Monday, March 28, 2011

Microwave tomato rice

One dish that would top my list to make on days that I am lazy to cook would be tomato rice. Pair it with just potato wafers or home-made fryums or a roasted potato dry curry, an inviting meal is ready. I figured that making the tomato puree ahead and storing is making it even easier. You may then put the rice, spices and puree in a rice cooker or the microwave and get it done as quickly as possible.

How to puree tomatoes in the microwave for storing:

Using a fork or a toothpick, prick at points on the surface of the tomato.

In a microwave safe bowl take half a cup of water and place about three large tomatoes thus pricked.

Cover the bowl and cook on the highest micro output for 3 minutes initially.

Check if the peel comes off easily, otherwise, let it cook for a further minute. Allow a few minutes of standing time.

Cool and blend to a puree.

This puree can be used to cook tomato rice.


200ml basmati rice, washed, soaked for 20 minutes and drained

2 medium onion chopped fine

1 cup pureed tomato

2 tablespoons ghee/oil

2 cups water

For tempering:

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

few curry leaves

Grind to a paste:

2 cloves garlic

1/2" stick cinnamon

2 cloves

2 green chillis

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon corriander powder

1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder


In a microwave safe bowl heat oil on highest power for 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. (it takes me about 1 minute to get the mustards crackle on 100% power). Add the cumin seed and the curry leaves. Let them cook for 20 seconds on 100% power.

Add 1 tablespoon ghee/oil to the above. Add chopped onions and set to medium power (60%). Cook for 3 minutes until onions are soft. Now add the paste and mix well. Microwave without covering, on 60% power for 4 minutes, stirring at two minute intervals. Thus the raw masala cooks with an aroma.

Remove and reserve this. In the same bowl heat the rest of the ghee uncovered on micro power 100% for 30 seconds.

Add the drained rice, mix well to coat the rice with the fat. Leave the bowl uncovered and heat the rice on 80% power for 2 minutes initially and then stir and heat for a further minute.

If you are cooking in a microwave rice cooker, transfer all of the contents, the reserved masala, tomato puree and the water in the rice cooker.

Leave it uncovered and on microwave 100%, cook for 4 minutes until the liquid starts boiling.

Fix the cover of the rice cooker and cook on 100% power for 12 minutes. Allow a standing time of two minutes and check if the rice is done.

If not, return to the microwave and cook covered on 80% power for 2 more minutes.

Open and stir well and place the cover back. Keep covered for 5 more minutes.

Serve with your favourite raita, chips or crisps.

If you do not want to use the microwave rice cooker, Take all of the contents in a large microwave safe bowl, cook covered on 100% power for 12 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and cook for 4 more minutes, covered on 60% power.

Remove the lid, stir and place the lid covered well for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with fresh corriander leaves. Serve with crisps and raita.

This microwave version of the all time favourite tomato rice goes to Srivalli's Microwave Easy Cooking event currently hosted at Priya's Mharo Rajasthan's Recipes

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sprouts stuffed parathas

Few days ago, Priya and I were discussing the Pillsbury multigrain atta, after she mentioned in a post about powdering whole barley and storing them for future use. She suggested that it is more economical that way than buying the commercially available ones. That is true, especially in countries where Indian grocery stores have to depend on arrival of stock. The price tag goes up as their stock depletes. I have saved the instruction manual +cookbook that came with my first Sumeet mixie. There is a whole section there about grinding whole grains to powders that you may store. So I set out to make my own multi grain atta.

To whole wheat flour, I added home powdered soya beans, barley, and oats each in 1/8th of the volume of the whole wheat flour and started using that for chappathis. They are not only fibre rich but taste good too.

I had soaked green gram for no particular reason and by the next morning they had small sprouts showing up. So I let them sprout fully. I had planned to use them in a curry to go with chappathis, when on an impulse I just decided to make them as stuffed parathas. The resultant product is what this recipe is about!


For the dough:

2 cups multi grain atta or just whole wheat flour

Salt to taste

3 teaspoons cooking oil

Water as required to mix in a soft dough

For the filling:

1 cup green gram sprouted

1 medium onion chopped finely

2 green chillis crushed almost to pulp

1"piece of ginger minced

Salt to taste1 teaspoon oil

Other ingredient:

Oil for cooking the parathas


Put together all ingredients for the dough in a bowl and knead to a soft and pliable dough adding sufficient water.

Knead well and let the dough rest covered for 20 minutes.

Once sprouted, do not cook the beans totally. This may cause loss of nutrieants. Hence steam the gram until it can be coarsely mashed.

Heat the 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add the crushed chillis and the ginger. Saute' for few minutes.

Add the onion and saute until they are soft and transparent.

Add the salt and the coarse green gram. Toss the mix until it is almost dry but you can hold it in a shape if pressed in the palm.

Remove from the fire.

Allow to cool and make equal potions of this filling.

Pinch out big size portions of the dough, roll a small circular disc.

Place one ball of the filling in the centre. Pull the edges inwards to cover the dough well.

Flatten this and gently roll out 1/2" thick circles, taking care not to tear the dough.

Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Place the griddle on heat. Once the optimum heat has been reached, place the rolled out paratha and cook adding few drops of oil. Once the under side has been cooked, flip to the other and cook until both sides are well done.

Thus proceed to make the entire parathas.

Serve with pickle and yoghurt or with any favourite side dish.

I would love to send these sprouts stuffed protein rich parathas to the 33rd edition of Susan's MLLA hosted this March at Ammalu's Kitchen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gajar ka halwa

I found this book, Milkmaid Tasty Collection while clearing my books shelf at my parents place. I had written to Nestle India and they had sent this to me....sometime in December 1986. I have signed it as received on 31 st Dec 1986! I can only recall all the enthusiasm of a new bride to impress! Did I or not, I'd rather leave it there.
However, having found it I dropped it into my bag and brought it here only to find that condensed milk does not make an appearance in the super market shelves as often as I would love to find a can.
Then the other day, I spotted a fresh batch and scooped four tins in my shopping cart. (the next week that shelf is barren again). I had also found good carrots while I was at the gardener who sold me my potted plants.
I sure you have all guessed where this leads to. I needed an excuse to put both of these to use and remembered that I had not made carrot halwa in a long while. The picture in the booklet was just awesomely tempting.
I did not follow the recipe to the letter though. It calls for whole milk and a full can of milkmaid and some sugar too, just optional.
I tried making it slightly low on the fat and did not add the sugar.

Ingredients :
250 grams fresh carrots, washed, peeled and grated finely.
200 ml skimmed milk
100 ml whole milk
About 1/5th of the 385 grams tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons ghee
8-10 pieces cashew nuts
8 -10 almonds, blanched and slivered
Few raisins
The above recipe serves about three to four.

How to proceed:
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a pan and roast the cashews and almonds. Then add the raisins and toss until they puff.
Add milk to the carrots and cook until they are soft.
Once they are soft and the milk is absorbed partly, add the condensed milk.

Cook on slow fire until well combined and just short of dry.
Add the rest of the ghee and combine well, cook for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the fire and garnish with the roasted nuts and raisins.
Serve warm. Enjoy the goodness of carrots cooked in milk.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Suruttu poli for Indian Cooking challenge

The core idea of the Indian Cooking Challenge is to find traditional recipes from all over India and try them. Thus this challenge has seen sweets, savoury dishes curries and more. This month Suruttai poli/suruttu poli was the sweet attempted. Srivalli had sought Nithya's mother's recipe and shared it with members. A blogger friend Pavithra has made these earlier and has a post too. Do look up her lovely space for these and many more.

The recipe looked simple and ingredients easily available. The challenge lay in perfecting the rolls.

However, it is a task that can be handled with some deft. You have to roll the prepared dough into thin discs, deep fry them until just about done, remove, place the filling in and roll in cylindrical shapes while the fried dough is still warm. Give it an extra minute and your deep fried puri turns crisp, thus becoming brittle.

Given below are measures given in the recipe. Taking into account that I am trying this for the first time and the fact that we are just two people who might consume the same, I reduced the quantities. I am happy that I did so, as it would have been a long drawn process doing it singularly. These are the kind of recipes you might be glad to have someone to share the job. In such a case, one of the two can fry while the other can roll the polis.

The ingredients are for the outer dough and the filling. Similarly the process has been dealt in two parts.

The Filling:
Roasted gram (பொட்டுக்கடலை ) 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Ghee 1 teaspoon
Cashew nuts 20 numbers
Cardamom powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh grated coconut 1 tablespoon

Method to proceed:
Roast the cashew nuts in the ghee and break them in fine pieces.

Powder the roasted gram and sugar together.
Toss the coconut in the pan that you roasted the cashews for a while so the moisture is lost a bit.
Mix all of these and the cardamom powder.
The filling is ready. Keep aside.

For the outer dough:
All purpose flour/ maida 1 cup
A pinch of salt
Water to mix the above in a stiff dough

Method to make the outer dough:
Seive the flour and salt together. Add water gradually and knead to a stiff dough.
Keep covered for about half an hour.
Knead further until the dough is pliable and elastic.
Pinch out small portions.
Roll out each portion in circular discs stretching as much as possible. It is important to make very thin discs.
The recipe says to roll out 10cm diameter discs, which I think are too big to be deep fried. About 6 centimetres in diameter will be ideal. Also you may find that my fingers are seen through the disc while held against light. This is how thin I could stretch the dough.

If not rolled thin they may puff up while deep frying. It is fine if there are spotted bubbles here and there once fried, but not a puffed pillow shape.
Leave the rolled out discs on a paper or cloth to air a bit.

How to proceed:
Other ingredients:
Oil/ ghee for deep frying

Heat oil/ghee in a pan (I prefer ghee while deep frying for sweet dishes, it is optional though).
Once hot and near smoking, reduce the heat to moderate and fry one disc at a time. Fry just about until done on both sides. The colour will remain almost white as the rolled disc.
Remove quickly from the oil, draining with a slotted ladle.
Place this on a surface flat. Place three spoonsful of the filling at one end of the puri and roll into cigar shapes.
Leave them on a flat plate to cool. Place the rolled face down.
Proceed with all the discs the same way.
A very delectable suruttal poli is ready to be served.

I have some notes to make , viz. if you are doing it all by yourself and are planning to make a whole lot of them, prepare the filling and the dough.
Do the other steps in small batches. Pinch out balls just for about 8 - 10 polis and roll them out, fry, fill, fold and take upon the next batch.
You may use fine grain rawa in the place of the all purpose flour.
Keep the coconut separately without mixing with the rest of the powdered ingredients and mix them as and when required.
These are only suggestions and I hope not to be a deterrent.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kaaradai and Uppu-adai for nonbu

The advent of the Hindu calender month of Panguni falls on the 14th or the 15th of March, when the Sun transits from Kumbha rasi to Meena rasi. (This is slightly different from thr Roman calender). At the instant of this transition, it is a traditionin tambrahm households that women observe what is 'kaaradaiyan nonbu', a ritual offering prayers for the longevity of the husband and hence their marriage.

There goes the story of Princess Savithri, who despite being foretold that her beloved, Prince Satyavan living in exile, would soon meet his death, married him. Sage Narada had even predicted the exact day of death for Satyavan. She served him devotedly and pleased by her devotion the God of Death, Yamadharma, revealed his presence. She argued with him for the life of Satyavan and tricked him to grant her three boons. Through one of them she brought Satyavan back to life.

The story unfolds thus: Savithri requested that she is permitted to follow Satyavan to the woods on the day she knew was his last. She offered prayers while in the forest and cooked the 'Adai' for the offering. Hence preparing the kaaradai and uppu adai came into practice while observing the customs and offering prayers.

The exact time of the Sun's transit varies year to year. The pooja is observed somewhere near about the time of transition.
Usually women observe a fast until such time and offer prayers. The adai is offered as neivedhyam and is consumed.

To the recipe:
Clean and wash 3 cups of raw rice. Soak for about two hours,drain and pound to a nearly fine powder.
Transfer the pounded rice to a heavy pan and dry roast the flour until you are able to draw a line holding the same between your fingers.
It will have lumps. Transfer the lumps to the blender and pound further and repeat the roasting.
This is the basic flour to prepare the sweet 'kaaradai' and the savoury 'uppu adai'.

Measure the flour in cups and keep separated for both the sweet and savoury versions.
Other ingredients common for both versions are thattai payaru/kaaramani/ red chowli beans/ black eye peas, and coconut cut in thin strips.
Wash, soak and cook the beans until soft.


2 cups measure of the roasted flour
1/4 cup cooked red chowli beans
1/4 of a medium size coconut sliced in thin scrapes
2 cups of powdered jaggery
4-5 cups water
2 teaspoons cardamom powder

Heat water in a wide pan. Add the powdered jaggery and once it has melted strain the impurities.
Place the pan back on the stove with the strained liquid and allow it to boil well.
Add the coconut scrapes and the cooked beans.
Gradually add the measured flour while stirring the mix with the other hand thus not allowing lumps to form.
Let this cook a bit until a slightly sticky lump is formed.
Remove from the stove. Transfer to a dish and allow to cool until you are able to handle the dough.
Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
Knead with hand and break the lumps, if any.
Pinch out small portions of the dough. Flatten them to a slightly thick circular discs in your palms. Make a small finger dent in the centre of the discs.
Arrange the discs on a idli plate or a flat plate. You may prepare any number of such plates to accomodate the entire dough flattened in this manner. Or steam them in batches.
Place a steamer on the stove with water. When the water is warm, place the plate in it and cover with the lid.
Steam for about 8 minutes until cooked. The adai is cooked if it gains a shiny glow on the surface.
Transfer to the serving dish.

Uppu adai:

2 cups of roasted flour
1/4 cup cooked red chowli beans
3 green chillis sliced
1/4 of a medium coconut, sliced finely
Salt to taste
1/2" piece ginger sliced
Few curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons split black gram/split urad dhal
2 teaspoons split Bengal gram/channa dhal
A generous pinch of asafoetida
3 &1/2 cups water (may increase to 4 cups, if required, or 1/4 cup of beaten curds can be added)
Oil for tempering

Method to prepare:
Place a heavy pan on the stove. Add the oil and once it is hot, drop the mustard seeds.
Allow the mustard seeds to splutter.
Add the urad dhal,chillis, curry leaves and the ginger.
Saute' for a few minutes and add the coconut scrapes along with the asafoetida and salt.
Pout the water in. bring the water to a boil and as it is rolling hot, reduce the heat to moderate.
Add the flour while stirring it in the water.
Cook until it forms a lump just short of well cooked.
Remove from the fire and transfer to a flat dish.
Allow to cool to be able to handle the dough.
Pinch out small portions and as done for the kaaradai, prepare discs off the dough and steam them until cooked.
Transfer to serving dishes.

These are prepared for the offering along with the regular payasam and fruits and such.

If, after the dough has been formed and while making the discs,the dough develops cracks, you may sprinkle warm water and knead the dough, then proceed.
The water requirement depends on the age of the rice. Similarly, usually two cups of quality rice will yield double the volume when pounded. This will reduce back when roasted.

It is believed that Savithri had carried a picnic basket with stuff to prepare these adais for offering during her prayers. Thus, these adais are made as neivedhyams.

These are usually served with a small serving of butter, even offered with the butter.
This year the Sun transits at around 4:33 A.M. IST on the 15th of March. The ritual is observed while the Sun is still in Kumbham. Hence the pooja will be performed sometime in the night of the 14th of March.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Simple to make chikku milkshake

One of the simple recipes to make is the milkshake. A wholesome drink that keeps hunger pangs away for quite a while and could be made with just as few ingredients. We always end up having excess fruit in the bowl and I have to think up ways to clear them prior to a visit to the fresh market.

This week during our weekly temple visit the fruit vendor had nice looking, firm yet just ripe Sapodilla, our very own chikku fruit. She was insistent that I buy a dozen at the least. We obliged her making a bargain.

The final lot was what I made the milkshake with.

Skin four chikku fruits and remove seeds.
Cut them in cubes and drop them in the jar of your blender.
Add two cups of skimmed milk. Or use whole milk and ice cubes.
Add sugar as required, depending on how sweet the fruit is and how sweet you like the milkshake to taste.

Blend until very smooth.
Transfer to glasses and serve immediately or chilled just for about few minutes.
Enjoy the goodness of the fruit blended in milk.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Varo - a sindhi sweet for the Indian Cooking Challenge

This was months ago that Srivalli had discussed with Alka and set the challenge for the members. The recipe was from Simply Sindhi Recipes. They had all tried it for Deepavali. By then I had just relocated to Lagos and was cooking just about survival. Such be the state thinking of dishing out goodies for Deepavali was very remote.
Days rolled and there was no sign of progress with out residence permits and hence the import of personal effects. I invested in a branded non stick pan just to cook something a bit more elaborate. Soon it was the Karthigai deepam festival and I was not about to make the regular goodies that go with the festivities. But I wanted to cook and offer some dish and I decided to try the varo. It was very similar to the Lonavala Chikkis. During this trial, I timed the duration that the sugar took to caramelise and such....that is how much time I had on hand.

Sugar 250 grams
Sliced mixed nuts 100 ml cup loaded
Ghee 1 tablespoon to coat the surface of the utensil
and little more to generously coat the surface of the board
(Water 1 tablespoon, if you are not using ghee to coat the utensil)
Coarsely powdered green cardamom
(the recipe uses poppy seeds and scrapped coconut which I did not use due to non- availability)

Prepare a surface and keep handy. You may either use the back of a flat plate, your clean kitchen counter-top. I had my wooden cutting board generously smeared with ghee.

I have used a large nonstick sauce pan where the recommened utensil was a heavy kadai.
Coat the 1 tablespoon ghee along the surface of the utensil.
Slice blanched almonds, cashews, walnuts etc and keep ready.
If using the poppy seeds rinse them thoroughly in water and strain. Alka says that it reduces the morphine content. Not only that washing removes impurities!
Place the pan on heat. Add the sugar. And you wait and wonder if anything is happening at all. The sugar remains as it is until about 12 minutes. But soon it melts and by the 17 th minute or so you have a beautiful amber liquid state sugar caramel! Switch the stove off.
Again you might switch the stove off at your desired caramel consistency. A lighter caramel results in chewy varos while a darker one gives you brittle ones. The amber colour achieves crisp yet somewhat hard varos.
Quickly add the sliced nuts and give a brisk stir as to coat the nuts thoroughly with the caramel. This also ensures even distribution of the nuts in the caramel. If you may allow even a few extra minute the caramel will solidify if only slightly.
Transfer as quickly as possible to the prepared greased surface. Try to pour out evenly and tap or tilt the surface to be rid of bubbles.
Trying to smooth with the back of the spatula is said to cause the praline lose the lusture. Moreover, the varo does not have to necessarily have a smooth surface. The peaks here and there add to the texture of the sweet.
You may have to break the varo thus set with a pestle, possibly.
I made it in thin slices than shown in Alka's blog and did not have to use much muscle strength to break the pieces. Thus we consumed smaller portions at a time!
I have enjoyed making this and consuming as well. Hope you all do too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Badam Kheer

I am here with yet another post and a resolve to be regular to read posts and to share mine. The past few months (read several) just went in a whirl. Days dawned and before I realised it was nightfall, so to say. Now even before you thought the year began, we have counted out sixty one days of 2011.
Today's post is one rich kheer. Every Indian home makes this if not often, on special occasions. The almonds and whole milk make it truly rich and nutritious for those who do not need to watch calories.
You just need three ingredients apart from garnish and some precious minutes of care while cooking.

The below recipe serves four and is slightly thick. If desired to have as a drink, you make add boiled and cooled milk which has been slightly sweetened to balance the addition.

Almonds about 80 grams
Sugar 150 grams
Milk 500 ml + 100ml for grinding

Chopped mixed nuts slightly roasted
Few strands of saffron soaked in a few teaspoons of milk

Bring the milk to boil and allow to simmer for few minutes. Add to this the soaked saffron. Keep aside.
Soak the almonds in warm water for a few minutes and blanche them.
Grind the almonds to a fine paste adding milk. Rinse the jar of the blender and add the residue to the ground mixture.
Add two cups of water to the paste and place it in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Cook over a moderate flame for about 20-25 minutes stirring at regular intervals, until the paste is rid of raw taste.
Add some of the above boiled milk if the paste thickens in a hurry.
Add the boiled milk and the sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to blend well.
Remove from the stove. Add the garnish.

It is best served chilled.