Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and have this Party Punch

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and festive cheers. Hope all of you are looking forward to get done with the year 2010 and surging with full energy into 2011. Hope there is much entertaining going on and there are cakes and cookies being baked and shared.
I have not baked anything for a while now. So I can share with you only my Party Punch.

Living in a tropical country, there seems to be no so called 'off season for mangoes' in Ghana and now in Nigeria also. We get excellent bananas and I am feasting my morning breakfast on papayas many days.

Having read the above, you may have guessed what fruits I have blended into this punch. To give it the citrus burst, I squeezed an orange and added some home-made pineapple juice too.
The pineapples had to be blended separately and strained.

Here is one musumbi that had beach ball like skin :)
For myself I can have without sugar and for my husband who wants the juice sweet, I could go really low on added sugar. Top it with rose syrup and add crushed ice, you have one delicious drink to serve.
Those who like, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the place of crushed ice, and you might have people asking for repeat helpings.
Have a fantastic Chirstmas friends and let me take an annouced break until the end of January 2011. I am spending some weeks with my daughter, parents and more members of the extended family too.
I might simply squeeze yet another post to wish you all a Happy new year 2011! If not, here's wishing all of you a wonderful start to the new year.
Signing off....
So long.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saying hello with some Thayir vadai

Hello everybody, it has been a real long two months that I have attended to this little space of mine. Neither have I been regular with my visits to other posts that you may have been sharing with all of us. As many of you might already know, we recently relocated. That has been keeping me away and otherwise busy.
So quickly, we have completed few days short of two calendar months in this new country. I have realised that I can cook survival food and not complain. No deep fries, no grinding spices.....and I missed all the fun yet tiresome cooking that accompanies every festival, three months in a row.
I hope all will be settled with the advent of the new year, by which time I will travel to see family back home and meet few blog buddies.
This thayir vadai was made few months ago as part of neivedhyam for some pooja. I flicked through one of my old cookbooks and came across this recipe. Though I did not entirely follow the recipe given in the book 'சமையற்கலை' by Smt. Ku. Pa. Sethu Ammal, it is a definite adaption from there.
I made the vadai and on a whim dunked them in spiced yoghurt.


For the vadai:

1/3 rd cup karamani/ thattai payaru/ red chawli beans
1 table spoon urad dhal
1 teaspoon raw rice
Few green chillis according to spice requirement and heat
1/2" piece of ginger finely chopped
Few curry leaves
Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

For the yoghurt:
1 cup of yoghurt, whisked smooth and brought to medium thickness
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh coconut grated very finely or run in the spice grinder to fine with little water

For tempering:
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

For Garnish:
Fresh coriander leaves chopped

Soak the red chawli beans overnight.
Drain and add the rice and urad dhal. Soak in fresh water for another 2o minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the yoghurt.
Drain the soaked ingredients and grind adding the chillis, ginger and salt to a very coarse paste.
Chop the curry leaves and add to the mix.
Heat oil in a pan and deep fry small flattened portions of the dough.
Remove with slotted ladle once done on both sides and drain on absorbent tissue just to remove excess oil.
While still warm, drop them into the prepared yoghurt.
When the entire dough has been used up and the vadais have been soaked, add the tempering.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
Serve as you wish. You may add some boondhis for the topping. Grated carrots can make colourful topping too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Punjabi Kadhi - Indian Cooking challenge

I have been undergoing a 'blogger-idle syndrome', lately. With the impending move and related overload of work, I have not tried reading any blogs; neither have I tried posting in mine. However, the Indian Cooking Challenge is something I thought I should mark my attendance to.

This time it was chosen to try a regular, but authentic recipe. It is very simple to cook up, yet doing it just as the people do traditionally held a charm.

Srivalli took the opportunity to challenge us with Punjabi Kadhi, a recipe shared by Simran who blogs @ Bombay foodie. In Simran's words, it is a recipe that her mother makes often and you can keep leftovers to go with rotis and such after having this with hot steamed rice for your lunch. I did just the same.
As I said earlier, I am running short of time. Hence have copied the recipe Srivalli posted to us, just editing at that might make it nearly in my words, would it not?
I have enjoyed the recipe and relished the flavours. I recommend you do so too.

For Pakoras:
Gram flour - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 medium
Salt to taste
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil for Deep frying

For Kadhi :
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Gram flour/ chickpea flour - 1/3 cup ( I reduced this to 1/4 cup)
Water - 3 to 4 cups
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds- 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom Seeds/ Omam- 1 tsp
Methi seeds/ Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp
Onion -1 large
Turmeric powder just a bit
Salt to taste
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Amchur/ Dried Mango powder - 1 tsp

For the Pakoras :
Chop the onion in big pieces. Keep reserve.
Take flour, salt and red chili powder in a bowl.
Add water and make a batter that is slightly thick.
Heat oil in a pan. When it is hot, dip onions in the batter and gently drop into the hot oil.
Deep fry until the pakoras are done evenly crisp.
Remove from oil and drain on absorbent paper.
Keep aside for futher use.

For the kadhi:
Slice the onion in long strips.
Mix yoghurt and gram flour to a smooth lump free paste initially, then add water to achieve a very thin batter.
Heat one tablespoon of oil. Add a teaspoon each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, carom seeds and methi. Allow a few seconds for them to crackle.
Add onion slices, fry till they turn light brown.
Pour in the ready mixed batter, and add to this turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for at least half an hour.
Keep stirring occasionally.
When it thickens fairly enough, add the reserved pakoras.
Again bring the mixture to a boil.
Add garam masala and amchur powder to the gravy just before removing from stove.
I reserved some Kashmiri chilli powder just to garnish.

The kadhi has to be fairly thick. The thin, watery kadhi is the Gujarati version. For a hearty Punjabi one,make it thick.
Serve the Kadhi with hot steamed rice or with rotis and chappathis. I loved it when the Kadhi had cooled down a bit and the flavours soaked withtin and the pakoras absorbing some of the liquid and puffing up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coconut laddoo

Festival season around there is lot of visiting friends and being visited by friends happening. I try to keep stock of some goodies to entertain. With loads of activities in line with Navarathri, making elaborate preparations and time consuming sweets is a task in itself. I look for quick cooking sweets and desserts.
Having found this recipe for microwave coconut burfi that uses Khoya, I replaced the khoya with condensed milk, left out the sugar and rolled out these delicious coconut laddoos. I halved the coconut quantity given in the recipe and substituted ground almond powder.
You could cook just about two minutes longer and roll out like khatlis too. I have tried this with a very small quantity, hence could not click a photograph on the trial run.
These laddoos were just as quickly consumed as I cooked them. I remember that the Nestle leaflets did have a coconut ladoo recipe in that too. Thus this recipe is an adaption from two sources namely the Nestle India's leaflet with Milkmaid recipes and the LG microwave cookbook.

1 cup freshly scrapped coconut (the finer the scrape the better)
1 cup ground almond powder ( I used store bought)
1/2 tin of sweetened condensed milk ~190 grams
1 pinch of powdered cardamom
1 tablespoon ghee
Reserve a small portion of the grated coconut to roll the laddoos in at the last stage.
Take ghee in a microwave proof bowl. I suggest you use a fairly large bowl to avoid over boiling of the milk.
Add first the condensed milk and heat it on 100% power without lid on, for 3 minutes.
The milk would have become a bit thinner with the boiling. Add the rest of the coconut and the almond powder.
Put the bowl in the microwave and cook without lid, on highest power for 7 minutes.
Stir occasionally. Check the consistency at the end of the set time. Give a brisk stir and cook again on 60% power for a further 3 minutes. Check at every 1 minute interval as the mixture might cook fully even before this time. It took me 3 minutes. Add 1 or 2 minutes depending on the output of your machine.
Remove the bowl from the microwave. Add the cardamom powder.
Allow the mixture to cool down to bearable warmth ( should still be moderately hot).

Grease your palms and roll small size laddoos of the mixture. Roll them in the reserved coconut and serve.
These laddoos, having been cooked during festival season are being sent to Smitha @ Smitha's Spicy Flavours hosting the alltime popular Microwave Easy Cooking with Festive Dishes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It is time to cook it up with Chef In You

Priya hosts this month's Tried and Tasted, an event, the brainchild of Zlamushka currently taken over by Lakshmi. Priya has chosen one of our favourite recipe site, Divya Karthik's (known to most as DK) Chef In You. When I went through Priya's announcement post this morning I found so many comments there and am sure that readers are going to be spoilt for choices.

Last month it was Ria hosting Tried and Tasted with Alka's Sindhi Rasoi. I had cooked on an everyday basis from Sindhi Rasoi and yet failed to post even one entry. You may find random posts appearing in future which have tried from Alka's spot.

Coming back to this month, I am sure I might get caught up in other mundane tasks in the next few days and will certainly not be able to attend to my blog. Hence let me share this recipe just to show my appreciation of the wonderful blogger that Divya is!

The rajma parathas filled with grated paneer and coarsely mashed rajma make a wholesome dinner coupled with simple onion and tomato masal.

Soak and pressure cook rajma beans until tender. Mash coarsely cooked rajma beans. Cook it with salt and spices of your choice. Mix with the grated paneer to make the filling.
Make a dough with wheat flour adding salt and a bit of oil to the flour. Knead to a smooth pliable dough adding enough water.
Roll out small discs with portions of the dough and place the filling in the centre. Roll in a ball and flatten as discs taking care not to spill the filling.

Cook until both sides are done well on a hot girdle.
Serve hot with a lighter side dish.
Enjoy the wholeness of nutrients that have been cooked in one delectable dish.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tomato thokku

One vendor in the greens market here makes me wonder if she keeps the weighing scale for just having one.

She would weigh a kilo of tomato and load my bag. Later at home I would weigh the same and the ointer in my scale will wildly ride well over a kilo. So I end up making tomato soup and juice often. Making pickles and thokkus with tomato are a good idea if we are able to consume them. My husband does not take any pickle. I try not to keep left overs and end up eating my curd rice with the vegetable or the sambhar. So pickles, if made live in the bottles I have stored them for a long time in my home.

But sometimes the urge to make a thokku or pulikkachchal with tomatoes gets me and I make them too. Sometime ago I bought tomatoes just for making the spicy tomato jam which I tried with the recipe from Aparna. I used part of them in the jam and the rest I made the thokku. We kept it for over a week or so and had it with chappathis, dosais and idlis. I have mixed it in rice and relished the same.
It is a common recipe that many of us keep cooking from time to time. But it is indeed one simply delicious thokku.


12 medium tomatoes (700 grams or little more)
1 small lemon size tamarind, soaked in little warm water.
12-15 dry red chillis (adjust to taste and spice level of chillis). Soak along with tamarind.
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds lightly roasted and powdered
2 teaspoons mustard seeds roasted and powdered
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 big ladle full (about 1/3 rd of a cup) Gingelly oil

1 tablespoon oil (from the above)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons, channa dhal
2 teaspoons urad dhal
about five full sprigs of curry leaves

Chop tomatoes and grind with the soaked tamarind, chilli mix to a semi thick pulp.
Mix the salt.
Heat oil for tempering in a heavy pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the channa dhal and a few seconds later the urad dhal. Add the curry leaves and pour the pulp in the pan.Add the turmeric powder and asafoetida powder.
On medium heat allow the pulp to reduce and thicken. Add the oil in instalments while stirring in order that the cooking mass does not scorch.
Cook well until raw taste subsides and the oil surfaces above the mass. Add the fenugreek powder and the mustard powder. Mix well and switch off the fire.
Allow to cool and store in bottles.
This thokku stays well for about six weeks provided it is stored well and handled carefully.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Khajoor Imli Ki Chutney

One of the easiest chutneys to make and most loved dip with hot samosas and pakoras is this chutney. Sweet from the dates countering the sour tangy tamarind balanced with some spice makes it lip smacking.

I have been wanting to use most stuff in my pantry, lest they get packed in the container and sit long in all sort of weather conditions. So when I found these dates, that we purchased during Ramadan, few weeks ago, they were the one of the first few to be cooked and consumed. I made quite a quantity and stored. Hence the texture is thick. Just add some warm water before serving to the required quantity of chutney. This stays well in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
The recipe has been adapted from Ms. Geeta Narang's Tastes of India, the cook book that comes complimentary with LG microwave ovens. I have reduced the water in order to enhance shelf life. Rest of the ingredients and the cooking in microwave are from the book.
100 grams tamarind
50 grams powdered jaggery
50 grams dates (after de-seeding)
1/2 teaspoon roasted cuminseeds powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder to taste (coarsely crushed)
Red chilli powder to taste
1 cup water

Clean the tamarind and soak in some water for a few minutes.
Microwave the soaked tamarind with the water on 100% power for 3-4 minutes.
Cool and strain to collect the pulp.
In another bowl add the dates, salt, garam masala, black pepper, red chilli powder and some water.
Cook this covered on 100% power for 4-5 minutes till the dates have cooked soft.
Allow to cool. Add the tamarind pulp and jaggery. Return to the microwave oven and cook without lid on, for about 6 minutes on 80% power until chutney is thick.
Remove and sprinkle the roasted cumin seeds powder.
Cool and store.
Garnish with arils of pomegranate while serving.
This is a perfect accompaniment with papri chaat, dahi vada and such dishes.

This chutney will fill some space in Jagruti's Thali. She is hosting a series Complete my thali which will feature one requirement a month, this time being chutneys.
Also Srivalli's Microwave easy cookong is currently happening in Nivedita's kitchen with fruits,

The chutney is off to all these places.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baking with CCN -a Friday noon filled with fun!

If you happen to stumble upon Madhuri's Cook-curry Nook, you are sure to spend an entire day drooling over pictures and never stop smiling while you read through her posts. There is more than just recipes in her posts. You can visualise her nook as you read them through....just like watching a show on TV. Seeing is believing. Drop by her blog which is just a click away to here.
She had posted her basic eggless sponge loaf cake and I fell in love with the gloss topped moist cake then and there. I wonder how many stats I would have contributed to her visitors' counts, for I went back to the cake again and again and......never mind the count!
I had planned to bake it soon. Lo! by then three or more people had tried and tasted the same. I was putting it off too long, I realised. The other day I was chatting online with her. The said cake was in discussion, and she tells me about what she was baking that very minute.

I've cut the cake and not sliced...
Few hours later we are again catching up and she promises to post the whole wheat bread soon. She had borrowed the basic bread idea from Divya's Chef In You and tweaked the recipe to suit ingredients available. One look at the picture of her post, I was almost off my chair walking towards the kitchen.

So my Friday afternoon was spent on a baking expedition with Madhuri. As with me always, I copied the recipes on whatever paper was hand reachable, clipped it at a convenient spot and proceeded. I could not resist boasting about it on facebook too.

Recipe clipped on the window next to the counter:)
We, (read my husband, myself, my always) munched on the goodies that evening.
I sent her my comments and told her about making a post. I would have put this off to a later date but for the prompt from my daughter yesterday. Niki was all ears to my tales and wanted to have a virtual treat. So here is it for her and the rest of you.

For these recipes and many more take a peek into Cook-curry Nook. Happy baking!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Milk Chocolate fudge - Quick to cook in microwave sweet

Years ago, if you wrote to Nestle India, they would post you leaflets which contain recipes using Milkmaid, the brand name of the condensed milk available in India.
I have tried the chocolates, kalakhand and the coconut coated ladoos from those. I have those sheets tucked in somewhere in my parents' place. And I found this sheet of paper in one of my notebooks where I had, over a random telephone conversation copied a recipe for making thirattipaal in the microwave from my friend.
That recipe uses condensed milk and milk powder.
The very mention of condensed milk made me want to try the recipe. However, I was in no mood for thirattupaal. I wanted something denser and holding shape.
I used the basic ingredients and tried to alter the cooking time in the microwave. The addition to the original recipe was the chocolate flavour with a few spoonful of cocoa. I had a delicious tasting sweet, cut in beautiful floral shapes. I made them 'pop it in your mouth' size.

I have used skimmed milk powder, you may replace with whole milk powder if desired
Milk powder 1 cup (200 ml)
Condensed milk 1/2 of a 385 grams tin
Cocoa 2 teaspoons
Butter (@room temperature) 1 table spoon
Icing sugar or powdered sugar 2 tablespoons

Place the butter in a fairly large microwave safe/proof bowl. Put it in the microwave oven and allow to melt on High for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Take the bowl out. Add the milk powder, condensed milk and the cocoa. Mix well to blend.
Do not add the sugar.
Place the bowl back in the microwave and cook without lid on 100% power (in my microwave it is 1000 watts) for 2 minutes and a half more. Stir in between once.
Remove and with a wooden spoon stir the mix thoroughly.
Put back in the microwave on 100% power for just one minute more. Check if the mix is thickened, or keep for about 20 seconds longer. Do not be tempted to keep longer and burn the mix. The mix will thicken upon cooling.
Immediately after taking out add the powdered sugar and mix well.
Quickly transfer contents on a lightly greased wooden board and spread with the rolling pin to about 2 mm thickness.
Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Alternatively, you may mould shapes with hands, or cut squares.
The mix is pliable enough that you can repeatedly roll out the unshapely edges after cutting shapes.
While warm or at room temperature the fudge will be soft. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and they harden to chocolate consistency.
You may choose to store in the fridge or outside.
Be warned that they will tempt you to pick yet another.

These are being sent to Sugar High Friday making it with Bite size sweets happening until tomorrow @ Aparna's blog. Today, she celebrates her birthday and I send these along with warm wishes for a very wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coconut burfi

Burfis are one of the sweets that I grew up eating very often. We, my sisiters and me lived with my parents and paternal grand parents in their home. We were very used to unannounced visitors dropping for lunch or even staying a few days. Effectively, the lunch would be elaborate and a sweet dish was always prepared.
My grand mother was very deft with making mysore paak and coconut burfis. As with any South Indian home, coconuts were abundantly used at my place too. Sugar and ghee were always in full supply. Hence the first statement.
I make do with one or two coconuts in a month given the size of coconuts I get here. Mostly, the two coconuts that I use for the monthly Satyanarayana pooja suffice the entire month for the two of us.
Sometimes if there is more than one such day that I have to offer coconuts, I scrape and freeze them. This coconut I used for the Varalakshmi pooja however, could be used in making a sweet dish only. I used part of the same in thengai-arisi payasam and the rest I made coconut burfis.
The recipe I give below gives 20 to 24 pieces of burfis, not very thick nor big in size

1 and 1/2 cup loosely packed freshly grated coconut
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk (for removing the scum off the sugar)
2 table spoons ghee for the burfi
A generous smearing of ghee to grease the plate
1 teaspoon powdered cardamom

If you can, try to avoid scrapping the coconut until the brown skin scrapes along with the white.
Keep this reserve.
Smear ghee on a plate and keep ready for later to spread the burfi.
Dissolve sugar in half a cup of water in a heavy pan. Bring it to a boil. Add two tablespoons of milk. The scum will froth above the surface in a few minutes. Remove this with a ladle.
Continue boiling the sugar to achieve a syrup of one thick string consistency.
Add the coconut to the boiling syrup and stirring constantly blend the mix well. Allow the coconut to cook in the sugar syrup and thicken. Add small portions of the ghee in between.
The mix will cook well and very white froth will form around the edges.
Add the cardamom powder at this stage. Give one final brisk stir. Add the rest of the ghee.
The mix would by now be readily leaving the sides of the pan.
Transfer to the prepared plate and evenly spread the mixture. You may use a small piece of banana leaf to pat the upper surface or use the greased bottom of a small bowl to level the mixture.
Allow to cool a bit and cut desired shapes.
The entire cooking will be done in under 25 minutes that I can well relate to why my grand mother chose to serve her guests this as often as she did.
These burfi's are on the way to Aparna's Diverse Kitchen to be included in Bite size desserts on Sugar High Friday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thengai Masala Kuzhambu - my choice side dish for shavige

Breakfast during weekends at my husband's home used to be shavige during our first few years of marriage. On other days it was regularly idli and dosai with coconut chutney. My mother-in-law might forget anything, soaking for idli every third day, she would not! On Saturdays, she would soak another bowl of rice in order to make shavige on Sunday. The side dish will be again finely ground chutney or a coconut milk based gravy.

I love the variety sevai mixed in tangy lemon, spiced coconut and so on. But my husband prefers it plain and mixed with gravy or chutney. My sister had learnt this recipe from some friends and passed it on to me. My husband loved it too. So I make this as often as I make shavige. I do coax him to eat mixed sevai and he obliges; but his vote is always to this combination.

The long list of grinding ingredients may seem intimidating. Once done with the grinding, the gravy is ready in minutes. It is very flexible with the choice of vegetables and sometimes I try to finish off my vegetable tray in this dish.

One or more vegetables of choice cubed - 1/2 cup
Tomato 2 large chopped
Tamarind pulp 3 teaspoons
Sambhar powder 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Salt as required

For the masala:
Cooking poppy seeds/ khus-khus 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon 2" stick
Cloves 5 pieces
Fennel seeds 1/4 teaspoon
Corriander seeds 1 teaspoon
Channa dhal 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillis 4 pieces ( to be adjusted according to spice requirement and the heat of the chilli)
Garlic 3 pods (optional)
Onions 3 large chopped
Coconut 1/4 of a whole scrapped - about 1/3 cup yield
Oil for roasting the dry spices and sauteeing the onions

For tempering:
Cooking oil 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon

Cook the cubed vegetables until just about tender. Do not cook until very soft as you will be boiling them again until the gravy thickens.
Saving the onions and coconut, roast the listed ingredients in little oil until aromatic.
In the same pan saute the chopped onions and garlic, if using, until translucent.
Do not roast the coconut.
Grind all the masala ingredients viz. the roasted spices, sauteed onions and the fresh coconut to a fine paste adding water.
Transfer to a bowl and wash the jar of the blender with about a cup of water. Add this water to the paste.
Place a pan on the stove and cook the tomatoes, tamarind paste until the raw taste of tamarind subsides and tomatoes are a mushy pulp.
Add cooked vegetables, salt, turmeric powder and the sambhar powder to it.

Few minutes later add the ground masla. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 6-8 minutes. The gravy will have to be medium thick to rare, as you will be mixing it to the shavige.
Heat the oil for tempering and add mustard seeds to hot oil. Allow to crackle and add this to the gravy.
You may retain some onions before grinding and add as garnish to the gravy.
There is no need to garnish with curry leaves or corriander, but feel free to do so if you like them. I do at times.
Serve hot with shavige/ plain sevai or idiyaappam.
It is a good side dish for neer dosa also.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gulab Jamuns- a 'never will we get over this' - indulgence

I had been keeping this post pending for long now. Milestone posts do not come by everyday, do they? This post, as my dashboard shows is the 200 th! Had someone suggested sharing my culinary experiments few years ago, I may have thought it was a laugh. Cooking something and writing up a post on that would have never crossed my mind. And today, here I am sharing 200 odd recipes!
I have the habit of scribbling my notes on the very page of a recipe. Points like the date that I tried it, what were my adjustments to the same and also who along with me enjoyed that and how well it was received can be found there.
Last year around festival season we were challenged to make gulab jamuns from scratch. We were given recipes from three friendly bloggers who shared them. I got a bit heady and tried two recipes then and the third on a later occasion.
Soon after, I wanted to check the recipe given in one of my favourite books. I discovered that I had made a fusion recipe using the one in the book and another in my mother's note book years ago, for deepavali. My notes were all over the already browning brittle sheet of the book.
I resolved to try that on the next possible occasion. I did and just did not find time and inclination enough to post the same.

Now with this nice looking number and Aparna asking for bite size sweets on Sugar High Fridays, I gave up procrastination and am ready to share the recipe here.

The recipe has worked well for me and I hope it does in your kitchens too.

I made the khoya/ khova from scratch as I usually do.

Khoya/ khova (made by boiling down 2 litres) approximately 500 grams
Maida/ All purpose flour 90 grams
Cooking soda 2 pinches (size that matches the head of match sticks)
Ghee 2 teaspoons
Yoghurt/ Curd 2 table spoons

Oil/ Ghee for deep frying

For the syrup:
Sugar 800 grams
Water equal volume of sugar
Few strands of saffron
Few drops of rose flavoured essence, if desired; or powdered cardamom.

Rub the ghee into the maida well.
Add the cooking soda to the yoghurt and whisk until frothing.
Mix the maida, yoghurt and the khoya. Knead well until well blended and a smooth dough is formed.
Pinch out small portions of the dough and roll into small balls. If the balls develop cracks, add some warm milk and proceed. I rolled them in elliptical shape.
Using a tooth pick make tiny perforations on the surface of the balls, ensuring that holes are not formed.
Heat ghee or oil in a pan. The frying medium should be just hot and not smoking.
Drop few of the rolled jamuns and over a very moderate heat fry them until well cooked.
Remove from ghee/oil and place on absorbent tissues.
Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in water and place the pan on heat. Allow the solution to come to a boil and continue boiling for 8 - 10 minutes. Drop the saffron in and add the essence if using.
Gently drop the deep fried jamuns in the sugar syrup.
Allow a few hours for the jamuns to soak and absorb the syrup.
The gulab jamuns are ready to be enjoyed.
I enjoy them split in two halves and scooping with some syrup.

As told earlier these are being sent to Aparna to be featured in Bite size sweets.
Generally, most Indian home made sweets are on the sweeter side and can be enjoyed only in small sizes. The gulab jamun is one such and you may be able to have a maximum of two or three at one serving.
Any milk based sweet does not have long shelf life. It holds good with these too. Refrigeration is not my recommendation, though it is possible. They will stay well for three days even at room temperature.
You may enjoy them with vanilla ice cream too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Apple jam - a jiffy jam cooked in microwave

The day we brought home amma's microwave oven, we decided to test it out cooking someting. With the oven came a cookbook by Mrs. Geeta Narang and a few microwave safe plastic containers. The book had this recipe of apple jam. As with sentiments, we wanted the first tried dish to be a sweet dish and chose the jam. Niki cooked the dish following the instructions. The jam came out very well.

I had forgotten about making jam at home until Usha posted her mixed fruits jam. And when Jayashree invited us to Celebrate fellow bloggers hosting Srivalli's Microwave Easy Cooking, now popularly known as MEC, I tried Mango preserve trying this recipe from Aparna.

Yet, I did not find time to check out this recipe again until recently. Two days ago I read Viji's blog post on baked apple sauce and was very inspired. I had few apples on hand after a mass purchase of fruits for the festival season. I tried them the same day and reserved two apples to try this recipe.
Since I had reduced the number of apples, the yield was not much, but the jams had turned out to be something I will cook many times in future. For now, I share this recipe here and will send it to Nivedita who is hosting MEC Fruits this September.

The darker jam in this picture is made with dark brown sugar adding ground cinnamon. This is the recipe I adapted from Vcuisine (a private blog, opens to invited readres). It is with baked apples.

The next one is the recipe from the book Tastes of India a complimentary copy that comes with LG microwave ovens.
This LG microwave has a maximum output of 900 watts. So technically if I say High or 100% power it means 900 watts output, and so on. Please note that you will have to adjust the timings as with your machine. I have a higher wattage microwave and cook for lesser minutes.

You need just three ingredients and a little more than 12 minutes including peeling and coring the fruit and cooking.

2 apples peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Mix sugar and chopped apples in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 100% power for 3- 4 minutes, covered, until apples are soft and suger blended. I suggest using a slightly bigger bowl as the sugar might boil and overflow the bowl.
Take it out, cool for a few minutes. Blend to a pulp in a blender.
Return the puree to the same bowl. Cook, covered on 60% power for 7 - 8 minutes until the jam has thickened and looks translucent. Stir once in between to avoid scorching.
Take out of the microwave and stir in the lemon juice.
Allow to cool and store. As the yield is not much with two apples, if you want to keep for over a week, use more apples and check the consistency more often while cooking.
Enjoy the jam with your morning toast or use it in jam biscuits which is what I make jams for!

Manoharam for August issue of Indian Cooking Challenge

The August challenge brings you a very delectable sweet dish. Manoharam is one of the many variety seer bakshanams that may be found during Tambrahm weddings and other smaller functions. In fact, they are rather stuffed in the paruppu thengai form than the rolled balls that we have shared through this challenge.

Srivalli, decided that we shall do manoharams for this edition and having agreed upon it we chose two recipes given in Samaithu Paar Volume 2, a cookbook by renowned author S.Meenakshi Ammal . The book has one more recipe also. However, we concluded two optional recipes will work fine for all the members.

With the Krishna Janmashtami coming up, soon after she announced, I decided to try them for the festival. I hope my pictures tell you enough that I enjoyed the trial run.

I have tried both recipes with very small quantities, adjusting to serve just the two of us.
I have an exact 200ml. volume measuring cup, a treasure from my great grandmother. So my cup measures given below are all equivalent to 200ml. I have weighed each ingredient in grams also for those of my readers wanting metric weights.

The recipes given below will yield around 20 numbers of manoharams depending on the size of the balls. I halved each recipe and obtained 11/ 12 of them.

Recipe 1: Thaenkuzhal manoharam

Raw rice 2 cups/400ml/350 grams
Split geengram (moong dhal) 1 cup/200ml/200 grams
Powdered jaggery 2 cups/400ml/500grams
Ghee 4 table spoons/60ml/ grams
Salt just a little to enhance taste
Oil for deep frying

Gadgets required:
Murukku press fitted with the three slot disc

Preparing the manoharams:
Wash the raw rice until clean. Soak in water for about an hour. Drain the water and spread on a cloth to absorb excess water.
While moist, pound the rice to a fine powder, seiving and pounding until desired consistency is achieved.
Provided the rice is not aged and is starchy enough, you will obtain 4 cups of rice flour. (double the volume of rice used)
Powder the moongdhal raw until a very fine powder is obtained.
200ml of moong dhal, while powdered yielded about 280 ml of powder, that measured in cups would be 1 cup and 2/5ths.
Sieve the rice flour and moong dhal flour together. Add the salt and rub the ghee in, to incorporate with the flour mix.
Add water and make a dough that is soft enough to pass through the pores of the murukku press. Take a small portion of the prepared dough in the murukku press.
It is advisable, even for this small quantity, that you mix the dough in batches, as the exposure to air might result in dark coloured murukkus as well as hardened ones.
Heat oil and when the oil is ready, press the thaenkuzhal murukkus directly in the oil.
Deep fry until both sides are crisp and done. Remove from oil using a slotted ladle and place on absorbent tissues to remove excess oil.
Repeat the process until all the dough is used up.
Break the prepared thaenkuzhals in tiny bits and keep aside.
Usually this is measured in volume and 1 part of powdered jaggery is measured against 4 parts of murukku bits.
Dissolve jaggery in 1/2 cup of water. Strain and remove impurities.
Put the dissolved jaggery in a pan and boil it down to a syrup of hard ball consistency.
You might be able to roll the syrup in a ball, if little quantity of syrup is dropped in cold water. This ball can be lifted out of the water and if dropped back into it, falls with a sound of hitting against the floor of the bowl.
Place the thaenkuzhal bits in a large plate and mix the syrup thoroughly over the bits.
Grease your palms with some ghee and roll the above in fist size balls.
Place these balls apart to avoid them clinging to one another.
It will be easy to make syrup in small quantities and mix it in portions to the broken murukku bits and then rolling them in balls if you are doing them without assistance. The shaping becomes difficult if the jaggery coated bits cool. However, if you can handle some heat and are deft enough, make the above in two portions and proceed. Or can simply munch on jaggery coated murukku bits. They taste good, just as much as the balls.

Recipe 2: Boondhi manoharam:

Ingredients :
Raw rice 2 cups/400 ml/ 350 grams
Split green gram/ Moong dhal 1 cup/200ml/200 grams
Bengal gram /channa dhal 1 cup/200ml/175 grams
A pinch of sodium-bi-carbonate/cooking soda
A pinch of salt (optional) (I do not use as the boondhis will not form well if salt is added to the batter)
Powdered jaggery 2 cups/400ml/500grams
Oil for deep frying

Gadgets required:
Boondhi ladle

How to prepare the boondhi manoharam:
Wash rice and soak in water for an hour. Drain and spread on a clean cloth to absord excess water.
While moist, powder to a very fine powder in a mixie.
Both the dhals have to be powdered raw until very fine.
Mix the flours and the soda-bi-carb. Add enough water to make a flowing batter.
Heat oil in a pan and when the oil is hot enough, holding the boondhi ladle over the oil, drop some of the batter on the ladle. The batter will fall into the oil in drops and form tiny balls as they surface up. Deep fry them until crisp.
Remove with a slotted ladle and place on absorbent tissues. Boondhis are usually little more oily. Hence, placing them on absorbent paper is a requirement.
If you want every one of your boondhis to be nicely shaped, follow the tip below.
Mix the flours and soda-bi-carb. Divide this flour mix into small portions, just as much as you will be able to press at one go. Mix this portion alone with water. Pass this batch through the pores of the ladle and deep fry them in oil.
The ladle shall be washed clean and wiped dry for each fresh batch.
The oil will also be heating to optimum while you do these steps in between, resulting in perfect boondhis.
If mixed in one go, towards the end the boondhis will be thin and not hold a spherical shape.
The consistency is equally important. If too thick, they will not surface soon after dropping in oil. If too thin, they will not hold shape and will be flat.
Prepare the boondhis with the measured amount of your powdered flours.
Here again, the volume of boondhis is measured and 1/4th of this, is the volume of jaggery required.
Make hard ball syrup with the jaggery and incorporate thoughly with the boondhis to coat them well.
Grease your palms and gather the mix in balls of desired size.
The same point about making syrup in batches and mixing holds in this case also.

These two recipes are from a renowned author of the 1950s era. They have worked for millions of other women over the past few decades. I am very happy to have tried this and enjoyed preparing them as much as I loved tasting too.

Discussing this with my mother, she pointed out that my periamma, her sister, also an expert with Tambrahm cooking and bakshanams has given a recipe too. This is somewhat different in the measures of ingredients. Recently, while Niki was home, amma has made them for her and said that they were extremely delicious. I am soon to try that recipe too and will post that version.

For now, enjoy the above two that were chosen for the Indian Cooking challenge August edition.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cabbage thayir thaalidham

While I was home at my parents recently, resting and recuperating, amma mentioned that my paternal grandmother used to cook thayir thaalidham. I told her that I don't remember having tasted it, given the fact that we lived with our grandparents.

Amma does not like cabbage and she does not get innovative with the vegetable. She suggested I walk next door to my dad's uncle's place and ask my grand aunt for the recipe. I obliged her request only to be warned that I have to be on a diet and this recipe includes all that is a strict NO for a damaged liver. However, I extracted the recipe promising it was for future use only.

My athai, dad's younger sister would call me every alternate day enquiring my progress. One such day she mentioned too that her mother used to cook this and wanted me to get the recipe for her. It was a coincidence that two people thought of the same recipe around the same period! Yet I have never tasted it! Neither of my sisters remembered too.

I repeated the recipe to both my mother and aunt and waited until recently to try at home.
I requested Niki reconfirm with my grand aunt before sharing. She did so, dictated the same to me. The paper is with amma and my aunt would have been handed down too.
Now, I move on to the simple to cook yet delicious to eat thayir thaalidham with cabbage. You may use more vegetables too.

What you may need:
Shredded cabbage 2 cups
Broken cashew nuts 1 tablespoon
Channa dhal 1 tablespoon
Green chillis 4 large
Fresh grated coconut 1/4 cup
Fresh thick yoghurt 1/4 cup
Rice flour 1/4 teaspoon
Salt as required

Cooking oil 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon
Channa dhal 1 teaspoon

Curry leaves and corriander leaves
The recipe does not use turmeric powder and asafoetida. However, as turmeric can be added to the cabbage while cooking.

How to proceed:
Cook cabbage in the microwave, covered on 100% power for 4 minutes. Allow a standing time of 2 minutes. Add turmeric powder while cooking, if using. Add the salt and keep aside.
Soak the cashew nuts and channa dhal in some water. Grind them with the coconut and green chillis to a very fine paste.
Add this paste to the cooked cabbage and return to microwave. Cook without lid on 80% power for 2 minutes. Mix the rice flour in some water and add to the above. Cook for a further minute.
Allow this to cool. Add the yoghurt and stir to blend them.
Heat oil and drop mustard seeds. Once they crackle add the channa dhal. Allow the dhal to roast and add it to the prepared dish. I do this in the microwave, though I have to heat for longer time than the interval suggested in the many cookbooks.
Garnish with the curry leaves and corriander leaves.
Serve as side dish for steamed rice, rotis and chappathis.
This has now become one of our favourite side dishes. There is a nostalgic touch as I told that it was my grandma's recipe.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Parippu pradhaman for Varalakshmi pooja

My never ending quest with Tried and Tasted for the current edition brings you Parippu pradhaman from Aparna. Srivalli is hosting this event, started by Zlamushka to celebrate fellow bloggers, and has been taken over by Lakshmi. The fact is that Valli has chosen the most Diverse Kitchen, for there, you would find everything you might fancy to cook.

My usual payasam for Varalakshmi pooja would have been the undili payasam a quick make up with the ingredients that go into different items on that day's menu. It is done so for convenience and save time. This year, since my husband was away on an official trip and was expected only that evening, I set myself to prepare something more elaborate. So I prepared the parippu pradhaman looking up Aparna's recipe. I have been doing most other things that I am posting this after about a fortnight.

I had prepared the coconut milk beforehand and had powdered the jaggery too as always during festivals. So cooking the pradhaman was not a task, given the hassles of a festival day where you cooked as well as performed the pooja.

The pradhaman was creamy, rich with the coconut flavour and had just the sweetness that you may enjoy. It was the right payasam for that day as we have many other dishes on the menu that will leave you feeling full forever.

My husband reached home ravaneously hungry having skipped breakfast and eaten a meagre lunch. He felt it was such a welcoming bowl of pradhaman.

VERDICT: LIPSMACKING :) I shall pass the compliment on to Aparna.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pagarkkai kuzhambu - Mala's recipe

If you are a bittergourd liking person, this recipe will interest you. I 'more than like'...can not tip the balance totally to 'love' yet, bittergourds. Sadly, I will be the only one eating them in my household.
Every visit to the greens market, I would pick them and put back. I was tired of this game and started cooking different dishes from blogs I visit even though it was for me and only me.
Then I was reminded that my sister Mala has this recipe which I liked very much. Mail after mail to her went in vain and whenever I visit her in India she would tell me and I would not note on.
Once, when my nephew was home for a break, I sent him a message on Facebook asking him to mail me. He got on it instantly and typed out as his mother dictated the same.

The very day, I had read Usha's Pagakkai Pithla kuzhambu and cooked at my home. Few days on, it was time to try Mala's recipe and today I found time to write a post too.

The recipe calls for a bit of extra coconut, which I reduced while making for myself as I had recovered from jaundice around that period and was on a strict diet. I still follow the diet and cook this with lesser coconut. I relish that low coconut version too. But if you have no issues using coconut and love them, feel free with the generous use in this recipe.

Ingredients: (serves two)
Bittergourd cut and deseeded 1/3rd of a cup
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida powder 1/4 teaspoon
Tamarind one small lime size ball
Sambhar powder 1 tablespoon (Use any brand or home made)
Jaggery (powdered) 1 tablespoon
Gingelly oil/ sesame seeds oil 2 table spoons

To be roasted dry or in very little oil and ground to a coarse paste:
Channa dhal 1&1/2 teaspoons
Corriander seeds 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillis 3 - 4 numbers (adjust as required)
Scraped fresh coconut 1/4 of a whole, medium coconut ( about 1/5ths of a cup)
( I increase the channa dhal and reduce the coconut. It is adjustable either way)

Mustard seeds 2 teaspoons
Dry red chillis 2
Cooking oil 1 teaspoon

Few sprigs curry leaves
Chopped corriander leaves

Always wash the vegetable prior to cutting.
Take the cut bittergourd in a flat plate. Sprinkle some salt and mix the turmeric powder. Squeeze hard on the vegetable so the liquid oozes. Place this plate in a gradient and cover the pieces with another plate so that it is pressing on them.
In a few minutes, the water will drain to the lower part of the gradient. You may choose to discard this water, I cook this along. It makes the dish somewhat bitter.
Soak tamarind in water and extract the pulp. Roast and grind the ingredients listed.
Heat oil in a pan and drop the drained bittergourd slices. Toss in the oil for a few minutes.
Add some water, asafoetida powder and salt. Cook until they are tender.
Add the tamarind pulp and sambhar powder. Cook long enough for the raw taste of tamarind to reduce while simmering.
Put in the powdered jaggery and once it dissolves and blends well add the ground paste and bring to a boil.
As the masala has already been roasted, you may take the kuzhambu off the heat few minutes after it comes to a boil.
Heat cooking oil and add the mustard seeds. Allow to crackle and add the dry red chilli to fry a little in the oil.
Add the tempering to the kuzhambu.
Garnish with the curry leaves and chopped corriander.
Serve with steamed rice. This can be mixed with rice and eaten or had as a side dish too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Goa to Ghana - my experiments in Aparna's wonder kitchen

There is one bottle that I have been cleaning, refilling and storing in the refrigerator ever since Srivalli decided to host this edition of Lakshmi's Tried and Tasted, a brainchild of Zlamushka. In fact, there are two spiced jams that I tried.

The first time I cooked them following Aparna's recipes to the letter. Lately I started putting them inside the microwave and go about other chores, giving a peak once or twice into the bowl for a stir.

The spicy tomato jam can never cease to charm my husband. He opens the fridge looking for the bottle. It is that excellent. Somewhat sweet yet warm with the flavour of the cloves, ginger and paprika.

While he loves the tomato jam, I keep licking fingers with the onion flavoured pear and raisins chutney. I love the overpowering taste of onions and the fat cooked raisins that are sweet.

We are so hooked to these that I am not trying anything for a while, pears being in season here and tomatoes selling quite cheap. With the Hindus celebrating one festival after another, the fruits bowl is overflowing, giving me a chance to cook the jams.
The good part is that you can tweak the recipe here and there to suit your tastes.

Look out for the two jams in her Diverse Kitchen while you enjoy the visual treat here.
They are very easy to make and delicious to serve. Go ahead and try them, be warned, you might never want to stop cooking.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I had wanted to learn making khandvis for a long time. Though I have recipe in cookbooks and have known how they look from a favourite eatery's menu, I was apprehensive trying them on my own. I discussed this with a friend here. She has lived in Mumbai a long time and has friends from various states of India, having worked in a bank until few years ago. She suggested we meet for lunch one day and she will demonstrate the making of Khandvi. So last Thursday was convenient for both of us and we fixed a day out for ourselves.
I was amazed at the ease with which she cooked it, giving me tips along side. The best part of it was we did not have many dishes to clean up after the cooking. A bowl in which she mixed the batter, the pan in which she cooked and two plates on which she spread the cooked batter and a ladle!!! That was interesting for me.
She told me that she had learnt it from a friend, whose mother would make paper-thin layers. The lady would add lot of water and cook for long stirring constantly. The end result will be very desirable. However, her friend had told her that even with lesser water added to the batter and cooking on a low flame is good enough; not to waste time and fuel, a small compromise wouldn't matter. Yet I did not find the sheets thick, rolled well and looked appealing as delicious as they tasted.
Here is the recipe she used to make about 18 pieces. Her tips, I have added as while preparing.
1/3 cup (heaped) gram flour
1/3 cup slightly sour curd (some recipes suggest more, but my friend used only equal quantity to the gram flour) (beaten)
1 cup water
Salt as per taste
1teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons ginger - green chilli paste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
3 tablespoons cooking oil

For tempering and garnishing:
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons grated coconut
2 tablespoons chopped fresh corriander leaves

Mix the gramflour, salt, ginger-chilli paste, beaten curds and water. Obtain a smooth thin batter which is free of lumps. Add the sugar, asafoetida and turmeric powders also.
Heat oil in the pan and add the prepared batter.
Stirring continuosly, cook the batter until well cooked. The indication is that the batter will obtain a light brown tinge, glaze from the oil and will not stick to the walls of the pan.
The batter should still be in a semi liquid state, tipping more towards solid state. Over cooking it will result in a mass that will not spread.
Keep a big flat dish over-turned ready, having generously greased the surface.
Transfer the cooked batter quickly on this surface and with the ladle spread it in a thin sheet over the surface. This has to be done very fast as the batter will thicken as it cools and become difficult to spread. also you will find that it coagulates in tiny masses.
Allow this to cool just about manageably warm. Too much cooling will thicken the mass and render it become unable to roll.
Using a knife make strips of this sheet. Roll each strip into spirals. Place them in a separate dish.
If the batter has been cooked evenly and correctly, the strips will easily roll and not crack in the middle.
Put the pan on the stove and heat the oil for tempering. Add the mustard and sesame seeds. When they crackle spread them over the rolled khandvis. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of fresh, grated coconut and chopped corriander leaves.

Serve them as starters or snacks. Avoid handling them too much prior to serving. They have to be handled delicately while serving, but devouring on them is altogether a different issue!
I would love to try on my own soon. She has warned me that it is not easy tp perfect this dish within one or two trials. There is also a recipe making it in the microwave in one cookbook I have.
I shall update my trial experiment at some future date, hopefully. I am determined to try because both my husband and I liked them very much.