Friday, July 28, 2017

Karadaiyan nombu adai

Karadaiyan nombu is a festival celebrated by Tamil Iyers around the world. The story behind it is an interesting one. Savitri was a very brave and intelligent princess. Since most kings were intimidated by her valor and intelligence, her father was unable to find a groom for her. He asked her to find a groom for herself and thus she set off to find a partner. She found herself the perfect partner - Satyavan - in a remote jungle. However, she was warned by the sage Narada that Satyavan would only live for a year after their wedding. She decided to marry Satyavan despite the warning. They lived in the jungle for a year. The pre-ordained day of his death arrived. Savitri fasted all day. She offered karadai to God, and asked that her husband should be with her always. Yama, the God of death arrived and took Satyavan's soul away with him. Savitri followed him. Pleased with her love for her husband, Yama said that though he could not release Satyavan from the clutches of death, he would grant her 3 wishes. The clever Savitri asks that her father should be blessed with a hundred sons, that her blind father-in-law should regain his eyesight and that she and Satyavan should be blessed with a hundred sons. Pleased with her intelligence, Yama grants her boons and brings Satyavan back to life.
Iyer women and girls continue the tradition of offering karadai while praying for the long lives of their husbands or in the case of unmarried girls, for good husbands. A yellow thread with a flower strung on it is tied around the neck and the adai with a blob of butter is offered to God. This festival usually falls in March (the end of the Tamil month of Masi and the beginning of Panguni). In our family, we offer sweet and salt adai as neivedyam along with butter. This is usually eaten as dinner on the day of the vratam.

What you need:
For vella adai/sweet adai
Rice flour - 1 cup (double roasted)
Jaggery - 1 cup, powdered
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Karamani/cow peas - 2 tbsp., soaked in water overnight & cooked
Water - 2.5 cups

Heat water in a thick bottomed pan. Add jaggery to it and heat until the jaggery melts completely. At this point, if there are impurities in the jiggery, you can filter it out. Lower the flame. Add cardamom powder, cooked cow peas and the rice flour, stirring continuously and briskly so that no lumps are formed. Keep stirring until the water is completely absorbed and the mixture thickens to a dough. Keep aside to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, make small lemon sized balls and flatten them into thick discs with a hole in the center. Place this in a steamer/idli pan in a single layer and steam for 10-12 minutes or until the adai looks glossy.

For uppu adai/salt adai
Rice flour - 1 cup (double roasted)
Oil - 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a generous pinch
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Water - 2.5 cups
Salt - to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard and urad and roast until the seeds pop. Add water, asafetida, salt and grated coconut. When the water starts to boil, add the rice flour, stirring briskly and continuously. Cook till moisture is absorbed and mixture thickens to a dough. When cool enough to touch, make lemon sized balls, flatten them into thick discs with a hole in the center and steam in a single layer for 10-12 minutes or until shiny.

This is my second post for Week 4 of Blogging Marathon #78 under the theme Festival foods.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Akkaravadisal - a traditional sweet treat

Akkaravadisal is a traditional Iyengar offering to the Gods. I have heard some of my friends speak longingly and in great detail of this dish. Though I have never tasted this dish or seen it made by anyone I know, the fervor with my friends spoke of it made me feel that I was missing out on something akin to the eighth wonder of the world. A little bit of Google-ing and some phone calls later, I came up with this recipe which is an adaptation of several recipes that can be found online. I felt that the dish is similar to sweet pongal, except for the fact that the rice is cooked in milk. This gives it a delicate creaminess that makes it appealing both in looks and taste. The basic recipe is very simple. Rice is cooked in milk and then jaggery syrup is added to this. Add-ons like cashews, raisins and cardamom can be mixed in, based on availability and personal preferences.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup
Yellow moong dal - 1 tbsp. (optional)
Water - 1/2 cup
Milk - 4 cups (Preferably full fat)

Jaggery - 2 cups, powdered/grated
Cardamom - 2
Ghee - 1 tbsp.
Cashew - a few

Wash the rice and dal (if using) well and soak in half a cup of water for at least 30 minutes. Transfer this to a large pressure cooker. Coarsely crush cardamom. Add it to the rice along with the milk and cook on a medium flame for two whistles.
In the meantime, take the jaggery in a pan. Add 1/4 cup of water to it and heat over a low flame until the jaggery dissolves completely. If there are impurities in the jaggery, you can strain it out at this point. Set aside.
When the pressure settles, mash the rice well. Add the melted jaggery to this and mix well.
Heat ghee in a pan and toast the cashews in it till reddish brown. Mix this into the akkaravadisal.
The mixture should be semi solid in nature. It thickens up quite a bit on cooling. While serving, if you find that it is too thick, you can loosen it up by adding some warm milk.

This is my first post for Week 4 of Blogging Marathon #78 under the theme Festival foods.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tortilla soup with a twist

Cold Minnesota winters always see me making warm, comforting and filling soups. Usually, the ingredients are whatever is in the fridge or pantry - thus saving me from making a trip on treacherous roads. Though we are now blissfully enjoying the summer sun while it lasts, we know what's coming soon. This soup is popular at Mexican restaurants and is one that I made last winter, with an Indian twist.

What you need :

Tortillas - 4, cut into wedges to resemble tortilla chips. This is where the twist I mentioned comes into play. I used leftover rotis instead of tortillas.
Red kidney beans - 1 can (Can be substituted with black beans)
Frozen green peas - 1/4 cup
Carrot - 1
Tomato - 2
Celery - 1/4 cup, chopped
Red onion - 1, chopped fine
Butter/oil - 2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Soup seasoning - to taste
Salt & pepper - to taste

Spread the roti wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, keeping a close watch so that you can stop baking once they start to harden and brown. Another way to do this is to spread some oil on a frying pan and then roasting the roti pieces over a slow flame until they are crisp on both sides. Set this aside.

In a large saucepan, heat butter/oil. Add the onions and saute till they start to turn translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, and carrots and saute till tomatoes become soft and mushy. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except seasoning) along with 4 cups of water. Since most of the ingredients I have used are canned or frozen, it doesn't take much time for the soup to come together. Let it boil for 10-12 minutes on a medium flame. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add in soup seasoning. Use a potato masher or a ladle to mash some of the ingredients to give the soup some thickness. If you want to, you can use a hand blender or a regular blender too, for a smoother soup, but I like this soup chunky.
To serve, put some of the tortilla strips in a bowl. Pour the soup on top of it and then top it with more tortilla strips.

This is my third post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


A Mexican dish which is very popular , nachos in its most basic form, consists of tortilla chips topped with lots of melted cheese. To this basic form, you can add ingredients of your choice like black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos and onions. No matter what ingredients you choose to add, this snack is a crowd pleaser. Here is my version of this dish.

What you need:

Tortilla chips
Black beans - 1 can
Red onion - 1 small, chopped
Corn - 1/2 cup
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Grated cheese - a generous amount

Spread the tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the drained beans, onion, corn, cumin powder and salt. Mix well. Spread this mixture evenly over the chips. Top with grated cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese melts.
Serve with guacamole, sour cream and salsa on the side.

This is my second post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pineapple fried rice

When I lived in Chennai, I used to love the Thai food restaurant - Benjarong. I am not sure if the restaurant is still around, but the taste and the presentation of their pineapple fried rice is something that I remember fondly. A mildly spiced rice served in the shell of a pineapple - this is how the dish was brought to the table at the restaurant. I've tried to recreate this dish (not the presentation part of it, though) from memory and I think I've come fairly close to the original.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup, cooked and
 cooled (I used regular raw rice, cooked with 2.5 cups of water)
Oil - 2 tbsp.
Green chilli - 3 or 4, slit lengthwise
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Ginger - a one inch piece, julienned
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Carrot - 1, chopped fine
Pineapple - 3/4 cup
Green onion - 3, chopped fine
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp.
Red chilli sauce - 1 tbsp.
Cashew & Groundnuts

Heat oil in a pan. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute. Add cashew, groundnuts and saute till reddish. Stir in the chopped onion and carrot. Saute over a medium flame until the carrots are cooked, yet crunchy. Now add the pineapple and heat till they start to brown slightly. Stir in the sauces. Increase the flame to high and quickly stir everything together. Add the chopped green onion. Stir to combine. Lower the heat and add the cooked, cooled rice and salt. Mix everything together.
Serve hot.

This is my first post for Week 2 of BM#78 under the theme Oceanic Cuisine - dishes from countries that are bordered by two or more oceans.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM# 78

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pressure cooker pasta

This is one of our favorite lunch box recipes. The type of pasta, the sauce, the veggies that go into it - these change from one time to the next, but our love for this dish doesn't diminish no matter what avatar it takes.

What you need:
Pasta - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Tomato - 1, chopped fine
Capsicum - 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Pasta sauce - 1/2 cup + more, if desired
Butter - 2 tbsp
Italian seasoning
Grated cheese

In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp. of butter. Add pepper corns followed by onions. Saute till they start to brown. Add tomato and capsicum. Saute well. Add the pasta, pasta sauce, salt and just enough water to cover the pasta. Cook till one whistle. Then reduce the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When the pressure settles, add Italian seasoning, grate cheese and more pasta sauce if desired. Stir well. Serve hot.

This is my third post for BM#77 under the theme Healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ven Pongal

Growing up, I wasn't very fond of Pongal - mostly because it was only made once a year in my home - typically during the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the ease of making it and the fact that paired with a good gothsu and chutney, it is a complete meal in itself, has made me rethink my opinion of this humble dish. Though it is considered a breakfast dish, whenever I make it, I make a little extra so that I can carry it in my lunch box.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup
Split moong dal - 1/2 cup
Water - 5 cups
Ginger -  a small piece, julienned
Peppercorns - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew - a few (optional)
Salt - to taste

Wash the rice and dal well to remove starch. Add water, salt and ginger to it and cook on a medium flame in a pressure cooker until one whistle. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
Switch off the flame and set aside. In  a separate kadai, heat ghee. Coarsely crush the pepper and cumin. Toast the cashews in ghee until they turn reddish. Add the curry leaves and crushed spices. Saute and switch off the flame.
Once the pressure settles, open the pressure cooker and mix in the ingredients in the kadai. The pongal should not be too dry. It should be mushy and well cooked. If you feel that it is dry, add some hot water and stir.
Serve hot with chutney.

This is my second post for BM#77 under the theme healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Veggie Sandwich

Sandwiches are some of the easiest lunches to put together. With a good, hearty bread on hand,, there's nothing to not like about a sandwich. To me, a good sandwich is one that doesn't get soggy in the lunch box. I've found that a layer of thick dips like hummus/guacamole usually keeps the liquid from the vegetables from seeping into the bread and making it soggy. This sandwich is one that I often pack for myself on week days to work. This is a highly adaptable recipe, and you can use any choice of fillings as per your taste.

What you need:
Bread (I love tomato basil bread and that's what I've used)
Vegetables (I've used, red onions, tomatoes and cucumber) -sliced into thin rounds
Grated cheese (I've used white cheddar)

Spread a thick layer of guacamole on one slice of bread. Top it with vegetables and grated cheese. Close with another slice of bread and if you like, slice it into half.

A week day lunch cannot get simpler than that, can it?

This is my first entry for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #77, under the theme Healthy Weekday lunches.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, March 20, 2017

A simple dinner thali and the recipe for Peas Masala

BM #74 Week 3 Day 3
Theme : Thali/Platter
Dish : Peas Masala

The husband and the daughter have loved this theme that I chose. They were very, very happy to help with and polish off the breakfast thali and the lunch thali. The final thali that I have for this Blogging Marathon is a simple North Indian thali that we had for dinner.

In this thali are :
Stir fried French cut beans
Cucumber raita
Peas masala

To make the peas masala, you need the following :
Green peas - 1 cup (I used frozen. You could use fresh peas or dried ones soaked overnight and cooked)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Butter - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Dhania powder - 1/2 tsp
Almonds - 12, soaked in hot water and de-skinned
Tomato - 3
Salt - to taste

Grind the almonds and the tomatoes to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
Heat butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, green chillies and onions. Saute until the onions start to brown. Add all the masala powders and then the ground paste along with salt and half a cup of water. Let it boil over a low flame for a few minutes. Stir in the peas and let boil for a few more minutes. Adjust the consistency by adding some more water if required. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and switch off the heat.
Serve hot.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mini meals - A South Indian lunch platter and the recipe for Sambar Rice

BM #74 Week 3 Day 2
Theme : Thali/Platter
Dish : Sambar Sadam/Sambar Rice

Several years back, when I started cooking, one of the things I could never get right is the quantity. For the longest time, I used to cook one dish and then we would eat it for several days. Now, with some experience, I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I still do tend to cook more when I have guest, but most of the time, I manage to cook the right quantity these days. In the initial days of cooking, I never would have imagined cooking a thali meal at home, but today, I've tried recreating the Mini meals served in several popular restaurants in Tamilnadu, India. Small portions of different varities of rice, a flatbread and its side, some fried vadam and pickle are the usual components of a mini meal.

Pictured in the thali above are :
Puri with aloo masala
Thakkali sadam / Tomato rice
Sambar sadam / Sambar rice
Thair sadam / Curd rice
Lime pickle

All the recipes except the ones for sambar rice and curd rice have been shared on the blog before and clicking on the names above will take you to the individual recipes.
Today, I will be sharing the recipe for sambar sadam. For this thali, I made sambar sadam by cooking rice and sambar separately and then combining them.

What you need:
Cooked rice - 1 cup
Cooked dal - 1/2 cup
Mixed chopped vegetables - 3/4 cup (I used carrot, beans, potato, onion and drumstick)
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp. (I used sesame oil)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp

In a large pan, heat oil. Saute chopped onions until translucent. Add in the rest of the chopped vegetables and turmeric powder. Now add tamarind concentrate and a cup of water. Boil on a low flame until the vegetables are cooked. To make it quicker, you can pre-cook the veggies and add them to the tamarind concentrate.  Now add the cooked dal, sambar powder and salt. Stir well and let it boil for  a few minutes. Switch off heat.
Mix the cooked rice to this. The sambar rice should be a little watery as it will thicken on cooling. You can adjust the consistency by adding some hot water if needed.
In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add urad dal, chana dal and mustard seeds to it. When the seeds pop, pour this over the sambar rice. Top with some chopped curry leaves and coriander.
Serve hot.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mini tiffin - a South Indian breakfast platter and the recipe for Mysore bonda

BM #74 Week 3 Day 1
Theme : Thalis
Dish : Mysore bonda

Buffets, thalis, quick meals, mini tiffins - any meal where an assortment of dishes is served on one platter is something that I can never resist. The last time we were in the husband's hometown, we went to a small restaurant where I tried out the breakfast tiffin thali. With small portions of pongal, vadai, kesari, sambar, chutney, puri masal and dosa served in a visually and gastronomically appealing manner, this is one breakfast that has been fondly talked about and remembered very often.  In fact, every time I've felt even slightly hungry, I've wished that there was some place here that served this kind of thali.  Making a large number of dishes when I don't have company is usually not my style of cooking, but  this time, I decided to make an exception.

In the platter are an Onion Dosa, mini idlis soaked in sambar, rava kichdi, rava kesari, mysore bonda and coconut chutney.
Some of these recipes have been shared on the blog before and I have included links to older posts with the recipes.
Today, I will be sharing the recipe for Mysore bonda - a deep fried snack that, though a little time consuming, is not very difficult to make.

What you need :
Urad dal - 1 cup, soaked in plenty of water for an hour and drained
Curry leaves - a few, chopped
Green chillies - 3, minced
Black peppercorns - 7 or 8, coarsely crushed
Coconut sliced into tiny bits - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

Grind the drained urad dal, adding as little water as possible, in a grinder (recommended) or a blender (second best option). When well ground, the batter will be light and fluffy, floating when a bit of it is added to water.
Remove this batter into a container and add all the other ingredients except salt. (*)
Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. When the oil is hot, add salt to the batter, mix it well and drop small balls of batter to the oil. Fry on a medium flame until well browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain off excess oil using a paper towel.
Serve hot with coconut chutney.

* Salt, when added to the batter, makes it watery and difficult to shape. So, add it at the very end, just before you start frying, and mix it in well.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Watermelon rind puli koottu

Bm # 74 Week 1
Theme : Festival recipes
Recipe : Puli vitta koottu (Koottu curry with tamarind)

Koottu curry with tamarind is different from the usual koottu that is made for a Kerala sadya (feast).This, I think, is the Tamil version of koottu and it finds a place in festival menus at the homes of my aunts.  The commonly used vegetables in this type of  koottu are yam (chena), plantain, or ash gourd. My choice of vegetable is slightly unusual in that I have used a part of fruit that is usually discarded. Since the rind of a watermelon has no discernible taste of its own, it lends itself beautifully to this dish, absorbing the flavors and aroma of the tamarind and coconut.

What you need:
Rind of 3/4th of a large watermelon
Chana dal - 1 cup, soaked in water for an hour
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 tsp
Tamarind - lemon sized ball, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes
For tempering/tadka :
Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Red chilli - 2, broken
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Cook the soaked chana dal in a pressure cooker till two whistles. The dal should not turn mushy. It should be cooked through, but still hold its shape.
Extract thick tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind. Keep aside.
Remove the green outer skin of the watermelon from the rind. Only the white part should be used. Chop it into small, bite sized pieces. Wash well, add a little water and cook in the pressure cooker till one whistle.
Add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder, sambar powder and salt to the cooked watermelon rind and let it boil on a medium flame until the raw smell of the tamarind is gone. Take care not to add too much water, as the final koottu should be quite thick. Add the cooked chana dal. Mix well and let it boil  till most of the moisture has evaporated. Dissolve a teaspoon of rice flour in a few spoonfuls of water. Add this to the boiling mixture to help it thicken and let it boil for a few minutes. Switch off the heat.
In a separate pan, heat oil. Add chana dal and urad dal. When the dals start to redden, add the broken chilli, curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add grated coconut and stir on a low flame until reddish brown. Pour this tempering on top of the koottu. Mix well and serve hot with rice or chapati.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Lime pickle

BM # 74 Week 1
Theme : Festival recipes
Recipe : Lime pickle/Cherunaranga achar/Elumpimichampazha oorga

When we think of festival dishes, we often think of sweets or main courses that are usually made to celebrate any festival. However, a little-mentioned yet very important role is played by the condiments which are usually served as an accompaniment to any meal.
In Kerala, the cherunaranga (lime) pickle holds an important place in any sadya. Vishu/Onam and even weddings see this bitter-sour-spicy pickle make an appearance. The traditional method of making this pickle is time consuming. However, if  you've been following my blog for a while now, you know that quick, easy and no-compromise-on-taste are mantras that I follow. This recipe is one that was shared on a Food Group that I belong to. It is a One Pot One Shot recipe that has been developed by Mr. Ramakrishnan and is being shared here with his permission. The terms OPOS and One Pot One Shot are registered trademarks owned by Mr. Ramakrishnan.

What you need:
Lime - 6, cut into 8 pieces each (approx. 3 cups)
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
Pickle masala - 2 tsp (optional - If not using, add another tsp of red chilli powder)
Sesame oil - 5 tsp
Salt - 3 tsp
Asafoetida - a generous sprinkle

Add oil as the bottom layer in a pressure cooker. Spread the limes evenly over this. Add the salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida and pickle masala. Cover and cook for two whistles. Once the pressure settles, open the pan and mix well. The mixture will seem quite watery, but will thicken as it cools.
In a separate pan, heat a tsp of sesame oil. Add a tsp of mustard seeds and some curry leaves. When the seeds pop, pour this over the pickle. When the pickle cools completely, transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.
This pickle is ready for consumption almost immediately, but the flavor deepens with time. It is initially quite bitter, but after about a week, the bitterness reduces and the flavor is intensified.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Parippu Kanji

BM # 74 Week 1
Theme : Festival recipes
Recipe : Parippu kanji

I was talking to a friend a few days back about how interesting it is that we have such a huge list of fasting foods in our culture. We never truly go hungry, because even when we are 'fasting', we are actually 'feasting' on the delicacies that are prepared specifically to be eaten during the fasting period.
This kanji is one such dish that is prepared during Sivaratri in Kerala Iyer households.

What you need:
Split yellow moong dal - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup, powdered
Milk - 2 cups
Cardamom powder - a pinch

In a pan, dry saute the moong dal over a low flame until it turns reddish. Add 2 cups of water to the roasted moong dal and cook in a pressure cooker until it is well cooked and mushy. Mash it well with a ladle. Add the jaggery powder and cardamom to the cooked dal and keep stirring over a low flame until the jaggery is completely melted. Switch off the heat and stir in the milk.
Serve warm.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pineapple delight

BM # 73 Week 4
Theme : Festival Recipes - Valentines Day
Recipe : Pineapple Delight

Yesterday, the daughter came back home, raving about a dessert that she had eaten at a friend's house. She had liked it so much that she had asked her friend's mom how it was made. So, today, she gave me instructions on how to make it and then proceeded to do it herself. I am not sure what the 'official' name of this dessert is but since the fact that it can be put together by a child is a source of delight to me and because Pineapple is one of the ingredients, I've decided to call it Pineapple Delight.

What you need :
Whipped cream - 1 small tub ( I make whipped cream at home with 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 5 tsp of sugar. In this recipe, however, you can leave out the sugar)
Condensed milk - 1 tin
Pineapple chunks - 1 tin

If you are making whipped cream from scratch, make sure to buy heavy whipping cream and whip it till stiff peaks form.
In a large container, mix together the drained pineapple chunks and the condensed milk. Fold the whipped cream into this.
This can be served at room temperature, but I feel that it tastes even better chilled.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#73

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sesame Honey chilli potatoes

Deep fried potato fingers coated in a honey-chilli sauce and covered in toasted sesame seeds - this dish is a crowd pleaser. If you have a pack of frozen French fries on hand, this is very easy to put together. Even if you don't, except for the time spent in chopping potatoes into French fries, this is pretty much a quick recipe.

What you need:
Frozen French fries - I used half of a 28 oz pack
Oil - to deep fry

For the sauce :
Red chilli sauce - 1 tbsp.
Tomato ketchup - 1 tbsp.
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Oil - 2 tsp
Honey - 1 tbsp.
Toasted sesame seeds - 1 tbsp.
Sriracha sauce - 1 tsp (This is optional. I usually add it to spice up the potatoes just a tad bit more)
Spring onion greens/Coriander - to garnish

Deep fry the frozen fries as per package instructions and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and saute on high heat. Lower the heat and add red chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and Sriracha (if using). Add the fries and mix well so that the sauce coats each piece well. Stir in the honey and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander or spring onion greens.

Serve immediately as this, though still tasty, tends to get soggy as time goes on.

This is my entry for Week 4 of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Festival Special dishes for Valentines day as this is something that my Valentines absolutely love.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#73

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rava kesari

BM # 73
Theme : Festival Recipes
Recipe : Rava Kesari

I may have mentioned a few times many times in my previous posts that my mother is a wizard in the kitchen when it comes to sweet making. She has perfected the art of making Indian sweets and is a master at it. Kesari, though one of the relatively easier sweets to make in her repertoire, is one that she makes exceptionally well and with great ease. She generously adds ghee and cashews to her kesari and doesn't measure any of the ingredients. She puts in a bit of this and a pinch of that, the aromas rising tantalizingly all the while, but the best part of it is when she ladles out some of this hot kesari into a plate and hands it to you. While I don't possess her finesse or prowess in the kitchen, I still can make a decent kesari.

What you need :

Rava/Sooji/Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 2.5 cups
Food color(Yellow/Orange) - a few drops
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Ghee - 3 tbsp.
Cashews and raisins - a few, to garnish

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of the ghee and roast the rava in it over a low flame. The rava should not start to brown. When it gives out a good aroma, remove from heat, transfer it to a plate and leave it aside to cool.
Heat a teaspoon of ghee and roast the cashews and raisins separately in it until golden. Set aside to cool.
Heat water, sugar and the food color in the saucepan until the water starts to boil. Add cardamom powder and the roasted rava, little by little, stirring carefully all the while, to avoid lumps. Let it cook over a medium flame, stirring every now and then, until thick. Add in the rest of the ghee. Stir well and switch off the heat when the kesari looks shiny. Mix in  the roasted cashews and raisins.
In my family, we usually eat kesari by the spoonfuls. So we don't bother to cut it into squares, but if that's how you like it, you can choose to pour this out onto a greased tray and then cut it into squares.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#73

Friday, January 13, 2017

Peas pulao

One pot dishes are my favorite kind. A few veggies, some form of protein and carbs, a few spices and seasonings - all thrown into one pot - that's all it takes to make this pulao. On days when you aren't inspired enough to create something that takes more than 10 minutes of time and effort, this kind of dish is there to the rescue. Having frozen green peas on hand makes it even easier.

What you need:
Basmati rice - 1 cup (soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained)
Green peas - 1 cup
Coconut milk - 1 cup (optional  - can be substituted with a cup of water)
Water - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 chopped fine
Ginger - a small piece
Green chilli - 3 or 4
Garlic - 4 cloves
Butter - 3 tbsp.
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 5
Cinnamon - a small piece
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Biriyani masala - 1 tsp (optional)
Sliced almonds - a few, to garnish

Melt butter in your pressure cooker. Add cardamom, clove, cinnamon and bay leaf. Saute on low flame till fragrant. Grind the ginger, chilli and garlic to a coarse paste without adding any water. Add this into the cooker and saute. Mix in the sliced onions and fry till translucent. Add the green peas, biriyani masala, salt, drained rice, coconut milk and water. Close the cooker and cook till one whistle. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Once the pressure settles, serve hot with raita.

This is my third post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pavakka varuval (Crisp, fried bittergourd)

If you've read some of my previous posts, you know that we are a family that loves bittergourd. Even the little girl loves this veggie and will eat it in any form.
Marinated in spices and then deep fried, this dish will make you fall in love with this much maligned vegetable. The only things to keep in mind are that it takes a good 20 to 30 minutes on a medium flame to fry these bittergourds to the right crispness, and that the oil in which you deep fry these gourds cannot be used again for deep frying something else as it will have the residue of all the spices. So, you either have to discard it or use it for tadkas.
My dinner today was phulkas, chard dal and pavakka varuval. This is my second post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme Vegetarian dinners.

What you need:
Bittergourd - 4
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tbsp soaked in just enough hot water to cover it
Oil - for deep frying

Cut each bittergourd into half. Then slice each half vertically into two. Deseed and then cut into chunks. Don't cut them too thin, as they will shrivel up considerably on frying.
Take the bittergourd pieces in a large bowl. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix in thick tamarind extract. Mix it all together well. Cover and set aside for at least half an hour.
Drain any liquid that has collected in the bowl, squeeze out any excess liquid and then add handfuls of the bittergourd to hot oil and deep fry over a medium hot flame until it turns brown.
Remove on to a paper towel.

This tastes good by itself or as a side dish for rotis or rice.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Puri masala

The weather here in Minnesota is getting colder by the day. Today, I drove through roads where I was not able to see the lines that mark the lanes or distinguish between the sidewalk and the road. This kind of weather makes me long for tea that is spiced with ginger and cardamom and deep fried snacks. Puris make an appearance at our dinner table on days like this. My favorite accompaniment for puris is this simple yet very flavorful potato masala that is served in restaurants in South India. With just a few ingredients and a bit of your time and supervision, you can make this curry which you cannot go wrong with.

What you need:
Potato - 3 or 4, medium sized (boiled, peeled and mashed)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chillies - 3 or 4, slit into half vertically
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp. (* See note)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Salt - to taste
Juice of half a lemon

Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the slit green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Saute a bit and then add the chopped onion. Saute on a low flame until the onions turn translucent.  Add turmeric powder and the mashed potatoes. Mix well and stir in a cup of water and salt as per your taste. Let it boil for a few minutes until the masala thickens. Switch off the heat and mix in the lemon juice.

Serve hot with puris.

Note : * I am partial to coconut oil and think that it imparts a characteristic flavor to this masala. However, any oil will serve the purpose.

This is my entry to the second week of Blogging Marathon #72, under the theme Vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Friday, January 06, 2017

Chocolate chip cookies

There are some dishes that you can always create in your kitchen with perfection and, seemingly, with no effort. A chocolate chip cookie is not one of them. It is one of those things where the end product can sometimes end up too soft and gooey, or too crisp or at times, brown so much that it starts to smell charred well done. There's no easy way around this one. You must try, try and try again until you have that perfect recipe. And once you do, you write it down so that you won't forget the measurements you used and then, you can recreate that perfect cookie any time you want to.
This recipe that I am sharing with you today is an adaptation of one such recipe that I came across in a book called Sensational Cookies by Linda Amendt. Following this recipe will yield cookies that are soft, chewy and just right.

What you need:

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Butter (softened, at room temperature) - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Chocolate chips - 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat well to mix. Mix in the vanilla. Then slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie, as these cookies will expand while baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to turn a light brown.
Remove onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Black forest cake (Eggless)

When I was growing up, cakes were not very common. There were plum cakes for Christmas, but other than that, we hardly ever ate much cake. For birthdays, the standard fare was always payasam and a sadya - very rarely did the celebration involve cutting a cake. The few birthday cakes I remember eating were all iced with flowers that looked bright, colorful and beautiful, but were really hard to bite into. Now, with a profusion of flavors, frostings, toppings and fillings to choose from, I find that I prefer simple flavors and minimal frosting.
For the last few years, I have been baking the new year cake for the get-together that me and my friends host on new year's eve. This year, I made a crowd favorite - an eggless black forest cake.

What you need:

Basic chocolate cake - 1
Whipped cream ( 1cup of heavy whipping cream + 5 tbsp. of sugar beaten at high speed till stiff peaks form)
1 jar of canned cherries
Chocolate shavings

With a serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake into two layers. Place the bottom layer on the cake board. With a pastry brush, apply some of the canned cherry syrup all over the cake. Alternatively, you can use sugar syrup too. Evenly spread a layer of whipped cream on this layer and top it with some chopped cherries. Place the second layer of cake on top of this. Apply cherry syrup over it and then spread whipped cream on top of it. Frost the sides of the cake and smooth the icing with an offset spatula. Top the cake with some cherries and chocolate shavings.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Basic chocolate cake (No egg - uses egg replacer)

A basic chocolate cake recipe is a must have in every baker's repertoire. This recipe is one that I use frequently as the base for my cakes. It tastes great as it is, and even better dressed up with whipped cream, ganache or chocolate buttercream. With a few modifications, it can also be turned into a delicious black forest cake.

Basic chocolate cake frosted with chocolate buttercream

What you need : (Makes one 8 inch cake)
Cake flour - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cocoa powder - 4 tbsp. (heaped)
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Baking soda - 3/4 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Ener-G egg replacer powder - 1.5 tsp (Mix this powder with 2 tbsp. of warm water and blend till frothy)
Oil - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and line an 8 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan and once completely cooled, slice and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

I am beginning this year by participating in the Blogging Marathon. This week, I will be posting recipes under the theme Kids' Delight - Cakes and Cookies.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!