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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sabudana Laddu

I chose to cook with sabudana this week just because I had around 5 to 6 pounds of sabudana lying in my pantry and as far as I remember I haven't posted a single sabudana recipe so far. Growing up I saw my mother using sabudana / saggubiyyam basically in two recipes - a payasam (that was less preferred over the vermicelli one) and the saggubiyyam vadiyalu or the vadi. Later on came the sabudana dosa, sabudana vada and the khichdi to my life when I had my own home and hearth. For today's post it was decided that I would do a dessert and kheer seemed like an easy way out. I have grown a penchant towards the sago kheer over the years and besides, my son loves it too. However change in plan happened because of Ugadi. I thought of preparing something with sabudana for the neivedyam and this laddu came to the rescue. The laddus were so yum and appealing that even my sweet-phobic husband ate a couple of them without any coaxing from me. They looked so tempting to him that he wanted to taste a bit of it and couldn't stop himself from tasting more. That means a lot coming from a person who wouldn't even glance the sweet dishes.

Ingredients:(Yield 15 - 16 laddus)
1 cup sabudana / sago / tapioca pearls
1 cup powdered sugar (or adjust the quantity)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp. ghee
1 Tbsp. raisins
1 Tbsp. cashews
Extra ghee / milk to shape the laddus

* Dry toast sabudana on low flame, continuously stirring until they turn slightly brownish. It would take around 15 - 20 minutes to toast sabudana this way. The hard sabudana would have attained a crunchy texture by the time toasting is done. Transfer the sabudana to a wide plate and let it cool.
* Heat 2 tbsp. ghee in a small pan and add raisins and cashews. Stir and toast them for few seconds until the raisins turn plump and cashews turn golden brown. Turn off the stove and keep the pan aside.
* Grind the toasted sabudana to a fine powder. This step can be done in batches. Grind the mixture and sieve it if it appears coarse. Collect the fine powder and again grind the coarse powder left in the sieve and repeat the process until you are left with finely ground sabudana.
* Combine the ground sabudana, sugar powder, ground cardamom and the toasted cashew-raisin mixture along with the ghee in which they were toasted in a mixing bowl. Add extra melted ghee / milk to the mixture until you are able to hold it together. 
* Shape lemon sized balls out of the mixture by rolling between your palms.
* Store them in an airtight container.

1. In case, one doesn't prefer to use that much of ghee in the recipe, warm milk can be substituted instead to shape the laddus. 3 to 4 tbsp. milk should suffice to make laddus. Please note to add ghee / milk in small increments instead of dumping it all into the mixture at once. If it becomes too wet, you need extra sabudana powder to fix it and extra sugar to balance the flavor and so add milk/ghee in little quantities, combine the mixture and check whether the laddus can be made or not. 
2. If milk is used to make laddus, they would turn harder after a few hours. They just need to be warmed in the microwave for few seconds before consuming them. I used milk to make these laddus and didn't refrigerate them. We ate them in about four days and they stayed fresh for that long.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "One ingredient - Three different dishes", Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca pearls being my chosen ingredient. Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sabudana Vada / Sago Vada

Honestly speaking, fasting during navratri or the fasting food aka 'vrat ka khana' is an alien concept to me as a south Indian. As a vegetarian, I know that onion and garlic are taboo during religious occasions and rice is not consumed sometimes when fasting. However I had no clue that there is a long list of ingredients that people wouldn't consume during fasting in other parts of the country until I moved to U.S. and saw some of my Indian friends fasting at the drop of a hat in the name of festivals.  
Sabudana or tapioca pearls is one of the ingredients that is allowed during fasting and can be used to prepare yummy, light snacks such as khichdi or vadas. Sabudana vada, a traditional deep fried snack from Maharashtra is also equally popular as a fasting food. They are yummy but the flip side is that they are deep fried and need a bit of pre-planning since sabudana needs soaking. This 'crunchy on the outside and softer inside' vadas make a great snack along with your evening cup of tea.
1 cup sabudana / sago pearls
2 small sized potatoes
1/4 cup peanuts
2 -3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust the quantity as per preference.)
1 - 2 tbsp. finely minced cilantro
Salt to taste (or rock salt if fasting.)
1 Tbsp. rice flour (optional and if fasting, rice flour can be replaced with buckwheat flour or chestnut flour.)
Oil to fry (I used canola oil. Vegetable / peanut oil can be substituted.)
* Soak sabudana in just enough water to cover them for about 2 - 3  hours or overnight depending upon the sabudana variety. Drain in a colander and keep it aside until all the water is completely drained. (check notes.)
* Peel and cook the potatoes in a pressure cooker. Drain completely and then mash finely.
* Roast and skin the peanuts. Grind them coarsely and keep aside.

* Heat oil in a kadai / frying pan to deep fry the vadas.
* Add soaked and drained sago pearls, mashed potato, peanut powder, green chillies, cilantro, salt and flour if using to a wide bowl. Mix well to combine. 
* Pinch about lemon sized portions from the mixture.
* Gently pat them into patties and gently slide them into hot oil. Fit as many patties as the pan could hold without overcrowding.

* Deep fry them until they turn golden brown and are done.
1. I have used large sabudana pearls here. The soaking time depends upon the quality and the variety of sabudana. I have heard from my mom that the best quality sabudana needs just sprinkling of water to make the pearls soften but the variety I usually get here requires overnight soaking. Some soften in lesser time than the other and so check accordingly. When you press a soaked sago pearl between your finger tips, it should be moist and spongy.)
2. I usually deep fry keeping the flame at somewhere between low and medium. Vadas cooked at high temperature would brown faster leaving the insides uncooked while a low cooking temperature would make vadas greasier.
3. During fasting months, amaranth flour / buckwheat flour or water chestnut flour can be substituted for rice flour and rock salt can be used in place of regular salt.
4. For a healthier version, they can be shallow fried in a appe pan.
5. Minced ginger, 1 tsp of sugar or lemon juice can also be added to the recipe.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "One ingredient - Three different dishes", Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca pearls being my chosen ingredient. Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Saggubiyyam Dosa / Sago Dosa

My 3 year old niece is close to me despite the distance barriers. She makes sure that the adults at home call me frequently so that she can share the so called 'fun' things happening in her life. I got a similar call from her yesterday and the tiny one was all excited to share the news that she received 4 medals  in her pre-school sports day event, including the one for hosting the event along with her teacher in front of an audience of 100 plus. It is a remarkable feat considering that no one cannot elicit a single word from her in front of strangers though she talks a dozen to dime with those who are in her 'friendly' zone. Everyone at home is usually happy to hear her pleasant chatter and it is hard for us to escape from her charming and strong persona. Even my 16 year old who acts as if he is reclusive and doesn't show an iota of enthusiasm when he wins state and national level competitions at school couldn't escape from the excitement his little cousin was spreading and was chatting away enthusiastically with her sharing her sense of pride. 
My sister was mentioning that her daughter was acting as a mini adult these days and behaving so mature for her age. Gradually the conversation veered towards the food in general and the little one's preferences in particular. It seems that her daughter was bored with the same kind of dosas she was making and asked me for some varieties to rotate. For people who are in the same boat like my sister, here is one dosa made with sago. These dosas taste good when served warm along with a spicy chutney.

1 & 1/2 cups rice (I used extra long grain rice.)
1/2 cup sago / tapioca pearls (Saggubiyyam)
Buttermilk (Majjiga)
Salt to taste
Oil to make dosas ( Canola / vegetable / peanut oil)

* Soak rice and sago pearls together for about 4 - 5 hours in water such that they are immersed well in water. Wash and drain the water after the soaking period.
* Grind rice and sago together finely into a thick batter, using butter milk. In absence of butter milk, add equal quantities of yogurt and water.
* Transfer the ground batter to a big container, add salt and mix well. Cover and allow the batter to ferment overnight. (I usually soak the ingredients in the afternoon, grind the batter in the evening.)
* When ready to make dosas, heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Pour a ladleful of batter at the center of the griddle and spread thinly into a 6 inch circle using the backside of the ladle. Drizzle 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and cook until the bottom side of the dosa turns light golden. Flip the dosa using a spatula, drizzle about 1/4 tsp oil around the edges and cook for about 20 seconds and remove.
* Repeat the dosa making process using the remaining batter.
* Serve dosas warm with roasted chickpea / peanut chutney.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "One ingredient - Three different dishes". I have decided to showcase three different dishes this week using Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca pearls. Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Creamy Tomato Pasta

Any colored pasta turns into a orange/red hued one as soon as it hits my husband's plate. He adds oodles of tomato based condiments to his pasta and tells me that he is making it more flavorful. I stopped complaining long ago and keep making tomato based pastas more often instead. Today's recipe is the standard one I make but added some evaporated milk to make it creamier. I used evaporated milk instead of cream / milk just because I had some leftover evaporated milk that had to be used. The evaporated milk lends a nice, creamy background for the tomato sauce based pasta and makes it more flavorful. I used twisted elbows that was a carrot, corn, squash pasta blend. Penne, shell pasta or any long pasta can be substituted for elbow pasta.

1 & 1/2 cups twisted elbows
1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
8 oz / 225 gm / 1 cup tomato sauce (I used store-bought sauce.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup evaporated milk / cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
Chopped basil leaves to garnish (optional)

* Heat oil in a saute pan and add minced garlic and onion. Saute until light golden. Add tomato sauce and ground pepper to the pan and let it simmer on low flame, just to let the flavor build up. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.
* Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and return it back to the pot in which it was cooked. Add evaporated milk or cream and gently give a stir to mix.
* Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.
* Garnish with Parmesan and basil and serve warm.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "Pasta". Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fettuccine Alfredo

If left on her own devices, my daughter would survive on cheesy pasta for the rest of her life happily. I genuinely mean it and am not saying just to sound fancier. One of her meals each day, especially lunch on a school day typically would be macaroni and cheese and by any chance, if something else is packed, the lunch box comes untouched, literally.  She prefers to go hungry the whole day instead of eating something else and she wouldn't care even to open her lunch box that day. Even after having her 'the most favorite' lunch, she comes home asking if I have any leftovers of the same. I couldn't even call it a phase as this has been going on for years now and her fascination towards the dish hasn't dimmed a bit. If not for the 'terrible mom' at home, she would not have to eat so many other foods. Seeing her love for 'cheese'y pastas and pizzas, my husband keeps joking that she probably was an Italian in her previous birth while I muse that a cheesy pasta recipe is all she ever needs in her life.

With this much of love for cheese going on in my home, it was obvious that I had to post a 'Cheese Sauce' based pasta. And it is going to be Fettuccine Alfredo for today that everyone enjoys at home. Fettuccine literally means 'little ribbons' in Italian and is made with eggs and flour. I have substituted the traditional fettuccine with egg-free, durum semolina one. This dish can either be called a triple treat or a triple heart attack depending upon which side of the coin you are. Cheese, cream and butter - the terrific trio definitely add oodles of flavor to the Alfredo sauce along with increasing one's girth. That said, this sauce is a no brainer and can be prepared in a jiffy. 

I had noted the recipe once that was on a cheese container that I bought and it seems to be a standard one going by the recipes that I get to see in blogs. It is a simple one to remember and have given below.  However I would prefer to go by those proportions only if I have company or if I prepare it once in a blue moon. Otherwise, I would reduce the butter proportion drastically, substitute cream (or at least some portion of it) with whole milk and go easy with the cheese and call it a lighter version. :)

16 oz / 1 lb fettuccine
1 stick of butter
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  

* Cook fettuccine in a large pot according to the package directions. Drain and add the cooked fettuccine back to the pot.
* Prepare the sauce while the pasta is being cooked. Heat butter and cream in a sauce pan over low heat. Keep stirring it constantly until the butter melts. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper.
* Pour the sauce over the fettuccine in the pot. Toss until the pasta is coated well with the sauce.
* Serve warm immediately. 

This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "Pasta". Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.