Friday, November 25, 2011

Chiroti Some Sweet Some Spicy


I was still studying in college when I first made Chiroti. I followed all the instructions to the T as per the recipe in Mangala Barve's Annapoorna. 

Ever since people who have eaten the Chiroti I make have conferred many loving titles on me. The best came from a family friend Mrs. Joshi, she who was born in the family of Bedekars, yes the famous household name. One Diwali she, her son Santosh and daughter were visiting us. I had offered Naivedya of Chiroti immediately after making them. My Uncle MJ offered them the Chiroti to taste. Mrs. Joshi loved them so much that she pulled me close and blessed me. It meant a big deal to me then and even now! for in the Bedekar and Joshi families all the women are sugrani, super cooks I mean besides being gourmands, tells my uncle.

If there is a single Diwali sweet my uncle MJ loves, it is these expressions of love the Gulabache Chiroti as they are called in Annapoorna. They do look like rose flowers if you use food color in the dough. I am against using artificial colors in food so you will almost never find me using it.

You can't imagine the happiness of my family when they get a parcel of Chiroti carefully packed in fragile handling material, reach them whole after traveling 1000 kms through 2 states by road. Every single time, what follows are long calls of appreciation and showering of love. Each time my uncle MJ's share is tampered with, for I am partial to him and its always a bigger pack.Well and now with all the diet restrictions my uncle does not eat sweets, so I gave some of the Chiroti a sprinkle of spice instead of a shower of sugar.

I am sharing this time tested recipe here from the book but I don't pound the dough with mortar and pestle anymore I might have done that only the first two times I made Chiroti. My method is simpler and I use pure ghee instead of Dalda for the shortening.

I am sure you will want to taste these Chiroti now after reading about how crazy my family is about these.Try them out now :D its the start of a weekend and make it some sweet and some spicy...

Ingredients

For the dough
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup molten ghee
60 ml milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar + 4 cardamoms pounded
1 spoon of red chili powder

For the greasing layer
1/4 cup molten ghee
2 tablespoons corn flour

Ghee for Frying 

In a kneading bowl, put together all the ingredients all purpose flour, salt, molten but not hot ghee and milk. Knead into a really tight dough and leave it in the bowl. After an hour just beat the dough with the rolling pin till slightly soft and pliable. Divide the dough into 6 parts. Roll out all into chapathis. Now like you see here first make a paste of the ghee and cornflour. Use this paste to slather on one side of all the chapathis. Now tightly roll up one chapathi and overlap the second one a bit like in the picture and continue rolling up. Similarly roll up all six chapathis. Now roll the bundle a bit on the counter to tighten up and slightly increase the length of the roll.

Next cut up the roll into 1 cm thick roundels. I got 18 such.








Then roll out these roundels into puri sized Chiroti. When rolling out ensure you start rolling at a slant. This will keep the layers overlapped and hence make them strong enough for frying and holding the shape.


Now heat the ghee in a small kadhai. Once the ghee is hot reduce the flame to medium and then fry Chiroti about 2-3 at a time. Splash hot oil on the Chiroti to enable the loosening up of the layers to almost look like a blooming rose. Once they have the beautiful gold tan remove them on a kitchen paper lined mesh. Fry all of them.


Then while they are still warm shower some with cardamom and powdered sugar mix

Sprinkle some with red chili powder

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kadlekai Parishe, The Groundnut Fair

Going back in time in the middle of a growing city

Tonight I was at the Kadlekai Parishe or The Groundnut Fair on Bull Temple road in Basavangudi. This is the first time I went there in all these years here in Bangalore. I live in South Bangalore which is so rich in its heritage and culture. This fair started today and will go on till Tuesday evening. The fair takes place annually and has been a tradition to appease the residing deity, The Big Bull with the first harvest of groundnuts. The farmers from surrounding villages come to sell here.

I walked from Ramakrishna Ashram towards the temple, soaking in the atmosphere. It is so amazing to watch Bangalorians enjoy this fair. In rural India this is the only way of entertainment but Bangalore has it all and still attracts huges numbers to the fair, to enjoy simple things like boiled peanuts, sliced fruits with salt and pepper, cucumbers, fluffy pink sugar candy. The little shops sell all sorts of stuff from fried savories to puffed rice, sugar crafts, halva etc. Other things like toy sellers, cheap artificial flower sellers, pots and pans and other kitchen implements which we get only in rural areas are available here at the fair.

My buys at this fair consisted of a appe patra, Gods posters with glitter and ground nuts for cooking. I ate hot fresh popcorn made in sand, bought some boiled peanuts but did not manage to eat. Then finally I walked toward Kamat at Bugle Rock and had my dinner there.

See the vivid colors of the fair...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bikhre Bimb: An Eerie Ending

Bikhre Bimb has an eerie ending. You leave the theater with that feeling. Almost O'Henryish twist at the end only O'Henry writes happy endings. 

That said, It is a nice short Hindi play about 1.5hrs run. Girish Karnad deviates from his usual history based story writing to in this day play writing. A fifty something looking author comes to a TV studio for an interview to retaliate to her detractors who are accusing her of ditching her image of a Kannada writer, emerging as a Indian author who writes in English and the maiden novel is a bestseller. The overnight fame and her command over the language is something questionable feels the Kannada writers fraternity.

As she finishes her interview her alter ego comes alive on the TV screen and starts questioning her conscience about her writing in English and the origins of the story. The conversations of the author and the alter ego nudges her conscience and the story literally tumbles out. What starts as a light humorous conversation turns into deep searching questions that dumbfound the writer. Arundhati Nag plays both shades of the real and the virtual TV image with ease and honesty. Its a treat to watch her especially from the second row, every twitch of an eyebrow and shake of a hand that tries to rubbish the assumptions made by the virtual image glows in the spotlight. 

I am tempted to sneak this picture I share here and then the hawked eyed Gayathri Krishna (the co-ordinator), comes down to where I am sitting and frisks my iPAD, "Lets go" she says. I let her take away my new prized possession. I am embarrassed to death and trying to duck under the seats, realizing I was in Ranga Shankara and that was not possible. After a while I go up sheepishly to the last row stand next to her and watch the rest of the show from 60ft height.

Girish Karnad is one of my favorite authors and actors too. Love how he spins stories and the dialogues, in this play too he comments on the current scenarios of education, literature and relationships. Don't know if the charachter's husband is a co-incidence that he is from the IT industry. I did find that mentioning the IT companies in Blr. a gimmickry to please the audience in this IT hub that Blr. is or should it be said that art reflects life. That is but a small thing and plus it made this resident of that Industry smile at the mention.

In terms of being upgraded; there now I talk IT jargon, Girish has made leaps and bounds from history to present day technology, the alter ego speaks from an LCD TV. The props lining the wall indicate that it is a TV studio with panel mounted multiple LCD screens. Good to see that modern day theater has embraced technology. Yes I went to the theater after eons, hence my excitement.

Even though I was at a height and could not see the nuances on Arundhati's face, her body language conveyed so much. The bearing of a shallow woman, she a victim of parental discrimination, of the do gooder sister was awesome. She brought out well the denial of disharmony between her and husband, so typically middle class. The torture that she went through being witness to the blooming love between her sister and her own husband was almost palpable even in the last rows of the auditorium. This role is written for Arundhati Nag!

As she had walked in on stage checking out the studio and went on to monologue, my Dad whispered in my ear, "Marathi Hindi". Couldn't tell if that diction was again a bearing for the role or natural. It works to the advantage of the character played.

Easily an entertaining play that just builds on you and ends with an eerie feeling as you laugh with the real and the virtual images. "What was eerie about it?" you might ask. If I tell you everything that's a spoiler, go watch it at Ranga Shankara next when its playing. It's homeground for the actress and it was my first visit to Ranga Shankara in all these years in Blr. Love the ambience, the seating, it felt like I was an amateur natakwali myself.

At the end Arundhati thanked the crew, saying that we see only her on stage but there were so many behind this performance. It was flawless I must say given that technology involved. Ask us the users of VCON and Telepresence  what we go through each time we set up conferencing. Kudos for the team for that!

I was so excited when I reached Ranga Shankar last Saturday, was sipping coffee at their rustic cafeteria with Dad; I almost yelped on spotting Girish Karnad chatting away to someone at the entrance. My Dad tried to coax me to request a pose and a click but I was too shy. The graceful versatile personality obliged everyone in the theater by walking down the aisle and on to the stage, making this performance a memorable one for the houseful audience.


Original Kannada Script: Girish Karnad
Hindi Translation: Padmavati Rao
Actor: Arundhati Nag
Directors: Girish Karnad/ KM Chaitanya

Ticket Price: Rs. 100 (They should be applauded for keeping it affordable for everyone)
Venue: Ranga Shankara





Well in the end Gayathri handed back the iPAD to me with a smile, but her words will ring in my ears, "You have no idea what it takes to stand up alone in front of so many people."

I do understand and appreciate. Sorry for not abiding by the rules, Rasik lok aamhi ! :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

White Beans and Scallions Salad

This is a bean salad made in Indo-Chinese style and can be likened to a sundal. Simple clean flavors. Yet satisfying like any source of protein. The scallions add the Chinese fresh flavor to it. The pepper and a dash of lime gives it a nice spice and tang. The cumin tadka is an Indian twist. It can be eaten on its own or as an accompaniment like we did today. It's so simple you may want to make it now if you have the White beans soaked over night. We had a similar salad at Auroville recently and ever since I wanted to make it at home.

Ingredients 
1 cup White beans (soaked over night in water and boiled in the morning)
1/2 cup scallions
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
salt to taste
lime juice, a squeeze

Heat oil in a wok. Add the cumin and let is sizzle and release the aroma. Quickly add scallions and stir fry for just a minute. Add the boiled beans. Season with fresh crushed black pepper, a squeeze of lime and salt. Mix well and its ready to serve.

Simply delicious!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Schezuan Sauce

My Uncle, MJ loves spicy stuff bordering on fiery. There are a few things he likes to be made at home, one of it is this Schezuan Sauce. So my Aunt, Aruna Kaki makes it in large batches. Everyone on both sides of her family love to get their share from her. I never get mine unless I stay with her because I do road trips to Mumbai and nothing stays good in a 15hrs drive between the two cities, the heat on the road is just too much. Once when I was with her she assigned me the task of peeling a 4 inch basket of garlic. Once upon a time I hated doing it but that day I obliged and was keen to learn this recipe from her. This recipe is a small quantity I made to use a couple of times.

Ingredients

2 medium bulbs of garlic
3 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili powder
1/4 cup of vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sesame oil or mustard oil

First skin the garlic, collect the cloves in the chutney grinder jar. Add the Kashmiri Chili powder, vinegar, sugar and salt. Grind to a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a tadka spoon to smokiness. Add the sesame seeds to it and put off the heat. Quickly pour it over the ground paste and mix well. 

I got about 5 tablespoons of sauce, of which 3 went into the  Schezuan Fried Rice and 2 are frozen for use later. For dips thin it with more oil or vinegar or water.

There you go! Your Schezuan Sauce is ready. Use it for the Schezuan Fried Rice or as a dip with starters.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Schezuan Fried Rice


Diwali is long over and now the craving has set in for spicy warm flavors as the winter advents in Blr. I'm partial to Schezuan Fried Rice than the tame Veg Fried Rice. I have not found a single place in Blr. that makes a mean Schezuan rice. Here they use tomato ketchup in the Schezuan rice which makes the rice so limp in taste. Mine is a fiery hot and tasty Indian influenced Chinese rice. Its been years since I made my own Schezuan sauce and Fried rice. I am sharing here the Schezuan Fried Rice first and then will follow the recipe for the sauce. This recipe is from my Aunt, Aruna Kaki and my own twist to it. Kaki does not use soya sauce in her Schezuan Fried Rice while I do. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it.

Ingredients

1 cup raw rice
2 tablespoons soya sauce
3 tablespoons Schezuan Sauce
1.5 cup of mix vegetables diced fine (french beans, carrots, etc.)
1 cup chopped spring onions
2 tablespoons sesame oil or mustard oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

First wash clean and soak the rice in water for 1/2 hr. Then cook it in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Remove it out on a tray and fluff it up so you get separate grains of rice. Clumpy rice is no good.

Meanwhile steam the mixed veggies, I used just fresh french bean sliced teeny weeny and grated the carrots. Strain them to drain all water if any.

Heat oil to smokiness, add the steamed veggies. Stir quickly then add the Schezuan Sauce and soya sauce. Deftly mix the sauce and veggies. Now add the fine chopped spring onions. Mix in the rice and salt the dish. Be careful with the salt, both the sauces have salt in them. Give one final stir and mix. You will see the beautiful Kashmiri chili lending its intense red color to the rice. Pl. do not use food color, it is cancer causing. The natural red color is bright by it self.

Serve hot is bowls all the way Chinese style and pick up the chopstick if you can do them justice.


That's the Chinese meal we enjoyed last weekend! 
 Schezuan Veg Fried Rice, White bean salad with scallions, Schezuan sauce and Knorr's Hot and sour soup.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Laxmi Pujan and Tulashi Vivaha

 Laxmi Pujan and the Goddess's foot prints. 

Welcome Oh Goddess of wealth! 
Please take your seat in our humble home and grant us prosperity!



My ever enthusiastic SIL, Sapna is such a superb combination of modern and traditional. She manages a home of five and works for a Insurance company as a Quality auditor. I have seen her struggle doing the balancing act when I spent two months in Mumbai with my family. I felt like reaching out to her because she is so much younger than me and carries the family responsibilities so well. Mind you we are a family that would just let her be even if she did not do this, typically my father and Uncle would say, let go, Jaoo de. I'm sure her MIL, Devaki Kaki and Aunt Inlaw, my Mom are blessing her from wherever they are and watching her. She is just so precious to us.

This post is for her, to applaud her spirit and dedication to our family. Love you lady and God bless!


Tulashi Vivaha 

May the Goddess Tulashi bring in auspiciousness for the unmarried in the family and fertility for the married. 
Let our home resonate with purity and devotion.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Oozing Plum Cake

A long time ago when Plums were in season I made this cake. This one is a beauty not only in appearance but in flavors too. Plus like most of my cakes it is light and how I love to bake with fruit. The plum on baking concentrates in tartness and sweetness and the fragrance is heavenly as you bite into a piece. This is an upside down cake so it is given that the place where the fruit and cake meet is soaked and soft. If you prefer to have your cake dry then using this same recipe make a plum sauce and dress up the sponge. The star anise in this cake lends the spice notes that make anyone happy, its unusual in a cake!

When I baked this cake I did not have a single whole star anise, it was all broken in my spice box and was waiting to be used for a longish time. I don't use star anise much in my curries but preserves are another thing. I wanted to bake it again when I had plums and a whole star anise to stud the cake and make a glamorous picture for the blog but then I waited long and the plums went out of season and I did not get to buying star anise again. So here I am posting with the only picture  I have of the cake.

This is a very simple recipe so follow me...
 
Ingredients

1 cup Plums cored and sliced
2 tablespoons of sugar
2  star anise
Cake sponge
1.5 cups All purpose flour
1/2 tin sweet condensed milk
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon star anise powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar or more
some milk to adjust the thickness of the batter

Grease a 3 inch baking tin, I used my hexagon. Grease it and dust it only on the sides, prepare it for the baking. Now layer the slices of ripe plum at the bottom of the tin. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar and star anise powder. Keep aside.

Preheat the oven at 185 deg Celsius. I like to use my convection oven for this so it take 10 mins of preheating.

Now in a mixing bowl beat up the sweet condensed milk, oil and sugar together till it is dissolved.

Sieve together the flour, star anise powder, baking powder and salt. Now fold in this aerated dry mix little by little into the liquid mix. Incase the batter is thick use a little bit of milk.

Then pour the batter over the plum slices. Put the baking tin into the preheated oven and bake till the knife when inserted in the sponge comes of dry. You will see the plum sauce bubbling on the sides, that is how it should be. It takes about 25 to 30 mins for a golden bake.

Let it cool for 10 mins then turn over in a plate or cake holding dish. Be careful and the sauce may still be hot. Make sure the fruit is now topping the cake. Let the sauces flow over the cake that's what will give it the oozing look.

This cake tastes besk when fresh and warm. The aroma of the baked plum and star anise is absolutely divine. Bake it! Experience it!!

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