Mahanandi

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

2007

Dear family, friends, fellow bloggers and readers

New Year Wishes with Rangoli Deepams (Photo by Rajan and Veena P. Parrikar, taken at Sri Sai Baba Temple, Diwali festival in Panjim, Goa, India )

Photo Courtesy of:
Rajan and Veena P. Parrikar

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Sunday December 31, 2006 at 6:31 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cooking at home with Pedatha ~ Cookbook Review, Interview and Recipe

Recently I have received a cookbook to review. The title of the book is “Cooking at home with Pedatha”.

Atha (or attha) means father’s sister in Telugu. Pedatha means eldest Atha. After grandparents, Pedatha, an authority motherly figure is the most important person and pedatha’s advice and asheerwad (blessings), are always sought in our homes during difficult times and for celebrations. We respect pedatha. After reading and trying a couple of recipes from Pedatha’s cookbook, I felt like I’ve found an emerald gem that would bring good health and good luck to my cooking.

Here in this cookbook, the authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain captured their Pedatha’s 85-years kitchen experience and wisdom. A blend of hot, sweet, sour and aromatic flavors, often all in one dish - the genius and simplicity of Andhra cooking, are laid out in endearing detail. Rice preparations, simple stir-fry curries, spicy powders, savory rasams and traditional sweets are all explained in Pedatha’s words. The result is like a marriage of perfect flavorings with natural goodness of fresh ingredients.

What I particularly liked about this cookbook is how it speaks to us, the Indians. It has an authentic voice which is compelling. I am from Nandyala, Andhra Pradesh and almost all of the recipes are just the way my mother would prepare. There are no shortcuts and there is no compromise in authenticity to please the western audience taste. Accompanied by breathtaking images, the recipes are easy to follow and most of them can be cooked in a short 30-minute time.

The only drawback I can think of is, when compared to ‘Hummer’ size cookbooks in vogue now, this book with 61 recipes in 87 pages may look like ‘Toyota Prius’. On the other hand, this may not be a drawback at all. I think even a newbie will easily get an idea and can cook a decent full fledged Andhra feast called “vindu bhojanam”, following the recipes, images and the menu ideas.

If you are like me, uninspired by cookbooks that devoid of originality and authenticity, often poor victims of meddling editing and mega publishers pressuring tactics, and hungry for a true Indian cookbook, then this book is for you. You may be a novice or an experienced cook, “Cooking at home with Pedatha” with its clutterfree instructions and clean, pleasant images will definitely assist and delight you just like Pedatha in our lives. Check it out!


Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri with Pedatha (Sreemati Subhadra Krishna Rau Parigi)

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Interview with Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain

Cookbooks are dime a dozen here in USA, but they are rare in India. There is no cottage cookbook industry and publishing a cookbook particularly one that focuses on regional cooking is still a big deal. Most of the times it’s truly a labor of love.

I wanted to know who inspired and what motivated the authors, and how they survived the brutal publishing phase to bring the book into market. Pratibha and Jigyasa responded immediately to my questions and were kind to this newbie. Thanks Pratibha and Jigyasa!

Here is my interview with the authors.


Pratibha and Jigyasa ~ Authors of the Cookbook


You have made an excellent book with uncompromising authentic recipes. What motivated you to write and publish this book? Who is your intended audience?

Thank you for the compliments. Frankly, the main motivating factor was pure love. When you meet Pedatha, you will realize how true this answer is. You know Indira, most of the things we have done in life have always been planned. Strangely, this book was never an agenda. Both of us like interacting with elders very much and we just used to visit Pedatha and chat - invariably about food, for such is her passion for cooking. When that personal collection became a book…. it was destiny’s hand and we just went along with the force of it.

Regarding the audience, we thought it was a niche product. Therefore, the only way to appeal to a wider audience was the idea of a coffee table book. Honestly, we never ever expected to go into second print, and so soon.

Our elders, who are greatly experienced in our cooking styles are exceptional assets for us. “Peddatha” is one such great asset. What did she think about publishing her recipes in the form of a book?

She would be very excited about teaching us whenever we visited her. But later, when the idea of a book emerged (initially from Jigyasa’s husband who said this is not a personal collection, this is a book in the making), she was very apologetic and shy. She kept saying it was home food and that there was nothing to it. In fact, she also once said that she feared people would say that she had misled us ‘little girls’ into thinking that her food was exceptional.

We remember one day when she said the same thing again. And we told her, “Pedatha, does a pearl know its worth? Only a jeweler knows that. So you Pedatha, are our precious pearl and we are your jewelers. Oh how she laughed and said - Now I understand. Ok ok.”

After all the fame and interviews, she is still as simple as always. We can’t stop marveling at that. But she thanks us a hundred times and laughs - “Without walking the ramp, you naughty girls have made me a model”. She calls us - The three Musketeers. She calls our laptop a lapdog because she says it has been so faithful to her. She thinks the recipes are just as she cooks them.

The beauty of the book you made truly portrays the essence of the recipes you put in the book. Cooking is intensively skilled process. Recording and reproducing these processes in the form of a book requires another level of skills too. What was your approach and method to create such wonderful design, photographs and narration? Who was your inspiration?

The first step of inspiration was Pedatha’s photographs - we were

stunned when we saw the results of the camera. I guess from there, we just had to make a book that blended with her pictures.

Regarding the layout and graphics, all credits to our team - Prabodh Jain (every adjective mentioned in the thanks note in the book is just apt - creativity and sustained vision) - he nudged us along every step of the way, challenging us not to compromise; Kavitha Shivan, our young layout designer, is a dream to work with (if u put aside her moods:) and spells of inactivity), guess that’s what creativity is about. In fact, Kavitha played a vital role in food presentation. Srivatsa, our photographer, simple, genuine and hard working - ever willing.

Pratibha’s mom once asked her brother Prabodh what made him so passionate about this project. He said, “Mom! These girls will kill themselves for that right word, the right phrase (he had seen our endless editing and the dozens of times we tried each recipe). How can any of us not respond likewise!” This was a compliment indeed.

I can understand that publishing a book is not as simple a process as preparing a dish. You might have gone through a great deal of work to get the book in to the market. How did you survive through tedious process?

Once the book was ready, quite a few friends and relatives came forward to launch the books. You can see that in the calendar page of our site. Pedatha’s son Mr. A.P.Parigi, an encouraging, positive, friendly person, came forward to launch the book in a big way in Mumbai. That evening was a phenomenal success.

Apart from that, Westland immediately agreed to distribute in India. We are still far behind in distribution though. As single book authors, it is not easy to get a shelf place in stores. However, since we are primarily ambitious as writers, it gives us that space within ourselves not to get obsessed with sales and marketing beyond a point.

What do you think about food blogs and would you like to share anything else with the readers of food blogs?

Food blogs are a reaching-out point for most net savvy cooks. It is almost like a huge wave out there. So easy to find recipes now, just a click away. And in blogs, the responses from other readers to the recipes make it interesting, as well as help decision-making. The best thing is the photographs on food blogs - they are honest, the food looks as it cooks. We wish every food blog would have a grandma’s corner - recipes, health tips, and anecdotes. Grandmas and granddads are such an awesome phenomenon.

What a wonderful thing that blogs are free! Anywhere, anyone who has something to say or share has a forum to do so. Thanks to food bloggers, our kitchens are constant discovery zones now.

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Arati ~ Ava Pettina Kura (Raw Banana with a Twang of Mustard)
Recipe from “Cooking at home with Pedatha”

I have been cooking several recipes from the cookbook for the last few days. Traditional recipes that I totally forgot until now. One such recipe is plantain curry with mustard seeds paste. Known as arati ava pettina kura, this special, seasonal dish of Andhra is often prepared for festivals.

I’ve followed Pedatha’s words and instructions mostly, and added salt and chillies to suit my taste. The result was a spectacular, simple dish, which brought me incredible joy. The kind of joy and happiness one would feel when remembering a cherished memory or taste from the past. Thank you Pedatha!


Plantain cubes and Mustard Seed- Coconut Paste

Recipe:

2 plantains
peeled & cut into cubes - boiled in water just until tender & drained.

For Mustard Seed ~ Coconut Paste:
2 teaspoons mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon of raw rice
(soaked in warm water for 10 minutes - to soften, so that they can grind well)
¼ cup of fresh grated coconut
8 green chillies - small, Indian variety
1 inch piece of ginger - peeled and cut to tiny pieces
¼ cup of fresh cilantro leaves and pinch of salt
grind them to smooth paste without adding any water - in a mortar or in a blender

For popu or tadka:
1 tsp each - urad dal, cumin, mustard seeds
6 each- curry leaves and red chilli pieces
A pinch of asafetida powder

Salt and turmeric to taste

In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and toast popu or tadka ingredients listed to gold color. Add the grinded paste. Saute until it leaves the raw smell for few minutes on medium heat. Add in boiled plantain cubes, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water and cook covered for about 10 minutes stirring in-between.

Serve warm with chapati or rice.


Arati Ava Pettina Kura with Chapati (Plantain - Mustard Curry with Chapatis)

Cooking at home with Pedatha:
Recommend this cookbook to your local libraries
Jigyasa and Pratibha’s Website: www.pritya.com
Cookbook cover and authors photo credit : Jigyasa and Pratibha

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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Arati Kaaya (Plantain), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks (Tuesday December 12, 2006 at 8:48 pm- permalink)
Comments (63)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Menu for Hope (Fund Drive for World Food Programme)

For the past 3 years, every year during December, food bloggers from all around the world would get together and offer raffle prizes to support a good cause. Fellow food bloggers, readers/fans of food blogs and interested people bid on these prizes and the generated money is used for the cause.

Last year the fund drive was for UNICEF, to help earthquake victims of Kashmir. The effort generated about 17,000 dollars. Great, isn’t it? This year to benefit ‘World Food Programme’ - a UN’s branch, which has been providing food to people all over the world since 1962 whenever, wherever needed. The driving force behind all this effort is a generous, fellow food blogger Pim of Chez Pim. She is organizing and coordinating this fund drive through several co-hosts and reputable Firstgiving.com..

From my side, I am offering 3 prizes for this fund drive. Middle eastern cookies - Mamouls, traditional Andhra sweets - Sunnundalu (both are made by me) and an Indian cookbook. Each item will be sent to the winning bidder neatly packed and shipping expenses paid. The cookies, sweets and the book are among the best in their class.

1. Mamouls: 12 count. Prize Code: UW29

Ma'amouls (Delicate date Cookies) Exquisite, one of a kind, delicious date cookies from Middle-east

Rosewater flavored cookies - Sweetly crisp, grainy covering on the outside and insides are sweet moist filling of honeyed dates. Homemade and styled using a wooden mamoul mold.
Ingredients:
Dough - semolina, all purpose flour, yeast, ghee, organic turbinado sugar and rose water
Filling - honeyed Tunisian dates, organic turbinado sugar and rose water
You can see the similar preparation using wooden mamoul mold - here.

2. Sunnundalu (Urad Dal Laddu): 20 count. Prize Code: UW30

Sunniundalu
Traditional sweet from Andhra Pradesh, India

Using an old world style grain mill, roasted urad dal is ground with sugar into fine sand like powder. Pure ghee along with cardamom powder is added and the mixture is shaped into perfect rounds. Prepared by following centuries-old traditional method, this sweet from my home state is a sheer delight and much beloved because of its unique taste and nutritional value. A must for celebrations and I am proud to offer this prize.
Ingredients:
Whole Urad dal, Ghee prepared from bovine hormone-free butter and organic turbinado raw cane sugar and cardamom powder.
For detail recipe and photos of preparation - click here.

3. Cooking at Home with Pedatha - by Jigyasa Giri, Pratibha Jain.
First edition and brand-new. Prize Code: UW33

Front Cover of Cookbook ~ Cooking at home with Pedatha
Cookbook ~ Indian (Andhra) Cuisine

“Rendered in stunning aesthetics, here is a traditional fare from Andhra Pradesh, the rice-bowl of India which boasts of one of the sweetest of languages and spiciest of foods. Fluffy, steaming rice with spicy chutneys, piquant powders, wholesome dals and mouth-watering vegetables. In easy-to-do-steps, learn these traditional vegetarian recipes as taught by an 85-year-young grandmother.”
Kindly offered by the authors for this fund drive. Thanks Jigyasa and Pratibha!
Cookbook Details:
Authors website: http://www.pritya.com/index.html
Market price and Reviews at: Amazon.com

There are several neat prizes offered by fellow food bloggers from all around the world - from homemade goodies to cookbooks to dinner at fabulous restaurants. Click here for the complete list.

The site - First Giving, that Pim set up is secure and safe, accepts both Visa and Master Card (I’ve donated through it last year, no problems and very easy to do). I strongly believe that the money we generate goes towards feeding at least few hungry mouths. Please see if you would be able to contribute by bidding on the items of your choice. Thanks!

How to Contribute:

Go to Firstgiving.com

Contribute. Each $10 will give you one raffle ticket towards a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Do mention how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code -for example, a donation of $20 will buy you 2 tickets for UW29 (Mamouls).

Please include and also check the box to allow organizers to see your email address, so that they could contact incase you win the prize.

The event will be closed on 22nd December and raffle prize winners will be announced on January 15 at Chez Pim and respective blogs. (The drawing will be done electronically).

Not into prizes, the whole hungama-you just want to donate(like I did last year). You can do that also.

If you need more information about the prizes, please contact me using the comments form below. Thanks.

Cynicism is fine but compassion rocks! Choose rocking choice. Go bid and have fun!

To all the contributors and to:

Nupur, SaltShaker, Gita, Hyma, Roopa, Siri, Aparna T, Prava, Indybear, Nina, Gini, Boranam, ok, Aparna T and Stephanie

Thank You!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday December 11, 2006 at 7:40 am- permalink)
Comments (21)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend Finds for Holiday Season

Salads from India for Healthy Holidays:

Have a Break! Have a Salad!

From the Salad Bar

Chickpea-Mango Sundal (Guggullu)



Chickpea - Mango Sundal (Guggullu) ~ Video Cooking Diary

Holiday Events:

“You Can Cook - FAHC Campaign” - Contribute to group book project

Menu for Hope III - A call for participation

Break a coconut for New Year celebrations - Jihva for January

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday December 9, 2006 at 6:45 pm- permalink)
Comments (5)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Besan-Coconut Burfi, the 7-cup magic

Besan Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup magic
Besan-Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup Magic for Indian Sweets 101

Experienced cooks would curl up into hardball position. The kitchen novice can crack up. Watching sugar melting for sweets preparation can do that to the cooks. Like Linda mentioned, the softball, the hardball, the numerous stages of sugar syrup have the effect of melting one’s brains.:) Toffees and Burfis turned to payasams, to hard bricks, to concrete mixture - I have seen them all. One recipe that has always come to my rescue during my beginner days of cooking was Besan-coconut burfi. Also known as 7-cup burfi.

7 cups refer to the ingredients’ quantity, which is easy to remember. There is no skill involved to prepare this sweet. Only thing one need is a steel heart. Coconut, sugar and ghee are liberally used and the sweet also liberates one from fear of burfi making. A true delight and Kitchen newbies favorite, I always remember this sweet fondly as 7-cup magic.

Recipe:
1 cup besan (gram flour, shanaga pindi)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1-2 cups ghee
2 cups sugar - powdered
Cardamom to taste
Wide, sturdy pot, big slotted sturdy spoon and a steel heart.
——- ——-
Place a wide, sturdy pot on stove. Bring to warm on medium-low heat.
Add besan and fry it constantly stirring to copper-toned gold jewelry color.
Add the fresh grated coconut to the besan and fry it for about 5 to 10 minutes again on medium-low heat, until it leaves the raw smell.
Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and cardamom powder.
Mix thoroughly and cook, constantly adding ghee. Until the whole thing comes together to a porous, firm mass. Takes about 20-30 minutes on medium-low heat.
Remove to a ghee-coated plate/pan. Press evenly and cut diamond shaped pieces.
Or shape the mixture to round laddus, once the mixture is cooled enough to touch.
Enjoy the delicious taste of 7-cup burfi.

More 7-cup sweets:
7-cup cake from Vidhya Rajesh
7-cup sweet from Pavani

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Gram Flour (Besan), Sugar, Ghee, Coconut (Fresh), Indian Sweets 101 (Friday December 8, 2006 at 10:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Afghan Inspired Okra and Split Pea Stew

I rarely watch Telugu and Hindi movies these days. Back in my teens and twenties, I was quite a moviegoer. Minimum 4 to 6 movies per month, yes that big of a fan. Not anymore. Once enjoyable dramas have now became too much to bear and boring. I get my dramas from current events these days. But I do remember few movies from yesteryears. One such film is Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi’s “Khuda Gawa” (God is My Witness) (1992). The movie was shot in then somewhat peaceful Afghanistan. The mountains, the pass - the landscape was breathtakingly captured in that movie and made a memorable impression on my mind.

Recently when I was asked to try out a meatless Afghan recipe from an Afghanistan cookbook by a friend, I immediately replied ‘yes’. Split peas and whole baby okras (leta bendakayalu) cooked to tender in tomato - dill sauce. I tried this recipe two months ago for the photo shoot for NPR. Few additions to taste; now, it’s a regular preparation at my kitchen. Like our sambhar and moong dal aamti, this tasty stew can make a decent meal by itself. This also can be eaten with rice or naan.

Recipe:

3 cups of split peas soaked in hot water for about one hour
12 to 15 tender baby okra of small finger length - ends removed
6 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced
¼ cup of fresh dill (acquired taste, optional and avoid if you don’t like dill)
1 tsp each -salt, chilli powder, turmeric and dhania (coriander) powder
1 tsp of oil

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add and cook onions and tomatoes until they soften. Mush them by pressing with a back of big spoon. To this sauce, add okra, dill, split peas, all the seasoning and two cups of water. Cover and simmer the whole thing for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Until okra and split peas become tender and the stew reaches the thickness you desire. Serve warm.


Pot of Okra and Split Pea Stew
Warming up Winter Days ~ for Rosie’s “Spice is Right” Event


Recipe source and adapted from -
“Afghan Food & Cookery: Noshe Djan” by Helen Saberi and from NPR’s Kitchen Window - “Discovering Afghan Cuisine, a World Away” by Vijaysree Venkatraman

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Benda Kaaya(Okra), Peas (Split) (Thursday December 7, 2006 at 9:32 pm- permalink)
Comments (15)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

How to Food Blog? ~ Live and Let Live philosophy & Methi-Nariyal Pulao (Fenugreek-Coconut Pilaf)

The holiday season is here in US!

Food blogging community is abuzz with calls for donations and charity drives, to show that we are not some greedy gluttons always in search of next best exotic ingredient, and we have a compassionate heart. Good things we are doing. Also without some family ‘discussions’, where is the joy in holidays? In last few weeks, we’ve seen amateur gourmets to who spits wine, issuing ultimatums to the community. One blogger writes stop being mediocre, stop writing about what you had for lunch and urges us to strive for the foodie exhibitionist avatar, him in a nutshell. And one wants to name and shame the bloggers who don’t provide - ha… the terminal crime, RSS feeds. Imagine the audacity of some food bloggers, who wish for people to spend some time visiting their page and recipes they laid out neatly, instead of being treated like ‘grab and gulp’ fast food road stops. Imagine, for all their hard work, some food bloggers want people visit their actual web page, instead of being one more bland white page in a RSS feed hell.

Just few lunches with corporate promoted celebrity chefs and few sponsored dinner reservations at 300 dollars a meal - French Laundry, is all one needs these days to act like all-knowing, bloggity wisdom dispensers. Like utterly corrupted evangelical leaders that issue bully ultimatums of one has to follow only their religion to enter the heaven, these food bloggers who tasted the fame, suddenly forgot their beginner days of blogging and thunder on us, to write like them and do what they do, to enter the golden greedy gates of mainstream fame. What if the ‘mediocre’ home cooks start writing what’s on their minds about such things? These sermon serving, self-proclaimed soul savers, will they be ready to hear how shallow they sound in their daily posts.

What happened to “live and let live” philosophy?

They may join forces with few food magazine columnists in demeaning the home cooks who blog about cheese sandwiches - the everyday food. But they keep forgetting that home cooking and bloggers who write about lunch meal recipes have been the building bones of food blogging community. Home cooks in general are compassionate, understanding and gentle. Rarely narcissistic and flashy. Not only towards the ingredients and the recipes they blog, but also in their writing style and in interaction with readers. This approach is considered boring and mediocre by advice dispensers. Really? If we want to read glorified, glibbery accounts of restaurant food or doltish gibberish of kitchen mishaps, or how micro plane zester or some latest kitchen gizmo saved their cooking - we already have puffed up Frank Bruni and his kind’s writings in newspapers and food magazines, all available free at the local libraries. These ‘wannabe’ food bloggers may think they are being original, but who are they kidding?

I blame the current tide in food blogging world on holiday pressures. I do hope that this drive to conform foodbloggers to their thinking passes once the holiday season is over. There are many ways and many reasons to blog. Live and Let Live. With that said, here is today’s recipe - what I had for lunch, very much homemade, not RSS fed - coconut and fenugreek pulao.

Aromatic basmati rice, sweet homemade coconut milk and potent fresh fenugreek leaves - cooked together is a recipe that I have learnt from my mother and very much illustrates the ingenuity and wisdom of home cook. Nutritious, wholesome and a one-pot meal, give it a try.


Homemade Coconut Milk, Basmati Rice, Fresh Fenugreek Leaves

Recipe:

2 cups basmati rice
2 cups fresh methi (fresh fenugreek) leaves
6 chillies - sliced thin lengthwise
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup finely sliced onion - lengthwise
½ cup homemade coconut milk or ¼ cup of store-bought type
½ cup roasted cashews (optional)
1 teaspoon each - ghee or peanut oil and salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon each - black peppercorns, cloves and fresh ginger pieces
coarsely grind using a spice mill or in a mortar with pestle

Wash and soak basmati rice in 3 cups of water for about 15 - 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a thick-bottomed wide pot, heat ghee or oil on high heat. Add and fry the onions first and then the peppercorn-clove-ginger paste and chillies. Add the fresh peas and fresh methi leaves. Stir-fry until the leaves wilt.

Add the basmati rice and along with the water it soaked in. Stir in coconut milk and salt. Mix thoroughly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered for about 15 to 20 minutes. By the end of 20 minutes, the water will be absorbed and rice will be cooked to perfection. At this time, add and gently mix roasted cashews. Close the lid and let the rice sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot. Sprinkle in some lime/lemon juice just before serving.

Coconut milk and fresh peas balance methi ruchi (flavor). Basmati and roasted cashews addition makes it even more pleasant. Good meal when combined with a kurma/kofta curry or just plain yogurt/raita.


Methi-Nariyal Pulao with Yogurt ~ Our lunch today

Added on Dec 7:
Thanks for all your responses. It has been a lively discussion. Glad to see this topic has given all of us a chance to express our ideas about food blogging and how to do it. I had to scrub four comments because of the rude and soliciting nature of the content.
Also, thanks very much for trying out the recipe and letting me know. I greatly appreciate it!
- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Basmati Rice, Coconut (Fresh), Menthi Kura(Fenugreek) (Wednesday December 6, 2006 at 7:46 pm- permalink)
Comments (37)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mahanandi on NPR

Logo of National Public Radio -US

Freelance writer and my friend, Vijaysree Venkatraman has written an article for NPR. In her article, she wrote about Afghanistan cuisine and included one of my recipes (Pumpkin-Almond Halwa) and couple of my photographs.

The article “Discovering Afghan Cuisine, a World Away” is published today on NPR’s Kitchen Window.

We are big fans and regular listeners of NPR programs like Car Talk, All Things Considered and most of the days, our mornings start with NPR’s Morning Edition. So to be featured in such prestigious American institution is a privilege and an honor. I appreciate Vijaysree for a nice article and thank her for giving credit to Mahanandi. I also wish her good luck and continued success as a writer!

Congratulations Vijaysree!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Tuesday December 5, 2006 at 8:39 pm- permalink)
Comments (41)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend This & That

Food Blog World - Events and Happenings:

“You Can Cook - FAHC Campaign” - Contribute to group book project.

Menu for Hope III - A call for participation

The Daily Tiffin - Offering ideas and tips for everyday lunch box meals

“Vegetable a Week” - a new weekly event from Pooja of My Creative Ideas. She blogs from Pune and she is also a talented henna artist. Check her gorgeous henna designs - here.

Nidhi’s (Cooking Made Easy) recipe BELL-PEPPER RINGS is now at 8th position in “Chefs.com: Treasured Recipes Contest”. I have already voted for it.
If you like the recipe, go, vote now.!

All the way from Japan - Muruku ABCD’s from Hari Priya of Sweet & Spice .

Phulka Illustrated - from Supriya Rao of Fitful Culinaria.

Palm Sugar or Panai Vellam - from Mathy Kandasamy of Blog Desam.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday December 2, 2006 at 11:47 pm- permalink)
Comments (9)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Jaggery~Coconut Puffs


Jaggery-Coconut Puffs

Many thanks to lovely Kay for hosting this month’s Jihva. Being a first time mother of two month old baby girl, she could have easily said “no” to very demanding and time consuming work of event hosting, which she booked 7 months ago. I asked her to see if she’d take a break, but she insisted to do it. I restect people who keep their word without missing a beat. I also commend Kay for her dedication towards Jihva and also all the participants for their enthusiastic support with interesting entries. To make this event hosting as smooth as possible for Kay, I would greatly appreciate if you could send your entries with the details she requested (blog name, entry URL and images etc), so that she could do the recap of the event in short time. Thank you.

Kay also requested for new jaggery recipes. So here is one - Jaggery-Coconut puffs. Homemade puff pastry and sweet jaggery coconut filling. I borrowed the recipe idea from Fethiye of Yogurt land. I have changed the recipe little bit. Instead of egg in dough, I have added mashed ripe banana as I was preparing the puffs for naivedyam (puja offering) and also used ghee. Preparation was easy, and the end result was smooth silky puffs with sweet filling. We liked them a lot and they are definitely going to join my cherished recipe list. Thanks Fethiye for a great recipe idea, thanks Kay for inspiring me to experiment.


Dough, melted ghee, jaggery-coconut filling and jaggery-chana dal purnam filling

Recipe:
for 12 to 14 sweet puffs

For filling:

I’ve prepared two different fillings.
1: jaggery-coconut lauju: Follow coconut burfi recipe. Replace sugar with jaggery and stop cooking before the sweet reaches burfi stage. I have also added sesame seeds to the lauju.
2: jaggery-chana dal purnam : like we do for Bhakshalu (bobbatlu, puran poli, holige). Recipe is here. Small quantity, just half cup each is enough and can be done in 30 minutes with some preplanning.

For dough:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of warm milk
1 ripe banana - mashed smoothly
¼ cup of oil
1 teaspoon each - sugar, salt and cardamom powder
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast, stirred in 1 T of warm water

Take them all in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Prepare the dough like we do for chapatis, sprinkling warm water if necessary. Without giving any rest period, divide the dough into 8 rounds. Roll out small salad plate shaped rounds.

Apply general coating of ghee or melted butter to each one, on one side and layer them. (See the photo below).

Roll again these 8 rounds into one big dinner plate shaped circle of about 10 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. The size is really big, and I had to roll out on my kitchen countertop. Divide and cut this circle into 12 to 14 triangles of equal size.

Top the wide edge of each portion with 1 tablespoon of filling. Start rolling from the wide edge down to the tip. Curve in tips to close the gap on the sides. Now the rolling part is over, give the dough a break and allow to rest for about 15 minutes so that yeast can work its magic.

Arrange them nearly in rows on a greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between pieces. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm.


Rolling out the rounds and arranging one over another after applying ghee


Placing the jaggery-coconut filling and rolling the wedges to croissant shape


After a 15 minute rest period, the puffs are ready for baking


Hot Jaggery-Coconut Puffs for Birthday Girl Kay and my entry to JFI-Jaggery.


Recipe adapted from Yogurt Land
Flour Choice: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Chana Dal, Jaggery, Coconut (Fresh) (Friday December 1, 2006 at 7:25 pm- permalink)
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