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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Minumala Annam / Urad Dal Rice

Here is a simple and quick south Indian style rice idea using black gram / urad dal. This rice does not need even vegetables and does not involve any elaborate prep work or cooking. I saw the mention of this rice as part of a prasadam to be offered in a 'Rama Paarayan' book. To be honest, I had never heard about it before and I am still not sure if there is a standard version out there for this rice preparation. I went ahead with my own version keeping it simple and basic. I liked the rice and feel that it is a great idea when you have left over rice and looking for a quick meal option or have run out of vegetables.
2 cups cooked rice (I used sona masuri rice.)
1 tbsp. whole black gram /  sabut urad dal
1/2 tbsp. split chick peas / chana dal
1 to 2 tbsp. grated dry coconut
3 dried red chillies
Ingredients for tadka:
2 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. peanuts
1 tsp. split chickpeas / chana dal
1 tsp skinned and split black gram / urad dal
1 tsp. mustard seeds
10 - 12 curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
3/4 tsp. salt or to taste
2 pinches of asafoetida powder

* Dry toast black gram, split chick peas, dry coconut and red chillies together on medium flame until the split chickpeas starts to change color to a reddish hue. Transfer the ingredients to a wide plate and let them cool. Grind the ingredients to a fine powder.
* Heat oil and add peanuts, split chickpeas, split black gram and mustard seeds in that order. When peanuts and split chickpeas turn golden brown, add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida and stir once. Turn off the stove and add the ground powder and salt. Stir well until the powder is coated with the oil and add the rice. Mix well until all the rice grains are coated well with the powder, breaking any rice lumps if present. 
* The rice can be served immediately. 
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Bookmarked Recipes'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

These pancakes are literally based on the filling from left over pumpkin pie I had. My son bought a large sized pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving and left to his university soon after, leaving about 2/3rds of it unfinished. The rest of us found it too rich and cloyingly sweet for our tastes though there was nothing wrong with the pie, generally speaking. My daughter who usually doesn't volunteer to taste sweet dishes decided to try the pumpkin pie when she saw it. However she ended up sitting at the table for five minutes not knowing whether to spit or swallow the first piece of pie she put in her mouth. I had to find ways to finish off that pie and finally, the filling and base ended up in four different dishes. These fluffy and flavorful pancakes are one of those which even my daughter enjoyed without any complaints.
Ingredients: (Yield 8 pancakes)
1 egg substitute (I used Ener-G egg replacer.)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling 
1/2 cup puree + 2 tbsp. sugar + 1 tsp. all spice
2 tbsp. butter
1 & 1/2 cups milk

* Combine 1.5 tsp. Ener-G and 2 tbsp.warm water in a small bowl and keep aside.
* Heat a griddle / non stick pan on medium heat such that a drop of water beads when dropped on it.
* Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk pumpkin pie filling, melted butter and milk in another bowl. Combine dry ingredients, wet ingredients and the egg substitute. Whisk the mixture to a thick batter.
* Pour about 1/4 cup batter of batter onto the pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip the pancake with a spatula and cook for about 30 - 40 seconds more. Transfer onto a serving plate. Repeat the steps with the remaining batter.
* Serve the pancakes warm with maple syrup or honey.
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Bookmarked Recipes'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pongala Payasam

Google introduced me recently to the 'Ponkala' or 'Pongala' festival when I was trying to compile a list of Indian festivals celebrated during this month. It turns out that it has nothing to do with the 'Pongal' festival of Tamil nadu though it sounds similar. The Pongala festival happens to be an important religious celebration at the Bhagavathy temple in Attukal, Trivandrum in the south Indian state of Kerala. It is celebrated for 10 days during the months of February - March to pray the presiding deity of the temple, Attukal Devi. The temple is renowned for this annual celebration where a large section of women participate to pray goddess Attukul Devi, who they believe would fulfill all their wishes. In fact, 3.5 million women participated in 2009 in the celebration, thereby setting a Guinness Book of World Record for being the single largest gathering of women for a religious activity. 

Millions of women gather around the temple and prepare 'Pongala' in the open in new earthen pots to please the Goddess. Pongala (literally means to boil over) is a ritualistic offering of the sweet rice pudding prepared in the temple premises to the Goddess. This payasam doesn't use milk or moong dal as the standard sweet pongal versions do. Wiki mentions that the pongala payasam is prepared with a special payasam rice called as puzhungalari, jaggery, coconuts, raisins, nuts and other ingredients. We prepare the standard version pongal at home using those ingredients and I got curious about 'the other ingredients' there until I came across this interesting pongla payasam version. It had bananas and bay leaves in it and I therefore decided to give it a try. I am already a fan of sweet pongal but I must say that I am sold out to this version of sweet pongal. It is hard to notice the banana flavor individually in the recipe but it lends an extra layer of sweetness to the dish. If you are looking for a new version of sweet pongal, try it out. You would be glad that you did.
It is made in earthen pots on open fire at the festival though at home, a gas stove and pressure cooker would make it a quick and fuss free preparation. In lieu of a pressure cooker, it can be cooked in a sturdy or a nonstick pot, with frequent stirring. I have given the pressure cooker method below but if using a pot to cook, the amount of water need to be adjusted accordingly. It would be more than a cup. The payasam should be on a thicker side according to the original recipe. And the color of the payasam depends upon the jaggery that have been used.

Source: Here
Ingredients: (Yield 3 - 4 servings)
1/2 cup payasam rice / regular rice (I used extra large grain.)
1/2 cup powdered jaggery
1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. cashew nuts
1 sweet variety small banana, cut into pieces
2 cardamom, crushed
1 bay leaf 
1 tbsp. ghee or as per taste

* Rinse the rice in two exchanges of water and drain the water. Pressure cook the rice adding a cup of water. 
* Transfer the cooked rice to a nonstick pot. Add jaggery, coconut,  ghee, and cardamom to the pot. Cook the mixture on low flame until the jaggery melts, stirring frequently.
* Tear the bay leaves into pieces and add to the mixture. Next add the banana pieces, raisins and cashews and stir well. Turn off the stove.
* It can be covered with a banana leaf, if you have access to it.
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Festival recipes'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Beerakaaya Bajji / Ridgegourd Fritters

Bajji / Bhujiya are the spicy, Indian chickpea flour based vegetable fritters and today's version uses ridge gourd slices. This mouthwatering treat sans onion can be a part of either a festival platter or an accompaniment to evening tea / coffee.

Ingredients: (Yield about 16 bajjis)
1/2 cup heaped chickpea flour / besan
1 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 ridge gourd
Oil to deep fry (I used canola oil.) 

* Peel the ridge gourd and cut into thin slices.
* Heat the oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Don't bring it to the point of smoking hot.
* Sieve garbanzo flour into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the ridge gourd slices to the bowl and mix to combine. Next add water and make a batter of semi-thick consistency. It should be neither thick nor watery but should be able to coat when the ridge gourd slices are dipped in it. (I used about 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp. water.)
* Drop a pinch of batter into the oil to test whether the oil is ready for frying. If the batter sizzles and comes immediately to the surface, it's ready to fry. If the batter sinks and doesn't rise, the oil needs some more heating. Dip the ridge gourd slice in the batter so that it is coated well on both sides and drop it into the oil carefully. Repeat this step and drop as many slices as the pan could hold without over crowding.
* Fry until they turn golden brown. Remove them with a spatula and drain on absorbent towels. 
* Repeat the steps with the remaining gourd slices and the batter.
* These bajjis can be served as it is or with chutney on the side.
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Festival recipes'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Tamilnadu Thaali

Today's thaali comes from the south Indian state of Tamil nadu which involves around rice. The side dishes, curries and lentil based dishes are eaten along with rice and a dollop of ghee. 

Here's what on this vegetarian menu is:
Mango pickle 
Beans paruppu usili
Cabbage poriyal
Peerkangai kootu
Mor kuzhambu
Steamed rice
Thengai sadam
Paal Payasam
Microwaved Appalam / Papad
Thayir / Yogurt 

Beans paruppu usili (Beans - Chanadal curry) - Soaked Chanadal / Split chickpeas is ground, steamed or sauteed until dry and is added to cooked beans. It can be eaten with rice or as an accompaniment to sambhar rice or rasam rice.  Recipe can be found here.
Cabbage poriyal or Cabbage curry - Cabbage is seasoned and sauteed and rounded off with addition of shredded fresh coconut.
It can also be eaten with rice or as an accompaniment to sambhar rice or rasam rice. Recipe idea can be found here.
Peerkangai kootu - A lightly spiced ridgegourd - bean preparation. It can be prepared using moongdal, lentils or split chickpeas alone or with a combination of them. The recipe idea is here.
Mor kuzhambu - A yogurt based spicy gravy that can be eaten with rice. the recipe can be found here.
Thengai saadam / Coconut rice - A quick and spicy rice preparation with coconut as the star ingredient. The recipe can be found here.
Chakli and Thattai - These spicy crunchy snacks would be great accompaniment to the meal. Chakli recipe can be found here and thattai recipe can be found here.
Paal Payasam - A rich rice and milk pudding or kheer eaten as a dessert.
The meal is rounded off with a serving of thayir saadam / yogurt rice with a pinch of salt added to it.
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Thaalis/Spreads'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Simple Gujarati Thaali

Today's spread comes from the western state of India, Gujarat. I have a simple thaali from the region and most of the dishes are simple and quick preparations.

Dishes that are on the menu today:
A simple salad of cucumber and carrot
Kakdi nu shaak
Ringan methi nu shaak
Trevti dal
Vagareli khichdi
Sukhdi / Gud Papdi
Mango Pickle
Sweet Chutney & Green Chutney

Kakdi nu Shaak - A simple and quick cucumber curry lightly spiced, Gujarati style.
Ringan mehi nu shaak - A flavorful curry with eggplants and fenugreek greens. The recipe for this simple preparation can be found here.
Trevti dal - A dal prepared with three different kind of pulses -  pigeon peas, split chickpeas and moong dal with light seasoning.
Vaghareli khichdi - A flavorful, spicy one pot meal with rice, dried and fresh lentils and vegetables. The recipe can be found here.
Gujarati kadhi - A flavorful and really tasty chickpea flour - yogurt gravy.
Khaman - A savory, steamed cake made with ground and fermented batter of split chick peas. The recipe can be found here. It was served with green cilantro chutney and sweet chutney.
Sukhdi / Gud papdi - A sweet prepared using with wheat flour, ghee and jaggery. The recipe can be found here.
The meal was rounded off with chaas - Yogurt and water churned, salted and lightly sprinkled with ground cumin.

This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Thaalis/Spreads'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Friday, March 10, 2017

A Festival Thaali from Karnataka - Habbada Aduge

Here is a simple festive meal from the south Indian state of Karnataka. Like it's neighboring states, rice takes precedence and is the center of any festive meal here. All the spicy side dishes are to be eaten with rice and a tiny dollop of ghee.

What is on today's platter:
Kosumabri - Cucumber salad
Anna - Steamed rice 
Maavinikaayi uppinakayi - Mango pickle
Hurulikaayi palya - Beans Curry
Seeme badanekaayi palya - Chayote curry
Tovve - Lentils with simple seasoning
Mixed Vegetable Sambhar - Lentil & Vegetable Preparation
Thili saaru / Rasam - Lentil broth
Vaangi bhath - Eggplant rice
Aambode - Split chickpeas' fritters
Gasagase payasa- Poppy seeds kheer
Mosaru - Yogurt
Ghee & Salt 
Any meal meant for an occasion is started with kosumbari, a cucumber salad with or without the addition of moong dal. Find the recipe here.
Tovve is nothing but cooked lentils that is salted and lightly seasoned. It is usually eaten along with rice at the beginning of the meal.
Lentil based preparations like tovve, sambhar and tili saaru / rasam are all eaten along with rice and a dollop of ghee.
Hurulikaayi palya (Green beans curry) and Seeme badanekaaayi palya (Chayote curry) can be eaten along with rice and a dollop of ghee. However curries are eaten in the region as an accompaniment to rice and lentil based dishes, namely sambhar and rasam here. Recipe for chayote curry is here
The center attraction of any festival meal would be a spicy rice dish and vangi bhath is the one in this platter. The recipe for this spicy eggplant rice dish can be found here. It can be served with any fritters prepared on the occasion, potato chips, papad or sandige (Sundried lentil / rice / sago fritters).

Aambode are crisp fritters made with chanadal / split chickpeas. These are nothing but masala vadas sans onion. They can be eaten as an accompaniment to the main rice dish or as it is. 
Adding holige (or poli as called in neighboring states), the sweet stuffed flatbread would be a fitting addition here. However I chose to go with another sweet dish from the region instead as there are no takers for holige at home. Gasagase payasa, the pudding made with poppy seeds is a popular and favorite one in the region. The recipe for the payasa is here.
The meal is rounded off with yogurt rice served with a pinch of salt.
This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Thaalis/Spreads'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Apple, Banana & Cashew Custard

After the breakfast puddings I posted these past two days, I thought of going with a quick and lovely dessert option for today which happens to be an easy preparation. Though it falls under the dessert category, I wouldn't mind if a bowl of yummy fruit custard is served at breakfast. Indians need no introduction to the eggless custard which is served with mixed fruit. It used to be one of the popular dessert options during kids' based birthday parties and I hope it is still so. I usually go with an array of fruits when making this custard but I noticed this version in a family party using the basic fruits found lying in anyone's kitchen.
Indians usually go with the readily available commercial brand custard powders while preparing fruit custards at home. It is nothing but vanilla flavored corn starch with yellow food coloring added. The preparation of custard is simple and basically, the custard powder is whisked into a small amount of milk to an uniform consistency and added along with sugar to boiling milk and cooked until it thickens. 2 tbsp. of corn starch + 1 tsp. vanilla extract + yellow food coloring can be substituted for the amount of vanilla flavored custard powder used in the recipe.    

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. vanilla flavored custard powder 
3 tbsp. sugar
1 big sized banana
1 apple
A handful of cashews
* Pour milk into a preferably a non stick pan or a sturdy sauce pan and heat it on medium flame. When the milk starts to get warm, transfer about 1/4 cup of milk to a small bowl. Continue to heat the milk in the pan, stirring frequently until it starts to boil. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat setting to low.
* Meanwhile, add vanilla flavored custard powder to the saved milk in the bowl and whisk well. Add this and the sugar to the boiling milk in the pan and whisk well. Stir frequently and continue to cook until the mixture thickens and the raw smell of the custard powder leaves.
* Let the custard come to room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator to chill.
* Chop banana and apple to fine bits. Chop cashew nuts into small pieces as well. Add them to the chilled custard.
* Serve immediately or within a day.

This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Are you Pudding me'. Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Griessbrei - German Semolina Pudding

I gather the humble semolina pudding is common to many cultures around the world albeit prepared with minor variations. Semolina pudding would qualify as either a breakfast or dessert depending upon how sweeter it is, I guess. Today's version of pudding called griessbrei is from Germany and falls more under the former category. This easy breezy breakfast pudding can be prepared in under 10 minutes and tastes quite different than the Indian semolina halwa since there is no ghee toasting of semolina before cooking and it is cooked in milk. The preparation sounds more like south Indian rava ganji though it is more sweeter and thinner than giessbrei. And of couse vanilla flavoring is not traditionally used in Indian cuisine. The sugar in the griessbrei recipe can be either omitted or increased depending how sweeter you prefer your pudding.
Source: Here
1/4 cup semolina flour / fine semolina
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

* Add all the ingredients to a thick sauce pan or a non stick pan and whisk well. Cook the mixture on medium flame stirring now and then to avoid it sticking to the bottom / lumping.
* When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the mixture is done or until the mixture comes together to a thicker consistency.
* Serve warm with toppings like butter, cinnamon, jam, fruit compote or sugar.

This goes to Blogging marathon #74, under the theme 'Are you Pudding me' Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.