A vegetarian spread inspired by flavors of South India. Thalis are balanced meals packed with nutrition and lot of health benefits.
Personally for me, I love vegetarian food specifically from Kerala. The taste of fresh vegetables that are cooked with simple ingredients is just fantastic. One can actually taste the veggies and not the overpowering spices, no matter how mild they are.
A run to the grocery store as early as 7am,meant a pretty good selection of fresh crisp veggies caught my attention. And that’s how my lunch menu planning begins.
I chose to make a mini Thali with
Vazhaithandu Kootu (banana stem with moong dal)
String beans stir fry
Red Cheera thoran (red spinach)
Semiya payasam (vermicelli pudding)
Boiled rice /Homemade Yoghurt / papad / pickle
Banana stem - A good piece of banana stem was up on the shelf and for quite sometime I wanted to make this. Rich in fibre is what has me in love with this. This kootu is more from Tamil Nadu with a coconut paste added, which makes it pretty delicious.
Cleaning banana stem is bit of work. But it is quite a doable thing. I had a pair of experienced hands that helped me in cutting, removing the fibre threads and rest was an easy job for me.
I am happy to share the recipes and the easy process to clean banana stem.
So let’s get through recipes of a delicious lunch that can be prepared in maximum 2hrs easily and for 2-3 persons. I multitask, while having prepped all that is needed.
Ingredients for Vazhaithandu Kootu
650g Banana stem with outer covering
1/2 cup moong dal (yellow lentils)
Salt as per taste
1 TB coconut oil
1tsp turmeric powder
400ml buttermilk mixed with 100ml water
For the paste
3TB fresh coconut
2-3 red dry chilies
1TBS whole urad dal
Few curry leaves
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1TB coconut oil
1tsp coconut oil
1tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida
Few curry leaves
1 - Remove the outer shell of banana stem until you get the firm part which is the real deal.
2 - using a peeler, peel the skin (just one light stroke)
3 - cut into roundels as shown in the video by my ninja’s expert hands. As you cut, there will be fibre thread that need to be wrapped around index finger and removed off.
4 - Cut roundels into small pieces and drop them into the butter milk mixture. As seen in the video, using back of a wooden spoon swirl around few times and see the little left over fibre thread that comes off. The same needs to be discarded. Repeat this until you see almost nothing that gets stuck to the wooden spoon.
5 - In a pressure cooker, add moong dal and on low flame roast until it is fragrant and lightly changed color. Wash it in cold water for 2-3 times
6 - Now drain off the buttermilk from the chopped stem and wash under running water. Add it to the moong dal along with salt as per taste and turmeric powder
7 - Add 3-4 cups water and pressure cook for 5mins on high, 5mins medium and 10mins low. Total 20mins
8 - for the masala paste add 1tbs oil in a pan and roast coriander seeds, red chilli and curry leaves for 2-3 mins. Add coconut and roast until it turns light brown. Cool down.
Grind the above with cumin seeds and little water to a smooth paste.
9 - Once the pressure cooker has cooled (moong dal is completely cooked and stem is tender), open the lid, add 1TB oil, turn on the heat. Tip in the ground coconut paste and bring to a boil.
10 - Heat 1Tsp coconut oil. Once heated, add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Add curry leaves and asafetida. Fry for few seconds.
11 - add the tempering to the kootu and heat off, keep Covered for 10mins.
String beans stir fry
1 - In a pan add 1tsp coconut oil. Once heated add one small chopped onion and fry until they are soft.
2 - Tip in 400gm chopped string beans, 2 small green chillies and salt. Mix. Cook for 2-3mins.
3 - add less than 1/4 cup water and cook until the beans are cooked (7-8mins)
Red cheera Thoran
1 - in a pan add 1tsp coconut oil. Once heated add 30gm chopped shallots. Fry until they are light brown.
2 - add 2 bunch chopped cheera, salt and mix. Cover and cook for 5mins.
3 - Add 1TB freshly grated coconut and mix. Flame off. Done.
1 - Add a tablespoon ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
2 - fry 2TB cashews until light brown and 2TB raisins until puffy. Remove them on a plate
3 - In the same pan add 1/2 cup thin vermicelli and on lowest flame, roast until they are light brown.
4 - Now add 1/4th cup lump sugar and mix until sugar starts to melt
5 - Add one cup fresh milk in batches and cook until vermicelli is puffed and cooked.
6 - Tip in the fried cashews and raisins, 1TB condensed milk and give a good mix. Heat off. Done
*milk quantity may vary depending on
How much it is soaked by vermicelli *