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 !

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pepper Chicken

Just like all the girls who change their cooking style after marriage, I too did many things. No..no don't imagine me as a vegan who married a meat-o-holic, its 'topsy turvy' gals:)
I should say my culinary journey started even before marriage as my brothers are true lovers of NVs:) But after marriage I reduced cooking the non veg items because of hubby's lesser appetite for NV, though all of my inlaws excel each other in having them .
Before hand I used to make different varieties of chicken for my younger brother Venkatesh. Being a great chicken-holic person, he inspires me to learn more and more dishes.Almost every day he would love to have a different dish , preferably a NV in his tiffin box:) So I started trying many varieties and here is a pepper chicken .
Dedicating this recipe to all my brothers (two from my mom's and 3 from my Inlaws side)who love chicken in anything.





Ingredients:

Chicken (with or without bones)- 1/4 kg
(I made it with bones)
Red onion - 1
Tomato - 1
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 brig
Sesame oil - 3 tbsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
sesame oil - 4 tbsp
To powder :
Black pepper - 3 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
cloves - 2
fennel seed - 1/2 tsp

Method:

Wash and clean the chicken. Apply some turmeric all over and rinse again .
Cut it into medium size pieces and keep aside.
Chop the onion and tomato separately.
Grind 1 inch ginger and 3 garlic pods to a fine paste.

Heat the oil in a wok , add the fennel seeds and let it become red.
Then add the curry leaves, chopped onion and fry till it becomes golden brown.
Now put the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes.
Add the chopped tomato and fry till it becomes mushy.

Now add the chicken pieces and fry for a while till it becomes a white.
Then add the salt, Turmeric powder, powdered masala and cook covered with a handful of water.
Stir frequently to avoid charing.
Cook for nearly 30 minutes in very low flame.
Then put off fire after the oil starts showing and the meat is done.
Pepper chicken is ready.

Serving suggestion:

Take the chicken fry out leaving behind the oil and place on a serving bowl.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of black pepper all over the chicken .
Fry some curry leaves in the left out oil in the pan and garnish the chicken with it for a homely touch.
Serve as side dish with sambar rice or rasam rice or even with curd rice.
The chicken pieces will loose moisture and shrink a lot. So it will be enough for just 2 people.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unripe banana koottu

Usually we make fries or chips with raw / unripe green banana. But generally we reserve the fries for the cold winter . Also it is a custom to bring out a lesser oily version for each and every vegetable for the hot summer lunch in India.
My love for the koottu is endless and here is a koottu again with valai kai (Un ripe banana) which tastes fine with sambar and rasam rice.
I used the raw banana along with the skin and I hope that the skin adds a lovely flavor and fiber to our diet. That's how the banana has to be cooked , if following a traditional way. Guess , globally our ancestors were pretty sure to include all the possible fiber content to our diet by insisting so.

Unripe banana cubed with skin:


Unripe Banana (vaazhai kai) koottu:


Ingredients:
Unripe Indian banana (valai kai) - 2
Channa Dhal - a handful
Asafoetida powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Sambar Powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Shredded coconut 1 tbsp
cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp

Tempering:

Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
chopped onion - 2 tbsp
Urid Dhal- 1 tsp
Dry red chillies- 2
Curry leaf - 1 brig
oil - 1 tbsp

Method:
Soak the channa dhal for 15 minutes.

Scrub and Wash the bananas. Remove the stem and tip on both ends.
Retain the skin.
Chop banana in to small cubes along with its skin on.
Immediately put it in the cooking pot along with water. Keep the pieces immersed to prevent oxidation (blackening).

Add soaked channa dhal, Turmeric, sambar powder, and asafoetida.
Cook till the channa dhal and banana gets cooked. Then add salt.

For tempering heat a 1 tbsp of oil , add mustard seeds.
After it crackles add urid dhal ,chopped onion, dry chillies and curry leaves.
Add the tempering to the cooked vegetable .
Mix shredded coconut and cumin . Stir well in heat to get a thick consistency.
Valai kai koottu is ready!

Serving suggestions:

The above said quantity would be enough for 3 - 4 people depending on the size of the banana.
Serve as side dish with any Indian bread or sambar & rice or rasam & rice.

Event:
Sending this 'Unripe banana koottu' to EC's 'Side dish Event' a fabulous way to bring out the best side dishes from many bloggers. Hope this 'koottu' suits the event.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Semiya Javvarisi Paal Paayasam

Semiya is an Indian style noodles mostly made of wheat. Javvarisi / sabudana are pearl like balls made of tapioca flour like sago. Whereas Paal means Milk and Paayasam means a Kheer (Hindi) or a rich pudding .
Payasam could be the typical dessert served with any Indian style full meals. We can make the paal payasam with milk and nuts alone with or without semiya . But the addition of Javvarisi gives a pearl like texture all over the dessert and it gives a sumptuous feeling too.
Javvarisi takes more time to cook than the semiya. So we should cook the Javvarisi first and then add the semiya.
Here goes the reccipe for the Semiya Javvarisi Paal payasam.




Semiya Javvarisi paal payasam / vermicelli kheer / milk payesh


Ingredients
Vermicelli / semiya - 150 gms
Javvarisi / sago /sabudana - 3/4 cup
2 % Milk - 2 cup
condensed milk - 4 tbsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Cashew nuts - 10
Raisins / dry grapes / kismis - 15
almond - 10
Saffron - a pinch
Cardamom - 4
ghee - 1 + 1 Tbsp
Water - 3 cup

Method:
Heat 1 tbsp ghee and fry the vermicelli till light brown.
(If we are using double roasted semiya, then proceed without roasting).
Boil 2 cups of water and add the Javvarisi (sago / sabudana) ,reduce flame, stir occasionally and cook covered till it becomes transparent.
Then add the semiya and cook it to tender.
Now add the sugar and continue to stir.
Put the saffron in the milk and dissolve it, add this milk to the semiya.
Powder the cardamom and add it to the mixture. (Store the skin of cardamom for tea).
Add the condensed milk and mix well.
Fry the cashew nuts and raisins in ghee and add them to the boiling semiya.
Put off fire immediately.
The consistency should be between thin and thick (easy to sip and drink).
Semiya Javvarisi paal payasam is ready!

Serving suggestion:

Pour the paal payasam into serving bowls and serve with spoon.
Chop the almonds into thin slices and sprinkle them over the hot payasam.
Serve as hot / cold dessert.
Makes nearly 6 cups (1 cup = 200 ml)of payasam.
Cooking time : 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mysore Rasam

Happy Earth day!
Earth day has nothing to do with the Rasam but the greeting is to keep us more focused on our environment:)

Rasam (Tamil) can be called a comfort food for many. Rasam is a South Indian soup eaten taken with rice or alone.
I love to prepare / have rasam along with 'thalli' meal (full spread of Indian dinner). Moreover a generous serving of fresh Rasam on hot mushy cooked rice with 'paruppu thovaiyal' means a heavenly food for me.
Generally the rasam served with an elaborate dinner / lunch helps in digestion. Also the quality of the rasam can testify the nativity and passion of the cook as there are many ways to make a rasam.
Mysore Rasam occupies a top rank among all the rasams. It is always termed as the 'rich rasam' because of its ingredients. It differs from the other varieties by the addition of coconut and a lot of lentils. Mostly Mysore Rasam would be served during festive times or feasts .
The special tag 'Mysore' adds a kick to the foods like, Mysore Bonda, Mysore masal dosai, Mysore Bah , Mysore Rasam etc:) .
Whenever I hear the word Mysore, the things flash in my mind are my mom's favorite green color Mysore silk saree, the Brindavanam, her Mysore sandol soap and her tall tales on her passion / collection of the Mysore silk sarees:)
Here goes the authentic way to make the rich 'Mysore Rasam'.

Other names:
Tamil - Rasam/ Kannada - Saaru / Telugu - Chaaru /Malayalam - Rasam / Tulu - Resa .



Ingredients:
Thoor dhal - 4 Tbsp
Tomato - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 brig
Tamarind - a small lemon size
Mustard - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
oil / ghee - 2 tsp.
asafoetida - a pinch
Rasam Powder:
Thoor dhal - 1 tbsp
methi seed /fenugreek - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilly - 2
Coriander seed - 4 tsp
Black pepper - 2 tsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
To dry roast and grind:

Shredded coconut -1/4 cup

Method:

Cook the thoor dhal with Turmeric powder.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok and roast 1 tbsp Thoor dhal, dry red chilly ,methi seed (venthayam), coriander seeds, Pepper and cumin till the dhal becomes red.
Let it cool and powder it.

Dry roast the shredded coconut to mild red color and powder it . Take one tsp of powder and keep it separate to garnish the rasam.

Extract juice from tamarind. Add 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil along with cooked dhal.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the mustard and little cumin seeds. After the mustard gets crackle add the curry leaf and chopped tomato (chopped lengthwise) and fry a little (not completely mushy).

Then add the boiling tamarind extract , prepared rasam powder, powdered coconut to it the fried tomato and mix well.
Add more water to make it thin like soup.

Start heating it. As soon as the rasam forms froth in the top switch off the stove. Do not allow it to boil , as it will give a bitter taste to the rasam.

After switching off , add the salt and sprinkle a tsp of powdered coconut that was kept reserved.
Mysore Rasam is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Makes 1 liter of rasam.
Serve on plain cooked rice after the guest finishes with the sambar /More kulambu / vatral kulambu or serve in a tumbler for drinking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mochai Kottai Kulambu

Mochai kottai is a tasty bean prevalently used in villages of TamilNadu. It is a variety of bean just like Toor dhal or snow peas with an enormous growth rate.
We can see the fresh pods in and around bazaars of Madurai, Tuticorin and Kovilpatti (TN, India) during the summer season . commercially the val dhal is removed from the pods and dried for the storage purpose so that there would be an year round supply. It is supposed to be sold at a lesser price because of its ample supply but an excellent source of protein like all dals.
People of TamilNadu make a tangy curry called Mochai kottai kulambu along with tamarind paste.
Festival associated with the Kulambu:
Though the Mochai kottai kulambu is famous all over South India, I have tasted it with dry fish and great taste in the villages near Madras and Madurai.
I am narrating about the curry made in a village in India and the the festival associated with it .
It is a custom to make this curry with brinjal , drumstick vegetable, tomato and dried fish during the Tamil month of Aadi (mid July - mid August).
During that month we can see a lot of functions in the Temple.
On Sundays of the Aadi month , they prepare the 'Mochai kottai kulambu' with dry fish as 'karuvattu kulambu' along with a porridge called 'koozh' (read as kooll) and offer it for the Goddess Amman in various forms. Then they distribute it to all those who visit them and will have great meals together.
In Madras , my neighbors used to make the dishes in huge volume with fervent love for the Goddess Amman and any one who go to their house would be encouraged to have the meal . Myself being the pet of the area, won't even think of cooking on those days as i would get a Lion's share always:) I love that festival very much as there would be a lot of activities in my neighborhood like 'poo kuzhi , walking on hot charcoal' and many events. Moreover I love that koozh and dry fish curry combination very much.

Otherwise in ordinary days people make a vegetarian version also.
I wished to bring back a closer cousin of that kulambu called Mochai kottai kulambu, the vegetarian version.
It turned out so good and here goes the recipe for it.

Translations for Mochai kottai:

Hindi - Val dal / English - Hyacinth bean or field bean / Tamil - Mochai payeru or mochai kai or mochai kottai / Telugu - Anapa kayalu or Ginjalu
Kindly comment me if you know the translation for val dal in your language.


Mochai kottai puli kulambu / Mochai kai kara kulambu:

Ingredients:

Mochai kottai / val dhal - 1 cup
Baby Brinjal - 4
Drumstick (vegetable) - 1
Tomato - 2
Tamarind - small lime size
Red onion - 1 (chopped)
mustard - 1/2 tsp
fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 1 brig
oil - 1 tbsp
asafoetida - 1 pinch
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1 pinch
sambar powder - 1/2 tsp
water - 2 cups
salt - 2 tsp

Preparation:

(If you are using the fresh beans then just start from the method.
otherwise go for pre soaking.)
Dry roast the mochai kottai, till u see dark spots on the outer layer and a nice aroma.
Then rinse it with water twice. Add water till it gets well immersed. Soak overnight or an hour.
Pressure cook for 3 whistles.
(we can cook it in stove top also, but it will take an hour).

Method:

Cut drumstick into 2 inch pieces and make a small slit in each piece.
Cut the eggplant / brinjal into small pieces.
Soak the tamarind in hot water and extract juice using 2 cups of water.
Heat oil in a pan.
Crackle mustard seeds , add fenugreek seeds , curry leaves and asafoetida.
Add the cut chopped onion and fry till it becomes mild red.
Then add the chopped tomato and fry till becomes mushy.
Then add the tamarind juice ,salt, the chilly powder, Turmeric , coriander powder and Sambar powder.
Let it boil till the raw smell of tamarind vanishes.
Now add the cut vegetables with 2 cups water (use drained water from the cooked dal) and cook till the vegetables become tender.
Then add the cooked val dhal (mochai kottai) and bring it to a boil.
Some people love to add some ground coconut paste in this stage. But even without coconut this kulambu will be great.
switch off and serve hot.
Mochai kottai kulambu is ready.

Serving suggestions:

Makes 500 ml of Puli kulambu.
It can be served for 5 people.
Serve hot with steamed rice and and any vegetable side dish or with egg omlete.

Awards:

I am very much excited when two of my friends Pryia of Priya's Sourashtrian kitchen and Shama of Easy2cook recipes passed me this beautiful award.

Thank you friends. I feel honored.
I think it is appropriate to pass on this award to all who visit me. Feel free to pick it up , buddies.
Enjoy!

Event:
Sending this 'Mochai kottai kulambu' to Shama's 'Village special' (Giramathu kaimanam), an innovative way to bring out the best from our native places. Hope this suits the event. My hearty wishes to Shama to conduct the event successfully.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rava Kesari

Yellow color rava kesari is my favorite.

Rava kesari is the classic Indian dessert appreciated along with breakfast.
Moreover we can classify the 'Rava kesari' as the trade mark of TamilNadu's weddings and auspicious occasions. (I am not sure , if it is a must in other parts of India / if it is called by other name...). We can tell it as a dessert served along with breakfast or with fried items like bajji, sojji, vadai and filter coffee in the evening. .
The very sight of the server coming with a big vessel filled with 'ghee flavored' Rava kesari would make many lips to bloom.
Then only all will turn their attention towards the fluffy Idlies, the ghee smeared Venn Pongal and Uthappam served with piping hot sambar and chutney , on the tender banana leaf.
Traditionally it is made in saffron color by adding the food color.
But many make it in yellow color also.
It is the tradition to serve the sweet before all the items. (But the guests would be waiting to get the meal served completely before tasting).
Guests should be encouraged a lot to go for more and more servings while not asking so points out the lack of care for the guests, as the Indian tradition emphasizes treating the guest like God , irrespective of anything.

There is a poem / kural in Tamil from the famous Thirukkural written by Thiru Valluvar (virudhombal 10)
"Moppak kuzhiyum anichham;mugamthirindhu
Nokkak kuzhaiyum virundhu"

This kural (poem) compares the delicate nature of the guests with the rare and tender flower called 'anicham' which will wilt even when we smell it.
How nice . right. So it is the Indian culture to serve the guests even before they ask for more:)

Anyway the lingering taste of kesari will bring back the memories of so many unforgettable weddings and occasions to us.
Have a sweet weekend!

Special Note:

I got this recipe from a small scale but successful caterer in Tirunelveli,TN, India. If you want to make a fool proof one , just read the highlighted lines carefully. This recipe has helped me a lot while making bulk quantities, as it will not demand any muscle work like the home made version:)
Using bright orange food color in kesari is more traditional.

Rava kesari to celebrate Baby Jesus' Birthday, the Christmas, 2011

Ingredients:
Ravai / rava / semolina / sooji - 1 cup
water - 3 cups (thrice that of rava)
sugar - 2 cups (twice that of rava)
cashewnuts - 10
raisins - 15
ghee - 5 tbsp
orange / yellow food color - 1/8 tsp
Cardamom - 4

Method:
Heat a thick wok / pan , which has a proper tight lid.
Dry roast the rava till a very few (not every particle)turns a mild red with a nice aroma.
Transfer it to a dry plate.
Then heat a tbsp of ghee and fry the broken cashews , raisins one by one and keep aside.
Powder the cardamom and discard the skin. (I put the skin in to the tea).

Add 3 cups of water in the same pan and let it come to a boil.
Then add the food color, a tbsp ghee and mix well.
As the water starts bubbling , reduce the flame (almost near switch off point).

Now add the rava in a wide spread manner . Do not put as lump in one place .
Add it slowly without stirring and cover it tightly with a lid.
Allow the rava to be cooked in that low heat .
Do not stir the kesari now, as it may create lumps.

After 2 minutes open and check if all the water has been absorbed by the rava.
When it is fully cooked and there is no water, add the sugar and stir well.
When the sugar is fully dissolved, add the remaining ghee (pour more ghee if desired) and stir until the Rava kesari starts leaving the sides of the wok. Garnish with the fried cashews and raisins and cardamom powder. The end product should not be dry but somewhat sticky.
Rava kesari is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Serve as dessert along with breakfast or evening tea and spicy snacks.

Serves 6 people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Indian style deep fried Chicken .

This is an authentic recipe for deep fried chicken. Long before the chicken 65 and kebabs starts showing up, this old version has been decorating the festive platters in India. There is an interesting story behind it also.
I heard this from my mom's aunt, my grandma who lived in Tuticorin, TN, India. She was an out spoken lady , blessed with great hospitality too. No one would return hungry / sad from her house and that was her motto also.
While preparing this fry, she told us how the women in lesser fortunate families prepared this fry. It occupied my mind and always wonder how they sustained a healthy relationship with such a big family. Lot to know:)
Coming to the story.....
In those days people lived in joint families or had a lot of kids. So ladies would secure some nice eatables and preserve them for the hubby who comes late after many have finished dinner and gone to bed. (Some 60-70 years back, people would prefer to sleep by sunset... funny.huh!).
While making the Kozhi kulambu , the lady of the house would drop all the chicken pieces in to the kulambu. Later on she would pick up a few pieces and preserve them for her hubby . Even though the elders knew it, they would pretend as they didn't watch them:) Good in-laws and lucky DIL ! As soon as the man arrived / takes bath , she would brush the cooked chicken pieces with the masalas and deep fry them to win over her his love. The man would have dinner in the vast kitchen itself and would leave a share for the wife .
You may ask about the others in the family , but the story ends here depicting the poverty and joint family culture at that time.
What a romantic citation . Right. .
Though these kind of stories may seem funny , we can understand the cravings of common people when hotels and restaurants were rare.
Here goes the recipe...



Ingredients:
Chicken drumstick - 4
Lemon juice / vinegar / curd - 2 tbsp
Red chilly powder - 2 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
chilly garlic paste - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
oil - 1 cup

Method:

Wash and clean the chicken drumsticks with some Turmeric powder.
Cut a few small slits on it or prick it with fork.
Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add the chicken along with ginger garlic paste, Turmeric powder, salt and cook till the meat becomes tender.
Filter and reserve the soup for any other purpose or discard.
In a large mixing bowl add all the other ingredients except oil and mix well.
After the chicken pieces get cooled, add it to the masala prepared.
Heat oil in a wok.
After it reaches the smoking point, reduce flame and carefully slip the chicken pieces one or two at a time.
Fry till the outer layer turns red.
Then take it out using a slotted spatula and drain oil on paper towels.
Indian style deep fried chicken drumsticks is ready!

Serving suggestions:

Serve as side dish with any rice + non veg kulambu / rice + sambar / or as starter with Indian breads.

Short cut:

We can just drop the cleaned drumsticks while making a chicken curry and take them out after 10 minutes. Then let it cool , mix with the masala in the bowl and deep fry. In this way we can reduce the wastage of soup and minimise the effort to make a ginger garlic paste separately.

Kozhi kulambu.

Kozhi (pronounce as koli) is the Tamil translation for chicken. Before the arrival of the broiler chickens in India, the home grown chickens would sense a tough time during the festival days .Yes , it is true, there was a time when people would not get chicken from grocery stores. Instead the lady of the house should have a strong mind to process the bird. My mom being a fragile lady, used to instruct the maid to finish all the processing outside our gate and to bring the cut pieces. So having chicken curry would be a distant dream for those chicken hearted people in that period. But getting goat meat was not that difficult, as there would be ample shops selling them.
Nowadays we are very lucky to have chicken in any time of the year.
But definitely we miss the native style 'kozhi kulambu' prepared with country chicken (Nattu Kozhi). Any way I tried to make the most of what I get to bring back those memories.
I prepared this Kulambu for Easter dinner along with rice and deep fried drumsticks.




Ingredients:

Chicken (with bone) - 1/2 kg (1 lb)
salt - to taste / 2 tsp
water - 5 cups
oil - 4 tbsp
Fennel seed (sombu) - 1 tsp

To chop separately:

Red onion - 2 (100 gms)
Roma tomato / vine tomato - 4
curry leaves - 1 brig
cilantro - 1 handful
mint leaves - 1 handful

To Dry roast and powder: 
(we can add 1 tbsp garam masal powder instead of this step)
Pepper corn - 1/2 tsp

coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seed - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
Cardamom (Elakkai) - 2
Cloves (Kirambu) - 4
Cashew - 10


To wet grind:

Ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 4 pearls

To grind(optional)::
coconut - 1 long piece (1/2 cup shredded)
cumin - 1 tsp




Powders :

Red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Method:
Wash and clean the chicken pieces in running water.Apply some turmeric powder and keep aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a deep pan and add 1 tsp fennel seeds (sombu).
After it turns red , add the curry leaf ,chopped onion and fry till it becomes golden brown.
Then add the chopped tomato, green chilli, cilantro , mint leaves, curry leaves and cook till they becomes mushy with oil starts showing up.
Now add the ginger garlic paste and stir it well for 30 seconds.
(Adding the ginger garlic paste after the tomato is a good idea to prevent charring of ginger-garlic paste).
Now put the chicken pieces and stir it for 2 minutes.
Grind the roasted spices along with coconut (optional). We can do this without coconut also. But coconut removes the strong chicken flavor and imparts a sweet smell.
Add water along with the powders, salt.
Then cook the chicken till it becomes tender (simply in a tightly closed vessel).
Check for salt.
The chicken kulambu should be thinner than the chicken gravy .
Kozhi kulambu is ready!


Serving suggestions:

Serve hot as side dish with paratha /Idly / aapam / thicker dosa / ghee rice / coconut milk rice / plain rice.
Serves 6 people.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy New Year

Today is the traditional New Year for Tamil people. Many are trying to forget it and celebrate it on Pongal day. I am cherishing my memories when people had elaborate festivities in Temples on those days and finished preparing Idly , sarkarai pongal, sambar and a koottu. Any way my hearty wishes for a Happy New Year for those who celebrate it.

The Lent season and Easter.

Hi friends,

Wish to brief a bit about the Lent days and the Easter we celebrated.
The Lenten season started with Ash Wednesday . Many people choose to remain vegetarians throughout the season. Actually I planned for a more silent Lent season with meditation and prayer. I had a theme called Sufferings of Jesus. Surprisingly I was able to concentrate more on the 'Stations of Cross' (the Fourteen stages from which Jesus was accused , suffered and crucified) on those days.
This 'Stations of cross' prayer has a lot of meaning , recommended for people who wish to view the worldly things with a good perspective.

The holy week started with the Palm Sunday (on 04-05-2009).
We got some palm leaves as a symbol of greeting and welcoming Jesus. It is a custom to make crosses out of them to keep inside the house for an year.
The next year we have to return them to the Church, where the dried leaves are burnt to make ashes to distribute on Ash Wednesday.


The day before Good Friday is called the 'Maundy Thursday' and it refers to Holy Thursday, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist (holy bread and wine representing the body and blood of Jesus) at the last supper, and also commemorates the washing of the Apostles feet, the word Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum which means commandment,Jesus said to His Apostles `A new commandment I give you,Love one another as I have loved you`.

On Good Friday, we had fasting till afternoon and had simple meals after that.
I prepared 'Koottan Choru' (a one pot meal) and Paruppu thovaiyal (fried dhal chutney).
Then we went for a small drive and I bought the marshmallow candies shaped like chicken along with Jelly bean eggs and marshmallow bunny to decorate the Easter cake.
Then attended the Good friday Mass with 'Stations of cross', a procedure / representation staged by the school children of St.Cecelia Church. That was a wonderful presentation by the kids. Everyone applauded the troop.
The we came home by 10 Pm , had mild dinner and slept.

The Saturday is the day of expectation and to bless the food in Church. In India we won't go for a blessing of food. I ran very late on cake decoration and cooking. I was not able to finish cooking 11Am . So we didn't take it for a blessing. Simply Prayed with the prepared food in our house itself.
The menu was chicken kulambu, authentic Chiken fry, raitha, rice and carrot cake. other recipes will be coming soon:)
Thanks to Premy's cake for her wonderful cake decoration ideas. They were very useful for me.


In the night , we attended the grand Easter Mass in the St. Cecelia Church of Iselin. That was a lovely Mass and the church was decorated with white flowers and the resurrected Jesus. There was a Baptism ceremony in the pond , while everyone of us confirmed the faith again. Then we returned very late at night.

The next day , that is on the Easter day we visited the orchid show in the Botanical garden, Bronx, NY. The travel was very tiresome , had to take 3 trains and a bus to reach the show. Car parking , toll and traffic were enormous .so we chose to travel by public transit. It was a very worthy journey ,as I was able to relax and enjoy the views:)
Reached the show by noon. It was very very spectacular one, a rare show and a must to see. I have never seen such a vast collection of orchid flowers in one place. The garden was so big and the freezing breeze restricted us to explore other places.
Yet enjoyed the Easter day in the NY and came home for a goodnight sleep.


Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Moghlai Kichidi (Green gram rice)

While searching for a rice recipe with green gram , I came across this wonderful kichidi from the web.
I was blown over by the title Moghlai Kichidi and I am sure no one can deny the delicious pulaos and kichidis from Moghlai recipes. Surprisingly the end result resembled much like a biryani to me .
In the original recipe they soaked the Basmati rice and green gram for 2 hours before cooking. I used brown Basmati rice (soaked for 2 hours) and sprouted green gram. Brown Basmati rice has a lot of fiber content and so it can be used as a best substitute for white rice.
Here goes the recipe.



Ingredients:
Organic Brown Basmati Rice - 1 cup
sprouted green gram - 1/2 cup
onion - 1 (chopped)
green chillis - 4 (slitted)
Tomato - 1 (chopped)
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 3 pods
cilantro , mint leaf - a handful
Bay leaf - 2
salt - to taste
oil - 2 tbsp
To powder:
shahi Jeera - 1/2 tsp
cloves - 3
cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 1 inch
To temper:
curry leaves - 1 brig
cashew nuts - 10
ghee - 1 tbsp

Method:
1. Wash and soak rice for 1 hour.
Soak green gram overnight.

2. Make a powder of the items given.
Chop onion, tomato and green chilli.
Make a coarse paste of cilantro, mint leaf, ginger and garlic. Keep aside.

3.Heat oil in a pan, put the bay leaf. Then add onion and green chillies till they become soft.
Then add the tomato and cook till it becomes mushy.
Now add the ginger garlic paste and bay leaf.

4. Fry till the raw smell goes. Add the spices powder and mix.

5. To this, add the soaked rice and green gram. Add the salt and fry till the rice turns a bit white.
Then add water just enough to immerse everything. Cover and cook in very low flame till done.
If all the water is sucked add little more water if necessary.

6. Garnish with cashew nuts and curry leaves fried in ghee.

Moghlai kichidi is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Cooking time : 1 hour.
Serves 2.
Enjoy with any raitha.

Moghlai Kichidi goes to Trupti's CFK - Rice event. Cooking for Kids event is a master mind of Sharmi of Neivedyam. This kichidi full of fiber is good to overcome obesity and other related problems. Hope all the kids like my Brown Basmati - Moghlai Kichidi.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Simple Tomato koottu (Thakkali koottu)

Many may be very familiar with a side dish made with tomato. Just posting this for the new chefs and for my record.
This is one of the most simple but delicious dishes made by my mom. I always consider this koottu as my mom's signature dish. Though the version seems so simple, I have never achieved the mom's touch in this koottu.
Whenever my mom ran out of any vegetables in her fridge, then she used to make a simple dhal and this thakkali koottu along with rice. I always love these kind of quick to fix recipes, as they won't demand me to stay in the hot stove for long hours. Just a gentle serving on plain steamed rice can do the magic. Good for a lazy cook. huh:)
A very simple dish but surely a mouthwatering one.

Thakkali koottu.

Ingredients:

Ripen Tomato - 4 (250 gms)
Green chilli - 4
Shallot onion - 6
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
oil - 1 tbsp
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
cumin seed - 1/4 tsp
curry leaf - 1 brig.

Method:

Chop the onion and tomato very finely and keep separate.
Heat oil in a wok.
Put the mustard seeds and after they crackle add the chopped onion, slitted green chillies, curry leaf . Fry till the onion gets soft. (Not red).
Then add the chopped tomato , 1/2 cup water, salt and cook covered, till the tomato turns mushy.
After the tomato gets cooked completely, add the cumin seeds, shredded coconut and heat for a minute. The consistency should be like a thick curry.
Switch off flame.
Tomato koottu is ready !

Serving suggestions:

Goes well with chapathi , plain rice , curd rice, any sambar rice.
Serves 4 people.
Time taken : 15 minutes.

Note:
The Vine tomato, Indian country tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes add more taste to this koottu.
But the Bangalore tomato or Roma tomato won't bring the real flavor.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Green peas Masala

If you have some frozen peas lying in your freezer and you want to fix something jazzy for the dinner, then here is a peas masala curry in just 10 minutes. It is one of my favorite curries because of its simplicity and lingering taste.
If planned properly, this dish can be done by soaking (5-6 hrs) the dried peas also.
But cooking the dry peas may take a lot of time:(
It tastes great if prepared with fresh peas with pods. I love buying them with pods because i think it is really a fun to remove the crunchy pods:) and to see the green pearl like peas inside.

Green peas masala curry / pachai pattani curry (Tamil)/ Sweet peas masal.




Ingredients:
Green peas (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
chopped onion - a handful
curry leaf - 1 brig.
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato - 1
oil - 1 tbsp
chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
fennel seeds - 1 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
salt - to taste
water - 1/4 cup

Method:

Remove the pods and collect the green peas. (If frozen peas are used, then defrost them in running water).Wash them in running water.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Add a tsp of fennel seeds. After it turns red, add the chopped onions and curry leaves.
Fry till the onion becomes tender. Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute well.
Then goes the chopped tomato and cook till it becomes mushy.
Now put the green peas ,salt, chilli powder,cumin, coriander powder, turmeric and 1/4 cup water.
Cook covered until done.
In just 10 minutes Green peas masala is ready.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Serving suggestions:
Serves 2 people.
Good to go with chapathi, naan, vegetable pulao, any rice dish.