March 31, 2006

Pork vindhaloo

Pork meat is one of the taboo food and drinks which people avoid consuming for religious, cultural, and health reasons. For other taboo food items, give it a look here. Also, I found this discussion pretty intriguing. It is almost 4 years now that I prepared a pork dish. Pork meat is available with only some of the grocers here in Muscat. What we got today is Brazilian frozen pork meat sold through Al-Fair groceries.

Here is one of our most favorite home-made pork dishes - the pork vindhaloo or is that vindaloo?. Isn't it so easy to cook at home? Pork meat lovers - this is for you.

Pork vindhaloo recipe
Preparation time - 40 minutes
Serves - 6-8

Pork legs – 1 kg, boneless, cut into 1-inch pieces
Potatoes – ½ kg, cut into cubes
Onions – 2, medium size, finely chopped
Coriander leaves – half of a bunch, for garnish (optional)
Oil – 2 tablespoons + oil for deep-frying potatoes
Hot water – 4 cups
For the marinade:
Ginger – 1-inch piece
Garlic – 6 pods, medium size
Black peppercorns – 10
Dried red chillies – 8
Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Cloves – 8
Cardamoms – 8 pods
Cinnamon – 4 one-inch sticks
Cummin seeds – 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
Salt – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste
Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Method: Deep-fry the potato cubes in oil, drain, and keep aside. Lightly dry-roast the black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds in a pan taking care not to burn any of them. Grind all the marinade ingredients into a smooth paste and marinate the meat in it for at least 2-3 hours; preferably overnight. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed vessel; add the onions, and sauté till golden brown. Add the meat along with its marinade and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the hot water, cover, and simmer over moderate heat for 30 minutes. Add the deep-fried potato cubes, simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the gravy is thick to the desired consistency. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice. Enjoy!


March 26, 2006

Onion chutney

Here is the recipe of the onion chutney mentioned in the pesarattu post.

Onion chutney recipe

Onions - 4, medium sized, chopped
Coconut - scrapings of a quarter of a large coconut
Dried red chillies - 8, small, medium hot
Roasted and puffed bengal gram dal - 1 tablespoon
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon or adjusted to taste (we added 3/4 teaspoon)
Ghee - 2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a sprig

Method: Grind the coconut, salt, chillies, and fried bengal gram dal first. Add onions and grind again coarsely without adding water. Make the ghee very hot and add mustard seeds to splutter and curry leaves. Remove from heat, pour the seasoning on top of the chutney, and mix well. This chutney is excellent for dosais and pesarattu. Enjoy!


Call for entries: Virtual Cooking Competition - Q1 2006

Here is a second call for your entries to My Dhaba's virtual cooking competition - Q1 2006.

Please note that we have made few changes to the general rules, procedures, and dates based on the requests from our guests. Details and guidelines are here.

In brief,

Virtual Cooking Competition (VCC) - Q1 2006

Theme - Appetizers (any cuisine)
Deadline for entries - April 10, 2006
Public opinion poll - April 11-April 20, 2006
Results - April 21, 2006
Prizes, gifts, and sponsors are to be announced.

We welcome you to participate in VCC-Q1 2006. Nominate your favorite appetizer recipe! Don’t Miss It!

For more information or to get help in nominating a recipe, feel free to contact us via blog comments or by e-mailing to


March 25, 2006

Can you guess what this is? CYGWTI #2

We hope that this answer post to CYGWTI #2 is sure to bring plenty of laughter to all of you out there, especially to those participated and attempted guessing at this game. Thank you for participating. Hope you had great fun.

It was real tough - we now know.

Here are the guesses received so far - coffee (2), tea, caramel custard (2), chocolate foam with coffee drink, egg omelet (2), mushroom, steamed egg with soy sauce and some sesame or shallot oil, honeypot, ragi dosa on middle of cooking, roti cooked on tandoor, naan or a similar type of bread - a bit burned, omelette with cheese (2), some sort of bread; slightly burnt naan, roti, or chappathi (2); creme brule, residue in the pan while making ghee, kamarkat, crème brule with burnt sugar topping, pancake slightly burned, coke over cream, appalam left in the microwave for too long, and the last one - tender coconut.

It happened wierd at my kitchen that day. In brief, I was trying to make my usual special masala tea after a tiring day at work... kept one cup of milk and a cup of water in two burners of the stove... sat for a while with Adarsh, my eldest son with his computer... got involved in some fun activity with him. I really felt like a bull in a china shop when I had returned to kitchen after 5 minutes. These pictures will tell you the remaining part of the story :-)

And... the correct answer is milk, boiled over and burnt? Excellent Reshma! Congratulations! How did you get this one so accurate - any previous real life experience? :-)


March 24, 2006

Coconut chutney (2)

Coconut chutney recipe
Serves - 8

Coconut - scrapings of a fresh half of a coconut
Roasted and puffed bengal-gram dal - 2 tablespoons
Green chillies - 3, small
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander leaves - 1/2 bunch, fresh
For seasoning:
Ghee or oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a sprig, fresh
Dried red chilly - 1, small

Method: Combine the first 5 ingredients and grind it to a rough paste. Make the ghee very hot, add mustard seeds to splutter, the half-broken dried red chilly to turn crisp, then curry leaves, and mix into the chutney. It is now ready to serve. If you like, also add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice or a tablespoon of thick fresh curds to the chutney. This is excellent with dosais, idlees, and poories. Enjoy!


Beef fry

Here is a slightly different result to the beef/mutton sukha fry recipe posted before. No changes were made in its original recipe.


Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #2)

Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #2)

When we pictured this today, the first thing came to our mind was to ask you "Can you guess what this is?" A summary of the guesses received via comments/mails from My Dhaba guests and correct answer with details will be posted on April 1, 2006, or earlier to this date if anyone of you come up with the correct answer.

Hope you will have great fun together with us participating and attempting to guess the correct answer. :-)

Folks - over to you.

The link to CYGWTI #1 is here.


March 21, 2006

Green-gram dal ladoos

Green-gram dal ladoo

Bringing the ingredients together...

Green-gram dal - lightly fried to light brown color

Green-gram dal - fried and powdered

Sugar - powdered

Cashew nuts, raisins, dried coconut, and cardamom powder

Green-gram dal ladoo mixture

Green-gram dal ladoo recipe
Yield – 12 ladoos

Green-gram dal – 2 cups
Sugar – 1-1/2 cups
Cashew nuts – 8
Raisins – 2 tablespoons
Ghee – 3-4 tablespoons
Copra (dried coconut) – 2 tablespoons, finely sliced
Cardamom – 10 pods, finely powdered dry
Salt – ¼ teaspoon

Method: Fry the green-gram dal to a light brown color in a dry, hot, heavy frying pan over moderate heat. Grind and sift the fried dal to flour in a blender or in the grinding stone. Pound and sift the sugar also to powder. Combine the dal flour, sugar powder, copra, and cardamom powder with salt. Make the ghee just hot and fry separately in it the split cashew nuts to a light brown color and the raisins till they swell out. Break the cashew nuts into small bits. Mix along the cashew nuts, raisins, and dal-flour mixture in a bowl. Make the same ghee to smoking hot, remove from the fire, stir the dal-flour mixture thoroughly into it, and shape into small lemon-sized ladoos. If the ladoos crumple, bind it with a sprinkling of warm milk or hot water. Enjoy!


March 17, 2006

Sea crab curry

Sea crab curry recipe

Sea crabs – ½ kg (How to clean crabs? - Here is a cool link.)
Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
Cummin seeds – 1 teaspoon
Black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 flakes
Ginger – 1-inch piece
Green chillies – 6, medium size, medium hot (or dried red chillies - 4)
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Tamarind extract – 2 tablespoons (or tomatoes – 1, finely chopped)
Coconut – 1 cup, grated (half portion of a medium-sized coconut)
Onion – 1, finely chopped
Salt – 1 teaspoon, adjust to taste
Oil – 2 teaspoons (preferably coconut oil)

Method: Fry lightly the coriander seeds, cummin seeds, black peppercorns, and fenugreek seeds taking care not to brown them. Grind it along with ginger, garlic, green chillies, coconut, and turmeric powder to a smooth paste. Heat a flat-bottomed vessel and pour in the oil. When it becomes smoking hot, add the onions and saute till the onion edges turn brown here and there. Add the ground masala paste and salt. Fry for a minute. Add the tamarind extract or tomatoes at this stage and saute till the tomatoes are soft. Add the crabs and mix it well with the masala. Pour 2 cupfuls of hot water over the crabs or sufficient to just cover it. Cover and cook over moderate heat till the crabs are cooked well and the gravy is thickish to your required consistency. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with plain rice. Enjoy!


March 12, 2006

Comments Roundup!

Peter F. Drucker rightly said these words “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” I have learnt during this week that at times it is too difficult to reflect our highest priorities in the actual daily activities, and I am trying to relearn the basics of time management to effectively utilize the time and energy in a most effective way. Your inputs are appreciated.

Please find below some of the questions My Dhaba received via feedback and comments during the past few days. I am trying to answer all of those in a separate post today.

#1: Baskaran - We have a problem while making APPAMS the centre portion remains soggy and uncooked even after the appams are cooked well on the edges and seperate out from the vessel.. Can anyone suugest how we could overcome this problem.

Few thoughts on this - with a little patience, we can make appams successfully in a heavy shallow circular iron kadai or tawa. The tava, however, must be the type which is slightly hollowed in the center, not the kind which is dead flat. Also, choose for the kadai or tava a close covering lid which will not allow as far as possible the steam to escape easily. The batter of the appams should be thin enough to flow easily from the spoon. Now, while cooking, pour the batter in a circle, making the circumference of the circle first. Next, quickly spread the batter wich fallys in the center with the back of the batter spoon to cover the open gaps or complete the circle more symmetrically. Cover immediately with a close fitting lid. Allow to cook over a low heat. After a couple of minutes, see if the appam is well cooked. A well cooked appam will have a lacy brown rim with a thick porous well cooked center. Hope this info helps.

#2: Anupama - I wonder if you can share with me the recipe of the red masala used in north Indian dishes like paneer butter masala. i love it, but i have been unable to get the taste of the gravy ike they make in the hotels.

Hotels use packaged red tandoori masala on paneer butter masala. For now, try our combination of spice mix - I will post about paneer butter masala separately Anu.

#3: Ashwini (rawa idlee) - I see fine rava, coarse rava and idli rava in stores. Which should I use for this recipe? And also for your vermicelli idli?

Coarse or idli rava is better suited for both recipes.

#4: Sury (ginger mushrooms) - Is it necessary to boil the ginger for this recipe? Does that affect the taste in some way?

Boiled ginger reduces the characteristic odor and pungent taste and gives the needed subtle ginger taste to this dish. I usually boil the ginger in two or three changes of water.

#5: Aditi - I wanted to try this recipe, however i do not want to use the coconut. Can i substitute this with something else.

Help me in finding the recipe you are referring to Aditi.

#6: Samreen (chicken korma) - Now I want to try your "chicken korma" but in this recipe i found coconut,scrapings(it means fresh one,right)but i couldn't found it nearby so can it be replace with the dessicated coconut the one came in packets?if yes then how much amount i've to use instead of 1 cup.

Coconut scrapings when pan-fried to light brown and ground to a very smooth paste along with the curry leaves gives a unique flavor to korma dishes. Try substituting the fresh coconut with packaged coconut milk powder (3 tablespoons) diluted in a cupful of warm water. Dessicated coconut does not give the desired taste.

#7: Samreen (tomato sambhar) - i've a question about your tomato sambhar that when i've to add the garlic and red chillie as it's not mentioned in the recipe,sry to say.I made it today and i add garlic just before adding the onion in the heated oil and the red chillie i add it in the tuwar dal when it's boiling...i think i did it right it's still cooking so don't know the end result.

You were absolutely right. I have made the changes to the recipe to reflect those. Thank you for notifying it to me. How did it turn out at your home?

#8: Meenal Mehta (sweet prawns) - Why are these prawns called sweet?does the coconut add the sweetness?

Yes Meenal – the small piece of raw coconut, lime juice, and the combination of it with green chillies, perhaps, is the only reason to make it sweet.

#9: Anon - Are you from Nellai? Most of your recipes especially Sambar have Tirunelveli touch.

Wow! I take that as a compliment Anon. I have been living a nomadic life; no, I am not from Tirunelveli.

#10: Baskaran (shahi khichdi) - We have notced that the rice gets shrivelled after frying and the grains are not as long in grains as shown in the picture of yours.Your suggestions please!!

Have you used any of the basmati rice varieties for this dish? Rice-water ratio could be the villian here or was the rice over-fried making it shrivelled. I need some more inputs from you on your way of cooking rice.

#11: Kiran/Tanuja/Anonymous (pesarattu) - Your pesarattu & chutney is looking simply divine. I searched your database for the coconut onion chutney recipe, but couldn't find one. Could you please provide the recipe for the orange colored chutney. It is looking so appetizing.

I will post the onion-coconut chutney in a short while today.

#12: Shammi (pesarattu) - My mother uses the whole version of green gram dal for pesarattu - the ones with the skin on, I mean. But I guess taste-wise it would be pretty much the same, right?

You are right Shammi – it gives absolutely the same result taste-wise, color slightly changes to light green.

#13: Anjali (keerai poreel) - There is a recipe in your fried vegetables section called as keerai poreel i am a leafy veg fan.I just wanted to find out that , we dont get amarnath here at my place, can I switch it with spinach or some other leafy greens. And also, could you make more of rice dishes, party kinds to go along with the wonderful Non veg and veg dishes of yours.

Anjali – Not all greens will taste their best if fried this way, but spinach goes well with this recipe. I will be certainly adding many more rice dishes.

#14: Deepa (halwa Omania) - Would love to know if you or any of your visitors can help me find "Wheat Starch" in the US, wanted to try out the halwa.

Take help from a good nearby grocer with this Deepa.

#15: Zoya (pesarattu) - I made pesarattu this morning for breakfast. Tasted great. Thanks :) Just two small problems for which I need solutions please...even if they sound like silly queries ! 1) I could not spread them thin on the soon as I poured the batter, it started forming. Even after I reduced the flame, the same kept happening. 2) Mine were to the dry side..not totally soft and this the way they are supposed to be or am I going wrong somewhere ?

Few tips: Heat the tava over moderate heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the tawa and wipe it off with a folded piece of thick cloth. Do not grease the pan with oil before pouring the batter. Now take a big spoonful of batter and pour it in the middle of the well-heated tawa. Spread the batter lightly with the back of a spoon using a circular motion to a round of 6-7 inches in diameter. The back of the spoon should not touch the surface of the tawa. The dosai may be one-eighth of an inc thick or as thin as possible. Spread some ghee or oil around and over it, roast it for a while, turn it over, and cook the other side also in the same way. Batter consistency also plays a role in making it soft and fluffy, so take care of making the batter to a medium thick consistency.

#16: Samreen - I would like to try your "rock cookies" and "Tomato-chicken curry (with coconut milk)" but unfortunately the recipe does not exist in the link.Can u please post the same.

Rock cookies – pl find the recipe link here. Tomato-chicken curry recipe – I will add that one during this week.

#17: Anon (ragi dosai) - I have a small question my dad is diabetic so i want to make the ragi dosa for him but i wanted to find out if we can skip the coconut in the recipe coz of high fat content or provide me with a different alternative.

Yes, you can skip the coconut.

Folks - more later. Cheers!

March 2, 2006

Pesarattu aka green gram dal dosai

Pesarattu is a mildly spicy pancake which is most common in the southern states of India, especially in Andhra Pradesh. It looks like a dosai, but taste-wise it is totally a different one and quite nutritious too. Traditionally, pesarattu is made with a strange combination of upma-onion stuffing. Along with the roasted cake, any of the favorite coconut chutneys makes it a sumptuous breakfast or an excellent teatime snack or can be devoured at any hour of the day whether hungry or not. Here is how we prepare pesarattu – a plain version roasted in original desi ghee. We have prepared coconut-onion chutney for today’s pesarattu, which proved to be an excellent combination. To those who have not yet tasted pesarattu, take our word and do try it out. It is a heavenly Indian dish.

Bringing the ingredients together...



Pesarattu aka green gram dal dosai recipe

Green gram (moong) dal – ½ kg
Green chillies – 8, medium size, medium hot
Ginger – 1/2-inch piece
Fennel seeds – 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida – a pinch, powdered (optional)
Onions – 2, medium size, finely chopped
Salt – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste
Ghee/oil – for roasting

Method: Wash and soak the green gram dal for at least 3 hours. Grind it with ginger, green chillies, salt, and half a cup of water into a coarse batter which is of medium thick consistency. Add the asafoetida, onions, and fennel seeds to the batter. Heat a dosai pan and when it is fully heated, pour a big ladleful of batter and spread it into a round shape in the same way you do with a dosai. Spread some ghee or oil around it, roast it for a while, turn it over, and cook the other side also in the same way. Serve it hot.

Pesarattu aka green gram dal dosai