Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Tofu Jalfrezi

Jalfrezi (Jal=spicy, frezi=suitable to diet) like its name suggests, is a diet-friendly preparation. I call it company food. When friends drop by unexpectedly, if I have peppers at home, then jalfrezi it is. With rice or chapati, it makes a quick and decent meal. The vegetarian version of jalfrezi is commonly prepared with paneer, peppers, onion and tomatoes. For today’s meal, I replaced the paneer with tofu. As you may already know, tofu enjoys vibrant vegetable supporting company. And in jalfrezi, the jazzed up tofu sure tasted good.

Tofu and Bell Pepper


Preparation is like saying one, two, and three. That easy.

Cut a red onion, two tomatoes and one big bell pepper into chunks of one-inch size. Slit a chilli pepper lengthwise to two or four thin pieces. Cut extra-firm tofu into one-inch cubes.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add and toast a pinch of cumin. Add onions, tomatoes and peppers. Grate a half-inch piece of ginger over the skillet. Stir-fry for about five minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Sprinkle the turmeric, salt and garam masala powder to taste. Mix, and then add the tofu cubes. Keep the heat medium, and cook for another couple of minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lime juice. Serve hot with chapati or rice.

Tofu Jalfrezi with Chapati ~ Meal Today

Jalfrezi, the tech type.

~ Indira
(Busy days. See you again on Sunday.)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper,Peppers,Red Onions,Soy (Tofu, Yuba),Tomato (Tuesday March 4, 2008 at 6:07 pm- permalink)
Comments (16)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Perugu Pacchadi

Perugu Pacchadi
Perugu Pacchadi: Refreshing Preparation with Perugu, Onions and Popu
From Bharath for Jihva Onions at Radhi’s Kitchen

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Jihva For Ingredients,Red Onions,Shallots,Yogurt (Friday February 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm- permalink)
Comments (7)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Peanut ~ Jaggery Chutney

Peanut – jaggery chutney is a timeless classic. Like the comfort of the Kashmir shawl wrap on a cold day and the elegance of kumkum bottu on the forehead after a visit to the temple, it can be relied on to instantly make the meal both totally comforting and effortlessly elegant.

Stylish enough for a special elaborate meal and at the same time, casual enough for a spur of the moment put-together breakfast or light lunch – Peanut jaggery chutney is a rural Andhra classic side dish and much beloved recipe from my home. Usually prepared in a rolu (mortar) and served during Makara Sankranthi with pulagam or pongali and ghee.

 Shallot, Dried Red Chillies, Roasted Peanuts
Shallot, Dried Red Chillies and Roasted Peanuts


Peanuts – 1 cup
Shallots 4 or one big red onion – cut to chunks
Dried red chillies – 6 to 10. I usually add at least 8 for a cup of peanuts
Tamarind – small marbleround size
Jaggery pieces – 1 tablespoon or to your liking
Salt – 1 teaspoon

Roast peanuts to light brown color. Cool and remove the skins.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and fry shallot/onion pieces and dried red chillies to brown color. Let cool to room temperature.

Soak tamarind in a quarter cup of hot water for about 10 minutes, to soften.

Take them all in a blender or in a mortar. Add jaggery and salt. Grind to smooth consistency. Remove to a cup and serve with breakfast items or with chapati/rice along with ghee.

Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee
Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Jaggery,Peanuts,Shallots (Wednesday January 17, 2007 at 8:26 pm- permalink)
Comments (11)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Peanut Pachhi Pulusu (Peanut Cold Rasam)

For Independence Day Food Parade on August 15th, I’ve decided to write three recipes which are near and dear to my heart. One each from – my hometown, my state and my country. Today’s one is from my hometown. Some recipes are truly local, like a needlepoint, known and popular only in few homes in a town and surrounding villages. Peanut pachhi pulusu (pachhi =raw/unboiled, pulusu=rasam/soup) is one such recipe from “land of Nandis” – Nandyala, Rayalaseema region.

Peanuts are roasted to golden color, skins removed and then made into smooth paste along with salt, chilli powder, tamarind and jaggery. By adding water, the paste is made into rasam like consistency. Finely sliced onions are added and seasoning is done by popu/tadka. That’s it. This is sort of cold, no-boil rasam and perfect during hot summer days. Often prepared and served with pongal and potato curry, the whole combination tastes awesome and comforting.

Peanuts – Roasted and Golden (Skins Removed)


Roast Peanuts:
Take 2 cups of peanuts in a large skillet and on medium-high heat, roast them to golden color (see photo above) mixing and turning often to prevent scorching. Allow to cool. Rub them with hands to loosen the skins and remove the skins. (Roasting peanuts to golden color is important. Spend few minutes & pay attention to roasting process. Taste of this recipe depends on this step.)

Make a paste:
2 cups of Peanuts – roasted and skins removed (from above)
½ teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
1 tablespoon tamarind juice
2 tablespoons of powdered jaggery
Take all the above in a blender or in a mortar, crush them to smooth paste by adding 1 cup of water in between.

Finely Slice:
1 big onion – lengthwise, slice thinly and wash them in water to separate the onions pieces and to remove that raw onion smell.

Do the popu/tadka:
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a big vessel. Add and toast – few pieces of curry leaves, dried chillies and half teaspoon of mustard seeds and cumin. To this popu/tadka:
Add the smooth peanut paste.
Add the onions.
Stir in about 1 to 2 cups of cold water. Mix and serve.
Make the rasam like thick buttermilk consistency. Have a taste and adjust salt, sweet and sour levels to your taste.

Serve with pongal. This pachhi pulusu (cold rasam) has all 5 essential ruchulu (flavors) and is guaranteed to make one feel cool as a cucumber on a hot day.

Peanut Pachhi Pulusu with Pongal and Potato Kurma ~ Our Fabulous Meal:) Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Jaggery,Onions,Peanuts (Thursday August 10, 2006 at 3:39 pm- permalink)
Comments (30)

The New Home of Mahanandi:


Fresh Green Peas of Summer

Sometime back while surfing the web, I came across a recipe with fresh green peas and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I had book-marked the site and also printed a copy, just incase the website disappeard. What attracted me to this recipe were the introductory words – “fresh green peas, strictly home-fare, and Awadh”. Also, more than anything, I loved the recipe name-“Nimona”. How pretty!

The recipe is from this website, dedicated to Awadh (The cuisine of Lucknow, India). I am not sure who wrote this particular recipe, but this unknown author’s description of nimona captivated me. Here is the author’s introduction to Nimona.

“The cuisine of any region is incomplete unless the contribution of the housewife or home-cooking is mentioned. So it is with Awadh. Besides the contribution of bawarchis and halwais there are recipes handed down through generations by grannies which lend that special something to the food. Regional cuisine lives in the home kitchens, and Nimona is one such example of strictly home-fare. Cooked in winters with fresh green peas, spring onions and mungories or wadis which are spiced and dehydrated lentil dumplings, it is a delectable dish. Some people like to substitute green peas with green chick-peas which are available in spring and are equally tasty.”

June and July are fresh pea season here in Ohio and I bought few pounds of fresh peas keeping this recipe in mind. I tried to get ‘mungories‘ or wadis from local Indian store, but they never even heard of them. So I replaced them with new crop potatoes. The recipe is multistep, little bit time consuming and the end result is – Fresh green peas and potato cubes in pureed green pea-onion-tomato sauce. Fantastic!

Here is my version of Nimona:

Step 1 – Prep Work:
(Things needed: skillet, oil/ghee and a blender/mortar)

2 cups of freshly shelled peas. Separate one cup of peas and keep them aside. Puree the second cup of peas into coarse mixture by adding a pinch of asafetida. Saute this coarse mixture of peas for few minutes, (to remove the raw smell).

Onions, ginger, garlic and cilantro:
Finely chop 2 onions length-wise, saute them in oil until golden and brown. Add 3 garlic cloves, one inch of ginger and few sprigs of cilantro and together make a paste.

Chop 4 tomatoes into chunks; saute them on high heat for few minutes. Make a smooth paste.

3 potatoes – peel, cube and saute them for few minutes and keep aside.

Masala Powder:
2 cloves, 2 cardamom pods and one small cinnamon stick – powdered together

Step 2: Cooking them all together

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a big pan. Add the following items listed below in that order and Saute:
2 bay leaves
Onion-ginger-garlic paste
Tomato paste
Coarsely ground green peas
One cup of fresh peas that were kept aside
Potato cubes
Cloves- cinnamon- cardamom powder
½ tsp each, or to taste – turmeric, salt and red chilli powder
Add about 1 cup of water. Mix and close the lid. Simmer for about 15 minutes on medium heat, until the curry thickens. Switch off the heat and let the curry sit for half an hour to absorb the flavors. Serve warm with chapati or rice.

Nimona with Chapatis
Nimona with Chapatis

More about Awadh (Cuisine of Lucknow): Here
Recipes from Awadh Cuisine: Here
Photo of ‘mungories’ or ‘wadi’ – from Green Jackfruit

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Onions,Peas (Bataani) (Wednesday July 5, 2006 at 2:55 pm- permalink)
Comments (44)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Cornmeal-Cabbage Muffins

Williams-Sonoma, the kitchenware shop that sells quality kitchen stuff, has a series of cook books – Like their shop, the cookbooks are very clean, organized, not a lot of recipes, but have an excellent presentation and gorgeous photos. The book size is not too big, not too small; they are like short notebooks with color photo on every page. Each book focuses on one topic. So far, Cookies, Cakes, Muffins, Breads and Risotto – these are the cookbooks, I borrowed from my local library and flicked through. More than anything, they are eye candy.


Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness, my blog friend is blogging recipes from ‘Muffins‘ cookbook. When she mentioned last week that she was going to try cornmeal-jalapeno muffin recipe, I wanted to join in and made a baking date with her. After two renewals and before returning the book to the library, I wanted to try at least one recipe. FInally last weekend, I baked cornmeal muffins from the book.

I followed the recipe mostly and also added some extras, because I was preparing these muffins for our supper. In addition to corn meal, all purpose flour, butter milk and baking powder etc, I have also added cabbage, shallot, chickpeas sauté to the cornmeal dough, so that the muffins baked would be more dinner worthy. They turned out, I can’t say excellent, but acceptable, even after all these extras. I can’t imagine the taste if I tried them bland with only just cornmeal and chillies.

cornmeal-cabbage dough in muffin pan - all ready for baking

(For 11 muffins)

1½ cups of yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1½ cups of buttermilk
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon of each – salt, sugar and baking powder
Some cheese gratings to top the muffins
Veggies I added
3 cups of finely chopped cabbage (I used red cabbage)
3 shallots and 6 green chillies- finely chopped
½ cup of chickpeas (soaked overnight)

First I sautéed the veggies together for few minutes, until they are cooked. In the meantime, I mixed all other ingredients together thoroughly without any lumps. I stirred in the sautéed veggie mixture to the dough. Greased the muffin pan with little bit of oil, leaving one muffin cup empty and filling it with water to prevent warping (following the book suggestion). Filled the muffin cups with cornmeal-cabbage dough. I also sprinkled cheese on top of some. Baked them in a preheated oven at 400 F (200C) for about 25 minutes, until they are golden.

They tasted like baked versions of cabbage bajjis (you know the kind, bajjis/pakoras – veggies mixed in a gram flour-jowar flour-rice flour dough, then deep fried — almost like that).

Cornmeal Cabbage Muffins - One with cheese sprinkled on top and the other with no cheese topping
Cornmeal-Cabbage Muffins

Recipe Source: Adapted from ‘Williams Sonoma-Muffins’, page 46
Things I skipped adding (from the book’s recipe) are 2 eggs, another 1 ½ tsp of baking powder and more oil – reason for my flat muffin tops.

On a blogging break. See you all in a few days.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida),Cabbage,Chickpeas,Corn Meal,Shallots (Tuesday February 28, 2006 at 2:07 pm- permalink)
Comments (34)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sambhar with Shallots (Baby Onions)

Last week I purchased one packet of shallots (baby onions). With them, I prepared a south Indian special ‘shallot sambhar’ i.e. tiny, baby onions are first peeled out of their dry skin/coverings, then cooked as whole, in thick lentil (toor dal) soup. Tasty and delightful! Like all babies, they are tiny bundles of joy, a gastronomic kind:) and worth the high price.

 Shallot(Baby onion) Sambhar, Toor dal
Shallot Sambhar – Light and refreshing


My sambhar cooking routine is a three-step process.

1. Pressure-cook the toor dal until soft, so that it can be mashed/pureed into smooth paste. Soak the tamarind in water to extract the juice.

2. In the meantime, cut and cook vegetables for sambhar- usually tomatoes and vegetables (shallots). The process I follow is like this. Heat one teaspoon of oil a big saucepan, add and toast popu ingredients. To it, I’ll add chopped tomatoes and cook them until they turn soft and mushy. Then I’ll add and cook shallots (or vegetables), one cup of water and also the seasoning (sambhar powder, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt).

3. Simmering 1 and 2 together- To the cooked tomato-shallot mixture, add the mashed toor dal paste and tamarind juice. Stirring in between, let simmer for about 15 to 30 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve.

4 fistfuls of toor dal (3/4 cup)
12 to 15 shallots (baby onions)
2 ripe juicy tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
1 tsp of sambhar powder
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and salt
1/4 tsp of turmeric
Cilantro for garnish
Popu or tadka:
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, curry leaves, minced garlic. Also few curry leaves and dried red chilli pieces
I prepared this sambhar for idlies and for idly sambhar, I usually add half tsp of cloves & cinnamon powder, to spice up the sambhar a little bit.

Mashed Toor dal, Tamarind juice, tomatoes, shallots (Baby onions), cloves and cinnamon
Ingredients for shallot sambhar

For more detailed sambhar recipe (like how to prepare home made sambhar powder etc.,), check out my other blogged recipes- Okra Sambhar and white radish sambhar.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Onions,Shallots,Toor Dal (Monday February 20, 2006 at 3:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Onion Chutney (Ulli Gadda Pacchadi)

This onion chutney is very popular in North Karnataka and also in our Raayala Seema region. Rural in origin and a favorite of hard working people and farmers, this chunky, saucy, sort-of-sweet, sort-of-spicy chutney tastes terrific with rotis, both wheat and jowar and also with rice.

(for two, for one serving)

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 big red onion – cut to big chunks
5 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon grated coconut (fresh or dried)
Small piece of jaggery – powdered (sugar won’t work in this recipe)
Cherry tomato sized tamarind – Presoaked in very little water (one tablespoon is plenty) for about 15 minutes, so that it can grind well.
Salt to taste

Onion is the main ingredient in this chutney; so don’t skimp on the onion. If you have small onions, use two or three, and red onions or shallots are the best for this recipe. At Nandyala, we make it with erra gaddalu (shallots here).

Red Onion, Coconut Powder, Jaggery, Red Chillies and Tamarind - Ingredients for Onion Chutney

Place an iron skillet on stove-top. Add oil, swirl to coat the pan. When the oil reaches smoking point, add chunks of onion. Saute them to soft brown on high heat stirring frequently. Remove them to a plate, then add the dried red chillies. Saute them to brown. Remove to a plate. Allow them to cool to room temperature. Texturewise and tastewise, this is important. Go, sit down and wait.

When they are cool enough to touch, take the red chillies, coconut, jaggery, tamarind and salt in a mortar or in a food processor. Pound or blenduntil the red chillies are smooth. Then add the onion pieces. Pulse few times to coarse consistency. Do not puree the onions, we do not want that. They should be coarsely crushed like shown in the image below. Stone mortar really comes to a great use for this kind of recipe and I made this chutney in a stone mortar for todays meal.

Remove to a cup and serve with rice or chapati and dal.

Onion Chutney, Red Onion Chutney (Ulli gadda Pacchadi)
Red Onion Chutney and Sona Masuri Rice mixed with Chutney ~ Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Jaggery,Onions (Thursday December 1, 2005 at 7:42 pm- permalink)
Comments (20)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Bajji(Pakora, Bhajjia)

Festival feast without bajjis – no way

Bajji Platter- Potato Slices, Red Onion slices, Green Chillies slit in the middle

Dipped them in a batter, prepared with gram flour(besan), red chilli powder, salt, baking soda, ajwain seeds(Vaamu) and water. (Check out this post for ingredients photo.) Then deep fried them in hot oil.

Bajji (Pakoras, Bhajjias) Platter - Potato, Green Chilli and Onion Bajjis
Platefull of Chilli-Onion-Potato Bajjis

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Gram Flour (Besan),Green Chillies,Onions,Potato (Friday October 14, 2005 at 10:12 am- permalink)
Comments (14)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sprouted Moong Dal Dosa

I like dosas of all kinds, when Mika posted a dosa recipe with sprouted moong dal, I knew I had to try it. At least once a month, I do the whole, three day, moong dal sprouting thing – meaning- soaking moong dal overnight in water, next morning draining the water from the soaked moong dal and hanging them in a wet cheesecloth (aka-clean cotton cloth with tiny wholes) by the kitchen window. Because of hot weather these days, the moong dal loses the moisture quickly so you have to wet the cloth frequently. By the next day, there you have it- sprouted moong dal. What’s more beautiful than sprouted beans, with their tiny white sprouts protruding.

Sprouted Moong Dal(Mung Beans)

Most of the times, we saute them lightly, sprinkle some salt, instead of popcorn etc., we munch on them. Sometimes we do the whole onion, coconut, green chilli, saute in oil thing. Now by trying this recipe, we found another great way to consume sprouted moong dal.

I mostly followed Mika’s recipe, grinded the sprouts adding ginger, chillies and salt. Then, to grinded mixture I also added cumin seeds, half cup of water, finely chopped onions and cilantro. Mixed all the ingredients thoroughly and prepared the dosas. They are more like utappam version of pesarattus, thicker and more tastier because I used sprouted moong dal.

Sprouted Moong Dal Dosa

Served with coconut-cilantro chutney, we couldn’t get enough of them. These gave us great satisfying taste with minimal effort. Thanks to Mika for a great recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole),Onions,Sprouts (Molakalu) (Sunday June 12, 2005 at 5:16 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

The New Home of Mahanandi: