Archive for October, 2006

Deepavali Delights: Better late than never!

I have been wanting to blog my maiden attempt in making Diwali sweets and savouries for the past week but unfortunately it had been just the sort of week where all the best laid plans go awry!!. First our DSL wouldn’t work because we changed phone numbers last week and this flummoxed our account and then when it started working I got busy at work!!. Anyway to cut a long story short, I finally resolved to do it now!!

ok, I first made Saffron Hut’s Almond/Badam Halwa ,especially because she mentions that, it is a fail-proof recipe :-)) and sure enough it turned out to be so. It was a little dry at first but like mentioned by Saffron, I added a little milk and lo and behold I was able to make lustrous, bite-size balls. I added a pinch of colour and so I got nice orange color almond balls!!

Thanks Saffron hut for the great recipe!

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Encouraged by the success I decided to venture into the world of Burfis. I tried Coconut Burfi but it was a flop since the sugar-coconut mixture sort of dried out and fell apart. Though the pieces tasted good I couldn’t get them to stick together like a cake and so we ate them as Coconut-sugar powder!!:-(((. I did click a picture of the ruins but unfortunately it didn’t come out properly.I still need to practice taking good photos!!

Dismayed but not disheartened, I moved on to preparing the savouries. First I made mullu murukku or munupu as we call it .It is similar to the delicious thenkuzhal,blogged by Krithika of Manpasand except that one has to use the murukku plates with the star engraved in them to give them the rough edges. I got this recipe from my sister .

Ingredients for about 8 small mullu murukkus

Murukku/thenkuzhal press with the star engraved munupu plates

1 cup rice flour sieved fine
2-3 tbspoon urad(black gram) flour sieved fine

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp sesame seeds

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

a pinch asafoetida dissolved in water

1/4 cup butter or ghee

salt to taste

Method

Mix all the ingredients with very little water. The final dough should be soft but firm(Sort of like chapatti flour but softer and more pliable). Roll out a portion of the dough and stuff it in to the mould of the murukku press. squeeze the press in a circular motion in the oil and fry in a medium flame,till the bubbles subside. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the oil using a paper towel. After it cools down store in a container.

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Here are the other festival specials I made for lunch on Diwali. One of our neighbours and her friend were our guests for lunch.I’m feeling really tired so I will blog the recipes in the near future. Couldn’t resist showing off though!!:-))

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Urad dhal vadai(Black gram dal fritters),Gulab Jamoon from MTR mix and Badam/Almond- carrot payasam

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Scrumptious Strawberry Cheese Cake ( Guest Post by Gayathri!)

When I started this blog after much procrastination, I emailed all my friends and invited them to post recipes in the website so that all of us could have a sneak preview of all the dishes cooked in everyone’s kitchen :-)).My only condition was that each recipe should be accompanied by a great photograph. Today I received my first response, from our friends Shankar and Gayathri. Shankar is one of the rare breed of Indian men who actually likes cooking and spends time in the kitchen concocting new recipes. When I was a novice to cooking and needed help with a recipe or wanted a handy, simple recipe, I used to call him and he would alway rise up to the occasion and dredge up a dish from his inexhausitible supply. Of course the end result was always wonderful for me!. Last year he got married and his better half is also as innovative and interested in cooking as him. In other words two die hard foodies came together!:-))…It was a match made in heaven!! She even shares his dream of opening a restaurant some time in the future. Good luck to both of them on that. I am sure whenever it happens it is going to be a roaring success.

Anyway the advantage for my blog was that not only is Gayathri a great cook but she also clicks great photographs. So yesterday she sent me this fantastic recipe for the Strawberry cheese cake with this fabulous photograph. she had made it for their house warming party last week. Thanks Gayathri for sharing this yummy recipe!

Here goes the recipe.

This recipe is for 10-12 persons.

Ingredients:

– 40 lady fingers, crumbled in the food processor

– 1/4cup butter, melted + 1tsp to grease the pan

– 8oz Philadelphia softened cheese cream

– 8oz Sour Cream

– 1/4cup whipping cream (liquid)

– 3 eggs

– 3/4cup + 2 1/2 Tbs sugar

– 2 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour

– 1 lemon zest

– frozen strawberries (let them sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving)

1. Mix the butter and the crumbled lady fingers together. Grease an 8 inch spring pan with the remaining tsp of butter and cover the base with the crumbled biscuits+butter. Tap it with a flat surface to make it level. Keep it in the fridge.

2. Separate the white from the yolk. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Keep aside.

3. Beat the egg yolks and the sugar together. Beat the cheese cream in the food processor till you have a very smooth consistency. Add it to the yolks+sugar. Pour in the sour cream,the whipping cream and mix well with a hand mixer. Now add the flour and the lemon zest, stir well. Add gently the stiff peaks to the mixture.

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4. Preheat your oven at 335 F. Fill the spring pan with the preparation. Lift the pan and drop it on the table a couple of time to release any trapped air. Put it in the oven and bake for 1h15mn.

5. When done, switch off your oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake and leave it inside the oven for another 30min (door open). This will prevent the cheesecake from forming a dimple in the middle. Now let it cool down to room temperature and refrigerate for 4hrs minimum!

6. Serve the cheesecake topped with strawberries. Enjoy!

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A Couscous Plate in Haste!

Most weekends I plan our dinners for the week so that I could cut the necessary veggies ahead of time. Sometimes I have leftover cut or forzen veggies after making pulav or vegetable rice. On such days one of the foods that I love to cook and combine the veggies with is couscous. This saves me a lot of time in the evenings ,when I am almost always in a hurry!!. Ever since we found out that broccoli helps to lower bad cholesterol, I usually have lots of carrot and broccoli and invariably end up making carrot broccoli-couscous uppumma or tomato couscous baath. Recently I tasted another simple yet flavourful couscous recipe from my friend Pinal, which I will post later.

So scroll down for twin recipes using couscous.

1. Carrot-broccoli Couscous uppumma

Ingredients for two

1 cup couscous

1 carrot-cut into thin round or from the frozen pack

2-3 florettes broccolli

1 onion—chopped fine

1/2 tsp mustard

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp broken black gram dal (lentils)

1/2 tsp bengal gram dal (lentils)
1 red chilli pinched

1 green chilli chopped fine

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp red chilli powder

salt to taste

a pinch of asafoetida

roughly chopped cilanthro

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Method

First cook the couscous according to the instructions on the pack. I bought it from whole foods and so it needed about 1 and1/2 cups of boiling water . fluff it with a fork to separate the grains.

Season mustard in one tsp of oil in a wok and once it splits fry the dals until they are golden brown. fry the chillies and the asafoetida. Then sautee the carrot and broccoli until cooked. Add salt,turmeric,red chilli powder, cooked couscous and mix well. garnish with coriander leaves.

2. Tomato couscous baath

Ingredients

1 cup couscous

3 juicy tomatoes chopped into small pieces

1 big onion chopped

1/2 tsp mustard

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp broken black gram dal (lentils)

1/2 tsp bengal gram dal (lentils)
1 red chilli pinched

1 green chilli chopped fine

a pinch of asafoetida

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp red chilli powder

salt to taste
1 tsp of amma’s dhania-redchilli-bengal gram dal powder or 1/2 tsp garam masala

roughly chopped cilanthro

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Method

First cook the couscous and fluff it as before

Just as in the carrot-broccoli uppumma in a wok season the oil with mustard, then add the dals , after they turn golden brown fry the chillies ,asafoetida and the onions. Once the onions are cooked, add the chopped tomatoes,tuemeric and the red chilli powder. Cook till the tomatoes become soft and pliable. At this stage I usually add my amma’s powder but garam masala powder could also be added. Turn off the stove and to this tomato-onion curry add the couscous and mix thoroughly. Serve with a side of pickle.

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A couscous plate with pickles

Tips:

1. Any veggie easy to sautee could be used
2. some curry leaves could also be fried in the oil

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Aviyal: A vegetable medley in a coconut-chilli-yogurt sauce

Last week when I was chatting with my sister, she mentioned that she was making aviyal for a potluck party with her friends. Aviyal as every South Indian knows contains yogurt and I immediately remembered a time when I would absolutely refuse to touch any dish that had yogurt in it! No amount of begging, beseeching or bullying by my amma would ever work!! In fact I used to make such a huge fuss about the ‘smell’ of yogurt that my amma was forced to reserve some aviyal for me before adding it. Yogurt to a Tamilian family is like bread to an American or dal to a North Indian!! ‘Yogurt rice’ or ‘thayir sadam’ is vital for the existence of any Tamilian. Imagine being a misfit in such an atmosphere!!! Everytime friends or relatives heard about this ‘failing’ in me, I used to receive every kind of look ranging from pity, wonder and censure!!!When I was a kid I used to enjoy all this attention and even went so far as to refuse to sit next to anyone eating yogurt but later in my adoloscent years,when I didn’t want my foibles to be exposed in public, this tactic sort of backfired. Then I would cringe the moment someone mentioned yogurt and try to summarily change the subject. Fortunately at least two of my uncles and cousins from my Dad’s family also have this aversion . It is like some genetic trait in the family:-))) So during weddings we used to cluster together during lunch and warn each other about the arrival of the server with aviyal, mor kuzhambu, morkootu etc(yogurt based dishes), in order to avoid its sudden descent on our plantain leaves.Strangely enough I love paneer, cheese and milk sweets(???).

Seriously guys,despite all the fuss I have a genuine aversion to the smell of yogurt:-(( My husband on the contrary is a staunch Tamilian (translates as loyal yogurt lover) he religiously ends every dinner with a little of ‘thayir sadam’. When we were newly married, I used to try and have minimal contact with yogurt(store bought or the home made ) and heartily ignore any dish that calls for this milk product. The past year I realized that my husband was missing out on all the yummy(atleast to him) dishes with yogurt.Finally I took pity on his enforced yogurt-less state and started incorporating yogurt in my cooking, but still in a ‘odourless’ form, starting with rava idly, bhindi do pyaza etc.!!! Anyways to cut my ramblings short, when my sister mentioned aviyal I had this craving to eat it and so asked her for the recipe. She made the recipe sound so simple that I was raring to go by the time she finished with it. So folks, I made aviyal and yes with yogurt. It came out so good that even I licked my plate clean to the last drop. ok, here goes the recipe:

Ingredients

one carrot, one potato, 5-10 beans, 5-10broad beans(avarakkai)——cut Length-wise
1/2 a packet of frozen drumsticks

1/2 a packet of frozen yam

1/4 cup of frozen broken beans (mochai kottai in tamil,avarakalu in Kannada)

1/2 cup of frozen or freshly grated coconut

1 tbspoon cumin seeds

2-3 green chillies

1/2 cup yogurt

mustard

salt to taste

Aviyal
Cut the carrot,potato,beans and the yam length-wise. Cook all the vegetables (xcept the yam) in a heavy bottomed vessel with a little salt and one cup of water. Boil the yam separately in some water and salt. Grind the coconut,cumin and the green chillies in the blender/mixer. Beat the yogurt and mix the ground coconut mixture to it.Once the veggies are cooked add the yam,some salt and the yogurt-coconut concoction to it. stir and turn down the heat to medium-low. Wait till the mixture starts boiling,turn off the stove. Season mustard in one tsp of oil in another kadai and add it to the aviyal.

Tips:

veggies like raw plantain, taro roots, cluster beans could also be added

Over-boiling the yogurt-coconut-veggie mixture should be avoided since the yogurt sort of breaks with too much heat.

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Amma’s Pesarattu

The first time I tried to swirl dosa batter in concentric circles on the tava(skillet)was a disaster!! The batter stuck to the skillet and wouldn’t come off. Finally I had to abandon the whole operation and make idlis with the batter. That the idlies turned out to as hard as rocks is another story:-))…Anyway I immediately called my amma for help!..She suggested that I try persarattu since it is tasty even when it is made thick and my journey into the world of dosas,adai and pesarattu began thus. After a few attempts, the pesarattu really shaped well and from then on it became one of our favourite tiffins at home. It also involves only about 4hrs soaking time. I always soak the the dal and the rice before leaving for work so that when I get back I can look forward to hot pesarattu from freshly ground batter for tiffin/dinner. I make them with green moong dal or whole moong dal or sprouted moong. Below is the recipe of pesarattu made with green moong dal.

To soak separately for atleast 4 hours

1 cup rice

1 cup green moong dal

Grind the rice coarsely with a 1/4″ ginger piece,2-3 green chillies and salt

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After removing the rice, grind the dal to a smooth paste and mix it thoroughly with the ground rice mixture.
Swirl the batter in a hot,clean skillet and drizzle 1/2 tspoon oil around it. After 2-3 minutes of cooking it in high heat turn the pesarattu over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Fold it and serve with peanut chutney. I made Indira’s Peanut Chutney and it was a grand tiffin for us on Saturday.

tips:

1. The skillet needs to be very hot if not then the batter will not swirl around easily

2. Patience is a necessity when making this dish.If we try to turn the batter before it is done then it either sticks to the skillet or is not well done on one side.

3. clean the skillet with either a wet cloth/tissue or onion slice before starting the next pesarattu

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Araichivitta Capsicum Sambar (Green bell pepper-lentil stew with ground spices)

Sambar to a South Indian is like dal to a North Indian. It is a ubiquitous yet unique dish in the south Indian cuisine. This was one of the first recipes which my mother-in-law taught me when I was newly married. It is a very simple recipe and needs about 20 minutes heating time to sort of concentrate the stew.Though she was from the old school where ppl learnt from experience rather than from word,she was still able to traslate everything to the tspoon measure terminology I was comfortable with. I used to be very stressed about the measure and also very conscious about every step in the cooking it lest I spoil it!! However,nowadays I can make good sambhar in a jiffy!. It has a permanent place in our meals especially during weekend lunch. So without much ado below is my MIL’s Sambar recipe.

serves: four adults

cooking time: 40 minutes
Ingredients

to Pressure cook

1 cup of tuvar dal (red gram dal)

a pinch of turmeric

a drop of peanut oil

To fry and grind

1 tspoon dhania (coriander seeds)

1 tspoon bengal gram dal

1 red chilli pinched

some roughly cut curry leaves

1 tblspoon grated coconut (turn off the heat after you add this)

To boil

1 tspoon tamarind paste

1tsp sambhar powder (I use my mom’s but you could make it yourself or get some from any Indian store)

1 tsp salt

1/2 a big green bell pepper cut into small square bite size pieces

To season

One tspoon sunflower oil

one tspoon black mustard seeds

1/4 tspoon methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)

To garnish

roughly chopped cilanthro

Capsicum sambar garnished with Cilanthro

Method.
First Pressure cook the tuvar dal with a pinch of turmeric and a drop of oil.

boil the tamarind-spice mixture in about one and a half cup of water till you get a concentrated solution and the bell peppers are cooked(the volume should be 1/2 the original amount). This would take about 20-25 minutes

In the meantime fry and grind the dhania-Bengal gramdal-red chilli-coconut spice mixture with a little water in a blender. I do it in a Philips mixie from India but you could also use a blender which preferably has a smaller jar.

combine the wet ground mixture to the cooked dal and add this to the concentrated tamarind-spice solution. Turn down the heat and mix the stew thoroughly.Season the mustard and fenugreek seeds in 1 tsp oil in another wok/kadai and add to the sambhar. Garnish with cilanthro before serving.

Tips:

1. fry the dhania-gram dal-coconut mixture in a low flame and keep an eye on it as the dhania chars very fast!!!

2. For a quick one pot sambar the seasoning can be done in the beginning before boiling the tamarind-spice mixture.

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Joining the Indian cooking blog club!

Hi Everyone,

I am a sort of new to cooking (translated as never cooked before my marriage :-)))!!) but am very interested in trying different kinds of tasty dishes from various cuisines around India and the world. In recent times many of the great cooking blogs like the famous Mahanandi, Hooked on heat etc,have come to my rescue with their fantastic collection of recipes!!!. Earlier,whenever I needed to cook a traditional dish for an occasion or festival, my greatest recipe source were either my mother, mother-in-law or sister. Hence I thought that I should start a blog to share all their original tasty recipes along with my modifications!I must admit it also gives me great pleasure to join all the wonderful cooking blogs around the world.

I look forward to sharing my culinary successes as well as failures so far!!!

I will post my first recipe soon.
See you all soon

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