Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Indian Kitchen: More Recipes

***I am greatly saddened by the events of yesterday in the beautiful city of Boston. Actions like this make me question my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. I truly believe that people, at heart, are good and kind. However, when an event like this occurs, I feel lost and scared. I am scared for the families of those injured or dead, I am scared for the children present who will now grow up with this as a prevalent memory of their past, and I am scared for the repercussions towards people who were not involved but may simply be of the same race or creed of the people or person behind this horrible action. The sad fact of humanity is that we often are afraid of what we don't understand and lash out in poor ways in the guise of strength.

During this time of mourning and loss, please remember that the human next to you is simply trying to live their life as best they can, the same as you are. Their beliefs or skin color do not mean they are going to bomb you, fly a plane into a building, or open fire in a public place.

We should not take away with us hate, but compassion and love, as we are a nation built on the differences and beauty of the cultures that comprise our country.

This is what the Boston Marathon and Boston's Patriot Day truly stand for.

“You must not lose faith in Humanity. Humanity is like an ocean: if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”

-Mahatma Ghandi***


This past Sunday was the celebration of the Tamil New Year. Tamil Nadu is located in the south of India and is where my husband's family, on his father's side, is from. The New Year, like our December celebration, is a time for prosperity and growth. This is the time of year it is believed, that the creator of the world, Lord Brahma, began creation. This is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation. Just like our New Year, it is time to make resolutions and changes towards a better life. Happy Vishu!!!

My Indian Kitchen returns this week with a few new recipes. This first recipe, Upma, is one of my husband's favorites. I make it often for breakfast or lunch and it can be served with Sambar and Vegetable for a filling dinner. I also have a recipe for another Indian soup called Rasam. This soup is a favorite around here. Lighter than Sambar but with a similar tang from the tamarind, and heavily laced with cilantro, it is delicious served over rice with some yogurt.

Upma is similar in consistency to thick Cream of Wheat or Polenta.  Cream of Wheat can be substituted if Sooji cannot be found.  Simply roast it in a dry skillet for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it.  Water can be used for the Yogurt portion and Oil for the Ghee to make this dish vegan.

  • 1 Cup Roasted Sooji -similar to Cream of Wheat, available in most Indian markets
  • 2 Tbsp. Ghee
  • 1 ½ Cups filtered Water mixed with
  • ½ Cup Yogurt -homemade is best, not greek
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 2 small Green Chilis -stem removed and broken in half
  • 1 tsp grated Ginger
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seed
  • ½ tsp Black Mustard Seed
  • 4-5 Kari Leaves
  • Raw Cashew Nuts, small handful, chopped in large pieces
  • Salt to taste
Heat Ghee in a sauce pot over medium flame. When hot add your Mustard Seed and cover with splatter screen. When they are popped add in your Urad Dal, Cumin Seed, Kari Leaves, and Cashews. Fry briefly then add the Green Chilis, and Ginger. Turn heat down to low and pour in your Water/Yogurt Mixture. Add a bit of Salt to taste. Then slowly whisk in your Roasted Sooji, stirring constantly until thickened. Off heat and cover. Let sit 5 minutes then serve. It should be the texture of a dry Cream of Wheat, slightly sticky but a bit crumbly.

Serve with Coconut Chutney or Pachadi

Coconut Chutney

  • ½ grated Coconut
  • 1/3 Cup Roasted Chana Dal -available in most Indian markets
  • ½ Cup filtered Water
  • 2-3 Green Chilis -stem removed and broken in half
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Yogurt -homemade is best, not greek
  • 2 tsp Black Mustard Seed
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 2 tsp Ghee
Blend the Coconut, Roasted Chana, and Water until a smooth consistency is reached. Add your Green Chilis, Salt, and Yogurt. Heat Ghee and add Mustard Seed and Urad dal. Fry until Seeds pop, add to the Coconut mixture. Taste for salt and serve as a condiment for Upma, Idlis, or Dosa.  Replace the yogurt with lemon juice and the Ghee with Oil to make this vegan.

  • 1 large Tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 Cup Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Black Mustard Seed
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp Ghee
Heat Ghee in small saucepan. Add Mustard Seed and pop. Add in your Tomato and fry a few minutes until cooked down a bit. Combine Yogurt and Salt in a bowl and mix in the fried Tomatoes.


  • ½ Cup Toor Dal
  • Small Lime sized ball of Tamarind Paste
  • 2 medium Tomatoes, chopped -reserve a few pieces, chopped smaller
  • 2 Tbsp Rasam Powder (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida
  • 3 Green Chilis -broken in half and stems removed
  • Small bunch Cilantro
  • 20 Kari Leaves
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seed
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seed
  • Ghee or Oil
Soak Toor Dal in water for ½ hour. Drain and add to a pot with 2 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil then lower heat. Cook partially covered until cooked through, approx 1 hour. Mash and add 1 ½ cups more water. Set aside. Meanwhile, soak Tamarind in 2 ½ cups hot water. Strain, squeezing as much liquid out of the pulp as possible. Set aside.

In a large pot combine Rasam Powder, Salt, and Asafoetida. Add tamarind water, green chilis, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add cleaned Cilantro, Kari leaves, Toor Dal, and reserved Tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes more. In a separate skillet, heat 3 tsp Ghee or Oil. When hot add Mustard Seed and pop, add Cumin Seed and fry for a few seconds. Add this to the Liquid, off heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Rasam Powder

Fry separately without oil and with low heat:
  • ½ Cup Coriander Seed
  • ½ Cup Cumin Seed
  • 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
  • 2 red Chili Peppers
  • 1 tbs. Chana Dal
Add ½ tsp Asafoetida and blend to a coarse grind. Store in airtight container for up to 6 months.


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments about the Boston bombing. Also the recipe for Rasam looks perfect for a spring dish.

  2. Thank you! The Rasam is perfect for Spring and into Summer. I have a wonderful variation with lemon that I will have to post soon.