Tomato Rasam

 

Even though I grew up in Bangalore, the home town of the famous restaurant MTR, I was never familiar with the MTR masalas, powders and spices then. The main reason being that my Mom is a wonderful cook and she made all the powders for sambhar, rasam, vaangi bhaat, pulliyogere etc from scratch at home.

Fast forward some years when I got married and came to the United States, I found myself as a clueless cook shouldering the responsibility of cooking. I used to crave for comfort food like rasam, sambhar etc food that I grew up with and that is when I discovered these MTR powders. My pantry now is adorned with variety of these powders and one of our favorite is the MTR rasam powder and the taste of the rasam is delicious!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup toor daal
  •  2 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  •  4 tsp MTR rasam powder
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing
  • 1 Tbsp Tamarind juice
  •  2-3 red chillies
  •  Jeera/ cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • oil
  • salt

Preparation:

  • Pressure cook the toor daal with little jeera and turmeric.
  •  Meanwhile dice the tomato into small pieces.

Method:

  • Heat 2 tsp of oil in a vessel and add the mustards. After they splutter, add jeera and curry leaves and reduce the heat a bit.
  • Next cut the red chillies into small pieces add to this and fry for a little while.
  • Add the finely diced tomatoes, salt and let it cook for a while until the water from the tomato disappears.
  • Add about 4 spoons of Rasam powder and mix well. Stream in little bit of oil so that the powder mixes well and cooks with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add the tamarind paste and cook again.
  • Next add the mashed toor daal and let it boil for about 5- 10 minutes.
  • Check taste and if necessary, add more rasam powder, salt, tamarind.
  • Finally garnish with coriander leaves.

This tastes good when it is a bit tangy, so go little extra on the tamarind or tomatoes. Serve with rice.

Tomato Thokku (Chutney, Pachadi)

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It was one of those rare days when Dear Husband volunteered to cook in the kitchen and whip out one of his specialty dish “Tomato Thokku”. Tomato Tokku is the equivalent of Tomato Chutney or Tomato Pachadi. He had tasted this Tokku in Bangalore at his friend’s place and apparently the friend’s mother was an expert in making this. He had learnt the recipe then but managed to remember it even after so many years.

I seized this opportunity, silently thanked the heavens and mumbled something about having an important work and disappeared from the kitchen. I however conveniently managed to appear just toward the end to savor it and also click some pictures. 

A little goes a long way with this chutney as it is spicy and hot. 2 tsps of this chutney on piping hot bowful of rice, mixed well and when savored is virtual heaven.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tsp urad daal
  • 1 tsp methi seeds
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Hing/asafetida
  • Turmeric
  • Red chilli powder
  • 2-3 red chillies broken into 1 inch piece
  • Salt, mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup oil (canola/groundnut)

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Preparation:

  • Wash the tomatoes very well and chop them into small pieces.
  • Add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder to this, mix and let it rest to marinate for about 15 minutes.

Method:

  • Heat a heavy bottom flat pan and add part of the oil ( just enough for the tadka)
  • Add mustard, methi seeds, asafetida and fry until the mustard splutters.
  • Add crushed garlic and sauté until the garlic turns golden brown.
  • Add curry leaves and fry for a while.
  • Add red chillies to the mix and stir for a little bit.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes mixture to it and sauté for a while.
  • Keep adding oil in batches. Let it continue to cook, until the oil leaves the sides.

Allow to cool. This can be served with rice or rotis especially rice. This can be stored in an air tight container and usually lasts for about a week in the fridge.   

Crispy Urad Daal Vada Medu Vada(Uddina Vade)

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Deep frying is becoming a rarity at our house now. Gone are those days when we would have deep fried stuff every week or so and yet managed to keep a tab on weight. OK, OK …..we were young then and we had our fair share of running and playing around and that helped to keep up balance.

But then, I do make it on some special occasions. Dear Husband celebrated his birthday few weeks ago and I generously offered him the option of choosing his favorite deep fried food. He agonized as he had a tough job of choosing just one amongst his top 5-6 favorites. But then after much pondering, lamenting he finally settled for Medu Waada (Gaarelu, Uddin Vade).

Medu Vada is a traditional South Indian recipe that is eaten for breakfast. At Bangalore restaurants, this is served along with warm idlis and accompanied with sambhar and coconut chutney. This combination is a match made in heaven and the taste is simply divine.

It took some years of practice and advice to learn to make this crispy and delicious. In restaurants, the shape of the Medu Vada is like a ring with hole in the middle (more like a doughnut), but I find it easier to handle it this way in small rounds. This is also called as Biscuit Ambode in Konkani.

Some tips, do’s and don’ts to make this crispy:

  • Do not add too much water while making the batter, lesser the better.
  • Please remember that the water should be sufficient enough for the mixie motor to run smoothly.
  • Grind for a good amount of time, until the batter becomes fluffy and you see some bubbles on the top.
  • Do not add anything like ginger, coriander leaves etc while grinding. Only salt should do it.
  • Update: Keep this urad daal batter aside for 3-4 hours and let it ferment a bit.
  • While deep frying make sure that the oil if of the right temperature.
  • Add little fine sooji (rava) to the batter and mix well before deep frying.
  • Take small amounts of batter while deep frying.

Looking for low-calorie medu vada? Check this out!

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup urad daal
  •   2-3 green chillies
  •  1 Tbsp grated ginger
  •   3-4 curry leaves
  •  10-20 small pieces of coconut(optional)
  • 1 Tbsp of fine rava (sooji)
  • 1 tsp Jeera (cumin) seeds
  • handful chopped coriander leaves
  • Salt
  • Oil

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Preparation:

·         Soak the urad daal in enough water for about 4-5 hours.

·         Cut the green chillies very finely, cut the curry leaves into pieces and grate the ginger.

·         Drain the water completely from soaked urad daal, add salt and grind it to a smooth paste. (Do not add too much water, if required add only spoonful of water at a time).

·         Grind until the batter turns fluffy and you notice faint bubbles on the top.

·         Update: Keep this urad daal batter aside for 3-4 hours and let it ferment a bit.

·         When ready to make the vadas, add green chillies, cumin seeds, curry leaves, ginger, coriander leaves and coconut pieces (if using). Mix thoroughly and check for taste. Add more salt if necessary.

·         The salt should be on the higher side as most of the saltiness goes away when deep frying.

·         Finally add the rava just before deep frying and mix well.

Method:

·         Heat oil on medium high in a thick bottomed pan sufficient enough to deep fry.

·         Check to make sure that the oil has reached the correct temperature, by putting in small amount of batter. If there is a sizzle that means the oil is ready.

·         Take about golf ball size of the batter from the tips of your hands and put it in the deep fryer. Add about 4-5 depending on the size of the pan at the same time.

  • After about 20-30 secs turn them around, making sure all sides get cooked evenly.
  • Transfer them to a plate with absorbent paper so that the extra oil drains. Continue the above process with the remaining batter.

·     This can be eaten as is or with chutney, sambhar and forms a wonderful accompaniment with tea or coffee.