Author Archives: dosaikal

About dosaikal

A simple person who believes strong roots and values build up stronger generations; and good food and good food habits are one of the best gifts that one can give to their off springs.

Nellikkai Thengai Milagai Thuvayal/ Gooseberry Coconut Greenchilli Chutney (Gooseberry Chutney Series)

This thuvayal is a simple combination of three ingredients – coconut, green chillies, and ginger, with the goodness of gooseberry.

Tastes awesome with idli, dosai, oothappam, paniyaaram, vadai and why not, rice too.

Nellikkai Thengai Milagai Thuvayal

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • periya nellikkai/gooseberry (bigger variety) – 3 no.s chopped
  • thengai/coconut – 1/2 finely chopped
  • pachchai milagai/green chillies- 5/6 as preferred
  • inji/ginger – 1/2 inch diced ginger
  • uppu/salt – to taste

Method of Preparation

  1. Chop all ingredients for easy grinding in the blender
  2. Add salt and water and blend to a smooth paste
  3. This thuvayal doesn’t need thaalippu or seasoning with oil and mustard seeds like other chutneys. Still if one prefers, go ahead.

thaalippu – seasoning

  • oil  – 2 tsp
  • mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • urad dal – 1/2 tsp
  • curry leaves
  1. Heat oil in a small pan
  2. Add mustard seeds
  3. When they splutter add split black gram
  4. When it becomes golden brown, add curry leaves
  5. Pour this into the thuvayal.

Any Thuvayal is a flexible dip to make. Increase or reduce the quantity of coconut, green chilli or gooseberry as per taste preference. For a tangier dip, add gooseberries; for a spicier thuvayal add chillies.

Nellikkai Thuvayal – Gooseberry Chutney Series

Gooseberry is one of those nutritious fruits that often brings back nostalgic memories. When we used to travel during school vacations to my paternal grandmother’s native place in down south Tamilnadu, the houses that had ‘nelli maram’ or the gooseberry tree was a special place for me. ‘Arunelli’ – the yellow and extremely sour, smaller variety of gooseberry was my favorite. With the beautiful Kutralam Falls nearby and the monsoon setting in, the village would have intermittent pleasant showers and chill air. The fields, farm lands, and the tall trees imparting different shades of green, would present such a soothing atmosphere, that the developed cities should beg for.

Visiting elders and relatives of the close knit family was a routine, common to most households. Also, introducing the third generation to other relatives of the extended family was part of those village visits. That is one of the major tasks of grandfathers and grandmothers, providing essential links through generations.

Coming back to gooseberry, most houses would welcome you with the arunelli maram in the frontyard, with bunches of the delicious fruit. I think the hosts should have been amused seeing my eyes rest on the gooseberries than in their conversation, I would always come back with packs of berries, the fruit and the taste I’ve treasured in my memory till today.

By Abhishek Jacob at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44823119

Post vacations, back at home in the city, thankfully those days, there were no branded food outlets in the corner for junk intake. On the way back from school, arunelli/gooseberries sprinkled with salt and chilli powder was a favorite walking partner. This memory glittered back during my Cambodia days, where I could buy arunelli from the street vendor with salt and chilli powder.

photo taken from dosaikal.com/the cambodia connections-I, my post back in April 2013.

The other gooseberry is the bigger variety. While arunelli is a snack in hand, periya nellikkai is versatile. Eat it raw, make thuvayal/chutney or pickles, make nellikkai saadham/rice, thayir pachchadi/yoghurt raita – the options are endless.

First, enjoy the sourness of nellikkai; then, have a tumbler of water; get amazed by the sweetness that spreads in your mouth.

Setting new nutrition goals during the Covid crisis, I had been trying out different kinds of thuvayal/chutneys with periya nellikkai/big gooseberries. The fruit is at its nutritious best, when consumed raw. Hence, I try to add gooseberries without roasting or stir frying in the dips i make. Also, I have tried to add chinna vengayam/shallots in the fried chutneys, as a replacement for normal onions.

As a thuvayal series, I would like to share a few of those chutneys in the coming posts.

See you all soon.

My Kitchen with Kenwood – III – Ice Cream Maker

Who wouldn’t relish a flavorful creamy scoop of ice cream? Additionally, when the awesome treats gets swirled in your own kitchen, that could be eternal bliss.

There is a big list of things that petrify me. Like the processed grains, polished flour, polished sugar and many more that I mentioned in the previous post. The long list of ingredients – in a bottle of jam or sauce, in a pack of cookies or chips, in a can of juice or flavor enhanced milk…. the list is never ending. The need for increasing Shelf life of products, in a fast paced world does it all.

The long list of ingredients that bother me in a store bought ice cream tub, not only discouraged me from gobbling up to my heart’s content, but also daunted me even while having a single scoop. I craved for an ice cream I could enjoy, without guilt.

I wanted to make an ice cream with minimal necessary ingredients. But, my motto was to churn a delicacy that would be-

  • low in fat
  • less in sugar
  • creamy, yet less cream involved
  • flexible flavors with natural ingredients
  • no food colors involved

Above all, a tasty treat that can be a perfect alternative to the branded dainty.

I tried making ice cream with a blender. Each time I blended and put back the mix in the freezer, the blender ideally reduced the ice crystals. But, a thicker, heavier, creamier mix, rich in fat gave better results while using it.

I needed a perfect churner to churn my low fat ice cream mix. Then, I came across Kenwood Ice Cream Maker IM280.

Less in weight, easy to store and handle, and apt for small quantities to be tested in my R&D Lab – The Kitchen. This is again, a beginner’s perfect Kit.

First, I made the basic vanilla ice cream, with a combination of low fat milk, full cream and corn flour. I used raw sugar, just right for my family’s taste buds and vanilla for flavor. Simple alterations to the same basic ingredients does wonders too.

This short video shows how beautifully the Kenwood Ice Cream Maker churns our favorite dessert. It is pure joy, customising your own recipe to the needs of your loved ones.

In the same recipe, I added good quality 100% dark chocolate powder and my chocolate ice cream was done.

The product discussed above is a separate Ice Cream Maker. Kenwood also has a frozen dessert/ice cream attachment to go with its Kitchen machines.

My Kitchen with Kenwood- II- Kitchen Machines

Next Kenwood product to be discussed is the Kitchen machine. I have been using two Kitchen Machines. KENWOOD PROSPERO KITCHEN MACHINE KM241 and KMIX KITCHEN MACHINE KMX51.

The Mixers come with a dough hook, beater and whisk. For me, the dough hook is the most used.

Initially I started using the KENWOOD PROSPERO KITCHEN MACHINE – KM241

It can be called as a ‘beginner’s delight’. Easy to handle and is light weighted in comparison to other Kenwood kitchen machines. Since it can easily be taken out when needed from the shelves, the stress of placing it as a table top appliance, occupying space in the kitchen slab is reduced. This one is apt for kneading or whisking in small quantities. This machine is handy in kneading- the simple pizza base, chappathi dough to bread and buns.

The self explanatory video below, shows the procedure of kneading buns made easy. This certainly simplifies the inconvenience of kneading by hand.

The fear of all purpose flour, polished white sugar, unwanted enhancers and preservatives added in the store bought products, encouraged me to bake healthier versions of baked goodies. I started baking more and more breads and buns. I started using the sturdier version- Kmix Kitchen Machine. This machine comes with a 5lr. large mixing bowl made of polished stainless steel. This has been my ideal partner in the recent past, in making breads, buns, cakes and pastries.

100% Whole Wheat, Eggless, Spicy Masala Buns – with Flax Seed- Sesame Seed – Mint with my kMix Kitchen Machine KMX51

For the detailed recipe – see post – dosaikal.com.

Next to kneading, I use the beater for blending certain complicated cake batters – like the one below- date and walnut whole wheat batter or even a carrot cake batter which needs quick incorporation of ingredients. And not to miss, the cream cheese frosting that I do with the whisk attachment, with less strain on hands.

Date and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting

Most importantly, one big bowl can serve all purposes, thereby limiting the usage of several utensils in the kitchen. Kenwood Kitchen Machines are truly ‘K’apable, ‘K’omplete and ‘K’ompetent.

My Kitchen with Kenwood

When the latest Kenwood sale was on, I visited their showroom in Abu Dhabi. I was fascinated to see the wide variety of kitchen products. As a home-maker, I depend on certain Brands for preparing staple traditional foods. I value them as unavoidable necessities in the kitchen.

When it comes to my role as a Food Blogger, I believed I was more flexible. But, after visiting the Kenwood showroom, I realised I had been unknowingly collecting products of Kenwood, as a result of my ever-increasing cooking aspirations, for more than 10 years. From the basic Kenwood chopper to the latest Meat mincer to an Ice cream maker, I found my Kitchen filled with Kenwood appliances. A silent revelation isn’t it?

It seems like a long story to narrate, with my first Kenwood device purchased about 12 years ago. That was the basic chopper, which is a quintessential thing in the kitchen even today. The blades are as sharp as newly bought ones.

Indian gravy dishes- South Indian or North Indian, normally involve ginger-garlic-onions that have to be finely chopped, as a first step. This chopper finishes off the laborious job of chopping, in a jiffy.

Puttu – Steamed rice flour cylinders

This could be supposedly the best use of a contemporary appliance, put to use in a traditional dish. Puttu is a staple breakfast meal of Kerala. It is a much sort after healthy meal in Tamilnadu, especially during special ceremonies. My favourite childhood breakfast and dinner meal used to be Puttu with Banana, and still remains to be one.

Puttu is a rice or millet cake, steamed in the shape of a cylinder. It is made with powdered white or brown rice; powdered millets like Finger millet or Pearl millet. My latest version of Puttu is made with Bamboo Rice powder. Blending just enough water to make a lump free moist powder is the tricky part in making this delicacy. The Kenwood chopper helps in creating a lump free, yet perfectly moist puttu mix to be steamed. Once water is sprinkled over the rice or millet powder, I add the moist mixture into the chopper and give it a quick grind. The result is a lump free moist powder. This mix brings out the best ever, soft steamed Puttu.

This handy chopper is an easy travel partner too. When you thrive for home cooked meal on a holiday, chopping to tears is the worst thing to happen. This certainly solves half the stress of an annoying job in a hotel kitchenette.

Next in next.

Kollu Idli/ Horse Gram Steamed Cakes

Kollu or Horse Gram can be used to make soft and fluffy steamed cakes. Other millets used previously to make Idlis were grains and Horsegram is a lentil. Hence, the lentil here is combined with rice to make Idli, the staple breakfast/dinner food of Tamilnadu.

Kollu Idli/Steamed Rice Cakes with Horsegram

Ingredients (makes approximately 25-30 idlis)

  • kollu/horsegram– 1 cup
  • puzhungal arisi/parboiled rice or idli rice – 2 cups
  • uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak horse gram and rice separately in enough water for 6-8 hours

2. It is important to soak both rice and gram separately for idli. To make dosai, soaking and grinding together doesn’t alter the crispness or softness of pancakes

3. First, drain excess water and grind the horse gram into a smooth batter. It would be super foamy

4. Important point to note in Kollu Idli batter is, horse gram should be ground with minimum water needed. If excessive water is used, the final batter cannot be used to make Idli or steamed cake. Only Dosai/Pancake can be made

5. Remove horse gram batter from the blender and grind soaked rice separately to a smooth batter

6. When both batters are ready, add salt and blend well with a ladle or by hand. Do not use blender to mix both as batter will become watery

7. Leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight

8. Millet or Gram batters do not need as much time as Rice Idli batter. They turn sour sooner

9. 8 hrs in a warm place is enough; If the climate is too hot, check after 6 hours; In an air conditioned environment, I place it in the oven overnight with the oven light on

10. Once fermented, mix the combined Idli batter well

11. Always keep the batter refrigerated for further use

12. Steam Idlis in the mould and serve them hot with chutney of choice.

Thinai Idli/ Foxtail Millet Steamed Cakes

Next in the steamed millet cake series is Thinai/Foxtail Millet. As 200th post of Dosaikal, I had shared two desserts with Foxtail Millet – Thinai Sarkkarai Pongal and Thinai Payasam.

As mentioned previously, all millets can be used in making several staples like idli, dosai, idiyappam, pongal etc. They taste awesome as desserts too.

Try the millet cakes as Podi Idli too. These are stir fried Thinai idlis in spicy gun powder and gingelly oil ….

Thinai Idli/ Foxtail Millet Steamed Cakes

Ingredients (makes approximately 25-30 idlis)

  • thinai/foxtail millet – 3 cups
  • ulundham paruppu/deskinned black gram – 1 cup
  • uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak millet and black gram together in enough water for 6-8 hours
  2. Drain excess water and grind them into a smooth batter
  3. Once the batter is done in the blender, add salt and blend well
  4. Leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight
  5. Millet batters do not need as much time as Rice Idli batter. They turn sour sooner
  6. 8 hrs in a warm place is enough; If the climate is too hot, check after 6 hours; In an air conditioned environment, I place it in the oven overnight with the oven light on
  7. Once fermented, mix the batter well
  8. Always keep the batter refrigerated for further use
  9. If left to ferment more than needed, the batter might turn too pungent to make idli or dosai
  10. Steam Idlis in the mould and serve them hot with chutney of choice.

Varagarisi Idli/ Kodo Millet Steamed Cakes

In the Millet Idli Series, next is Varagarisi/ Kodo Millet. It’s going to be simple from now on. The ratio of millet to black gram also being the same, all Millet Idlis have the same method of preparation of batter.

So, let’s move on to Varagu Idli.

Varagarisi Idli/ Kodo Millet Steamed Cakes

Ingredients (makes approximately 25-30 idlis) 

  • varagu/kodo millet – 3 cups
  • ulundham paruppu/deskinned black gram – 1 cup
  • uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak millet and black gram together in enough water for 6-8 hours
  2. Drain excess water and grind them into a smooth batter
  3. Once the batter is done in the blender, add salt and blend well
  4. Leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight
  5. Millet batters do not need as much time as Rice Idli batter. They turn sour sooner
  6. 8 hrs in a warm place is enough; If the climate is too hot, check after 6 hours; In an air conditioned environment, I place it in the oven overnight with the oven light on
  7. Once fermented, mix the batter well
  8. Always keep the batter refrigerated for further use
  9. If left to ferment more than needed, the batter might turn too pungent to make idli or dosai
  10. Steam Idlis in the mould and serve them hot with chutney of choice.

Samai Idli/ Little Millet Steamed Cakes

The health benefits of Millets in general, have been written about extensively in almost all posts in the Power Packed Pancakes Series. Hence, I haven’t rewritten those facts. Additionally, useful details of information are available in the internet in abundance. A blogger’s job, especially that of a food blogger is simplified to crisp menu cards and videos. That gives much more space and time for conveying several other like minded ideas isn’t it??

Millets, like rice, are versatile cereals. Cook them like Rice and have with curries; flavour them with lemon, tamarind, coconut or yoghurt; make desserts with jaggery; or enjoy as spicy Pongal on a rainy day. With pound millet flours available in stores, make Puttu (steamed cylinders) or Kozhukkattai (sweet and savoury dumplings) or Idiyappam (string hoppers) – all staples of Tamilnadu.

Since, this series comes after many years of posting Millet Dosais, there might be repetition of facts. I have tried to take care in avoiding that. Bear with me for any unknown recurrence of thoughts.

Among the variety of millets, Samai Idli can be an exact replica of White Rice Idlis due to its color. It is sometimes softer than Rice Idli and puffs up better.

Samai Idli/ Idli with Little Millet

Ingredients (makes approximately 25-30 idlis)

  • samai /little millet – 3 cups
  • ulundham paruppu/deskinned black gram – 1 cup
  • uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak millet and black gram together in enough water for 6-8 hours
  2. Drain excess water and grind them into a smooth batter
  3. Once the batter is done in the blender, add salt and blend well
  4. Leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight
  5. Millet batters do not need as much time as Rice Idli batter. They turn sour sooner
  6. 8 hrs in a warm place is enough; If the climate is too hot, check after 6 hours; In an air conditioned environment, I place it in the oven overnight with the oven light on
  7. Once fermented, mix the batter well
  8. Always keep the batter refrigerated for further use
  9. If left to ferment more than needed, the batter might turn too pungent to make idli or dosai
  10. Steam Idlis in the mould and serve them hot with chutney of choice.

Power Packed Idlis/ Steamed Millet Cakes – Series

Way back in April 2014, I had started a series on ‘Power Packed Pancakes’. The introduction post focussed on how having Dosai/Dosa batter at home can be a stress free affair, and the importance of including whole grains and millets for a Healthy Lifestyle.

How far the post was successful with regards to a stress free read …. not for me to decide.

From Power Packed Pancakes, now, its time to move on to Power Packed Idlis or Steamed Cakes. What the Tamils call Idli is generally described in English as Rice Cakes. Specifically, these are Steamed Rice Cakes. This time, the steamed cakes are with Millets and no Rice included. Hence, they are truly Power Packed and Healthy.

I don’t prefer to mix Rice in the Millet Idli batter, especially if the purpose is to cut down the Rice intake. A pack that reads ‘Whole Wheat Bread’ or ‘Brown Bread’ in the shelves of supermarkets, tricks the consumer to believe it is 100% original Whole Wheat bread. The soft and tasty bread is certainly a combination of White flour and Whole Wheat, or many a times 70-80% whiteflour with the inclusion of Wheat Bran.

Rice is a wonderful Grain, in comparison to the empty caloried White Flour. But, I’d like to keep my Millet Dosai or Idli, without the inclusion of Rice.

Hence, I use the best suited Millets for Idlis, as simple as that. Other Millets which don’t turn out soft and fluffy (that’s expected from a Steamed Cake), can be made as Dosai. The batter is rigidly the same, devoid of Rice.

Why are we talking about Rice here?

Well, there a two basic ways of making Idlis with millets. One – making the Idli batter with Millet and Black gram and NO Rice at all; the other is to substitute one portion of rice with millet. Certain Millets like Thinai (Foxtail Millet – one of the oldest millets of the Tamils), Samai (Little Millet), Varagu (Kodo Millet) or Kuthiraivali (Barnyard Millet) are best suited to make fluffy soft Idlis, with NO Rice at all. A few others like Kezhvaragu (Ragi/Finger Millet) or Kambu (Bajra/Pearl Millet) don’t create the best steamed cakes with millets alone, they need the addition of Rice.

But, Horse gram, which is a lentil and not a Millet, should be treated like the black gram in Rice Idlis. That’s why, Rice and Horse gram are blended to make Steamed Cakes.

This series aims at providing an alternative way to incorporate millets in our diet. Having included them in our daily life style for several years now, I strongly feel this has been one of the healthiest changes I’ve adapted. Also, one that makes me stay very close to a few of the countless traditional foods of my soil. Especially, when there is written literary document that proves these were consumed by my ancestors several thousands of years ago.

So, let’s get started.