Mahanandi

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

Cranberry Chutney ~ India Inspired

“Oh Indira!”

“Yes, Cranberry?”

“Have you read the comments on my new dosth Dal?”

“Hmm… you want to try the chutney with sesame?”

“Yep, yep….” Cranberry hopped.

OK. Here was the lineup. Cranberry, sesame, onion, garlic and red chilli. Skillet Roasted. Jaggery and salt were added, and together made into chutney.

“Sounds good enough.”

“So, how was it?”

Tart, pungent, hot and sweet. Little bit on the bitter end, but nevertheless yum when eaten with a stack of freshly made chapatis.

Skillet Roasted ~ Ingredients for Cranberry chutney
Skillet Roasted ~ Ingredients for Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry Chutney ~ India Inspired:
(Makes about two cups)

Cranberries – 1 cup
Sesame seeds – ¼ cup
Red onion, cut pieces – about a cup
Dried red chilli – about ¼ cup pieces
Garlic, plump – about two, chopped
Jaggery, crushed – about three tablespoons
Salt – ¾ teaspoon or to taste

Heat a cast-iron skillet. Add and toast sesame seeds to fragrance. Take them in a mixer.

In the same skillet, add a tablespoon of oil. Add and roast to pale brown. First start with garlic, next dried red chilli pieces, then onion and at the end cranberries. Continue roasting and when cranberries start to collapse, turn off the heat. Let the contents of the skillet cool.

Grind the sesame to fine paste. To it, add the skillet contents. Also jaggery, salt and about quarter cup of water. Grind to fine consistency.

Remove to a cup. Enjoy the chutney with rice, chapati or bread.

Cranberry chutney
Cranberry Chutney with Sesame

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Cranberries (Friday January 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm- permalink)
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Karam Jeedipappu (Masala Cashews)

Jeedipappu (Cashews, Kaju)
Cashews ~ Imported from India

I feel like I am also an expert in cooking. But I rarely get a chance to make something and post on this website. I have few favorites, and karam jeedipappu (can also be called masala cashews) is one of them. The process seems simple, but one has to do it a few times to get perfection.

Needed ingredients:
1. 1 lb cashews
2. 1/2 cup ghee
3. 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
6. 1 pinch powdered pepper

Needed utensils:
1 thick bottom skillet
1 vessel to mix masala
1 wide plate to spread cashews and sprinkle masala

Recipe:
Take cashews in a clean, wide plate.
Remove any small pieces or broken bits of cashews.
Heat the ghee in a wide, thick bottom skillet to medium-high heat.
Take half of the cashews and roast by continuously stirring to pale red.
Remove the cashews immediately from the skillet into a wide vessel.
Sprinkle a quarter of the masala powder on the hot cashews and shake the vessel well to spread the masala evenly on all the cashews.
Next, spread the cashews into a wide plate and sprinkle another quarter of the masala evenly on the cashews.
Repeat the process for the other half of the cashews.
Let the masala cashews cool for about an hour. Enjoy!

Notes:
Frying of cashews in ghee must be done in two batches, as the ghee would not be sufficient to roast all cashews. Care must be taken not to burn/black the cashews.
The reason why I have added masala in two stages:
When masala powder is sprinkled and tossed in the vessel first time, masala powder and all excess ghee sticks to the surface of the vessel. When cashews are spread in a wide plate and masala is sprinkled on them, masala gets coated well to the cashews.

Masala Jeedipappu (Masala Cashews)
Masala Cashew ~ A Portrait

~ By Vijay Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Vijay Singari (Wednesday June 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm- permalink)
Comments (32)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Flavors of Life ~ Coconut Saplings

Coconut Saplings by Sree
Coconut Saplings ~ Sketch by Sree
(Colored pencils on paper 6″x9″)

My dad is an avid gardener. If he had not been an engineer, I am sure he would have been a farmer. Ironically, the soil at our place is not fertile enough for his efforts to bear fruit. But he never gives up. These are ‘extra’ coconut saplings lying in my backyard. Now a convenient “hide n seek” play area for the kittens. :)

~ by Sree

About ‘Flavors of Life’ ~ Click here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Coconut (Fresh), Sree (Saturday June 7, 2008 at 10:53 am- permalink)
Comments (14)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Claypot Cooking: Poha Payasam with Almond Milk

అటుకుల పాయసము

Claypot
Claypot Cooking: Poha Payasam with Almond Milk

I had been looking for a decent clay pot for cooking for a long time. Last weekend, I have come across one at a local grocery shop called Apna Bazar. The clay pot is from India, very well crafted and decorated with pretty floral design. The size is good and it also has a well-fitted lid. Price $12.

I brought the clay pot home, prepped it by soaking in water and then simmering the water for few times, half an hour each time. Simmering was done on stovetop following the clay-pot cooking principles. First warm the pot on low heat and then gradually increase the heat to medium level. I never tried high heat setting fearing that it might crack. Although it was on electric stovetop, this method has worked very well. Like the iron box on steam setting, the clay pot hissed every time, but absorbed this newbie trails kindly. I felt confident enough to try out the real deal and did the opening ceremony with payasam preparation yesterday. The sweetness that comes with clay pot cooking, combined with sweetness of the payasam, it was a good experience.

The following poha payasam with almond milk is very easy to make. And I think, it has a taste that delights most everyone. If you prefer, semiya or sabudana can be substituted for poha.


Toasted Poha, Golden Raisins and Chironji Nuts

Recipe:
(for two to four people, for one meal)

3 cups almond milk (badam paalu)
½ cup maple syrup (or sugar to taste)

1-tablespoon ghee
2- tablespoons golden raisins
1-tablespoon chironji (Saarapappu or charoli)
1-cup poha (atukulu, rice flakes)
1 teaspoon freshly crushed cardamom

1. Place almond milk in a wide pot on stovetop. Add maple syrup. Slowly, on medium-low heat, simmer for about 20 minutes, until three cups have reduced to about two and half cups.

2. While almond milk is simmering, in a small kadai or wok, take ghee. On medium heat, warm the ghee. Add golden raisins and saute, constantly stirring. Wait until they puff up like round balloons. It’s a beautiful sight and worth the wait. With a slotted spoon, remove the balloons to a plate.
Add chironji nuts to the kadai. Toast them to pale red. Take them out and add poha. Toast for couple of minutes just until they are warm to touch. Together, they will look like shown in the photo above.

3. Add the toasted poha, golden balloons and chironji nuts to simmering almond milk. Sprinkle the crushed cardamom. Mix. Turn off the heat immediately. Cover the pot and let the poha absorb the almond milk. Poha is like cereal flakes, softens quickly.

Serve hot or at room temperature. Just before serving, drizzle a tablespoon of maple syrup. This poha paysam with almond milk is as nutritious as it is tasty and makes a comforting dessert for people who fear the hormonal effects of regular milk and soymilk.

Claypot
Claypot Cooking: Poha (Atukula) Payasam with Almond Milk

*****
Slow connection, server problems. Sorry for the inconvenience.
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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Almonds, Poha (Atukulu), Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday April 10, 2008 at 2:26 pm- permalink)
Comments (24)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk
Badam Paalu

Almonds (Badam) - one cup
Water - 5 cups
Maple syrup - Half cup (or sugar to taste)

Soak almonds in water overnight or for at least four hours.
Drain the water. Rinse the almonds and take them in a blender.
Adding water gradually, puree to smooth.
Pour through a muslin cloth into a big pitcher or bowl to extract milk.
Run the pulp through blender one more time, adding water.
Strain through muslin cloth for milk, and save the pulp to add in curries.
To the almond milk, add maple syrup. Mix with a spoon.
Refrigerate for half an hour. Drink or enjoy with cereal, oatmeal or poha.

For Ugadi, I’ve prepared payasam with almond milk. Smooth, creamy with almond-maple flavor, Payasam naivedyam tasted excellent.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Almonds, Maple Syrup (Wednesday April 9, 2008 at 10:53 am- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mint Coconut Chutney

The fragrance of fresh mint and the sweetness of fresh coconut come together in this traditional chutney. The recipe is from my friend Janani Srinivasan. When asked to share, Janani wrote “there are two schools of philosophy on the mint-coconut chutney at our home. I prefer to grind mint leaves raw with rest of standard chutney ingredients. But my mom finds it too minty. So she sautés them in oil first and if that is the case, I like to add some garlic too and then grind with the rest of standard issue raw coconut chutney ingredients.”

I’ve been trying out various raw foods in recent weeks, so I picked up dear Janani’s mint chutney-philosophy number one for our meal today. Intense and remarkably good as raw food goes, mintaholics won’t be disappointed with this one.

Mint Chutney Ingredients Mint Chutney
Mint Chutney Ingredients …………………….. Mint Chutney in Sumeet Jar

Recipe:

1-cup mint leaves, tightly packed (spearmint)
½ cup fresh coconut pieces
¼ cup dalia (bhuna chana or pappulu)
4 Indian or Thai variety, small green chillies
1 small Asian shallot - peel and slice to chunks
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Take them all in a mixer or mortar. Add about one to two cups of water. Blend to smooth consistency. Remove to a vessel. Do the tadka if you prefer, and serve with breakfast items, rice or roti. Best eaten the day it is made and not suitable to refrigeration.

(Add only shallot (erra gadda) and if shallot is not available, then red onion. Regular white and yellow onions won’t be that good raw in this recipe.)

Mint-Coconut Chutney with Vegetable Upma
Mint Coconut Chutney with Vegetable Upma ~ Meal Today

Health Labels:
Traditional India-Vegan, Raw Food
Mint, varieties and benefits - A Good Read
Amazing healing properties of Coconut

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Previously with Mint (Pudina):
Pudina Chai with Gunpowder Tea
Pudina Pachadi with Peanuts
Pudina Paneer for Picnic
Pudina Pulao ~ Andhra Style
Pudina Pilaf with Fresh Tuvar (Kandulu)
Healing Herbal Rice with Brown Basmati

Mint is three bunches for a dollar here, now. I like mint and I would love to try new recipes. Any other good, family recipes with mint? Do share. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mint, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Fresh) (Thursday March 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm- permalink)
Comments (22)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Yogi Diet ~ Chestnut Kosambari

Chestnut Kosambari

During the years we lived here I ate many salads but none was better than the ones prepared at home with fresh ingredients. The homemade have crisp texture and full flavor, thanks to the no wait between kitchen and dining table.

The following is a new one I have prepared for our meal today. Roasted chestnuts, watermelon, lettuce and yogurt -pepper dressing. The taste was so special and it has made me think about a suitable title. As far as I know, Andhra meal doesn’t have a salad component. But Karnataka and Maharashtra meals have. Kosambari or Koshimbir, they call them. Usually eaten as a light snack or as a part of full course meal, Kosambari is prepared with fresh vegetables, lentils, legumes or nuts with coconut, lemon or yogurt dressing. My meal fits the profile. Why title salad for everything, when we have such beautiful sounding name “Kosambari”? My yogi diet with fresh ingredients will be Kosambari from now on.

Chestnuts, Lettuce, Yogurt and Watermelon

Chestnut Kosambari ~ Recipe
Roasted chestnuts (Snack section, Chinese grocery)
Lettuce
Watermelon
Homemade yogurt
Black pepper and salt to taste
Roughly chop chestnuts, lettuce and watermelon to bite-sized pieces.
Take them in a bowl and combine.
Whisk yogurt with pepper and salt. Pour over the chopped ingredients.
Toss and serve immediately.
Enjoy the chestnut kosambari as a light mid-day meal.

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Previously on Yogi Diet:
Yogi diet with Alasandalu
Salad Synergy for Spring with Boiled Peanuts

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Yogurt, Chestnuts (Marrons), Lettuce greens (Tuesday March 25, 2008 at 3:37 pm- permalink)
Comments (3)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut Water ~ Watermelon Juice

Coconut Water-Water Melon Juice
Coconut Water -Watermelon Juice

I brought home a juicy watermelon and a watery coconut yesterday. Usually I hesitate to buy coconuts here because three out of four are spoiled. But this one was not only huge in size but also had sweet water inside. I wondered how it would taste if I mixed watermelon juice and coconut water, and I tried it. As I expected, it was wonderful. Watermelon and coconut complemented each other resulting in a refreshing delight. Drinking the drink was like feeling a cool breeze on a hot summer day. Probably I should apply a patent on this.:)

Recipe:

Break a coconut with a hammer. Catch the water in a big pitcher.
Cut watermelon into small cubes.
Take watermelon in a blender. Add coconut water. Mix until smooth.
Pour into a glass or earthenware pitcher. Refrigerate or place in a cool place for about half an hour.
Enjoy this natural, sweet juice with your meal.


Fresh Coconut Water (Kobbari Neeru, Tenkaya Neellu)


Juicy Watermelon and Sweet Coconut Water

Coconut-Watermelon Juice Health Labels:
Vegan, Raw and Wholesome Food
Coconut water: Cooling, Cleansing, Cures Pitta and Vata Dosha
Watermelon juice: Excellent source of Vitamin C

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Watermelon, Coconut (Fresh) (Monday March 24, 2008 at 8:34 am- permalink)
Comments (5)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Artisan Food ~ Chestnut Lentil Soup


The days are getting longer already. Like the plants for sunshine, the appetite seems to hunger for variety. So I came up with this chestnut lentil soup idea for our meal yesterday. To my delight, it turned out to be the right kind of food at the right time.

Roasted chestnuts from Chinese grocery, and red lentils from Indian grocery are added, and the combination was simmered together with vegetables and spices. The lime juice, like a ray of sunshine, livened up the preparation. I served the chestnut lentil soup to friends and family. Chestnuts are complete strangers to few, but they seem to capture the sense of taste easily in that relaxed company. The verdict was:

“This wholesome food makes a gourmet delight to humble appetite of a dieting attitude.”


Artisan Food ~ Chestnut Lentil Soup

Artisan Food : Aim and Purpose

How it Works: After payment via Paypal, PDF file will be emailed to you to download the recipe. For any questions about the recipe or the download process, please email me at mailmahanandi@gmail.com .

Chestnut Lentil Soup PDF

Details:
Artisan Food: Chestnut-Lentil Soup
Ingredients: Roasted Chestnuts, Red Lentils etc.
Skill level: A tad kitchen experience required
Labels: Vegetarian, Diet-friendly
Price: $3.00
Format: PDF


Buy Now

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Artisan Food : Aim and Purpose
Previously in Artisan Food : Avocado Annam

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Food needs to be in the right company at the right time to feel right.
Thank you for the goodwill, and for readily embracing the Artisan food.

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Masoor Dal (Red Lentils), Chestnuts (Marrons), Artisan Food (Monday February 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm- permalink)
Comments

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic (2) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables
by Shyamala Kallianpur



Published in 1997 by Shyamala Kallianpur at Secunderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-7525-059-3. (Click on the Bookcover for Author’s image)

If I were Eve in the Garden of Eden, the genesis of my fall from grace might not be the rosy apple, but the seemingly mundane edible greens. Such is the sway that this earthy bounty holds over my taste and imagination. They beckon me at markets with their dewy-fresh looks in variegated shades of green and their promise of glowing health. Thus, each weekend sees the grand entry of a motley bunch into my kitchen. Some of them get used up quickly in a zuNka, aloo-somegreenorother, or a soup. Then my inner child awakens and begins to clamour for something different. This would trigger a search through my cookbooks while the greens waited in anticipation and then shrivelled up with disappointment. For, my cookbooks have plenty of vegetable recipes, but leafy vegetables are almost an afterthought. Even in books that provide a respectable number of greens recipes, the varieties are restricted to spinach and methi, and sometimes mustard leaves. Part of this negligence stems out of certain inherent traits of edible greens; namely, they tend to be stubbornly local and seasonal. Most of them are not amenable to traveling long distances; hence, there are variations in the types of greens found even between neighbouring states. Cookery books intended to reach a pan-Indian or global audience cannot afford to waste space on recipes with main ingredients that are not found everywhere or at all times. It is perhaps a reflection of this constraint that the only cookbook in English on green leafy vegetables in India is self-published by the author.

Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables by Shyamala Kallianpur should not have gone out of print. It is the only book that provides recipes for over 30 different kinds of edible greens found in India. It has clear colour photographs of about 35 varieties of leafy vegetables. More importantly, greens are treated with the care and respect they deserve. With a couple of exceptions (such as the Sindhi Sai Bhaji), the recipes never involve pressure-cooking the leafy vegetables or overpowering them with spices. They are steamed, sometimes fried, or cooked just until soft or wilted. Thus, the greens retain their flavour, colour, and nutrients in the final dish. The author also demonstrates a meticulousness that is not often seen in Indian cookbooks. For example, she explains the difference between “roughly cut”, “chop”, and “finely cut” for leafy vegetables. She not only explains her rationale for giving the measurements for greens in volume, but further tells you how to measure them in the cup (“do not press….but just fill it”). There are many traditional recipes from different regions of India; however, there are also enough innovative dishes to satisfy the need to do something different once in a while.

The chapters are organized according to specific greens: the commonly available ones such as spinach, methi, amaranth, Malabar spinach (see photo below), and cabbage have separate chapters. Within these chapters, the recipes run the gamut from dry sabzi and gravies to soups, snacks, and salads; especially for the first four of the aforementioned greens. With 64 recipes for these greens, I am now never at a loss when faced with yet another bundle of spinach or methi. The chapter titled Other Leafy Vegetables deals with other easily-available greens such as bathua, green-stemmed and purple-stemmed colocasia leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, gongura, kulfa (purslane, paruppu keerai), ambat chuka (khatta palak), mint, mustard leaves, manathakali leaves, spring onion stalks, and saranti saag (ponnanganni). It is the last chapter, however, that I find the most interesting. Rather awkwardly titled, Some More “Other Leafy Vegetables” covers greens that grow in home gardens and are not available in the market, or not used much despite their market availability. Here you will find recipes for beetroot leaves, cauliflower greens, radish leaves, carrot greens, garlic leaves, pumpkin leaves, pomegranate leaves, drumstick leaves, tamarind leaves, brahmi, shepu (dill) taikiLo, omum (celery) leaf, and gherkin (kundru) leaf. There are only a few recipes for each of these vegetables, but the book gives a glimpse of the sheer expanse of possibilities that exists with edible greens.

Before writing this review I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to find the total number of edible leafy vegetables that grow in India. It is no secret that the undocumented heritage of Indian cuisines far exceeds the documented, but I can think of no other area, besides edible greens, where this truism applies more strongly. This study identified 42 species of plants with edible leaves or flowers in a single district in West Bengal. Our awareness is limited to only those greens that make it to the market, either through wholesalers or small village vendors who sell seasonal homegrown fare. Kallianpur’s book should have been just one in a long series of such works by various authors from several Indian states. This might be a tall order for commercial publishers, but an initiative funded by the government or NGOs with a nationwide reach might be one of the ways to highlight this rich culinary biodiversity and preserve it from the forest-fires of globalization.

Recipe: Kothchol (Indian Red Spinach with Bottle Gourd)

Adapted from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables


Top: Malabar spinach, also known as Indian Red Spinach. Bottom: Bottle gourd

Ingredients:
Chopped Indian red spinach – 4 cups
Tender stalks of the spinach, cut into 2-cm length – 2 cups
Bottle gourd – ¼ kg (peeled and diced into small cubes)
Jaggery – 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 5 (sauté them in a little bit of oil first)
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon (soak it water for 10 minutes)
Tamarind – one lime-sized ball (use less if your tamarind is strong)

Tempering:
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed (no need to peel).

Method:
Take the chopped stalks in a vessel, add one cup of water, cover and cook on low heat till the stalks are tender. Then add the diced bottle gourd and salt. Cover and cook until the bottle gourd is just-cooked, but not too soft. Now add the chopped spinach, jaggery, and ground masala. Bring to a boil and simmer until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat. Prepare the tempering: heat oil in a small pan or tempering vessel and sauté the garlic, but do not let it brown. Pour the oil and garlic pieces onto the hot cooked vegetables and cover them quickly. Keep for five to ten minutes, then serve hot with rice.


This is a typical dish from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Chitrapur Saraswat community.

Text and Photos: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Bacchali(Malabar Spinach) (Monday February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am- permalink)
Comments (42)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Palak Tofu

Photo Purchase Keywords: Soy, Spinach
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

It’s appalling to see the cookery programs like ‘America’s Test Kitchen’, and others still touting and using nutrient-nil, all-purpose flour for sauces. There are many natural and quality ingredients readily available at the market place right now for cooking purpose.

Almonds, cashews, coconut, chestnuts, dalia, sunflower seeds, peanuts and poppy seeds, to name a few.

Cost-effective and nutrient rich, just few tablespoons of any of the above in paste form would be enough to thicken the sauce or gravy and turn them to tasty. It’s 21st century, and proven information is out there on how harmful the all-purpose flour diet can be to a human body. Still, these so called chefs posing as cookery educators seem to relish falling back on the faux traditions. They won’t hesitate to leave their spouses and relationships behind when they become unhealthy. It’s puzzling why they continue to enjoy and propagate this dreadful all-purpose flour abuse on humankind.

If you are one of those struggling to break away from all-purpose flour addiction, the following recipe will work wonders to train the taste buds fearlessly boo the bland bechamel.

Palak (Spinach) and Tofu
Spinach and Soy Bean Curd (Palak and Tofu)

Recipe:

For Palak (=Spinach) Puree:
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup, finely chopped onions
4 green chillies, Indian or Thai variety- finely chopped
2 cups, finely chopped tomatoes (2 large tomatoes)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 bunch, fresh spinach, cut to big pieces, about 6 cups

For Palak Tofu:
1 teaspoon peanut oil
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup poppy seeds (or ½ cup cashews), powdered
2 tablespoons kasuri methi (livens up the Palak Tofu)
½ teaspoon each - garam masala, salt and turmeric
15 tofu cubes, about 1 inch sized

Palak Puree Preparation :

Heat oil in a wide skillet to a smoking point. Add onion, green chillies and tomatoes. Cook them to soft brown mush. Remove the contents to a plate.

Add the spinach to the skillet, and saute until the leaves collapse. Remove to a plate and wait for at least 5 to 10 minutes for them to cool down.

Take the cooled onion, chillies, tomatoes and spinach in a blender. Add a pinch of salt. Blend to thick puree. Set it aside.

Palak Tofu Preparation :

Clean or wipe the same skillet and then add and heat oil. Add and toast the cumin. Add the spinach-tomato puree. Sprinkle the powdered poppy seeds, kasuri methi, garam masala, salt and turmeric. Along with about a cup of water. Stir well. Add the tofu cubes. Simmer on low heat for about ten minutes. Serve warm.

Palak Tofu, as you can see is a very easy preparation, takes about 20 to 30 minutes. That’s all, and makes a memorable meal when eaten with chapati, paratha, rice, pasta, or millet.

Palak Tofu (Soy Spinach)
Palak Tofu, to Satiate the Sharp Hunger Pangs ~
Meal Today, and for Rajitha’s WBB: Soy Event

note:
Calorie count - poppy seeds

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Poppy Seeds (Wednesday January 30, 2008 at 11:56 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Green Tomatoes

Photo Purchase Keywords: Tomato, Coconut
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

During winter time, I tend to look for the greenest, unripe tomatoes at the grocery stores. I keep them in a basket on the kitchen countertop at home. Though it takes two to three days to mellow, the resulting home-ripened tomatoes are worth the wait for their flavor : my solution to poor quality tomatoes of winter season.

Last weekend, I purchased two pounds of “just looking at them will make your mouth pucker” kind of firm-fleshed, unripe tomatoes. I couldn’t resist making an old classic with them for today’s meal. The following recipe is a traditional preparation from Nandyala, India. The intense, tangy ruchi of unripe tomatoes is matched by fresh coconut sweetness and chilli-ginger spiciness. A good meal to have on a mind numbing, cold winter day.

Unripe Tomato and Fresh Coconut
Unripe Tomato and Fresh Coconut ~ Ingredients for Kura

Recipe:

1 teaspoon peanut oil
Pinch each - cumin and mustard seeds
4 - green, unripe tomatoes (Round, Big variety)
4 - green chillies (Indian or Thai variety)
2 tablespoons - grated coconut, fresh
1 tablespoon - grated ginger
Salt and turmeric to taste

Wash green tomatoes and then cut them to bite-sized pieces - about four cups.

Place a wide skillet on stove-top. Add and heat peanut oil. Add and toast cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the tomatoes. On medium-high heat, cook the tomatoes to tender-soft (but not too mushy or paste like).

Meanwhile, take the coconut, green chillies and ginger in a blender or Sumeet style mixer. Add a pinch of salt. Blend to fine paste.

Add this coconut-chilli paste to the simmering tomatoes. Also stir in the turmeric and salt. Mix. Cook, covered for another five minutes.

Serve the tomato kura hot with chapati or parathas for a light meal.

Unripe Tomato Kura
Kura with Unripe Tomatoes ~ Meal Today

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala

- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Coconut (Fresh), Ginger & Sonti (Tuesday January 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm- permalink)
Comments (22)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chickpea ~ Chestnut Chili (Chole)

Due to severe winter storm and repair works, internet service at our place got disconnected last Thursday. Four days of no Net, and I survived. Sincere thanks to my dear friend Anjali for keeping the Mahanandi alive with her gorgeous Kokum and Sol Kadhi photo-article, and to my dear husband Vijay for taking time from his busy schedule to check on the website during my absence.

Instead of worrying about IS/ISO certification for Mahanandi to appease the latest blight - the “quality concerned” visitors, I simply spent time on things that really matter, which of course invariably led to food. One of the recipes that I prepared last weekend was very unusual and rather substantial meal with chickpeas and chestnuts.

Chickpea chili with chestnuts happened due to my desire to experiment with chestnuts. I like chestnuts, and I can get quality chestnuts, already roasted, shelled and packed at low prices here in Seattle. The local Vietnamese and Chinese grocery shops offer a delightful variety of packed chestnut goodies ready for consumption. I was little bit anxious during the chili preparation, being the first time and all. But the sweet tasting, starchy chestnuts simmered happily in tomato-onion sauce, and made good companion to chickpeas. I am glad I tried this Indian inspired chickpea-chestnut chili or chole.

Chestnuts and Chickpeas

Recipe:

1 tablespoon peanut oil
Pinch each - cumin and mustard seeds
1 cup diced onion
3 cups finely chopped juicy tomatoes
2 cups chickpeas, cooked to tender
1 cup roasted or boiled chestnuts, cut to bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon CCCC powder (aka garam masala)
½ teaspoon each - red chilli powder and salt
¼ teaspoon - turmeric
Lemon juice or amchur to taste (for tangy flavor)
Chopped herbs to taste - cilantro or dried fenugreek

Heat oil in a deep skillet or saucepan. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the onion. Saute to gold. Stir in the juicy tomatoes. Cook them on high heat to mush.

Add chickpeas, and chestnuts. Also stir in the seasoning, the CCCC powder, chilli, salt, turmeric, and lemon juice or amchur. Add about one to two cups of water. Mix. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Garnish with herbs and serve the chickpea-chestnut chili or chole hot, with a dollop of yogurt or raita on the side with chapati or paratha.

Chickpea-Chestnut Chili with Chapati
Chickpea-Chestnut Chili (Chole) with Chapati and an Orange

Note:
CCCC Powder - Cumin, Coriander, Clove and Cinnamon Powder
Chili with one ‘L’ is American version of our kurma. Chili contains tomatoes, beans, meat and/or vegetables with spices, and sometimes rice is also added.

- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chickpeas, Chestnuts (Marrons) (Monday January 28, 2008 at 8:36 pm- permalink)
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Kokum (Garcinia Indica, Amsool)

Kokum (Amsul, Amsool, Sol)
Kokum (Amsool, Amsul, Sol)

The kokum tree is a graceful tropical tree and grows in the Konkan, Malabar and Kanara regions of Western India that are gifted with rich soil, adequate rainfall and very good sunshine. Kokum tree reaches a height of 10-15 meters, has dark green foliage and a pyramidal shape. The tree blooms from November to February and the fruits ripen in April-May. The kokum fruit ratamba looks similar to small variety plum, and has dark purple color when ripe. Fruits are harvested when ripe and only the rind is preserved by drying in the Sun. That is Kokum. Sometimes salt is rubbed onto the rind to speed up the drying process.

Just like tamarind, kokum is mainly used as a souring agent. Kokum has a fruity and tangy flavor. Kokum fruit is considered to act as a Cholagogue, and is also used in treatment of skin rashes caused by allergies. Kokum fruit is steeped in sugar syrup to make Amrut-Kokum, and is used to avoid sunstroke.

When buying kokum, look for soft, pliable rinds. Good quality kokum is dark purple in color. I have seen Kokum with white crystals on it and it just means that too much salt was used in the drying process. No worry. Just wash the kokum rinds in cold water before using.

Another avatar of kokum is Kokum Butter, an excellent emollient, and is now used by the cosmetics industry for lotions, creams, lip balms and soaps. Kokum butter has a relatively high meting point, considered one of the most stable exotic butters (Shea butter, cocoa butter, etc) and hence doesn’t need refrigeration. It is extracted from the kokum seed and is supposed to reduce degeneration of skin cells and restore elasticity.

Ayurvedic medicine considers Vrikshamla, Sanskrit name for kokum, to be pitta pacifying and uses the fruit, root, bark of Kokum tree to treat acidity, pitta related allergies and some abdominal ailments.

Konkani cuisine has given the world an amazing gift of Sol Kadhi, an appetite arousing drink prepared with kokum and coconut milk. Sol kadhi involves almost no cooking. Some enjoy Sol Kadhi with rice and roti, but I love to drink it just by itself.

Sol Kadhi Ingredients
Coconut Milk, Green Chilli, Kokum, Cilantro, Cumin and Jaggery

Sol Kadhi

5 or 6 Kokum
1 cup coconut milk (Homemade, or Canned unsweetened type)
1 green chilli
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Sugar or jaggery, and salt - to taste
2 fresh sprigs of fresh cilantro

Soak Kokum in a cup of warm water for half an hour, to soften and to release juice.

Grind green chilli and cumin to fine paste.

Once the kokum water turns pink, take it in a big cup or glass. Add coconut milk. Stir in sugar or jaggery and salt to taste. Also the cumin-chill paste. Mix. Garnish with cilantro leaves and drink immediately. Do not leave kokum soaked in as it will make the sol kadhi sourer than normal. (Some also like to add a pinch of grated ginger and garlic.)

During winter, I warm up the sol kadhi for few minutes and enjoy it as a soup. During hot summer months, I prefer to take it at cold or at room temperature.

If you have never tried Kokum before, then Sol Kadhi would be a good start. The agreeable flavor and sweet, acidic taste will get you hooked on this amazing Kokum drink.

Sol Kadhi
Soul’s Awakening in Baby Pink ~ Sol Kadhi

By Anjali Damerla

Previously on Anjali’s Supreme Spice Series: Herbs and Spices

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Coconut (Fresh), Herbs and Spices, Anjali Damerla, Kokum (Amsool) (Thursday January 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Yogi Diet ~ Chestnut Guggullu

(Photo Purchase Keyword: Chestnuts)

Chestnuts and Coconut
Chestnuts and Coconut

A cup of steam-roasted chestnuts
Finely chopped small red onion
A tablespoon of fresh grated coconut
Green chilli and salt to taste
Few minutes of skillet saute
My version of Yogi Diet and a sufficient meal

Chestnuts
Chestnut Guggullu

for metronaturals, steam-roasted chestnuts in snack size packets are available at Viet-wah.

***********

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Coconut (Fresh), Chestnuts (Marrons) (Thursday January 10, 2008 at 4:50 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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