Tea Masala

Tea is a serious affair in almost all our households. TH and my brother in law require to be fueled by at least a few servings of tea per day to keep going.  As far as I know, south Indians prefer watery, dark, sweet tea while north Indians like milky, spiced and relatively less sweet  tea. Ironically, being a south Indian am used to masala tea perhaps due to marwari neighborhood or the Punjabi acquaintance that happened to me. So from day 1 in my kitchen after marriage the tea is spiced with one or other ingredients; at least a piece of crushed ginger goes into the tea else I feel as though it is incomplete.

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Having a tea addict at home gives me more opportunity to experiment in that space, which I do a lot. There is this standard tea masala mix that I make at home which I am sharing in this post; I keep changing the measures of the listed ingredients as per my mood at the time of preparation and feedback from TH for the previously prepared mix. It all depends on your choices of smell and taste.

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Tea Masala
Yields 150
Homemade Tea Spice Mix
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1. Cardamom - 3 tbsp
  2. 2. Cloves - 2 tbsp
  3. 3. Pepper - 4 tbsp
  4. 4. Cinnamon - 5" piece
  5. 5. Star Anise - 4 or 5
  6. 6. Dry Ginger - 6" piece
  7. 7. Nutmeg - 1 large
Instructions
  1. Peel the cardamoms and take the seeds, crush the dry ginger, break the nutmeg & cinnamon into small pieces.
  2. Take all ingredients in a tray and microwave for 30 seconds or dry roast in a pan until they are crisp and emanating flavors. Let it come to room temperature.
  3. Grind the ingredients into a coarse powder in a mixer jar and store in airtight container.
Notes
  1. TIP
  2. The flavors of all these spices are really very strong and so a small pinch should suffice per serving of tea while brewing.
Grammars of cooking http://grammarsofcooking.in/
 Adikaram: இல்வாழ்க்கை

Kural: 44

பழியஞ்சிப் பாத்தூண் உடைத்தாயின் வாழ்க்கை
வழியெஞ்சல் எஞ்ஞான்றும் இல்.

Meaning:

Householder’s virtue is in sharing the food that is earned while shunning for sins.

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Yoghurt Chilies

Sharing of one’s own farm produce with the co-villagers is a wondrous culture that still is customary somewhere in our villages. My amma had got some green chilies from village that was grown by a farmer who takes care of our farm as well.  I had them in excess and they started ripening; therefore I made yoghurt chilies with those chilies though they were not the right chilies for the purpose. Generally yoghurt chilies or mor milagai is prepared from short and hot chilies.



Serves: NA

Preparation Time:3-5 days

Cooking Time: Nil

Ingredients:

1.     Green chilies – 250 gm
2.     Sour curd – 2 cups
3.     Salt – 2 tbsp
4.     Fenugreek – 1 tbsp

Method:

Step 1: Soak the fenugreek for 2 hours or even overnight and grind it into a smooth paste.
Step 2: Mix the fenugreek paste and salt to the beaten curds and stir well. Dilute with water if necessary.
Step 3: Wash and pat dry the green chilies.


Step 4: With help of a tooth pick or fork pierce at the centre of each chili; I have pierced with knife as the chilies I used were longer.


Step 5: Soak them all in the prepared curd and rest it overnight.




Step 6: In the morning squeeze the curds and spread the chilies in a large surface and sun dry them by tossing in between. Preserve that curd in refrigerator.




Step 7: In the evening, take out the curd and soak the partially dried chilies in it and rest it in normal temperature overnight.



Step 8: Repeat step 6 & step 7 until the curd exhausts. After that keep sun drying the chilies until they are completely off moisture.


Step 9: Store in airtight container.

Step 10: Deep fry in oil before serving. It goes well with curd rice and is used to season mor kuzhambu.
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Idli Milagai Podi (Paruppu Podi)

Idli podi or thool or chutney podi as some call it, is a staple in any south Indian or at least Tamil kitchen. There are several variants and slightly varying domestic recipe versions for each of them which result in different heat level (chilies), coarseness, color, flavour and so. At home we call this paruppu milakai podi to differentiate from others like ellu podi, mallatai podi, etc.  Fortunately both my mother-in-law’s and mom’s recipe are almost the same (except that my mom doesn’t add curry leaves), so our tastes on this match pretty well.
Yield: 3 cups
Preparation Time: 5 Minutes
Cooking Time: 15 Minutes
Ingredients:
1.     Dry red chilies – 15
2.     Bengal gram – 1 cup
3.     Urad dal – 1/2 cup
4.     Coriander seeds – 1/3 cup
5.     Curry leaves – fistful
6.     Salt to taste
7.     Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
8.     Oil – 1 tbsp
Method:

Step 1: Heat a pan and roast Bengal gram, urad dal, coriander seeds and chilies each separately using few drops of oil preferably in simmered mode.


Step 2: Spread the curry leaves in the hot pan and let them turn crisp.
Step 3: Remove stem part from the chilies and in a mixer jar finely powder chilies, curry leaves and coriander seeds.


Step 4: Add the pulses, salt and asafoetida and grind until required texture is obtained. We at home prefer coarse one.


Step 5: Let it cool down; then store in a air tight container. This goes well with idli, dosa and other south Indian tiffin items.

 TIPS:
* I have heard Rajee aunty, one of our relatives had added some horse gram replacing a portion of bengal gram in idli podi recipe once; I’ve tried it and it indeed is flavorful and healthy.
* It is important that the dals are roasted well else it will have a flour kind of smell. If you are not sure, it is okay to slightly darken them rather than having them under done.
 * My mom prepares almost every week or once in 10 days but they stay good for even up to 3 months. Fresher and crispier podis are better in taste and flavor.

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Karuveppilai Podi

This is another simple and  flavorful creation from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. Curry leaves are unique in Indian more specifically south Indian cuisines. The aroma of ‘talippu’ is to die for and like in the tamil song ‘…pasi konda neram, thallipu osai sringara sangeetham…’ the sound of tempering (talippu or tadka) is itself so very musical; curry leaves are very instrumental in this process of tallipu. Usually, people consume the flavor but not curry leaves fully; so recipes like these are really very useful to completely benefit from the goodness of curry leaves.

Ingredients:

1. Curry leaves – 2 cups
2. Dry red chilies – 4 or 5
3. Coriander seeds – 1/2 cup
4. Salt to taste
5. Oil – 1 tsp
Method:

Step 1: Wash and dry the curry leaves preferably  in shade to retain color.
Step 2: Heat half a tsp oil in a tawa and roast the chilies.
Step 3: In the same tawa, add another half a tsp oil and roast coriander seeds until aroma fills the room.
Step 4: In the same tawa dry roast the curry leaves just to make them crisp.
                
Step 5: Cool them down and powder them between coarse and fine, slightly flaky.
Step 6: Store in a airtight container for even more than a month.
Step 7: Serve it with hot steamed rice and ghee. 

TIPS:

* You can also add this powder to the sabjis and curries to give it flavor and fortify it ;).

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Beetroot Jam

We always choose to buy processed jams for their texture and shelf life. Beetroot jam is something i would persuade you to make at home for three reasons; you’ll hardly find beet root jams in stores, they are natural as in no preservatives or pectin or artificial colors, above all it is damn simple. This is the recipe with minimum number of ingredients at least as far as I know so far. 

Ingredients:


1.       Beetroot – 2 large
2.       Sugar – ½ cup
3.       Lemon – 1

Method:
·         Peel and chop the beetroots into cubes; pressure cook or steam cook them until soft say for 3 whistles.
·         After it gets to room temperature, puree them in a mixer jar very finely.
·         In a non-stick pan, pour the puree and mix the sugar and stir it on medium heat.

·         Stir it occasionally in low heat or stir continuously in medium-high heat; this would take at least 15 minutes.

·         When the jam starts to leave the sides of the pan switch of the stove and squeeze juice of a lemon. Stir well and let it cool.
·         Store in an airtight container to use for longer time.

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