Inviting you all to Viki's kitchen in facebook too. Also welcoming you all to visit my arts and hobbies page in facebook.. Have a nice day !

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carrot Halwa

Halwa means a fudge like sweet / dessert. Indians make a wide variety of halwa using flours, nuts, fruits, vegetables and the halwa gets the name of the main ingredient. Among them all, the carrot halwa is very popular worldwide. It is served as dessert during Indian weddings, festivals like Diwali , Christmas, Eid and in restaurants.
Halwa or halva came to India through the traders from Middle East during the Mughal period in India.
Other popular halwas are :
Flour based - sooji ka halva (rava kesari),  wheat halwa, coconut oil muscat halwa, besan halwa
fruits halwa - banana halwa, pine apple kesari halwa
vegetable halwa - pumpkin halwa, carrot halwa, white pumpkin kaasi halwa, beetroot halwa
milk and nut halwa - milk halwa (pal kova), badam almond halwa, pistachio halwa

Here is a well known simple but delicious Indian dessert. There are so many ways to prepare carrot halwa. My recipe includes a milk based carrot halwa, but we can make it with lesser milk too. I am sure you all will love this recipe. Try this and let me know.

Ingredients:
carrot (shredded) - 4 cups
whole milk - 3 cups
condensed milk - 6 tbsp (or) make paneer from 2 cups of milk.
(Click to see my paneer preparation)
sugar - 1 cup
cardamom - 1/2 tsp
saffron - a few strands
ghee - 2 tbsp
almond - 10
cashew - 10
raisin - 10

Method:

Shredding:

Wash and scrape the skin of carrot.Discard the ends. Grate it in bigger teeth of the grater. I don't prefer vegetable chopper for this, as we won't get the restaurant touch by using it.
(Anyways the halwa is going to increase my calorie intake and no harm in giving some exercise by manual shredding..he..he..)



Halwa:
We may need a non stick vessel or a heavy bottom wok.

Fry the nuts and raisins in 2 tbsp ghee. Keep aside.
In the same pan add the shredded carrots and fry till raw smell vanishes.
Now add milk to it.
Wait till the milk is absorbed. Add the saffron now.

After that add sugar and let all the water in carrot gets evaporated.

Add condensed milk / paneer and mix well.
Stir continuously in medium heat till the carrot halwa starts leaving the sides.

Now add the fried nuts, raisins and put off fire. Mix the cardamom powder.

Carrot Halwa is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Serve hot or cold as dessert.
It would be an excellent choice for a tea party along with vadai, masala chai and this halwa:)
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Merry Christmas !








Wish you all a Merry Christmas
as well as
beautiful, Prosperous and Blessed
Happy New Year!


Love,
Viki.


------------------------------
Update:
 April 25, 2012 (Wednesday) Carrot halwa I made for International food festival in hubby's office  
This time I improvised my earlier recipe and got it more delicious.
Ingredients:
Carrot - 2 kg
condensed milk - 1 1/2 tin
whole milk - 3/4 liter
whole milk - 1 cup
ghee - 1/2 cup
sugar - 2 cup
cardamom - 1 tsp
bay leaf - 2
cloves - 4
cashew, pistachio, almond, raisin - 2 tbsp each
home made fondant flowers - to decorate

Method: 
Shred the carrot in bigger side of mandolin. Fry them 1/4 cup ghee with bay leaf.
Add 1 cup whole milk and cook well. after it is cooked (10 minutes), add sugar, condensed milk.
 Let all moisture evaporate (1 hour) in low heat and constant stirring.

Boil the milk and add juice from 1/2 lemon and boil for a minute. Strain and get the cheese (cheena). (Reserve the whey water for cooking rice or face wash).

 Remove all liquid from chenna and add to the carrot halwa. Mix well. Fry the raisins and nuts in 1/4 cup ghee and add to the halwa. Heat till the carrot halwa leaves the edges. Add cardamom powder. Keep in serving tray. Garnish with shredded almond. Decorate as per need.

 Takes almost 2 hours.
Makes more than 30 - 35 generous serving.



Sweet note:
Thanks to hubby dear, I made it easy, as he shredded the carrots for me:)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Muttai kuzhambu (poached)

Muttai kulambu is again a simple curry prepared in Indian households.
(Muttai means Egg and Kuzhambu or kulambu means gravy).

A touching novel (I can't remember the title) explains like this while describing a lower middle class Indian family...In India Sundays are the family days and we can smell great flavors in air through almost all the chimneys in the street. A poor mother in that novel tries to make something special for their Sunday lunch and finally fixed a tasty meal within their budget. She tells like this....'Dry fish curry can be equated to the real fish curry and muttai kuzhambu for chicken curry' what a lovely thought ..right! Happiness is purely a choice and we get what we choose !!!! Some stories like this leave a permanent mark in our hearts .....

Muttai kuzhambu is always my first choice whenever I run out of ideas or time or chicken:)

Egg curry can be prepared in numerous ways. I know many who prefer hard boiled egg curry along with biryani. That would be very attractive and easy to serve as well. I will post mine soon.

But here is another method called the Poached egg curry or 'udachi oothina muttai kulambu' (Tamil).The raw eggs are simply poured into the boiling curry and cooked in that flavorful masala . This will arouse more flavor because of the great combination of egg and masala.

This is my mom's favorite version.



Ingredients:
Egg - 3
Onion - 1
tomato - 2
oil - 2 tbsp
fennel (sombu) - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
Turmeric - a pinch

To fry and grind:
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
coriander seed - 2 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
cashews - 5 (optional)
dry red chilly - 6
black pepper - 10 numbers
cinnamon - 1 inch
cloves (kirambu) - 4
cardamom - 2
fennel seed (sombu) - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 1/4 cup

To grind:

cilantro - 3 stems
mint leaf - a handful
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 3 pearls


Method:
Slice the onion into small pieces. Chop the tomato finely keep aside.

Grind the ginger, garlic , cilantro and mint together.

Heat a tsp oil in a wok and fry all the items given above except coconut.
Grind them to a fine paste.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok and add the fennel seed.
Now goes the chopped onion. Fry till it becomes tender.

Add ginger garlic paste and saute till raw smell vanishes.
Then add the chopped tomato and fry till oil oozes out.

Grind the items given and add it to the fried items in wok.
Add salt and let it boil for five minutes.

Then reduce flame. Carefully break and pour the eggs one by one without overlapping one another into the hot curry.
The eggs should not touch one another. Do not stir after this stage , till eggs are cooked.

Now close the vessel and reduce flame to minimum.

Let it remain there for 10 minutes. Switch off after the egg gets completely cooked.

Muttai kuzhambu is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Serve with rice / roti.
Today I prepared cabbage peas poriyal as side dish along with hot rice to go with this spicy egg curry.

Note:
we can add hard boiled eggs or omelet also instead of poaching.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A pleasant award and an event entry.

Last week my friend Jaleela of Samayal Attakasangal presented me a blogger appreciation award.
It is so touching to receive this award from a noble blogger like her. She has a stunning blog filled with knowledge and tips on house administration and cooking.
Should I tell more on a blogger with 20 years of cooking experience ? The photos itself will speak for the flavor and taste of her dishes.
I adore her biryani recipe , nonbu kanji and house keeping tips (especially the chudithar stitching tips) very much. She is so pious and We can learn a lot on Islam from her other blog too. Her blog has a very homely touch and I really felt at home there.


Thanks Jaleela!
This award means a lot to me and I feel honored to get it from a very pleasant person like you.



I would like to pass this 'Smart chef' award to Jaleela. Congrats dear!

Event:

In my last post I wrote how to make an Icecream cake and here is how we should not. You can read my adventures and mishaps about an Icecream cake in this post, which I am sending for Malar's Kitchen Mishaps event. I usually do not photograph my spoiled dishes. So I could not send her a snap, but here is the story behind.
If you want to see my perfect recipe, click here.



I am a person who believes in the proverb 'Failure is the stepping stone to success'.
Here I am narrating how I climbed my stepping stones to land at this delicious ice cream cake. After that heavy turkey biryani on Thanks giving day , a scoop of this cake made me tell ....wow... Worth the effort !

The plan:
Last month I planned to prepare an Icecream cake for our Thanks giving celebration.
Hubby was pestering me to do this for an year and somehow I got some courage to try this time consuming cake.

Adventure:

The major problem I dealt was with the melting time of the ice cream and my frosting speed. You all know , I am not a professional baker, so my skills on frosting (according to me frosting means - apply cream on cake) the cake was so limited.

My 3 layers were very perfect. So I was kind of floating ....guess what happens now:)

Havoc:
I had the guidance of a website, which told me to take out the ice cream to melt before we start applying. I had it on my counter top, finished dinner and even did my dishes and started the icing process....hi hi..what could you expect! Mindless viki poured all the ice cream over the cake just like a heavy cream and stashed it in to the freezer. After all my bed-going rituals, when I opened it there was a huge shock....all the ice cream I poured and leveled were on the freezer floor....myself started panicking:(

Plan B:

Then I somehow made up my mind ....started doing the research. Took out the cake, kept it in fridge area, cleaned the freezer and again kept it in freezer.
Now I figured out that the website didn't tell me the timing to freeze it.

Luckily I started doing this experimentation by Monday....3 more days left for Thanks giving day. So I used another pack of ice cream and finished doing it by Tuesday.

Lesson learned:
1.Always have some back up plan and extra groceries if you plan a new recipe.
2.Start preparing the time consuming dishes very ahead.
3.Stick to the recipe and be sensible if we follow any newer dish.

Hope this suits the event. Happy hosting dear!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ice cream Cake

In my home town there is a very beautiful ice cream parlor called 'Arasan ice cream'. It is famous for its Ice cream , chocolate cakes, falooda, Ice-cream cakes and desserts. The interiors are so cool and creative. No need to say it is always crowded by youngsters and couples. It is my most favorite spot even now and we have tasted almost all the varieties there:)
Whenever I talk about those lovely days, hubby has always expressed his craving for this icecream cake. So I planned to do it for our Thanks giving party (2009).

I could not get a complete procedure through internet. I coined my own version and had some challenges like the melting ice cream and timing sense etc:) But I managed to get a perfect one and we finally got our native style ice cream cake.

Icecream cakes can be made in two ways. One by crushing the cookies and pressing them to form a cake and top it with ice cream . The next method is to bake a cake and freeze it with ice cream

Mine belongs to the second variety.

I always prefer to incorporate some store bought goodies to reduce my cooking time. So if you are looking for one from scratch , then you need to research more. But I am sure this recipe won't disappoint you . Here is the ice cream cake and get ready to surprise your guests with this delicious cake.

Ice cream cake:




Ice cream cake served:




(Pardon me for my unprofessional icing)


You may need:

Ice cream (French vanilla flavor) - 1 liter.
A cake mix (white cake mix) - 1 packet
(I used Betty crocker super moist white cake mix )
Cake frosting mix - 15 oz tin
(I used Pillsburry funfetti frosting mix)
A fruit jam - 1 cup
(I made my own strawberry preserve)
A flat plate
Sharp knife.

To prepare strawberry spread:
Strawberry - 10
Sugar - 1/4 cup

Chop the strawberry and cook it with 2 tbsp water and sugar till it gets a preserve like consistency.
Cool and store it in refrigerator.
(We can use a store bought preserve also).

Cake frosting Method:
Bake two square shape cakes from the above said cake mix, as per instructions in your box.

Cool them completely. Keep them in refrigerator overnight for better cooling effect.

Level the cake with a sharp knife by removing the dark surface.

Slice each cake into two , so that we can stack up the icecream, frosting and strawberry preserve as layers.

Now place one slice of the cake on a flat plate. Spread the cake frosting mix.

Take out the ice cream from freezer and spread 3 scoops over the frosting mix.
Immediately keep the ice cream inside freezer.

Place another slice of cake over it. Spread the Strawberry jam we made uniformly.

Place another slice of cake over the strawberry spread.
Now spread the frosting mix and ice cream above this slice.

Finish all the above procedure within three minutes. This is very very important.


Immediately place the next slice above it and keep in freezer for nearly an hour.

Then take it again do cover the top of the cake completely with cream frosting mixture.
Again let it cool for another 15 minutes inside the freezer.

Now take out the cake and icecream , carefully cover the whole cake with ice cream....starting from the bottom sides.

If you feel it is melting then cool it inside freezer for 10 minutes and finish it.

After 5 hours sprinke the sugar balls or decorate as per the need.

Ice cream cake is ready!

Note:

This procedure may seem very difficult. But if you imagine layering a sandwich then it will be an easy breeze.

Always keep the ice cream in side the fridge before we start decorating the cake.
During frosting process, for every 3 minutes outside keep the cake and icecream inside the freezer for 10 minutes and continue decoration. Otherwise everything will melt down and we may need to recreate.

Event:
Sending this Ice cream cake for Saraswathy Iyer's cakes n cookies event.
Saraswathy has completed 3 years in blogging and celebrating an anniversary through this beautiful event.
Congrats saraswathy!Your blog really rocks! You have so many unique recipes and I love them very much. Your delicious wheat dosa has helped me much in the diet plan.
Thanks and happy hosting dear!

My other entries are as follows:-

1. Butter biscuit

2.Christmas plum cake.

3.Easter bunny's carrot cake

4.Frosted sugar cookies.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beautiful awards.....

Last week I got a beautiful award from Vinolia of Akal's Saapadu. I know, I know...our Vino doesn't need an intro'. She is known for her explicit recipes ,helpful for even a novice to master the art of cooking. I love her desserts, especially the western style ones made with the perfection of a professional and the vast variety of non veggies too.



I feel so honored to receive this award from an expert like her. Thank you dear!

Another cute award is from Malar of Kitchen Tantra. We all know Malar is a great blogger with a flair to cook authentic foods with rich quality. Her Non veg foods are noteworthy. I am sure her cooking classes are in great demand for the royal Moghal cuisines . Don't miss her wise anecdotes as they will enlighten us with the history and the medicinal secrets behind the food.



Thanks Malar. I feel so glad to get this from a knowledgeable person like you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kadappa

Kadappa is the traditional side dish for Poori or Idly, dosai in Tanjore of TamilNadu, India.

As the theme of this blog is to remember my mom's passion for cooking, I am narrating here how she got this recipe. Long back, as a newly married couple mom and dad visited her sister's family in Tanjore. And there she had this kadappa with poori and dosa in a restaurant. Then she searched for the recipe through cook-books and finally arrived at this one. After that it has become our favorite too.

This dish resembles a kuruma like gravy with dhal as a base. Turmeric and tomato are not generally added, as the primary color of the kadappa should be white / beige. So easy to prepare and great to enjoy for a special weekend:)



Ingredients:
Potato - 4
green gram dhal (paasi paruppu / chiru paruppu) - 1/4 cup
Red onion - 1
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
oil - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
lemon - 1/2

Masala - 1

puffed channa dhal (pottu kadalai) - 1 tbsp
poppy seed - 1/2 tsp
green chilly - 6
cinnamon - 1 inch
cloves (kirambu) - 2
fennel seed (sombu) - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup

Masala -2

ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 5 pearls

Method:
Wash the potatoes well. Pressure cook the potatoes and green gram dhal for 2 whistles.
Peel and chop potato into small cubes.
Slice the onion into small pieces.

Heat oil in a wok and splutter the mustard seed. Then add bay leaves.

Now goes the chopped onion. Fry till it becomes tender. Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell vanishes.
Then add the cubed potatoes and green gram dhal.

Grind the items given under masala 1 and add it to the potatoes in wok.

Add salt and let it boil for five minutes.

After switching off , add the lime juice and serve hot.

Kadappa is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Serve with dosa or poori / roti /idly / chapathi.

Note :

1.we can prepare it without tempering also.

2.Pressure cook raw, chopped potato with green gram and all masalas including ginger garlic together. Then temper after it gets cooked. Add lime juice at the end. This is the short cut method.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rasgulla

Rasgulla / Rosgulla is a famous Indian Bengali sweet. It is usually served as dessert along with some jeera (syrup).
It is my hubby's top pick whenever we visit some Bengali sweet shop. So I prepare this often in small batches before he starts craving :)

There are two ways to make the rasgulla. The authentic version is to slow cook in a half closed pan and the modern type is to pressure cook it.
I am used to the authentic one, which my mom taught. I feel it as more safer to make soft rasgullas. My mom's recipe note book would emphasize the usage of lemon instead of vinegar and rose essence instead of cardamom. I followed her way completely and got the best result.

Here comes the well known recipe.

Chenna after straining:



Rasagulla soaked in sugar syrup:



Ingredients:
Milk (full fat) - 1 litre (5 cups)
AP flour (maida) - 2 tsp
Lemon - 1
(or)vinegar - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Rose essence - 3 drops
(or)cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Method:
Boil milk in a vessel.
Squeeze the lemon and mix 1/2 cup water to the juice.
Add the lemon juice / vinegar to the boiling milk and stir slowly.
Put off heat.
Now the milk gets curdled to form paneer (a cheese variety).

(Chenna preparation is beautifully explained by Vinolia. So just click to see if you need more clarity.)


Place a cheese cloth / new white cloth over the strainer and pour the curdled milk.
Pour some cold water to remove the lemon's sourness.
Squeeze out all the water and make a bundle using the cloth. Place it on the strainer or hang over a kitchen sink to loose all the water content.
Let it remain in this position for 45 mins to 2 hours , depending upon the quantity.

The hard cheese we get is called chenna. We can buy it in Indian grocery stores also.

Now knead the chenna to make a smooth dough. Add flour and knead again.

Make small balls of equal size of 1.5 cm diameter approximately and keep aside.

In another vessel mix sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to boil.

Once it starts boiling add the chenna balls and cook covered for 30 minutes (with lid partially open).

The rasagulla will become double the size.

Drop one ball in cold water and if it sinks to the bottom , then it is cooked well.
If not so , then cook for another 5 minutes.

Switch off flame and add rose essence / cardamom powder.

Rasgulla is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve chilled as dessert.
The above said quantity is enough to make 15 - 20 rasgullas.

Tips:

Apply some ghee and roll the rasgulla balls , as the cracked ones may disintegrate quickly.
some people prefer pressure cooking the rasgulla instead of my pan method.
We can add 1/2 the quantity of sugar and some Zero calorie sweetener to get a more healthier version too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent season, an award and some reposts.

Anu Ramesh of Anu's Kitchen has presented me the below award. Before that I would like to mention here a few things about this wonderful budding blogger. Anu has a lovely collection of recipes along with adorable pictures. Moreover she has the spirit to appreciate and encourage others. I am so glad that she passed me this inspiring award.


Thanks Anu, I feel honored.

Smart Chef award:
Now I am wondering...OMG ! people are showering me with love and how should I reciprocate!
I can't think of anything else but a group hug and to create an award:)
I am sure everyone who loves to cook surely deserves this award.



Actually I wanted to present this cute award to all of my friends and to all those who love to cook. But now I am crowning a very few of my friends.

Anu of Anu's Kitchen
Ann , my friend.
Gita of Gita's kitchen.
Malar of Kitchen Tantra.
Sanghi of Sanghis food delight.
Sumathy of Sumi's kitchen.
Vino of Akal's saapadu
Vineela of Vineela Siva
Usha of Ushanandhini's recipes.

Please accept this well deserved award my friends! You can pass this to as many as you wish.

Re-post
:

I am reposting the following recipes for Sanghi's FIL-Fruits event. Happy hosting and Best wishes dear.


Mixed fruit jam.

Apple rasam

Pineapple rasam

Vaazhai Pazha paniyaram

Tomato sweet

Christmas plum cake

Panchamirtham

Apple pie

Cranberry sauce


Christmas is around the corner and it is the advent season too . Advent means a time of preparation, just like the Mother Mary and St.Joseph got prepared for the arrival of Jesus. It is the time of expectation, anxiety and cleanliness.
Let's look around for the needy people in our neighborhood and help them . Think of the unnecessary but usable stuff in our home and consider some donation. Don't forget to put your older winter coats in the cloth donation box to make someone warm.

Thanks and Happy blogging friends!
Cheers,
Viki.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mixed fruit jam (natural)

Some days back I had some fruits left behind while making a salad. Hated to leave all those cuties loose their color and simply chill in the refrigerator. How about a JAM...just like my homeland's kissan mixed fruit jam. I am sure no other jam in the world can charm me like this old fashioned Indian kissan jam. I am obsessed with that jam, but still wanted to do it.

The ingredient to get a perfect glossy jam is the pectin (available in stores in powder form). The problem was , I couldn't get the preservatives and gel bases at that late hour. Some thing sparked me....why shouldn't I make my own pectin? Then I searched for the natural pectin sources and to my surprise it can be an apple or any citus fruit. I just crushed an apple along with 1/2 a can of pineapple and got my base.

So here is a jam without any artificial preservative or store bought pectin. This one will resemble that kissan mixed fruit jam, but still I love that store bought one also very much:) Anyways I got 2 bottles of jam and a lot of satisfaction too. Hope you all like it.





Ingredients:
(Any combination of fruit 3 cups)
Raspberry - 1/2 cup
pomegranate - 1/2 cup
pear - 1 cup
seedless grapes - 10
apple - 1 (1 cup) ......(MUST)
(The natural pectin in the apple is used as a base to make the jam)
pineapple - 1/2 can (1 cup)
water - 1/2 cup
sugar - 3/4 cup

Method:
Bring water to boil along with raspberry , pomegranate or any small fruit of your choice. Mash gently with a ladle.
Coarsely grind the fruit chunks like apple , pear and pineapple together.
Mix all the fruits , sugar and cook till the jam gets a thick consistency.

It will thicken perfectly in about 20 minutes. So keep stirring occasionally in low flame.

Mixed fruit jam is ready.

Store in dry container and keep refrigerated.

Serving suggestions:

Wash the glass bottle (or any container) with hot water and dry completely before filling. I dried it overnight:)
Let the jam cool completely and stock them up.
Great to go with breads or yogurt, cake or ice cream topping.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tomato rice (home style)

It is the habit of Tamil people to make different colors of variety rice like elumichai / lime rice (yellow), puliyotharai / tamarind rice(brown), thakkali / tomato rice (red), kothamalli / cilantro rice (green), thengai saatham / coconut rice, curd rice (white) , milagu saatham/ pepper rice , ellotharai/ sesame rice (black) etc during their family get-together.
They are generally called kalantha saatham (mixed variety rice) or chithrannam in Tamil.

Tomato rice is the most favorite for many of us. Hope all are familiar with a tomato rice with fennel , cinnamon and a biryani like flavor in tomato rice. But this is a very humble variety with unbeatable tangy taste that would tempt us to eat more.
Moreover I have devoured this kind of tomato rice along with paruppu thogayal and masal vadai in vegetarian restaurants of Tirunelveli. But couldn't find it in Madras. So I guess it as a very native / homely method to make this simple thakkali saatham.

I am describing my mom's way here, as she (as well as me) had appreciated this version over the biryani flavored one always. In both way tomato blends well with rice and that's what we like...right:)



Ingredients:

Uncooked rice - 1 1/4 cup (for 2 people)
Ripen Tomato (juicy variety) - 3
green chilly - 5
Shallot onion - 6
Turmeric powder - a pinch
red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
salt - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 3 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cilantro (chopped) - 1 tbsp

Method:
Bring to boil 5 cups of water along with 1/4 tsp salt.
Wash and add the rice.
Cook till it becomes soft (but individual grains). Using a colander strain and discard all the water. Keep the cooked rice aside.

Heat oil in a wok.
Splutter the mustard seed, add channa dhal, curry leaf, cilantro and fry well.
Now add the chopped shallot and fry till it becomes soft.
Then add the finely chopped tomato , green chilly, turmeric powder, chilly powder, salt and cook covered till the tomato gets mushy.

Now open the lid and cook the tomato gravy till it becomes a thick gravy. Put off fire.

Then add the cooked rice and mix carefully without breaking the grains.

Tomato rice is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve along with paruppu thogayal, masal vadai , potato chips or any poriyal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chicken Kickers

Being a big fan of Domino's chicken kickers , I never believed if I could make a similar one. Then I formulated my very own version to match their taste and it was a pleasant success.
Anyways lazy me love to order that too:)

This is my favorite part of cooking. Just mix all the ingredients to marinate the chicken , put it in the oven and JUST RELAX......



Ingredients:

To marinate:
Boneless skinless chicken breast - 1 lb
Salt - to taste (1.5 tsp)
Egg - 1
Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
Garlic paste(fine) - 1 tbsp
vinegar - 3 tbsp
chilly powder - 1 tbsp
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
Olive oil / butter - 1 tbsp

Others:
Bread Crumbs - 1 cup
(I powdered 3 slices of toasted dry bread to make the crumbs)
Oil / butter - 1 tsp
(to coat the baking foil)

Method:

Clean and wash the chicken breast. Pat dry. Cut it into 1.5 inch cubes.
In a mixing bowl add salt , vinegar , Seasoning powder, pepper powder and chilly powder . Soak the chicken pieces and marinate for 4 - 6 hrs.

In another bowl mix olive oil , egg and all purpose flour.

Powder the bread pieces to get the crumbs. Place it on a wide plate.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Line a baking tray with an aluminum foil. Coat the aluminum foil with olive oil / butter .

Dip the chicken in egg , flour mixture and roll it over the bread crumbs and place on the foil. Just like that place all the pieces on the tray.

Bake for 20 minutes one side, flip and cook next 15-20 minutes on the other side (middle rack).

Hot Chicken kickers is ready!

Serving suggestion:

Enjoy it with pizza or as a meal itself with tomato sauce and a drink of your choice especially a coke:)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vegetable Biryani (Tawa method)

Nearly an year before , I posted a recipe for layered vegetable biryani. After that many times I have made this simple version of vegetable biryani but somehow forgotten to publish.

Here I should say, my mom had an extraordinary passion for cooking and our lunch boxes would tell it by the variety and flavor. Vegetable biryani would accompany us to school as a surprise lunch to triumph her hug whenever she wanted to convey a congrats or best wishes or a smile. Sweet memories again:)

Mom's method employs a pressure cooker. But I have never achieved a perfect one through pressure cooker...sometimes they get mushy too. So I prefer a tawa method, that is placing the briyani over a hot girdle and slow cooking it.



Vegetables:
Cauli flower - 1/4 flower (chopped 1 cup) , green beans - 10 , carrot -1 , green peas - 1/2 cup .

Ingredients:
Basmathi rice / Jeeraga samba raw rice - 3 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red onion - 2 (medium size)
green chillis - 5 (uncut).
Lemon - 1
ghee - 2 tbsp (to add at the end)

To temper:
Fennel - 1 tsp
bay leaves - 2
star aniseed - 1,
cinnamom stick - 2 inch
cardamom - 2
cloves - 4
ghee - 1 tbsp
Any cooking oil - 3 tbsp
cashew nuts -10
raisins- 10.
salt - to taste

Masala 1:
Tomato - 4

Masala 2:
cilantro- 10 stems
mint leaf -1 handful.
green chilly - 10
black pepper - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp

Masala 3:
Ginger - 2 inch
Garlic - 5 cloves

Preparation:
wash and clean the vegetables. peel the skin of carrot and cut into long thin slices.
Cut the green beans in to long pieces.
Pluck 5 -6 florets from the cauliflower.
Defreeze the green peas.

Wash the rice and soak it for 1/2 an hour.

Grind all the pastes separately.

Chop onion and keep aside.

Method:

Heat 2 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee in a  broad vessel.
Add fennel ,star aniseed , cinnamon stick,cardamom ,cloves, bay leaf , cashew, raisin.

Then goes the chopped onion .

Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes.

Now add the tomato paste and cook till the oil oozes out of it. Add all the powders given.

Then add the cilantro , mint paste and cook till the oil start oozing out. Now put the vegetables and add salt. Just stir well. Don't cook them now.

Now add the soaked rice and uncut green chillies. Squeeze some lime juice over.

Pour water to immerse the rice and let the water stand 1 inch above rice.

Mix well now and check for salt in this stage.Let it come to a boil.

Close with a tight lid and place this vessel over a hot dosa tawa (girdle / flat pan) . Reduce the flame to minimum.

After 20 minutes the biryani will be ready!

Serving suggestions:

Garnish with 2 tbsp ghee , chopped cilantro , mint leaves.
Serve vegetable biryani hot with onion raitha .
Serves 6 people.

Note:

Instead of tawa , we can pressure cook it for 1 whistle also. But if we want the grains to be non sticky then follow the tawa method.

Click here to see my Layered vegetable biryani.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mochai payaru curry

Every simple dish in the Indian houses would have a story behind it, just like the dad bringing pakoda for rasam rice on a rainy night or brother's surprise parotta or loving aunt's instant vadai for curd rice etc.

I have seen this delicious mochai payaru curry in the households of Kovilpatti , Sivakasi (small towns of TamilNadu, India) etc, where each and every member of family would be employed in a cottage Industry. In that area, we can see small food stalls selling this curry wrapped in banana leaf in the late evening, which can reduce a bit of the females' burden after a long day. May be they can make a quick meal with some rice and rasam to have with this super spicy curry.

Here is the recipe for that spicy mochai kai curry.

Other names:
Mochai payaru (Tamil), Val dal (Hindi),Hyacinth bean or field bean (English)



Ingredients:
Dry Mochai payaru - 1 cup (or) Fresh ones - 1/2 kg
Shallot onion - 4
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
oil - 1 tsp
fennel seeds (sombu)- 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
coriander powder - 2 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
tomato - 1 (chopped)
salt - to taste

Preparation:

(If you are using the fresh beans then just start from the method.
otherwise go for pre soaking.)
Dry roast the mochai kottai to get dark spots on the outer layer and a nice aroma with some popping sound.
Then rinse it with water twice. Add water till it gets well immersed. Soak for an hour.
(We can soak it overnight also, if we don't want to roast it.)
Pressure cook for 3 whistles.
(we can cook it in stove top also, but it will take an hour).


Procedure:

Shell the val dhal , wash and clean the beans inside.
Bring to boil enough water and cook the beans to tender.

In a blender , grind the shallot, coconut and cumin seeds together to a coarse paste.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add the fennel seeds and let it become red. Then goes the curry leaves.
Immediately add the cooked beans along with the remaining water.
Now add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Slide in chopped tomatoes. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.

Then add the ground masala and keep stirring occasionally, till the koottu / curry becomes a thick gravy.

Mochai kottai koottu is ready.

Serving suggestions:

Serves 4 people .
Serve hot with chapathi, roti , curd rice, rasam rice or sambar rice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Simple Dhal (Ketti paruppu)

This simple dhal is an excellent partner for rice or chapathi. The very less spice content in this dhal makes it a child friendly dish if paired with ghee and rice.
It is the habit of the Indians to serve this dhal as the starter curry in any full meals.

In my home we call it as ketti paruppu , which means the dhal in thicker consistency. I can remember my mom saving some dhal for me before making sambar, as it is my all time favorite to have with ghee and rice. Hope I have kindled many of your childhood memories:)

Simple dhal / ketti paruppu / lentil curry:



Ingredients:
Toor dhal (thuvaram paruppu) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
hing - a pinch
garlic - 2 pearls
Cumin - 1/2 tsp

To temper:
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
dry red chilly - 3
curry leaf - 1 sprig
urad dhal - 1 tsp
Onion (chopped) - 2 tbsp
oil - 1 tsp

Method:
Wash and clean the dhal.
(Soak it for 1 hour to reduce cooking time, if done in stove top).
Pressure cook the dhal with 2 cups of water, turmeric, hing and garlic to 5 whistles.
(or after a whistle reduce flame and keep in low heat for 10 minutes).
Open the pressure cooker after the steam is gone.
Drain the excess clear water above dhal and reserve it to make rasam.
Add the cumin seeds and mash well using a laddle.

Heat oil in a wok.
Splutter the mustard seeds and add the urad dhal, curry leaf, onion, red chillies and fry till the onion turns red.
Pour the seasoning over the mashed dhal and add salt.
If desired , stir more to get a thicker form.

Ketti paruppu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with hot rice and a dollop of Indian ghee along with pappad.
Goes well with roti too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Arachi vitta sambar

'Arachi vitta sambar' means a sambar made by adding fresh masala in liquid form prepared at home by a mortar.

This is the traditional sambar of India. No need to buy a sambar powder. So the taste won't vary by the brand of powder we purchase.
Mom used to have a hand mortar called 'ammi' to make the masala paste and for me those sambars have tasted heavenly. Here is my attempt to bring back that aroma:)

Homely sambar / arachi vitta sambar / sambar without sambar powder:




Ingredients:

Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind - strawberry size
asafoetida - 2 pinches
Tomato - 1
carrot / radish /unripe mango/ beans / brinjal or any mixed vegetable- 1 cup

Roast and grind:
coriander seed - 2 tbsp
dry red chilly - 6
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
Toor dhal - 1 tsp
fenugreek - 1/4 tsp
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp

To temper:
Mustard seed - 1 tsp
cumin - a few
shallot onion - 5 to 10
curry leaves - 1 sprig
oil / ghee - 1 tbsp

Method:
Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water for 20 minutes. Squeeze it and get the extract.

Wash and clean the Toor dal .Pressure cook it along with turmeric powder ,asafoetida and a cup of water for a whistle , reduce flame and cook for 10 minutes.
(If you do not have pressure cooker then boil 2 cups of water and add the dal, water,turmeric powder ,asafoetida and oil.Close it and cook till the dhal becomes soft.)
Then mash it coarsely. Keep aside.

Cook the vegetables in tamarind extract with salt.

Heat a tsp of oil and fry all the items given (except coconut) to roast and grind to a fine paste.
Add this paste to the cooked vegetables and let it boil.
Immediately add the mashed dhal and check for salt.

Heat oil / ghee in a wok and let the mustard splutter. Then add the shallot (skinned but whole), curry leaf ,cumin . Saute till the onion becomes golden brown.

Pour it over the kulambu and let it come to a boil.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with rice or idly /dosa.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brussel Sprout fry.

The Brussels sprout is a Cultivar group of wild cabbage cultivated for its small (typically 2.5–4 cm or 1–1.5 in diameter) leafy green buds, which resemble miniature cabbages. They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer, due to their containing sinigrin.
(Source : Wikipedia)

The common method is to just saute it in olive oil, throw some salt and pepper to get a side dish for any soup or bread.
But I tried my own version to make a poriyal or fry out of it. Hope you all like it.




Brussel sprout fry:




Ingredients:
Brussel sprout (choose small ones) - 1/2 lb
Red onion - 1/2
fennel seed (sombu)- 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste

Direction:

Wash and clean the brussel sprout in cold water.
Quarter them.

Chop the onion finely.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel seeds. When the fennel turns red, add the onion and saute for a minute.
Then add the chopped brussel sprout and stir well.

Sprinkle some water. Add a little salt and cook covered till the vegetable is done.(5 minutes is enough). Over cooking may release unfavorable smell for some.

Then add the red chilly powder and stir till all the moisture is gone.

Brussel sprout fry is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with roti , chapathi , sambar rice or curd rice.
The above said quantity can be served for 2 people.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rava Uppuma

I don't think many of us need a recipe to make uppuma which is the very basic tiffin item of Indians. But for me making it without lumps was a great challenge till I learned the technique from a maid in my dad's house.


Ingredients:
Rava (semolina) - 1 1/2 cup
water - 2 1/4 cup
{water = (number of cups of ravai x 2) - (3/4 cup)}
salt - 1/4 tsp (1/8 tsp per cup of rava)
onion - 1 (small)
green chilly - 2
ginger - 1 inch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp (optional)
sesame oil - 2 to 3 tsp.

Method:
Heat a wok. Dry roast the rava till it smells good / starts to become coarse like sand.
Transfer it to a plate .

Chop the onion, curry leaf, ginger, green chilly finely.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in the same wok.
Add mustard seed. let it splutter. Then add the channa dhal and fry all the chopped ingredients along with it.

As the onion starts to become transparent, add the water + Salt and let it come to a boil.

Then reduce flame and sprinkle the rava in equal spacing , just like shower. Don't stir. (Stirring will result in lumps)

Immediately cover with a lid. Reduce flame to minimum.

After 3 minutes in low flame , open the lid and start to stir using a spatula.

we can see the uppuma get cooked well and starts leaving the edges.

Put off fire. Add shredded coconut , if desired.
Now we get a very dry uppuma without any lumps.

Serving suggestions:

Serve as breakfast or dinner along with coconut chutney or sugar.
The above said quantity served two adults.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sukku malli coffee

Sukku - dry ginger ; malli - dry coriander seed

With the onset of monsoon rain ,the chennai residents can see the local vendors selling this coffee in the streets after 9 Pm.

In my hometown we drink it all through the day with or without caffeine and never say no to it.Any one who has gulped it will never forget the sharp taste and the health benefits. We make it with 'panai vellam' / karuppatti / palm jaggery , which makes the coffee more flavorful. Anyway we can use white sugar too.



Sukku coffee powder:

coriander seed - 100 gm
dry ginger - 100 gm
(I use powdered dry ginger)
black pepper - 20

Dry roast and grind them together. This is called sukku coffee powder.

For daytime or evening:

Heat 2 cups of water along with 2 tsp sukku coffee powder, 1 tsp coffee powder, sugar (3 tsp). Switch off after it starts boiling. Leave till it settles.
Filter the clear liquid leaving the sediments.

If desired add 2 tbsp milk per cup.

For bedtime:

Heat 2 cups of water along with 2 tsp sukku coffee powder, sugar (3 tsp). Switch off after it starts boiling. Leave till it settles.
Filter the clear liquid leaving the sediments.

If desired add 2 tbsp milk per cup.

Makes 2 cups of coffee. Serve as hot beverage.
It is believed to relieve the body aches and stomach troubles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kadalai kulambu

Kadalai kulambu generally means a curry made with channa. This is also a typical sounth Indian curry made with tamarind and hot spices.
The interesting fact is people call this lentil as 'Vegetarians' chicken' because of the high protein content.

Other names: chickpea, Cicer arietinum, garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, bengal gram, Kabuli chana, konda kadalai, kadale kaalu, sanaga pappu, shimbra, Kadala



Ingredients:
Black channa - 1 cup.
(We can use white channa also, but the black / red one has more flavor and fiber.)
Tamarind- 1 gooseberry size
chilli powder - 1tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
feugreek (methi seed)-1/4 tsp
mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig
sesame oil - 1 tbsp

To grind:

cumin seeds - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
onion (chopped)- 1 cup


Method:

Soak the channa overnight and pressure cook to get a whistle.
After the whistle , simmer the stove and switch off the stove after 10 minutes.
(20 minutes for white channa).

Extract the juice from tamarind. Keep aside.
Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder to the tamarind extract.

In a pan add the oil , put mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.
After the mustard gets cracked , add curry leaves.

Then add the tamarind extract mixture.
Let it boil for 10 minutes.
Now add the cooked channa along with the remaining water , if any.

Grind the coconut , cumin seeds and onion into a fine paste.
Put this paste into the boiling tamarind extract.
Check for salt and put off fire immediately after the raw smell vanishes.

Serving suggestions:
Serves for 4 to 5 people.
Serve with cooked rice, appalam and aviyal.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pudalangai Varuval

Pudalangai is the Tamil translation for Long gourd / snake gourd. Varuval means fry.

Snake gourd is an exotic Asian vegetable.
Other Names are Snake Gourd, potlakaaya (in Telugu), pathola (in Sinhalese), pudalankaai (in Tamil), dhunduli(in Assamese), paduvalakaayi (in Kannada) and padavalanga (in Malayalam).

Normally frying requires lot of oil, but not for this varuval. So here is a fry that goes fine with any dhal / sambar rice.

Fresh tender pudalangai:



Fried pudalangai:



Ingredients:
Tender pudalangai - 1/2 kg
Red onion - 1
fennel seed (sombu)- 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
garam masal powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
salt - to taste

Direction:

Gently rub the pudalangai with a knife and remove the very fine outer skin.
Wash and clean it.
Now halve it and remove all the seeds and stuffs inside.
Chop it into small pieces.

Chop the onion finely.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel seeds. When the fennel turns red, add the onion and saute for a minute.
Then add the chopped pudalangai and stir well.

Sprinkle some water. Add a little salt and cook covered till the vegetable is done.

Then add the red chilly powder, garam masal powder and stir till all the moisture is gone.

Pudalangai varuval is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with roti , chapathi , sambar rice or curd rice.
The above said quantity can be served for 4 people.