Monday, December 21, 2009

Seasons greetings

Dear friends,
This post is addressed to each one of you who might read.
Through my six odd months of blogging, having made many lovely friends as you, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous new year.
May the joy and spirit of the festive season bring loads of cheers in your lives, many more reasons to smile and love to share.
Thank you all for the support and warmth you have surrounded me with.
Once again I convey my best wishes to everyone of you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dum Aloo Posto

'Tempt your taste buds with this delightful Bengali preparation of baby potatoes with poppy seeds', is the introduction my LG microwave cooking book has given for this recipe.
I picked some very beautiful baby potatoes freshly arrived on the supermarket counter. I decided to use them right away. This recipe said dum aloo and I thought that is lovely. The picture was more inviting to attempt it.
So here is what I cooked this morning! Since it was entirely microwave cooked, I finished few other chores along. I had prepared the paneer crumble earlier. They look more browned at the filling, in my recipe though the picture in the book was neat :(
Now I am off to a Christmas party for some destitute children with few other friends, organised by a very benevolent Indian lady. She is very sweet and dedicates most of her time, energy and money to this cause. I am happy I can do something little towards that.

250 grams baby potatoes
75 grams/ about 2 tablespoons heaped paneer crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped cashew nuts
1 tablespoon yoghurt beaten
3 fresh chillies
3 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt, dry chilli powder and pepper powder to taste.
Wash and peel potatoes. Carefully scoop out the centres.
Place the potatoes in a microwave proof bowl and adding some water, cook covered on micro power 100% for 5-6 minutes, depending on the output.
Soak the cashew nuts and grind along with green chillies. Mix with crumbled paneer. Fill in the hollows of the cooked potatoes.
Reserve some poppy seeds for garnish. Soak the rest in water and grind with the yoghurt to a smooth paste.
Microwave oil at 100% power for 30 seconds.

Add to this the marinade turmeric powder, salt and redchilli powder. Microwave at 60% power for 4 minutes and then place the prepared potatoes in the same bowl. Gently mix to coat the potatoes with the marinade.
Cover and microwave cook on high for 3 minutes. Sprinkle two teaspoons of water and cook for further 2 minutes, covered on 60% power.
In a micro proof flat dish place the reserved poppy seeds and 1 slit green chilli. Add one drop of oil. Micro wave on 100% power for 40 seconds.
Take this and spread on top of cooked potatoes. Place the potatoes on the flat dish and put them back in the microwave for few more minutes to allow them to get the roasted look.
This is a dry kind of curry. If you want it as a gravy, you may grind more cashews with some other spices and chopped onions. Cook them and add to the potatoes early on.
This aloo posto is being sent to Radhika who is hosting Sunita's Think spice featuring poppy-seeds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apple Sheera

Sometimes I have this urge to try out some recipe I have read or watched on a telecast, soon after I've read/seen the dish. I have tried few from fellow bloggers, Tarla Dalal shows and magazines. Though not all my attempts have had the same degree of success or have been well received, I am happy to have tried.
The other day, I watched this show on Sony TV. I missed a good part of the show as I am not following that regularly. It was just 'have some noise while ironing' mood, that I turned the TV on.
So I am not sure who this guest was, however, the recipe got me hooked on.
She created a sweet dish with less sugar (that too fruit extract) and lesser than usual fat.
I tried that entirely on microwave. I needed more sweet than they mentioned, and having done with microwave the fat was more than sufficient. So here is my version.
You may love to try this, especially if your apples are not being given a second look and you are feeling guilty of allowing them to rot.
You may need:
2 apples /400 grams
1/2 cup semolina
1/4 cup sugar ( I used light brown sugar as I don't get fruit sugar and such)
1/2 cup of water
1 table spoon ghee
few drops of ghee to roast the semolina.
Few cashew nuts and raisins for garnish
A pinch of ground cinnamon or cardamom optional

How to proceed:
Peel the apples, chop and run them in the blender enough to coarsely mash.
Cook this puree on micro power high for 3 minutes without lid. Add the sugar and cook on high for a further 2 minutes. Allow to stand 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and keep aside.
Add the few drops of ghee to the semolina and mix to a crumble. Take this in a flat micro proof dish. Micro wave on high for 2 minutes, open the door, give a toss and again allow to roast on medium high 60% power for 30 seconds without browning.
Allow this to cool and mix with the cooked apple. Add the water and ghee. Stir well. Return to the microwave to cook without lid on high power for 3 minutes.
Stir and cook on 60% power for 2 minutes.
The sheera is ready, after you allow it to stand a further minute in the microwave.
When you take it out, the ghee would shine on the surface and while stirring, the sheera will not stick to the sides of the bowl.
Add the condiments if you prefer and garnish with cashew nuts, dry roasted in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. They will still look under done but would have roasted really well without fat.

I make kesari for most of the festivals, just like payasam is a part and parcel of festival food. This is a regular sweet I offer on my Satyanarayan pooja or any such occasion.
So I am sending this to Cham's lovely space to celebrate her blog birthday as she is hosting Srivalli's MEC Event this December with MEC Festival specials.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chegodilu for Indian Cooking challenge

The recipe given by Srivalli for the December 2009's Indian Cooking Challenge was something I had never tasted before. So you might well imagine that I was confused as to how they might be to look at, leave alone knowing the texture or taste! When I googled them in, I found wonderful clicks in Sailu's Food blog.
Armed with recipes from Srivalli and pictures to guide from this blog, I set out to try them. I had no patience to soak rice and pound. I made them using the first of the two recipe variations given with store bought rice flour. Being dry flour the quantity of water seemed insufficient. But as I proceeded, I sprinkled some warm water and that solved the dryness.
The chegodis were so good that I wanted to try the second recipe the next day only. This recipe worked out very well even with store bought rice flour.
Later I pounded the rice and tried both the recipes after about a fortnight of the first attempt. Needless to say they were a big hit too. I found that making chegodi dough while the flour is moist resulted in tiny lumps that had to be broken and kneaded to get a uniform, smooth dough. But if you allow the flour to dry for a day or two, it was very good.
Now you may read both the recipes below and choose to try either.

Recipe 1:

Rice flour 1 cup
Water 1 cup
Split yellow dhal (moong dhal) 2 table spoons
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Sesame seeds 1 teaspoon
Chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Ghee/ oil 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

How to proceed:
For the dough:
Soak moong dhal in water for half an hour.Drain after soaking, just before adding to the water.
In a deep bottom pan, boil water. Add the salt, ghee and the drained moong dhal.
Bring to a boil, allow to simmer and stir in the rice flour gradually. Keep stirring to achieve lump- free dough.
When the dough looks cooked (as in outer dough for kozhukkattais), switch the stove off.
Mix well and cover. Keep this aside until the dough cools down, say for about 15- 20 minutes.
Add to the dough the chilli powder, sesame seeds and cumin seeds.
Mix them well.
Frying the chegodis:

Make small balls of the dough and roll them in ropes of about an inch and a half. Bring together the two ends of the rope and seal well.
Heat oil in a pan and once the oil is of optimum temperature, slide the prepared rope-rings into very hot oil. Fry only very few at a time.
Reduce the heat to low and fry the chegodis on both side until the sizzling of the oil subsides.
Remove from the oil with slotted ladle and place them on absorbent tissues.
Allow to cool and store in airtight containers.
While moulding the chegodis, keep the rest of the dough covered. Let the dough not dry in the air. Take out just as much of the dough to prepare enough number of chegodis that will fry in the oil.
Keep oil on high heat when you are sliding the rings in and reduce the heat to low as soon as the chegodis bounce back to the surface of the oil. They have to be fried really well or you might end up with oily, soggy chegodis.
Proceed thus with the entire dough.

Recipe 2:

Rice flour 3/4 of a cup
All purpose flour 1/4 of a cup
Water 1 cup
Turmeric powder a tiny pinch
Oregano seeds 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Ghee 1 table spoon
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

How to proceed:
Boil the water in a deep pan. Add the salt. When the water starts boiling, remove the pan from the fire.
Add the oregano seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and the flours. Mix them briskly to ensure that they mix thoroughly.
Pour the ghee over it and cover with a tight lid. leave aside for a few minutes.
Heat oil in a heavy pan. Take small portions of the dough and roll out ropes. Seal the two ends of the rope to form a ring. Repeat this process with a few more.
When oil is hot, slide the prepared chegodis into it. When they bounce back to surface, reduce heat to minimum and deep fry until well done.
Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent tissues.
Allow to cool and store in airtight containers.
Repeat till entire dough is used up.
Remember to keep the dough covered to retain the moisture. If allowed to dry, they may crack and not retain shape.
This was a very interesting challenge. A new savoury snack learnt, thanks to Srivalli.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Capsicum macaroni soup

I baked some spiced buns and while chatting with my sister mentioned that it would be perfect if I made some spicy soup to go with them for dinner. Her son was home for holidays and she was making him different soups each day. She said that I can have noodles and scallions with bell peppers in a wholesome soup.The inspiration to the recipe was from Mallika Badrinath's 100 soups and soft drinks book. I said , "fine I'm on" and tried this soup. I had scallions and green bell peppers. I wanted to use up the macaroni in my pantry. The soup went well with the buns. We simply wiped the bowl clean with the last bit of bread crumb.

Following is the recipe for two servings.
1 large bell pepper
2 spring onions with the bulbs
1/4 cup of shell macaroni cooked and drained
1 table spoon butter
2 teaspoons masoor dhal soaked for 1/2 an hour
2 teaspoons cooking oil
Few basil leaves
1 red onion sliced
Salt to taste
Chop the bell pepper and the bulbs of the spring onions. Toss them along with the sliced onion in 2 teaspoons oil. Allow to cool and grind them to a paste with the basil leaves and the masoor dhal.
Melt the butter in a pan and toss the green of the sping onions. Add the ground paste and saute for a few minutes. Add the cooked macaroni and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for few minutes.
Serve hot with desired dinner rolls. I served them with my oats buns.

This soup is being sent to Meeta's Monthly Mingle currently hosted by Sunshinemom inviting heart warming soups.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Deepavali Mixture

One of the 'must' make during deepavali is the Mixture. This can be easily prepared in large quantiies and makes easier while distributing to friends and neighbours. My mother always makes lot of varieties of the deep fried snacks to fill her brass and stainless steel cylindrical drums that might hold some 50 pieces easily. She used to labour a lot and soon after distribution day, the canisters will be almost empty. Then we realised that even if you gave away 200 grams of mixture, that looked sufficient quantity and no body complained. So they would order mixture and buy specifically for distribution.
I make mixture every year to fill a 12 litre pressure cooker vessel. That sounds like loads of work, but the advantage of the mixture is that you may make all the goodies that go into it at your convenience and add them finally.
I fry legumes like the channa, green peas after soaking them and lightly cooking them.
The cashews and peanuts are roasted with the microwave.
The almonds are blanched, dried, slivered and roasted in the microwave.
I usually make the diamond biscuits too, the sweet namakparas baking them.
The boondi, ompodi and the karasev or the ribbon pakodas are deep fried.
The aval/poha can be rubbed with some ghee and dry roasted in small quantities until they puff.
The combination of my mixture this deepavali was boondi, ompodi, kadai murukku, fried legumes and roasted nuts.

Deep frying the legumes:
1 cup each of dried green peas and kabuli channa.
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste.
Soak the legumes separately allowing to stand overnight.
Drain well and pressure cook them separately adding little water until 1 whistle of the cooker.
Drain the excess water and spread each on a dry cloth for about three hours.

Heat about 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy pan. Deep fry just about a fistfull of the legumes at a time.
Keep a lid handy as the legumes will shoot out while deep frying. Do not cover tightly, but just enough to cover that the spluttering oil does not harm your forearms.
Once fried well, drain excess oil on absorbent tissues. Repeat the process until all the legumes are fried well.
These make a very crunchy addition to the mixture.

Gram flour 2 cups
Rice flour 1/4 cup
A pinch of cooking soda
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste
Powdered black pepper to taste
Special utensil: The boondi ladle that has perforations to press the batter through.
Seive the flours and the cooking soda together. Make a batter adding water. The batter shall be like that of dosa batter.
Heat oil in a pan. Holding the boondi ladle as close to the oil as possible, pour on it a small amount of prepared batter. Rub the batter through the pores with the help of the back of the spoon.
The batter will pass through the perforated bottom of the ladle and drop in the oil forming small balls. Deep fry them. They will fry quickly. Remove with a slotted ladle and drain.
While still warm add the salt and the pepper powder to the boondis.

Kadai murukku:

2&1/2 cups rice flour
1 cup gram flour
1/2 cup powdered roasted gram (pottukadalai maavu)
Salt and chilli powder to taste
2 teaspoons oregano seeds
Hot oil 3 tablespoons to add to the dough
Oil for deep frying
Special equipment: Murukku press with one star hole plate.
Mix all the dry ingredients and the 3 tablespoons hot oil. Mix well and make a dough adding water.
Fit the murukku press with the single star plate. Place some of the prepared dough in the press.
Heat oil well and press the dough in the oil in no prescribed shape. we will have to break pieces of this to add to the mixture. Hence it is of no significance.
Deep fry the murukkus well.
Drain and save for adding to the mixture.

Plain Ompodi/ Sev:

2&1/2 cups rice flour
1 cup gram flour
salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Special Utensil: Murukku press fitted with sev plate.
Mix all ingredients but the oil. Make a dough of smooth consistency.
Use the murukku press fitted with the plate that has numerous tiny holes.
Heat the oil and press small portions of the prepared dough into the oil. Allow the sev to fry well.
Drain and break in small pieces and save for the mixture.
Roasting the nuts, raisins etc.:
Break the nuts in small pieces. Rub few drops of ghee thoroughly on the nuts.
Take the nuts in a microwave proof flat dish.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes initially. Toss them around and microwave on high power for a further minute and a half until the nuts are crisp.
This is applicable to cashews, blanched almonds and peanuts.
The peanuts can initially be roasted dry to remove peel and then again roasted by rubbing oil.
Add the salt and keep reserve for the mixture.
Rub some ghee on the raisins and placing on a microwave flat dish microwave them just for a minute until they puff.
Roasting the aval:
Toss the aval/poha in a flat pan in a fanning motion to remove the impurities. Alternatively, sieve and remove the finer impurities.
Heat some ghee in a heavy pan. Keeping the heat low, roast fistfulls of aval until they puff well. Keep tossing constantly so they puff evenly. Add salt while hot.
Similarly the curry leaves can be cleaned and roasted to be added to the mixture.
Thus prepared, all the dishes that combine to form the mixture are ready.
Mix them all in a vey big utensil.
Crunchy deepavali mixture is ready.
The roasted legumes are off to Susan's MLLA being hosted by Srivalli this Eighteenth helping.

Thool pakodas - crisp onion fritters

This is a recipe straight out of S.Meenakshi Ammal cook book. I find that in the given recipe the salt is on the higher scale, otherwise it is the best recipe to follow if you want crisp, melt in the mouth thool pakodas. They are so light, that you have to keep reminding yourself to stop picking just one more from the plate.

Red onions 175 grams (2 large onions) chopped finely
Gram flour 2 cups/ 200grams
Rice flour 1/4th of a cup/30 grams
Ginger 2" piece chopped
Green chillies 10 pieces chopped
Cashew nuts 15 pieces broken
Curry leaves few chopped
Coriander leaves a small bunch chopped
Ghee (in solid form)/Dalda 1 tablespoon
Soda bi carbonate 1/8 teaspoon (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Take the chopped onions, curry and coriander leaves with the salt in a bowl. Press with your hands applying enough pressure that you get the onions oozing water. Add the chillies, ginger and the ghee. Knead further, almost for around 10 minutes.
Seive the gram flour, rice flour and the bi-carbonate of soda together.
Add the flour mix to the prepared onions. Knead to a crumbly dough, stiff in texture. Add very little water as possible, only if needed. Normally the water that the onions have given out will suffice.
Heat oil in a heavy pan. When the oil reaches smoking hot, reduce the fire to medium.
Take a big portion of the dough and in a sprinkling motion drop small portions in the hot oil, as much as will fill the oil. You may pinch out small portions and deep fry too.
Fry until the pakodas turn brown. Remove with a slotted ladle on to absorbent tissues.
Repeat till entire dough is fried.
Carefully lift the small pieces of onions that may have dropped in the oil and would have been fried well. These taste very good too.
Serve them hot as tea-time snack.
These pakodas are being sent to WYF Tea time snack event being conducted @ Simple Indian Food blog by EC.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pori Urundai - karthigai special

Pori urundai is yet another neivedhyam for the Karthigai deepam festival. Some families have the tradition of just mixing the jaggery syrup to the puffed rice, while others make pori urundais. Ideally, the festival urundais are made with nel-pori, paddy puffed with husk by roasting,(The husk is cleaned later.) or with aval pori where the poha or beaten rice is roasted to puff up.
Stores in Tamilnadu will stock these up for this occasion. In my small town, you may send the paddy or aval and get it puffed at special shops selling the puffed rice.
Outside India, I have been lucky sometimes to find them at odd times and stock them up. I have tried puffing the aval/poha for mixture. The thin variety poha is not good for this purpose. Here I had not found the thick variety, so had to feel contented with the puffed rice I buy in the Indian stores. So this Karthigai was with puffed rice urundai at our home.
These are very easy to make and are good to eat anytime.

3 cups puffed rice
1/4 cup roasted dhal (pottukadali)
1 cup powdered jaggery
1/2 of a coconut cut in thin pieces
2 teaspoons dry ginger powder (sukku podi)
Ghee/coconut oil to grease your palms.

Clean the puffed rice by tossing around in a plate. Add the roasted dhal and coconut pieces to it.
Dissolve jaggery in some water, strain and remove the impurities. Add the dry ginger powder to it.
Boil the jaggery in a pan until the syrup is of a hard ball texture. (Place some of the boiling jaggery in a bowl of small amout of water, try to gather that in a ball. You will be able to form a ball with the boiled syrup.) This is urundai paagu in Tamil. This texture works well for any urundai made using jaggery syrup like the kadalai urundai, pottukadalai urundai, manoharam etc.
Mix well with the puffed rice, roasted gram and coconut pieces.

Allow to cool a bit and greasing your palms, gather the mix in balls of desired size.
Pori urundais are ready.

Offer on Karthigai deepam day and enjoy.

Adhirasams for Karthigai Deepam

I am very fond of adhirasam. When we were young our grandmother and mother used to make every festival special, cooking as per tradition. Patti goes a step ahead and makes the sweetmeats separately so that she can feed us even before offering and also the servants may get to eat.
During our school vacations at our maternal grandparents place, my grandmother used to make huge quantities with amazing ease, whenever one of us is going back after the vacation. She would advise her maid to come with someone to help pounding rice. Then, the room in the hind quarters, the viragu -ul (room where they store firewood) will be mopped clean and the iron stove with the firewood would be used. She used to pack lot of savoury and sweets for us. The workload that entailed and the ease with which they got things done with lesser technological facilties is beyond my comprehension.
However, as a young adult I have watched people do the adhirasam. Our Velammal was very good at making the correct texture required and used to be amma's guide after patti's demise.
There was one occasion when I saw a maami, as old as patti make seer-size adhirasams. Till date I can drool thinking of that. Once, in Chennai, my periamma came to visit us and stayed a couple of days. She made me pound small quantity of rice in my mixie and taught me to make adhirasam. Ever since, I have made these for karthigai every year.

Recipe for Adhirasam:
(The measures are in volume and you may use any size cup. I had used a 180 ml stainless-steel-coffee tumbler and got 21 pieces)
Raw rice 2 cups (heaped)
Powdered jaggery 2 cups (level, slightly lesser than this also is fine, but not more)
Cardamom powder 2 tablespoons
Ghee 1/4 th of a cup for pouring on the dough
Ghee/oil for deep frying ( You may keep small quantity as you will be frying only one at a time. Also that we shall drain excess ghee from cooked adhirasam and add it back to this)
Wash the rice until water runs clear. Soak for a few hours. Powder to a fine texture in a mixie. Seive and repeat to achieve the fine powder. Add the cardamom powder and set aside.
It is best to mix the moist flour with the jaggery syrup. I have never tried with the flour that has been allowed to dry.
Choose the jaggery which will yield good syrup, what is called paagu vellam in Tamilian stores, the round big ball variety.
Dissolve the powdered jaggery in 1/2 cup of water. Pass through a strainer to remove scum.
In a pan, boil this dissolved jaggery.

Check for the consistency of syrup by pouring little amount in water. At the point when the jaggery is boiling forming big bubbles, test the consistency.
The syrup will not mix in the water, if you try to hold it with finger tips, it will feel like pulp, not forming a firm texture. Since it will feel like touching the inside of tomatoes, in Tamil this is called thakkali pazha padham . A soft ball texture. (the next stage will be that it holds proper shape in water and you are able to make a ball of the syrup called urunadai paagu, take care not to boil till then).
Once the syrup is ready, add it to the prepared flour. Mix very well. Transfer to a vessel and pour some ghee on the top.
Now, you may proceed immediately or rest the dough even for two days. Only note that the syrup should be added to the moist flour.
To make the adhirasams, pinch small portions of the dough. The ghee you had added may form a layer on top. Using this to grease a tiny banana leaf or a plastic sheet, flatten the small portions to discs.
Heat ghee/oil in a pan and when it reaches smoking point, bring heat to medium and drop the prepared disc in it.
With the help of the ladle toss some of the hot ghee/oil over the adhirasam. It will puff like puris.
Cook on both sides until slightly brown. Drain and place in a colander with a plate under it.
With the help of a flat bottomed cup press the adhirasam in the colander slightly, the excess ghee/oil will collect in the plate placed underneath.
This oil can be returned to the ghee in the pan at intervals. It will not be much, yet can be recycled.
Remove adhirasam from colander and place on a plate. Allow to cool.
Repeat till all dough is used. Place the adhirasams separately until they cool down. If hot adhirasams are packed in a pile they may stick and tear while removing.
Adhirasams are easy to make if the syrup texture is mastered. They are such delicious sweetmeats, especially when you get to make them once annually.
Hope all of you had a safe and wonderful Karthigai pandigai.

We had heavy breeze that I had to keep lamps indoors. We did have a very happy festival though.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Uppappam for Karthigai

Today the 30th of November, tomorrow and the day after are the karthigai deepam festival days this year. The Barani deepam is lighted today, tomorrow is the sarvaalaya deepam, when in all Hindu temples numerous lamps will be lit and celebrated.
This day usually conjuncts with the full moon in the star of Krithigai and is believed to be the day that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of light which neither Vishnu nor Brahma could find the beginning or the end of.
At many homes lamps are lit and arranged in beautiful patterns, just as how Deepavali is celebrated in most northern states of India.
As per family traditions the neivedhyams made and offered to the Lord. In my parents home it is Adhirasam, pori urundai, godhumai appam sweet and savoury appam- uppappam. I follow this tradition as my mother-in-law does not cook any of these. She lights lamps and offers fruits.

I had a very hectic week, last week as we hosted the weekly Vishnu sahasranamam chanting at home. I took it a bit easy this morning without realising today is the festival. When I opened my mail box there was a mail to share this recipe. I follow S. Meenakshi ammal recipe but my mother makes it differently. So before sharing the recipe I wanted to confirm with her if store bought rice flour will work well and wanted her recipe too. This is what she gave me and I think the result with store bought flour was equally good.

Traditionally, rice is soaked and pound to a flour or ground to a thick batter with the Urad dhal and the appams are fried in oil like the vadas. For those who want to make it without deep frying, you may use the appam pan and make them. Since I wanted to try with one tweak, I did not venture the other. I have made them fried in oil. These appams will sure ooze oil, so make them and share as many, so you may eat less and be free of guilt.

Now the recipe ( Makes 12 appams):
Rice flour 200 ml
Urad dhal 2 tablespoons
Channa dhal 2 teaspoons
Moong dhal 2 teaspoons
Fresh coconut scrapes 1 table spoon
Green chillies 2 chopped
Ginger 1cm long piece
Slightly sour curd 1/3 volume measure of the rice flour
Curry and coriander leaves few chopped
Salt to taste
Oil for frying ( keep less and fry one at a time)

Wash and soak urad dhal in water. Grind to a smooth paste as for idlis.
Mix the rice flour, salt, urad dhal paste and the curds to a lump-free batter. Add some water to obtain a thick batter.This should be as that of thick idli batter.
Wash and soak the moong and channa dhal in water for a few minutes, drain and add to the above.
Leave this aside for a few hours.
Just before frying add the chopped chillies, curry and coriander leaves and the coconut scrapes.
Mix well adjusting that the batter is of pouring consistency.
Heat oil in a deep pan until it smokes. Reduce heat to medium and pour a ladle full of batter in the hot oil.
The appam will slowly rise to the surface and fry. Using the ladle toss some hot oil on the upper surface as it cooks. Turn once and when the appam is golden on both sides remove with slotted ladle. Drain on absorbent tissue.
This appam can be made using the appam pan. Make the batter as that of idli batter, a tad bit rarer than the above.
If you are not offering as neivedhyam, you may replace the curd and urad dhal by a big ladle full of left over idli batter. This results in very soft appams.
Wish those of you who celebrate, a very happy festival of lights!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Araiththu vitta vengaya sambhar - Tamilian's delight

Of the sambhar varieties I prefer the araiththu vitta sambhar, meaning ground and added type.
The Masala is initially roasted either dry or adding very little oil, ground to a coarse paste and added to the tamarind -dhal mix, that has been cooked along with the vegetables.
The Madras onions (shallots) add somewhat exotic flavour to sambhar and the sweet yet pungent taste of the shallots is by itself delectable. Mostly people cook this sambhar and serve with roasted potato dry curry and hot rice with a small amount of ghee.

When I make this sambhar, I grind along with the usual ingredients, a small piece of ginger and few raw shallots, a tip from a magazine. That enhances the flavours.
A lemon size ball of tamarind
1/4th of a cup thuvar dhal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
100 grams shallots
Oil to saute the shallots
Salt to taste

For tempering:
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 red chilli
Few fresh curry leaves
Dry roast the following:
1 table spoon coriander seeds
6 pieces medium hot dry red chillis
1 teaspoon channa dhal
3 table spoons coconut scrapped
Roast these until the coconut is golden brown and aromatic and the dhal looks oil coated and shining.
Add few raw shallots and 1/2'' piece of fresh ginger and grind to a paste adding little water.

Soak tamarind in water for some time and extract the pulp thoroughly.
Pressure cook thuvar dhal with the turmeric powder added to it until soft.
Peel shallots and retain whole. Heat oil in a pan and add the shallots. Saute them until they are brown on all sides, add some water, cover and cook till they are tender.
To this add the salt and tamarind extract and simmer on medium flame until all raw taste of tamarind subsides.
Add the cooked dhal coarsely mashed, allow to blend and add the masala that has been ground.
Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for further two minutes. Remove pan from fire.
Temper with the mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves.
Cook the sambhar a bit ahead of serving, this enhances flavours.
My aunt used to cook her sambhar about an hour before serving, but she will keep the rasam on the coal stove (kumutti aduppu), until the coals might be dying out until about to be served. You may serve lukewarm sambhar with hot rice and re-heat the rasam just before consumption.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bhel puri

Having been advised, and sometimes disciplined about eating anything selling at street stalls, we were in for our biggest treat while visiting our uncle in Bombay. Most likely, he decided that at 17 and 15 we would be manageable even if we fell ill. He bought us pani puris and bhel puris selling @ Chowpati beach :)

That was the first time I ever tasted something khatta-meeta-thikka all in one dish. But that was only once. Back home we were to forget even looking at street vendors. We were allowed generously, to purchase any item that sold in the college canteen. So we indulged ourselves in the puffs and cream rolls that were prepared at the college's very own bakery under strictly hygiene conditions.

Later with a group of boys and girls who were friends of a nephew, I treated myself to a Kaiyendhi bhavan style bhel puri in the X-cut road - Ghandhipuram market corner while working in Coimbatore. Then it was a Thursday evening treat from my husband to drive to Bur-Dubai from Khor Fakkan before exploring the many shopping options that Dubai has to offer.

The time I purchased a few cookbooks, my sister's neighbour had taught her to make the puris. That is all we needed. Now it is a regular chat affair at home. Two days ago we met with a friend to celebrate her daughter's birthday. It was meant to be a Pani puri and junk food party but the junk part was a whole lot of health ones.

That reminded me of the fact that I have in pictures the Bhel puri I made for my husband's birthday in July, yet in my picassa album. So, I put aside all procrastination this afternoon and am typing.

Bhel puri my style:
For puris: (Source: Mallika Badrinath's 100 snacks special)
3/4th of a cup Fine variety semolina
1/2 cup All purpose flour
2 teaspoons roasted and powdered urad dhal
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tiny pinches baking powder
Ice cold water or sparkling soda water to knead a stiff dough
Oil for deep frying
Mix all the dry ingredients, salt and the baking powder well. Using the ice cold water or the soda water, make a stiff dough. Knead repeatedly yet stiff.
Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside for 10 minutes.
Knead again until dough is elastic.
Make small puris and deep fry on low fire as and when you have rolled them. Let them not dry in the air. This may result in the puris not puffing enough.
The puris should be rolled neither too thick nor too thin. The fire also has to be medium to low. The puris have to be fried very crisp.
These can be made ahead and stored upto a fortnight.

Ompodi or sev for the bhel puri:
1 cup Gram flour
1 tablespoon rice flour
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Mix the flours with water and salt to make a smooth dough that can be pressed over hot oil using a very fine perforated fitted plate in a murukku press.
Heat oil and deep fry the pressed sev.
Keep reserve.

Mint Chutney and Sweet chutney:
Grind the following:
A fist full of fresh mint leaves
A tiny bunch of coriander leaves
A marble size ball of tamarind soaked in warm water
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons jaggery powder
Black salt to taste
2 or 3 dry red chillies Adjust as per requirement
Juice of 1 lime
Pass this through a strainer and add another cup of water to this juice.
Soak the following in water for 1/2 an hour and grind to a semi thick paste:
A big lemon size ball of tamarind
3 table spoons powdered jaggery
10 numbers dates seeds removed
2 table spoons raisins
4 red chillis
A little amount of salt.

Other Ingredients for Bhel puri:
2 tablespoons grated carrots
2 tablespoons grated cucumber
1/2 of a raw mango grated
1 big potato boiled and mashed
2 tablespoons green peas cooked till tender
1 red onion sliced very finely
2 teaspoons coriander leaves chopped
1 tomato chopped finely
1 cup puffed rice

Keep all the ingredients ready and before seving, mix them well and serve garnished with additional ompodi and grated vegetables and coriander leaves.
This goes to RCI - Event started by Lakshmi of veggiecuisine, currently held @ Lakshmi's Kitchen Chronicles celebrating RCI- Mumbai.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indo's Gulab Jamuns for Indian Cooking Challenge

Having tried two of the three chosen recipes for the October edition of Indian Cooking Challenge for deepavali, I was planning to try the third given recipe sometime soon. Least did I expect it would be this soon. Srivalli, obliging to requests from members extended the post date to the 16th of November. That gave me a chance to work on this recipe and post it too.

Indo of Daily musings has given a very beautiful pictorial of her grandma making these jamuns for her. Prepare yourself for a tutorial here. I recommend you read her post, I am not copying it here.
With an overdose of yummy gulabjamuns, I did not want to use the whole recipe given by Indo.
I reduced 1 litre of milk and used one fourth of the rest of the ingredients as well. I had 20 gulab jamuns.
Three recipes, varying in quantity of ingredients, yet all three worked well, though I felt that the maida was a bit more in Indo's recipe. The gulab jamuns swelled in the oil while frying, so they absorbed the syrup well too.

This forced me to look up my mother's note book and I found her's almost similar to Indo's recipe! Later during a telephone conversation she told me that in her recipe the quantity of maida was more and she was advised to reduce it to achieve best results. The Baking soda she had mentioned was way less, may have been the reason to reduce the maida. I presume that might be a point of note.
Ironically all these days I never looked up my S.Meenakshi Ammal book. I fancied checking her recipe too. Alas ! What I found was neatly written in my own hand - an update. I have mentioned how much khova I achieved reducing 2 litres of milk and how much maida I had used, the exact measure of bi-carbonate of soda and more! I have written down how well I had to knead the khova initially, almost as you would knead the flour before adding the maida:(
All this dated way back in 2001! Deepavali -Johor!
Grrrr...gritting! Now I have to try my version soon :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Banana Orange smoothie

The host of last Saturday's prayer meeting gave us each a coconut, two musumbi oranges and one really large banana. So Sunday morning we had this refreshing mocktail. The fruits were sufficient to fill two large glasses, and having had that sometime mid-morning, we almost gave up lunch :)
You may need:
1 large banana or two medium bananas that might be good for milkshakes
2 oranges, Naval, Valencia or Indian musumbi
3 table spoons honey
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 cup crushed ice

What you have to do:
Blend the fruits in a blender with the honey.When well blended add the ice and run the blender further for 2 minutes. Finally add the cream and whisk until frothy.
Serve right away!

Mooli Parathas

Just like the paneer parathas, the mooli parathas are very delectable. We were at my cousins place one morning for the music lessons. She was making these for her daughter who had been studying late into night and had left instructions not to wake her up until after 9 AM. So my cousin decided to make these parathas that might replace her breakfast and hold until a late lunch. She invited us to have some with some pickle. Both Niki and I loved them.
Few years on we were again invited to my daughter's friend's place in Singapore. Her mother made mooli parathas. She mixed the grated radish to the flour and kneaded witht the flour for the dough unlike making a filling of them. That was good too.
My gardener and house help in Bahrain lived in a farm where they fed goats with carrots and radishes. The boys used to bring me loads of these veggies whenever they could manage. So I made them often. Later they planted radishes in my small garden patch, which grew like wild and I had to distribute to friends. The day my container was being packed the packers pulled out as many as they can to feast on fresh produce :)
Radishes are low in fat and cholestral, high in fibre, riboflavin, vitamins C and B, magnisium, folate etc. They aid weight loss. Eaten raw or cooked in any dish they are beneficial for good health.
Lately, I have started mixing other flours replacing the wheat flour partly. This one here has a mix of bajra flour ( millet flour) with whole wheat flour. The colour may not look great if you add bajra or jowar flour, but the taste is very good.
Ingredients:(8 parathas)
1 &1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup bajra flour
3 fresh and tender radishes grated finely
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
Salt to taste, separate for the flour and for the filling
1 teaspoon oil for the radish
1 tablespoon oil for mixing the dough
ghee as required to spread on the parathas
Grate the radishes. Keep this on a flat plate which rests over another small cup or plate slightly inclined at an angle. In a few minutes the juice of the radish will ooze out and collect on the bottom-side of the tilt. This may be used while kneading the dough.
Heat oil in a kadai, add the salt and redchilli powder to the grated radish. Toss for some time. Remove from fire and keep aside.
Sift both flours together. Add the salt and oil. Mix well and using the radish water and more water, knead to a plaint dough. Rest the dough covered for half an hour.
Divide in 16 portions. Roll out each into a circular disc about 4" diameter. Spoon the filling on the top side of 8 such discs. Spread evenly, leaving out a part of the circumference. Dampen the edges and press the empty rolled discs over the filled ones.Seal well and roll the pin over the prepared chappathis.
Heat the tawa and cook the chappatis until well cooked on both sides. Serve them hot.

Usually, I don't bother making a side dish. My husband makes do with tomato ketchup. But if you desire so, a simple dal-tadka will be an excellent combination.
These parathas make an excellent lunch box/ snack box dish for children.
These parathas are sent to,

and to
Sharmi's Cooking For Kids event, happening this month @ Lakshmi's Kitchen Chronicles inviting Vegetables and Fruits.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mysore Bonda

Mysore bonda is famous in the recipe list of the Karnataka special dishes, especially of Mysore. Some call the Goli Baje of Mangalore as Mysore Bonda. But the traditional recipe uses a blend of split black lentils and spices.
You may relate it to the medhu vada of elsewhere in the South but deep fried in the shape of bondas than typical vadas.
The recipe is simple to make and quick too.
Ingredients:( for 12 bondas)
1/4 cup/ 125 ml Urad dhal whole or split
2 teaspoons thuvar dhal
1 teaspoon rice
2 green chillies chopped
1 tablespoon finely sliced coconut pieces
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely pounded
Few fresh curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Wash and soak the dhals and the rice togther for an hour.
Drain and grind, adding very little water to a smooth but thick batter. The batter has to ground fine but water should be used very sparingly.
Add the salt, chopped chillies, coconut pieces,curry leaves, cumin seeds, asafoetida powder and the pepper. Mix well. Mix in a whisking motion to incorporate air in the batter and make it fluffy. This ensures that the bondas are soft on the inside with pores formed therein.

Heat oil in a heavy pan. Moisten your palm and fingers and roll the batter like balls and deep fry in hot oil.
Turn them in the oil a few times to fry evenly.
Remove with a slotted ladle and place on absorbent tissues.
Serve hot with coconut chutney or tomato ketchup.
Urad dhal is rich in protein and fibre, low in fat. These are recommended for diabetics too. Make a good snack for children.

These bondas are off to be featured in Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook's MLLA,
The 17th Helping of MLLA happening @ Sra's When My Soup Came Alive through November,
and to
Food for seven stages of life - Kids' special (4 years to 14 years of age), co-hosted by Radhika and Sudeshna.

My Happy Day Salad

I love trying combinations for salads. For long I wanted to add beets and radishes, but did not dare to. Radish has this sharp and pungent taste and am sure my husband will happily pass on it. Beets might discolour the whole salad, I had concluded.

On my last visit to the vegetable market, I picked up all these very fresh beets, carrots and radishes. Yesterday I braved myself to make a salad, come what may, if looks fail the salad will be good I told myself.

I had sprouts also. Just by adding a dip made of yoghurt and mints, the salad was a hit. On a whim I spread it as in the picture and was pleased with the results.

What I used:
1 carrot cut in rings and middle portion scooped out
2 white radishes sliced in rings
1/2 of a beet sliced in thin strips
4 tablespoons mixed sprouts
few fresh coriander leaves

What I did with them:
Put each of the vegetables separately in boiling water to which a pinch of salt, thinly sliced ginger strips and turmeric powder is added.
Drain and allow to cool. Boil the sprouts if you want them cooked. ( I have used them raw.)
(The drained water was later added to the process of making dosa batter.)
Fill the salad plate as you like. I filled the carrot cavities with the sprouts, and placed tiny bits of beets on the radish rings.
Serve with a dip of thick hung yoghurt mixed with ground mint leaves and salt.
This salad is off to Lisa's No Croutons Required event showcasing Root Vegetables this month.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paneer Parathas

Paneer is rich in protein and calcium. It is 100% vegetarian cheese. Paneer can be cooked with dishes or used as toppings, totally making a dish appetizing. For vegetarians, this is a rich source of the nutrients. You can safely add upto 100 grams of paneer in a daily diet for growing children. The exercise they get from work and play will compensate for the fat.
While we lived in Johor and Niki went to school in Singapore, the car would be down the block at 6:30 every morning and the packed lunch she used to carry would be a hurriedly prepared dish.
So every evening when she got back home she needed some filling snack. She would happily eat a whole bowl of kootu or vegetables with pasta. Whenever we shopped in Mustafa, she used to pick few packets of a famous Indian brand ready-to-eat parattas that came in varieties. She used to toss them in the pan or microwave and have them.
Later, I started preparing them and storing in the deep freezer for easy consumption. This practice helped my husband while we moved to Egypt and I travelled to India often.
I make aloo parathas, paneer parathas and mooli parathas this way and they can be stored in freezer bags for upto a month. They never have stayed that long though.
Paneer parathas are easy to make and you may adjust spices as per requirement.
Ingredients: (For 8 parathas)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup crumbled paneer
8 teaspoons any chutney
Salt as required for the flour and the paneer
3 teaspoons cooking oil
Add required salt to the crumbled paneer (I have used the recipe for paneer from A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine).
I made some coriander chutney by grinding fresh coriander leaves, salt, 1 green chilli and 1 tablespoon yoghurt.
Mix the flour with some oil and salt. Adding water knead into a smooth chappathi dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for an hour.
Divide in 16 portions and roll in smooth balls.
Roll out chappattis of 5" diameter of each portion. On the top half of each spread the chutney evenly.
On top of eight such rolled parathas, spread the crumbled paneer leaving some space along the edges.
Cover this with another empty rolled paratha. Press both into place at the edges sealing well.
Roll the rolling pin gently over the paratha so they seal tight.

Heat a tawa and cook the prepared paratha adding some oil until done.
Repeat for all the rest of the parathas.
Serve hot with yoghurt and pickle.

If you plan to freeze them, cook until half done turning both the sides. Allow to cool. Place sheets of plastic between two parathas and place the bunch in freezer safe bags.
Take the parathas out of the freezer 15 minutes before serving and cook on hot tawa until done.
Consume hot as re-heated parathas get hard when they cool down.
I'm sending these paneer parathas to JFI event, started by Indira of Mahanandi, currently hosted as JFI Paneer @ The Spice Who Loved Me, through November,
and to
Food For 7 Stages of Life co-hosted by Radhika and Sudeshna, featuring food for ages 4 to 14 until December the 5th.

Minty potato salad

There is no limit to the variety you might cook with potatoes. As the vegetable is most preferred by many people, the options of consuming are numerous. Mint is my favourite herb. I can drink cup after cup of the pani puri's mint water! When I spotted the cute looking baby potatoes, I could not stop myself from purchasing them.
Soon after bought fresh mint and made this Chat variety salad with mint and boiled potatoes with carrots and onions.
Both of us, my husband and myself have started enjoying salads on a regular basis. I keep trying different options, this one was very well enjoyed by both of us.
You might require:
15 baby potatoes
1 carrot sliced in rings and strips
1 red onion chopped or finely sliced
Few strings frensh coriander leaves chopped
2 teaspoons cooking oil
Grind the following to a smooth paste:
A fist full of mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped onions
A pea size ball of tamarind
1/4 teaspoon dry mango powder
1" piece ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt to taste.
How to prepare:
Grind the ingredients for the paste adding water sparingly to a smooth paste.
Prick the potatoes with a fork at few places. Boil them just until you might be able to peel them.
The nutrients in the potatoes lie right beneath the peel. So for optimum nourishment, they have to be boiled just as much to remove the peel.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the paste to it and toss the potatoes gently to coat them with the paste until the essence is absorbed.
If desired and you do not like raw onions, you may toss them in the oil and remove before adding the paste.

The preparations are done.
Proceed to spread your salad as per your liking and serve.

This is just sufficient for two servings. You might increase the ingredients as required and also add many more vegetables as desired.

This salad goes to Meeta's Monthly Mingle collecting dishes fro BRUNCH.