Mahanandi

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

Semiya Payasam

Photo Purchase Keyword: Semiya, Payasam
(Please don’t photosteal. Make a photo purchase to digital download and to print.)

From hearing the Purandaradasa’s spiritual keerthana “Rama nama payasakke“, we will know that the semiya payasam we prepare at home has at least 500+ years of history. The recipe ingredients and the method have remained unchanged all these years. That is the greatness and as well as the simplicity of this recipe. What has changed is our attitude and regard towards such honest and soulful food. But that is a topic for another time. For now, continuing the 500 plus year old tradition, here is how I prepared the semiya payasam at my home for Neivedyam.


Semiya, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cashews and Draksha ~ Ingredients for Payasam

Recipe:

4 cups whole milk
½ cup cane sugar, ( or to taste)
Fine semiya, one bunch, about the size that fits baby’s fist (10″ long)
2 tablespoon of ghee, melted
16 cashews and 16 golden raisins
4 cardamom pods, seeds powdered

Heat ghee in a wide pot. Add and toast golden raisins to pink balloons first, and then cashews to pale gold color. Remove them in to a plate.

In the same pot, add and toast the semiya for one to two minutes. (This is to remove the raw wheat smell of semiya and I usually do it, but this is optional.) Take the toasted semiya to a plate and keep aside.

In the same pot, add the milk and stir in sugar. Bring the milk to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and add the semiya. Also the cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. Simmer on slow heat for ten minutes. The fine semiya floats like water lily stems in a pond of sweetened milk. That is the consistency we want in semiya payasam.

Serve warm or cold, and enjoy this fine, honest dessert in the name of tradition.


A Sweet 500+ year old tradition ~ Semiya Payasam

Note:
Semiya, the fine wheat noodles are a speciality of India. They are prepared with durum wheat flour and water. Semiya is egg free, and that is the major difference between western egg-laden vermicelli and Indian semiya. (Semiya is available at Indian grocery shops).

*************

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101, Traditions, Semiya (Tuesday January 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm- permalink)
Comments (14)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

A special Recipe for the Ultimate Bliss ~ Semiya Payasam

Bhukthi means nourishment. While nutritious food is needed to sustain us for everyday activities and the maintenance of this physical body, a different kind of Bhukthi is necessary to satisfy our cravings to realize the true happiness in ourselves. Constant indulgence in the name of God (Bhakthi) provides the nourishment to realize the bliss of boundless divinity in the ego-limited humans.

This relation between Bhakthi and Bhukthi thus goes deep and this concept is brought to the people in beautiful poetry and song by many saint musicians of India.

Saint Purandara Dasa, the father of Carnatic music has created song and music the way to achieve the happiness which we all seek. He has composed innumerable songs called keerthana’s, full of wisdom and devotion eternalized in the hearts of people. His message of morals is handed out in easily understandable form, woven together with stories from the epics, along with beautiful expressions and analogies. No wonder his songs have pleased, inspired and guided people since more than four hundred years.

Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandara Dasa
Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandara Dasa

God is the source for infinite happiness and he has infinite names, infinite forms and is ubiquitous. For Purandara Dasa, God is Purandara Vittala in whose form he saw all other manifestations or avatars of God like Rama, Krishna, Shiva and Hanuma.

The spiritual song “Rama nama payasakke” is quite popular and sung by many in their own versions. It was written in the beautiful south Indian language of Kannada which is said to be as enchanting as the fragrance of kasturi. Saint Purandara Dasa elicits the great bliss in chanting the name of the God Vittala in “Rama Nama Payasakke“.

The keerthana explains with an easy analogy on how to obtain the spiritual bliss or Ananda with a recipe to make payasam.

The keerthana goes like this:

Pallavi: rAma nAma pAyasakke krSNa nAma sakkare viTTala nAma tuppava kalasi bAya capparisiro
Charana1: ommAna gOdiya tandu vairAgya kallali bIsi summane sajjige tegadu kammana shAvige hosedu
Charana2: hrdayavembo maDikeyalli bhAvavembo esaraniTTu buddhiyinda pAka mADi harivANake baDisikoNDu
Charana3: Ananda Anandavembo tEgu bandidu kaNIrO Ananda mUruti namma purandara viTTalana neneyiro

Purandara Dasa sings, “O people, indulge in the lip-smacking-good payasam called Rama nama, which is made sweet with the sugar called Krishna nama and is richly folded with the ghee called Vittala nama”.

Then he describes the meticulous details needed to make this special payasam from the scratch.

First obtain wheat flour of honor. Grind it in the mill of detachment. Make the dough called simplicity and draw thin semiya noodles from it.

In the pot called your heart, boil the noodles with the milk of feelings. Cook it then with the wisdom of worship.

Add the sweetness of Krishna’s name as sugar, and the nourishing richness of Vittala’s name as the ghee and lo you have your lip-smacking-delicious payasam.

Purandara Dasa even describes the proper method to enjoy the delicious payasam. He beckons us to serve it on a large platter and enjoy it. When burps emanate out of fulfillment, he asks us to remember the name of God Vittala who is the embodiment of immeasurable happiness and ecstasy.

Through this keerthana, purandara dasa gave us a recipe to live an ideal life. To live our life with honor, come through the grinds of materialistic attachments with austerity, and obtain the raw material for happiness using the simple method of devotion. Allow the feelings of joy and love boil in our heart wisely, and celebrate every moment of our life bit by bit contemplating God’s grace with gratitude. That is the ultimate sweet bliss!

Makara Sankranthi Shubhakankshalu!


Semiya, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cashews and Draksha ~ Ingredients for Payasam


Rakthi Raga for Bhukthi ~ Semiya Payasam

Article Contributed by Madhuri Akkenepalli (Friend of Mahanandi)
Photos by Indira Singari
Previously on Rakthi Raga for Bhukthi:
Of Being and Becoming ~ Ragi Idlies by Janani Srinivasan

Links:
Saint Purandara Dasa on Wiki.
Audio Links to “Rama Nama Payasakke”:
by Sreemathi Sudha Raghunathan and Vijayalakshmi Subrahmaniam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Bhakthi~Bhukthi, Semiya, Madhuri Akkenepalli (Monday January 14, 2008 at 1:11 pm- permalink)
Comments (22)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic ~ “Salads For All Occasions” by Vijaya Hiremath

Recipe: Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Salads for all Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath
Published in December 2005 by Jaico Publishing House

Traditionally, salad or koshimbir has formed a small part of main meals in India, taking its place alongside pickles and chutneys. This probably explains why preparing salads has always flummoxed me. Grains, vegetables, and lentils formed a complete meal, and salads were the step-children on my thali. I managed with the usual suspects - chopped tomatoes and onions with a splash of lemon juice and salt; grated cabbage and crushed peanuts with a splash of lemon juice and salt; steamed beetroot and grated carrot with a splash of lemon juice and salt; *yawn* and so on. I did not fare any better at the elaborate salad bars in U.S. restaurants and cafetarias. With the seemingly endless choices, one never quite knows when and where to stop piling one’s bowl. The end result was always a mishmash of ingredients, all of which I savour individually, but were disastrous together. I also have a distaste for the usual dressings, based as they are in oil and vinegar.

I was not interested in the plethora of salad books found in the American bookstores. Since our main meals at home are always Indian, I needed a book that used Indian ingredients, and produced flavours that would not clash with the other parts of our meal. I had purchased Varsha Dandekar’s Salads of India many years ago, and while it is an excellent cookbook in other respects, it is not about salads. Most of the dishes were really sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable preparations without gravy). There are other books on salads published in India, but they usually just reproduced Western salads. Vijaya Hiremath’s book, which I almost ignored at the bookstore due to the rather bland title, has ended my days of salad ennui.

The book is completely vegetarian, with over 50 salad recipes using a wide variety of easily-available ingredients. Sprouts prepared from whole grains and beans play a prominent role in many recipes, a feature which raised the book several notches in my estimation. Hiremath presents several fresh and innovative combinations of vegetables, fruit, greens, nuts, and sprouts. For example, Country Garden Salad, a jaded menu item that evokes images of limp lettuce and cottony tomatoes, appears in an elegant and attractive avtaar in this book. It is made with tender fenugreek leaves, white radish, carrot, cucumber, tomato, onion, and roasted sesame seeds and dressed with lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh grated coconut, cumin powder, and salt. The dressings are sauces prepared from fruit, vegetables, or dahi; chutneys or dry masala powders. The layout of the book is user-friendly: one recipe per page with the nutritive value for each recipe provided at the bottom. There are plenty of photos, which are mercifully devoid of Indian artifacts and fabrics cluttered around the food.

The recipes use a combination of weight and volumetric measurements, which might pose a problem for those readers used to measuring in cups and do not own a kitchen scale. The instructions are terse and lacking in nuances. For example, greens and vegetables being used in salads must be properly rid of excess water after washing them; otherwise, it dilutes the dressing. Novice cooks might not realise this and the recipes do not include such instructions. The book also suffers another deficiency that is common to some cookbooks produced in India: absence of an index, which forces you to scan the entire table of contents if you are pondering over what to prepare with a particular ingredient. Each recipe, with calories ranging from 250 to 350, is supposed to provide one meal for a single person; but, small eaters might find the quantity too large to be consumed in one sitting. All these drawbacks, however, are minor irritations and easily overlooked once you taste the delicious and nutritious salads made from this book.

Veena Parrikar


Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

From: Salads for All Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath

Ingredients
100 gms wheat sprouts
100 gms carrot
100 gms tomato
100 gms cabbage
1 cup spinach leaves

Seasoning
2 flakes minced garlic
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
150 gms thick curds (dahi)
Salt to taste

Sprouted Wheat
To prepare sprouted wheat, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Next morning, drain the wheat, and place the grains in a clean muslin cloth. Hang the muslin around your kitchen sink tap, and sprinkle the cloth with water. The wheat should sprout in two to three days in mild to warm weather. During this period, sprinkle water occasionaly if the muslin looks dry.

Centre: Spinach and sprouted wheat. Clockwise from left: carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, dahi with minced garlic and salt, roasted sesame seeds.

Method
1. Shred cabbage finely. If spinach is tender, use whole leaves; otherwise chop roughly or break into pieces with your hands.
2. Cut carrot into small pieces.
3. Quarter tomato.
4. Beat curds. Add garlic and salt and mix well.
5. Combine vegetables with sprouts.
6. Arrange spinach leaves on a flat dish.
7. Spread vegetable mixture over the spinach.
8. Pour curd mixture over the vegetables.
9. Sprinke sesame seeds before serving.

Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad
Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Spinach, Yogurt, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu), Veena Parrikar (Monday January 7, 2008 at 12:24 am- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Puri Pictorial


Puris ~ The Happy, Lovable Cousins of Chapatis

Made with special wheat flour called atta, rolled out to paper-thin circles and puffed to peach colored balloons, delicate and delectable puris means pure pleasure guaranteed.

I usually prepare puris at home for friends get-togethers or when I host a party, but very rarely for us. It has to be a special occasion and today is one such day for us. To celebrate, a party call was sent out by Anita of A Mad Tea Party, the fabulous food blogger from Delhi. I wanted to join. So, here I am at the party with Nandyala-style puri treats.

Atta
Whole Wheat Flour from India and Tap Water from Seattle:) ~ for Puri Dough

Recipe:
(Makes about 15- 18 small salad-plate sized puris)

For Puri dough:
3 cups atta (Special wheat flour from India)
1½ cups of warm water
1 teaspoon salt

To deep-fry
3 cups peanut oil
sturdy based kadai or wok
A big slotted spoon

In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Move the flour to the sides of the bowl to make a small well in the center. Pour water into the well. Using fingers combine the ingredients, until the flour comes together to firm dough. (For puris, I make the dough very tight, so that when deep fried they won’t absorb lot of oil and look greasy. Tight dough also helps to balloon the puris.)

Gently knead the dough for a minute or two to remove the creases and until the surface is smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for about 30 minutes. Then, follow the puri pictorial.


Roll out the Puri dough to a round coil about the width of baby’s fist.


Divide the dough to equal portions and shape each portion to a round.


Using a rolling pin, press the round to a circle of greeting card thickness


Place the kadai on stovetop. Add and heat the peanut oil to frying hot(375 F). Carefully slip the pressed puri round into hot oil. Gently push-down once with slotted spoon, and let the hot oil work its magic.


The puri comes out of the oil like a balloon. Flip and fry for few seconds


We want not red nor angry-red but peach color for Puri. Remove to a paper covered plate. Serve hot with a curry, dal or chutney.


Puris with Red and Green Capsicum Bhaji ~ for A Mad Tea Party

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Wheat Flour (Durum Atta), ID Food Parade (Wednesday August 15, 2007 at 6:51 pm- permalink)
Comments (44)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Tomato Bath

JFI, an online food blogging event celebrating the natural ingredients is hosted by sweet and talented RP of My Workshop for April. The ingredient she picked for JFI is Tomatoes. What a fine choice it is to celebrate the spring season with beautiful colors and flavors of tomatoes!

The sheer number of tomato based recipes can be overwhelming and sometimes it is reassuring to go back to an old favorite. So I picked a recipe. A Tiffin box favorite from my childhood called tomato bath. Yes, you read it right. The recipe has bath in its name. In this traditional south Indian recipe, toasted semolina is generously bathed and simmered in tomato juice. Not one or two tomatoes, but a lot of tomatoes are used to prepare tomato bath. This is the main difference between regular upma and tomato bath. Because of generous tomato addition, pale wheat colored semolina changes to bright orange color and the tomato dominates the flavor profile. It’s easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. A must try for tomato fans.


Tomato and Semolina

Recipe:

2 cups semolina or suji
4 ripe tomatoes - finely chopped (about 2 cups)
6 green chillies - finely chopped
1 small red onion - finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger - grated
¼ cup each - fresh green peas and charoli nuts (or your choice)

Seasoning: (added to bring crunchy bite and fragrance to tomato bath)
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
6 fresh curry leaves and a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp each - urad dal, chana dal, cumin and mustard seeds

Place an iron skillet on stove top. On medium heat, add and roast semolina/suji to pale gold color, stirring in-between.

Meanwhile, proceed with tomato bath preparation. In a wide pan, add and heat oil/ghee. Toast the ingredients listed in seasoning in the order mentioned. When mustard seeds start to jump around, add green chillies, onion and ginger. Cook for few minutes until the onions soften. Stir in chopped tomatoes and fresh green peas. Cook until tomatoes become mush.

Add about 4 cups of water along with half teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring the water to a boil. At this stage, pour in the roasted semolina/suji at a constant flow/speed, continuously stirrng. Take care not to form semolina lumps. Stir, stir and stir. Sprinkle charoli nuts. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the whole thing comes together to a moist firm mass.

Serve hot with coconut/peanut chutney or with a cup of yogurt.


Tomato Bath with Yogurt and Cucumber Slices ~ Our Weekend Brunch and
My entry to JFI: Tomatoes hosted by RP of My Work Shop

JFI Notes:
I’ve planned to invite hosts for Jihva (June 07- April 08) on April 2nd. If you are interested to host the event, please visit tomorrow to read the guidelines and pickup your time slot. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Suji/Semolina, Jihva For Ingredients (Sunday April 1, 2007 at 11:45 am- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Buttermilk Upma

Roasted upma rava combines especially well with buttermilk and tadka seasoning in this sensational upma breakfast of summer months. Almost any type or combination of upma ravas -like suji, semolina, broken wheat and rice rava can be used for this recipe, but the roasted varieties like this special upma rava from India provides the best texture for the dish. Silky, tangy and tasty - buttermilk upma is an acquired delight.

Roasted Upma Rava, Homemade Buttermilk, Urad Dal, Chana Dal and Curry Leaves
Roasted upma rava, Homemade Buttermilk, Urad Dal, Chana Dal and Curry Leaves

Recipe:

Take in a cup and mix:
Roasted Upma Rava - one cup
Buttermilk - one and half cups (homemade from Indian yogurt suits this recipe)
Water - one and half cups
Roasted cashews or peanuts - quarter cup
Salt - quarter teaspoon or to taste

In a wide skillet, heat and toast:
One tablespoon of ghee or oil
Add a teaspoon each - chana dal, urad dal, , broken red chilli pieces and curry leaves, in the order mentioned. Toast to golden color. Dals add crunchy bite and curry leaves bring an unforgettable aroma to the upma. I usually add one finely chopped green chilli along with curry leaves etc. Adds more flavor.

Add and cook:
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the upma rava-buttermilk-water mixture to the skillet, continuously stirring. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rava becomes fluffy. Serve warm with chutney/spicy powders, or with a teaspoon of honey/sugar sprinkled on the top for that delightful sweet, tangy taste.

Buttermilk Upma with Cashews and Pappula Podi
Buttermilk Upma with Cashews and Pappula Podi


Roasted Upma Rava: Purchased from Indian grocery Shops
If you are going to prepare this buttermilk upma with other varieties of rice/wheat ravas - first roast them to golden color - for easy mixing, cooking and for great taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Suji/Semolina, Yogurt (Monday March 26, 2007 at 9:46 pm- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Roasted Upma Rava


Roasted Upma Rava from India for this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Different from broken wheat, suji and semolina, - in method of preparation, in size and taste, roasted upma rava is a special wheat product from India specifically used to prepare a flavorful Upma breakfast.


Roasted Upma Rava and Broken Wheat in the background


Samba Upma Rava at Daily Musings
Special note:
Is this your photo? - Find more details at Yahoo-Parade.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Indian Ingredients (Sunday March 25, 2007 at 9:51 pm- permalink)
Comments (17)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Penne Marinara With Fresh Goat Cheese

Penne in Tomato-Basil Sauce with Goat Cheese

Penne pasta tossed in tomato-basil sauce and garnished with red chilli flavored goat cheese - this classic pasta recipe is easy to prepare and deeply satisfying on a basic, no-nonsense way. Good food to have on a rainy day like today.

I am under the impression that goat cheese is the purest cheese available in the market right now. I am hoping that I won’t find any information that would shatter my belief and prove how naive I am. Again and again, from sugar to table salt to enriched flour, everything I thought decent were proved otherwise here in US. More and more, the ingredient shopping here is becoming like a sightseeing trip to Las Vegas. (I see gondola ride, is this Venice? Nope, it’s not.) Which is genuine and which is maya (fake) - one has to dig deep to discern the difference.

For now, I am going to enjoy goat cheese - my all time favorite cheese.

Goat cheese with red chilli flakes and Penne
Goat cheese with red chilli flakes and Penne Pasta

Recipe:

Penne (a type of pasta) - 2 cups
Tomato-basil sauce (marinara) - Homemade or storebought - 3 cups
Goat cheese - ½ cup
Fresh garbanzo beans - ½ cup
Red onion and red bell pepper, 1 each - thinly sliced lengthwise
Red chilli powder, salt and turmeric - ½ tsp each or to taste.

Cook pasta to tender following instructions on the packet. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and saut? red onions and red bell pepper to soft. Add the fresh garbanzo beans and tomato-basil sauce. Stir in red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and about a cup of water. On medium-high heat, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes stirring in-between. When the sauce starts to come together, switch off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Toss to mix and sprinkle in crumbled goat cheese. Serve hot.

Kitchen Notes:
Fresh Goat Cheese type and source: Peppadew Chevre from ‘Trader Joe’s’ (US grocery shop)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Cheese, Pasta, Hara Chana(Green Chickpeas) (Tuesday November 21, 2006 at 3:01 pm- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Basil Spinach Pasta

Basil at My Kitchen Window Sill
Basil on My Kitchen Windowsill

We would have been broke if we had used herbs from the local grocery shops for our daily cooking. :) The herbs in these stores are that much expensive. 10 tiny finger-length branches in a cute little box would usually sell for 2 dollars and some change. The more upscale the grocery chain is, the pricier the herbs are. First few years here, I mostly cancelled the herbs from my shopping list. Later, I started growing them myself. A must to grow would be mint, and some summers I also grow basil and cilantro.

For this summer, I have planted basil in a small container. Kept it on my kitchen windowsill, where it gets plenty of sunlight, and watered it regularly. After a month, the container is full of well grown and overflowing basil. So, the time has come for the first harvest and for a flavorful meal. With trimmed branches of basil, some spinach and cashews cooked together, I prepared a special sauce for pasta for lunch. A different taste from routine tomato sauced pasta. If you like pasta in pesto, then this recipe is for you and the sauce is as good as it looks.:)

Basil, Spinach, Cashews, Green Chillies, Garlic, Tomato and Pasta

Recipe:

1 cup of basil and 1 small bunch of spinach
Medium red onion and tomato - one each, cut into big pieces
6 to 8 green chillies and 4 garlic cloves - sliced into big chunks
Half cup of cashews
Salt and peanut/olive oil to your liking
Pasta of your choice

1. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Saut? onion, garlic, green chillies and tomato to golden brown. Remove and keep them aside.

2. Saut? spinach, basil until they wilt in the same skillet. Remove and keep them aside. Wipe the skillet clean, add and dry roast cashews to golden color.

3. When they are all cool to touch, take them all in a blender, add a teaspoon of salt and puree them into smooth mixture.

4. Heat a teaspoon of oil and pour in the pureed mixture. Stir in half to one cup of water. Have a taste, add salt if needed and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce reaches the thickness you desire.

5. Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add and cook pasta until aldente usually for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir to combine and serve piping hot.

Basil-Spinach Pasta with Hard Boiled Eggs
Pasta in Basil-Spinach-Cashew Sauce with Hard Boiled Eggs
From Pot to Plate for L.G’s Green Blog Project

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Cashews, Pasta, Basil (Tuesday June 13, 2006 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
Comments (29)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Spaghetti in Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Pasta (Friday March 24, 2006 at 2:56 pm- permalink)
Comments (34)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (54)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (18)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (29)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (63)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (26)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Previous Page »