Mahanandi

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

Ponganalu with Spinach and Sara Pappu

Somehow, I’ve been missing participating in Nandita’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event celebrating the much neglected, overnight fasting breakers - the morning mini meals (breakfast/tiffin). “A twist in the plate” is the theme for this month’s WBB. Taking an old recipe and adding our own touch and improving it a little bit is the idea behind the theme.

Ponganalu, the classic Rayalaseema breakfast, the recipe is fine on its own. Leftover dosa batter, onions, chana dal, green chillies and cilantro, mixed and cooked in a special ponganalu pan. The result is small goblets or space saucer shaped rounds - fun and tasty on their own. My twist to this old classic is adding a bunch of finely chopped spinach and few tablespoons of sara pappu (chironji) and watermelon seeds. Mixed with dosa batter and cooked to crispy, crunchy perfection in ponganalu pan. Less batter, more ingredients and better ponganalu, that’s papa johns pizza, sorry:), that’s my “twist in the plate” ponganalu and my contribution to Weekend Breakfast Blogging.


Spinach, Sara Pappu and Watermelon Seeds in Ponganala Batter


Cooking Spinach Ponganalu in a Special Ponganala Skillet


Spinach Ponganalu with Peanut Chutney ~ For Nandita’s WBB-”Twist in The Plate” Event

Detailed Recipe and images of traditional Ponganalu - Here
To purchase a skillet similar to Ponganala Pennam - Click Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Charoli (Sara Pappu), Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday October 31, 2006 at 3:13 pm- permalink)
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Sunnundalu(Urad Dal Laddu)~Indian Sweets 101

Sunniundalu

When Sailaja of Sailu’s Food selected dals to feature this month’s Jihva For Ingredients, I was ecstatic. The one and only ingredient that truly represents India is the variety of dals, in my opinion. There are rice states and there are wheat states, but common to all 28 states in India are dals. Each state has dazzling array of dal dishes both sweet and savory. Menus always include dal dishes for everyday, for celebrations and as well as for festivals. Even in a foreign land, our meals always would include dals in one way or other. It’s not stretching the truth, when I say dal dishes are the true heart and soul food of India.

By the way, if you haven’t been to Sailaja’s blog already, please go visit now. She blogs from calm, coastal city of Vishakapatnam by the Bay of Bengal, from my home state Andhra Pradesh. Her recipes are visual delight and pure gold. Whenever I visit her blog, I feel happy to see her creations and also feel nostalgic about what I am missing being away from home.

As an entry to JFI~Dals, I have prepared Sunniundalu, a traditional Andhra sweet. Roasted urad dal is ground with sugar into super fine sand like powder, mixed with pure ghee, and the mixture is shaped into round balls. This sweet is much beloved because of its unique taste and nutritional value. These are often prepared for special occasions like baby showers (srimantham) etc., I am so happy that I am able to recreate this favorite sweet of mine for JFI, an event created to celebrate the natural ingredients.

Recipe:
(for 15 medium-sized laddus)

3 cups of whole urad dal - roasted to golden color slowly and on low heat, continuously stirring in a big iron skillet
1½ cups of sugar
1 cup of melted ghee at room temperature
For grinding - esirayyi (grain mill) or Food processor
How this sweet tastes, 50 percent, depends on grinding method. Old world stone grain-grinder is the traditional method of choice. High powered, sharp bladed, food processor comes close. Whatever machine/method you use, the end product must be like fine sand.

Whole urad dal - Roasted to light gold color
Whole urad dal - Roasted to light gold color

Grinding urad dal and sugar to superfine sand like powder using a grain mill
Grinding urad dal and sugar to superfine sand like powder using a grain mill

Adding melted ghee to the urad dal-sugar powder
Adding melted ghee to the urad dal-sugar powder

Urad dal-sugar powder and ghee mixture being made into laddus
Urad dal-sugar powder and ghee mixture being made into laddus.

Sunnundalu
Indian Sweets 101 ~ Sunnundalu for JFI-Dals

Many thanks to Sailaja for hosting this month’s Jihva For Ingredients. I am sure the roundup of this event is going to be spectacular. The entries that I have seen so far - Munthirikkotthu (Sweet Moong Dal Balls), Dal Podi Sushi Roll (Indianized Sushi roll), Mid-Eastern Mujadarah (rice-lentil dish) and Azuki paste ravioli in caramel sauce make this obvious. Have a fun and happy dal day on this July 4th weekend, everyone!

Notes:
Grain mill brand Name: PORKERT’s Kitchen Grinding Mill, Type 150
Purchased at a clearance sale from Tuesday Morning.
Sailu’s Sunnundalu - Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Ghee, Urad Dal (Washed), Indian Sweets 101, Jihva For Ingredients (Saturday July 1, 2006 at 12:02 am- permalink)
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Colorful Idly with Carrots & Chana Dal

Back home, a breakfast is still a breakfast. It is not brunch, lunch or supper. Breakfast items are few, and everyday one of them is prepared and eaten by 9 AM. My mother never uttered the words - “I’m not feeling well today and not making any breakfast for you”. As a grown up, living in a silent world with plenty of time to reflect back, now I realise, my mother like me, must had several reasons to slack off, if she wanted to. But she never did. I am sure many of you can relate to what I am talking about. That kind of devotion was given to us when we were children. This is the reason why I often mention ‘amma (mother)’ as recipe source. If I have the courtesy to write a cookbook author’s name as recipe source for a blogged recipe, why shouldn’t I return the same courtesy to amma, from whom I learned most of my cooking from.

Colorful idly with carrots and chana dal aka masala idly is one of her recipes. Finely grated carrots and chana dal along with green chillies and cumin etc. are added to the leftover idly batter for a next day morning breakfast. Imagine the taste of upma, and these idlies almost taste like that. Steam cooked in round shape, they are a pleasure when served hot with chutney and sambar. Though they are a breakfast item back home, here I often make them on a weekend for brunch, lunch or for supper.

Idly plates filled with idly batter - ready for steaming

Recipe:
This is same as idly preparation except that we add bunch of other ingredients and change the lilly white, cloud like plain idlies into colorful, somewhat dense masala idlies.

(for 16 idlies)
3 cups of Idly batter
(urad dal and rice ravva(cream of rice) in 1:2 ratio, soaked, grind into smooth batter and kept overnight for fermentation)
Ingredients to add to idly batter
1 cup of grated carrot (1 big carrot)
¼ cup of chana dal (soaked in water for atleast an hour)
¼ cup of coarsely crushed, roasted peanuts or cashews
¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro
2 to 4 finely chopped or minced green chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin and few curry leaves
¼ teaspoon of salt or to taste

Mix the ingredients with idly batter thoroughly. Fill the round impressions of idly plates with this batter. Place the idly stand in an idly cooker and steam cook them for about 20 minutes or until the batter sets completely. Remove the idly stand from the cooker, run a spoon under each impression and separate the cooked idlies from the impressions. Serve them hot with peanut or coconut chutney and sambhar.

Idlies with veggies, served with peanut chutney, and shallot sambhar
Masala idlies with peanut chutney and shallot sambhar

For more detailed recipe of idly, about idly stand, idly plates and idly cooker etc., - click here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Carrots, Chana Dal, Urad Dal (Washed), Rice Ravva (Cream of Rice) (Tuesday April 11, 2006 at 1:54 pm- permalink)
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Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney and a cup of shallot and carrot sambhar

How can anyone not like dosas? Just one bite, that’s all it takes to fall in love with them. They are such a knockout mini meal any time of the day. I often dream of starting my own franchise here, :) to cater freshly cooked dosas with all kinds of filling inside them. There is one already in New York, New Jersey area, called ‘Dosa Express’, which boasts about 50 different types of dosas - all kinds, from just plain dosa to dosas with variety of fillings, like cheese-potato curry combo etc.,

But if you ask me, nothing can beat the old classic, ‘Masala Dosa’. Crisp dosas filled with spicy powders, onion-red chilli paste and potato curry, if that’s not enough they are served with coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar. Can’t stand on your feet kind of knockout combo. Preparing this type of restaurant dosa at home is really easy, only thing you need is time and some planning.

Recipe:

A thick bottomed, flat, seasoned cast-iron pan
1 cup of rice
½ cup urad dal

Wash and soak rice and dal together in 2 to 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and grind them in a blender or wet grinder into a smooth batter. Add little water in-between for smooth grinding, if necessary. The consistency of batter must be like that of evaporated milk (commercial kind). Not too watery or not too thick.

Pour the batter into a big vessel, cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation. By morning the batter will be doubled, usually. Add half teaspoon of salt to the batter and stir thoroughly and the batter is ready for dosas. Place and heat the dosa skillet on the stove and follow the procedure shown in the pictures below.


Season the Dosa skillet with a teaspoon of oil and rub it with a cut onion. Onion not only gives nice flavor to dosa, also seasons the skillet.(this is an oldtime tip)


Pour a ladleful of batter on the skillet. Spread it around with the ladle.


With the ladle, shape and move the batter outwards in concentric circles - until it shapes in a circular, thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of peanut oil around the batter. Increase the heat high and cook it for few minutes.


Flip it to other side to cook for few seconds.


Reverse it again and quickly sprinkle some pappula podi(spicy dalia powder), apply red onion-dried red chilli paste around the dosa and then place a general portion of potato curry in the middle.


Fold the dosa in middle, remove and serve it immediately. This whole process must be done in maximum two to three minutes. Hot skillet and fast hand action is necessary and do not keep dosa on skillet for long, it’ll turnout hard and brittle, instead of soft and chewy.

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney & a cup of sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

Prepared in a style of Udipi restaurant dosa, Nandyala, India.
Potato Curry: Pressure cook/boil potaotoes until tender. Remove the skin, cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. Sauté finely chopped onions, green chillies and crumbled potatoes together. Season to taste - potato curry for dosa is ready.
Onion -red chilli paste: Cut one big red onion or 4 to 6 shallots into chunks. Add 6 dried red chillies and quarter teaspoon of salt or to taste, and grind into coarse mixture.
Pappula podi - recipe.
Coconut chutney - recipe.
Sambhar - recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 4:53 pm- permalink)
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Ponganalu (Gunta Pongadalu)

Raayalaseema, Konaseema and Telengaana, these are the three regions in Andhra Pradesh, my home state.

Each region has its own way of cooking things and special recipes. In case of breakfast/brunch worth getting up early for, ‘Konaseema’ is famous for their ‘Pesarattu-upmacombination (beautifully put together by Sailu). I’m not that familiar with ‘Telengaana’ cuisine and ‘Raayalaseema’, where I’m from, has few special breakfast dishes unique to our region. One is “buggani” - prepared with puffed rice(murmura), I blogged already, and the other is “ponganalu” - rice lentil batter is seasoned with shallots, green chillies etc., then cooked in round impressions in an iron skillet until golden. These small pretty, dome shaped rounds are usually served with peanut chutney or coconut chutney.

In our homes, whenever relatives from other regions of Andhra or from other states visit us for holidays, out comes the “ponganala Pennam”(ponganala skillet). Round, golden colored ponganalu, hot off from the skillet, always elicits oohh… aahh… from our relatives and from their weird offspring (are there any other kind? :) ). Because they are unique to our region, preparing them is our showoff kind of thing, to out of staters who were related to us by marriages etc.,:)

Preparing ponganalu, it’s all in the skillet. Right kind of skillet delivers or breaks a ‘ponganam’. Nothing can beat an old world style, well seasoned iron skillet. They are the best and the place where you can buy is of course India. I’ve seen some non-stick skillets here in US in some Indian shops lately. They are also fine, if you don’t mind the non-stick coating.

Recipe:
For 3 to 4 batches of Ponganalu

Ponganala batter:
1 cup rice
½ cup urad dal

Soak them in water for about 6 hours. Drain (reserve the water) and grind them into smooth batter adding just enough water (add the reserve one, we kept aside). The consistency of the batter must be thick like idli batter or like condensed milk (commercial kind). Take the batter into a big vessel, cover and let it sit overnight for fermentation.
Sour and leftover dosa batter is perfect to prepare ponganalu. If you have some, try ponganalu with it, for a change.

Ingredients to prepare ponganalu

Seasoning (Add to the overnight fermented batter):
1 big red onion or 6 shallots - finely chopped
(Because we mix them in the batter raw, avoid yellow onion for its smell & awful rawtaste)
4 green chillies - finely chopped
Few springs of cilantro - finely chopped
A fistful of chana dal (soaked overnight)
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric and salt
Add all these ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly.
Also prepare peanut or coconut chutney.

Cooking: Place the ponganala skillet on medium heat. Add few drops of peanut oil into each impression. With a spoon or with a piece of paper towel, rub oil around, to season the skillet. When the skillet is hot and ready, proceed like this, following the images.


Pour a ladleful of batter into each impression.


Once all impressions are filled, cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes undisturbed.


Remove the lid; The batter will be set by now. Gently lift the ponganalu with a “ponganala lifter” or with a spoon. If properly cooked, they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes.


Turn each one to opposite side to cook.


Cook them another 5 minutes on medium heat undisturbed. Gently lift them from out of the skillet. When properly cooked they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes. Remove them all onto a plate. Season the skillet with oil, again repeat the steps to cook another batch. Medium heat is the key.(Cooking them on high heat in a hurry or on too low heat won’t work- usually the outcome will be messy ponganalu.)


Ponganalu with peanut chutney - Breakfast worth getting up early for.

Recipe Source & Origin: Amma and Rayalaseema (Andhra, India)
Also checkout ‘Ponganalu’ by Santhi, friendly, fellow Raayalaseema vaasi.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Monday March 20, 2006 at 9:08 am- permalink)
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Idly (Idli, Iddenlu)

Our love for idlis, the soft, fluffy white, round discs made of rice and lentil batter, began when we were children. Two, three year old babies with tiny idlis in their hand, playing around mom, is a common scene you see in many Indian households. As we grow up, the role of idlis also changes - first as toddlers’ teething food, to childhoods play, fun kind of food. Then in teenage years, the kind of breakfast we really enjoy eating without complaining much. Later In twenties and thirties - we try, struggle and wonder how folks back home make those fluffy cloud like visions of idlis so effortlessly. Try as we may, we can’t recreate those beauties here, because the weather, the grain and even the water is different here.

Method of making idlis is very simple yet little bit time consuming, only in the sense that you have to plan ahead. Whether idlies turn out like cotton soft or solid, white round bricks - it all depends on fermentation (that means where you live and how you grind the batter etc.,). Most of the times, the recipe I follow gives good, decent idlis, considering I live in a very cold climate area. See, if my recipe works for you.

Idly stand and idly plates
Idly stand and idly plates, some filled with urad dal- rice ravva batter

Recipe:

Urad dal and rice ravva (cream of rice, rice suji) in a ratio of 1:2
1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
Pinch of baking powder
Utensils
Blender/wet grinder
Idly stand with idly plates (see the photo above)
And a vessel with tight lid (suitable to fit idly stand)

Soak urad dal in just enough water overnight or for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Drain the water and keep the drained water aside.
Grind the dal into silky smooth batter. To get the medium tight consistency, add the drained water kept aside, as needed to the batter,while grinding. Remove the batter in a vessel.
Add rice ravva and mix thoroughly without any lumps.
Keep it covered, for overnight fermentation (at least 6hours) in a warm place. By morning, the batter will be doubled in volume. Stir in salt and baking powder. Consistency of batter must be medium (like condensed milk), not too tight or too watery. Add water if necessary.

Idli plates filled with rice-lentil batter just before cooking Steamed idlies just out of the vessel
Idly plates filled with rice ravva-urad dal batter all ready for steam cooking***Idlies after steam cooking

In a big vessel (fit to idly stand) with tight lid, add about half to one glass of water and bring to a boil.

Separate the plates in idly stand; pour spoonfuls of batter in round impressions (see the photo above). Fill all the plates with idly batter and place these filled idly plates, back on the stand. Place this idly stand with filled plates in the vessel with boiling water. Cover it tightly and cook them on steam. The plates are perforated and allow the idlis to be steam-cooked evenly.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, the batter will be hardened and when touched, won’t stick to your fingers like a wet batter does. Turn off the heat and remove the idly stand from the vessel. Run a spoon under each impression to separate steamed idlies from the plate. Remove them all like this and get ready to steam the next batch of idlis.

Serve idlis piping hot with sambhar, coconut chutney and idly karam podi ~ for a traditional, proper south Indian breakfast.

Idlies with coconut chutney, idli karam podi and shallot sambhar
Idlis with coconut chutney, idli karam podi and shallot sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

double_curve.gif

Answering questions about my Idly routine:

I usually prepare idlis for our weekend brunch. My prep work for Saturday’s brunch of idli starts like this. I soak the urad dal on Friday morning, around 7-9 AM. It takes at least 4 to 6 hours for them to soften. Around 6-8 PM evening, I grind them into smooth, silky smooth batter. I remove the batter into a big vessel and mix up with store bought idli rava. Then I keep it covered overnight for fermentation. By morning, the batter will be fermented and changed in looks and consistency. After stirring in salt and little bit of baking powder, I pour ladleful of batter into the impressions on idly plates and steam cook them.

The tips I follow:
1. I use round urad dal(whole and white). Somehow they are better than the broken ones for idlis.
2. I soak the urad dal in just enough water and while grinding I add this drained water. This tip works only in cold climate to aid the fermentation.
3. While grinding I also add one or two teaspoons of soaked fenugreek seeds. This is an old tip, to improve the taste and fermentation.
4. Urad dal batter- the smooth the batter, the fluffy and silky, the idlis will be. Grind, grind and grind, run that blender motor until it gets hot.:)
4. Rice ravva- I use store bought kind.
5. Fermentation- I set the oven on to minimum (lowest setting/warm) for about 5 minutes, then I’ll turn it off. By the time I’m ready with batter, the oven will be warm. During bitter cold wintertime, keeping the batter in this cozy, warm oven aids fermentation process.
6. In the morning, I usually add a pinch of baking powder to the batter (old time tip).
For more tips, check out this wiki article on Idlis.

Recipe source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Urad Dal (Washed), Rice Ravva (Cream of Rice) (Tuesday February 21, 2006 at 4:50 pm- permalink)
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Bagara Baingan (Nune Vankaya Kura)

Do you remember my post about stuffed brinjal curry with peanuts and sesame seeds? In that post, I also mentioned different kinds of stuffing that I know. Here is another type of stuffed brinjal curry, I am calling it by Hindi name - ‘Bagara Baingan’ - This time with purple brinjals, stuffing made with dals and fresh coconut and cooked in a pan. The stuffing doesn’t taste very good when pressure-cooked. So for this kind, I make it in a pan, like how they do it back home.

Fresh Coconut, tamarind, purple brinjals, roasted dried red chillies, cashews and mix of chana dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin  - ingredients for Bagare Baingan
Recipe:

Small, fresh, young, blemish free brinjals - 8 to 12

Roasting for stuffing and gravy:

Chana dal and urad dal - quarter cup each
Black peppercorns and cloves - 4 to 6 each
Dried red chillies - 6 to 8
Cumin, coriander seeds & methi seeds - 1 teaspoon each
Roast them in an iron skillet till golden. Mix them with
Fresh or dried coconut - 1/2 cup
Tamarind juice and powdered jaggery - 1 tablespoon each
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
My addition: One fistful of roasted cashews
Ginger garlic paste and roasted red onions can be added to this mix.

Make a smooth paste of all the above ingredients without adding any water. Divide it into two portions. One for stuffing the brinjals and the other portion is for making the gravy.
Purple brinjals stuffed with roasted dal- coconut-cashew paste
Stuffing:

1. Wash to clean up the wax coating on brinjals. Neatly cut and remove the stem of each brinjal.
2. Starting at opposite side of stem, make a plus (+) shaped cut towards the stem side, but not all the way through. (See the photo above, to get an idea)
3. Gently separating the brinjal petals, fill the narrow gap with the prepared paste.

Cooking:

1. In a big, wide, flat pan - heat one tablespoon of peanut oil, do the popu or tadka (toasting one teaspoon each of mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and minced garlic).
2. Arrange the brinjals - stuffing side up, neatly in rows. Cover and cook them in their own moisture for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat or until they soften. The younger the brinjals, the faster they cook.
3. Once you are sure that brinjals are tender and cooked, remove them carefully without disturbing shape onto a serving dish.
4. Pour the remaining paste that was kept aside to the pan. Mix it with half glass of water. Sprinkle in turmeric and adjust the salt, spice (red chilli), sour (tamarind) and sugar to your taste. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes on low medium heat, until the gravy thickens.
5. Now put the brinjals back into the thickened gravy. Cook for another couple of minutes.

With rice or roti, this curry is a party favorite and a crowd pleaser.
 Stuffed Brinjal Curry (Bagare baingan, Nune vankaya Kura) with rice

Bagara Baingan with Rice ~ Our dinner today.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Coconut (Fresh), Vankaya (Brinjal), Urad Dal (Washed) (Thursday December 29, 2005 at 9:56 pm- permalink)
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