Friday, December 24, 2010

Payasams - Badam Kheer and Carrot Payasam


Badam Milk and Potato Buns are specialties of all the Iyengar Bakeries in town. It was the ultimate combo which people relished after office hours or after an evening show at the local theater. People even treated friends at the bakery to celebrate a promotion at their office or to announce the birth of a baby. This was old Mysore.
Even after the advent of Pizza Houses and Food Courts at malls, a treat of Badam Milk and Potato Buns at the Bakeries still has its own charm. Badam Milk has always been and is a 'hot' favourite of many connoisseurs. My husband always playfully refers to the delicious drink as 'Hot Badam Cold'!


Milk - 1/2 lit
Almonds - 30
Sugar - 4 tbsps
Saffron strands - a few
cardamom - 2
Pacha karpoora - 1 pin head ( edible camphor)
1. Soak almonds in boiling water for half an hour.
2. Remove the skin and grind the almonds with little milk into a slightly coarse paste.
3 .Boil the milk and stir in the almond paste and continue to boil for a few more minutes.
4. Add sugar and switch off flame.
5. Add saffron strands, powdered cardamom and pachekarpoora

Badam Kheer can be relished hot or cold.

Payasam using various vegetables is in today. Carrot payasam is my family's favourite.

Carrots - 2 big ones
Milk - 1/2 lit
Cashew nuts - 10
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch
Raw carrot gratings - 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts and raisins - a few
Ghee - 1 tbsp
1. Scrape and slice the carrots.
2. Pressure cook carrot slices along with the mentioned 10 cashew nuts .
3. Grind the cooked carrot slices and cashew nuts with little milk into a fine paste.
4. Boil milk and add the carrot cashew paste.
5. Continue boiling for few more minutes.
6. Add sugar and switch off flame.
7. Add cardamom powder.
8. Heat ghee and fry cashew nuts into a golden colour .
9. Add raisins followed by carrot gratings.
10. When the raisins bloat and the carrot gratings are slightly fried add to the payasam. 

Relish carrot payasam while still hot.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Goodies -Rose Cookies, Galagalas,Apple Fritters, Kalkals, Checkered Cookies

It is CHRISTMAS once again.
My memories go back to my younger days when we siblings decorated a tall and sturdy TULASI ( Sacred Basil ) plant like a Christmas Tree. We used all the trinkets and silver papers we had collected, to decorate the' tree'. We even had a crib, with a doll swaddled and placed in a basket filled with hay and cotton.We sang the Christmas songs we had learnt at school.
Father was real life Santa to us. He usually bought us the best of cakes and other Christmas goodies from Nilgiris, and the surprise gifts as well. It was a ritual to gift a huge Christmas cake to our school and we received another cake in return with best wishes from our Mother Superior.
Much later, my children celebrated Christmas with their friends with the same spirit as we did. Our gardener dug out a pit in the garden and started a camp fire with the dry wood collected from our garden. The children tossed potatoes wrapped in foil into the camp fire and were thrilled with the grilled vegetable. They roasted corn cobs in the camp fire and painted them with a chilly salt and lemon paste for a spicy snack. Dinner was mainly South Indian followed by cakes and ice creams for dessert.
And now my grand children continue the tradition which we had started decades ago. A potted Christmas Tree stands five feet tall on their terrace.They even have a make shift arrangement - a metal bucket - for a camp fire on their terrace garden.
A Christmas celebration is not complete without the delicious Christmas goodies shared among the near and dear ones.
Here are the recipes for a few goodies to bring in the Christmas spirit.
Rice flour - 1 cup
Maida/plain flour - 1/2 cup
Milk - as required
Sugar powder - 4 tbsps
Cardamom powder- 1 pinch
Oil - for frying

1. Blend all ingredients together with milk to form a batter of pouring consistency ( a little thinner than Dosa batter), and let it stand for 10 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a pan.
3. Keep the Rose Cookie mould immersed in oil as the oil is getting heated.
4. When the oil is hot enough ( the batter should rise as soon as it touches the oil), dip the hot cookie mould in the batter only half way through, so that the batter clings half way to it.
5. Dip the mould with batter into the oil and after a minute slightly shake the mould holding the handle firmly.
6. The half cooked cookie will slide into the oil. You can also use a fork or a slender knife to ease it out into the oil.
7. Flip the cookie using a perforated ladle and cook until done.
8. Remove the rose cookie from oil and drain on a paper towel.
It is a slightly difficult task until you get a hang of it. Thanks to Gowri for helping me out to fry the Rose Cookies.
A new mould should be washed and oiled several times before use, to 'season' it, to avoid the cookies from sticking to it.
This is another yummy Christmas snack which is also known as Diamond Biscuits.
INGREDIENTSWheat flour - 1 cup
Maida/plain flour - 1 cup
Powdered sugar - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch
Melted butter - 3/4 cup
Oil - for frying

1. Mix wheat flour, maida, sugar powder and cardamom powder.
2. Warm the melted butter and pour it all over the mixture.
3. Start kneading with hand and you will see that the mixture is already coming together like a dough.
4. Sprinkle very little water and knead well to form a stiff dough.
5. Roll out on a board like a thick chapati.
6. Cut diagonally with a sharp knife.
7. Once again cut across diagonally to make diamond shapes.
8.Heat oil and fry the Galagalas flipping now and then using a perforated ladle until done on medium flame.
9. Remove Galagalas and drain on a paper towel.
The hot and crispy but supple apple fritters mother made were an addictive and comforting snack during the cold season.
Fresh and firm apple - 1
Maida/plain flour - 1 cup
Cinnamon powder - 1 pinch
Sugar powder - 2 tbsps
Oil - for frying

1. Mix maida/plain flour, sugar powder and cinnamon powder.
2. Add water little by little to make a slightly thick batter of coating consistency.
3. Heat oil in a pan.
4. In the mean while slice apple into thin wedges.
5. Coat the apple slices one by one with the batter and deep fry in hot oil.
6. Adjust heat and fry on medium flame.
7. Remove using a perforated ladle when done and drain on a paper towel.
It is best when savoured while still hot.

Kalkals are sweet snacks which are beautifully striated using a fork.

Maida/plain flour - 1 cup
Powdered sugar - 4 tbsps
Butter - 4tbsps
Any food colour of your choice - 1 pinch
Vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
Oil - for frying

1. Mix all ingredients together and knead until they resemble bread crumbs.
2. Sprinkle very little water and knead to form a stiff dough.
3. Take a marble sized dough and press it flat against the back side of a fork to get the striations.
4. Roll back the now flattened ball of dough and overlap the ends to form a cylinder with the striations running across.
5. Press or pinch the ends together firmly with wet fingers so that the Kalkal does not open while frying.
6. Cover the Kalkals with a damp cloth till the whole batch is ready.
7. Drop the Kalkals gently into hot oil and fry on medium heat, flipping now and then.
8. Remove with a perforated ladle and drain on a paper towel.
The Kalkals add festivity to the joyous occassion with their colours and shape.
Mother gave this recipe to me along with the Christmas Log recipe.
Maida/Plain flour - 2 1/2 cups
Sugar ( powdered ) - 2/3 cup/
Butter - 1 cup
Cocoa - 3 tbsps
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

1. Beat sugar powder and butter until it becomes creamy and divide into two portions.
2. Add vanilla and half of the flour to one half of the butter and sugar mixture.
3. Knead well sprinkling very little water if needed, into a smooth dough.
4. To the second portion of sugar and butter mixture add cocoa and the remaining flour and knead as stated above.
5. Divide the white vanilla dough into three portions.
6. Make each portion into a roll.
7. Similarly divide the cocoa coloured dough into three portions and make three rolls.
8. Place a cocoa roll in between two vanilla rolls and press compactly.
9. Place a vanilla roll in between two cocoa rolls and press lightly together.
10. Place one arrangement on top of the other and again press together to form a block.
11. Refrigerate the block for 1 hour.
12. Slice across the block using a sharp knife to get 1/4 inch thick cookies.
Mother asked me to bake it for fifteen minutes. I used the combination mode in my micro wave oven and baked at 180 degrees for 12 minutes, and the Checkered Cookies were ready.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rose Pudding For A Merry Christmas

After so many years of cooking you tend to forget what you cooked, when you cooked or for whom you cooked, unless some one reminds you of the same. I was greatly touched when Little Sonny fondly remembered one of my dishes he had relished in his younger days ( 'bread soaked in rose milk' as he put it),while speaking on a long distance call.
Rose Pudding! That was it! It was one of the home made desserts my children enjoyed after a hard days work at school. Impelled by nostalgia I once again prepared this pudding for the Christmas post.
Bread - 1/2 a loaf ( Chopped into small bits) plus three whole slices
Butter - 2 tbsps
Milk - 1/4 lit ( boiled and cooled )
Rose syrup - 3 tbsps

1. Heat butter and roast the bread pieces till they become golden in colour.
2. Toast the three whole slices of bread with little more butter and keep them aside.
3. Mix rose syrup and cool milk together to make rose milk, adding sugar if needed.
4. Soak the fried bread pieces in the rose milk.

Milk - 3/4 lit
Butter - 2 tbsps
Custard powder - 6 tbsps
Sugar - 2 cups
Rose syrup - 3 tbsps
1. Whisk custard powder, sugar and 1 cup of milk together.
2. Heat the remaining milk with butter.
3. When the milk starts to boil blend in the custard powder sugar milk mixture, stirring all the time to avoid lumps.
4. When the custard powder gets cooked and the custard beomes shiny switch off the flame.
5. Whisk together rose syrup and custard when it starts cooling.
1. Black seedless raisins - 100 gms
2. Glazed cherries - 100 gms
3. Blanched almonds and Gulkhand - for decoration
1. Grease a bowl with butter and spread a layer of bread pieces soaked in rose milk.
2. Sprinkle a layer of raisins on top of the bread layer.
3. Spread one more layer of bread and top it with cherries.
4. Cover with another layer of rose milk bread.
5. Pour half of the custard over the last layer.
6. Dip the toasted bread slices in custard and arrange in such a way that the entire surface of the pudding is covered. This layer will help to hold the pudding together when it is turned over.

7. Spread the remaining custard evenly on the bread slice layer and chill the pudding covered, preferably over night.
8. Cover the mouth of the bowl with a flat plate and turn it over to release the pudding.
9. Gently remove the bowl.
10. Top with blanched almonds and blobs of gulkhand.

Beat two table spoons of rose syrup with 2 cups of condensed milk and enjoy the rose sauce with sliced Rose Pudding.

I am sending this post to notyet100's Christmas 2010 event!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yule Log Pudding/Cake


The moment we decided to post recipes for CHRISTMAS, our whole family was abuzz with excitement. Think tanks were activated and switched on to memory mode. My sister Yosee reminded me of the Yule Log our mother had once prepared for Christmas.

Candle making, cake making and many other classes were held at the Inner Wheel Club where the members shared their skills with each other apart from their busy social service schedules.
Mother had learnt the art of making eggless cookies, cakes and puddings in one such session. She once made Yule Log using Marie biscuits, for Christmas. It was great fun helping around with the decorations as we secretly licked ( OOOOH! TABOOOO! ) our sugar and butter coated fingers! We enjoyed the log pudding/cake as much as we enjoyed the plum cake father had bought from NILGIRIS.
I called up my mother for a quick 'Yule Log making' lesson and prepared it for the first time, and this is how it turned out to be.
My daughter and grand daughter helped me with the decorations. I really love the cute little fledglings sitting on the log, which was modelled by my grand daughter using home made marzipan.
Marie biscuits - 2 packets
Cocoa powder - 4 tbsps
Milk - enough to make the dough
Butter - 300 gms
Powdered sugar - 4 cups
Tuttifruity - 6tbsps
Raisins - 6 tbsps
Cashew nuts - 6 tbsps
Vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
Ready to use chocolate - 1 slab
1. Break the biscuits into tiny bits and powder in a mixer.
2. Mix cocoa into the biscuit powder.

3. Sprinkle milk little by little and knead the biscuit powder and cocoa into a smooth dough.

4. Cream butter and sugar into a smooth paste adding vanilla essence and keep aside.
5. Divide the biscuit dough into three parts .
6. Roll one part into a moderately thick round, like a chapati.

7. Spread 1/3 of the creamed butter sugar mixture evenly on the 'chapati'.

8. Spread tuttifruity so that it covers the entitre surface.

9. Roll out the second portion of the dough and place it on the tutifruity spread.
10. Spread the next 1/3 of butter sugar mixture over the second layer.
11. Sprinkle cashew nuts and raisins all over it.

12. Roll out the third portion of the dough and place it on the cashew raisins topping.
13. Spread the sugar butter cream over the last layer of the biscuit dough 'chapati '.
14. Press the whole arrangement lightly and then roll them together.
15. Do not bother if a few cracks appear on the roll or if little bit of sugar and butter cream spills out.
16. Cut the little extra dough on both ends to make it look like a chopped log

17. Roll the cut out portion into a cylinder and attach it to one edge of the log to make a stump.

18. Place this in the refrigerator and let lt chill thoroughly. I left it to chill over night.
19. Place finely broken chocolate in a bowl and place it in another bowl of water and boil, or microwave using a microwave safe bowl.( Micro wave for four minutes checkig in between)
20. Let the chocolate bowl stand in hot water even after bringing it out of the oven; use a spoon and whisk it smoothly.
21. Spoon the molten chocolate quickly all over the cold log and spread it using a spoon , fork or a brush.
22. Stroke with brush or fork to get the grains and swirl the same to get the circular grains.
Put back the chocolate coated log into the refrigerator until you are ready with the decorations.



Almonds - 100 gms
Powdered sugar - 1 cup
Almond or vanilla essence - 2 drops

1. Soak almonds in boiling water and remove the skin.

2. Thoroughly dry almonds and make them into a fine powder in a mixer.
3. Add equal quantity of powdered sugar and run the mixer for a few more seconds.
4. Take out the blend , add essence and knead well.
5. Store it in an air tight container ot wrap it in a foil and leave it in the refrigerator to chill.
6. Bring out the marzipan dough, divide it into three portions.
7. Add a pinch of red, yellow and green food colour to each portion and knead them separately.
8. Start shaping them into any form you like. The eggless marzipan became little sticky. Hence we greased our fingers with butter to make the desired shapes. Finally our 'butter fingers' worked!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Navratan Kurma (9 Gems Curry) and Corn Palav (Corn Rice)

NAVRATAN KURMA (9 Gems Curry) and CORN PALAV (Corn Rice)
One of the suggestions we got for the xmas menu (check our previous post for a vegetarian chirstmas menu recommendations ) is Corn Palav and Navratan Kurma. Both dishes are colourful, festive, tasty and mild for a change!

I have always wanted to make ‘hotel style’ navaratan kurma,or at least like the MTR ready to eat one! I looked up a number of recipes, and finally landed up making Vah Chef’s recipe, minus shahi jeera (I used just normal jeera) and pomegranate (This would have been toooo fruity for my taste – especially for a curry dish!)!! It’s truely a very very delicious dish! I made around 8 serves, and wish I had made LOTS more! Here is how I made it.
3 cups chopped vegetables – I used Potato, Carrots, Beans, Cauliflower, Peas (5 vegetables)
2 tablespoons Almonds and Cashews whole or chopped into large pieces. (2 nuts)
½ cup paneer (Indian Cheese) diced.
1 Tbsp – raisins
1 Tbsp - Chopped Pineapple (I used canned pineapple, of course well washed to remove the sugary syrup)
Navratan means 9 gems, and are represented in this dish by the 9 main ingredients; however, I landed up with 10 instead, as you can see!
You will need 1 tbsp oil to fry the paneer , and 1tsp ghee to fry the nuts
Oil – 3.5 Tbsp
Cardamom – 4
Cloves – 6
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Jeera (Cumin seeds) – ½ tsp
Bay Leaf – 2
Chopped Green Chillies – 1 tsp (more if you want more heat!)
Onion – one large
Cashew nuts – 2
Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
Jeera (Cumin) Powder – 1tsp
Dhania (Corriander) Powder – 1.5 tsp
Pepper Powder – ½ tsp (more if you want more heat!)
Salt – 1.5 tsp (or to taste)
Fresh Cream – ½ cup
Fresh chopped Corriander – for garnish
Prepare the nine gems first!
1. Semi boil all the vegetables. I have this lovely Tupperware microwave steamer presented by my aunt! I steamed potatos, beans and carrots for 8 minutes. Then I added the cauliflower, and frozen peas, and steamed again for 4 minutes (microwave on high power)

2. Dice paneer, and deep fry in oil till its starts turning pale brown in patches. Drain well and remove into a bowl of warm water. This removes excess oil and makes the paneer softt.

3. Fry cashew and almonds in ghee till they change colour and smell aromatic.

4. Wash raisins and pineapple and set aside.
5. Boil onion and cashew nuts in water until cashew is soft, and onions are translucent. Drain them and grind to a smooth paste in a mixer. Don’t discard the water if any remaining, as it is full of flavour and can be used later in the gravy.

6. Heat oil, and add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, jeera seeds and bay leaf. When they splutter add green chillies and the onion cashew paste. Keep stirring on a low flame. Its best to use a non stick pan, and cook the entire dish on a low flame, as the cashew burns very easily! I had to rescue my dish two times by changing vessels, as the gravy started sticking to the bottom of the dish!

7. Add the jeera, dhania and pepper powder, and continue frying. The mixture will turn dry and colour changed to a pale brown. The mixture should smell cooked! Now add a little water. You can add what you may have preserved from boiling the onion and cashews.
8. Add the vegetables and salt and let the whole mixture cook, until the vegetables are well cooked.
9. Add fresh cream, nuts, raisins and pineapple. Stir well and switch off the flame after a few seconds.
10. Garnish with coriander and your amazing "hotel style" Navratan Kurma is ready!

Boiling onion and cashew to make the masala paste is very new to me, and I am all excited about trying this out on other dishes too ....maybe malai kofta! Yum!
Here is how I made a very easy Corn Palav.

Oil - 1 Tbsp
Cardamom - 2
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon stick - a piece
Finely chopped ginger - 1 tsp
Finely Sliced Onion - 1 Tbsp
Finely Chopped Green Chillies - 1 tsp
Basmati Rice - 1cup
Milk - 1/2 cup
Water - 1and 1/2 cups
Salt - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Corn - 1/2 cup (You can use the canned corn or Boiled fresh corn)
1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Add cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
3. When the spices splutter, add onion, green chillies and ginger and stir well.
4. When the onion is slightly translucent, add rice and mix well. Note: If you let the onion brown, then your palav will loose its nice white colour!
5. Stir well, till the rice is well fried, and starts sticking to the pan. Again, be careful not to overdo this, as the palav will loose colour.
6. Add the corn, water, and milk and stir well.
7. When the mixture starts boiling, add salt, reduce the flame to small, and cover the pan tightly.
8. Cook in this manner, undisturbed, until all the liquid is absorbed.

Vegetarian Menu Recommendations for a tasty Christmas!

Vegetarian Menu Recommendations for a Tasty Christmas!
It is Christmas fever all around here in Sydney, at the malls, on TV, everywhere! Even hose pipes are being sold under chirstmas branding!! All the cookery shows on air are busy demo-ing dishes for Christmas! A vegetarian Christmas is not so uncommon these days, with lots of folks giving up meat and poultry! I found some sites featuring vegan x’mas menus. Sadly they were not very appetising me – a very very hard core vegetarian (but not vegan!) Most sites featured lots of tofu, soya, mushrooms, and other “imitation meat”, besides some boiled vegetables!

I began thinking Vegetarian Indian Christmas Food, and then South Indian Vegetarian Christmas .... ummm that’s really very tough! What did my dear friends eat for Christmas? What did they prepare for us vegetarians? I slowly started remembering ...Rose cookies, Plum cake, Ginger Wine (non-alcoholic), masala tea, casseroles, bread rolls, cup cakes, tarts, dodol, sannas, aapam and stew....

I requested Chitra Amma to talk to some of our South Indian Christian friends to find out what food they would prepare for a Vegetarian spread, and asked my zillion friends on Facebook as well. We landed up with great suggestions and a number of dishes ... ranging from biriyanis to puddings, salads to mughlai dishes! Well many dishes are not really of South Indian origin, but have been prepared by South Indian Christians for a long long !

Here are recommendations from us for a delicious vegetarian spread. We've linked the recipes to most items, and will be adding more suggestions and links in the coming days.

If you want a grand menu, pick at least one item from each of the categories, and as many vegetables and salads, sweets and dessert as you want!! If you want a simpler menu – pick either soup or drink, one main dish, one vegetable, one salad or raita, and either the dessert or a sweet!

Here's wishing you all a very merry and tasty Christmas! Drinks - select 1panakam/indian lemonade
badam kheer /almond milk
ginger squash
carrot payasam/ carrot and milk blend

Soups - select 1chettinadu takkali rasam/thin spicy tomato soup
butternut squash winter soup
tenga pal (coconut milk)rasam

Starter - select 1 or morekondai kadalai sundal / chick pea salad
raja special

Maddur Vadai
Main course- select 1coconut milk rice served with avarekaalu kurma or bhagara baigan
corn pulav served with navratan kurma
vegetable biriani
or seepla vegetable biriani – (published in blogger aid cook book) served any pachadi/raita
inspiration casserole (cauliflower, capsicum, rice, white sauce, cheese)
stuffed capsicum (stuffed with tomato rice)
served with any pachadi/ raita
reshmae parota with avarekaalu kurma or bhagara baigan
plain rice with chinna vengaya (baby onion) sambhar / carrot kadalaikai (peanut) sambhar
Additional vegetables (dry) – select one or morekattarikai masala – stuffed brinjal
senai kizhangu curry / elephant yam curry
urulaikizhangu podimas / potato lime curry
urulaikizhangu roast / potato roast
kose porial/cabbage curry

beans curry
mixed vegetable cashew curry
Salads and raitas – select 1 or more
madulam pachai payaru sundal (pomogranate and green gram dal salad)

ice cream
Christmas goodies - these are not part of the meal, but general fun!coconut ice
galagala / a simple indian biscuit
rose cookies
banana walnut muffins
lavender lemon cup cakes
If you know of any good christmas vegetarian recipes, we'd love to hear your suggestions! Enjoy!

Clipart from