Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Sambhar for South Indians is as important as the dal is for the North Indians. It is probably prepared with a whole variety of meals. All sections of South Indian society will not present a meal without the Sambhar. It fact some would say this is the way South Indians prepare their dal. The flavour varies not only depending on the vegetable one adds but also from region to region of South India.

I spent a couple of days with my friends from Kerala, and what a treat that turned out to be. Did we not only make Dosas but I ended up learning how to make authentic Keralite Sambhar, Rasam, Idli and vadas. I think I will start my South Indian section with Sambhar, which as I have mentioned, is so central to the South Indian cuisine that it deserves to be the first item on this blog.

I have included Sambhar for my Kayastha family as a treat, it is slightly different from the dals they prepare. It is full of goodness not only from the dal but the fresh vegetables from our local market.

  • 3/4 cup Toor or Masoor dal 
  • Chopped vegetables - Couple of carrots, Potatoes, 1 chopped onion, 4 florets of cauliflower, courgette are just a few examples that can be used.
  • 1 tsf Mustard seeds
  • Few Curry leaves
  • 1 tsf Hing (asafetida)
  • 1 Whole Red Chilli
  • 1/2 tin of chopped Tomatoes
  • 3-4 tsf Sambhar powder
  • 3/4 tsf Haldi powder(Turmeric powder)
  • Imli (Tamarind) to taste
  • 1 tsf Salt
  • 2-3 tbsf Vegetable Oil for cooking.

  1. Cook the dal in a pan. It needs to be slightly under cooked at this stage.
  2. Add salt and the vegetables for approximately 5 minutes or till the vegetables are slightly cooked.
  3. While the dal is cooking heat the oil in a wok and add mustard seeds (and channa dal optional).
  4. As soon as the mustard seeds start to splutter add the sliced onions, dried red chilli, fresh curry leaves and fry till onions are slightly browned.
  5. Add sambhar powder, hing and haldi. Mix and fry for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix stir well browning these slightly.
  7. Add the dal to this mix and cook for another 4-5 mnutes.
  8. Add imli and mix well.
Normally I would make Sambhar with Dosa's or Idli, but here I have prepared it with a vegetarian meal and I surely have enjoyed it.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Methi Gajjar (Carrot)

This is part of the food I prepared for someone who is a vegetarian and doesn't use onion and garlic in their cooking. This dish is similar to the methi aloo to make but tastes different. I picked gajjar as this was what I had bought in abundance from the local market. Lots of my friends have thought that it tastes of prawns (I don't think so!), so for my vegetarian friends this may be as near a taste as you will get of prawns!

  • ½ Kg Carrots
  • Pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 Dried Red Chilli
  • 1 ¼ tsf Salt
  • ¼ tsf Chilli powder
  • ½ tsf Haldi (Turmeric)
  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Methi (Fenugreek)
  • 3 tbsf Oil
  1. Pick the leaves off the methi (if you are lazy like me soak the dry methi, approx 1 cup full) and wash off any dust. 
  2. Peel and cut the carrots in to small pieces, perhaps the size of king prawns (if you want to tease people that it is really a prawn dish .
  3. In a wok heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. When the oil is hot put the hing which will start to sizzle straight away.
  5. Break the dried chilli into 2-3 pieces and add it to the oil, wait till the chilli has browned.
  6. Add haldi and chilli powder and cook it for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the carrots and slightly fry these may be for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the washed methi leaves, mix well.
  9. Add the salt. Lower the lid and cook till the carrots are soft. You may need to stir a few times ensuring the carrots don’t catch at the bottom.

Rasedar Lauki (Marrow)

Once again this is another dish for vegetarian and non onion and garlic eating menu. It is simple and when one is making several dishes his is a good one to add. It tastes wonderful.

  • One medium sized lauki (marrow) peeled and cut in small size pieces
  • 1 tbsf Oil
  • 1 tsf Cumin (Jeera) seeds
  • 2-3 whole dried red chillies (to taste)
  • 1 pinch of Asafetida (Hing)
  • ½ tsf Salt (adjust to taste)

  1. In a wok heat the oil, when it is hot add a pinch of Asafetida.
  2. As soon the asafetida starts to sizzle add cumin seeds and crushed whole red chillis.
  3. As soon the cumin and chilli become brown add the cut lauki and salt. 
  4. Give it a good stir and add half a cup of water. Cover the wok and lower the heat and let it cook for approximately 10 minutes or till the lauki is cooked.

A Request for a Vegetarian Meal without Onions and Garlic

I was requested to post recipes for a meal without any onions and garlic. This was because the person who has requested is attending a wedding in a Kayastha family. Initially I was surprised by this request as most Kayastha’s I know are meat eating and few if any dishes are prepared without onions and garlic. However, I was wrong as there are many vegetarian Kayasthas who would not eat meat, but I am not sure about the onion and the garlic (which I had mistakenly considered mainly a Brahmin trait!). When one thinks about it there are several dishes which are equally wonderful without the onions and garlic. With this in mind I took a trip to our local vegetable market.

We are lucky in Newport, Wales in having a Saturday morning market, which is not as buzzing as the Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable market) in Delhi,

but at least we do see lots of fresh fruit and vegetable. Some grown locally and others imported from various parts of Africa and Asia. I wanted to prepare this meal with as fresh ingredients as possible.  So here I was in the market and found fresh tomatoes, garlic (which I can’t use for this meal!), lauki, mushrooms, cabbage, gajjar (carrot), muli (white Indian radish), beans and arbi. I thought I should be able to make enough dishes from these ingredients.

With the above fresh vegetables I thought of the following menu for my friend who wants a vegetarian meal without onions and garlic:

  1. Starter
  • Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe already on the blog) 
  • Cabbage Kofta Pakora (recipe already on the blog)

  1. Main Dishes
  • Lauki rasedar with jeera
  • Sambar (I didnt use onions which I know a lot of people use)
  • Fried Arbi (recipe already on the blog under vegetarian dishes)
  • Gajjar methi

  1. Sweet
  • Gajjar ka halwa for afters.

I hope this would go down for my vegetarian Kayastha friends as well. I am sure I will get some feed back.

I have already posted the recipe for Fried Arbi, stuffed Mushroom (for this meal I did not add garlic) and Cabbage kofta Pakora which are all under vegetarian dishes, but the next entries would be the above dishes. So here we go for the next few posts!