Mahanandi

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

Vegetable Pongal ~ A Pleasing Meal

I admit, I really like saying the word “Pongal”. Try it. Once more, “Pongal”. Isn’t that fun? I knew you would agree. And we love pongal. No sense in denying it, we are pongal worshippers. Rice and moong dal cooked to creamy moist tenderness with ghee inspired countless people to gush, and I am no exception.

As you can imagine, we are always looking for pongal recipes that will excite our finicky tastebuds. Boy, we cooked one today. Pongal with mixed vegetables and cashews, flavored with ginger and ghee. A filling one-pot meal with minimum effort. Sounds superb, doesn’t it? Now imagine that decadent creamy pongal warmly melting in your mouth with each bite. I promise, it really is as good as it sounds. Even better!

Secret is all in the rice. Pick brown/unpolished or parboiled varieties for maximum ruchi and I found that Kerala red rice (or Rosematta rice - an unpolished red rice from India, cultivated since ancient times in Kerala and Tamilnadu regions) is the supreme, healthy choice for this recipe.


Kerala Red Rice+Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Vegetables, Curry leaves, Ginger and Coriander Leaves

Recipe:

Half cup - Kerala red rice (Rosematta rice)
Half cup - yellow moong dal
Two cups - cut vegetables
Half cup - roasted cashews
Ten curry leaves and few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
One teaspoon each - cumin, minced ginger, peppercorn, turmeric and salt
Two tablespoons - ghee

Dry roast yellow moong dal to pale brown on low heat, in an iron skillet. Remove, mix with Kerala red rice. Wash gently with water then drain quickly.

Prepare vegetables to bite sized pieces. My choice was - ridge gourd (turai), carrot, red bell pepper, one each and a fistful of fresh corn and peas. For spicy punch, I added 4 green chillies-finely chopped.

When you are ready to cook - heat ghee in a large, heavy-based pan.

Add curry leaves first and then cumin and ginger. Saute to gold color.
Add the cut vegetables, coriander leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add the Kerala red rice and moong dal.
Add 6 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.
Coarsely crush peppercorn and add along with salt and turmeric.

Mix. Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about 20 to 30 minutes, the grains will be tenderly soft and there will still little bit of liquid (at least half cup) left in the pot. Turn off the heat at this stage and add the roasted cashews. Mix and serve this liquid kanji (ganji) like vegetable pongal immediately.

Vegetable Pongal
Vegetable Pongal ~ Our Afternoon Meal Today


Kerala Red Rice (Rosematta Rice) -Available in Indian grocery shops
Traditional Pongali - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd), Moong Dal (Washed), Rosematta Rice (Tuesday January 30, 2007 at 1:49 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ginger~Garlic~Coriander Paste : For Jihva (Allam Vellulli Kottimera Mudda)

Root vegetables, as if happy to be unearthed, usually mingle well with other vegetables by being subtly sweet. But when it comes to Gingerroot-the rhizome, it’s quite another story.

Like an unruly tiny tot, ginger is full of attitude. Potent, pungent and incomparable, it is nothing like other rhizomes or root vegetables. To put it gingerly, ginger is never needed in pounds, just a small quantity is enough to liven up an otherwise ordinary culinary experience. And Indian cuisine, one of the mother cuisines in the world, pairs ginger with garlic and coriander. The pungency of ginger is controlled and counteracted with more pungent flavors. What a way to civilize the taste of ginger! A perfect pairing appreciated by mature palates.

Ginger, garlic and coriander, together ground into a smooth paste is something that I often use in my daily cooking. Almost all traditional tomato and coconut based curries (pulusu, subjis) need at least a teaspoon of ginger-garlic-coriander paste. So depending on the market price of these three ingredients or my time constraints, I prepare this paste in quantities large (which would last for at least two weeks) or small (just enough for that day’s meal).

Here is my recipe for ginger-garlic-coriander paste, and an entry to “Jihva for Ginger” event. Hosted from Scotland by lovely Rosie of “What’s the recipe today, Jim?”.


Ginger-Garlic-Coriander Paste ~ for “Jihva : Ginger” event.

Recipe:

Ginger root - peeled, sliced to small pieces - Half cup
Garlic - peeled and sliced to small pieces - Quarter cup
Fresh coriander (cilantro) -finely chopped - 1 cup
Salt - quarter teaspoon

Take them all in a blender/food processor or in a mortar. Grind them to smooth consistency without adding water. Remove to a clean glass jar, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. (Remains fresh from one week up to a month.) Whenever needed, take the required amount with a clean spoon.

To Jihva participants:
Rosie is in the process of moving and requesting “Jihva-Ginger” entries as early as possible.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Kottimera(Cilantro), Ginger & Sonti, Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 29, 2007 at 2:33 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Weekend Kittaya Blogging

Kittaya - The Cat
Kittaya

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Kittaya (Saturday January 27, 2007 at 9:42 am- permalink)
Comments (9)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Scrumptious Subjis : Chayote in Chilli Sauce (Bengaluru Vankaya Kurma)

Chayote in Chilli Sauce (Chayote Kurma)

Just a little color dabbed on the cheeks can do wonders to a pale, lifeless face. Same thing, small dose of vibrant chilli sauce can do wonders to otherwise bland, mild flavored chayote. Just add a dash of chilli and a pinch of spice. Sprinkle some tamarind juice and touch of tadka - here we go. Utterly lip-smacking yet not at all overblown. Impressively energetic but balanced with a persistent sweetness from chayote. Another traditional, savory and scrumptious sabji would be ready. We usually have this sabji with sorghum roti or with chapatis.

Cubed Chayote and Powdered Ingredients for Chilli Sauce
Cubed Chayote and Powdered Ingredients for Chilli Sauce

Recipe:

1 chayote - peel, slice to half, remove seed and dice to bite-sized cubes
1 onion - finely chopped

For chilli Sauce:
5 dried red chillies
2 tablespoons - dalia (pappulu, bhuna chana)
1 tablespoon - grated coconut (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon each - powdered jaggery and tamarind juice
1 teaspoon - mustard seeds
½ teaspoon - cumin
¼ teaspoon each - salt and turmeric
Take all of the above and grind to smooth in a blender or spice grinder.

For popu or tadka:
1 tsp each - oil, minced garlic, curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces, cumin and mustard seeds

………

In a wide skillet, heat oil. Add and toast the popu or tadka ingredients in the order mentioned above.

When the mustard seeds start to dance, add onions and chayote cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

When the chayote starts to soften, add the powdered chilli sauce ingredients and one cup of water. Mix. Have a taste. Adjust the salt and jaggery sweetness level to your liking.

Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the chayote becomes tender and chilli sauce thickens and coats the spoon.

Serve warm with a cup of yogurt or tea on the side. Taste great with sorghum roti/chapati/naan. (Not that good with rice.)

Chayote Kurma with Naan and a Cup of Tea
Chayote Kurma with Naan and a Cup of Tea

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia), Dried Red Chillies, Chayote (Cho Cho) (Wednesday January 24, 2007 at 6:32 pm- permalink)
Comments (27)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Tandoor ~ The Great Indian Barbeque Cookbook Review, Poem and Recipe


Cookbook by Ranjit Rai

Seattle’s public library system has the biggest collection of cookbooks I have ever seen, and it covers a gamut of traditional and contemporary cuisines. Whenever all-day rain is in the forecast, I pack up a bag and hike to the library to spend the day. The library is spacious, vibrant, well-lit, and equipped with WiFi system. We can either browse through the bookshelves or sit in a corner and surf away on laptops. Stepping inside the library is my way of shutting out the gloom and grayness of winter, so I go.

One such day last week, I was in the cookbooks aisle, my usual hangout place at the library. Flipping the pages of various cookbooks, trying to decide which deserved the 10-minute trek back home. I usually place cookbooks into two categories. Books that are worthy of the paper they are printed on and books that would make even the docile trees of the rainforests cry. After all the sacrifice made of these gentle giants in the name of nourishing the human mind, the trash printed in the name of food and sustenance would make any decent person weep with disgust. We have to pulp the green to mint the green, I know that, but some cookbooks are truly a violation of everything that the rainforests stand for.

But I digress. So here I was in the pursuit of cookbooks worthy of my energy. The Seattle public library did not disappoint me. I found one that made me stop looking further. The book was titled “Tandoor - The Great Indian Barbeque”. It is not often that one finds a cookbook dedicated to a cooking technique as ancient as the 5000 years old tradition of tandoori. I had to pick it up. What a wonderful use of my time it was to read that book! “Tandoor” is written by Ranjit Rai of New Delhi. He had diligently detailed a manuscript on tandoor cooking, but had passed away before it could be published. His daughter and his best friend together edited and completed the publication of the book.

I can truly say that this cookbook is like the Bhagavad Gita for connoisseurs and lovers of fine cooking. Everything one would ever want to know about tandoor, the kartha, karma, kriya are described in detail. The first part of the book is dedicated to the history and different types of tandoor. Useful tips and tricks - how to construct a tandoor in your backyard, and how to adapt tandoor-style cooking to an apartment kitchen - are recited in eye-opening detail with captivating pictures. The second part of the book is about the karma, the basic work and preparation needed for tandoor cooking. Different types of tenderizers, marinades and masala powders that add special touch to tandoori dishes - what, how and why - are narrated with scientific explanations. Part three includes tandoor recipes for poultry, lamb, fish, vegetables, and breads. The book has a total of 105 recipes and each recipe is accompanied by one or two photographs of either the preparation stages or the finished product. Classic crowd-pleasers such as tandoori chicken, cocktail kababs, masala chops, tandoori jhinga, and paneer tikka along with kababs and tandoori rotis - you will find them all in this book. In spite of coming from a family with non-vegetarian food traditions, I have consciously avoided meat all these years. But even I cannot resist a masala tikka if it is cooked and served in the manner described in this book. That tempting!

Whether you are a culinary enthusiast or simply browse cookbooks as a pastime, if you ever come across this book in a bookshop or at your local library, please stop and pick it up. Mr. Ranjit Rai’s meticulousness and passion will leave you awestruck, as it did me. What a wonderful tribute to the timeless tradition of tandoor cooking! Well done! My vinamra namaskar to the father and daughter team.

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Ode To The Tandoor ~ By Ranjit Rai
(excerpt from “Tandoor”)

Fired from below Ranjit Rai (1923 - 1993)
And cascading hear from above
Made from mother earth
By gently hands of women in love
Charging the clay with strength
Thou wondrous oven
Fail-safe cooker of goodness and health

From Unknown time
Through millenniums you serve
Now underground now from above
‘Big’, aromatic, baking and roasting
Accepting grain, meat and dove
The chicken brought you fame
And now on every lip is your name

You sit burning for others
Calling bring your meal ‘bread and dough’
And stir around me ‘timber’
Warm yourself a moment
The day’s work is done
Pay homage to the world’s greatest preserver.

Sri Ranjit Rai (1923-1993)

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Hare Chane ki Seekh (Green Chickpea Kababs)
Recipe from “Tandoor”, page: 229

Like the author’s family, we too grew up with the tradition of indulging in green chickpeas (hare chane) during season. Like fresh peas of spring, green chickpeas taste wonderfully sweet with the delicate, earthy scent of the motherland. Fresh foods like these belong to a special category and the associated memories always make them irresistibly spectacular to me.

Seekhs/kababs prepared from fresh chickpeas, without a doubt are a great tandoori snack item. So here is a recipe from the “Tandoor” cookbook, adapted to my apartment’s electric-powered oven.

Fresh Chickpeas (Hare Chana, Cholia)
Fresh Chickpeas (Hare Chana, Cholia)

Ingredients and Method:
(for 7 or 8 medium sized kababs)

2 cups green chickpeas (hare chane, cholia)
1 small red onion or 2 shallots - finely chopped
1 teaspoon - cumin and quarter teaspoon - salt
1 tablespoon - peanut oil/ghee
2 tablespoons - gram flour/besan (acts as binding agent)
Half cup hung-yogurt (hang yogurt in a thin cotton cloth overnight to drain water)
6 green chillies, 4 curry leaves, 2 garlic, 1-inch ginger, 1 tablespoon grated coconut and pinch of salt - grind them together to smooth consistency in a spice grinder or in a mortar with pestle

Skewers - 3
side dish - a cup of yogurt and grilled baby onions

Hung-Yogurt, Green Chilli-Ginger Paste, Shallots
Hung-Yogurt (Yogurt Cheese), Green Chilli-Ginger Paste, Shallots

In a wide skillet, heat oil/ghee. Add and toast cumin first . Then add and saute onions plus green chilli-ginger paste. When onions are pale red, add green chickpeas. Mix. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the chickpeas soften a bit. (Like fresh green peas, green chickpeas cook fast.)

Add hung-yogurt and salt to taste. Mix and cook on low heat, until water evaporates from yogurt. With the back of the wide, slotted spoon, mash the whole thing to coarsely smooth consistency. Sprinkle besan flour and mix. Let cool.

Mashing the Cooked Chickpea-Spice Mixture
Mashing the Cooked Chickpea-Chilli Saute

Oil and wipe the skewers. Shape the mashed chickpeas into chilli shape directly onto the skewers. Apply gentle pressure while shaping the kababs. Place skewer on a baking pan.

Chickpea Kababs Ready for Grilling
Chickpea Kababs Ready for Grilling in Oven

Once ready, place the pan in oven and broil, each side for about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a fork and fingers, carefully turn each kabab to opposite side for uniform cooking and broil to pale gold color.


Grilled (Oven-Broiled) Golden Chickpea Kababs

Serve hot with a cup of yogurt and some grilled pearl onions/small shallots.


Hare Chane ki Seekh (Green Chickpeas Kababs) with Yogurt and Grilled Onions
My Entry to “Saffron, White and Green” Event at Puja’s My Creative Ideas.

Notes:
Book Cover, Ranjit Rai photo and “Ode to the Tandoor” poem is taken from “Tandoor” cookbook (Copyright:Anuradha Ravindranath) for review purpose.
Thanks V!
Available at : Amazon, Powell’s.com, Indiaclub.com
Recommend this book to your local libraries.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Yogurt, Hara Chana(Green Chickpeas), Reviews: Cookbooks (Monday January 22, 2007 at 2:03 pm- permalink)
Comments (30)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane and Sweet, Juicy Cubed Treats of Sugar Cane
~ for this week’s Indian Kitchen

Fresh Sugar Cane

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Molasses, Sugar (Sunday January 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm- permalink)
Comments (15)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Dazzling Dals: Split Pea~Spinach Stew

Split peas have always been one of those pantry staples that I forget, until the cravings hit me. Yes, I crave spicy split pea stews. Like toor dal, they have a pleasant, addictive taste and when cooked with vegetables plus chilli powder, they make a quick and easy main course dal dish. Rice, or chapati are not needed and the stew can be filling by itself. Good meal for days, when I would like to cut back on calories and still feel satisfyingly stuffed.

Green Split Peas, Spinach and Tomato
Green Split Peas, Spinach and Tomato

Recipe:

1 tablespoon of peanut oil
4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 onion - finely chopped
3 big, ripe tomatoes - finely chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - chopped
1 cup green split peas (green matar dal)
(soaked in warm water at least for 15 minutes beforehand to speed up the cooking)
1 tsp each or to taste - salt, chilli powder, turmeric & powdered cumin
4 cups of water

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and onions. Saute to pale-brown. Add tomatoes next, and cook covered on high heat for about 5 minutes. Open the lid, and press with the back of spatula vigorously to mush the contents. To this, add spinach and saute, till leaves wilt.

Add green split peas, plus the seasoning - salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and cumin. Add water and mix thoroughly. Have a taste and adjust salt, chilli powder to your liking. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the split peas reach fall-apart stage. (Split peas cook easily on stove-top, do not need pressure-cooking.)

Serve warm.

Split Pea - Spinach Stew
Spicy Stew of Split Peas and Spinach

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Peas (Split) (Friday January 19, 2007 at 8:16 pm- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Paneer Naanini

Today’s meal is inspired by menu from Indian Bread Co. of New York. Rectangular shaped store-bought, whole-wheat naans are stuffed with spinach curry and crumbled paneer. Grilled in oven and served hot with split pea~spinach stew.

We like paneer naaninis for three reasons. One, they are quick and easy to prepare, two, they taste really good - all the great ruchi(flavor) of grilled naan with spinach and paneer goodness and three, just by changing the toppings, we can customize them to our mood/taste. Stuffed parathas in a new avatar, needless to say good food!

Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer
Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer - ready for grilling

Recipe:

2 naans
½ cup crumbled paneer or scrambled eggs/tofu
Spinach curry stuffing:
1 small bunch of spinach - finely chopped
1 big red onion and tomato - finely sliced
¼ cup of fresh peas
1 teaspoon - red chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt

Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a wide skillet. Add onion, tomato and peas. Cook them stirring occasionally until onions are soft. Add spinach, sauté until the leaves wilt on high heat. Sprinkle red chilli flakes, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook for few more minutes and remove from heat.

Slice each naan lengthwise (like shown above) in the middle into two layers. (Sharp knife and skilled hand are essential to slice the naan). Top with spinach curry and sprinkle crumbled paneer. Cover the naan with second half. Broil for about 4 to 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and remove as soon as brown spots start to appear. Cut into two or three pieces and serve hot with a cup of dal soup or stew.

 Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Dried Sweet Mango Pieces
Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Spicy-Sweet Dried Mango Pieces (Maamidi Tandra Coated with Chilli Powder) ~ Our Meal Today

Source:
Paneer and Naans - from Indian grocery shop
Spicy-sweet dried mango pieces - from Trader Joe’s grocery shop

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach (Thursday January 18, 2007 at 2:23 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Peanut ~ Jaggery Chutney

Peanut - jaggery chutney is a timeless classic. Like the comfort of the Kashmir shawl wrap on a cold day and the elegance of kumkum bottu on the forehead after a visit to the temple, it can be relied on to instantly make the meal both totally comforting and effortlessly elegant.

Stylish enough for a special elaborate meal and at the same time, casual enough for a spur of the moment put-together breakfast or light lunch - Peanut jaggery chutney is a rural Andhra classic side dish and much beloved recipe from my home. Usually prepared in a rolu (mortar) and served during Makara Sankranthi with pulagam or pongali and ghee.

 Shallot, Dried Red Chillies, Roasted Peanuts
Shallot, Dried Red Chillies and Roasted Peanuts

Recipe:

Peanuts - 1 cup
Shallots 4 or one big red onion - cut to chunks
Dried red chillies - 6 to 10. I usually add at least 8 for a cup of peanuts
Tamarind - small marbleround size
Jaggery pieces - 1 tablespoon or to your liking
Salt - 1 teaspoon

Roast peanuts to light brown color. Cool and remove the skins.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and fry shallot/onion pieces and dried red chillies to brown color. Let cool to room temperature.

Soak tamarind in a quarter cup of hot water for about 10 minutes, to soften.

Take them all in a blender or in a mortar. Add jaggery and salt. Grind to smooth consistency. Remove to a cup and serve with breakfast items or with chapati/rice along with ghee.

Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee
Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Shallots (Wednesday January 17, 2007 at 8:26 pm- permalink)
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Pulagam ~ Sankranthi Tradition

Rice, moong dal, peanuts, jaggery and ghee rule the kitchen during Sankranthi in our homes.

For bhogi, pulagam (rice + split moong dal + salt) is the main dish, not pongali (rice + yellow moong dal + salt), and three peanut based recipes are prepared for pulagam.

Peanut-jaggery chutney,
Stuffed brinjal curry with peanuts and
No boil, cold peanut rasam (Peanut pacchi pulusu)

And the meal begins with prasadam - either jaggery rice pudding or sweet pongali. See, the whole kitchen revolves around rice, moong dal, peanuts, jaggery and ghee during Sankranthi.

Even though I grew up on this tradition, I rarely prepared them all for Sankranthi here. Because, for two people it’s lot of food and one also needs deep appetite to enjoy them. The whole combination is heavy and would make one sleepy in a minute. But yesterday I dared and cooked everything for Sankranthi. I was shivering 24 hours of day under Seattle’s arctic cold blast - God, I needed some rich food. So the rice, moong dal, peanut and ghee extravaganza.

Pulagam, Stuffed Brinjal Curry with Peanuts, Peanut-Jaggery Chutney, Peanut Pacchi Pulusu and Homemade Ghee
Pulagam, Stuffed Brinjal Curry with Peanuts, Peanut Pacchi Pulusu, Peanut-Jaggery Chutney & Ghee

Pulagam Recipe

1 cup split moong dal
1 ½ cups rice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Wash the rice and split moong dal together, once or twice, until the water is clear. Take them in a pressure cooker or in a big pot. Add 6 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Mix and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring in-between or simply pressure cook to soft, falling apart stage.

Serve hot with peanut chutney/stuffed brinjal curry/peanut pacchi pulusu along with generous amounts of ghee for a festive meal or with homemade yogurt for an easy on stomach, light meal.

Sona Masuri Rice, Split Moong Dal and Salt ~ Ingredients for Pulagam
Sona Masuri Rice, Split Moong Dal and Salt ~ Ingredients for Pulagam


Preparing pulagam during Sankranthi is a Nandyala tradition.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Split) (Tuesday January 16, 2007 at 10:57 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

“Menu for Hope” Raffle Winners

Thanks to all who have contributed to Menu for Hope fundraising and congratulations to raffle winners:

boranam (UW29), Aparna T (UW30) and Prava (UW33).

Please follow the instructions to claim your prize. Thank you!

For complete list of raffle prizes and winners - Click here.

Added on Jan 17th:

Sweets and Cookbook for Menu for Hope Raffle Prize Winners

Sweets and cookbook are shipped to Boranam, Aparna T, and Prava. I have enjoyed making the sweets for you and I hope you would find the contents enjoyable as well. Congratulations again and Thanks!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday January 15, 2007 at 6:53 pm- permalink)
Comments (4)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice Pudding)

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice)
Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Sweet Jaggery Rice)

Bellam Paramannam or jaggery sweet rice pudding is a creamy rice dessert with a difference, being sweetened by old world sugar - “jaggery” and subtly flavored with cardamom. It is wonderful warm or cold and usually served as puja prasadam on festivals like Sankranthi (the harvest festival).

Recipe:

1 cup Sona Masuri rice
2 cups milk + 2 cups water
2 cups jaggery + 1 cup water
½ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee
4 cardamom pods - seed powdered

This is how I prepare this traditional sweet:

Cook rice in milk and water to very tender, falling apart stage.

Melt jaggery in water and simmer to plain syrup stage.

Add cooked rice to jaggery syrup. Mix and cook on medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat ghee on medium heat. First fry cashews and then golden raisins to light gold color. Add the whole thing - ghee along with fried cashews and golden raisins to the rice-jaggery mixture.

Simmer on medium-low heat stirring in-between, until the whole thing thickens a bit and comes together to moist, firm mass.

Just before turning off the heat, stir in cardamom powder and mix thoroughly. Serve warm or cold.

Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam
Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam

Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup
Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup

Bellam Paramannam
Bellam Paramannam to celebrate Sankranthi

Kitchen notes:
When directly added, jaggery sometimes could separate milk avaialble here, into curds and whey. Preparing rice with milk first and then adding it to jaggery syrup is my way for fail proof bellam paramannam prasadam.
Paramannam with sugar ~ Recipe
Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) ~ Recipe
From Telugu to English: Bellam = jaggery, Paramannam = Sweet rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sona Masuri Rice, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
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Besan Baingan (Baingan Kalwa)

Brinjals for Dummies series or 101 on brinjal curries should start with this Besan Baingan, I think. Sauteed brinjals coated with besan and spice mix make an excellent, easy to prepare curry. The ingredients list is not much and preparation time is minimum. Can be cooked in maximum 10 to 15 minutes, when you’ve all the ingredients ready to go. A must try for brinjal fans.

Brinjal pieces and Besan(gram flour)
Brinjal Pieces in Water and Besan (Gram Flour)

Recipe:

12 small bulb shaped brinjals (purple or green)
4 tablespoons of besan (gram flour, sanaga pindi)
8 dried red chillies
1 Rupee coin sized ginger - grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon each - sugar, cumin and turmeric
For popu or tadka: 1 tsp each - curry leaves, mustard seeds and oil
-¼ cup of roasted cashews.
(I’ve added the nuts but this is entirely optional. Besan Brinjal taste is impressive with or without cashews.)

Grind together - besan, dried red chillies, sugar and cumin to fine powder in a spice mill or mixie.

After removing the stems and sepals of brinjals, slice them into thin pieces lengthwise and drop them in salted water in a bowl (like shown above).

In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and toast curry leaves and mustard seeds.

Remove brinjal pieces from water and add them directly to the skillet. Be ready for sizzling noise. Also add grated ginger. On medium-high heat, saute, turning often with a perforated ladle, so that they fry uniformly on both sides to a gold coloured tender pieces. Just before turning off the heat, stir in besan-spice mix along with salt and turmeric. Mix and fry for few more minutes until the sweet smell of besan permeates the kitchen. Sprinkle roasted cashews or nuts of your liking (watermelon/pumpkin/sunflower seeds - they all taste good with brinjal). Remove and serve hot with rice or with chapatis.

I think you’d be blown away by how good this curry tastes. So simple to make and a sure bet for a special meal.

Besan Baingan and Spinach Dal with Rice
Besan Baingan and Spinach Dal with Rice ~ To Weather the Winter Storm Today

Kitchen notes:
For this recipe the small round purple or green brinjals are best, being sweeter than any other varieties.
If you want, instead of directly adding, first roast the besan-spice mix slowly on another skillet while brinjals are cooking and then sprinkle this fragrant, warm besan-spice mix at the end.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Gram Flour (Besan), Vankaya (Brinjal) (Tuesday January 9, 2007 at 3:29 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Sweet Lemons Pickle)

Mitha Nimboo (Sweet Lemons, Karinaaranga)
Mitha Nimboo (Sweet Lemons, Karinaaranga)

Nandyala is closer than ever here in Seattle for me. I am able to find all kinds of vegetables and fruits, which I’d normally find in India, without looking hard. Even in winter. Example is these sweet lemons or mitha nimboo. We purchased them last week from a grocery store named Lenny’s Market. I’ve never thought I’d see this type of lemons outside of India, but here they are, for sale in Seattle, unbelievably fresh and at low prices.

Usually, we prepare lemonade with sweet lemons. The lemonade tastes like plain, flat sugary water without the acidity and perfume of lemons. The juice is naturally very sweet, similar to kalkand water. Prepared mainly for children during hot summer months of Andhra. That’s only thing we do with them but LG of Ginger and Mango recently wrote a Kerala recipe with sweet lemons called “Karinaaranga Curry” (Lemon Curry) - combination of curry and pickle. I had to try.

Unlike the regular lemon pickle, there is no mandatory 2-week waiting for this one. Preparation method is also different. Here we steam-cook the sweet lemons as whole. Then cut and simmer them with pickle masala powder, salt, little bit of tamarind and jaggery. Curry leaves touch of tempering. That’s it. It’d be ready to have immediately with rice, and with breakfast items like upma, dosa etc. Mildly hot and spicy, little bit sour and bitter without the characteristic lemony puckering effect. Metha Nimboo pickle is definitely different from the regular pickle and worth a try. This is my first time; still it came out good and tasty. All because of Dear Inji Pennu’s neat recipe instructions. Thanks Inji Pennu and a very Merry Happy New Year to you!

Steam-Cooked Mitha Nimboo/Sweet Lemons ~ Ready for Pickling
Steam-Cooked Mitha Nimboo/Sweet Lemons ~ Ready for Pickling

Recipe:

Prep work:

1. Soak lemon-sized tamarind in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften. Squeeze juice and keep it aside.

2. Fill a big pot with water and bring it to a boil. Insert the perforated vessel suitable to steam cook. Drop 4 sweet lemons in it. Cover the pot and cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the firm skin softens a bit (like shown in the photo above). Remove them from the vessel. Cut - half and half and then quarter them to small pieces. Remove seeds.

3. Meanwhile prepare the pickle masala. Roast and grind following items:

1 tablespoon each - urad dal, chana dal, raw rice, coriander seeds
1 teaspoon - fenugreek seeds (menthulu)
8-10 each - dried red chillies and curry leaves
Roast them in an iron skillet one by one or all together to gold color.
Grind them all to smooth powder in a grinder or spice mill.

Preparing the Pickle:

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine tamarind juice and pickle masala. Stir in 2 cups of water and a tablespoon each- powdered jaggery and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the cut, steam-cooked sweet lemon pieces. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring in-between, until the mixture becomes thick. Keep the heat as low as possible to prevent burning.

Just before when you turn off the heat. Do the popu or tadka. In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of peanut or sesame oil. Add a teaspoon each - dried red chilli pieces, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Toast them to red and when mustard seeds start to dance around - add the whole thing to the pickle and mix thoroughly.

When the pickle is cool enough, transfer it to clean, dry glass/ceramic jar with non-reactive airtight lid. I’ve prepared this pickle last week and kept in the refrigerator. It’s good stuff.

Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Pickle with Sweet Lemons)
Mitha Nimboo Chutney (Pickle with Sweet Lemons)

Recipe source: Karinaaranga Curry (Lemon Curry) from Inji Pennu of “Ginger and Mango”
sweet lemons for sale in Chennai
More about sweet lemons - here
Mitha = sweet, Nimboo= lemon/lime

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Mitha Nimboo(Sweet Lemon) (Monday January 8, 2007 at 6:11 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

sweet lime (Sweet Lemon, Mitha Nimboo)

Sweet Lime (Mitha Nimboo, Limetta), Lime and Small Lime (Key Lime)

Sweet Lime (Mitha Nimboo, Limetta), Lime and Small Lime (Key Lime)
~ For this week’s Indian Kitchen

“Sweet lime (C. limetta) is a fruit that resembles lemons in every respect, except it does not have the mouth-puckering taste. Its mild, sweet juice tastes like home-made lemonade without the hard work or sugar. There are three varieties of limettas, all having the characteristic nipple on one end with a furrow round it. Grown mainly in Italy and California. It is also grown on a small scale in India and around the Mediterranean.”
- From Limes and Types.

- Photo of Sweet Lemons for Sale in Chennai, India.

Jihva News:

Wonderful tribute to the Almighty Coconut - By Ahswini of Food for Thought.

Rosie from Scotland is hosting Febraury edition of Jihva.
She mentions that she is nervous.
Let’s gingerly overwhelm her with fabulous Ginger entries.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday January 7, 2007 at 7:11 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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