Saturday, September 22, 2012

Universal food festival in our Church

Last weekend (September 15) our Church, St.Cecelia's Church, Iselin, NJ organized an 'Universal food festival'. The parishioners were requested to bring a dish from their heritage. Also we were asked to send some recipes for the booklet the church printed.
I was very much excited to prepare a food from Indian cuisine. Hubby dear suggested me to make something with a story behind to share. Then he looked at my menu list and picked sarkkarai pongal (sweet rice pudding), as it is prepared on the Pongal day, the day of thanks giving celebrated by Indian farmers. I prepared the pongal using almost 2 lb rice. I needed a very big heavy bottom vessel to prepare this quantity of pongal. So I used my huge 10 liter pressure cooker my Father in-law presented us during our wedding :)  I used it as my stirring pot and it took me nearly 3 hours to get the pudding like consistency. The next thing puzzled me was the serving tray, as the pongal was very heavy and the disposable tray we bought couldn't hold it. So I kept a tray as base and set the disposable tray over it and poured the pongal into it. Now the whole serving tray was safe and I covered it with a foil. Then carried it carefully and presented it to the person in-charge (our favorite choir singer Ms. Mary Jane).
Other dishes from India were Vegetable briyani, chicken tikka, veg samosa and everything tasted fabulous.

The buffet was delicious with many choices from Cuba, Dutch Indonesia, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Polynesia / Hawaii ,  Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine , Vietnam, All American Classics.

Dessert buffet was opened around 7.30 pm and I was very much delighted to see the guests liking our Sarkkarai pongal along with all the dishes. Whenever someone asked about this 'sweet rice pudding', I told them the festival associated with pongal and we all enjoyed the party.

As soon as the party started I was very surprised and happy to see my recipe printed in the festival booklet.

The next happy thing was the gift they presented us by randomly choosing the ticket numbers. The gift is a beautiful Angel , named as Bright Star Angel made by 'willow tree gifts'. We both were very much thrilled to get that precious gift and consider and thank God as it is His blessings.
Bright Star Angel.

Totally the food festival was a very pleasant experience for all of us and looking forward to participate in all the festivals in Our St.Cecelia's church in future.

Thanks for reading this post my friends, this festival means a lot to me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Avarakkai varuval (broad beans fry)

Usually my veggie stir fries used to be less spicy and less oily. But here is a spicy recipe for a simple stir fry with broad beans. We can substitute avarakkai with snow peas (tastes almost same).
Spicy Avarakkai Varuval.
Broad beans (avarakkai) - 250 gm
sesame oil / olive oil - 3 tbsp
fennel - 1 tsp
shallot onion - 2
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
salt - to taste

Wash the broad beans (avarakkai) very well. Remove the two tips and thick fiber in edges. Slice the broad beans as thin as possible.
 Heat oil in a wok and fry the fennel seeds till red. Then add the finely chopped shallot and fry till it wilts. Add the chopped broad beans and cook covered in low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in between. Add the salt, curry leaf, all the powders mentioned above. Sprinkle a tbsp of water and cook covered for 2 minutes. Switch off.
Avarakkai varuval is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with sambar rice or any rice.
Makes a good side dish with chapati.
I serve some raitha also with this fry and chapathi.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Hearty wishes for all my friends and readers who celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi festival! Happy celebrations !

Get Latest Greetings,Scraps

Click to see some kozhukkattai (dumplings) from my recipes:

Paal kolukkattai (sweet dumplings in coconut milk)

Paal kolukkattai
(milk dumpling)

Kambu kolukkattai (millet dumpling):

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Homemade tortilla chips and guacamole

Tortilla chips with a dipping sauce is a quick snack or appetizer in many parties. Flour tortillas are Mexican flat breads similar to Indian chapati. Chips made of tortillas can be seen in any grocery store or restaurants. I always crave for some spicy snack and search for some healthy ideas as well. I love tortilla chips very much, so decided to prepare a batch of baked tortilla chips instead of frying. Also I wanted to try a easy guacamole recipe from Alton Brown. I got the recipes for baked tortilla and guacamole through internet. Click to see the sources for baked tortilla chips and guacamole recipes. Thanks to the authors, we got a big batch of excellent tasting low calorie snack.
Homemade baked tortilla chips with guacamole dipping.
Store bought corn tortillas.

coat with the prepared masala.

Stack them up.

Cut them into  wedges.

Spread as a single layer over a baking sheet.

Enjoy the baked tortillas with guacamole.

Baked tortilla chips:
Store bought corn tortillas - 12
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
lemon - 1
cumin powder - 1 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 degree F (175 degree C).
Take a mixing bowl and add everything under ingredients except tortilla. Squeeze the lemon to the mix. Take 1 tortilla and spread little masala over it.
Repeat for all the other tortillas and stack them up.
Cut them into wedges, as shown.
Arrange the arrange the tortilla wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Slightly toss the chips and bake again for 7 minutes or till the chips turn mildly crispy. Don't let them brown.
Take the pans out of the oven and let the chips cool and get more crispier in room temperature. After cooled completely, store in airtight containers or zip lock covers.

Serve with salsa or ketchup or guacamole.

Big Avocado / Florida avocado - 1
(Hass Avocado can also be used. But I bought this on that day).
lemon - 1/2
salt - 1/4 tsp
red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
onion (finely chopped) - 2 tbsp
tomato - 1 (finely chopped)
cilantro (chopped) - 2 tbsp
garlic (chopped) - 1 clove

Mix everything except avacado.
Mash the avacado with a potato masher or spatula and mix 1 hour before serving to ensure the bright color of the dish.

Serving suggestions:
Serve the tortilla chips with guacamole as starter / snack .
16 baked tortilla chips with  this dip will give around 120 K cal.  (Very low calorie spicy snack).

Corn tortilla in this recipe can be substituted by preparing some chapati with maida / All purpose flour.
Avacado dipping can be replaced by a simple ketchup as dipping sauce. That too tastes great with the tortilla chips.
Tortilla chips may taste similar to baked thukkada.

Sending my baked tortilla chips with guacamole to Party snacks event, hosted by Faiza (Sinehidhi) of En Iniya illam.

I am sending the below entries also for the event.
1. Thayir (Curd) vadai
2. Vazhaikkai bajji

Happy hosting dear!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mother Mary's Birthday (small carrot cake 6 inch)

On September 8 we celebrated Mother Mary's birthday in our house. I made a 6 inch round apple carrot cake and decorated it with butter cream frosting. I started celebrating Mother Mary's birthday since 2008, by preparing a cake and cooking something special. Many Catholic churches hold a feast celebration on that day all over the world. After coming to USA, I came to know that many children celebrating this day at home by baking a cake with blue frosting and wearing blue dresses, as blue is Mother Mary's favorite color. On seeing those kids enthusiasm, I too got encouraged and we celebrate that feast day with great fervor. Here are some pictures from our celebration of Mother Mary's feast day.

Basic coat and finishing required 4 tbsp butter cream frosting. 1 tbsp of pink frosting for writing, 2 tbsp of yellow icing for roses, 4 tbsp of blue icing for scallop border in top and bottom. See, how small the cake can sit on that little saucer:)

Happy Birthday Mother Mary!

I have already published this recipe while I made cup cakes for Easter. But I thought it would be good if I have the measurements for my small cake pan.

Ingredients for a 6 inch round cake:
wet ingredient 1:
egg - 2 (small)
sugar - 2/3 cup
oil / butter - 1/3 cup + 1 tsp for greasing the pan

Wet ingredient 2:
Carrot - 1 (small)
Apple (small) - 1/2
shredded coconut (dry) - 2 tsp
vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
orange peel - 1 tsp
walnut - 2 tbsp (chopped)
raisin - 15

Dry ingredient:
All purpose flour - 2/3 cup
baking soda - 2/3 tsp
baking powder - 2/3 tsp
salt - pinch
cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
ginger powder - 1/4 tsp

Shred the carrot. Core, peel and shred the apple.
Preheat oven to 350 deg (175 deg C) for at least 30 minutes before we start baking.
Grease and flour the cake tin. Keep aside.
Beat the eggs in a mixer or using a fork till fluffy. Then add vanilla essence, sugar, oil and beat till its fluffy.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt TWICE.
Put it in a mixing bowl and add the liquids from mixer.
Mix well
Add the shredded carrot, coconut, orange peel, cinnamon, coarsely chopped walnut and mix slightly.
Now the batter is ready!
Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40 - 50 minutes.

Carrot apple cake is ready!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ginger chutney

Last week we went to Niagara and corning glass museum. Though we have already gone there some years back,  Niagara is one of the places we wish to go often. Upstate New york is very different than the busy NY city. The state is full of green meadows, beautiful scenery, large farm houses, barn, agriculture, cows, dairy farms, nice people and great food. The weather was beautiful and the total vacation was very good. We went through a tour package as I wanted hubby dear to sit next to me and enjoy that relaxing journey. Any tour gets its full charm only if we eat the local foods. So I didn't pack any food for the trip and enjoyed the locally made pizza, onion rings, French fries, burgers, chicken fry in the upstate New york. The country side restaurants serve very unique tasting meals though they come under the same name. I had prepared some snacks like oats bars, banana walnut cupcake and took some apples, grapes too.

Here I should say how much I rely on ginger to overcome my travel(motion) sickness. So for the first day breakfast I made some idly and Inji (ginger) chutney and kept some honey soaked ginger in my handbag:) Yes, ginger is the best home-remedy to get rid of motion sickness and to stay awake. Moreover my sister inlaw who is a physician has also told me to stay hydrated (from previous day itself), sleep well and to munch something to keep the digestive system healthy:) Those tips are golden for me and helped me a lot to enjoy the journey.

Here is the ginger chutney I prepared along with idly for the tour(photo taken before packing them).

Fresh Ginger (chopped) - 1/2 cup
urad dhal (black gram) - 1 tbsp
channa dhal (bengal gram) - 2 tbsp
dry red chilli - 4
curry leaf - a sprig
coconut (shredded) - 2 tbsp (optional)
tamarind - 2 inch
crushed jaggery - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
oil - 1 tbsp

mustard - 1/2 tsp
hing - a pinch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
oil - 2 drops

Choose tender ginger without much fiber (we should be able to snap the ginger and there shouldn't be much visible fiber. The skin will be more wet and little pink). Scrub and remove the ginger skin. Wash well and chop coarsely.

Soak the tamarind in few drops of water, salt.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the urad dhal and channa dhal till they turn mild red. Take them out. In the same pan fry the red chillies till they turn shiny and flavorful. Take out. Add the chopped ginger, curry leaves and fry for few minutes (no browning).Take out. Then add the shredded coconut and fry till it turns mild red. (Avoid coconut for travel food to ensure freshness).

Grind together everything along with soaked tamarind, jaggery. It should be a fine paste.

Heat few drops of oil in the pan and crackle the mustard seeds. Add hing, curry leaves and switch off. Mix the chutney with this tempering.

Ginger chutney is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with idly, dosa, adai.
Makes a nice side dish with curd rice, sothi kulambu rice, briyani.
Finish this chutney within 8 hours in room temperature.
If kept refrigerated, this stays good for 3 days.

Some photos from our tour.
Niagara in evening.

Full view from American side (observatory tower).

Maid of the mist boat journeys towards Niagara waterfalls.

Rainbow in Niagara.

Light show in Niagara.

Corning glass museum: Replica of Liberty bell in glass.

Corning glass museum: Large glass vases from UK.

Making of glass vase , live show in Corning glass museum.

Corning glass museum gift shop: Glass roses, $ 8.99 each.
Thanks for viewing friends! Happy weekend !

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Aloo methi fry

This summer I wanted to do some gardening and the first thing sparked in my mind was this fenugreek seeds in my pantry. Then the idea grew big and I planted some mint, cilantro, basil, brinjal and tomato. Now the garden is blooming with vegetables and shared them with my neighbors and we all enjoy some fresh veggies now:) I will post the photos soon. I think my readers are going to hear my gardening adventure for at least a few weeks:).

Here is a dry curry recipe with fenugreek leaves (methi/venthaya keerai) and aloo (potato). Adding a touch of greens to my favorite potatoes is much satisfying for me:)

Methi leaves grown in my kitchen garden. Cilantro was not leafy enough:)

Potato - 3
methi leaf (fenugreek leaf) - small bunch
oil - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
garlic - 3 cloves
onion (chopped) - 2 tbsp
chilly powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
salt - to taste

Peel and finely chop the potato.
Heat oil in a wok and add mustard, cumin seeds. After the mustard crackles, add finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Fry for a few seconds. Then add the chopped potato, turmeric powder and stir well. Cook covered till the potato is cooked well. Add required salt, chilly powder and mix well.
In the mean time clean the fenugreek leaves and roughly chop them.
Add the leaves to the cooked potato and cook in medium flame for a few minutes.
Aloo methi dry curry is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with roti, chapati or any rice.

Broccoli Poriyal

This is an  ' Indian version of broccoli stir fry'. I love this vegetable very much and we buy this always. I buy this broccoli as c...