Mahanandi

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

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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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Cakes n Bakes


‘Cakes n Bakes’ ~ Illustration by Sree
Graphite on paper, 8″x12″

I bake quite a bit and I like the home baked cakes more than the fancy, ornately iced ones from the store. My cakes almost always come out well except for the usual ‘old baking’ powder/ ‘old flour’ disasters. For ages I have followed this recipe given by my mother’s oldest friend, simply whisked all the ingredients (very important that they are all fresh and at room temperature) together for a while and baked it till the delicious aroma of a golden brown cake wafted through the entire house.:) My mom always adds a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of honey as well, she says it makes the cake moist and tastier.

~ by Sree

More from Sree ~ Click here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sree (Saturday May 17, 2008 at 10:20 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Chillies and Lemons

Chillies and Lemons
Chillies and Lemons ~ Sketch by Sree
Ink and watercolor, 5″x6″

Chillies and lemons are often hung as a talisman at the entrance of shops, houses etc in India to ward off the ‘evil eye’ or drishti (as we say it).

By Sree

Flavors of Life: A variety.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Peppers, Dried Red Chillies, Sree (Saturday May 3, 2008 at 1:00 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Melon Mela

Melon Mela - Sketch by Sree of Sree's Canvas
Flavors of Life: Melon Mela ~ Painting by Sree
(Ink and colored pencils on paper 6×8)

Bangalore is a heaven for fruit lovers. Seasonal fruit carts and vendors fill the streets all round the year. Be it grapes, mangoes, (which seem to be scarce this year) and of course melons.

I have noticed that watermelonwallas are beginning to vanish. The guy in front of our home is gone. And I haven’t eaten a single one yet! I was too busy hogging muskmelons, which are my favorite. So I am off to find a sweet, red juicy one. :)

~ by Sree
(Sree also writes at Sree’s Canvas)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Fruits, Watermelon, Sree (Saturday April 19, 2008 at 9:09 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Clove (Laung, Lavanga)

Cloves (Lavanga) - Photo by Anjali Damerla

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portuguese, French and Dutch, all fought to control the trade of this amazing spice. The Arabs tried to keep the origins of their cloves cargo a closely guarded secret. Columbus sailed west in search of this aromatic spice and found the West Indies. Few years later, Vasco da Gama sailed around Cape Good Hope to India searching for this same spice.

That’s the power of cloves.

Cloves are unopened flower buds of a very attractive evergreen tree. Clove buds are picked when they reach the full size and just about to turn pink. Once picked, the buds are dried in the Sun, at which point they turn reddish brown in color. Cloves derive their name from Latin “clavus” meaning “toenail”. To me it looks more like an engagement ring with some clasps. In Sanskrit, it is aptly called “DevaKusuma”, meaning divine flower.

Cloves work as an astringent, a stimulant, a rejuvenator and an aid to digestion. They help to reduce nausea and hiccups. Cloves increase blood circulation and known to relieve stomach pains.

One of the famous Ayurvedic medicines Lavangadi Vati is mainly made of cloves and is used to cure colds, cough and sooth sore throat. Cloves are well known for their antiseptic properties and are essential in toothpaste, tooth powder and mouthwash preparations.

Clove tea is great as a stress buster and for treatment of depression. Steep some cloves in hot water to make Clove tea. This aromatic and warming tea is used to get relief from nausea during travel and it also encourages the body to sweat, which is helpful in fever. Clove tea compress can relieve sore muscle aches.

One of most attractive avatar of cloves is Pomanders (also called Clove Oranges). It’s the most aromatic, easiest and natural potpourri that one can make in 15 minutes. It is a nice project for kids, a perfect gift for many occasions.

Neem-Clove Tooth Powder - Photo by Indira SingariPomander - Photo by Anjali Damerla
Neem-Clove Tooth Powder ………………… Pomander

How about using cloves in dessert? Cloves are added to Apple pie, Pumpkin pie and Apple cider. Another interesting and simple dessert is Poached Pears with Cloves and Cinnamon.

Recipe:

3 Pears (choose ripe but firm ones)
4 cups water
7-8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest and juice of 1 orange
¾ cup sugar

Boil water with cloves, cinnamon, orange zest. Once water starts boiling, add orange juice. Peel the pears and place them in the water. Cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Take the pears out and boil the water for another 15 minutes until it concentrates to thick and syrupy.

Serve poached pears with some syrup drizzled over it and some ice cream on the side.

Cloves are an essential ingredient in many masala powders and used as whole or ground in traditional Indian recipes. Bechamel sauce, one of the mother sauces in French cuisine, is made with something called Onion pique (pee-kay). Onion pique is a peeled, raw onion that is studded with bay leaves and cloves. Onion pique is a simple way to flavor the sauces and the soups. This cute website even has a song on onion pique.

It is amazing how much flavor and aroma Mother Nature has packed in this tiny, unopened flower. Mother Nature sure is very humbling and awe-inspiring.

Onion PiquePoached Pear in Clove Syrup
Onion Pique ……………. Poached Pear in Clove-Sugar Syrup
~ for Think:Spice-Cloves at Canela and Comino

by Anjali Damerla

Health Notes:
Cloves: Nutritional Profile

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Fruits, Herbs and Spices, Anjali Damerla, Cloves(Lavangam) (Thursday April 17, 2008 at 12:31 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic (3) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Regional Rustic Recipes
by Manipal Mahila Samaj

Published in 2007 by Manipal Mahila Samaj at Manipal, in Karnataka, India.

The cooking of our mothers and grandmothers is the bedrock of our gastronomical worlds. It feeds our memories and inspires our culinary efforts, particularly if we are separated from it by distance or, more unfortunately, death. “Just like Amma makes” is the gold standard to which most of us aspire. It is understandable, therefore, that we have forgetten a time when easy and daily access had rendered us somewhat blase about the traditional foods they prepared. We were tired of the idli breakfasts, the pumpkin koddel was boring, the maggey with jackfruit seeds was fodder for the resident comedian at family gatherings, and why, why, did we have to eat moong daal paayas on every festive occasion! What excited our palates and fired our appetites in those days were the dishes sent over by the neighboring aunties: we waited eagerly for the biryani from Salma downstairs, the fudge, marzipan, and cakes sent over by Mrs. De Souza, the sambar from Mrs. Ananthraman, the bisi bele bhaath from Mrs. Rao, the kori-rotti from Mrs. Shetty and the khakra-chunda from Mrs. Parekh. Even dishes from their failed experiments were sometimes more welcome than the daily food prepared at home. Eating out at restaurants was a luxury and street food, a surreptitious pleasure from leftover pocket money in those days, so the only way to sate our hunger for something different was the gifts from neighboring kitchens.

I was reminded of those times when I received the Manipal Mahila Samaj’s cookbook, Regional Rustic Recipes, through the good graces of a friend and old-time resident of Manipal. The Manipal Mahila Samaj publishes an annual magazine for its members; last year, they decided to compile a special issue with recipes contributed by the members. The result is a charming little cookbook with all the strengths and foibles of a homegrown production created in the spirit of community and sharing. It is a ticket to the kitchens of the neighborhood ladies of my days in India.

Back cover

The distinguishing feature of this book is the classification of recipes. Most general cookbooks, Indian or otherwise, are organized along the type or timing of the meal - breakfast, snacks, main dishes, sweets, preserves - or ingredients - rice, grains, vegetables, meat, and spices. Regional Rustic Recipes is primarily organized according to the diverse regional, religious, and linguistic backgrounds of its members. There are other cookbooks, of course, which provide recipes according to the geographical states of India. None of them, however, reflects the challenges inherent in categorizing Indian cuisines into neat boxes demarcated by simple lines of geography, religion, language, or sub-community. Thus, the book’s main chapters are organized by:

- Geography: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Lucknow;
- Geography and language: Punjabi, Tamilian, Sindhi;
- Religion: Muslims;
- Religion and geography: Mangalore Catholics;
- Community: Goud Saraswat Brahmin; Bunt, Billava, Ganiga and Mogaveera; and
- Religious proscriptions: no onions and garlic.

Within the chapter on Goud Saraswat Brahmins, the recipes are Kerala-style, Maharashtrian, North Kanara, and South Kanara (Udupi-Mangaloreans); and within No Onions & Garlic, there are the Gujaratis, North Indian Jains, South Indian Jains, Kannadiga Brahmins and UPites (Uttar Pradesh)! Kannadigas and Gowdas sit in their own chapter, and perhaps as a nod to the mother state, there is an entire chapter on Karnataka rice items.

The recipes themselves are another strength of the book. They are tried-and-tested, authentic, and do not shy away from using exotic ingredients or difficult procedures. Make no mistake, this is a recipe exchange between cooks who have wielded the ladle for decades. Consequently, this is not a book that is intended for beginner cooks or those inexperienced in regional Indian foods. The text and layout are minimalist, and there are no photographs or sketches inside the book. Neither the contributors of the recipes nor the editors are named; I was told that this was a conscious choice because for many of the recipes, there was no way to attribute the source in an unambiguous manner. The style of writing is reminiscent of handwritten recipes with their terse instructions and use of truncated and abbreviated words such as ing, tsp, min, and pwd. Further, the errors (dagad phool and marathi moggu are said to be the same spice) do not irritate me as much as the banalities (Food is very important in Sindhi culture).

For all its minor flaws, the book is a welcome addition to the seemingly bare landscape of not-for-profit cookbooks in India. By not-for-profit, I am referring to books published by local temples or churches, community organizations, and women’s associations or other groups, with the express purpose of raising money for a social cause or spreading awareness about a particular type of diet or cuisine. I cannot explain my fascination for such cookbooks - perhaps it is the community effort, the sincerity of purpose, or the local flavours that are sprinkled in these works. Over the last year, I have managed to collect some such books by scouring used bookstores and old paper marts in India. The pickings, however, have been slim compared to the volumes of such (non-Indian) publications seen at used-book sales and stores in the United States. Granted that these types of books are typically published in single editions on a small scale with limited distribution; hence, they go out of circulation very quickly. Perhaps the U.S. systems just do a better job of retrieving old copies of such books. It is probably not a stretch, though, to say that there is room for much more activity and many more books in this sphere in India.

Recipe: Marsoppu

Adapted from Manipal Mahila Samaj’s Regional Rustic Recipes, Chapter: Kannadigas and Gowdas

Ingredients:
Green chillies - 4 to 5
Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves
Onion - 1
Tomatoes - 2
Water - ½ cup
Mixed Greens - 1 cup
Toor daal - ½ cup
Fresh grated coconut - ½ cup
Salt to taste

For Seasoning:
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - ½ teaspoon


Mixed greens: Fenugreek (methi), spinach, dill (shepu), Malabar or Indian red spinach (basaLe)


Clockwise from 12 o’clock: toor daal, tomatoes, garlic, onions, coconut. Centre: green chillies

Method:
Cook the toor daal and set aside. Roughly chop the green chillies, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Place in a saucepan or any other cooking vessel along with a half cup of water. Cook until the vegetables are soft (about 5-10 minutes) and remove from heat. Remove the cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the saucepan. Once the vegetables are cool, add the coconut and grind to a paste. Add the roughly-chopped greens to the reserved liquid, and cook the greens until wilted. Cool them and run them through a mixie just once. Mix the cooked daal, the coconut-vegetable paste, and the roughly ground greens in the same saucepan, add salt, and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. Do the tempering as usual: heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add this mixture to the daal-greens mix.

Notes:
I modified the original recipe by reducing all ingredients, except the greens, by half. While I have encountered several recipes with daal, greens, and vegetables, I like the separate cooking processes adopted here as it accounts for the differing cooking durations required for each ingredient. The complete absence of powdered spices also scored a few more points in my book. The original recipe made no mention of salt, which is probably an oversight.


Marsoppu served with red rice, wild tuber chips, and radish-greens chutney

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar (Monday April 7, 2008 at 12:05 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Ugadi Pooja

Ugadi Pooja Sketch by Sree of Sree's Canvas
Pooja Preparation to Celebrate Ugadi
(Sketch by Sree)

*******

New (Ad)ventures from blog world:

The One ~ A Religious Experience

Mesmerizing Backwater Experience

A Stomach Churning Experience

Cakeworks:
Talented writer-artist, new mom and food blogger friend MS has recently started a pastry business from her home. She can design, bake and deliver one of a kind cakes for birthdays, weddings or any other event in the Delaware, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Baltimore regions. If you live in that area or have family and friends in that area, you could easily surprise them with a fabulous cake gift through Cakeworks. Check her site and support fellow food blogger’s new home-based venture.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Traditions, Sree (Saturday April 5, 2008 at 12:43 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Grandmas, Dosas and More

Grandmother, Dosas and More ~ Painting by Sree
Grandmothers, Dosas and More ~ for Dosa Mela
Painting by Sree (5″x6″, Graphite Sketch)

That is not my grandmother. It is just a sketch I made while getting bored on the train, on my journey home from Bangalore. I miss so many things post-marriage. One of them is my grandmother and the old kitchen at my mom’s place where I spent most of my childhood. It looked exactly like this and my grandma would sit exactly like this cooking at her small stove making hot dosas and chapatis and more. She would always mix food in the most delectable combination with chutneys, pickles…. yum! I think those tasted better than anything available in any restaurant. She is now bedridden and can hardly walk and the kitchen is now converted into a modern one. I think if I build my own house, I would want an old- fashioned kitchen just like my grandmother’s.:)

~ Sree

Flavors of Life: Introduction
Flavors of Life, Previously:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree Cotton Candy Painting by Sree Infinitea by Sree
Tirupathi Laddus by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen, Traditions, Sree (Saturday March 29, 2008 at 1:00 am- permalink)
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Flavors of Life: Infini-tea


Flavors of Life: Infini-tea
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

I actually have ALL these flavors of tea in my pantry! The lemon/mandarin flavors are quite refreshing. The berries are better drunk with ice and the choco-vanilla ones with milk. I haven’t figured out how the tropical ones go. Its ‘pretea’ complicated you know. Some (green tea) are to be ‘infused’ and mixed, others plain boiled… The other day I served hot peppermint tea to my old uncle, a connoisseur of beverages and he said “we can do without that one.” Wasn’t Tea supposed to be a refreshing beverage? Like Lipton Taaza… But I even have a ‘SLEEPYTIME’ tea! I am certain it won’t be long before we have coffee flavored tea. :)
By the way there is a tea parlor by the name Infinitea in Bangalore.

~ Sree

Flavors of Life: Introduction
Flavors of Life, Previously:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree Cotton Candy Painting by Sree Tirupathi Laddus by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tea, Sree (Saturday March 15, 2008 at 12:51 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Candy Clouds


Flavors of Life ~ Candy Clouds
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper, 5″x6″)

The heavenly feel of cotton candy melting in the mouth on a happy, fun-filled holiday cannot be matched by any other gastronomic delight. I have dreamt of these. Yes, I dream of food very frequently.:) I must add that these not only make my taste buds feel wonderful, I get a warm, tingly and happy feeling in my heart too. Oooooh, that’s enough mush. :) I wonder what it is about us girls and candy and pink!

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree Tirupathi Laddus by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Sugar, Sree (Saturday March 1, 2008 at 12:54 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Count the Laddus

Count the Laddus:Painting by Sree
Flavors of Life ~ Count the Laddus
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

When I tell someone I just got back from Tirupati, the first thing they *don’t* ask is “Did you have a good darshan?” Instead, I hear excited “Did you bring back any laddus?” I guess, they can’t be blamed. I’ve always been among those who ‘eye’ the prasaad long before the Puja has begun!

Well, I just got back from Tirupati, after a good darshan, sights of turmeric and sandal smeared smooth heads, loaded with laddus to share with eager laddu lovers. May Lord Venkateshwara keep showering everyone with blessings the size of his laddus.:)

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Banana Vendor by Sree Pumpkin Blossom by Sree

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Traditions, Sree (Saturday February 16, 2008 at 12:06 am- permalink)
Comments (20)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic (2) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables
by Shyamala Kallianpur



Published in 1997 by Shyamala Kallianpur at Secunderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-7525-059-3. (Click on the Bookcover for Author’s image)

If I were Eve in the Garden of Eden, the genesis of my fall from grace might not be the rosy apple, but the seemingly mundane edible greens. Such is the sway that this earthy bounty holds over my taste and imagination. They beckon me at markets with their dewy-fresh looks in variegated shades of green and their promise of glowing health. Thus, each weekend sees the grand entry of a motley bunch into my kitchen. Some of them get used up quickly in a zuNka, aloo-somegreenorother, or a soup. Then my inner child awakens and begins to clamour for something different. This would trigger a search through my cookbooks while the greens waited in anticipation and then shrivelled up with disappointment. For, my cookbooks have plenty of vegetable recipes, but leafy vegetables are almost an afterthought. Even in books that provide a respectable number of greens recipes, the varieties are restricted to spinach and methi, and sometimes mustard leaves. Part of this negligence stems out of certain inherent traits of edible greens; namely, they tend to be stubbornly local and seasonal. Most of them are not amenable to traveling long distances; hence, there are variations in the types of greens found even between neighbouring states. Cookery books intended to reach a pan-Indian or global audience cannot afford to waste space on recipes with main ingredients that are not found everywhere or at all times. It is perhaps a reflection of this constraint that the only cookbook in English on green leafy vegetables in India is self-published by the author.

Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables by Shyamala Kallianpur should not have gone out of print. It is the only book that provides recipes for over 30 different kinds of edible greens found in India. It has clear colour photographs of about 35 varieties of leafy vegetables. More importantly, greens are treated with the care and respect they deserve. With a couple of exceptions (such as the Sindhi Sai Bhaji), the recipes never involve pressure-cooking the leafy vegetables or overpowering them with spices. They are steamed, sometimes fried, or cooked just until soft or wilted. Thus, the greens retain their flavour, colour, and nutrients in the final dish. The author also demonstrates a meticulousness that is not often seen in Indian cookbooks. For example, she explains the difference between “roughly cut”, “chop”, and “finely cut” for leafy vegetables. She not only explains her rationale for giving the measurements for greens in volume, but further tells you how to measure them in the cup (“do not press….but just fill it”). There are many traditional recipes from different regions of India; however, there are also enough innovative dishes to satisfy the need to do something different once in a while.

The chapters are organized according to specific greens: the commonly available ones such as spinach, methi, amaranth, Malabar spinach (see photo below), and cabbage have separate chapters. Within these chapters, the recipes run the gamut from dry sabzi and gravies to soups, snacks, and salads; especially for the first four of the aforementioned greens. With 64 recipes for these greens, I am now never at a loss when faced with yet another bundle of spinach or methi. The chapter titled Other Leafy Vegetables deals with other easily-available greens such as bathua, green-stemmed and purple-stemmed colocasia leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, gongura, kulfa (purslane, paruppu keerai), ambat chuka (khatta palak), mint, mustard leaves, manathakali leaves, spring onion stalks, and saranti saag (ponnanganni). It is the last chapter, however, that I find the most interesting. Rather awkwardly titled, Some More “Other Leafy Vegetables” covers greens that grow in home gardens and are not available in the market, or not used much despite their market availability. Here you will find recipes for beetroot leaves, cauliflower greens, radish leaves, carrot greens, garlic leaves, pumpkin leaves, pomegranate leaves, drumstick leaves, tamarind leaves, brahmi, shepu (dill) taikiLo, omum (celery) leaf, and gherkin (kundru) leaf. There are only a few recipes for each of these vegetables, but the book gives a glimpse of the sheer expanse of possibilities that exists with edible greens.

Before writing this review I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to find the total number of edible leafy vegetables that grow in India. It is no secret that the undocumented heritage of Indian cuisines far exceeds the documented, but I can think of no other area, besides edible greens, where this truism applies more strongly. This study identified 42 species of plants with edible leaves or flowers in a single district in West Bengal. Our awareness is limited to only those greens that make it to the market, either through wholesalers or small village vendors who sell seasonal homegrown fare. Kallianpur’s book should have been just one in a long series of such works by various authors from several Indian states. This might be a tall order for commercial publishers, but an initiative funded by the government or NGOs with a nationwide reach might be one of the ways to highlight this rich culinary biodiversity and preserve it from the forest-fires of globalization.

Recipe: Kothchol (Indian Red Spinach with Bottle Gourd)

Adapted from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables


Top: Malabar spinach, also known as Indian Red Spinach. Bottom: Bottle gourd

Ingredients:
Chopped Indian red spinach – 4 cups
Tender stalks of the spinach, cut into 2-cm length – 2 cups
Bottle gourd – ¼ kg (peeled and diced into small cubes)
Jaggery – 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 5 (sauté them in a little bit of oil first)
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon (soak it water for 10 minutes)
Tamarind – one lime-sized ball (use less if your tamarind is strong)

Tempering:
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed (no need to peel).

Method:
Take the chopped stalks in a vessel, add one cup of water, cover and cook on low heat till the stalks are tender. Then add the diced bottle gourd and salt. Cover and cook until the bottle gourd is just-cooked, but not too soft. Now add the chopped spinach, jaggery, and ground masala. Bring to a boil and simmer until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat. Prepare the tempering: heat oil in a small pan or tempering vessel and sauté the garlic, but do not let it brown. Pour the oil and garlic pieces onto the hot cooked vegetables and cover them quickly. Keep for five to ten minutes, then serve hot with rice.


This is a typical dish from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Chitrapur Saraswat community.

Text and Photos: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Bacchali(Malabar Spinach) (Monday February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom

Pumpkin Blossoms, Painting by Sree
Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

It’s rarely that a pumpkin vine grows to its prime to bear fruit in our garden. At my place, we are crazy about the pumpkin leaves (tender ones), buds, flowers and the young pumpkins. Hence any growth is literally ‘nipped in the bud’. Might sound like a heartless act of greed, but just try a pumpkin flower stir-fry or crisp deep-fry, and you will know why! However, this vine crept up beside the home inconspicuously amidst a huge rose tree (yes, the rose bush has grown into a tree beyond the first floor), and one fine day we noticed a huge pumpkin (seven Kilos!) ‘harvested’ in time for Sankranthi.:) I wish the remaining flowers, leaves and buds as much luck this year.:)

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Click on the image to see the

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Pumpkin, Sree (Saturday February 2, 2008 at 8:59 am- permalink)
Comments (1)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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