Mahanandi

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

Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.
~Indira.

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Pasupu (Turmeric, Haldi)

Turmeric (Pasupu, Haldi)
Fresh and Dried Turmeric Root, Turmeric Powder and Fresh Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is probably the most revered spice in Ayurveda.

One cannot imagine a Hindu festival or wedding without this amazing wonder of nature. The western world has just started to understand turmeric whereas our ancestors knew it properties for centuries and incorporated it in our daily cuisine.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and is considered a blood purifier. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidant is a substance that has the ability to stabilize or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. An anti-oxidant may be a vitamin or mineral such as vitamin C or zinc. Free radicals are produced when cells convert oxygen to energy. A few free radicals are not dangerous, but too many can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA. To get more information on free-radicals read this article. There’s a lot of research being done to see whether turmeric can be used to treat arthritis. Studies have also found that India, with its turmeric rich cuisine, has fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

It’s interesting to see how Indian culture has incorporated turmeric in everyday life. In Andhra, women used to apply turmeric paste to their feet everyday (this custom is still going strong in some interior parts of Andhra). The reason behind this custom is that not many wore sandals/chappals in olden days and by applying turmeric paste they made sure that their feet were healthy. Now that’s smart.

Unfortunately, the turmeric powder that we buy in stores nowadays has some food color added to it. In my experience, pure turmeric has an orangish tinge to it. No wonder turmeric was confused for saffron in olden times and was also known as “Poor man’s saffron”.

Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea
Turmeric and Honey ~ for Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea

When it comes to turmeric in cooking, I add it to the tadka/popu but also sprinkle some after the vegetables are cooked. The most popular usage is warm milk with some turmeric and honey/sugar. My daughter sometimes complains of body ache after a long day of jumping and running (or after “sports day” in school which is invariably on the hottest day of the month). I give her a glass of warm milk with turmeric and it really helps. Milk with turmeric is also good for preventing and curing pimples. A mixture of honey and turmeric is a time tested remedy for sore throat. Gargling with warm water to which salt and turmeric is added, works well too.

Another interesting way to benefit from turmeric is to take it in the form of tea. Here is a simple recipe for Turmeric Tea: Boil water, add turmeric powder, grated ginger (or cardamom pods work well too), little sugar. Add some milk. Let it simmer for a few more seconds. Enjoy.

Turmeric is getting a lot of attention from researchers around the world. Hopefully this will generate more interest in Ayurveda too.

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Herbs and Spices, Turmeric (Pasupu), Anjali Damerla (Thursday August 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Kobbari Kaaram


Coconut sweetness
Curry leaves aroma
Chillies divine spiciness
Chana dal and Urad dal nutty crunchiness

That is kobbari kaaram. The traditional, famous spice powder from Andhra Pradesh, India. The secret to success of this spicy powder lies in slow-roasting of ingredients to seductive gold color. As you can see, there is a lot going on in this deceptively simple spicy powder.

Some recipes make us feel defeated while also stirring in the feelings of joy. Kobbari Kaaram is one such recipe for me. It has too much amma (mother) association and attached memories to it. While standing in front of the stove, waiting for the ingredients to reach that perfect gold color, the deep longing for gentle landscape of my childhood days was too much to feel. But once I finished the preparation and started to dip the warm gheelious rice-ravva upma rounds in kobbari kaaram, I rolled back to my routine content self and began to make happy cooking plans.


Oven-Dried Coconut, Toasted Curry Leaves, Roasted Dried Chillies, Chana dal and Urad dal

Recipe:
2 cups - thinly sliced dried coconut pieces
Quarter cup each - chana dal and urad dal
20 fresh curry leaves
15 dried red chillies - Indian variety
1 teaspoon - sea salt

Break a fresh coconut. Remove the coconut from shell. Thinly slice and spread the pieces on a baking pan and bake/ovendry to pale brown color at 200 F. Or simply sun-dry the coconut pieces to golden brown, like we used to do at Nandyala.
Place an iron skillet on stove-top, on medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, reduce the heat to low and one after another, add and roast chana dal, next urad dal and finally red chillies to pale brown color. Mix frequently and take care not to black the ingredients. Remove each one to a plate. In the end, coat the skillet with a teaspoon of peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add and toast curry leaves to gold color. Remove to a plate.

Let the ingredients come down to room temperature. Both texture-wise and taste-wise, this is important. Go sit down and wait.

When they are cool enough to touch, take the coconut pieces, roasted ingredients in a Sumeet style mixie jar. Add salt and grind to fine powder. Store the kobbari kaaram in a clean glass jar. Kobbari kaaram tastes great with all types of breakfast items like upma, pongal, dosa, idly and also on stir-fried vegetables like bell peppers, potatoes, brinjals, ridge gourd and okra etc. It’s a good thing to have in the kitchen.

Kitchen Notes:
I prefer either Ballari coconut or fresh coconut for this recipe because of their superior taste.
(From Telugu to English : Kobbari=coconut, Kaaram=Chilli)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Dry), Dried Red Chillies (Monday August 13, 2007 at 5:57 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sona Masuri Rice


Sona Masuri Rice ~ from Andhra Pradesh

Any food event that celebrates Andhra cuisine must include a topic on rice, I think. After all, Andhra Pradesh is the “Rice Bowl of India”.

Krishna, Godavari, Tungabhadra and Penna rivers criss-cross the state creating fertile lands and water source necessary for the rice cultivation. As a result, Andhra is not only blessed with rich rice culture but also dynamic diversity in grains. Several varieties of rice are grown in Andhra Pradesh and each type has a unique name. The varieties that my grandparents cultivate and my parents consume at home are “Krishna Hamsa, Krishna Veni, Masuri, Samba Masuri and Sona Masuri” . They belong to medium-slender group (medium refers to the length and slender refers to the thickness of grain). And they all are quality rice varieties priced at affordable rates and geared towards common consumption.

Among this bunch, Sona Masuri is considered the pride of Andhra Pradesh. Reed thin and richly nutty, Sona Masuri symbolizes Andhra people. Strong and impossible to turn to mush, this supreme quality rice is a soulful delight, particularly to those who like their rice with some integrity left when cooked. Thanks to the generous India’s export policies, for the last five years, we who live in America are also able to purchase Sona Masuri rice from local Indian grocery shops.

Cooking Sona Masuri is easy. Stove-top, pressure-cooker or rice cooker, they all work. I usually cook Sona Masuri in a pressure cooker. For one cup rice, three cups of water is the measurement I follow. Cook until tender and serve hot/warm or cold. Sona Masuri rice is best suited to prepare pulihora/chitrannam/pulao type preparations and also as an accompaniment to dal (pappu), sambar, rasam and yogurt. The classic combo is Sona Masuri rice, dal and ghee, mixed together and served with a papad, like shown below - popular and the most copied image from Mahanandi.

Mango dal and rice mudda in a sabudana papad
Sona Masuri Rice Mixed with Mango dal&ghee. Shaped to a Round & placed on a Deep Fried Sago Papad.
~ My Contribution to RCI~Andhra Cuisine, Hosted by Lovely Latha of Masala Magic


Sona Masuri Rice is avialable at local Indian grocery shops here in US.
The Five Pillars of Rice Wisdom

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sona Masuri Rice (Thursday May 24, 2007 at 6:07 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Curry Leaves and Ganji

Biyyam Karivepaaku Ganji:


Curry Leaves

I think curry leaves are nature’s helping way to make our cooking better, one meal at a time. How? - You might ask. Nature picked the prettiest shade of green, selected a pleasing shape and packed the most enticing scent known to mankind, and the result is the curry leaves. Add few leaves while cooking, even the mundane daily dishes become magnificent with minimum effort. Example is ganji. Ganji, Kanji, Congee, Jook or Okayu, not only several names, there are also different ways of ganji preparation across Asia. Almost in all recipes in India, curry leaves are added. The elixir of life needs curry leaves perfume.

Inspired by Mathy Kandasamy’s recipe and Ammini Ramachandran’s article, I have prepared ganji for our meal today. I changed the method little bit to suit my taste. I cooked Rosematta rice (the wholesome red rice from Kerala) in lots of water. I have also added curry leaves along with ginger and green chillies. (Adding them in the beginning is what I did different.) Once the rice is cooked, the rice water is drained and saved. To this nutrient packed, curry leaves-ginger infused rice water, I’ve added little bit of coconut milk. The result is a pleasant, pale-pink colored ganji. It’s been ages since I had a taste of ganji and my ganji meal today did not disappoint me. Rosematta goodness and curry leaves fragrance gave the ganji a distinctive and appealing flavor. A must try for fans of curry leaves and Rosematta.


Rosematta Rice, Curry Leaves and Shallot (Erra Gadda)

Recipe:

1 cup Rosematta rice
8 cups water
12-15 curry leaves, finely chopped
4 to 5 green chillies - finely chopped
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of coconut milk - homemade or store-bought

Take Rosematta rice in a big vessel. Wash first and then add about 8 cups of water. Sprinkle finely chopped curry leaves, green chillies, grated ginger and salt. Mix. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and let it simmer, until the rice cooked to tender. Takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

The cooked rice water will be simmered down to about 4 cups. Lightly concentrated and infused with Rosematta, curry leaves and ginger goodness - ganji is ready for the final touch. Using a colander, drain rice into a big pot and save the rice water (ganji).

To this ganji, add coconut milk and mix. Adjust salt to your liking. Drink the ganji warm.

when times are hard, people have known to depend on ganji for sustenance. Also, it’s a blessing to people who wants to cut back on consumption. Exhaustng times or greedy glutton times, ganji is a great way to start a meal - any meal, that’s how I felt. No wonder, even to this day ganji is continued to be “Asia’s Bowl full of Comfort”.


Curry Leaves Infused Ganji - The Elixir of Life for JFI-WBB:Greens


Ganji and Rosematta Rice with Brinjal Curry ~ Our Meal Today

Notes:
Congee: Asia’s Bowl full of Comfort ~ Informative article by Ammini Ramachandran
Recipe source: Virundhu of Mathy Kandasamy
Ganji is a Telugu word for Kanji, or Congee. Ganji tastes great when made with broken parboiled rice.
Traditonally cooked rice, buttermilk, small shallots and fresh cilantro are also added to ganji.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Karivepaaku(Curry Leaf), Rosematta Rice (Friday April 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm- permalink)
Comments (12)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ginger~Garlic~Coriander Paste : For Jihva (Allam Vellulli Kottimera Mudda)

Root vegetables, as if happy to be unearthed, usually mingle well with other vegetables by being subtly sweet. But when it comes to Gingerroot-the rhizome, it’s quite another story.

Like an unruly tiny tot, ginger is full of attitude. Potent, pungent and incomparable, it is nothing like other rhizomes or root vegetables. To put it gingerly, ginger is never needed in pounds, just a small quantity is enough to liven up an otherwise ordinary culinary experience. And Indian cuisine, one of the mother cuisines in the world, pairs ginger with garlic and coriander. The pungency of ginger is controlled and counteracted with more pungent flavors. What a way to civilize the taste of ginger! A perfect pairing appreciated by mature palates.

Ginger, garlic and coriander, together ground into a smooth paste is something that I often use in my daily cooking. Almost all traditional tomato and coconut based curries (pulusu, subjis) need at least a teaspoon of ginger-garlic-coriander paste. So depending on the market price of these three ingredients or my time constraints, I prepare this paste in quantities large (which would last for at least two weeks) or small (just enough for that day’s meal).

Here is my recipe for ginger-garlic-coriander paste, and an entry to “Jihva for Ginger” event. Hosted from Scotland by lovely Rosie of “What’s the recipe today, Jim?”.


Ginger-Garlic-Coriander Paste ~ for “Jihva : Ginger” event.

Recipe:

Ginger root - peeled, sliced to small pieces - Half cup
Garlic - peeled and sliced to small pieces - Quarter cup
Fresh coriander (cilantro) -finely chopped - 1 cup
Salt - quarter teaspoon

Take them all in a blender/food processor or in a mortar. Grind them to smooth consistency without adding water. Remove to a clean glass jar, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. (Remains fresh from one week up to a month.) Whenever needed, take the required amount with a clean spoon.

To Jihva participants:
Rosie is in the process of moving and requesting “Jihva-Ginger” entries as early as possible.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Kottimera(Cilantro), Ginger & Sonti, Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 29, 2007 at 2:33 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut (Kobbari, Nariyal, Kopra or Thenga)

Coconut - Young and Mature
Young coconut removed from its hard outer green shell and
Mature Coconut

Young Coconut and Coconut Water
The top of the young coconut is cut using a sharp knife for sweet coconut water and to remove tender coconut pieces. Pure and fulfilling food!

Fresh Coconut Water and Fresh, Young Coconut
Divine Coconut Water and Delicious Coconut Pieces
Sacred and Nourishing Treat ~ to Toast the New Year: 2007
My Entry to Jihva for January, hosted by Ashwini of Food for Thought.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Coconut (Fresh), Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 1, 2007 at 1:21 pm- permalink)
Comments (7)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Toor Dal (Kandi Pappu)

Toor Dal (Kandi Pappu)
Dal For Life ~ Toor Dal (Kandi Pappu)
Preparing For JFI ~ Dal on July 1st and For This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Dal with lots of ghee, simple plain dal, dal in rasam and sambhar - homesick or tired of home, feeling indulgent or not feeling well - for every mood and for every occasion, Toor dal is ‘the dal’ for us at least 300 days out of 365 days of a year.

After rice, toor dal is the most important food ingredient we, Andhra log would have in our homes. Our parents, their parents, for all of us, the building bone is toor dal protein. We may move to different countries, talk or think in different language, one thing that’s going to be a constant in our lives foodwise is toor dal.

The light golden color, the way they cook easily, their taste - smooth and unique, the way they would fill us up without making us sweat and make us feel satisfied without being overwhelming. I love everything about toor dal. I confess I am a dal fiend and a toor dal addict. I am sure millions of other Bharat vaasi are also passionate about this dal just like me.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday June 25, 2006 at 6:42 pm- permalink)
Comments (9)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sonti Coffee & Sonti Tea (Dried Ginger Coffee&Tea)

Not feeling hungry today?
I will make a cup of sonti coffee for the appetite.

Ate too much food at the party?
Would you want me to prepare sonti kashayam for better digestion.

Food was not good yesterday at the restaurant. My stomach is upset
Have a cup of sonti tea to calm the over working stomach.

I am tired and feeling little bit nauseous after the long day of shopping.
You sit there and rest. I will bring a hot cup of sonti coffee for you.

My head is hurting with this cold and cough.
There, there, have this cup of hot sonti tea. By tomorrow, you will be like a daisy.

Sonti Powder and Sonti
Sonti Powder and Sonti

For everything and anything, sonti is the treatment at my home. Sonti tea, Sonti coffee and Sonti kashayam are prescribed to cure and to relieve almost all types small ailments from stomach upsets to cold and cough. Most of the time, they work fine.

Sonti, the dried form of ginger root is equally given importance along with fresh ginger in Ayurveda for its healing properties. Though sonti looks mild and all dried out, it is some potent stuff. The strong flavor and aroma are really energetic in small doses. At our home, if you go back to one generation before us, they’d start and end their day with a cup of sonti drink. For small ailments, whether one believes in capsules pushed on by multimillion dollar ad blitzes or in age old medicine, what matters is the trust that the stuff we would put in our bodies could comfort and relieve the symptoms. For us, the magic cure-all potion still hasn’t lost its magic.

Recipe :

From just a pinch to a tablespoon of sonti powder is added to a cup. Amount varies on individual preference and tolerance. We like to add a teaspoon of powder to a cup. Not too much, not too little, you would definitely notice the sonti taste.

To powder sonti, take sonti pieces in a mortar and pound them to smooth powder. We usually prepare powder for one month’s worth and store it in a tight lid box.

To prepare sonti tea and coffee: start the coffee/tea preparation like you normally do. And at the end add the sonti powder. Simmer few seconds. Strain. Pour to a cup and enjoy the tea enriched with sonti powder.

Sonti Tea and Sonti Coffee
Sonti Tea and Sonti Coffee - Perfect for Mistress of Spices

Caution: Highly acquired taste
More about Sonti Coffee - here
Sonti Kashayam (Dried Ginger Ale) - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Tea, Coffee, Ginger & Sonti (Monday June 12, 2006 at 10:58 am- permalink)
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Popu (Tadka, Tiragamata)

Ingredients of Popu or Tadka -

Popu rescues the dals and the curries from ‘bland’ hell. Simple technique, but it saves and uplifts them to spicy heaven. Almost all types of curries, chutneys, lentil preparations like dals, sambhars and rasams are enhanced by the addition of popu at the start or just before serving. The most common ingredients of popu or tadka are

1. Dried red chilli pieces (Endu Mirchi)
2. Garlic (Vellulli)
3. Curry leaves (Karivepaku)
4. Chana dal (Bengal gram, Sanaga pappu)
5. Urad dal (Black gram, Minapa pappu)
6. Mixture of Mustard seeds and Cumin (Avaalu+jeelakarra)
(listed according to arrangement in the photo above)

Tadka or popu in one teaspoon of oil

Popu or tadka (tiragamata) is toasting the listed ingredients in oil or ghee. Take oil or ghee in a small pan. The quantity ranges from a teaspoon to tablespoon for dals, sambars and curries. Heat to warm. Quickly add and toast curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces, garlic, chana dal and urad dal to red color. At the end add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, turn off the heat. Add the contents of the pan to the preparation. The quantity of above ingredients are usually a pinch, a dash, just few pieces and not much. All of them have excellent health benefits and popu or tadka provides a neat way to have them regularly through our meals. Multi vitamin pill everyday.

There are certain foods and occasions, where we avoid adding garlic. Examples are chitrannam (lemon rice),pulihora (tamarind rice) and daddojanam (yogurt rice) etc.

Fenugreek seeds (menthi),
hing or asafetida,
black peppercorn (miriyalu)

are also part of popu or tadka, but they are only added in a few, specific recipes.

To store all the ingredients of popu or tadka, every Indian kitchen has a spice box conveniently placed at hands reach in a kitchen drawer. And every Indian cook has her own way of arranging the ingredients in Popu dabba (spice box). Placing them all in separate little containers in one big box is not only convenient, but also saves lot of time by making the cooking little bit easy.

This is how I arrange my spice box:

Popu or Tiragamata Dabba (Spice Box)

Popu or Tadka Dabba (Spice Box) - click on the image to enlarge

So, do you own a spice box? How do you arrange your spice box?

Many Indian grocery stores carry ‘Spice Box’ or ‘Masala Dabba’. Depending on the box and containers size, the price varies from 10 to 20 dollars.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Monday March 13, 2006 at 10:11 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Homemade Indian Yogurt (Curd, Perugu, Dahi, Thayir)

I make yogurt at home regularly. I am not sure if I will be saving any money by making yogurt at home instead of buying in stores. But I like the taste of the homemade better than the store bought.

Perugu (Telugu), Dahi (Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, and Urdu), Doi (Bengali), Dohi (Oriya), Mosaru (Kannada), or Thayir (Tamil) is the yogurt of the India, known for its characteristic sweet-tart taste and semi solid consistency. It’s also commonly called as “Curd”. Perugu or Dahi is part of the everyday meal for us, and also I prepare raita with it.

Perugu is really quite easy to make at home. First, bring the milk to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for few minutes till a layer of cream forms on top of the milk. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool down to lukewarm level. Now add one tablespoon of live active culture of yogurt to this milk. Stir it once and cover the vessel with a lid. Keep the container in an oven or in a microwave (they act like incubators) undisturbed for about 8 to 12 hours. After this period, milk in liquid state will become semisolid - like yogurt. This is how you will know that the process of making yogurt is complete.

How much milk you need depends on how much yogurt you want to make. Small or large quantity, all it takes is adding one tablespoon of live active culture of yogurt. It’s that simple.

I read somewhere a list of 100 food related things one must do before they die, I don’t know about skinning and preparing the chicken but how about a taste of real yogurt.

About to add a spoon of yogurt to boiled milk and Yogurt
Adding a tablespoon of live active yogurt culture to lukewarm milk,
Homemade yogurt (Dahi, Perugu)

Where can one get active live culture of yogurt in US? This is the question I often get asked. Here is the list of sources that I can think of. Hope this helps.

• Try your Indian neighbors and colleagues. A lot of Indians prepare yogurt at home even in this day and age, particularly first generation Indians like us. But there are always exceptions to the rules so do not assume anything and be polite when you are inquiring.

• Try asking waiters at Indian restaurants. Yogurt is used to prepare raita, chutneys etc. Many Indian restaurants prepare yogurt freshly in their kitchen everyday.

• Try kitchens at Indian temples: Indian temples in US serve prasadam or food daily to the visitors. Yogurt rice is often part of the prasadam.

• Health food stores, Natural health stores etc.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Milk & Products, Milk, Yogurt (Thursday June 23, 2005 at 7:53 pm- permalink)
Comments (109)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Red chilli garlic powder

Pure fire.

Garlic-Chilli Powder

My Mother in law sent me this powder. I tried to make the powder here, but the garlic available in US markets is too moist and mild, lack the sharp burning taste of Indian variety.

Few garlic cloves, lots of dried red chillies and salt pounded in a stone mortar into fine powder, adding just one teaspoon gives a kick to bland vegetable curries. Rice, dal and ghee mixed together with this powder, that’s home and comfort food to me.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Peppers, Dried Red Chillies (Friday June 3, 2005 at 11:05 am- permalink)
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Glorious Golden Ghee (Neyyi)

To prepare authentic Indian meals, you have to make the ghee first. North, south, east and west, people all over in India know ghee is the best, and they love it. All auspicious occasions in life starts with ghee in India. Be it an offering to God, or the babies first solid food - people lavish their love with ghee.

Ghee is as easy to make as it sounds. This is how I usually make ghee here: I would buy one pound (four sticks) of unsalted butter. If you are lucky enough to find bovine-hormone free, organic butter, the ghee prepared from it would be better tasting and more like what we can get in India. Ghee from the four sticks lasts for about three to six months for us.

Take a heavy bottomed vessel. Place the butter sticks in it, and on medium heat melt them. When the butter starts to melt, there will be lot of bubbling and gurgling. Don’t panic. Reduce the flame to low; in a few minutes this action will subside. Next the butter will begin to develop foam at the top.

Simmer on low heat, uncovered and undisturbed, for 30 to 45 minutes, until milk-solids on the bottom of the vessel turn from white to beige-brown, and butter on top becomes transparent like clear water. This is the signal to turn off the heat. Please take caution not to burn the bottom part. That would lead to scalded milk smell, and it would stick. All the effort would be a waste and you have to throw everything away. So never use high-heat to make ghee.

What happening was milk-solids separating into 3 layers. Foaming milk-solids on top, clarified butter in the middle, protein milk-solids on the bottom.

After turning off the heat, do not cover with lid. Let the ghee stand for ten minutes. Remove any crust that rises to the surface with a spoon. Strain, discarding the milk solids at the bottom of the vessel, using a coffee filter or muslin cloth (gangi gudda). Or simply ladle off the clean water like ghee into a dry jar. Let it reach to room temperature. Then cover with a lid. Store at room temperature.

Removing the solids from the ghee with a spoon

When first made or heated, ghee will look clear, like golden oil. At room temperature it will be in kova or fudge like consistency. It would turn to solid block when exposed to extreme cold temperature. To use, take necessary amount with a dry spoon and add to the food. Moisture spoils the ghee, so never use a wet spoon when handling ghee.

What I do with ghee:

1. Drizzle one teaspoon of ghee on hot cooked rice. Anything with rice tastes so much better with ghee, particularly the dal, sambhar and rasam.
2. To prepare different types of pulaos/fried rice.
3. Saute spices for masala (garam masala, various types of masala and curry powders).
4. For popu or tadka (frying the cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves in ghee).
5. To prepare sweets like payasams, bhakshalu (puran poli), burfis, kheers, halwas and laddus.
6. On toasted bread and on a boiled potato.
7. Garlic roasted in ghee, spread on the bread is garlic-bread at its best.

Anything with ghee is ghee-licious. It’s simply impossible to go wrong with ghee. For any culinary enthusiast, the authentic Indian food experience has to start with this ancient Indian staple. Try and Enjoy!

Ghee

Note:
Ghee is often equaled to clarified butter. But it’s a simple-minded simplification. The ghee making process is lengthy and the end result is more refined when compared to clarified butter. Now you know the difference, don’t you go on regurgitating same falsehoods about ghee equals to clarified butter. No, it’s not. And, for God’s sake have the decency to call it by its given name - Ghee. You can say gee, right? Add an ‘h’, and say out loud “ghee” as in geese. There you go. Thank you for indulging me about ghee.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Milk & Products, Ghee (Friday May 27, 2005 at 9:21 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org