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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mambhaza Kaalan

For the past week, I have been blogging with Regional Specials - Andhra theme during blogging marathon # 6. Check what the other marathoners have been cooking.

So far, I have blogged
1. Uppudu Pindi
2. Panasathonalu
3. Keera - Nuvvula Pachadi
4. Thokkudu Laddu
5. Pesarattu
6. Sojjappalu

On the seventh and final day of BM#6 I have been paired with Jayasree of Kailas Kitchen. That means we have to choose one recipe from each other's blog and cook based on the themes we have selected for weeklong blogging. There were many interesting recipes but I decided to go with mambhaza / mango kaalan for a couple of reasons. Kaalan recipe was in my 'to do list' from a long time and I also wanted to see how a "mango - yogurt" combo works in a spicy dish. Of course I know how the combo does wonders in a lassi.J
I was a little apprehensive initially that the dish may end on a sweet note because of the mango used. After tasting it, I felt very glad for trying this. I have to tell you that I am bowled over by this simple and quick traditional dish from Kerala. Sometimes all we need is a simple basic recipe that has been tried and tested (over generations.)
M is not a friend of coconut and my son is not a fan of yogurt dishes and so I prepared this in small quantity and adjusted the ingredients accordingly. It was spicy enough and was reminding me the majjiga pulusu slightly. (Obviously because of the similiarity in the ingredients used though a mango in kadhi is unthinkable.) I think I prepared it the way it should taste. J It was spicy (enough for me) and not sweet.
BTW, kaalan is a very delicious yogurt - coconut based gravy. Thanks Jayasree, I am going to make this often, for myself. J

Ingredients: (3 servings)
1 cup chopped mango cubes (mango fruit)
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 tsp chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 - 4 Tbsp grated fresh coconut (Thaw if using frozen coconut.)
2 Green chillies (I used Serrano peppers)
For seasoning / tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 or 2 red chillies broken into bits, 1/4 tsp methi seeds and few curry leaves

* Add mango cubes, salt, turmeric powder, chili powder and 1/2 cup water to a microwave safe bowl and cook for 5 minutes. Or cook on stove top. Let cool.
* Grind the coconut, chillies, cooked mango mixture along with the water and yogurt in a blender. I found this method quicker and easier instead of whisking the yogurt, pureeing the mango and grinding coconut - chillies separately. It would take just a few seconds to take care of three steps. The only thing you need to remember is not to add plenty of water to cook mango since the kaalan needs to be thicker. Adjust the salt quantity if needed.
* Bring this mixture to a rolling boil and turn off the stove.
* Heat oil in another small pan and add all the seasoning ingredients. When mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the stove and add it to the cooked kaalan. Serve it with hot rice.

1. Ashgourd or plantain can also be added.
2. A small quantity of jaggery can also be added.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sojjappalu / Sojja Poorilu

I chose to post sojjappalu, one of my favorite dishes from Andhra festive foods on this sixth day of BM#6. Let's check what the other marathoners are cooking today.
Sojjappalu or sojja poorilu are one of the easiest and delicious festive dishes that can be prepared and I opt for them when I have to make many dishes on festival days (like on the day of varamahalakshmi vratam). Sojjappalu appear like thick, palm sized patties. Sojjappalu can be loosely translated as pooris stuffed with a sweet, semolina halwa filling accentuated with cardamom flavor.

Ingredients: (For 12 appalu)
1 cup maida / all purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 cup rava / semolina
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
4 tsp ghee
A few ghee toasted cashews (optional)
Oil / ghee to fry

* Combine the flour, 2 Tbsp oil and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water as needed and form firm dough (like chaptahi dough). Rest it for an hour or so.
* Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a pan and toast the cashews until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon.
Toast the semolina in the same ghee often stirring, until it starts to change the color.
* Heat 2 cups of water and when it comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat. Slowly add the semolina, stirring continuously to avoid the lumps. Add 2 tsp of ghee and cook covered until the semolina is done. Then add the sugar and cardamom powder. Cook until all the sugar melts, gets incorporated into the mixture and the whole mixture turns into a thick mass. Add cashews and turn off the stove. Let the halwa come to room temperature.
* Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into balls. Similarly, divide the halwa into 12 equal portions and shape them into balls.

* Dust the work surface with flour if needed. Roll a dough ball into a thin circle of about 4 - 5 inches diameter. Place the halwa ball at the center of the circle and bring the edges of the rolled dough together. Grease your fingers if needed and pat into a circle of 1/4 inches thickness (like that of a athirasam / kajjaya). Appalu are usually about palm sized, thick discs and so don't press them thin as in the case of polis.


* Heat the oil in a frying pan. Pinch a small portion of the dough and drop into the oil to check the readiness. If the dough sizzles and comes to the surface then the oil is ready to fry. Slide the patted dough circle into the hot oil and fry on low flame until golden brown. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough and the filling.

1. Though traditionally appalu are deep fried, they can also be shallow fried. Or they can be toasted with little oil / ghee as we prepare poli.
2. The mentioned sugar quantity is perfect. If the sugar quantity is reduced, the appams are going to taste very mildly sweet.


Monday, June 27, 2011


My BM theme this week is Regional Specials - Andhra Pradesh. Check what the other marathoners in BM#6 have come up with, for today.

Today I am posting a recipe that is more popular among Indian bloggers than in the Andhra households itself. Jam just kidding but I have noticed that "pesarattu" and "gongura" are two popular items when bloggers not native to the region are posting about Andhra vegetarian recipes. I therefore initially thought to stay away from "oh, so predictable pesarattus" during this Andhra themed marathon. This weekend I however had second thoughts since this is one of those commonly prepared items in my household that has not yet got the opportunity to shine on my blog (even after four years). What a shame. L

And so here I am with one of those Andhra classic dishes, pesarattlu. Pesara (refers to the pesarapappu / pesalu) means green gram / moong dal and attu means dosa in Telugu. A pesarattu would therefore be a moong dal (whole green gram) dosa and the plural is pesaratlu. It is a power packed, traditional dish to start your day on a healthy note. And one better thing about these delicious dosas is that the batter need not be fermented after grinding. Just soak the dal and rice, grind and you are ready to enjoy protein rich, nutritious atlu for any meal.

Ingredients: (for about 15 dosas)
1 cup moong dal (green gram)
A handful of rice
4 -5 green chillies or to taste (I used Serrano peppers)
One inch piece of ginger
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Oil to make dosas
2 onions, finely minced (Entirely optional.)

Preparation of batter:
Soak moongdal and rice overnight or for a minimum of 3 - 4 hours. Discard the water used to soak dal and wash the dal again in one or two exchanges of water. Add the other ingredients (excepting the oil and onion) to the drained dal and grind into a coarse, thick batter adding only as much water needed. The batter should be not runny.

Heat a griddle / shallow pan. Sprinkle some water on the griddle. If the water sizzles and evaporates, then the griddle is ready to prepare dosas. Pour a ladleful of batter (about 1/2 cup) at the center of the griddle and spread it into a circle. Sprinkle some minced onion over it. Pour 1/2 tsp of oil around the circumference of the spread batter (and also onion if preferred). Flip the dosa after the bottom side is done and spread a few drops of oil again along the edges. Fry the other side too and remove the dosas. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Traditionally the dosas are served with allam pachadi / ginger chutney while we went ahead with mango ginger chutney.

This moong dal dish goes to Cook it Healthy - Proteinicious event.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thokkudu Laddu / Bandar Laddu

My sister Siri has been blessed with a lovely, little angel last night (it was 26th morning in India) and that calls for a celebration. Though I could be not present there personally, my blessings and wishes are with them. Now I am passing over a virtual platter of laddus on this joyous occasion. J
Sticking to my "Andhra Special" theme, here are thokkudu laddu / Bandar laddu, one more delicacy from the long list of Andhra pindivantalu (traditional festive foods). They are said to be originated in the port city of Bandar / Machalipatnam and hence the name. Even if you haven't heard these names, probably you have read about this town as Masulipatam in your history classes (at least in South Indian schools).
Though these laddus are made with besan, they are way apart in flavor department compared to the regular besan laddus. A little superior in taste I should say. The way these are made makes all the difference. These laddus involve extra steps instead of frying besan as in the besan laddu preparation but once you taste them you feel that the extra efforts you put in was worth.

1 cup besan / chickpea flour
A pinch of salt
1 cup jaggery
1/4 cup ghee
1 tsp cardamom powder
Oil to fry

Making Chaklis:
* Combine besan and salt in a mixing bowl. Add enough water to make soft dough that can be passed through a chakli press.
* Mean while heat oil in a frying pan. Drop a pea sized dough into the oil to check the readiness of the oil. If the dough sizzles and comes to surface then the oil is ready to fry.
* Fill a chakli press with a small portion of the prepared dough. I used a three star disc. Press the mould over the hot oil making a circular motion so that the coils of dough dropping into the oil make a circle shape. You can make as big chaklis as you can fit in the pan. Fry on low flame until golden brown and crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough.
* Cool the chaklis, break them into pieces and grind very finely.

Making jaggery syrup:
After chakli powder is prepared, start to make jaggery syrup. Add a cup of powdered jaggery and 1/2 cup water to a pan and start heating on low - medium flame. When the syrup reaches one thread consistency (theega pakam), add cardamom powder and ghee to it. Then add the chakli powder and mix well. Turn off the stove.

Making laddus:
Grease your palms with ghee and shape the mixture into laddus (lime sized balls) while the mixture is still warm. Don't worry if the mixture appears a little wet. It will dry as it cools. 

1. It is very important to remember that the laddus should be made when the mixture is still warm. The mixture turns powdery after cooling and hence it is impossible to shape them into laddus.
Adding some milk while shaping may salvage the situation but laddus need to be refrigerated since the shelf life is going to be less.
2. The chakli should be ground to very fine powder. I could grind only coarsely because of my blender and so my laddu texture appears different. Also I took the pictures as soon as I made them so they appear to be moist.
3. Sugar can be substituted instead of jaggery. Some Cashews may be added for extra crunch.
4. Coming to the pronunciation of Bandar, "Ban" pronounced as "bun" and "da" as 'th' in they.

Now let's check what the other marathoners are cooking today, during this Blogging Marathon #6.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Keera - Nuvvula Pachadi

Recipe Source: Prabha Gandlur

I can't shy away from posting a 'pachadi' (chutney / pickle) recipe while posting Andhra specials. J Can I ? And so here we go with a  quick cucumber - sesame seeds chutney today. The combination of cucumbers and sesame seeds in chutney may sound preposterous to some. Or to many, it may seem like a combo that never works. I must mention that I was in the second category until I tasted this and had to change my mind.
I got hold of this recipe while casually chatting online with a family member. With BM in mind, I had asked her for some simple, Andhra recipes though I hadn't expected that she would surprise me with such an interesting recipe. This chutney is a simple and quick one besides being unusual. The original recipe needs only five ingredients but I tweaked the recipe a little bit by adding the sweetener and a flavorful tadka of hing. Everyone at home admired it and so here I am sharing this yummy chutney recipe. J

1 cup very finely chopped cucumber
1/4 sesame seeds
10 - 12 red chillies
Small ball of tamarind soaked in water and juice extracted
Jaggery to taste
Salt to taste
For tadka: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp uraddal (split blackgram), few curry leaves and a little asafoetida

* Toast sesame seeds and red chillies together on low flame and let cool.
* Heat oil and add the tadka ingredients. When urad dal starts turning reddish, turn off the stove.
* Dry grind the sesame seeds, red chillies, jaggery and salt together finely. Then add the tamarind juice (about 2 -3 Tbsp or to taste) and run the blender again to mix. There is no need to add water even if the mixture appears not well combined or seems very dry. The moisture from the cucumbers is enough to bind. In fact, the paste turns liquidy after combining with cucumbers. Combine this ground paste and the tadka to the finely chopped cucumbers and mix well. Leave aside for 5 - 10 minutes.
* Serve with hot steamed rice and ghee.

Check here for other version of keera / cucumber pachadi.

Now let's check what the other marathoners are cooking today, during this Blogging Marathon #6.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Panasa Thonalu

Panasa thonalu is a traditional Andhra sweet dish that can be put together very quickly. Panasa thonalu literally means the jackfruit bulbs / pods in Telugu. Why is a sweet dish named so then? It is probably because of their shape. Compared to the other Andhra 'pindivantalu' - the  traditional festive dishes, this one is not a very well known dish but really a mouthwatering kind. I should however assert that the entire process is really a breeze and so a suitable one to prepare in a short notice. 

If a couple of tiny extra steps involved is not counted then panasa thonalu preparation is similar to poori making, if I could put it that way. The dough is shaped, deep fried and dunked in sugar syrup for a few minutes so that the crisp thonalu is left with a thin coating of sugar resulting in a yummy delicacy. A good and easy one even for a novice.

Ingredients: (Yield - 12)
1 cup all purpose flour / maida
2 tbsp. ghee (2 tbsp. more can be used if preferred.)
A pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom 
Oil to fry


* Combine melted ghee, salt and flour in a mixing bowl. Add water in increments and prepare a firm dough (like that of chapathi dough consistency).
* Add sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and keep cooking until one thread consistency syrup (theega pakam) is formed. Add cardamom powder and mix well. Remove the syrup from heat.

* Divide the prepared dough into twelve equal portions and shape them into balls. 
* Take one ball and roll it into a thin disc of about 4 -5 inches diameter (like a poori). Using a knife, make vertical slits along the disc about 1 cm apart, taking care to leave the edges untouched.  

* Though I have shown 4 slits in the above image, you can go with more. Now gently roll the disc. 
* Pinch / twist at the edges of the roll.
* This is how a panasathona looks when spread. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough balls.
* Meanwhile heat oil in a frying pan. When it is hot enough to fry, lower the heat and gently slide in a few prepared panasathonalu. Panasathonalu can be fried in batches, 4 to 6 at a time depending upon the size of the frying pan being used.
* Fry the pieces until golden brown and crisp, flipping in between. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the sugar syrup prepared earlier. Remove them from the syrup after 3 - 4 minutes and place it on a tray / plate. When they dry, store them in an airtight container. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Easy Breezy Uppudu Pindi

The second session of Blogging Marathon #6 starts from today. There are 20 marathoners participating in this week's marathon and the themes this time are going to be
1. Cooking with one ingredient in seven different ways.
2. Seven days of Regional specials
3. Seven days of Picnic food
4. Seven days of 'Mini bites'
5. One theme a day

I selected "Regional Specials" for this week and chose "Andhra Cuisine" to be my theme. I am starting with a simple and basic sort of dish, "Uppudu Pindi" that can be created using ingredients mundanely found in any Indian pantry. This traditional recipe from the region is served either as breakfast or as a mini meal. One can loosely translate uppudu pindi as rice rava-moong-coconut upma with a basic tadka. A comfortably fulfilling meal that is simple in terms of preparation and can be put together in less time compared to the standard upma since there is no frying of onions / vegetables involved. You don't even have to take out your cutting board and knife if using frozen coconut. 

Ingredients: (For 3 - 4 servings)
1 & 1/4 cups biyyapu ravva (rice rava)
3 Tbsp moongdal (the split, yellow one)
1/4 cup fresh / frozen grated coconut (I used frozen)
2 cups water
Salt to taste
For tadka: 2 - 3 tsp oil, 1 Tbsp uraddal (skinned, split blackgram), 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 5 - 6 red chillies broken into bits

* Soak moongdal in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain.
* Heat oil in a kadai / pan and add the tadka ingredients. When the dal starts to turn reddish, add water, salt, coconut and moong dal to the pan.
* When the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Add rava, continuously stirring. Cook covered until rava is done and appears fluffy.
* Serve with some avakaya for that authentic touch or with any spicy pickle or powder.

1. Moongdal is generally cooked prior to the rava addition. The extra water used to cook moongdal tends to make a mushy upma since it is hard to keep count on the water used. I don't prefer to end up with a mushy stuff and so soak the moongdal before adding it to the rava, which results in a fluffier upma.
2. Biyyapu nooka (coarse / cracked rice) can replace biyyapu rava (rice rava / rice ground to semolina consistency) in this recipe. The water quantity may need adjustment when cracked rice is used.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ragi Vermicelli - Mango Halwa & Ragi Vermicelli - Cracked Wheat Upma

Today marks the seventh and final day of BM#6 for the participants in group 1. Srivalli has paired bloggers on the final day so that we can cook picking a recipe from each other's blog, adhering to our themes. I have been paired with Archana and unfortunately, she hasn't blogged any recipes related to my theme 'Ragi'. And so, Srivalli has given me a green signal to go ahead with my own recipe and today, here I am with not one but two ragi recipes. A halwa and upma like a Bangalore's popular chowchow bhath combo. However instead of keeping it simple, I have paired ragi vermicelli with mango, the king of fruits for a flavorful halwa and with a delicious combo of cracked wheat - coconut in upma. The combinations did work out well resulting in yummy dishes.

Ragi Vermicelli - Mango Halwa:

3/4 cup ragi vermicelli
Puree from a mango (I had about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup water
Sugar to taste
1 tsp Cardamom powder
1 tbsp each - ghee and cashews

* Toast the cashews until golden in ghee and keep aside. To the same ghee, add the vermicelli and fry for a minute.
* Bring the water to a rolling boil and add the vermicelli and mango puree. Cook covered on low flame until vermicelli is done. Add extra water if needed. It takes a little longer than usual because of the addition of mango. Then add sugar and continue to cook until the sugar melts and gets incorporated into the mixture. Add cardamom powder and the toasted cashews and mix well. Turn off the stove.
Vermicelli can be cooked alone and then mango puree may be added. This second method surely cuts down the time but it would not be a thicker version of halwa.

Ragi Vermicelli - Cracked Wheat Upma:

Now let's move on to the second recipe. This one is a quick and healthy breakfast combined with the goodness of ragi and wheat. It takes around 10 minutes to prepare this breakfast and the addition of any veggies would make it wholesome.
Ingredients: (2 - 3 servings)
1 cup vermicelli
1/4 cup cracked wheat / godhuma rava
1/4 cup grated coconut (fresh / frozen)
3 green chillies, chopped fine ()
1.5 cup water
Salt to taste
For tadka:
1 - 2 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp chanadal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp uraddal (split black gram), 1 Tbsp cashews (optional), few curry leaves

Heat oil in a pan and add the tadka ingredients. When the dals start to turn reddish, add the green chillies and sauté for a few seconds. Then add the water and salt to the pan. When water starts to boil, add the ragi vermicelli, cracked wheat and coconut. Stir well, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until done. 

Check what the other marathoners are cooking.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy & Quick Ragi Laddus

Here is platter of healthy and quick ragi laddus on this 6th day of blogging marathon. The wholesome ragi, the nutritious almonds, the sweet coconut - jaggery combo, flavorful cardamom all together combine resulting in these delicious laddus. It can be put together under 10 minutes and an easy one even for beginners. J

Ingredients: (For 12 laddus)
1/2 cup Ragi flour
1/4 cup Almonds
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
1/4 - 1/2 cup Grated dry coconut (I used 1/4 cup.)
1/2 cup Jaggery powder (or to taste)
1 tsp Cardamom powder

* Dry toast ragi flour, almonds and sesame seeds individually. Let them cool. Toast ragi flour for a couple of minutes. Almonds and sesame seeds each need around a minute to get toasted.
* Grind all the ingredients to the desired texture in a blender or a food processor.
* Shape the ground mixture into laddus. I did not add any ghee / milk to make laddus. There is no need unless if the mixture is too dry to shape into laddus.
* Store them in an airtight container. They can be refrigerated.

* You can increase or decrease the quantities of ingredients according to the taste preferred.
* Almonds can be substituted with peanuts. Or a combination of various nuts can be used. Cashews, walnuts, pistachios are good choices.

This is my 'Ragi' themed post on day 6 of this BM#6. Check what the other marathoners are cooking.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Ragi Vermicelli - Mango Kheer

I love fruity kheers and this one resulted just because of that. A sure treat for mango lovers.

3/4 cup ragi vermicelli (regular vermicelli can be substituted.)
Puree from a mango (I had about 3/4 cup)
3 cups milk (or as needed)
Sugar to taste
Cardamom powder
1 tbsp each - ghee and cashews

Heat the ghee in a pan and toast cashews until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. To the same ghee, add the vermicelli and toast for a minute.
Heat milk in a pan and add vermicelli. Cook on low - medium flame until the vermicelli strands are cooked, stirring in between. Then add the sugar, mango puree and cardamom powder. Stir the mixture well. Turn off the stove when sugar dissolves. Alternatively, the mango puree can be stirred once the kheer comes to room temperature.

This is my 'Ragi' themed post on day 5 of this BM#6. Check what the other marathoners are cooking.

Other ragi posts blogged earlier are
Ragi hurihittu / Unde
2 Minutes Ragi drink
Ragi - Brown Rice Idli
Ragi Sprouts Idli
Ragi Vermicelli Kheer
Ragi Cookies
Ragi Chakli
Ragi Dosas
Ragi Muddhe


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Easy Breezy Ragi Muddhe & Radish Sambhar


A ragi muddhe served with some spicy sambhar is totally a satisfying and fulfilling meal. Muddhe pronounced as  mu - they with a stress on they. Muddhey refers to the circular shaped big morsel of cooked ragi flour.

The state of Karnataka accounts for almost half of the total production of ragi (finger millet) in India and no wonder that it is one of their chief crops. However ragi is popular mostly in the Southern regions of that state and here the grain is eaten in one form or another in most of the households. Ragi has been prized for its health benefits for centuries. It is rich in iron and calcium, diabetic friendly and is said to cool one's body. The facts that it is available abundantly at a cheaper price and is comfortably fulfilling make it more popular among the economically weaker section.
Ragi rotti and ragi muddhe have to be the most quintessentially popular ones among the ragi dishes prepared. I have to however stress that all Kannadigas don't eat muddhe and rotti scores more points over it since it is eaten widely through out the state. Ragi muddhe rules over rice especially in and around regions of Bangalore. A big muddhe + saaru lunch and dinner is a pretty common sight in most of the households, irrespective of one's social / economic status. This is not a restaurant item, though. I remember seeing some military hotels displaying the 'muddhe ready' boards outside. I don't know whether the new eateries presenting 'themed' food now serve muddhe in the name of traditional food. Sadly, I am no longer familiar with the Bangalore scenario except eating at the Indiranagar Shantisagar once or twice in the last decade.
Liking 'ragi' is an acquired taste and liking a 'muddhe' is more so. Many may not find the earthy flavor of ragi very inviting unless they are used to it or want to reap the benefits of this healthy grain. If you are a new user, I would recommend rottis / huri hittu to try. Probably ragi muddhe is the last thing to attempt because of its flavor and texture. Also preparing it in the traditional way is said to be trickier and needs expertise. I must admit that I was not a fan of muddhe until a couple of years ago even though I grew up eating all the other delicious ragi preparations. When M mentioned that his mother used to prepare ragi sankati (ragi - rice preparation) and all his siblings used to enjoy it, I hopped onto the blogosphere looking for an easier version and landed at Madhu's place. She happens to be one of my early blogger buddies and blogs no longer after her move to India.
Coming back to the recipe, this is a very easy version and is hard to mess up. All one need to do is just follow the measurements and instructions precisely. I have been making this for years now and the recipe is a keeper.

1 cup - Ragi flour
2 cups - Water
Salt to taste (I usually don't add it.)
(Basically ragi flour : water ratio needs to be 1 : 2)

* Bring a cup of water to boil in a pan.
* Meanwhile, combine a cup of ragi flour and a cup of water to form a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
* While water is boiling, slowly add the ragi paste and salt to it. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until it comes together with out any lumps. When it appears cooked, remove from the fire. 
When the cooked dough is still warm, wet your hands and shape it into balls of desired size. (I skip this step since I make small quantity and eat it once done. Mine is done in around 8 - 10 minutes.)

One would not sit and chew ragi muddhe morsels like one usually does with rice. They usually dip a small portion of the muddhe in a generous amount of a spicy saaru / gravy (bassaru / massappu / a spicy green leafy vegetable stew) and just swallow/gulp it since it sticks to the roof of the mouth if eaten leisurely.
M loves with eggplant sambhar but recently I have started to serve ragi muddhe with all kinds of sambhars and so it was radish sambhar this time. Now here is the recipe for radish sambhar.


Ingredients: (For 6 servings:)
2/3 cup toor dal / pigeon peas
1 cup radish pieces (Radish peeled and cut into thin discs. Regular long white ones  / daikon can be substituted. )
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp sambhar powder
Salt to taste
1.5 tsp chili powder
4 Tbsp or as needed - tamarind juice (a lime sized tamarind soaked in water and juice squeezed.)
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida powder and few curry leaves

Making sambhar:
* Wash the toordal in two exchanges of water. Add 1.5 cups of water, radish discs and turmeric powder to the dal container and place it in a pressure cooker and cook till the dal is almost mushy. Alternatively, it can be cooked on stovetop in a kadai / deep based pan adding water as needed and stirring in between.
* Take a kadai / pan and add the cooked dal and vegetable. Mash it a little bit with the back of a ladle. Then add sambhar powder, chili powder, salt and tamarind juice. Add extra water to bring to sambhar consistency. Mix well and turn on the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Bring it to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and allow the sambhar to simmer for a couple of minutes more.
* Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to sizzle, add the asafoetida powder and turn off the stove. Add this tadka to the cooked sambhar and mix well.

1. There is another version, where rice is added to muddhe while cooking.
2. Traditionally, a wooden gadget called muddhe kolu is used to stir the muddhe. I find a wooden spatula does the job and using a nonstick pan makes it further easier.

This is my 'Ragi' themed post on the fourth day of this BM#6. Check what the other marathoners are cooking.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ragi Dosas

I somehow did not get a chance to try these ragi dosas until recently though I knew about them for a long time. I recalled about them while having a casual conversation with a friend and tried them immediately. I loved the texture and flavor of these dosas more compared to the instant version I regularly prepare. Yes, these dosas need soaking and fermenting like the regular dosas. Try them if you are looking to kick start your day on a healthy note. They are a good alternative to rice dosas.

Ingredients for 20 dosas:
3/4 cup urad dal (skinned black gram)
1.5 cup ragi flour (finger millet flour)
2 - 3 Tbsp poha (flattened rice flakes)
1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
Salt to taste

Preparation of dosa batter:
Soak urad dal, poha and methi seeds together in water, for about 3 hours. Throw away the water used to soak. Grind uraddal, poha and methi into very fine batter, adding water as needed. Collect the batter into a big container and add ragi flour and salt to it. Mix the batter well with a ladle so that the flour is incorporated well into the mixture. Cover the container and allow it to ferment overnight in a warm place.

Making Dosas:
Heat a griddle or a flat pan. Sprinkle some water on the griddle. If the water sizzles and evaporates, then the griddle is ready to make dosas.
Mix the fermented batter well with a ladle. Pour a ladleful of batter (about 1/2 cup) at the centre of the griddle and spread it into a thin circle. Pour 1/2 tsp of oil around the circumference of the spread batter. Flip the dosa after the bottom side is done and spread a few drops of oil again along the edges. Fry the other side too and remove the dosas. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Serve them with any chutney or a spicy pickle.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking on this third day of BM#6.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ragi Chakli ~ BM#6

Check what the other marathoners are cooking on this second day of BM#6 while I am presenting these yummy ragi chaklis. 
Ragi chaklis taste absolutely fabulous though they may not be one of those visually stunning munchies one comes across. Sesame - cumin combo dominate the flavor department making these chaklis very addictive. If you have kept away from ragi because of its earthy flavor, then I would highly recommend trying these chaklis or the cookies I previously posted. This delicious, crunchy snack is a perfect companion for your evening cup of coffee / tea or a right one to just munch on.

Ingredients: (for 25 small sized chaklis)
1 cup ragi flour
1/4 cup each - urad dal flour (skinned blackgram flour)
1/4 cup - powdered daliya / roasted chick peas / pappulu
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ghee
Oil to fry the chaklis
(Note: I mean standard American measuring cups when I mention the quantities.)

Utensils needed:
A mixing bowl for the dough, a kadai to fry in, chakli press with 3 star disc and a big slotted spoon

Making chaklis:
* Heat oil in a kadai on medium flame.
* Meanwhile, combine the flours, salt, sesame seeds and cumin seeds in a mixing bowl. Add the ghee and rub into the mixture. Then add water slowly to the flour mixture to form firm dough that can be passed through the chakli press.
Now to test whether the oil is hot enough to fry, slowly slide a pinch of dough into the oil. If it sizzles and comes to surface, then the oil is ready. If not, heat the oil a little longer.
* Take a small portion of the dough and fill in the chakli press. (Use the disc with three stars.) Using your hands, press the mould over the hot oil making circling motion so that coils of dough from the mold dropping into the oil make a circle shape. (Don't worry if you don't get perfect circles.) Fry on low flame till they are fried through out uniformly both sides and turn crisp.

* Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ragi Cookies ~ Finger Millet Cookies

Blogging Marathon #6 starts from today. There are 14 marathoners participating in this week's marathon and as usual, Srivalli has come up with different themes to make BM more interesting.

This time, it is going to be
1. Cooking with one ingredient in seven different ways.
2. Seven days of Regional specials
3. Seven days of Picnic food
4. Seven days of 'Mini bites'
5. Recipe less picture posts

I selected 'cooking with one ingredient in seven different ways' as my theme for this week and the ingredient I chose is Ragi. And so, I am hoping to present some interesting ragi recipes this week. The first recipe in this marathon is going to be these yummy ragi cookies.

I don't recall ever eating ragi cookies back in India. I don't know whether it was because I overlooked them in the array of other delicious baked goodies sold or whether our local baker ever carried them. I noticed and bought some for the first time in an Indian bakery that is near my home, here locally. Though it sounds surprising, I do have an Indian bakery amidst other good Indian restaurants in this peaceful Chicago suburban town.
I planned to recreate those ragi cookies at home and have been searching for a good recipe. I came across one at 'Aayi's Recipes' recently. I just followed her recipe blindly and they turned out awesome. Everyone including my husband who is not a great cookie lover liked them. These delicious, addictive cookies are going to be baked regularly in my kitchen from now on. J

Ingredients: (yields about 30)
2 cups ragi flour
1 cup melted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp baking powder

* Toast the ragi flour on medium heat for about 5 minutes taking care not to burn it. Let cool.
* Preheat the oven at 300F (for 10mins). Grease two baking sheets.
* Now combine well all the ingredients in a mixing bowl to form the dough.
* Pinch out about Tbsp size dough and roll into a ball. Gently press with your thumb at the top (or fingers) to slightly flatten it. Do not flatten it thinly. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough.
* Place them on greased baking sheets. Leave enough space between two cookies as they somewhat increase in size after baking.
* Bake in oven at 300F for about 20mins or until the tops turn a bit firmer. (See notes.)
* Cool to room temperature and store in airtight container.

1. The store ones were flat, palm sized cookies but I shaped them like nankhatais. I think I should have been a little careful while shaping and could have flattened them a little more to avoid the cracks that appear after baking. It doesn't interfere with the flavor or the texture of the cookies though. Also wondering if I can reduce the baking powder quantity next time since traditional nan khatais use no / little baking powder.
2. I had to bake 5 - 8 minutes extra for firmer cookies. At 20 minutes, the tops were soft to touch and were crumbly. A few minutes more, they were firmer and perfect.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Iyengar Bakery Style Khara Biscuit ~ ICC

Srivalli chose Champa's Iyengar bakery style Khara biscuits or in short, savory shortbread cookies for this month's Indian Cooking Challenge. I wanted to do a happy jig since I don't know how many loads of good stuff I have consumed from these bakeries while growing up. Khara puff (Spicy vegetable puffs), benne biskathu (Butter biscuits), salt biscuits, rusk, dilpasand / chowka bun stuffed with a sweet coconut and dry fruit filling, the sticky, orange honey cake slices, sweet pastries, palya bun and all the good stuff I ate just passed by in front of my eyes like a motion picture. I know I am exaggerating but that's what happens when nostalgia kicks in. J
Iyengar bakeries need no introduction to South Indians. At least in the parts I grew up and familiar with, there was never any dearth of good Iyengar bakeries. Bakeries used to be tucked away in every nook and corner of the suburbs (not exaggeration), catering to the needs of hungry souls, especially popular with the evening crowd. I am sure these bakeries can evoke fond memories in each one of us. A bakery those days would just be called 'Iyengar bakery' or 'Bangalore Iyengar bakery' or something on  similar lines and the stuff available at these stores would be almost the same though they were never part of a franchise.  And especially they used to sell egg less goodies.
I am talking in the past tense since Bangalore, the city where I grew up looks like an unfamiliar zone to me now because of the tremendous changes the city has gone through. May be that is the case everywhere, with modernization engulfing even the remotest part of the country. No offense but I cringe to think about the eateries that sell pizzas / burgers / sandwiches taking over our culinary joints and becoming a fashion statement for the modern Indian youth. I really feel sad to see the new phase (at least in metro cities.) though I respect the 'globalization' effect. (I know this topic needs another post.)
I don't know how many laid back suburbs still exist at this point of time but they do remain evergreen in my memory. And here is a post to relive the past.
These biscuits are not to be confused with the American version that is served with gravy. They are equivalent to American 'cookies'. Khara biscuit literally means spicy cookies in Kannada and are quite unlike the sweet versions of the western world.

2 cups all purpose flour / maida (or 250 gms)
1/3 cup (or 5 TBSP + 1 tsp) softened butter 

4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
6 Green chillies, chopped fine (or to taste.) / 1 Tbsp pepper powder

2 Tbsp minced cilantro
3 Tbsp Yogurt (See notes.)

* Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Grease the baking sheets and set aside.
Add flour and salt to a bowl and whisk together. If using pepper powder add that as well.
Cream the softened butter and sugar in another bowl. Add about 2 Tbsp yogurt and continue to beat. Next add the dry ingredients, chopped cilantro, chillies and 1Tbsp of yogurt. With out applying much pressure, work the dough with your hands. Add any extra yogurt if needed, to form a firm dough.
* Roll the dough into about 1/4" thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes.
* Place them on the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes or until done. Rotate the trays halfway through. These cookie tops don't brown but the bottoms turn golden brown when done.
* Let cool and store in an airtight container. They get firmer once cooled and stay fresh for about 4 days. 

1. I had to use about 5 - 6 Tbsp of yogurt though the original recipe mentions to use 2 - 3 Tbsp.
2. I baked for 20 minutes and allowed them to cool. They were soft and I had to bake them again for another 10 -12 minutes to attain the desired texture.
3. Mint / curry leaves can be substituted for cilantro.
4. A tbsp of cumin / sesame seeds can be added for extra flavor.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Cooking With Whole Foods - LB - Toor Dal / Pigeon Peas" Roundup

Here is an array of colorful, delicious and interesting entries I received from fellow foodies for the 'Cooking with Whole Foods - Toor Dal / Pigeon Peas' event, I guesthosted during the past two months. I thank Kiran for giving me the opportunity to host this wonderful event. I greatly admire and appreciate all the mouth watering entries and the hard work that went behind.
As usual, I cannot beat (or I don't think anyone can) Priya even in my own event. Thank you dear for sending such eight lovely entries. J

I have divided the entries into dal / sambhars, chutney/ curry and mini meals for an easy reference and the entries are arranged in the order I received them. Please go through them leisurely and enjoy. If I have left out any of your entries, please drop me a line. I would be happy to include them in the final roundup.

Spicy Indian Stews - Dals / Sambhars

Raji's Dal Lucknowi

Lubna Karim's Thothakura Pappu

Archana Vivek's Mysore Rasam
Vardhinis Spinach Dal

Rupali's Dal Palak

Binitha Shajesh's Dal Fry

Binitha Shajesh's Muringa Ila Parippu Kootan
(Image not sent.)

Nirmala's Poricha Koyambu

Vaishnavi Chougule's Methi - Toordal Curry

Harini - Jaya Alu - Ginger Dal

Neetu Srivastava's Fried Daal

Raw Papaya &Methi Kootu

Priya Suresh's Leek & Tomato Sambhar
Leek & Tomato Sambhar

Priya Suresh's Raw Mango Dal
Raw Mango Dal


Priya Suresh's Green Tomato Kootu
Green Tomato Kootu

Shylaja 's Udipi Sambar

Madhavi Iyer's Ridge Gourd Pappu

Vatsala's VaranPhala

Chutneys / Curries

Uma Shankar's Paruppu Thogayal

Mom Chef's Paruppu Usuli

Mixed veggies toordal stirfry

Beerakaya kandikaya kura, ridge gourd pigeon peas curry

Harini - Jaya's Toordal Fry

Mini Meals

Vardhini Bisibelebhath

Mom Chef's Bisi Bele Bhath

Mom Chef's Nuchina Unde

Quinoa,dal & tomato soup

Binitha Shajesh's BisibeleBhath
( No Image)

Priya Suresh's Toordal Paratha
Toordal Paratha

Priya Suresh's Bisibele Bhath

Arathis Toordal Kofta

And a dessert,