Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Carrot halwa (large scale)

Last week we celebrated 'Universal food festival' in our St.Cecelia's church. Our parishioners had brought a wide variety of foods from their heritage. Though it was a food tasting festival, the enthusiastic participants have made it like a bountiful dinner. Our Indian team has brought fried rice, Samosa(Ms. Naina), chaat food, Shirkhand (Ms.Novella), Mango pie, rava ladoo and carrot halwa (me). Our parish Father had prepared a very delicious Philippines chicken rice soup (Arroz caldo) in a very LARGE cooker and we all enjoyed a hearty warm soup.This soup made every one crave for more servings and we got it too:) The flan and sweet rice cake from Philippines also caught my attention. I loved the eggplant parmigiana (Italy),eggroll, fried rolls, dumplings, pastas, stuffed cabbage (Poland), lasagna (there was more but I couldn't remember the names). Cream cheese knots (Italy) was one of the most sought among the other delicacies like Baklava (Armenia), Cup cake, Irish Soda bread and the endless cookies.I admire the efforts our coordinators took to make this event a great success. Our Indian team coordinators MS.Novella, Ms. Naina, other ladies and their families welcomed each and every one of us and made the evening very enjoyable. Ms. MaryJane did a phenomenol compering and cheered up the guests with her beautiful voice. Totally we had a very nice get-together and looking forward for making all the upcoming festivals more successful.

Here is the carrot halwa I had made for the party. Hubby dear helped me by doing the important part...shredding the carrot , even during his busy schedule. After that I started stirring this halwa by about 8.30 pm on Friday and I knew it would take more than 1 hour. I wanted to quicken the process with a rich tasting carrot halwa. So I formulated my own version and here is it for a large scale. I got the halwa ready in nearly 45 minutes and it tasted very good (our guests words)...thanks be to God.

Ingredients:
Carrot - 3.5 lb (shredded - 8 cup)
sugar - 3.5 cup
condensed milk - 1 tin (8 oz)
milk - 1/2 cup
butter - 1 cup (2 stick)
cardamom powder - 1.5 tbsp
cashew nut - 1 cup
raisin - 1/2 cup
almond slivers - 1/4 cup
bread slices - 3
corn starch - 1 tbsp
water - 2 tbsp

Method:
Wash and scrape the skin of carrot.Discard the ends. Rinse again and grate the carrots in bigger teeth of the grater. Keep aside.

Melt the butter in a large wok in medium heat. Fry the cashew nuts first and take it out. Likewise fry the raisins till it puffs, take out and keep them aside.

In the same pan (in the remaining molten butter) add the shredded carrots and fry till raw smell vanishes. Now add milk to it. (I added 1/2 cup milk only as I wanted to make this halwa quickly, otherwise it could take more time and energy).
Wait till the milk is absorbed. After that add sugar and let all the water in carrot gets evaporated. Add condensed milk and stir continuously in medium heat. In the meantime cut the bread slices and pulse them in mixer / blender to get fine pieces. Add this to the halwa and mix well. After 5 minutes, mix corn starch with 2 tbsp water and add to the halwa (to get a glossy finish).
Stir well till it gets little thick and starts leaving the edges. Now add the fried nuts, raisins and put off fire. Mix the cardamom powder. Keep the carrot halwa in a serving tray and garnish with almond slivers. Carrot Halwa is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot or cold as dessert.

Note:
This takes less than 1 hour as we are adding thickening agents like bread crumbs and corn starch.
The above process is suitable for large parties as it won't require much stirring time.
Makes 50  small servings.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kathirikkai bajji

Eggplant pakora / Brinjal bajji.
This year also I am getting lot of eggplants from my garden. I am kind of forcing (happily) myself to try newer dishes with each and every eggplant so that hubby doesn't notice any overload of the same vegetable this season :)  Anyways my vegetable garden has been saving a little in my normal grocery expenses and he is wondering why:)  Believe it or not, I won't be bored of this vegetable ever and waiting to get more:) In Tamilnadu we would call all the eggplants as Katharikkai which means kathari - summer ; kaai - vegetable.... but we would get this vegetable in the market in all seasons( any variety of eggplant is called as brinjal only in India ...no name like eggplant).
Here is one bajji (fritter) with eggplant, which my mom used to make along with sambar rice. I can remember those few weekends which were reserved for fasting and she would make her best to present us all a catchy lunch. Vegetarian lunch menu will get a thumbs up with any fried item like papad, vadai or bajji in our house. Even now when I talk with my inlaws they tells me how much my father inlaw likes the fries I make :)
Back to our bajji again, Bajji is a kind of pakora / fritter. It is a deep fried side dish made with any thinly sliced vegetable dipped in besan flour mixture. Try my version and enjoy a delicious SouthIndian food.


Eggplant  bajji

Sliced eggplants and the besan flour coating dip.

Ingredients (for 10 pieces) :
eggplant (1 lb) - 1
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 3/4 cup
dosa batter - 1/4 cup
(or) rice flour - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
hing (asafoetida)- 1/8 tsp
baking soda - 1/4 tsp
ajwain powder (bishop weed / omam) - 2 pieces (finely ground)
red food color - a pinch (optional)
oil - to deep fry (200 ml)

Method:
Rinse the eggplant and trim off the top (bracts and stem). Slice it into thick (1/4 inch approx) round pieces, using a knife and cutting board. Don't use a chips maker, if it has nonadjustable blades.

Mix all the above (except oil) with 1/4 cup water to a thick batter. (If ajwain is not available then grind 2 cloves of garlic and add instead). Add more water if needed, but keep the batter like thick idly batter ,otherwise the bajjis will absorb more oil .

Heat oil in a wok. As it gets hot, reduce flame and keep in medium flame.

Dip the eggplant slices in the batter and put it on the hot oil. Flip and fry both sides . The eggplant would have been cooked within this short time. Drain oil and take out.

Eggplant bajji is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot as snack along with hot coffee or tea during rainy / winter season.
Coconut chutney or tomato ketchup are good side dishes for these fries.
I made this as side dish with sambar rice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shrimp mushroom curry

One day I wanted to make something nice for my lunch, as hubby dear had an official lunch in a restaurant. I know mushroom and shrimp are not his favorite and then it was the time to cook that small pouch of shrimp sitting in the freezer.  This is a very quick curry for those kind of lunches and my lunch also became equally delicious with this shrimp kulambu :) Anyways he took me to the same restaurant the next weekend:)


Ingredients:
Shrimp - 10 numbers
mushroom - 10 numbers
shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
cumin - 1/2 tsp
garlic - 3 cloves
curry leaves - few
oil - 1 tbsp
fennel seed - 1 tsp
onion - 1
tomato -1 
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
 cilantro - few

Method:
Rinse the mushroom and halve them.
Peel, devein and  rinse the shrimps.
Grind coconut, garlic and cumin together to a fine paste.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a wok. Add fennel, let them get red. Then add curry leaves, finely chopped onion.
As it gets golden, put the chopped tomato and cook this covered till tomato is completely soft.
Now put the shrimp , mushrooms , salt and saute for a minute.
Then pour the prepared masala, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and bring to a boil.
Cook covered in mild heat for 5 minutes and switch off.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
Shrimp mushroom kulambu is ready !

Serving suggestions:
Makes a good side dish with idly, dosa , rice or chapati.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Kathirikkai rasavangi

Kathirikai rasavangi is a kind of thick sambar with freshly ground masala. This could be the one line recipe for this most cherished Tamil recipe. While looking for something memorable to do with my homegrown eggplants, this name came to my mind.  Though I have heard a lot about this recipe in many Tamil stories, novels and tasted it in some marriages, I had the chance to cook it very recently only. I have read this recipe many years ago in a recipe book as kathirikkai paruppu koottu . But  forgotten the masala involved, then I found a very nice recipe in this wonderful website  Subbus kitchen .  Thanks to the author, now I know how to make an authentic rasavangi (eggplant dal). We can make this curry with pumpkin also.
Eggplant rasavangi

Rasavangi powder preparation.

Ingredients:
Eggplant - 1/2 kg
tamarind - gooseberry size
salt - to taste
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
tuvar (toor)dal - 1/2 cup
channa dal - 2 tbsp

To roast and grind:
coriander seed - 2 tbsp
dry red chilly - 6
channa dal - 1.5 tbsp
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup

to temper :
oil - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1 tsp
channa dal / urida dal- 1 tsp
cumin - 1 tsp
curry leaf - few
hing - 1/4 tsp

Method:
Pressure cook the tuvar dal, turmeric powder to three whistles or till soft. Mash and keep aside.

In the mean time heat a pan with a tsp oil and  roast coriander seed, dry red chilly and channa dal together till the dal turns mild red.
Then add the shredded coconut and fry till it smells good.
Let cool and powder these fried items together.
Keep aside.

Cut the brinjal / eggplant to 2 inch long pieces.
Add 1 cup water, channa dal and eggplant. Wait till eggplant is cooked (less than 5 minutes), add the tamarind extract and salt.

Then add the mashed toor(tuvar) dhal, prepared masala powder and bring to a boil.
Switch off immediately.

In a separate pan , heat 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard, channa dal ,cumin and let mustard crackle. Then add hing, curry leaves. Pour this tempering over hot rasavangi. Mix and serve.

Katharikkai rasavangi is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as curry over rice or as side dish.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mother Mary's Birthday

Yesterday (Sept 8 ) we celebrated Mother Mary's Birthday in our house. Here is the picture of the cake I made for Her.
Happy Birthday Mother Mary !
It was a busy Sunday, with  church ,  grocery shopping, phone calls and cooking.I baked and saved this cake before the weekend and prepared the icings on Saturday.  Hubby dear helped me do the icing for this cake. I love the way he did the base icing and scallop icing (blue) and two roses,:)
Hope you all like it too !

Greetings !

Hearty wishes for all my friends and readers who celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi festival! Happy celebrations !
Cheers,
Viki.


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Click to see some kozhukkattai (dumplings) from my recipes:
Mothagam



Paal kolukkattai (sweet dumplings in coconut milk)

Paal kolukkattai
(milk dumpling)

Kambu kolukkattai (millet dumpling):
Ragi paal kolukattai payasam
Millet kheer.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baingan ka bharta

I got this baingan recipe from one of my neighborhood friends. The smoky flavor imparts a new dimension to this simple recipe. I have seen grandma and mom putting the brinjals in the hot charcoal after preparing hot water or rice in the backyard cooking space (separate kitchen will be inside the house also). That brinjals would be mashed and made into a tamarind based pachadi. Coming back to our bhartha story, that big eggplant that is cooked over direct flame (can be done in oven too) would be added to a tangy curry. It is a popular North Indian dish with a creamy texture without much oil.

Hope my friends know how much I love gardening. This year also I am having eggplants, tomato, spinach, mint, basil, tuberose lily, daisy, chrysanth and some flowering plants (don't know their names) in my cute little garden . We bought the lily rhizomes in the International flower show in Philadelphia. Lily is one of my most favorite flowers because of their fragrance and beauty.  I am sharing my eggplants with all of my friends....each house a week:) Last week I got back a pack of string beans (French variety) from another passionate gardening neighbor and shared two eggplants with them. Another one neighbor also caught up our idea and  she has started growing Jalapeno and eggplants.

I used my first brinjal of this season on July 19, 2013. The menu of the day was: Home grown brinjal baingan ka partha and home grown spinach (thandau keerai) with dal along with pulka roti.
Phulka roti along with baingan ka bharta and spinach dal.




Homegrown eggplant, spinach and tuberose lily flower.
Tuberose lily , a very fragrant lily along with basil, mint  and spinach in our garden.

Ingredients:
eggplant (aubergine) - 1 big ( 1 lb)
tomato puree - 3/4  cup (3 numbers)
onion - 1
ginger - 2 inch
curry leaf , cilantro - few
EV olive oil / mustard oil - 6 tbsp
mustard - 1 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp

Method:
Coat the brinjal / eggplant with oil. Fire roast it till it is completely cooked. Check if it is cooked by poking a skewer or knife. (My eggplants were very big (more than 1/2 kg), so I cut that into two and broiled as said above to ensure uniform cooking. It took me less than 10 minutes to get them all done).
Peel the skin and mash coarsely.
Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, as they crackle add onion and fry till it gets golden. Then add finely chopped / mashed ginger.
Then add the tomato puree and cook till oil separates. Add the powders mentioned above.
Cook with a tbsp of water till oil shows up.
Then add the mashed eggplant , salt and cook for 2 minutes.
Switch off.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with paratha, naan, curd  rice.
I have bottled up some of this baingan ka partha and using it as dip / salsa also.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach cobbler

Last month when peaches were at their peak season (mid July- August) in our local markets we bought pounds of them. After eating a few as fresh I wanted some new ways to utilize them all, as they can stay good for a week or so. Then I looked through my bookmarks and found this delicious peach cobbler by Paula deen . When I made it the first time, hubby dear got very excited and it became his new favorite. I don't know why, but all the desserts becomes his favorite:) Then he brought home more peaches , as he wanted to host a party for our friend Raynor's family and another party for my friends. I made this dessert during two consecutive weekends and enjoyed this dessert with our friends.
Peach cobbler with almond kulfi ice cream
.

Peaches.

I have added a few strawberries too.

cook the fruits with sugar.

Flour mixture over molten butter.

Then pour the hot fruit sauce.

baked peach cobbler.


Peach cobbler with ice cream.....an yummy treat!

(I have altered Paula's recipe to suit my 9 x 13"glass baking dish)
Southern ladies call this ingredients list as cuppa , cuppa , cuppa , which means 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Easy way to remember, but I have added little more flour (like Paula) to get a thicker crust.

Ingredients: 
for fruit sauce:
Peaches - 3 to 4
sugar - 1 cup
water - 1/2 cup
cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
for crust:
sugar - 1 cup
butter - 1 stick (8 tbsp)
self rising flour - 1 1/2 cup
milk - 1 cup
cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (for metallic baking pan) and 325 def F (for glass baking dish). I used pyrex baking dish and it should not be heated above 325 deg.

Peel the peaches and remove the seed. Slice them thinly. If using strawberries, then chop them too. Put the sliced fruits, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water , 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Keep aside.

Put the butter in the baking dish and place in oven and let it melt.
In a separate mixing bowl , add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 cup self rising flour and mix to a fine batter.  Take out the hot baking dish and pour this flour mixture over the hot butter. DO NOT STIR.
Slowly spoon the hot fruit mixture over top, DO NOT STIR.
Sprinkle some more cinnamon powder on top.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. The batter will rise up and cover the fruits. Check by inserting a toothpick.
Serving suggestions:
Serve warm as dessert along with a scoop of ice cream or with whipped cream.
Note:
Use self rising flour only or prepare one using AP flour and right proportions  of other ingredients.
Follow the instructions carefully, as each and every step is important in this recipe.
This is a very easy dessert recipe and can be prepared days ahead. Keep it refrigerated if prepared ahead.
The cobbler should rest for 15 minutes immediately after baking, to soak up the juices.
Always serve this warm to enjoy the flavor of butter and fruits.