Monday 6 October 2014

RAVA LADDOO / SUJI KE LADDOO/ SWEET SEMOLINA BALLS

RAVA LADDOO / SUJI KE LADDOO/ SWEET SEMOLINA BALLS
This is probably one of the easiest sweets to make. This is also one of the first sweets I ever attempted to make. I would call this a beginner’s sweet or a no-fail recipe for anybody. Just follow the recipe step-by-step and you will have one the easiest sweets to prepare for Diwali or any festival or just to gobble like that. I also call Rava Laddoo one of the easiest sweets as it is prepared with ingredients easily available at home like Semolina, sugar and ghee. Rava Laddoo in Tamil is known as Suji ke Laddoo in the North and Ravyacha Laadoo in Maharashtra.
Here is the recipe for Rava Laddoo

Ingredients
Semolina/Rava/sooji - 1 cup 
Sugar – ¾ cup - 1 cup (depending on how sweet you like)
Ghee - ¼ cup 
Milk (optional) - 1 tblsp 
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1 tsp
Cashew nuts – 2 tbsps sliced in halves
Raisins – 2 tbsps 


Method
In a wok (pan), add the semolina and roast evenly by continuously stirring it with a spatula over a medium flame until a nice toasted aroma comes out of it. Be careful not to burn the rava while roasting it as it will completely ruin the taste of the laddoo. Let the roasted rava cool down. Keep it aside.
Now powder the sugar and keep aside.
Now take the cooled down roasted rava and mix with the sugar and run in the blender till it becomes one uniform mixture. Add in the cardamom (elaichi) powder and run it in the blender along with the rava and sugar.
Now transfer this mix to a big plate. I usually take a big plate so it’s easy for me to mix. In a saucepan, add in the ¼ cup ghee and to it add the Cashew nuts and Raisins and fry until the raisins become plump and the cashew nuts get slightly toasted. Add this to the rava and sugar mixture.
Sprinkle the milk and mix thoroughly (This step is optional). In case you are using milk, heat up the milk slightly and add in warm milk to the mix. Milk is added to enable binding the mixture well enough so as to make the laddoos easily. I haven’t used milk in my recipe. I have made the laddoos completely with ghee. Adding milk reduces the shelf life of the laddoos.
Once, you have added the ghee, make small balls out of the mixture immediately, make tight balls. Rava Laddoo is ready to enjoy!!!

 Tips
         While blending the semolina, ensure that it is blended to a fine powder which will enable to make the laddoo easily. If the mix is coarse then it won’t be easy to make the laddoos.
         The finer the blend the more melt-in-the mouth the laddoo’s will be.
         In case, you are not using milk and find it difficult to bind, add in more melted warm ghee to the mix until it’s easier to make the laddoos.
         Sugar can be added according to taste. 3/4th cup is just ok not overly sweet. If you like it more sweet you can add 1 cup of sugar.

         You can reduce the ghee by 2 tbsps in the recipe and it still turns out fine. 

Friday 18 July 2014

CHEENIVARIKKAI / KOTHAVARANGAI PARUPPU USILI (CLUSTER BEANS WITH LENTILS AND COCONUT)

CHEENIVARIKKAI / KOTHAVARANGAI PARUPPU USILI (CLUSTER BEANS WITH LENTILS AND COCONUT)
GAWAR PHALI KI SABJI DAL AUR NARIYAL KE SAATH
The biological name of Cluster beans is Cyamopsis tetragonoloba. It is an annual legume and the source of guar gum. It is also known as Gavar, Gawar Phali, Guwar or Guvar bean.

This is yet another weekend special from my kitchen. The reason it’s cooked over the weekends is simply because the process to cook this dish is quite lengthy and time consuming. But it’s one of my absolute favorites. There are some dishes which amma (my mom) knows; that can make me happy any day and this is one of it.

Now, cluster beans is called Cheenivarikkai at my place. I guess it must be a kerala iyer (Tam brahms from Kerala) name.  I don’t know how many people call it as that. I didn’t know for very long that it is also known as Kothavarangai.

Paruppu usili is made in different houses differently but I absolutely adore my mom’s recipe and follow it to the T.
I even heard that many people use Bengal Gram (Chana dal) to make paruppu usili, but my mom uses Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas).
Apparently many people don’t like Cluster beans and it seems in yesteryears when old people would go for Pilgrimage to Kashi (Explanation below) they would usually give up on Cluster beans.

Kashi Vishwanath temple  - A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (salvation) hence people from all over the nation try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage at the temple.

When I asked my Grandma why they would give up on such a lovely vegetable, my grandma would say, because Cluster Beans is usually very gassy and as you age your digestive systems would become weak so it would be best to avoid it.

Thank god we are not in those times and I probably may not have to give up on this lovely vegetable. There are some people who steam the paruppu (Dal), but I don’t, here is the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

Ingredients
For the Kothavarangai Mezhukkuvaratti (Poriyal)
Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai (Cluster Beans) – 750 gms chopped
Oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chilly – 1 broken in halves
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Shredded Coconut – 2 tbsps

For the Paruppu Usili
To grind to a coarse paste:
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Dried Red Chillies – 1
Green Chilly – 1
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
 
Method
Rinse & soak 1 cup Toor dal for about 1-2 hours.
Trim the edges and chop cluster beans finely. Rinse it well. In a Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the dried chilly broken in half. When the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the chopped cluster beans, mix well, ½ tsp of Turmeric powder, a pinch of Asafetida, Salt as per taste,  stir and close with lid and cook on low flame till it is cooked. Once it’s cooked, Transfer to a plate.
Drain the Soaked toor dal and grind it coarse in a blender with 1 dried red chilly and 1 green chilly, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asafetida and salt as
per taste. Keep aside

In the same Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the  coarsely blended dal mixture. Keep sautéing until the mixture separates and become golden brown. Once that is done, add the cooked cluster beans and mix well. Now, finally, add in the shredded coconut and mix well. Check for salt at this point as well. Incase there is salt you can add some at this point as well. Cook for 2-3 minutes on sim.

The Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai Paruppu usili is ready. Enjoy with Rasam and rice.

Variation to the above method
Steam method – After you coarse grind the dal paste. Boil water in an idli pan, spread the coarse mixture on the steamer plate and steam it for 5-7mins, once it cools down, crumble it with your hands and set aside.
Now heat oil in a wok,  Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the add the dal mixture & sauté till golden brown, then follow as above.

Tips:-
  • Ensure that the dal mixture is blended coarse, if it becomes a fine paste then you will not get the perfect texture. To ensure that it doesn’t get ground fine, make sure to drain the water completely.
  • If you are using the steaming method then follow as above. Please ensure to spread the mixture and then steam it as it crumbles easily.
  • This recipe can be used to make French beans, flat beans (Avarakkai), Long beans, Banana flower (Vazhapoo) etc.

Friday 4 July 2014

STIR FRY TOFU WITH VEGETABLES

STIR FRY TOFU WITH VEGETABLES
This is a vegan recipe. I was also careful to use the NON GMO Soya bean Tofu.  
(Kindly do click on the word "NON GMO Soya bean" hyperlink to learn more about Non GMO Foods).
There are many varieties of Tofu available in the market. For this recipe choose the medium firm ones. In Singapore you can buy it everywhere and they are known as Tau kwa.
Soya bean is high in calcium which is good for your bones and teeth.

Tau Kwa also has a high amount of Isoflavones which allows one to prevent heart disease. FDA states that consumption of 25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. With these kind of health benefits isn’t it good to add tofu to your vegetables?

This dish is very easy to cook and very healthy as it’s packed with proteins and vitamins. I would call it a crunchy crispy delight. You can eat this with brown rice/ white rice/ Noodles or just dunk into a bowlful of this nutritional delicacy.

Stir fry vegetables with soya sauce is made in many south asian countries with a variation to the sauces / spices used.

Below is the Indo-Chinese, Indo-thai, Indo-Pinoy fusion version. (Indo because there is an Indian twist to it)

You can add any vegetables to it like Broccoli, Celery, Mushrooms, Cauliflower….the list of variations is endless. You can rustle this up with whatever you have at home.


Ingredients
Tofu cubes (Tau Kwa) - 1 teacup
Carrot - 1
French Beans / Snow Peas – 5 - 6
Onions   2
Tomatoes - 1
Capsicum – 1
Green chilly – 1 big (non – spicy variety)
Stem of spinach – a few
Oil – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
Soya Sauce – 1 tbsp
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp (optional)
Salt as per taste
Pepper – a pinch of coarsely ground pepper (optional)
Spring onion for garnish
Coriander leaves for garnish


Method
Cut the Tofu into cubes Deep fry the tofu until medium brown (about 5 to 8 minutes). Set aside. You can avoid frying and can add the tofu at the end when the vegetables are almost done. Tofu cubes are soft and tend to break, hence, frying would be a good option to keep its texture and shape good.

Chop 1 onion, tomato and the ginger and make a coarse paste in the blender. Keep aside.

Julienne ( cut thin strip lengthwise ) the carrots , beans , capsicum, Chilly,  Cut some Spinach stems about the same length as the julienned carrots

Now, heat a pan and pour-in 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Add the cumin seeds, when it splutters, Sauté the onion. Once it’s translucent, add in the blended coarse paste of the Onion- Ginger Tomato and sauté well, until you see the oil come out of the paste indicating its cooked well. Now add the fried tofu and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Put-in soya sauce, salt as per taste, chilly powder and pepper as required. Cook in steam till it’s done. The vegetable shouldn’t be overdone. It should be cooked but crunchy.
Garnish with finely chopped spring onion leaves and cilantro (Coriander leaves)
You can make a vegetable broth to pour on top or just enjoy the way it is. Serve steaming hot with Rice/ Noodles or just plain.
Flavors of Cumin & Tomatoes give an Indian twist to this dish. Do enjoy this healthy recipe.

Friday 20 June 2014

LACK OF APPETITE IN BABIES. IS MY BABY GETTING ENOUGH BREAST MILK

LACK OF APPETITE IN BABIES. IS MY BABY GETTING ENOUGH BREAST MILK
Most New mother's are super anxious about their newborns. They are worried about whether the baby is getting enough breast milk. Is the supply good enough. Is he/she satisfied. Hope my baby doesn't remain hungry and many mothers also start formula milk as a substitute to breast milk thinking that the baby is not getting enough. This post is for all of them. This post will clear most myths that new mother's have regarding the appetite of the babies and the supply of breast milk.

 "NOTHING CAN SUBSTITUTE BREAST MILK / MOTHER'S MILK". EVEN THE FORMULA MILK CONTAINER STATES THAT.....
Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for little infants and I always advocate giving breast milk to babies very strongly. The important thing is how would one know whether the breast milk supply is enough or not....Most new mothers worry that they are not getting enough breast milk but many times the breast milk supply is good enough. So always ensure that you massage the breast well and squeeze out before you latch on the baby to your breast. You can consult your doctor/ a nurse/ midwife on how to do this.

A breast feeding mother should have good nutrition and timely intake of food. I strongly recommend Shatavari for increase in breast milk. It's tried and tested. It's available in a Granulated Sugar form which can be added to milk or Himalaya Herbals sell them in Capsule form. I personally prefer the granulated sugar form.

Another problem is, new mothers always latch their babies on to their breasts the moment they cry. Crying could be related to various reasons and not only hunger.

Breastfeeding should be "on demand" (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1-3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll need to nurse less frequently — some may feed every hour and a half, whereas others may go 2-3 hours between feedings. Babies who are getting formula will likely take about 2-3 ounces every 2-4 hours. Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding.

Mothers may want to try nursing 10-15 minutes on each breast, then vary the time as necessary.

Call your baby's doctor if you need to awaken your newborn frequently or continually urge your baby to suck.

Most experts suggest you nurse or feed your baby whenever he or she seems hungry. Signs that babies are hungry include:

·  moving their heads from side to side

·  opening their mouths

·  sticking out their tongues

·  placing their hands and fists to their mouths

·  puckering their lips as if to suck

·  nuzzling again their mothers' breasts

·  showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or
   touching its cheek)

A rigid feeding schedule is not necessary; you and your baby will eventually establish your unique feeding pattern. Babies know (and will let their parents know) when they're hungry and when they've had enough. Watch for signs that your baby is full (slow, uninterested sucking; turning away from the breast or bottle) and stop the feeding once these signs appear.

As babies gain weight, they begin to eat more at each feeding and go longer between feedings. There may be other times when your infant seems hungrier than usual. Continue to nurse or feed on demand. Nursing mothers need not worry — Breastfeeding stimulates milk production and your supply of breast milk will automatically adjust to your baby's demand for it.

New mothers, especially breastfeeding moms, are often concerned that their infants may not be getting enough to eat. It's important for breastfed infants to be seen by their pediatrician 48 to 72 hours after a mother and newborn leave the hospital. During this visit, the baby will be weighed and examined, and the mother's breastfeeding technique can be evaluated. It's also an opportunity for nursing mothers to ask questions.

If a breastfed baby is doing well, the doctor will probably schedule another visit for around 2 weeks of age. Formula-fed babies are usually checked between 2 and 4 weeks of age, unless parents have specific concerns.

You can be assured that your baby is getting enough to eat if he or she seems satisfied, produces about six to eight wet diapers a day, has regular bowel movements, sleeps well, is alert when awake, and is gaining weight. A baby who is fussing, crying, seems hungry, and does not appear satisfied after feeding may not be getting enough to eat. If you're concerned that your baby isn't getting enough to eat, call your doctor.

Many infants "spit up" a small amount after eating or during burping, but a baby should not vomit after feeding. This can be due to overfeeding, but vomiting after every feeding may be a sign of an allergy, digestive problem, or other problem that needs medical attention. If you have concerns that your baby is spitting up too much, call your doctor.

Although your baby will probably start on some solid foods between 4 and 6 months, breast milk or formula will remain the most important source of nutrition through the first year of life.

Commercially prepared infant formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. Bottle feeding can offer more freedom and flexibility for the mother, and it makes it easier to know how much the baby is getting.

Because babies digest formula more slowly than breast milk, a baby who is getting formula may need fewer feedings than one who breastfeeds.

If you feel your baby's appetite is not good, monitor his weight, if he is gradually putting on weight do not worry. Also monitor his activities, as long as he is achieving the milestones matching to his age, you do not need to worry.

After the 4th month, you can introduce your baby slowly to solid foods. monitoring whether he is able to digest the same.

Introduce one food at a time, if he/she is able to take it then continue for a week, then the following week introduce him to the next thing.

****A baby's tummy is the size of his fist - remember this as you are feeding him; it doesn't take much food to make a "meal"!****

JANAM GHUTTI / ORIAKYARA MARUNDHU
Janam ghutti means the traditional herbs/spices given to babies,This will help him /her increase his/her appetite.
Keep giving your baby Janam ghutti (herbs which are given to babies/ kids/ dappa chetti kadai (in tamil). Your nearest Ayurvedic shop will help you with the starter kit.
It usually contains herbs /spices which are used at home and safe to administer to kids.
I have more information on janam ghutti/oraikyara marundhu on my blog. Click here for more info



Dadi Maa's (Grandmother's) in those days used to administer safe things from their kitchen or herbs from their garden. I would highly recommend giving babies janam ghutti instead of feeding them multivitamin syrups. You can continue to give them multivitamin syrups as well.

ORANGE JUICE / LEMON JUICE
I do not recommend orange juice / Lemon juice as the citric acid in the orange juice can curdle the milk that he is drinking and cause acidity, colic and stomach infections.

You can start giving citric juices after the baby is 4 months old. Always keep a minimum gap of 2 hours at least between the citrus juice and milk if in case you are feeding your baby with it.

In case his/her stools are discolored kindly see a doctor.

You can also give your baby 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg powder mixed with water to help stop loose motions if any.


DISCLAIMER : "HOME REMEDIES ARE JUST SUPPLEMENTARY APPROACHES. ALWAYS SEEK A QUALIFIED PHYSICIAN'S ADVICE FOR ANY ILLNESSES."

Monday 21 April 2014

METHI RAI KURIA MANGO PICKLE (MANGO PICKLE MADE WITH CRUSHED FENUGREEK & MUSTARD SEEDS)

METHI RAI KURIA MANGO PICKLE (MANGO PICKLE MADE WITH CRUSHED FENUGREEK & MUSTARD SEEDS)
This year when I saw raw mangoes arrive in the market I decided to pickle them. Yo(my husband is very fond of pickles) and nowadays the pickles we buy in the market have a pungent flavor to them, no matter which brand you buy, eventually you wear off the brands as you start feeling this. So, I thought better make them at home.  I was not sure whether I should make Avakkai(the south Indian style) mango pickle or the Gujarati style Mango pickle so I asked all my Facebook friends and somehow got tempted to make the Methi Rai Kuria Mango Pickle. I absolutely adore the Mango pickles that my Gujarati neighbor used to make in big porcelain pickle jars during the summer months back in India. Not only would the home made ones have a lot of Masala, but the mangoes would also be quite soft unlike the ones we buy from the shop.

I read on some websites that this pickle is made either with methi na kuria (crushed fenugreek seeds) or rai na kuria (split mustard seeds). I decided to add both because I like the masala more than the mango itself.

If I can make these at home anyone can make it…It’s incredibly easy to make.  The main preparation is the ingredients, once everything is ready, it is only assembly.

 

Ingredients
Cut Mango Pieces – 1 ½ kilo / Approximately 10 teacups of cut raw mangoes.
Salt – 2 teacups
Broken Yellow Mustard ground coarsely – 1 cup
Methi (Whole)  ground coarsely – ¼ cup
Kashmiri Chilly powder – 1 cup
Asafetida – 2 tbsp
Oil – 41/2 cups

Precautions
Before you start the process of assembly you need to take the following precautions.

·         Work in an open space with the windows open.

·         Don’t sit under the ceiling fan lest the masala blows into your eyes and nose.

·         Wear plastic disposable gloves, because some people have sensitive hands and they may find their hands burning with the chilly powder for a long time.

Method
First wash the mangoes, wipe them and then cut them in big chunks, I made slightly smaller chunks. After you cut don’t wash them, just let them dry out on a newspaper in the sun for a while. Meanwhile make your other ingredients ready.

Lightly Roast the whole fenugreek seeds and when cool, crush them coarsely as shown in the picture.

Lightly Roast the Broken Yellow Mustard seeds, this is readily available in the market. No need to grind this, you can use it as it is.

Heat the oil lightly till it is warm (not up to the smoking point) and let it cool. This process is to remove the raw smell of the oil. This step maybe avoided in the readymade pickles available in the market hence the pickles start to give a pungent odor.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





 
As you can see in the picture I kept all my ingredients ready.

I mixed the salt, red chilly powder, crushed fenugreek seeds, the roasted broken yellow mustard seeds and asafetida together in a big open plate, After which I added the cut mango chunks.

Ensure everything coats well.
Finally add in the Oil and give it a good mix.
 
You can mix using a spatula or your hand.
 
Once you feel everything is mixed well, slowly, gently take spoonfuls and drop into a sterilized porcelain or glass jar/bottle. Every day keep the jar in the sun for 2-3 hours.

The pickling process starts as the Mangoes start to marinate in the masala.

Every day in the morning open the jar and with a long dry spoon, give it a good stir.

In about 10-15 days the pickle is ready for you’ll to eat. 

I have not used any preservative. The oil and salt are natural preservatives and will help preserve the pickle.

This pickle can be stored for a year but you have to be careful not to use a wet spoon while you scoop out small portions for your immediate everyday servings.

Store this in a cool dry place. Enjoy this lovely condiment with your food.

Tips

·         Preferably use Kashmiri chilly powder as it imparts a lovely red color to the pickle.

·         This pickle can also be made with ½ cup rai na kuria (split mustard seeds) only.

·         This pickle can also be made with ½ cup methi na kuria (crushed fenugreek seeds) only.

·         If you wish, you can use drained baby mangoes in brine, in which case, you should reduce the quantity of salt in this recipe.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

GREEN TOMATOES AVIYAL / GREEN TOMATOES COOKED IN COCONUT GRAVY

GREEN TOMATOES AVIYAL / GREEN TOMATOES COOKED IN COCONUT GRAVY
Here I am proud to present yet another kerala-iyer dish, the Green tomatoes Aviyal, this is very popular at home.
Green tomatoes are a healthy source of fiber, which your intestinal and digestive systems rely on for good health. One cup of green tomatoes supplies about 2 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber is present in most fruits, vegetables and whole grains, so increasing your intake of these foods, including cooked green tomatoes, can help you get enough in your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that a diet that includes plenty of fiber may help you reduce your risk of several life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Fiber also keeps your digestive system working well so you are less likely to experience constipation.
Green tomatoes also contain nutrients like beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin K. This recipe would make it worth to add these lovely green tomatoes to your menu.
Once in a way when I visit the Giant hypermart I get to see some green tomatoes nestled in between the ripe red ones or the semi-ripe tomatoes. This time I decided to pick a few for my dish. In yesteryears, where people used to grow tomatoes in their garden they had the luxury to pluck and make these but now we have to rely on supply from our super stores. Green tomatoes have a tart taste to it which is loved by many. It’s usually made as a side dish with Molaghootal / Kootu


Ingredients
Green tomatoes - 6 nos
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1/4tspn
Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Dried Red Chilly  - 1
Cumin seeds -1 teaspoon
Salt as per taste
Coconut oil -1 tspn
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Method
Rinse the tomatoes well. Slice the tomatoes into 4 parts, don’t make think slices or small pieces as it will melt when cooked into a puree. The tomatoes have to be chunky before cooking.  In a vessel, add the sliced tomatoes, some turmeric, red chilly powder  and salt and curry leaves and cook it covered.
Meanwhile, Grind the coconut with the dried red chilly and cumin seeds to a smooth paste.  Once the tomatoes are cooked, Add in the ground coconut paste, check for salt, if required you can adjust now, you can also add chilly powder for a slightly fiery taste. Don’t let the gravy boil for too long as it will become very watery. After a boil or so, once all the ingredients are mixed well and the taste according to you is perfect, drizzle some raw coconut oil on top. This is done for giving it a dash of flavor. It’s kind of a grand finale for this dish.
Now put the lid on and let the flavors mingle for a while.
In some hot white  rice, drizzle some ghee, add your Molaghutal to the rice, mix well, take a helping of the Tomato Aviyal and eat Molaghutal rice with it and with some fried lijjat papads. That’s the way we eat this and savor the blend of various tastes in our mouth.

Note -:

·    While grinding the coconut instead of dried red chilly you can add green chilly. I like the flavor of the dried red chilly so I added dried red chilly to my dish.
·       Don’t add tamarind or Yogurt as Green tomatoes are quite sour on it’s own.
·    You can add onions/shallots to this dish for more flavor, but what I have shared is a traditional recipe.
 
 (Nutritional Value Info courtesy – www.Livestrong.com)
 

 
 



Friday 14 March 2014

KARADAYAN NOMBU ADAI QUICK & EASY RECIPE ( SWEET & SAVORY ADAI)

KARADAYAN NOMBU
Today we will be celebrating the festival of Karadayan Nombu.

Explanation for the younger generation
There are a few festivals in India which are very male oriented and centered around men. Primarily because in the past the men were the bread winners and the woman’s role was taking care of the hearth and homes. Their lives were intertwined with their husbands and they usually used to pray for the long lives of their husband, so that he is always there for them till the day they die. This was also a way to profess their undying love for their husbands. As per one of my cousins this could be known as the “Karwa Chauth” of the South Indians (Tambhrams).

This festival is primarily observed and celebrated by the Tamil Brahmins. It is celebrated during the transition of Tamil Month of Maasi to Panguni. Due to this legend Karadaiyan Nombu is also known as Savithri Vratham.

Why is the festival called Karadyan Nombu?
Karadiyan Adai is the name of a unique dish prepared on this day and Nombu means Vratam or upvasam (fast).

The Story of the Tamil Karadayan Nombu festival is based on the legend of Satyavan Savitri which is one of the stories that we read in the epic story Mahabharata.
You can read the story of Satyavan and Savitri here.
It is believed that Savitri got her husband’s life back from the clutches of death.
Each region in India observes a fast (upvas/vrat) in a different time of the year, like the Maharashtrians observe this as Vata Savitri and the North Indians as “Karva Chauth” etc.

How do we celebrate
On Karadayan Nombu day women worship the Goddess Gowri and offer her a Neivedhyam (offering) of Sweet & Savoury mini steamed Adais.
Unmarried girls pray for a good husband and married women pray for their husband’s long life.
There is a muhurtham time for tying the sacred yellow thread which indicates that we have offered our prayers. During this time, Women pray to the Goddess and tie the sacred yellow cotton thread known as Manjal cheradu or Nombu Cheradu for the well-being of their husband. This thread is not as thick as the Thali Kayaru(cheradu), this is a thinner version as shown in the picture.
You can read more about the way the pooja is done here.

The following shloka is chanted while tying the yellow thread
In Sanskrit,
“Throram Krishnami subhake saharitham
Dharami aham bharthu Ayushya Sidhartham supreethabhava sarvadha”
Which means,
By tying the sacred tyellow thread, I hereby pray for a long life for my husband and also pray that we always live happily together.

In Tamil ladies chant,
Urugaadha Venneyum, Oru adaiyum, Oru Noolum naan noorthaen
Orukkalumum en kanavan ennai vittu piriyaada irukka vendum.
Which means,
I offer unmelted butter alongwith the adai, Tying a thread doing nombu,
Bless me O Goddess that me and my husband never get separated and always live happily together.
 
MAKING THE ADAI


I will share with you an easy method to make the adai without compromising much on the taste.
Before you make the adai (for sweet adai and the savory adai), roast the rice flour in a wok so it loses its raw smell. The color of the flour should still be white. Transfer it onto a plate to cool.

 
SWEET ADAI / VELLA ADAI (EASY & INSTANT METHOD)
 
 
Ingredients
Rice Flour - 2 cups
Jaggery (powdered) - 1.5 cups
Water - 1 cup
Black eyed beans - 1/2 cup
Coconut (cut into small cubes) - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 2-3

Method
Soak the beans overnight or for around 3 hours, pressure cook and set aside.
Pound the cardamom, separate the skin and further pound the seeds inside into a powder.
In a wok, add Ghee, the cardamom seeds and coconut pieces, Allow the coconut pieces to fry until golden. Then add the water and let it boil, once it starts boiling, add the jaggery.
When the jaggery starts to froth and the raw smell of jaggery disappears, add the roasted rice flour, cooked black eyed beans, and mix the ingredients well. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, make balls of the mixture and flatten it to round shapes. Put a hole in the middle with your finger just like a doughnut, place on the idli moulds.
Steam them in an idli cooker for 7 - 10 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of white butter (usually made at home).



SAVORY ADAI / UPPU ADAI


Ingredients
Rice flour - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cooked black eyed beans - 3 tbsp
Green chillies / Dried red chillies - 2
Coconut, diced - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a Sprig
Asafetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Method
Heat some oil in a wok, add some mustard seeds, asafetida, green chillies or dried red chillies and curry leaves and sauté for a minute, till the seeds stop spluttering. Add the water to it next and let it come to a boil. Add in the salt, coconut pieces, cooked black eyed beans and the roasted rice flour and stir well so that lumps don't form. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Make balls out of it, flatten the balls and cook in an idli steamer for about 10 minutes.
Serve with a generous dollop of butter.
Enjoy the Adais as a reward of breaking the vratham kept for your dear husbands or would-be husbands.

Friday 10 January 2014

TOOVAR LILVA PULAV / PIGEON PEAS PULAV

TOOVAR LILVA PULAV / PIGEON PEAS PULAV
This time when I went for my weekend grocery shopping, I saw bags of frozen Toovar Lilva, all neatly picked, sorted and frozen. The fresh ones are not available so easily in Singapore and seeing such a convenient pack I decided to buy it.
Usually when I buy this I use it in the Surti Undhio. This time I thought I will make something different from it and decided to make a Pulav out of it which is a one pot meal at home on the days when I am lazy to cook and I need to rustle up something quickly.
Here is a recipe of the Toovar Lilva Pulav for people who like some variety in their palette.
The Toovar Lilva Pulav was such a hit in our house that it got over in no time.


Ingredients
Toovar Lilva / Pigeon Peas – 1 cup
Basmati Rice – 1 ½ cup washed and drained
Bay leaves - 1
Cumin Seeds – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks – 1
Clove / Lavang – 1
Turmeric – ½ tsp (Optional)
Asafetida – a pinch
Onion – 1 finely chopped (Optional)
Freshly chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsps
Oil – 2 tbsps
Salt as per taste

To Be Ground Into A Smooth Paste (using Little Water)
Chopped Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Green chillies – 4
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice - ½  tbsp
Fresh Green Garlic (Hara Lehsun) – ¼ cup (Optional)


Method
Rinse out 1 ½ cups of long grained Basmati rice and then soak it for a while in water.
I used the frozen pigeon peas, Incase you are using the frozen Toovar Lilva, kindly soak it in some warm water. If you are using fresh ones just rinse the pigeon peas out through a colander and they are ready to use.
Now, take the chopped coriander leaves, green chilly paste, ginger paste, a pinch of salt, Lemon juice and the fresh green garlic and blend to fine consistency in a mixie / blender adding a little water.
(I didn’t use the green garlic & onion in this recipe)

In a wok, put 2 tablespoons of oil, once the oil is heated add in the Bay leaves, Cinnamon stick, clove and the cumin seeds, once you see the cumin getting fried, add in a pinch of Asafetida (I always like to asafetida in my dishes as it has property to remove gases and in this recipe we have beans so it is good to add some), and fry for a minute.
Now add in the finely chopped onions and sauté until transparent. The onion should look shrunk and well fried.
After this, add in the Corriander-green chilly-ginger-lemon juice paste and sauté well. The color of the paste when fried well becomes slightly light.
Ensure that you don’t burn the masala as then the pulav won’t taste so good.
Meanwhile drain the water of the Toovar Lilva by passing it through a colander (if using the frozen ones).
Once, the masala turns into a lighter color. Add in the Toovar Lilva and sauté until the Pigeon peas turn into a lighter green,
After this add in the rinsed and soaked Basmati rice without any water and sauté for 2-3 minutes adding salt as per the taste and mixing everything well.
Once this is done you can put this in a rice cooker and add water according to finger level consistency for example when you put your finger in you will know how much rice is there, that much water has to be added or alternatively add water until the rice is completely immersed and there is another tea-cup of water on top. The water level has to be perfect for a perfect pulav, now switch on the rice cooker and keep to cook position.
I always use the electric rice cooker for pulav in Singapore but you can make it in a non stick wok by closing the lid and keeping the gas on a low flame.
Either way it cooks well. Once the rice cooks, give it a light stir so that everything mixes well without breaking the grains of rice Put the lid back and let it stand for another five minutes. Then turn off the plug.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.
If you want to decorate it some more you can even garnish it with freshly grated paneer.
Enjoy the refreshing Toovar Lilva pulav with any gravy of your choice or just with Papad, pickle and raita, It’s a complete meal.

Monday 28 October 2013

SWEET SHANKARPAALE / SHANKARPALI / SHAKKAR PAARE (SWEET CRUNCHY DIAMOND BITS)

SWEET SHANKARPAALE / SHANKARPALI / SHAKKAR PAARE (SWEET CRUNCHY DIAMOND BITS)
Shankarpaale is a very popular snack in the states of Maharshtra & Gujarat, India. It is traditionally made during Diwali in most Maharastrian households. It’s simple and easy to make. It is rich in carbohydrates, making it an instant source of energy.
The mixture is made into dough and then mechanically cut into diamond shaped units which are deep fried in ghee or butter. Most of the ingredients are available at home easily and no need to specially buy stuff to make this dish.
The North Indians make this a bit differently, instead of adding the sugar into the dough, they make a sugar syrup and after frying the dough bits they dunk them in the sugar syrup and allow it to cool down. Once cool, the sugar forms a white frosted topping. I personally prefer the Maharashtrian version as I find them less sweet and guiltless than to see them loaded with sugar on top.
Being married to a man from Pune and not knowing to make Shankarpaale could be considered as a sin. That’s just a joke. We can always buy these goodies from the Store. But nothing can beat the taste or freshness of the home-made ones.
This dish has a long shelf life and can last you even up to a month if stored well in an airtight container.
This year for Diwali I am preparing Shankarpaale. You don’t need to prepare this only for Diwali. It’s a good snack to prepare anytime during the year. These are bite sized munchies which are enjoyable to gobble anytime during the day or can be had as a tea-time snack.
I made one batch of Shankarpaales which was about 250gms but it got over so soon, that, I had to make another batch, so I made 1 kilo of them for Diwali to share with my neighbors and friends.
The below recipe is for making about 250 gms / ¼ kilo Shankarpaale.

Ingredients
All purpose flour – 1 ½ cup
Semolina – 1 teaspoon
Sugar – ¼ cup
Ghee or butter – ¼ cup
Milk – ¼ cup
Salt – a pinch
Oil for frying

If you want to make about 1kg you need to use
All purpose flour – 6 cups
Semolina – 3 teaspoons
Sugar – 1 ¼  cup
Ghee or butter – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Salt – 1 ½ teaspoons
Oil for frying

Method
Sieve the all purpose flour, add the semolina and salt. Mix well and keep aside.
In a saucepan, take milk and ghee and heat until the ghee melts. Now, add sugar and keep stirring until the sugar melts or up to 1 boil, whichever is earlier.
Let this mix cool down.
Once it’s cool, add this mixture to the all purpose flour, semolina and salt mix and start kneading the dough. The dough should be of the consistency of a chappati but will be soft because of the ghee.
Make a stiff dough that’s easy to roll. Now cover with a moist cloth and let this dough rest for about half an hour (30 minutes).
Make small balls from the dough and roll like a thick paratha. The thicker ones come out soft and crunchy like biscuits and the thinner ones come out crispy like chips. It’s a personal choice how you want it. I like it like a biscuit, so I roll my shankarpaales a little thick. Once you rolled the dough to your desired thickness. Remove the rough edges by using knife or pizza cutter.
Now cut in to desired shape (usually squares or diamonds). I like diamond shaped ones, so I cut mine like diamonds. Keep the oil hot and ready in a wok. I usually keep the flame on sim when I add in the shankarpaale diamonds and let it be there on sim for a minute or 2. After this I increase the flame, so that the dough gets cooked properly inside out when on sim. You must do this when you are rolling out thicker shankarpaales. Deep fry till it gets golden brown color. Allow it to cool down and then store in an air tight container or zip lock bag. Enjoy these delicious diamond bites as and when you want.


 Tips

·         The proportion for the All purpose flour may vary. If you feel while kneading that the dough is too smooth and not getting to the required stiffness, add in some more flour till you get the desired stiffness.

·         You can fry in ghee or dalda instead of oil.

·         I used coarse grain sugar in my recipe and my shankarpaales were not overly sweet. If you are using fine grain or castor sugar, you may need to add in some more sugar.

·         My Shankarpaales were not overly sweet, if you like it very sweet you can add in a bit more of sugar.

Monday 16 September 2013

WHEAT COCONUT BOLIS / THENGA BOLI / COCONUT POLI

Today is an important day as is not only the 8th day of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations but today is also Onam.
So, wishing all my readers a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi and a Happy Onam. Hope to be more regular in blogging from now on, as I really miss blogging these days.

WHEAT COCONUT BOLIS / THENGA BOLI / COCONUT POLI
Whenever my sister comes from Chennai my husband Yo always asks her to bring Thenga Boli from Venkataramana Boli store. He absolutely adores them. This time my sister couldn’t make it and Yo was disappointed. So I decided to make it for him. Venkataramana Boli store Bolis are absolutely yummy. The coconut filling inside is quite generous and it’s totally yummy. We don’t get to eat it hot or fresh, so we usually heat it up a bit in the microwave, pour a dollop of fresh ghee and indulge in this sinful delight.
The original Venkataramana boli recipe has Maida(All purpose floor). But here I replaced Maida with wheat flour.
Wheat is a healthy option and doesn’t alter the taste too much and the Coconut poli tastes yummy anyways.


Ingredients
Freshly Grated coconut - 2 cups,
Jaggery - 2 cups
Wheat flour -2 cups
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Cardamom powder -1 tsp
Oil as required
Ghee as required

Method
For filling
In a wok, Add one tablespoon of ghee, then add the cardamom powder, Now add the grated jaggery, when the grated jaggery melts, add the grated coconut and blend both well, and cook further.
Grate the jaggery. Boil jaggery in water till it dissolves, and strain the syrup. Mix the jaggery syrup and grated coconut. Place on the stove and stir till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
Roll into lemon - sized balls. Keep aside.

For dough
Mix wheat flour, a pinch of salt, oil and water and knead the dough. The dough should be soft. Keep this aside for about half an hour till it sets.
Then knead again, by punching it and folding it. Knead well and divide the dough into 20 equal portions.
On a well-floured board, gently roll out two polis, with the help of a rolling pin into a 6 inches disc. Place one and then spread a tablespoon of the coconut jaggery mixture evenly with the back of a spoon.

Place the other poli on top. The reason you do this in this style is to ensure that you get a lot of filling in each bite.

Roast each poli on a hot, dry girdle (tava). Add a teaspoon of ghee around the poli , once you see some spots on the backside flip over, you will see your Coconut polis puff up. Once done, remove on a plate. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee.

Tips :-
-        Another method to do it is, with greased palms, take one portion of the dough and flatten it into a disc of the size of the palm. Place a ball of "coconut jaggery" paste in the centre and fold the disc from all sides to cover the paste completely.
-       Instead of wheat flour you can use All purpose flour.
-      You can make the coconut filling one day prior to preparing the bolis if you desire.

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