What’s for Dinner?

What’s for Dinner?

Homemade chappatis, puffed on an open flame. Make a pliant, soft dough with whole wheat (chappati) flour and water. Roll into circles and griddle-cook both sides before flipping directly on to the flame (I cheat, and use a metal grid. My mom uses her fingers, ouch). The chappatis should puff right up. Dab a small amount of clarified butter (ghee) on each, and store covered until ready to eat.

Coconut Curry with Potatoes and Peas: Grind together fresh coconut, roasted coriander seeds, roasted fenugreek seeds (just a few, or it will be too bitter), tamarind, dry red chilies. Bring to a boil with enough water to make a gravy; then, add precooked, diced potatoes and peas. Add salt and garam masala to taste and a small lump of jaggery to sweeten and balance the tartness of the tamarind. The final touch is tempering: in a tsp of oil, splutter some mustard seeds and split white lentils (urad dal). When the oil turns aromatic and the mustard seeds turn gray, attempting to escape and redecorate your clean stove top, add the curry leaves and stand back..then pour it on the coconut curry for a satisfying sizzle. 

Homemade Yogurt: 2% fat milk, boiled and cooled, then inoculated with non-commercial (i.e., smuggled from India) culture. Use a yogurt thermometer if you want to be scientific. Or not. Incubate overnight in warm spot (I once saw a friend lovingly wrap it in a child’s parka!). It is mild to taste, and moderately solid. 

Bon Appetit! What’s your dinner? 

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122 Responses to What’s for Dinner?

  1. Dryade Geo says:


    Oh wow. Looks amazing!

  2. Cindy Brown says:


    I’ll be right over!


    Yum, sounds delicious!

  3. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks! I was debating whether the pix looked good enough to upload. Experimented with a macro lens (for the chappatis) but it was too heavy/wobbly. Guess I should have eaten first, for strength 🙂

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    Cindy Brown plenty left over, please do 🙂


  5. That looks outstanding.

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    Johan Edstrom that’s pretty awesome coming from a chef like you, thanks. 

  7. Chad Haney says:


    I’m lazy and will likely grill some burgers. Let’s pretend they are vegetarian. Your meal looks amazing. I’ve been thinking of stopping by Devon Ave to get more Assam tea and pick up some yummy take-out while I’m there, probably naan and some kind of dal. The photo reminds me of rasam, which I’m craving now.

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Will you grill them indoors (must be dark by now?), Chad Haney .  The coconut makes it southern, as in rasam, yes. 

  9. Yuji Naka says:


    I love chappatis. Rajini Rao did you make them?

  10. Chad Haney says:


    I’m not as rugged as Gnotic Pasta but I can grill with my lights on the deck.

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    Yes, I did Yuji Naka ..homemade ones are softer than store bought.


  12. Sounds just deliciously awesome 🙂 Rajini Rao  Here – grilled wild sockeye salmon, fermented cauliflower couscous, home made sweet mixed pickles, steamed broccoli with mayo/sambal oelek to dip…… crisped skin on the side 🙂

  13. Nico M says:


    omg that looks awesome.  such torture  😉

  14. Pagan Sphinx says:


    Hot damn! Does that ever look good!

  15. Rajini Rao says:


    Wow, those are some seriously gourmet dinners, Gnotic Pasta and Patricia A ! Grilling is my favorite way to cook eggplant. And I’m really curious about the fermented cauliflower..topped over couscous, I’m guessing Patricia? 

  16. Cindy Brown says:


    Man… I’m just going to throw some salmon on.. Y’all have me outclassed 😉

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    Honestly, if it were not for foodie posts and pictures, I would never be inspired to cook. 


  18. Yum! I can do some Indian cooking but not as good as this.


  19. I love chappatis!! Actually had the chance to learn to make them from a friend and got pretty good but I haven’t used that skill enough. Suddenly wanting daal 

  20. Rajini Rao says:


    Janice Person dal is quite the comfort food..creamy and mild. I find the trick to making the soft is to get a good quality flour, not to make the dough too hard (a little sticky is fine), and cook them on a really hot griddle. By the end, I got tired and my chappatis were not round any more, but they still got eaten 🙂


  21. Rajini Rao My thanks! The cauliflower ‘is actually reduced in a Kitchen Aide or the like to the size/texture of couscous – the resulting ‘grain’ is then  ‘subjected’ to lacto-fermentation for about a week – or to taste…. The finished product is drained and served raw as a couscous-like substitute – extremely easy to make, most delicious, and incredibly nutritious… Here is a link to the how-to I originally followed… Fermented Grain free Couscous part one

  22. Rajini Rao says:


    Patricia A , I’ll give it a try, wish me luck! Thanks for the link and explanation (nothing like a bit of kitchen experimenting to make me happy). 


  23. Delighted to share this kitchen magic with you! And – most happy to field any questions you might have Rajini Rao … fermentation is a large part of my diet!

  24. Rajini Rao says:


    OK, thanks Patricia A ! Have you tried fermenting rice/lentil batters to make dosas (like crepes)? That’s the only real fermentation that I do. Would love to make sourdough bread (like Bill Carter ), just not got around to it. 

  25. Ian Netto says:


    That looks yum! I approximate the warm chapatti experience with whole wheat tortillas while scooping up bindhi masala.

  26. Rajini Rao says:


    Ian Netto most of the time, we use store bought too. The Indian store has nice naans in the frozen section. But sometimes I’m sufficiently motivated.. oh, and bhindi masala is yum, made some okra just last night. 


  27. Rajini Rao I primarily ferment vegetables of pretty much any – both domestic and wild…. krauts, chiles sauces, salsa… pickles, kombuchas, ginger bugs and the like… kefir both milk and water…. spinning out into kefir breads… I don’t eat enough bread at this point to invest in sourdough maintenance though I love them and see the one’s Bill Carter makes and drool :))) Still – I do have some San Francisco sourdough starter that I’m planning to take on a winter sojourn overseas – where there will plenty of hungry people to eat the breads there.. Would much like to play with the fermented batters like dosas as well. 


  28. The thing that took the most concentration for me was picking them up by my fingers and turning them over cause of course Geeta doesn’t allow for using a spatula or anything! LOL

  29. Rajini Rao says:


    Janice Person heaven forbid that you accidentally pinch and puncture them with your finger tips..the hot steam escapes and whoosh, there goes that skin 😛 Wiser now, I use a spatula. 


  30. Looks delicious, Rajini Rao ! You mentioned jaggery to sweeten the curry. Do you get it in the US? Is it coconut jaggery?

  31. Rajini Rao says:


    Siromi Samarasinghe you must use jaggery as a sweetener too, right? Yes, we do get jaggery here in the US, typically in big chunks that we have to break it up into pieces. I’m not sure what type it is..we don’t get the variety of flavors that we do in India..palm, date, etc. Some of the high quality jaggery in India melts in your mouth like chocolate! 

  32. Chad Haney says:


    Rajini Rao if I remember right, the Latino grocery stores have something similar. We don’t use anything like jaggery in Thai food.


  33. Yes, we use juggery as a substitute for sugar, even with tea. ‘Kitul’ juggery is the best, better than coconut or palmyra. It’s soft and melts easily if it is the genuine product.

  34. Bill Collins says:


    It takes years to help your fingers get used to direct flame. 🙂 Or just to handle hot dishes right out of an industrial strength dishwasher. Yay for your Mom! Nice looking dinner. Oh I love these descriptions. 

  35. Rajini Rao says:


    So, Thai sweetener used in cooking would be sugar then, Chad Haney ? I would expect some indigenous version was used in the past. 


    Siromi Samarasinghe , yes indeed, jaggery is used in tea and coffee in the villages, for sure. At my colleges, the nuns tried to economize by making the morning coffee with jaggery..I’ll always associate that hot, sweet chicory concoction with college 🙂

  36. Rajini Rao says:


    Bill Collins , thanks! My fingers are reasonably toughened by now, but I’ve been burned with hot steam escaping from a chappati and understandably cautious. My mother is a chappati making machine..she is so fast! In contrast, I’m more temperamental..sometimes, I get bored and then they go downhill 😀

  37. Chad Haney says:


    As far as I know Rajini Rao, it would be just sugar, maybe honey.

  38. Ashok Singh says:


    I love this food……

  39. Bill Collins says:


    Well I suspect your Mom had a lot of room for getting food stuffs right. You have extra shelving up there and yet more details arrive daily Rajini Rao ? It’s all good. Love these food descriptions.


  40. Gosh that sounds, looks, reads…and smells yummy!

  41. Rajini Rao says:


    Giselle Minoli , thanks for stopping by! Did I really manage to convey all that? 😀

  42. prem mundada says:


    Hi good morning Rajini Rao hot served chapatti with curd yummy tasty

  43. khalil r says:


    Very nice chapatis! I like chapatis’


  44. How do the Indian yogurt cultures taste compared to Western cultures?

  45. Bill Carter says:


    Patricia A Rajini Rao I would love to try dosa or other Indian ferments – and thanks for the very kind tag 🙂

  46. Sunil Bajpai says:


    Would commercial yoghurt that’s labelled “probiotic” or “live culture” work? Would a tablet of lactobacillus work?

  47. Rajini Rao says:


    Kevin Marshall , Sunil Bajpai  the commercial cultures from “live yogurt” one buys at the supermarket don’t work well as starter cultures. They won’t set, and the final product is slimy. It’s either not active enough or deliberately attenuated before selling, I don’t know. When we used cultures from India, the yogurt set in 4-6 hours. I’ve tried starting with cultures bought from our local Indian grocery story and they work fine too. I’ve never tried a tablet, although I did have something in a packet once and don’t think it worked very well. 


    As for the taste/texture, I think that depends on the milk, fat, temperature, and how long you let it go. If it ferments too quickly, it’s more sour of course. It probably depends on the culture too…sometimes, you just throw it away and start fresh. 

  48. Chad Haney says:


    Rajini Rao, Vietnamese homemade yogurt uses a bit of sweetened condensed milk, so it has a nice sweet and tart balance.

  49. Rajini Rao says:


    That would be delicious, Chad Haney ! 

  50. prem mundada says:


    Rajini Rao buffalo milk curd taste and like vanilla icecream

  51. Rajini Rao says:


    prem mundada yes, that’s right..it’s much richer. 

  52. Chad Haney says:


    It doesn’t work for savory dishes.

  53. Rajini Rao says:


    I imagine it would be a great dessert. Like the Indian shrikhand (garnished with pistachios, almonds and saffron)


  54. what a great looking dinner Rajini Rao! love the chapatis all lined up just waiting to be dipped into the curry 🙂 

  55. Adit Morey says:


    Wow! i looks very yummy and delicious. 🙂


  56. صحتين وعافيه و صباح الخير

  57. Kathryn Kure says:


    Delicious! Will definitely add to my repertoire … tracking down a proper live yoghurt culture has long been on my to-do list; no excuse now that I am living in the city with the largest Indian population outside of India … to put that in perspective, they represent 1 in every 4 people in eThekwini. So Indian spices are everywhere, and I need to go soon to record some fish dishes from friends. Still waiting for that okra recipe though… 🙂


  58. Wonderful! I love the tip on how to puff the chappatis.


  59. Dammit Rajini Rao, I so want to come to your house for dinner. Only problem being I might never leave – either that, or you’d have to roll me out the door!


  60. Yum! That looks great!


  61. Eating in steel plates. Reminds me of home.

  62. Rajini Rao says:


    Cod Codliness that’s what HIRLs are for! I have cooked for Buddhini Samarasinghe and Siromi Samarasinghe when they visited. Happy to host more G+ friends. 

  63. Rajini Rao says:


    Kathryn Kure do you think that Indian cooking in S. Africa has incorporated local flavors and techniques? Caribbean cooking is the most delicious fusion of Indian and local food, for example. If you have any questions, just ask. I’ve not forgotten about the okra recipes either 🙂


  64. Seriously, I would never leave! I love Indian food 😀


  65. This conversation made me go and eat some lime pickle. Mmm, lime pickle. I’ve got four three (I finished one the other day, dammit) different types in the fridge 😀 Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

  66. Rajini Rao says:


    Now you’ve reminded me that I should try my mother’s recipe for lime pickle. I’m trying to reproduce her stuff after years of being lazy and taking her for granted 🙂 


  67. Well, if you try it and find you’ve made too much, I know a house in Scotland where it would be welcomed 😀

  68. Rajini Rao says:


    Cod Codliness I’ll bring some over! Not ventured north of Hadrian’s Wall yet 🙂

  69. Kathryn Kure says:


    Rajini Rao I do believe so … after all, the first indentured labourers brought out to South Africa by the British were in 1860, and this continued until 1911 … so for those first few, who then chose to stay rather than return, one would assume some differences/fusions would creep in. Certainly, it has profoundly shaped the cuisine of KwaZulu-Natal. But I don’t know enough of the original to know how much it has changed, over the years, and now that we have such a global cuisine occurring, thanks to this kind of exchange, amongst others, who knows but it may have crept back. My godmother, for instance, who is one of the original Norwegian settlers in the country knew that each has created their own waffle recipe using a variety of ‘flours’  (i.e., not wheat flour but other kinds of ground meal and other kinds of raising agents) that were delicious, and was lamenting that so many of these were lost. Which reminds me – I have to go soon to record different yeasts at the Groot Marico from the Afrikaner families there … been on my to-do list for years, but I had too many kids in too short a space of time and it’s only recently I can leave them with my husband and do some independent travelling … now that’s something that Bill Carter and Patricia A and Gary Ray R may be interested in!

  70. Gregory Esau says:


    Is it my imagination, Rajini Rao , or does this look even better here than it did over on Facebook? 🙂

  71. Jim Carver says:


    Rajini Rao Re: Yogurt


    That’s funny, I’ve never had any problem with commercial cultures from store bought yogurt. I re-pasteurize it, let it cool to below 112F, add a heaping dessertspoon per quart and incubate at 110F for 5-8 hours.


  72. Hi, Rajini!The sauce seems to be great.

  73. Mary T says:


    That looks so yummy Rajini Rao ~ Now I am starving and need to go foraging!


  74. I confirm, as an official witness that Rajini Rao’s cooking is delicious as the photos look. HIRLs are awesome, I recently met with Elias Mårtenson and Kam-Yung Soh over some delicious Lebanese food. So yes food and HIRLs go hand in hand much like chapattis and curry 😛

  75. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, awesome analogy Buddhini Samarasinghe . And Lebanese food is delicious, I’m sure you guys had a great time 🙂

  76. Tom Lee says:


    Looks so yummy there Rajini Rao, i really like curry and naan!

  77. Rajini Rao says:


    Hiya Tom Lee , thanks, and I hope good food and good times are with you as well! 


  78. Is that too spicy? Rajini Rao 

  79. Rajini Rao says:


    Not too spicy, Shoshana Smith . It’s mostly tangy and sweet, with the creamy texture from ground fresh coconut. 


  80. it’s too much for me to eat in one day, lol :)!

  81. Anne Lewis says:


    Feeling sad that I can’t smell this. It looks wonderful!

  82. Rajini Rao says:


    Anne Lewis , thanks 🙂


  83. Have you ever listened to Srini Rao podcast Unmistakable Creative? Check archives for interesting subjects.

  84. Rajini Rao says:


    Richard Raborn sounds interesting, thanks for the tip. I’ll check him out. 


  85. Rajini Rao Thanks for respond. 

  86. V Swamy says:


    Ohhh my, Ranjini, you make me to feel homesick 

  87. khiar raghda says:


    THAT IS VERY GOOD::::::::


  88. ankita patra wats the yammy

  89. Sushanta Uma says:


    Self cooking is very interesting job to make our family&friends happy .


  90. Add four pc cutted onion.agreen chilly and half cutted lemon salad.

  91. Anu Nagaraja says:


    the coconut curry with potatoes and peas sound delicious . i must try this recipe. tnx for sharing


  92. They are tasty n healthful


  93. I do like to eat curry and anything very hot to


  94. what   other  dishes  do  you  have  any  recipes   to  make  


  95. به به .very good

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