Friday, December 27, 2019

Apple Butter - A fruity spread

 It was the season of 'Apple Rain ' when we last visited Portland ! The sight of the heavily laden trees on either sides of the walkway raining fresh apples with no one to pick them up, brought back the memory of a Sanskrit Subhashitam / Proverb which I had learnt in my school days.
Santatagamanadanadaro bhavati
Malaye bhillapurandhri
Chandanataru kashtam indanam kurute.
It means that familiarity gives way to contempt, emphasizing the fact that anything in abundance loses its value. The last two lines describe how the hunter women in the Malaya mountain ( abundant in Sandal Wood trees ) use the precious Sandal as firewood !

We continued with our morning walks with guilt ridden hearts as the fruits got crushed under our shoes.The garbage truck would scoop them up every morning only to be composted later on.
On the other hand, it was interesting to watch a jam packed crowd at the Apple Fest that was going on at the local Nursery. Varieties of apples for sale were displayed in huge tubs.

 Fresh Apple cider obtained from a traditional wooden press was being distributed for free !

People in serpentine ques moved patiently to taste different varieties of apples at the sampling section.         
Back at home, my son prepared his own sampling plate for us using the assorted apples he had bought at the fest.
Here is a recipe of a yummy sauce inspired by a friendly neighbour who presented us with a jar of Apple Butter - a mandatory preparation during the season !

Apples - 6 ( Medium size )
Sugar   - 1/4 cup
Water   - 1/2 cup
Salt      - 1 pinch
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cinnamon - 1 stick
1. Wash the apples, remove the core and cut them into cubes.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a thick bottomed pan, cover and cook on low flame.

3. Stir now and then and cook till the apples absorb the sugar syrup and become soft and mushy.
4. Switch off flame and let the cooked apples cool down.
5. Remove the cinnamon stick and blend the cooked apples into a smooth paste.

6. Return the paste to the pan and cook for two or three more minutes.

A smooth and soft Apple Butter is ready to be spread on golden toasts, buns, scones and on other bakery products. It tastes good with Chapaties and other tiffins which call for a sweet fruity spread.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Togari Kalu Koottu - Fresh Green Pigeon Peas in a mildly spiced coconut gravy

Winter brings with it all types of Peas and Beans in abundance in their fresh green pods . Togari Kalu  or fresh Pigeon Peas stay in the market for a short duration unlike Green Peas and Field Beans. Since they come and go in a flash we enjoy them in as many recipes as possible in that short span of time. Numerous shades of green, yellow, brown, purple and some of them even spotted, shimmer like precious gems as they are peeled out of their pods ! They taste good in Masala dishes as well as in simple South Indian dishes. Here is a simple and mild Togari Kalu Koottu with other vegetables included for added nutrition as well as aesthetic pleasure.

Fresh Pigeon Peas/ Togari Kalu - 2 cups
Chopped Vegetables  - 1 cup
( I used one chow chow, 2 carrots and a fistful of beans )
Green gram dal - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Black gram dal - 2 tsps
Red chillies - 5 ( Using Byadagi Chillies lends a bright colour to the Koottu)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fresh grated coconut - 2 tbsps
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Black gram dal - 1 tsp
Red chilly (broken) - 1
Curry leaves - a few
1. Combine all the chopped vegetables with Togari Kalu and arrange them on one side of a pressure cooker vessel.
2. Take washed green gram dal in a cup, add one cup of water and turmeric powder to it, and place it along side the vegetables.

3. You can cook rice along with this by first  placing the rice vessel in the pressure cooker, and then placing the vegetables and dal vessel on top of it.
4. Set the cooker on the stove.
5. In the meantime heat oil in a pan and roast Black gram dal, red chillies, cumin seeds and asafoetida till they emanate a very pleasant aroma.
6. Cool the roasted ingredients and grind them into a fine powder.
7. Add coconut gratings and blend the spice powder into a smooth paste adding water.
8. When the pressure subsides remove the cooked dal and vegetables into a thick bottomed vessel.
9. Add salt and the spice paste, stir and bring it to a boil till all the ingredients blend well. If the Koottu is too thick add some water to get the required consistency .

10. Heat oil and prepare seasoning with mustard seeds, Black gram dal, broken red chilly and curry leaves. Pour the crisp golden brown seasoning on top of the Togari Kalu Koottu.

Enjoy the Togari Kaalu Koottu with steaming hot rice. Koottu goes well with Poories and Chapaties as well.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Rajma Masala - Red Kidney Beans in a Spicy Gravy

My dear grand children, nephews and niece have all grown up now and are scattered all over the globe each following his/her own path of life. They always shared a very close bond with me. We loved to watch movies, share stories, cook together or eat out and fool around in general during their childhood days. Now that they are all far far away chats and video calls when time permits keep our strong bonding intact. Chitra Amma's Kitchen is playing a vital role in this regard. I am touched when they tell me how the dish they prepared following a recipe in the blog turned out so good. One of them called up to remind me after lot of searching that I had not posted the recipe of Rajma Masala. Here comes your favourite Rajma Masala dear A ! Enjoy!

Rajma / Red kidney beans - 2 cups ( Soaked overnight)
Onion - 1 big ( Chopped)
Fresh ginger - One fat 2'' piece ( Peeled and chopped)
Garlic  - 6 segments ( Peeled and chopped)
Medium size Tomatoes ( Red, ripe and juicy ) - 6 ( Chopped and blended)
Cooking oil - 3 tbsps
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 2  one inch pieces
Cardamom - 4
Cloves - 6
Chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder / Dania powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
1. Drain the soaked Rajma , add 6 cups of fresh water, one small piece of cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pressure cook until three whistles.

2. Blend the chopped onion, ginger and garlic together into a smooth paste.
3. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds followed by Cinnamon, Cardamom and Cloves.
4. When the spices are fried giving out a very pleasant aroma add the onion paste.
5. Keep stirring till the raw smell disappears and the paste is well fried.
6. Add Chilly powder and Dania powder and stir well. ( I added 1 1/2 tsps of my Sambar powder)
7. Stir in the tomato juice and let it cook till it thickens and the oil seeps out.

8. Blend a table spoon of cooked Rajma into a paste.
8. Retain the water and add only the rest of the Rajma , the Rajma paste and salt  into the masala and stir well .
9. Finally add the retained water (in which Rajma was cooked) and let it cook on medium flame till all the flavours blend well.
10. When the gravy reaches the required consistency switch off flame and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Enjoy the Rajma Masala with steaming hot rotis or steaming hot rice.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Pudina Tokku - Mint Leaves Relish

South Indian kitchens were always armed with huge jars of Pickles and Relishes to last for an entire year. In my younger days I could not relish even Sambar and rice without a Pickle or Tokku on the side. Some times the 'side' became the 'main' when I decided to enjoy Pickle or Tokku  mixed with rice! Times have changed. The huge Pickle Jars of ancient days have become show pieces of antique value. Umpteen varieties of Pickles and Tokkus are available in various food stores. Once when I came across a store bought Pudina Tokku bottle at a friend's place I could not contain the urge to prepare it immediately!

 Mint leaves / Pudina - 1 big bunch
Tamarind  - A small plum size ball ( Soaked in little warm water )
Salt - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 6 ( Broken )
Jaggery - A small plum size piece
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp ( Dry roasted and powdered )
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil - 3 tbsps
1. Wash the mint leaves thoroughly retaining only the tender stalks.
2. Heat 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and fry the red chillies till they turn crisp.
3. Add the mint leaves and keep stirring till the leaves wilt and then switch off flame.

4. Grind the fried red chillies, mint leaves, soaked tamarind and salt together into a smooth paste adding little water if required.
5. Heat the remaining sesame oil in a kadai and splutter the mustard seeds.
6. Add asafoetida and turmeric powder followed by the ground mint paste.
7. Add jaggery and cook on low flame stirring all the time.
8. When the Tokku thickens and the oil comes out, mix in the roasted and powdered fenugreek seeds.
Allow it to cool down and store the Pudina Tokku in a clean dry jar.  Stays fresh for a longer period of time when refrigerated.

Enjoy any meal with Pudina Tokku on the side. Or enjoy Pudina Tokku Rice by mixing half a teaspoon of Tokku with one cup of steaming hot rice.