Mahanandi

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

Ragi Kudumulu with Garlic Ghee

Ragi kudumulu is an old classic from Andhra Pradesh, India. Dumplings like kudumulu are prepared with ragi flour and steam-cooked in flavorful kura (curry). The main ingredient of kura in which ragi kudumulu are steamed changes with the seasons. Sometimes the kura is prepared with vegetables, sometimes with meat or a combination. Depends on the cook’s mood and the market prices. Popular in agricultural community, this protein powerhouse is a build or nourish the muscle-on-the-bone kind of one-pot meal.

For Mathy’s Jihva, I have been thinking about a new recipe using garlic-ghee. Then I thought, why not incorporate garlic-ghee into ragi dough and make kudumulu with it. When people say developing new things or techniques is like constantly rediscovering the wheel, it’s very true, indeed. Years of nutritional strategies and accumulated wisdom among cooks throughout the world before us are right to benefit us all through good times and hard times.

Ragi kudumulu is one such nutritional strategy, and here it is in a new avatar. An acquired taste, but a delight to an adventurous palate. Give it a try.

Ridge gourd and Ragi Dough
Ridge Gourd and Ragi Dough (Beerakaya mariyu Raagi Mudda)

Recipe:
(for two adults, for two meals)

Recipe happens in three steps. 1. Prepare Ragi dough for Kudumulu.
2. Prepare kura (curry or kurma) for Kudumulu. 3. Prepare kudumulu and steam-cook.

Step 1:

Take one-cup ragi flour in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of garlic-ghee puree and quarter teaspoon salt. Stir in a tablespoon of garlic infused ghee. Sprinkling few tablespoons of hot water, make soft dough. Cover and keep it aside for about 15 to 30 minutes. The dough firms up on resting.

Step 2:

While the ragi dough is resting, prepare kura for ragi kudumulu. It can be with either vegetables, (traditional choice: Indian broad beans, silk squash and ridge gourd), or meat (chicken or mutton). For my meal today, I have prepared Ridge gourd curry (beerakaya kura) for ragi kudumulu.

- - 2 ridge gourds: peel, rinse and cut into ½ inch, big pieces
- - 2 tomatoes and one onion - finely chop to small pieces

Heat a tablespoon of garlic infused ghee in a wide, deep-bottomed skillet. Add and toast a pinch each - cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the onion. Sauté to soft. Then tomatoes. Add about a cup of water and cook the tomatoes to mush on high heat.

While tomatoes are cooking, prepare the kura masala:
For kura masala: Two tablespoons of grated coconut, 4 green chillies and an inch of peeled ginger, two cloves, one inch cinnamon, a teaspoon each - coriander seeds and cumin. Take them all in a mixer. Add a pinch of salt. Blend to fine consistency.

Tomatoes will be cooked to soft by now. Mush them by pressing with a sturdy spoon. Add the ridge gourd pieces and the masala paste to the skillet. Also half teaspoon each- turmeric and salt. Stir in another cup of water. Close the lid and simmer on medium-low heat.

Step 3:

While kura is cooking, quickly prepare Ragi kudumulu.

Take the ragi dough out onto a plate. Knead and divide into small, about key lime-sized rounds. The dough came about 16 rounds for me. Take a round on your palm, and close the fingers around the round to make a fist. The shape changes to cylindrical with conical ends. That’s what we call “Kudumu” shape in Telugu. Compared to the round shape, the kudumu shape will have more surface area exposed, and that would facilitates thorough steaming. Prepare all rounds in this way. You have to make them fast in two to three minutes.

Place them one after another neatly in simmering kura. Close the lid tightly, and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Ragi kudumulu have to be cooked properly inside. To test, take one out and cut into half. A well-steamed one has the color of red soil (erra mannu) that you see in moderate rainfall areas like Telengana, Andhra Pradesh. On taste, they should have the comforting texture of a well-chewed bubblegum.:) Sticky with unique ragi flavor. The size/volume also increases on steaming.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and lime juice. Serve hot. Until serving time, cover the skillet with tight lid and keep the kura hot on low heat.

How to serve: Place four ragi kudumulu in a wide bowl or plate along with vegetable or meat pieces. Pour the tomato-masala gravy around.

How to eat: With fingers or spoon, take a portion of ragi kudumu with kura. Blow to cool for once or twice. Eat. Ragi flour has gummy properties and it would stick to the mouth roof. So don’t chew on the kudumu, just swallow. The masala gravy and vegetables or meat pieces, together they make a memorable meal experience.

Why: Ragi is rich in Iron, minerals and protein, gluten-free, and is known for it’s health benefits. Ragi is cultivated from ancient times in many parts of India, and in fact the name Ragi is a Sanskrit word. So, Ragi consumption means nourishment to the body and also nourishing the traditional agricultural practices.

Here is the preparation process in photos:


Ragi Kudumulu and Ragi Dough


Steamed Ragi Kudumulu in Ridge Gourd Kura


Ragi Kudumulu Flavored with Garlic Ghee in Ridge Gourd Kura ~
Meal today and My Contribution to Mathy’s Garlic-Jihva Event.

Notes:
Ragi flour is available in most Indian grocery shops.
Kudumu is singular and kudumulu is plural in Telugu language.
Traditional Kudumulu from other parts of Bharath:
Jonna (Corn) Kudumulu from En Ulagam
Jowar-wheat Kudumulu from My Food Court

Do you have this type of tradition where kudumulu or dumplings are steam-cooked in the stew itself?

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Ragi, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd), Ragi Flour, Ghee, Garlic (Vellulli) (Tuesday April 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm- permalink)
Comments (26)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Garlic Infused Ghee

Garlic and butter for garlic-ghee

Garlic roasted in ghee was a favorite summer time snack growing up. It was the only way I could eat garlic when I was a child. They are also specifically prepared and fed to new mothers after delivery. Garlic is well known for it’s disease-preventing properties and toasting in ghee makes garlic more palatable. So, it’s no wonder garlic-ghee combination has traditional roots. Also, garlic seems to enjoy ghee’s company. The special affinity between them is evident by the deep blush and the sweetness of garlic when ghee is around. Even the aroma changes to stimulating from another “s” type.:)

The following is a recipe that I have come up with while playing in the kitchen yesterday afternoon. I started out with the idea of preparing garlic-infused ghee, then during the process I realized I could make two types of garlic-ghee. Garlic infused ghee and garlic pureed in ghee. Both of them tasted so good and the aroma was wonderful, they have made the whole process of cooking a great adventure instead of an annoying chore. And with garlic-ghee on hand, I know miracles are possible with many savory entrées.

Recipe:

The following quantity makes about one cup of garlic-infused ghee and quarter cup garlic-ghee puree.

Unsalted butter - 4 OZ (113 grams)
Garlic cloves - 6 to 8, skins peeled
Black peppercorn - 8
Salt - a pinch

Tea or coffee strainer
Small mortar and pestle

For preparation, follow the photo pictorial below:

Garlic and butter for garlic-ghee

1. Finely slice each garlic clove into thin layers. Inside you see white or pale green stem. The pure white ones are preferable for this recipe, and discard the garlic if you see any green growth inside.

2. Place the garlic and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Garlic simmering in ghee
The garlic and ghee will look like this in the beginning.

Garlic simmering in ghee

3. After about 20-30 minutes of slow simmering, the butter changes to crystal-clear, aromatic ghee. Pale reddish-brown sediment forms at the bottom of the pan. The garlic also changes to soft and golden. Turn off the heat now.

Straining out the sediment and garlic from ghee

4. Pour the garlic-ghee through a strainer into a cup. The golden sediment and garlic will get separated from garlic-infused ghee.

Preparing Garlic-ghee Puree

5. Take the contents of strainer in a mortar. Add peppercorn and salt. Gently mash them to coarse paste.

6. Allow the garlic-ghee puree and garlic-infused ghee to cool. Store them in clean jars.

Garlic-Ghee Puree and Garlic-Infused Ghee
Garlic-Ghee Puree and Garlic-Infused Ghee ~ for Mathy’s Garlic Jihva

Greens, vegetables, dals, meat and fish, just a teaspoon would be enough and both, the garlic puree and ghee make wonderful additions to any savory preparation.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Ghee, Jihva For Ingredients, Garlic (Vellulli) (Monday March 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm- permalink)
Comments (42)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ghee for Festival Sweets

Homemade Ghee from Trader Joe's Unsalted Butter
Ghee Prepared from Unsalted Butter ~ for Vinayaka Chavithi Tomorrow

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Ghee (Friday September 14, 2007 at 9:24 pm- permalink)
Comments (11)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Pongal with Green Pearls

We, Indians could learn so much from Italians when it comes to food marketing, I think. Take for example, - they have risotto, we have pongal. There are thousands of articles, recipes written on risotto. Good, old fashioned risotto, risotto with saffron, risotto with that, risotto with this… the list goes on and on. It’s easy to apply the same thing to pongal. The basic recipe never changes but by adding fresh seasonal produce like fresh peas or asparagus etc, it’s possible to rekindle the interest in centuries-old pongal recipe. Of course we also need excellent writers, poets and photographers to create that harp effect, a swooning, spiritual experience at the mere utterance of “Pongal”. Few movie scenes where the hero adoringly feeds the heroine a spoonful of creamy pongal would also help.

We have golden recipes, excellent technique. What we lack is co-coordinated, full throttle marketing. Inspired tactics used with savvy and creativity could not only resurrect genuine interest plus prestige in the preservation and application of the food traditions, they would also benefit the farmers back in the country, in my view.

Here is my humble effort.


Green Pearls ~ Fresh Peas of Summer

Brimming with that glorious just-off-the vine sweet flavor, the fresh peas of summer make a succulent addition to the classic, creamy pongal recipe. Easy to prepare and full of flavor, pongal with fresh peas make a pleasing meal any time of the day.

Recipe:

1 tablespoon - ghee
1 teaspoon each - black peppercorn, cumin and cloves
8 fresh curry leaves
½ cup - yellow moong dal
1 cup - shelled fresh green peas
1 cup - Sona Masuri rice
6 cups - water
1 teaspoon - salt or to taste

Melt ghee in a big saucepan on medium heat. Coarsely crush peppercorn, cumin and cloves in a mortar or in a spice mill and add to the ghee. Also add the curry leaves. Saute them gently for a minute or so.

Add the yellow moong dal. Continuously mixing, saute the dal to pale-pink color. At this stage add fresh green peas. Cook couple of minutes. Stir in Sona Masuri rice along with water and salt.

Bring the water to a boiling point on high heat. Once the water and rice start to dance, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer, mixing in-between until the rice is cooked to soft.

Turn off the heat, and add a last spoonful of water (or ghee, if you can afford it healthwise).

Leave to stand for 2-3 minutes then stir. Serve hot with chutney/kurma or yogurt.


Heaven in a Plate:Pongal with Fresh Peas and Peanut Chutney ~ Weekend Supper

Recipe Notes:
All about Sona Masuri Rice - here
Pongal is good with chutneys, pickles, tomato based kurmas, coconut based curries and plain homemade yogurt.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed), Ghee, Peas (Bataani) (Monday June 11, 2007 at 12:31 am- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice Pudding)

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice)
Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Sweet Jaggery Rice)

Bellam Paramannam or jaggery sweet rice pudding is a creamy rice dessert with a difference, being sweetened by old world sugar - “jaggery” and subtly flavored with cardamom. It is wonderful warm or cold and usually served as puja prasadam on festivals like Sankranthi (the harvest festival).

Recipe:

1 cup Sona Masuri rice
2 cups milk + 2 cups water
2 cups jaggery + 1 cup water
½ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee
4 cardamom pods - seed powdered

This is how I prepare this traditional sweet:

Cook rice in milk and water to very tender, falling apart stage.

Melt jaggery in water and simmer to plain syrup stage.

Add cooked rice to jaggery syrup. Mix and cook on medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat ghee on medium heat. First fry cashews and then golden raisins to light gold color. Add the whole thing - ghee along with fried cashews and golden raisins to the rice-jaggery mixture.

Simmer on medium-low heat stirring in-between, until the whole thing thickens a bit and comes together to moist, firm mass.

Just before turning off the heat, stir in cardamom powder and mix thoroughly. Serve warm or cold.

Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam
Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam

Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup
Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup

Bellam Paramannam
Bellam Paramannam to celebrate Sankranthi

Kitchen notes:
When directly added, jaggery sometimes could separate milk avaialble here, into curds and whey. Preparing rice with milk first and then adding it to jaggery syrup is my way for fail proof bellam paramannam prasadam.
Paramannam with sugar ~ Recipe
Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) ~ Recipe
From Telugu to English: Bellam = jaggery, Paramannam = Sweet rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sona Masuri Rice, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
Comments (45)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Besan-Coconut Burfi, the 7-cup magic

Besan Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup magic
Besan-Coconut Burfi ~ The 7-cup Magic for Indian Sweets 101

Experienced cooks would curl up into hardball position. The kitchen novice can crack up. Watching sugar melting for sweets preparation can do that to the cooks. Like Linda mentioned, the softball, the hardball, the numerous stages of sugar syrup have the effect of melting one’s brains.:) Toffees and Burfis turned to payasams, to hard bricks, to concrete mixture - I have seen them all. One recipe that has always come to my rescue during my beginner days of cooking was Besan-coconut burfi. Also known as 7-cup burfi.

7 cups refer to the ingredients’ quantity, which is easy to remember. There is no skill involved to prepare this sweet. Only thing one need is a steel heart. Coconut, sugar and ghee are liberally used and the sweet also liberates one from fear of burfi making. A true delight and Kitchen newbies favorite, I always remember this sweet fondly as 7-cup magic.

Recipe:
1 cup besan (gram flour, shanaga pindi)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1-2 cups ghee
2 cups sugar - powdered
Cardamom to taste
Wide, sturdy pot, big slotted sturdy spoon and a steel heart.
——- ——-
Place a wide, sturdy pot on stove. Bring to warm on medium-low heat.
Add besan and fry it constantly stirring to copper-toned gold jewelry color.
Add the fresh grated coconut to the besan and fry it for about 5 to 10 minutes again on medium-low heat, until it leaves the raw smell.
Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and cardamom powder.
Mix thoroughly and cook, constantly adding ghee. Until the whole thing comes together to a porous, firm mass. Takes about 20-30 minutes on medium-low heat.
Remove to a ghee-coated plate/pan. Press evenly and cut diamond shaped pieces.
Or shape the mixture to round laddus, once the mixture is cooled enough to touch.
Enjoy the delicious taste of 7-cup burfi.

More 7-cup sweets:
7-cup cake from Vidhya Rajesh
7-cup sweet from Pavani

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Gram Flour (Besan), Sugar, Ghee, Coconut (Fresh), Indian Sweets 101 (Friday December 8, 2006 at 10:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (53)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ripe Plantain Dessert (Pazham Puzhungiyathu)

Steam-Cooked Ripe Plantain
Steam-Cooking the Ripe Plantain

Vijay loves all things plantain; so much so, he even wrote a guest post on homemade plantain chips on my blog few months ago. When I saw the recipe for sweet plantain dessert, at LG’s Ginger and Mango, I knew Vijay is going to like it.

Dessert with sweet plantains usually involves deep-frying, but this traditional Kerala recipe was different and healthy because it was steam cooked. I tried it with one ripe plantain and we both liked the end result. Easy dessert and they were like small venna(butter) biscuits, the kind that would melt in mouth but with gooey, banana sweetness.


Steam Cooked Ripe Plantain Piece ~ Removing the Skin

Recipe:
I ripe plantain
Ghee and sugar - half tablespoon each or to taste.

Wash and cut plantains into 4 or 5 pieces crosswise. Steam-cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they soften. The outer skin will turn black and insides will turn soft. Remove the steam basket from steamer and let them cool. Peel the skin, cut each piece into 3 or 4 thin rounds.

Take melted ghee and sugar in a small cup. Stir until sugar melts in ghee. Lightly dip each plantain round in ghee-sugar mix, remove. Or sprinkle some sugar on top of these rounds and serve. Good treat, I think particularly for toddlers.

Semolina Upma with Peanut chutney and Sugar Coated Ripe Plantain Rounds
Sugar Coated Ripe Plantain Rounds and Semolina Upma with Peanut chutney ~ Our Simple Meal Today

Recipe: LG’s Ginger and Mango - Traditional Kerala Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Arati Kaaya (Plantain), Sugar, Ghee (Monday June 5, 2006 at 2:33 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sweet Pongal, The Sankranthi Sweet

Sankranthi:

Harvest festival Sankranthi is all about celebrating rice in our part of world. Particularly in South India, rice plays an important role as the main cultivated grain and as nourishing food that people subsist on every day of their life. It’s no wonder that there is a festival dedicated to the almighty rice. Equally worshipped are the man’s best partner, the kind-hearted cow, and the elements - sun, earth and water. They make rice cultivation a success, and also add a magic touch to the rice, making the rice a cherished, beloved food of the people.

Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra, India
Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra Pradesh, India

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali):

This famous south Indian, Sankranthi sweet is traditionally made with freshly harvested rice. Very simple to make but spectacular in taste, the ordinary rice becomes mouthwateringly extraordinary in sweet pongal. The rice soaks up the milk, absorbs the jaggery, picks up the cardamom scent and takes up the generously added moong dal, cashews and golden raisins. And in this new avatar, becomes an offering to the Gods (naivedyam, we call it), and also simply irresistible to all who try it.

Some Tips:

Jaggery:

I follow the classic recipe and don’t do or like shortcuts. Method is neat and easy and the end result is always like the prasadam offering of temples. Jaggery is the traditional sweetener of sweet pongal and my choice too, simply because sweet pongal tastes better when made with jaggery and not sugar.

Rice:

The rice that I prefer is Sona Masuri. Because this variety is grown and imported from my home state Andhra Pradesh, and is the variety that I grew up on. Grain is thin, medium sized and very lightweight. Available in almost all Indian grocery shops here in US. Little bit pricey, but the taste is worth the money and farmers in my state really can use the money. Support farmers and buy this rice.

Consistency:

Sweet pongal is like a rice-dal porridge, consistency must be gooey thick and sticky. That means, the amount of liquid I usually add for sweet pongal recipe is more than the amount that I normally add to cook plain rice of equal measurements. Also, I always use equal amounts of water and milk for this recipe. Variations are - you can cook the rice-dal entirely in milk or in coconut milk, or if you are lactose intolerant and diet conscious, then in just plain water. Just add more liquid compared to the regular rice preparation.

Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery
Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery

Recipe:
For two people

1 cup - Sona Masuri rice
½ cup - yellow moong dal (pesara Pappu)
1 - 1½ cups - jaggery, crushed to fine
¼ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee, melted
4 cardamom pods - skins removed and seeds powdered finely
3 cups each - milk and water (or 2 cups each, if you like a halwa like pongali)

Here is the 3-step method I follow to prepare sweet pongali at our home.

1.Toast and Roast:

Yellow moong dal:
Heat one teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet. Add and roast yellow moong dal, on medium heat, until the color changes from yellow to pink. Take care not to brown. Slow-roasting freshens up and imparts a sweet smell to yellow moong dal. Remove them to a plate and keep aside.

Cashews and Golden raisins:
In the same skillet, add and heat two teaspoons of ghee. Add and fry the cashews and golden raisins till they turn to light gold. Remove and keep them aside.

Jaggery Syrup Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup
Jaggery syrup simmering…………Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup

2.Cook and melt:

Rice, moong dal and milk:

Take rice and roasted moong dal in a pot. Add water and milk. Mix well. Partially cover the pot and cook the rice and dal to tender soft. I use a pressure cooker but an electric rice cooker also works fine. Stove-top slow simmering also produces best tasting pongali.

Jaggery and water:

While the rice is cooking, in another pot, melt jaggery. Add the powdered jaggery and one cup of water. Stir and cook till jaggery melts. Bring the solution to a rolling boil. and reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the jaggery syrup cool a bit.(Jaggery has to be cooked separately and you can’t add it directly to uncooked rice and milk. Because it prevents the rice from cooking properly and also splits the milk. Please keep this in mind.)

3. Stir and Simmer:

Adding the cooked rice: Add the cooked rice-dal pongal to jaggery syrup. Keep the heat on medium. Stir in the ghee, cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. With a strong laddle, stir well to combine all. Cover and simmer until the whole mixture comes together into a sticky, gooey mass. Turn off the heat. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Sweet pongal thickens further on cooling.

First offer to Gods as naivedyam (if you have this tradition), then serve it your loved ones, near and dear. Don’t forget to drizzle some ghee just before serving.

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) - The Traditional Sweet of Sankranthi
Heavenly Sweet Pongal

For people hungering for a traditional, naivedyam kind of recipe but don’t have time or energy to make puran poli (bhakshalu), sweet pongal is The one. Speaking from experience, my suggestion is, keep your reservations aside and try it. You’ll be glad and can be proud of yourself for finally making one decent kind of naivedyam. I promise! Follow the recipe and this ancient classic delivers every time. People would ask for a second serving, diet or no diet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed), Ghee, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 16, 2006 at 3:08 pm- permalink)
Comments (78)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ma’amoul (Dates & Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Chanit of My Mom’s Recipes and More left a comment on my blog last month. To return the compliments I visited her blog, and what I found was a very detailed recipe for mamoul (dates filled cookies) with photos. I knew I had to try it. What attracted me to this recipe more than anything is the use of semolina for dough. I did some googling on these famous Middle Eastern cookies to know more about them and how they are made. Next, I went and bought the ingredients: fine Tunisian pitted dates, pistachios and wooden ma’amoul mold from the only ethnic grocery store in our small town, Ghossians Mid East Bakery.

I did experiment with the recipe. First, I used ghee instead of butter because ghee is not only more flavorful and unlike butter has no unnecessary baggage. I reduced the ratio of all-purpose flour to semolina. I also complimented the dates filling by adding pistachios. Finally I skipped the eggs. One more thing is I prepped the mamoul mold with ghee so that when cookie dough pressed into the mold and reversed, it can come out easily without sticking to the mold.

The final result of my experimentation was exquisite, one of a kind sweet cookies, the one I am going to make many more times from now on. A delicious paradox, they have a mildly sweet, crisp and grainy outside because of semolina and insides are moistly sweet and tender. Thanks Chanit! It is little bit of time consuming to make these using the ma’amoul mold but I had time and so happy with the beautiful outcome.

Ma'amoul mould, Pistachios, Dates, Rose water, Semolina, All Pupose Flour (Maida)

Recipe:

Dough:
2 cups - semolina
½ cup - all purpose flour (maida)
½ cup - melted ghee
½ cup - powdered sugar ( or more if you like sweet cookie covering)
1 tablespoon - rose water
1 teaspoon - active dried yeast melted in 1 tablespoon of luke warm water
Pinch of salt

Melt the ghee and cool it to room temperature. Sift the all purpose flour(maida) and mix it with semolina and ghee. Add the yeast water, rose water, powdered sugar and salt. Mix and make a dough by adding little bit of water. Set aside for about 3 hours, covered, to rest.

Cookie Dough after 3 hours of rest and Dates-Pistachios Filling Making of Ma'amouls - Pressing the cookies dough into ma'amoul mold

Dates- Pistachios Filling:
2 cups - fresh soft-pitted dates
½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup - powdered cane sugar
1 teaspoon - rose water
and Ma’amoul mould to press and shape the cookies

In a food processor, take pistachios and powder to fine. Then add the dates, sugar and rose water. Blend them together into fine paste. Remove to a cup.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Nut filled Cookies) Ready for Oven Ma'amouls After 20 minutes in the Oven

Preparation:

After 3 hours of rest, knead and divide the dough into lime sized balls. Flatten each ball using your hand and lift the sides up to form a hollow. It is now ready for the filling. Place one tablespoon of dates-pistachios filling into the hollowed dough. Close the dough over the dates mixture. Press the edges to seal well. Press it into the ma’amoul mold to give it a decorated appearance. Reverse the mold; gently shake to loosen it from the mold. Prepare each one in this way and place them neatly in rows, on a greased/parchment paper lined baking tray.

Place the tray in a preheated oven at 350° F and bake for about 20 minutes. I reversed the cookies to the opposite side after 10 minutes in the oven for even baking. After 20 minutes or when they turn lightly golden, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Ma’amoul (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies) ~ Delicate, rose flavored and naturally sweet. Our Thanksgiving treat and contribution to this month’s SHF-IMBB Cookie-Swap event.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Pistachios, Dates (kharjuram), Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Molasses, Suji/Semolina, Ghee (Friday November 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm- permalink)
Comments (63)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mysore Pak

I don’t know why but we both are losing weight, significant amounts, since coming back from India. We are not doing anything out of ordinary and on our recent yearly medical checkup, the family doctor billed our medical reports as excellent, so no problems there. This sudden weight loss is baffling us. The only reason for this I can think of is homesickness. Leaving the dear and near ones back home, I thought it would get easy with age and time, but not so in our case, it seems. The life we created here seems so dull, empty and purposeless. Is this what happens in 30’s, if so, I would love to go back to the carefree 20’s. Little bit early for a midlife crisis, I know.

To counter the weight loss and also to satiate my cravings for an Indian sweet, we made Mysore Pak last Sunday. A deliciously rich, decadent sweet, made of chickpea flour and pure ghee. South India’s favorite. The sweet is as colorful and mouthful as its name sounds. All of our sweets names are like that, unique and colorful… Badusha, Chandra Kala, Mohan Bhag etc.,

There are no shortcuts for this sweet; you need quality ingredients and no cutbacks on the amount of ghee. Otherwise you end up with not so tasty, yellow brick kind of mixture. So use freshest possible ingredients, mainly besan flour for this recipe. And also you need an extra pair of hands. So keep family or friends on the side.

Recipe:
1 cup Besan flour, sift to aerate & to remove any lumps
1 cup ghee, melted & at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup sugar - your wish
2 cardamom pods, seeds powdered

Besan Flour, Ghee, Sugar and Cardamom Pods

In a big sturdy pot, take one cup of water, add sugar and bring them to boil till the sugar syrup reaches one string consistency. Reduce the heat.
Now pour the ghee and besan flour in a steady stream into the sugar syrup while stirring. You need an extra hand here. Continuously and thoroughly stirring, cook until the ghee starts to leave the sides of the pan and the mixture starts to thicken and turns to become porous and light gold in color. Stir in the cardamom powder.

Sugar Syrup On the Stove Pouring Besan Flour in Sugar&Ghee Syrup

Immediately pour onto a greased tray & evenly level it out with a spatula. When it is still hot, cut into diamond shapes. Makes about 10 to 12 pieces.

Mysore Pak Right Out Of the Stove, On to the Plate, Cut into Diamonds

Mysore Pak - Traditional Indian Sweet
Mysore Pak - Simple, sinfully rich tasting, sweet golden diamond

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Gram Flour (Besan), Molasses, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Wednesday September 21, 2005 at 3:59 pm- permalink)
Comments (91)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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)
Comments (69)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org