Friday, July 29, 2016

St. Martha's day

Today is St.Martha's day. This is not just a day for a saint, this is the day for all housewives. 
St.Martha is the patron saint of housewives, waiters and waitress.

When Jesus visited Martha and Mary's house, Martha worked hard to cook and serve the Lord. While Mary was sitting and listening to the Lord. (Both are essential in my opinion. If a guest comes, someone should accompany them and that is what Mary was doing. At the same time someone needs to cook and serve the guests too, and that's Martha). May be Mary had a greater vision about God than Martha and she could have known about HIS miracles better. But as a normal woman, Martha tried to do her best to take care of Jesus and his friends that accompanied him to her house. In my view, the world needs more Marthas as well as Marys...well if possible a mix of both in one body :)
St. Martha cooking and serving for Jesus and his followers.(Image courtesy :link )
She is one of my most favorite saints. Blessed are her hands that cooked for our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Have a beautiful day all !
Viki Xavier

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rosemilk falooda

As far as I know, Falooda is a welcome drink in North India. It can be served as dessert too.  Falooda was not popular in my native place until we came to US. But I have tasted it in Chennai. I didn't try to make it for a long time, until I prepared one vanilla falooda along with my neighbor aunty on a weekend. She prepares this in a jiffy, while all are talking. I assist her in arranging and serving, that's my first falooda experience.  But after learning her method, I made this rose milk falooda for her and our family on a summer weekend. As I made this as a mid-morning drink for us all, I kept everything ready the day before itself. (read my recipe below to know how to save time in making falooda). Then just before serving I layered the ingredients and topped it with homemade kulfi ice cream. If we are not having kulfi ice cream, then add some crushed nuts and dry fruits along with the cooked vermicelli to make it richer.

A welcome drink !


Rosemilk mix, basil seeds, thin vermicelli

mix the rosemilk mix in  1/4 c cold milk

Bring whole milk to a boil and add sugar.

add the rose milk mix and mix well

soak the basil seeds and keep refrigerated until use

cooking the vermicelli noodles

keep everything handy and  keep refrigerated

prepare the falooda up to this stage before adding ice cream and keep refrigerated.

Just before serving add a scoop of ice cream in each glass and enjoy !

Rosemilk mix - 2 tbsp
whole milk - 3 cups
sugar - 1/2 cup
Falooda semiya (thin vermicelli) - 2 handful
water - to cook semiya
sabja seeds (basil / Takmariya seeds) - 3 tbsp
Vanilla or kulfi ice cream - 1 scoop per glass

1.Bring whole milk to a boil. Dissolve the rose milk mix in 1/4 cup cold milk or water. Add this to the boiling milk and mix well. If needed add required sugar to make it really really sweet. This is important, because once we cool the milk, it may need more sugar. Let it cool completely and keep in fridge.
2. Keep the falooda seeds (basil) in a container. Add enough water to immerse it. It may take nearly 30 minutes to soak and puff up.
3. Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add the thin semiya. It will get cooked in a minute. Using a colander, drain the water and discard. Rinse the vermicelli in cold water , so that it gets loosened. Keep in fridge.

I suggest doing these 3 steps ahead of time , as they need to get cooled very well before serving. Also making them ahead would be a great idea if served for guests as a welcome drink.

Assembling the falooda:
Keep ready some tall glass tumblers.
Divide the vermicelli and put a little in each glass.
Likewise divide the rose milk and pour in each glass equally.
Top with soaked basil seeds.
Keep in fridge until serving.
Just before serving, add a generous scoop of kulfi ice cream and place a spoon in each drink.
Rosemilk falooda is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as dessert or mid-morning drink.
Makes 5 glasses of medium size (8 oz).

Monday, July 25, 2016

South Indian Vegetarian Party

Recently we hosted a party for our neighbor aunty, who has become a new grandma. That's the baby's first party to go and that made it more memorable for us. So here is the menu I prepared for the new mom and grandparents and family.
South Indian dinner party 

Poori is getting ready !
My party menu !

Here is the menu :
Cucumber salad
Ulunthu vadai with fresh coconut chutney
Idli  with sweet mango sambar
Poori with potato masala
Kulfi ice cream

Hope you all love this party menu as much as we all do !

Monday, July 11, 2016

Corn and Bean salad

Even though we all strive to cook elaborate snacks on weekends, secretely we all would long to have something quick to fix. All the home cooks have some magic recipe in their sleeve to make their family happy on a weekend, without standing in the kitchen for long time. May it be a store bought chips packet or homemade murukku, but the smile we see in our love's face is important :) Right !
 In my house sundal (Indian lentil salad) is one snack that saves me a lot of time.  Corn and bean salad is another easy to do recipe.  Click to see my 'colorful corn and bean salad'. Mostly I buy frozen corn in a bag. But if you are willing, you can prepare it from fresh corn too. Tea time snacks in my house is mostly easy to fix types.  When it comes to lentils, I always buy dried beans. Dried beans are inexpensive and belongs to 'good eats'. Canned beans comes handy, when we need to soak them.  I cook black bean ahead , portion them and freeze it in small containers. So here is my hubby's favorite 5 minute sundal / salad.
Corn and bean salad

Sweet corn - 1 cup
black bean - 1/2 cup
Parmesan cheese - 2 tbsp (optional)
salt , pepper - to taste
lemon - few drops

Boil the corn and remove the kernels from cob using a knife. (or) Just buy a bag of frozen corn and keep it handy.
Take a cup of frozen corn and rinse in water. Put it in a microwavable cup. Microwave it for 2 minutes . I don't cover it while microwaving.
Mix it with cooked hot black bean. Add salt, pepper, cheese , lemon juice and mix well.
Corn bean salad  is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or side dish with baked chicken and vegetables.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Vegetable Kara paniyaram

Paniyaram is a snack that looks like American cake-pops. They are made in special pans called 'kuzhipaniyara kal' . Those pans are the very same as puff pancake pans here.
Mostly the paniyaram batter is made with rice and dal.  We can make many varieties too. Check out my Kaara paniyaramkeerai paniyaram, carrot kuli paniyaram, sweet paniyaramwheat paniyaram,  ragi paniyaram, unniappam, deep fried banana paniyaram . In this I have added many vegetables and it makes it more scrumptious.

Vegetable kaara paniyaram with tomato chutney

dosa batter - 1 1/2 cup
ravai (sooji / semolina) - 2 tbsp
besan flour - 2 tbsp
baking soda - 1/2 tsp
oil - as per need
carrot, beans, capsicum, cabbage or any combo of vegetables - finely minced together 3/4 cup
To temper:
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
urad dhal - 1 tsp
sesame oil - 1 tsp
onion - 1/4 (small)
green chilly - 2
cilantro, curry leaf - few leaves.
asafoetida (hing) - a pinch

Take the dosa batter in a mixing bowl, and add sooji to it.
It is not traditional to add besan flour, but I add it to get golden red paniyaram.
10 minutes before starting to prepare the paniyaram, add the baking soda and mix well. 

In the mean time prepare the tempering.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small wok and add mustard seeds. Once they start splutter, add the urad dhal, hing and finely chopped onion, cilantro, curry leaf, chopped chilly and let it get slightly tender. Then goes the chopped vegetables. Cook the vegetables crispy tender. Sprinkle some salt. Add it to the batter and mix well.
Now heat a paniyaram pan and brush some oil in all the holes. Then add 1/2 tsp sesame oil / butter in each hole. Reduce the flame to minimum and pour the batter to halfway in each hole. Click to see the picture. Let it get cooked. Cook covered or in open. (I prefer putting a lid to ensure uniform cooking). We can see the paniyaram getting cooked, by the golden color appearing in the edges. Flip using a skewer or fork (I use a spoon and fork). Cook for a minute.  Take out and serve immediately.

Serving suggestion:
Makes a breakfast or snack with tea or dinner or appetizer.
Makes almost 21 paniyaram .
Serve with coconut chutney, Tomato chutney

Click to read my kaara paniyaram recipe from scratch.
I used left over dosa batter (5 days old) in this recipe (old dosa batter contains lesser urid dal and that's the best for paniyaram).
Do everything in low heat. It may take a little while but that is the only way to get whole fluffy paniyaram (in a traditional pan).
Non stick pans work the best. But I have used a pan similar to traditional thick paniyaram pan.
For the first round it may require more oil to fry, but it will take very lesser in the next batches.
Tastes the best when it is very hot.
Sometimes we soak some kara paniyaram in sambar and serve like sambar vadai.

Time taken: around 30 minutes

Orange cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon bun is an easy to make recipe.  We can see this dessert in many restaurants here. Also ready-made and ready to bake versions can be bought from grocery stores. Usually this bun should be glazed with white powdered sugar.  But I wanted to try something different and I tried 'Orange cinnamon rolls' from the book 'Trisha's Table' , which I got from library.  The citrus flavor in this recipe makes the usual rolls more scrumptious. Try this and enjoy !
Orange cinnamon rolls

This is the first recipe I tried as soon as I got a kitchenaid mixer from Santa during Christmas
cinnamon sugar over the dough

before rising. In this stage, we can wrap and keep it refrigerated overnight to bake freshly the next morning.

After baking

Orange cinnamon rolls
For Dough:
Active dry yeast - 1 pack (2 1/4 tsp)
sugar - 1/4 cup + 1 tsp
lukewarm water - 1/4 cup
olive oil - 1/4 cup
orange zest - 1 tbsp
orange juice - 1/4 cup
whole milk - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 3 1/2 cups
salt - 1 tsp
For filling:
salted butter (softened) - 3 tbsp
light brown sugar - 1 cup
cinnamon powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
Orange glaze:
confectioner's sugar - 2 cup
orange juice - 3 tbsp

Combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar, lukewarm water together in a small bowl. Let it activate for 10 minutes. It will bubble and double in volume.
In another bowl, mix together sugar, oil, orange zest, orange juice and milk.
In an electric mixer bowl, add four and salt. Add yeast solution, orange juice mix. Fix the dough hook and set it to speed 2 and 3 and beat till it becomes a dough. It may take 5 minutes.
Or we can make this dough manually too.
Now cover that mixer bowl with an air tight plastic wrap. Let it remain in room temperature for 1 hour and see that it gets double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Coat a baking tray with cooking oil and keep aside.

Clean the kitchen counter and flour the surface. Roll the dough to a rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Coat the dough with butter leaving 1/4 inch border. Sprinkle brown sugar and then cinnamon powder over it.
Roll the dough to a cylindrical shape and pinch the ends together and seal completely.
Cut it into 12 equal size rolls. Place them in the baking tray. Cover it with plastic wrap again and let it rise for 30 more minutes. Now it would double in volume.
Now remove the wrap and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. It will turn mild brown and that means it is done.

In a small bowl, mix together confectioner's sugar, orange juice. Drizzle this over the cinnamon rolls , while they are still warm.
Orange cinnamon rolls is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as dessert or breakfast.
Makes 12 rolls.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence day !

Happy Independence day dear America !
American Flag model in Roadside America, PA.

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 ...