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.  :-) :-) :-)