Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New year,

Lets welcome the New year with joy,
with lots of prayers and well wishes,
May every day be filled
with happiness and peace,
May every face on earth live happily forever,
with all our needs satisfied,
May every life lives peacefully
with all our dreams come true,
May every child gets love and care,along
with all the toys they want:)
May God shower His abundant love on all of us,

Wishing you all a
beautiful, Prosperous and Blessed
Happy New Year and Happy blogging!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas celebration : Event entry

Here are some snaps from our Christmas celebration.

I am Sending the below entries for Shamas's Christmas and New year event , 2010.

Happy hosting Shama!

A Birthday cake for Child Jesus:
Its a tradition in our house to bake a cake for the 'Baby Jesus'. This year I made a fruit cake and did icing with home made 'butter cream frosting'. I like the way the roses and color combo came out. After attending the mass we cut this cake and shared with friends and family.

The Christmas tree:
This is how we decorated the Christmas tree, this year.

Snacks for Santa:

Putting out cookies and chocolate drink for Santa is an American tradition. I added all the items I prepared for Christmas. The platter has thengai paal murukku, athirasam, butter biscuit, fruit cakes and Ovaltine milk. Also I left a bunch of cilantro for His Reindeers. We leave this platter near the Christmas tree and expect the Santa to give us all our favorite gifts. Yes, Santa came to our house really and we got a lot of gifts:) On the Christmas day, I got up very early and found a beautiful pair of earrings in my stockings:) Also, Xav got his favorite movie dvds and a shirt under the tree:) Thank you Santa! We all love you so much!

Reposts and event entry

Hope you all had a beautiful Christmas and waiting to celebrate the New year along with your yummy creations.
I have not participated in many of your events for almost an year, because of my laziness:) One of my New year resolutions is to send at least a few entries once in a month. So as a beginning here are my reposts for Sameena's Cookies and cakes for Christmas event.

1.Christmas plum cake (fruit cake)

2.Easter Carrot cake.

1.Butter biscuit

2.Sugar cookies

Happy hosting dear!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas,

Wishing all my friends and readers a  blessed happy Christmas,
May all our dreams come true.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Banana halwa (vazhaipazha halwa)

A chewy sweet resembling fudge prepared using ripe plantain (long banana/ yetham pazham/ Ethampazham / ethan pazham / nenthram pazham).
I tasted it for the first time (as a child) , when Sr. Janet Mary (whom we consider as a great guidance in our family) presented us a pack of Banana halwa from Kerala, then she told us that this is a famous sweet in Tuticorin also. Then it became our favorite next to macaroons of Tuticorin. One can buy this  in  bakeries of Tuticorin (Thoothukudi), Tamilnadu, India. It will be sold as a circular shape piece of nearly 5 inch dia and 1 cm thickness. The proper color should be more darker than what I got. If you want to get that color add more ghee while making this halwa. I used 1/4 cup butter only, but 1 cup will be good for the authentic taste.
After that mom tried to make it  once or twice at home but I am not sure of the recipe. So I referred Mahanandi's Nenthram pazham halwa. It came out well. Thank you dear!  (I have made some variations for my convenience, so click the above link to see her beautiful snap and the original recipe).

Ripe plantain (long version) - 4
(pureed to 2.5 cups)
sugar - 1 cup
butter - 1/4 cup (1/2 of a bar)
lemon juice - 1 tsp
All purpose flour / maida - 1 tbsp
water - 2 tbsp
chopped almond or cucumber seeds or cashew - a handful

Steam cook the banana. Peel the skin and remove the seeds. Puree it.
Take a thick bottomed wok, large enough to stir the halwa.
Pour the puree to the wok. Add the sugar, butter, lemon juice and mix well.
Start heating. After sometime the banana will start bubbling, then reduce the heat and stir in medium fire.
After the halwa starts leaving the sides, say in 10 minutes, mix the maida with water and pour over the halwa. This step is optional only. we can do the halwa without maida also.
Then stir continuously for another 10 minutes or till halwa starts becoming thick and tend to form a ball. Now add the nuts and stir well. Put off fire.
Grease a container (lesser height but wide) with a drop of ghee and pour the mixture.
Spread a little ghee on top to prevent drying.
Using a spoon or knife flatten it to get a glossy surface.
Allow it to cool. After cooling the halwa will become more thick and easy to slice.
Slice and serve as dessert.

Banana halwa is ready!

Serving suggestion:
If prepared with more ghee (enough to ooze out), this sweet will remain good in room temperature for more than a week.
Serve hot/cold as dessert or snack.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fish platter (Meen Saappadu)

This post is not on any recipe but to show you all a kind of platter available in restaurants of TamilNadu (and some parts of  Kerala). They call it as meen(fish) saappadu (meals). I am sure it is an unique name for many out there, but people in my native place love this platter than many non veg dishes:) You can get this kind of meal in any non veg restaurant in Tamilnadu. This  plate will include a big cup of fine rice or red rice, a thin slice of  king fish fry,a bowl of thick fish curry, some vegetables, boiled egg or an omelet ,sambar,  rasam, buttermilk etc  and everything will be neatly served in a tender banana leaf. Can you imagine that!

My father-in-law is an ardent fan of fish and he will order this  whenever we go to a restaurant. While in Madras,  I too tried my best to make this platter on his visits . At that time, as a newly married I would put a lot of effort in getting him all the sea foods he may like. And one day he told me that he likes crab very much but had no opportunity to taste them because of my mother-in-law's preference:) So I prepared nandu kulambu (crab curry) immediately the next day and waited to hear his comments. Then only he told me that he has tasted crab made by his mother as a 6 year old and after loosing her, he had not had it at home and appreciated my effort a lot.I hold his words in my heart and cherish them forever. So whenever he comes to our home I would try to prepare a few things he likes the best:) I am dedicating this post to him:)

Meen saappadu .

The above plate shows rice, fish curry, fried fish, shark puttu (scrambled), mashed greens (keerai masiyal)and mangoes.I couldn't cut that king fish piece into a fine slice, so made it a big chunks:)  Yes, It is a tradition in my home town to have ripe mango with fish curry and rice:) The options are endless and I am sure you all enjoyed this Tirunelveli style fish platter:)


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vazhaikkai puttu

Vazhaikkai - unripe banana; puttu - anything steam cooked and loose as sand .Vazhaikkai puttu is a spicy scrambled plantain fry served as side dish with rice.

Brinjal, drumstick, mango, unripe banana, small juicy tomato, pumpkin, yam etc are called native vegetables (naattu kaai) in Tamilnadu , while green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beetroot, carrot etc are called English kaai:)  I love those naattu kaai very much and will spend a lot of time in that vegetable section in the Indian store till hubby's turn comes in the billing counter:)
Coming to the unripe banana, the Indian variety holds good for side dishes like this. The other variety normally available here is the ethankkai (long banana), which is great for making chips.   If you have not tasted this puttu so far, then make it for dinner and serve with piping hot rice and vatral kulambu / sambar and appalam, I am sure you will fall in love with this like me.  This puttu comes in my menu at least once a month  and here is the recipe for you all.

Nattu vazhaikkai (Indian plantain).  Aren't they cute!

unripe Indian banana - 2
onion (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
dry red chilly - 2
curry leaf - 1 sprig
coconut oil - 1 tbsp
shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
cumin - 1/4 tsp
turmeric - a pinch (optional)
salt - to taste

Wash the green plantains / bananas. Steam cook them using an Idly cooker or in a normal cooker without adding the pressure valve for 10 minutes. Check it by piercing a fork and it should pass through without difficulty but firm in shape.

Take out and let them cool. Remove the skin and grate the unripe banana in a carrot shredder. Mix salt and cumin to it. Keep aside.

In a wok, heat the coconut oil and add mustard seeds followed by the black gram lentil. As soon as the mustard crackles add the dry red chillies, curry leaves , onion and stir till the onion wilts. Immediately add the shredded plantain and mix well. Check for salt.  Fry till it becomes loose. Then mix the freshly shredded coconut and switch off.

Vazhaikkai puttu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with rice and sambar or vatral kulambu or kara kulambu or rasam.

Some people ad d turmeric to the puttu , while others make it white. Both tastes good.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Here is a well known healthy snack, the sundal. In India sundals are very regular during festivals,  temple offerings etc. It occupies a major role in Navarathiri pooja, a prominent Hindu festival in India. The Navarathiri or Dhasara is celebrated 10 days continuously. It is a celebration of Goddess Ambal's victory .The ladies arrange Golu (scene depicting culture using idols)  and offer these sundals to the God and distribute to the guests as prasatham.

Memories: It varies from region to region and  depends on which God they consider as their main deity . In my native place (dad's home town), the major Goddess is Bagavathy Amman and so Navarathiri is celebrated to honor the ladies of a family. The unmarried girls are considered as Goddesses and offered many gifts while participating in the function. In my dad's family the aim of the  function is to welcome the daughters who are given in marriage and to pamper the homesick girls , of course with her husband too:) Some do the fasting the whole day (9 days and the 10 th day is full of feasts) , powder the rice manually (using ural + ulakkai), make rice flour lamps (mavillakku) , sweet dumplings (kolukkattai) and in the evening there will be singing and poojas and a lot of yummy goodies to all:) .

Konda kadalai sundal.

White or red chick peas - 100 gm (1 coffee mug full)
coconut oil - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
dry red chillies - 3
curry leaf - 2 sprig
mustard seed - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
water (to cook) - to immerse and 1 cup standing over.

Soak the chick peas over night.Fast Soaking can be done in hot water for 6 to 8 hours along with some baking soda. The peas will double in size after soaking.

The easiest way is to buy a canned one, but I prefer the home cooked ones better .

Remove the soaked water (must). Wash again and add some more water. Pressure cook the peas with more water to stand above the peas. Let it whistle once, then reduce the flame and cook in low flame for 15 minutes. Release pressure and take out. Add salt, drain the water.

Heat oil in a wok. Splutter the mustard seeds. Reduce flame and add the red chillies, curry leaves and wait till the chillies turn dark red. Add the cooked channa and stir fry till it looses all the water. Check the salt and put lot of freshly grated coconut. Switch off immediately.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack with tea / coffee.
It is my habit to make some chundal with variety rice like puli saatham (Yummy!).
This is a very healthy protein rich snack with nearly 100 calories per cup.
We can make many chundals like this from various lentils like whole green gram (pachai payaru), channa dhal (kadalai paruppu), moon dhal (paasi paruppu), cow peas (thattam payaru), field beans (mochai /val) etc.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thayir vadai

In most of the Indian households or restaurants, the left over ulunthu vadai after serving with the ven pongal in the morning gets a makeover and becomes thayir vadai in the afternoon. Thayir (curd)  vadai (spicy black gram donut), is similar to the North-Indian dahi vada, except for the shape and few ingredients.

Some years ago, I read in Varamalar (a complimentary book for Dinamalar, a popular Tamil daily magazine), how to do thayir vadai. Before that also I knew this simple recipe from my mom, but the way the author, Andhumani described is still ringing in my head:) According to Andhumani, 'Grind the well soaked urid dhal in hand mortar till it gets fluffy as cotton and deep fry in ghee (?), dip in cold water, squeeze the water out, Soak it in the thickest possible curd and garnish with tempering'. Though that ghee fried vada recipe seems so idealistic and impossible for a woman of this era, I admire the way the author describing his thirst for a perfect thayir vadai:). Yes, home made thayir vadais are more delicious and healthy.

Ulunthu vadai is hubby's favorite and he can finish them off in one sitting:) So that varamalar 'thayir vadai' was a distant dream for me till I bought a pack of boondhi.  The next day I prepared some extra vadais for breakfast and soaked them in curd the whole day to serve along with dinner:)

Thayir vadai.
Hot crispy urid dal vadai served with chutney. Save some for thayir vadai:)

Ulunthu vadai - 10
thick yogurt - 500 ml
mustard - 1/2 tsp
urad dhal - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 2 sprig
cilantro - 2 tbsp (chopped)
ginger (finely chopped) - 1 tbsp
oil / ghee - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
kara boondhi - 1/4 cup

Choose a fresh curd, so that it is not too sour.

Put the vadai in some cold water for 2 minutes and take out. Squeeze the water thoroughly. Place it in a serving bowl.

Beat the curd with required salt. keep aside.

Heat oil in a wok. Add mustard and let it crackle. Immediately add the urad dhal and let it get red, in the same time add the curry leaf, cilantro, ginger and switch off. Add it to the curd.

Run the tempered curd over the vadai and let it soak for an hour (4 hours is better. Soaking can also be done inside fridge overnight).

Serving suggestions:
Serve as starter during lunch / dinner and also as snack.
Serve thayir vadai garnished with fresh cilantro (malli thazhai), grated carrot and kara boondhi.

During hot weather  the curd gets sour quickly. So add some milk with curd before soaking the vadai or keep the dish inside fridge.
In my home, mom won't soak / squeeze vadai in water before adding curd. I don't know the reason  but I do the squeezing part too.

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...