Mahanandi

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

13. Chana Dal Payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam)

Yesterday, on Ugadi, the weather was perfect with temperatures around 70 F. It felt like spring and Andhra weather. To celebrate this perfect day on Ugadi, I prepared chana dal payasam (sanaga pappu payasam) for puja.

Payasam is the most common type of dessert served in homes across south India. Prepared with basic ingredients and following a simple method, Payasam- the liquidy dessert, is a people pleaser. Usually the base is a thickened milk and sugar or jaggery syrup. The solid component varies - protein in the form of chana dal or moong dal are added. Or by adding carbos like rice, vermicelli, sabudana and nuts like almonds; different types of payasams are prepared. Real easy and the outcome is always sweet mouthfuls, it is a favorite among children and adults all alike. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite payasams:

Recipe:
(For two)

1 cup chana dal
¼ cup sabudana (Sago, Saggu Biyyam)
separately, soak them in water for at least two hours. Presoaking both chana dal and sabudana (sago) reduces the cooking time, considerably.
For sweet syrup
1 cup of powdered jaggery or sugar
3 cups of milk
Flavoring
1 tablespoon of ghee
¼ cup of cashews and golden raisins
4 cardamom pods - seeds finely powdered

Chana dal, Sabudana (Sago), Milk and Jaggery - Ingredients for Payasam

1. Take chana dal and one cup each of milk and water in a pressure-cooker. Pressure-cook the dal until one whistle, just to soften the chana dal. Do not disintegrate the dal; take care not to over cook.

2. Meanwhile in a thick bottomed, big vessel, take half cup of water. Add sugar or powdered jaggery. Stir and cook, until the sugar/jaggery melts. When the syrup starts to thicken, add the soaked sabudana, and 2 cups of milk. Cook them on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between. To this milk-sugar-sabudana syrup, add the contents of the pressure cooker - chana dal and the milky liquid it is cooked. Stir and check the sweetness level, add sugar if needed. Simmer on medium heat, Uncovered, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes or until it reaches consistency/thickness, you desire. Keep in mind payasam further thickens on cooling.

3. When all this is happening, heat a spoonful of ghee in a small pan. Add and toast - first cashews, then golden raisins until light brown. Add these toasted things along with ghee, to the simmering payasam.

4. Finally stir in powdered cardamom, simmer another 5 minutes. Switch off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it sit for at least half an hour. Serve warm or cold.

Golden Raisins fried in ghee, Cashews, Soaked Chana dal, Payasam (Sanaga pappu Payasam)
Chana dal payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam) ~ For this week’s Indian sweets 101

Variations:
I also prepare the same payasam with chana dal(bengal gram) without adding the sabudana(sago).
Sometimes, I also add fine semolina instead of sabudana to chana dal payasam.
Toasted fresh coconut gratings are also added along with cashews and golden raisins for that rich nutty sweetness.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Milk, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday March 31, 2006 at 1:15 pm- permalink)
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Celebrating One Year Anniversary on Ugadi

Mahanandi - photo by Vijay Singari
Spectacularly Beautiful Mahanandi, India

The temple which my blog named after is at least 900 years old, and my blog just turned one.

‘Mahanandi’ is my desire to capture the ‘real, everyday kind’ of homemade Indian food in images. Thanks for being so supportive and so generous both with your words and show of affection. Thank you for being part of my beloved ‘Mahanandi’.

Happy Ugadi and Gudi Padwa!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Wednesday March 29, 2006 at 7:13 pm- permalink)
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Maamidikaya pulihora (Mango Rice)

Rice mixed with grated unripe mango is a festival rice that is specifically prepared on “Ugadi” - The Telugu New Year celebration, in our homes.

Here is the simple, 4-step preparation process of festival rice - in images:

Grating the unripe mango

Step 1:
Peel the skin and grate the unripe mango. Measurement is: for 1 cup raw rice - 1½ cups grated mango to 2 cups. (Adjust the quantity to suit your tart/tangy preference.)

Cook the rice (preferably ‘Sona Masuri’). Maintain the grain integrity, don’t cook to mush.


Step 2:
In a skillet, heat peanut oil or ghee. Add and toast the listed ingredients below. One by one, until pale gold, in this order:

Cashews
Peanuts
Chana dal (presoaked in water for about 30 minutes beforehand)
Slit green chillies -brown them for better taste
Curry leaves and few pieces of dried red chillies
Mustard seeds and cumin

At the end, bring all these toasted ingredients, sprinkle turmeric and asafetida. Stir to mix and saute for another two minutes. (See the photo above)


Step 3:
Add the grated mango to the pan. Stir to mix with other toasted contents in the pan. Cook it on medium-high just for two minutes and switch off the heat. (This is done to remove the raw smell of grated mango. Do not cook the mango gratings more than two minutes, that would kill the precious mango flavor.)

Step 4:
Add salt and mix this toasted mango-peanut mixture with cooked rice thoroughly with a big spoon or with your right hand. Serve hot.


Celebrating Ugadi Festival with Maamidikaya Pulihora

Ingredients:
(For two)
1 cup rice (uncooked, raw)
1 to 2 cups grated green mango (quantity needed depends on how sour the green mango is)
6 to 8 Indian or Thai variety small-sized green chillies - Cut into 2or4 pieces lengthwise
¼ cup of cashews and peanuts combined
1 tablespoon of chana dal (soaked in water for ½ hour)
1 teaspoon each - cumin and mustard seeds
10 curry leaves, and 4-6 small pieces of dried red chilli
½ teaspoon of turmeric
Pinch of asafetida
Salt to taste or ½ teaspoon

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Tuesday March 28, 2006 at 10:07 am- permalink)
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Maamidikaya Pappu (Mango Dal)

We celebrate Ugadi (New Year) festival on 30th of March this year, and Ugadi is all about mangoes traditionally. Back in India, we decorate our houses with mango leave garlands; at home we prepare recipes with unripe mangoes. You see, by March and April, the bazars are usually flooded with mangoes. First the unripe mangoes in a beautiful shade of pure green, then golden yellow colored ripe mangoes make an appearance at local ‘ritu bazars’ tantalizing the senses. No wonder, we celebrate mango season with a festival.

But here, where I live, green mangoes are hard to come by. I had to travel 100 miles, paid humungous amounts, just because I couldn’t resist a beautiful tradition and I’m very lucky to get them. With the green mangoes I purchased, here is one, an original Andhra recipe - ‘Mango dal’. Green mango cooked with toordal. Little bit tart, fruity with a hint of caramel undertones from mango and earthy nutty smoothness because of toor dal - is a taste that one will never forget.

Green mango, Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Toordal and Onion - Ingredients for Mango dal (Click on the image to get a closer look)

Green mango, Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Toordal and onion - Ingredients for Mango dal

Recipe:

1 green mango
1 medium sized red onion - sliced into big chunks
4 fistfuls of toor dal (¾ cup)
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
¼ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of salt or to taste

Popu/Tadka
1 tsp of peanut oil or ghee
1 tsp of each - mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, chana dal
4 to 6 dried red chilli pieces and curry leaves
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped

1.Wash green mango thoroughly to remove any pesticide sprayings. Dry it with a towel then cut it into small cubes. I don’t like to peel the mango skin for this recipe. The tough outer skin of mango, imparts kind of tarty flavor to the dal, so following the tradition, I keep the skin. Scrape any white flesh attached to the seed with a peeler and then only discard the seed. (see this photo for the stripped seed.)

2. Take toordal, mango, onion, chilli powder and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Add one and half cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until 3 whistles or until you are sure the dal is soft and mushy. Turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to go off.

3. After all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid. The contents usually are cooked soft by now, add salt and with a wood masher or whisker, mash the dal, until all the toordal turns into fine mush.

4. In a vessel, heat peanut oil or ghee, Toast the popu ingredients in this order. First add dried red chilli pieces, garlic and chana dal. Then urad dal and curry leaves, finally add and toast cumin and mustard seeds.

5. Remove the mashed mango dal from pressure cooker and add it to the popu in the vessel. Stir to mix and cover the vessel with a lid so that the dal could absorb the flavors of popu

Serve with rice and ghee, a dry sauté curry by the side and some papads for a memorable meal.
My preference: Mix mango dal with rice and ghee thoroughly. Shape the mixture into small rounds and have them with papads preferably sago (sabudana) papad.

Mango dal and rice mudda in a sabudana papad
(Maamidikaya pappannam mudda on a saggubiyyam vadiyam)
Mango dal mixed with rice&ghee. Shaped into round ball & placed on a deep fried sago(sabudana) papad.

For mango dal, we in our homes, use only chilli powder. Do not substitute it with green chillies.
Sago (sabudana) papads are available in Indian grocery shops and green unripe mangoes- during spring and summer seasons.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Monday March 27, 2006 at 10:45 am- permalink)
Comments (51)

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Maamidikaya (Unripe Green Mango)

Mamidi Kaya (Raw mango)
Maamidikaya (Unripe Green Mango) ~ For this week’s Indian Kitchen.

Maamidi kaya cut into small cubes and the seed inside
(Cut Green Mango and on the side is seed of the mango)

Recipes:

Mango Dal
Mango Rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Sunday March 26, 2006 at 9:32 am- permalink)
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Spaghetti in Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce

(Imitating Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meal episode narration
for this month’s IMBB-Make it in 30 minutes)

Hi I’m Indira Singari, I’m going to prepare a 30 minute meal today. Spaghetti in spicy cherry tomato sauce. Who said we couldn’t have pasta in a spicy sauce? You know, I’ve tried commercial pasta sauces but my tastebuds, once you are used to spicy stuff, it’s tough to go back to that kind of childhood bland, flat taste. giggle… ok enough of chit chat…

Going to the pantry area… Grabbing 2 pints of cherry tomatoes. You know, I like cherry tomatoes. They have a very thin skin and have more zing than the romas. I bought two of these boxes for 99 cents each from the local grocery shop. What a deal, you know. gigggle…

Next thing on the list is, pasta - I’m in the mood for thin spaghetti. So thin spaghetti it is then. Also to add to the tomatoes… here is a teaspoon of cumin, 5 dried red chillies and 4 big garlic cloves. I see some nuts in my cupboard, ya…grabbing those…hmm…Quarter cup of watermelon seeds and a tablespoon of chironji(sara pappu), just to give that extra nutty sweetness to the tomato sauce. It’s going to be one Yum O sauce… giggle… I’m also going to add boiled and sliced eggs to the pasta as a side dish. 4 eggs are enough…

Garbage bowl is a handy one, I can carry all these in this big bowl and later when I am chopping I can dump all the waste like eggshells etc in the bowl. Believe me, it’s one handy thing to have by side. … giggle

Ok… first cooking the pasta: place the big saucepan on the burner. Fill two thirds of pot with water. Nothing is wrong with tap water, so fill it up. Drop 2 teaspoons of salt into water and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Also in other saucepan, take pot full of water, add eggs and pinch of salt, cover and cook them.

Prepping the cherry tomato sauce: It takes at least 5 minutes for water to come to a boil, so in the meantime, we prepare tomato sauce. Let’s go…Separate 10 cherry tomatoes from the box and keep them aside. You are going to see what I’m going to do with them later. Ok, back to tomatoes. Take the remaining cherry tomatoes in a blender; add cumin, garlic, dried red chillies and a teaspoon of salt. Blend them finely. This is going to be our spicy sauce… it took less than one minute, the time it takes to open a can of tomato sauce. giggle…

Now cooking the sauce: heat a teaspoon of EVOO.. that means extra virgin olive oil giggle…and drop one or two finely minced garlic. Also watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu). Sauté them till golden, then add the pureed spicy tomato sauce and one cup of water. Close the lid. Hmmm that starts smelling good. Cook this mixture on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between.

Checking on the water — the water is boiling ready now. Add the pasta, you know, some people like to break the pasta to half before adding to the water. But I like them long, so here they go into the boiling water. I’ll wait for 5 minutes then I remove them. Checking the other pot…the eggs are cooked perfectly. I’m going to take them out of water with a big spoon.

Now getting ready to plate the meal: everything is coming together perfectly, ahh… the smell… I wish you could smell the tomato sauce… all that cumin, garlic… it’s like heaven in here. giggle… Ok, slice the cherry tomatoes we kept aside, to halves. Place them on a round plate to the edges. Peel and slice the boiled eggs into thin strips.

Pasta is cooked perfectly… slurping one spaghettial dente, just perfect. Pour the whole thing into a colander to drain the water. Add the spaghetti to the spicy tomato sauce and stir. Look how beautiful it looks… Wheaty white spaghetti in ruby red tomato sauce… Gorgeous!

Plating: Grab a couple of forkfuls of pasta and place them on the plate. Arrange some more sliced cherry tomatoes and some egg slices around the pasta to give that pretty look. Our 30-minute meal is ready. For dessert I’m going to have one of those muffin sized Mango Halwa pieces, I prepared yesterday. Just perfect to end the meal.

Tasting: Yum O…not only appealing to the eyes, this super simple meal has everything going on for it. It has carbos, nutty fat, eggy protein and veggies in the form of cherry tomatoes. Even more its spicy…taking a bite…hmm… loving it.. giggles

Hey I’m Indira Singari, you can prepare a great, satisfying meal in just 30 minutes. See… Signing off…(Camera focuses on the meal.)

Spaghetti In Spicy Tomato Sauce
30 minute meal - Spaghetti in Spicy Tomato Sauce served with cherry tomatoes and boiled egg slices

Ingredients
2 fistfuls of thin spaghetti
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
5 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin
¼ cup of watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu, charoli)
Olive oil and salt to taste
Additions: 4 boiled eggs- yellows removed and sliced thin

Thanks “Too Many Chefs” for hosting this month’s IMBB event.
Tagged with: +

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Pasta (Friday March 24, 2006 at 2:56 pm- permalink)
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12.Mango Halwa (Mango Flavored Ravva Kesari)

“Heavenly” - that’s how I remember Indian mangoes. “Damn…” That�s what comes out of my mouth, whenever I buy mangoes here. Mangoes available here look big and bulky and if you cut them open, there won’t be rich yellow color, there won’t be any heavenly aroma, and the less said the better about the taste. The product of poor soil and excessive fertilizer use. Well, that’s what we get here. At first, the taste was a shock, then over the time we began to ‘appreciate’ the poor taste of mangoes, of course we don’t have a choice.

Whenever I crave Indian mangoes, out comes the treasured family recipe, mango halwa. Preparing like halwa intensifies the mango flavor. In this recipe, mango puree is cooked with toasted semolina in sugar syrup. The result - rich yellow color is back, heavenly taste and aroma of mangoes that we remember from India is there. Also milk free and relatively low calorie. A little bit different than how the regular halwa is prepared, this favorite of mine is more like - mango flavored ravva kesari.

Mango Halwa
A delight to the senses - mango halwa

Recipe:

3 ripe mangoes or 6 cups of cut mango (3 Costco/Samsclub kind of mangoes)
½ cup fine semolina (Suji ravva works fine too)
¼ to ½ cup sugar (add less or more according to the mango sweetness)
1 tablespoon of melted ghee
3 cardamom pods - seeds finely powdered
1 cup of water

Ripe Mango, Cardamom, Semolina and Sugar - Ingredients for Mango Halwa

1. Peel the mangoes, cut them into cubes. Keep a quarter-cup of finely cubed mango aside. Take the remaining mango in a mixer, blend into fine, smooth puree, without adding water.

2. Heat a half tablespoon of ghee in a skillet, add and lightly toast semolina, just until it leaves raw smell. Remove and keep it aside.

3. In a thick bottomed, wide pan, take water and sugar. Heat them slowly until the sugar melts. Then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Wait for sugar syrup to thicken a bit and stir in blended mango puree and toasted semolina. Cook the mixture, on medium heat, stirring in-between to prevent sticking, until the mixture reduces by one third. It takes at least 20 minutes. At this stage, sprinkle the cardamom powder and finely cubed mango pieces that were kept aside. Stir, stir…for 2 to 3 minutes and then turn off the heat.

4. Coat a pan or tray with melted ghee and spoon the cooked halwa into the pan. Allow it to cool (halwa thickens further as it cools) and cut into squares. Remove and serve.

Mango halwa tastes great warm or cold. This time, I spooned it into muffin cups for individual sized servings and kept the muffin pan in the refrigerator for about one hour.

Mango Halwa - in Muffin size
Celebrating spring with mango halwa ~ For this week’s Indian Sweets 101.

Makes about 6 regular sized muffin cup portions.
Recipe Source: family
Kitchen Notes: Prepare it with fresh ripe mangoes. Fresh mango puree tastes better and the fiber etc., when cooked contributes to faster thickening of halwa. For this reason avoid store bought watery and preservatives added mango concentrate to prepare this sweet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Mango, Suji/Semolina, Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday March 23, 2006 at 2:20 pm- permalink)
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Aloo Methi (Potato-Menthikura)

Though ordinary in looks, Aloo methi- the famous north Indian curry is full of flavor. Boiled and quartered baby potatoes are sautéed with methi (fresh fenugreek leaves) and generously flavored with pan grilled garlic, onions and green chillies - the result is one simple yet delicious curry, which tastes great when combined with rice and dal or with chapatis.

Aloo Methi with Methi dal and rice.
Aloo Methi with Rice and Methi Dal ~ Our Simple Meal Today.

Recipe:
6 baby potatoes - boiled in water until tender and then skins removed and cubed
1 bunch of fresh methi - washed and leaves plucked
1 red onion - finely chopped
4 green chillies - finely chopped
4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
Pinch of turmeric and salt to taste
For popu or tadka - 1 tsp of each, peanut oil, cumin and mustard seeds
*******
In a kadai or sauté pan, heat peanut oil; toast the cumin and mustard seeds. Add and fry the garlic, onion and chillies, stirring well for few minutes. Stir in turmeric and salt. Add the cubed potatoes and sauté them for few minutes until they turn light red. When potatoes are almost done, stir in fresh methi leaves, stir-fry for few minutes, until they wilt. Turnoff the heat, close the lid and allow them to absorb the flavors for few minutes. Turn on to a dish and serve.

Baby Red Potato, Red Onion, Methi Leaf, Garlic and Green chilli
Red onion, Methi leaves, Garlic, Green chilli and Baby red potato - Ingredients for Aloo Methi

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Menthi Kura(Fenugreek), Baby Potatoes (Wednesday March 22, 2006 at 1:44 pm- permalink)
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Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney and a cup of shallot and carrot sambhar

How can anyone not like dosas? Just one bite, that’s all it takes to fall in love with them. They are such a knockout mini meal any time of the day. I often dream of starting my own franchise here, :) to cater freshly cooked dosas with all kinds of filling inside them. There is one already in New York, New Jersey area, called ‘Dosa Express’, which boasts about 50 different types of dosas - all kinds, from just plain dosa to dosas with variety of fillings, like cheese-potato curry combo etc.,

But if you ask me, nothing can beat the old classic, ‘Masala Dosa’. Crisp dosas filled with spicy powders, onion-red chilli paste and potato curry, if that’s not enough they are served with coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar. Can’t stand on your feet kind of knockout combo. Preparing this type of restaurant dosa at home is really easy, only thing you need is time and some planning.

Recipe:

A thick bottomed, flat, seasoned cast-iron pan
1 cup of rice
½ cup urad dal

Wash and soak rice and dal together in 2 to 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and grind them in a blender or wet grinder into a smooth batter. Add little water in-between for smooth grinding, if necessary. The consistency of batter must be like that of evaporated milk (commercial kind). Not too watery or not too thick.

Pour the batter into a big vessel, cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation. By morning the batter will be doubled, usually. Add half teaspoon of salt to the batter and stir thoroughly and the batter is ready for dosas. Place and heat the dosa skillet on the stove and follow the procedure shown in the pictures below.


Season the Dosa skillet with a teaspoon of oil and rub it with a cut onion. Onion not only gives nice flavor to dosa, also seasons the skillet.(this is an oldtime tip)


Pour a ladleful of batter on the skillet. Spread it around with the ladle.


With the ladle, shape and move the batter outwards in concentric circles - until it shapes in a circular, thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of peanut oil around the batter. Increase the heat high and cook it for few minutes.


Flip it to other side to cook for few seconds.


Reverse it again and quickly sprinkle some pappula podi(spicy dalia powder), apply red onion-dried red chilli paste around the dosa and then place a general portion of potato curry in the middle.


Fold the dosa in middle, remove and serve it immediately. This whole process must be done in maximum two to three minutes. Hot skillet and fast hand action is necessary and do not keep dosa on skillet for long, it’ll turnout hard and brittle, instead of soft and chewy.

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney & a cup of sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

Prepared in a style of Udipi restaurant dosa, Nandyala, India.
Potato Curry: Pressure cook/boil potaotoes until tender. Remove the skin, cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. Sauté finely chopped onions, green chillies and crumbled potatoes together. Season to taste - potato curry for dosa is ready.
Onion -red chilli paste: Cut one big red onion or 4 to 6 shallots into chunks. Add 6 dried red chillies and quarter teaspoon of salt or to taste, and grind into coarse mixture.
Pappula podi - recipe.
Coconut chutney - recipe.
Sambhar - recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 4:53 pm- permalink)
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Ponganalu (Gunta Pongadalu)

Raayalaseema, Konaseema and Telengaana, these are the three regions in Andhra Pradesh, my home state.

Each region has its own way of cooking things and special recipes. In case of breakfast/brunch worth getting up early for, ‘Konaseema’ is famous for their ‘Pesarattu-upmacombination (beautifully put together by Sailu). I’m not that familiar with ‘Telengaana’ cuisine and ‘Raayalaseema’, where I’m from, has few special breakfast dishes unique to our region. One is “buggani” - prepared with puffed rice(murmura), I blogged already, and the other is “ponganalu” - rice lentil batter is seasoned with shallots, green chillies etc., then cooked in round impressions in an iron skillet until golden. These small pretty, dome shaped rounds are usually served with peanut chutney or coconut chutney.

In our homes, whenever relatives from other regions of Andhra or from other states visit us for holidays, out comes the “ponganala Pennam”(ponganala skillet). Round, golden colored ponganalu, hot off from the skillet, always elicits oohh… aahh… from our relatives and from their weird offspring (are there any other kind? :) ). Because they are unique to our region, preparing them is our showoff kind of thing, to out of staters who were related to us by marriages etc.,:)

Preparing ponganalu, it’s all in the skillet. Right kind of skillet delivers or breaks a ‘ponganam’. Nothing can beat an old world style, well seasoned iron skillet. They are the best and the place where you can buy is of course India. I’ve seen some non-stick skillets here in US in some Indian shops lately. They are also fine, if you don’t mind the non-stick coating.

Recipe:
For 3 to 4 batches of Ponganalu

Ponganala batter:
1 cup rice
½ cup urad dal

Soak them in water for about 6 hours. Drain (reserve the water) and grind them into smooth batter adding just enough water (add the reserve one, we kept aside). The consistency of the batter must be thick like idli batter or like condensed milk (commercial kind). Take the batter into a big vessel, cover and let it sit overnight for fermentation.
Sour and leftover dosa batter is perfect to prepare ponganalu. If you have some, try ponganalu with it, for a change.

Ingredients to prepare ponganalu

Seasoning (Add to the overnight fermented batter):
1 big red onion or 6 shallots - finely chopped
(Because we mix them in the batter raw, avoid yellow onion for its smell & awful rawtaste)
4 green chillies - finely chopped
Few springs of cilantro - finely chopped
A fistful of chana dal (soaked overnight)
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric and salt
Add all these ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly.
Also prepare peanut or coconut chutney.

Cooking: Place the ponganala skillet on medium heat. Add few drops of peanut oil into each impression. With a spoon or with a piece of paper towel, rub oil around, to season the skillet. When the skillet is hot and ready, proceed like this, following the images.


Pour a ladleful of batter into each impression.


Once all impressions are filled, cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes undisturbed.


Remove the lid; The batter will be set by now. Gently lift the ponganalu with a “ponganala lifter” or with a spoon. If properly cooked, they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes.


Turn each one to opposite side to cook.


Cook them another 5 minutes on medium heat undisturbed. Gently lift them from out of the skillet. When properly cooked they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes. Remove them all onto a plate. Season the skillet with oil, again repeat the steps to cook another batch. Medium heat is the key.(Cooking them on high heat in a hurry or on too low heat won’t work- usually the outcome will be messy ponganalu.)


Ponganalu with peanut chutney - Breakfast worth getting up early for.

Recipe Source & Origin: Amma and Rayalaseema (Andhra, India)
Also checkout ‘Ponganalu’ by Santhi, friendly, fellow Raayalaseema vaasi.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Monday March 20, 2006 at 9:08 am- permalink)
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Traditional Indian Iron Flat Pans and Skillet (To Cook Chapati, Roti, Dosa & Ponganalu)

For this week’s “Indian Kitchen” and in response to requests about my cast iron cookware - here are some my very well seasoned cast iron flat pans and skillet that I use regularly and specifically to prepare chapatis, sorghum roti, dosa and ponganalu.

Chapati pennam
Traditional iron pan with thin bottom to prepare chapatis(parathas, wheat rotis) - brought it from Nandyala (my hometown in India).

Roti Pennam to prepare Sorghum Roti
Traditional iron pan with round bottom to prepare Jonna rotte(Sorghum roti) - Brought it from Nandyala

Dosa Pennam
Thick bottomed, flat cast iron pan to prepare dosa, utappam, pesarattu etc - bought this at ‘Target’.

Ponganala Pennam
Traditional iron skillet with round impressions to hold the batter, to cook a South Indian breakfast called “ponganalu” - brought it from Nandyala.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Kitchen, Indian Utensils (Sunday March 19, 2006 at 3:24 pm- permalink)
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‘Jaadilu’ - To Store Pickles (Ceramic Jars/Bharani)

Jaadilu

These are the kind of jars, my family uses back home in Andhra to store pickles like mango, lime and amla etc., They are our traditional kitchenware and I love the coloring, the shape of these beautiful ceramic jars. It’s been my hobby to collect these, here. So far I found the ones in the photo, from garage sales, flea/farmer markets and thrift shops etc., The price range I paid for these was 25 cents to 5 dollars, depending on the size.

Jaadilu- to store pickles

Ceramic Pickle Jars and Ceramic Mug - My kitchen collection (click on the image to enlarge)

I use these jars to store pickles just like how they are used in India. I also use them to store ghee, spicy powders, snacks like roasted peanuts etc., I love them because they connect me to my homeland. So pretty to look at, they are my treasure finds.

Do you collect kitchen things? I’d love to read about your kitchen collection. Write a comment or post at your blog, showoff your pretty stuff. You’re meme‘ed.:)

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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Indian Kitchen, Indian Utensils (Saturday March 18, 2006 at 2:08 pm- permalink)
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Weekend Reading

Killing the Spirit

Victims of Blood Thirsty Regime!

V for Vendetta

“The Price of Cheap Chicken”

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday March 18, 2006 at 1:08 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Methi Chutney (Fenugreek Chutney)

I was watching David Letterman show on a Monday night few days ago. He was making jokes about Winter Olympics… about Bode Miller, his poor performance and how Germany won the No.1 spot in medal count beating the US etc., He also made a joke about German victory celebrations - “Germany celebrated the No.1 spot in Winter Olympics with a victory parade. It started in Berlin and ended in Poland“. He was of course referring to German occupation of Poland under Hitler. I got the joke, but couldn’t laugh because I was thinking how could he make jokes about Germany, when his own country is committing war crimes, occupying and killing thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Talk about projection. Dave is the most cynical and sharp one in late night circuit, I was surprised at his pretense that Nazi Germany is worse than current US behaviour. US is following the pattern, aren’t they?

Well, anyway, back to cooking, today it’s methi chutney.:) People back in India may wonder how come methi is so popular in Mahanandi’s world? Methi, spinach, and occasionally gongura (ambari) are the only familiar green leafy vegetables available year round in Indian grocery shops here in US. Reason for the methi’s frequent appearance.

Methi Leaves

Methi chutney is completely an acquired taste. Sauteed methi and sesame combined with other ingredients, taste little bit bitter, sour and spicy. If you are going to prepare it from my recipe, first check the list of ingredients, imagine the taste, see if you like the combination, then attempt it. Please don’t nag me if it doesn’t turn out to your expectations in a typical mother-in-law fashion. Some people would say that I didn’t add this, I didn’t do that, or I didn’t cook their way etc., I might have accepted these if I were their daughter-in-law, but I am not :-) .

Recipe:

3 cups of fresh methi leaves (one small bunch)
¼ cup of sesame seeds
8 dried red chillies or more
(This chutney needs a little bit of extra hotness, so don’t skimp on chillies)
2 teaspoons tamarind juice
½ teaspoon urad dal
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon of peanut oil

In a kadai, heat half teaspoon of peanut oil. First add and toast dried red chillies, then sesame seeds and urad dal, until golden. Remove them. In the same kadai heat another half teaspoon of oil and sauté methi leaves for few minutes. Take them all in a plate, wait to cool. Whenever you make these kinds of chutneys always wait for the ingredients to cool, never blend when they are hot. If you do this, the change in taste will be significant.

When they are cool enough to touch, take them in a blender, add tamarind juice and salt. Puree them to smooth paste. If necessary add few tablespoons of water for smooth blending. (Don’t make it too watery.) Remove and serve this chutney with upma or with rice and dal.

 Semolina Upma and Methi Chutney
Semolina Upma with Methi Chutney

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Menthi Kura(Fenugreek) (Thursday March 16, 2006 at 2:17 pm- permalink)
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Coconut Burfi (Kobbari Paakam, Kobbari Lauju)

Coconut Burfi

Sweet, flavorful and chewy, coconut burfi is one of my favorite sweets. Fresh coconut meat cooked in cardamom flavored sugar syrup - recipe is so simple, method is very easy and the taste is heavenly. We, in our family prepare it without adding milk in contrast to some other versions, where milk and ghee are also added along with fresh coconut to sugar syrup.

Last weekend, weather was so perfect and spring like. We felt like having some sweet. So we went to neighborhood Rulli Brothers grocery shop and purchased two coconuts, each for about 79 cents. Came home, prepared the sweet and enjoyed it. We still have some pieces of burfi left but the spring like weather - gayab ho gaya (disappeared). It’s snowing here today!

Grating the Coconut

Recipe:
(For 12 medium sized squares)

2 cups of fresh grated coconut
1½ cups of sugar (or 2 cups - your choice)
Half glass of water
2 cardamom pods, seeds finely powdered
A tray greased with ghee (for pouring the cooked mixture)

Freshly grated coconut, Indian sugar, Cardamom pods

Method:
In a big sturdy vessel take water and sugar. Keep the heat on medium-low allowing the sugar to melt completely to prepare the sugar syrup. Cook it until the sugar syrup reaches softball like consistency. To know the right consistency - do the cold water candy test. Take few tablespoons of water in a cup, add a drop of sugar syrup to water. If it holds its shape (softball) doesn’t dissolve into water then it’s at the right consistency.

Fresh Grated Coconut Plain sugar syrup
Fresh Grated Coconut ………………Sugar Syrup on the way to softball stage

Grated fresh coconut is added to sugar syrup Coconut Burfi cooling
Fresh coconut is added to the thickened sugar syrup…… Coconut burfi - pressed into a squarepan to cool

Add the grated coconut and cardamom powder to the sugar syrup. Keep the heat on medium and cook, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. In 10 to 15 minutes, the mixture will be reduced to half, becomes very thick and comes away easily from the sides of pan - this is the signal to turnoff the heat. (At this stage, you’ve to be fast and alert, otherwise, the mixture will be overcooked and turns into dry sweetened coconut flakes - commercial kind of mixture.) Immediately pour this mixture into the greased tray. Level it evenly with a spatula, and cut into squares. Let cool.

To serve or store, reverse the tray onto a big plate, separate the squares and store them in an airtight container. Because it doesn’t have any milk products, this sweet can stay fresh up to two weeks.

Kitchen notes:
Authentic South Indian coconut burfi is prepared only with fresh grated coconut. Grating the coconut takes little bit effort but I think of it as an exercise, mainly upperarm workout.
Checkout this site for clear photo and video demonstration of sugarsyrup stages.

Tray of Coconut Burfi
Indian Sweets 101 - Celebrating Holi with Coconut Burfi

Recipe Source:Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Coconut (Fresh), Indian Sweets 101 (Tuesday March 14, 2006 at 11:07 pm- permalink)
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