Thursday, October 12, 2017

Strawberry lemonade

Nowadays I prepare juices very rarely. When I need one, I always look for lemonade, as it is my favorite and an easy one too. The word lemonade entered my world only after we started visiting carnivals in USA. Before that I used to call it as lemon juice or  by whatever fruit it is made of.  In India , lemon juice is like an everyday affair, as it is an easy one for guests. I jazzed it up with some strawberries and here is an amazing drink for all.

If looking for some advanced preparation, I make a syrup style lemonade (which I learned many years back from my amma).  The below syrup can be made with strawberry or pineapple or just as plain lemon syrup. The plain syrup can be added with 'nannari syrup'  while serving too.
I have given that traditional method here along with an easy version (which comes handy most of the time) also.
Fresh Strawberry lemonade (homestyle)

Ingredients: (for 14 servings)
Lemon - 2  (large)
strawberry - 10 to 15
water - 1 cup
white sugar - 2  cup
ice cubes - 2 cup

for mixing:
water - 12 cups
(or) water - 6 cups + plain sparkling soda - 6 cups
lemon - 1 (for garnish)

Puree strawberry. If needed filter to remove seeds. Bring to a boil along with 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar. Bring to a boil. Make it a syrup. Let the raw smell vanish.  Let it cool. Squeeze lemon and add it to syrup. Save in fridge. We can do this syrup and keep in fridge 2-3 days.

Serving suggestion:
While making the lemonade, slice one lemon into small cubes.
Put 1 lemon wedge in each glass.
Add cold water and soda (optional) equally up to 3/4 th and start adding the syrup as per need. Put an cube for each glass.
If needed adjust sugar too.

Strawberry lemonade is ready.

The above is the perfect recipe which I use sometimes with or without strawberry for making lemonade. I am not sure of the recipe about the carnival style lemonde, but this recipe tastes closest :)
Alternate homely method:
(for 6 cups)
In a mixie / blender , add 6 strawberry, sugar - 1 cup, squeezed lemon - 1.
Blend well.
Add required cold water and transfer to a serving jar.
Keep refrigerated. Mix well using a tall spoon and pour to glasses with ice cubes.
This is a quick and easy to make strawberry lemonade in homestyle.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Beach day !

This summer is not like any other Jersey summer. It always rained on weekends as if it is planned :) There was almost only two or three weekends with the best weather. So Last month we went to Point Pleasant beach on a Sunday.
We celebrated (celebrated or participated is the correct's not attending...heard from a priest !) mass in St.Martha's church in Point Pleasant, which was in my 'to visit' list for a long time. Then we visited an antiques showroom, which was also long due in our list. Usually we go to beaches by evening only and so we could never do all the above said things. Then had pizza for lunch in a beach restaurant. While the Sun was hot,  we went to Jenkinson's aquarium and had some good time there too. When the afternoon weather got cooler,  we enjoyed sitting in the beach sand, rinsed our feet in waves :) then lot of snacks like sweet potato fries, ice cream for him and then had some boardwalk and in my view that's the perfect beach day I have ever had :)  Here are some pictures from Point Pleasant beach and the town.
An antique shop at Point Pleasant

I liked this tiny jar very much and bought it for $6. I am using this to keep salt in dining table.

A lighthouse for our Christmas village ...$ 7, Xavier liked this very much and got it...I too love it :)

watermelon ....our snack for the road trip !

I like this restaurant ( the food was good there ,despite the fact that most of the crowd is from floating population only )

Pizza with chicken fry

I think these three guys like modeling :)

Penguins :) 

  horseshoe crab

The concert place / dining area in beach

Jenkinson's boardwalk it !

From the gift shop !...NewJersey's state flower 'common violet / Viola sororia), capitol - Trenton, bird - The Eastern Goldfinch, tree - Red oak, 
   πŸŒΈπŸŒΈπŸŒΈπŸŒ»πŸŒ»πŸŒ» 🌺🌺🌺🌼🌼🌼🌹🌹🌹🌻🌻🌻🌷🌷🌷

KEANSBURG BEACH is another beach in our neighborhood. We chose to go there on a Saturday, as we couldn't figure out what to do on that day , as it started getting colder soon :) But to my surprise that beach is also nice , with a long pier to walk, a less crowded clean beach and a fair like setting in the shore. I couldn't see any boardwalk or fancy shops in that beach, but the amusement park would be great for kids. Another nice thing about this beach is , it seems more economical for a family evening (as there is no entrance ticket to beach or fair grounds and the parking is very cheap when compared to most places).  Swimming is not advisable because of lack of guards.  I like crowded beaches better as it gives me a safer homely feel, so this would be a great beach for day time for people like me :)

Keansburg beach
beautiful beach with a pier 
there is a vast selection of food in this Keansburg beach. I could see people enjoying packed meals they had brought too !
onion rings with cheese pizza :)
My favorite souvenir ....fridge magnet and some stones from every memorable place !
Jersey shore has many beaches and that's the best place to visit during summer for us all here. Now its almost October and we all are looking forward to a cool crisp weather, colorful foliage and festivals in almost every week :)

Meet you all with another post soon ! Till then , take care !
Viki Xavier

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cabbage rice

This is one rice variety I prepared this week for Xavier's lunch pack and for me. This is not a traditional variety rice of Tamilnadu (like lemon rice or tamarind rice). But it is one of the best ways to make your loved ones eat that vegetable without fussing  πŸ˜‹
This is my version of cabbage rice and it tastes great in my view. Also we can make it more quick if we have any leftover cabbage poriyal.
I prepared horse gram chutney (kollu thogayal) along with this rice and it tastes yummy !

Cabbage rice with horsegram chutney and sweet potato chips.

Cabbage (finely chopped) - 100 gms.
Onion - 1/4 cup (chopped)
Ginger - 1 tsp (finely chopped)
red chili - 1
curry leaf - 1 sprig
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
sesame oil - 2 tsp
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
cumin seed - 1/4 tsp
green gram lentil (paasi paruppu) - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Finely chop the cabbage and keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok.
Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add green gram lentil and fry till it gets mild red.
Immediately add finely chopped onion, curry leaf, red chilly pieces , ginger and stir well till the onion gets semi cooked.
Now add the chopped cabbage , salt , 1/2 cup water and cook it tightly covered till the cabbage gets cooked well and all water is evaporated.
Then add the cumin and shredded coconut, mix well.
Turn off heat.

Cabbage fry is ready!

Cabbage rice:
Uncooked rice - 1 cup (or) little lesser.
salt - to taste.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Water - 2 cups

Rinse and cook the rice in stove top / pressure cooker / rice cooker,  along with everything mentioned.
Prepare the cabbage poriyal as per above recipe.
Let the rice cool a little. Add the poriyal and mix well.
If needed add some idly podi for more spice level.

Cabbage rice is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as main course for lunch along with any chutney.
Good for lunch pack to go.
Stays good at rom temperature up to 5-6 hours only (as vegetables and coconut is added), so I won't suggest this as usual travel food (like lemon rice , puli rice).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Athirasam using KitchenAid grain mill attachment (cup measurement)

Athirasam is an Indian sweet that tastes something like ginger bread cookies fried in oil (more sweeter than the cookies). This definition is not necessary for any South Indian, but thought it may help others to understand the taste.

 In this athirasam recipe , I have used kitchenAid grain mill attachment to powder the rice. The grain mill attachment has various settings from finest to coarse  that can be used to prepare wheat flour or any kind of flours and cracked wheat like stuff.  Many stores offer cash back deals and offers on KitchenAid. I used Kohl's cash back offers and a 30% discount coupon.  I am sure KitchenAid is a boon for all who love to cook from scratch.

Even though, athirasam is quite a simple snack with only a few ingredients, it needs lot of concentration while preparing the dough. For the first try in my grainmill attachment , I wanted a solid recipe with cup measurements on small scale .   I came across this Athirasam Video by Tamil virunthu and it has very good tips.  Thanks to her detailed video I could improvise mine.   My traditional athirasam recipe calls for kg measurements while this video has shown it in cup measures.  This time I bought an authentic ponni pacharisi (Lakshmi brand). Earlier I was using the basmati rice (which is less expensive here), and I found that the pacharisi is better for all kinds of palagarams :) (reinvented the wheel πŸ˜€ ).

This is one of my most favorite snacks and my memories with athirasam would revolve around my  Deepavalis. Then after marriage, I too started making it by myself in Chennai.  We had a rice mill near our house and so these kind of snacks were easy for me then. There Sandhya amma and her family and friends (every household in neighborhood) would bring me athirasam and murukku during Deepavali.  That's a traditional snack there in Chennai. Should I say, my hubby dear loves these festival days to munch these goodies  πŸ€—  ! Also he loves traditional sweets better than my "experimental recipes " .
So here is a successful recipe for athirasam using cup measures. Try this and enjoy !

It should be soft inside but cooked well

Soaking the rice for 2 - 3 hours

Bought this towel on sale for 75 cents from walmart ....just for drying the rice 😏

Air dried rice

 KitchenAid with grain mill attachment πŸ˜„

Grain mill for Indian recipes too !

Powdered rice

(Or) Use an Indian mixer. Powder the cardamom and dry ginger first.

Put the dried rice in mixie

Powder it to a fine stage. Add sesame, powdered cardamom, poppy and keep ready.

This is the jaggery I used. It is called as soft jaggery and it tastes good.

Melt the jaggery in water till it gets rolling consistency (sticky stage)

Mix with powdered rice and it should not be like a chapati dough, it should be little runny.

Let cool, keep it in a container for 3 days.

On a plastic sheet and flatten the dough

fry it in oil

Try to remove as much oil as possible by pressing it with paper towels

Athirasam with hole 
Chennai style 'hole-less' athirasam

raw Rice - 1 1/4 cup (pacharisi)
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
poppy seed (kasakasa) - 1/2 tsp
jaggery - 3/4 cup
water - 3/4 cup
ghee - 1 tbsp
sesame - 1 tsp
dry ginger powder (sukku) - 1/4 tsp
oil - to deep fry (in small batches)

Soak rice for 2-3 hours.
(One time I used Everest brand daily Basmati rice as I didn't buy real raw rice / pacharisi. Then I used Lakshmi brand Ponni pacharisi and found that this one is the best for Tamil recipes)
Drain water and spread over clean cloth / plastic sheet for 1 hour under fan.
In a mixie grind to fine powder along with cardamom. Though we should try for a fine powder, I could get a medium fine (little coarse) powder only. If needed use a sieve and sort out coarse rice and grind again.
Bring water to boil. Dissolve jaggery. (Filter and remove any dust or sand, if needed).
(I bought 'Taste of India - soft jaggery of Gujarat'. It is almost same as paahu vellam of Tamilnadu).
Boil the jaggery solution till it gets thicker (just before uruttu patham / soft rollable stage).
Take the jaggery out of heat immediately and mix with ghee, rice powder, sesame, ginger powder.
Mix well. (see photo for the consistency of dough. It should not be hard. It should be pourable but not runny).
Keep this dough in an airtight container. for 3 days in room temperature.

Smudge a drop of oil on a plastic sheet (I used a small ziplock cover).
Divide the athirasam mavu (dough) into 10 - 12 of  amla size balls.
Place one ball over the plastic sheet. Press with hand to a flat (1/4 inch thickness) disc.
Just like this prepare 5 to 6 athirasam as per need or do the whole batch.

Heat corn oil / sesame oil / ghee (?) to medium heat (not smoking hot).
Fry a pinch and test , if it rises suddenly.

Put the flattened dough into hot oil. It will start rising like tiny poori. Flip within 10 seconds. Let it cook both sides for less than 35 seconds. Take out and press carefully between two spatula to remove excess oil. Keep it over paper towel and start frying the next one.

Let cool and store in airtight container or consume immediately :)

Serving suggestion:
Let the athirasam cool a little bit before serving .
The dough stays good at room temperature for up to a week.
Counting : Makes 12 medium size athirasam

KitchenAid grain mill attachment can be used to powder rice, wheat and any cereals.
We should not use the grains with more moisture.
I have air dried the rice (under fan) for nearly 3 hours before grinding it to a powder.
I have set it in setting 3 (setting 1 is for finest).

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Barbecue party !

Last weekend, our friends Mr.Raghu and Mrs. Uma Raghu invited us for a barbecue party at their house.  We were all excited to see each other again on that beautiful evening. I was wondering how they were going to arrange this event along with both of their busy schedules and kids. So I felt like bringing some dessert to help a little bit. I made some carrot halwa and ice cream, while Shaila had brought Baklava.  But before that , Uma had prepared everything with lots of care and love. I love the way she has planned and prepared a vast number of starter dishes like Indian lemonade, chaat salad, chips spread, a flavorful veg pulav , an yummy raitha (recipe below) , kadalai curry and that amazing jigarthanda with native touch .....not only the cooking part, I admire the way she talked and played with Sunish's  kids and hers in between :) . Her husband Raghu did the barbecue. Raghu prepared a juicy tandoori chicken on barbecue and I would say that is the best I have ever had. Hot dogs and garlic bread on grill were also great and Uma's avocado spread was also delicious. To my surprise, they prepared Malaysian parotta over the grill and it was more flakier than tawa version.
Shaila and myself along with Sunish and my hubby enjoyed spending the evening with that beautiful couple.
On the way home, we both felt happy for that fun filled evening that rejoiced both our palates as well as our minds.

The Menu:
Chat salad
Nimbu paani (lemonade)
chips and dip
bite size pizza
garlic bread with homemade guacamole
hot dogs
grilled tandoori chicken
Vegetable pulav
Tempered Raitha (recipe below)
Grilled parotta
Channa curry
sprouted bean salad
Jigarthanda (recipe below)
Tandoori chicken on grill

Barbecued tandoori chicken

Bite size pizza, nimbu paani, avocado topped garlic bread

Also that yummy chaat salad !

Grilled parotta !

Jill Jill Jigarthanda !

Recipe for tempered raitha: (my guessing) 
Indian curd - 1 cup
Shredded carrot - 1
onion - 1
brinjal - 1
oil - 1 tsp
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
salt , curry leaf, cilantro - as per need
chili powder -  a pinch

Heat oil in a wok. Let mustard crackle, then add sliced onion, hing, curry leaf, cilantro and saute well. Add finely sliced brinjal and carrot. Cook covered with required salt and tbsp of water. Add pinch of chili powder. Switch off and let cool. Add curd , salt and mix well.
Yummy raitha is ready !

Recipe for a quick Jigarthand :
Rose syrup - homemade
(Sugar syrup mixed with rose essence and pink food color or traditionally prepared using rose petals)
Vanilla ice cream
Badam pisin (a tiny piece for each cup)
(soak it in water overnight for next day's use)

In a glass tumbler, put a tbsp of soaked badam pisin, add little rose syrup. Top it with a scoop of ice cream and then top it with some more rose syrup.
Jigarthanda is ready !

Thank you Uma and Raghu, for this nice dinner party ! We had an amazing evening.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seppan kilangu roast

Before the fancy entry of noodles and parotta into the small towns of Tamilnadu,  whatever food that is cooked for lunch would be served for dinner too.  Most of the days would be veg days in Tamilans house and rice with sambar or some other curry is the primary food. Though green veggies like okra or green beans and spinach would be the side dish during lunch, mothers would hide some root vegetables like potato , senai kilangu (elephant yam) and Seppan kizhangu (arbi) in the pantry for their fussy loved ones. These kind of veggies can be stored even in Indian weather (at room temperature) for a week to month. So these would come handy, if the vegetable curry made for the lunch was not sufficient for dinner. This seppan kilangu roast is one of our most favorites and so I too make it at least once month.

This is one of the popular ways to cook arbi in South Indian cuisine. Try this and let me know, how your family loves this !

Seppan kilangu / cheppan kilangu (Tamil) means colocasia or taro root(English), Arbi (Hindi).

1/2 lb Seppan kilangu before cooking (@ $1.39 /lb 2017)

Boiled arbi is cubed.

After the tempering, add the masala powders and cook for few seconds.

Arbi added to fried masala

Mix well

Hot and spicy arbi roast is ready !

Seppan kilangu 4 or 5 - 250 gms
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
fennel (sombu) - 1 tsp
curry leaf - few
salt - to taste
Masala powders:
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

Rinse the arbi thoroughly to remove all dirt.
Put it in a vessel and add water enough to cover. Boil for at least 10 minutes. The arbi should be parboiled (not soft). Put in cold water and it would be easy to remove the skin.
Chop into small cubes. Keep aside.
Put all the masalas mentioned in a bowl and keep ready.
Heat oil in a wok and add fennel. After the fennel gets mild red, add curry leaf. Then add the masala powders and fry in low heat for few seconds.  Add the cubed arbi. Stir well. If needed sprinkle a handful of water and cook covered for 2 minutes.
Switch off.
Arbi roast is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with dal rice or sambar rice or curd rice.