Mahanandi

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

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

Mango Manthram: Food Art Gallery

Kondapalli Bomma Decorated with Mango Motifs ~ Illustration by Indira
Kondapalli Bomma in Mango Motif ~ for Mango Manthram
(Color Pencils on Paper)

For Food Art: Mango Manthram, I chose to illustrate mango through India’s rich textile heritage. Sarees, shawls and spreads adorned with vividly decorated mango motifs are a sight to behold, and they make a treasured collection. I tried to decorate the Andhraite’s ultimate toast to feminine beauty, my childhood favorite figurine “Kondapalli Bomma” in mango motif. I have limited talent in art, so be kind, people!

There are many ways for us to become a link in the chain of memory. Like cookery, art provides a way to explore and continue the traditions. I thank my blogger friends for enthusiastically participating in “Food Art: Mango Manthram” with such great imagination.

Here is mango manthram art collection. Click on the images to read the wonderful stories behind the art.

“Dear Mango, Do you Love me as much as I do thee
Do you look forward to summer, to be in your element or are you just sick and bored with all the hype
And what about all the competition, the Langda, the Himsagar, the Hapoos, running the rat race, do you really want to be there
Do you want to be the chosen one to be sent overseas or you would rather get your guts sucked out by the little boy on the dusty road
Do we even care what you think, no wonder you are sour at times but then your sunny soul takes over and you spread your warm yellow sweetness
But Mango, we really love thee.”

- from Sandeepa of Bong Mom’s Cookbook

ink, oil, pencil and watercolor:

Mango Curlicue by Rajalekshmy Usha Juicy Mangoes: Watercolor by Rajalekshmy Usha

Mango Ganapathi by Anjali Damerla of Supreme SpiceMango Maama from Siri of Siri's CornerMango Ballerina from Siri of Siri's Corner

Chotumotu Mango Bhayya from Siri of Siri's CornerMango Juggler from Siri of Siri's CornerMr. Mango Mermaid from Siri of Siri's Corner

Mango by Srimathi's 4-year old daughter Moodi and Masti ~ The Lovely Mango Couple from Roma of Roma's Space

Mango Delivery Man from Srivalli of Cooking for 4 Seasons Mango Basket in Watercolor by Miel of Food and Watercolor

gardenofhues - watercolor on paper by Sree of Sree's Canvas Mango Motif - Indian Ink on Paper by Sree of Sree's Canvas

henna (mehandi, gorintaaku):

Mango Mehendi from EC of Easy Crafts Mango Mehendi from Pooja of My Creative Ideas Mango Mehendi from Asankhana

Mango Mehendi from Shubha of Chutki Bhar Pyar Mango Mehendi from Shubha of Chutki Bhar Pyar

beads and stitch:

Jewelled Mango Art from Nirmala of Amma's Special Mango Bead Work from Uma of Essence of Andhra

Mango Embroidery from Bonita of Curry Campaign

Mango Kutch Work from Kamala Block Painting on White T Shirt from Asankhana

Mango Embroidery from Rathna of Asvadha

decorations:

Mango Dream from Suman of Heaven's GardenMango Art from Jayashree of Spice and CurryGift Box Decorated with Mango Art from Asankhana

Mango Potholder from Priya of Live to Cook Mango Face from Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook

Mango Art with Mung Beans from DeebaMango Fruit Basket from Uma

Handmade invitation card from Veda of Kai Kriye Mango Motif on a Paper Plate from Lavi of Homecook's Recipes

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Mango, Food Art (Saturday May 31, 2008 at 1:20 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Tuning into Mandoline

My Mandoline
My 8-year old Mandoline

I tune into the radio when I am in the kitchen. The relaxing talk and tunes from radio help to make the routine job of cutting and cleaning go easy.

Just like music, mandoline is a nice thing to have in a kitchen. It makes it a breeze to prepare vegetables for salads, curries and raitas. And also for chips and bajjis. The replaceable inserts that come with mandoline are extremely useful for different styles of fine and uniform chopping. I use mandoline regularly to cut vegetables like carrots, potatoes, karela and cabbage. Also beetroot, cucumber, plantain and radish. Time saved on cabbage cutting alone makes the mandoline a must have in the kitchen, if you ask me.

Cooking can be a satisfying and enjoyable activity when we have right tools and happy vegetables. For me, a sharp mandoline with its quick and clean cutting blades is the right tool that will make chopping vegetables a happy job.

How about you? Are you a fan of Mandoline? Here are some mandoline tunes from Amazon.com (plastic and stainless steel).



Tools and Utensils from My Kitchen:

Grain Mill (Tiragali)
Sumeet Mixer and Grinder
Skillet to Preapre Pancake Puffs and Ponganalu

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Utensils, Mahanandi Selections (Sunday May 25, 2008 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Modern Indian Cooking~ Cookbook Review and Recipe

Modern Indian Cooking

You know how it is with some cookbooks. You hold it in your hands, browse through a page or two and immediately know that you are going to enjoy preparing from it. I felt that way with “Modern Indian Cooking“, written by talented chefs Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna.

The difference between my cooking methods and my mother and grandmother generation lies in the globalization of taste. Traditional roots, but always on the lookout for some adventure that’s appropriate to the evolving palate. Chef Hari Nayak speaks such language in Modern Indian Cooking. He uses ingredients you might not normally see together, and they work. Wonton Chat, Paneer Picatta, Grilled Chicken with Kokum Compote, Konkan Chilli Prawns, Mint Puris, Semolina Crepes, Cardamom Brownies, Pink Peppercorn Chocolate Truffles - the book is filled with clean and contemporary combinations that are grounded in commonsense.

Being into the food photography and neat designs, I want to add some comments about the quality of the book. The design and layout are pleasing to the eye. Beautiful images of classic looking food against chic background fit with the theme that these are modern versions of classics. Some of the recipes have a series of small photographs that show the ingredients and the process of cooking the food. The recipe instructions are also laid out in a clear and concise manner without overcrowding the page. All and all, Modern Indian Cooking is a pleasant cookbook to have in the kitchen, and this is the first Hari Nayak’s cookbook I have added to my collection, but it won’t be the last.


The following is a recipe from Modern Indian Cooking. Baked samosas with spinach and mung bean using phyllo pastry sheets. I’ve prepared them with sprouted mung beans for a friends get-together last weekend and they were very well received.

Samosa with Spinach and Sprouted Mung Beans
(from MIC, page 25. Makes 2-dozen samosas)

1 cup, sprouted mung beans
4 cups, finely chopped fresh spinach
½ cup, finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon cumin-red chilli powder
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1-teaspoon oil or ghee

Puff or Phyllo pastry sheets
(mine was from Trader Joe’s-artisan brand.)

Filling: Heat oil in a wide skillet. Add onion and sauté to pale red. Add sprouted mung beans and spinach. Cover the skillet and steam-cook. Spinach supplies moisture, and it would take about 10-15 minutes for the sprouted mung bean to become tender-soft. At this stage, sprinkle turmeric, salt and masala powder. Mix and continue cooking for another five minutes or so. Turn off the heat, and wait for the curry to reach room temperature (cool).

Samosa Wrap: Meanwhile takeout the puff pastry sheet from the freezer. Wait until they reach from stiff, cardboard like to firm but pliable condition. Place the sheet on a lightly floured work surface and evenly roll out to thin. With a sharp knife, cut the sheet to equal looking 2 x 2 inch squares. Place a teaspoon of spinach curry in each square. Quickly fold the right corner over the filling to the left side and press the edges to make a triangle. Repeat until all are done.

Bake: Place the samosas on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. After about 10 minutes of baking time, turn to opposite side. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Serve warm with tamarind-date chutney or ketchup.

Baked Samosas
Baked Samosas with Spinach and Sprouted Mung Beans

Notes:
Available for purchase at Amazon, Powell’s
Book Cover is taken from Harinayak.com for review purpose.
Recommend this book to your local library.

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Spinach, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu) (Monday May 19, 2008 at 1:34 pm- permalink)
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Vadapappu (వడపప్పు)

Vadapappu
Ethereal Vadapappu

With only one ingredient, this has to be the easiest neivedyam one could prepare on a festival day. A Sri Rama Navami original classic, rehydrated yellow moong dal is a delight and goes by a special name Vadapappu.

The surprising good taste comes from the simplicity of the preparation. No cooking involved. No spices, no oil and not even salt or sugar. Just soak the moong dal in water overnight. Half cup would be enough for two people. Drain. Rinse once, and consume. The taste will be extra good when prepared with split moong dal. Follow the same principle. Soak overnight, rinse the dal in several changes of water to remove the green coverings. Like mini yellow roses peeking from a rose bush, the revealed moong dal in pale yellow color will take the breath away with simple beauty.

Vadapappu may look innocent and inconspicuous but it’s a protein powerhouse, easily digestible, and nourishing to human body.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Moong Dal (Split), Moong Dal (Washed), Traditions (Tuesday April 15, 2008 at 7:48 pm- permalink)
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Ugadi Pooja Neivedyam
Ugadi Pooja Neivedyam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Bhakthi~Bhukthi, Traditions (Monday April 7, 2008 at 2:05 pm- permalink)
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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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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

Jihva for Garlic

Garlic, Vellulli
Garlic (Vellulli, Lasoon) ~ for Mathy’s Jihva

For me, the taste of garlic changes with the way it is cut. I usually finely chop the garlic to tiny pieces and toast them in oil or ghee, as a part of the popu preparation for dals and curries. My latest thing is slivering. The garlic cloves here are so big that they can be easily sliced into thin layers like decorative almonds. The large size also makes it easy to hold and grate garlic like we do ginger and coconut. Whenever I find teensy-weensy garlic, which is a rare event in this size-obsessed land, then I simply follow my mother’s method and whack it with either the pappu gutti or the pestle. This simultaneously flattens the clove, releases precious juices, and facilitates removal of the skin. It is my preferred method of garlic preparation. To peel large quantities of garlic, following an old-time tip, I simply add the garlic cloves to warm water for about one to two minutes. Skins will then slip off easily.

So, which method you prefer and how do you prepare garlic for cooking?

Chopped Garlic ~ Four Ways
Finely Chopped, Slivered, Grated and Whacked
Garlic Preparation, Four Ways ~ for this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Garlic (Vellulli) (Sunday March 30, 2008 at 9:29 pm- permalink)
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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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In Season ~ Mango and Vadu Mango

Mango and Vadu Mango
Green, Unripe Mango and Vadu Mango ~ For this Week’s Indian Kitchen

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Mango, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Sunday March 2, 2008 at 12:31 pm- permalink)
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Jihva for Sweet Lemon Syrup

Sweet Lemon and Rock Sugar
Mitha Nimboo and Kalkand
(Sweet Lemon and Rock Sugar)

Citrus scent and sweet juice.

Completely non-acidic, no tartness whatsoever.

That is sweet lemon. Also known as Mitha Nimboo in Hindi.

Sweet lemon juice, sweetened with kalkand and chilled in earthen pot is a favorite summer drink of my childhood.

Today, I simmered the juice with rock sugar and cardamom powder. The thick, flavorful and fragrant syrup tasted like a pleasant food blog uncomplicated with acidic notes.

I will be using the syrup to sweeten my tea. May be I will add the syrup to toss the cut fruits like apples and pears.

I think this sweet lemon syrup with non-acidic properties would make an ideal sweetener for people who crave that exquisite lemony scent , but are going through painful acid reflux and heartburn.

Sweet Lemon Syrup
Sweet Lemon Syrup ~ for the Spice Cafe’s Lemon Jihva

Recipe:
Cut sweet lemons to four pieces. Squeeze juice in to a cup.
Filter out the seeds.
Break rock sugar in a mortar using a pestle into tiny pieces.
Powder cardamom seeds to fine.

For one cup sweet lemon juice, add two tablespoons of rock sugar and quarter teaspoon of cardamom. Take them in a pot, simmer on low heat, stirring in-between, until the juice thickens and coats the spoon. Remove from heat to cool. Filter again if you like, then bottle. Add spoonful to sweeten the tea, coffee, or on cut fruits, coffee-cakes, scones etc.

Note to Metronaturals:
Sweet lemons are available at DK Market (previously Lenny’s Market, behind Wal-mart) at Renton. Rock sugar at Viet-wah. Cardamom at Apna Bazar.:)

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Indian Ingredients, Sugar, Jihva For Ingredients, Mitha Nimboo(Sweet Lemon), Citrus Family (Thursday February 28, 2008 at 3:40 pm- permalink)
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Lemons and Limes

Lemons and Limes
Lemon, Key Lime, Sweet Lemon and Lime (Clockwise from 11 o’ Clock )
Jihva for Citrus ~ for this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Acidic and Tart - Lemon, Key Lime and Lime
Non-Acidic and Sweet - Sweet Lemon (Mitha Nimboo, Karinaaranga)
Sweet Lemons for sale in Chennai, Bharath
Lemons and Limes ~ for Optimal Health
Lime Topi for a Cat

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Citrus Family (Sunday February 24, 2008 at 12:22 pm- permalink)
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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)
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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

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