Okra Yoghurt Soup (Vendakka Pachadi)

In Kerala cuisine, Pachadi is a side dish which is made using yoghurt. I have posted recipe for ash gourd pachadi or kumabalanga pachadi and beetroot pachadi before.  Pachadi can be made using different vegetables and sometimes even fruits like pineapple  are used. Although I make okra coconut milk curry often, I had never tried to make vendakka (okra) pachadi before since my amma  never made it at home.

These days being on a Paleo diet, I usually like to have the curries as soup. Now that I make my coconut yoghurt at home, I have more options for curries. And so I thought of making this vendakka pachadi where you add fried okra pieces to a coconut and yoghurt base.  Since the soup base is made by blending coconut meat and coconut yoghurt, it is really creamy and filling and of course , super delicious! I fried extra okra pieces so I could just have those on the side along with this wonderfully healthy and satisfying soup. Traditionally, regular yoghurt preferably slightly soured is used for pachadi. But I used coconut yoghurt instead of regular yoghurt to keep it dairy free. And I added a dash of lemon juice since my coconut yoghurt was not tangy enough.

Okra Yoghurt Soup (Vendakka Pachadi)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Soups
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious soup made with coconut and coconut yoghurt blended with cumin and curry leaves with fried okra on top.
Ingredients
  • About 2 cups Okra (Bhindi), cut into ½ inch rounds (you can use fresh or frozen okra)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
For grinding:
  • ¾ cup grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2-3 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for vegan/paleo)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (optional to give tanginess)
For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 dry red kashmiri chilli, broken into two pieces
Instructions
  1. Pat dry the okra pieces with paper towels (especially if using frozen okra pieces). Sprinkle the salt and turmeric over the pieces.
  2. Heat the 2 tbsp coconut oil in a small frying pan and shallow fry the okra pieces in batches until they turn crispy. Keep aside.
  3. Ina food processor, add all the ingredients listed under 'For grinding' except the yoghurt and blend well until you get a fine paste. Then add the yoghurt and lemon juice and blend again for about 30 secs.
  4. In a small kadai or a wok shaped pan, add the 1 tbsp coconut oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the kashmiri chillies and stir for 30 secs.
  5. Add the ground coconut and yoghurt mixture into the pan and turn heat to low. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble (about 1 min or so), turn heat off. Check for salt.
  6. Add the fried okra pieces just before serving so that they retain their crispy texture.
Notes
For AIP recipe, skip mustard seeds, cumin and chillies

Tips for hosting a Kerala sadya at home

Since Vishu, the zodiac new year celebrated by Keralans is just around the corner, I thought doing this post now might be useful for some of my followers. I have been consulted a few times regarding tips on cooking a ‘sadya’ meal at home.  Having been cooking sadya meals every Onam (and sometimes for Vishu too) for the past 18 years in our US home does qualify me for advising folks I guess. We usually host an average of 3-4 families. I get a lot of questions from new cooks all the time! “Chechi, help!” ‘How many dishes to cook?’ ‘How much quantity to cook’ ‘Will there be enough food?’ ‘I have never cooked for so many people’ ‘Will all the food be fresh for the sadya?’  And so on and so forth. Well, my response is always the same – “Take a deep breath. Don’t worry. Its all about planning and once the plan is perfect, execution will be a breeze!”  I guess all my years leading projects at work has also helped me to execute successful sadyas 🙂  Plus I did have the best resources available to me – my husband and I together make a great team 🙂 So before embarking on this particularly adventurous mission, my strong recommendation to you is to first enlist your spouse’s or family members’ support! It will be much needed!

These are some steps that I follow for hosting a successful sadya whether it is for Onam or Vishu or just any other day when you feel like having a sadya meal.

  1. Create a Menu:  Take a pen and paper and scribble down the menu items.  I prefer pen and paper to doing it electronically since paper makes it easy to scratch off things while still letting you see what changes you have made. Just my personal preference but you can use a notepad on your phone or computer as well. Write down the different dishes you would like to make.  Sambhar and Avial I think fall in the ‘must-have’ category meaning they absolutely need to be on the sadya menu or else you won’t have a sadya! Another ‘must have’ are pappadums! After that, come all other lentil or bean type curries – let’s call this ‘Other curries’ – like erisseri, parippu, moru kootan, green mango curry, potato stew etc. I like to include at least two from this category.  Next would be ‘dry vegetable dishes’ like cabbage thoran or green beans thoran or kadala and kaaya thoran etc.  A fourth category would be all spicy and tangy ‘pickle type’ curries called as ‘thodu curries’ – these include paavakka varatharachu curry, pearl onion curry(Ulli curry), Pulli inji (ginger curry). Another very important ‘must-have’ item of the sadya is the ‘Paayasam’. Which paayasam to make?.  Although it is traditional to make two varieties of Payasam, I would recommend doing only one since not only is it time consuming to make two different payasams but after the heavy sadya, in my experience, folks generally will not have room for two different payasams and so it becomes a waste of effort. Decide which one you want to make. ‘Paladda’ is always the easy one and everyone loves that so its a safe bet. If you are ambitious enough to make Parrippu paayasam then so be it – you just need to plan adequately for it.

Here’s what a sample menu would look like. Other than the ‘Must-haves’, you can      pick one or two from each category

SAMPLE MENU
Main Dishes (Must-haves) Other Curries: Vegetable side dishes: Spicy and tangy (Thodu) curries:
Sambhaar Erishery Cabbage thoran Pulli Inji
Avial Mooru Kootan Kadala kaaya koottu Paavakka varatharachu
Paayasam Pacchadi Paavakka thoran Ulli curry
Pappaddum Rasam Manga curry
Parrippu curry Manga Pickle
Potato curry Lime pickle

2. Decide how much quantity to cook for each dish:  This depends on your final count. hence get a final count of people sufficiently in advance. Once you have the final count, divide by 4 (for the 4 categories of dishes you have) and that’s how many people you should cook each dish for. The logic behind this is that since you have so many dishes, you don’t need to make huge quantity of each dish.  For deciding the quantity of rice, I take the total headcount and take about 25% off – again the logic being that having a variety of dishes means that folks get full without eating too much rice. So if I have a head count of 20 people and say in general we cook about 1/2 cup of rice(uncooked) for 1 person for a regular meal, which would mean cooking 10 cups of rice, but for the sadya 75% of 10 i.e.  7.5 cups of uncooked rice should be sufficient. For doing all the above, if you are going to be following some recipes from your favorite sites, then make sure you print all of them first and then prepare the grocery list.

3. Plan the grocery shopping: Prepare the grocery list based on 1 and 2 above. And do the shopping sufficiently in advance -at least 2-3 days before the sadya weekend. Include all other ancillary items like plantain chips, plantain leaves, small bananas and any ready made pickles. Make sure you check the quantity of rice you have in your pantry and add to the list if you are short.

4. Stagger the cooking – Begin cooking in advance: 3-4 days before you can make the pickles or tangy curries like the paavaka curry or inji puli since they don’t spoil and keep well. 2-3 days before you can make moru kootan or mango curry etc.  1 day before you can make sambhaar, erisseri and payasam and also finish all the prep work for all the rest of the dishes. For example, finish chopping all vegetables for avial which is best when prepared the morning of the sadya. All thorns with fresh coconut should also be prepared on the morning of the sadya. You can fry the papadums the previous day but make sure to keep them in airtight containers to prevent them from getting soggy.  Create a project plan one week before the sadya so you don’t forget any important steps.  The plan need not be detailed but would look something like this :

Sample project plan:

  • Weekend 1 week before sadya/ 3-4 days before sadya day – Grocery shopping,
  • Thursday – Moru kootan, Pachadi, Inji Puli,
  • Friday – Chopping all vegetables for avial and sambhaar, make sambhaar, make payasam, fry papadums
  • Saturday(Day of sadya): Cook rice, avial,cabbage thoran

5. Ask for help: After completing steps 1-3, take a step back and do a reality check. See how you feel about executing the plan. If this is your first time doing something like this and if you don’t have enough help at home (for example having young kids etc), then consider delegating some tasks to some of your expected guests. Chances are some of your guests may call you in advance offering to help and if you are feeling overwhelmed then that would be a perfect time for you to ask for some help. You can outsource tasks like grocery shopping – either all or some items, ask them to cook one dish or just request if they could stop by early that day in the morning before the sadya – a set of hands always helps, right?

Hope these tips are helpful! What are some tricks you use for hosting a sadya at your home? I would love to know! Happy Feasting – Have a spectacular sadya this Vishu!

Tangy Bitter gourd curry (Paavakka Varutharachathu) and a round up of Onam Sadya recipes

kaipakka curryHappy Onam to all those who celebrate this festival which celebrates food! Onam sadya (feast) includes an array of delectable, comforting vegetarian dishes made from the choicest and freshest vegetables which include a variety of gourds, pumpkins, green beans, carrots, cabbage as well as starchy vegetables like taro root, elephant’s foot and green plantains.  Coconut is an essential ingredient in almost all the dishes and coconut oil is the main cooking medium imparting so much flavor that you remain licking your fingers! Yes, you have to eat the sadya, which is served on a banana leaf, with your hands to truly savor it.It is an unique gastronomical experience involving all the senses 🙂

We are so fortunate to be able to continue this tradition even in our US home – yes we get frozen plantain leaves from our local Asian grocers and they are of a pretty good quality too! Today I wanted to share this bitter gourd curry which I had been meaning to post for a while. This curry is served for sadya as a ‘thodu curry’ which means kind of like a chutney or pickle to relish on the side.  The bitterness of bitter gourd is tamed by the addition of tamarind and a pinch of jaggery. This time my dad who is visiting us made a version of this curry using kodampuli for me since I am avoiding tamarind. Believe me the curry tasted equally good even with the substitution.

So Happy Onam and Happy Feasting! Scroll below this recipe to see a round of all the sadya recipes that I have posted before.

onam_collage

Tangy Bitter gourd curry (Paavakka Varutharachathu)

  • Servings: Makes about 6-8 servings as a side dish
  • Time: about 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Ingredients:

1medium sized bitter gourd (paavakka or karela) seeds removed and cut into thin rounds(reserve a few slices for garnish)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Masala for grinding:
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen that has been thawed)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chilli pow
1 tbsp coriander pow

  • 1/2 cup warm water

1/4 med onion sliced thinly
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 green chili, chopped
3-4 curry leaves
1 dry red chilli
1/2 tsp salt

Tamarind pulp 2 tbsp (or 2 small pieces of tamarind/kodampuli soaked in 1/4 cup warm water)
1 cup water
1 tbsp jaggery pieces or grated

Method:

First cook the paavakka slices in the 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt for about 3-4 minutes so that they are just partially cooked (You can also cook in the microwave for 2 mins). Discard the water and strain and keep the paavakka slices aside.

Roast coconut for about 10-12 mins on low med heat until light brown – take care not to burn it. Grind this and all the other ingredients under masala into a paste using the 1/2 cup warm water. Keep this aside.

In a medium flat bottomed cooking pot, heat the coconut oil and the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, lower heat and add the onions, green chili, salt,red chili and curry leaves.  Add the paavakka slices and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium. Salute for another 2-3 minutes or so. Then add the ground paste and again state for another 2 minutes.

Finally add the tamarind pulp (or kodampuli) and jaggery and the extra water. Let simmer so that the jaggery is all dissolved and the curry thickens. Add additional water if needed but curry should be thick. Check for salt and add more if needed.

Lightly Fry the reserved pieces of paavakka in a small pan with little coconut oil and add to the top.


kaipakka curryAnd here’s the round up of all sadya recipes:

Parippu curry (Lentils in coconut milk)

Parippu Curry

Sambhaar (Lentils and vegetable curry)

sambhaar

Avial (Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce)

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More Kootan (Yoghurt and coconut curry)

Moru Curry

Mathanga Erishery (Pumpkin and red beans curry)

matanga erissery

Cabbage thoran (Cabbage sautéed in coconut)

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Kadala and kaaya thoran(Green plantain and black chickpeas)

Kootu curry (Kadala)

Inji Puli

Pulli Inji

Kumbalanga curry/Olan (Ash gourd in coconut milk)

Kumbalanga curry

Kumbalanga pachadi(Ash gourd in coconut and yoghurt sauce)

kumbalanga pachadi

Paalada Payasam (Rice noodle Pudding)

Paal ada Paayasam

Parippu payasam (Lentil Pudding)

Parippu Paayasam

 

 

 

Ginger and Tamarind Chutney (Inji Pulli)


DSC_0710A Kerala sadya (feast) is not complete without the ‘Inji Pulli’ (also called Pulli Inji) which is a sweet,sour and hot chutney made using fresh grated ginger,tamarind,j aggery and chillies. Just the mention of the ingredients makes your mouth water, right? Yum. This chutney actually is very beneficial to the digestive process and enables you to finish the sadya without feeling stuffed and bloated 🙂

This dish along with some other pickles etc are made usually a day or so in advance of the actual sadya since it stores well. In fact you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When we have our friends over for our Onam sadya, this chutney is in much demand and any leftover chutney is snatched by them. 🙂 And many have asked me for the recipe.

So here I am finally posting it. My version of this recipe is a slightly easier version than the traditional version which requires frying and then grinding the ginger first and then cooking it for a longer period of time to really get a thick chutney. My easy version skips some steps but believe me you still end up with a finger-licking chutney/pickle.  This is a great accompaniment/side dish with paranthas and or just with some dal and rice.

The color of the chutney will vary from light brown to dark brown depending upon the color of the jaggery and the tamarind. Here I used a light brown jaggery hence the light brown color of the chutney.

I am sharing this tantalizing, rejuvenating and lip-smacking ginger chutney to Fiesta friday this week.

Ginger and Tamarind Chutney (Inji Pulli)

  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup chutney
  • Time: about 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup ginger grated
  • 2 green chillies chopped fine
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 /2 cup water
  • Golf size ball tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup warm water( or about 2 tbsp store bought tamarind pulp)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery shredded or cut into small pieces

Method:

Grate the ginger using a grater and keep aside.

Heat a medium size wok style pan (Kadhai). Add the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, lower heat to medium and then add the ginger and the green chillies and the curry leaves. Saute the ginger,chillies and the curry leaves for about 3-4 mins. Add all the spices and the salt and stir for another 1 minute. Add the water. Cover and cook for about 10 mins on low heat.
From the soaked tamarind, take only the pulp out and filter out seeds and the flesh. Add this tamarind pulp and the jaggery into the ginger mixture. Continue to cook on low heat for another 7- 10 mins stirring frequently until you get a thick pasty consistency.

Let cool and transfer to a tight fitting container.  This chutney can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Onam Sadya Special: Lentils in coconut milk (Parippu curry)

parippu_onamIt’s Onam again! And I should say Onam week since Onam is perhaps the only Indian festival that lasts for 10 days! Of course only folks in kerala get a chance to celebrate it for 10 days. Less privileged ones like us have to wait for the weekend. But celebrate we will. And how? By cooking an array of delectable vegetable dishes all of which have coconut in varying forms and serving them on plantain leaves for a food feast called as ‘sadya’.  Onam I think symbolizes simple pleasures! Being a harvest festival, it underscores the fact that the best foods/recipes are the ones that use the freshest produce with a minimum of ingredients. Fresh from the farm to the table is what Onam always signified although the modern world is only appreciating it now!

DSC_1137 Last year I posted my dad’s special parippu paayasam.Today I wanted to post ‘Parippu’ curry recipe which is simply lentils in coconut milk. There are different variations of this Parippu curry – some folks use yellow split lentils and also use ground coconut instead of coconut milk. Thiis version is my amma’s version where she used always thick coconut milk. She also used to add potatoes to this curry – I don’t remember when she started doing that but I suspect I had something to do with it – I loved potatoes as a kid (and still do! ) and wanted it in every dish! Now this lentil and potato curry in coconut milk is equally loved by my kids too!.  It is very mildly spiced and the coconut milk makes it so creamy and yummy 🙂

Wishing a happy Onam to all those who celebrate 🙂

I am bringing this simple lentils and coconut curry to Fiesta Friday this week.

Lentils in coconut milk (Parippu curry)

  • Servings: Serves about 6-8 as a side dish with rice
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toor dal (or split yellow dal), washed and drained
  • 1 medium size onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 green chillies, slit length wise
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk (see recipe for extracting coconut milk below) or canned coconut milk
  • 1 fresh sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil or ghee

Method:

In a pressure cooker, add the washed lentils with the onions, green chillies, salt, turmeric and water. Close the cooker and cook till 3 whistles. Keep aside to cool and then add the potatoes and cook on simmer (without whistle) for 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. (add more water if needed)

Add the coconut milk and stir and cook for about 1 minute until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat off immediately.  Add the fresh curry leaves and the coconut oil or ghee.

*For extracting coconut milk:

1 1/2 cups fresh or fresh frozen grated coconut(thawed)

2 cups of warm water

Blend the coconut with 1 cup of water in a blender or food processor. strain and collect the coconut milk in a container. Add the coconut meat back to the food processor and again blend with the rat of the warm water and strain again to get about 2 cups thick coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can cook the lentils in a regular cooking pot slightly uncovered with double the amount of water for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

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