Mahanandi

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

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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Melon Seed Pasta with Veggies (Seme Di Melone)

There are several varieties of pasta available in different shapes. Among all, one of my favorites is machine cut pasta in melon seed shape. This teardrop shaped pasta looks so beautiful, cooks easily and the taste is not bad either. For a veggie-upma style recipe, this pasta is perfect.

For a quick meal, this afternoon, I’ve cooked the pasta al dente for about 5 minutes in salted, boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, in a skillet I’ve sautéed some chopped shallots, baby potatoes, tomatoes, chillies and Indian broad beans (chikkudu kaya vittanaalu) in two teaspoons of peanut oil for few minutes to tender. Tossed the boiled and drained melon seed pasta with the veggies and seasoned it with some salt, lemon juice and some bean sprouts. A small bowl of this pasta and a glass of tomato rasam, just enough to maintain our low metabolism .

Melon Seed Pasta with Veggies
Melon seed pasta with veggies

Ingredients
1 cup of raw melon seed pasta
2 teaspoons of peanut oil
4 baby potatoes, cut into cubes
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 to 4 small green chillies, finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
¼ cup of each - Indian broad beans and bean sprouts
Pinch of turmeric
Salt and lime juice to taste

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Pasta (Wednesday March 8, 2006 at 2:44 pm- permalink)
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Pasta in Chilli, Bell Pepper and Peanut Sauce

“What Kind of Food Are You?” - I tried the fun quiz of 5 questions. I expected Indian, but I don’t think the quiz has Indian food in its list of responses. The answer was ‘Italian food’, and I was satisfied. Like Indian, I think of Italian as another no-nonsense, honest kind of food. Though here in US, a little bit over glorified. What? Have you been watching food TV (US) lately? It should be renamed ‘Italian Food TV’ with its 24-hour Italian this and Italian that programming, and its star-cooks falling over themselves proclaiming their Italian heritage. Sometimes I wonder, why am I paying money for this channel on cable, is this a foodtv or a propaganda machine for Italian cuisine. It would be understandable if majority of Americans are Italians or Italian decent, but that is not the case and further, the minority (here the minority status is determined by the skin color) means non-whites, are climbing up to almost 40%. More and more, it looks like American Food TV has decided to disregard diversity and showcase only one cuisine at the expense of others. What a sad, sad thinking!

Well, I am glad to contribute one more recipe of pasta to IMBB #22, the mother of all events and most popular one in food blogosphere, this month hosted by lovely Amy of ‘Cooking with Amy’ fame. Even though I think of my contribution an original, I am sure there is someone, somewhere already written down this version of pasta sauce. Thousands of dedicated Italian cooks, cookbooks and hundreds of fabulous food bloggers, recipe sites - millions of pasta recipes, it got to be there, somewhere. No… then I am happy to cook up millionth one recipe of pasta.:)

spaghetti, red bell pepper, Tomatoes, Roasted Peanuts, olive oil, Onions, Dried red chillies and garlic

Recipe:

Pasta: I used spaghetti, Hodgson Mills brand, whole wheat with flax seed and organic variety. Like pulao/pilaf taste depends on basmati rice, a good pasta dish needs quality pasta. So I do spend few extra bucks on a fine variety. Hodgson Mill brand without a doubt, quality products.
One fistful of spaghetti for one person - that is the measurement I use for spaghetti.

For Sauce:
1 cup of peanuts - roasted and skins removed
3 red bell peppers - deseeded, cut into big chunks
4 dried red chillies and 4 garlic cloves - halved
3 ripe, juicy tomatoes - chopped into big chunks
1 small red onion - chopped into big chunks
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tsp of each-cumin, salt and powdered jaggery/sugar
I prefer to have sauce, lots of it with my pasta, so the above quantities.

Peanut-Veggie Sauce Spaghetti in pasta sauce

Preparation:

Pasta Sauce: Roast the bell peppers, dried red chillies, tomato, onion, garlic and cumin in 1 tsp of olive oil, until they all are brown and golden. Let them cool down to room temperature.

In a food processor, first add roasted peanuts and make a fine powder of them. To it, add the roasted veggies and half teaspoon of salt. Add half cup of water and grind them into smooth paste.

In a big wide pan, heat olive oil and add the peanut-veggie paste. Add one cup of water, jaggery and salt to taste. Mix and cook covered for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.

Pasta: While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, usually for about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta into a colander, immediately add it to the sauce. Mix it thoroughly with pasta sauce. Cook, uncovered for about 2 minutes on low heat and serve.

The sauce can be made earlier and just before mealtime, pasta can be cooked and added. One thing I learned about pasta is, it has to be served hot, to get the best taste.
Spaghetti in Chilli-Red bell pepper- peanut sauce

Pasta in chilli-red bell pepper-peanut sauce: sweet, spicy, savory and smoky - A range of delicious flavors, all blended well together for a wholesome, hearty, filling meal ~ Our Sunday dinner and my entry to IMBB Event.

Recipe Source: My Own Creation
Tagged with: +

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Bell Pepper, Pasta, Dried Red Chillies (Monday January 30, 2006 at 8:32 am- permalink)
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Ragi Mudda (Ragi Sankati)

Ragi skipped a generation in popularity. Though our educated parents knew how to make Ragi mudda, they didn’t think of it as a cool recipe for everyday meal. Education and jobs have moved them from villages to cities and old type of recipes was not fashionable to them anymore.

Recently there is a surge of pride in our agricultural products. I call it agricultural patriotism, elicited because, some evil global corporations (US based) which tried to claim patents on turmeric. If they had gotten these patents, no one except the company would have rights on this ancient agricultural product. numerous cases of this kind of attempts to steal the agricultural rights, virtues and history of ancient herbs and products, have surfaced in the recent past. People in countries like India stood steadfast to preserve their rights and they prevailed.

Okay… anyhow coming back to Ragi…
Like quinoa of South American indigenous people, Ragi also plays important part in the nutritional makeup of South India’s village populace. Unpretentious, basic and strength to body kind of food, rich in Calcium and iron, I love my ragi. Low in price, easy to make and versatile, the basic recipe can be adopted to suit any type of palate.

Here is the recipe of ragi mudda or sankati the way we make in our home.

Ragi Flour, Rice and Salt - Ingredeints for Ragi Mudda

Recipe:
(for two people, for one serving)

1 cup of ragi flour
Fistful of rice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of ghee

Preparation:

Take water and rice in a saucepan, add salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook the rice until the grains are Ragi Mudda - In Final stages of preparationsoft. When the rice is soft, add - just pour or dump ragi flour into the pot. Donot stir now, this is the way folks back at home cook. Cover and put this mixture on medium heat for few minutes until the steam lifts the plate covering the pan. Remove the cover. Using a wooden masher or whisk, stir the ragi-rice mixure vigorously and thoroughly until you see no lumps.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and let it steam cook for about 15 minutes. Switch off the heat. Let it cool down a little bit and make mudda or balls with it. Back home, they dip their hands in cool water first and then immediately take a portion of ragi and shape them into a ball, all done very fast. Here, I use an ice cream scooper to make round balls.

How it is served: Place the ragi mudda in a bowl and pour the sambhar over it. Not too cold and not too hot, just warm is perfect for the palate. Drizzle ghee over it. Today I made carrot sambhar for ragi mudda. It tastes quite good not only with sambhar and but also with peanut chutney, potato kurma or any other vegetable gravy curry. People in Telangana region of Andhra, are particularly fond of ragi mudda/sankati-chicken kurma combination.

How it is eaten: Using your hand or with a spoon, take small portions from the big ragi mudda, dip them into sambhar and swallow. Don’t use teeth; let the tongue do the work. Ragi can be incredibly gummy so traditionally the small balls are never bitten, they are just swallowed. Warm ragi mudda coated all around with sambhar… gives an incredible satisfaction. Children love this kind of food.

Variations: As I mentioned above, you can change the recipe to suit your taste just by changing or adding ingredients. Basic method of preparation is the same, but you can make it mildly sweet by adding jaggery or sugar. Or more rich by substituting the water with milk. You can also add one tablespoon of ghee while still cooking. Also add toasted and finely powdered cashews or peanuts to make it even richer.

Ragi Mudda (Ragi Porridge / Ragi Sankati) in Carrot Sambhar

Ragi mudda or santaki in Carrot sambhar with ghee ~ Our meal today.

English translation of Ragi Mudda is - Ragi ball or porridge

Recipe Source: Attamma and Rajeswari - My mother in law and sister

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Ragi, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Ragi Flour (Wednesday December 7, 2005 at 3:47 pm- permalink)
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Ma’amoul (Dates & Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Chanit of My Mom’s Recipes and More left a comment on my blog last month. To return the compliments I visited her blog, and what I found was a very detailed recipe for mamoul (dates filled cookies) with photos. I knew I had to try it. What attracted me to this recipe more than anything is the use of semolina for dough. I did some googling on these famous Middle Eastern cookies to know more about them and how they are made. Next, I went and bought the ingredients: fine Tunisian pitted dates, pistachios and wooden ma’amoul mold from the only ethnic grocery store in our small town, Ghossians Mid East Bakery.

I did experiment with the recipe. First, I used ghee instead of butter because ghee is not only more flavorful and unlike butter has no unnecessary baggage. I reduced the ratio of all-purpose flour to semolina. I also complimented the dates filling by adding pistachios. Finally I skipped the eggs. One more thing is I prepped the mamoul mold with ghee so that when cookie dough pressed into the mold and reversed, it can come out easily without sticking to the mold.

The final result of my experimentation was exquisite, one of a kind sweet cookies, the one I am going to make many more times from now on. A delicious paradox, they have a mildly sweet, crisp and grainy outside because of semolina and insides are moistly sweet and tender. Thanks Chanit! It is little bit of time consuming to make these using the ma’amoul mold but I had time and so happy with the beautiful outcome.

Ma'amoul mould, Pistachios, Dates, Rose water, Semolina, All Pupose Flour (Maida)

Recipe:

Dough:
2 cups - semolina
½ cup - all purpose flour (maida)
½ cup - melted ghee
½ cup - powdered sugar ( or more if you like sweet cookie covering)
1 tablespoon - rose water
1 teaspoon - active dried yeast melted in 1 tablespoon of luke warm water
Pinch of salt

Melt the ghee and cool it to room temperature. Sift the all purpose flour(maida) and mix it with semolina and ghee. Add the yeast water, rose water, powdered sugar and salt. Mix and make a dough by adding little bit of water. Set aside for about 3 hours, covered, to rest.

Cookie Dough after 3 hours of rest and Dates-Pistachios Filling Making of Ma'amouls - Pressing the cookies dough into ma'amoul mold

Dates- Pistachios Filling:
2 cups - fresh soft-pitted dates
½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup - powdered cane sugar
1 teaspoon - rose water
and Ma’amoul mould to press and shape the cookies

In a food processor, take pistachios and powder to fine. Then add the dates, sugar and rose water. Blend them together into fine paste. Remove to a cup.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Nut filled Cookies) Ready for Oven Ma'amouls After 20 minutes in the Oven

Preparation:

After 3 hours of rest, knead and divide the dough into lime sized balls. Flatten each ball using your hand and lift the sides up to form a hollow. It is now ready for the filling. Place one tablespoon of dates-pistachios filling into the hollowed dough. Close the dough over the dates mixture. Press the edges to seal well. Press it into the ma’amoul mold to give it a decorated appearance. Reverse the mold; gently shake to loosen it from the mold. Prepare each one in this way and place them neatly in rows, on a greased/parchment paper lined baking tray.

Place the tray in a preheated oven at 350° F and bake for about 20 minutes. I reversed the cookies to the opposite side after 10 minutes in the oven for even baking. After 20 minutes or when they turn lightly golden, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Ma’amoul (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies) ~ Delicate, rose flavored and naturally sweet. Our Thanksgiving treat and contribution to this month’s SHF-IMBB Cookie-Swap event.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Pistachios, Dates (kharjuram), Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Molasses, Suji/Semolina, Ghee (Friday November 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm- permalink)
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Upma with Couscous

The only ethnic grocery in our small town is a Middle Eastern shop called Ghossains Mid East Bakery. We buy dates and couscous, occasionally goat cheese, pita bread and baklava and other Middle Eastern sweets like mamoul from that shop.

I love the shape, texture and taste of tiny round couscous. Even though the authentic way to make couscous (according to middle easterners) is using a coucousiere (double boiler with a perforated top to hold the couscous), I make it just like bulgar/suji/semolina upma and with lots of vegetables for a light meal.

Couscous

Recipe:

2 cups couscous
Vegetables: onion, green chillies, tomato, bell pepper, potato, carrot, ginger, garlic - all finely chopped - how much, your choice.
One fistful of fresh peas and golden raisins
1 tablespoon of ghee
1 teaspoon of cumin and mustard seeds
Limejuice to taste and fresh cilantro for garnish

Melt ghee in a big pan. Toast cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add and sauté the finely chopped vegetables (onions, tomato, green chilli, bell pepper, potato, carrot, ginger, garlic, peas and raisins) until they turn light brown. Add three cups of water and stir in half teaspoon of salt. Cover, increase the heat and bring that water to rolling boil.

Stir in couscous. It won’t form lumps unlike suji/semolina. Very forgiving, you don’ even have to stir, just pour all of couscous into hot water without any worries of lump formation. Cook covered over low medium heat for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and cook until fluffy. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. For zing, drizzle some lime juice and serve hot.

Couscous Upma
Couscous Upma ~ a light meal today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Couscous (Wednesday November 23, 2005 at 4:13 pm- permalink)
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Lasagna Rolls - Indian Way

I was in the mood for something new and different. I had some goat cheese in the fridge (Steelers pizza left over), few beetroots, lot of ripe tomatoes, a printout of lasagna rolls recipe I wanted to try, and an idea of how to make it more suitable for our palate. After 45 minutes in the kitchen, the result was - tasty lasagna rolls, some with goat cheese and some with spicy sweet peanut paste as filling, baked in fresh tomato sauce and served with sautéed onions, beetroots and peas as topping.

Lasagna, Home made Tomato Sauce, chopped onions and beetroots, Goat cheese and Spicy Peanut Paste for filling

Recipe:

1.Tomato Sauce: Cook finely chopped 8 ripe, juicy tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves in one tsp of oil. Also add half glass of water, half teaspoon of red chilli powder and salt to taste. Cook until the tomatoes turn mushy and sauce like.

2. Filling: I prepared two kinds of filling. One is goat cheese, that’s an easy one, buy and open the packet, true Italian way. Roasted peanuts (outer skins removed) made into paste by adding little bit of salt, jaggery, red chilli powder and few drops of water - my idea of Indian type filling.

3. Lasagna: Meanwhile, cook 5 lasagna sheets in boiling salted water according to the instruction on the packet (takes at least 15 to 20 minutes), in a big pan. Drain and keep them in cold water so that they won’t stick to each other.

Spreading peanut paste onto a lasagna sheet, rolling and cutting into two equal parts Cut lasagna rolls in tomato sauce, ready for baking

4. Baking: All the prep work is done and our ingredients are ready for the final step. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spread the filling (goat cheese or peanut paste) on lasagna sheet evenly. Roll the sheet to the end and cut it into two equal rolls, crosswise. Prepare all lasagna sheets in this way. Pour the tomato sauce in a baking dish, arrange the lasagna rolls (cut side down) neatly in the sauce, loosely cover the dish with an aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 375° F.

5. Sauté: Finely chop beetroots and onion. Add peas and sauté them for few minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Serve the lasagna rolls in tomato sauce with sautéed beetroots, onion and peas as topping.

Lasagna rolls in tomato sauce with sautéed onion, beetroot and peas as topping

I have to say I liked both goat cheese and peanut paste rolls equally. Tangy tomato sauce and sweetness from sautéed beetroots, onions and peas perfectly complimented the bland, baked lasagna rolls. Little bit time consuming, but I think these beautiful flower like lasagna rolls are terrific for entertaining because they can be prepared in the morning and baked at the last minute.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Milk & Products, Cheese, Pasta (Friday November 4, 2005 at 2:27 pm- permalink)
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Ragi Dosa & Orange-Banana Smoothie

After 3 days of heavy meals because of Deepavali, I wanted to try something new, easy to make and somewhat light on stomach kind of meal. Two of VKN’s, My Dhaba recipes - Ragi Dosa and Orange-banana yogurt&honey drink (HOBIY) have caught my eye.

I have all the ingredients including fresh coconut (puja offering) and oranges. So I tried out these two recipes today for lunch and they turned out spectacular tastewise.

I Loved the chewy taste of ragi dosa and the smell is incredible; it’s like the smell of earth when it is raining. I had the fresh ragi flour, perhaps that may be the reason for the incredible aroma.
(You can find ragi flour in almost all Indian grocery shops here in US. Ragi (finger millet) is one of the ancient grains and very healthy source of Calcium. )

Ragi Flour, Onion, Green Chilli, Fresh Coconut and Cilantro - Ingredients for Ragi Dosa or Utappam

Recipe:

3 cups a href=”http://www.patelbrothersusa.com/show_item_details.asp?item_id=163″>ragi flour
1 cup coconut- fresh and finely grated
Onions, green chillies and cilantro - finely chopped, to taste
Salt to taste

I mixed all of the above ingredients with water in a bowl, thoroughly (like dosa/pancake batter consistency) and poured ladleful of batter onto a hot griddle. Adding few drops of oil, cooked the dosa on both sides till brown and crispy. I made four of these dosas (utappams). We had them with coconut chutney.

I also made the HOBIY. When I first read about this drink, I was little bit skeptical. First of all it’s orange and banana, then it’s yogurt. I wondered about the combination. Vijay often makes himself a drink with soya milk, banana and honey. Thinking, he may like this new drink, I prepared the VKN’s signatory HOBIY drink, by blending half cup of home made yogurt, freshly squeezed juice of one naval orange, one small banana and two tablespoons of honey and few ice cubes. Again, turned out to be one refreshing drink. There was no overpowering smell of banana. Orange juice and yogurt completely masked the smell and taste of banana. I, who normally don’t like the taste of banana in drink form, also enjoyed it.

Ragi Dosa, Coconut Chutney and Banana-Orange Yogurt Drink
Our meal today ~ Ragi Dosa with Coconut Chutney and Banana-Orange Yogurt Smoothie.

Thanks VKN for sharing these two wonderful, traditional, tasty family recipes with us.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Ragi, Green Chillies, Flour(Pindi), Ragi Flour, Bananas (Thursday November 3, 2005 at 5:20 pm- permalink)
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Steelers Pizza

Steelers Logo from www.seatseek.comI consider Pittsburgh as my hometown in US because it was where we arrived in US from India. We spent three wonderful years full of firsts; first snow fall, first snow storm, first time assembling the furniture for our house from Ikea, first of lot of things.
And Pittsburgh is a sports town, Steelers is THE team, they all route for. Naturally we couldn’t escape the enthusiasm of locals and now we are also turned into full-fledged, The Terrible Towel waving, Steelers flag in front of the house kind of fans.

Last year was particularly exciting for us Steelers fans. The rookie quarterback brought the team almost to the finals. I could have prepared ‘Roethlis-berger’ in his honor for last years wonderful play, alas I am not a meat eater.

So instead I prepared our favorite game party food - Pizza, for this month’s sport theme party hosted by lovely Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. Not any pizza but a pizza resembling the Steelers logo and wishing for a season of Steelers super bowl.

Steelers Pizza with Mozzarella and goat cheese with yellow, red bell peppers and olives as toppings

Steelers Pizza:

This Pizza is made with a basic white dough base, flavored with tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella and goat cheese and also roasted yellow and red bell peppers and olives.

Our lunch today:)-

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Goduma (Wheat), Bell Pepper, Cheese (Thursday October 20, 2005 at 3:01 pm- permalink)
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Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I learned the basics of bread making by watching Breaking-Bread series by Father Dominic on PBS. His show demystified the whole bread making process for me. I grew up in Andhra Pradesh, the rice bowl of India, where bread is not an everyday food. It is an exotic thing associated with sickness, prescribed by doctors as an easy digestable food for people when they are ill. Only time I had bread was when I was under the weather and that too quite reluctantly.

When we moved to US, it took some time to get know that bread is not a bland tasteless cardboard kind of food that I remembered and also to separate the bread-sickness association from my mind. I was fascinated by the completely unknown world of bread making and different varieties of bread. I was curious and eager to learn the process so I tried the cook books about baking bread. With information overload, the whole process of bread making felt as easy as preparing for an entrance exam or tooth pulling.:)

During that time, Breaking Bread series by Father Dominic started on PBS. This chubby, homely monk with a pleasant, fatherly disposition and witty, calming narrative showed the bread making in such a way, that I felt confident to try out. The bread I first baked was a plain whole wheat bread loaf. We both liked the taste of it and later on I experimented with adding honey, nuts etc., After moving to Ohio, I am using the whole wheat flour, produced in old style - stone grinding powered by water at Lanterman’s Mill (not only the major tourist attraction but also a functioning working flour mill of Boardman, Ohio) for my bread. The difference in taste is tremendous, the close thing I can compare it is that of great harvest bakery whole wheat bread. Lot of texture and full of flavor, just two slices would fill us up good.

Last weekend I tried again my bread making skills. Although the dough behaved with a mind of it’s own because of excessive rainy and humid weather, the loaf cameout good after baking. Here is the recipe and the whole process in images:

Lanterman's Mill, Youngstown, OhioStone ground Whole wheat flour  - Purchased at Lanterman's water mill, Ohio
Lanterman’s Mill……………..Stone ground Whole Wheat Flour

Recipe:

1 cup coarsely ground whole wheat flour from Lanterman’s mill
1 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand)
1/4 ounce packet of dry active yeast
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup honey
½ cup of golden raisins and chopped walnuts
¼ cup of oil

Just Prepared dough, waiting for a rise Two hours after - the dough has risen

First Rise:
Dissolve yeast in half cup of warm water. Measure the flours in a big bowl. Mix buttermilk, oil, honey, water and yeast mixture into the flour to make soft, sticky dough. Take the dough on a wooden board and knead it for about 5 to 10 minutes, handling it gently. Use a spatula to pick up the sticky dough and turn it over as you work. Place this kneaded dough back in the bowl, cover and place the bowl in a warm place and let the yeast do the work. Wait until it tripled in size for about 2 to 3 hours.

The Second rising in the Bread Pan Second rising done

The Second Rise:
When the dough has finished rising, add nuts and raisins and prepare the dough for the second rise. Take the dough again on flour board, deflate it by pressing the dough flat. Now sprinkle finely chopped walnuts and gloden raisins. Incorporate them into the dough by kneading for few minutes. Place the dough in a loaf plan, cover and let it rise to the top of pan, takes about another two to three hours.

After this final rise, place the loaf pan in preheated oven at 400° F and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove it from oven, bread slides out of the pan easily and let it cool completely before slicing.

The pearls of wisdom, I learned from Father Dominic is ” Let the dough rest and don’t peek and poke it too often”. Very true for successful bread making.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread with Walnuts and Golden Raisins with strawberry jam
Honey whole wheat bread with walnuts and golden raisins
Our weekend breakfast, lunch and dinner

Recipe Source: Cooking Show on Television.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Walnuts, Goduma (Wheat), Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Honey, Whole Wheat Flour (Monday October 17, 2005 at 12:15 pm- permalink)
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Samosas with a Twist

For my first ever virtual blog party, a monthly event started and hosted by lovely Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness, I made these little golden parcels of potato-pea filling in all purpose flour wraps and a pitcher of refreshing watermelon juice.

Little Golden Parcels (Samosas with a Twist) & Watermelon Juice

They are a hit in my house, a party of two. Hope the hostess approves my contribution.

Recipe of Little Golden Parcels:

For Curry:Preparing Little Golden Parcels aka Samosas with a Twist
1 cup of mashed potato
Half onion, two green chillies, half cup of fresh peas, coarsely grinded
Pinch of turmeric and salt to taste
Prepare the curry by sautéing the above ingredients.

Wraps:
1. Prepare a firm dough by mixing one cup of all-purpose flour, half cup of water and a pinch of baking powder & salt. Keep it aside for at least half an hour. Meanwhile prepare the curry. When the curry is ready and cool enough to handle, take out and divide the dough into small balls. And with a rolling pin, roll out the rounds. Or simply use wonton wraps.

2. Take one teaspoon of cornstarch in a cup, make a paste by adding little water.

3. In each wrap, put a teaspoonful of curry mixture in the center. Make a line of cornstarch paste around, about half inch from the edge. Bring all four corners to the center and press together firmly to form little bags.

4. In batches, deep-fry them in oil until golden brown. Makes about 15 to 20. I don’t have chives at home right now; otherwise I could have tied a chive around the neck of each bag as garnish.

5. Serve them with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Potato, All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Goduma (Wheat) (Thursday September 22, 2005 at 2:08 pm- permalink)
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Sweet Beginnings with Sabudana

Coconut, saffron and ghee- the auspicious things in my cooking world, by adding the cashews, cardamom, golden raisins, sugar and sabudana, cooking them together, I just made a classic, delicious Indian sweet. Traditionally, it is prepared in liquid form (payasam), but I wanted to try something new and made it in pudding form. This light and luscious, very easy to prepare dessert is perfect on warm humid days like the ones we are having this past week.

Recipe: Nylon Sagu (small and fine variety from India) soaking in Coconut Milk

  • 1 cup sabudana(sago) soaked in half cup coconut milk or milk for 3 to 4 hours
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup cashews and golden raisins lightly roasted in 2 tsps of ghee
    1 tsp of cardamom powder, 4tsps of ghee
    Few strands of saffron soaked in water

Preparation:

In a big saucepan, empty the soaked sabudana along with coconut milk, add another half cup of water or milk and sugar. Combine and cook them on medium heat, stirring to prevent the formation of the lumps until the sabudana turn translucent. Reduce the heat, add and stir - ghee, cashews, golden raisins, saffron water and cardamom powder. Let it simmer until the whole thing reaches the consistency of thick flowing magma. Turn off the heat, pour the mixture into jello molds or small cups and freeze them for 1 to 2 hours. The pudding can be removed from the cups by easing the sides off with a knife.

Serve them in different sweet sauces, your choice. I pureed ripe mango without adding sugar, added it as sauce to the pudding.

sabudana pudding

Sabudana (Sago) Pudding in Sweet Mango Sauce

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Sabudana (Sago), Sugar, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday June 10, 2005 at 3:37 pm- permalink)
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Oatmeal Upma

I love my spicy version of oatmeal. Just by adding the traditional Indian ingredients of upma, the bland oatmeal transforms into a spicy, feed me more, kind of mush. Add pickle or podi, you won’t believe how good it tastes.

Recipe:

Dry roast oats (I usually buy Quaker brand - old fashioned oats) in an iron skillet, until they leave their white color, for few minutes.

Finely chop one small onion, three green chillies, one garlic clove and 10 paisa size ginger.

Add one tsp of oil or ghee to a hot pan, do the popu or tiragmata, then add the finely chopped vegetables, saute to soft for few minutes.

For one cup of oats - add two cups of water and quarter teaspoon of salt. Close the lid and on high heat, bring the water to dancing stage (boil).

Now remove the lid and add oats, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat, let the oats cook, covered for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the oats absorb all the water. If you want, you can also add roasted peanuts or cashews at this stage, to make it more wholesome.

Serve the oatmeal upma warm. Best combination is Oatmeal upma and spicy dhalia powder (pappula podi).

Oatmeal Upma
Oatmeal Upma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Dhanyam (Grains), Oats (Wednesday June 8, 2005 at 8:55 am- permalink)
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Raagi Malt (Raagi Ganji)

I love Raagi malt, particularly on cold rainy days like today. It’s May, still so cold here. It is like this since last week. I am waiting for the Sun to shine again.

Raagi (Finger millet, Ragi, Kelvaragu, Muthari, Nachni) is a Sanskrit word, and it is a type of millet grain cultivated in India from ancient times. Raagi is well-known to be rich in protein, calcium, iron and it is gluten free grain. At our home in India, ragi grains are sprouted, then gently roasted on low flame and milled to fine powder. With this freshly milled ragi powder, we prepare a rejuvenating drink called ragi malt or ragi ganji.

Ragi flour, milk and water boiled together and sweetened with sugar or jaggery is ragi malt - popular as poor man’s or farmers health drink because of ready availability, low prices for the grain and nutritious, filling quality. If it is good for a farmer and to an ancient Sanskrit speaking person, then it must be good for me too, so I often prepare this drink in place of coffee and tea.

Raagi flour is available at Indian grocery shops. I brought mine from India. Freshly milled and needless to say so much better than the store bought flour. Back home, my mother and mother-in-law, both prepare this drink daily. It’s a routine for them, nothing fancy or special like for us here. And they always flavor the drink with cardamom.

Ragi Flour and Mixing water into ragi flour

Recipe:
for two cups

1 tablespoon of ragi flour
1 glass of water or milk
2 tsp of sugar or powdered jaggery
1/2 tsp of powdered cardamom

Boiling the water(milk) for Ragi malt Mixing the Ragi flour solution

Preparation:

First take the ragi flour in a cup. Add half glass water slowly. Combine to smooth, lump free paste. This is essential. Do not add the flour directly to boiling water, it will clump into lumps.

In a vessel, take one glass of water or milk. Preparing this drink with milk alone is too rich for me so I usually add few drops of milk to water.

Heat till the water reaches boiling stage. Then add the dissolved ragi flour solution slowly to the boiling water (milk), continuously stirring with a spoon. This will prevent the formation of lumps. If you add the flour mix to water before the boiling stage, the flour will separate and it won’t be suitable to drinking. You have to throw it away, so wait for water (milk) to start boiling, and then add the flour mix. This step is very important in preparing the good raagi malt.

Add sugar or jaggery per your taste and pinch of cardamom (Elachi) powder. Reduce the heat to medium level, and simmer the ragi malt for 5 minutes, stirring in-between. Turn off the heat.
Let it cool to warm, and then pour into a glass or cup.

Ragi Malt

When the body needs a break from caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, Ragi Malt is the perfect warm beverage.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Dhanyam (Grains), Ragi, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Ragi Flour, Milk (Monday May 2, 2005 at 1:18 pm- permalink)
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Upma with Cracked Wheat

My mother used to make upma for breakfast 2 or 3 times a week when I was growing up. I can’t blame her, with four children, making them to get ready for school in the morning; I don’t know how she even found time to prepare breakfast. Upma is easy to prepare, filling and nutritious. During marriages upma is the standard breakfast item in our area and tastes completely different from that of home made one, I have to say much better. Now I know the secret, measurements of ghee and oil were equal to the upma rava quantity. No wonder it tasted so good. But at home, my mother was always conservative in use of ghee/oil in upma, unconsciously healthy. I didn’t appreciate that back then, but now I do.

Recipe:

Upma Ingredients

2 cups of semolina or suji or cracked wheat and 4 cups of water
(suji:water always in 1:2 ratio)
1 onion, 2 green chillies, 1 carrot, small piece of ginger
- all cut into small pieces
Half cup of fresh peas
Handful of roasted cashews or peanuts
For popu or tiragamata: 1 tsp each - urad dal, chana dal, minced garlic, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds.

If you are going to prepare upma with fine semolina or suji, roast them slowly till the color changes from cream to light gold. This process makes them not only more tasty, it also allows the grain to thoroughly mix with water without forming any lumps. For cracked wheat, bulgar because of large size of the grain, this step is not necessary. But roasting always adds some extra flavor so do it if you can spare some time.

Preparation:

Saut�ing the Ingredients Adding water to the ingredients

Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan, add popu ingredients in the order listed. Popu is a must for upma. When fried in oil, urad dal and chana dal bring cruchy nuttiness, garlic and curry leaves add some sweet fragrance, where as cumin and mustard seeds some essential oils and health benefits.

When mustard seeds start to jump around, then quickly add onions, green chillies, ginger, carrot and peas. Saute them to tender. Sometimes, I also add other vegetables like potato, bell peppers and tomato to make it more rich and nutritious. You can change the vegetables and create numerous varieties of upma. Do not be afraid to experiment. Upma is a very forgiving recipe.

Add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix. Close the lid and bring the water to a boil on high heat.

Adding Upma ravva Upma in final stage of making

Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat. Pour the upma ravva (suji, semolina, or cracked wheat) slowly, stirring continously with a spoon, to prevent the lump formation.

Also add the toasted cashews or peanuts. On reduced heat, cook the upma covered, untill all the water is absorbed and upma becomes soft and smooth like porridge. Turn off the heat and let it sit for few more minutes, covered.

Serve warm with lime/lemon juice sprinkled to taste. Have delicious upma with pickle (mango or lemon) or with chutney (coconut or peanut).

Upma and Andhra Mango Pickle

Upma with Mango Pickle. Traditionally a breakfast, but now at my home, a quick filling meal on a weekend or on a busy day.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Bulghar (Wednesday April 20, 2005 at 5:03 pm- permalink)
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