Tag Archives: south indian food

Variation on the theme of Red Pepper Chutney (Pacchudi)

3 red bell pepper chopped
1 small tomato chopped
1/2 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
3 green chillies
Small Bunch of coriander leaves (1/3 of the whole bunch that is sold in market)
1-2 tbsp oil
2 tsp Urad dal
1tsp mustard seeds
6 red chilli
Pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add red bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and green chilli with some turmeric, asafoetida and salt. Close the lid and cook till 3/4 water evaporates. Stir as necessary. Remove lid and continue to cook till all the water evaporates.  Add some tamarind paste.

In a small pan, fry the urad dal in a little oil. Set aside. In the remaining oil, fry mustard  seeds and red chilli.

Grind half the dal and the red chilli. Add the cooked red pepper mixture and grind to paste.

Garnish with the remaining fried dal and mustard seeds.

Recipe by Mani Lanka.

You can see my version of the recipe here.

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Mango Vermicelli

2 cups Vermicelli or Rice noodles
1 raw green mango
1 green chili
1-2 dry red chilli
handful of nuts: peanuts and cashews
1 tsp channa dal (yellow gram)
1tsp urad dal (white gram)
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch of asofetida
salt to taste
curry leaves

Peel green mango and chop into pieces and puree in a food processor and set aside.

Bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Add some oil, salt to taste and turmeric and toss in the vermicelli until the noodles soften. Remove from flame and drain any excess water.

Heat some oil (about 2 tbsp) in a pan. Add asofetida, red chilli, chana dal, urad dal, nuts and mustard seeds. Fry till lightly brown. Slice the green chilli and add. Add a few fresh curry leaves. Continue frying for a minute. Transfer to a large pan and mix the vermicelli and the mango puree.


Recipe thanks to Anantha, my sister and my Mom.


  • The same recipe can be used with rice, poha (flattened rice), or ground rice. Rice and ground rice should be cooked normally as per directions. Poha does not need cooking. Add poha to water for a few seconds. Squeeze out the water and transfer the softened poha to another bowl. Leaving it for too long in water will make it mushy.
  • Lemon juice can be replaced for mango
  • Tamarind juice can be used as well with rice. Goes well with rice, ground rice or poha. But usually needs to be cooked till it thickens before adding to the rice.


Idli is another south Indian savory that almost looks like the chinese dumplings. It is eaten as breakfast with chutney and sambhar.

1 cup urad dal (de-husked black lentil)
2 1/2 cups idli rava (granulated rice)
1 tsp salt

Soak the dal in a little water and leave for 6-8 hrs. Likewise in a separate dish soak the idli rava and leave for 6-8 hrs. Once the dal has nicely swollen, rinse and blend in a wet grinder with a little water into a smooth paste. Transfer the blended paste to a large bowl. Squeeze water gently from the idli rava and add to the blended paste in handfuls. Add salt and mix well. Leave outside for up to 24 hrs so the batter can ferment and rise. A well fermented batter yields soft, spongy idlis that melt in your mouth!

Idli’s are traditionally made in a special utensil that comes with special plates with circular cups. The plates can be of two sizes – regular and bite size. The bite size are especially good for dipping into sambhar and eating. They are also a convenient size for little kids. Add a little grease (butter or ghee)  to the circular cups to prevent the idli from sticking to the bottom. Add about one tablespoon batter to each circular cup and steam for 10-15 minutes.

Once the utensil has cooled and the lid can be opened, scoop out each idli with a spoon and serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.

Bon appetit!

See also:
Coconut Chutney


Sambhar is a staple dish in South India. It is eaten with rice, is a key side dish with idli, dosa, and vada. As with any dish, there are innumerable variations to the same dish. Over the years, I have evolved my sambhar recipe as well and this is how I make it.

1/2 cup toor dal (yellow split lentils)
1 onion (cut into large pieces) or peeled pearl onions
1-2 carrots (cut into 1 in strips)
1/4 bottle gourd (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tomato (cut into pieces)
1-2 drumsticks (optional)
A little white radish (cut into pieces or rings)
some green beans (8-10) cut into 1 in pieces
2-3 stalks of chopped cilantro
A few curry leaves
1-2 dry red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
A little tamarind (fresh de-seeded or paste)
Touch of asafoetida
Touch of turmeric powder
1-2 tsp oil (vegetable or peanut oil)
1-2 tsp MTR sambhar powder
1 tsp salt

Boil all the vegetables until cooked in a dish with some water or in a pressure cooker. Add one cup water and cook the dal until cooked. In a large pan, add some oil and fry the seasoning – cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies with some asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the mustard seeds start crackling add the curry leaves and mix. Add the boiled vegetables with any remaining water. Mash the cooked dal into almost a paste and add to the mix. Soak some fresh tamarind (a small handful)  in water and squeeze the juice out and add to the mix. Add some fresh (or dry) grated coconut, salt to taste and sambhar powder. Continue boiling for 15-20 minutes until all the ingredients mix well and the aromas penetrate. Garnish with some fresh cilantro.

Best when eaten hot with some rice or with idli, dosa or vada.

Uttappam: It’s what’s for breakfast!

 Now that I have taken an initial dive at writing this cooking blog, I am on a roll. Today I am going to provide a recipe of my favorite south Indian breakfast item: Uttappam. This is predominantly a breakfast item made in the four south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Each state has it’s own unique flavor to it. Further different batter combination can be used to make it.

Not sure if this is the traditional way to  make it. But this is how I make it. It’s fast, easy  and healthy to boot!

1 cup urad dal (dehusked split black gram)
2-3 cups idli rava (granualated rice)
Chopped onion
Chopped tomato
Chopped cilantro
Some frozen peas
Chopped jalapeno (optional)


Soak the urad dal in some water for 6-8 hrs. In a separate bowl soak the idli rava for the same time. I tend to use 2 cups of idli rava for 1 cup of urad dal. But some people tend to use 2 1/2 or even 3 cups of rava for 1 cup of urad dal. Once the soak urad dal is ready, rinse it  and put it in a wet grinder to make smooth batter. Do not use too much water, just enough to blend it into a thick batter. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Lightly squeeze water from the idli rava and toss it into the batter in handfuls. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix well. Set aside. To allow the batter to set, keep it aside for at least 6-8 hrs or leave it outside overnight. To prevent the batter from getting too sour, do not leave outside for more than 24 hrs. Note that these ingredients are easily available in your local Indian grocery store. At some stores you might even be able to pick up ready to cook batter.

To make an uttapam take about 3 table spoons of the batter in a small bowl. Mix in the chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno(optional) and some peas. Mix well and add some water to achieve good consistency batter that you can easily pour in a pan (similar to a pancake). Place a wide pan on the stove on low to medium heat. Add 1-2 table spoons of oil and glaze the whole pan with some grease. Spread out the batter on the pan. Adjust pan size and amount of batter to make a round 8-9 in diameter uttapam. Sprinkle some crushed pepper if desired. Cover with a lid and cook on low flame for 5-10 minutes until lightly golden. Flip the uttapam carefully and cook the other side likewise till lightly golden. Can add another tablespoon of oil if desired.

Serve hot by itself or with coconut chutney or  tomato chutney or sambhar or a combination of one or all. My favorite is to actually use a sweet and sour ginger chutney. All recipes forthcoming for these and other delicious fare soon.

Left over batter can be refrigerated and used for up to a week. Any combination of vegetables can be used.  I like to sometimes cut carrots into thin circles and decorate my uttappam like a pizza. So improvise and throw in your favorite veges while you experiment with it. But most of all enjoy!

Stay tuned for another recipe tomorrow: for another healthy, tasty breakfast item with the same batter.