Monday, January 31, 2011

Spinach rice (Keerai saatham)

Spinach and Asian food are inseparable. I am sure each Indian lunch box can tell a different recipe for this humble spinach. I mix rice and the spinach to make a kind of 'variety rice'.  I like this recipe very much because of its simplicity and lesser time consumption.  Here goes the recipe.

Keerai saatham served with cauliflower  stir fry.

Rice - 3/4 cup
Any greens / Spinach - 1 small bunch.
(Any keerai like thandu keerai, mulai keerai, muringa keerai, pasali keerai,ponnan kanni keerai, arakeerai, sirukeerai etc)
Green chilly - 2
onion - 1/2 cup
garlic - 2 cloves
cumin - 1/2 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp (optional)
mustard - 1/2 tsp
sesame oil - 1 tsp
ghee - 1/2 tsp (optional)
salt - to taste

Take the rice lesser than we normally consume, as the spinach makes a good filler in this recipe.
Bring to boil some 3 cups of water. Wash and add the rice to the boiling water. Put a pinch of salt and reduce the flame. Let it cook. After the rice gets cooked, strain and remove the water.
Keep the cooked rice aside. We can cook the rice in pressure cooker or rice cooker also. But I prefer the above method to prepare any 'variety rice', as it will yield very separate grains.

Carefully clean the greens and put them in a broad vessel. Wash thrice or more times to remove all dirt. Drain water and chop finely.
Heat oil in a wok. Let the mustard crackle. Then add the chopped onion, chilly, garlic and fry till the onion becomes soft.
Then add the finely chopped greens and stir fry. Don't close the vessel. Sprinkle a little water if necessary. After it gets cooked and almost dry (in 5 minutes), Switch off, add the salt, shredded coconut and cumin seeds. Mix this with the cooked rice along with a tsp of ghee.
Mix well and serve.

Serving suggestion:
This can be prepared for lunch box. Don't add coconut during hot weather in packed foods.
Serve with any spicy side dish like brinjal fry or cauliflower fry.
Serves 2.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Peanut chutney

Peanut chutney is a famous chutney among South Indians. Some call it as 'sivappu chatney' or 'kara chutney' that means 'red or hot chutney'. My dad loves this very much and after a long time I made it along with idly. It has to be made with more dry red chillies and tamarind to make it super hot. Here goes the recipe.

Groundnut chutney.

peanut - 1/2 cup
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
dry red chillies - 10
tamarind - an amla size
salt - to taste

To temper:
oil - 1 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
urid dhal - 1/2 tsp
curry leaf- 1 sprig

Dry roast the peanut and let it cool.
(If using roasted peanuts, then skip the above step).
Remove its skin by gently rubbing. Keep aside.
Now add a drop of oil in a wok and roast the dry red chillies till they smell good and turns crispy.
Grind all items given in ingredient list along with the roasted peanut and fried chillies.
Add some water (less than 1 cup) to get a thick and somewhat runny consistency.
Again heat a tsp of oil in a wok and crackle the mustard seeds, immediately add the urad dhal and curry leaves. Fry till the dhal turns red, pour over the prepared chutney.

Verkadalai chutney is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Makes a great combo with idly or dosai.
Serves 4.

Other info:
As some are allergic or hesitant to peanut, don't try this chutney for a get-together.
Some get giddiness , if they take lot of peanut. In that case give them a chunk of jaggery  immediately. May be it is a home remedy for people who can't take much peanut.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thavil vadai

Thavil vadai is an unique kind of vadai in Tamilnadu.  Some people call it as thaval vadai or thavala vadai ,aiming to describe the shape of that vadai (thavil - a musical instrument). This is how we explain in our house, if any one know the proper meaning of the title please let me know:) Moreover this vadai should be made with many lentils and rice, which makes the recipe more interesting.

Recipe source: amma.
Also inspired by :  Subbu's kitchen and Kitchen queen. Thank you friends!

Channa dhal (Bengal gram)- 1/2 cup
black gram (ulunthu / urid dhal) - 1/2 cup
Red gram / thuvaram paruppu / thoor dhal - 1/4 cup
Rice - 1/4 cup
dry red chillies - 3
ginger - 1 inch
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
asafoetida / hing - a pinch
salt - to taste
oil - to deep fry

tempering / tadka:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
cilantro - a handful

wash and clean the dhal and rice, Soak the urad dhal separately and others together for 2 hours or till soft.
Grind the urad dhal to fluffy stage, without  water.If needed add a tbsp of water. Then take  it out. Grind the other dhals and rice without water to a thick and coarse batter along with other ingredients except oil and coconut. Mix with urad dhal batter.
Heat a tsp of oil in a wok and add mustard seeds. As they crackle add the chopped cilantro, curry leaves and pour over the batter. Add the shredded coconut .
Take a lemon size ball of the batter and flatten it slightly. Deep fry it in oil by flipping both sides in medium heat. Don't  fry it in high heat. Give ample time to let it cook completely. As soon as the vadai turns mild red , drain oil and take out.

Thavil vadai is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with coconut or cilantro(malli) chutney.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Amla Jamun

Amla - Indian gooseberry - Periya nellikkai (Tamil).
Here is a quick and  healthy dessert  using the Indian gooseberry.  This is my mom's recipe and she used to prepare some jam varieties also using amla. I used frozen amla, which we get in Indian grocery stores. Keep them handy to satisfy that sugar cravings:)

Amla - 15
crushed jaggery - 1 cup
water - 1cup
honey - few tbsp

Bring one cup water to boil. Add the amla and cook well.
In the same time bring 1/4 cup water to boil in a separate vessel and dissolve the jaggery. Filter and remove the impurities.
Add the jaggery solution to the cooked amla and start heating till it becomes very thick syrup. Put off fire and let it cool.
Then add a few tbsp of honey and preserve in a clean dry container.
This can be kept for 6 months if refrigerated.

Amla jamun makes a healthy dessert.
This sweet tastes great the next day only, as it may take a few hours for the bitterness to change.

*There is another variety of gooseberry also, which will be smaller in size and tastes very sour. My mom used to make a jam out of it. For that jam, Mom would add sugar instead of jaggery and that 'nellikkai jam' would taste incredibly great.
*We can totally avoid the jaggery and add honey to the cooked amla to get a healthy amla jamun. But I have not tried it yet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mushroom biriyani

I have an endless love with biryanis and this is a vegetarian version, which I tried recently.  I prepared this one day for hubby's lunch when I wanted to pack something nice for him. Hope you all like this mushroom biryani.

Mushroom - 10 numbers
(Use button mushrooms only)
fresh green peas - 1/2 cup .

Basmathi rice - 1 1/2 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red onion - 1 (chopped 1/2 cup)
Lemon - 1
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
Biryani masala powder - 1 tsp
(I used sakthi biryani masala)
ghee - 1 tbsp (to add at the end)

To temper:
Bay leaves - 1
cinnamom stick - 1 inch
cardamom (crushed) - 2
cloves - 2
Any cooking oil - 3 tbsp
cashew nuts -5
raisins- 10.
salt - to taste

Masala 1:
Tomato puree - from 1 tomato

Masala 2:
cilantro- 10 stems
mint leaf -1 handful.

Masala 3:
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 2 cloves

Wash and clean the mushrooms. Cut each mushroom into thin oval slices.
Wash the green peas / sweet peas and keep aside.
(Defreeze the green peas by putting it in water, if frozen).

Wash the rice. Add more water than required and bring it to boil. Reduce flame, add salt and cook it to stiff grainy consistency. Then drain all the water using a colander. Keep the rice aside.

Grind all the pastes separately.

Chop onion and keep aside.

Heat oil in a flat bottom vessel.
Add cinnamon stick,cardamom ,cloves, bay leaf , cashew, raisin.

Then goes the chopped onion .

Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes.

Now add the tomato paste and cook till the oil oozes out of it. Add all the powders given.

Then add the cilantro , mint paste, red chilly powder,biryani masala powder, salt and cook till the oil start oozing out. Now put the vegetables and cook till the mushrooms are done.This will take 5 minutes only.

Now add the cooked rice and squeeze some lime juice over.

Sprinkle the ghee and close the vessel.
Heat the vessel in very mild flame for 10 minutes. Switch off!

Mix well now and serve.

Mushroom biryani is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Garnish with chopped cilantro , mint leaves.
Serve mushroom peas biryani hot with onion raitha .

We can make this biryani without green peas also.
I used canned mushroom here. But the fresh one tastes great.
cooking time : 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Home made Popcorn

Popcorn, coke and an English movie are a must for most of us to start a nice weekend. In US, we can see a long queue standing near that 'red-box'es lending dvds. We are no exception to that golden rule and winters add more charm to the above combo:) We would bring home a pack of microwave popcorn also and I have never tried preparing the popcorn at home, as it is much easier to get it done in a microwave. But I really missed that turmeric flavored popcorns we get in Madras. So recently I started to make it at home to control the butter and taste according to our wish.It is a very old method only. My mom used to make this popcorn in an old unusable pressure cooker. But I have used a normal vessel with a glass-lid we generally use in cooking.

corn - 1/4 cup
butter or oil - 2 tbsp (or) lesser
salt - 1 tsp (according to need)
(control the salt if using salted butter)
Turmeric - 1 tsp (optional)
A heavy bottom vessel with a tight lid.
A mitten to hold.

Melt the butter in the vessel. Mix turmeric, salt and corn with the butter.
Place the lid and start heating. Wait till we hear A SINGLE popping sound.
Immediately switch off and let it rest for a minute.
Again start heating (with lid closed). Hold the pot and start shaking as it starts popping. Do this in medium heat and shaking gently till the sound stops.

Homemade Popcorn is ready!

*Adding some sugar (2 tbsp) instead of turmeric will yield a kettle corn taste.
*I have not tried with red chilly pepper powder, but have heard it also tastes great. But beware of the hot fumes, while using peppers.
*Always use an unwanted vessel, as it may be hard to clean, if got burned.
* We can make it with very less butter also.
*Don't open the vessel while popping.

Enjoy this homemade popcorn with your loved ones. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pongal greetings and reposts

Hope all are getting ready to celebrate Pongal. Pongal is called as Sankaranthi festival too. Pongal is a well known festival in India, where most of the families have some agricultural roots. In Tamilnadu, people from various religions invariably celebrate it without any hesitation. Every house will get a fresh coat of paint and cows are treated with dignity. Sugarcane, Turmeric and mango leaves decorate every door and people prepare the following recipes.

I am reposting my Sarkarai pongal recipe, aviyal and ven pongal recipes for Kurinji's Pongal event. Happy hosting dear!

1.Sarkarai Pongal
2.Venn Pongal
3.Pongal Aviyal: - Orkut scraps, graphic and comments - Orkut Scraps, Graphics, & Comments

May this Pongal festival brings peace, good health, cheer, prosperity and every thing you wish for.
Happy Pongal!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thengai paal murukku

 Thengai paal - coconut milk; murukku- an Indian snack.

This is a very common snack in my home town. Unlike the regular murukku, the thengai paal murukku requires very less butter. The flavor comes from freshly squeezed coconut milk. They shape it essentially like this. Whole green gram flour or urad dhal flour or puffed channa dhal flour are used along with rice flour.  I made this for Christmas. Actually getting this shape is a time taking process, so I prepared a few using this star murukku pattern and the rest in tri holed thenkulal pattern.

Thengai paal murukku


Rice flour - 4 cups
(If you have a flour mill in your vicinity (just like Indian flour mills), then wash 4 cups of unboiled rice (pacharisi), drain the water, let the rice dry for a while and prepare flour. Otherwise we can use store bought flour also. But the ratio should be 4 : 1)
split urid dhal (Black gram) - 1 cup
coconut milk - from 1 coconut
coconut oil (or) butter - 2 tbsp
Cumin - 1 tbsp
sesame seeds - 2 tbsp
Hing (Asafoetida) - 1/8 tsp
Salt per taste
Water for mixing - (nearly 3 cups of water)
Oil - to deep fry (500 ml)

Coconut milk
1.Scrap the coconut and grind well. Add 1/2 cup luke warm water and extract the milk by filtering. Again add 1/2 cup warm water and extract milk. Do another time also. Use this milk to make murukku dough.
2. If using a coconut milk powder (I used Palmer brand), the prepare 1 cup thick milk and 1 cup thin milk.
3. If using canned coconut milk, go by the directions to get 1 cup thick milk and 1 cup thin milk.

Heat a wok and dry roast the urid dhal till it we get a nice flavor and starts to smell nice (do not make it turn red). (Always use split and white dhal. Roast the black gram dhal in small portions only).  Keep aside and let it cool. Then dry grind it to a fine powder using an Indian mixer.

In the same wok , dry roast the rice flour for about 10 minutes . When we touch it , we should feel it like river sand. Then let it cool.

Put both the flours in a large mixing bowl . Add cumin, sesame, asafoetida and butter. Mix well.

Dissolve the salt in some water. Mix this salt water along with coconut milk powder (or) just use fresh coconut milk + salt and add to the flour.Knead it to a soft chapathi dough consistency.

Now check salt and add more mixing with water,if necessary.

Fit a star pattern murukku mold and fill it with dough.

In the mean time heat the oil in a wide pan till smoking point. Then reduce flame.

Grease a few flat plates with oil and squeeze murukku in the above shape. Carefully slide them one by one into the hot oil. Do not crowd the oil, flip once after one side is done.

After the hissing sound and bubbles subdue, drain and remove the murukku. Place them on paper towel and store them in air tight containers after they get cool.

Coconut milk Murukku is ready!


Makes 15 big size murukku or 30 murukku of our palm diameter.
Can be served with tea or as a snack.
Adding some oil,/ butter will result in lesser oil absorption of murukku.
Pack the murukku in zip lock or plastic covers to prevent it getting less crispy (in humid areas).
If we are preparing more murukku, it is common to divide the flour into few parts and knead the dough just before squeezing.
Never allow the dough to sit in counter for a long time, as it will yield dark colored murukku.The dough can't be refrigerated too. So keep yourself free before starting to prepare murukku and don't stop the process in between.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I am tagged (in Tamil and English)

சமையல் தொடர்பதிவு

maragatham  புவனேஸ்வரி ராமநாதன் அவர்கள் எட்டு கேள்விகளுடனான இந்த தொடர்பதிவுக்கு அழைத்திருந்தார். அந்த எட்டு கேள்விகளும் அவற்றிற்கான விடைகள் இதோ:
ஆங்கிலம் மற்றும் தமிழில் தந்துள்ளேன்.

இயற்கை உணவுகளை சாப்பாட்டில் சேர்த்துக் கொள்வதுண்டா? இயற்கை உணவுப் பழக்கம் எந்த விதத்தில் உங்களுக்கு பயன் தருகிறது?

இல்லை.  அமெரிக்காவில்  இயற்கை உணவு (organic  food ) என்பது ஒரு ஆடம்பர பொருளாக, status  symbol  ஆக உள்ளது. நடுத்தர மக்கள் குழந்தைகளுக்காகவோ  அல்லது மருத்துவரின் பரிந்துரையாலோ மட்டுமே  இதை வாங்குகின்றனர். இயற்கை உணவு மட்டுமே உண்பதால் திடீரென வேறு உணவு உண்ணும் நிலை வந்தால் அதை நம் உடலால் தாங்க முடியாது.   உலகில் பல பேர் ஒரு வேளை  உணவு கூட  இல்லாமல்  தவிக்கும் பொழுது  ,  எனக்கு  இது போன்ற ஆடம்பர உணவில் ஆர்வம் இல்லை. இந்த பணத்தை  வேறு நல்ல செயல்களுக்கு உபயோகிப்பேன்.. 
  (இயற்கை உணவு என்பது இந்தியாவை பொறுத்த வரை சில ஆண்டுகள் முன்பு வரை சுலபமாக அனைவருக்கும் கிடைத்தது.  ஏன் என்றால் நாம் ரசாயன உரங்களை பசுமை புரட்சிக்கு  பின்பே உபயோகிக்க துவங்கினோம் .  இன்னமும் கிராமங்களில் இயற்கை முறையில் விளைந்த காய்கனிகள் ஒவ்வொரு வீட்டிலும் விளைகின்றன. ஆனால் அமெரிக்காவில் பல விதைகள் / செடிகள் ரசாயன மற்றும் மரபியல் வேறுபாடு செய்யப்பட்டே விளைகின்றன . வரி, patent ரைட், விளம்பரம்  என பல காரணங்களால் இயற்கை முறையில் விளைந்த பொருட்கள் மிகவும் விலை அதிகமாக உள்ளன. நாம் தரும் கொள்ளை விலை விவசாயிக்கு போவதில்லை, இடை தரகர்களே பயனடைகிறார்கள் ). 

ஆனால் இயற்கை முறை விவசாயம் மட்டுமே அனைவரும் செய்து, அந்த organic உணவும் அனைவரும் வாங்கும் விலையில் இருந்தால் , நானும் மகிழ்ச்சியாக அதை உண்பேன். ஏன் எனில் இயற்கை விவசாயம் பூமிக்கு நன்மை தரும்:)

அன்றாடம் சரியான நேரத்தில் சாப்பிடுவீர்களா? அல்லது பசிக்கும் நேரத்தில் உண்பீர்களா?
பகலில்  சரியாக நேரத்தில் சாப்பிடுவேன். ஆனால் இரவில் என் கணவர் வந்த பின் அவருடன் சேர்ந்து சாப்பிட ஆசைபடுவேன். கணிபொறியாளர்களின் வித்தியாசமான வேலை பழக்கத்தால் என் இரவு உணவும் ஒரே நேரத்தில் அமையாது.

வலைப் பதிவில் சமையல் சம்பந்தமாக எழுதுவதற்கு யார் உங்களுக்கு தூண்டுகோலாக இருந்தார்கள்?

(அல்லது )
உங்களின் சமையலுக்கு வழிகாட்டி யார்?
என் அம்மாவே என் சமையல் குரு. அம்மா சமையல் கலை மட்டுமின்றி , மிகவும் குடும்பபாங்கான பாசமான பெண்மணி.  அவர்கள் ஒரு புது உணவை சாப்பிட நேர்ந்தால் , அதன் செய்முறையை அதன் சுவையை கொண்டே சொல்லி விடுவார்கள். எனக்கு அவ்வளவு திறமை கிடையாது. ஆனாலும் அம்மாவின் திறமைகளை காப்பி அடிப்பேன் சில நேரம :) ஆனால் தன பாரமபரியமான சமையல் குறிப்புகளை எப்போதும் மாற்றாமல் செய்வார்கள். அது எனக்கு ரொம்ப பிடிக்கும். இது இந்த கால கட்டத்துக்கு சிரமம் என்றாலும் அம்மாவை போல்  சமைக்கவே எனக்கு ஆசை.

புதியதாக ஏதாவது உணவுவகை முயற்சி செய்து பார்த்திருக்கிறீர்களா? அது சரியாக வரவில்லை என்றால் என்ன செய்வீர்கள்?
சரியாக வரவில்லை எனில் மிகவும் அமைதியாகி விடுவேன். கொஞ்சம் நேரம் ஓய்வு எடுத்து பின் வந்து அதை சரி செய்ய பார்ப்பேன். அப்போதும் சரி வரா விட்டால்,  பின் அதை உருமாற்றி  சாப்பிடும் பொருளாக மாற்றி விடுவேன்:) ஒரு பொழுதும் சாப்பிடும் பொருளை வீணாக்க மாட்டேன்.

உங்களது அன்றாட சமையலில் நீங்கள் கட்டாயம் தவிர்க்கும் சமையல் சம்பந்தமான பொருட்கள் ஏதாவது மூன்று?
*மது வகைகள்.

*பன்றி, மாடு மற்றும் எனக்கு பழக்கம் இல்லாத அசைவங்கள்.
*அஜினோமோட்டோ , .

தினப்படி சமையலில் நீங்கள் அடிக்கடி சேர்த்துக்கொள்ளும் சமையல் பொருட்கள் சில?

இந்திய உணவு தயாரிக்க 'சில' பொருட்கள் போதாது. 'பல '  தேவை. அவற்றுள் 'சில' இங்கே:)

*அரிசி,  உப்பு, கோதுமை, பருப்பு வகைகள், முட்டை  . 
*மஞ்சள், பூண்டு, தேங்காய் எண்ணெய், இஞ்சி, மிளகு, மிளகாய் , நல்லெண்ணை , பெருங்காயம், புளி, சர்க்கரை , பால் .

*கறிவேப்பிலை, புதினா, மல்லி இலை, வெங்காயம், தக்காளி.
*விடுமுறை நாட்களில் : மீன், கோழி.
இவை எப்போதும் வீட்டில் இருக்குமாறு பார்த்துக் கொள்வேன்:)

குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்கள் ஒன்றாக சேர்ந்து அமர்ந்து சாப்பிடுவதால் என்ன நன்மைகள் உண்டாகிறது?

எங்கள் வீட்டில் நானும் என் கணவரும் மட்டுமே.  அதனால் நான்  இரவு உணவையாவது என் கணவருடன் சேர்ந்து உண்ண ஆசை படுவேன். விடுமுறை நாட்களிலும்  இதை நாங்கள் ரொம்ப ஆர்வமாய் செய்வோம்.  சேர்ந்து உண்பது மிகவும் மன மகிழ்ச்சி தரும்.  அப்படி செய்வதால் ஒருவர் மற்றவரின் விருப்பங்கள், உணர்வுகளை புரிந்து கொள்ளலாம். 

உங்களுக்குப் பிடித்த உணவகத்தில் நீங்கள் விரும்பாத உணவு பரிமாறப்பட்டால் என்ன செய்வீர்கள்?
எனக்கு பிடித்த உணவை கேட்டு வாங்கி சாப்பிடுவேன், பிடிக்காததை நாசுக்காய் தவிர்ப்பேன். 

ஒரு வேளை உணவு கெட்டு போய் இருந்தால், என்னுடன் இருப்பவர்க்கு , செய்கை மூலம் அதை தொட வேண்டாம் என்று தெரிவிப்பேன்.
Now in English:

1. What is your take on organic food , is it a big deal for you ?
No. Organic food is not a big deal for me. Generally organic foods are tasty but much expensive in USA and only the people with need go near that aisle in the departmental stores. My personal opinion on organic food is of two fold. I won't recommend expensive organic food unless otherwise stated by a physician. If used to it, we may end up allergic to the normal food in course of time. Moreover I can't appreciate pampering myself with such luxuries, when many out there really struggle for one meal a day. So I would rather donate that excess money to the needy, if I am that rich.
But as a woman hailing from a typical agricultural hometown, I know the benefits of organic farming. Organic farming is the only way to keep the soil fertile and it is not expensive to grow the vegetables with natural manure, (though the yield will be less in the beginning), but the price is more because of the middlemen. So if everyone practices organic farming , a fair trading and if that kind of food is affordable for every person, then I will also buy it.

2. Do you time your breakfast,lunch & dinner or eat when you are hungry ?
My breakfast and lunch will be regular. But I wait for my hubby to come home , so that we can have dinner together. (So the dinner time will depend on his work schedule).

3.Who inspired you to cook or bake?
My mom is my inspiration. She was not only an expert cook but also a very graceful lady. One of her secrets in cooking is finding out the recipe while tasting a new food and make it at home. Though I am not talented like her I would like to follow her ideas:) But she would not alter the authentic recipes she got through generations. It is very difficult nowadays but I too wish to do the same:)

4. You try a new recipe and it does not turn out good,what will you do ?
The first reaction will be a BIG silence, then I put off the stove and take rest for some time. Then I will transform it to something edible but will never waste food.

5. Name three ingredients you consciously avoid or eliminate even when the recipe calls for it ?
Alcoholic beverages
pork, beef, any non veg that is not appetizing for me.

6. Name few things you have to use in most recipes ?
Well, Indian gourmet food needs a big list. I prefer to stock up my pantry / fridge with the following always:)
Rice, salt, wheat flour, lentils, egg.
Turmeric, garlic, coconut oil, ginger, black pepper,chillies, sesame oil, asafoetida, sugar, milk, tamarind.
curry leaf, cilantro, mint, onion, tomato, potato.
During weekends: Fish, chicken.

7. How important is eating meals together as a family to you?
Very  important . We are just two people in my house, hubby and myself. I love to have food with my husband. We eagerly wait for dinner and weekend meals to sit together and eat while sharing our whole day experience.
In general, by dining together we get to know each other well. We can understand the taste and preferences of our family. So it is a must for every house.

8.You do not like a particular dish at your favorite restaurant,what will you do ?
If it is not spoiled, I will silently order a different dish and finish off. If it is spoiled, I will signal those who are with me:). Mostly I will appreciate the dishes I like and never comment on those I don't.
Here are some other questions. You can have a choice too.

The second set of questions:

1)Are you a vegetarian, or have you thought about being one?

2) who inspired you to blog?

3) How do you celebrate Christmas?...or a favorite holiday of your choice?

4)Do you prefer to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends and/or family, or prefer to ring in the New Year quietly, and privately, at home?

5)If someone were to ask you to bring dessert to a party, what would you bring? Store bought, or homemade, and if you were to make homemade, what would you make?

6) How will you celebrate your next birthday?

7)Do you have a New Year's resolution-and will you be sticking to it?


I am passing the questions to some of my friends. Please keep the game going:)


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kara sevu

Karam - spicy hot; sevu - fried noodle like crispies.

Chevu or sev is a very common spicy snack in the rural areas of Tamilnadu. We can get two versions of it. One belonging to the villages of Southern Tamilnadu, the very spicy HOT 'kovilpatti kara sevu' and the next one is called 'lala mittai shop's butter sevu'.
I prefer the  'spicy kara sev' better. It is a very simple recipe and won't demand much skills as we need for a murukku. My mom used to make them for us in a very spicy manner, which my elder brother exclaims as smoky HOT and I am sharing her recipe here. It is a ritual nowadays in our house to make some snacks before weekend, that too a must during winter:) I have to stock up a small batch for hubby's snack needs before he buys home whatever he sees.

Kara sev stacked.

Besan flour (bengal gram flour) - 2 cup
rice flour - 1/4 cup
salt - as per need
oil - to deep fry
To grind:
dry red chillies - 6
ajwain (bishop's weed / omam) - 1 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tsp
cumin - 1 tsp
garlic - 4 cloves

A murukku press.
A wide wok to deep fry.
slotted spatula

Grind the items in a blender to a medium coarse texture.
Mix that masala with the flours, add salt and 2 tbsp of hot oil.
(Adding hot oil reduces oil absorption while frying).
Add required water and knead into a soft chapathi dough consistency.
Fill the 'murukku press' with the prepared dough.
Heat the oil in a wok.
Press the dough in circular form as shown below.

Kara sev after frying.

Flip once and take out after the bubbles disappear.
Drain excess oil and place over paper towels.
Kara chev is ready!

Perfectly prepared kara sev should not be oily.
Always keep the gram flour in refrigerator,this will result less oil absorption.
Add some hot oil while kneading the dough to get a crispier sev without much oil.

Serving suggestions:
Break it into long pieces.
Allow it to cool completely and store in air tight container.
Serve as snack with tea.

Though this kara sev contains very little ajwain (omam), it will have much flavor from ajwain.
So I am sending this kara sev to 'Cooking with seeds event - Ajwain' hosted by Kavita of 'seasoned and dressed' . The event is the brain child of 'Priya.' of  'Priya's easy and tasty recipes'. Happy hosting dear!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Happy New year to all!
Here is a famous and delicious Indian dessert to welcome the New year.  Usually rasmalai is prepared from scratch.  But  I have used Gits ready made rasmalai mix here and explained the authentic method too.

The pack contains two sachets. One is for the chenna and the other contains nuts / thickeners to add to milk. Prepare chenna as per directions and make flat balls. Cook them in hot water (in LOW HEAT and kept open). In the same time prepare sugar syrup and immerse the cheese balls in it for 10 minutes.

Now start boiling the required quantity of milk in a broad vessel and add the contents of next sachet. Add the soaked rasgullas to the milk mixture and let it cool.Yields 16 rasmalai. Keep refrigerated overnight and serve chilled.

                    Authentic method:

Below is the traditional procedure I follow. The readymade version will not call for much effort, whereas this authentic procedure will yield more stiff and delicious rasmalais:)

                         Step 1
Milk (full fat) - 1 litre (5 cups)
AP flour (maida) - 2 tsp
Lemon - 1
(or)vinegar - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Rose essence - 3 drops
(or)cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Boil milk in a vessel.
Squeeze the lemon and mix 1/2 cup water to the juice.
Add the lemon juice / vinegar to the boiling milk and stir slowly.
Put off heat.
Now the milk gets curdled to form paneer (a cheese variety).

Place a cheese cloth / new white cloth over the strainer and pour the curdled milk.
Pour some cold water to remove the lemon's sourness.
Squeeze out all the water and make a bundle using the cloth. Place it on the strainer or hang over a kitchen sink to loose all the water content.
Let it remain in this position for 45 mins to 2 hours , depending upon the quantity.

The hard cheese we get is called chenna. We can buy it in Indian grocery stores also.

Now knead the chenna to make a smooth dough. Add flour and knead again.

Make small balls of equal size of 1.5 cm diameter approximately, flatten it slightly and keep aside.

In another vessel mix sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to boil.

Once it starts boiling add the chenna balls and cook covered for 30 minutes (with lid partially open and in LOW HEAT).

The rasagulla will become double the size.

Drop one ball in cold water and if it sinks to the bottom , then it is cooked well.
If not so , then cook for another 5 minutes.

Switch off flame.

                    Step 2
Whole Milk - 1/2 liter
condensed milk - 4 tbsp
sugar - 6 tbsp
cardamom (powdered)- 5
pistachio - 5
Almond - 10
saffron - few strands

Soak the almond overnight and remove the skin. Grind it to a fine paste.
Bring the milk to a boil, add the almond paste. Switch off and add the cardamom powder, sugar, chopped pistachio and saffron.

Take the rasgulla from sugar syrup and immerse them in this milk sauce. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.

Serving suggestions:
Makes 20 rasmalai (approximately).
Place one rasmalai in a bowl along with a generous helping of milk sauce.
Serve as dessert.

Orkut Scraps New Year

*** - Orkut New Year scraps, graphic and comments ! ***

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...