Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Be it a wedding or an upanayanam (a ceremony to baptize a boy into brahamanhood -the one who has to realize Brahaman, or The Self, by chanting the Gayatri Mantra), a first or a 60th birthday, or Deepawali, Meenakshi Mami would be there to prepare the Seer Bakshanams- the sweets that would be displayed during the function, and then distributed among the relatives and guests. It is customary to prepare five varieties of sweets for these functions. Mami would get set for the elaborate preparations very early in the morning after a short prayer and her morning cup of coffee. As she was very much used to our house hold she took the liberty to take the needed things by herself and never bothered any one of us for the particular vessel or for the ingredients. My mother-in-law wanted to take hundred pieces each, of the five varieties of sweets for my nephew’s upanayanam. Meenakshi mami stayed with us for only three days, by which time she had prepared all the items and packed them too. She never had lunch or any other snack until she had finished her work for the day, except for a glass of lime juice in between. We were all amazed by the speed and ease with which she prepared the sweets, especially the Ravai Urundai which usually tends to fall apart if the sugar and ghee are not warm enough. We were very happy and surprised to see that not even a single urundai had crumbled when we reached my sister-in-law’s place after six hours of car journey.
Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar – 1¼ cups
Ghee - ¼ cup
Cashew nuts – 10
Raisins – a few
Cardamom – 4
1 .Dry roast semolina till red in colour, and giving out a pleasant aroma. Allow it to cool.
2. When it is thoroughly cooled, grind it with sugar and cardamom till it becomes a granular powder. The sugar becomes very fine and the semolina remains granular.
3. Heat ghee in a bandali (heavy bottomed pan) and add the cashew nuts and the raisins.
4. When the nuts turn golden in colour, add the ground semolina and sugar mixture and blend well. Switch off the heat immediately.
5. Take a handful of the mixture and press hard to shape it into an urundai (ball).
6. Wash your hands after shaping four or five balls, and then continue. This is to avoid the ‘erosion’ of the urundais, when they rub against the powder stuck in your hands.
7. The urundais can not hold shape, if the mixture becomes cold. Keep warming it up till all the urundais are shaped.
Warning - As you savour the crisp semolina and fine sugar melting in your mouth, you may find that eating every piece, becomes compulsive!
This post goes to JFI Nov '08 Festival Treats hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons, as well as Yummy Festival Feast at Pallavi 's, All Thingz Yummy blog.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A note from Dibs: Papu Pati’s godi halwa, is one of the most amazing sweets I have ever had. I would say the consistency of this halwa is between a custard and a jelly. A cut piece will hold its shape, but would be wobbly! Since only wheat milk is used, the halwa is a delicate translucent colour, and the ghee gives it a nice shiny gloss!
'World Foodie Power' - that's how we describe Foodbuzz.
Chitra Amma's Kitchen joined Foodbuzz a few months back. All that we can say is , we are so glad we did! We made heaps of foodie friends, and now we globe trot from our computers sampling different styles of cooking from Portland to Sydney! Cheers to the Foodbuzz team!
We are very proud of Deeba of 'Passionate About Baking' for getting our simply amazing Indian cuisine featured in 24, 24, 24 event of Foodbuzz. She has made a spread that's fit for a Maharaja! Congratulations Deeba!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Plain white flour or Maida – 1 cup
Bournvita - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3 cups
1. Heat ghee in a pan and roast the flour on a low flame, till it gives out a pleasant aroma. Take care that it does not burn. The consistency of flour and ghee mixture should be like a thick paste.
2. Keep the roasted flour mixture aside.
3. Dissolve the Bournvita in little warm water and keep aside. It should be thick like condensed milk.
4. Add one cup of water to sugar and boil till one thread consistency.
5. Add the roasted flour and stir to blend with sugar syrup.
6. Add the bournvita and blend well.
7. Keep stirring till the mass thickens and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
8. Pour on a greased plate and allow it to cool and set.
9. When it feels firm and still warm, use a knife and draw one set of diagonal lines on the cake. 10. Draw another set of diagonal lines in the opposite direction. This will make nice diamond shaped cakes.
Here is a useful link I found on sugar stages, with videos! ‘Soft ball stage’ best describes the consistency for Bournvita Fudge.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Split black gram dal is a very nutritious pulse. Soak some, grind with spices, and fry, and you get the versatile Uluttam Vadai! Besides being the perfect accompaniment with idli, for an ideal breakfast combination, this vadai makes a tasty dish in a variety of avatars! Vadai Curry is prepared by immersing the cut pieces of crisp hot vadais in hot and spicy sambar. For the exotic Thair Vadai, dip the vadais in warm water, gently squeeze out the oil, and immerse in seasoned curd. Rasa Vadas are hot vadais soaked in flavourful rasam, and lighter on the stomach than the Sambhar or Vadai Curry! The best Vadais we have tasted so far are the ones distributed at the Hanuman temple on Saturdays. The fact that the vadais had adorned Lord Hanuman as a garland along with the tulasi (basil) garland lends it a divine flavour. Whenever we visited our village, Rukmini prepared the most exotic vadais. That is the magic of this dish. Whenever and wherever you happen to relish it, it seems to be THE best. To prepare the delicious Rukmini Vadais (as we have named it) we can follow the given recipe.
Split black gram dal – 2 cups
Fresh ginger – 1’’ piece
Salt – ½ tsp
Pepper – ¼ tsp
Onion – 1 very small
Curry leaves – a few
Cooking oil – for frying
1. Wash and soak black gram dal for half an hour.
2. Cut onions very finely into thin thread like slivers.
3. Drain the dal. Add ginger and salt, and grind coarsely without water.
4. Sprinkle very little water if the dal mixture sticks to the jar.
6. Add onion slivers, curry leaves and crushed pepper and mix well.
7. Heat oil in a kadai.
8. Dip your hands in water, and the take a lemon size ball of the dough, and pat it into a thick vadai.
9. Make a hole in the center using your finger.
10. Gently slide the vadai into the hot oil.
11. The vadais can also be patted to shape on a banana leaf or a sheet of plastic.
12. Fry the vadais in batches of four or six, till golden brown in colour.
This vadai will be slightly crisp and firm on the outside and soft inside, as shown in the picture.
Monday, October 13, 2008
performed certain poojas.
Each time we visit our village for the function, the ever smiling Rukmini has a tough time preparing about eight kilograms of Sundal prasadam for distribution, and also the entire day’s meals for us. We relish her idlis which looked like white sponge balls and the hot crisp black gram dal vadais took us to new heights. She says that she used eight parts of idly rice and one part of black gram dal for the idly batter not forgetting to soak a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds along with it.
Here is Rukmini’s recipe for Kuzal Puttu.
KUZAL PUTTUPREPARATION OF THE RICE FOR THE PUTTU
1.Wash 500 gms of raw rice and drain well.
2. Spread the drained rice on a cloth or a paper to remove all dampness.
3. When it is dry, grind the rice into a fine flour.
4. Bundle the rice flour in a clean cloth and place it in a vessel, and steam in a pressure cooker for five minutes.
5. Break the lumps, sift if needed and air the flour, and store in a dry air tight container.
6. This flour can be used to make Puttu as and when required.
INGREDIENTS FOR KUZAL PUTTU
1. Puttu flour – 2 cups
2. Grated jaggery – 1 cup
3. Grated fresh coconut – 1 cup
4. Ripe banana – 1
5. Raisins – 1 tbsp
6. Cashew nuts – 1 tbsp
7. Cardamom powder (Optional) – 1 pinch
8. Salt – ¼ tsp
9. Ghee – ¼ tsp
1. Mix coconut gratings and jaggery with the puttu flour.
2. Cut ripe banana into small pieces and mix.
3. Fry raisins and cashew nuts in ghee and mix into the flour.
4. Add cardamom powder and sprinkle a little salt water just to moisten the prepared flour. The texture of the flour should be sandy, and not lumped up.
5. Add a glass of water to the puttu pot and put it on the flame.
6. Take a strip of clean cloth and line the puttu holder or the tube.
7. Fill up the tube (Kuzal) with the puttu flour mixture lightly pressing it down.
8. Fit it on the pot and cover with its perforated lid.
9. Cook till the steam comes out (for four minutes) and the aroma of jaggery fills the air.
10. Switch off flame and allow it to cool.
11. Remove the lid and hold the kuzal in one hand
12. Gently pull the ends of the cloth strip together to remove the KUZAL PUTTU.
Relish the warm Kuzal puttu as it is or with a dollop of ghee.
Tip: In case you do not have the Puttu Kuzal you can get creative, as the objective is to simply steam the Puttu mixture. My daugther’s Keralite friend made Puttu in their hostel. She took a scraped out coconut shell, and made a hole in the ‘eye’ of the coconut. This shell was filled with the Puttu mixture and fitted over the nozzle of the pressure cooker (the weight is not required). The coconut cup was then covered with a small plate. The steam from the cooker directly cooks the Puttu mixture in the coconut cup!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Married women (Suvasinis) and young girls (Baalaas) are considered as the Goddess personified. They are invited and honoured with taamboolaas (Betel leaves, areca nuts, kumkum and turmeric powder, coconuts and flowers) as a mark of reverence. They are even treated to a grand feast at least on one day, if not on all the ten days.
Every day a special dish is offered to the deity during the pooja. Sakkarai Pongal, Ven Pongal, Curd rice, Tamarind Rice, and different types of payasams are prepared for the purpose. Sundal is prepared and offered in the evenings and it is distributed to the visitors who come to view the kolu.
Here is the recipe for Paal Payasam which I learnt from my athai (aunt) - who used to celebrate Navaratri with great religious fervour.
Paal Payasam is a rice and milk based porridge like sweet, cooked a in heavy bottomed bronze vessel called Urli (see picture below). Rice is cooked in milk on slow fire for a long time until it reaches the creamy and right consistency.
We can achieve more or less the same result by using a pressure cooker which is less time consuming and demanding less attention.
Rice – ½ cup
Sugar – ¾ cup
Cardamom – 4
Saffron – a few strands
Almonds – 8
1. Soak saffron in a tablespoon of warm milk and keep it aside.
2. Soak almonds in warm water, peel and coarsely crush and keep aside.
3. Dry roast rice until it acquires a reddish colour.
4. Wash the roasted rice and add the milk and pressure cook until three whistles.
5. Leave it on low flame for five more minutes and turn off the flame.
6. When the pressure subsides, open the cooker and add sugar.
7. Cook without the lid until the sugar blends with the payasam.
8. Add saffron, powdered cardamom and crushed almonds.
Enjoy the creamy and rich Paal Payasam after offering it to the deity.
This post goes to Navaratri & Navaratri Festive Food Event hosted by our dear blog friend Lakshmi of Taste of Mysore.