Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A simple lunch menu

I love cooking.  Having said that, I generally love cooking routine dishes.  Am not a specialist.  My food is pretty decent and hence I am daring to write a blog on cooking.  However, this is the first time I am writing about cooking on a blog.  Hence E & O E.  :-)

Today I am going to start sharing some simple lunch menus.  Some of the dishes which are not so well known will be described with the recipes.

Today's lunch has simple chappati, rice, ladies finger, potatoes and cabbage "molagutal".  

"Molagutal" is a very typical part of the Kerala Iyer menu and is a generic term for any vegetable or combination of vegetables that are cooked in dal.  The various vegetables that can be used is a combination of cubed (small - medium sized) bottle gourd/dudhi/lauki or white pumpkin, carrot, peas, beans and potato, or just cabbage, or finely cubed banana stem or  palak which has been cooked and mashed in a mixer or in a "kalchatti" i.e. a vessel made of stone as shown below.  (More on the "kalchatti" below).  

Recipe for Cabbage Molagutal:  

Ingredients:  One medium or small sized cabbage.  
                       1/2 coconut (small sized) grated.
                       1- 2 red chilli(s) - to suit taste 
                       1 table spoon jeera (cumin seeds)
                       2 teaspoons  udad dal
                       Asafoetida (hing) - a small piece or a generous pinch.
                       2 teaspoonfuls of oil

                    Tur / Moong dal - 3/4 to 1 cup (vaati) (depends entirely on individual   preference)
                       8-10 kadipatta/curry leaves 


Heat a teaspoonful of oil.  Add the hing, jeera, red chilli and udad dal to the oil.  Allow to roast till the  udad dal turns a light brown.  Add this to the grated coconut and grind finely in a mixer.  Keep it aside.

Shred cabbage finely.  Cook with salt, turmeric and half a spoonful of sambar powder (available in various brands such as 777, MTR, Nilgiri's etc.  Can also be made at home.  Shall share the recipes of various masalas very soon) and the curry leaves.  Cook tur dal or moong dal well and mash it well.  When cooked, add to the vegetable.  Add the ground masala to the vegetable and dal.  Allow to froth.  Then allow the mustard to splutter in 1 teaspoonful of oil and add it to the molagutal.

The molagutal is ready to be eaten with steaming hot rice.

P.S.  Although traditionally no onions are added to "molagutal", I am no purist.  I do tend to add onions and/or garlic to it, if I want to eat it with chappatis.

P.P.S  The "kalchatti" is a very traditional container which is extremely versatile and can be used to cook a variety of items.  It absorbs a lot of heat and keep the food piping hot for a very long time.  It can be used for cooking, serving as well as for storing food.  It is available in certain places in South India like Srirangam (near Tiruchy).  It needs to be seasoned before use failing which it will crack as soon as put on the fire.  To season a kalchatti, a mixture of oil and haldi is applied to it inside and outside and it is kept out in the sun.  This process is repeated for 4-5 days.  Then water is boiled in it for a couple of times till any traces of fine stone vanish.  Only after this it is ready to be used for cooking.  A bit tedious, may be, but food cooked in it has a special taste to it.  I am a complete kalchatti freak.  

Another point to be taken care of is that there should ALWAYS be some water in the kalchatti.  DO NOT ALLOW ALL THE WATER TO EVAPORATE otherwise the food will get burnt and the kalchatti will crack with the heat.  It is therefore best suited to cook dishes such as sambar, molagutal and kadhi.

The kalchatti, being heavy, should NEVER be picked up with tongs.  Always pick it up using a cloth. 

Of course the "kalchatti" is not indispensable.  In fact very few people use them these days.  An ordinary vessel will do very nicely too.  :-) :-) :-)


  1. Dear Satchi

    I am the first one to comment. Yummy dish wellnarrated. Thanks for sharing


  2. Great beginning!! Waiting to see you give us many more traditional recipes :-)

  3. Satchi - kalchati - I remember my grandmother making stuffed brinjals and vatha kuzambu or millagu kuzambu. The aroma is something which when experienced can be felt. Kudos on your attempt. kuttu is always made once per week because one need not add tamarind - must on Fridays as my sister keeps vratha. Happy cooking

  4. Satchi,

    I came here for the love of Molguttals and for the love and bonding i have with Kalchatti. To tell u the truth...this pic of yours made me remember my Amma's Ammumai. It has been a decade since i saw a kalchatti. Today this pic made me remember Great Ammumai and her cooking. She lived a healthy life till 98 and till date we talk about her cooking. Now i wish to buy add to it i wl also like to purchase an ammikal.. I love these type of vessels. Thanks for letting me know the details about kalchatti. Please keep writing and improving our knowledge on this.
    By the way are you ready to share your kalchatti with me if you have an extra one? hahahha.


  5. Molakootal is my favourite too. but difference is i don't add hing and udid dal. udid dal i add only for keerai molakootal. thanks satchi for the wonderful feast :-)

  6. Satchi....

    It was nice receipe ...I will try molakootal at my home and will comeback to you :)


  7. Satchi, Nice post, wish I had read it, before trying out my two bit knowledge on an unseasoned kalchatti of my late mothers. It has a crack I think, water does not pour out but slightly drips. Can I use your recipe to seal it. Pls advice. Also can you tell me some place where I can buy a couple of kalchattis - Chennai, kerala, Blore... I am based in Delhi.
    Chitra Balasubramaniam

  8. Dear Chitra, I doubt the kalchatti can be recommissioned, though there is no harm in trying to do so. However, if it drips through the crack, then I don't think it will help seal that gap.

    I have got all my kalchattis from Srirangam near Trichy. You can also get some nice clay pots there.

  9. I came here from Vivek's blog and since I love pictures of food, clicked on this post. Didn't know you were a Kalchatti freak :) I love them too but alas don't have one. My mother made vatha kuzhambu in it and the whole neighbourhood would know she had! Will return to read other posts. Subscribed too!

    1. Am sorry Zephyr, noticed your comment only today. Have not attended to my blog in a long while. Yes, I am an absolute Kalchatti freak! :-)

      Looking forward to seeing you on my blog.

  10. Nice collection of recipes. Is cooking in Kal Chatty very different? I recently bought one online from and cured it also. I remember my paati used to make vatha kozhambu. What else will be nice in it? Help me please, i want to start using my kal chatti...

    1. The only difference is that you have to be very careful to ensure that the contents don't evaporate or dry out, otherwise the chatty will crack. Also the contents keep boiling for a while even after the gas is turned off. You can make sambar, rasam, molgutal, vettakozhambu and avial in kalchattys.

  11. Nice collection of recipes. Is cooking in Kal Chatty very different? I recently bought one online from and cured it also. I remember my paati used to make vatha kozhambu. What else will be nice in it? Help me please, i want to start using my kal chatti...