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Monday, May 31, 2010

Cardamom Cookies & Pomegranate - Cucumber Raita

I was kind of busy and am posting for a couple of events at the last moment.
Here are cardamom -  flavored cookies, which tasted like butter cookies we used to eat in India and our family favorite, pomegranate - cucumber raita.

Cardamom Cookies:

These cookies are based on vanilla hearts from Emma Patmore's 'Cookshelf baking'.

I made some jumbo cookies instead of shaping them into small sized hearts, used cardamom powder for flavoring and added milk to form the dough.
The cookies were a shade darker since I was distracted in between.

Ingredients for about 5 jumbo cookies:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
4 Tbsp milk or as required

* Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with fingers until the mixture is well combined.
* Stir in the sugar, milk and cardamom powder and bring the mixture together to make firm dough.
* Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thickness and cut out into desired shapes using a cookie cutter.
* Arrange them on a greased cookie sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 350 deg F.
* Bake them for about 20 - 25 minutes or until they attain a light golden color. Flip the cookies halfway through the baking process.

This goes to 'Baking from a Book' - Cookies event hosted by

Pomegranate - Cucumber Raita:
I am reposting this for Siri's 'Healing foods' event, which is being hosted at Apu's this month, with the theme Pomegranate.

Recipe can be found here.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rubbina Pulusu / Rubbina Sambhar

After a long time, I got to taste rubbina pulusu - a child hood favorite dal preparation of mine yesterday. My parents are here visiting us and I got to taste my mother's food after a long time and needless to say that I cherished each morsel of it. Right now I am busy catching up with my mother that I am not blog hopping much. :)
This rubbina pulusu can be loosely described as another variation of the famous South Indian sambhar. Though spices are used both in sambhar and this dal preparation, how they are used makes all the difference. While the spices are toasted and ground dry in the sambhar case, rubbina pulusu uses the wet paste of spices and this variation makes these two dals entirely different taste / flavor and texture wise.
Unlike sambhar, this dal should be on the thicker side. The ground paste of spices - coconut forms a delicious, thicker sauce / base to the preparation and so a small quantity of toor dal is enough to prepare this dish. The fresh ingredients used in this pulusu makes it a delectable dal. I personally prefer this rubbina pulusu any day to sambhar.

In Telugu, rubbina means ground and pulusu is dal.


Ingredients to serve 6-8:
1/2 cup toordal
1 cup chopped vegetables (I used carrot, beans, potato, chayote, peas) + 2 tomatoes
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp chanadal
1 Tbsp uraddal & coriander seeds each
15 byadagi chillies
3 Marathi moggu
3 cinnamon pieces
3 Tbsp shredded coconut
A big marble sized tamarind
Salt to taste
For tadka: 2 Tsp oil, 1 tsp each mustard seeds & cumin seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida

The cooking process:
* Wash the toordal and throw away the cloudy water. Then add toordal, vegetables, turmeric powder and about a cup of water to a container. Place the container in a pressure cooker and cook.
* Soak the tamarind in little water.

* Meanwhile, Add chanadal and uraddal to a small sauté pan and toast on medium flame. When they start to turn reddish, add coriander seeds, cinnamon pieces, moggu, chilies to the pan and toast them as well. Allow them to cool.
* Grind the toasted spices, coconut, tamarind into a paste adding water as needed.
* Add the ground paste, salt to the cooked dal - vegetable mixture. The consistency of this dal should be thicker. Add some water if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
 Heat oil in a small sauté pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard starts to pop and cumin starts to sizzle, add asafoetida & curry leaves and turn off the stove.
* Add the tadka mixture to the cooked dal and mix well.

This goes to my 'Delicious dals from India'.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Simple Chole

I would go with this simple chole, when I am not in a mood for a concoction of spices . I find the flavor offered by coriander powder suffices the need.  

Ingredients for 4:
1 cup Garbanzo beans / chana - soaked overnight or at least 8 -10 hours and cooked
2 Onions - peeled and chopped
2 Tomatoes - chopped
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/2 to 1 tsp Chili powder (depending upon the spiciness preferred)
Salt to taste
Minced cilantro for garnish
For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds

The cooking part:
Heat oil in a sauté pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to turn a shade darker, add the chopped onion and fry on low - medium flame till they turn translucent. Then add diced tomato and fry till it turns into a mush.
Grind a handful of cooked chana with water in a blender till smooth.
Then add this ground chana along with the remaining cooked chana, coriander powder, chili powder and salt to the onion - tomato mixture. Add water to the desired consistency. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn down the stove. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.
Garnish with minced cilantro and serve with rotis.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eggless, Orange Flavored Berry Pancakes and Banana Sandwich

Here are 'not so sweet' whole wheat, orange flavored, berry pancakes that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Ingredients for 6 pancakes:
1 cup wheat flour
About 1.5 cup orange juice (at room temperature)
1/2 cup dried berries, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Oil / ghee / melted butter to drizzle

The cooking part:
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Gradually add the juice and whisk to form a lump free batter. Then gently combine the berries.
Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter and spread gently into a 4 - 5 inches circle. Drizzle a few drops of oil around the edges. Let it cook on low flame, covered. Cooking on low flame is important. When it appears cooked, flip the pancake and cook for about 30 seconds or a little more when the other side too browns a little bit.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.

Simple, Whole Wheat Bread - Banana Sandwich:
This is a family favorite and I prefer banana slices with toasted bread as a breakfast when I am feeling lazy. Any nut butter would be a healthy addition if serving kids.

I am sending these over to Priya who is hosting Sharmi's 'Cooking with Kids' event this month, with the theme Whole wheat with fruits.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Authentic Andhra Meals ~~ Gongura Pappu

No dish can get more 'quintessential and authentic Andhra' than a gongura preparation. The gongura greens are cherished in Andhra cuisine more than any of its counterparts and is used to prepare delectable pappu, pachadi and other dishes.
There are two varieties of gongura leaves available - the one with the red colored stalks (Erra gongura - the red one) and the other with the regular greenish colored stalk (Tella gongura - the white colored one). They impart their characteristic sourness to a dish  and so one need to be careful about adding any other sour agents  to gongura preparations.
Today's recipe is gongura pappu, the 'ultimate' dal preparation from Andhra.

Required ingredients:
1 cup toordal
Chopped gongura leaves -3 cups, firmly packed
One onion, finely chopped (optional)
4 medium sized chilies, sliced lengthwise (I used Serrano peppers)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt as needed (about 2&1/2 tsp)
Thick tamarind juice - 3 Tbsp (optional.) **
Chili powder - 1 tsp
For tadka/popu: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds & a few pinches of asafoetida, few curry leaves
**Depending upon the sourness of gongura, tamarind can either be used or omitted. The gongura leaves I got were not that sour and I had to use about 3 Tbsp of the tamarind juice.
*For tamarind juice, soak about a lemon sized tamarind in water or nuke it in a microwave (of course, with half a cup of water added) for about a couple of minutes. Squeeze the tamarind using your fingers or passing through a sieve. Discard the seeds and fibre. Use the thick puree extracted as required and save the rest for later use.
If using the ready-made tamarind paste, the quantity mentioned above varies.

Gongura pappu in the traditional pappu ginne (container used to cook the dal)

Wash the toordal and throw away the cloudy water. Cook toordal along with gongura, onion, chilies and turmeric powder adding about 2 cups water in a pressure cooker.
When the valve pressure is gone, remove the cooked dal. Add salt and chili powder. Stir the contents with a ladle and check the sourness. Add tamarind juice only if required. Stir well once more and turn on the heat. Let it simmer for about five minutes for all the flavors to mingle.
Do the tadka/seasoning in a small sauté pan. Heat oil and add the tadka ingredients. When the mustard seeds start popping and the cumin turns brownish, turn off the heat. Add the tadka to the dal and mix well.
Serve hot with rice and a spoon of ghee for a delicious Andhra style meal.

This one goes to my 'Delicious Dals from India'.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Onion Gojju / Erragadda Pachipulusu

Today's recipe is a tangy, sweet stew sans beans from my grandmother's kitchen. Though the name says pachi pulusu (which means raw stew literally), there is nothing raw about it. Sauteed onions are cooked in a tangy - sweet - spicy sauce and it goes well with rice / rotis / dosas. A recipe my mother / I rely on when the refrigerator is empty or when something needs to be cooked real quickly.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 onions
1/4 cup tamarind pulp/juice (The quantity depends on how much sour the tamarind is and how thick the extracted tamarind pulp is.)
2 Tbsp jaggery powder
2 tsp salt or as needed
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp chili powder or as needed
2 cups water
2 Tbsp rice flour
For tadka: 1 tsp chanadal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 -2 green chilies - slit lengthwise, few curry leaves

The cooking part:
1. Heat oil in a sauté pan and add the mustard seeds and chanadal. When the chanadal starts to turn reddish and the mustard seeds start to pop, add the green chilies and curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds and then add turmeric powder and the onion.
2. Fry the onions on low - medium flame till they turn translucent. 
3. Meanwhile, add a few Tbsp of water to the rice flour and make a paste and keep it aside.
4. Then add the tamarind juice, jaggery powder, chili powder, salt,  asafoetida powder, rice flour paste and about 2 cups of water to the sautéed onion. Mix everything and bring the mixture to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. There must be a balance between the dominant flavors of the dish. Highlighting any one flavor ruins the dish.
5. Turn down the stove and simmer for a couple of minutes more.

This goes to
Niloufer's Twenty - 20 Event.
Sunita's Think Spice - Tamarind hosted by PJ this month.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spicy Eggplants

Sometimes I prefer to dress up a simple eggplant preparation with spicy mixtures like koora podi or vangibhath powder as the one below. Spicy eggplants form a nice combo when served with some hot steamed rice or rotis.

Ingredients for 2 servings:
4 round purple, eggplants
Salt to taste
1 - 2 Tbsp Vangibhath powder, homemade or store bought (adjust the quantity as per taste)
For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp each chanadal and 1 tsp mustard seeds

The cooking part:
Cut the green stalks before chopping eggplants. Then cut the eggplants lengthwise into two halves. Then go again lengthwise into thin slices.
Heat oil in a saute pan and add the chanadal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop and the dal start to turn reddish, add the eggplant slices. Cook on low flame till the eggplants are done, keeping the lid covered. Keep stirring in between and take care not to turn the eggplants mushy. Then add the salt and the vangibhath powder and mix well. Taste and adjust their quantities if needed. Let it cook for a couple of minutes more and then turn off the stove.

This goes to Niloufer's Twenty - 20 event.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Simple Sunday Meals - Dosas & Smoothie

This Sunday's wholesome lunch was cumin - ginger flavored spicy cucumber dosas with a rich, mango - berry - nut smoothie.

Cumin - Ginger flavored Cucumber Dosas:
Southekayi rottis were the inspiration for these dosas. The following ingredients are just to give an idea. The proportion of flours, vegetable and the flavors in the following recipe can be changed according to one's taste.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rice flour
1 cup grated cucumber
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
A small ginger piece
2 green chilies
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
Oil to make dosas

Making Dosas:
* Grind ginger and chilies into a paste, if serving kids. Or finely mince chilies and grate the ginger piece.
* Mix the flours, cucumber, cumin seeds, asafoetida powder, salt, green chili - ginger paste, cilantro in a bowl. Add water and form a thin, lump free batter as you do for rava dosa or godhuma dosa.
*  Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the hot pan to test whether the griddle is ready. If the water sizzles, it is. Take a ladle full of batter and pour it from a little height on to the griddle. Start pouring the batter from outside circle of the griddle. The batter is sticky and so spreading it with the back of the ladle as traditional dosas should be avoided. It will spread on it's own and fill any gaps in the middle with dosa batter. Pour about half a tsp of oil around the edges of dosa and let it cook on medium flame. When the dosa turns browner (the side closer to the griddle), flip it and again pour another 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and let it cook for a minute and remove it.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.
Serve dosas with chutney.

Mango - Berry - Nut Smoothie:

Ingredients to serve 4:
1 mango (sans the skin and seed)
1/4 cup dried berries (I had used a blend of raspberries, strawberries, raisins, cranberries, blueberries and cherries)
10 cashews + 10 almonds
Sweetener of your choice
Yogurt or yogurt + milk to blend the ingredients

Mix everything and process in a blender for a rich, yummy smoothie. Add ice cubes if serving on a hot day. Garnish with nuts and some dried berries if you wish.

Cucumber dosas go to Priya's Cooking with Seeds - Cumin seeds hosted @ Sara's Corner this month.
And the smoothie goes to
Divya's 'Show me your Smoothie' and Niloufer's Twenty - 20 cooking event.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rasgulla and Rasmalai

I have an obsession with milk - based sweets from my childhood and rasmalai and champakali happen to be my favorites to this day. Naturally I was excited when Srivalli challenged with rasmalai for this month's ICC and had a great time preparing them. That's the way to go. :)
Rasmalai and rasgullas actually need no introduction. These culinary classics have fans worldwide for the right reasons. While rasgullas are cheesy, soft pillows cooked in cardamom scented sugar syrup, rasmalai goes two steps ahead and attains a rich avatar. Rasgullas dunked in sweetened, thick milk with accentuated flavors of cardamom, saffron and a garnishing of nuts becomes rasmalai.
Since rasmalai recipe needs rasgullas, I tried both of them and am providing the recipes here, to woo your guests.

2 litres (8.5 cups) of whole/full fat milk for rasagullas + 1 litre (about 4 cups) of milk for rasa / rasmalai syrup
3 Tbsp - vinegar or lemon / lime juice
1 & 1/4 cup or 20 Tbsp sugar (6 Tbsp sugar for rasa + use remaining for sugar syrup)
Maida / All purpose flour- 1 tsp
Water- 3 cups
A pinch of saffron, crushed
Roughly chopped pistachio for garnishing
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder

How to prepare rasgullas and rasmalai:

1.Preparation of chena:
Boil 2 litres of milk and let it cool. Boiling milk in a non - stick pan is a good idea since the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. This also translates into less stirring and less after - clean up. Refrigerate the milk for 12 hours. (I chose to boil the milk in the evening and refrigerated the milk overnight. I feel this step can be skipped and chena can be prepared right away. Also rasa can be prepared simultaneously.) The next day or after 12 hours, remove the skin layer formed on the milk.
Now boil the milk again and add vinegar to it. The milk starts to curdle at this point. Turn off the stove and let it settle for 5 - 10 minutes. The milk will separate into a solid mass, chena and whey, the liquid part. The chena floats to the surface and the liquid part remains at the bottom.
Line a colander with a muslin or a thin cotton cloth and place it in the sink. Pour the chena -whey mixture into the cloth - covered colander. Or you can also place a container/bowl under the colander if you want to collect the whey. (The chena gets collected in the colander and whey gets collected in the bottom container.) Holding the 4 edges of the cloth carefully, run cold water directly over the chena and wash it to get rid of vinegar residue. Tie the ends of the cloth and hang the bundle at a height (like to kitchen sink tap)for about an hour, till the whey water separates from the chena.
Collected whey water can be used to make roti dough or in making soups. Srivalli mentions that whey water can be left outside for about a week to go sour and then can be refrigerated to use it to make next batch paneer/chena. It would be good for about one year.

2. Shaping rasagulla balls:
After an hour, wring the cloth bundle to get rid of any remaining water. Then remove the knot and transfer the chena to a mixing bowl or a wide plate. Knead the chena for at least five - six minutes (as you do roti dough) till there is no trace of moisture and is soft. This step is crucial for not the balls to break during the cooking process.
Then add a spoon of maida/ all purpose flour to the chena and knead again for a minute. Then make big marble sized balls out of the chena. These balls would swell and double in size after cooking them in sugar syrup and so remember to make small sized chena balls. With 2 litres of milk, I could prepare about 24 balls of chena / rasagulla. (The balls can be gently pressed flat for rasmalai or can be used as it is.)

3. Preparation of rasgulla:
Add 3 cups water and about 3/4 cup of sugar (or more according to taste)to a wide-bottomed pressure cooker and bring it to a boil. When it boils, slide the chena balls one by one slowly into the sugar solution. Close the lid of the cooker / pan and cook it till you hear 4 whistles or cook slowly in a thick bottomed vessel, covered till they are done. Now when the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid. The chena balls / rasgullas would have become bigger in size. If the chena is kneaded well enough, the balls don't fall apart. Add 1/8 tsp cardamom powder to the sugar solution and stir. Now rasgullas are ready to serve or to use in the rasmalai.

4. Preparation of rasa or milk syrup for rasmalai:
When you start to prepare chena, simultaneously start to prepare rasa in a non - stick pan. This step can be done in advance as well.
Bring to boil one litre / about 4 cups of milk and turn down the flame. Reduce the milk quantity to half with constant stirring. Add about six Tbsp of sugar, crushed saffron and 1/8 tsp cardamom powder to the reduced milk and stir well.

5. Assembling rasmalai:
Use a slotted spoon and take out a rasgulla and gently press the ball to get rid of the excess sugar syrup using backside of a spoon. Repeat the step with the other rasgullas that are going to be used in the rasmalai. Add rasgullas to the rasa/milk syrup. Cool the rasmalai and refrigerate it.
Garnish with chopped pistachios (and almonds) before serving.

1. I have used more sugar than the original recipe as I prepared rasgullas as well. If preparing rasmalai alone, 6 Tbsp of sugar is enough for the rasa/milk syrup and about 8 - 10 Tbsp of sugar for the sugar syrup to cook rasgullas.
2. Since this quantity milk makes about 24 chena balls, I used half for rasgullas and half for rasmalai recipe.
3. Srivalli mentions that is a traditional recipe. For short cut method, instead of preparing milk for rasa/milk syrup, go ahead with half & half / evaporated milk. Store bought rasgullas work fine for time constrained moments.

Another look at rasmalai.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Mango Memories - Mango with Yogurt Rice

Summer bounty, especially tropical fruits I see in local markets like mango and guava cause nostalgia. They seem to open a flood gate of memories associated with motherland and the two wonderful mothers in my life.
Like rest of the Indians, Andhraites go gaga over their share of mangoes. Our families are no exception to this, considering our mothers. In my life, I have never come across people who love, cherish and are passionate about mangoes more than my mother and mother in law.
During summer months, no day went by with out a mango dish in my MIL's kitchen and no day goes by with out eating a mango in my mother's kitchen. No, this is not an exaggeration. People who know these women would vouch me for that statement. 
Especially mango was such a favorite fruit of my MIL that it was the last thing she had before she died. She had pneumonia and was in the hospital last December. When M asked her whether she would like to have something, she scribbled orange juice on a piece of paper in her semi conscious state not knowing where the pen and paper were. Within seconds, she changed her mind and asked for mango juice and had a few sips.
My mother like most of the Indians believes in ayurveda style of balancing food ingredients combining heat generating and cold ones. Mangoes therefore were always served with yogurt rice. This combination is the one and only way we had at my mother's place. Mango is known for it's heat generating properties and yogurt is one of the best foods that cools your body. Combining together, one would end up with a balanced, simple, nourishing and satisfying bowl of food especially on a hot, summer day.

How to assemble:
Mix well some steamed hot rice with home made yogurt and a pinch of salt. Add peeled mango cubes to it and enjoy.

Our summer meals in India usually ended with curd / yogurt rice served with mangoes and I have fond memories attached to this and so, this is going to Shabitha's 'Celebrating Mom'.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brown Rice - Ragi Idli

The saga of brown rice love continues and here is one more appealing breakfast dish using it. Our favorite idlis are in a new avatar because of the brown rice and ragi used in the batter.

Ingredients for around 45 - 50 idlis:
3/4 cup brown rice
3/4 cup urad dal
3/4 cup ragi
Salt to taste
Oil / ghee to grease the idli moulds

Making Idlis:
* Soak the first three ingredients separately in plenty of water for at least 4 hours. You can combine the rice and urad dal together to soak but always soak ragi individually.
* Grind dal and rice using as little water as possible in a mixer / grinder smoothly. Transfer the batter into a container. Then add the ragi to the mixer and grind smoothly adding water as needed. Add this and salt to the dal - rice batter and mix well. Let the container be big enough to allow the raise in batter after fermentation.
* Leave the batter to ferment overnight in a warm place such as a lighted oven.
* In the morning, grease the idli moulds, pour the batter into the moulds and steam cook them in an idli cooker or a pressure cooker with out the weight on.
* Serve them with chutney and sambhar.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brown Rice Dosa

                                    Brown rice dosas served with chutney powder

After starting Jihva work out, I am using more brown rice in my diet than before. I have started to replace white rice with it even in breakfast items like dosas and idlis. Using brown rice does not change either appearance or taste of dosas.
Breakfast these days mostly is a brown rice dosa and a fruit.

Ingredients to make dosas:
Brown Rice - 1 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup
Chanadal - 2 Tbsp
Methi/Fenugreek Seeds - 1 tsp
Salt as needed

The 'How' part:
Soak rice, dals and methi seeds in plenty of water for at least 4 hours. Drain the water and grind the ingredients into a smooth batter adding as little water as needed. Add salt and mix well. Allow the batter to ferment overnight in a warm place.
Make dosas with the fermented batter in the morning.
For fermenting tips, look here and for making dosas, check here.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spinach - Toordal Patoli / Sandiga Koora

I love cumin flavored, protein packed patolis and they keep appearing frequently in our menu. Usually I prepare patoli using chanadal but this time prepared toordal one using M's aunt's recipe.

List of ingredients for 4 generous servings:
A spinach bunch or 2 -3 cups of roughly chopped spinach leaves along with the tender stalks
For grinding:
Toordal - 1/2 cup soaked for a couple of hours, minimum
Cumin seeds – 1 Tbsp
Red chilies - 8 to 10 (depending upon the spiciness you prefer, medium to hot)
Grated, dry coconut / copra;- 1/4 cup (optional)
For tadka: Oil – 2 Tbsp,1 tsp each - mustard seeds, chanadal, uraddal, cumin seeds, few curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

* Soak toordal in water for a minimum of 2 hours and drain.
* Coarsely grind toordal, cumin seeds, coconut and red chilies with as little as water as possible. Place this mixture in a container and cook on medium flame in a pressure cooker without the weight, till it is done (as you steam idlis). When it is done, the mixture would be dry. It would take about an hour or more and you have to remember to keep adding water to the cooker as the water keeps evaporating, during the cooking process. If you forget, you will end up with a burnt cooker. Let it cool for a while.
* Crumble the toordal mixture, which would have become dry at this point. You can either use it immediately or freeze it and use later. Usually I prepare this in large batches and freeze it in small portions so that I can use it next time with out thawing the entire quantity. Also I prefer this steaming method to frying since less oil is used and frying the toordal paste in the oil is messier. It is done while I am taking care of million other things in the kitchen. :)
* Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal, urad dal, cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves to the hot oil. When chana dal and urad dal begin to turn reddish, add turmeric powder and the spinach. Sauté for a few minutes or till spinach is done. Then add the toordal mixture and salt to the pan. Sauté for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove.
* This patoli can be served with rice or rotis.


Monday, May 10, 2010

A Special Poem for every Mother

                                                     For all mothers who visit this place

I know I am late but Happy Mother's Day to all those great mothers out there. Hope you had a great time with your kids and continue to do so.
My little one brought a card she made at school for the occasion. Besides the usual 'I love you' and 'heart's, pasted was a wonderful poem titled 'As I look back' by some unknown author, that I had copied below.

As I look back on my life
I find myself wondering.....
Did I remember to thank you
for all that you have done for me?
for all of the times you were by my side
to help me celebrate my successes
and accept my defeats.

Or for teaching me the value of hard work,
good judgement, courage and honesty?

I wonder if I've ever thanked you for the simple things....
The laughter, smiles and quiet times we've shared?

If I have forgotten to express my gratitude
for any of these things,
I am thanking you now...
and I am hoping that you've known all along,
how very much you are loved and appreciated.

That's so true. We take our mothers so granted that we forget to thank them for all their sacrifices, hard work and of course their magnanimous hearts and unparalleled love and dedication.

My daughter hugged and kissed me millions of times, the previous night and promised me that she will wake me up on Mother's day with a breakfast platter filled with milk, cookies and orange juice. (She chose her favorites.)
And of course, she forgot as I expected. When I reminded her during lunchtime, she told me that she was very busy and didn't have time to prepare breakfast. What was she doing? Watching re runs of Scooby doo marathon on TV from morning till evening saying that it was so coooo...l to watch it, the whole day.
However she made it up with a lovely card and that wonderful poem. :)

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Simple, Sunday Meals - Soup and Sandwich

Carrot, cucumber, lettuce & tomato

Veggie Burgers sans Cheese:
Soy patties toasted with a little butter, shredded lettuce, tomato slices, cucumber slices, dill pickle along with mustard and ketchup gave company to toasted, multigrain, thin sandwich bread.

Minestrone Soup:
This wholesome Italian soup doesn't follow a standard recipe and can be either a vegetarian or a non vegetarian soup. It is prepared with the ingredients at hand and usually contains vegetables, beans and pasta.

Ingredients required for 6 servings:
1 - 2 Tbsp oil
1 small onion - peeled and diced
1 small carrot - peeled and diced
1 small potato - peeled and diced
1 tomato - diced
1 celery stick - diced
1/4 cup of zucchini cubes
A handful of chopped green beans or frozen green peas
Celery leaves
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 cup small shell pasta (I used elbow pasta.)
1/4 cup any white beans, cooked (I used navy beans.)
1 tsp - Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
(Also add garlic, if preferred.)

Making soup:
* Heat oil in a deep sauté pan and add the onions. Sauté them on low heat till they turn translucent. Then add carrot, potato, tomato, celery, celery leaves, zucchini, green beans or peas and add sufficient water. Cook on medium flame till the vegetables soften.
* Then add tomato sauce, seasoning and simmer for some more time.
* In the meantime, cook pasta al dente and drain.
* Stir in the cooked pasta and beans. Adjust the consistency of soup adding water, if needed and season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes more so that all flavors mingle.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From RayalaSeema to the Land of Lincoln - Nannari Lassi

Journeys that are meaningful and memorable to us and the ones which we look forward to are those when we could get back to our roots and people/places close to our hearts. After a dozen years of migrant living, we do appreciate and cherish those valuable moments spent with our near and dear ones and no place on earth seems to be more inviting than our hometowns.
Today I thought it's time to pay a tiny tribute to Cuddapah - my husband's hometown, where I lived for a short time and keep visiting whenever I go to India.
We come from Andhra pradesh - a Southern state of India, which is divided into three regions - Kosta (coastal), Telangana and RayalaSeema. My husband's family comes from Cuddapah*, one of the four districts of Rayalaseema** region.
The name Cuddapah or Kadapa (the new spelling) is derived from the Telugu word 'gadapa', meaning "threshold". The town is so named because it is the gateway from the north to the sacred hill of Tirumala -Tirupathi and in the past, people used to visit the Venkateshwara temple located here before proceeding towards Tirumala Temple. It is said that the Cuddapah temple could not become as popular as Tirumala's because of vaasthu dosham. The area where temple is located is called Devuni Cuddapah (devuni meaning God's) and I very much like the peaceful ambience of that temple.

My daughter at Annapoorna Kshethram, constructed by my brother- in -law at our hometown, Cuddapah.

The fiery town which has been (un)popularized by the telugu movies in the name of mindless factionism also has certain food delicacies exclusive to the area. Nannari Lassi is one among them. As far as I know, this drink is unique to the place and I haven't come across it anywhere else. (Correct me, if I am wrong. I know there are some posts about nannari, it's syrup and sharbat at various sites.)
As the name suggests,'nannari', a wonderful herb and a natural coolant is used to prepare this lassi. The outer part of nannari's root is brown in color with a whitish inner part. The root has a pleasant odor that you cannot miss. Only the roots can be used for extraction of the syrup and the leaves are not of much use.
Nannari lassi is the ultimate answer for the parching heat of Cuddapah summers, where temperatures hit 120 F. No artificial drinks can soothe you as this drink does and this is nature's way of balancing the summer act. Once you taste this, you would be hooked to it for a lifetime.

Making Nannari lassi involves three stages. Preparation of nannari juice, nannari syrup and nannari lassi. Usually the first two steps can be skipped, by buying syrup directly from the stores. I was lucky enough to get hold of the roots from one of my SIL's childhood friend, Smt.Renuka. A big thanks to her, who gave me all the roots that she had brought from India for her daughter. She even taught me how to extract the syrup from the roots. This post would have been impossible, without her.
Also the roots we had don't look like the ones I have noticed on other sites. I am not sure whether these are very matured ones or another variety.

I had 2 cups of roots and I could prepare a little more than 3 liters of juice. That is a lot. 2-3 measures of sugar syrup is added for each measure of the nannari juice and nannari syrup is prepared. Whenever lassi is to be made, a few tbsp of syrup is mixed with yogurt.

1. Preparation of Nannari Juice:
Wash the roots thoroughly to remove the dirt adhering to the roots.
Soak them in plenty of water overnight. The water would have turned a darker brown shade by morning and you would not miss the strong, pleasant smell of the nannari. Do not throw away the water used to soak. Instead use it to cook nannari in a pressure cooker for about 20 - 25 whistles (Yes, that many times). Turn off the stove. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the weight and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes more, for better results. Collect the water in a big pot.
Again add water to the roots and repeat the process for 2 or 3 times more and collect all the water. The nannari juice is ready. The final product would be a dark brown colored liquid that is almost similar (or a little bit thicker) to water in consistency.
2. Preparation of Nannari Syrup:
(For each measure of nannari juice, add 2 to 3 measures of sugar).
Add 3-4 tbsp of water to sugar and keep stirring it on medium flame. By 4 - 5 minutes, the solution would turn frothy. Keep stirring. (Place a small plate with little water beside the stove. Put a small drop of sugar syrup on the water. See if you can make a ball out of the syrup, with your thumb and forefinger. Heat for a couple of more minutes more). The sugar syrup would have reached almost honey cosistency. Turn off the stove and add the nannari. The whole process would take around 10 minutes. Let it cool. Now the nannari syrup is ready for use.
Refrigerate it and use when needed.
3. Preparation of Nannari Lassi:
For a true, authentic lassi and an enjoyable experience, go with yogurt prepared with full fat milk.
Add about 1.5 to 2 Tbsp of nannari syrup to 3/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup water. Take a good old wooden churner and churn the yogurt till it is frothy. Add ice cubes, if serving on a hot summer day.

When Jagruti asked about 'Joyful eating whilst travelling', I thought why not send something I tasted for the first time at a place that is associated with fond memories and also unfamiliar to many and so this lassi is going to be a part of that.
Also going to Srivalli's Thanda Mela.

This has been in my drafts for close to three years as I was not happy with the images of the roots that I had taken. I could not get hold of nannari roots again, so far. If I do, better images would be updated. :)
* Cuddapah pronounced as cu - du - pu (cu as in cup, du as in duck and pu as in pun.)
** Rayalaseema refers to the region ruled by the famous king, Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chickpea Salads

Here are some ideas for Indian style chickpea salads, which are fulfilling and healthier of course.

Guidelines for preparation:
1. Garbanzo bean - Peanut salad:
About a cup of soaked and cooked garbanzo beans (if using canned ones, drain and wash before adding.) + 1/4 to 1/2 cup of toasted, skinned peanuts + finely minced one onion + finely minced green chilies or ground pepper + finely minced cilantro + salt + lime juice
2. Chickpea - Carrot Salad:
Heat a tbsp of oil and add a tsp of chanadal, mustard seeds, a pinch of hing and red chilies as per taste. When chanadal starts to turn reddish, add a cup of grated carrot and sauté on low flame for about five minutes. Then add a cup of cooked black chick peas / garbanzo beans, salt and finely minced cilantro. Stir well.

3. Chickpea - Kohlrabi Salad:
Prepare as above and substitute kohlrabi for carrot.

For the carrot and kohlrabi versions, a cup of yogurt can be added at the time of serving.

They go to Susan's MLLA - 23rd edition.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Pear Smoothie, Brown Rice Bisibele Huli and Jihva Workout Vratham

I thought of being a part of Jihva work out vratham that is being performed at Indira's place this month. Though I would not be able to stick to the exercise routine due to my own reasons, I am putting efforts to stay along with the diet part.
I am going to log what I would be cooking/eating during this process.

May 1st:
Breakfast: (Around 10 AM)
Woke up late and it was around 10 am when I had my breakfast. Made breakfast for the family, got ready the little one for gymnastic class and then had my breakfast. While the family had scrumptious dosas, I had a custom made smoothie :) and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I blended a well - ripened d'anjou pear + 1/2 cup homemade fat free yogurt + a pinch of cardamom powder for flavor (optional) with out any additional sweeteners. The pear smoothie was sweet enough.
The above quantity yields 1 cup of smoothie and adding some crushed ice during blending sounds good on a hot summer day.

Lunch (2 pm)
Then with housework and brief online chatting with my SIL and an aunt, it was around 2 pm when I had lunch and by the time I was almost starving. 2 medium - sized pesarattu with a cup of carrot sambhar satisfied my hunger.
Dinner (8pm)
I returned just before 8pm after 4 hours of shopping and was completely exhausted and starved. Didn't have energy / time to prepare any thing for dinner. Again had pesarattu with sambhar. Churned 1/4 cup fat free, plain yogurt + 1/2 cup water, made majjiga and had it too.
After thought: This menu did not work well since the day started with only smoothie and I was really hungry just after an hour and so. Also didn't have any evening snack. Felt hungry again 2 hours after dinner.

May 2 :
Worked around 1 hour in the garden.

1 cup sprouts
1 cup of bisibele bhath - Prepared with brown rice, lentils, carrots, green beans, peas and spice mixture sans ghee and cashews.
1 cup majjiga / buttermilk
10 almonds + a small fruit
1 cup Bisibelebhath
After thought: Was full whole day. Didn't feel the need to snack in between.

Bisibele huli anna / Bisibele Bhath using Brown rice:
In Kannada, Bisi - hot (as in temperature), Bele - lentils, , Huli - Tangy, Anna / Bhath - rice

Ingredients for 4 -5 servings of Brown rice bisibelehuli:
1 cup brown rice (for the regular version, go with white rice as sona masuri variety)
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups mixed veggies. (Usually I go with chopped carrot, bean, potato, chayote, peas and 2 tomatoes)
Water - 4 to 5 cups
Bisibelebhath powder, homemade or use a good brand like MTRs - 4 Tbsp or as per taste
Salt as needed
For tadka: 3 -4 tbsp ghee, 2 tbsp cashew nuts, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 10/12 curry leaves
(I don't use tamarind when tomatoes are tangy. If the dish needs to be tangier, use tamarind juice as well.)

This wholesome, signature dish from Karnataka can be prepared in a jiffy, if the spice mixture vital for the dish is prepared in advance and when a pressure cooker / pan is used for cooking. When I have time to prepare bisibele bhath leisurely, I would opt to cook it in a pot on stovetop so that the rice - lentils attain almost a creamy texture and all the flavors mingle well. If in a hurry, I sometimes use the short cut method and go with a pressure cooker.
Put rice, lentils, veggies (if in a hurry, go with frozen stuff), turmeric powder and water directly to a pressure cooker or a pressure pan and cook till done. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid.
In the mean time, melt some ghee and toast cashews till they turn golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and then add mustard seeds and curry leaves to the same ghee. When mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the heat.
Add the tadka mixture, bisibelebhath powder and salt to the cooked rice - mixture and stir well. Turn on the stove and simmer for a couple of minutes more.
Serve hot with papad /chips.

This Brown Rice Bisibelebhath goes to Twenty - 20 cooking event.
And the yummy Pear Smoothie goes to
Priya's Cooking with seeds - Cardamom Seeds
Srivalli's Thanda Mela.

Other variations of bisibelebhath:
Cracked Wheat Bisibele Huli
Poha Bisibele Bhath

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