Friday, December 30, 2011

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!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas,

Wishing all my friends and readers a  Blessed Happy Christmas,
May all our dreams come true.

Nativity scene on Birth of Jesus Christ.

Our Christmas tree.

Christmas tradition: Cookies and snacks along with chocolate milk for Santa Clause. Cilantro for reindeer.

Fruit cake for Baby Jesus's Birthday, the Christmas,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mixed vegetable pakoda

Pakoda / pakora / fritters. A pakoda is a deep fried spicy snack.

In Tamilnadu it is common to see the vendors making these crispy pakoras in front of their stalls to attract the crowd in the evening / night. They prepare the pakora's base batter in a big lot and would make various pakoras by dipping and frying the relevant items as per order. There are many variations in making pakora and the dominant ingredient gets the title (mint pakora, tea stall pakora, cashew pakora, onion pakoda etc.,).
Here is a different pakora with mixed vegetables. We can use almost any vegetable here and I am sure deep frying makes it delicious:) If preparing the pakora as tea time snack, I suggest making a little extra, as it makes a wonderful meal with rasam rice for dinner:)

Mixed vegetables I had.

Crispy mixed vegetable pakoda.

Important Ingredients:
Besan flour - 3/4 cup
(Bengal gram flour / kadalai mavu)
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Red onion - 1 (big)
green chilli - 5
ginger - 2 inch
hing - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
curry leaves- 1 brig
cilantro - 1/4 bunch
mint leaf - a handful
cilantro - a handful
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
oil - to deep fry (250 ml)

Vegetables :
cabbage - 100 gm
carrot - 1
broccoli / cauliflower - 1 cup
potato - 1
French beans - 10
(Vegetables with more water content are not suitable for this recipe).

Cut the vegetables into thin slices of 2 inch length.
Chop the onion into thin slices.
Finely chop the green chilli, ginger, cilantro and mint leaves.
Mix the chopped veggies with the besan flour and rice flour.Add chilli powder, salt and garam masala powder.
Try to knead the flour without adding water.
Heat 2 tbsp oil and add it to the mixture. This makes the pakoda more crispy. Instead of oil we can add a few drops of water also.
The dough consistency should not be like chapathi dough. It should be like a mixture of moistened flour with veggies.
Heat oil in a kadai. Drop small pieces of mixture in to the hot oil. Reduce heat to medium so that the vegetable gets cooked evenly. Flip and fry to get crispy fritters.
Take them out and place over paper towels to remove excess oil.
Crispy mixed vegetable pakoda is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot as an evening snack or as side dish with any variety-rice.
Goes fine with curd rice , rasam or sambar rice

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inji mittai

Inji - fresh ginger ; mittai - candy.

This is a candy sold in almost all the bus stations in Tamilnadu. I have never seen any one preparing this at home, as it is easily available there. This inji mittai is helpful in digestion and boosts the energy level during travels. I couldn't get a recipe from anyone I know, so I formulated this recipe myself. I am not sure if this how they prepare the ginger candy commercially, but works for small batches. It tasted exactly like the vendor's and I am sure many of you will like it too.

Method 1:

very young fresh Ginger root - 150 gm
(Makes a paste of 3/4 cup)
sugar - 1 cup
water - 1/4 cup
cardamom - a pinch (optional)

Choose very young tender ginger, without any fiber. Scratch and remove the skin of ginger. Wash well to remove any impurities. Grind to a fine paste with 1/2 of the water mentioned above.
Bring remaining water and sugar to a boil and keep on heating till sugar solution gets the candy stage (2 string).
Add the ginger paste and cardamom powder. Stir well for 10 minutes or till it forms a mass and starts leaving the vessel holding the spatula.
Grease a plate with a 1/4 tsp ghee. Pour the ginger candy mixture and let cool for some time. Then draw lines and let cool completely. Break into squares as per the guidance lines and preserve in an air tight container.

Inji mittai is ready!

Method 2:
(If we cannot get the tender ginger, this method holds good)

Fresh ginger - 150 gm
sugar - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp

Peel the ginger and extract juice with just 1/4 cup water. Discard the fiber.
Let the juice stand for 10 minutes. Discard the white residue.
Add the clear ginger juice to sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and heat till it starts getting candy stage (2 string). Put the all purpose flour (maida) and stir vigorously to avoid lumps. Now the candy will start leaving the sides and starts crystallizing. Pour over a well greased plate and flatten to 1/2 inch thickness. Draw lines using a knife and let cool completely.
Break into squares and preserve in air tight container.

Inji mittai is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Taking a ginger candy after a heavy meal helps in digestion.
Good for people with giddiness.
Makes 20 small squares (1.5 inch).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pepper chicken curry

Kozhi milagu kulambu - A chicken curry prepared with vibrant Indian black pepper masala. Pepper based curries called as milagu kulambu in Tamil may be one of the traditional masalas used in India before the arrival of chillies. Interestingly enough chillies made their route to India through Spanish and colonization, just 500 years ago only. Before reading this history, I had a different imagination because of the strong usage of chile peppers in India:)

Using black peppers in non vegetarian foods is highly recommended by elders in my town, as they believe that it can cure any food related allergies and a great cold remedy. Won't that be convincing enough to make a curry with black pepper:)

Chicken - 1 lb
plain curd - 4 tbsp
dry ginger powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
fennel - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 2 inch
bay leaf - 1
Sesame oil - 1/4 cup (must)
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Paste 1:
tomato - 3
onion - 1
garlic - 1 (full)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and fry the chopped onion,peeled garlic till it wilts. Then add the chopped tomato and cook till it gets mushy. Let cool and grind to a fine paste.

To dry roast and grind:
Whole black Pepper - 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 3 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
cardamom - 5
cloves - 4
cinnamon - 2 inch
fennel - 1 tsp
black cumin - 1/4 tsp
mace - a thin strip
nutmeg - a tiny scrapping

Choose red meat with some bones from chicken.
Wash and pat dry. Add a tsp of salt, curd, turmeric and let it marinate for an hour or two.

Dry roast the items mentioned (just a minute is enough...don't let any of them char, otherwise the taste will change). First powder them without water.

Heat oil in a wok and put fennel, cinnamon, bay leaf and curry leaves. Then add the marinated chicken pieces without the liquid. Fry till the color changes to white and chicken shrinks a little.

Then add the onion tomato paste, remaining marinated liquid and cook covered with required salt. Check if it is done. Now put the prepared masala powder, dry ginger powder and mix well. Cook covered in medium heat till oil separates.

Garnish with fresh curry leaves.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot over rice along with a drop of ghee.
Also a very good side dish for chapati or rasam rice.

If tomato is not available, 1 cup of thick plain Indian yogurt can be added instead.
Traditionally dry red chillies are not added in this curry. But can be included if we want it more spicy..

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Simple Beans poriyal (stir fry)

Flat beans is called as 'nattu beans' (Tamil) or 'country style beans' in India. It has more fiber than the French green beans (popularly known as 'Ooty beans'). The flavorful Flat beans are suitable for South Indian poriyals (stir fry) and easy to cook French beans for North Indian curries and baking.

Here is the most common way to prepare an Indian stir fry. Almost any vegetable can be made as poriyal by this method. Sure it is a basic Indian recipe for starters.

Flat beans.

Beans poriyal

Flat or French beans - 1/2 lb (200 gm)
Red onion (chopped) - 1
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
urid dhal - 1 tsp
coconut oil - 2 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cumin - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilly - 3

Wash and clean the beans in large amounts of water multiple times to remove all the dirt / sand. Drain water and chop it finely.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds, urid dhal and let mustard splutter.
Finely chop the onion, chillies, curry leaf (optional) and add to the wok.
Stir till onion turns soft.

Add the finely chopped beans and stir fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle a handful of water and cook covered for 10 more minute in medium heat. (Ooty beans / French green beans takes lesser time to get cooked). Open the lid. Let all the moisture dries up. Check if the beans is cooked but firm.

Add salt, cumin and fry a bit. After the poriyal looks very loose without any moisture put the freshly shredded coconut and stir for few seconds. Switch off.

Simple beans poriyal is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Beans poriyal can be served as side dish with sambar rice , curd rice or rasam rice, chapati.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kashmiri pulav (II)

This is the pulav I prepared for the International festival celebrated in 'Our Lady of Fatima' Church. I prepared this Kashmiri pulav and chicken kabob along with other participants. It was a delightful experience to see the guests liking the Indian food. Here is the recipe for my friends!

Kashmiri pulav.

Cooking the rice: (for 2 or more people)
Basmati rice - 1 cup
Water - 3 cups
butter - 1 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
lemon - 1/4 of a fruit
turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp

Wash the rice thrice in cold water.
Soak the rice for 30 minutes.
Drain the rice and keep ready.
Bring the water to a good boil along with turmeric, salt, butter. Add the soaked rice, lemon juice and reduce flame. Cook for 5 minutes and drain the water. The rice should not be raw, but cooked and stiff. Run under cold water to make it extra fluffy.
For more details click to read how I cooked rice for pulav.

Onion - 1
butter / ghee - 2 tbsp
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
plain Indian yogurt - 1/2 cup
salt - 1 tsp
cilantro - 2 tbsp (chopped)
mint leaf - 1 tbsp (chopped)
green chilly - 2
green peas - 1/2 cup
carrot - 1 small
saffron - few strands
rose essence - 2 drops

bay leaf - 1
cinnamon - 1 inch
cardamom - 3 (crushed)
cloves - 3 (crushed)
star aniseed - 1
fennel - 1/2 tsp
nutmeg - a tiny bit
mace - 1 inch

fruits and nuts: (chopped)
apple - 1/2 cup
pineapple - 1 cup
pomegranate - 1/2 cup
orange - 1
raisin - 1/4 cup
tooti fruity - 1 tbsp
cashew nut - 10 (full)
almond - 4 (slivered)

Fry the cashews, almonds, raisins and keep them aside.

Heat oil / butter in a wok. Add the spices and stir till the fennel turns red.
Cut the onions in thin long pieces. Immediately add the onions and fry till it get golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir till the raw smell vanishes. Add more ghee if needed.
Toss in the split chillies, cubed carrot, peas and cook covered. Then add the required salt, yogurt. Cook in low heat till the masala gives a nice flavor and oil oozes out. Check the taste. If needed add some salt or lemon juice or red chilly powder to alter the taste to need.
Switch off and add rose essence.

Add the cooked rice and mix well. Add another tbsp of ghee over it.
Mix the fried nuts and raisin.

Peel and core the apple. Cube it into small pieces. Cut the pineapple into small cubes.

Place prepared rice in a serving tray and let it cool little. Add the chopped fruits, chopped mint, cilantro and saffron strands. Mix well.

Kashmiri pulav is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as main course with any spicy curry like butter chicken or Chicken tikka masala.

To make the pulav more flavorful and rich, cook the rice with a few strands of saffron.
If prepared with a dominant red and green colored fruits, we can prepare it as a special Christmas pulav.

Spinach scrambled egg

Both of us love home made foods. So whenever we had to go for a grocery shopping or any other thing on a weekend, I finish my cooking duty before we start, so that we can have our meal as soon as we reach home. That particular Saturday we had to go out for a few hours and I wanted to make some rasam, rice and a side dish. When I checked the vegetable tray there was some spinach leaves which won't be enough to make a stir fry but  I didn't want to waste them. So I made a spinach poriyal with some eggs and it tasted richer than the plain spinach fry.

Stir fried spinach and egg.

Spinach (any greens) - 30 leaves
egg - 2
Shallot / red onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
garlic - 5 cloves
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
coconut oil - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
green chilly / dry red chilly - 2

Wash and clean the greens in large amounts of water multiple times to remove all the dirt / sand. Drain water and chop it finely.

Heat oil / ghee in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter.
Chop the onion, garlic, chillies, curry leaf (optional) finely and add to the wok.
Stir till onion turns soft.

Add the finely chopped greens and stir fry for 2 minutes. Cook covered for 1 more minute. Open the lid. Let all the moisture dries up.

Add salt, cumin and fry a bit. After the poriyal looks very loose without any moisture. Keep aside.
Before serving, heat the poriyal and break two eggs and pour over the stir fry. Scramble well to get tiny pieces. Then put the freshly shredded coconut.

Spinach scrambled egg is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Spinach scrambled egg can be served as a simple breakfast with sweet oatmeal.
It goes well with sambar rice , curd rice or rasam rice.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Onion bonda

Onion bonda / vengaya bonda is a spicy snack that can be seen in almost all the crowded tea shops in Southern Tamilnadu. I used to think if it is that strong flavored  fried big onion balls were attracting all the passersby:) Whenever I eat some onion rings after coming here,that flavor brings me back those memories and  I comfort myself saying that I will make my favorite onion bonda one day:) In India this is not commonly prepared in households because of the need for more frying oil and  so I too hesitate to use and reuse that much quantity of oil:) Recently I made this for us along with ginger tea on a cold winter evening and it came out just like that tea shop's:) 

Vengaya bonda.

Red onion - 4 (big)
maida / All purpose flour - 4 tbsp
besan flour - 2 tbsp
green chillies - 6
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
hing / asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
baking soda - 1/2 tsp
corn oil - 2 tbsp
corn oil - 250 ml (to deep fry)

Slice the onion in lengthwise to get medium thick pieces.
Finely chop the green chillies.
Place the chopped onion, curry leaf, chilly in a mixing bowl.
Add required salt and mix well without adding water.
Now add the measured flours, baking soda,hing, red chilly powder and mix well.
The water in the onion will be enough to moisten the flour.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan.
When the oil becomes hot take out 2 tbsp hot oil from it and pour over the bonda batter. Mix well and make small orange size balls. Reduce flame. Put the balls in hot oil and fry them in medium flame. Do it in small batches (2 or 3 at a time) without crowding the oil.
The oil should be enough to cover the balls, otherwise the center will be uncooked.
The bonda will take more time to get fried completely. Frying in medium heat will ensure complete cooking till the core. After the bubbles subdue, take the bondas and drain excess oil in paper towels.
Before frying every batch of bonda heat the oil to maximum, then reduce it to medium and fry them.

Onion bonda is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as tea time snack with hot tea or coffee.
It won't need any dipping.
But tomato ketchup or coconut chutney also suits well.
Makes a nice side dish with sambar rice or curd rice.

The frying process requires more oil than vadai and bajji because of the shape and size of the bonda balls. The bonda should be well immersed in hot oil to fry it completely. Water should not be added to make this bonda batter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fruit salad ice cream

I don't remember me craving for any kind of ice cream since my childhood except for this 'ice cream with fruit salad'. There is a bakery cum ice cream shop in my home town named Arasan ice cream parlor, which serves this fruit salad ice cream in tall glasses. They have their own versions like honey ice cream, fried nuts ice cream, ice cream cakes etc. It would be always crowded by people who want to enjoy their fabulous cakes, bakes and ice creams along with the ambiance. At that time it was the best meeting place for youngsters and We also used to enjoy this ice cream in a tall glass while dating.

It is very easy to make and we will get a grand looking dessert in minutes. Just a scoop of ice cream over finely chopped fruits will do the magic.I used homemade pomegranate ice cream in this recipe. Many a times I have felt this ice cream fruit salad to be very filling. So if we are planning to serve this as a dessert, make sure to plan a very light meal before that.

Pomegranate Ice cream with fruit salad.

Ingredients:(use any available fruit)
(for 2 servings)
Apple - 1/2 small
pear - small piece
orange - 2 pieces
green and red grapes - 6 each
pineapple - 1 round slice
pomegranate - a handful
strawberry - 2
cherry - 2
apple sauce /dates syrup / honey - 2 tbsp
Ice cream - 2 large scoops
(vanilla or any fruit flavored ice creams only)

Choose a very tall glass. Traditionally they are served in taller and leaner glasses. I have used these shorter glasses according to my need:)

Choose any seasonal fruit. But keep in mind, one should be crispy like apple the other with tangy taste like pine apple and the grapes are a must.

Finely chop all the fruits. Put them zip-lock cover and keep refrigerated.
Keep the apple and pear separately in lemon juice water to prevent discoloration.
(Put the chopped apple and pear in a bowl and pour enough water to cover. Squeeze few drops of lemon and mix well). The chopped fruits can be preserved for a few hours inside fridge. (If we want to get the benefits of fruits, start eating them immediately after chopping).

Mix all the fruits. Fill the glass half way with the mixed chopped fruits. Pour a generous tbsp of apple sauce or date syrup or honey over the fruit.
Place a big scoop of ice cream over it and top it with a cherry.
If needed insert a wafer biscuit on top along with cherry.

Fruit salad ice cream is ready!

Serving suggestion:
A tall glass and a long spoon will make the dish more attractive.
Serve as dessert or snack .
I like to have it as a breakfast itself:)

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 ...