Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon pickle

I never thought of preparing a big batch of pickle at home, as hubby always buys many kinds of pickles from the Indian grocery stores and moreover I am not a big fan of store bought pickles. I used to prepare a small quantity of lemon pickle and finish off soon. I was kind of afraid to make that big batch of lemon pickles at home because of lesser Sunlight.
Then one fine day, I prepared this lemon pickle last year after talking with a friend (Mrs.Aruna Satya). She said that her mom made it for her without sun-drying and I got that clue and wanted to try immediately. I couldn't follow her recipe, as I wanted to prepare my mother's special oil-less Lemon pickle recipe, which I had enjoyed so much. Mom used to make this lemon pickle using our home grown lemons. We had a big 'Malta lime' tree in the backyard and that tree would yield sacks of bigger lemon and we would enjoy them as lemonade, lemon rice, leaf podi and pickles along with our neighbors. At that time mom would make extremely big batches of these pickles for our aunts and family friends. I tried her recipe while living in Madras and it was so good. Here I added a few drops of vinegar to the same as I need to keep them for a long time. It was a wonderful process and I enjoyed that fresh lemon smell all over the house for days together. I am more delighted to see my hubby checking it everyday, if it has soaked or not, just like a kid:) From then on, hubby stopped buying pickles from the stores and I am happy with the oil-less home made pickle:)

Ingredients: (see the process for measurement)
Lemon -
sea salt (கல் உப்பு) -
red chilly powder -
mustard / kadugu- 1 tbsp (for 5 lemons)
fenugreek / methi/ venthayam - 1/2 tbsp (for 5 lemons)
green chillies - 2 chillies for 1 lemon

Wash the lemons, green chillies and pat dry.  Do this in the evening and let it dry overnight. Then in the morning, cut the lemon into 1.5 inch size triangular pieces or squares and slit the chillies.

Measure the  pieces using a dry tumbler / cup. Add salt to the lemon. (sea salt: lemon - 1:4), (1:6 for fine table salt: lemon). Mix the lemon, salt, chillies by shaking well. Keep the mixture in a porcelain jar (china clay jaadi). keep it under hot sun for from morning to evening, without closing the lid. Take care that no sand or dirt falls on it. we can place a mesh cover or tie a fine muslin cloth over the vessel too. In the evening shake it well and bring inside home and keep it closed after it cools down.
Repeat placing under hot sun for 2 more days.
Now the pickles could have turned a little pale and started soaking.

Take dry red chilly powder in ratio, chilly powder: lemon measure= 1 : 5.

On the 4th day dry roast the mustard till it cracks. Dry roast the fenugreek (venthayam / methi) till it turns red and flavorful. Powder them together.
Add the chilly powder, mustard, methi powder to the soaked pickle and mix well with a clean dry spatula. Keep in sunlight for the whole day . Close the lid portion by tying a muslin cloth (prevents drying of pickle) and place the porcelain lid over it . Then store it in a clean dry shelf. Never touch the pickles by hand, as we may need to keep the pickle safely for an year.

How to make the lemon pickle in colder countries?
As we can't allow the pickle to soak under Sun in colder countries, add 1/2 tsp of vinegar to every cup of chopped lemon and place the container open inside the house. Let them soak for 2 days and on the 3rd day add the powders and keep them open for 2 more days. Stir every evening and on the 4 th day , store it in an air tight container and preserve safely as instructed above.

Serving suggestions:
This pickle will remain good in the room temperature for many years, if handled with care.
Adding green chillies is optional only.
This pickle can be used without tempering also. But if needed, take the required amount of pickle for a week and keep aside. Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in a dry wok and splutter a tsp of mustard seeds, the add a tbsp of channa dhal, curry leaves and pour over the pickle.
Serve with any rice or roti.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Tikka masala

Chicken Tikka masala is an Indian dish much favored by all who can't take the heat of other Indian dishes. In restaurants they make it with a little sweetish touch to satisfy the customers. I have narrated a basic Indian Tikka recipe here. This recipe is a good option for dieters who are eager to reduce the frying process and looking for some 'side dish for chapathi'.

Chicken tikka.
chicken tikka - Indian grilled chicken

Tikka masala - Chicken tikka in gravy.


(For Tikka)
Boneless chicken - 1 lb (1/2 kg)
Red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
salt - 1 tbsp
thick Indian yogurt - 1/2 cup
oil / butter - 2 tbsp  (optional)
turmeric - 1 tsp
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp

(Gravy / Masala)
Tomato - 5
(or) tomato puree - 1 cup
onion (chopped)- 1 cup
bay leaf - 2
cinnamon - 2 inch
garam masala powder - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
cumin powder - 1 tsp
cashew / almond - 5
oil / butter - 1 tsp
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
salt - as per taste.

Wash and clean the meat. Cut chicken into 1.5 inch size cubes.
Blend the masalas listed under Tikka together in a mixing bowl.
Keep the chicken pieces marinated in that masala for 1 hour (room temp.) or overnight inside the refrigerator.

Soak the bamboo skewers in water more than 1 hour.

Thread the pieces in the skewer with a little spacing. Bake them in oven at 350 deg C for 20 mins one side. Then flip and bake for 10 mins. Then broil it both sides.
(Instead the pieces can be grilled or deep fried also).

Take out and remove from skewers. Keep aside.

Chicken tikka is ready!

We can serve them simply as a snack or side dish or stuffing inside chapati rolls,  without the gravy.

Tikka masala:
Saute the onion in very little oil till it gets golden brown. Keep aside.
(We can mw or boil the onions in 1/4 cup of water instead).
Boil the chopped tomatoes with 1/4 cup water.
Let them cool and grind along with cashews.
Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Put the bay leaves, cinnamon stick . Then add the ginger garlic paste, stir well and add the ground masala. Add any left over marination too.
Put the red chilly powder, garam masala, salt, cumin powder, turmeric powder and close with a lid. Let them boil in minimum heat till the raw smell vanishes.
Then finally add the chicken tikka and mix well. Switch off after the gravy gets thick.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro + mint leaves.

Chicken tikka masala is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with chapathi / roti/ parotta.
Goes well with cumin rice or any pulav.

We can reduce the oil content in this recipe and we won't see much difference.
We can add a tbsp of sugar to the masala and reduce the chilly powder, if the guest can't take the hot chilly taste.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Greetings !

Wishing all my readers and friends a blessed Holy week and a Joyful Easter.

(Image courtesy : 'Graphics fairy'. Thank you my fairy! ).

May all the prayers be answered
and everyone feels the Lord's presence
on Easter and always
Wishing all a Peaceful and Blessed Easter.

Enjoy and have lots of fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thengai paal payasam (coconut milk kheer)

Wishing all my friends and readers a bright and prosperous , Happy Tamil New year! The Tamil month Chithirai starts on April 14 and it is celebrated by Tamil people as the beginning of Tamil New year. The name of this new year is 'Kara' year.

Let's start the new year with a milky white payasam made of coconut.

We have some coconut trees in my  father's house. I cannot remember us buying coconut from shops in those days. Mom would arrange a man to pluck all the matured coconuts in a regular time interval and the tender coconuts go as snack for us:) One fine day, mom's friend Mrs.Noohu aunty visited us and she taught us to make coconut kheer. Aunty used to say it as 'paachoru' (paal choru means milk+rice). Our maid scrapped lot of coconuts and we made a big batch of this kheer for all of us (Ours , Aunty's, my friend's and maid's family). It was so delicious that I have never tasted anything like that before:) Now we need not struggle much....just open a can of coconut milk and ta...da...the kheer is ready! I tried to bring out her's and it was 90% success. My rice started to get cooked, but her's was firm and bit chewy, which is the correct stage. Anyways recording the recipe for my future reference.

Coconut - 1 (small)
(or) coconut milk - 1 cup thick + 1 cup thin.
basmati rice - 1 cup
sugar - 1 cup
rose essence - 2 drops
almond, cashew - few.

Extract milk from coconut using 2 cups of water. Shred the coconut. Divide the water into 3 parts and extract thrice. Keep the first extract (thick milk) separate. keep the thin milks together.
Wash the basmati rice and drain water completely.
Boil sugar to get a 2 string consistency. Add the rice and stir carefully. After a few minutes add the thin milk and cook the rice. The rice will get cooked and become chewy but not mushy, because of the sugar syrup. This is the correct stage. At the same time it may become thick and start leaving the edges. Put the chopped cashew, slivered almonds and mix well. Pour the thick milk and stir again to get a thicker consistency, and switch off before the rice gets soft.
After switching off add a drop of rose essence.
coconut milk payasam is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve warm or chilled as dessert.
Prepare 1/5 of the above quantity for 2 people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Awards and a me-me:)

Deepa of Hamaree Rasoi and Sonali Pradhan of Only fish recipes have presented me the following awards. Thank you friends!. I am excited to get these bunch of awards and I am honored.

That lovely package includes a me-me too. I have to say seven facts about me. Click here to read more about me.
7 facts about me:

1.Basically I am a happy person. I thank God for everything I get and thoroughly enjoy whatever I do i.e., from vegetable chopping to laundry:) I strongly believe in God's protection and respect all others beliefs too.

2.Talking with my relatives over phone is a great entertainment / moral support for me. I like to get updates from my entire family frequently. I consider each and every person I meet as a book and try to learn something good from them. This helps me a lot.

3.I get satisfied with simple foods. But this blog is helping me to cook more varieties.  Though I have been enjoying the culinary art from my early teens, my skills got polished only after starting this blog and by my audience's comments. I enjoy reading other food blogger's anecdotes / story behind that recipe.

4.I like to cook colorful foods like Hyderabadi biryani, chaat items,  raitha (Indian yogurt salad) etc. Traditional Indian cooking fascinates me much. Buying cook-books, cooking utensils / tools is my favorite.

5.I like listening to melodies and Tamil movie songs. I prefer hearing the songs than watching the videos. Walking 1 hour a day is a must for me. Sewing is my new craze.

6. I love perfumes,room freshener, agarbathis, potpourris that smells like roses or sandal or flowery. Roses, jasmine, blue hydrangeas, Lilly, lotus (there is a long list) are my favorite flowers:) Recently I bought a dry flower art/ painting and I adore it. Even watching the flower 'images' in Google makes me high:)

7.Friday nights are my best favorite time. Mostly We enjoy our weekends sitting inside our house:) with some English movies along with pizza, popcorn, coke:)

I am happy to share my awards with the following friends.
Divya, Ciccia,Bhuvaneshwari Ramanathan, Jaleela Kamal, Swathi, Priya, Tina, Chitra Sendhil, Panchpakwan, Kala , Valar Siva.

Friends! Please accept this and I am eagerly waiting to read about you all. Thank You!

Congrats dearies!

Others bloggers or not : If you have some interesting facts to share about you, please feel free  and start writing about you (in your blog or in my comment section). I will publish it for you.  Anyways blog is where we can enjoy writing all about us and here is me waiting to hear from you:)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Urulai kilangu Podimass

Indian style mashed potato / Urulai kizhangu puttu / podimass.

Most of my foods carry a lot of happy memories and I think I am reeling with those pleasant memories to make  the food more homely:)
Till few years ago in my native, relatives and friends were encouraged to drop by any time, day or night, without any prior information. The lady of the house and the kids never shy to welcome them. While the hostess getting busy with cooking, the kids engaging the visitor's children, the man of the house would prepare the bed for them to take rest after that tiring travel. Those scenes are becoming history nowadays. Thanks to the Television and media, normal human interaction is vanishing even from the face of Indian villages. People have to call even before knocking the next door :)  Anyways changes are also good, as many like it this way, because of the over stressed life style. Nowadays we people are blessed with so many Instant foods, refrigerator and restaurants. So we  need not panic if at all we get some guests. But a generation ago they have to keep some non perishables vegetables handy to cater the surprise guests. Potato is one among them. They sit fresh for a week....We can boil it in minutes....a quick sambar, piping hot rice along with some fried papads and this potato podimass would be a great treat to late night guests.
Here are two varieties of potato podimass / potato puttu, which mom used to fix for surprise guests.

Potato red podimass:

Potato - 200 gm (3)
onion (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
oil - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
cumin - 1/2 tsp
ginger (chopped) - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
split urid dhal - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig.

Boil / pressure cook (3 whistle), the potato and put them in cold water.
Peel the skin and mash with salt, red chilly powder, cumin. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok.Add the mustard and urid dhal. After the mustard crackles, add the chopped onion, ginger , curry leaf and stir for a minute. No need to brown the onion. Immediately add the mashed potato and stir well for 2 minutes.
Switch off. Urulai kilangu puttu / podimas is ready!

                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Potato white podimass:

Potato - 200 gm (3)
onion (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
oil - 1 tbsp
green chilly (finely chopped) - 3
salt - to taste
cumin - 1/2 tsp
ginger (chopped) - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
split urid dhal - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig.
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp

Boil / pressure cook (3 whistle), the potato and put them in cold water.
Peel the skin and mash with salt, cumin. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok.Add the mustard and urid dhal. After the mustard crackles, add the chopped onion, ginger, curry leaf, green chillies and stir for a minute. No need to brown the onion.
Immediately add the mashed potato and stir well for 2 minutes, so that we get a fine scrambled effect. Add freshly shredded coconut and mix well.
Switch off. Urulai kilangu puttu / podimas is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Makes 4 servings.
Serve as side dish with any rice or roti.
The left over can be used as stuffing in masala dosa , aloo paratha, samosa, chaat items etc (with little seasoning).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sarkkarai Pongal (Rich)

I am always curious to know how they make that 'ghee dripping sweet pongal' in Hindu Temples, that are so glossy. This is the major dish prepared for Indian Pongal festival (farmer's harvest festival) and for thanking cows (mattu pongal).Then I learned from my friends that they do it with LOADS of milk + ghee and its different from the usual sarkkarai pongal I do for Pongal. Mom used to do a closer version with lots of milk. But after marriage, my friend Sundari's mom sent me a big pack of this pongal wrapped in banana leaf .....dripping in ghee on a Pongal day. Those days were golden....It was almost like a halwa and I can always remember  that taste. I took it as a baseline and tried to create that 'creamy rich ghee dripping sweet pongal' in our house with the tips from her mom. This will give a closer taste to 'Kovil chakkara pongal'.  I remember Sundari's mom's pongal  and those festivals whenever I make this dish and thank her silently for this wonderful recipe.

Raw rice / Basmati rice - 3/4 cup
(Raw rice - Pacharisi in tamil)
green gram lentil (paasi paruppu)- 1/4 cup
condensed milk - 6 tbsp
whole milk - 3/4 liter
jaggery (Indian brown sugar ) - 1/2 cup
sugar crystals (kalkandu) - 1/2 cup
ghee - 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
cashew - 15
raisins - 15
cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
edible camphor (pachai karpooram) - a tiny pinch

Dry roast the green gram till it turns mild red and gives nice flavor. Take out.
Dry roast the rice to get it little puffy and bright white.
Put them both together and wash thoroughly thrice.

Put the rice+dhal in a thick bottom vessel(vengala paanai) . (I used my thick bottom deep kadai). Add enough milk to immerse the contents and start cooking. Go on adding milk till the rice and dhal get mushy.
(We can cook it in pressure cooker also. But I am not sure of that)

Dissolve the jaggery and bring to a boil with 1/2 cup water. Strain and remove impurities. Add the jaggery solution to the boiling mixture.
Put required sugar crystals and start stirring, so that the bottom won't darken. Keep it in medium flame.
(We can do the entire pongal with jaggery alone. But sometimes the old jaggeries, that we get normally will impart a salty taste and dark color. If we can get a light color new jaggery, then we can add it without sugar crystals/ sugar).

Then add the condensed milk, cardamom powder, ghee and stir till the pudding/ pongal starts slightly thicker and it will resemble halwa. The pudding will start leaving the edges.
(If condensed milk is not available then use 1.5 liters of milk or few tbsp of milk powder and cook everything till the pongal gets thick....the idea is to include loads of milk:)  ).

In a separate wok, heat a tbsp of ghee. Fry and add the cashews and raisins.  Before switching off add the pachai karpooram and give it a good stir. Switch off.
Place a plantain leaf in a container and pour the pongal over it to get that authentic flavor. Sakkarai pongal is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as dessert in small cups.
Serve this 'creamy rich sakkarai pongal' piping hot on small plantain leaves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bhel poori

Bhel poori / puri is a famous chaat item served in Indian cities. I think Chaat foods and India are inseparable. Its a kind of Indian salad with loads of flavor. North Indians make a wide variety of chaat foods. One can easily learn a chaat recipe if they happen to buy chaat snack in India, as the vendor would make it right in front of the customer. Though it may need a lot of ingredients, there won't be any actual physical work if we manage to get a pack of bhel mix and some chutnies from store. I have narrated the way to make our own bhel mix also. We can make the chutnies ahead and keep them refrigerated for a week.

Ingredients: (for 6 large serving)
Boiled potato - 2 (big)
cooked chickpeas (white channa) - 1 cup
bhel mix - 1/2 pack
green chutney - 1/4 cup
red chutney - 1/4 cup
cucumber - 1 (big)
tomato - 1 (big)
raw mango - 1/2 cup
onion - 1/2 cup
tamarind water - 1 cup
sev (fine omapodi mix) - 6 tbsp (to garnish)
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
chaat masala - 1 tsp

Home made bhel mix:
paani puri / chaapt puri - 15 (or) home made crispy poori- 5
fine sev (store bought omapodi mix) - 1 cup (to garnish)
puffed channa dhal - 1/4 cup
salt - to need
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
puffed rice / pori - 2 cup
oil - 2 tbsp
chaat masala - 2 tsp

Microwave the pori / puffed rice for 1 minute. Mix the red chilly powder, chaat masal, salt with oil. Mix them with crispy pori, sev. Crush the poori to get big pieces and mix every thing. (We can use left over pooris after microwaving them to get more crispy). Keep aside.We can make this ahead and it will be fresh for a week, if stored in zip lock cover / air tight container.
This is how I make my bhel mix sometimes.

green chutney:
cilantro - 10 stems
mint leaf - 1/2 cup
green chilly - 2
salt - to taste
lemon - 1/8
wash and clean the leaves. Grind them finely together along with green chilly, salt and some water to get a cup of chutney. Squeeze the lemon to get a balanced chutney taste. Keep it in a serving bowl with a spoon.

red chutney:
tomato sauce - 4 tbsp
jaggery solution - 1/2 cup
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
salt - to need
Mix everything and use as hot and sweet chutney.

Tamarind water:
tamarind - a small lemon size
Water - 2 cup
jaggery - 3 tbsp
salt - 1/4 tsp
dry ginger powder - 1/2 tsp
chaat masala - 1/4 tsp
cilantro - a few leaves
dates / raisin - 1/2 cup
Soak the tamarind and extract the juice. Soak dates / raisin and puree .Mix all the above to get a sweetish tangy water.

Cook the potato and remove the skin. Mash it gently along with some salt, cumin powder (1/4 tsp). keep aside.
chop the onions finely , cucumber, tomato finely and keep them aside.
Soak the channa overnight. cook the dhal with enough water for 5 whistles, take out and add some saly. (or) Directly use a can of chickpeas / garbanzo beans after draining the water.

Serving the bhel poori chaat:
Always start mixing when we are about to serve.
Put the chopped vegetables,mashed potato, chickpeas, chutnies, bhel mix , pooris in a big mixing bowl.
Mix well with a spatula.
Divide them in serving bowls.
Garnish with a dash of red chilly powder, chaat masala, chopped cilantro and sev.

Bhel poori chaat is ready!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vadai more kulambu (lentil balls in buttermilk gravy)

vadai - lentil dumplings; More / moru / mor - buttermilk; kulambu / curry - gravy.

Usually I make this kulambu with fried vadas, but here I have baked them before adding to the gravy.. It is also known by the name , 'Paruppu urundai mor kulambu'. Vadai can be either fried / steam cooked / baked, according to our convenience.
Also click to see my Paruppu urundai kuruma kulambu, with garam masala. 
and urundai kulambu in puli kulambuTry this for a dinner along with piping hot rice and lemme know  how you liked it:)

To make the paruppu urundai /Dal balls /lentil dumplings:

Channa dhal (kadalai paruppu)/ Bengal gram lentil - 1 cup.
salt - to taste (1 tsp)

onion - 1/2 cup
curry leaves- 1 sprig
coriander leaves (chopped)- 2 tbsp
Red chillies - 3
* cooking oil-250 ml. for frying (If we are making the balls by frying. We can steam cook or bake to get a healthy version) *

Wash and soak the dhal for 1 hour in water.
Drain the water.
Grind it in to a coarse mixture with red chillies, salt. Put it in a mixing bowl.
Wash the mixer / grinder with 1/2 cup of water and keep aside. This water can be used to thicken the curry. Keep 2 tbsp of batter aside. Mix this batter with the water we reserved from washing the mixer / blender.
Chop the onion,cilantro and curry leaves and mix them with the dhal mixture.
Make small balls out of the mixture (in the size of a lemon).
Place them over cookie sheet lined with greased aluminum sheet and bake in oven at 375 c for 8 minutes. Flip and bake for 2 minutes. Don't worry about cooking completely, just let it get a firm shape. Vadai will get completely cooked afterwards in the curry.

Vadai is ready now!

To make more kulambu:

Thick curd (Plain Desi Yogurt) - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - 2 inch
green chilli - 2
salt - to taste
oil - 1 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli - 2
curry leaves - 1 sprig
water - 2 cups

Remember we got some left over vadai batter in the mixer. Grind ginger , green chillies along with that batter to a fine paste and keep aside.
Pour it along with the liquids to a wok. Add turmeric powder, salt and boil with frequent stirring for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Put the baked vadai and cook covered in low heat for 5 more minutes. Cook till the vada gets completely cooked. Switch off.
Beat the curd with and add it to the boiling masala.
Heat oil in a pan.
Crackle some mustard seeds and add chopped dry red chillies with curry leaves.Add this tempering to the above.Garnish with chopped cilantro.

'Paruppu urundai more kulambu' is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Makes 12 vadai / lentil balls.
Serve hot over cooked rice. There is no need to make any extra dish, as we can have these yummy urundais soaking in the yogurt sauce as side dish.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vazhai poo puli kulambu (Banana flower in tamarind gravy).

Vaazhai poo / valai poo - plantain flower /banana blossom.

I have heard that this kulambu / gravy is a native dish of Sivakasi of Tamilnadu, India. Mom used to say that, they serve this kulambu by the name, 'Vegetarian ayira meen kulambu' (Ayira meen - very tiny fresh water fish) because of the appearance. They have to keep a tablespoon of this gravy along with other side-dishes in their weddings. But it is not so popular in other regions of Tamilnadu. The base is similar to a puli kulambu, and the banana blossom makes it much flavorful.

Banana flower in tamarind gravy.

Banana blossom - 1 (small)
Tamarind - 1 lemon size
Red chilli powder - 1.5 tbsp
coriander powder - 3 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
water - 2 cups
salt - 2 tsp (to taste)

To grind:
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
shallot onion - 10
cumin seeds - 1 tsp

To temper:
mustard - 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig
oil - 2 tbsp
asafoetida - 1 pinch

Clean the banana flower. See the link 'How to clean banana flower?'.
Wash once and drain water. Cut the large flowers into half. keep the tiny flowers without chopping. So that every flower is in 3 inch length (approx). Preserve them in thin buttermilk solution to prevent darkening.
Soak the tamarind in hot water and extract the juice thrice with 2 cups of water.
Add the chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt to the tamarind extract and keep aside.
Grind coconut, onion and cumin seeds with little water. keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan.
Crackle mustard seeds , add fenugreek seeds , curry leaves and asafoetida.
Then add the banana flowers and discard the buttermilk.
Fry well in high flame for 2 minutes till the banana flowers wilt and smells good.
Pour the tamarind extract mixture and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 10 minutes. Then add the ground masala , reduce flame to medium and close tightly with a lid. Let it boil for 5 minutes and switch off. The valai poo kulambu should be like thick gravy.

Serving suggestions:
Serves 5 people as main gravy.
Serve hot with rice and any vegetable side dish or with chapathi.

Sweet Oats porridge

While our weekend breakfast menu always overwhelm with Indian delicacies,  I can make simple breakfasts only for weekdays.  Oats porridge is my favorite and I like it better than any cereal. Starting the day with a healthy and sweet breakfast makes one's day productive. Apple and bananas go well with oats. we can use either one or both to get that fruity flavor.  Oats is similar to the poha (Indian rice flakes / aval), so it gets cooked in stove top or MW. Just boiling or  microwaving is enough.

Sweet oats porridge with fruits.

Ingredients: (for 2 serving)
Old fashioned oats - 1/2 cup
milk - 1 cup
water - 1/2 cup
cinnamon powder - 2 pinches
brown sugar - 4 tsp
apple - 1
banana - 1
raisins - 10
almond - 2

Peel, core and finely chop the apple . Likewise chop the banana too.
Microwave the oats with water for 2 minutes. Take out and keep aside for 2 minutes.
Again microwave for 3 minutes along with milk, finely chopped banana and apple.
Divide it in 2 bowls.
Top each with some raisins, a dash of cinnamon, slivered almond.
It would be a nice idea to keep some apple sauce in refrigerator, to avoid chopping the apples. But fresh apples taste better.

Serve warm with an omelet as side.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Hope you all are doing well. Recently I started to learn sewing. Though I can do embroidery and some basic stitching, I have never attempted any realistic dresses. And that's what I am doing now:) Its very enthusiastic to see our own curtains and nighties :)

Here is a sweet dish to start this month. Mohandhal is a Gujarathi sweet/ gram flour fudge. My mom used to make this very often and we call this as her signature dish. I don't know who taught her this recipe, but she had left this hand written recipe in her note book. I remember her spending lot of hours and energy in making this sweet before Deepavali. I like that taste very much .But her method was very elaborate and difficult. She would do it from scratch, starting from home made milk kova (paal kova), which I can never imagine. She has a lot of patience and perseverance to do stuff like this. I can never stand that much long before a hot wok. All my favorite recipes will require just 15 minutes. So I searched the net and got Manjula madam's Mohandhal video. It was so easy and more like a reverse calculation in arithmetic....once you know the result , you will definitely arrive at the ingredients / question...isn't it :).  . I am noting down mom's method as well. Mom's mohanthal recipe is a treasure to me, but still feeling lazy to try that:) May be some one with patience like her will try that or may be one day I will try that myself:)


Mom's recipe: (makes 15 big slices)
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 1 cup
cashew nut - 1 cup + 15 (garnish)
whole Milk - 4 cup
Sugar - twice of flour
ghee - 1/2 the quantity of flour + 2 tbsp
Pachai karpuram (edible camphor) - a tiny pinch for a cup of flour
cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Soak the cashew nut in milk (1 cup) for 2 hours or more and grind it to a very fine paste. Keep aside.
Heat 1.5 tbsp of ghee and fry the cashew nuts to golden brown. Keep aside.
Grease a plate with 1/2 tbsp ghee and let it wait.
Add the gram flour to the same wok and fry till it becomes mild brown and flavorful. Don't take it out till it turns fluffy and smells good. Keep aside.
In the same wok add the remaining milk and boil till it evaporates and get thick like gova / goya.
Then add the sugar + cashews and heat them in low heat. The sugar will melt in the moisture from cashew and milk. Put the fried gram flour and stir without rest in low heat.
Add the ghee slowly, whenever required and do this till bubbles start appearing in the whole mass.Now add the edible campbor and cardamom, mix well. Care should be taken not to brown the bottom.
Pour this bubbling (almost semi solid) mixture on the well greased plate. Let it stand for 15 minutes. When it is almost set and warm, draw slanting lines to get rhombus shape (diamond shape). Fix one cashew for each slice. Cool completely and store in air tight container.


Easy method:
Click to see Manjula madam's video.

(The following one is from Manjula madam only , except for few of my variations. She recommended to add heavy cream . But I have used condensed milk instead).

Besan flour - 2 cups
Unsalted butter - 6 tbsp
warm milk - 1 tbsp
sweetened condensed milk - 200 gm (1/2 tin or 3/4 cup)
milk powder - 1 cup
cardamom powder- 1 tsp
sugar - 3/4 cup
water - 1/2 cup
almond - 5

Mix the butter with besan flour by rubbing between both palms to get a sandy texture. Keep aside for 15 minutes.
Microwave the milk and let it be warm. Add the milk and rub the mixture again between your palms.

Add the condensed milk and milk powder in a wok and cook it till it rolls to form a soft dough. Switch off and keep aside.

Then add the dough we got with the besan flour and stir fry in low heat till it turns mild brown and aromatic. Fry till it becomes powder / sandy.
Let it cool and add cardamom powder.

In another wok, add the sugar and water and heat till we get double thread consistency (225 deg F in a candy thermometer).

Then switch off and add the flour mixture and mix well. Pour on a greased plate before it starts setting (still hot). Strew finely sliced almond.

Make small slices when it is still warm and let it cool completely.

Mohanthal is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or dessert.

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 ...