Friday, April 24, 2015

Mango Ice Cream

It is summer, so the time to look forward to mangoes. There seem to be no particular season for the fruits in where I live, but the mangoes that are available during the season have richer taste in them. Most varieties I get here have a thin, and long stone, more flesh and some varieties are a bit fibrous. They are all quite sweet once you remove the skin. Unlike those which I relish in India eating whole with the skin on, these have a tart skin that have to be sliced off. The tree at home gave us about three or four large fruits at one go and I was tired making milkshakes and lassi every other day. I had already done the amrakhand that was inside the refrigerator and the mango sorbet just got over three days ago. So it was time to think of anything other than these. It had to be ice cream then, don't you agree?

I have a small booklet of recipes from Milkmaid, Nestle India. Among others there was a recipe for mango ice cream which I looked up. The ingredients listed gelatine which I found unsuitable for us. Still, I decided to use the recipe and try my luck with some custard powder for substitution. then I chanced upon many recipes that did not use any stabilizer. The ice cream looked very nice too. Thus from various recipes I had read, I adapted partially Tarla Dalal's Mango ice cream recipe and the one from the booklet I had.
The ice cream did not last even a few days, needless to mention. This was an every afternoon dessert that my husband tried hard to keep to a scoop, looking forlornly at the reducing quantity with each scoop.

Mango Ice Cream

Makes 1 litre
2 -3 large mangoes that have less fibre/ peeled and chopped to achieve 2 cups mangoes
384 grams/ 1 tin of condensed milk
1/2 litre milk
2 teaspoons custard powder
1/8 cup sugar ( adjust according to how sweet the mangoes are)
1 teaspoon juice of lime

Peel mangoes, cut them in small cubes.
Add the sugar to the mangoes and puree them together in a blender.
Keep 1/4 cup of milk aside and put the rest to boil.
Stir in the custard powder into the 1/4 cup milk to a lump free mixture.
Add this to the warm milk and soon as it thickens a bit, remove from the fire.
Allow this milk to cool.
Whisk the condensed milk and blend the milk and juice of limes. Using a wire whisk, whisk the mixture. This way it gets well aerated.
Gently add in the mango puree. Mix them well and transfer to a freezer container. Cover with a tight lid and place it in the freezer for four hours.

Take the ice cream from the freezer and whisk again. Repeat this thrice at two hour intervals. This makes smoother ice cream. Return the container to the freezer.
Scoop out the ice cream on to serving bowls and enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Porikullu - Protein Packed Healthy Snack

I was home, in India, for a short vacation during March. I happened to be around to attend a family celebration. Meanwhile, it was a good opportunity to catch up with cousins and needless to mention it was a great vacation. The family celebrated the occasion of a child to be born later this May. In India special celebrations are observed during pregnancy. We hold the 'valaikaappu' and 'seemantham' for the mother-to-be around her last trimester, the South Indian custom like Baby shower. This means lot of good food and snacks. Each of us who attend such festivities get to carry back sweets and savoury snacks too.
One of the dishes made is the Porikullu or the varuththa payaru which is soaked, drained and dry roasted legumes and few additional nuts. This is a power packed snack that the mother can consume to combat her cravings. It is rich in fibre, vitamins and protein which is good for the mother and child. Because making it is a long drawn process, we do not make it like an everyday snack. Getting to make and eat them occasionally has its own thrill, isn't it?
Each household has a unique combination and some dry roast, some of us sun dry for days and some people fry in some oil. There is no measures nor ingredients to adhere to. We just add few legumes, nuts and spice and salt. While I make it with legumes, you may find recipes that sprout the legumes and do the porikollu. Adding puffed beaten rice and bits of dry coconuts will tone the heat down.


1 cup green gram whole
1 -2 cups black chickpeas
1 cup red chori beans
1/2 cup peanuts peeled
1/4 cup roasted gram
1/2 cup dry coconut slices
1/2 cup  beaten rice
2 tablespoons red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Wash each of the beans separately and soak them in water overnight. Next day, drain the water and in a change of water soak again for another six hours.
Drain the water and spread them on a cloth and allow them to dry in the sun. Keep it in the sun for two days bringing them in by night, still on the cloth and kept separately.
Wash the curry leaves, spread them on a cloth, cover with another light cloth and leave it in the sun. they will dry to a shrivel during the time the legumes are drying in the sun.
Heat a heavy rounded bottom pan, an iron wok will be ideal. Once the pan is rally hot, reduce the heat to medium.
Dry roast, in small quantities, a few fistfuls at a time, each of the dry legumes. Repeat with all of them.
Transfer to a flat and large dish.
Moisten the powders and salt with few teaspoons of water.
Gently turn the roasted legumes in the mixture so as to coat them with the mixed spices.
Spread them back on the dish and place this in the sun for a day from morning to evening.
Bring the dish in and keep it spread overnight.
Next morning if there is moisture in the mixture, take it back to the sun and dry them until they are dry.
Roast the peanuts as you may find in this post. Add them to the above porikullu.
Slightly toss the roasted gram in the heat of the pan. Transfer them to the dish.
In the same heavy pan, roast the beaten rice until it puffs (you may use store bought puffed beaten rice, aval pori). Do this in small quantities at a time and do not allow the rice to brown. Transfer these to the porikullu.
Add the sliced, dry coconuts to the mix.

Porikullu is ready to store and snack on. Store in an airtight container and it keeps well for even three months as there is no oil.
The legumes will be crunchy to munch and feel hollow unlike their hard texture that is characteristic of legumes.
The guilt factor is the salt and spice alone, otherwise it is one of the best snacks to consume in small handfuls.

Susan, The Well seasoned Cook 's ever popular My Legume Love Affair is now managed by Lisa since February 2013. This current edition MLLA #82 is being hosted by Briciole. The above tasty nutty snack is being sent there.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Call it what you may' - Coondapur Spice Powder and the Thengaipaal Masala Kuzhambu

As a newly wed, I pictured myself  learning all dishes that my mother-in-law might cook and pick up skills. Such plans flopped as there was always a routine kind of cooking in the household and even on special days most things remained standard. This was because my mother-in-law had taken ill at a young age, the family took to eating simple meals that was easy on her - to cook and to digest. However, there is one 'special' kuzhambu that will be cooked when guests were around or on days neer dosa or shavige were the meal option.
It was an exercise that both my parents-in-law will take on and kind of make it an elaborate affair that I was in awe. My part was just to slice several onions that will go into the kuzhambu. It was a simple dish wherein she would toss the onions in oil and add a special spice powder and cook in thick coconut milk. I have tried checking if she made the powder herself, for I did not think that they ever bought it. She used to get in bulk from her sister and family and store very carefully and use frugally. I did not ever get to pick it up, thus. By way of conversation, she mentioned that one of her sisters had a recipe that she was making the powder in bulk. Now, I grabbed the chance to request her to get the recipe for me which she obliged. I scribbled it down while she dictated over the phone. The irony is that I  had the recipe listed as "Coondapur Powder" in the instruction manual cum cookbook of my old Sumeet mixer grinder. I just did not relate the recipe to my mother-in-law's birth town :) . I still call it Sumathi chikkamma powder after the aunt who shared the recipe. Call it what one may, this is a flavour packed spice powder that enhances the coconut milk's taste. For records, I shall keep it Coondapur Powder and the thengaipaal kuzhambu with the spice mix.
I usually do not add garlic to the powder as I can add or omit when I make the kuzhambu. The original recipes add the garlic while the spice mix is made and stored. I have added the garlic in this write up as an option.

Coondapur Powder
(Recipe as given by my mother-in-law's sister)
Makes  approximately160 grams powder without addition of garlic and 200grams if garlic is added.
(I have given in weights and in volume)

50 grams/500 millilitres Byadagi variety dry red chillis (for deep red colour and moderate heat level)
40 grams/ 125 millilitres coriander seeds
40 grams/ 60 millilitres (heaped to make approximately 62&1/2 millilitres) black pepper corns
20 grams/  1/8 cup +1 &1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
10 grams/ 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
4 grams/ 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
40 grams. 2  numbers large size whole garlic pods (optional)

Add few drops of castor oil or any cooking oil to the byadagi red chillis and roast them until brittle. Transfer to a flat dish and spread.
Dry roast, on medium to low flame, separately, the coriander seeds, black pepper corns, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds until they waft aroma.
Transfer to the same dish and allow to cool.
Add the turmeric powder.
If you are using garlic in the powder, peel the garlic and ever so slightly toss it in the heated pan for a few minutes. The original recipe grinds the garlic raw with other ingredients.
Allow to cool a bit and blend the roasted ingredients to as fine a powder as possible.
Do not over grind if you are adding the garlic as the powder may become sticky lumps.
Use this powder in any masala gravies just as you may add garam masala.

Thengai paal Kuzhambu with Coondapur Powder
Serves 4

4 large red onions sliced very fine and/or any vegetable of your choice
(I have used potatoes, turnips, carrots and tomatoes one or combined)
2-3 green chillis chopped
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup thick coconut milk
1/2 cup second extract of coconut milk
1 and1/2 tablespoon Coodapur powder
5 cloves of garlic
( Additionally you may use whole spices like cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon for extra flavour)
Salt to taste

2 teaspoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
5 shallots peeled and sliced fine

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Add the sliced onions, garlic (other spices, if using) and chopped green chillis. Saute' until the onions are very pink and shiny.If you are using other vegetables, cook them first and then add them to the above.
Drop in the spice powder and toss then add the second extract of coconut milk. add the salt and cook for a while.
Pour in the thick extract and cook on a low flame until the raw taste subsides and the coconut milk thicken in a gravy.Take care not to curdle the coconut milk by over cooking.
Remove from the fire and transfer  to a serving dish.
Heat the oil for tempering in a pan, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle add the sliced shallots and toss until they are crisp. Drop the curry leaves and toss few more seconds. Add this to the kuzhambu.

This kuzhambu ideally pairs as a side for neer dosa, shavige and ghee rice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kambu Porimaavu - Light snack with Pearl Millet

Kambu, the pearl millet is another widely cultivated around my hometown. It has many nutritional properties and is known to be a body coolant. Thus, just before the annual exams, with the advent of summer in March and April, many of my classmates in school would pack their tiffin with 'Kambanchoru' / cooked pearl millet with curd and raw shallots. They sometimes brought an extra serving of a thinner sambhar like gravy to have. As the millet by itself is rich in protein, the sambhar would be very light and not with usual quantity of dhal.
Any millet was welcome at home and the solam and kambu were very often used. This porimaavu is what my mother made very often for the evening snack when we get back from school. the protein rich millet and the iron rich unrefined sugar were recommended to her by my grandmother and Velamma Aaya, her maid. Velamma would pick and clean the millet and even grind it in the traditional mortor.Those were days when my mother saved her 'mixie' for more important tasks, these did not warrant use of an electric device while willingly someone could do with the traditional one.

This recipe is as such very simple and with just three ingredients. The taste is really good and makes a very healthy snack for all ages. There was a time that we used to reluctantly consume as this was frequently made; now i go looking for the millet and make this just for a kick of nostalgia. I also make the kambanchoru and kammankoozh that are popular in Tamil Nadu; they are refreshing coolants when the mercury soars to new highs.

Kambu Porimaavu

Makes about 10 medium size fist held balls, depending on the size you hold.

2 cups Kambu/ Bajra/ Pearl Millet
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered jaggery or unrefined sugar
1/3 cup melted ghee

Pick the millet clean. Sprinkle little water and rub with the hands to remove the impurities and husk. Spread on a sheet and dry it in the sun for a few hours.
Heat a heavy pan and drop the dried millet. Toss in the pan over medium-high heat until the millet crackles. Do not over roast the millet.
Allow this to cool a bit and pulse it in a mixer grinder or a traditional mortor until you have a coarse powder.
Transfer the powder to a flat largish plate. Add the jaggery powder and mix them thoroughly.
Add ghee in small increments and mix well. Stop adding ghee further when the mixture comes together and you are able to hold them in your fist to roll in a rugby like shape.
Make small such balls and serve.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

(Almost) Instant Puliogere - Ready to Mix Puliogere Spice Powder

I started writing this blog to help my daughter ad her housemates cook for themselves between their hectic time table. If that helped them or not, this activity, has given me much to learn from and experiment and venture further into food. I used to part cook and freeze dishes for my husband when ever I travelled. It helped that he only had to thaw defrost and cook until done. Over the years now, he has picked up cooking for himself a basic meal, and, a little more too.
My nephew found three other guys who would share chores, cooking and washing dishes. He packed a few utensils and basic stuff like home made powders with him. We also purchased ready to mix and cook instant mixes for him. that gave us an idea to try making ready mixes at home. I made adai mix, rawa dosai mix and such last time for my husband which he found useful.
This time on, my younger nephew is off abroad for twelve weeks. He has not been trained to even making his own tea. To manage in a foreign land, between his busy schedule, working on and presenting thesis would be tough. My sister tried finding friends and family closer to his University without much help. Then between my mother and the three of us, we came up with making at home ready mixes that will aid him and the other boy who will be at the same university.. We suggested boil in bag rice to go with whatever we pack. thus we have made rasam, sambhar and this puliogere ready mix. It is not instant, but can be made in under 10 minutes.
The list of ingredients can be intimidatingly long, but the end product is worth the effort.

Ready to Mix Puliogere Spice Powder

Yield 300 grams of powder (not taking into account the garnish of peanuts, cashews and curry leaves)
(Put together they fill a 800 gram capacity jar)

1 cup (Heaped and tightly packed)/ 250 millilitres/ 140 grams torn bits of tamarind
1/2 cup/ 125 millilitres broken dry red chillis
3 tablespoons sea salt (adjust salt level according to individual taste)
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/8 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 tablespoon balck pepper corns
2 tablespoons channa dhal
2 teaspoons urad dhal

For garnish* (See Notes)
1/2 cup/125 millilitres roasted peanuts
25 numbers cashew nuts roasted
10-15 dry red chillis dry roasted and broken in medium size bits
10 sprigs curry leaves, washed and sun dried or roasted dry

These can either be mixed in the powder or can be added in required quantities when the tamarind rice is being mixed.

Tear the tamarind in small bits removing the membrane and tiny bits of shell that might be present.
Spread it on a plate and dry it in a pre-heated 200 degrees C oven for 8-10 minutes. The tamarind would have become dry and brittle when cooled to room temperature. You may choose to sun dry them for a few days until the texture is achieved.
Keeping the heat low to medium, dry roast each of the listed ingredients separately until crisp. The turmeric powder and asafoetida powder can be dropped in the warm pan after switching the heat off.
Allow to cool and grind to an almost fine powder in a mixer/ spice grinder.
To the mixed powder, add the ingredients for garnish.
Store in an airtight container.
The powder alone comes to 300 grams/ 550 ml. Adding the ingredients listed under 'for garnish' it fills a 800 ml glass jar approximately 420 grams.
This can be stored for six months.

To make the puliogere (puliodharai/ puliamsadham):
Cook a cup of rice, allow to cool and fluff with a fork.
Add two tablespoons of gingelly oil to the rice and mix it in.
To the above add required amount of the powdered ready mix.(If salt is less in the mix, you can always add salt at this stage to the rice also) Mix well with the rice.
Heat some oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, allow them to crackle. Temper the mixed rice.

Serve as part of meal with fried crisps (vadam/ appalam) and/or potato/ banana chips. We enjoyed it with urulai roast.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sumptuous In-Between-Meals Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

My sister and I were discussing the pattern of  blood sugar levels and how to maintain them through the day. She suggested that we have small portions of food spread over five or six meals a day, balancing the carbs, proteins and fibre ratio well. She told me about someone who would count and eat 12 boiled chickpeas and after another two hours something light and similar. That intrigued me and inspired to follow the small portions per meal and a mid morning snack.
The pattern works fine, but I am lazy to soak and boil or sprout legumes everyday. So I had to look for alternatives with vegetables. The idea of a colourful salad could be interesting and I read up a few that I may want to try.
I have in my stock lot of different toasted nuts that I add to the salads for the extra crunch. I read up something with sautéed pears and plums with nuts and rocket leaves with a very simple vinaigrette. That was in my mind to try and when I bought some pears that were crunchy, I wanted to try it. I did not saute' the pears, used them as they were. I had some green grapes and sour apples to go into the salad with cherry tomatoes and nuts. The dressing and a hint of sweetness with some sugar candy made a perfect mid morning snack.

Sumptuous In-Between-Meals Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Serves two people
All measures are variable as per individual taste

1 Crunchy pear
2 small green apples (partly sweet and sour)
10 -12 cherry tomatoes cut in halves
15 numbers green grapes halved
a fistful of mixed toasted nuts
1 teaspoon sugar candy(optional)

Vinaigrette Dressing:
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
3 pods of garlic minced and crushed to infuse

Make the dressing by mixing the oil and vinegar. Chop the garlic to a mince and drop it into the liquid. Crush with a spoon to infuse the garlic in the vinaigrette.
Cut the pears and apple in thin slices. I retained the peel as they held the crunch in the salad.
Place them in a salad serving bowl/ dish.
Add the tomatoes and grapes.
Toss the nuts in and the sugar candy.
Pour the vinaigrette and give a toss.
The salad is ready to serve/ eat.

The sweet, sour and pungency from the vinaigrette make this one a very welcome  and colourful mid morning snack.
The No Croutons Required event is jointly hosted by Lisa and Jacqueline. This April 2015 edition is hosted by Jacqueline. I am sending my salad to the event.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chettinad Style Urulai Vadhakkal

 It is not as often as my husband would like it, that I cook potatoes. On most of my visits to the market, I find only a whole bag of wilting potatoes and the vendors are not willing to break the bag. I try not to buy them. They have to be consumed early to avoid rotting. And a big bag of potatoes are way too much for just the two of us.
Lately this has changed, there is improvement, in quality. The other day, a particular lady who sells me fruits had a crate of small size, clean looking, potatoes. Soon as we spotted it, my husband instructed the driver to buy from her a kilo and she dropped into my shopping bag just a little more. These were good size for the dum aloo recipe and I had a lot more. Some of those potatoes were a wee bit larger than the baby potatoes, which I used in this curry. I halved them and used in this recipe.
I am not sure if it is truly Chettinad style. I found the recipe in a cookbook which has titled the recipe thus. I have not adhered to the recipe from the book totally; lot of tweaks and shortcuts were done and added a few for my touch too. Nonetheless,  this is a spicy stir fried version of the potatoes that use a lot of aromatic spices that render a hint of extra heat to the potatoes. I kept making changes, as I was cooking and this recipe in the post is the result of all my whim and fancy.

Chettinad Style Urulai Vadhakkal - Stir Fried Potatoes in a Spicy Mix

Serves 4 people
About 20 baby potatoes (or you may use small size potatoes cut in two, which is what I did)
2 large red onions sliced fine
1 or 2 tomatoes (depending on their size)
1 tablespoon oil for brushing on potatoes
1 tablespoon gingelly oil for cooking
3 pods of garlic minced(optional)
11/2” piece ginger minced
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
10 black peppercorns crushed coarsely
Salt to taste

Spices (to be dry roasted and crushed in a mortor coarsely)
1” piece cinnamon
2 cardamoms
4 -5 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 red chilli
1 small piece of bay leaf
Some kalpasi (edible stone fungus)(Optional)

1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 dry red chillis
2 sprigs of curry leaves
A little of the sliced onions (from the above sliced lot) can be reserved

If you have baby potatoes use them as whole. Otherwise, cut medium size potatoes  in big chunks.
Pressure cook/ boil just until you will be able to remove the peel.
Sprinkle some of the salt, turmeric powder and the red chilli powder on them and toss them in the one tablespoon cooking oil.
Spread them on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil and bake at 200 degrees C for 40 minutes.
While the potatoes are baking, dry roast the spices and make a coarse spice mix.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and keep them ready until the curry mix is cooked.
Heat the gingelly oil in a heavy bottomed pan. 
Saute’ the onion slices kept aside for tempering until they are crisp. Drain and remove from pan and keep aside.
In the same hot oil, saute the rest of the onion slices, ginger and garlic until the onions are transparent. Add the spice mix and toss to remove any lingering raw taste.
Chop the tomatoes and add to the above with required salt.
Cook until the tomatoes are pulped and the whole mix has thickened.
Add the potatoes, adjust the salt, if required and toss them in the pan until the spicy tomato onion mix coats the potatoes well.
Add the pepper corns powder and toss. Remove from heat.
Transfer to a serving dish.

Heat the oil for tempering in a pan, add the mustard seeds, broken red chillis and curry leaves. Allow the mustard seeds to crackle and the chillis and curry leaves are crisp.
Temper the cooked potato curry with this and add the crisp onion slices to garnish.
Serve with a meal as side dish.