August 26, 2015

Mathenga Vanpayar Erissery

Just done with Onam shopping. The crowd at Lulu, here in Dubai was beyond compare. Brands - Nirapara, Eastern, Brahmins, Double Horse setting up their own counters with special Onam discounts and goodies. Phew!! That was one hell of a time wading through alleys with the pushcart avoiding getting hit and making sure you don't hit anyone. I guess that is the joy of this festival. 

Onam is that festival that brings together malayalees irrespective of religion. Onakkodi, Pookalam, Payasam, Sadya and all malayalees together whether in India or outside - that is Onam.

Today's post is my mother - in  - laws recipe. A dish that I really love - Erissery made with mathenga and vanpayar.

Here is the recipe - 

  1. Onion - 1 small sliced
  2. Garlic - 2 pods sliced lengthwise
  3. Green Chilly - 2-3
  4. Coconut - 1 cup grated
  5. Jeera/ Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  6. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Mathenga/ Pumpkin - 1/4 kg diced
  8. Vanpayar - a handful
  9. salt to taste
For tempering 
  1. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  2. Shallots - 2 sliced
  3. Grated coconut - 2 tsp
  4. Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
  5. Curry Leaf - 1 sprig

Pressure cook vanpayar with a little salt and keep it aside.

Toss in mathenga, onion, garlic and green chilly into a heavy bottomed pan. Add sufficient amount of water and bring it to boil on high flame. Reduce the flame and let it simmer till the mathenga is cooked. Mash this with a spoon to form a paste.

Wet grind the grated coconut, cumin seeds and turmeric powder and add this to the mashed gravy. Pour in water if necessary and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
Add vanpayar and season it with sufficient salt.

In a skillet heat coconut oil - toss in the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add shallots and grated coconut and fry till the color changes to brown. Add the chilly powder and curry leaves and pour over the erissery.

Serve over rice with a dash of ghee for Onam.

August 24, 2015

Vendekka Mezhukkupuratti/ Lady's Finger Stir Fry/ Okra Stir Fry

Vendekka or Lady's finger has never been my favorite vegetable. I found it quite slimy and difficult to eat. Marriage makes you do things that you never thought you would.
Yes, I do cook Vendekka now and eat it as well because my husband loves it. What my mother could not do in years my husband managed in months! That's what marriage can do to you:)
No regrets!

Here is a very simple recipe for you this Onam straight from the USA. Safeera is a college mate of mine who sent across this recipe and managed to click some impressive pictures as well using yam leaf plucked from her backyard instead of banana leaf for a change.

There you go -


Vendekka/ Okra/ Lady's Finger - 1/2 kg
Tomato - 1 chopped
Onion - 1 chopped
Green Chilly - 1 to 2 slit
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Coconut Oil
Salt to taste


Slit the vendekka and cut into 2 inch long pieces.

Pour the oil into a skillet, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter add curry leaves and green chilly. Saute it and toss in the vendekka, tomato, onion and salt.

Cook it covered for about 10 minutes.

There it is your Lady's Finger Stir Fry.

You may also note -

  • Wash and pat dry the vendekka before you slice.

August 23, 2015

Ishtu - potato paalu curry

When I was on the lookout for Onam recipes, it was Vineetha who suggested Ishtu. I had no idea that this was an Onam dish that is pretty popular in the Thrissur region. It is quite fascinating to  note that same dish is called by different names with very slight variations in the recipes. Had I not begun a quest of Onam recipes may be I would not have known either.

Oh I forgot to introduce Vineetha - she is my TALL friend - yes I mean it literally. One thing I hate doing with her is posing with her for a photograph - so my height is left to your imagination. She is miles across in Brisbane and is currently busy shopping for Onam. This is a recipe from her kitchen.
I miss you Vineetha and there goes your recipe -


Potatoes - 2 medium diced
Onions - 2 medium sliced
Ginger - 1 inch piece finely chopped
Green Chilly - 2 slit
Coconut Milk - 1 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Coconut Oil
Salt to taste


Add the potatoes, onions, ginger and green chilly to a pressure cooker with water and required salt. Pressure cook it to 2 whistles.
Once the pressure is released, you can mash a few pieces of potato and put it back into the gravy.This thickens the curry.
Next add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil.Cook it on a low flame for a few more minutes till it becomes thick.
Finally add the curry leaves and drizzle some coconut oil.

Simple is it not? So why not make this a part of Onam Sadhya this year.

August 22, 2015


Sambhar is a traditional South Indian dish. I am not sure which state it belongs to - Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu seems to have adapted it as per their flavors and taste. It adorns the banana leaf for the festivities in each of the states. Sambhar is a popular dish for Onam as well and again the taste differs from the north to the south of Kerala. Here is an easy recipe for Sambhar, if you are hunting for one. 

The recipe was sent by Vinitha, my cousin. She is a wonderful cook, probably inherited our grandmother's cooking traits. We have had our fair share of cooking experiments together during the summer vacations at school.

Here is the recipe she has for you - 


Toor Dal - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Kaayam/Hing/Asafoetida - 1 small piece
Onion - 1 sliced lengthwise
Lady's Finger - 4 sliced
Potato - 2 medium sized sliced
Brinjal - 1 medium size sliced
Carrot - 1 sliced
Green Chilly - 2 slit
Tomato - 1 medium sized sliced
Tamarind - 1 lemon sized ball
Sambhar powder - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

For Tempering 

Mustard seeds -1/4 tsp
Red Chilly - 2
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Shallots/Sambhar Ulli - 2 tsp chopped
Pressure cook the dal with salt and turmeric powder.Soak tamarind in warm water for about 15 minutes and strain the water. Keep this aside.In a skillet, heat oil and saute the kayam for a minute and then add the onions. Once the onions are slightly cooked, add all the vegetables except tomato . Saute it for few minutes and pour the excess water from cooking the dal into the vegetables and let it boil on low flame covered. Add a little bit of salt and turmeric powder to the vegetables. While it begins to boil, add sliced tomato, cooked dal and the tamarind water. Let it boil. Add the sambhar powder, mix well and let it boil. Once the potato is cooked, switch off the flame. In another pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter, add shallots, saute it well till translucent. Then add the red chilly and curry leaves. Pour it onto the hot sambhar and mix it well.Yummy yummy sambhar ready!

You may also note - 
  • Add any veggies as per your choice. Each veggie may have a different cooking time, so you may add the vegetables one after the other. I also love using drumsticks and cucumber in my sambhar.
  • It is a great way to have lot of veggies at one go.
  • Avoid pressure cooking the veggies, it may get overcooked.

August 18, 2015

Kootu Curry

I had Kootu Curry just once before for a Onam Sadya at a friend's place. Somehow, I did not quite think of trying it out myself until this Onam season. And I am inclined to believe that I just got the perfect recipe for it. Thanks to Sreelakshmi or should I say her Mom?

Sreelakshmi is a good buddy of mine and we have had some really wonderful times together. Hoping to catch up soon:)

Thank You Sreelakshmi for this amazing recipe. We just loved it!

With no further ado, let us get to the recipe.


Raw Banana - 2
Yam/ Chena - 1/4 kg
Brown Kadala/ Black Channa - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight)
Jaggery - 100 gms grated
Coconut - 1/2 cup grated + 2 tbsp
Green Chilly - 2-3 
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dried red chilly - 4-5
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Coconut Oil
Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

Soak the kadala overnight. Pressure cook with chilly powder and turmeric powder. Slice Raw Banana & Yam into small cubes and add this to the kadala. Let it cook for about 20 minutes on medium flame. 
Grind the grated coconut with jeera, green chilly and a pinch of turmeric powder. Add this mixture to the cooked vegetables and kadala. Add the grated jaggery to it and mix well (without mashing your veggies) Heat oil in a skillet, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add dried red chilly and 2 tbsp coconut. Fry till coconut turns brown and add the curry leaves.
Toss this to the curry. Tada! Its done.
You may also note -
  1. Do not over cook the kadala or the veggies.
  2. This is a dry curry, ensure to add just enough water.
  3. Be careful while stirring, do not mash the vegetables.

August 15, 2015

Ela Appam/ Ela Ada - with banana

How many of you knew that ela ada or ela appam is a popular Onam breakfast recipe?

Well, I did not, until quite recently. For me, Onam was all about an elaborate afternoon Onam sadya.

So why not have a breakfast dish as well to spice up the Onam celebration on the blog:)

I have never made ela appam before and I do not remember it being my favorite when my mom made it for us in the evenings after school. It's been so many years now and I definitely wanted to make this.
Banana leaf used to wrap the appam gives the ela appam a distinct flavor and aroma that will tickle your taste buds. I tried the ela appam infusing a little of banana as well. We enjoyed the final product!


  1. Roasted Rice Flour - 2 cups
  2. Boiled Water - 1.5 cup
  3. Jaggery - 250 gms grated
  4. Coconut - 1 cup grated
  5. Banana - 1 ripened
  6. Banana leaf
  7. Salt to taste

Mix the jaggery with coconut and keep aside.

Boil water , add salt and the rice flour in parts, continuously folding it together with a fork. Once the entire flour has been folded in, let it rest for a while. Let the mixture cool, meanwhile mash the banana. 

Add the mashed banana into the mixture and fold it well with your hands. Make balls out of the mixture.

Take a banana leaf, wash it, pat dry and run it over the flame. This prevents breakage when you later make the appam.

Place a rice ball on the leaf. Wet your hands and gently press it creating round shape as you go along.
Place a generous amount of filling over one half of the pressed dough. Fold it into half along with the leaf.  Gently press the edges to hold it together.Fold the edges of the banana leaf and place it in a steamer on medium flame for about 10 - 15 minutes.

Ela appam ready. Bite gently into the appam - you can enjoy the flavour of  banana and the banana leaf:)

You may also note - 
  • You may replace jaggery with sugar.
  • You can add cardamom powder to enhance the flavor.
  • You an choose to have thin appam or a little thicker ones but make sure you are generous with the filling that you place inside.

August 10, 2015

Parippu Payasam

When it is Payasam, it is kadala parippu payasam that I enjoy the most. Not just me, my sister as well. When everyone devours it hot, we love freezing it and having spoonfuls directly from the fridge:)

Our dear akka, back home never misses an opportunity to make her special payasam. She ensures that she makes a huge quantity of it when my sister and I are back home. Only once do we eat it hot and the rest is frozen payasam. If it is payasam at home, our mom is sure to find a lot of used tablespoons lying around in her kitchen from our occasional sneaks into the kitchen for the payasam.
Uhh!! Getting a little too nostalgic, am I!

So here is your recipe -


Kadala parippu/ Bengal gram dal - 50 gm
Raw Rice - 50 gm soaked in water
Jaggery - 250 gm
Sago seeds/chowwary/ Sabudana - 50 gm
Coconut - 2 cups (take the milk) + 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

Soak the rice in water for half an hour and wet grind it along with 2 tbsp of coconut.

Fry the sago seeds in ghee till it splutters and soak in water for 15 minutes.

Soak the jaggery in a cup of water.

Cook the dal in the cooker. Do not overcook it , it should still be a little hard. Add the soaked jaggery along with the water. Once it boils, add the sago seeds and let it cook.

When the sago seeds are transparent, add the ground rice and coconut. Keep stirring and ensure that the flame is low.

Add the coconut milk and once it boils, add the cardamom powder.

You can add cashew nuts and raisins fried in ghee though I prefer to have them without either.

So that is the third recipe on the leaf. Hope you all enjoy this:)

You may also note -
  • Keep stirring the payasam once you add the rice and coconut lest it stick to the vessel and burns.

August 5, 2015

Pineapple Pachadi (Mathura Curry)

The recipe of pineapple pachadi sent by my friend - Vani, who has also been a guinea pig for my cooking experiments before marriage:) The bubbly and talkative girl shares my love for cooking as well.
Here goes her recipe and what she has to say about it -
Pachadi is a traditional kerala dish usually served as a side dish for meals. Pineapple pachadi is quick to make and delicious to eat. Alternatively, beetroot, cucumber and carrots are also used to make pachadi. This dish is a awesome combo of flavours.If you love the combination of sweet and sourness, you should definitely give this recipe a shot.
  1. Pineapple chopped-1 cup
  2. Green chilly-2-3 (You can alter the spice quotient by going easy on the chillies)
  3. Turmeric-1/4 tbsp
  4. Curd-1/4 cup +(2-3)tsp
  5. Salt -As required
To grind:
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green Chilly - 2 to 3
For Seasoning:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 3/4 tsp
Red Chilly - 2 tsp
Curry Leaves
Skin the pineapple and chop into small pieces. Cook the pineapple adding slit chilly, turmeric ,salt and water in a covered vessel(add very less water as water tends to ooze out from the pineapple). Cook until the pineapple becomes soft.
Grind together coconut,cumin seeds,green chilly and 1 to 2 tsp of cooked pineapple into a fine paste. Add the ground coconut paste and cook till the raw smell of the coconut goes and the water evaporates. Add the whisked curd and mix well and switch off the flame.
Do not boil after adding curd. Let mustard seeds splutter in hot coconut oil. When it splutters, add red chilly and curry leaves and pour it over the pachadi.
Serve it along with rice.

August 1, 2015

Ginger/Inji Curry

Onam is hardly a month away. Till date, I have not made a full fledged Onam Sadhya. This year I intend to, as it falls on a weekend.

And thus, I started my lookout for sadhya vibhavangal.  The inspiration for my onam recipe hunt is a batch of freshers who joined my company I previously worked with. During one of our interactions last year they said that they got together for Onam (malayalees and non-malayalees) and made 28 dishes.


My mouth fell open, I could not even recollect 28 dishes for sadhya, let alone make it.

This year, a month ahead of Onam I have decided to hunt down recipes from my family and friends. The purpose - definitely is to practice cooking all these recipes before onam and also help similar people like me out there who are hunting for recipes.

kitchenspells.blogspot.comOnam or not, Inji curry has been my favorite - its tangy, hot and sweet all in one. I just love it. Apart from pineapple pachadi and payasam, this is my hot favorite. This recipe is from my mother's kitchen.


  1. Ginger - 100 gm finely chopped
  2. Kashmiri Chilly - 2
  3. Green Chilly - 2 finely chopped
  4. Tamarind - 1 lemon sized ball
  5. Kashmiri chilly powder - 1/2 tbsp
  6. Jaggery Shavings - 2 tbsp
  7. Water - 1 and 1/2 cup
  8. Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  9. Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  10. Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
  11. Coconut - small pieces fried or grated coconut fried
  12. Curry Leaf
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Oil

Soak the tamarind in water and extract the juice. Boil it for 2 minutes and set aside.

Pour oil in a skillet, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Next, add the fenugreek seeds and the curry leaves. 

Once the fenugreek seeds lightly change colour, add the red chilly and finely chopped green chilly.
To this, add the chopped ginger and saute it till the ginger is lightly crisp.

Add the turmeric powder and red chilly powder. Saute till the masala gets cooked. Pour in the tamarind water and add jaggery. Boil for around 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Fry small pieces of coconut or grated coconut and add into the sauce.

Inji curry ready!

You may also note - 
  1. Grind half the fried ginger mix into a paste before adding the masala to give a thicker consistency.
  2. The consistency of the inji curry will become thicker once it cools down , so do not worry if your inji curry seems a little watery than the usual consistency when cooked.
  3. You may substitute jaggery with sugar as well.