Mahanandi

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

Pudina Paneer for Picnic


Pudina (Mint) from our Patio Garden

Pudina Paneer has the perfect punch to serve with pulaos and parathas on a picnic party. It’s good with grilled chicken and fish too.

Recipe is easy to execute. Involves grilling and grinding.

Grilling :
On stove-top or on a hot grill, place a slab of paneer and grill each side for a minute. Remove, cool and slice the paneer slab to bite sized cubes.
On stove-top or on a grill, place an iron skillet and heat the oil until it’s very hot. Add and saute Pudina leaves till they wilt. Remove to a plate.
In the same skillet, place onions, tomatoes, garlic and green chillies. Grill to brown.

Grinding:
In a food processor or mixer, take roasted peanuts. Grind to fine consistency.
Add the sautéed Pudina leaves, grilled onions, tomatoes, garlic and green chillies. Also tamarind, salt and two cups of water. Process the whole thing to smooth paste. Remove to a cup. Stir in grilled paneer cubes and serve with pulao or parathas.


Pudina Paneer ~ for Picnic Party

Ingredients
Palm sized, one-inch thick slab of paneer (about 15 to 20 cubes)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 bunches of Pudina (mint) - about 4 cups of leaves
1 big red onion
2 semi ripe tomatoes
6 to 8 green chillies
1 small garlic bulb - about 4-6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
½ cup roasted peanuts
½ tsp salt or to taste

Recipe source: My own creation

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Paneer, Mint (Wednesday July 4, 2007 at 9:32 pm- permalink)
Comments (21)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Matar Paneer with Fresh Summer Peas

Plump and firm, fresh peas of summer are a sight to behold. Bouncing out of pods, with that smooth pearly finish in pleasant green and warm sheen, they seem fit for a necklace rather than that endless pit we call stomach.

After the classic south Indian style Guggullu, the next best recipe with freshly shelled peas is the famous north Indian specialty called “Matar Paneer”. Matar means Peas in Hindi language. There are so many different ways to prepare this recipe. Mass produced for buffet, the much-maligned style with frozen peas is sadly how most people get acquainted with matar paneer. Over-cooked in overtly-spiced sauces, poor peas and paneer would evoke pity instead of poignant piquancy. Even the hardcore buffet connoisseurs can’t help but pass the peas. Thus punished, the curry remains in the pan, to spend the night in refrigerator feeling the onion raita’s aroma, all to face another day of reheating and rejection. The sob story of restaurant style matar paneer is truly pull-at-the-heartstrings, tearjerker of bollywood.

In contrast, the home-style version is an Indian housewife’s summer romance with sweet peas. It’s a joyous celebration of nature’s bounty. Fresh cow or buffalo milk churned to paneer, a cup of peas freshly shelled from the pods, few tomatoes plucked from the vines - if you stop and think for a minute, it’s easy to imagine how the recipe originated and the reason it got so famous. A treat for dulled taste buds as well as a sight for sore eyes, fresh peas of summer make matar paneer a pleasure to savor.


Peas, Paneer, Tomatoes and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Matar Paneer

Recipe:

1 cup fresh shelled peas
½ cup each - paneer cubes and roasted cashews
4 tomatoes and 1 onion - finely sliced
1 tablespoon - ginger, garlic and cilantro (GGC) paste
1 tablespoon - clove,cinnamon,coriander and cumin (CCCC) powder
½ tsp each - salt and turmeric (or to taste)
¼ tsp - chilli powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon oil

Grind roasted cashews to fine powder in a mixer or spice grinder.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add and saute finely chopped onions till translucent. Add the GGC paste, cook for few seconds. Next, tomatoes turn. Cook them till they turn to mush when pressed with the back of spoon. After spoon-mushing tomatoe pieces, stir in cashew powder, CCCC powder, salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Also green peas and paneer cubes. Add about a cup of water. Mix and simmer covered for about five to ten minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Enjoy with rice, parathas or chapatis.


Matar Paneer with Parathas and Cucumber Raita ~ Enjoying the Goodness of Seasonal Vegetables

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Tomato, Cashews, Peas (Bataani) (Thursday June 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm- permalink)
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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 (26)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Green Garbanzo and Paneer

Chana Masala with Green Garbanzo and Paneer


Green Garbanzo and Paneer Curry with Chapati ~ Our Meal Today

The last few days have been wonderfully pleasant here. The kind of weather that warms the heart and pulls us away from the spell of blank-screen bewitching ways. I took a break from routine house/blog chores and went out for shopping. Among other things, I also bought supplies needed to set up the container garden. I had to leave my neat garden setup when we moved from Ohio to Seattle last fall. Time for fresh start again. The planters, the potting soil and of course the plants. 4 cherry tomatoes, mint, a yellow rose and some marigolds. Peas and methi plants that I started from seed last month are now about 8 inches tall. I transferred all of them to the new and freshly filled big containers. I passed on planting cilantro this year. We get two to three bunches for a dollar anyway, so the loss will not be missed at all. New thing I am trying out this summer is growing lemon grass and taro plant for nutritious leaves. That’s my garden log for summer 07.

One another thing I did was, I shopped at Pike Place Market after a long time. Guess what I found there - green garbanzos in pods. I bought about 4 pounds. Freshly shelled from the pods, the lively green garbanzos were a treat. I divided them to two portions. One for the timeless classic, guggllu type preparation and with the second portion I’ve prepared the chana masala style curry for today’s lunch. Green garbanzos and creamy paneer cooked in garbanzo-sesame sauce. A fresh tasting paneer chole with chapatis, good meal!


Green Garbanzo and Paneer Cubes

Recipe:

1 onion - finely chopped
2 cups fresh green garbanzos (chickpeas, dubba sanagalu)
½ cup paneer, cubed to bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons - chana masala powder (readymade or homemade)
1 tablespoon -Amchur powder or tamarind juice (acts as souring agent)
1 tablespoon - jaggery/sugar (brings sweetness)
½ teaspoon each -salt, chilli powder and turmeric (the much needed spices)

For Garbanzo-Sesame Sauce:
In a blender, take about
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds - grind to fine paste. To it, add
½ cup green garbanzo
3 tomatoes and 1 inch sized ginger - finely chopped
Add about a cup of water and grind to smooth consistency.

*****************

In a saucepan, heat about a teaspoon of oil. Add and saute onions to golden. Add the garbanzo-sesame sauce.

Stir in green garbanzo, chana masala powder, amchur powder, jaggery, salt, chilli powder and turmeric. Stir in about a cup of water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring in-between.

When the sauce starts to thicken, add the paneer cubes. Simmer another 5 to 10 minutes on low heat so that paneer could absorb the sauce.

Serve warm with chapati/paratha or with rice.


Green Garbanzo and Paneer Curry

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Sesame Seeds, Hara Chana(Green Chickpeas) (Wednesday May 16, 2007 at 6:52 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Buttermilk Upma

Roasted upma rava combines especially well with buttermilk and tadka seasoning in this sensational upma breakfast of summer months. Almost any type or combination of upma ravas -like suji, semolina, broken wheat and rice rava can be used for this recipe, but the roasted varieties like this special upma rava from India provides the best texture for the dish. Silky, tangy and tasty - buttermilk upma is an acquired delight.

Roasted Upma Rava, Homemade Buttermilk, Urad Dal, Chana Dal and Curry Leaves
Roasted upma rava, Homemade Buttermilk, Urad Dal, Chana Dal and Curry Leaves

Recipe:

Take in a cup and mix:
Roasted Upma Rava - one cup
Buttermilk - one and half cups (homemade from Indian yogurt suits this recipe)
Water - one and half cups
Roasted cashews or peanuts - quarter cup
Salt - quarter teaspoon or to taste

In a wide skillet, heat and toast:
One tablespoon of ghee or oil
Add a teaspoon each - chana dal, urad dal, , broken red chilli pieces and curry leaves, in the order mentioned. Toast to golden color. Dals add crunchy bite and curry leaves bring an unforgettable aroma to the upma. I usually add one finely chopped green chilli along with curry leaves etc. Adds more flavor.

Add and cook:
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the upma rava-buttermilk-water mixture to the skillet, continuously stirring. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rava becomes fluffy. Serve warm with chutney/spicy powders, or with a teaspoon of honey/sugar sprinkled on the top for that delightful sweet, tangy taste.

Buttermilk Upma with Cashews and Pappula Podi
Buttermilk Upma with Cashews and Pappula Podi


Roasted Upma Rava: Purchased from Indian grocery Shops
If you are going to prepare this buttermilk upma with other varieties of rice/wheat ravas - first roast them to golden color - for easy mixing, cooking and for great taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Suji/Semolina, Yogurt (Monday March 26, 2007 at 9:46 pm- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Scrumptious Sabjis ~ Methi Matar Malai

Here is an easy meal idea that will taste like you spent hours in the kitchen, when in reality all you would need to do is pluck few leaves, open few packets and grind some masala paste. 10 minutes in front of the stove, the result would be a very comforting creamy curry that is appropriate for family meal or a gathering of friends.

Speaking of friends get-togethers, we were invited a potluck party yesterday and I prepared some sweets with homemade malai. I kept a small cup of malai to the side to prepare this scrumptious sabji today. Store bought evaporated milk or concentrated almond milk/rice milk also works for this recipe. Give it a try.


from Hindi to English - Methi (Fenugreek), Matar (Peas) and Malai (Cream)

Recipe:

Fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) - 1 cup
Fresh peas (matar) - 1 cup
Malai (cream) - half cup
(homemade or store-bought evaporated milk - unsweetened variety)
2 red potatoes - peeled and cubed to bite sized pieces
Salt and turmeric to taste or half teaspoon each
Peanut oil or ghee - one teaspoon

Masala paste: One small red onion or shallot, one inch size ginger, six green chillies, two cloves, one inch piece of cinnamon stick, one teaspoon cumin and quarter cup of fresh peas (peas are added to thicken the sauce) - Grind to smooth consistency by adding half cup of water in a blender.

Heat oil in a wide skillet.

Add and saute the masala paste for 5 minutes on medium heat until the paste starts to turn red.

Now add one after another, first potatoes, then fenugreek leaves and finally peas. Do a quick stir-fry until the leaves wilt.

Add malai (evaporated milk). Stir in salt and turmeric and about 1 cup of water. (I also added a half teaspoon of jaggery which helps to bring out the sweetness of peas. But this is optional.) Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat until potatoes and peas are cooked to tender and the sauce thickens. Serve warm. Tastes superb with chapatis or with naans.

My latest find is garlic naan from frozen section of Trader Joe’s. One packet is priced at 2 dollars and contains 4 good sized naans which are prepared in India and vacuum packed. We just have to heat them on stove-top or in oven. The flour, the layers, the garlic topping - very flavorful and quality stuff. Well, they are from India. Need I say more?

Methi Matar Malai with Garlic Naan
Methi Matar Malai with Garlic Naan ~ Our Meal Today

Recipe adapted from Vee’s Past, Present and Me

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Milk, Menthi Kura(Fenugreek), Baby Potatoes, Peas (Bataani) (Thursday February 15, 2007 at 2:31 pm- permalink)
Comments (40)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Tandoor ~ The Great Indian Barbeque Cookbook Review, Poem and Recipe


Cookbook by Ranjit Rai

Seattle’s public library system has the biggest collection of cookbooks I have ever seen, and it covers a gamut of traditional and contemporary cuisines. Whenever all-day rain is in the forecast, I pack up a bag and hike to the library to spend the day. The library is spacious, vibrant, well-lit, and equipped with WiFi system. We can either browse through the bookshelves or sit in a corner and surf away on laptops. Stepping inside the library is my way of shutting out the gloom and grayness of winter, so I go.

One such day last week, I was in the cookbooks aisle, my usual hangout place at the library. Flipping the pages of various cookbooks, trying to decide which deserved the 10-minute trek back home. I usually place cookbooks into two categories. Books that are worthy of the paper they are printed on and books that would make even the docile trees of the rainforests cry. After all the sacrifice made of these gentle giants in the name of nourishing the human mind, the trash printed in the name of food and sustenance would make any decent person weep with disgust. We have to pulp the green to mint the green, I know that, but some cookbooks are truly a violation of everything that the rainforests stand for.

But I digress. So here I was in the pursuit of cookbooks worthy of my energy. The Seattle public library did not disappoint me. I found one that made me stop looking further. The book was titled “Tandoor - The Great Indian Barbeque”. It is not often that one finds a cookbook dedicated to a cooking technique as ancient as the 5000 years old tradition of tandoori. I had to pick it up. What a wonderful use of my time it was to read that book! “Tandoor” is written by Ranjit Rai of New Delhi. He had diligently detailed a manuscript on tandoor cooking, but had passed away before it could be published. His daughter and his best friend together edited and completed the publication of the book.

I can truly say that this cookbook is like the Bhagavad Gita for connoisseurs and lovers of fine cooking. Everything one would ever want to know about tandoor, the kartha, karma, kriya are described in detail. The first part of the book is dedicated to the history and different types of tandoor. Useful tips and tricks - how to construct a tandoor in your backyard, and how to adapt tandoor-style cooking to an apartment kitchen - are recited in eye-opening detail with captivating pictures. The second part of the book is about the karma, the basic work and preparation needed for tandoor cooking. Different types of tenderizers, marinades and masala powders that add special touch to tandoori dishes - what, how and why - are narrated with scientific explanations. Part three includes tandoor recipes for poultry, lamb, fish, vegetables, and breads. The book has a total of 105 recipes and each recipe is accompanied by one or two photographs of either the preparation stages or the finished product. Classic crowd-pleasers such as tandoori chicken, cocktail kababs, masala chops, tandoori jhinga, and paneer tikka along with kababs and tandoori rotis - you will find them all in this book. In spite of coming from a family with non-vegetarian food traditions, I have consciously avoided meat all these years. But even I cannot resist a masala tikka if it is cooked and served in the manner described in this book. That tempting!

Whether you are a culinary enthusiast or simply browse cookbooks as a pastime, if you ever come across this book in a bookshop or at your local library, please stop and pick it up. Mr. Ranjit Rai’s meticulousness and passion will leave you awestruck, as it did me. What a wonderful tribute to the timeless tradition of tandoor cooking! Well done! My vinamra namaskar to the father and daughter team.

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Ode To The Tandoor ~ By Ranjit Rai
(excerpt from “Tandoor”)

Fired from below Ranjit Rai (1923 - 1993)
And cascading hear from above
Made from mother earth
By gently hands of women in love
Charging the clay with strength
Thou wondrous oven
Fail-safe cooker of goodness and health

From Unknown time
Through millenniums you serve
Now underground now from above
‘Big’, aromatic, baking and roasting
Accepting grain, meat and dove
The chicken brought you fame
And now on every lip is your name

You sit burning for others
Calling bring your meal ‘bread and dough’
And stir around me ‘timber’
Warm yourself a moment
The day’s work is done
Pay homage to the world’s greatest preserver.

Sri Ranjit Rai (1923-1993)

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Hare Chane ki Seekh (Green Chickpea Kababs)
Recipe from “Tandoor”, page: 229

Like the author’s family, we too grew up with the tradition of indulging in green chickpeas (hare chane) during season. Like fresh peas of spring, green chickpeas taste wonderfully sweet with the delicate, earthy scent of the motherland. Fresh foods like these belong to a special category and the associated memories always make them irresistibly spectacular to me.

Seekhs/kababs prepared from fresh chickpeas, without a doubt are a great tandoori snack item. So here is a recipe from the “Tandoor” cookbook, adapted to my apartment’s electric-powered oven.

Fresh Chickpeas (Hare Chana, Cholia)
Fresh Chickpeas (Hare Chana, Cholia)

Ingredients and Method:
(for 7 or 8 medium sized kababs)

2 cups green chickpeas (hare chane, cholia)
1 small red onion or 2 shallots - finely chopped
1 teaspoon - cumin and quarter teaspoon - salt
1 tablespoon - peanut oil/ghee
2 tablespoons - gram flour/besan (acts as binding agent)
Half cup hung-yogurt (hang yogurt in a thin cotton cloth overnight to drain water)
6 green chillies, 4 curry leaves, 2 garlic, 1-inch ginger, 1 tablespoon grated coconut and pinch of salt - grind them together to smooth consistency in a spice grinder or in a mortar with pestle

Skewers - 3
side dish - a cup of yogurt and grilled baby onions

Hung-Yogurt, Green Chilli-Ginger Paste, Shallots
Hung-Yogurt (Yogurt Cheese), Green Chilli-Ginger Paste, Shallots

In a wide skillet, heat oil/ghee. Add and toast cumin first . Then add and saute onions plus green chilli-ginger paste. When onions are pale red, add green chickpeas. Mix. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the chickpeas soften a bit. (Like fresh green peas, green chickpeas cook fast.)

Add hung-yogurt and salt to taste. Mix and cook on low heat, until water evaporates from yogurt. With the back of the wide, slotted spoon, mash the whole thing to coarsely smooth consistency. Sprinkle besan flour and mix. Let cool.

Mashing the Cooked Chickpea-Spice Mixture
Mashing the Cooked Chickpea-Chilli Saute

Oil and wipe the skewers. Shape the mashed chickpeas into chilli shape directly onto the skewers. Apply gentle pressure while shaping the kababs. Place skewer on a baking pan.

Chickpea Kababs Ready for Grilling
Chickpea Kababs Ready for Grilling in Oven

Once ready, place the pan in oven and broil, each side for about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a fork and fingers, carefully turn each kabab to opposite side for uniform cooking and broil to pale gold color.


Grilled (Oven-Broiled) Golden Chickpea Kababs

Serve hot with a cup of yogurt and some grilled pearl onions/small shallots.


Hare Chane ki Seekh (Green Chickpeas Kababs) with Yogurt and Grilled Onions
My Entry to “Saffron, White and Green” Event at Puja’s My Creative Ideas.

Notes:
Book Cover, Ranjit Rai photo and “Ode to the Tandoor” poem is taken from “Tandoor” cookbook (Copyright:Anuradha Ravindranath) for review purpose.
Thanks V!
Available at : Amazon, Powell’s.com, Indiaclub.com
Recommend this book to your local libraries.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Yogurt, Hara Chana(Green Chickpeas), Reviews: Cookbooks (Monday January 22, 2007 at 2:03 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Paneer Naanini

Today’s meal is inspired by menu from Indian Bread Co. of New York. Rectangular shaped store-bought, whole-wheat naans are stuffed with spinach curry and crumbled paneer. Grilled in oven and served hot with split pea~spinach stew.

We like paneer naaninis for three reasons. One, they are quick and easy to prepare, two, they taste really good - all the great ruchi(flavor) of grilled naan with spinach and paneer goodness and three, just by changing the toppings, we can customize them to our mood/taste. Stuffed parathas in a new avatar, needless to say good food!

Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer
Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer - ready for grilling

Recipe:

2 naans
½ cup crumbled paneer or scrambled eggs/tofu
Spinach curry stuffing:
1 small bunch of spinach - finely chopped
1 big red onion and tomato - finely sliced
¼ cup of fresh peas
1 teaspoon - red chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt

Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a wide skillet. Add onion, tomato and peas. Cook them stirring occasionally until onions are soft. Add spinach, sauté until the leaves wilt on high heat. Sprinkle red chilli flakes, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook for few more minutes and remove from heat.

Slice each naan lengthwise (like shown above) in the middle into two layers. (Sharp knife and skilled hand are essential to slice the naan). Top with spinach curry and sprinkle crumbled paneer. Cover the naan with second half. Broil for about 4 to 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and remove as soon as brown spots start to appear. Cut into two or three pieces and serve hot with a cup of dal soup or stew.

 Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Dried Sweet Mango Pieces
Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Spicy-Sweet Dried Mango Pieces (Maamidi Tandra Coated with Chilli Powder) ~ Our Meal Today

Source:
Paneer and Naans - from Indian grocery shop
Spicy-sweet dried mango pieces - from Trader Joe’s grocery shop

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach (Thursday January 18, 2007 at 2:23 pm- permalink)
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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)
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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)
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Penne Marinara With Fresh Goat Cheese

Penne in Tomato-Basil Sauce with Goat Cheese

Penne pasta tossed in tomato-basil sauce and garnished with red chilli flavored goat cheese - this classic pasta recipe is easy to prepare and deeply satisfying on a basic, no-nonsense way. Good food to have on a rainy day like today.

I am under the impression that goat cheese is the purest cheese available in the market right now. I am hoping that I won’t find any information that would shatter my belief and prove how naive I am. Again and again, from sugar to table salt to enriched flour, everything I thought decent were proved otherwise here in US. More and more, the ingredient shopping here is becoming like a sightseeing trip to Las Vegas. (I see gondola ride, is this Venice? Nope, it’s not.) Which is genuine and which is maya (fake) - one has to dig deep to discern the difference.

For now, I am going to enjoy goat cheese - my all time favorite cheese.

Goat cheese with red chilli flakes and Penne
Goat cheese with red chilli flakes and Penne Pasta

Recipe:

Penne (a type of pasta) - 2 cups
Tomato-basil sauce (marinara) - Homemade or storebought - 3 cups
Goat cheese - ½ cup
Fresh garbanzo beans - ½ cup
Red onion and red bell pepper, 1 each - thinly sliced lengthwise
Red chilli powder, salt and turmeric - ½ tsp each or to taste.

Cook pasta to tender following instructions on the packet. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and saut? red onions and red bell pepper to soft. Add the fresh garbanzo beans and tomato-basil sauce. Stir in red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and about a cup of water. On medium-high heat, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes stirring in-between. When the sauce starts to come together, switch off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Toss to mix and sprinkle in crumbled goat cheese. Serve hot.

Kitchen Notes:
Fresh Goat Cheese type and source: Peppadew Chevre from ‘Trader Joe’s’ (US grocery shop)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Cheese, Pasta, Hara Chana(Green Chickpeas) (Tuesday November 21, 2006 at 3:01 pm- permalink)
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Sarson da Saag (Mustard greens, Spinach & Paneer)

Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens)
Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens ~ Japanese Variety)

“Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years. Mustard greens are a notable vegetable in many different cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Southern American. Like turnip greens, they may have become an integral part of Southern cuisine during the times of slavery, serving as a substitute for the greens that were an essential part of Western African foodways. While India, Nepal, China and Japan are among the leading producers of mustard greens, a significant amount of mustard greens are grown in the United States as well.”

- Says the WHFoods, a website which provides unbiased scientific information on nutrient-rich World’s Healthiest Foods. If you think history of this green leafy vegetable is impressive, check out the detailed nutritional information listed. It has antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E to mineral - Magnesium, that would help to deal with lung problems (asthma) etc, - almost everything that a health(label) conscious person desires in a vegetable. Not only that mustard seeds (aavaalu) that we use regularly in our tadka and mustard oil comes from this vegetable.

When it comes to cooking mustard greens, the famous Punjabi’s ‘Sarson da Saag’, is THE recipe. Mustard Greens (Sarson Patta in Hindi), spinach and paneer along with traditional Indian seasoning are all cooked together. Like Punjabis, the end result is attractive and vibrant - in a nutshell, wholesome food experience. Give it a try!


Fresh Baby Mustard Greens, Spinach, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Cashews, Paneer, Green Chilli

Recipe:

1 bunch fresh, baby Sarson (mustard greens)- chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - chopped
10 green chillies - small Indian variety
1 small onion - finely chopped
1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp of cccc powder (cumin-coriander-clove-cinnamon) or garam masala
15 cashews - roasted and powdered
15 paneer cubes - grilled or pan-fried to light gold
Limejuice to taste or 2 tablespoons
Turmeric and salt to taste or ½ tsp each

1. In a big skillet, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute the sarson, spinach and green chillies. Within 2 to 3 minutes, the leaves start to wilt and come together. Turn off the heat and remove them to a plate. Let cool and then take them in a blender or food processor. Grind to coarse paste by adding a pinch of salt.

2. In the same skillet, add and heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute onions to gold color. Add and fry ginger-garlic paste for few seconds. Add pureed sarson-spinach-green chilli and half cup of water. Stir in cashew powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Before turning off the heat, add paneer cubes and sprinkle in limejuice.

Serve hot. Tastes great with rice and roti or chapatis.

Sarson Da Saag with Chapatis
Sarson da Saag with Chapatis.

I purchased these fresh, baby mustard greens from an Asian grocery shop (Uwajimaya).
Recipe adapted from: Basant. I have added cashews to bring some nutty sweetness to the curry.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach, Cashews, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Monday November 6, 2006 at 4:29 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Paneer Pad Thai with Bok Choy


Paneer Pad Thai with Pistachios and Bok Choy

This is an eggless version of pad thai and prepared in response to this comment. Dear Terri, this recipe is for you.

Paneer is prepared in bhurji style and has been added to rice noodles. When all done, it almost looks like fried eggs of padthai but with paneer taste and smell. I have also added pistachios in place of peanuts and lots of bok choy, a green leafy vegetable of Chinese. I am able to purchase all the ingredients listed for this recipe at affordable prices, that means at the prices I am willing to spend:) here in Seattle, and because of that I could experiment however I like.

So here it is, with paneer, pistachios and bok choy ~ My version of pad thai.


Ingredients for Paneer Pad Thai

Recipe:
(for two, for one meal)

Flat rice noodles (two bundles)
(Soaked in hot water for about 15 minutes, drained just before the start of stir-fry.)
Paneer - cubed and crumbled - about 1 cup
Baby Bok Choy - 8 bunches - finely chopped
Pistachios - ½ cup
Shallot (Indian onion) - 1, and green onions - 1 bunch, finely chopped
Fresh bean sprouts - 2 cups
Fresh Cilantro - few sprigs, finely chopped
Soy Sauce - 1 tablespoon
Padthai Sauce:
10 fresh red chillies (pandu mirapa kayalu)
1 T of jaggery
1 T of tamarind juice
½ tsp of salt
Take them all in blender, add half cup of water, grind them to smooth paste

Keep all the ingredients ready by the counter.

Place a big skillet or wok on stovetop. On high heat, add and heat about 2 teaspoons of peanut oil.

When it is hot, one by one add the ingredients listed below in that order.
shallots, green onions, crumbled paneer, bok choy, bean sprouts, pistachios, soy sauce and pad thai sauce. Do the quick stir-fry and add the rice noodles. Sprinkle in a quarter teaspoon of salt, mix and saut? briefly and serve with some limejuice sprinkled.

That’s it, a very quick meal to prepare and to have. And this time, I applied the traditional Thai advice and soaked the rice noodles in hot water instead of cooking them in boiling water. They tasted much better this way.

Recipe adopted from Thai food and travel.com

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Pistachios, Rice Noodles, Bok Choy (Friday October 27, 2006 at 5:53 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Pumpkin Halwa with Butternut Squash


Pumpkin Halwa with Butternut Squash and Almonds ~ For JFI:Deepavali Treats

When talented food writer, photographer and blogger Vee of Past, Present and Me announced special edition of Jihva to celebrate Diwali festival, I was really elated and thought it was an appropriate idea. “Jihva for Ingredients” (JFI), is an online food blogging event, created to celebrate the natural ingredients and what they can do for our Jihva.

The ingredients that we use in our cooking may not be constant but love, family and tradition, the natural, real ingredients that we share to celebrate the Deepavali festival are going to be constant and would always be there to sustain us through our life journey. Also if there is one festival that truly unites India, it is Deepavali~the festival of lights. All ages and religions joyously participate - Lighting the divas, sharing sweets, presents or enjoying firework displays. The festival has something for everyone. Even the grinch among us would shine and smile during this time.

Deepavali is also about giving and receiving a second chance in life and I am glad to share with you my second chance with pumpkin.:) To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of pumpkin, I never was. My dislike of this vegetable started in my childhood, continued through upto now. But after seeing several of my fellow food bloggers’ fabulous creations with this vegetable, I too wanted to join the fun. But would the pumpkin accept me, I was skeptical. So I took the help of almonds, milk kova and of course our true friend that would instantly bring joy to any occasion, ‘the sugar’. With the help of all these ingredients I have prepared pumpkin halwa with butternut squash. Boy, oh boy, what a delight that was. I was astounded by how generous the pumpkin was with its gentle sweetness and its ready mixing with other ingredients. It may look all bulky and intimidating, but the vegetable has a sweet taste of a kind giant.

Many thanks to my fellow food bloggers (dear InjiPennu , where are you?), to my new friend pumpkin for inspring me to take this second chance and also to lovely Vee for hosting this special edition of Jihva. If it’s not for you guys, I would have never tried pumpkin again, I think. And this pumpkin halwa sweet truly is a special Diwali treat for us, and is going to be a tradition from now on in my family.


Butternut Squash ~ Cut in Half and Grated

Recipe:

Butternut Squash, almonds, milk and sugar
Ghee, rose water and cardamom

Prep work:

1. Almonds - Soak half-cup almonds in warm water for about 2 hours. Remove the skins and make a smooth powder in a food processor.

2. Butternut squash (2 pounder) - Peel the skin and cut into half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and finely grate using a mandoline. Comes about 3 cups of tightly packed grated squash.

3. Meanwhile prepare milk-sugar syrup: take 5 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of sugar in a big, thick-bottomed vessel. Cook the mixture until is gets thick and is reduced to about one fourths of the original quantity. Takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Take 8 cardamoms, remove the skins and in a mortar pound the seeds into fine powder with a pestle.

Showtime:

1. In a big sturdy, wide bottomed vessel, heat about 2 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat.

2. Add the grated pumpkin to the melted ghee. And with a big slotted spoon, gently mix and cook the pumpkin. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring in between, until the raw smell of pumpkin disappears and color changes from yellow to orange-yellow.

3. Add the almond powder and condensed milk-sugar kova. Add cardamom powder and two teaspoons of rose water. Gently mix and constantly stirring, cook the whole mixture until it comes together into a solid firm mass. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Remove the halwa to a pan. Level it even and let cool. Keep it in the freezer for about one hour to firm it up even more. Remove and cut into squares or use a cookie cutter to cut round shape discs.

5. Serve chilled.

I think this halwa can stay fresh upto one week, when refrigerated.


Pumpkin Halwa ~ Our Diwali Treat ~ For 101 Indian Sweets
and My Entry to VKN’s “Festival Foods” Event

Recipe source: My own creation
I have prepared this halwa on less sweet side. My preference. Increase the sugar quantity if you like more sugary sweet taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Almonds, Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101, Pumpkin (Thursday October 19, 2006 at 2:08 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Okra in Yogurt Sauce (Bendakaya~Perugu Kura)


Okra in Yogurt Sauce (Dahi Bhindi)

This north Indian style curry is not a regular preparation at my home but a guest.

Though curry is quite easy to prepare and tastes soothingly smooth, I rarely make it mainly because this is not the dish that I grew up on. Okra-coconut curry and okra sambhar are what I am used to. Once in a while, like a visit from a cultural-exchange student, I do enjoy treating okra and myself in this special way.


Okra, Curry Leaves, Home-made Indian Yogurt

Recipe:

Prep the okra:
Pick 15 to 20 fresh, young looking okra (Bendakaya): Wash and wipe them dry with a clean kitchen cloth. Cut off both ends. Slice the middle portion into half-inch circular rings. (Follow the tips outlined here for clean, gum-free okra curry.)

Prep the yogurt:
1 cup of plain yogurt (I used traditional Indian home-made yogurt for this recipe). Take it in a cup and churn it for smooth consistency without any lumps.

Cook in a skillet:
Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil.
Add and toast 4 to 6 curry leaves, pinch of each - cumin and mustard seeds in that order.
When seeds start to dance around, add the okra rings.
On medium heat, cook the okra for the about 5 to 10 minutes covered until they soften little bit. Stir once or twice, more like shake the skillet and toss the okra. Leave the okra alone for spectacular crunchy results.

Final touch:
Add the silky~smooth yogurt.
Stir in turmeric, salt and red chilli powder to taste or ½ teaspoon each.
Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of each - Indian(garam) masala powder and dry coconut powder
Mix and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes on low heat.
Serve hot with rice or with roti. My personal preference is having it just plain in a cup with some more yogurt added.

Okra in Yogurt Sauce and Beetroot-Tomato Pulao
Okra in Yogurt Sauce and Beetroot-Tomato Pulao

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Benda Kaaya(Okra), Yogurt (Monday October 16, 2006 at 12:07 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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