Tuesday, November 30, 2010

old fashioned egg pudding

This post is dedicated to my Sakunthala athai (my dad's sister), who makes every one around cheerful by her kindness and high spirit  . Our summer vacations get sweeter upon her arrival.  Even from February we would start waiting for her letter and plans.On her arrival we would go and wait in that train station to take her and kids home with lots of joy. In those days there were no in-law fights or ego problems and the whole family would cheer-up for each others' victory. Still I remember how my mom and Athai compliment each other in everything they did.  Her incredibly long thick black hair is her specialty. Athai is a very thin and beautiful lady (now also) and so energetic in such a way that she would play hide and seek, make kootan choru (camping food), long healthy gossips till midnight  etc. We would sit around her and listen as if it is a live show :) We all sleep together and the bed time stories were endless. I love the way she listens the Ceylon Radio, watching the cricket matches . She and her husband (mama) never fail to help others whenever there is a need. She is a great mom and good friend to all of us. Her tips on house management, grocery purchase always works for me and I held her as my guru while mingling with my family.

Athai makes this pudding for fuzzy egg eaters, when they need some protein. Many days she gives us this with breakfast (may be we are the odd family who craves for a dessert in breakfast time also) and I get satisfied with the dessert alone:) Recently I got this old fashioned pudding recipe from her  and   here goes the recipe.
Egg pudding served with apple....A complete breakfast!
Egg pudding cooked in a vessel.

Egg - 1 or 2
milk - 1/2 cup
sugar (brown or white) - 3  tsp
salt - a very small pinch
cinnamon - a pinch (optional)
vanilla essence - a tiny drop

Start heating a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water.
Beat egg well. Add other ingredients and beat again.
Pour into an ever-silver bowl and steam cook in an idly cooker or pressure cooker (without putting the pressure valve weight) for 10 minutes.
If touched it should be like a jelly (spring back) at the edges and slightly loose at the center. It should retain the shape while transferring it.
Take out, empty it to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh fruit.
Serve chill as dessert or a simple breakfast.

*This recipe seems to have some historical background. While googling I found out that,  this is a British recipe and hope the British settlers could have passed on this delicious pudding to my home town (which was known for its British settlement at that time).
*An egg pudding should be essentially cooked in high humidity to get that real taste. I have narrated an Indian pressure cooker method here. My aunt won't add salt or cinnamon. But I did so to enhance the sweetness of the recipe.
*cooks.com says, we can bake this pudding in oven at 300 deg F for 40 minutes. They suggest to keep the pudding vessel inside a pan of water.
*We can use this pudding as a custard base for ice creams and cakes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vanilla Ice cream

I got this recipe from my younger brother.When hubby presented me this beautiful ice-cream scoop(one of the gifts for my birthday), I couldn't control my eager to try Venkatesh's recipe:)  He is our favorite ice-cream maker and I like that homely version very much:). He is good at making jellies too:) Though he is much younger than me, he pampers me with this ice cream once in a while.  At that time he would hurry to the near by shop on Fridays to buy a small pack of this ice cream mix (which we later found out as custard powder) and prepare the ice cream in a jiffy. Hubby and myself think that this resembles an ice cream sold in Kalimark shop in Palayamkottai. At that time, they  used to make their ice cream and beverages on their own. The good thing about this ice-cream is the less calorie count (when compared to my other versions). But we have to beat the mix in a blender multiple times to get that fluffy ice cream.

Home made vanilla ice cream.

Milk (full fat) - 2.5 cups / 1/2 liter
custard powder - 2 tbsp (vanilla flavor)
sugar - 1/2 cup (or) 3/4 cup
condensed milk - 2 tbsp (optional)
butter - 1 tbsp
vanilla extract - 2 drops

Bring to boil 2 cups of milk.
In the remaining 1/2 cup milk  add sugar, condensed milk, vanilla, custard powder and mix well.
Add this mixture into the boiled milk.
Start heating in low fire. It will become somewhat thick. Take care not to burn it at bottom.
Switch off , add butter, essence and let it cool.
Place it in freezer. Then after 30 minutes take out and beat it in the mixie for a minute or more.
Freeze it again for 30 minutes and beat for a minute in mixer.
Then freeze it for 4 hours or till it sets completely..

For more creamy ice cream, add 4 oz whipped topping before freezing.
By this we can reduce the usage of blender. I just blend it for 1 minute and only once before freezing.
But if we can't get the topping, then do the blending twice or thrice or more till its hard to churn.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vithai kothamalli thovaiyal

Vithai - seed; kothamalli - coriander ; thovaiyal - thick chutney (Tamil - English)
This is chutney recipe is from my mom's maid Mary Vadivu ammal. She assisted mom for a very long time and I can't predict her age. Hope she was a old lady but very strong as a little girl. I love her hints on simple foods and home remedies. One of her recommendations for a sluggish winter day after a grand food is the kollu rasam and the vithai malli thovaiyal. Here goes the recipe.

Coriander seed chutney.

coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
channa dhal - 2 tbsp
shredded coconut - 3 tbsp (optional)
dry red chillies - 4 or 5
garlic - a piece
cumin - 1/4 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
salt - to taste
tamarind - 2 inch
oil - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a wok. Roast the channa dhal to a mild red color. Take out.
Then roast the coriander seeds, red chillies and coconut one by one.
Let them cool.
Then grind the roasted ingredients with all the above with very little water to get a thick chutney (thogaiyal).
Vithai malli chutney is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with piping hot rice and kollu rasam.
Pairs well with curd rice, dhal rice , idly etc.

Health benefits:
Coriander seed helps subduing pitham and hence a good remedy for giddiness.
It increases digestion.
Its fiber is great for weight loss.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vazhaikkai bajji

Other names: Banana fritters, raw plantain bajji, valaikkai bajji.

'Vazhaikkai bajji prepared in bulk and placed in that glass covered shelves' is a regular scene in any tea shop in Tamilnadu and Kerala. There was/is a shop near my dad's house which sells these flavorful bajjis and mom would send someone to get them for any unexpected guests. But this is a very simple snack and she would prefer to make it at home most of the time. Mom used to prepare these bajjis with great care, so that the plantain pieces are sliced with some green-skin on. She used to add some dosa batter to the bajji batter as per her sister's suggestion:)This is my most favorite fried item and She was so caring enough to prepare this for me on the eve of my holidays. Bajjis bring me those loving memories always. I like it with chilly-garlic ketchup at that time. But nowadays I make it with coconut chutney for hubby. See, how our taste changes after marriage:)

Traditionally they dry-grind 1 kg of besan flour with 1/4 kg raw rice, 200 gms of dry red chilly, asafoetida,  in the mill and store as bajji mavu. Whenever needed this flour can be used to make bajji and pakoda.
Nattu vazhaikkai (Indian plantain).

Indian green banana (small variety)- 2
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 3/4 cup
dosa batter - 1/4 cup
(or) rice flour - 2 tbsp
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
hing (asafoetida)- 1/8 tsp
baking soda - 1/10 tsp
garlic - 2 pieces (finely ground)
red food color - a pinch (optional)
oil - to deep fry

Always use nattu vazhaikkai for making this bajji. Nattu vazhakkai are available in Indian grocery shops and they are sold in bunches.
Wash the banana, remove the stem and tip. Scratch and peel the skin mildly by keeping some thick green skin on. That will give a good flavor to bajji.
Slice it into thin (long) pieces.

Mix all the above with 1/4 cup water to a thick batter. Add more water if needed, but keep the batter like idly batter ,otherwise the bajjis will drink lot of oil:)
Heat oil in a wok.

Dip the banana slices in the batter and put it on the hot oil. Flip and fry both sides. Drain oil and take out.

Vazhakkai bajji is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot as snack along with piping hot coffee or tea. Coconut chutney or tomato sauce is a best side dish for this vazhaikkai bajji.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hyderabadi Chicken biryani

I prepared this Hyderabadi chicken biryani during a weekend. I love the way it brightens up a winter day:) The main challenge lies in getting all the things ready. But once we setup the dhum process, then we can sit and relax  with our loved ones. So keep everything handy before starting.

Hyderabadi biryanis are admired for their beautiful coloration and flavor. So once in a while I use organic food colors to get that real touch. In this method there will not be any separate gravy preparation like the Tamilnadu version. The meat gets cooked with rice and hence we will get juicy moist chicken pieces. This briyani  is  prepared in  a slow cooking process called dhum cooking which involves placing hot charcoal over the dhum vessel. But I am narrating that process to do at home, with the equipments we normally have:)
 Hyderabadi Chicken biryani in vibrant coloration.

Main Ingredients for Hyderabadi chicken biryani.
Arranging the layers for Hyderabadi chicken biryani before dhum process.

A homely  dhum process. Biryani vessel tightly sealed with wheat dough and placed over hot tawa.

To cook rice:
Basmati rice - 2.5 cups (500 gm)
salt - 1 tsp
water - 6 cup
bay leaf - 3
star aniseed - 1
black cumin - 1/2 tsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
cardamom - 4
clove - 4
lemon juice- 1/4 of a fruit

Wash and clean the rice. Soak it for 30 minutes. Bring to boil some 6 cups of water.
Add the bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, lemon juice salt, kali jeera (black cumin) and let the rice gets semi cooked. It should be very firm and almost raw. Drain the water using a colander and keep aside.

For garnishing:
cashews - 10
raisins - 20
ghee - 2 tbsp
mint leaf , cilantro (chopped)- 2 tbsp
yellow or orange food color - 1 drop ea.
(we can use saffron instead)
cooking oil - 3 tbsp
Red onion - 1 cup (chopped lengthwise)

Heat oil in a flat bottom vessel and fry the chopped onions to golden brown. Take it out and save for garnishing.
In the remaining ghee , fry the cashews and raisins. Keep aside.

For the masala:
Chicken (with bones) - 500 gm
raisins - 2 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
salt - 1 tbsp
ginger garlic paste - 2 tbsp
mint - 1/4 bunch
cilantro - 1/4 bunch
green chilly - 5
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
ghee - 2 tbsp
plain yogurt (from whole milk)- 1 cup

Grind the mint, cilantro and green chillies to a fine paste.
Now ,wash and clean the chicken. Cut it into big chunks. Mix all the items mentioned above with chicken and place it in the bottom of the dhum vessel. Spread them uniformly.

For flavored water:
salt - 1/2 tsp
lemon - 1/2
sugar - 1 tsp
kewra water - 2 tbsp
(or, rose essence 2 drops + 2 tbsp water)
ghee - 2 tbsp
black pepper corn - 10
cinnamon - 1/2 inch
cardamom - 2
clove - 2
black cumin (kali jeera) - 1/2 tsp
green chilly - 2
Mace (javithri / jathipathiri) - 1 strand
nutmeg (jathikkai) - a small scraping

Run everything above in a mixer and make a fine liquid. If you don't have enough time then , leave the whole garam masalas and mix 2 tbsp of Hyderabadi biryani masala powder with the other things mentioned above. (I like shan brand biryani masala powder).

For dhum process:
wide vessel with tight lid
A dosa tawa
chapathi dough using 1 cup wheat flour

Mix the wheat flour with water to get a bread dough consistency and keep aside.
We can use an aluminum foil also, if we do not want to waste the dough. But sealing with dough is the best method and it is called dum / dhum process, which means 'slow cooking with hot steam sealed inside'. I would suggest sealing with the dough for a tasty dhum biryani.
If you are using a flat lid, then boil 2 liters of water in a vessel and place over the vessel (after sealing) for more heat generation.

Arranging the layers:
Now spread the semi cooked rice uniformly over the raw chicken masala layer.
Mix saffron with 1/4 cup warm milk (or) mix the food color with 2 tbsp water and sprinkle it over the rice. I used food color here.(Food color gives a beautiful look.so choose according to the occasion. Natuaral colors can be obtained from saffron, beetroot, carrot etc).
Place a thick dosa tawa over stove, heat it. Now place the dhum vessel over the tawa.
Over the rice, spread the fried cashews, finely chopped cilantro , mint, fried onion and sprinkle the flavored water.
Close the vessel with a tight lid.
Seal the edges with the prepared chapathi dough.
Start heating the arrangement. Keep the flame at high till the tawa gets heated and then reduce it to a minimum. Leave the whole set up for 2 hours. (Cook it in very low heat to avoid burnt smell). If you are making for a large scale, baking is the best method. Place the entire setup inside the oven and bake at 350 deg C and 90 minutes.
After that discard the dough, open the lid carefully.

Hyderabadi chicken biryani is ready!
 Hyderabadi Chicken biryani.

Serving suggestions:
Serve the biryani like a layered rice, so that every plate gets a portion of rice, chicken and colorful topping.The guest has to mix and devour:)
Serve with boiled eggs and raitha of your choice.
Serves 5 to 6 people.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Arbi Fry (Seppan kilangu varuval)

Seppan kilangu (Tamil) means colocasia or taro root(English),  Arbi (Hindi). 
 Arbi fry is the most sought fried item in my house. Thanks to hubby this fry hardly reaches the dining table . Normally I start preparing our weekend lunch by 10.30 Am. If I make this fry for lunch, then hubby may start demanding it with his 11 Am tea:) So I plan to make some extra servings or totally some other dish along with this:) I personally think this as a catchy side dish for vegetarians. This is my mom's signature dish too. Mom used to make this arbi with paruppu kulambu and rice.
Sembu or seppan kizhangu is a tiny root vegetable available throughout the year. There is another one root vegetable with similar taste, that is the elephant yam (chenai kilangu), which can also be made into attractive fries. This seppan kilangu (arbi) can be stored at room temperature for a week and can be refrigerated for a month.  The matured  round / oval roots are tastier .
Bisibelebath served with arbi fry.( Indian Arbi fried).

Arbi - 6 roots (1/2 kg)
rice flour - 1 tsp
besan flour - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
black pepper powder - 1.5 tbsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp

Cook the arbi root with skin till it is almost cooked (not mushy). Poke a skewer or knife to check if its cooked. This makes the peeling easy.

Cool and remove the skin. Cut it into 1/2 inch thick circles. (If using the South American arbi , the bigger variety, then cut it into big chunks and cook it. Again peel and cube it).

Mix salt, flours, turmeric, pepper powder with a drop of water. Add it to the pieces and mix well.
A bigger variety of taro root .

Heat enough oil to deep fry.  Fry the pieces in small batches till they turn almost golden brown (crunchy outside and softer inside).

Take out, drain oil. Dust some pepper powder over the fried arbi and shake well , so that all the pieces gets some more pepper.

Another method:
Instead of pepper + cumin powder , we can mix red chilly powder and garam masal powder along with flours and deep fry them. Tandoori mix also holds good.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with curd rice, vegetable biryani, pulav, bisibelebath or simply as a tea time snack.

I have heard some people making this fry (baking) in oven. But I have not tried it yet. May be a good option too.
Black pepper is added to root vegetables to make them allergy-free. But this arbi root is not caustic and safer for most of the people.
The South American arbi contains less mucilage and easy to handle, but I prefer the taste of Indian arbi better.
We can boil these vegetables and keep refrigerated without peeling for a day or two. I generally do the boiling part the previous night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paneer Pulav

Necessity is the mother of invention is what I can say about this recipe!

Preparing a complete vegetarian dinner is a tricky one, as we have to sneak protein in some form in almost all the dishes to make them attractive and delicious. Generally I won't coin or try newer recipes for guests. But that particular week was so busy for hubby and he could not take me out for a grocery shopping while I had a party on Friday:) So when all my plans for a vegetable biryani with fresh vegetables were collapsed, I had to find an alternative:)

This paneer pulav is a medley of Shahi pulao and ghee rice. Along with this paneer pilaf I made a vegetable kuruma, fried arbi, Malaysian parotta, raitha, bakalava and gulab jamun as per plan and it was quite a successful one. Try this and enjoy!

Paneer pulav served with raitha and arbi fry.

Basmati rice - 2 cup
(1/2 cup for 1 person)
paneer - 100 gm
Ghee - 2 tbsp
oil - 2 tbsp
bay leaf - 2
cinnamon - 2 inch
cashew, raisin - each 20
garam masala powder - 1 tbsp
lemon juice - 1/4 fruit
sugar - 1 tbsp
onion - 1 (big)
shahi jeera - 1/2 tsp
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
mint, cilantro - handful
saffron - 5 threads

Cook the rice with lot of water, 2 tsp salt to a stiff finish. Drain water and keep the lid open.

Heat oil and ghee in a wok. Fry the paneer cubes to get a golden hue and take out.

Now add the bay leaves, cashew, raisin, cinnamon, shahi jeera.Add the thinly sliced onion and fry it a little. Then add the sugar and let it caramelize. Put the ginger garlic paste and stir well. Now add the chopped mint, cilantro, fried paneer, little salt, lemon juice and switch off.

Gently mix the cooked rice. Dissolve the saffron in few spoons of warm milk and sprinkle over the pulav. Serve hot.

Paneer pulav is ready!

We can microwave / directly heat the pulav before serving.
Vary the paneer quantity, so that every one gets at least 5 pieces.

Perfect Traditional Adai Dosai

Perfect traditional Adai dosai. To grind: Idly rice / any rice - 1cup Raw rice (Basmati) - 1 cup Thoor dhal - 1/4 cup Channa dhal - 1/2 cup ...