Mahanandi

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

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

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

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).

Recipe:

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: www.themahanandi.org

Paramannam (Sweet Rice)


Paramannam Prasadam for Indian Sweets 101

Recipe:

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

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday August 4, 2006 at 2:55 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Pongal (Pongali)

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

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

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

Here is my recipe:
(for two)

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


Pongal - Starting Point


Pongal - After 15 minutes of cooking


Pongal - at 20 minutes of cooking

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Cashews, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed) (Thursday June 29, 2006 at 1:46 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

The Arisiupma trilogy (Guest Post by Janani)


Food blogging has opened a window for me to meet interesting and like-minded people who also share my passion and philosophy of cooking. Janani Srinivasan from Toronto is one such person. After reading her comments on some of my blogged recipes, I knew I found a friend and I had to ask her if she would be interested to share her family recipes on “Mahanandi”. She agreed enthusiastically and readily to my delight. Here she is, sharing her family’s treasured, traditional recipes in “The Arisiupma Trilogy”. Enjoy!
- Indira

My fondest childhood memories are of mealtimes at the home of my maternal grandparents where my grandmother- Annapurani in nature as in name- would whip up meal after magical meal prompting my late grandfather to often say in Sanskrit “Anna dhaata sukhi Bhava” (May the giver of rice be happy). If the story of a people’s deepest aspirations can be seen in their metaphor, then this poetic conflation of rice as food itself speaks volumes to the centrality of grain in the foodscapes of India’s many cultures.

One of the other remarkable features of the Indian subcontinent, is that depending on what filter or combination of these that you use- language, religion, culture, region, social identity, you could carve it up into a delightful array of unique variants of regional cuisines.

If I were to cite the major culinary influences that shape my own approach to cooking, I would pick out, as my example, my paternal grandmother Vathsala’s austere, methodical, cooking-with-what’s-on-hand-to minimize-waste? Kumbakonam Iyer style, with Annapurani’s elaborate, lavish, incredibly rich preparations shaped by her own life in Hyderabad and Bangalore; to my mother Jayanthi’s innovative style from her many travels, her tendency towards the fiery twists of her life in the Rayalseema region but always with a strong adherence to the authentic approach of her own paternal grandmother.

So when Indira asked me to guest blog, I could not think of a better tribute to my heritage and to the food grain that has sustained generations of my family, than the humble “Arisiuppma” with two of its popular variations “Thavalaadai” and “Pudikozhakattai”.

Ingredients:

(a) For the “Upma Odasal” or the cracked rice meal:
Rice- 1 cup (Using Brown basmati for this takes it to a whole new level of dense nutty chewy perfection but regular basmati or ay other rice especially par-boiled rice is quite acceptable and is the norm)
Urad Daal- 1 tsp
Toor Daal- 2 tsp
Dried red chilies- 4- 6 (depending on the level of spice tolerance)
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

Ingredients for Cracked Rice Meal

(b) Tadka or seasoning:
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Few Curry leaves
Green chilies- 3 to 4, chopped finely into rounds
Ginger root- 1inch, finely chopped .
Fenugreek seeds- Just a tiny pinch (optional)
Asafoetida- a pinch (the extract of the solid version soaked in water is ideal but the powdered form is acceptable too)
Sunflower oil- 1 tbsp (It is normally used but if you have the gutsJ, coconut oil tadka will make this dish quite ethereal.)
(c) Garnish:
Freshly grated coconut a fistful (can be omitted if it’s not preferred or my paternal aunt’s variation is to substitute it with sauteed onions)
(d) Salt to taste

Tadka or Seasoning Ingredients

Procedure:

1 In a blender/food processor coarse grind the ingredients listed under “(a)” to a cracked wheat consistency.

2 In a wide-bottomed pan, heat the oil and do the tadka.

3 Once the seeds start to sizzle and splutter, add fresh water in the proportion 1: 3 rice meal and water.

4 Once the water starts to boil, add in the coarsely grinded “(a)” list of ingredients and mix well.

Now when I made it this time, I had to ensure that my pipeline was effective since I was making three dishes with the exact same ingredients. Typically, one would only make one of the three preparations at any given time.

Up to step 4 above is common to all 3 dishes. After this point, the procedure diverges for each preparation.

Pudikozhakattai (Steamed Cracked Rice Dumplings)

Pudikozhakattai (steamed cracked rice dumplings)

When the mixture is well mixed and the water is just absorbed, take it off the heat. Depending on your heat tolerance, try not to let it cool down too much. Work rapidly using some cold water to wet hands and roll it into balls. Steam for about 8-10 minutes till done. A special twist here is to bury a smidgeon of jaggery in the center of this so you stumble upon a heart of sweet goodness as a surprise while biting into it.

Thavaladai (Rice Lentil Croquets)

Thavaladai (Rice lentil croquets

After step 4, take it off the heat. Once it’s cooled down shape into patties and shallow fry on a griddle. Can be served with ketchup or any chutney if desired or just plain.

Arisiupma

Arisiupma

(Try as I might, I could not come up with a nifty English equivalent for this dish. Let’s hope this will enter the lexicon alongside the likes of Bulghur, Couscous and Cream of Wheat. )

Keep going from step 4 till the uppma is well done. To serve, especially for kids, a popular pairing is with some ghee and sugar. Pickle and yogurt is also a combination but mostly its just eaten plain and piping hot.

- Guest Post by Janani Srinivasan, Toronto
Jayasri Srinivasan - Ingredient lineups and picture arrangements
Dr.S.Ramachandran - Photographs

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Zen (Personal), Basmati Rice, Sona Masuri Rice, Janani Srinivasan (Tuesday May 23, 2006 at 1:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Yogurt Rice With Mango ~ For Jihva

Yogurt Rice with Mangoes

Yogurt rice with mango is a nostalgic meal for me. Usually, after dinner, the leftover rice is mixed with warm milk, a spoon of yogurt culture is added, mixed and kept covered overnight in a tiffin box. By next morning, milk would turn into yogurt and is already mixed with rice - school lunch box would be ready. My mother used to prepare yogurt rice in this way and would also add small cubes of mango for mid-day meal, during our hot summer school days.

The quote, ‘Looks can be deceiving’ applies to this one. Even though, the whole thing looks homely and common, the taste is simply unique and very satisfying. Rice soaks up milk and when milk turns into yogurt, the rice also changes. It looses its biting kind of inner resistance, turns into soft, supple kind of grain. Addition of fruit, like mango, as a topping makes it even better. The meal is not only nutritional, also follows the ayurvedic principle of balancing the food ingredients, hot ones with cold one. Mango is famous for its heat generation where as yogurt is known for its cooling properties on human body. Combination of them together, makes this, a well-balanced, simple meal/dessert kind of food.

Adding yogurt culture to warm rice-milk mixture
Adding yogurt culture to warm rice-milk mixture

Recipe:
1 cup of cooked rice
2 cups of warm milk
¼ teaspoon of salt or to taste
Fruit Topping
I ripe mango - peeled and cut into small cubes

Mix the rice with milk. Add a tablespoon of yogurt culture and mix lightly; cover the vessel with lid and keep it in a warm area overnight. By next morning, the milk will be turned into yogurt. Stir in salt to taste. Sprinkle the mango cubes on top. With each spoon, take a small portion of yogurt rice and one cube of mango. Enjoy the sweet mango with creamy rich yogurt rice.

This is my contribution to the event “Jihvā For Mangoes”. I am very excited to host this event and thank you all for your enthusiastic participation with wonderful mango recipes. I am planning to do a recap of all the entries that I received, by tomorrow.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Mango, Milk, Yogurt, Sona Masuri Rice, Jihva For Ingredients (Monday May 1, 2006 at 5:36 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Maamidikaya pulihora (Mango Rice)

Rice mixed with grated unripe mango is a festival rice that is specifically prepared on “Ugadi” - The Telugu New Year celebration, in our homes.

Here is the simple, 4-step preparation process of festival rice - in images:

Grating the unripe mango

Step 1:
Peel the skin and grate the unripe mango. Measurement is: for 1 cup raw rice - 1½ cups grated mango to 2 cups. (Adjust the quantity to suit your tart/tangy preference.)

Cook the rice (preferably ‘Sona Masuri’). Maintain the grain integrity, don’t cook to mush.


Step 2:
In a skillet, heat peanut oil or ghee. Add and toast the listed ingredients below. One by one, until pale gold, in this order:

Cashews
Peanuts
Chana dal (presoaked in water for about 30 minutes beforehand)
Slit green chillies -brown them for better taste
Curry leaves and few pieces of dried red chillies
Mustard seeds and cumin

At the end, bring all these toasted ingredients, sprinkle turmeric and asafetida. Stir to mix and saute for another two minutes. (See the photo above)


Step 3:
Add the grated mango to the pan. Stir to mix with other toasted contents in the pan. Cook it on medium-high just for two minutes and switch off the heat. (This is done to remove the raw smell of grated mango. Do not cook the mango gratings more than two minutes, that would kill the precious mango flavor.)

Step 4:
Add salt and mix this toasted mango-peanut mixture with cooked rice thoroughly with a big spoon or with your right hand. Serve hot.


Celebrating Ugadi Festival with Maamidikaya Pulihora

Ingredients:
(For two)
1 cup rice (uncooked, raw)
1 to 2 cups grated green mango (quantity needed depends on how sour the green mango is)
6 to 8 Indian or Thai variety small-sized green chillies - Cut into 2or4 pieces lengthwise
¼ cup of cashews and peanuts combined
1 tablespoon of chana dal (soaked in water for ½ hour)
1 teaspoon each - cumin and mustard seeds
10 curry leaves, and 4-6 small pieces of dried red chilli
½ teaspoon of turmeric
Pinch of asafetida
Salt to taste or ½ teaspoon

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Tuesday March 28, 2006 at 10:07 am- permalink)
Comments (49)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney and a cup of shallot and carrot sambhar

How can anyone not like dosas? Just one bite, that’s all it takes to fall in love with them. They are such a knockout mini meal any time of the day. I often dream of starting my own franchise here, :) to cater freshly cooked dosas with all kinds of filling inside them. There is one already in New York, New Jersey area, called ‘Dosa Express’, which boasts about 50 different types of dosas - all kinds, from just plain dosa to dosas with variety of fillings, like cheese-potato curry combo etc.,

But if you ask me, nothing can beat the old classic, ‘Masala Dosa’. Crisp dosas filled with spicy powders, onion-red chilli paste and potato curry, if that’s not enough they are served with coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar. Can’t stand on your feet kind of knockout combo. Preparing this type of restaurant dosa at home is really easy, only thing you need is time and some planning.

Recipe:

A thick bottomed, flat, seasoned cast-iron pan
1 cup of rice
½ cup urad dal

Wash and soak rice and dal together in 2 to 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and grind them in a blender or wet grinder into a smooth batter. Add little water in-between for smooth grinding, if necessary. The consistency of batter must be like that of evaporated milk (commercial kind). Not too watery or not too thick.

Pour the batter into a big vessel, cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation. By morning the batter will be doubled, usually. Add half teaspoon of salt to the batter and stir thoroughly and the batter is ready for dosas. Place and heat the dosa skillet on the stove and follow the procedure shown in the pictures below.


Season the Dosa skillet with a teaspoon of oil and rub it with a cut onion. Onion not only gives nice flavor to dosa, also seasons the skillet.(this is an oldtime tip)


Pour a ladleful of batter on the skillet. Spread it around with the ladle.


With the ladle, shape and move the batter outwards in concentric circles - until it shapes in a circular, thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of peanut oil around the batter. Increase the heat high and cook it for few minutes.


Flip it to other side to cook for few seconds.


Reverse it again and quickly sprinkle some pappula podi(spicy dalia powder), apply red onion-dried red chilli paste around the dosa and then place a general portion of potato curry in the middle.


Fold the dosa in middle, remove and serve it immediately. This whole process must be done in maximum two to three minutes. Hot skillet and fast hand action is necessary and do not keep dosa on skillet for long, it’ll turnout hard and brittle, instead of soft and chewy.

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney & a cup of sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

Prepared in a style of Udipi restaurant dosa, Nandyala, India.
Potato Curry: Pressure cook/boil potaotoes until tender. Remove the skin, cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. Sauté finely chopped onions, green chillies and crumbled potatoes together. Season to taste - potato curry for dosa is ready.
Onion -red chilli paste: Cut one big red onion or 4 to 6 shallots into chunks. Add 6 dried red chillies and quarter teaspoon of salt or to taste, and grind into coarse mixture.
Pappula podi - recipe.
Coconut chutney - recipe.
Sambhar - recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 4:53 pm- permalink)
Comments (69)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ponganalu (Gunta Pongadalu)

Raayalaseema, Konaseema and Telengaana, these are the three regions in Andhra Pradesh, my home state.

Each region has its own way of cooking things and special recipes. In case of breakfast/brunch worth getting up early for, ‘Konaseema’ is famous for their ‘Pesarattu-upmacombination (beautifully put together by Sailu). I’m not that familiar with ‘Telengaana’ cuisine and ‘Raayalaseema’, where I’m from, has few special breakfast dishes unique to our region. One is “buggani” - prepared with puffed rice(murmura), I blogged already, and the other is “ponganalu” - rice lentil batter is seasoned with shallots, green chillies etc., then cooked in round impressions in an iron skillet until golden. These small pretty, dome shaped rounds are usually served with peanut chutney or coconut chutney.

In our homes, whenever relatives from other regions of Andhra or from other states visit us for holidays, out comes the “ponganala Pennam”(ponganala skillet). Round, golden colored ponganalu, hot off from the skillet, always elicits oohh… aahh… from our relatives and from their weird offspring (are there any other kind? :) ). Because they are unique to our region, preparing them is our showoff kind of thing, to out of staters who were related to us by marriages etc.,:)

Preparing ponganalu, it’s all in the skillet. Right kind of skillet delivers or breaks a ‘ponganam’. Nothing can beat an old world style, well seasoned iron skillet. They are the best and the place where you can buy is of course India. I’ve seen some non-stick skillets here in US in some Indian shops lately. They are also fine, if you don’t mind the non-stick coating.

Recipe:
For 3 to 4 batches of Ponganalu

Ponganala batter:
1 cup rice
½ cup urad dal

Soak them in water for about 6 hours. Drain (reserve the water) and grind them into smooth batter adding just enough water (add the reserve one, we kept aside). The consistency of the batter must be thick like idli batter or like condensed milk (commercial kind). Take the batter into a big vessel, cover and let it sit overnight for fermentation.
Sour and leftover dosa batter is perfect to prepare ponganalu. If you have some, try ponganalu with it, for a change.

Ingredients to prepare ponganalu

Seasoning (Add to the overnight fermented batter):
1 big red onion or 6 shallots - finely chopped
(Because we mix them in the batter raw, avoid yellow onion for its smell & awful rawtaste)
4 green chillies - finely chopped
Few springs of cilantro - finely chopped
A fistful of chana dal (soaked overnight)
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric and salt
Add all these ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly.
Also prepare peanut or coconut chutney.

Cooking: Place the ponganala skillet on medium heat. Add few drops of peanut oil into each impression. With a spoon or with a piece of paper towel, rub oil around, to season the skillet. When the skillet is hot and ready, proceed like this, following the images.


Pour a ladleful of batter into each impression.


Once all impressions are filled, cover the skillet with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes undisturbed.


Remove the lid; The batter will be set by now. Gently lift the ponganalu with a “ponganala lifter” or with a spoon. If properly cooked, they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes.


Turn each one to opposite side to cook.


Cook them another 5 minutes on medium heat undisturbed. Gently lift them from out of the skillet. When properly cooked they should come out easily without sticking to the skillet. If not, cook them for few more minutes. Remove them all onto a plate. Season the skillet with oil, again repeat the steps to cook another batch. Medium heat is the key.(Cooking them on high heat in a hurry or on too low heat won’t work- usually the outcome will be messy ponganalu.)


Ponganalu with peanut chutney - Breakfast worth getting up early for.

Recipe Source & Origin: Amma and Rayalaseema (Andhra, India)
Also checkout ‘Ponganalu’ by Santhi, friendly, fellow Raayalaseema vaasi.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sona Masuri Rice, Urad Dal (Washed) (Monday March 20, 2006 at 9:08 am- permalink)
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Sweet Pongal, The Sankranthi Sweet

Sankranthi:

Harvest festival Sankranthi is all about celebrating rice in our part of world. Particularly in South India, rice plays an important role as the main cultivated grain and as nourishing food that people subsist on every day of their life. It’s no wonder that there is a festival dedicated to the almighty rice. Equally worshipped are the man’s best partner, the kind-hearted cow, and the elements - sun, earth and water. They make rice cultivation a success, and also add a magic touch to the rice, making the rice a cherished, beloved food of the people.

Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra, India
Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra Pradesh, India

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali):

This famous south Indian, Sankranthi sweet is traditionally made with freshly harvested rice. Very simple to make but spectacular in taste, the ordinary rice becomes mouthwateringly extraordinary in sweet pongal. The rice soaks up the milk, absorbs the jaggery, picks up the cardamom scent and takes up the generously added moong dal, cashews and golden raisins. And in this new avatar, becomes an offering to the Gods (naivedyam, we call it), and also simply irresistible to all who try it.

Some Tips:

Jaggery:

I follow the classic recipe and don’t do or like shortcuts. Method is neat and easy and the end result is always like the prasadam offering of temples. Jaggery is the traditional sweetener of sweet pongal and my choice too, simply because sweet pongal tastes better when made with jaggery and not sugar.

Rice:

The rice that I prefer is Sona Masuri. Because this variety is grown and imported from my home state Andhra Pradesh, and is the variety that I grew up on. Grain is thin, medium sized and very lightweight. Available in almost all Indian grocery shops here in US. Little bit pricey, but the taste is worth the money and farmers in my state really can use the money. Support farmers and buy this rice.

Consistency:

Sweet pongal is like a rice-dal porridge, consistency must be gooey thick and sticky. That means, the amount of liquid I usually add for sweet pongal recipe is more than the amount that I normally add to cook plain rice of equal measurements. Also, I always use equal amounts of water and milk for this recipe. Variations are - you can cook the rice-dal entirely in milk or in coconut milk, or if you are lactose intolerant and diet conscious, then in just plain water. Just add more liquid compared to the regular rice preparation.

Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery
Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery

Recipe:
For two people

1 cup - Sona Masuri rice
½ cup - yellow moong dal (pesara Pappu)
1 - 1½ cups - jaggery, crushed to fine
¼ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee, melted
4 cardamom pods - skins removed and seeds powdered finely
3 cups each - milk and water (or 2 cups each, if you like a halwa like pongali)

Here is the 3-step method I follow to prepare sweet pongali at our home.

1.Toast and Roast:

Yellow moong dal:
Heat one teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet. Add and roast yellow moong dal, on medium heat, until the color changes from yellow to pink. Take care not to brown. Slow-roasting freshens up and imparts a sweet smell to yellow moong dal. Remove them to a plate and keep aside.

Cashews and Golden raisins:
In the same skillet, add and heat two teaspoons of ghee. Add and fry the cashews and golden raisins till they turn to light gold. Remove and keep them aside.

Jaggery Syrup Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup
Jaggery syrup simmering…………Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup

2.Cook and melt:

Rice, moong dal and milk:

Take rice and roasted moong dal in a pot. Add water and milk. Mix well. Partially cover the pot and cook the rice and dal to tender soft. I use a pressure cooker but an electric rice cooker also works fine. Stove-top slow simmering also produces best tasting pongali.

Jaggery and water:

While the rice is cooking, in another pot, melt jaggery. Add the powdered jaggery and one cup of water. Stir and cook till jaggery melts. Bring the solution to a rolling boil. and reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the jaggery syrup cool a bit.(Jaggery has to be cooked separately and you can’t add it directly to uncooked rice and milk. Because it prevents the rice from cooking properly and also splits the milk. Please keep this in mind.)

3. Stir and Simmer:

Adding the cooked rice: Add the cooked rice-dal pongal to jaggery syrup. Keep the heat on medium. Stir in the ghee, cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. With a strong laddle, stir well to combine all. Cover and simmer until the whole mixture comes together into a sticky, gooey mass. Turn off the heat. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Sweet pongal thickens further on cooling.

First offer to Gods as naivedyam (if you have this tradition), then serve it your loved ones, near and dear. Don’t forget to drizzle some ghee just before serving.

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) - The Traditional Sweet of Sankranthi
Heavenly Sweet Pongal

For people hungering for a traditional, naivedyam kind of recipe but don’t have time or energy to make puran poli (bhakshalu), sweet pongal is The one. Speaking from experience, my suggestion is, keep your reservations aside and try it. You’ll be glad and can be proud of yourself for finally making one decent kind of naivedyam. I promise! Follow the recipe and this ancient classic delivers every time. People would ask for a second serving, diet or no diet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed), Ghee, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 16, 2006 at 3:08 pm- permalink)
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Chitrannam (Lemon Rice)

Nimmakaya Pulihora:

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

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

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

Recipe:
(Serves two)

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Source:Attamma(MIL)

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