Mahanandi

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

Tamarind Popcorn

Tamarind (Chintapandu, Imli)
Tamarind (Chintapandu, Imli)

Native to India, tamarind is prized for its intense sweet and sour flavor. A pantry staple, tamarind is added to dals, rasams, and sambars. Tamarind based pulusu and rice are lip smackingly good. For chutneys and pacchadis, tamarind is a must. Then there is tamarind-jaggery-cumin candy, a childhood favorite lollipop. I grew up having tamarind in different avatars. I love and prepare all the above tamarind-based preparations regularly at my home.

To celebrate Jihva-Tamarind, I wanted to try something new and unique. Constant thinking about it led to this tamarind flavored popcorn idea. Tamarind, salt, chilli powder, and for sweetness I added dates. Blend the ingredients together and simmer to concentrate the flavor. Coat the corn kernels with thick syrup and then microwave. Pop, pop, pop… Like the Polar skies lit with Aurora Borealis, the Tamarindus Indica seem to ignite a sublimely spectacular ruchi in popcorn. All natural and no nasty additives, and tasty. A date with tamarind popcorn is a must try for flavor-popcorn fans. I totally recommend.

Tamarind Syrup and Corn Kernels
Tamarind Syrup and Corn Kernels

Tamarind Popcorn

Plain corn kernels suitable for popcorn - about a quarter cup
Ping-Pong ball sized tamarind pulp, 6 dates, quarter teaspoon each - chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Take them all in a blender. Add about a cup of water. Puree to smooth.

Take the syrup in a thick-bottomed vessel and simmer until the volume reduces to half. This helps to concentrate the flavor. Cool. Lightly coat the corn kernels with syrup. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with another bowl. Microwave to pop the corn. Have a taste, and if required sprinkle salt and some chilli powder to taste. Toss and enjoy.

Tamarind Popcorn
Tamarind Popcorn and Sugarcane Juice
For JFI-Tamarind Event, Hosted by Lovely Sig of Live to Eat

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jihva For Ingredients, Corn - Fresh, Chintapandu(Tamarind) (Monday June 30, 2008 at 1:20 pm- permalink)
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Karam Jeedipappu (Masala Cashews)

Jeedipappu (Cashews, Kaju)
Cashews ~ Imported from India

I feel like I am also an expert in cooking. But I rarely get a chance to make something and post on this website. I have few favorites, and karam jeedipappu (can also be called masala cashews) is one of them. The process seems simple, but one has to do it a few times to get perfection.

Needed ingredients:
1. 1 lb cashews
2. 1/2 cup ghee
3. 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
6. 1 pinch powdered pepper

Needed utensils:
1 thick bottom skillet
1 vessel to mix masala
1 wide plate to spread cashews and sprinkle masala

Recipe:
Take cashews in a clean, wide plate.
Remove any small pieces or broken bits of cashews.
Heat the ghee in a wide, thick bottom skillet to medium-high heat.
Take half of the cashews and roast by continuously stirring to pale red.
Remove the cashews immediately from the skillet into a wide vessel.
Sprinkle a quarter of the masala powder on the hot cashews and shake the vessel well to spread the masala evenly on all the cashews.
Next, spread the cashews into a wide plate and sprinkle another quarter of the masala evenly on the cashews.
Repeat the process for the other half of the cashews.
Let the masala cashews cool for about an hour. Enjoy!

Notes:
Frying of cashews in ghee must be done in two batches, as the ghee would not be sufficient to roast all cashews. Care must be taken not to burn/black the cashews.
The reason why I have added masala in two stages:
When masala powder is sprinkled and tossed in the vessel first time, masala powder and all excess ghee sticks to the surface of the vessel. When cashews are spread in a wide plate and masala is sprinkled on them, masala gets coated well to the cashews.

Masala Jeedipappu (Masala Cashews)
Masala Cashew ~ A Portrait

~ By Vijay Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Vijay Singari (Wednesday June 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm- permalink)
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Gongura Pappu (Gongura Dal)

Fresh Gongura
Gongura

These fresh gongura leaves came all the way from Houston, Texas. Lovingly picked and packed from their backyard garden by our dear friends. I have been longing to get such fresh gongura for a while now and I felt like my prayers were answered. Yes, I love the tangy taste of gongura that much.

The following is one of my favorite gongura preparations. Gongura, toor dal and green chilli, my mother’s recipe, pure gongura love.

Gongura Pappu
(for two or four people, for four to two meals)

Toor dal -3/4 cup
Fresh gongura leaves - about 4 cups, tightly packed
Indian variety, small green chillies - 8 to 10
Shallot or red onion - cut to big chunks, about half cup
Turmeric - ½ teaspoon

Rinse toor dal. Take them in a vessel or pressure-cooker. Add gongura, green chilli and shallot. Also turmeric and two cups of water. Close the lid. Cook the dal, until it reaches fall-apart stage. Add about half teaspoon of salt and gently mash the cooked ingredients together to smooth consistency. Now, infuse the dal with tarka or talimpu, where natural ingredients that are good for well-being are added in small quantity. Daily vitamin dose, Indian way.

1-tablespoon ghee
2 sprigs curry leaves, 2 garlic cloves, slivered,
4 dried red chilli pieces, ½ teaspoon chana dal and urad dal each
¼ teaspoon each - cumin and mustard seeds

Heat ghee in a vessel until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Lower the heat to medium. Add the curry leaves, garlic, dried red chilli, chana dal and urad dal, in the order listed. Toast to pale brown. Then add the cumin and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the gongura dal. Mix. Serve hot. Great on its own, and also with rice or roti for anytime of the day.

Gongura Pappu and Mango
Andhra Love ~ Gongura Pappu and Mango

Notes:
Gongura is available at Indian grocery shops during summer season.
This dal doesn’t need tamarind or lemon because of gongura’s potent tangy taste.
If you try this recipe, join and share your photos of gongura pappu at Mahanandi Flickr Pool.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Gongura(Sour Greens), Amma & Authentic Andhra (Monday June 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm- permalink)
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Seattle Eateries ~ Michou


Michou, Seattle

Michou is a nice place to get some fresh, inexpensive and quality food at Pike Place Market in Seattle. This is a small eatery between Le Panier and Piroshky Piroshky.

We stumbled upon Michou last summer in one of our Pike Place food quests. It has become a regular lunch stop on the weekends since then. This is a barebone kind of eatery - food display counter, prep area, and three seats in the back. That’s it. But the food is really great and prices are budget friendly. We usually get our meal to-go and walk to the nearby park overlooking Elliott Bay. We pick a park bench, enjoy our food with view.

Go the market on the weekend around ten, do veggie shopping and walk back home after a lunch at Michou - This has been our routine last summer, and hoping to have the same this summer also.


Asian and Italian inspired deli food ranging from pakora, panini, pasta, pizza to potato-baked. Plus nice variety of sandwiches, soups and salads. Half a sandwich and a salad, it’s about $5.75.



Friendly face behind the counter.


Salad, Broccoli-Bell Pepper Pizza and Baklava ~
Picnic at Pike Place. Bonus, Elliott Bay View


Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday June 21, 2008 at 7:45 pm- permalink)
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Server Upgrade

We have moved “Mahanandi” web contents on to a new server today. Lately, we were experiencing problems with the previous server due to increased traffic and spam attacks, and that was creating problems on the server and causing it to shutdown frequently. I am hoping that the new server environment can sustain the problems and will keep running all the time.

In this migration process, some of the recent comments that were posted in the past three days got erased. I tried to restore most from Google Cache. I apologize, if any of your comments got deleted. I am also sorry for the down time and hoping that the new server will keep the website running continuously! Thank you.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Friday June 20, 2008 at 8:25 pm- permalink)
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Party Snacks ~ Masala Peanuts

Masala Peanuts ( Stealing is not nice. Please do not use any images or content from this site without my permission. Thanks.)
వేయించిన మసాలా వేరుశనగపప్పు(Masala Peanuts, Sing Bhujia)

Party food should be fun and something special. Masala peanuts fit the profile. This is a retro recipe resuscitated to celebrate a special occasion. Roasted peanuts are dipped in besan-masala batter and deep-fried. 15 minutes in front of the stove or a trip to favorite Indian snack shop, whatever method one prefers, the unique spice and sour glazed peanuts are worth the effort.

Masala Peanuts:

Roast: Heat a cast-iron skillet. Add shelled peanuts. On medium heat, roast the nuts until lightly colored with a distinct aroma. Remove immediately, and take them in a wide plate. Wait until they are cool. Rub and remove the skins.

Batter: In a bowl, take gram flour and rice flour in 4:1 quantity. Add amchur, cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt to taste. Also a pinch of baking soda. Whisk and prepare batter in medium thick consistency by adding water as necessary to the flour such that the batter puts a coat on peanuts that is not too thin it drips or too thick like facemask. Add the peanuts to the batter.

Prepare: Heat oil in a heavy pan for deep-frying. When oil starts smoking, lower the heat. Wait for few seconds and then drop the batter-coated peanuts. Fry until golden, drain and place them on a paper-covered plate. Once they are cool, store them in a clean container. Stays fresh for two weeks to a month.

Note:
Amchur is optional. Adds a nice tangy touch.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Monday June 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm- permalink)
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The Graduate Kittaya

Kittaya- Illustration Attempt by Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Kittaya (Sunday June 15, 2008 at 12:05 am- permalink)
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Supporting Inji Pennu

For taking action to stop plagiarism, fellow food blogger Inji Pennu of Ginger and Mango was threatened bodily harm. A fake website was also created on her name by people who run kerals.com website, to abuse and harass her. Inji Pennu has reported to FBI Internet Crime cell, and also in the process of filing a complaint with local police.

It is shocking to find such threatening attacks against bloggers who did nothing but plead ‘Stop Stealing My Material’. Like one commenter noted, the whole incident, to me serves as a rude awakening to the realization that how easily our primary rights and protection can be violated by those who do not have any respect for others’ rights. This is a fundamental issue of the bloggers not only of those who are now affected, but also of everybody. In that sense, this is an issue that should receive our collective attention. For that reason, I am joining the protest against cyber bullying by websites and magazines that plagiarize and attack. And, I give my full support to Inji Pennu.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday June 9, 2008 at 11:25 am- permalink)
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Flavors of Life ~ Coconut Saplings

Coconut Saplings by Sree
Coconut Saplings ~ Sketch by Sree
(Colored pencils on paper 6″x9″)

My dad is an avid gardener. If he had not been an engineer, I am sure he would have been a farmer. Ironically, the soil at our place is not fertile enough for his efforts to bear fruit. But he never gives up. These are ‘extra’ coconut saplings lying in my backyard. Now a convenient “hide n seek” play area for the kittens. :)

~ by Sree

About ‘Flavors of Life’ ~ Click here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Coconut (Fresh), Sree (Saturday June 7, 2008 at 10:53 am- permalink)
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Cookery, Indic (4) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Usha’s Pickle Digest
by Usha Prabakaran

Usha's Pickle Digest
Published in 1998 by the author’s own Pebble Green Publications in Chennai, India.

It was late April and I was browsing the cookery shelves of a bookstore in Mumbai. Like all avid collectors of one thing or the other, I have learnt to quickly pick grain from chaff. My expertise is, of course, aided by the fact that the food-and-drink sections of all mainstream bookstores in India look alike: piles of publications from serial cookbook writers and compilers, a few guides to eating in city XYZ, coffee-table tomes from foreign publishers, and “chef’s series” pocket books. I rapidly scan the spines of these books, eyes peeled for the unusual or the local. That day, however, I flipped through “Cooking in Six Minutes” by one of the aforementioned copious authors. A few books down the shelf, I came across “Cooking in Three Minutes” by the same author. I wondered how far this series would go, and sure enough, out tumbled “Cooking in 60 Seconds”. Just like all problems of this world can be solved if you smile and think positively, so will you be relieved of your kitchen burdens if you think of cooking as the time that a pot spends in contact with the stove. Maybe it was the blistering summer heat or maybe I had looked at one cookbook too many, but I suddenly felt weary of the pervasive silliness of the food publishing world. For an antidote, I turned to two things: slow, sun-cooked pickles that would take days or weeks before they were ready, and a cookbook narrow in its focus, yet unmatched in range and depth.

Usha’s Pickle Digest is the definitive book for Indian pickles; the first and probably the last word on vegetarian pickles, unless the author publishes a second volume. There is not much I can say about the Digest or about Usha that has not already been said elsewhere. One vaguely knew that India has a vast repertoire of traditional pickles, but one did not know that a thousand pickles across 131 ingredients are within the realm of possibility. One had heard of mango pickles, lemon pickles, chilli pickles, tomato pickles, even okra pickles; but pickles made out of coconut, kokum, hibiscus flowers, artichokes, sugarcane, pomegranate, or spinach were beyond our imagination. All the recipes rely only on natural preservatives such as salt, oil, vinegar, and spices. The life of each pickle is indicated at the end of the recipe. There is also something very satisfying about the meticulousness with which the recipes have been titled and indexed for easy access. Even if pickles do not tickle your culinary fancies, the book offers plenty - an extensive glossary of ingredients in ten languages along with botanical names, methods to detect adulteration, buying and storage guides, and several other practical kitchen tips.

The best part of this book for me personally, however, is the profound sincerity of purpose underlying this work. The Digest was published neither for fame nor money. Usha’s patent enthusiasm and desire to share the results of her pickling research is the driving force of this book. We tend to romanticize secrecy in the culinary arts. Prized recipes and techniques are either kept shrouded in mystique or published omitting an ingredient here or instruction there. Clearly, the recipes and kitchen wisdom in this book have been developed through years of diligent and sustained effort. That she went the several extra miles to present her knowledge in a clear and forthcoming manner indeed commands our respect. It is also why we keep rummaging tons of chaff in search of a few precious grains.

Recipe: Sambaara Mango

Adapted from Usha Prabakaran’s Usha’s Pickle Digest

Ingredients:
500 grams cut raw mango, small pieces
75 grams salt (use kosher or crystal salt)
35 grams chilli powder
10 grams fenugreek seeds
10 grams cumin seeds
5 grams asafoetida
200 ml sesame oil
5 grams mustard seeds
A few sprigs curry leaves

Method:
Sprinkle salt on the mango pieces and marinate for a day. Next day, remove the mango pieces from the resulting juices (“salt water”). Reserve these juices in a refrigerator.


Place the mango pieces on a steel tray or thali and sun-dry for four days (till the mango pieces are three-fourths dry).


At the end of the fourth day, roast in a little oil the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and asafoetida and grind to a powder. Combine with the chilli powder and add this spice-blend to the dried mango pieces.

Heat the sesame oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, and allow to crackle. Pour in the salt water and an equal volume of plain water. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in the mango mixture. Let it come to a boil again, and then remove from heat.


The pickle is ready to use after five days. It lasts for six months.

Notes:
I have presented the ingredients as originally provided in the book. When I prepared this pickle, however, I had neither measuring cups/spoons nor a weighing scale handy. I kept tasting throughout the process. You can adjust the spices according to your taste and the tartness of the mangoes, but please do so in a way that maintains the balance of flavours. The primary tastes in this pickle should be sour, chilli-hot, and salty.

Sambaara Mango (Sundried Mango Pickle)

Text and Photographs: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic Series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath
Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables - Shyamala Kallianpur
Regional Rustic Recipes by Manipal Mahila Samaj

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mamidikaya (Green Mango), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar (Monday June 2, 2008 at 12:05 am- permalink)
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Website Issues

My website is going through hosting service problems. Also some malicious code seems to target Mahanandi and disrupt the comments function. We are trying to find out what and where the problem is and fix.

Sorry for all the inconvenience.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday June 2, 2008 at 12:02 am- permalink)
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