Mahanandi

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

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)
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A Date with Cashew

Dates with Cashews

What could be a more delirious combination than a cashew encased in a sweet date. To my mind, nothing! Cashew-date is a pure, natural treat, and has particularly been a long tradition in Hyderabad region (Charminar area). A favorite at tens of small shops specializing in dates, dates with cashews is prepared by stuffing sweet, moist dates with fresh cashews. When you take a bite, first you would get the caramel like date and then the cashew, which balances and enhances the date experience. It’s a pleasant mini jugalbandi. Vijay and I, we both enjoy cashew-dates.

I think it would be refreshing to eat something uncooked, raw as it is given by the earth at the end of a meal before leaving the table. I believe that’s why fruit is served at the end of traditional meal. A date with cashew is another succulent way to conclude the meal with the sweet taste of Mother Earth.

Date with Cashew
A Date with Cashew ~ for Chandrika’s Date Event

How:
Moist and sweet dates - pits removed
cashews - whole, raw (or unsalted, roasted ones)
****
Gently push the cashew into the date, in place of pit.
If the dates are on the firm side, warm them in a oven/microwave for five seconds to soften. This will make the dates pliable and placing cashews will be easy. (This works on firm dates, trust me). Store them in a box, or wrap each one like a candy.
Natural pick-me uppers and also make a sweet gift to share with friends and family.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Dry Fruits, Nuts & Seeds, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Dates (kharjuram) (Monday December 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm- permalink)
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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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Jackfruit~Banana Cake

Finely Chopped Jackfruit Pieces
Jackfruit ~ Finely Chopped

Jackfruit and bananas may seem an unlikely combination, but the soothing sweetness of banana is the perfect antidote to the tingly-ness effect of jackfruit. Also, baking a coffee cake is a good way to use the surfeit of super-yield fresh jackfruit or leftover canned fruit. This is an easy as well as delicious dessert that tastes much naughtier than it really looks.

Recipe:

1. In a bowl, take 2 cups of all-purpose flour, add a cup each - finely chopped jackfruit, cashews and golden raisins. Stir in a teaspoon of baking soda, baking powder and cardamom powder. Also half cup of sugar. Mix.

2. Mash two ripe bananas to smooth paste and add to the flour mixture.

3. Add about quarter cup of melted ghee (or oil) and one to two cups of warm milk or water to the flour mixture.

4. Stir the ingredients to combine them thoroughly. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan. Level evenly.

5. Bake the cake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. Cut and serve.

This cake is like something you see at an organic aisle of bread/cake section in a grocery shop. Dense, full of fruit and nut, moist but not at all crumbly.

Cake Batter Ready for Baking
Cake Batter Ready for Baking


Hot Cake Fresh Out of Oven

Cake Reversed onto a Plate and a Piece sliced
A Piece of Jackfruit~Banana Cake for JFI:Jackfruit at Jugalbandi


Recipe Source: My Own Creation
You can find jackfruit - fresh, frozen and canned at Asian grocery shops.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Cashews, Bananas, Sugar, Jihva For Ingredients, Jackfruit (Panasa) (Thursday May 31, 2007 at 9:37 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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Banana Halwa (Nenthra Pazham Haluva)

For Independence Day Food Parade, following recipe is contributed by the regular comment poster at “Mahanandi”, always entertaining ‘Kerala Girl (KG)’:

Banana Painting  - From My Home
Oil Painting of Bananas

I have chosen a dish from my hometown - Calicut/Kozhikode (land of Banana chips and Halwas) from Kerala for IDFP. Kerala - the God’s own country is also land of Kera (coconut). To a malayalee, banana or the plantains probably come next to coconut but still it’s importance is written all over the malayalee’s life. Banana is one plant whose every part is useful in one or the other form. In addition to the banana fruit we also eat it’s flowers and the softer inner trunk. The leaves of the banana plant are the less sophisticated version of today’s disposable plates. Traditional Kerala cuisine is incomplete without the pleasant taste of bananas.

Another reason why I have chosen banana as ingredient for this event is I hail from Calicut - the land famous for Calicut Halwa and one of the best halwa’s I have tasted there is banana halwa (a hard jelly like sweet). Calicut is very famous for its sweets and one the famous places in Calicut is Sweet Meat Street (SM Street). It is the busiest street in Calicut and derives its name from the times when the street was lined with sweetmeat stalls. So I thought of celebrating our independence with my favorite sweet - Banana Halwa (Nenthra Pazham Haluva). The recipe source is one of the old recipe books by the great cookbook author Mrs.K.M.Mathew. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas - 1 and 1/2 Bananas
Sugar - 2 and 1/2 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Cashews roasted or plain - handful for decoration
All purpose flour - 3 tsp

Method:

Pressure-cook the bananas until soft. Remove the outer skin and deseed (remove the black layer inside). Mash the bananas to a paste in a food processor or blender.

Make syrup of sugar by dissolving in 1/2 cup of water. It should be of string consistency. When this consistency is reached add the lemon juice and again allow it to reach the same thick consistency. To this add the mashed bananas.

To thicken the halwa, at this stage add flour dissolved in 1/4 cup water. Keep on stirring the mix to attain a thick mass. Add ghee little by little. When this becomes a thick mass add the cardamom powder. Mix well and pour into a pan greased with ghee. Decorate with cashews.
When cool cut and enjoy. This can be stored in refrigerator for a week minimum.

A Toast to our independence with this sweet dish!

Banana Halwa
Banana Halwa for IDFP

~ Guest Post by Kerala Girl (KG)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Zen (Personal), Fruits, Cashews, Bananas, Sugar (Monday August 14, 2006 at 2:21 pm- permalink)
Comments (22)

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Paramannam (Sweet Rice)


Paramannam Prasadam for Indian Sweets 101

Recipe:

6 cups of milk
2 cups of cooked rice
1 cup of sugar/powdered jaggery or to taste
¼ cup of - golden raisins and cashews together, roasted in ghee
4 cardamom pods - seeds powdered
1 tablespoon of ghee

In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, combine milk and sugar (or jaggery). Cook until sugar melts and milk thickens (just a little bit). Add cooked rice, cashews, golden raisins, cardamom powder and ghee. Mix thoroughly and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring in-between, until the whole thing comes together. Turn off the heat. Keep it covered for few minutes. Paramannam further thickens on cooling. Serve warm or for a cool refreshing taste, refrigerate for about one hour.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday August 4, 2006 at 2:55 pm- permalink)
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Pongal (Pongali)

Rice, Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Roasted Cashews, Cumin and Peppercorn
Sona Masuri Rice, Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Roasted Cashews, Cumin and Peppercorn

Some foods are simply divine, pongal belongs to that category. There isn’t anything quite like pongal! Creamy and luxurious rice dish that you get by cooking rice with toasted moong dal in little bit of ghee. Lots of water, sometimes milk is added and seasoned with cumin, black peppercorn and salt. The whole mix is cooked in a big pot until the rice and dal are soft. Roasted cashews are sprinkled at the end. This simple dish is so fragrant, the whole house will be filled with wonderful aroma. And the taste, I won’t gush but I will say this; it’s often prepared and offered to Gods in temples. Can we, mere mortals resist the pongal temptation? I don’t think so!

Pittsburgh’s Sri Venkateswara Temple serves the best pongal I have ever tasted out side India. At the temple’s kitchen, the chef prepares pongal in a big caldron following the traditional method. The secret is not only quality ingredients but also the method of cooking, no pressure-cookers there. I think that’s why temple pongal tastes so good. Since last year I have been preparing pongal in a big pot and stopped cooking it in pressure cooker. The difference in taste is tremendous and surprisingly the preparation is also easy.

Here is my recipe:
(for two)

1½ cup rice (preferably Sona Masuri)
1 cup yellow moong dal
2 tablespoon of ghee
1 tsp of cumin
½ tsp of black peppercorn
1 tsp of salt
½ cup of cashews
7 cups of water and
I also add 2 cups of milk (my preference and optional)
A big sturdy pot (Big sauce pan)


Pongal - Starting Point


Pongal - After 15 minutes of cooking


Pongal - at 20 minutes of cooking

1. Heat a teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet on medium heat. Add and roast moong dal to golden color, constantly mixing. Take care not to black. Remove them to a plate. In the same skillet heat another teaspoon of ghee. Add and roast cashews to golden.

2. In a big sturdy pot, heat a tablespoon of ghee. Add and toast cumin and black peppercorn for few minutes. Stir in the toasted moong dal and rice. Mix them with ghee for few minutes. Pour water and milk and stir in salt. Cover the pot with lid and cook on high heat. Within 10 to 15 minutes, you will see the water gurgling and trying to lift the pot lid. At this stage, remove the lid. Mix the cooking mixture once and partially cover the pot with lid, leaving little bit of gap for water vapor to escape.

3. Within 5 minutes, you will see whole thing coming together. Rice-dal mixture will be doubled in volume. Each grain will be plumped but not broken open. Turn off the heat, and stir in roasted cashews. Close the lid fully and let the rice sit for about 10 minutes. At this stage, you can stir in more ghee if you want to and also add salt to suit your taste.

Rice-dal mixture absorbs the remaining water-milk liquid and becomes little bit tight. Pongal’s consistency can vary from something resembling a thick soup to a creamy porridge, but never like a tight hard ball. Resist the temptation to overcook and turn off heat early.

Usually we will have this pongal with chutney, potato kurma or with a cup of yogurt depending on the time of the day.


Pongal with Coconut Chutney ~ Traditional Indian breakfast
My first entry to JFI - Dal hosted by Sailu of Sailu’s Food and also to Paz’s For the Love of Rice


Along with cumin and black peppercorn, curry leaves are also added to the ghee. I didn’t have any curry leaves when I prepared this recipe so the omission.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed) (Thursday June 29, 2006 at 1:46 pm- permalink)
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Basil Spinach Pasta

Basil at My Kitchen Window Sill
Basil on My Kitchen Windowsill

We would have been broke if we had used herbs from the local grocery shops for our daily cooking. :) The herbs in these stores are that much expensive. 10 tiny finger-length branches in a cute little box would usually sell for 2 dollars and some change. The more upscale the grocery chain is, the pricier the herbs are. First few years here, I mostly cancelled the herbs from my shopping list. Later, I started growing them myself. A must to grow would be mint, and some summers I also grow basil and cilantro.

For this summer, I have planted basil in a small container. Kept it on my kitchen windowsill, where it gets plenty of sunlight, and watered it regularly. After a month, the container is full of well grown and overflowing basil. So, the time has come for the first harvest and for a flavorful meal. With trimmed branches of basil, some spinach and cashews cooked together, I prepared a special sauce for pasta for lunch. A different taste from routine tomato sauced pasta. If you like pasta in pesto, then this recipe is for you and the sauce is as good as it looks.:)

Basil, Spinach, Cashews, Green Chillies, Garlic, Tomato and Pasta

Recipe:

1 cup of basil and 1 small bunch of spinach
Medium red onion and tomato - one each, cut into big pieces
6 to 8 green chillies and 4 garlic cloves - sliced into big chunks
Half cup of cashews
Salt and peanut/olive oil to your liking
Pasta of your choice

1. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Saut? onion, garlic, green chillies and tomato to golden brown. Remove and keep them aside.

2. Saut? spinach, basil until they wilt in the same skillet. Remove and keep them aside. Wipe the skillet clean, add and dry roast cashews to golden color.

3. When they are all cool to touch, take them all in a blender, add a teaspoon of salt and puree them into smooth mixture.

4. Heat a teaspoon of oil and pour in the pureed mixture. Stir in half to one cup of water. Have a taste, add salt if needed and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce reaches the thickness you desire.

5. Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add and cook pasta until aldente usually for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir to combine and serve piping hot.

Basil-Spinach Pasta with Hard Boiled Eggs
Pasta in Basil-Spinach-Cashew Sauce with Hard Boiled Eggs
From Pot to Plate for L.G’s Green Blog Project

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Cashews, Pasta, Basil (Tuesday June 13, 2006 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
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Aloo Dum (Baby Potatoes in Masala Sauce)

Thanks to the weird, spring like weather we have in this part of the world, the baby potatoes, which usually appear in market during spring and early summer, are on the market for sale in February. Rulli Brothers, the local Italian grocery shop had a sale going on baby potatoes last weekend. A pound of potatoes for one and half dollars and we could hand pick them from the pile. That’s a change from the usual prepackaged stuff. I picked out two pounds of tiny, key-lime sized baby reds, thinking they would be perfect for ‘Aloo dum’. Every home cook/chef of experience has few dishes in their repertoire, which they are certain about the outcome and happy to prepare and serve. Mine, among other things is, Indian restaurant style Aloo Dum. Baby potatoes cooked in an unforgettable flavorful sauce - the kind of dish that makes you swoon with its rich and satisfying goodness.

Recipe:

The preparation is three step. First boil the baby potatoes until they are just tender. Roast and grind the spices, the vegetables and the nuts for masala sauce. Combine and cook them together. The whole preparation takes about 30 to 45 minutes, if you have everything at hand.:) And the main chunk of it is of course to wait for the potatoes to boil.

Ingredients:

12 tiny baby potatoes
For Sauce- veggies
4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, each cut into four quarters
1 medium sized red onion or 4 shallots cut into big chunks
¼ cup finely chopped coriander
1×1 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 big garlic cloves
Nuts
½ cup cashews
¼ cup fresh grated coconut
Dry masala
6 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon coriander seeds & cumin
½ teaspoon peppercorns
3 small cinnamon sticks and cloves
1 star anise
for popu/tadka
2 teaspoons of peanut oil
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, cumin and some curry leaves

½ tsp of turmeric
Salt to taste

The list is long, but checkout the photo of ingredients together. It’s not much, is it?

Preparation:

Preparation is as I mentioned above, boil, roast-sauté-grind and cook.

Boil the potatoes until they are just fork-tender. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Prick them with a fork in multiple sites and keep them aside.

Gather the listed ingredients for masala sauce, ready on hand on a big plate. Heat an iron skillet and proceed like this.

1. Roast dry masala ingredients, for few minutes, until they release their smell. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
2. Roast cashews, then fresh grated coconut for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
3. Roast ginger and garlic for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
4. Finally heat one teaspoon of oil and roast onion and tomatoes for few minutes.

Let them cool down little bit. When they are cool enough to touch, put them in a blender. Add half glass of water and half teaspoon of salt. Grind them into smooth paste.

Cook: Heat one teaspoon of peanut oil in a big wide pan or kadai. Toast the popu ingredients (mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves) until they start to splutter. Add the grinded masala paste and another half to one glass of water. Stir in turmeric. Taste and add salt if needed. Add baby potatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Finally stir in finely chopped cilantro and serve.

My Kitchen Notes:
Don’t forget to prick the potatoes, so that they can absorb the sauce.
Onions - avoid yellow onion and go with shallots or red onions
If you want, you can also stir in cream/yogurt at the end.


Aloo Dum and Chapatis

Check out another version of Aloo dum from Lera of Myriad Tastes.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Potato, Cashews, Coconut (Fresh), Baby Potatoes (Monday February 27, 2006 at 9:45 am- permalink)
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Cashew~Walnut Laddu (Kaju-Akhrot Burfi)

When I invited my friends to celebrate Sankranthi festival, in addition to the traditional ’sweet pongal’, I also prepared cashew walnut laddu. Low in sugar calories, high in nut energy! Cashews and walnuts are first roasted and powdered, then cooked in milk-sugar kova till they all came together into solid fudge like consistency. Cooling further solidifies the mixture and then small portions are taken and shaped into rounds -’laddus‘ or cut into squares-’burfis‘. I like the round shape, so I always go with round laddus. Very convenient to hold and eat, children particularly love laddus.

Cashews, Walnuts, Milk and Sugar in the Background

Recipe:

Half gallon- Whole milk
2 cups-sugar (3 cups if you like the laddus on the sweeter side)
1 cup - cashews
1 cup - walnuts

Preparation:

Milk and Sugar: In a thick bottomed big pot, bring milk to boil. Add sugar. Stirring occasionally, simmer the milk-sugar mixture until it gets thick and is reduced to about one fourths of the original quantity. It takes at least 45 minutes to one hour.:) Do this on medium heat. Avoid high heat and take care not to scald the milk.

Cashews and Walnuts: Meanwhile, lightly roast cashews and walnuts separately in an iron skillet. Let them cool down to room temperature. Separate 10 pieces from each and chop them into small pieces. With the remaining ones - make fine powder of them in a food processor/mixer.

Milk and sugar simmering thickened milk and sugar after 1 hour on the stove
Milk and sugar simmering………………..Thickened milk and sugar kova after one hour on the stove

Kova into Laddu: Add this fine powder to the thickened milk-sugar kova and cook for 15 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture is firm. Sprinkle chopped chunks of cashews and walnuts that were kept aside. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the mixture is almost crumbly and comes away easily from the sides of pan.

Take a spoonful of mixture and press it with your hands into a ball. If it holds shape, then mixture is ready for cooling. Turn off the heat. Spoon the mixture into a greased square or round pan. Level it with a spatula and let it cool for at least 4 to 5 hours. Cut into squares for burfis or take a spoonful of mixture, shape it with your hands into a round ball for laddus. Store the laddus in glass jar. They will stay fresh for upto one week.

(This recipe makes 15 medium sized laddus.)

Cashew-Walnut Laddu

One medium sized cashew-walnut laddu, my entry to ‘Sugar-Low Friday’ event hosted by lovely Sam of Beck & Posh.

By the time my friends left, I had only four laddus remaining out of 20. Two for me and two for Vijay, enough for us. This is how I do my ‘Sugar - Low’, by portion control. In my view, this is also one of the ways to lower the sugar consumption.

Tagged with:

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Walnuts, Cashews, Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday January 27, 2006 at 7:16 pm- permalink)
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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)
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Bagara Baingan (Nune Vankaya Kura)

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

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

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

Roasting for stuffing and gravy:

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

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

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

Cooking:

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

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

Bagara Baingan with Rice ~ Our dinner today.

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

Sweet sesame spheres or Nuvvula mudda as we call them in Telugu, are powerhouse of sweets, full of body building nutrients. Prepared with love and lot of manual work, they are especially made for pregnant women, children and people who are convalescing. We also prepare them traditionally for a festival called Naagula Chavithi. These kinds of sweets are very difficult to prepare without a stone mortar. That’s why from my recent trip to India, I brought a medium sized stone mortar and pestle from my hometown, Nandyala. I wanted it more than anything and I felt that it is more valuable and needed than the usual stuff that I bring from India, like dresses, sarees etc., Of 120 pounds of luggage that we are allowed to bring to this country, 30 pounds went to this thing. Changed priorities.:-)

Nuvvula Mudda:

5 cups -sesame seeds, powdered
2 cups - jaggery, powdered
1 cup -dry coconut, powdered
1/2 cup- lightly roasted cashews, finely chopped

Sesame seeds made into powder, cashews, dry coconut powder, jaggery

Traditionally, in our home in India, above ingredients are powdered manually, using a stone mortar and pestle. What I did here was, I used a food processor to coarsely powder the sesame seeds and dry coconut. And used a hammer for jaggery.

Then, I pounded these i.e. coarsely powdered sesame seeds, dry coconut and jaggery together for about 30 minutes using the stone mortar and pestle. This pounding process brings out the oils and real tastes of sesame seeds, coconut and jaggery, which is not possible if this was done in a food processor. Also a good strength workout for upper body.

Pounding the ingredients together in stone mortar at my house

I removed this finely pounded mix from the mortar onto a plate and sprinkled the cashews, mixed them all together. Shaped this mixture tightly with hands into medium sized spheres.

Making of Sweet Sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

Viola.. first time making the nuvvala muddalu on my own is a sweet success. I am so happy for finally making these at my home, here in US.

Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

The thing that prompted me do all this is this month’s SHF. For one year anniversary celebration of SHF event, the lovely Kelli of Lovescool chose dark chocolate. She also challenged us to come up with something new and interesting with dark chocolate. So I envisioned the idea of dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres. Traditional Indian sweet meets this South American & Western treasure, resulting in wonderful, very delicious and healthy dessert. I think these are very original and are not already created by chocolatiers. Please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

Dark chocolate coating is very easy. I used Lindt’s brand dark chocolate bar. Melted the bar and some ghee in microwave oven and dipped the sweet sesame spheres in melted chocolate. Then refrigerated them for about one hour.

Dark Chocolate Covered Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Muddalu)
Something new - Dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda).

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Chocolate, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday October 21, 2005 at 6:44 pm- permalink)
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Chitrannam (Lemon Rice)

Nimmakaya Pulihora:

Prasadam in temples, part of festival feast, or simple lunch - Chitrannam or lemon rice plays an important part of South Indian meal. Our celebratory feasts are not complete without this particular dish. The tangy rice prepared with lemon juice refreshes the palate after the sweet beginnings, as you may already know it is an Indian tradition to serve the sweet first. I think serving these two, traditional Indian sweet and chitrannam together, is our elders way of reminding us to appreciate life moments, both sweet and sour. That is why, I think the temple prasadam or the celebratory food in all moments of our lives includes chitrannam.

People, who know the taste, crave this lemony rice. Even though the recipe is so simple to make, there is always one expert in the family who prepares the best chitrannam. In my home, I can manage an edible one, but Vijay prepares the ‘can’t get enough’ version. We do use the same ingredients and methods; still I don’t know how his version always turns out so exceptional. I am sure it is true in every other south Indian family too. Only chosen few are blessed by Annapurna, the Goddess of Food, to prepare this favorite food of Gods. It is one of those recipes, where either you have it or you don’t. And I am sorry to say that even though I know the authentic recipe, follow all the tricks and tips still the end result in my case always turns out mediocre. There is no magic in my hand.:)

What about you, are you the chosen one? Try it out, if you have not already done so.

Recipe:
(Serves two)

Limes, cashews, peanuts, majjiga mirapakaayalu, vertically slit green chillies, mustard seeds, cumin, red chilli, curry leaves, soaked chana dal, urad dal, cubed potato

Rice:
4 cups of freshly cooked rice. (Any kind of white rice is ok for this recipe, but I prefer ‘Sona Masuri’. Cook it like for pulao or fried rice but not like pongal or risotto.
Limes and Chillies
2 to 3 juicy limes - cut and juice to a cup
6 to 8 green chillies, Indian or Thai variety - slit vertically
(Chitrannam needs spicy punch from chillies. So, add one or two chillies (of any variety) more than your normal tolerance of chillies. Otherwise the dish falls apart, and lime juice dominates the taste.)
Seasoning
¼ cup - Chana dal (senaga pappu), pre-soaked in water at least half an hour before.
2 tablespoons - urad dal (minapa pappu)
1 teaspoon each - salt and turmeric
2 tablespoons -ghee, Or oil for calorie-consicous.
For popu or tadka
1/2 tsp each - mustard seeds, cumin, and red dry chilli pieces.
12- 15 fresh curry leaves. Don’t forget to add the fresh curry leaves. Chitrannam is not authentic or complete without the curry leaves.

You can prepare decent, basic version of chitrannam with the above items. But for special occasions, and if you want to impress guests or family, then you need the following items too.

Nuts
Quarter cup - cashews
Quarter cup - peanuts
Veggies
Quarter cup vegetables - I usually add potato, finely cubed, sometimes Indian type brinjal and shredded carrot too.
5 to 6 majjiga mirapa kaayalu (Green chillies soaked in buttermilk and completely dried in sun, a specialty of Andhra), deep fried in oil.

Method:

In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of ghee. First add peanuts, fry them until they turn light brown. Remove. Add and fry cashews next. Remove from the pan to a plate, keep them aside.

Now in the same skillet, add another tablespoon of ghee. Heat. Add and fry the curry leaves first. Then cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to splutter, add the split green chillies, chana dal, urad dal, and cubed potatoes. Saute them till golden and crisp. In the end, sprinkle half teaspoon turmeric for that golden yellow color. Mix and then saute for another one to two minutes.

cashews and peanuts saut�ing in ghee  saut�ing the Chitrannam/lemon rice ingredients in ghee
Sauteing the cashews and Peanuts…… Sauteing the veggies and dals

Mixing turmeric Mixing saut�ed ingredients with rice along with lime juice
Stirring in turmeric………. Squeezing some lime juice over rice and sauteed ingredients

Add the sauteed ingredients of skillet, and also the toasted peanuts and cashews to the cooked rice. Stir in salt and sprinkle the limejuice. Combine thoroughly and delicately (without breaking the rice grains) with your hand or using a big slotted spoon.

Have a taste, it should zing or shock your taste buds like sucking on a fresh lime wedge. If not, add some more limejuice and salt. Mix again. And keep in mind that rice absorbs the limejuice, and the tanginess you feel during the preparation reduces in intensity after sometime.

Serve with fried majjiga mirapakaayalu (buttermilk soaked, dried green chillies) and a cup of yogurt for a nice meal.

Lemon Rice and Pickled Green Chilli (Chitrannam and Majjiga Mirapa kaayalu)
chitrannam(Lemon Rice) with majjiga mirapa kaayalu.

Chitrannam, the English translation of this Telugu word is chitra= wonderful, magical, Annam= rice. This Refreshing lemony rice is all that and more, and tastes great when served hot or cold.

Recipe Source:Attamma(MIL)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Peanuts, Limes/Lemons, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Sona Masuri Rice (Friday October 7, 2005 at 2:07 pm- permalink)
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