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

Rosematta Idly

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Rosematta Rice and Idly Batter

Imagine munching on the fluffy clouds. That was my experience of Rosematta idlies.

Rosematta rice, the ancient terracotta colored rice from Kerala region of India and the nutritional urad dal are soaked and ground together. After overnight fermentation, the batter is steam-cooked in a special saucer like molds. The result is pinkish-white idlies that are lightweight, delicate and fluffy. They are worth preparing just to take in the breathtaking pale pink color alone. Of course, it also helps that they taste wonderfully good the way idlies should taste.

Rosematta idlies are truly for nostalgic dreamers only, the ones who find munching on the clouds a familiar thing to do.

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Rosematta Rice and Urad Dal ~ After Six hours of Water Soaking

(for 12 to 16 idlies)

2 cups Rosematta rice
1 cup urad dal
Idly molds for steam-cooking

Soak rice and urad dal in about 6 cups of water for about 6 hours. Drain the water and grind to silky smooth consistency using a stone grinder or blender. Remove and keep the batter covered in a warm place, overnight or for about 8 hours. Fermentation happens naturally, and yeast/baking soda etc are not used in this traditional method. The batter doubles in size and small bubbles appear in the batter. That means time to cook idlies.

Add one teaspoon of salt to the batter and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into idly mold impressions and steam-cook, following the method described in detail here. When the batter turns from runny to firm, remove the mold and using a spoon carefully separate idlies from the impressions.

Serve hot. Coconut or peanut chutney and shallot sambar is the usual accompaniments to idlies.

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Rosematta Idly with Coconut Chutney ~ Our Weekend Brunch

Rosematta rice, also known as Kerala Red Rice is avialable in Indian grocery shops here in US.
Recipe Idea : From My Brain

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Rosematta Rice (Monday May 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm- permalink)
Comments (28)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Lemon Grass and Curry Leaves ~ Fragrant Fried Rice

Sliced Rings of Lemon Grass

I have been cooking with lemon grass a lot lately. Thanks to the strong presence of fresh seasonal produce from Asia, I can buy almost all kinds of vibrant looking vegetables readily here in Seattle. That includes fresh curry leaves and also herbs like lemon grass etc.

Prepping the lemon grass for cooking is easy. For the supermarket variety, cut and remove upper two thirds of dried out green grass/stalk. Lower part, the white bulbous portion is what we want. Make a shallow cut lengthwise in the middle of bulbous portion and remove at least two fibrous, woodsy looking outer layers. That would reveal a pale pinkish-white, citrus smelling lemon grass root. Finely slice the root into thin rings or pound in a mortar to a coarse paste. The soothing, refreshing lemony aroma is what makes this herb so special to me and I have been adding it to tea, rasam, and sambar and also to flavor the rice, mainly in stir-fried rice recipes.

Stir-fried brown basmati rice from India with crisp tasting sugar snap peas and green beans, liberally flavored with lemon grass and curry leaves - this recipe has become the most frequently prepared rice in our home for the past few weeks. It is easy to put together, makes use of spring vegetables that snap, and filled with lots of flavor. Scrambled paneer, tofu or eggs adds the protein component and makes this a complete meal for us.

Lemon Grass, Curry Leaves, Ginger, Fresh Red Chilli, Green Beans and Sugar Snap Peas

Cook 2 cups of brown basmati in 4 cups of water to tender. Cool to room temperature. ( Brown basmati offers a certain chewiness and richness of flavor. Cold rice makes better fried rice.)

Meanwhile prep the ingredients.

Cut fresh green beans and tender sugar snap peapods - quarter cup each
Finely slice Lemon grass and curry leaves - about 3 tablespoons each
Finely chop fresh red chillies- about a tablespoon
Grate fresh ginger -1 tablespoon
Grate fresh coconut - 4 tablespoons

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide skillet on high heat. One by one add the ingredients listed above in the order mentioned and stir-fry few minutes each. Add the cooked rice. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. If you want you can also add little bit of soy sauce and chilli sauce at this stage along with scrambled paneer/tofu/egg. Stir well for a minute or two. Finish by adding some lemon juice and serve. Fragrant fried rice would be ready.

Fragrant Fried Rice with Lemon Grass and Curry Leaves

Recipe Notes:
Brown basmati avialable in most Indian grocery shops here in US.
I’ve purposely avoided adding onions/shallots, not to clash with lemon grass and curry leaves. This is a very adaptable recipe, experiment with different fresh vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini etc.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Karivepaaku(Curry Leaf), Sera (Lemon Grass), Brown Basmati (Monday May 7, 2007 at 5:04 pm- permalink)
Comments (25)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Curry Leaves and Ganji

Biyyam Karivepaaku Ganji:

Curry Leaves

I think curry leaves are nature’s helping way to make our cooking better, one meal at a time. How? - You might ask. Nature picked the prettiest shade of green, selected a pleasing shape and packed the most enticing scent known to mankind, and the result is the curry leaves. Add few leaves while cooking, even the mundane daily dishes become magnificent with minimum effort. Example is ganji. Ganji, Kanji, Congee, Jook or Okayu, not only several names, there are also different ways of ganji preparation across Asia. Almost in all recipes in India, curry leaves are added. The elixir of life needs curry leaves perfume.

Inspired by Mathy Kandasamy’s recipe and Ammini Ramachandran’s article, I have prepared ganji for our meal today. I changed the method little bit to suit my taste. I cooked Rosematta rice (the wholesome red rice from Kerala) in lots of water. I have also added curry leaves along with ginger and green chillies. (Adding them in the beginning is what I did different.) Once the rice is cooked, the rice water is drained and saved. To this nutrient packed, curry leaves-ginger infused rice water, I’ve added little bit of coconut milk. The result is a pleasant, pale-pink colored ganji. It’s been ages since I had a taste of ganji and my ganji meal today did not disappoint me. Rosematta goodness and curry leaves fragrance gave the ganji a distinctive and appealing flavor. A must try for fans of curry leaves and Rosematta.

Rosematta Rice, Curry Leaves and Shallot (Erra Gadda)


1 cup Rosematta rice
8 cups water
12-15 curry leaves, finely chopped
4 to 5 green chillies - finely chopped
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of coconut milk - homemade or store-bought

Take Rosematta rice in a big vessel. Wash first and then add about 8 cups of water. Sprinkle finely chopped curry leaves, green chillies, grated ginger and salt. Mix. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and let it simmer, until the rice cooked to tender. Takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

The cooked rice water will be simmered down to about 4 cups. Lightly concentrated and infused with Rosematta, curry leaves and ginger goodness - ganji is ready for the final touch. Using a colander, drain rice into a big pot and save the rice water (ganji).

To this ganji, add coconut milk and mix. Adjust salt to your liking. Drink the ganji warm.

when times are hard, people have known to depend on ganji for sustenance. Also, it’s a blessing to people who wants to cut back on consumption. Exhaustng times or greedy glutton times, ganji is a great way to start a meal - any meal, that’s how I felt. No wonder, even to this day ganji is continued to be “Asia’s Bowl full of Comfort”.

Curry Leaves Infused Ganji - The Elixir of Life for JFI-WBB:Greens

Ganji and Rosematta Rice with Brinjal Curry ~ Our Meal Today

Congee: Asia’s Bowl full of Comfort ~ Informative article by Ammini Ramachandran
Recipe source: Virundhu of Mathy Kandasamy
Ganji is a Telugu word for Kanji, or Congee. Ganji tastes great when made with broken parboiled rice.
Traditonally cooked rice, buttermilk, small shallots and fresh cilantro are also added to ganji.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Karivepaaku(Curry Leaf), Rosematta Rice (Friday April 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Vegetable Pongal ~ A Pleasing Meal

I admit, I really like saying the word “Pongal”. Try it. Once more, “Pongal”. Isn’t that fun? I knew you would agree. And we love pongal. No sense in denying it, we are pongal worshippers. Rice and moong dal cooked to creamy moist tenderness with ghee inspired countless people to gush, and I am no exception.

As you can imagine, we are always looking for pongal recipes that will excite our finicky tastebuds. Boy, we cooked one today. Pongal with mixed vegetables and cashews, flavored with ginger and ghee. A filling one-pot meal with minimum effort. Sounds superb, doesn’t it? Now imagine that decadent creamy pongal warmly melting in your mouth with each bite. I promise, it really is as good as it sounds. Even better!

Secret is all in the rice. Pick brown/unpolished or parboiled varieties for maximum ruchi and I found that Kerala red rice (or Rosematta rice - an unpolished red rice from India, cultivated since ancient times in Kerala and Tamilnadu regions) is the supreme, healthy choice for this recipe.

Kerala Red Rice+Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Vegetables, Curry leaves, Ginger and Coriander Leaves


Half cup - Kerala red rice (Rosematta rice)
Half cup - yellow moong dal
Two cups - cut vegetables
Half cup - roasted cashews
Ten curry leaves and few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
One teaspoon each - cumin, minced ginger, peppercorn, turmeric and salt
Two tablespoons - ghee

Dry roast yellow moong dal to pale brown on low heat, in an iron skillet. Remove, mix with Kerala red rice. Wash gently with water then drain quickly.

Prepare vegetables to bite sized pieces. My choice was - ridge gourd (turai), carrot, red bell pepper, one each and a fistful of fresh corn and peas. For spicy punch, I added 4 green chillies-finely chopped.

When you are ready to cook - heat ghee in a large, heavy-based pan.

Add curry leaves first and then cumin and ginger. Saute to gold color.
Add the cut vegetables, coriander leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add the Kerala red rice and moong dal.
Add 6 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.
Coarsely crush peppercorn and add along with salt and turmeric.

Mix. Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about 20 to 30 minutes, the grains will be tenderly soft and there will still little bit of liquid (at least half cup) left in the pot. Turn off the heat at this stage and add the roasted cashews. Mix and serve this liquid kanji (ganji) like vegetable pongal immediately.

Vegetable Pongal
Vegetable Pongal ~ Our Afternoon Meal Today

Kerala Red Rice (Rosematta Rice) -Available in Indian grocery shops
Traditional Pongali - Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd), Moong Dal (Washed), Rosematta Rice (Tuesday January 30, 2007 at 1:49 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Pulagam ~ Sankranthi Tradition

Rice, moong dal, peanuts, jaggery and ghee rule the kitchen during Sankranthi in our homes.

For bhogi, pulagam (rice + split moong dal + salt) is the main dish, not pongali (rice + yellow moong dal + salt), and three peanut based recipes are prepared for pulagam.

Peanut-jaggery chutney,
Stuffed brinjal curry with peanuts and
No boil, cold peanut rasam (Peanut pacchi pulusu)

And the meal begins with prasadam - either jaggery rice pudding or sweet pongali. See, the whole kitchen revolves around rice, moong dal, peanuts, jaggery and ghee during Sankranthi.

Even though I grew up on this tradition, I rarely prepared them all for Sankranthi here. Because, for two people it’s lot of food and one also needs deep appetite to enjoy them. The whole combination is heavy and would make one sleepy in a minute. But yesterday I dared and cooked everything for Sankranthi. I was shivering 24 hours of day under Seattle’s arctic cold blast - God, I needed some rich food. So the rice, moong dal, peanut and ghee extravaganza.

Pulagam, Stuffed Brinjal Curry with Peanuts, Peanut-Jaggery Chutney, Peanut Pacchi Pulusu and Homemade Ghee
Pulagam, Stuffed Brinjal Curry with Peanuts, Peanut Pacchi Pulusu, Peanut-Jaggery Chutney & Ghee

Pulagam Recipe

1 cup split moong dal
1 ½ cups rice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Wash the rice and split moong dal together, once or twice, until the water is clear. Take them in a pressure cooker or in a big pot. Add 6 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Mix and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring in-between or simply pressure cook to soft, falling apart stage.

Serve hot with peanut chutney/stuffed brinjal curry/peanut pacchi pulusu along with generous amounts of ghee for a festive meal or with homemade yogurt for an easy on stomach, light meal.

Sona Masuri Rice, Split Moong Dal and Salt ~ Ingredients for Pulagam
Sona Masuri Rice, Split Moong Dal and Salt ~ Ingredients for Pulagam

Preparing pulagam during Sankranthi is a Nandyala tradition.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Split) (Tuesday January 16, 2007 at 10:57 pm- permalink)
Comments (16)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice Pudding)

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice)
Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Sweet Jaggery Rice)

Bellam Paramannam or jaggery sweet rice pudding is a creamy rice dessert with a difference, being sweetened by old world sugar - “jaggery” and subtly flavored with cardamom. It is wonderful warm or cold and usually served as puja prasadam on festivals like Sankranthi (the harvest festival).


1 cup Sona Masuri rice
2 cups milk + 2 cups water
2 cups jaggery + 1 cup water
½ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee
4 cardamom pods - seed powdered

This is how I prepare this traditional sweet:

Cook rice in milk and water to very tender, falling apart stage.

Melt jaggery in water and simmer to plain syrup stage.

Add cooked rice to jaggery syrup. Mix and cook on medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat ghee on medium heat. First fry cashews and then golden raisins to light gold color. Add the whole thing - ghee along with fried cashews and golden raisins to the rice-jaggery mixture.

Simmer on medium-low heat stirring in-between, until the whole thing thickens a bit and comes together to moist, firm mass.

Just before turning off the heat, stir in cardamom powder and mix thoroughly. Serve warm or cold.

Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam
Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam

Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup
Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup

Bellam Paramannam
Bellam Paramannam to celebrate Sankranthi

Kitchen notes:
When directly added, jaggery sometimes could separate milk avaialble here, into curds and whey. Preparing rice with milk first and then adding it to jaggery syrup is my way for fail proof bellam paramannam prasadam.
Paramannam with sugar ~ Recipe
Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) ~ Recipe
From Telugu to English: Bellam = jaggery, Paramannam = Sweet rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sona Masuri Rice, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

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)


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.


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


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:
Cookbook cover and authors photo credit : Jigyasa and Pratibha


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 (67)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

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


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:

Borugula (Murmura) laddu (Homemade Rice-Jaggery Crispy Sweet from India)

Golden Borugula Laddu under Evening Sunlight

How can one convey nostalgia? I am no wordsmith and sometimes words escape me, so I try it with my camera lens.

A nourishing and delightfully scented, not so sweet but fun kind of treat from my childhood days is murmura laddu. Also known as borugula mudda in Telugu and rice crispies in English.

During December and January months (Sankranthi time), when parents are busy with harvesting rice and sugarcane, grand parents prepare these crunchy, homely sweets for children with freshly popped murmura from rice battis and just minted 24 karat quality jaggery. Jaggery syrup is prepared and murmura are added - just these two ingredients and tiny touch of cardamom - that’s it. Magical, irresistible laddus would be ready to keep us children (mouths) busy.

I am happy that I am finally able to recreate this Sankranthi magic on Mahanandi. Though recipe looks simple, I know how difficult it is to prepare these kinds of sweets, so I measured and timed the process to make it fail proof and for decent results. Give it a try.

Preparing Jaggery Syrup for Murmura laddus


Murmura (borugulu, puffed rice) - one quart
Jaggery - one cup (powdered)
Water - one cup
Cardamom - 2 (seeds powdered)
To test jaggery syrup readiness - Keep a small plate with cold water ready by stove side.

In a big, sturdy, thick-bottomed vessel, add water and jaggery. Cook on medium-high heat. Jaggery melts and begins to concentrate. When it starts foaming like shown in the photo above, it reached the consistency we want for this recipe. To test, add few drops of jaggery syrup to the cold water. When pushed with fingers, if the syrup can be rolled to a round and keeps share without melting in spite of tilting the plate to different directions, it is done and the syrup is ready. This whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Constantly stirring, add murmura. Also sprinkle in cardamom powder. Within one or two minutes, murmura starts to soak up the syrup and comes together in to dry mass. Turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the stovetop to countertop.

Wait for about 5 minutes for murmura-jaggery mixture to cool down and then start making laddus. Take a spoonful of mixture into hands and press gently into round shape. Keep a bowl of cold water on the side. Dip your hands in-between laddu making to keep hands unsticky and cool. Or ladle off the whole mixture into a greased pan. Press firmly and evenly. Cut into squares and let it cool. Break along the lines to separate the pieces.

Makes about 12 medium sized laddus or squares.

Hot Murmura-Jaggery Mixture and Making of Laddus

Murmura (borugulu, puffed rice) laddus and squares
Fun Jaggery-Rice Crispy Treats From India for Kay’s JFI

Kitchen Notes:
1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces =.95 liter
Murmura and Jaggery are available at local Indian grocery shops.
Prepare this sweet with fresh, crunchy tasting murmura only, for best results.
One more recipe for murmura laddu - from Cooking Medley

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Murmura (Borugulu), Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday November 30, 2006 at 10:05 pm- permalink)
Comments (55)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ponganalu with Spinach and Sara Pappu

Somehow, I’ve been missing participating in Nandita’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event celebrating the much neglected, overnight fasting breakers - the morning mini meals (breakfast/tiffin). “A twist in the plate” is the theme for this month’s WBB. Taking an old recipe and adding our own touch and improving it a little bit is the idea behind the theme.

Ponganalu, the classic Rayalaseema breakfast, the recipe is fine on its own. Leftover dosa batter, onions, chana dal, green chillies and cilantro, mixed and cooked in a special ponganalu pan. The result is small goblets or space saucer shaped rounds - fun and tasty on their own. My twist to this old classic is adding a bunch of finely chopped spinach and few tablespoons of sara pappu (chironji) and watermelon seeds. Mixed with dosa batter and cooked to crispy, crunchy perfection in ponganalu pan. Less batter, more ingredients and better ponganalu, that’s papa johns pizza, sorry:), that’s my “twist in the plate” ponganalu and my contribution to Weekend Breakfast Blogging.

Spinach, Sara Pappu and Watermelon Seeds in Ponganala Batter

Cooking Spinach Ponganalu in a Special Ponganala Skillet

Spinach Ponganalu with Peanut Chutney ~ For Nandita’s WBB-”Twist in The Plate” Event

Detailed Recipe and images of traditional Ponganalu - Here
To purchase a skillet similar to Ponganala Pennam - Click Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Charoli (Sara Pappu), Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday October 31, 2006 at 3:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Rosematta rice and dal

Rosematta Rice ~ Traditional Rice of India
Rosematta Rice ~ Traditional Rice of India

The first time I heard about rosematta rice is at InjiPennu’s Ginger and Mango’s blog. This is the reason why food blogs rock. They can highlight a completely regional ingredient and make it accessible to those of us interested.

After reading her post, I thought I should try this beautiful pinkish grain at least once in my lifetime and fortunately I was able to purchase the rice at Indian grocery shops here in Seattle. Before blogging I wanted to know more about this rice. Sadly, there is not that much out there on the web. I couldn’t find even a single article or a photo (except for InjiPennus’s article) written on this traditional rice of India. Instead, what I found was umpteen articles on how mughals influenced Indian cooking etc, you know the same old, tiring typical things, authors of Indian cuisine focus on. Learning history is a good thing I agree but I do wish there were more articles on foods like rosematta rice that are unique and traditional to India. If there is anyone out there who knows the detailed history and irrigating areas of this rice, wants to share, it’d be my pleasure to publish your article on Mahanandi.

Rosematta rice also known as Palakkadan matta rice or Kerala Red Rice
Rosematta Rice - Raw and Cooked

Well, here is my experience of rosematta rice (also known as Palakkadan matta rice or Kerala red rice) - The raw grain is short and plump. It has brownish red, more like watered down terracotta color. There is 3 to 5 thick dark terracotta colored vertical streaks on the grain. I am guessing this is the outer bran of the grain, which will be lost if they polish this rice.

When it comes to preparation, I have prepared it little bit differently from my regular rice (Sona Masuri). First I took and let the water boil in a big pot and then added the rosematta rice to this boiling water. Partially covered the vessel with a lid and cooked the rice until the rice is soft and water evaporated. The measurements I used were 3 cups of water for 1 cup of rosematta rice. The time it took to prepare was about 20 minutes. Result is superior quality rice in a pale rose hue. I would describe its taste as earthy and gutsy, more pronounced than the regular white rice and with a nutty overtone. I loved the ruchi of it mixed with the dal.

Many thanks to dear InjiPennu for introducing this rice to me. I am glad that I tried and planning to prepare it atleast once a week from now on at my home. Brown rice doesn’t have to be boring, you can surely say that with this terracotta colored, traditional Indian rice.

Rosematta Rice with Moongdal Rasam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Rosematta Rice (Monday October 30, 2006 at 2:24 pm- permalink)
Comments (55)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Rosematta Rice

‘Rosematta’ Rice From kerala and Tamilnadu
An Ancient Grain of India ~ For This Week’s “Indian Kitchen”

Purchased from Seattle Indian grocery shops
How to cook rose matta rice - recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Rosematta Rice (Sunday October 29, 2006 at 2:42 pm- permalink)
Comments (14)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Paneer Pad Thai with Bok Choy

Paneer Pad Thai with Pistachios and Bok Choy

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

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

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

Ingredients for Paneer Pad Thai

(for two, for one meal)

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

Keep all the ingredients ready by the counter.

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

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

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

Recipe adopted from Thai food and

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

Rice Noodles & Tofu in Fiery Peanut Sauce

Rice Noodles and Extra Firm Tofu

I indulged in junk food during our road trip, but Vijay was strict about his diet. His junk food was fruits, mainly lot of oranges and mandarins. My mood was going up and down along with the road curves we were taking, but Vijay was his usual chirpy, pleasant self the whole trip. I guess all that Vitamin C (known to cause sunny disposition in people) does effect one’s mood and also taking them was his way of dealing with unpredictable moods of his companion.:)

One of the healthy meals during our travel time was at Madison. We went to Noodles and Company (Asian fast food joint) next to our hotel for dinner. We didn’t have this chain in our part of Ohio and PA, and it’s a refreshing fast food experience we had in a while. Most of their menu was filled with decent real food like items and I went with ‘Indonesian fiery peanut saute’. As written in restaurant menu, this dish was prepared by sauteing rice noodles with fiery peanut sauce, broccoli, carrot and Napa cabbage and garnished with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and lime wedges. You could also order tofu or chicken strips with it. Of course I went with tofu. I liked the whole combination so much, and had decided to recreate this dish at home once I reached Seattle.

If you have all the ingredients at hand, preparation is quick and easy, and it can be a filling meal.

Ingredients for Noodle Preparation

(for two hungry people)

Prepare Fiery Peanut sauce:

Half cup of roasted peanuts
8 dried red chillies - Indian variety
½ tsp of each - salt and jaggery(/sugar) or to taste
Take them all in blender. Add a cup of water and blend to smooth paste. This is our ‘fiery’ sauce.

Vegetables and Tofu:

Broccoli: wash and cut or separate small florets (10 to 12)
Carrot: cut to thin, vertical strips of 2 inches length (15 to 20)
Spring onions (1 bunch) - finely chop
Tofu: Extra firm variety, cut to 1-inch cubes (10 to 12 cubes)
Bean sprouts: wash and half them (about a cup)
To garnish: prepare cilantro and lime wedges
You also need soy sauce and salt to taste.


In a big skillet, add a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and fry tofu cubes to pale gold color. Remove to a plate and keep them aside.

To the same skillet, add the vegetables and stir-fry them to the tenderness you desire. Then add the fiery-fragrant peanut sauce, a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of soy sauce. And also tofu cubes and bean sprouts. Mix. Cook for about 5 minutes, covered. If the sauce is too tight, add little bit of water and adjust the seasoning (salt and jaggery) also.

Meanwhile cook rice noodles (purchased at Trader Joe’s grocery shop), 2 bundles, one for each person, according to packet instructions. Take care not to overcook. They would stick to each other and become a soggy mess if overcooked. Drain and immediately add the rice noodles to skillet.

Toss the rice noddles with vegetables and peanut sauce. Sprinkle some more bean sprouts, cilantro and squeeze some limejuice. Serve hot.

Rice Noodles and Tofu in Fiery Peanut Sauce ~ Our Simple Meal Today

This sauce is really ‘fiery’. For medium fiery sauce - reduce the number of chillies to 6, for mild sauce to 4 or even less.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Rice Noodles (Thursday October 12, 2006 at 3:55 pm- permalink)
Comments (45)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Paramannam (Sweet Rice)

Paramannam Prasadam for Indian Sweets 101


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

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday August 4, 2006 at 2:55 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

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