Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Singing Chef's in my Kitchen

Thanks to everyone who played along in the guessing game at the end of my last post. There were several guesses along the lines of edible stuff as one might expect to see in a cooking pot, including noodles, sevai, vermicelli, spaghetti squash and sev for falooda, which is one thing I really wish I was making!

Milli was the first to guess the correct answer, which is that I was dyeing wool in the pot. Others, including R, Pavani, Amruta, Shirley and Garden Dreamer also guessed that this was wool/yarn.

The picture indeed was of white wool being dyed with unsweetened orange kool-aid (an artificial drink mix, similar to the brand Rasna in India), a technique described in this Knitty tutorial. It is as easy as heating wool in bright kool-aid solution. The wool soaks up the dye leaving clear water behind; it is quite fascinating to see dye being pulled out of the orange water.

I ended up with this skein of yarn. I was going for a saturated orange color for a particular project so it looks like I have to buy a couple more sachets and give this skein another dunking.
It is a little scary to think that people drink stuff that can permanently dye fibers, but maybe that's not an entirely fair statement. After all, turmeric is an all-natural plant product and has terrific culinary and medicinal uses but also dyes fabric permanently as many cooks find out only too late when their favorite dishcloth or apron or outfit is adorned by a bright yellow turmeric stain. Ask me how I know.

* * *
This Sunday, I was watching PBS Create on TV and stumbled on an episode of this show called Bloggers: Confessions of the Food-Obsessed. They interviewed Pim and I turned to V and said- the pad thai that you love, I got the recipe from her blog. They interviewed David Lebovitz and I said to V- the butterscotch candy that you love, I got the recipe from his blog. It is true, most of my favorite recipes come from other blogs and I always think of the blogger with gratitude when we sit down to dinner and enjoy a particular dish.

So I was excited to see that The Singing Chef was chosen as blog of the month for this month's edition of Tried and Tasted, hosted at Dil Se. Raaga has hundreds of recipes for everything from baked goodies to everyday vegetable dishes. One of my grandmothers was Konkani and I grew up tasting some of that wonderful cuisine, so I especially like the typical Konkani dishes that Raaga shares.

The first recipe I tried was panpole, meaning leafy dosas. I have a theory that recipes that call for very few ingredients are often the most challenging to make. This one has all of two ingredients, rice and coconut, ground together to a batter. You need a bit of water for the batter, salt for seasoning and oil to make dosas, and that is it.

The dosas were just a little tricky to make in the beginning. My first two could not be called "leafy" by any stretch of the imagination. But I caught on and began making fairly good panpole after the first few attempts.

These dosas are fragrant and delicate and absolutely melt in the mouth. We enjoyed them with some incredible podi from the famous Ambika store in Chennai, a kind gift from a friend.

Another recipe that I tried from Raaga's blog was Chow Chow. I love recipes with  goofy names. Before reading her post, I had no idea what chow chow could mean, other than slang for "eating". Well, her post taught me some three different definitions for this term; talk about getting an education. It is a dish invented by a clever caterer that uses a medley of vegetables and cooks them in pickling spices. I'm sold. I adapted Raaga's recipe, so I'm jotting it down here.

Chow Chow
(adapted from Raaga's recipe)

1. Make a thick paste of
1 tsp. mustard seeds
5-6 peppercorns
8-10 fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. fresh/frozen grated coconut

2. In a pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil. Temper it with
12 tsp. mustard seeds
12 tsp. turmeric
12 tsp. red chilli powder
Pinch of asafetida
Sprig of curry leaves

3. Add the following vegetables (or other vegetables that you have on hand) and saute well
1 large carrot, diced
2 Japanese eggplants, diced
1 large potato, diced

4. Add salt to taste, a little water and cover and cook the vegetables until they are barely tender.

5. Stir in
1 tsp. tamarind paste
2 tsp. tomato pickle 
Ground spice paste

6. Cook for a few more minutes.

This is an unusual and excellent vegetable dish- the mustardy paste makes the dish very tasty. What a great way to clean out the crisper.

I'll see you in exactly three days with the round-up of Blog Bites: Cookers and an announcement of the theme for the next edition.


  1. I haven't dyed any wool yet, but am curious to try it out too - what project are you planning to use this for? I like the faint orange shade it has now, too.

  2. The dosa looks so pure. Maybe adding a sprinkle of podi or chilli powder in the batter will give it a little fiery taste.


  3. New to ur blog...following u...and ur wonderful recipes....welcome to my blog too....

  4. These look great! Panpole do take some practice...I was always amazed at my mother's ability to whip them up.... until.... :)

    I have to make chowchow again now:)

    Thanks :)

  5. Nupur, There is an award for you in my blog, please get it :)

  6. I never knew you can dye wool like that at home with an orange cool-aid.. amazing! I like the orangy color that it has now.

    Both the dishes look delicious... love the name chow-chow.

  7. I must try those lacy dosas. I haven't had uniform success and dropped it.... but ur post is motivating.

  8. I love Paan Pole and make them frequently (no fermentation). Need to try Chow-Chow.

  9. Interesting to note that you are dyeing wool...why not buy colored wool? I am sure since you are dyeing it at home, it has a better advantage?
    The pancakes look so good.
    Incidentally chow chow means bottle gourd/ cayote squash in tamil.

  10. the dosa look awesome. thanks for the idea about kool-aid dying, too. i love that the article calls kool-aid "reasonably non-toxic" :)

  11. wonderful dosas. Gad to see you guys participate in my event all the time :-) I have to unfortunately say that the next month's is the last one. I ran ot of hostesses and unless anyone wants to take over the whole event, I ll have to discontinue :-( Sad, really enjoyed cooking from eahc other :-(

  12. Nupur, would love to share an award with u, please get it on my blog :)

  13. sharing an award with you in my blog :)

  14. notyet100- Thanks

    Trendsetters- Thanks

    Desiknitter- I am planning to make orange slice potholders like these, which is why I am looking for a more saturated orange. Otherwise I like this shade too.

    Shilpa- I definitely would not add any chili powder to the batter, I loved the pure taste as it is.

    Silence Sings- Thanks

    Rachana Kothari- Thanks

    Raaga- Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    Priya- Thanks for both awards!

    PJ- Yes, I never imagined it would be so easy to permanently dye yarn either!

    Manasi- I played around with the consistency of the batter and once you hit the right one, it gets really easy.

    Ashwini- I know, no fermentation is a great thing for last minute meals, although there's a few hours of soaking time!

    Sangeetha- There are many reasons to dye at home, (a) it is an art in itself, tells you how the process works in the way colored wool comes on the market, (b) people use their talents to make unique shades, mixtures of different colors which are one of a kind, (c) you can stock up on white wool and dyes, and then make whatever colors are needed for your project instead of running out to buy different colors each time, etc.

    radioactive- I know, all I was thinking is that reasonably non-toxic means that it is reasonably toxic as well!

    zlamushka- Sorry to hear that, however, if you announce on your blog that you need more hosts, I am quite sure there will be people jumping up to host future editions.

    R- Thanks for the award!

  15. pan poles are a melt in your mouth delicacy. so what is the wool ending up as?

  16. i made the link in the post...Chk out...Thank u for reminding me..


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