Friday, April 29, 2011

Congratulations to Gowrish!

 CONGRATULATIONS GOWRISH FOR TOPPING GATE AT 4TH RANK!

 We are proud of you, always remain the unassuming neighbor boy you are. All the best where ever you go!!
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 Congratulations Aditya for graduating from Play school!

These are my friends kids Aditya and Gauri.
 Gauri is Aditya's cousin and she is so proud of him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Invite That Is Class Apart

Sharing with you this invite we received from a friend for his grandson's Brahmopadesham. I came home and saw this carefully plastic wrapped courier. The see-through  plastic got me excited just laying my eyes on it. I opened the vivid red velvet pouch with a brocade band across it. The contents smelled divine, it was a sandalwood patrika! Yes Patrika because that it what it is an invite fashioned from thick sandalwood strips at both ends with thin strips of sandal wood bark in the center on which are engraved the details, just like in the mythological days.

This is the same family that invited us for Sita Kalyana.

This marks the beginning of a new label Somethings Beautiful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Raw Mango Thokku

 When you have raw mango you must make this Thokku and Kairi Panha!

 This is Kairi Panha! notched up into Slurp~~

I am only human to succumb to the charms of the mango at the advent of the summer. They were expensive but I anyways bought two. I had to make Raw Mango Thokku to be enjoyed with curd rice, fried rice papads and sandage. That is South Indian summer!  But I also had to make Panha to tell my self I am a true Maharashtrian here is Blr. for work, discount the fact that I will complete 6yrs on 2nd May in this city. Unlike the Maratha warriors who settled in Karnataka a few generations ago and wish I understood Kannada.Well there is nothing more unifying than food and I never said I don't love Raw Mango Thokku.

On another note, I  am looking for a recipe to prepare my own sandage. I love them and these are unique to this region. Project Sandage will begin in March, hope so.

Meanwhile here is the Thokku recipe yet again adapted  from Annapoorna by Mangala Barve. She calls it Takku in the typical Marathi style. That remind me I must get my copy rebound or resurrected before it disintegrates completely. I have loved it and it has been the only real cook book I owned, it was a first too gifted to me at 14yrs by my Dad's dear friend who passed away last year.

Moving on more cheerful things and the recipe for which you have come here.

Ingredients

1 raw mango
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon roasted Fenugreek powder
1 tablespoon jaggery or more
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil or other

First wash the raw mango. Pat dry it. Shred it and keep aside.

Then heat oil in a wok. Splutter the mustard seeds. Reduce the flame to low. Follow in with the roasted fenugreek powder, asafoetida, turmeric, red chili powder and salt in that order. Add quickly the shredded raw mango. Stir and cook for 5 mins. It will look gooey. At this point now add jaggery and let it melt into the Thokku. Mix well and cook for another 5 mins. Switch of heat.
Let it cool completely in the wok and then store it in a pretty pickle bowl with a lid. Keep it fresh in the fridge. Serve with your favorites like curd rice, idli, dosa or anything that need a special sweet sour accompaniment. I could lick it up just like that but I make it last 7 days I resolve.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Allam Pachadi


Recreating the taste of Andhra from fellow blogger's recipe is always such a lovely experience.

Sailu's Kitchen is one blog that has fascinated me many times. It is such a pleasure to try out her recipe of this Allam pachadi that I loved when I tasted it on my travel in Andhra last month. I think I ate it atleast 4-5 times in the 10 days. I always chose it if it were on the table. Now where else does one go to find an authentic recipe from Andhra but Sailu's!

This day I made it at home and simply loved it the way it turned out. The freshness of ginger and the tanginess of tamarind balanced by the jaggery when blended in this chutney can provide the much required jump start to a dull morning.

You however see that my chutney is thinner than Sailu's creamy version because this was our brunch and I got a little worried about scalding my system with the famed heat of Andhra Chutneys, even though I am a huge fan. Plus I forgot that we were going to have Allam pachadi and not our regular coconut sauce with our rice cakes and crepe's. I made our regular ginger chai! We love our tea immediately following our breakfast you see. I think this will be a great chutney to take revenge on the people who are sending me orders and switching me on and off at their will. I promise full revenge. Every civilian has her day. :P

Go over to Saliu's for a look if you haven't already been there yet.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Besan Paratha


Manisha recreated Anita's Parathas in her kitchen and looks like it has spinned off some following. Posting the pictures to give Anitha a thumbs up for accepting the gift of a recipe handed down by her MIL and  sharing it with friends very generously. Manisha for her awesome pictures that tempted blogger buddies to give a try.

I served mine with my Aaji's Tomatochi Bhaaji and curd. This now on goes into my Combo meal section as that's what I go to for quick lunches.
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and a Thank you note!

These pretty wall mounting pegs are a gift from Kiran, our families have started enjoying each others company and of course there is always food shared. I was inspired by conversations with Kiran and Suresh to do a Andhra Pradesh tour that you will see coming up soon on Swachchanda.

Thank you Kiran for this sweet gift and its stashed away for a special place.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gazpacho, Cheese toast and Shaved Carrots


Another one for the summer lunch series. On a hot Saturday afternoon all you want is a cold cooling lunch. The spanish Gazpacho is an ideal candidate paired with Cheese toast and Shaved carrots. Bless the person who invented this new way of serving carrots too.

Here is a tasty Gazpacho you would want to try instantly. It is quite a flexible recipe and adjust the sourness as you like.

Ingredients

2 tomatoes
4 inch piece of capsicum
1 cucumber
1/2 lime juice
2 teaspoon vinegar
2 cloves garlic
salt and sugar to taste
1 piece of dry bread (optional)

Puree all the ingredients together, pass thru a juice sieve and serve chilled.

I made simple cheese toasts with green chili bits to go with the Gazpacho for this summery lunch and added color to the platter with shaved carrots sprinkled with just sea salt.

If you enjoy pure natural flavors it can't get better than this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Musk Melon Panak

Celebrating Ram Navami 


My home owner is a lady who believes in feeding anyone who enters her door. I have been subjected to her overwhelming hospitality many a times. Her home delivered parcels of food never find a way to my mouth. The masalas are strong and impossible for me to consume. On Ram Navami I was subjected to one such moment. She offered me a huge glass of Musk Melon Panak. I sipped slowly on it and finished it in time that felt like infinity while her son tried telling me that Panak must be drunk like a shot! Gosh and what get choked I thought. Yet I found this Panak interesting and so sharing it here. I think if I make it myself I might enjoy it more. I will ofcourse customize it to my taste and so should you.

Here is what will work for me. My home owner's version was an overdose of jaggery but Musk Melon stood out even in that one.

Ingredients
1 cup of ripe Musk Melon
2 tablespoons of crushed Jaggery
water for dilution

In a jug add the musk melon and jaggery mash it with a Masher. Top up with chilled water to desired consistency. Enjoy this summer cooler.

I came back home assaulted by the jaggery high and plonked on my bed. The next day when I narrated it to my colleagues at work I became the butt of jokes for being a teetotaler who cannot even handle a jaggery high. The Musk Melon I think has an intoxicating smell, I say. As a kid I would have never touched this fruit and would have run away from the room it would be cut in and see the change I am recommending this Panak to you today.

I love the Kairi Panha a lot and guzzle it in jug fulls. Must make some soon, the Kairi in the fridge beckons me.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sweet and Salty Shankarpali


This was in the drafts for a long time. Dad was traveling down to Mumbai and from there to Gondavale. I had to pack some snacks for him so had made this Shankarpali. My Dad simply loves shankarpali that is khuskhushit that is melt in the mouth. This one passed the test perfectly.

Yesterday made it again, a travel snack for someone leaving the country and will be gone for couple of months. I also made Tikhat Shev. That's life some sweet and some spice.

There are several versions of shankarpali which use sugar in the dough. This results in using higher quantity of sugar. This version of dusting powdered sugar is a smart way of using less sugar and enjoying the sweet too.

The pictures here are of when I made for Dad with cardamom powder for the aromatics. This time I used fennel which turned out a good change.

Ingredients
1 cup maida/ all purpose flour
1 heaped teaspoon fennel or 1/2 teaspoon crdamom powder (optional)
salt to taste
1/4 cup molten ghee
3/4 cup milk
Ghee to fry

1/4 cup powder sugar for dusting

In a large mixing bowl. Measure out the flour. Add the spice, fennel or cardamom. Rub in the 1/4 cup of ghee. Add milk and knead into a smooth dough. Keep aside for 30 mins. Cover with wet cloth to avoid drying out.

Knead again after 30 mins then roll out into 1/8 inch thick flat dough. Cut out into diamonds.

Now heat the ghee. Deep fry the cut diamonds to a golden cripsness. Drain on a paper napkin spread on a mesh. After all the diamonds are fried. Put them in a box. Dust the fried cuts with powder sugar. Close the cover of the box and shake to dust it evenly.

Enjoy this great tea time accompaniment!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Food for the soul: Ugadi / Padva Special

Presenting Sumana Khan (swallow the "n", I say and no bollywood connections here, she says).  I got to know her at work and became her fan on reading Scent of a Man on our organization's intranet. Since then Sumana has been fun to interact with she is someone very opinionated in her writings yet have also seen her as a quite observant person at the dinner table celebrating an annual event we both worked together on. I also remember the day when I had organized a Tarot reading event at work and Sumana wanted my advice on when she would be able to make the first sale of her innovation! I had to tell her it was just a game!! Since then lot has happened so here's presenting this multi-faceted creative author who has published her first mystery novel Kaivalya.

Alur Dum

As a Southie, marrying into a Bong family required a complete mental make-over. I was at first overwhelmed, shocked, surprised, gobsmacked at a Bong’s unconditional devotion to food – but then, slowly I started to understand and appreciate the sacred place ‘food’ holds in a Bengali’s life.

I think the biggest difficulty I brought in as a new bou was my vegetarianism. My new family was perplexed – what to feed me? No fish. No chicken. Not even dim (egg). What’s left to eat?

On my first visit to Kolkata after the wedding hoopla, we stayed in The Husband’s grandmom’s home. Deedun is 70 + years, the most open-minded, open-hearted woman I’ve come across. With her smattering of English, and my (then) smattering of Bengali, and my MIL’s smattering of Hindi, we formed a special bond; women across three generations in synchronous cacophony, trying to overcome the language barrier. My veggie situation, it was established, was not a catastrophe after all. I could be fed many things. Many, many things. I could have luchi with alu torkari, bhaath (rice), daal and seddhu alu (boiled potato). And then, my MIL said triumphantly – Doi bhaath (curd rice). My heart leapt with joy. That’s all I wanted after the two-day train journey. To just have some curd rice with pickle and curl up somewhere. But I was afraid of conforming to the ‘south-indian cliché’; many books and many movies have impressed upon me that several roti/daal eaters look down upon curd rice eaters.

Then, Deedun came to me and asked if I wanted the luchis fried in ghee or oil. My eyes bulged. Oil! Oil! Oil! She patted me affectionately and went back to the kitchen. Finally, the plates were set. Hot, piping luchis were piled up on my plate. Alu torkari looked and smelt delicious. I ate swiftly. Then, the rice was brought. By the time I found the right word and gesture to say stop, Deedun had piled up a mini Mt. Everest on my plate. In a spoon which was really a small ladle, she scooped some fresh butter and slapped it on the rice. And then the thick daal was poured on this. Mishti achaar (sweet pickle) was dropped on the mountain peak. Boiled alu was mashed, mixed with finely chopped onion and chilly and, yes, butter. A ball of this was a ‘side’ to the rice and daal.

For a stomach that was used to decades of light rasam (with some tomatoes floating around), a spoon of dry playa, and curd rice; this was nothing but a nuclear assault. I sat there, like a cow chewing the cud. The taste was simply impeccable; but I figured I’ll take five hours to finish the lunch. Thankfully, The Husband returned from some errand, and understood the catastrophe. He took away more than half of the Mt.Everest. Finally, I was done, after forty-five minutes. But MIL had not forgotten the doi baath. I refused politely. She thought I was shy. She convinced me that I must not feel shy to eat. I was now a Bengali, and I have to take pride in eating. We finally reached a compromise. I will just have the doi without the rice. The doi was brought out. I fell off my chair. It was quite a large matka. I was told this was specially bought for me. I said I will have a few spoons. The dreaded ladle came out and now, I stared at a glacier on my plate. Besides, it was not the good old thick curd that I was used to. This was mishti doi. Sweet yoghurt. I took another 45 minutes to finish it.

It’s been almost eight years, and now we laugh about that first meal – served with the right intention of welcoming a new bride. But the quantity, it seemed, was for several brides! Since then, I’ve always been fascinated with the Bengali approach to food. It’s not just ‘prepare, cook, eat’. There is a ritualistic devotion that goes behind every meal and snack that is served in a Bengali home. My MIL’s generation - what can I say, except that they are walking, talking wikis of Bengali cuisine. In every visit to Kolkata, I’ve tasted something new and exotic, and immensely complicated to prepare. Yet, MIL laughs it off – she can do it blind-folded with her right hand tied behind her back.

I’ll share with you the simplest, easiest dish - and it’s my absolute favourite. It is the Bengali ‘Alur Dum’ with my own modifications.

Preparation time – 15 min

Cooking time – 15 min.

What you need:
  • 8-10 baby potatoes.
  • 2-3 large, ripe tomatoes
  • A cup of shelled green peas
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 pod of garlic (optional)
  • 2-3 tsps of mustard oil for seasoning
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin (for seasoning)
  • A dollop of cream (optional)
  • 2-3 tsps of grated paneer (optional)
For the panch phoran masala –

1 tsp each -
  • Fennel
  • Cummin
  • Mustard
  • Nigela (onion seeds)
  • Fenugreek
Note: The key to panch phoran preparation is that all ingredients have to be used in equal measure. I usually take a 3-4 tsp measure of each, and store the ground masala in an airtight container. It tastes great with any gravy, adding a rush of flavours.

Method of preparation:

Panch Phoran preparation:

First, let’s get the masala done. Take the panch phoran ingredients and dry roast them for a couple of minutes, till a lovely aroma wafts out. Allow to cool, then dry grind this into a powder. Some prefer a coarse powder, some prefer it fine. I powder it to a fine consistency because it blends well into the gravy.

Gravy preparation:

Puree the tomatoes along with the green chillies, ginger and garlic. The resulting liquid should be thick and smooth.

Wash, peel and boil the baby potatoes in slightly salted water. Keep aside.

In a kadai, heat mustard oil till it is smoking hot. Turn off the stove, and wait for the oil to cool a bit. Now, heat it again. This takes out the pungency of the oil.

Add cumin seeds. Wait till they sputter.

Add the tomato gravy. If you need to, you can add a bit of water depending on the thickness you prefer. Close the kadai for 2-3 minutes, allowing the gravy to simmer. The oil separates from the gravy, and you are now ready for the next step!

Add 2 tsp of the panch phoran. Add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of chilli powder (if you need additional spice) and salt to taste. A dash of sugar brings an interesting balance.

Now, add the green peas, and allow the peas to cook in the gravy. You can also use boiled peas to save time.

Prick the boiled potatoes with a fork, and add them to the gravy. Gently stir them around, allowing them to soak in the flavours of the gravy. Add the scoop of cream, and take it off the stove.

Your Alur Dum is done. You can transfer this into a serving bowl, and then garnish it with the grated paneer. Serve it hot with rotis/chapathis/luchis!

TIP: If you need a thicker body for the gravy, you can try this – after you season the oil with cumin, add 2 tsps of besan. Stir it, allowing it to cook in the oil. In about 3-4 minutes, the besan turns golden brown, and the oil leaves the sides. The besan now gives out a rich aroma. Add the tomato puree on this and proceed as described above.
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We celebrated Padva/ Ugadi today with friends. There was Alok, Varsha and Chulbul Aditya and Anand and little Gauri, Gurunath Uncle and a visitor from Nagpur, Mr. Sant. The food was well planned out and quite a mix not a typical Maharashtrian Thali but an enjoyable one said everyone. Cdr. wish you were there.

Started out with drinks of Pepsi/ Sprite. Then handed out plates served with Sumana's Alur Dum, Lucchi, Tamarind rice, Vangi stir fry and Amul's Kesari Shrikhand. There was varan bhat too but not a single person asked for it not even the kids.

This evening was fun. I played "Farmer's in the den" after years; with Aditya and Gauri on the terrace.

I tripled the quantities and skipped the cream. Sumana everyone one that is 8 adults and 2 kids loved your recipe! Thanks buddy for sharing this recipe and writting this post for me!!

Ugadi ShubhashayagaLu!! Gudi Padvyachya Shubhecha!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bondas and Dahi Vadas


It is peak summer in Blr. The afternoon drains all energy. Dahi Vada can make a superb meal. At times when my Dad is not around. I make a whole batch of Dahi vadas and freeze them to be enjoyed on a whim. I pack them for lunch or just grab a bite once am back home from work and have no mood to cook. Well as I write this I change the title to Bondas and Dahi Vadas. If you can make Bondas then you can make Dahi Vadas too. I had made Bondas on a different day in a different mood but combining this post to increase your snacky options.

In this post you also see a splash proof contrainer that I bought months ago. It is such an ideal one for all the beating, churning and mixing. The lid is a tight fit with a flap opening in the center thru which we can insert the beater or mixer. At times I use it like a multipurpose mixing bowl or a jug too. Plus you can store in it.

Humm getting back to the Dahi Vada recipe that you are here for. There are several versions of Dahi Vadas, this is our own family version and the garnishings can get as complex as possible. Here you see a simlpe drizzle of red chili powder butlet your imagination loose to decide the dressing of your choice, khati meeti chutney, shev, grated carrots and what not.

Ingredients

For the Vada/ Bonda
1 cup udid dal/ deskinned and split black gram.

Soak for atleast 4 hours in water after washing throughly. Drain out the extra water when you need to grind the dal. Put it in a wet grinder and grind to fine paste. The paste should be thick and you should be able to drop blobs in hot oil to fry.

Now when we made bondas or call it free from medu vadas you can incorporate chopped chillies, whole peppercorns or bits of fresh coconut in the batter and fry to perfect crispiness. These can be served with the choiciest of chutneys. In my platter you see a peanut cilantro chutney.

 
When you don't want just bondas and are in a mood for Dahi Vadas all the way.


Then immerse the fried bondas in water for couple of minutes and give them a squeeze. Remove the softened Vadas in a container that you want to store or serve. Then get the Dahi together.

For the Dahi

1 litre of thick curd
salt to taste for savory version

1/2 cup sugar for sweet

Beat the curd in a splash proof vessel.

For the savory version use just salt with the curd.

For the sweet version use the curd and sugar and beat

Dressing it up

You can start with a simple sprinkling of red chili powder as you see in my picture or go all the way with the green chutney and tamarind chutneys that are used for chaats.


Stock up the fridge with Dahi Vadas for a quick serve for yourself or an unexpected visitor.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Doodhi Kofta Rice

Doodhi Kofta Rice and Fruit chaat our Sunday Sunny Day lunch

Steamed Doodhi Ke Kofte  had to be used up before we left for the tour. On that Sunday fried the kofte and made this finger licking rice. This accompanied with a salt and chili sprinkled fruit salad is one of the best summery lunches believe me.

Its a simple rice cooked in the pressure cooker except the frying of the koftas. I used the sona masuri rice but basmati would notch it up to a level higher.

Ingredients

1 cup rice
1 onion
2 tomatoes
3-4 garlic pods
1 green chili
handful of chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon of oil

Begin with deep frying the Doodhi Kofte. Keep aside.

Then in the pressure cooker heat oil. Fry the onions to red. Add the tomatoes and bring them down to a paste on high heat. Add the chopped garlic, green chili and the turmeric and red chili powder. Mix add the rice. Fry in masala for 2 mins. This should give the rice a glaze. Add the fried koftas at this point and top up with water twice the quantity of rice.

Close the lid and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Put off the heat and cool. Open cooker and give a mix to the rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

The rice is tangy from the tomato and smell delicious of the complex garam masala. Enjoy it with curd, raita and a papad roasted to perfection will do the no harm as a crackler on the side.

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