Category Archives: Side Dishes

Murungai Illai (Moringa leaves) Sothi


Moringa leaves or in Tamil “Murungai illai” is from the tree Moringa Oleifera that is one of the most nutritious leaves that you can find.  You can read more about this tree here. Moringa tree has been used in traditional medicine for a long time.  It bears the vegetable called “Drumsticks” in English or “Murungaikai” in Tamil.  But the most nutritional part is the leaves.  The leaves are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Calcium.  It also has 3 times the pottasium of bananas.  Traditionally these leaves are used in various dishes.  The most popular one is the murungai illai varai (called poriyal in India) which is stir-fried leaves with coconut and sauteed onions.  Unfortunately it is extremely expensive and difficult to get these leaves in the North East of USA.  I will be posting the varai recipe hopefully some day when I get these leaves.

The leaves are a bit difficult to wash.  Since they are so small, when washing they tend to stick to your wet hands.  After washing dry them in paper towel to avoid any clumping.

Normally when sothi is made with murungai illai, other vegetables are not added.  But I added these vegetables to make it a wholesome side dish and more nutritional.  It actually turned out pretty tasty.  You can eat this side dish with rice, but goes very well with string hoppers (Idiyappam)


  • 1 small potato
  • 1 small Chinese eggplant
  • 2 green chilies split lengthwise
  • 2 pearl onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • pinch of tumeric
  • Strand of curry leaves
  • ¼ cup drumstick (Moringa) leaves
  • Lemon juice



  • Peel and cut potato into about ½ inch cubes
  • Split eggplant lengthwise and then split lengthwise again. Chop them into about ½ inch cubes
  • Wash drumstick leaves and dry in a paper towel.
  • In a covered saucepan add potatoes, eggplant, water, salt and cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes (until potatoes are three-quarter cooked)
  • Add curry leaves, tumeric, and coconut milk and bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes.
  • Now add drumstick leaves and cook just one minute uncovered
  • Add lemon juice just before serving.

Yields: about 2-3 servings as a side dish with Idiyappam


Kollu (Horse Gram) Chutney


Kollu or Horse gram in English which I have never heard of until I came to the United States.  I believe it is quite common in India but no one knows this lentil in my family or town.  I saw this lentil in one of the Indian grocery stores and bought a packet which has been sitting in my cabinet for more than 6 months.  I have been searching for kollu recipes to finish off this bag.  Finally I saw few recipes and I took them and modified it according to my taste.  It was the first time I ever tasted some thing made with Kollu.  I have to say I kind of liked taste of Kollu it but wouldn’t say “Oh it was so great…”

This side dish is very easy to make and of course it is Vegan.  All together it took only about 20 minutes for me.  I used this as a Chutney with Idli.  I think it can also be used as a side dish for Dosas.





  • ¼ cup kollu
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 dried red chilies
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Tamarind extract
  • Salt to taste
  • ¾ cup water at room temperature
  • For tempering: oil, curry leaves, ¼ teaspoon hing, mustard seeds.


  • Dry roast kollu on low flame until a nice aroma emits. Transfer to a dish and let cool to room temperature.
  • In the same pan, dry roast chana dhal, urad dhal, garlic, and red chilli together for about 3-4 minutes on low flame. Let cool
  • Add all the roasted kollu, roasted dals, garlic, chili to a food processor with water, salt, and tamarind and puree until smooth. It can be slightly granular which will give a nice crunchy taste as well.
  • Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl.
  • Add a little oil to a skillet and when hot add mustard seeds.  Once mustard seeds start spluttering add curry leaves and hing and fry for about 30 seconds.  Remove and add to the chutney and mix well.

Note: I have not given the exact amount of tamarind to be used.  Tamarind is sold as a ready to use paste (in bottles) or as tamarind pulp in packets.  If you are using tamarind paste, you can add it directly to the food processor with other ingredients. If you are using tamarind pulp, you have to add a small amount of pulp to a small bowl and add warm water to soak.  Then you have to squeeze it with your finger to extract the juice.  So depending on what you use, you may have to adjust the taste while grinding.

String Beans and Mushroom Curry

Last thanksgiving I made string bean casserole for a family dinner party.  Since it came out so good, it inspired me to transform it into an Indian style curry.  I omitted those specific ingredients and herbs that were used in the string bean casserole.  Instead I used the curry powder and chili powder to spice it up.  This goes well with either white/basmati rice or with naan or roti or even pita bread.



  • 6 oz string beans
  • 6 oz white/button mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon canola or cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash and snip off both ends of string beans and split lengthwise. Cut diagonally into about 1 inch pieces
  • Brush to clean mushrooms and slice them thickly.
  • In a covered saucepan add oil and once hot add onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown
  • Add cut string bean and add water, chili powder and salt and cover and cook for about 10 minutes
  • Add cut mushrooms, curry powder, turmeric, and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add almond milk and uncover and cook until the gravy thickens into curry consistency.
  • Yields: 3 – 4 side dishes

Vegetable Korma in Almond-Coconut Sauce


Lately I have been trying dishes that are way out of our traditional Sri Lankan method.  This is one of the recipes that I made over the weekend.  Traditionally we make mixed vegetable curries simmered in thick coconut milk.  For this recipe, I reduced the amount of coconut milk and added ground almonds which gives extra flavor.  Also I sautéed onion in coconut oil which gives a nice aroma.  But you can use any other regular cooking oil.  Enjoy this lightly spiced and fragrant dish with rice, Naan, Chappati or any other variety of Rotis.




  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped or crushed
  • ½ inch piece ginger finely chopped or crushed
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 cup cut green beans
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup ground almond
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste


  • Wash and split green beans length wise as much as possible. Then cut them diagonally into about 1 inch pieces.
  • Brush carrots and cut off the top and bottom ends. Split lengthwise and slice them diagonally
  • Separate cauliflower florets
  • Add oil to a covered saucepan and once hot, add onion and sauté for about 7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.  Sautéing must be done in very low flame to avoid any burning/charring.
  • Add ground coriander, cumin, chili powder, and turmeric and sauté for one minute
  • Now add ground almond, carrots, beans, water, coconut milk and salt and cover and cook for about 7 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower florets to the saucepan and mix with the rest of the vegetables and cook for further 5 minutes.
  • Let stand covered for 10 minutes. Just before serving add lemon juice.
  • Serve as a side dish with rice, or Roti.


Potato and Cauliflower with Green Peas


It was last Friday I made this curry which I did not get the time to post it.  Since it was a Friday night, I wanted to post something simple, quick but delicious which would go well with Naan bread.  I have tried many varieties of potato and cauliflower curry.  But I have been thinking of posting a cauliflower recipe with green peas since I have seen this kind of recipe in many Indian restaurants.  But I went ahead and gave a little more twist to make it a little more flavorful.  I added some fenugreek leaves just before removing from stove and it came out pretty good.  Hope you all get to make this and enjoy as well.



  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ inch piece ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seed
  • 12 oz potatoes cubed
  • 8 oz cauliflower florets
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon Tandoori powder
  • ¼ cup chopped Fenugreek leaves
  • ¼ cup green frozen peas
  • Strand of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Few drops of lemon juice (optional)



  • Add oil to a covered saucepan and once hot add mustard seed, garlic, and ginger and fry until garlic and ginger are golden brown
  • Add potatoes and mixed well
  • Add water, coconut milk, chili powder, and salt and cover and cook on medium flame for about 8-10 minutes
  • Add cauliflower florets, curry leaves and Tandoori powder and cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Now add Fenugreek leaves, and green peas and cook for another 2 minutes and let stand covered for 10 minutes
  • Season with salt
  • Serve warm with rice, Naan bread or Roti.
  • Add lemon juice just before serving.

Note: You can find Fenugreek leaves in Asian/Indian stores.  They come in small bunches.  They have a bit of bitter taste with strong flavor.  Make sure you don’t add too much of these leaves since it will completely change the flavor of the curry and give you bitter taste.  Fenugreek leaves are usually sold in the name of Methi leaves (Hindi) or “Venthaya Keerai” (Tamil)


Cauliflower and Mushroom Curry

I have been cooking cauliflower curry in the traditional way – simple cauliflower or cauliflower and potatoes.  I thought to try something totally different today.  I had a big head of cauliflower and was wondering what I can make with this cauliflower that is totally different.  Checked my fridge and there it is – a big box of white mushroom.  This recipe came out of this combination – cauliflower and mushroom.



  • 8 oz cauliflower florets
  • about 2-3 oz sliced white mushroom
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large tomato finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • about 1/4 cup or less soy milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin


  • Dry roast cumin and coriander and once cool grind into powder.  Set aside
  • Add oil to a large saucepan and once hot add onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned
  • Add chopped tomato, chili powder, water, and salt and cook on low flame until it becomes sauce consistency
  • Add cauliflower and mushroom and cover and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes.  Check frequently to make sure it does not get too dry.  If it becomes, add a little water at a time.
  • After 10 minutes, add the ground cumin-coriander powder, and soy milk and combine to mix and cook on medium flame for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are cooked and sauce/gravy is thickened.
  • Serve with rice or roti

Navy Beans and Beet Curry


This is a delicious and very simple dish.  It only takes 15 minutes to cook plus the extra time to cut the beets.  You can use either dried navy beans or canned ones.  If using dried navy beans, soak them in water overnight and cook until three quarters done.



  • ½ lb beets
  • 1 cup cooked navy beans
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Salt
  • ½ of a small onion thinly sliced
  • Strand of curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-3 dried red chili broken into 2 pieces



  • Peel beets and cut lengthwise into two half.  Place the cut side on a cutting board and thinly slice them.  Cur each slice into about half an inch cube.
  • Add beets, water, coconut milk, and salt to a covered saucepan and cover and cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes
  • Add cooked navy beans to beets and reduce flame and simmer for another 5 minutes. If the curry becomes too dry, add a little water or coconut milk to make some gravy.
  • In a small skillet add cooking oil and add onion and sauté until golden brown. Now add curry leaves with onion and fry for another minute.   Add fried onions and curry leaves to beet curry and mix well.
  • Add dried red chili to the skillet and fry in the rest of the oil until red chili becomes very dark deep brown and crunch
  • Pour dried red chili and oil over beet curry and serve warm with rice.