Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rasam Bonda


This post is going to Click Liquid a photography event hosted by blogger buddies Bee and Jai on their blog Jugalbandi, one of my favorite blogs.

While in Mumbai I wondered what was so great about rasam, however that has changed now. I have been in Blr for last 2.5 years and know what a good rasam is all about. When there is chill in the air the rasam helps you lift your spirits and warms the heart. I started off making my rasam by using the MTR powder but no more. Infact the best rasam is without the powders I have observed in many friend's homes.

Then somewhere on the blogs I read about rasam vada. It sounded interesting. The author had mentioned that we get rasam vada in the darshinis here but have never found it on the menus. I feel shy to ask for something that's not on the menu so I decided to try it at home.

We have just started our diet of salads and soups for dinner again which means we wake up starving in the morning. On Saturday I woke up a little early and decided to make rasam bonda. This breakfast does a wonderful thing to you the rasam warms your blood while the udid dal bondas satiate your protein requirements. The balance of all tastes is perfect a bit sour, sweet, hot and spicy with the crunchy bondas soaking in the rasam. Dad stopped to comment only after his second bowl, "Its very tasty." For people who don't prefer fried food for breakfast won't even notice that the bondas are fried.

We prefer the bite sized bondas to the large vada as we enjoy the extra crunch and the smaller size does not make it soggy all the way in. The small sized bondas are easy to pick with a spoon instead of struggling to break the large vada into pieces when dipped in the liquid. Unless you may want to see it flying off into someone's face with a splash of rasam every where.

Ingredients

For Bonda
1/2 cup udid dal
1 table spoon rice flour
salt to taste
Oil to fry

Wash and soak half cup udid dal in water for at least 2 hrs. I soaked it overnight as I made this for breakfast.

Drain the water, grind in a mixie to a smooth paste. Mix in the salt and rice flour so that the bondas are able to hold together. Heat oil and drop the lumps of the paste into the oil with a spoon. Make bite sized bondas. Fry till golden and crisp. Remove on a paper napkin. Keep aside.

For the Rasam

1/2 cup toor dal
1/4 turmeric
1/4 red chili powder
1 large tomato
1 handful chopped cilantro
1-2 green chilies
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
2-3 glasses of water for thinning
2 teaspoon oil/ ghee
1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
2 tablespoon jaggery

Wash the dal. In a pressure cooker add the dal with 1 cup water. To it add 1 teaspoon oil, turmeric, chili powder, asafoetida and pressure cook for 20 mins or 3 whistles.
Cool the cooker and meanwhile chop the tomato, green chili, cilantro. In a small bowl add half cup water and washed tamarind and boil. Cool and extract the tamarind pulp. Save.

Now to season the rasam in a saucepan add 1 teaspoon of oil. Splutter mustard seeds. Add the tomato, green chilies, cilantro and cover. Let it simmer for 5 mins. Meanwhile churn the cooked dal to get a nice paste with a beater or Ravi. Then add the cooked spiced toor dal. Top it up with 2-3 glasses of water depending on how thin you want the rasam to be. It should look like clear soup. Add the tamarind pulp and jaggery and boil for 10 mins.

To serve add 4 to 5 bondas in a soup bowl and top up with rasam. Enjoy sipping the rasam while you bite into the crunchy bondas. Though we made this for breakfast this dish can be a any time snack just when you need something to satiate your hunger pangs.
Tip:

This dish can be created in 20 mins if you keep the udid dal paste refrigerated ready for use. The rasam can be created from any leftover cooked dal by just thinning it and seasoning as mentioned.

Warning !

While I was making the bondas I had a mini accident, fortunately I was not hurt. When using rice flour with udid dal paste make sure it is mixed well. To ensure that you do not have dry areas in the bondas mix well and let the paste stand for 10 mins if you are not in a hurry. I was impatient and when I started frying the bondas the dry rice flour hardened from outside while the inside was still soft. This caused the bondas to burst in the hot oil. I was fortunate not to gets scalded by the oil. I was upset with what happened and the entire kitchen was a mess but my sweet Dad cleaned it up for me.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pal Payasa








Last saturday the theme of the day at home was RCI Kerala . I made a Kerala meal and an evening snack of Banana fritters. It was a co-incidence that a procession passed my neighborhood celebrating a ratha yatra with a huge frame of Adi Shankaracharya on it and the women followed it singing Soundarya Lahri. I am not sure what festival they were celebrating but I was celebrating my love for Kerala and its people. Some of my closest friends are Mallus and I love to tease them with a Lal Salaam.

Dad had gone out for a while and I had my peace time making this elaborate meal of the Vegetable ishtew, Pal Payasa, Whole wheat Kerala Paratha and Crunchy Cauliflower.

Most people visit the usual tourist circuit of Kerala, it is no doubt beautiful but my favorite has to be Allepey, the backwaters, the houseboats and the wilderness. That is one Kerala that everyone knows. I was lucky to go to another part of Kerala called Kasargod. This is amazing topography, the hills, ghats that churn your tum and the famous Bekal fort. I has mentioned here about the visit on this blog before too. Sharing here some pictures of this majestic fort.


We had gone to the Swami Ramdas Ashram, this is an amazing place. There are no temples here. The place reverberates is Ram Naam chanting almost round the clock., Everyone is welcome here with open arms and a warm smile. No one demands any contribution of any finance or physical help in any activity. You are informed about the daily routines of worship like bhajan, aarti, chanting but not forced. Yet one feel like being part of all out there.

It is amazing how much they take care of visitors, Once you walk into the ashram and request for an accommodation. You are provide with a cot, coffee is delivered at the doorstep, breakfast and both meals of the day are served at the dinning hall. In the evening they even provide milk and bread for those who prefer it. The height is they even wash your clothes. Remember this is an ashram yet not a single penny is charged for anything. They will do every thing for those who go there to the chant the divine name. We realize it to be our duty to do what little we can.

One comes back with so much peace and absolutely swept away by their hospitality.

We were served Pal payasa once during the 2 days that we were there. Its the simple rice and milk sweet that is associated with the divinity of naivedya.

Before I go on to the recipe for Pal Payasa, I noted When I was setting up for the shoot how the color dominating was white. Yes I associate white and cream with Kerala. The white of the lungis and the cream of the mundus, was I trying to bring that into my setting unconsciously? May be. I loved the way the plate looked. I did make an exception though to the white of all purpose flour that is used for Kerala paratha, instead I used Whole wheat flour. They turned out softer and tastier.

I really don't need to refer to Pal payasa recipe but yes Manisha makes Ammini's recipe sound like a real special creation check it out here and its fun too read too.



Ingredients

1/2 cup raw rice
4 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon ghee
handful cashew nuts
handful black currants and golden raisins


To begin there is a bit of preparation that we have to do. We need to wash the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 1/2 hr. It will make cooking easy.

After 1/2 hr. Take a 4 litre capacity vessel, as you will need space for the milk to foam up why its boiling. Add the rice to the pot and milk and keep it on sim for about 15 mins. Though you need not keep stirring just keep a watch, who wants a spillover when you are cooking an elaborate meal. Check the rice, if it looks rice and fluffy and almost ready to burst into a starchy crumble add the sugar at this point. What separates a Phirni from a Pal payasa is this. The phirni is made creamy with the rice crumbling into the milk. A phirni clings to the ladle whereas the rice grains are self respecting in a Pal payasa. A good Palpayasa is sipped where as a phirni is to be licked up. So just when the rice is plump add the sugar. The osmotic pressure change in the liquid lets the rice be but it will help thicken the milk into a richer density. Now while this thickens for another 10 mins in another vessel or the tadka spoon/ katori take the ghee and heat it til it melts. Remove from heat and add the cashew nuts. They will turn a nice golden give it a shake to get an even color on both sides. Add it to the thickening payasa. Bring to a boil once with continuous stirring. Add the saffron strands and put off the heat.

Pal payasa needs to cool completely for couple of hour to be enjoyed thoroughly as a fine speciality. If you like it warm reheat and enjoy else chilled if you prefer it that way.

Fly dear post too the distance land of RCI Kerala to congregate with fellow Kerala lovers. Hurry LakshmiK and Jyotsna are waiting at the Currybazar.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Potato Bhaaji Mock Tavyarche Suke Bombil


Ever since our family turned vegetarian our relatives fear eating at our home. It is quite funny to note that when a vegetarian visits a Non vegetarian home, they fear that the food might be "Contaminated" as much as the Non vegetarians fear that they might have to eat grass. Many a relatives have shunned the yellow Koli dal they relish on a fasting day at our home saying they would end up with a stomach ache if they ate dal at night. Such is the fear induced in a Koli by vegetarian food.

In an attempt to make peace with visiting relatives my Mom used to make this potato bhaji that was loved by one and all. Many a times a happy relative would comment this tastes like Tavyarche Suke Bombil ie Tava fried dry Bombay duck. I have decoded it, I think the large amount of onions just makes it more Vashat or non veg like.

This bhaaji taste perfect with any type of roti and rice as well. Follow the instruction exactly, this bhaaji requires that the vegetables be cut in this fashion only, if you want the right taste.

Ingredients
2 big potatotes halved and sliced thin
3 Onions halved and slivered
2 green chilies slit
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Koli Masala or Garam Masala
2-3 Kokum
1 handful chopped cilantro
salt to taste
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the onions till translucent, add the potatoes and all other ingredients. Mix well, add salt and water. Meanwhile soak the Kokum. Cover and cook till potatoes almost crumble into the bhaaji. This bhaaji should look nice and creamy, it should not be too dry or too thin. Add the kokum and mix well and leave on heat for 5 mins. This bhaaji taste best when cooked before hand and all the flavors seep in to the dish.

So those of who have not tasted Tavyarche Suke Bombil for a while and do not have access to Bombil try this bhaaji. I loved to suck on the kokum in this bhaaji and as if to give an applause to Mom would make that sound with the tongue touching the palet to create a vacuum and a loud toch~~ in response to the tart flavors that tickled the inside of the mouth.


A weekend Thali of Potato Bhaaji, Val-Shekatachya Shenga bhaaji, Methi pickle, Til Kadipatta chutney, Chapati and Rice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Square Shaped Chutney Paratha


Last 2 days the www has gone crazy looking for a good tilgul recipe. Some are looking for an easy one, some have messed up and need to fix tilgul recipe that flopped. I made tilgul too but did not take pictures for this post.

I want to wish you
Sankrantichya Shubhecha! with a Dry Chutney Paratha. To pick the Haldi (Turmeric) Kunku (Vermillion) that I offer touch the screen.

You see after all the sweet tilgul you will need something savory. Remember I had posted the recipe for Kadipatta Til Chutney a few days ago. I updated the same post after I tried out the Chutney Paratha. This recipe is ideal for Sankranti and it has til in it.

In this post I will write about how to make square shaped parathas. Food is most times about the taste and at all times about presentation. If you have been a fussy kid you know that the food styling could get you to eat stuff that you don't even care for. Right! so we have seen paratha in the shape of a triangle, layered round, stuffed, unstuffed but round is standard. One shape I just tried out by fluke is square.

Well how did I stumble on this shape. I was making the chutney paratha again for my Dad. I was using the dry Kadipatta Til Chutney I knew they would stay good for a couple of days so my Dad need not cook for atleast 2 days while I was in Chennai. In a hurry I rolled out a chapati and realised I started out to make parathas. So instead of rolling the dough back into a ball I put a spoon of chutney in the middle and folded the edges over it to get a square packet. This actually is neater than making baskets that we make to fill the stuffing for round parathas. Then I just flattend the packet with the palm and rolled out thinner to get a square paratha. While making a square paratha the dough should not be spinned like we do for rotis. Instead roll it vertical to get a rectange then turn it 90 degrees and roll vertical to get a square. Make a size a little bigger than a poori for easy handling.


These parathas would taste good stuffed with any dry chutney and last for couple of days at room temperature. They are ideal for a packed meal or travel.

If served at home ketchup, date-tamarind chutney or humus is an ideal dip to accompany.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Spiced Pineapple Orange Drink

It is the season of pineapples. I guess besides strawberries, pineapple is the second most favorite flavor in the world. The reason being the artificial flavors have almost reached the perfection of the real taste of the fruit. Fresh Pineapple tends to be expensive sometimes and there is a good reason for it. The Pineapple fruit can be harvested only after 15 months of cultivation which means one fruit takes 15 months to reach the market and to be available for us to enjoy.

Pineapple is grown vastly in Kerala. To a Mumbaikar like me pineapple was meant to be eaten fresh or juiced. It is only when I went to Kerala did I get to taste pineapple curry, called Mor Kuzhambu.

This drink is not a regional delicacy nevertheless I'm riding the Kerala wave with the current RCI. The smell of a very ripe Pineapple transports me to Alleppey. I remember hoping out of the car at the site of a almost orange colored ripe pineapple as the vendor was cleaning it. It was a large fruit, immediately I declared to Dad that I was going to live on Pineapple that day. We went straight to hire a launch with a wonderful deck covered with a canopy and surfed the backwaters for 6 hours from Alleppey to Kumarkom bird sanctuary. They were the most idyllic hours in my life. Dad even took over the controls of the launch for sometime and he was happy like a child who is gifted a new toy. We nibbled on the pineapple all day long and yet I was not tired. I was smelling all fruity that night.

Here is a drink I made yesterday with a nice pineapple I laid my hands on. I have some more left and the next dish you can expect would be savoury. This recipe is for my friend, Deepa for she has pineapples beckoning in her pantry.

Ingredients

2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
a small piece of ginger ground to paste
1 small piece of cinnamon
1 clove
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons honey
2 slices of pineapple to dress up the glasses

Pound the the spices together to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

Next in a big jar add the juices, ginger paste, honey and the spice powder. Chill the juices covered for 2 hours. This will help the spice flavors to blend into to the juices well. Shake and serve in a glass of your choice. Insert a pineapple slice onto the rim.

A spiced drink even if chilled will give your throat a nice warmth as it increases blood circulation.




Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bagels Bribe Dad






My Dad hates to be alone when I am on business travel. He won't say it in so many words but I know. Parents, are just like kids at his age. Every day he waits for me to reach home. Lovingly he tries to surprise me with one or the other thing when I am back. He needs to be coaxed to eat well. He has this concept of eating half the capacity of his tummy. That has kept him in good health. Touch wood!

I'm posting this from Chennai and I'm missing Dad too.

Last Saturday I made bagels to bribe Dad without saying it. I was going to be away for a few days so wanted to treat him to a good breakfast before I left. Anita came to my rescue
with her Bagels for Breakfast.

I made the spread too with Amul lite first time, my mistake. I should have used cream cheese instead like Anita. These Fad thingys are fakes I agree.

The Bagels passed the benchmark of a perfect one. They were chewy and tasted awesome when still warm. Thanks Anita! Did you note the Remakes category looks like it was made just for you :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pineapple Shravani Cake


Two of my kids decided to have a December wedding. Pineapple Sheera and Shravani Cake, I have been in love with them for a long time now. As the love blossomed, mine and not theirs, me as a parent many a time thought of a marriage. It would have to be arranged I thought. I did and you know what now they are in love, deep in love!

If bro V reads this he will go nuts. May be he will call me to tell he loved it as he sometimes does.

Relating to you the proceedings of the ceremony.


Dad had made a pineapple syrup and bottled it two days ago. I looked at it, so beautiful I thought. As the weekend arrived and as has been happening lately we were booked for a lunch, a family was visiting so I had to make some dessert. That's when this grandchild was born.
It is the expression of both the parents best.

Ingredients
1 cup roasted semolina
1/2 cup curd
1/2 cup milk
a tiny pinch of yellow food color (you can skip this, I used it only for party effect)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of powdered pistachios

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and allow to stand for 15 mins. Meanwhile grease a pan with ghee, a cooker pan should do. Steam for 20 -25 mins. It is steamed just like rava idlis.

Once done, cool completely and turn it upside down onto a cake stand or serving tray. Sprinkle the powdered pistachios on the cake. The yellow and green colors look sunny and fit for a mini party. It turns out really fluffy and a bite into the pineapple bits embedded in it is awesome.

This is Shravani Cake Version 2.0 as it has pineapple and it is steamed and not baked. Click here for Shravani Cake Version 1.0.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Undhiyu

Gujarati Thali of Undhiyu, rice, Jowar Rotla, Bowl of Khati Meethi Dal, Bowl of Curd with Sugar, Chundo ane Keri!

This post is about a winter delicacy. The pictures however tell tales of summer. Yes I was craving for Undhiyu last summer when I made it. This post was in the draft for a long time almost six months but hey! this is the right time for a classic Gujarati winter dish. It gets talked about endlessly in the blogosphere for such is its seduction.

So all sources acknowledged! Plus this recipe is adapted from Mangala Barve's Annapoorna and my own memories of Rajput family's recipe of Undhiyu. Rajputs, the good neighbors never forgot to send this over whenever they made it. On this day, I had made the khati meethi dal too that we call at home Ramesh bhai's dal, you see the bowl in the picture.

This recipe requires planning in advance, good bit of shopping, and about 2 hours from A-Z. After it is made enjoy it at leisure.



The Vegetables
2 drumsticks, cut into pieces
50gms Field beans/Val Papdi split and broken into pieces
50 gms cabbage chopped
50 gms French beans or Yard long beans/Chavali Shenga broken into pieces
50 gms sweet potato cubed
50 gms raw banana cubed
50 gms gherkins/tondali sliced
50 gms small aubergines scored deep to keep whole

For the Seasonings

2 tablespoons of oil
3 cloves
2 1 inch sticks of Cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon Fennel/ Variali/ Badishep
salt to taste
1 tablespoon jaggery (optional)

For Muthia
1 bunch Fenugreek leaves/ methi
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 teaspoons lime juice

For the Garnishing
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1 bunch cilantro

Cut the Fenugreek leaves fine. Add salt, red chili powder and chickpea flour. Add 2 teaspoons of lime juice and just a bit of water to get the dough together. Shape bite sized balls.Fry them till crisp and golden. Save.

Now heat oil in a pressure cooker and fry clove and cinnamon a bit. Then add one by one badishep, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder in that order. After each powder give the seasonings a stir. Then add in all the vegetables and mix well to give it a nice coat of oil. Add salt. Pressure cook. WATER SHOULD NOT BE ADDED. The taste is in cooking it in its own juices.

Later add the methi balls, grated fresh coconut and chopped cilantro mix and heat well. Serve hot with rotis of your choice or eat it just like that. This one is absolutely lipsmacking. The aroma will pervade your home and beckon your family to peep into the kitchen.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kadipatta Til Chutney


Ingredients


1 cup Curry leaves/ Kadipatta
4 teaspoons Sesame seeds/ Til
1 inch of tamarind
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry coconut grated
2 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon Poppy seeds /Khus Khus
1 pinch asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds


First in a non stick pan add oil. Crackle the mustard seeds. Add in a pinch of asafoetida. Fry the curry leaves until crisp it will turn a darker shade of green. Add in the sesame seeds mix, then the Poppy seeds mix. Fry till aromatic. Now add in the grated dry coconut brown it a bit but watch out not to burn it. Put off the heat and let is cool completely. Then pound it in the mortar and pestle for coarse powder along with tamarind, salt and sugar.

We like this chutney powder to be textured with a peek of all its ingredients. But if you are the type who don't like textures then grind it to a fine powder. Serve with any type of Bhakari or rice and ghee like they would in the south.

Updated 7th Jan 2008

I made puri sized small parathas with this chutney as stuffing. They tasted lovely reminding me of Khasta Kachoris but healthier with the goodness of wheat and roasting with just a bit of oil. Actually, it was a mini Eureka moment for me. I had never thought we could make parathas with chutney stuffings. Lasun chutney, coconut chutney, date chutney ...WOW it has just broadened my options for a good paratha breakfast.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

God Ghari


Yesterday was Shree Brahmachaitanya Gondavlekar Maharaj's Samadhi Anniversary. We began our day by attending the Gulal Ceremony at the Bangalore Math. The rituals performed here are the same as the main Gondavale Santhan but the sequence is different. The temple was crowded with devotees. It was a very moving experience to be there. The syncronized chanting of Ram Naam is a divine experience and many were tearful as they performed the symbolic Gulal Ceremony. I was mentally in Gondavale at the time.

Later I went to work. It being a wednesday, I sat at the nearby office and returned home early. Since I did not cook in the morning, I thought of making Naivedya of Shree Maharaj's favorite menu. He loved Bajarichi Bhakari and Vangi Batata Bhaaji. So I made the Taat consisting of Palak huli, Rice, Kadipatta Til Chutney, God Ghari,Vangi Batata Bhaaji and Bajarichi Bhakari.


The Taat represents the different devotees of Shree, Koli-God Ghari, Palak HuLi - Kannada, Rice a staple from all and Kadipatta Til Chutney, Vangi Batata Bhaaji and Bajarichi Bhakari from the devotees from the Sahyadri Ghats of Maharashtra.



Ingredients


1/8 cup jaggery


1 1/4 cup water


1 heaped cup rice flour


Oil to fry


Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add jaggery and boil till it gets dissolved. Now add the rice flour. Remove from heat and mix to get a ball. Transfer the dough on to the counter and knead. Add a little more water if required to made a smooth dough. Wet your palms and shape rounds about 2mm thick. Make a hole in the center like a dough nut or medu vada. Deep fry in hot oil on medium until golden or slightly redder shade.


Though these are sweet doughnuts they are enjoyed with a spicy gravy, mostly with Black Eyed Peas curry. This God Ghari is made as an offering to the ancestors on Death Anniversaries and as Pitru Paksha offerings.


I hope all devotees of Shree had a good day.


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