keep checking the consistency of the dal being cooked. The dal should be al-dente and neither under not overcooked. To know when the dal is perfectly cooked, take one small piece of the dal and press it with your fingers, if it’s able to be mashed, it’s cooked just right. Once the dal is cooked just right, remove it from the gas and strain it, removing all excess water.
Heat another pan and add the balance oil. When the oil heats up, add in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the asafoetida. After a couple of seconds, add in the finely chopped green chilli and stir.
Add in the drained dal and stir. Add salt and the grated coconut and stir well. Drizzle with lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves and serve warm or cold.
One of the simplest sweets, a kesari or Halwa is made of semolina or rava and is usually the go-to sweet in many South Indian households. Very simply put, a kesari is a sweet sweet upma.
The usual way to make a Kesari is to make it exactly like a plain upma and substitute salt with sugar. Most people add a bit of orange colour to get the distinctive orange hue. During Navaratri last year, I decided to make this on one of the days and added pineapple to it to make Pineapple Kesari. Because I didn’t have any colour on hand, I used a bit of saffron which is why my Kesari is pale cream or yellow. If orange or yellow colour is used, it would have a bright yellow colour.
1 cup semolina or rava, roasted
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
4 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp raisins
¼ tsp cardamom powder
1 tin canned pineapple
1-2 drops natural yellow or orange colour
1 large pinch saffron
Dry roast the semolina until it starts to emit an aroma. If it is already pre-roasted, you just need to dry roast it for a couple of minutes.
Boil the water in a kettle or pot and keep aside, letting it be boiling until needed.
Heat 2 tbsp ghee in the same pan in which the semolina was roasted and when the ghee becomes warm and fry the cashew nuts until they are golden brown. Drain the ghee and remove to a kitchen towel and keep aside.
Fry the raisins for a couple of seconds and remove and keep aside.
Keep aside some of the pineapple and chop it into tiny pieces and keep aside. Blend the balance pineapple into a fine puree and keep aside.
Heat 2 tbsp ghee and fry the pineapple pieces for a few minutes. Add in the puree and saute covered for about two minutes.
Now add the sugar and stir well. Add in the water and let the water come to a rolling boil. Add in any colour if you are using as well as the saffron.
Now add the roasted semolina and quickly stir so that there no lumps form. Add in the cardamom powder as well as the fried cashew nuts and raisins and stir constantly so that lumps are avoided. A rule of thumb I use is that to make the kesari slightly watery so that it does not harden as it cools. Once the water has been absorbed, cover and serve hot.
If the kesari is cold, you can warm it slightly before serving as this sweet tastes better warm rather than cold.
If you are not using tinned pineapple, you will need to cook the pineapple pieces for a bit and soften it before adding the semolina.