Home Search Contact Us

Tips and Tricks



For countries where there is no enough sunshine or places where people have no facility of leaving the CHHUNDO in the Sun, I have an alternative. After you drain off the liquid from the julienned mango mass, set it aside. Prepare sugar syrup of one thread consistency .Do not make it more than one thread or else the whole effort will be wasted. Once the sugar syrup is sufficiently cool, add the julienned mango mass in the syrup and add four to five spoons of chilli powder with a little salt to taste. Mix thoroughly. Garnish as above and the CHHUNDO with second variation is ready. THE QUANTITY OF SUGAR MAY BE INCREASED IF THE MANGOES ARE MORE SOUR. You can use smaller varieties of mangoes also if large variety is not available.




There is a thumb rule about the usage of SAMBAR POWDER. You must use the same number of spoonfuls of sambar powder as many people who are going to take lunch. If you have four people having food at your place, use four spoons of SAMBAR POWDER along with dhall.!!!




In khandvi preparation, you need at least two people or if you are alone, you need very strong hands. The trick lies in constantly stirring thick khandvi dough for at least twenty minutes on a medium flame till the besan gets fully cooked. It is important to check after fifteen minutes to take a small lump of the dough and spread on a plate by patting with fingers. If the dough cools and remains like a dosa without sticking to fingers, than you are sure that the dough has fully cooked. There is another method of making khandvi, which involves pre-cooking of the dough. Once you find out that the dough has fully got cooked, smear oil on an upturned Thali and immediately spread khandvi dough on it. Smear a plastic sheet with oil and cover the dough with it. Now roll the dough like a roti on the thali with a rolling pin. Leave it aside once the rolling is over. After ten minutes, cut it in to stripes and roll the khandavis and garnish with gingely seeds and Kothmir



Variation to Pachai Payir kozhambu

You can add one or two Tomatoes diced to 1/4 inches size after the tampering is over and this will give a beautiful exotic appearance to Pachai Payir.



Substitute for Tamarind

People who are allergic to Tamarind, may substitute with natural vinegar but lemon usage will be disastrous



Sweet Sour chutney

Add plain salt over and above the small spoon of Black salt to taste in chutney.



Oil for Pooris

Take only two ounces of oil as frying measure and this is meant for only one person and making about small sized ten poories. You can increase the volume of oil as per your needs.



Spicy Cutlet:

If you don't like the raw smell of Chillies, the best time to add chilli powder is when your ingredients are semi cooked. If you want your cutlet extra spicy then use a little powder of black pepper and five or six cloves (powdered) when cutlet mix is ready.



Spicy Pongal

Use grated ginger or finely cut (2 spoons) and temper with Red chillies



Mixed Vegetable palaya

Mixed Vegetable palaya When you add Wet spices paste to the semi cooked vegetables, add along with it one spoon of Garam Masala. Let it cook for about three to five minutes. Finally, heat some oil or ghee in a Tampering Ladle and add six to eight cloves, four Cardamoms and 3 Nos of 1" Cinnamon Sticks. When the Cloves puff up, tamper the palaya and cover the vessel immediately. Serve hot. You will be surprised to find that the palaya taste has totally altered



Substitute for coconut milk:

Coconut milk is meant to add an EMULSION. This gives body and add taste of its own to the dish. Apart from that, it acts as a solvent and a dispersal medium to spicy oils of different spices used. This helps in retention and even distribution of spice flavors in the recipe. Use paste of Cashewnuts(use abt 10 nos of cashewnuts made into thick liquid and add that after all the wet masalas are fried in oil and you add cashew paste/liquid and immediately add a little water and stir properly while letting it simmer for about three to four minutes. This would give you almost same taste as Kurma with coconut. You may be surprised but you can use thick milk also. The whole idea of using coconut in Kurma is to add an emulsion. This emulsion can be Milk, Coconut milk or Cashew Milk.



Remedy for Rasam ,sambar if its turns out salty, sour etc,..

When your Rasam, sambar or Kozumbu becomes too sour, add a pinch of cooking soda (however I don't approve of it).But cooking soda spoils the taste of the dish sometimes if you are not careful. So I have found out a fine method. Hold your breath.......If you have an antacid tablet at home, add half a tablet. It does not spoil the taste. Add more if the acidic taste is 2 much.



For excess of salt in curry with gravy

For excess of salt in curry with gravy, remove half of the gravy and later thicken the gravy with cream of Tomato or Mashed potato, no one will even know. Also put peeled raw potatoes in the curry to reduce saltiness. If the dish is dry curry, it is better to remove the vegetables, wash cooked vegetables and again put back in the masala. I have done this sometimes. Please slice the peeled potatoes into thin slices like in wafers and then add to the curry. This will increase the surface of absorption for extra salt and also will give a new dimension to your curry.



If the dish is having extra chillies..

If the dish is having extra chillies, again remove gravy and replace as in previous suggestion and add a spoon of Ghee to the curry. This will remove extra spiciness from the dish.



ON PREPARING DRY CURRIES (PORIYALS) When you are preparing dry curries, you must make it a point not to use too much of oil and too much of fuel and TOO MUCH OF FLAME .AND TOO MUCH OF TIME.!!!
I have seen people frying vegetables in a kadai for over half an hour on low flame and going on turning it .This is ridiculous. Vegetables need to be properly cooked and at the same time they should not lose their taste and colour.
You can avoid this by following the under mentioned tips.
1) Half cook the vegetables like potatoes and other hard vegetables in steam or pressure cook.
2) Add little bit of Sugar to green vegetables before steam cooking. And after semi steam cooking, fry as usual in kadai with little oil.
3) Make it a point to cover the kadai with a large thattu filled with some water. This will let the vegetables be cooked with own water of evaporation.
4) Never fry vegetables for a long time.
5) Never fry vegetables for long after adding dry /wet spices as burnt spices spoil the aroma of food.
6) While re-heating the dry curries, use non-stick pan or Micro oven or dry steam in a pressure cooker.
7) It is good to pre-soak the vegetables for some time in water.
If you follow the above tips, your poriyals and other dry curries would taste better. By pre cooking half in steam, you can cut down on fuel and time. Also your vegetables would not lose their nutrients and vitamins.



How to make Paneer

Ingredients Milk - 1 liter Citric Acid or Lemon (juice) - 1/2 tsp Water - 2 tbsp Method Dissolve the citric acid in water. Bring milk to boil, stirring continuously. Add the acid solution gradually, while stirring. When the milk curdles fully, switch off the gas. Cover for 3-4 minutes. Drain into a muslin cloth. Hold pouch under running water. Press out excess water. Shape and place cloth under heavy weight required (stone slab) for 2-3 hours before using as required.



  Selection of Chillies

Chilli powder should have 70% to 80% of Bedagi Chillies which have colour and fantastic Pungent flavour and are mild to taste.20% should constitute Warangal red chillies which are hot. The powdering must be done at home If you are in India, or else hand pounded if you are in Bombay and Maharashtra.Or select a chilli powder which is mild and of high colour and then add any hot chillies.



  Selection of asafoetida

Asfoetida is the most important spice and also the most tricky. Always buy the real asafoetida which costs around 2500 Rupees per kilo. Buy that and dilute it at home with other local Asafoetida powder .Block variety is useless. Only Marwadi shops in South India have real Hing called Hira Hing.Some company in Udupi sells real hing.If you are in USA or othe places in west try and buy from Afghani/ persian store. Ask for Hingua.



  General tips:

Garam masala must be added 3/4 th of the way of cooking any dish.Garam masala added at the end, gives off strong uneven aroma. It sometimes smells less if there is a lot of oil in gravy. So add when you are 3/4 th way.
Coriander leaves must be added at the end of cooking.
Roast khus khus lightly before grinding. You will get fine powder.
To preserve any colour, you must add a little sugar before steam cooking any coloured vegetable. Adding soda to beans kills the colour.
To cook rajma very soft, you must soak it in warm/hot water for at least 24 hours. I don't like adding soda.
To avoid jaggery getting soggy, store it in PET jars and keeping a pocket of roasted rice in that jar will ensure no moisture. Potlam of rice should be made of cloth.
Roti tawa need not be maintained with onion. Only dosai tawa or dosaikal gives better performance if you use onion.
Wooden chopping board is the best for cutting vegetables. Wood has some inherent property which does not allow bacteria to grow on it. Even if bacterias grow, they die when you cook .So go ahead and be happy using wooden board. Another disadvantage in using plastic boards is that your knives need to be sharpened often.
To get crisp vadas as in Restaurants, add quarter spoon of Soda Bui Carb to about 1/2 liter of Vadai Dough just before you pat the vadais .Dont keep soda added dough for long. You will get very soft and crisp vadais .



  Guidelines for frying.

Chalna or filter or sieve , are very essential for proper dry/wet frying of ingredients. If you do not have appropriate chalna/sieve, it becomes almost impossible to fry some ingredients. Example is frying of Aval.You need a chalna which has many holes and is mini kadai shaped with a handle.Same can be used for Dhall, Groundnut frying. If you do not have anything similar, please read the following carefully and use the guidelines to create your own version of chalna/sieve.
1) Use metal sieve fine wire mash sieve) for sieving flour which you might have .The only condition is that you must use larger kadai or frying pan than flour sieve for frying DHALLS or AVAL.
2) If you do not have even flour chalna, go to the nearest supermarket and buy thinnest Aluminium tea maker with handle which u get everywher in India. come home Take a big nail and hammer out about 100 holes at the bottom .Take care to keep it on wooden board when you perforate it.Or ask your husband to use electric drill to make holes.
3) Contact all your friends and find out if they have a chalna to your specs.
4) If you have rice strainer, try and use it to put dhalls/Aval in it and keep it in frying pan/kadai and fry them.
5) If everything fails, use a tin container which you have used to unpack tinned foods, remove the top lid properly and make as many holes as possible in it and using a chimta as a handle, complete your frying.




This has been a tricky field for many hubbers.I had posted this piece last march .But it seems to have gone un-noticed. I am reposting it for the benefit of the hubbers.
To make nice chappathis/Phulkas which Balloon when Roasted on fire, you need to make the dough in the following manner. Take required amount of (two cups) Whole wheat flour. Add Two or three table spoons of cooking oil and half a spoon of salt. Mix the oil , salt and the whole wheat flour thoroughly. Now take some water and slowly start adding and kneading the dough. When the dough is sufficiently soft, keep it aside for at least one hour after smearing the whole kneaded dough with half a spoonful of oil to avoid drying up. Make urndais of only lemon size of dough to roll Chappathis.(sometimes on keeping for an hour, you may have to still soften the dough with a little bit of water as wheat flour sometimes absorbs water more than usual). You must not add too much water or else the chappathis will not balloon and you will not be able to make thin chapattis or Phulkas.
Take a little dry flour and set it aside, With a rolling pin, roll the chappathis on the stone. Once the flattened dough is thin and starts sticking to roller pin, turn the chappathi in dry flour on both the sides and start rolling in round shape. You may have to turn the chappathis in dry flour twice or thrice in order to get very thin (2.5-3mm) thickness without sticking. (Do not under any circumstances let dry flour stick too much to rolled chappathis surface or else, when roasting on naked flame, burning smell of flour will spoil the taste of chappathis.) Now take the rolled flat uncooked chappathi and first place it on Tava.As soon as slight bulges start forming, With a chimta or a fork remove the chappathi from Tava and place directly on fire or flame of the stove. You will be amazed to see perfectly round Phulkas .Turn it and cook it on both the sides. Remove from flame and apply nei (ghee) on the thinner side of the phulka.Serve it hot. If you are making Phulkas for eating with payasam or sweet things like Mambazam Juice etc, don't use salt .Punjab wheat flour will be more sticky and uses more water.So adjust the water addition as per the quality of flour you get in the place or any country you are now.




Without ghee, it is impossible to think of many sweets. Take away ghee from a Marwari kitchen and the result would be a disaster.Rice and sambar with a spoon of ghee on top makes an appealing first morsel. Body needs of animal fat is supplied by ghee for vegetarians. If you buy ghee from out side, you are likely to get Mutton Tallow in boiled form. Ghee made by big name dairies , have no smell that you identify ghee with. So why not make it at home? It is easy and you are sure of A1 Quality.
Buy 2 pounds/1 kg of cooking butter (without salt). Take a 2 litre vessel and heat the butter on a medium flame.Keep a constant watch and go on stirring the melted butter which would start boiling after some time. A scum would start forming in the form of EDU and small flakes. Finally they will settle at the bottom in hard mass and stick. You must be on a constant watch with a ladle stirring every now and then. After about 30 minutes to 45 minutes, the bubbles of the boiling butter would suddenly become minute and there will be a surge of foam towards over flowing. This is the signal that your Ghee is ready .But take care that the ghee does not over flow and does not get burnt. Remove from atop stove and keep the vessel under a fan to cool immediately or else, self heat may burn ghee. You would find the scum of dirty white or brownish colour from the middle of the process which would ultimately settle down. Take a filter and filter off the scum after ghee is cold. Some people in India add Betel leaves at the end of process to refine the ghee. I, however have never tried it except once . Out of 1 kg of butter , the yield of Ghee would be aroung 600 gems. Better buy yellow (cow's) butter.






Thanks to all the ForumHubbers for making this happen