Mahanandi

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

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)
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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

********

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

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

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

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)
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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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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)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Chocolate Coconut Burfi

Chocolate Coconut Burfi

Chocolate is the spoiled brat in the dessert world. There is already loads of sugar and butter in a single chocolate bar. But this delicious diva demands more butter and sugar if you try to make anything with it. There are some occasions where I wouldn’t hesitate to indulge in chocolate tantrums. But today is not one of those, with New Year resolutions and all. Instead I have given a microwave timeout to chocolate. It simply melted and when applied to the coconut burfis, it seemed content. I guess it found a natural fat to cling to. There is no way we can win with chocolate. This is a spoiled brat everybody loves to indulge in.

Dark Chocolate and Coconut Fudge
Chocolate Bar and Coconut Burfis

Recipe:

12 medium sized Coconut burfis
1 chocolate bar of your choice. I went with TJ’s brand

Break the chocolate bar into big chunks. Take them in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave, stirring in-between. Usually it takes one to two minutes for the chocolate to become shiny liquid.

Line a plate with parchment paper or wax paper.

To chocolate coat: Dip the coconut burfi into the melted chocolate with your fingers or with a fork. Completely submerge and cover. Lift, and run a knife underside and to the sides, to remove excess chocolate. Place the burfi on a wax or parchment covered plate. Quickly coat all the pieces in same way. Place the tray in a cool place, or refrigerate. Once the coating firms-up, gently remove them from plate and store them by placing a wax paper in-between.

Coconut burfi coated with chocolate tastes superb and for choco-cocoholics, this is a simple and easy way to indulge in chocolate-coconut cravings.

Coconut Burfis Covered with Chocolate
Coconut Burfis Covered with Chocolate


Chocolate- Coconut Burfi ~ A Satisfied Craving for Jihva: Chocolate at Deepz

Coconut Burfi - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sugar, Coconut (Fresh), Chocolate, Jihva For Ingredients (Thursday January 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm- permalink)
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Mooga-Gaathi with Moong Bean Sprouts

Sprouted Moong Dal and Fresh, Tender Coconut
Fresh, Tender Coconut and Moong Beans, Sprouted at Home

Mooga-Gaathi, a traditional Goan-Konkani recipe with sprouted moong beans and fresh coconut may sound like another unassuming moong dal preparation. But you would be delighted to find out the appetite-arousing attitude of this homey, gentle sounding dish. All thanks to spices - nutmeg, cloves, coriander and peppercorn.

The recipe is from my friend Veena Parrikar’s kitchen. I made small changes here and there to the original to suit my taste. Easy to prepare, minimum work, no cutting or slicing things, and satisfying results. A perfect autumn recipe and a must try for sprouted moong bean fans. I totally recommend.


a Round of Ground Coconut and Spices - Black Peppercorn, Cloves, Nutmeg and Coriander Seeds

Recipe:
(for two, for two meals)

Sprouted moong(mung) beans - 4 cups
Fresh coconut gratings - 2 tablespoons
Spices:
Nutmeg - a small piece
Cloves - 3
Coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon
Black Peppercorn - ¼ teaspoon
Dried red chillies - 2
Tamarind pulp - 2 teaspoons
Turmeric - ¼ teaspoon
Salt - ½ teaspoon or to taste
For popu or tadka:
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
8 curry leaves
¼ teaspoon each - cumin, mustard seeds and asafoetida

1. Place a wide pot on stove-top and heat.
Add and dry-roast the nutmeg, cloves, coriander seeds, black pepper and dried red chillies to fragrance. Remove them to a mixer. Add fresh coconut and grind to smooth paste. For easy blending, you could also add about half cup water.

2. In the same pot, take sprouted moong beans. Add about 2 to 3 cups of water and stir in salt. Cover and cook. When moong beans reach required level of tenderness, add the ground-spice paste, tamarind and turmeric. (I also added a tablespoon of jaggery.) Mix well and simmer on medium heat.

3. While the moong is simmering, do the popu or tadka. In a small skillet, heat oil until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Add and toast curry leaves to pale gold. Next goes the cumin, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Wait for the mustard seeds to splutter. And, immediately add the skillet contents to simmering moong dal. Mix, reduce heat and simmer for another five to ten minutes to blend the flavors.

Serve or spoon into a small bowl and enjoy with rice or chapatis.


Mooga-Gaathi with Chapatis and Jujebe Fruits (Gangiregi Pandlu) ~ Meal on a Autumn Day

Notes:
The original recipe did not have cumin seeds in tadka/popu. They are not used in gaathi.
How to sprout Moong Beans: Soak moong beans in water overnight. Next morning, drain into a muslin covered colander. Cover the beans with cloth, and keep the colander in a warm area. Sprinke water occasionally to keep the cloth moist. Within a day, you start seeing the sprouts. Wait for next morning. There you go, you have your own homemade sprouts ready for Mooga-Gaathi.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), Coconut (Fresh), Sprouts (Molakalu) (Monday October 8, 2007 at 9:28 pm- permalink)
Comments (20)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut for Pooja

Coconut for Pooja
Pooja Coconut

The festival season officially will begin tomorrow for us. Last year in moving hungama, I totally missed the pooja, but this year I have planned to celebrate all festivals.

For Varalakshmi vratham:

Shopping - done
House cleaning - done
Pooja mandir decoration - done

Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Varalakshmi Vratha Shubhakankshalu!
వరలక్ష్మి పూజ శుభాకాంక్షలు!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Coconut (Fresh) (Thursday August 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Coconut (Kobbari, Nariyal, Kopra or Thenga)

Coconut - Young and Mature
Young coconut removed from its hard outer green shell and
Mature Coconut

Young Coconut and Coconut Water
The top of the young coconut is cut using a sharp knife for sweet coconut water and to remove tender coconut pieces. Pure and fulfilling food!

Fresh Coconut Water and Fresh, Young Coconut
Divine Coconut Water and Delicious Coconut Pieces
Sacred and Nourishing Treat ~ to Toast the New Year: 2007
My Entry to Jihva for January, hosted by Ashwini of Food for Thought.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Coconut (Fresh), Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 1, 2007 at 1:21 pm- permalink)
Comments (7)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cooking at home with Pedatha ~ Cookbook Review, Interview and Recipe

Recently I have received a cookbook to review. The title of the book is “Cooking at home with Pedatha”.

Atha (or attha) means father’s sister in Telugu. Pedatha means eldest Atha. After grandparents, Pedatha, an authority motherly figure is the most important person and pedatha’s advice and asheerwad (blessings), are always sought in our homes during difficult times and for celebrations. We respect pedatha. After reading and trying a couple of recipes from Pedatha’s cookbook, I felt like I’ve found an emerald gem that would bring good health and good luck to my cooking.

Here in this cookbook, the authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain captured their Pedatha’s 85-years kitchen experience and wisdom. A blend of hot, sweet, sour and aromatic flavors, often all in one dish - the genius and simplicity of Andhra cooking, are laid out in endearing detail. Rice preparations, simple stir-fry curries, spicy powders, savory rasams and traditional sweets are all explained in Pedatha’s words. The result is like a marriage of perfect flavorings with natural goodness of fresh ingredients.

What I particularly liked about this cookbook is how it speaks to us, the Indians. It has an authentic voice which is compelling. I am from Nandyala, Andhra Pradesh and almost all of the recipes are just the way my mother would prepare. There are no shortcuts and there is no compromise in authenticity to please the western audience taste. Accompanied by breathtaking images, the recipes are easy to follow and most of them can be cooked in a short 30-minute time.

The only drawback I can think of is, when compared to ‘Hummer’ size cookbooks in vogue now, this book with 61 recipes in 87 pages may look like ‘Toyota Prius’. On the other hand, this may not be a drawback at all. I think even a newbie will easily get an idea and can cook a decent full fledged Andhra feast called “vindu bhojanam”, following the recipes, images and the menu ideas.

If you are like me, uninspired by cookbooks that devoid of originality and authenticity, often poor victims of meddling editing and mega publishers pressuring tactics, and hungry for a true Indian cookbook, then this book is for you. You may be a novice or an experienced cook, “Cooking at home with Pedatha” with its clutterfree instructions and clean, pleasant images will definitely assist and delight you just like Pedatha in our lives. Check it out!


Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri with Pedatha (Sreemati Subhadra Krishna Rau Parigi)

double_curve.gif

Interview with Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain

Cookbooks are dime a dozen here in USA, but they are rare in India. There is no cottage cookbook industry and publishing a cookbook particularly one that focuses on regional cooking is still a big deal. Most of the times it’s truly a labor of love.

I wanted to know who inspired and what motivated the authors, and how they survived the brutal publishing phase to bring the book into market. Pratibha and Jigyasa responded immediately to my questions and were kind to this newbie. Thanks Pratibha and Jigyasa!

Here is my interview with the authors.


Pratibha and Jigyasa ~ Authors of the Cookbook


You have made an excellent book with uncompromising authentic recipes. What motivated you to write and publish this book? Who is your intended audience?

Thank you for the compliments. Frankly, the main motivating factor was pure love. When you meet Pedatha, you will realize how true this answer is. You know Indira, most of the things we have done in life have always been planned. Strangely, this book was never an agenda. Both of us like interacting with elders very much and we just used to visit Pedatha and chat - invariably about food, for such is her passion for cooking. When that personal collection became a book…. it was destiny’s hand and we just went along with the force of it.

Regarding the audience, we thought it was a niche product. Therefore, the only way to appeal to a wider audience was the idea of a coffee table book. Honestly, we never ever expected to go into second print, and so soon.

Our elders, who are greatly experienced in our cooking styles are exceptional assets for us. “Peddatha” is one such great asset. What did she think about publishing her recipes in the form of a book?

She would be very excited about teaching us whenever we visited her. But later, when the idea of a book emerged (initially from Jigyasa’s husband who said this is not a personal collection, this is a book in the making), she was very apologetic and shy. She kept saying it was home food and that there was nothing to it. In fact, she also once said that she feared people would say that she had misled us ‘little girls’ into thinking that her food was exceptional.

We remember one day when she said the same thing again. And we told her, “Pedatha, does a pearl know its worth? Only a jeweler knows that. So you Pedatha, are our precious pearl and we are your jewelers. Oh how she laughed and said - Now I understand. Ok ok.”

After all the fame and interviews, she is still as simple as always. We can’t stop marveling at that. But she thanks us a hundred times and laughs - “Without walking the ramp, you naughty girls have made me a model”. She calls us - The three Musketeers. She calls our laptop a lapdog because she says it has been so faithful to her. She thinks the recipes are just as she cooks them.

The beauty of the book you made truly portrays the essence of the recipes you put in the book. Cooking is intensively skilled process. Recording and reproducing these processes in the form of a book requires another level of skills too. What was your approach and method to create such wonderful design, photographs and narration? Who was your inspiration?

The first step of inspiration was Pedatha’s photographs - we were

stunned when we saw the results of the camera. I guess from there, we just had to make a book that blended with her pictures.

Regarding the layout and graphics, all credits to our team - Prabodh Jain (every adjective mentioned in the thanks note in the book is just apt - creativity and sustained vision) - he nudged us along every step of the way, challenging us not to compromise; Kavitha Shivan, our young layout designer, is a dream to work with (if u put aside her moods:) and spells of inactivity), guess that’s what creativity is about. In fact, Kavitha played a vital role in food presentation. Srivatsa, our photographer, simple, genuine and hard working - ever willing.

Pratibha’s mom once asked her brother Prabodh what made him so passionate about this project. He said, “Mom! These girls will kill themselves for that right word, the right phrase (he had seen our endless editing and the dozens of times we tried each recipe). How can any of us not respond likewise!” This was a compliment indeed.

I can understand that publishing a book is not as simple a process as preparing a dish. You might have gone through a great deal of work to get the book in to the market. How did you survive through tedious process?

Once the book was ready, quite a few friends and relatives came forward to launch the books. You can see that in the calendar page of our site. Pedatha’s son Mr. A.P.Parigi, an encouraging, positive, friendly person, came forward to launch the book in a big way in Mumbai. That evening was a phenomenal success.

Apart from that, Westland immediately agreed to distribute in India. We are still far behind in distribution though. As single book authors, it is not easy to get a shelf place in stores. However, since we are primarily ambitious as writers, it gives us that space within ourselves not to get obsessed with sales and marketing beyond a point.

What do you think about food blogs and would you like to share anything else with the readers of food blogs?

Food blogs are a reaching-out point for most net savvy cooks. It is almost like a huge wave out there. So easy to find recipes now, just a click away. And in blogs, the responses from other readers to the recipes make it interesting, as well as help decision-making. The best thing is the photographs on food blogs - they are honest, the food looks as it cooks. We wish every food blog would have a grandma’s corner - recipes, health tips, and anecdotes. Grandmas and granddads are such an awesome phenomenon.

What a wonderful thing that blogs are free! Anywhere, anyone who has something to say or share has a forum to do so. Thanks to food bloggers, our kitchens are constant discovery zones now.

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Arati ~ Ava Pettina Kura (Raw Banana with a Twang of Mustard)
Recipe from “Cooking at home with Pedatha”

I have been cooking several recipes from the cookbook for the last few days. Traditional recipes that I totally forgot until now. One such recipe is plantain curry with mustard seeds paste. Known as arati ava pettina kura, this special, seasonal dish of Andhra is often prepared for festivals.

I’ve followed Pedatha’s words and instructions mostly, and added salt and chillies to suit my taste. The result was a spectacular, simple dish, which brought me incredible joy. The kind of joy and happiness one would feel when remembering a cherished memory or taste from the past. Thank you Pedatha!


Plantain cubes and Mustard Seed- Coconut Paste

Recipe:

2 plantains
peeled & cut into cubes - boiled in water just until tender & drained.

For Mustard Seed ~ Coconut Paste:
2 teaspoons mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon of raw rice
(soaked in warm water for 10 minutes - to soften, so that they can grind well)
¼ cup of fresh grated coconut
8 green chillies - small, Indian variety
1 inch piece of ginger - peeled and cut to tiny pieces
¼ cup of fresh cilantro leaves and pinch of salt
grind them to smooth paste without adding any water - in a mortar or in a blender

For popu or tadka:
1 tsp each - urad dal, cumin, mustard seeds
6 each- curry leaves and red chilli pieces
A pinch of asafetida powder

Salt and turmeric to taste

In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and toast popu or tadka ingredients listed to gold color. Add the grinded paste. Saute until it leaves the raw smell for few minutes on medium heat. Add in boiled plantain cubes, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water and cook covered for about 10 minutes stirring in-between.

Serve warm with chapati or rice.


Arati Ava Pettina Kura with Chapati (Plantain - Mustard Curry with Chapatis)

Cooking at home with Pedatha:
Recommend this cookbook to your local libraries
Jigyasa and Pratibha’s Website: www.pritya.com
Cookbook cover and authors photo credit : Jigyasa and Pratibha

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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Arati Kaaya (Plantain), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks (Tuesday December 12, 2006 at 8:48 pm- permalink)
Comments (63)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Besan-Coconut Burfi, the 7-cup magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

How to Food Blog? ~ Live and Let Live philosophy & Methi-Nariyal Pulao (Fenugreek-Coconut Pilaf)

The holiday season is here in US!

Food blogging community is abuzz with calls for donations and charity drives, to show that we are not some greedy gluttons always in search of next best exotic ingredient, and we have a compassionate heart. Good things we are doing. Also without some family ‘discussions’, where is the joy in holidays? In last few weeks, we’ve seen amateur gourmets to who spits wine, issuing ultimatums to the community. One blogger writes stop being mediocre, stop writing about what you had for lunch and urges us to strive for the foodie exhibitionist avatar, him in a nutshell. And one wants to name and shame the bloggers who don’t provide - ha… the terminal crime, RSS feeds. Imagine the audacity of some food bloggers, who wish for people to spend some time visiting their page and recipes they laid out neatly, instead of being treated like ‘grab and gulp’ fast food road stops. Imagine, for all their hard work, some food bloggers want people visit their actual web page, instead of being one more bland white page in a RSS feed hell.

Just few lunches with corporate promoted celebrity chefs and few sponsored dinner reservations at 300 dollars a meal - French Laundry, is all one needs these days to act like all-knowing, bloggity wisdom dispensers. Like utterly corrupted evangelical leaders that issue bully ultimatums of one has to follow only their religion to enter the heaven, these food bloggers who tasted the fame, suddenly forgot their beginner days of blogging and thunder on us, to write like them and do what they do, to enter the golden greedy gates of mainstream fame. What if the ‘mediocre’ home cooks start writing what’s on their minds about such things? These sermon serving, self-proclaimed soul savers, will they be ready to hear how shallow they sound in their daily posts.

What happened to “live and let live” philosophy?

They may join forces with few food magazine columnists in demeaning the home cooks who blog about cheese sandwiches - the everyday food. But they keep forgetting that home cooking and bloggers who write about lunch meal recipes have been the building bones of food blogging community. Home cooks in general are compassionate, understanding and gentle. Rarely narcissistic and flashy. Not only towards the ingredients and the recipes they blog, but also in their writing style and in interaction with readers. This approach is considered boring and mediocre by advice dispensers. Really? If we want to read glorified, glibbery accounts of restaurant food or doltish gibberish of kitchen mishaps, or how micro plane zester or some latest kitchen gizmo saved their cooking - we already have puffed up Frank Bruni and his kind’s writings in newspapers and food magazines, all available free at the local libraries. These ‘wannabe’ food bloggers may think they are being original, but who are they kidding?

I blame the current tide in food blogging world on holiday pressures. I do hope that this drive to conform foodbloggers to their thinking passes once the holiday season is over. There are many ways and many reasons to blog. Live and Let Live. With that said, here is today’s recipe - what I had for lunch, very much homemade, not RSS fed - coconut and fenugreek pulao.

Aromatic basmati rice, sweet homemade coconut milk and potent fresh fenugreek leaves - cooked together is a recipe that I have learnt from my mother and very much illustrates the ingenuity and wisdom of home cook. Nutritious, wholesome and a one-pot meal, give it a try.


Homemade Coconut Milk, Basmati Rice, Fresh Fenugreek Leaves

Recipe:

2 cups basmati rice
2 cups fresh methi (fresh fenugreek) leaves
6 chillies - sliced thin lengthwise
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup finely sliced onion - lengthwise
½ cup homemade coconut milk or ¼ cup of store-bought type
½ cup roasted cashews (optional)
1 teaspoon each - ghee or peanut oil and salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon each - black peppercorns, cloves and fresh ginger pieces
coarsely grind using a spice mill or in a mortar with pestle

Wash and soak basmati rice in 3 cups of water for about 15 - 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a thick-bottomed wide pot, heat ghee or oil on high heat. Add and fry the onions first and then the peppercorn-clove-ginger paste and chillies. Add the fresh peas and fresh methi leaves. Stir-fry until the leaves wilt.

Add the basmati rice and along with the water it soaked in. Stir in coconut milk and salt. Mix thoroughly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered for about 15 to 20 minutes. By the end of 20 minutes, the water will be absorbed and rice will be cooked to perfection. At this time, add and gently mix roasted cashews. Close the lid and let the rice sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot. Sprinkle in some lime/lemon juice just before serving.

Coconut milk and fresh peas balance methi ruchi (flavor). Basmati and roasted cashews addition makes it even more pleasant. Good meal when combined with a kurma/kofta curry or just plain yogurt/raita.


Methi-Nariyal Pulao with Yogurt ~ Our lunch today

Added on Dec 7:
Thanks for all your responses. It has been a lively discussion. Glad to see this topic has given all of us a chance to express our ideas about food blogging and how to do it. I had to scrub four comments because of the rude and soliciting nature of the content.
Also, thanks very much for trying out the recipe and letting me know. I greatly appreciate it!
- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Basmati Rice, Coconut (Fresh), Menthi Kura(Fenugreek) (Wednesday December 6, 2006 at 7:46 pm- permalink)
Comments (37)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Jaggery~Coconut Puffs


Jaggery-Coconut Puffs

Many thanks to lovely Kay for hosting this month’s Jihva. Being a first time mother of two month old baby girl, she could have easily said “no” to very demanding and time consuming work of event hosting, which she booked 7 months ago. I asked her to see if she’d take a break, but she insisted to do it. I restect people who keep their word without missing a beat. I also commend Kay for her dedication towards Jihva and also all the participants for their enthusiastic support with interesting entries. To make this event hosting as smooth as possible for Kay, I would greatly appreciate if you could send your entries with the details she requested (blog name, entry URL and images etc), so that she could do the recap of the event in short time. Thank you.

Kay also requested for new jaggery recipes. So here is one - Jaggery-Coconut puffs. Homemade puff pastry and sweet jaggery coconut filling. I borrowed the recipe idea from Fethiye of Yogurt land. I have changed the recipe little bit. Instead of egg in dough, I have added mashed ripe banana as I was preparing the puffs for naivedyam (puja offering) and also used ghee. Preparation was easy, and the end result was smooth silky puffs with sweet filling. We liked them a lot and they are definitely going to join my cherished recipe list. Thanks Fethiye for a great recipe idea, thanks Kay for inspiring me to experiment.


Dough, melted ghee, jaggery-coconut filling and jaggery-chana dal purnam filling

Recipe:
for 12 to 14 sweet puffs

For filling:

I’ve prepared two different fillings.
1: jaggery-coconut lauju: Follow coconut burfi recipe. Replace sugar with jaggery and stop cooking before the sweet reaches burfi stage. I have also added sesame seeds to the lauju.
2: jaggery-chana dal purnam : like we do for Bhakshalu (bobbatlu, puran poli, holige). Recipe is here. Small quantity, just half cup each is enough and can be done in 30 minutes with some preplanning.

For dough:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of warm milk
1 ripe banana - mashed smoothly
¼ cup of oil
1 teaspoon each - sugar, salt and cardamom powder
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast, stirred in 1 T of warm water

Take them all in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Prepare the dough like we do for chapatis, sprinkling warm water if necessary. Without giving any rest period, divide the dough into 8 rounds. Roll out small salad plate shaped rounds.

Apply general coating of ghee or melted butter to each one, on one side and layer them. (See the photo below).

Roll again these 8 rounds into one big dinner plate shaped circle of about 10 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. The size is really big, and I had to roll out on my kitchen countertop. Divide and cut this circle into 12 to 14 triangles of equal size.

Top the wide edge of each portion with 1 tablespoon of filling. Start rolling from the wide edge down to the tip. Curve in tips to close the gap on the sides. Now the rolling part is over, give the dough a break and allow to rest for about 15 minutes so that yeast can work its magic.

Arrange them nearly in rows on a greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between pieces. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm.


Rolling out the rounds and arranging one over another after applying ghee


Placing the jaggery-coconut filling and rolling the wedges to croissant shape


After a 15 minute rest period, the puffs are ready for baking


Hot Jaggery-Coconut Puffs for Birthday Girl Kay and my entry to JFI-Jaggery.


Recipe adapted from Yogurt Land
Flour Choice: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Chana Dal, Jaggery, Coconut (Fresh) (Friday December 1, 2006 at 7:25 pm- permalink)
Comments (33)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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