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Monday, June 28, 2021

Aloo Bhujia | Crunchy Potato Mixture (Step by Step Pics)

Aloo Bhujia is a perfect tea time snack and quite addictive as well. We are a die hard fans of the store brought aloo bhujia and I have made aloo bhujia referring several recipes but the results were not so satisfactory with regard to the store brought taste. 'Aloo' refers to potato and 'bhujia' refers to the crunchy sev or mixture. The potato flavor in this mixture added along with besan(kadalmavu) makes it stand out with a tangy flavor. Amchur powder adds the tanginess and is a must for this recipe. These are perfect to dust over idiyappam upma or hot khichadi or they can be just sprinkled over any of the chaats like dabeli, papdi chaat, bhelpuri (if you don't like sprinkling regular sev).

Haldiram and Bikaner are the two best brands of aloo bhujia that kids love. Of late, there has been several trial and error with regard to making aloo bhujia at home from scratch. I wished to recreate the same taste, flavors and believe me, I can claim this is so far the best recipe that almost matches the store brought version. Kids were totally mad over this homemade aloo bhujia and I haven't bought the store brought pack after trying this successful attempt. These are perfect crunchy with the perfect balance of flavors. Double up the ingredients and make bigger batches if you wish. Do give this a try if you love aloo bhujia.

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes
Cooking time ~ 10 minutes
Serves ~ about 250 gms
Author ~ Julie
potato/ urulakizhangu /aloo 3 medium sized boiled & grated
besan (kadalmavu) 1 1/4 cup
kashmiri chilly powder 1/2 tsp
amchur powder 3/4 tsp
coriander powder 1/2 tsp
black salt / inthuppu 1/2 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp 
black pepper powder 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
dry ginger powder (chukku podi) a good pinch
oil (any neutral oil) 1.5 tbsp

Oil for deep frying
chat masala 1 tsp(garnish)

  • Boil the potatoes in a pressure cooker with enough water and light salt. (I usually give three whistles, then peel the skin of potatoes and keep aside. Don’t leave the boiled potatoes in water else will absorb water).
  • Grate the potatoes using a grater, grating ensures its evenly mashed. Now, sieve the spices one by one or mixed together(sieving ensures that only the fine powder falls and so creates a smooth dough) over the grated potatoes, mix well to mash the potatoes smoothly with the spices. Finally toss in the gram flour. Add one cup of besan(kadalamavu) first, check consistency and then add 1/4 cup more if needed. Add the oil too in between and knead to a smooth dough (I didn’t use any water to knead the dough as the oil and moisture from mashed potatoes was good enough).

  • Use an idiyappam press or mould, apply a thin layer of oil in the inside of the mould. Transfer the dough to the mould and check for readiness. 
  • Heat a pan with enough oil (upto 2’ deep) to fry the aloo bhujia. Press the mould by holding over the heated oil(just make sure the flame is low when pressing the mould, else your hands may heat up). Now wait till the bubbles settle and flip the other side. Wait for the bubbles to reduce and then immediately remove from oil. Drain on paper towel.

  • Repeat making the same fries till you finish with the prepared dough. Then crush the prepared aloo bhujia and add in chaat masala. Cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

* Use kashmiri chilli powder for the color of bhujia like store brought. If you use hot chilly powder, then the color may not be the same.
* You can add hing(kayam podi) 1/4 tsp instead of dry ginger powder too. You can add 1/2 tsp pepper powder along with chaat masala for final mixing if you wish to have spicy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Chakka Upperi (Thoran) | Raw Jackfruit Stir Fry

Almost all parts of the humble jackfruit is used in  Kerala and the last lock down period and this lock down people have made good use of this fruit. Right from the tender jackfruit, the fruit is plucked and cooked raw to make idichakka thoran. Then the mature ones are cooked like the recipe below or many other variations. The raw ones are also fried during this season. The ripe ones are eaten fresh or made in different edibles listed below or are preserved as chakka varetti(jackfruit preserve). At last is the seeds which can be made as a delicious chakkakuru milk shake(Jackfruit seeds Milk shake) or chakkkuru mezhukuparetti and added to many other stir fries listed below.

The word 'upperi' may sound strange to people down the south of Kerala  because they refer to upperi as chips. Towards Thrissur, upperi refers to any stir fry vegetable cooked, tempered with spices and without much coconut is referred as upperi, almost like 'thoran' towards south. In Thrissur chips is referred to as chakka varuthathu and not chips commonly. I make my own variations and cook so I generally add grated coconut to this simple upperi. Originally in Thrissur, the grated coconut is not added to the tempering. This is a simple way to have raw jackfruit and there by reduce the intake of carbs in the form of cooked rice, especially perfect for diabetics. Do give this a try if you love this preparation before the jackfruit season ends and enjoy !!

Soaking time(if using dry) ~ 3-4 hours
Cleaning the jackfruit ~ 30 minutes
Preparation time~ 10 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Author~ Julie
Serves ~ 2-3
raw jackfruit bulbs 20-25 or dry jackfruit pieces 1 cup
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
hot chilli powder 3/4 tsp
shallots sliced 5-6
garlic cloves 6-8
coconut grated 1/3 cup(optional)
curry leaves 2 sprigs
coconut oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste 

  • If you are using fresh raw jackfruit, cut the jackfruit and remove the bulbs. De seed them and chop in small pieces as in pic. 

If you are using dry jackfruit pieces like I did here. The recipe to dry jackfruit pieces is here. In that case soak the dry jackfruit pieces for 3-4 hours with enough water. Drain the water and is ready to use.

  • Either the soaked dry jackfruit pieces or using the fresh raw chopped jackfruit, add half a cup of water, add  the turmeric powder and salt.
  • Then cook the jackfruit covered for about 5-7 mins, we can check the pieces in between to check if cooked. The pieces gets softer and wilted. Switch off flame at this stage.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the sliced shallots, sliced garlic and curry leaves. Saute until the shallots turn translucent. To this add red chilli powder on low flame.(Read an alternative method to give kids in the 'notes' section).
  • Transfer the cooked jackfruit an mix well. Add grated coconut at this stage if using and combine. Wait for another minute to get the masala combined. Switch off flame and serve warm.

 *Adding coconut is strictly optional, adds a sweet nutty flavor. Coconut is not added to this recipe in Thrissur when my MIL cooks.
* A better alternative- I loved this as a kid and my kids love it too. Add freshly grated coconut to the cooked jackfruit pieces with little salt, drizzle a little(about 1 tbsp) fresh coconut oil and give a quick toss. Serve warm and tastes yumm. In this the tempering with shallots, garlic and spices is not done.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Instant Barnyard -Tomato Dosa (Step by Step Pics)

What do you generally make for breakfast? I usually make south indian favorite items like idli, dosa, upma, puttu, appam and idiyappam. But these days kids need variety in these items as well and so try and modify these items as much a possible without spoiling the actual flavors. Millets are the latest added entity in my pantry since three years now and so once in a week, I make millet based brekafast item too. The favorite among these millets is barnyard as there is no much change in color or taste when incorporated in recipes and so can be easily sneaked in. 

I have already posted the barnyard idli recipe  but that's a fermented version. This is an instant dosa making and comes out perfectly soft too. If at all you forget to soak the milet for grinding the previous day, you can always soak at night and grind in the morning to make the quick dosas. Tomatoes adds a nice color to the dosas and adds a mild tangy flavor which takes the similar taste as of the fermented batter. You can even make without adding tomatoes or can add a piece of pureed beetroot too. These dosas don't give the feel of an instant dosa as they are soaed for 6-7 hours and ground. Do give this a try and enjoy !!

Preparation time ~ 10 minutes
Cooking time ~ 10 minutes
Serves ~ 12 -14dosas
Author ~ Julie
barnyard millet(kavadapullu) 1.5 cups
urad dal / uzhunnu 1/4 cup
tomato/ thakkali 2 big or 3 small
red dry chilies / vattal mulakku 3-4
ginger/ inji one small piece 
cumin seeds / jeerakam 1 tsp
salt to taste
ghee or oil to smear 2 tbsp

  • Wash and soak the millet and urad dal separately in enough water overnight or 6-7 hours. In the morning, add water and grind the millet to a coarsely ground paste but almost ground and grind the urad dal to a smooth paste. Transfer this to a bowl and add the tomatoes, red dry chillies and ginger piece. Grind to a smooth paste.

  • Add the pureed paste to the ground batter. To the batter add cumin seeds and salt. Mix well and keep aside.

  • Heat an iron griddle and smear oil on top. To this pour ladleful of batter and spread as a thin circle. Wait till the sides are crisp and lightly browned. Brush oil or ghee on top and flip the other side and cook another 45 secs. Transfer to a plate and serve hot with coconut chutney / pottukadala chutney.
* You can add a piece of pureed beetroot instead of tomato too.
* Adding cumin seeds imaprts a nice flavor, omit if you don't like the flavor.
* Add a very small piece ginger else the batter will be over powered with ginger.

Please check out this link here for more millet recipes.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Trivandrum Style Fish Curry | Thiruvananthapuram Meen curry ~ Step by Step Pics

Trivandrum style fish curry (Thirunthoram/ Thiruvananthapuram meen curry) is an easy fish curry that is very delicious to have with piping hot steamed rice. Being in Trivandrum for eight years gave me ample oppurtunity to interact with the people in Trivandrum and that's when I got to taste this curry too. Most of the hotels in Trivandrum serve this curry as a side with meals too. I have been preparing this curry once a while when get bored of the usual Kottayam style fish curry.

Drumstick is added along with fish pieces to this fish curry. The sweetness of the ground coconut along with the spices balances the flavors, tamarind ground along with pulp adds thickness to the gravy too. The cooked mango pieces adds to the sourness and bite pieces along with fish. You can add a sliced tomato in place of raw mangoes if not in season. Drumstick pieces are added along with fish, raw mangoes and fish. This same fish curry can be made with roasted coconut as well. I already posted a recipe with drumstick- fish combo so didn't add to this curry, I made thenga varutharacha meen curry with drumstick pieces(Roasted Coconut Fish Curry). Check that out if you wish to add drumstick pieces to this curry as well. 

Thrissur also has a similar kind fish curry but with a few changes. Thrissur style thengarachga meen curry can be viewed here in this post that I posted long back. In that the fish curry is finally tempered with shallots and curry leaves, also there is no use of fenugreek powder in that style. The final touch of pouring coconut oil on top along with curry leaves adds that Kottayam style touch to this delicious meen curry which I love the most. This fish curry can be made in a jiffy if you have cleaned fish ready to take a dip in the gravy. Do give this a try if you haven't tried yet and enjoy !!


Preparation time ~ 10 minutes
Cooking time ~ 15 minutes
Serves ~ 5-6 
Author ~ Julie
any firm fish (I have used vatta) 500g
*raw mango pieces 1 
green chilies 2 vertical slit
roasted fenugreek powder 1/4 tsp
curry leaves 2-3 sprigs
coconut oil 1 tbsp 
salt to taste

to grind
grated coconut 1.25 cups
kashmiri chilly powder 1 tbsp
hot chilli powder 1 tsp
coriander powder 1.5 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
vallan puli 1 Amla size
shallots 4-5
*ginger 1/2’ Piece 



  • Wash the fish pieces and drain all water. Marinate the fish if following, else skip this step. Refer to notes for marination. Marinating is strictly optional, I usually marinate the fish pieces with hot chilli powder and lightly salt before refrigerating. You can skip that step and use a tsp hot chilly powder in the grinding of the masala itself. 
  • Grind the coconut with Kashmiri chilly powder, hot chilli powder (if not used in marinating) coriander powder, turmeric powder, shallots, tamarind, ginger  by adding little water to a smooth paste.
  • Add the fish pieces to a clay pot or mann chatti and then add cut mango pieces, green chillies, curry leaves, ground paste. To the mixer jar, add a cup of water and pour the cleaned masala along with water to the clay pot. Add a cup of water more and salt. Mix everything well to combine. 

  • Bring the clay pot(mann chatti) overheat and simmer covered for about 10 minutes, or until the mango pieces and fish looks cooked, a light layer of oil floats on top of the curry too. In between, check the salt and consistency of gravy. Finally add in fenugreek powder, another sprig of curry leaves and pour a tbsp of coconut oil on top. Keep covered for 10 minutes till the curry leaves are wilted and a nice aroma of coconut oil seeps in the curry.
  • Enjoy with hot steamed matta rice !!

* I usually marinate the fish pieces with hot chilli powder and lightly salt before refrigerating. You can skip that step and use the half tsp hot chilly powder in the masala itself. 
*There is no use of ginger piece in any of the recipes that I referred, but I have used 1/2’ piece ginger while grinding as we are used to making fish curry by adding ginger. Omit if you don’t like the taste.
*The usage of raw mango helps to enhance the sour flavours and add pieces along with fish.
* I have used a nadan variety mango which had only mild sourness and so added one, you may add as per the sourness of the mango used. OR you many even add a sour (nadan) tomato too instead of mango.
* The colour of the gravy depends on the type of tamarind you use. The black tamarind yields a darker shade to the gravy. I have used black tamarind in this pic, but in the video have used light brown tamarind.
*You can also add drumstick pieces along with mango as well, I haven’t used.
* You can use any firm fish for making this curry like tuna (choora), avoli (pomfret) and even mackerel(ayala) works fine.


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Karavada | Trivandrum Special Vada (Step by Step Pics)

What is karavada? The name 'karavada' in its literal meaning - spicy vadas. Many famous restaurants serve this vada at Trivandrum and am not sure if its served in other districts as well, so Trivandrum gets the whole credit for this crispy vadas. The history of these vadas originates from the Tamil brahmin families who live in 'agraharam'(a chain of houses mostly sharing one common wall with their neighbor). Many of these brahmin families are living in the Anavaal Theruvu of Trivandrum and they still cook and sell these vadas from home.

If you ask me if its parippu vada then I would say 'no' but still this vada uses a small amount of vada parippu(chana dal) to give the crunch. If you ask me if its medu vada(uzhunu vada) I would say 'no' but the batter uses uzhunnu(urad dal) or idli batter which has urad dal in it. 

Then what is this vada? 
Its a combo of both vadas but tastes different than both popular vadas. The color is orangish red when fried due to the usage of red chilli powder and there are speckles of soaked chana dal and you get to bite through them as you enjoy these vadas. They are crisp like medu vada(uzhunu vada) when fried and the inside is soft. 

I referred many videos to get an idea of this recipe and ended up in Lekshmi Nair's Magic oven series video where she visits the Brahmin family agrahara at Trivandrum which I found was more or less authentic as they have been making and selling these vadas from home. In that recipe, doppi ari(rice) is used for the recipe but I have used steamed sona masoori rice. Any good quality par boiled rice is good enough for this recipe. The outer cover is very crisp and inside is soft. Unlike medu vada, there is no usage of onions in this vadas. Do give these a try if you would like to try a variation to the regular medu vadas/ parippu vadas and enjoy with hot piping tea !!

Preparation time ~ 30 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Serves ~ 20 vadas
Author ~ Julie
sona masoori steamed rice or doppi rice 1 1/4 cup
kadala parippu / chana dal 1.5 tbsp
fermented idli batter / Idli mavu 1/3 cup
rice flour 2 tsp(optional)
ginger 1 tbsp chopped
green chilly 1 or 2 
curry leaves 2 or 3 sprigs
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp 
asafoetida /kayam podi/ hing 1/4 tsp
* baking soda a pinch
salt 3/4 tsp 
water 1/2 cup
oil for deep frying

  • Wash, rinse and soak the rice and chana dal(kadalaparippu) for an hour. Then drain water and grind the rice till almost done but a little coarse. Add very little water to grind, I used about 1/2 cup water. Transfer the ground batter to a bowl and then add chana dal, chopped green chillies, ginger and cut curry leaves.
  • Add the idli batter, chilli powder, kayam podi(hing), salt and mix well. Aerate the batter gently using hand to combine and mix (if required add rice flour to get the batter consistency correct). I did add a tsp of rice flour. Finally add the pinch of baking soda which is optional (read notes section below).

  • Heat oil in a wok and drop spoonful of batter with hands or spoon and cook on medium flame. Ideally as soon as you drop the batter in oil it puffs up like poori and floats on top of oil. Cook both sides by flipping. Remove using slotted spoon and place on paper towels.
  • Repeat the same step of frying till you finish all batter. Serve hot with coconut chutney and tomato chutney.

* I have used sona masoori steam rice but any good quality par boiled rice is nice for this recipe. Ideally its doppi rice used.
* I used 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilly powder and 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder. You can always alter the spice as per tolerance. I used only one green chilli, you can increase that too.
* I have made this vada without adding soda too, in that case increase the amount of idli batter so that the vada puff well, you can increase the idli batter to 2/3 cup for this same measures. But then the batter may turn more thinner and may need to add more rice flour to adjust the consistency. I felt adding a pinch of soda gives a crunchy and light outer cover than made with the ones without soda. I saw many videos adding baking soda too.You may or may not add as per tastes.