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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ragi Laddus


The month long marathon is coming to an end today and wow, it was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Guests at home, sick kids and other personal issues couldn't stop me. Prior to this, I had never blogged nonstop for a month in my 6+ years of blogging and this opportunity gave me a glimpse into some traditional / regional cooking that I was unaware of. On the whole, it had been an exciting and learning experience.
Here is platter of healthy and nutritious ragi laddus that are quick to put together, on the final day of April blogging marathon. All the good things that go into these laddu preparation of course make them yummy and is an easy way to introduce the kids to ragi. 

Ingredients: (For 15 laddus)
1/2 cup ragi huri hittu / ragi flour
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup peanuts and / or cashews
1/2 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup grated dry coconut
1/2 cup jaggery powder (or to taste)
1 tsp cardamom powder

* Dry toast ragi flour if using, almonds, peanuts, cashews and sesame seeds individually. Toast ragi flour for a couple of minutes. Almonds and sesame seeds each need around a minute to get toasted. Skin peanuts if preferred. Let them cool.
* 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.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Cashew - Corn Rice

I usually don't take my daughter into account when preparing rice dishes. She straight away rejects rice dishes except lemon rice on the pretext of them being spicy and almost never touches them. Sometime back, I saw a corn rice dish on one of the TV shows and was impressed after noting how simple and quick the preparation was. I somehow had a hunch that my daughter at last may like a rice dish without complaining. 
When I am doing the kid centric recipes this week during the marathon, I thought of including a rice dish as well since many Indian kids carry rice for their lunchboxes. I tried the cashew-corn rice today and the daughter as usual wasn't in a mood to try. When I insisted that it was made mildly and exclusively for her, she relented and tried. After the trial, we both concluded that it was a tasty dish. It is a easy lunch box recipe prepared with minimal ingredients and such simple, delicious dishes definitely will come handy during time crunches. This can cater both kids and adults just by adjusting the spice level. Feel free to add garlic if preferred.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1/4 cup corn
2 Tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp cashews 
1 small green chili and / or 1/2 tsp black pepper 
Minced cilantro to garnish.

* Cook rice adding a cup of water in a pressure cooker / electric rice cooker / sauce pan.
* Cook corn. I used frozen corn and zapped in a microwave for a couple of minutes with little water.
* Add cumin to ghee and toast until they start to darken. Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Next add finely minced green chili / garlic if using and saute for few seconds. Then add corn, rice, salt and black pepper if using. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve. 

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Puffed Brown Rice Chivda

Chivda is one of the easiest snacks to pull through in a short time without much efforts. This dish gets prepared frequently in my kitchen as my picky daughter eats it without any complaints. This suits little kids' palates as it is not an overtly spicy dish. Feel free to add / omit ingredients as you like. For ideas, check chivdaspicy puffed rice and poha chivda.
(We simply call chivda type dishes as fried poha / fried puffed rice and so on. When I thought of posting this, I didn't know what to call it and called chivda since it is prepared along similar lines.) 

4 cups puffed brown rice
2 - 3 Tbsp of cashews / peanuts
2 handfuls of roasted chickpeas (dalia)
1/2 cup of kara boondhi
1- 2 Tbsp oil
Few curry leaves (wash and pat dry)
4-6 dried red chillies
Salt to taste

* Heat oil in a wide pan and add mustard seeds and cashews / peanuts.
* Fry until cashews / peanuts turn golden brown and then add dalia, curry leaves, red chillies and saute for few seconds.
* Next add puffed rice and salt. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the puffed rice is crispy. Turn off the stove.
* Let cool and transfer the mixture to an airtight container.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hot Cocoa Mix

When my son was young, hot cocoa and warm apple cider used to be his favorite drinks during the cold weather. Now my daughter asks for hot cocoa sometimes. I keep it pretty basic and prepare it with milk, cocoa powder, sugar and nothing else. Keeping a stock of homemade hot chocolate mix can be handy if you drink it regularly and can be customized according to one's likings / age level. Also it can be a delicious gift during the holiday season.
Since I was doing kids' recipes this week, I kept it simple. Start with a good quality cocoa powder and equal or a little higher quantity confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar). I added sprinkles, chocolate chips and also some marshmallows. I prefer fresh milk over dry powder when serving kids. However you can add dry milk powder, a pinch of salt/cayenne pepper, cinnamon or other things of your preference to cater adults.

You can pour the contents in a pretty jar and tie a ribbon or gift wrap it. If this is going to be a part of a edible gift platter, you can just pack it as I did. Or pack it in a bag along with a mug.

Marshmallows are not a vegetarian / vegan option. We don't consume them but I added since I had them handy and only for the blog pictures.


Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Banana - Gooseberry Milkshake

My son always has loved milkshakes and even now he likes to be surprised by a new variety each time he drinks one. I see no problem in it as I see shakes/smoothies as a healthy way to serve milk and fruit to kids instead of offering junk food as snacks. Sometimes during time crunches, they can be a quick, filling breakfast too. I like to whip up new ones just keeping him in mind and this goose berry one was made at the spur of the moment since I happened to notice the gooseberry preserves bottle in the refrigerator while I was grabbing the milk can. Recently my husband got a bottle from IKEA and instantly we fell in love with it. The small sized, sweet bananas (the elakki balehannu kind) I used lend creaminess and sweetness to the shake. 
Milkshakes are hardly recipes. Just by the title, you can guess what went into a milkshake. Nonetheless here is what you need for this shake. For one serving - blend a cup of cold milk, 2 small bananas and 2 Tbsp gooseberry preserves. And a rich, creamy, nutritious drink is ready to enjoy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bread Blossoms

When I am making kid-centric recipes this week, I thought of including some posts where kids can be involved as well. I had tried these blossoms years ago, from a parenting magazine I used to subscribe. Making these flower shaped snacks with kids can be a fun activity. It is quite easy to prepare these blossoms and kids can help in cutting and shaping the flowers into the muffin cups.

* Heat oven to 350 deg F.
* For each flower, you need a bread slice. Trim the crusts off bread. Cut each slice diagonally into quarters. And again cut them into half so that you end up with 8 triangles with each bread slice.

* Press 7 triangles around the sides of a mini muffin cup. Press the 8th triangle into the bottom. Lightly coat the bread slices with cooking spray.
* Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.
* I have added nutella into the center of each flower cup. One can go with peanut butter and jam as well. Place them on plate with celery stalks.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chocolate Cups

Srivalli threw a googly towards us during this month long marathon with the final theme related to "Crafting / Carving kind of Stuff", challenging us to be creative. I haven't got even a single cell that can claim to be creative and so obviously was going crazy over this theme. Soon I was relieved to notice that some other marathoners were also sailing in the same boat. Valli, as usual pulled us all out of our misery by mentioning that we can go with our own themes if we could not come up with any interesting ideas with the given theme. I haven't prepared anything for this particular week but have decided to stick to recipes as this is a food blog. 
I am going with kid-centric recipes (probably :)) and these cute, edible cups made with chocolate is going to be my Day 1 post of this week's marathon. It is pretty simple to prepare these cups and can be made ahead. They can be used as delicious, edible cups to serve cut fruit, ice creams or any similar kind of desserts. They can be a fun part of any parties, especially the kid-centric ones. 

What you would need:
Semi sweet chocolate chips
Small silver foil paper baking cups
(For about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, you would get around 5 cups.)

* Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt them, passing at 30 seconds intervals. Or place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts. Remove from heat.
* With the back of a teaspoon / spatula, coat the sides and bottom of the baking cups with chocolate. Put the cups in muffin pan or small cups.
* Place them in a refrigerator and chill until the shells harden.
* Tear away the foil once the shells are hardened. The cups would be ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chintakaaya Pachadi / Raw Tamarind Pickle


Indian weather is conducive for gardening through out the year and hence the word "summer bounty" can be hardly used to refer to the backyard produce like we do here in US. In India, the summer season is almost synonymous to pickle / papad preparations. Despite the busy schedules and modern approach of healthy lifestyles, one doesn't shy away from the high oil, salt laden pickles since they can perk up even boring meals. Every household has their own ritual of pickle / papad preparations during summer so that they can enjoy the hard work later on, through out the year. And the preparation process of these spicy pickles vary from region to region and the best thing is they need no refrigeration. They stay fresh for a year or two, given that they are stored in a ceramic or glass jar and dry spoons / ladles are used while handling the pickles.
We come from Andhra, where pickles are a must for every meal and so, I couldn't let go the "seasonal recipes" theme without posting a pickle recipe. And so here is one of the important pickles from the region, chintakaya pachadi. It is prepared using chintakaya, the raw tamarind and hence the name. I usually get my stock from my mother and and the preparation pictures taken during one of my India trip were on my old hard disk and I could not locate them now. And so, there is going to be no pictorial presentation. 

Preparing the base:
* Usually raw tamarind is bought in kilograms. It should be absolutely raw and taste sour. Wash the tamarind to get rid of any dust and other stuff sticking to the husks. Spread them on a cotton cloth and allow them to sundry until no trace of water is left. 
* Grind finely the raw tamarind without bothering about the husk, seeds and all, adding salt and turmeric. (For about 4 - 5 kgs of tamarind, about 2 Tbsp of turmeric powder is needed.) Traditionally a stone mortar was used for this but now you can use blender / mixer. Just remember that the mortar / grinder should be dry. No water anywhere near the pickle preparation. Store it covered in a ceramic jar for a couple of days.
My mother depends on her eyes / palate while preparing any dish and so it was hard to get any measurements from her for this recipe. She had promised me that she will remember to measure the ingredients next time she prepares and so I will update the salt quantity later. However she mentioned that when we taste the ground tamarind, we will know whether the salt is enough or not
* After 2 days, remove the strings, pieces of husks and seeds present, as much as possible. You don't have to go crazy over this. There will be always some stuff left even thorough cleaning. At this point, you can taste, add salt if needed and grind once again. Store in a ceramic jar. This forms the base and can be stored at least for a couple of years. I have five years old stuff which is neatly sealed and still looks like fresh one.

You use a small quantity of the above base to prepare the pickle whenever you need it. The below method is how my mother prepares it. Some use sesame seeds and peanuts as well.

1/2 cup prepared tamarind base (above recipe)
1/2 tsp salt (or as needed)
20 - 22 red chillies (The quantity is not a typo. However it depends upon the spiciness of the red chillies used and so adjust accordingly.)
To toast:
1 tbsp oil, 3 - 4 tsp urad dal / skinned blackgram, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, asafoetida

* Heat oil and add mustard seeds and urad dal. When the dal starts turning reddish, add coriander seeds, asafoetida and red chillies. When the coriander changes a shade darker, turn off the stove. Let it cool.

* Add the toasted ingredients, prepared tamarind and salt if needed, and grind it coarsely. Don't be tempted to add water to grind but if you are preparing this in smaller quantity, you can but remember to refrigerate it. Serve it with hot steamed rice and ghee.

Chintakaya Pachadi, Cabbage Curry and Bittergourd Gojju served with Rice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Watermelon Granita


This recipe just screams summer with words "watermelon' and 'granita' next to each other in the title. Granita, a semi-frozen dessert is light and refreshing. It is originally from Italy and is made from sugar, a liquid (such as fruit juice / coffee / wine) and other flavorings. The texture can range from a coarser, crystalline ones to smooth. The preparation is easier than ice cream and is refreshing especially during the hot Summer days. It is quite simple to prepare. We just pour the prepared liquid into a shallow baking dish, occasionally scrape it with a fork / spoon until a granular consistency is attained. And the "melts on tongue kind" granita is ready to enjoy.
There were plenty of recipes over the internet to prepare granita and going through a few, I roughly got the idea.

3 cups watermelon cubes
Juice squeezed from 1/2 lime / 1 Tbsp lime juice
1 - 2 Tbsp sugar

* Using a seedless watermelon to prepare granita would be a smarter idea. Even though it would have few tiny seeds they will be gone after blending. Prepare the melon and cut it into cubes.

* Blend melon cubes, sugar and lime juice together. Filter if any seeds are present. Pour the juice into a shallow baking dish and place it in the freezer. Leave it at least for 2 - 3 hours.


* It would have started to solidify, especially around the edges. Scrape it with a fork or spoon. It would be less frozen around the middle section.

* Again cover and freeze it for a couple of hours or more. Repeat this process of freezing and scraping until all is scrapped. I skipped these intermediate steps. I froze it and scraped later. During hot climates, I guess it almost turns into slush by the time the scrapping is done.

 * Light and refreshing granita is ready to enjoy.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Almond - Sago Kheer / Badam - Saggubiyyam Payasam

Sago kheer is one of the preferred kheers during summer at our home since it is considered a coolant. Recently I saw an yummier version on a TV show, combining it with almonds. Actually I should say it was like bringing together two delectable kheers - the almond kheer and the sago one, to come up with a healthy, nutritious treat. I tried it immediately and was very much impressed with the outcome and so it makes an appearance here. Also the tiny sago I used were cooked in about 5 minutes and so this kheer was a breeze to prepare. It can be a part of a festive meal or prepared to impress your guests.

1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup sago / saggubiyyam
2.5 - 3 cups milk (Boiled and cooled)
6 - 8 tbsp sugar (or adjust accordingly)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 - 2 Tbsp slivered almonds to garnish (optional)

* Grind almonds into a paste adding water. 
* Heat ghee in a non stick sauce pan. Add almond paste, milk and sugar. Bring it to a boil and add sago. Cook until sago is done. My sago was done in about 5 minutes. Add cardamom powder and turn off the stove.
* This can be served chilled during summers or hot during cold weather.
* Garnish with slivered almonds.

1. There is no need to skin the almonds for this recipe. However if one prefers so, the almonds need to be soaked in water and peeled. For a quicker option, they can be nuked in a microwave with little water for a couple of minutes. The skins come off easily.
2. I added the tiny, quick cooking sago and so the kheer was done in no time.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Frozen Banana - Fig Jam Milkshake


Milkshakes can be delicious thirst quenchers on hot summer days or a quick, filling breakfast during time crunches. One can blend together whatever fruit they like/have with their choice of milk, sweetener and flavorings, making it a drink of one's liking besides with an option of keeping it healthy. Add ice cubes or frozen fruit chunks on a hot day.
Bananas are those fruits that are least preferred at home but still bought each time I go grocery shopping. When I am in no mood to do anything with them, I peel the bananas, cut into big chunks and store them in the freezer either in a ziploc bag or a closed container.  And whenever I prepare shakes or smoothies, I just add them to the blender. They keep the drink cool besides not making it watery like ice cubes. 
I sometimes add fig jam to the banana milkshake. Fig jam lends sweetness and flavor to the jam and so no need to add sugar to this shake. It is one of the yummier shakes and my kid approved drink at home. And so this is my Day 5 post under "Seasonal Recipes".

For one serving, blend together a frozen banana, 1 heaped tsp fig jam and 1 cup milk. Serve immediately.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Baked Nippattu

Source:Red Chillies

A spicy snack along with a cup of evening coffee / tea sounds wonderful, especially during monsoon season / winters. This baked nippattu is one such crunchy, really yummy snack that I have tried several times before. I must mention that this recipe has not disappointed me even once and thanks to Supriya, I could try these. I somehow hadn't tasted these before in Bangalore and that's what piqued my interest initially when I saw the recipe. However the recipe or the taste has nothing to do with the other spicy snack from Karnataka, nippattu. It is more like madduru vade, another delicacy from the state. Try once and I assure you that it will be a part of your treasured recipes.

2 cups all purpose flour / maida (makes more than 2 dozens)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds
1 onion finely chopped
2 -3 green chillies, finely chopped
A handful of cilantro finely chopped
3 tbsp oil
3 - 4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup warm water (or adjust accordingly.) 

* Add flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, onion, chillies and cilantro to a mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well. Next mix in the oil and butter to the ingredients.
* Add the warm water next gradually and make thick dough. Knead well for a couple of minutes, cover and let it rest for a couple of minutes.
* Preheat the oven to 325 deg F.
* Pinch a small ball of dough . Place it between two thick greased plastic sheets and pat it as thinly as possible. Now remove the top cover, and cut into small rounds using a circle shaped cookie dough or a round lid or a cup. Poke holes with a fork so that they do not puff up while baking. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.
* Place the cut rounds on greased cookie sheets and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until they brown.(I flipped them once during baking.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nannari Sherbet

We own a soda maker and my husband keeps preparing different flavored sodas every night after our dinner, irrespective of the weather outside. Recently he prepared nannari sherbet with the syrup we had. This is one of the popular sherbets for the summer months in Cuddapah, my husband's hometown in Andhra pradesh. 
Nannari plant roots are used to prepare syrup which can be stored for longer periods. The roots have their own distinct, pleasant aroma. Either nannari syrup can be made from scratch using nannari roots or can be bought from stores, for a quicker and easier option. 
I had posted earlier a detailed version of how to prepare nannari syrup from scratch and about nannari lassi. Check here if you are interested. If you have syrup ready, preparing this sherbet is a child's play.

1/2 litre soda water
Juice squeezed from a small lemon
2 -3 Tbsp nannari syrup

Mix everything and serve.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Punugulu / Punukulu / Pulibongaralu

Punukulu are a traditional Andhra breakfast / snack item. Even though they are prepared at homes, they are one of the popular street snacks there and can be prepared in two ways either using a batter specially meant to prepare punukulu or can be made using leftover rice / idli batters. Both ways they taste great and are prefect along with tea / coffee on a cold, rainy evening like we have today.

Ingredients: (3 servings)
1.5 cups fermented thick dosa batter
2 - 4 Tbsp rice flour
1 big onion finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Few curry leaves, roughly chopped
Salt to taste (only if needed / if dosa batter is unsalted.)
Oil to fry

* Heat oil in a frying pan.
* Mean while, combine all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl.
* When the oil is hot enough to fry, drop about a tablespoonful of batter into the oil using your fingers or a spoon. Repeat the step and drop the batter balls as many as the pan can fit, without overcrowding. 
* Fry the punugulu on medium flame until they turn golden brown and are cooked through.
* Serve them with peanut or roasted chickpeas chutney.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yogurt-Fruit Rice

Wracking my brain has become a common sort of thing each month when Kalyani announces her magic mingle theme. This month was no different and I thought from watermelon pancakes to phirni, only to settle with a traditional dish at the end. Yogurt rice is one of those simple, soothing dishes from south India and especially a pleasing one on a hot, sultry day. Like many families down in south, we too had enjoyed our share of picnics with pulihora (tamarind rice) and daddhojanam (yogurt rice).  
Adding fruits to the yummy yogurt rice / daddhojanam is a common thing in South India. Grape -pomegranate combo is the most common one. And during summers, we are used to eating mangoes at the end of our lunch / dinner with the yogurt rice. Since mangoes are believed to be heat inducing fruits, we always pair it with the yogurt rice. And this time I added watermelon, orange and pineapple for a refreshing dish.Take care that the fruits being used are sweet. 

Ingredients: (Serves 5 - 6)
1 cup rice (I use extra long rice for yogurt rice since the cooked version would be softer than the sona masuri kind.)
Yogurt as needed (Fat free yogurt will do.)
2 cups finely chopped fruit (I used watermelon, pineapple cubes and orange here.)
Minced cilantro to garnish
Salt to taste
For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp chana dal, 1 tsp urad dal, few curry leaves, 2 red chillies broken into bits

* Cook the rice in a pressure cooker. Let cool and spread on a wide plate.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add chanadal. When chanadal starts to turn reddish add urad dal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add curry leaves and chillies. Turn off the stove. Cool and add this tadka to the rice.
* Add yogurt & salt as needed to the rice and combine well. Then add the fruits and mix well.
* Garnish with cilantro.

1. If you are carrying this rice on a picnic or serving later on a hot summer day, add some milk as well to the mixture. The rice remains sweeter at the time of serving. Especially, the yogurt goes sour quickly during Indian summers.
2. When the yogurt is added to the hot rice / tadka, the yogurt may curdle sometimes. It is better to add yogurt to the cold rice / tadka.

This goes to 
1. Magic Mingle #16 - Watermelon & Rice Combo.

 2. "Seasonal Dishes" theme based week of blogging month.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Zarda ~ Sweet Saffron Rice

Srivalli chose Zarda, a Kashmiri sweet dish for this month's Indian Cooking Challenge and this delicacy is going to double up as my final day post under "traditional recipes" theme of the month long blogging marathon here.
Zarda / Zarda Pulao / Zafrani pulao is a sweet dish from India (mostly in the state of Kashmir) and Pakistan regions. It is a popular dessert in weddings and usually served after a meal. I always associated saffron with the name of the dish but according to Wiki, the addition of yellow food color to the dish gives it's typical color and the name. The word 'Zarda" means yellow in Persian and Urdu. It is similar to the preparation of the sweet pongal from the south Indian region, the difference being in the consistency and the use of spices in the dish. The spices are obviously used since it is a pulao dish but I realised that I would more prefer to let go the cloves and cinnamon if I try the dish next time.
 I read on wiki that the rice is simmered in a mixture of milk and sugar. And so I modified the measurements for water and milk, while drafting this. Actually I went along with the measurements provided for water/milk and added sugar syrup in between cooking. The rice was uncooked after all the liquid was absorbed and so I added some more liquid and pressure cooked it.

Ingredients: (3- 4 servings)
1 cup Basmati rice
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ghee
1 Tbsp each - Almonds / Pistachios / Raisins
1 - 2 cloves, 1 inch piece cinnamon & 2 green cardamom
1 cup milk
A handful of Tutti frutti / murabba
A pinch of yellow color
A pinch of saffron strands soaked in 1 Tbsp warm milk

1. Wash and soak Basmati rice for 15 minutes.
2. In a pan, heat sugar and add 2 - 3 Tbsp water, until a syrupy consistency is reached. Keep it aside.
3. In another pan, toast the nuts and raisins in ghee, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. 
4. To the same ghee, add the cinnamon, clove and cardamom. When the aroma starts coming, add the drained rice and 1 cup water. When the water is almost absorbed, add milk and the yellow food color. Cover and cook on low flame until done. Finally add the sugar syrup.
5. Garnish with toasted nuts and tutti frutti.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.  


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Keera Majjiga Pulusu

Actually I had prepared two other snacks for this week but drafts were not ready and I had to settle with this majjiga pulusu recipe instead. Why? The draft for this recipe was ready and right now I am so tired that I have zero inclination to sit, edit pictures and draft a new recipe. Also this pulusu is a perfect example of everyday traditional, south Indian cooking and I love it
This delicious, spicy dish can be loosely translated as south Indian version of kadhi. It is prepared using sour yogurt and a ground spicy mixture and is popular through out the region. It is known by local names in each state - Majjiga pulusu in Andhra, mor kulambu in Tamilnadu and majjige huli in Karnataka. The basic recipe remains the same though there tend to be minor variations regarding the ground paste. I myself have three tested and tried versions, all equally liked by me - my mother's, my grandmother's and one from my MIL's kitchen. The following is my mother's version of majjiga pulusu. Majjiga is buttermilk and pulusu being stew in Telugu.
White pumpkin, cabbage, cucumber, chayote, bottle gourd are the commonly used vegetables to prepare majjiga pulusu. In Andhra homes, majjiga pulusu is always served along with muddha pappu (Toordal cooked plain and salt added.) and hot steamed rice.

Ingredients for 6 - 8 generous servings:
2 cups sour yogurt
1 cucumber / keera
2 Tbsp rice + 2 Tbsp toor dal
2 - 3 Tbsp cilantro leaves
5 - 6 Serrano peppers
1/4 cup fresh, grated coconut
1 One inch piece of ginger
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

* Soak rice and toordal together in about a cup of water for at least an hour or more. Then drain and wash them. Grind the soaked rice + dal mixture along with cilantro, green chillies, coconut and ginger.
* Peel, grate and quarter the cucumber lengthwise. If the seeds are mature, remove them and chop the cucumber into cubes. I had about 1.5 cups of cucumber cubes. Cook them adding about a cup of water in a microwave or in a sauce pan on stove top.
* Whisk the yogurt adding a cup of water.
* Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Then add the cucumber cubes along with the water used to cook, turmeric powder, ground mixture, yogurt and salt. Add enough water to bring it into the required consistency, about 2 -  3cups. Bring it to a rolling boil and turn off the stove.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hagalakaayi Gojju / Bitter Gourd Gojju

To this day, I strongly dislike eating bitter gourd dishes except a couple. The first one being my paternal grandmother's kakarakayi podi and the second one is this gojju. The bitter gourd is fried and cooked in a tangy, spicy and sweet sauce that one can hardly notice the bitterness of the gourd anymore.
The trio huli, saaru and gojju from the state of Karnataka, can be all loosely translated as the spicy stews and are usually served with steamed rice. Huli/saaru are that state's version of sambhar / rasam. However sometimes both terms are interchangeable for sambhar alone and rasam may be called as thili saaru. Gojjus totally are another story where one needs to balance the tangy, sweet and spicy flavors to treat your tastebuds. 
One can go with several choice of vegetables (and even a couple of fruits) to prepare a gojju, some chosen for special occasions while some prepared to just perk up a boring meal or to put together a quick one during time constraints. For instance the pineapple is usually meant for celebrations. Bitter gourd, okra, cucumber, plantain, potato are the commonly used vegetables while preparing gojjus. And of course the vegetables are used individually and not to be put together.

Gojju pudi is needed for a gojju preparation and it can be prepared in advance and stored so that you have it handy during time constraints. Gojju preparation is quite simple and don't be put off by the long list of the ingredients presented here. Some go for tadka and some for grinding. Try this if you haven't earlier and you would not be disappointed. And for an even quicker version of podi, you can try this bitter gourd gojju.

It is hard to measure the sweetness of jaggery, the sourness factor of a tamarind block or the spice level of chillies since they keep varying from batch to batch. And so just use the quantities of the ingredients mentioned below as a guideline. Taste the gojju while cooking and adjust the ingredients if needed until you are happy with the balance of flavors. 

For gojju powder:
2 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp white sesame seeds
2 - 3 tbsp dry roasted peanuts
10 - 12 red chillies (adjust according to preferred spice levels. Some can be replaced by byadagi chillies for color. )
1/4 cup grated dry coconut (copra)

Preparing gojju pudi / powder:
Toast chanadal and uraddal separately in a sauté pan till they turn reddish and remove. Add coriander seeds to the pan and saute on low flame till it turns a few shades darker. Similarly toast sesame seeds and chilies for a few seconds. Cool all the ingredients and grind into a fine powder.

Ingredients for 3 -4 servings of gojju:
2 small bitter gourds / 1/4 cup cubed bitter melon
Salt to taste
Jaggery powder to taste (I added 2 one oz packets artificial sweetener)
2- 3 tbsp tamarind juice or as needed (tamarind soaked in water and squeezed)
A pinch of turmeric powder
For tadka: 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp chana dal, 1 tsp urad dal, curry leaves, little asafoetida powder and 1 - 2 red chili broken into bits

Preparing Gojju: 
* Take a kadai or a pan. Heat the oil in it and chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When the dal starts to turn reddish, add the asafoetida powder, curry leaves and the red chili. Then add the bitter gourd cubes and fry on low flame, covered until they are cooked. 
* Then add the gojju powder, turmeric powder, tamarind, jaggery, salt and water as needed. The gojju powder thickens the gojju considerably and so add water as needed. The consistency should be somewhere like sambhar - not too thick or runny. Check the flavor and adjust the seasonings, if any needed. Cook till the gojju thickens and comes to a rolling boil
* Serve with rice / rotis.

1. Gojju pudi can be prepared in large batches and can be stored in an air tight container. It can be refrigerated if preferred and used whenever needed.
2. Use of peanuts is optional but definitely enhances the flavor of gojju.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this month long marathon.