Mahanandi

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

Fresh Peas of Spring ~ Peas Pulao


I walked to Pike Place Market this morning and came home with two pounds of fresh peas. I sat for some time thinking about what to prepare and the following recipe is what I came up with for our meal today.

Added basmati rice and salt to water. Steam-cooked the rice to tender.

While rice was cooking, I shelled the peas from the pods. I separated about a cup of plump peas for this recipe. Heated a skillet. Added a teaspoon of peanut oil. When the oil was hot enough, added a teaspoon of Mandira’s panch phoran mix. Toasted the spices for couple of seconds. Then added the fresh peas, quarter cup of finely chopped mint leaves for fragrance and a pinch of black pepper for some heat. Slow simmered the whole thing in quarter cup of very diluted homemade coconut milk for about five minutes.

By then the rice was ready. Added the Pea-panch phoran mix from the skillet to the rice. Mixed and served it with cucumber raita.

Thanks to the Basmati, panch phoran and mint presence, the fresh peas of spring season radiated comfortable glow of self-appreciation. I loved my meal today.


Peas Pulao with Fresh Peas and Panch Phoran
(for two persons, for two meals)

1½ cups basmati rice + 3 cups water + quarter teaspoon salt
Skillet
1 teaspoon - peanut oil
1 teaspoon- panch phoran mix
1 cup - freshly shelled, plump peas
¼ cup - finely chopped mint leaves
¼ teaspoon - crushed black pepper
¼ cup - coconut milk (homemade or store-bought)

(Panch Phoran is a Bengali/Oriya spice mix made of Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Mustard and Nigella seeds. Take the seeds in almost equal quantity. Mix and store in a spice box. That’s panch phoran.)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Basmati Rice, Peas (Bataani) (Friday May 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm- permalink)
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Lobia and Sarson with Matta Rice

Black-eyed peas, Mustard Greens with Matta Rice:

There are only few American dishes that I enjoy. One of them is Hopping’ John (black-eyed peas, greens and rice). This is an African-American dish that has made it to the “Hara’s Tara”. I like the combination, but the underlying flavor melancholy is inescapable. How to add a cheerful tone to blue notes. Well, how about a mrudangam beat. These thoughts led to a new recipe, which is an amalgam of both ingredients and method.

Black-eyed peas, mustard greens and Kerala matta rice cooked together with onions and tomatoes. And the dish is flavored with fresh coconut, peppercorn and nutmeg. Though it started out like musical elements spontaneously assembled during a play, the south-Indian improvisational context imparted an orchestra effect to good old African American tradition. Mine was a solo performance, and when the single audience showed up with a serving bowl saying “encore please”, some hopping smiles sure happened.


Lobia and Sarson with Matta Rice:
(for two adults for two meals)

1-cup black-eyed peas - soaked in water overnight, and cooked to tender
1-cup matta rice (or brown rice) - soaked in 3 cups of water for 3 hours
1 bunch mustard greens - leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
1 onion, and two ripe tomatoes - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped

For seasoning:
2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut,
1 teaspoon black peppercorn (this dish needs some heat)
½ teaspoon each - cumin and grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt
½ inch piece of ginger
2 tablespoons of crushed jaggery
Take them all in a Mixer. Pulse few times, first. Then add half cup of water. Blend to smooth paste.

Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a big pot. Add and sauté garlic and onion to pale-red. Add tomatoes and sauté to soft. Add the mustard greens and cook until leaves start to collapse. Add the rice and the water it soaked in. Cover the pot and on medium heat, cook the rice until it’s al-dente or just tender. Now add the precooked black-eyed peas. And also the spice paste. Stir-in another cup of water if the dish looks too dry. Mix. Have a taste and adjust salt to your liking. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve hot with papadums on the side. Makes a great tasting one-pot meal.

Vegetarian Hopping John
India Inspired Hopping John ~ Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Blackeye Beans, Rosematta Rice, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Thursday April 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm- permalink)
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Claypot Cooking: Poha Payasam with Almond Milk

అటుకుల పాయసము

Claypot
Claypot Cooking: Poha Payasam with Almond Milk

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

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

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


Toasted Poha, Golden Raisins and Chironji Nuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brown Basmati and Fresh Methi
Brown Basmati and Fresh Methi

Nutritional supplements and natural herbal remedies don’t have to be in capsule form. Example is this healing herbal rice I have prepared for our meal yesterday.

Three types of fresh herbs with potent medicinal properties and brown basmati, a nutritionally supreme rice are cooked together. The result -

a tasty and tantalizing herbal basmati.

Possessing great inner strength and capable of exerting strong nutritional benefits, this herbal rice with healing fire in its heart is the kind of meal that would provide a nourishing surround to a flourishing imagination.

Healing Herbal Rice with Brown Basmati
Healing Herbal Rice with Potato Kurma ~ Celebrating St. Patty’s Day

Recipe Details:

Artisan Food: Healing Herbal Rice
Ingredients: Brown Basmati, Methi, Mint and Dill
Skill level: Easy. From Novice to Expert
Labels: Vegan, Wholesome, Herbal and Iron rich Food
Price: $2.00
Format: PDF

Healing Herbal Rice PDF


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

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

Artisan Food Aim and Purpose:

“Artisan Food ~ Revenue through Recipes” program aims to raise money, however small the amount, to support the children at Swami School at Nandyala. This will also lend a sense of purpose to my food blogging, and help me feel like I am accomplishing something through my activity in this Web world.

Previously in Artisan Food:

Artisan Photo Gallery

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Mint, Basmati Rice, Suwa (Dill), Brown Basmati, Methi, Kasuri Methi, Artisan Food (Monday March 17, 2008 at 5:46 pm- permalink)
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Rosematta Atukula Upma

Upma with rice flakes or poha, also known as “Atukula Upma” in Telugu, is a favorite at thousands of road-side stalls specializing in serving quick meals in Andhra, India. The preparation starts with sautéing of vegetables, seasoning and then moistened poha is added. Cilantro, lime juice and roasted peanuts are the garnish, and it is served hot with a side order of coffee or tea. For centuries, this common food fare is a “fills the belly and wards off the hunger” kind of morning meal whether one works as a tenured servant or as a daily laborer.

For our meal today, I have prepared the upma with rosematta poha. The red colored rosematta rice grains which have been parboiled, are flattened by heavy rollers, then dried naturally. This produces coral colored rosematta poha with pronounced nutty taste, which is just addictive. Keeping up with the upcoming season and the festivals, I have added green chickpea sprouts and pistachios to upma. Coral and green, it was a good meal.


Rosematta Atukulu and Green Chickpea Sprouts

Recipe:
(makes a sparse meal for two)

2 cups Poha (atukulu, rice flakes)
1 red onion or 3 small shallots - finely chopped
3 - Indian or Thai variety green chillies - finely chopped
1 cup - chickpea sprouts (small brown or green variety)
¼ cup - roasted and unsalted pistachios (or peanuts)
¼ cup - finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

for seasoning:
1 tablespoon - peanut oil
1 tablespoon - urad dal - toasted dal tastes wonderful in upma
¼ teaspoon each - cumin and mustard seeds
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
¼ teaspoon - turmeric
Salt and lime juice to taste

Heat oil in a wide skillet. When oil starts to shimmer, add and toast curry leaves, urad dal, cumin & mustard seeds- in that order. When seeds start to pop, add the onion, chilli and chickpea sprouts. Saute to tender, for about five minutes.

Add the pistachios and cilantro. Sprinkle turmeric and salt. Mix.

While they are cooking, add poha to water and submerge for about 30 seconds. Quickly drain into a colander, or with your hands remove and add the poha to the skillet. (This is done to moisten the poha and do not keep them in water for long. They’ll lose the bite and turn to mushy.)

Toss to mix, and stir-fry for two to three minutes. Serve hot.

Atukula Upma with Chicory Coffee
Worshipping the Verdant Season with Coral Atukula Upma

Health Labels:
Traditional India-Vegan, Diet-friendly
Rosematta Poha: Carbohydrates, the complex kind
Chickpea Sprouts: Protein and Vitamins
Pistachios - Hormone-free fat
Spices - Digestion-aid and for well-being

Notes:
Tomatoes, beans, grated fresh coconut etc are also added to the poha upma.
Rosematta poha, purchased at Apna Bazar, Bellevue, WA.
Rosematta Poha Snack - the sweet kind, from Kerala.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Poha (Atukulu), Rosematta Rice (Tuesday March 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm- permalink)
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Artisan Food ~ Avocado Annam

Photo Purchase Keywords: Avocado, Rice
(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.)

Avocado

Seattle has a great support system for homeless population. In downtown, where we live, there are many food banks; there is also one near our home. People who are going through difficult conditions can visit a food bank, and avail themselves of food like bread, fruits, milk, canned soup or soda, onions, potatoes and the like. Everything is given for free, no questions asked. Initially I was surprised to see dozens of people queuing up near our home. Then we realized what was going on. Not all times are our times. I am glad that Seattle citizens are doing a great job in taking care of their own. This good care even made few rabid TV anchors riled up. Jealousy towards the poor and less fortunate, what a way to earn millionaire salaries!

Inspired by what I see in Seattle, I resolved to generate some monetary support for our school at Nandyala through my recipes. You see, just like here, people are going through some rough conditions in Nandyala and surrounding villages. The number of school dropouts has increased greatly in recent months. Here in America, several regions took an economic hit, but at Nandyala, where the majority population, depends on agriculture, drought has brought despair. Unfortunately, unlike Seattle, there is no strong support system for children leave alone for elders in my hometown to recover.

When we wrote the maa badi post two years ago, some of you showed interest and offered help. At Swami School, we developed a system so that the school would function self-sufficiently without outside contributions. So, we kept quiet. We are providing the best education possible with minimum burden on a child’s family, and the scholarships we sponsor have been funded with our own money. But now, the need has increased immensely, and this is the time to get involved actively. As a student who has benefited from scholarships, I know how every rupee can help. With these things in mind, I am starting “Artisan Food ~ Revenue through Recipes” program to raise money, however small the amount, to support the children at Swami School at Nandyala. This will also lend a sense of purpose to my food blogging, and help me feel like I am accomplishing something through my activity in this Web world.

In Artisan Food series, there would be a brief description of recipe and the recipe will not be posted on this website. If you are interested, make a purchase and I will send you a PDF document with complete recipe details.

Well, this is a first. Wish me good luck!

Artisan Food ~ Avocado Annam

Avocado Annam

Avocado Annam is a pleasing but not fluffy kind of recipe. Ingredients are avocado and annam (=Sanskrit word for rice). Tomato, onion, cilantro and lime juice are also added. The preparation process and the end result have that perfect balance of interesting, but not so tedious that it becomes frustrating. “Why didn’t I think of this simple idea before” you marvel once everything is done. The recipe is easy and quick to prepare, and makes a great luncheon or dinner dish. Avocado fans particularly will enjoy this avocado annam.

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

PDF Avocado Annam
Details:
Artisan Food: Avocado Annam
Ingredients: Basmati, Avocado etc.
Skill level: Easy. Novice to expert
Labels: Vegan (Meat-Free), Party Pleaser
Price: $2.00
Format: PDF


Buy Now

******
~ Indira
Thanks V!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Zen (Personal), Basmati Rice, Avocado, Artisan Food (Monday February 18, 2008 at 12:10 pm- permalink)
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Fragrant Basmati Pilaf with Fresh Tuvar

Fresh Tuvar (Toor Dal, Kandulu)
Fresh Tuvar (pacchi kandulu)

Toor dal is among the most easily digestible of all food, and can serve as central element in a meatfree diet. The nourishing toor dal starts its life as an oval-shaped bean in beautiful green, neatly tucked in a row in a tuvar pod. Each tuvar pod contains about four to six plump tuvar beans. Exquisitely dense and full of spring-flavor, fresh tuvar, like green peas and green garbanzos, is a culinary delight when lightly cooked.

At Nandyala, fresh tuvar pods appear at farmers markets for a few weeks during summer time. Streetside vendors sell boiled tuvar pods in paper packets for as little as your pocket change. At our home, we used to simmer the whole pods in salted water and then shell the pods to snack on the cooked beans. Luckily, in recent years, the local Indian grocery shops in the United States have started importing fresh tuvar from India. Already shelled and in frozen avatar, a pound is usually priced at two to three dollars. It’s a good buy.

If you haven’t tried this protein powerhouse yet, you must now. Lightly cook fresh tuvar beans in salted water for a delicious snack. Or add them whole to vegetable curries or kurmas, and to rice preparations. This lentil lifeline instantly livens up any preparation.

For today’s meal, I made basmati pulao with fresh mint and tuvar. Easy to cook, incredibly fragrant and best of all, it’s so rich in flavor because of fresh mint and tuvar, that it needs little enhancement. Imagine pasta or orzo tossed in flavorful mint pesto ; almost the same taste here, but with basmati rice.

Fresh Coconut, Mint and Tuvar
Fresh Coconut, Mint and Tuvar

Recipe:
(for four to six people)

2 cups basmati rice
1 cup fresh tuvar
¼ cup roasted cashews
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanut oil

To prepare masala: Take about 2 cups fresh mint leaves in a Sumeet style mixer. Add two tablespoons of fresh, grated coconut, 5 green chillies, 4 cloves and a one-inch cinnamon piece. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and blend them together to fine paste.

To prepare Mint Pulao: Heat the oil in a big pan over medium heat. Add the onion and Tuvar. Saute to tender. Next, add and cook the ground masala paste, over low heat, stirring for about five minutes, until it turns to pale green from bright green color. To the cooked masala, add the basmati rice, salt and about 5 cups of water. Mix. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water evaporates and rice cooks to tender. At this stage, add the cashews, and fluff the rice gently with a spoon. Let it sit, covered for five minutes and serve hot.

This mint pilaf is definitely delicious enough to eat on its own, but I have prepared aloo kurma and cucumber raita to go with it. Good meal.

Mint Basmati Pilaf with Fresh Tuvar
Basmati Pilaf with Fresh Mint and Tuvar ~ for Linda’s Toor Dal Jihva

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mint, Basmati Rice, Fresh Tuvar (Kandulu) (Tuesday December 4, 2007 at 9:16 pm- permalink)
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Jihva for Toor Dal ~ Bisi Bele Huli Anna

Bisi Bele Huli Anna

They see each other everyday.

Unassuming and simple, darling daughter of lentil family - the golden Toor Dal.

The upright, some even call almighty - the proud and pristine Rice.

A hill of rice on a banana leaf, and a ladle full of dal next to it. Served and seated next to each other, the attraction between them was instantaneous and electric. It hasn’t escaped the wise hostess notice. The marriage was inevitable. Nourishing vegetables and sensual spices were added for a seductive liveliness. Under the sacred fire, they seized to be toor dal and rice, instead became Bisi Bele Huli Anna. “A match made in heaven, for good times and for hard times”, people praised the joyful union.

Bisi bele huli anna. Yes, all would be all right!

That was the “once upon a time” story for Bisi Bele Huli Anna, the famous south-Indian comfort food. Originated in Karnataka region of India, the rustic and rural Bisi bele huli anna with its uncomplicated, unfettered and fundamental recipe has many fans. From children to very elderly, many Bharatiya find delight in this humble food.

This week’s cold snap made Bisi bele hule anna a prudent choice for us. And, I remembered I had a jarful of Rosematta rice. The plump, terracotta colored rice from Kerala region absorbs flavors very well and I know that toor dal will be swooning in Rosematta company. My preparation started with fresh Bisi bele ground masala and cutting up the vegetables. We can add any number of vegetables and I went with gawar beans, red bell pepper, red onions, peas and carrots. The Bisi bele huli anna turned out to be a delightful meal. Long live Bisi Bele Huli Anna!

Rosematta Rice, Toor Dal, Vegetables and Bisi bele Masala
Rosematta Rice, Toor Dal, Vegetables and Bisi Bele Masala ~ for Bisi Bele Huli Anna

Recipe:

1 cup Rosematta rice
1 cup toor dal (Kandi Pappu)
3 cups cut vegetables (beans, carrots, peas and peppers etc)
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon jaggery
½ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt
2 tablespoons - Bisi bele masala (Homemade or store-bought)
Popu or tadka ingredients:
(12 Curry leaves, pinch each- cumin, mustard seeds and hing)

Take rice and toor dal in a wide pot. Add about 6 cups of water. Cook the dal and rice to very tender. Gently mix and mush them. I resorted to pressure-cooking, but back at home, they cook it for an hour or so on slow heat. Results in superb taste.

While the rice and dal are cooking, in another big vessel, heat a tablespoon ghee or oil. Add and toast the tadka ingredients (curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds and hing).

To the tadka, add the cut vegetables and saute. When they start to get tender, add the tamarind pulp, jaggery, turmeric and salt. Also the cooked and mashed rosematta rice-toor dal mixture. Stir in the masala along with two cups of water. Combine well. Have a taste and adjust the spices to your liking. Cover the pot and simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes on medium-low heat.

Serve hot with a teaspoon of ghee drizzled and with papads.

Bisi Bele Bhath
Bisi Bele Huli Anna with Papad ~ My Jihva for Toor Dal and Our Meal Today

Recipe Notes:
Rosematta idea from My Chow Chow Bhath. Brown rice or brown basmati also works well for this recipe.
My recipe for Bisi bele masala:
5 dried red chillies, 1 tablespoon each- chana dal & coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon each -cloves, cinnamon, methi seeds and black peppercorn. Dry roast. Cool. Then take them in a Sumeet Mixer or blender. Add 2 tablespoons of freshly grated coconut and pinch of salt. Grind to fine consistency.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Toor Dal, Rosematta Rice (Tuesday November 13, 2007 at 3:35 pm- permalink)
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Of Being and Becoming~ Ragi Idlis

by Janani Srinivasan

Students and Rasikas of Karnatic classical music who fondly (or not :) ) recall their first tentative forays into “Sarali” and “Janta Varisais” might also remember that the credit for a creating a pedagogy of Karnatic classical music goes to Sri. Purandaradasa. And if your mother was a particularly determined woman, you may even have dutifully trotted out works from his corpus to bored admiring relatives come socio-religious occasions like Navarathri and Varamahalakshmi Vratha gatherings.

Whether it is Ratnakara the bandit turned into the Adikavi Sri.Valmiki Muni, or Angulimala the grisly finger-slicing highway terrorist turned Buddhist monk, tales of what can fairly be called instantaneous and extreme spiritual makeovers have captured the imaginations of generations of Indian story tellers and their listeners for centuries. The narrative arc usually progresses along the lines of hopelessly-and-diabolically-evil-person reaches the apogee of his (supported usually by a silently long-suffering her) evilness when a chance encounter; usually in the form of divine grace; completely awakens and transforms said individual. They then attain a sort of mythic stature and are held up as role models for future generations to emulate. Indeed, the story of the rapaciously greedy miser-turned musician-mystic Sri Purandaradasa is a familiar and inspiring one to many of us who grew up listening to these tales. Wiki weighs in with a more complete history of Sri Purandaradasa.

Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandaradasa
Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandaradasa

In our family, one of our all-time personal favourites from his oeuvre remains the haunting “Ragi Tandira”. Kannada speakers will identify with the clever punning on the word “Ragi”. Much like a Zen koan, the lyrics here have layers of meaning couched in seemingly quotidian references.

Indeed it is not hard to surmise that Purandhara dasa, once he became a wandering minstrel after giving up his former materialistic life, must have still been intimately familiar with the kind of people that once made up his close family and friends circle. Hence, his desire to show them the path to a more richer inner life must have been tempered with the practical consideration that they might reject his message if he was too heavy handed or preachy.

This composition opens with the poet singing, “Have you brought Ragi for alms?” He then goes on to describe Ragi in glowing adjectives “Yogyaragi , Bhogyaragi” and so on… While in one sense, it can be read as an extolling of Ragi, the staple local grain, the sustainer of life itself with various adjectives: Yogya (worthy) + Ragi, Bhogya (enjoyable) + Ragi ; on another level, it is a veiled injunction to the householders themselves to become “worthy”, “Yogyaragi” as one word.

Here the notion of “Yogyatha” like many words in the vernacular, defies simplistic translation. It is a conflation of many shades of meaning conveying a sense of worthiness, deservingness, etc. The rest of the song progress in the same vein exhorting us to various acts of goodness like offering food to the needy (anna chatrava nittavarAgi), attaining fame for the right reasons (kyathiyali migilAdavarAgi) and cautioning us to stay away from inethical practices (anya varthegaLa bittavarAgi) and so on.

So as homage to Sri Purandharadasa, his beloved Vittala and the ancient grain sustaining generations of his people; here is my mother’s recipe for Ragi Idlis. What a song and dance over a simple grain you say? Well, just try these. Like a mother’s love, these are earthy and wholesome. In a word, Perfect!

Ragi Grains Ragi Batter for Idlies
Ragi Grains ……………………. Sprouted Ragi and Rice Batter for Idlies

Recipe:
(Makes atleast 2 dozen of the standard sized Idlis- but quantity yielded depends on the Idli mould size.)

Whole Ragi Grain- 1 cup
(I sprouted these for added nutritional benefits. But it’s not strictly necessary)
Idli rice (parboiled) – 1 cup
Whole skinned Urad dal – ¾ cup
Methi seeds -1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Sesame oil- to grease idli moulds (I used “Idhayam” brand)

After multiple washes, soak the Ragi for a day. Drain and let it rest for another day till you see tiny white sprouts. Alternatively, you can skip the sprouting and just soak the ragi for 3-4 hours longer than you soak the rice. Soak rice, whole urad and methi seeds in separate containers for 4-6 hours or overnight.

In a wet grinder or a mixie /blender, grind the urad dal till light and fluffy. A test for fluffiness is to keep a bowl of water and drop a tiny pinch of batter. If it floats, it is light enough. Then add and grind the Ragi grains and Methi and finally the rice. Take care that the rice should not be ground too smooth. It should be of rice Rava consistency. Alternatively, you can use rice Rava instead. Take the batter in a vessel, fold in some salt to taste and leave it overnight to ferment. I found that the dough fermented really well, doubling up and overflowing the vessel. So take adequate precautions.

Next morning, lightly stir the well fermented batter. Grease Idli moulds and steam in a pressure cooker for 12-15 minutes till done. Ragi idlis can be served with a dollop of butter or ghee on top, along with the usual fixings on the side: sambar, coconut chutney and/or Milagai Podi.

~ Article by Janani Srinivasan


Light and Soft Ragi Idlies

Notes:
Audio of Ragi Tandira sung by the late Sri. Maharajapuram Santhanam in Raga Kalyanavasantham - Link.
Ragi pronounced with “Ra” as “raa”, “G” as in God not as in gentle, “i” pronounced “ee”.
Tandira pronounced Thundheera with the “h” NOT aspirated. “T” and “d” sounds softened not sharp as in the common American/English usage and the “an” is pronounced “un”.
Janani Srinivasan’s articles on Mahanandi: It’s Chakalaka, Baby!, The Arisiupma Trilogy.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Ragi, Millet, Sprouts (Molakalu), Janani Srinivasan (Thursday November 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm- permalink)
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Bittergourd and Basmati (Karela Pulao)

Kakarakaaya Annam


This is a sweet way to prepare karela (bittergourd), especially for those finicky family members who say they don’t like bittergourd. This colorful karela rice laced with golden jaggery and ripe red chillies, may just win them over.

The recipe is result of my experimentation in the kitchen and inspired by my mother’s Kakarakaaya Kura. I was pleasantly surprised at how the fresh karela, ripe red chillies and jaggery combination made this out of the ordinary basmati rice preparation extraordinary. Hot and sweet with bitter note, karela pulao tasted like life served on a plate. Definitely worth experiencing.


Karela, Ripe Red Chillies, Red Onion, Jaggery and Curry Leaves

Recipe:
(Serves 2 as a main meal.)

Basmati:
Cook one cup basmati rice in two cups of water to tender.

Karela:
Pick 6 fresh looking karela. Scrape the outer ridges with a peeler. Wash, remove the ends and finely chop to tiny pieces (about one cup).
Peel and finely chop one red onion lengthwise (about half cup)
Pick 6 ripe red chillies and slice lengthwise to thin pieces

Karela Pulao:
In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon ghee until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Keep the heat to medium. Add a sprig of curry leaves and toast to pale gold color. Add the onion and ripe red chillies. Saute them to soft brown. Next goes the karela pieces. Saute and when they are tender brown, stir in about quarter cup of jaggery pieces, half teaspoon each- turmeric and salt. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water and mix.

Now the cooking process gets interesting. First jaggery starts to bubble, then becomes watery syrup like. Stir continuously. Jaggery cooks to thick consistency and coats vegetable like caramel. This is what we want and this process allows jaggery’s full flavor to develop. It takes anywhere between 15-20 minutes on medium heat. At this stage add the cooked basmati rice and half cup toasted peanuts. Mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. Remove the karela pulao from the heat. Serve at once with a cup of yogurt and fruit for a complete meal.

If there is a flavor combination that describes my mother, then this is it. So I would like dedicate and name this creation of mine after my mother Rajeswari.

I look forward to hearing your input on Rajeswari Karela Pulao. Thanks.

Karela Pulao
Karela Pulao with a Cup of Watermelon and Whited-out Yogurt

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Kakara Kaya(Bitter Gourd), Basmati Rice (Tuesday September 11, 2007 at 5:02 pm- permalink)
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Homemade Rice Milk (Horchata)

Homemade Rice Milk
Homemade Rice Milk

Simple, inexpensive and adaptable to many flavors, rice milk is like glacial water. Thick, creamy and sweet. My recipe is loosely based on the Horchata that they serve at mom and pop style Mexican restaurants. Rice and almonds ground together and I flavored the milk with cardamom and jaggery. This is my first try and we both, Vijay and I, liked the result very much. Here is how I prepared it:

Ingredient list:
(Fills 4 small glasses)

3/4 cup - brown basmati rice
1/3 cup - almonds
6 cardamom pods- seeds coarsely crushed
6 cups - water
1/4 cup - jaggery (or sugar)

Wet grinder or blender


Brown Basmati Rice and Almonds

1: Soak almonds in warm water for about 30 minutes and then peel the skins.
Grind rice to fine, using a blender or spice grinder, until a semolina like texture is achieved.

Pulverized Brown Basmati Rice and Almonds without skins

2: Combine the rice powder, almonds and cardamom. Add about 4 cups of water and mix. Keep the mixture covered overnight.

Rice, Almonds and Cardamom covered with water for overnight soak Rice, Almonds and Cardamom covered with water for about 12 hours
Rice, Almonds and Cardamom ~ Before and After Overnight Soak

3: Next morning, place the mixture and jaggery in a stone grinder or blender. Gradually adding two cups of water, blend to smooth. Pour the rice milk through cheesecloth or filter into a bowl. Gently squeezing/stirring, extract the milk. Refrigerate the rice milk for about 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

If you wish, add lemon or orange juice and bananas to the milk and blend to make a great tasting rice milk smoothie.

Horchata, Rice milk for JFI:Rice Food blog event
Refreshing Rice Milk ~ for JFI: Rice, hosted by Sharmi of Neivedyam

Kitchen Notes:
The idea here is to use unpolished, unmilled rice. If you think for a minute, it’s easy to see that nutrient-rich brown rice makes a great tasting milk than the one prepared with polished, white rice. And, brown rice goodness and basmati’s sweetness make brown basmati, a perfect choice to prepare rice milk.

Recipe idea for leftover rice-almond sediment: Vennai Puttu (Sweet from Tamilnadu, India)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Almonds, Jihva For Ingredients, Brown Basmati (Saturday September 1, 2007 at 9:42 pm- permalink)
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Vegetarian Gumbo ~ India Inspired

When we lived in Houston, one of the recipes we picked up from that region was gumbo. Okra, vegetables, beans, rice and seafood/meat, together cooked in wheat flour broth (called roux). That is gumbo in a nutshell. Vijay is a big fan of seafood gumbo and often prepares shrimp gumbo at home. Being the non-meat eater that I am, I had to develop a vegetarian version for myself. The following recipe is the result of my trials.

I’ve made few changes to the traditional recipe to suit my taste. I replaced roux with lots of okra and coconut-spice seasoning. And for today’s meal, fresh chickpea sprouts and brown basmati have joined the excellent cast of gumbo characters.

Swampland approach, but a new appeal with Southern India seasoning, my vegetarian gumbo is a delightful one-pot dish. The side effects I have noticed so far, it’d inflict a dramatic mood change. Kindlier attitude towards fellow beings, even towards themselves, which at times could be of even greater importance, may happen.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Gumbo
Red Onion, Orange Capsicum, Tomato, Sprouted Chickpeas, Brown Basmati and Okra

Recipe:

1 tablespoon ghee
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 red onion, 2 capsicums and 4 tomatoes - finely chopped
20 okra - cut to half-inch rings
1 cup sprouted chickpeas (or beans of your choice)
½ cup brown basmati rice
Turmeric and salt - half teaspoon each or to taste

Southern India Seasoning :
Two tablespoons of grated fresh coconut, 6 dried red chillies, 6 cloves, quarter teaspoon cumin, fistful of fresh cilantro leaves, and a pinch of salt - blend to smooth, adding half cup of water in a mixer.

In a heavy pot, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent. Add the capsicum, tomatoes, okra, chickpea sprouts and brown basmati rice. Mix and cook, occasionally stirring for about ten minutes. Add about three cups of water and also stir in the turmeric and salt. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for about another 15 minutes.

When the rice starts to get tender, stir in the coconut-spice seasoning. Mix gently and simmer another ten minutes or so. When the rice is cooked to tender, turn off the heat. Cover and let the gumbo sit for sometime. The whole thing will thicken further on cooling.

Vegetarian gumbo goes well with papadams. They are great to scoop up the gumbo.

Vegetarian Gumbo
Vegetarian Gumbo with Okra, Chickpea Sprouts and Brown Basmati, Served with Papadams ~ Our Meal

Kitchen notes:
Grated fresh coconut, Brown basmati rice and papadams of different shapes can be purchased at Indian grocery shops. (Before serving, papadams should be fried in oil until crisp.)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper, Benda Kaaya(Okra), Brown Basmati, Sprouts (Molakalu) (Tuesday July 31, 2007 at 12:11 am- permalink)
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Vegetarian Congee with Rosematta and Yuba

I’ve been experimenting different recipes with Rosematta rice (the terracotta colored rice variety from Kerala, India).

In addition to the traditional steam-cooked Rosematta rice, I’ve made Rosematta pongal and Rosematta idly so far. Everything turned out excellent. Rosematta truly brings wholesome and wholegrain rosy goodness to a meal. The Chocolate Lady seems to agree with me. Check out her Rosematta rice and cashew matar meal combination.

One another recipe I wanted to try with Rosematta is vegetarian congee. Congee or ganji is little amount of rice simmered in large quantities of water to a creamy porridge. At its most fundamental, congee is rice water, flavored with buttermilk or coconut milk, chilli and salt. For today’s meal I dressed up the Rosematta congee with vegetables and Yuba (The thick cream that forms on the top of simmering soy milk is removed in layers, sun-dried and rolled into sheets). Add few pieces, the yuba will soak up the saaram, become soft and taste like milk meegada. A neat protein delicacy popularized by Buddhist monks, I gathered.

Sometimes you have to spend hours in the kitchen to make a remarkable meal. Sometimes it becomes effortless, today is one such day. Rosematta and yuba together made a hearty vegetarian congee. We loved our soothing, simple supper.

Broken Rosematta Rice and Yuba
Coarsely Milled Rosematta Rice Grains and Yuba (Soymilk Meegada, Bean Curd Sticks)

Recipe:

1 cup - coarsely milled (broken) Rosematta rice
½ cup yuba (bean curd sticks, broken to one-inch length pieces)
½ cup each - cut pieces of carrot and ridge gourd (turai, beerakaya)
6 cups water and 1 cup milk.
1 teaspoon peanut oil or ghee
Seasoning:
6 fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon ginger juice (Grate or crush the ginger & squeeze.)
1 teaspoon - coarsely crushed black pepper
½ teaspoon salt or to taste

In a big pot, heat ghee or oil.
Add and saute curry leaves, black pepper, carrot and ridge gourd pieces 2mts.
Add the yuba, Rosematta rice, water and milk.
Stir in salt and ginger juice.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
When the congee becomes thick and creamy, turn off the heat.
Serve warm. Tastes great with pickle.


Vegetarian Congee with Rosematta and Yuba ~ Our Meal Today

Notes:
Homemade Yuba ~ Recipe
Rosematta rice ~ Broken variety purchased at Apna Bazar, Bellevue
Yuba (Bean Curd Sticks) at Uwajimaya or also at Chinese grocery.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd), Rosematta Rice (Wednesday July 18, 2007 at 9:23 pm- permalink)
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Pongal with Green Pearls

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

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

Here is my humble effort.


Green Pearls ~ Fresh Peas of Summer

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

Recipe:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed), Ghee, Peas (Bataani) (Monday June 11, 2007 at 12:31 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sona Masuri Rice


Sona Masuri Rice ~ from Andhra Pradesh

Any food event that celebrates Andhra cuisine must include a topic on rice, I think. After all, Andhra Pradesh is the “Rice Bowl of India”.

Krishna, Godavari, Tungabhadra and Penna rivers criss-cross the state creating fertile lands and water source necessary for the rice cultivation. As a result, Andhra is not only blessed with rich rice culture but also dynamic diversity in grains. Several varieties of rice are grown in Andhra Pradesh and each type has a unique name. The varieties that my grandparents cultivate and my parents consume at home are “Krishna Hamsa, Krishna Veni, Masuri, Samba Masuri and Sona Masuri” . They belong to medium-slender group (medium refers to the length and slender refers to the thickness of grain). And they all are quality rice varieties priced at affordable rates and geared towards common consumption.

Among this bunch, Sona Masuri is considered the pride of Andhra Pradesh. Reed thin and richly nutty, Sona Masuri symbolizes Andhra people. Strong and impossible to turn to mush, this supreme quality rice is a soulful delight, particularly to those who like their rice with some integrity left when cooked. Thanks to the generous India’s export policies, for the last five years, we who live in America are also able to purchase Sona Masuri rice from local Indian grocery shops.

Cooking Sona Masuri is easy. Stove-top, pressure-cooker or rice cooker, they all work. I usually cook Sona Masuri in a pressure cooker. For one cup rice, three cups of water is the measurement I follow. Cook until tender and serve hot/warm or cold. Sona Masuri rice is best suited to prepare pulihora/chitrannam/pulao type preparations and also as an accompaniment to dal (pappu), sambar, rasam and yogurt. The classic combo is Sona Masuri rice, dal and ghee, mixed together and served with a papad, like shown below - popular and the most copied image from Mahanandi.

Mango dal and rice mudda in a sabudana papad
Sona Masuri Rice Mixed with Mango dal&ghee. Shaped to a Round & placed on a Deep Fried Sago Papad.
~ My Contribution to RCI~Andhra Cuisine, Hosted by Lovely Latha of Masala Magic


Sona Masuri Rice is avialable at local Indian grocery shops here in US.
The Five Pillars of Rice Wisdom

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sona Masuri Rice (Thursday May 24, 2007 at 6:07 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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