Showing posts with label Basic Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basic Food. Show all posts

Aug 11, 2016

473: Anjarai Petti/ Masala Dabba- Exploring The Indian Spice Box

Spices are an integral part of the Indian kitchen and each one adds punch and flavor to the pantry. A stunning Indian spice box, also known as a “Anjarai Petti / Masala Dabba”. The masala box is a popular spice storage container widely used in Indian kitchens. A round stainless steel tin with a tight-fitting solid or glass lid, a masala dabba typically holds seven or more smaller canisters that house an array of spices that often flavor an Indian meal. I think the beauty of the masala dabba is that you can customize it to your own cooking preferences. It’s really a matter of personal taste. You can include whatever works for you. In India, masala dabbas are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter when the daughter marries and begins a new life in her husband’s home. I am using masala dabba since beginning of my cooking journey.

I have Three masala dabbas. For my Wedding, my mom gave one Anjarai Petti as Kalyana Seer(Wedding Gift) . It is very old now. Other two boxes, I bought it from Cost Plus /World Market shop. I recommend buying it from India if possible. Because it is much cheaper.

The following spices are in my  Tadka  (Tempering)  Masala Box photographed above:

1. Mustard Seeds
2. Coriander Seeds
3. Fenugreek Seeds 
4. Urdh dal
5. Chenna Dal
6. Cumin Seeds
7. Black Peppercorns

The following spices are in my Spice Powder Masala Box photographed above:

1. Turmeric Powder
2. Coriander Powder
3. Red Chili Powder
4. Kashmiri Chili Powder
5. Asafoetida powder ( Hing Powder)
6. Pav Bhaji Powder
7. Chenna Masala Powder

The following spices are in my Whole Spices Masala Box photographed above:

1. Star Anise
2. Cinnamon Sticks 
3. Green Cardamon 
4. Bay Leaves
5. Fennel Seeds
6  Nutmeg
7. Cloves 

 Clean the Masala Dabba  once in two months and dry them in sunlight.

What is in your Masala Box?

Nov 8, 2013

Plain Yogurt/Plain Curd

Yogurt is known for its many nutritional benefits. Yogurt is full of good bacteria, also known as probiotics. Store-bought yogurt has many different additives and preservatives that kill off a lot of the good bacteria yogurt naturally has. There are many benefits to homemade yogurt. Eating one cup of yogurt per day can contribute to preventing osteoporosis due to the calcium content and added vitamin D found in yogurt.

Yogurt is a natural fermentation of pasteurization of milk. It is, very simple to make your own homemade yogurt, even without a yogurt maker. Not only does it actually save us money, but the yogurt is really good and healthy also. Want to save a few bucks every month on plain yogurt? Here you go

What you Need
Milk milk (ideally whole milk, )                    ½ gallon( Here , I used 2% milk)
Existing plain yogurt culture                          3-4 tbsp.
Plain Large thick sauce pan                            1 no.

  • Heat the milk in a large sauce pan until it just starts to boil. Lower the stove heat, and boil the milk for few more minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the stove and leave the milk to cool down. Do not expedite the cooling process by refrigerator.
  • Once the milk cools down to lukewarm temperature transfer it to the container, you are going to make yogurt. Which has a tightly fixing lid?
  • Now add existing plain yogurt in the warm milk and mix it well. Secure the lid on the container and place it gently in a warm corner of the room. Leave it undisturbed for 6- 8 hours or until yougurt cultured.

For winter season: 
  •     Surround the container with a woolen blanket to keep milk warm. Leave it undisturbed for 8 hours.
  • Turn on the oven to lowest at setting (Preheat, your oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.), and turn it off and open the oven door for 3 minutes, because you do not want very hot oven. It should be just warm. Place the milk container in the oven and turn on the oven light and close the oven door.

Congratulations! You have 'home-made' yogurt ready to serve. Refrigerate the yogurt. It will continue to firm up as it gets cold. Yogurt will stay fresh for almost a week then it becomes savor.

  • Always use plain yogurt for culture.
  •  If you use low fat milk, the consisting of yogurt will be thinner.  
  • Save some of your yogurt for your next homemade batch. (My method is: Pour the yogurt to the ice cube tray, and freeze it, and transfer into zip lock bags ) ,when you make fresh yogurt put 4 cubes of yogurt cubes to the warm milk

To make thachi (curd) in a cup:
  • Pour the milk in cups of the desired shape and size and add a few drops of curd to it. This will make curd in a cup which can be had by the kids directly.

Jun 26, 2013

Kuzhambhu Powder – 2 (Sāmbhar Powder – Chettinadu style)

This Simple recipe from my Madapalli.  This powder can be used for Sāmbhar, Poricha Kuzhambu, and varuvals.

Byadagi chilies              -     1 cup  
Long Red chilies                  2 cup
Coriander seeds                  2 cups   
Bengal gram -                     ¼ cup   
Tuvar dhal -                        ¼ cup   
 Black Pepper -                     3 tbsp.
Fenugreeks                          2 tsp.
Jeera                                 3 tbsp. (50 gms)
 Fennel seeds (Sombhu)      3 tbsp.
 Raw rice                             ½ cup
Hing katti                            5 no.
Curry leaves                       1/8 cups

  • Dry the red chilies in the sun.
  • Dry roast all the ingredients separately.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and fine grind them into nice powder.
  •  Store it into an airtight container.

Mar 31, 2013

Dosa Batter


Idli Rice (Boiled Rice)                   4 cups
Urud Dal                                     1 cup
Fenugreek seeds                          3/4 tsp
Tuvar dhal                                   2 tbsp
Salt                                            to taste

Method to prepare Batter
  • Wash and clean the rice and dhal and soak separately for 6 hours.
  • Grind the dhals with fenugreek seeds and rice for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Mix the dough with hand only. Do not use Spatulas. This is good for fermentation.
  • Leave it for fermentation (In winter, Pre heat the oven 275F and switch off and place the batter and leave it for overnight).
  • Next day takeout the dough and add salt and mix it with hand.
  • Batter is ready.

Feb 22, 2013

Idli Batter

Idli is one of the most popular south Indian recipes all over the country. Idli is an ideal breakfast item. Making Idli is not difficult at all; however its preparation takes a little time as the batter for Idli requires fermentation.
In my experience, the key to making soft idli is:
  • Using handful of rice/Poha while making the Urdu Daal batter.
  • Let the dal soak in water overnight inside a fridge.
  •  When grinding dhal and rice use only cold water.
  •  Not running the blender continuously, but in short bursts
  •  Making sure that the batter (before fermentation) does not have too much     water.
  • When you grind the idly batter, the rice should be ground to a fine sooji rava consistency and not to a fine paste.
  • To aid fermentation in cold countries, preheat your oven to 200F and put it off. Place the vessel containing the batter on a plate (to collect the overflown batter in case it pours out) and keep oven closed overnight.
  • You can use idli rava instead of grinding rice. Just grind the urad batter and mix with idli rava! However, the idlis will be like the udupi style ones, not like the smooth chettinadu style idlis.

Idli Rice – 4 cups
Urdh dhal – 1 cup
Aval (beaten Rice) - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Oil (for greasing the pans)

  • Wash and soak the Daal, Poha and rice overnight or for 8 hours.
  •  Wash and drain the rice. Grind it coarsely in a grinder.
  • Proceed to grind the Urdh Daal, with Poha and required amount of water and make a fine frothy paste.
  • Do not add too much water; the water should be sufficient just so that the mixer/grinder motor runs smoothly.
  • Now mix the ground rice and Daal together into a batter.
  • Mix salt and set aside in a warm place for 8-9 hours or overnight for fermenting.
  • Idlis are ready to be cooked when the batter is well fermented.

Apr 1, 2012

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Since  a store - bought broth containes onion, garlic and leeks, my preference is to make it at home.Homemade vegetable broth is easy to make and so much healthier and more flavorful than anything that you can buy in a supermarket. A basic and flavorful vegetable broth recipe to make vegetarian soups, vegetarian gravy, or just to add flavor to a variety of vegetarian recipes. 

Chopped Carrot               – 1 no
chopped Celery               – 1 stalks
chopped Potato                 – 2 no
chopped Cauliflower        – ½ cup
chopped Zucchini             1 no
 Chopped Any greens       – 1 cup
Bay Leaves                       3 no
 Chopped Capsicum          – 1 no
Mushrooms   (optional)       ¼ cup
Water                                6 cups
Dash salt and pepper


  • Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Strain out the vegetables and remove the bay leaves.
  • Broth is ready to use as a base for soups, gravies.

Feb 3, 2012

Sathuamuthu Powder (Rasam Powder) 2

This is my sister Jayathy’s recipe.  

Tovar Dhal   -            2 cups
Black Pepper -           ½ cup
Cumin Seeds             ½ cups
Red Chilies –              2 ½ cup
Curry Leaves –           1 /2 cup

  •  Heat the frying pan, dry fry only the curry leaves.
  • Mix all the ingredients and grind it into a coarse powder (Do not grind them as very fine powder)
  • Store the powder in an air tight container and use it for making Saathuamuthu.

Jul 7, 2011

Homemade Paneer

Indian cheese is a treasure of nutrition. It is easy to digest and can be used in a number of preparations and is used in most Indian homes. It can be used in sweets, savories, and in gravies of dishes too. Indian cheese is a rich source of calcium. This helps in building strong teeth and bones. Paneer has the health benefit of preventing osteoporosis, which is a curse of old age. Equally interesting is the fact that Paneer helps prevent stomach disorders in people as they grow older.
Paneer also happens to be one of the easiest cheeses to make at home, requiring nothing more than milk and lemon juice. Here's how!

Whole or 2% milk                                – 1 gallon
Lemon Juice                                       – 3 tbsp
Special Equipment:
a colander or strainer
Cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel

  • Take a heavy bottom vessel and boil milk. Keep an eye on it because it can boil over very quickly.
  • When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  •  Stir until milk separates completely separates into curds and whey, if it doesn't seem to be separating completely, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Immediately add about 10-12 ice cubes and turn off flame. Leave aside for 3-4 mts
  • Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined colander. When it's cool enough to handle, gather the corners of the cheesecloth into a bundle and squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as you can.
  • Leave aside for 30  minutes. Remove the Paneer (Chenna) into a bowl.
  • Now knead it gently for 4 minutes till there is no trace of moisture and is absolutely soft on touch.

Apr 1, 2011

Ghee (Clarified butter)

Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian. It is a clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water. It is used in India and throughout the South Asia in daily cooking. Good quality ghee adds a great aroma, flavor and taste to the food. According to the ancient Ayurveda, a moderate amount of ghee is the best cooking oil. Traditionally, ghee is made from butter churned out of Indian yogurt (curd). It is boiled and constantly stirred until the all the water is evaporated. Cow ghee is yellow in color, and buffalo ghee has off-white cream color. Aged ghee, Kumbhiighrta, aged between 10 to 100 years, and Mahaghrta, aged over 100 years, are believed to be powerful tonics.(
Homemade ghee has good aroma and flavor.

Making ghee is not rocket science. If you can melt butter, you can make ghee. I always prefer home-made ghee, rather than buy it from stores. Use with homemade ghee with any preparation of food it will come out very tasty.  

How to make ghee
Unsalted butter                              2 pounds
Heavy-bottomed sauce pan
Unbleached fine cheese cloth or tea strainer
Metal funnel
Wooden spoon
Glass container with clasping lid that can withstand heat

  • Unwrap the butter and cut into chunks (4 or 5 per stick, etc.). Heat the butter on medium-low to low in the sauce pan.
  • Within the first 8-10 minutes, the butter will melt. Give it a stir with your spoon to see where it’s at, and then let it sit.
  • Butter begins to froth and then boil. Within the next 5 minutes, the butter will begin to froth. Give it a stir, and continue stirring every minute from now on. Glide your spoon across the bottom at this point, and kick up the milk solids.
  • Now the butter will start to boil, Stir consistently. After a few more minutes the boil will slow. The butter will start to smell like clarified butter.
  • You are waiting for the butter to turn into a beautiful orange color, the milk solids to caramelize into a light-to-medium brown, and most noticeably, fizzy bubbles to form on the surface of the butter. The aroma will change slightly, smelling more sweet and caramel-y. Be ready with your strainer.
  • When straining, you can dump all of the brown solids on top of your cheese cloth, but make sure none gets into the ghee.  Now melted butter is ready. It’ll still keep for a year.
  • Don’t use margarine or any butter substitutes.
  • Do use a heavy bottomed pan to prevent the butter from scorching.
  • Store the  ghee  in glass jars. Glass jars should be clean and dry, before pouring in the ghee. 

 Ghee Storage Tip:
  • Ghee does not have to be refrigerated.
  • For long lasting ghee, keep it out of moisture, i.e., don't use a wet spoon to take out ghee.


Feb 13, 2011

Kuzhambu Podi (Sambhar Powder)

This is my mom’s recipe. She gave me this measurements. 

MY MOM’s Sambhar Podi

Colorful Red chillies                           - 2 cups
Coriander seeds                                 - 2 cups
Bengal gram (Chenna dal)                   - ½ cup
Toovar dal                                         – ½ cup
Fenugreek                                         – 2 tbsp
Black Peppercorns                                – ¼ cup
Turmeric Roots (Dried) - 50 Gms or Turmeric powder – 3 tbsp

My Aunt Sundari makes very good Sambhar powder. Her method is this:


Kundu Millghai Vatral (Red chillies)             – 1000gm
Coriander Seeds                                      – 750 Gms
Toovar dal                                              – 200 Gms
Chenna dal                                            – 150 Gms
Black Peppercorns                                   – 50 Gms
Fenugreek                                                – 50 Gms
Turmeric                                               – 150 Gms

Both the Method:
  •  Dry roast all above ingredients separately or dry them in hot sun for 2 days.
  • Mix all the ingredients and make it into a fine powder.
  • Store the powder in an air tight container and use it for making Sambhar or Kuzhambu.

Jan 10, 2011

Mulaghai Podi / Spicy Gun Powder

Most of the Tamil homes prepare this powder and preserve it in airtight container. This powder is served usually with any tiffin items like idli, dosa, or adai. You can make this powder less or more spicy When I was in Cochin my neighbor Iyengar Mami, gave me this measurement.


Urdh dhal                             - 1 cup
Chenna dhal / Bengal gram       1 cup
Dry Red chillies                    - 2 cups
Asafoetida                           - 1 tsp
White Ellu                              - ¼ cup
Oil                                      – 1 tbsp
Salt ( rock salt)                      as you need


  • Heat the wok and dry fry the white Ellu . Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in wok and fry dhals separately, till golden brown color.
  • Add Asafetida fry for few minutes. Keep aside.
  • Add red chillies in the wok and fry the chillies till that color changes and aroma comes out. ( Flame should be in low).
  • Cool the roasted ingredients and grind coarsely in a mixer.