Mahanandi

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

Teepi Gummadi Kura for Sankranthi

(Pumpkin Subzi with Winter Melon from Nandyala)

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Winter melon, Ash Gourd, Gummadikaya, Gummadi

Pumpkin kura sweetened with jaggery is a Sankranthi tradition at Nandyala and in many parts of Andhra, Bharath. Pumpkin is a winter vegetable, and jaggery is made fresh from sugarcane during this season. So on Bhogi, the first day of three day festival Sankranthi, we cook these two together as part of harvest celebration. The pumpkin cubes coated with jaggery-spice mixture glisten like an early morning Sunshine on wintry day in this curry. Usually we serve it with Sajja Rotte (Millet Roti) on Bhogi.

The white fleshed pumpkin is called boodida gummadi in Telugu. Here in US, it is sold as ash gourd or winter melon, often cut into small portions like shown in the image. Winter melon tastes like cucumber, mildly sweet and no smell whatsoever. If this variety is available in your area, do try this recipe. Sweet, aromatic and with ruchi, this curry is a hearwarming wintry delight and a must try for winter-melon fans.

Gummadi, Winter Melon, Ash Gourd, Kaddu
Winter Melon, Coconut, Dalia and Jaggery

Recipe:
(for two, for two meals with roti)

Boodida Gummadi (Winter melon): Peel the skin, remove the seeds and cut the white part to bite-sized cubes : 4 cups

Jaggery-spice Paste:

Dalia (putnala pappulu, Bhuna Chana) - quarter cup
Jaggery, crushed to small pieces - 3 tablespoons
Coconut, fresh or dry, grated - 1 tablespoon
Dried red chilli - 4
Coriander seeds - half teaspoon
Take them all in a mixer, blend to fine consistency.

Kura Preparation:
In a pot, heat a teaspoon of peanut oil. Add and toast a sprig of curry leaves, pinch of cumin and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the pumpkin cubes. Also the jaggery-spice paste along with a glass of water. Mix. Stir in a pinch of turmeric, and salt to taste. Mix, and simmer, covered for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the pumpkin pieces cook to tender.

Serve the teepi gummadi kura with chapati, sorghum roti or sajja roti. (This curry is not that good with rice.)

Teepi Gummadi Kura, Pumpkin Curry with Roti
Teepi Gummadi Kura with Roti, and Boondhi Mixture

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala
This kura is also prepared with orange pumpkin. The recipe is same except the change in pumpkin.
Kura=Curry, Teepi=Sweet, Gummadi=Pumpkin, Ruchi=Flavor (from Telugu to English)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia), Pumpkin (Wednesday January 9, 2008 at 2:35 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

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Cranberry~Pomegranate Jam/Relish

Plump pomegranates and tart cranberries are in season right now here in Seattle. I purchased few pounds last weekend with the idea of preparing jam/cooked relish. I thought it would be fun to try something new with these two tart and fruity ingredients.

I’ve combined the cranberries with pomegranate juice and water. The sweetener was the jaggery. I let them simmer on medium heat to jam like thick consistency. It was an easy process.

I made pecan pancakes for lunch. The carbos and the bright tasting jam, I really liked the whole combination. People who go for unique flavors and anti-oxidant fanatics alike will enjoy this jam/relish, I think.


Pomegranate Seeds and Cranberries

Recipe:

2 cups pomegranate seeds
2 cups cranberries, rinsed
2 cups jaggery, crushed
1 cup water

Coarsely crush pomegranate seeds (blender, citrus juicer, food mill or with your hands). Pour through a coffee filter to remove the seeds and extract the juice. (I carried this process somewhat carelessly, thinking few escaped seeds won’t hurt, but I will be taking extra precautions next time to remove seeds completely.)

Take pomegranate juice, cranberries and jaggery in a wide pot. Add water. Bring to a boil. Then simmer, uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, till the cranberries pop and the whole thing thickens to jam like consistency. Let cool and store in a clean jar.

Enjoy with pancakes, or as bread/ chapati spread.


Cranberry~Pomegranate Jam/Relish

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Cranberries, Pomegranate (Tuesday November 6, 2007 at 7:34 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Bittergourd and Basmati (Karela Pulao)

Kakarakaaya Annam


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

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


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

Recipe:
(Serves 2 as a main meal.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Kakara Kaya(Bitter Gourd), Basmati Rice (Tuesday September 11, 2007 at 5:02 pm- permalink)
Comments (27)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane

Fresh Sugar Cane and Sweet, Juicy Cubed Treats of Sugar Cane
~ for this week’s Indian Kitchen

Fresh Sugar Cane

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Molasses, Sugar (Sunday January 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm- permalink)
Comments (15)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Peanut ~ Jaggery Chutney

Peanut - jaggery chutney is a timeless classic. Like the comfort of the Kashmir shawl wrap on a cold day and the elegance of kumkum bottu on the forehead after a visit to the temple, it can be relied on to instantly make the meal both totally comforting and effortlessly elegant.

Stylish enough for a special elaborate meal and at the same time, casual enough for a spur of the moment put-together breakfast or light lunch - Peanut jaggery chutney is a rural Andhra classic side dish and much beloved recipe from my home. Usually prepared in a rolu (mortar) and served during Makara Sankranthi with pulagam or pongali and ghee.

 Shallot, Dried Red Chillies, Roasted Peanuts
Shallot, Dried Red Chillies and Roasted Peanuts

Recipe:

Peanuts - 1 cup
Shallots 4 or one big red onion - cut to chunks
Dried red chillies - 6 to 10. I usually add at least 8 for a cup of peanuts
Tamarind - small marbleround size
Jaggery pieces - 1 tablespoon or to your liking
Salt - 1 teaspoon

Roast peanuts to light brown color. Cool and remove the skins.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and fry shallot/onion pieces and dried red chillies to brown color. Let cool to room temperature.

Soak tamarind in a quarter cup of hot water for about 10 minutes, to soften.

Take them all in a blender or in a mortar. Add jaggery and salt. Grind to smooth consistency. Remove to a cup and serve with breakfast items or with chapati/rice along with ghee.

Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee
Peanut-Jaggery Chutney with Pulagam and Ghee

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Shallots (Wednesday January 17, 2007 at 8:26 pm- permalink)
Comments (11)

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

Jaggery~Coconut Puffs


Jaggery-Coconut Puffs

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

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


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

Recipe:
for 12 to 14 sweet puffs

For filling:

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

For dough:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve warm.


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


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


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


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


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

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

Recipe:

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

Brinjal~Jaggery Chutney (Vankaya Bellam Pacchadi)

Cooking is an ultimate balance act, isn’t it? Take time to learn and practice to achieve that balance, the rewards are high. Not only good health, but also a balanced mood. Some ingredients and recipes are easy to balance and master. But for some, one needs yogi’s kind of patience and sadhana. Jaggery, particularly in savory recipes, is one such ingredient that I needed to practice a lot to achieve the balance. Consistency and quantity are difficult to explain and I had to rely on my flavor senses for guidance in my beginner days of cooking. I hope you do the same when you cook with jaggery in savory recipes, like the one I am posting today, as part of my weeklong Jihva jaggery journey.

Brinjal-Jaggery chutney (Vankaya-Bellam pacchadi) is a classic Andhra (Nandyala) recipe where young brinjals, dried red chillies and ginger are first roasted and then grinded together with jaggery, tamarind and salt. The result is a mouthwatering side dish with all 5 flavors and some extra smoky flavor, usually eaten with rice, ghee and dal or sambar. If you like baingan burtha, baba ghanouj style brinjal preparations, where brinjal is grilled and mashed, then this chutney is also your style.


Brinjals, Jaggery and Dried Red Chillies

Recipe:

8 young brinjals - ends removed and sliced lengthwise
8 dried red chillies
1 rupee coin sized ginger
1 red onion or shallot - sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon each of powdered jaggery and tamarind juice
¼ teaspoon of salt or to taste

Heat two tablespoons of peanut oil in an iron skillet. Bring the oil to smoking point. Now add brinjal, onion and ginger. On high heat, grill them. Do not cook and soften but brown them -secret to tasty chutney. If you are one of those ‘gifted’ with charring or blackening all things you cook, then you need to use that gift here, my friend. Leave the care to the world and char the brinjals’ white flesh to your hearts content. Remove them to a plate. Add and grill dried red chillies for few seconds.

In a food processor or blender, take grilled brinjals, onion, ginger and dried red chillies. Add salt, tamarind juice and jaggery. Hit pulse button and coarsely puree. Remove to a cup. Traditionally popu or tadka (toasting cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves in one teaspoon of oil) is added to the chutney at the end but this step is entirely optional. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t, depends on my time and patience.

Serve with rice, ghee and dal or with pappu chaaru/sambhar.


Brinjal-Jaggery chutney mixed with Rice in Pappu chaaru - Savory Jaggery Entry to Kay’s JFI

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Vankaya (Brinjal) (Wednesday November 29, 2006 at 9:40 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cranberry~Clove Marmalade

Cranberries, Orange (mandarin, battayi), Cloves, Palm Jaggery (Taati Bellam
Cranberries, Orange (mandarin, battayi), Cloves, Palm Jaggery (Taati Bellam)

Before going in to weeklong JFI jaggery journey, I would like to know and I hope you all had nice time with your family and friends during Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For us, it was a working as well as relaxing weekend. I prepared some decent meals, read a funny book called ‘Food Moods’ and Vijay was working on his assignments and required readings. We mostly stayed home because of the weather here. It was raining and snowing. Yes, snow in Seattle. I didn’t expect that, but it also snows in Seattle. What a nice surprise.

Cranberries, chestnuts, pecan pie and plum (fruit) cake - these are the things I look forward to during holiday season in US, every year. Their rich color, beauty and taste brighten up otherwise dreary cold days here. Cranberries in particular. Their bitter-tart taste is perfect antidote for too much fancy food that is common during this season.

Last weekend among other things, I also prepared marmalade with cranberries. In addition to oranges and jaggery, I have added cloves on a whim and cloves fresh, refreshing aroma brightened up not only our breath but also our otherwise mundane morning jam-bread breakfast routine.

Cooking the marmalade
Cooking the marmalade

Recipe:

Cranberries - 2 to 2½ cups (12 ounces)
Oranges - 2 cups of cut fruit (6 seedless fruits, I used mandarins (battayi) for this recipe)
Palm Jaggery - 1 cup powdered
Cloves - 6
Water - 1 cup

Wash and remove bad cranberries. Peel orange and separate into segments over a bowl (to catch the juices). Powder the jaggery and measure. Make a fine powder of cloves.

In a heavy pot, bring one cup of water to a boil. Add jaggery and wait until jaggery melts. Add cranberries and orange pieces. Cook, until the fruit breaks down, turn to mush and come together to a firm quivering mass. Takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, sprinkle powdered cloves. Cook few more minutes and turn off the heat. Let marmalade cool completely. Store in a tight lidded, clean jar and refrigerate.

Cranberry~Clove Marmalade and Toasted Bread
Cranberry~Clove Marmalade & Toasted Bread
for JFI-Jaggery hosted by Kay of ‘Towards A Better Tomorrow’

Kitchen Notes:
Fills about 14 oz (400grams) jar.
I’ve prepared mildly sweet marmalade. Adjust jaggery quantity to suit your taste.
Recipe Source: My own creation.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Cranberries, Sugar, Jaggery and Honey, Citrus Family (Tuesday November 28, 2006 at 11:29 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Jaggery (Gur, Bellam) ~ Sugarcane and Palm

Jaggery (Gur in Hindi and Bellam in Telugu) ~ Sugarcane and Palm
Sugar cane Jaggery and Palm Jaggery ~ For this week’s Indian Kitchen

Jaggery and sugar are India’s gifts to the world!

I do not know how many of you know this but ancient Bharath (India) pioneered the sugar making technique. Harold McGee, the author of entertaining and educational cookbook “The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” describes in detail how thousands of years ago, India enamored the world with the taste and technique of sugar making. This is the first ’spice’ that was exported from India. These ancient traditions still continue and along with sugar, jaggery is also prominently used in Indian cooking.

There are two types of jaggery available in India as far as I know. One is from sugarcane and the second type is from Palmyra palm tree (toddy palm or taadi chettu) . Sugarcane juice (for cane jaggery) sap (for palm jaggery) from trees is boiled down hours and hours. And the concentrated liquid is poured into molds to dry. Depending on the mold used, you would see jaggery in different shapes- cylindrical blocks, smooth round balls and half spheres etc. Depending on the sweetness level and color, the jaggery is two types. Pale gold colored one - this is what’s available in most of the Indian grocery shops here in US. This is popular mainly because of my generation’s penchant for all things pale colored. Good, decent taste, I use it regularly in my cooking. But my parents and grand parents back in India prefer the dark colored jaggery. Aging or curing the freshly prepared jaggery for sometime will result in potently sweet, distinct flavored dark colored jaggery. For them, pale colored ones are inferior in taste. I agree that there is a significant difference between those two types. Because of this fact, often in our homes for marriages and special occasions, the dark colored jaggery is preferred to prepare sweetmeats.

When it comes to taste - jaggery has a distinct taste. English language, perhaps the most powerful tool and expression of current day culture, has millions of words but none of which are really good enough I think and there is no word in English that completely serves to describe the taste of Jaggery. If you have tasted one, cooked with one, smelled one, then you know the subtle sublime scrumptiousness Jaggery brings to a recipe. Otherwise, a translation attempt ‘tastes like molasses, brown sugar or maple syrup‘ is either an incomplete and false hint, for anyone who doesn’t know the taste of jaggery, or is simply annoyingly weak and unevocative.

Jaggery stores well. Once in 3 or 4 months, I buy a big block of jaggery from Indian stores. I break it using a knife and hammer. Place the knife in the middle of the block and lightly hit it with hammer. Jaggery breaks into pieces. Further gentle tapping with hammer results in small pieces and powdered jaggery. I keep what I need in a small container in kitchen cabinet and store the remaining pieces for later use in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. Just with 15 minutes work, I would be set for at least 3 months. I use jaggery in different traditional Indian preparations - to sweeten the curry sauces, for pappu chaaru and also to prepare sweets like payasam, kheer and cashew sweets etc. Back in home, in India, people often prepare sweets with jaggery. Particularly for naivedyam, jaggery sweets are preferred to sugar sweets. Our elders, they may not have degrees, but they do know where the ingredients come from and how they are made. They avoid sugar in naivedyam because after all sugar is processed by using dead animals bone meal.

One complaint I often hear about jaggery is presense of sand or dust particles in it. The reason for it is jaggery is still prepared in ancient way, in the fields. There will be harvesting of sugar cane going on one side and on the other end concentrating the sugar cane juice will be going on. Air carries some particles into this liquid. The farmers do filter the liquid before pouring into molds but one or two particles always find a way to join in. For some, these particles are reason why they avoid jaggery and prefer sugar. For me, I prefer sand particles to bonechar contamination anytime of the day. Atleast I know how to deal with jaggery impurities - melt and strain.

For the month of December, for Jihva - the online food blogging event, we the food bloggers are going to celebrate the goodness of Jaggery. All thanks to the new mom and the host of JFI, Kay, for her wonderful selection. Whether you are an already ordained admirer of jaggery by birth or it is your first time, join and (re)discover the subtle, sublime scrumptiousness of jaggery cooking, both in sweet and savory recipes.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sugar, Jaggery and Honey (Sunday November 26, 2006 at 8:35 pm- permalink)
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Peanut Pachhi Pulusu (Peanut Cold Rasam)

For Independence Day Food Parade on August 15th, I’ve decided to write three recipes which are near and dear to my heart. One each from - my hometown, my state and my country. Today’s one is from my hometown. Some recipes are truly local, like a needlepoint, known and popular only in few homes in a town and surrounding villages. Peanut pachhi pulusu (pachhi =raw/unboiled, pulusu=rasam/soup) is one such recipe from “land of Nandis” - Nandyala, Rayalaseema region.

Peanuts are roasted to golden color, skins removed and then made into smooth paste along with salt, chilli powder, tamarind and jaggery. By adding water, the paste is made into rasam like consistency. Finely sliced onions are added and seasoning is done by popu/tadka. That’s it. This is sort of cold, no-boil rasam and perfect during hot summer days. Often prepared and served with pongal and potato curry, the whole combination tastes awesome and comforting.


Peanuts - Roasted and Golden (Skins Removed)

Recipe:

Roast Peanuts:
Take 2 cups of peanuts in a large skillet and on medium-high heat, roast them to golden color (see photo above) mixing and turning often to prevent scorching. Allow to cool. Rub them with hands to loosen the skins and remove the skins. (Roasting peanuts to golden color is important. Spend few minutes & pay attention to roasting process. Taste of this recipe depends on this step.)

Make a paste:
2 cups of Peanuts - roasted and skins removed (from above)
½ teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
1 tablespoon tamarind juice
2 tablespoons of powdered jaggery
Take all the above in a blender or in a mortar, crush them to smooth paste by adding 1 cup of water in between.

Finely Slice:
1 big onion - lengthwise, slice thinly and wash them in water to separate the onions pieces and to remove that raw onion smell.

Do the popu/tadka:
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a big vessel. Add and toast - few pieces of curry leaves, dried chillies and half teaspoon of mustard seeds and cumin. To this popu/tadka:
Add the smooth peanut paste.
Add the onions.
Stir in about 1 to 2 cups of cold water. Mix and serve.
Make the rasam like thick buttermilk consistency. Have a taste and adjust salt, sweet and sour levels to your taste.

Serve with pongal. This pachhi pulusu (cold rasam) has all 5 essential ruchulu (flavors) and is guaranteed to make one feel cool as a cucumber on a hot day.


Peanut Pachhi Pulusu with Pongal and Potato Kurma ~ Our Fabulous Meal:) Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Onions (Thursday August 10, 2006 at 3:39 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Bottle Gourd in Sesame (Sorakaya-Nuvvula Kura)

Few months ago, I wrote about my mother’s recipe of bottle gourd. It is a standard, no fuss kind of recipe with minimum ingredients. I like the taste of that curry and played around with the recipe little bit and came up with this one. It is also a simple no-nonsense recipe and supplies carbos (bottle gourd), protein (black chana) and fat (sesame seeds). I love the taste and also the ease with which it can be prepared.

Bottle gourd Pieces (Sorakaya, Lauki)
Bottle Gourd (Sorakaya, Dudhi) - Peeled, Cut into Cubes

Recipe:

Prep Work:
One cup of black chickpeas (kala chana) soaked in water overnight.
Half of medium-sized bottle gourd (sora kaya, dudhi), peeled and cut into half-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

Cook:
Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil. Toast a teaspoon of cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves (for tadka).
Add the bottle gourd pieces and soaked kala chana. Saut? for few minutes on medium heat. Add about a cup of water and close the lid and cook.

Sesame-Dalia paste:
Meanwhile prepare the curry thickener. Grind in a blender:
3 tablespoons of each - sesame seeds and dalia
½ tablespoon of each - tamarind juice and powdered jaggery
1 teaspoon of each - coriander seeds (dhania), cumin and red chilli powder
½ teaspoon of salt or to taste
Grind them to smooth paste by adding about one cup of water.

Simmer:
Add the sesame-dalia paste to the curry. Stir in half teaspoon of turmeric. Mix and on medium heat, simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the curry reaches the consistency you desire.
Tastes great with chapatis/naans and with sorghum rotis.

Bottle gourd curry with chapatis
Bottle gourd curry with chapatis

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Jaggery, Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia) (Tuesday July 18, 2006 at 7:21 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Mango~Sesame Curry (Mamidi~nuvvula kura)

Before moving to US, we lived for about 2 years in Hyderabad, India. The capital city of my home state, Andhra Pradesh, lately known as Hi-Tech city, Hyderabad, has its own unique cuisine. A mishmash, a culinary amalgam influenced by people who migrated to this city from small villages, towns all over Andhra and from out of states on jobs, business and to work in political bureaucracy. Foodwise, you can get everything and anything there, almost:). Strong personalities and strong flavors are needed to survive in that city.

One such bold flavored recipe that I learned from a Hyderabad native, is this mango~sesame curry. Unripe mangoes are cooked in jaggery flavored sesame sauce. 3 strong flavors, unbeatable taste, perfect side dish for subtly bland naans/chapatis and puris.

Jaggery, Roasted Sesame Seeds, Unripe Mango
Jaggery, Roasted Sesame Seeds, Unripe Mango ~ Three Strong Flavors

Recipe:

2 green, unripe mangoes - peeled, seed removed and cubed into bite sized pieces
1 cup sesame seeds - lightly roasted and powdered
¼ cup of jaggery - powdered
1 teaspoon of each - red chilli powder, salt and turmeric
For popu or tadka:
1 teaspoon of peanut oil
½ teaspoon of each mustard seeds, cumin and few curry leaves.

1 Heat peanut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add and toast cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves.

2 Add mango cubes to the pan, stir in sesame powder, jaggery, chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Add about 2 cups of water and mix thoroughly.

3 Cover with lid and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the mango pieces soften and the sesame sauce comes together into medium-thick mass. Have a taste and adjust the salt, sweet, spicy levels to your taste. Cook for another couple of minutes and turn off the heat.

Serve warm with chapatis/naans or with puris and enjoy this unique curry of zinging taste.

Mango sesame curry with puris
Mango-Sesame Curry with Puris

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Jaggery, Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Monday May 22, 2006 at 6:20 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cranberry Jam

Cranberries and Orange

When I first made cranberry jam, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out. One wintry day, on a whim, I cooked up cranberries with orange juice and added some jaggery - viola, a spectacularly delicious tartly, tangy and sweet jam in a beautiful shade of Burmese ruby.

Tart cranberries and tangy oranges, in brilliant red and orange colors, dazzled me with promises of healthy glow and much needed Vitamin C. Who would think that, these two beautiful looking tarts taste that good when combined. Adding another tartly, sweet ingredient - jaggery, completed and complemented those two - making the end result, a tasty jam/preserve to enjoy.

Native Indian and Indian ingredients for a western style breakfast of bread and jam - cost is low, recipe is easy, preparation time minimal. Give it a try, if you haven’t already.

Cranberries, Orange Juice and Powdered Jaggery

I usually make this jam, in small quantity for a week’s worth, but never in big batches like the seasoned jam makers do. So I’m not familiar with the sealing techniques for long-term storage etc., can’t offer any tips about that. My jam never lasted more than a week.

Recipe:

1 bag (12 ounces) of fresh cranberries
2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (4 to 6 oranges)
¾ cup of powdered jaggery (½ cup to 1 cup, how sweet your choice, I used ¾ cup)

Rinse the cranberries thoroughly. Pick out the bad ones, that are soft, shriveled or discolored. In a large pot, take orange juice and jaggery. Cook them until jaggery melts completely. When the juice starts to thicken, stir in the cranberries. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring in between. Cranberries first pop, then break down completely and turn into thick mush. Turn off the heat when it reaches jam like consistency, it further thickens on cooling. Store in a clean, dry jar.

Cranberry Jam on a Slice of Whole Wheat Bread
Cranberry jam on a toasted slice of whole wheat bread ~ our breakfast this week

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Jaggery, Cranberries, Citrus Family (Tuesday January 24, 2006 at 2:59 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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