Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rajma, Kidney Beans Stew: Creamy and Flavorful Without Cream or Spice

Rajma is one of my favorite curries and it is my go to accompaniment to rice and roti when I am feeling lazy. Except for the advanced preparation of soaking the beans (not needed if you are using canned beans), it is a very simple and quick dish to make. The version I make is creamy and flavorful but low-fat without the addition of cream or without any exotic or hard-to-find spices. Purists may look askance at my concoction but I would have it not any other way :).

The key to my recipe is the sauce. I use a blend of tomatoes, coriander leaves, mint leaves and yogurt. I add this blend to the beans and simmer with salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Finally, a drizzle with hot oil or ghee. Eat it with rice or any Indian bread.


Kidney beans (dry or canned). Small one if using canned.
A small can of diced tomatoes (canned)
Sprig of fresh coriander
Sprig of mint
Low fat plain yogurt, 4 table spoon
Pinch of salt, turmeric, chilli powder and asfoetida
Olive oil, coconut oil or ghee

1. If using dry kidney beans, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Once they are well soaked and swollen, cook them in either pressure cooker or over the stove top till they become tender. If you are using canned beans, you can skip this step.

2. Meanwhile, add half a can of tomatoes, fresh coriander, fresh mint, all of yogurt into a blender and puree using pulse setting. When done, the sauce will look like this.

3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Add the beans and pour the sauce over the beans. With a spatula, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.  Heat it thoroughly on low heat. Do not simmer the mixture as it will cause the yogurt to curdle and separate.

4. In a separate pan, heat 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil or ghee. Drizzle the hot oil over the bean mixture.

5. Eat with cooked sticky rice or flat Indian bread.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pesarettu Moong Dal Dosa

For a dosai that is made with just one legume it is an extraordinarily tasty dish in addition to being a very healthy one. You can make it flavorful by adding spices like cumin or carom seeds. You can make it into a meal in and itself by adding your favorite vegetable stuffing. It is also one of those dosas you can eat without any additional condiments. It is also much easier to make compared to the standard rice dosai. Except for the time it takes to soak the legume, prep time is quite short.


Green moong dal whole (unskinned): 1 cup
Salt to taste
Chili powder or paprika to taste (optional)
Cumin (optional) 1 teaspoon
Carom seeds (good for digestion) (optional) 1 teaspoon
Dessicated coconut or shredded coconut  2 tablespoon
Red onion (large) 1
Coconut oil

1. Soak moong dal for at least 24 hours. Soaking will soften and plump up the dal. You will need it to be soft to grind.

2. Drain and grind the legume in a food processor or a standard grinder. You can add salt and paprika at this stage. Grind it to a smooth batter.

3. Meanwhile, chop onions to finely. Heat oil in a skillet and sautee the onions till they becomes translucent. Remove from heat and transfer into a dish. (Or you can substitute onions with a vegetable of your choice)

4. Heat the griddle or a non-stick pan. When the griddle is hot, wipe it with a little bit coconut oil. This will keep the dosa from sticking to the griddle.

5. Pour a ladle of dosa batter onto the griddle. Using the ladle spread the batter in a circular motion till it has the desire thickness and size. You should do this fairly fast before the dosa starts cooking. Drizzle a small amount of coconut oil around the edges of the dosa.

7. When the edges turn brown and cripsy, flip over to the other side and cook it for a few minutes. Always make sure that dosa is not overcooked or burnt.

7. Flip again and layer the dosa with filling.. Carefully turn one half side of the dosa over the other. Gently lift it with the spatula and transfer it to a plate. Top it with a little pickle or brown sugar and enjoy.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Art Covers for Journals

I love making soft cover journals, especially ones with canvas covers. But, what I enjoy more is creating art on the canvas. Should not be surprising since I am still an artist at heart. These types of journals enable me to combine the craft of journal making with the art of painting. My only challenge is finding the time to both. Here are a sample of a few I have done recently.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Art with India Ink

Three years ago, I bought a whole set of Dr. Martin's India ink from Blick Art. I loved the vibrant colors but could not quite figure out how to use them in art. While some colors degraded eventually, many were still stable waiting to inspire me.

Recently, while doing a special project and looking for fresh ideas, I  decided to give these inks another try. It ended up being a delightful experiment with surprising discoveries. What I discovered was the India ink is permanent and not very blendable with other colors. But used individually, they produce very vibrant and intense effects. Below are a sample of my experiments.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lunch Box

A couple of months ago I saw this lovely unbollywood Indian movie called 'Lunchbox'. In the movie lunchbox is used as a plot device to explore themes of love and longing and is set in present day Mumbai. South Indians call it "Tiffin Carrier" and the movie evoked nostalgic memories of my mother packing more than one tiffin carrier with food for our long trains trips from Delhi to Chennai. Back then, we rarely ate food made outside of home and on long journeys, except for coffee, all the food was made at home and carried in these big tiffin boxes. Food spoilage was minimized by only making those foods that could withstand two days of train travel. 

In those days, Every South Indian household had such a tiffin carrier and my mother gave me one when I got married. I brought it all the way to the US and even used it the first few years when we took long road trips. After awhile I stopped using the tall one but ended up with several smaller ones, that I now use to take lunch to work. Somehow, I never took to using plastic containers. 

Here is my collection. I am kind of proud of it.

If you look closely you will find my initials inscribed on the side

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Green Banana Chips

The green bananas from the Indian store have been languishing in the refrigerator since last Saturday. The idea of making the same old curry was kind of boring. So, I decided to throw dietary caution to the wind and decided to make chips out of them. It was a hot and sticky day with the temperatures in the 80s and it seemed totally appropriate to spend one's time toiling over a hot stove! It did not take long to make them, yet, by the time I was done, my shirt was clinging to my back. But the chips came out crisp and tasty.

What you will need:

1. Green bananas (the ones I used are the Indian variety and are small in size. You can also use the long green plantains).

2. Any oil that has a high smoking point, such as Corn oil or Canola oil
3. Peeler and a slicer
4. Salt and crushed red pepper to taste


A. Wash and peel the skin of the bananas.
B. Slice them thinly.

C. Wipe off the moisture from the slices with paper towels.

D. Heat oil in deep frying pan, Test the temperature of the oil by dropping a slice and if it comes up sizzling, then the oil is ready for frying. Add a handful of slices into the hot oil.

E. Remove the chips from the pan when they turn golden brown. Drain them on a paper towel.

F. Sprinkle salt and red pepper and shake the chips to coat evenly.

If you store them in a ziploc bag, these chips will stay fresh and crisp for several days.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mapping the Sacred Using Street Photography: Kilpauk, Chennai

This is my repost for Seth Apter's Buried Treasures 2014. This is a cool project that Seth Apter, the mixed media artist, does every year on his blog The Altered Page. This is his fourth year of doing and what a lovely thing it is. If we can take the time, Seth's project takes us the wonderful world of artists blog across the internet. What a trip! Do see it for yourself.

It started as a simple project: to take  photos of the dozens of temples that dotted the area.  It is hard to miss them. Almost one per street. Almost all of them dedicated to Amman (mother goddess) and Ganesha and in various stages of growth. Even as you are pondering why so many, your eye catches something else. The almost equivalent proliferation of churches, little and big.  The juxtaposition of Amman (Mother Goddess) temple and Velankanni  shrine (Our Lady of Healing).  When did this happen? Then you remember Raji, the maid servant in your mother’s house, a Hindu woman  whose son had married a Christian, announcing she has become a Christian; the Sunday morning tent revivals, blaring mikes and the traffic jams. Then you realize that  the trade liberalization that welcomed the McDonalds, the Gap and other mncs, has also let in the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists and other evangelists.  Consumption followed by salvation. On the sacred geography of Kilpauk  (as in other parts of Chennai), the temples and the churches are no longer just  material evidence of Chennai’s religious pluralism but contested turfs for the hearts and souls of Chennai’s  low caste poor. You begin to wonder: is free trade finally accomplishing what two hundred years of direct British control could not?

The  photos and the text are the property of Indira Govindan. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the materials without my permission. Thanks for visiting.

Twithout my permission.
¨The  photos and the text are the property of Indira Govindan. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the materials without my permission.¨It