Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Cornmeal-Cabbage Muffins

Williams-Sonoma, the kitchenware shop that sells quality kitchen stuff, has a series of cook books - Like their shop, the cookbooks are very clean, organized, not a lot of recipes, but have an excellent presentation and gorgeous photos. The book size is not too big, not too small; they are like short notebooks with color photo on every page. Each book focuses on one topic. So far, Cookies, Cakes, Muffins, Breads and Risotto - these are the cookbooks, I borrowed from my local library and flicked through. More than anything, they are eye candy.

Williams-Sonoma

Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness, my blog friend is blogging recipes from ‘Muffins‘ cookbook. When she mentioned last week that she was going to try cornmeal-jalapeno muffin recipe, I wanted to join in and made a baking date with her. After two renewals and before returning the book to the library, I wanted to try at least one recipe. FInally last weekend, I baked cornmeal muffins from the book.

I followed the recipe mostly and also added some extras, because I was preparing these muffins for our supper. In addition to corn meal, all purpose flour, butter milk and baking powder etc, I have also added cabbage, shallot, chickpeas sauté to the cornmeal dough, so that the muffins baked would be more dinner worthy. They turned out, I can’t say excellent, but acceptable, even after all these extras. I can’t imagine the taste if I tried them bland with only just cornmeal and chillies.

cornmeal-cabbage dough in muffin pan - all ready for baking

Recipe:
(For 11 muffins)

1½ cups of yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1½ cups of buttermilk
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon of each - salt, sugar and baking powder
Some cheese gratings to top the muffins
Veggies I added
3 cups of finely chopped cabbage (I used red cabbage)
3 shallots and 6 green chillies- finely chopped
½ cup of chickpeas (soaked overnight)

First I sautéed the veggies together for few minutes, until they are cooked. In the meantime, I mixed all other ingredients together thoroughly without any lumps. I stirred in the sautéed veggie mixture to the dough. Greased the muffin pan with little bit of oil, leaving one muffin cup empty and filling it with water to prevent warping (following the book suggestion). Filled the muffin cups with cornmeal-cabbage dough. I also sprinkled cheese on top of some. Baked them in a preheated oven at 400 F (200C) for about 25 minutes, until they are golden.

They tasted like baked versions of cabbage bajjis (you know the kind, bajjis/pakoras - veggies mixed in a gram flour-jowar flour-rice flour dough, then deep fried — almost like that).

Cornmeal Cabbage Muffins - One with cheese sprinkled on top and the other with no cheese topping
Cornmeal-Cabbage Muffins

Recipe Source: Adapted from ‘Williams Sonoma-Muffins’, page 46
Things I skipped adding (from the book’s recipe) are 2 eggs, another 1 ½ tsp of baking powder and more oil - reason for my flat muffin tops.

On a blogging break. See you all in a few days.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Cabbage, Chickpeas, Corn Meal, Shallots (Tuesday February 28, 2006 at 2:07 pm- permalink)
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Aloo Dum (Baby Potatoes in Masala Sauce)

Thanks to the weird, spring like weather we have in this part of the world, the baby potatoes, which usually appear in market during spring and early summer, are on the market for sale in February. Rulli Brothers, the local Italian grocery shop had a sale going on baby potatoes last weekend. A pound of potatoes for one and half dollars and we could hand pick them from the pile. That’s a change from the usual prepackaged stuff. I picked out two pounds of tiny, key-lime sized baby reds, thinking they would be perfect for ‘Aloo dum’. Every home cook/chef of experience has few dishes in their repertoire, which they are certain about the outcome and happy to prepare and serve. Mine, among other things is, Indian restaurant style Aloo Dum. Baby potatoes cooked in an unforgettable flavorful sauce - the kind of dish that makes you swoon with its rich and satisfying goodness.

Recipe:

The preparation is three step. First boil the baby potatoes until they are just tender. Roast and grind the spices, the vegetables and the nuts for masala sauce. Combine and cook them together. The whole preparation takes about 30 to 45 minutes, if you have everything at hand.:) And the main chunk of it is of course to wait for the potatoes to boil.

Ingredients:

12 tiny baby potatoes
For Sauce- veggies
4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, each cut into four quarters
1 medium sized red onion or 4 shallots cut into big chunks
¼ cup finely chopped coriander
1×1 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 big garlic cloves
Nuts
½ cup cashews
¼ cup fresh grated coconut
Dry masala
6 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon coriander seeds & cumin
½ teaspoon peppercorns
3 small cinnamon sticks and cloves
1 star anise
for popu/tadka
2 teaspoons of peanut oil
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, cumin and some curry leaves

½ tsp of turmeric
Salt to taste

The list is long, but checkout the photo of ingredients together. It’s not much, is it?

Preparation:

Preparation is as I mentioned above, boil, roast-sauté-grind and cook.

Boil the potatoes until they are just fork-tender. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Prick them with a fork in multiple sites and keep them aside.

Gather the listed ingredients for masala sauce, ready on hand on a big plate. Heat an iron skillet and proceed like this.

1. Roast dry masala ingredients, for few minutes, until they release their smell. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
2. Roast cashews, then fresh grated coconut for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
3. Roast ginger and garlic for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
4. Finally heat one teaspoon of oil and roast onion and tomatoes for few minutes.

Let them cool down little bit. When they are cool enough to touch, put them in a blender. Add half glass of water and half teaspoon of salt. Grind them into smooth paste.

Cook: Heat one teaspoon of peanut oil in a big wide pan or kadai. Toast the popu ingredients (mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves) until they start to splutter. Add the grinded masala paste and another half to one glass of water. Stir in turmeric. Taste and add salt if needed. Add baby potatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Finally stir in finely chopped cilantro and serve.

My Kitchen Notes:
Don’t forget to prick the potatoes, so that they can absorb the sauce.
Onions - avoid yellow onion and go with shallots or red onions
If you want, you can also stir in cream/yogurt at the end.


Aloo Dum and Chapatis

Check out another version of Aloo dum from Lera of Myriad Tastes.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Potato, Cashews, Coconut (Fresh), Baby Potatoes (Monday February 27, 2006 at 9:45 am- permalink)
Comments (47)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Indian Spices

Six essential spices for Indian cooking.

Indian Spices - Coriander Seeds, Cumin, Black Peppercorn, Cloves, Cinnamon, Star Anise
Coriander Seeds, Cumin, Black Peppercorn, Cloves, Indian Cinnamon, Star Anise

Recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday February 26, 2006 at 3:16 pm- permalink)
Comments (11)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mortar and Pestle (Rolu, Pothram)

Stone Mortar and Pestle - big one from India and the small one from Ikea

Stone Mortar and Pestle - big one from India and the small one from Ikea
Stone Mortar and Pestle

The big one, I brought it from Nandyala, India from my last visit. It’s weighed around 30 pounds both pestle and mortar combined. More about it here.
The small one, I bought it at Pittsburgh’s Ikea.

Sam, this is for you.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen, Indian Utensils (Saturday February 25, 2006 at 9:40 am- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Special Snacks ~ Homemade Plantain Chips

“Okay, it’s my turn now”, I said.

“What is your turn for?” she said with a curious look on her face.

“I want to make chips with the plantains we bought yesterday. You just relax and wait for a tasty snack I’m going to make for you”. I said to her. But it wasn’t just for her. It was for me too. I like plantain chips very much. But, I don’t get very good quality chips here. So, whenever I could find good quality plantains, I prepare the chips myself.

Making of plantain chips in-house started few years ago, when we were in Houston. We have a good friend, Sunil Sukumaran, who is a Keralite. I knew that plantain chips were popular snack food in Kerala and I always wondered how they were made. I thought that there would be some special process to make them, because they were different, tasted good and had a special flavor. During one of our visits to their house, I asked my friend Sunil.

“Sunil, do you know how these plantain chips are made? I like them a lot, they are really tasty.” I expected a very long answer. I will tell you the truth. I was getting ready to note down the details on a sheet of paper. But his answer surprised me. Just one sentence!

“Pick unripe plantains. Slice them into thin rounds and deep fry them in oil.”

“That’s all?!” I didn’t believe it.

“That’s all there to it, man. What more you want to do? That’s how we make them back home in Kerala. We use coconut oil to fry them, but you can also use peanut oil.”

You don’t know how much relieved I was. Oh, I can make my favorite snack food right in my home. That’s fantastic.

Houston is a very lively city with all kinds of people from all over the world. Also a great place to get all kinds of food and vegetables. Most importantly (for me), I could get four fresh plantains for a dollar! How nice! Bought four of them and brought them home. Washed them thoroughly and scraped the outer skin lightly. I didn’t remove the skin completely. Cut them into circular chips. In the meantime, I had a big cast iron frying pan with peanut oil heating on the stove. When the oil reached proper temperature for frying, I dropped the chips in oil. One after the other, I filled the pan until the whole oil surface was covered by the chips. Reduced the heat to medium-high, and fried them for about three or four minutes. I turned the chips in the pan occasionally to make sure that both sides are properly fried.

I was very happy. Why? I just made the first batch of plantain chips myself. They looked just like the chips I was used to buy in Kerala bakeries. I sprinkled little bit of salt and they were ready to eat. I thanked my friend in my heart for sharing the great secret with me.

Now, coming back to Boardman, Ohio, there I was making the chips again, for Indira (and myself too). A full bowl of chips were ready in just few minutes and they also disappeared in just few minutes. But, I was quick enough to take some pictures to share with you. Here they are, tasty and crunchy, homemade plantain chips.

Plantain with outer skin peeled and sliced into thin round chips and whole Plantain
Plantain with outer skin scraped and sliced into thin round chips

Deep Frying plantain chips in Peanut oil
Deep-frying Plantain Chips in Peanut Oil

 Homemade Plantain chips (banana chips)
Homemade Plantain Chips

-Guest post by Vijay Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Arati Kaaya (Plantain), Vijay Singari (Thursday February 23, 2006 at 3:43 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Idly (Idli, Iddenlu)

Our love for idlis, the soft, fluffy white, round discs made of rice and lentil batter, began when we were children. Two, three year old babies with tiny idlis in their hand, playing around mom, is a common scene you see in many Indian households. As we grow up, the role of idlis also changes - first as toddlers’ teething food, to childhoods play, fun kind of food. Then in teenage years, the kind of breakfast we really enjoy eating without complaining much. Later In twenties and thirties - we try, struggle and wonder how folks back home make those fluffy cloud like visions of idlis so effortlessly. Try as we may, we can’t recreate those beauties here, because the weather, the grain and even the water is different here.

Method of making idlis is very simple yet little bit time consuming, only in the sense that you have to plan ahead. Whether idlies turn out like cotton soft or solid, white round bricks - it all depends on fermentation (that means where you live and how you grind the batter etc.,). Most of the times, the recipe I follow gives good, decent idlis, considering I live in a very cold climate area. See, if my recipe works for you.

Idly stand and idly plates
Idly stand and idly plates, some filled with urad dal- rice ravva batter

Recipe:

Urad dal and rice ravva (cream of rice, rice suji) in a ratio of 1:2
1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
Pinch of baking powder
Utensils
Blender/wet grinder
Idly stand with idly plates (see the photo above)
And a vessel with tight lid (suitable to fit idly stand)

Soak urad dal in just enough water overnight or for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Drain the water and keep the drained water aside.
Grind the dal into silky smooth batter. To get the medium tight consistency, add the drained water kept aside, as needed to the batter,while grinding. Remove the batter in a vessel.
Add rice ravva and mix thoroughly without any lumps.
Keep it covered, for overnight fermentation (at least 6hours) in a warm place. By morning, the batter will be doubled in volume. Stir in salt and baking powder. Consistency of batter must be medium (like condensed milk), not too tight or too watery. Add water if necessary.

Idli plates filled with rice-lentil batter just before cooking Steamed idlies just out of the vessel
Idly plates filled with rice ravva-urad dal batter all ready for steam cooking***Idlies after steam cooking

In a big vessel (fit to idly stand) with tight lid, add about half to one glass of water and bring to a boil.

Separate the plates in idly stand; pour spoonfuls of batter in round impressions (see the photo above). Fill all the plates with idly batter and place these filled idly plates, back on the stand. Place this idly stand with filled plates in the vessel with boiling water. Cover it tightly and cook them on steam. The plates are perforated and allow the idlis to be steam-cooked evenly.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, the batter will be hardened and when touched, won’t stick to your fingers like a wet batter does. Turn off the heat and remove the idly stand from the vessel. Run a spoon under each impression to separate steamed idlies from the plate. Remove them all like this and get ready to steam the next batch of idlis.

Serve idlis piping hot with sambhar, coconut chutney and idly karam podi ~ for a traditional, proper south Indian breakfast.

Idlies with coconut chutney, idli karam podi and shallot sambhar
Idlis with coconut chutney, idli karam podi and shallot sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

double_curve.gif

Answering questions about my Idly routine:

I usually prepare idlis for our weekend brunch. My prep work for Saturday’s brunch of idli starts like this. I soak the urad dal on Friday morning, around 7-9 AM. It takes at least 4 to 6 hours for them to soften. Around 6-8 PM evening, I grind them into smooth, silky smooth batter. I remove the batter into a big vessel and mix up with store bought idli rava. Then I keep it covered overnight for fermentation. By morning, the batter will be fermented and changed in looks and consistency. After stirring in salt and little bit of baking powder, I pour ladleful of batter into the impressions on idly plates and steam cook them.

The tips I follow:
1. I use round urad dal(whole and white). Somehow they are better than the broken ones for idlis.
2. I soak the urad dal in just enough water and while grinding I add this drained water. This tip works only in cold climate to aid the fermentation.
3. While grinding I also add one or two teaspoons of soaked fenugreek seeds. This is an old tip, to improve the taste and fermentation.
4. Urad dal batter- the smooth the batter, the fluffy and silky, the idlis will be. Grind, grind and grind, run that blender motor until it gets hot.:)
4. Rice ravva- I use store bought kind.
5. Fermentation- I set the oven on to minimum (lowest setting/warm) for about 5 minutes, then I’ll turn it off. By the time I’m ready with batter, the oven will be warm. During bitter cold wintertime, keeping the batter in this cozy, warm oven aids fermentation process.
6. In the morning, I usually add a pinch of baking powder to the batter (old time tip).
For more tips, check out this wiki article on Idlis.

Recipe source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Urad Dal (Washed), Rice Ravva (Cream of Rice) (Tuesday February 21, 2006 at 4:50 pm- permalink)
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Sambhar with Shallots (Baby Onions)

Last week I purchased one packet of shallots (baby onions). With them, I prepared a south Indian special ’shallot sambhar’ i.e. tiny, baby onions are first peeled out of their dry skin/coverings, then cooked as whole, in thick lentil (toor dal) soup. Tasty and delightful! Like all babies, they are tiny bundles of joy, a gastronomic kind:) and worth the high price.

 Shallot(Baby onion) Sambhar, Toor dal
Shallot Sambhar - Light and refreshing

Recipe:

My sambhar cooking routine is a three-step process.

1. Pressure-cook the toor dal until soft, so that it can be mashed/pureed into smooth paste. Soak the tamarind in water to extract the juice.

2. In the meantime, cut and cook vegetables for sambhar- usually tomatoes and vegetables (shallots). The process I follow is like this. Heat one teaspoon of oil a big saucepan, add and toast popu ingredients. To it, I’ll add chopped tomatoes and cook them until they turn soft and mushy. Then I’ll add and cook shallots (or vegetables), one cup of water and also the seasoning (sambhar powder, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt).

3. Simmering 1 and 2 together- To the cooked tomato-shallot mixture, add the mashed toor dal paste and tamarind juice. Stirring in between, let simmer for about 15 to 30 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve.

Ingredients:
4 fistfuls of toor dal (3/4 cup)
12 to 15 shallots (baby onions)
2 ripe juicy tomatoes
Seasoning:
1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
1 tsp of sambhar powder
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and salt
1/4 tsp of turmeric
Cilantro for garnish
Popu or tadka:
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, curry leaves, minced garlic. Also few curry leaves and dried red chilli pieces
Variation
I prepared this sambhar for idlies and for idly sambhar, I usually add half tsp of cloves & cinnamon powder, to spice up the sambhar a little bit.

Mashed Toor dal, Tamarind juice, tomatoes, shallots (Baby onions), cloves and cinnamon
Ingredients for shallot sambhar

For more detailed sambhar recipe (like how to prepare home made sambhar powder etc.,), check out my other blogged recipes- Okra Sambhar and white radish sambhar.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Onions, Shallots (Monday February 20, 2006 at 3:28 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ballari Coconut (Ballari Kobbera)

Ballari Coconut (Ballari Kobbara)

For this week’s Indian kitchen, I’m showcasing a unique Indian ingredient, “Ballari Coconut”. It’s a dried whole coconut, and the unique thing about it is how it is dried. Under hot summer sun, some selected whole coconuts are dried with coconut water inside so that the coconut meat can absorb all the coconut water while drying. This process makes the dried coconut very sweet. A completely different taste when compared to ordinary dried coconut, where the drying process is done after removing the coconut water.When cut into half (above image) and grated or powdered, Ballari coconut almost taste like sweetened, sugar added coconut flakes.

In our area, Nandyala (India), it’s called ‘Ballari coconut’. Because of the special process involved in making, it’s priced little bit high than the ordinary dried coconut. Due to high cost, it’s used mainly during special occasions like for preparing sesame laddus and as part of traditional ’sare’ (care package) to married daughters from mothers etc.,

Are you aware of this type of dried coconut? If so, what do you call it at your place? Any feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!

it’s available in Indian grocery stores here in US. I saw it at Subji Mandi in New Jersey and also at Pittsburgh Indian grocery shop. Look for whole dried coconut instead of halved shells.

For more weekend food/herb blogging, check out Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Coconut (Dry) (Sunday February 19, 2006 at 6:11 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend Cat Blogging

Kittaya making an appearance from his kingdom, the basement.

Kittaya

Checkout playful Kiri and all other cute kitties of food blogging world at Clare’s ‘Eat Stuff’.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Kittaya (Saturday February 18, 2006 at 12:24 pm- permalink)
Comments (6)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut Chutney ~ Andhra Style Raw Cuisine

This is another type of chutney (pacchadi) that we prepare with fresh coconut. Young, fresh coconut, red onion and green chillies, little bit of salt and tamarind juice - all pounded together in a stone mortar for about 10 minutes. The result is dynamite stuff and a completely raw food item. Sweet flesh of fresh coconut mixed together with hot, tangy flavors is a taste worth 10 minutes of my time and energy.

Dry Coconut Chutney and Sambhar Rice
Coconut chutney with rice and shallot sambhar ~ Our lunch today.

Recipe Source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Green Chillies, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Fresh) (Friday February 17, 2006 at 1:45 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut Chutney (Kobbari Pacchadi)

Coconut chutney is an example of how good a raw food can taste when prepared with right ingredients. Whoever came up with this recipe, my salute to them! People remember and replicate a good recipe; no wonder, this age old recipe continues to be popular and beloved by all who tried it.

Breakfast is not a proper breakfast without coconut chutney in Southern states of India (Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala). Perfect blend of different flavors and the ease with which it can be made - coconut chutney is a great example of traditional, health conscious South Indian food and a showcase recipe for raw cuisine. See the photo below, if you find coconut chutney looking similar in an Indian restaurant along with your dosas, idlies, that’s a sure sign that you are getting a proper south Indian food.

Fresh Coconut, Cilantro, Red onion, Ginger, Dalia(pappulu) and green chillies

Recipe:

1 cup of thinly sliced fresh coconut
¼ cup of pappulu(dalia, roasted chickpeas)
6 Indian small green chillies, chopped
1 tiny red onion or shallot, sliced into chunks
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro and 1/2 inch of ginger
½ tablespoon of tamarind extract
¼ tsp of salt
for popu or tadka
1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, fresh curry leaves and few pieces of dried red chilli.
extras(optional)
1 tablespoon of yogurt and one lime

Tadka/popu is done and ready to add to the coconut chutney Final step- adding the tadka/popu to coconut chutney

Preparation:
Preparation means grinding. Taste of coconut chutney varies with grinding method. Believe it or not, different grinding tools give different taste. The best taste comes out of using a stone mortar. Closest is the machine, which grinds with a stone. Last is the food processor or the blender etc., The taste is inversely proportionate to how easily you can grind it.

In a mortar or blender, combine all the ingredients (coconut, pappulu, onion, green chillies, cilantro, ginger, tamarind extract and salt). Add half to one cup of water and grind them until the ingredients are pureed. Transfer the mixture to a cup.

In a small pan, add half teaspoon of peanut oil, add the popu ingredients, sauté them until they start to splutter. Remove the pan from heat and add this popu to the pureed coconut mixture in the cup. Stir in little bit of yogurt now (our family variation). The chutney is ready. Just before serving, squeeze few drops of limejuice.

Traditionally coconut chutney is served with dosa, idly, vada, upma, utappam, pesarattu and pongal, as a part of morning breakfast.

Coconut chutney with popu/tadka just added
Coconut Chutney ~ South Indian Style

Note to reader: I use, tiny red onion or shallot (Indian onion, small baby onion) for this chutney. Either one is preferable than white/yellow onions (US). Red onion/shallots are less harsh in flavor when raw and don’t overpower the chutney with their bitterness.

Recipe source: Family- Amma & Attamma(mother and mil)
For several variations of this recipe, read the comments.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia), Coconut (Fresh) (Thursday February 16, 2006 at 8:13 pm- permalink)
Comments (54)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Kadala Curry/Ghughni (Black Chickpeas&Coconut Milk)

Black chickpeas are another type of legume, which I frequently add to the regular sauté curries. Compared to white chickpeas, black ones - we call them ‘kaala chana’, like all other colored ingredients, have an earthy taste and a more robust nutty flavor. They not only bring color to the dish and also fill that essential, guilt free protein need. They are the wonder food, that taste good.

Raw black chickpeas, Soaked overnight in water-black chickpeas, Pressure cooked black chickpeas
Black Chickpeas - Raw, Soaked in water and Pressure-cooked

I learned by reading other food bloggers recipes that, black chickpeas cooked in coconut milk based sauce is Keralas favorite dish - ‘The Kadala Curry’. Cooked in tomato-onion sauce without the coconut is Bengalis favorite dish - ‘The Ghughni’. Last weekend I prepared - ‘Kadala curry’ with coconut milk.

Recipe:

1 cup black chickpeas, overnight soaked in water
Sauce:
½ cup coconut milk (homemade watery kind)
4 medium sized ripe tomatoes,
1 medium sized red onion or 4 to 6 shallots
Seasoning:
1 tsp of g-g-c paste (Ginger-Garlic-Cilantro)
1 tsp of c-c-c-c powder(Cumin-Coriander seed-Cloves-Cinnamon)
½ tsp of red chilli powder and turmeric
Salt to taste
Popu(tadka)
1 tsp of each, mustard seeds, cumin, minced garlic and curry leaves

1. Take black chickpeas in a pressure cooker, add ¼ tsp of salt and 2 cups of water. Pressure-cook them till they are just tender. (Take caution not overcook them.) Drain and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile - roast tomatoes and onions in half teaspoon of oil. When they are little bit cool, grind them to smooth paste. Also prepare coconut milk and g-g-g paste and c-c-c-c powder.
3. Cook 1 and 2 together. In a big sauce pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil, toast popu or tadka ingredients, add the sauce and seasonings and half cup of water. Cover and cook them for about 10 minutes. Stir in black chickpeas and coconut milk and simmer them, stirring in between until the curry reaches the thickness you desire or for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
Serve hot with roti/nan or with rice.

Variation: If you are calorie conscious, you can make this curry without coconut milk. Just increase the amount of tomatoes and onions for sauce - you’ve prepared a traditional Bengali dish ‘Ghughni‘.

Kadala Curry and Roti
Kadala Curry and Roti

Recipe Source: Priya’s Kitchen and Kadchi Ki Kamal.
For Ghughni and its different variations try Google search.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chickpeas-Black, Coconut (Fresh) (Tuesday February 14, 2006 at 9:56 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Homemade Coconut Milk (Kobbari Paalu)

Even after all these years living in US, still I can’t bring myself to buy or use canned stuff in metal containers. Commercial Coconut milk is available here, packed in metal tins only. So, I avoid that stuff and I make fresh coconut milk at home whenever a recipe calls for it. Very easy to do, the only things required are fresh coconut, muslin cloth (cotton cloth), a hammer and a blender. 10 minutes of work- homemade fresh coconut milk, without any additives will be ready to add in cooking.

Fresh Coconut Pieces

Method:

Hold the coconut in your hand firmly. Hit coconut hard with hammer. Show off your aggression and hit hard. Depending upon your aggression level:), it will break open in few attempts. Catch and pour the coconut water in a glass/pitcher. Hitting with hammer, break each coconut half into pieces. Do all this, over a clean, empty kitchen sink- very convenient to pick up the falling coconut pieces and also to clean the whole mess.

Using a knife, separate the coconut piece from its shell. Young coconut is easily separable from the shell, but mature ones, some with attachment issues won’t come off that easily. Then try this old time tip - soak the pieces in water for 5 minutes. Water seeps between shell and coconut, creates a thin barrier and makes it easy to separate the coconut from the shell.

Rinse the coconut pieces with water. Slice them into very thin pieces. Place the coconut pieces in a blender, add water and grind smooth. Cover a bowl with muslin cloth (cotton cloth/gangi gudda) and pour the grinded coconut liquid-slush into the cloth. Allow it to drip for few minutes, and then squeeze handfuls of the coconut meat to extract as much liquid as possible into the bowl. Discard the squeezed pulp and use coconut milk in recipes. Stored in a glass jar, coconut milk can stay fresh for 1 or 2 days refrigerated.

Compared to store-bought concentrated stuff, homemade coconut milk tastes completely different. Fresh, tasty and watery. By playing with water quantity added to the blender and by cooking, you can control the consistency and thickness of coconut milk according to your needs.

Coconut, Finely Powdered and Squeezed Coconut Powder Using the Cheesecloth and Coconut Milk
Homemade coconut milk

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Fresh) (Monday February 13, 2006 at 10:07 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

A Thoughtful Gift

A Gift From Veena, My New Blog Friend
Click on the photo to enlarge

An unexpected gift from my blog reader Srimati Veena Parrikar. I first met her at a forum, fell in love with her depth of knowledge and deep understanding of our food culture and traditions.

I have written a post a while back on Mahanandi, inquiring about Indian food magazines. In response, she has mailed me two Indian food magazines (Tarla Dalal and Savvy), a cookbook- “Ruchira - Selected Maharashtrian Vegetarian Recipes” and also a packet of traditional Marathi ‘godaa or kala masala’. She purchased all of them during her recent visit to India.

Veena, thanks for the thought and thanks for these wonderful gifts!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Veena Parrikar (Sunday February 12, 2006 at 6:11 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend Reading

Would she be hired now by Food TV to host a show? Noway, Rosie!

Fabulous review of “Eating Well”, the food magazine that I subscribe to.

How to do fondue, the chocolate kind? An easy, fun, calorie packed treat.

Last year it was ‘internets’ (Bushisms), this year it’s ‘manimals‘. That’s pure speciesism(a new kind of racism) says one food blogger, check the petition and sign to show your support.

Food blogger or not, if you like cheese sandwich, then join in for a fun ‘cheese sandwich day’.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday February 11, 2006 at 9:17 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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