Kootchulu or Neeragaram is a simple, age-old recipe made from overnight fermentation of cooked rice. For over many generations, this has been a staple health drink in many parts of India. It acts as a natural body cooler, especially in summer. This unique porridge or kanji tastes slightly sour with the aroma of sesame oil and the crunchiness of onions.
A healthy and refreshing drink, ‘Paanagam’ is made as a part of neivedhyam during Sri Rama Navami and many other festivals. It is also served in South Indian weddings especially after the main function ‘Muhurtham’. Since it is rich in nutrition, it’s a best option to relish frequently in summers than having store-bought soft drinks and juices.
How to make Paanagam?
Paanagam is a simple recipe that calls for few easily available things like jaggery, imli, ginger, tulsi and edible camphor. All these ingredients are loaded with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties that helps to boost our immunity, digestion and more.
This herbal drink can be frequently relished during vrat or fasting as it boosts our energy instantly. If serving in a get together or party, serve it cold or hot depending upon the weather.
Tamarind / Imli – a small gooseberry-sized
Jaggery – a large lemon-sized
Dry Ginger / Saunth Powder – 1 tsp
Elaichi Powder – 1/2 tsp
Tulsi – 2 0r 3 leaves, crushed
Edible Camphor – a small pinch (optional)
Add 2 cups of water to the soaked imli and extract imli water.
Boil it for a minute or two along with jaggery.
Remove from flame and add powdered dry ginger, tulsi, elaichi powder and edible camphor. Adjust water as per the taste.
Serve hot or chilled.
Instead of imli, we can use lemon juice also, but I have followed the method that family follows over generations.
‘Vatha Kuzhambu’, is one of the popular everyday sambar varieties down South. It is full of flavours and has an amalgamation of spicy, sweet, sour and salty taste.
There are many versions of this recipe ‘Poondu Vengaya Vatha Kuzhambu‘. Each one differs with the level of spiciness and the choice of veggies added to it. Traditionally, it is made with sundried black nightshade berries(manthakkali) or turkey berries(sundakkai). Veggies like brinjal, drumstick, onions, broad beans, garlic can also be added to give some variation to this sambar.
How to make Poondu Vengaya Vatha Kuzhambu?
Here, I have used shallots(vengayam) and garlic(poondu) in this recipe. The core ingredients are tamarind and sambar masala powder. Two quintessential ingredients arhar dal and coconut, that are present in most of the sambars are not needed in this recipe.
Shallots – 1 cup, peeled
Garlic – 10 to15 cloves, peeled
Imli – medium lemon-sized
Sambar Powder- 1 tbsp
Rice Flour – 2 tsp
Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery – small gooseberry-sized
Salt to taste
Rai – 1/2 tsp
Urad Dal – 1/4 tsp
Methi Seeds – 1/4 tsp
Red Chilly – 1 or 2, broken into pieces
Curry Leaves- few leaves
Oil – 2 tbsp (preferably til oil)
Soak imli in 2 cups of warm water for 15 minutes. Extract imli water.
In a kadai, heat oil and add rai.
When it splutters, add urad dal, methi seeds and roast till dal turns golden in colour.
Add curry leaves, red chilly and saute for few seconds.
Add shallots, garlic and saute till they are translucent.
Now, add sambar powder and mix well.
Pour in the prepared imli water and add haldi, salt, jaggery.
Let it boil well for 3-4 minutes so that the raw flavour of imli gets reduced.
Make a paste of rice flour with little amount of water and add it to the sambar.
Let sambar boil for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from flame and serve hot with steamed rice.
The best way to savour this sambar is to pair with thogaiyal rice, a simple curry of your choice and a papad.
For sambar masala, you can either use the store-bought sambar powder or the freshly grounded one.
‘Monsoons’ and ‘deep-fried snacks’ always go hand in hand. During rains when we have sudden craving for a quick munch, bajji is my go-to option. Now, this delectable snack has got several names across India… pakora, pakoda, bhajjia, fakkura, ponako, fritters etc… and in down South it’s fondly known as ‘Bajji’
How to make Brinjal Bajji | Vankaya Bajji?
Bajjis can be made using various veggies and fruits like onions, raw banana, potato, carrot, capsicum, unripe green apple and more. Here, I have used the India’s King of Vegetables, ‘Brinjal’ for making bajjis (we call Vankaya in Telugu). These brinjal bajjis are light, crunchy…so gorgeous to look at and of course totally irresistible in taste.
You can choose any variety of brinjal to make bajji but it’s always good to use less seeded one. Preparation is very easy…thin slices of brinjals are coated evenly with spiced chickpea flour batter and deep-fried till golden in colour. You can also air fry this if want to avoid deep frying.
Brinjal – 2 or 3, large in size, preferably less seeded variety
Chickpea Flour / Besan – 1 cup
Rice flour – 1/4 cup
Haldi / Turmeric Powder – a pinch
Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 tsp (or as per taste)
Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Salt to taste
Cooking Soda – a pinch (optional)
Oil for deep frying
Wash and slice brinjals into thin circles. Immerse them in water to avoid any decolourization of brinjal until we use.
Sieve besan and remove the lumps if any. Mix besan, rice flour, red chilly powder, salt, pepper powder, jeera, haldi, hing and cooking soda in a bowl.
Heat oil for deep frying. Strain the brinjal slices from the water and keep it ready.
When the oil is hot, take a tablespoon of hot oil and pour it over the besan mixture. This will make the bajjis crispy.
Add required amount of water and mix it well to form a fine paste of dosa-batter consistency.
Keep the flame in medium-hot mode. Gently dip the brinjal slices into the batter. The slices should be evenly coated with the batter.
Deep fry till golden in colour.
Drain the bajjis in kitchen tissue to remove excess oil.