Saturday, January 31, 2015

Making of Purple Grape Jelly

1 Tall and 1 small jarful made from 1.350 kgs of purple grapes

Mashing the boiled grapes to extract juice

Second simmering and reducing with sugar

The jelly perfectly formed the skin when cooled

Love the color, as perfect as wine

Hope it lasts long...

Our first taste of my homemade Purple Grape Jelly! 
Unmatched deliciousness and capture of the season's freshness of the fruits. 
Now I know why I hate store bought jams n jellies.


Jelly : made from pure juice of a fruit.
Jam : made from pulp of the fruit.
Marmalade : Jam made with skin of the fruit especially citrus.
Conserve: Made with whole fruit and sugar

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Side Effects: Purple Grape And Basil Dip

I am an eternal positive thinker. Sometimes life just sucks out every bit of juice you have but then I with my attitude made a dip out of it and relished it too. Ha ha!

On Sunday I decided to tackle that low feeling and play football with it. Summoned the driver and chalked out the day. Morning shopping at APMC market, an Eshop delivery in a nearby node followed by lunch of Paper Masala at Hotel Navratna at Vashi and then Flamingo watching on the shores of Navi Mumbai. I even managed to catch up with friends in between.

I know you are curious what I shopped for at APMC, lots of green leafies, freshest crunchy veggies, 5 dozen oranges for marmalade making, 4 kgs green grapes, 4 kgs purple grapes, 8 kgs spices for the new Koli masala batch. Now with that kind of a loot who has the time to brood. I started out by making purple grape jelly. Today's recipe is a side effect of it. This recipe uses the Pulp and skins of purple grape after boiling and extracting juice for jelly. 

1 cup Pulp and skins of purple grape left after boiling and juicing 
1 green chili

1 handful fresh Genovese Basil
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt to taste

Grind together to a smooth paste. 

Serve: As a dip along with your favorite bread. I served it up with Palak parathas.

The Genovese basil seeds were a gift from Nupur of One hot stove and its grown beautifully in my Window Grill Box.You can expect a post on how to grow it soon. Thanks Nupur once again.

Taste : It is a lightly sweet lightly sour from the lime juice, savory dip that goes perfectly with spicy breads. Me think it would make a beautiful spread for your morning toast too!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seviya Kheer Truffles for Mother’s Recipe: Innovative Recipe Challenge

Mother’s Recipe: Innovative Recipe Challenge landed in my mail box and I was not too sure if I wanted to do it as I hate packaged products. This true blue home cook loves to do stuff from scratch. When I checked out their site I was curious about the Instant mixes. They sent me a hamper consisting of Ready to cook, Instant mixes and a preserve. I had tried their Gor Keri before and loved it. I had in mind to make something from the packs using few extra ingredients as possible else why would anyone want to buy these convenience packets.

So I chose the Payasam/ Seviya mix to innovate with. I guarantee that this is not an intimidating twist and is a delicious activity that you can do with your kids. Yes the same kids that turn their nose up at gloppy payasam.

Here is how to do it...

Makes 30 marble sized truffles.

1 pack 100gms Payasam/ Seviya mix
1 litre of milk as directed on the pack
1 handfull of charoli nuts
1 handfull almonds + 1 handfull pistachios ground to powder

In a deep pan add 1 litre of milk. Empty the contents of the Payasam/ Seviya mix pack. 

Boil and cook on slow until the seviya is thick and the consistency is like a sheera or pudding. Add the charoli nuts and stir to distribute evenly.  Let is cool completely.

Roll out marble sized balls of the cooked Sevayi kheer. In a bowl take the powdered almonds and pistachio mix. Then dredge in the powdered almond pista mix to coat well. 

Plating and Serving
Serve one Truffle in each bowl. I used my green glass bowls for this.

They are delightful dusted nuttiness at first and creamy centered.

With such a simple no sweat recipe show how to do it to your kids and sit back and watch. Quite a few will disappear while making itself, take it from me.

Check out their Fb page here to see the latest updates. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Eeya Chombu

Many years ago, for the first time I read about Eeya Chombu on this lovely blog called Saffron Hut. I was totally smitten by this special vessel. Also since I was at the time living in southern India, I have seen older people salivate at the mention of rasam made in Eeya Chombu.

I did a bit of research to find out more about this now elusive utensil. It has almost disappeared from today's Tamil households. In Tamil Nadu this vessel was known to be the most prized utensil in homes and catering businesses. Paeans were sung about the Eeya Chombu rasam at many home dinners and wedding dinning halls.

What is Eeya Chombu? 
It is a vessel made of tin. Tin has a low melting point of 232°C. Therefore using this in the kitchen needs dedication. You can never multi task when making rasam in this vessel else if the melting point is achieved you will be left with a mass of shiny silver metal and the burners flooded in rasam. The secret to this rasam is as much the dedication as the metallic sweet taste imparted to it. It is always first filled with the ingredients of the rasam before it goes onto the fire and that includes water too. It is due to the low melting point of the vessel the seasoning is done in a separate utensil and added on top in the vessel filled with boiled rasam.

Tin is a soft metal and dents easily, especially when it is hot. Due to these properties of the vessel it has faded out from the Tamil Kitchens today. Not to mention it is also expensive. It is believed that in the hay days this vessel saw spurious manufacturing, instead of the pure tin an alloy containing lead was used to manufacture it. This lead to many cases of fear mongering that the Eeya Chombu rasam is toxic. When infact many generation of the Dravids have burped on a meal of rasam sadam.

Two years ago I requested a colleague and friend, Ramesh Babu to go looking for it in the Chennai markets. He though a married man of few years had no idea what I was asking him to look for. He asked his wife and then his parents. It is his parents who smiled at the mention of an Eeya Chombu and shared with him their memories of a wonderful rasam. Ramesh then scoured the old markets, checking out many a shop and many a shapes. Then finally we decided that for a small family 1 litre utensil was good enough and he bought two, one to send for me and another for his family. This size is the best as the wedding caterers will never tell you their secret, they immerse a small sized Eeya Chombu to achieve that fantastic taste in huge pots of boiling rasam! That way they don't need an expensive huge vessel for rasam making for large quantities

The Eeya Chombu arrived in the courier and ever since I have been enjoying the occasional Eeya Chombu  rasam but it took me time to show it to you here, better late than never. This post got a push as two products in the Traditional Kitchen tools category on the AnnaParabrahma Eshop are selling like hot cakes. The greasing brushes and the wooden mashers. This is also a reason to start a new label here on the blog for the Traditional Kitchen. Hoping to post about more such old world charms that need revival.

These days we rarely see comments on blogs even though people are reading them. Yes I know the conversations are happening on FB and twitter but nothing like a comment on the blog to tell me you love my work. Drop a line or a question and I will definitely reply to it, promise.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lakhnawi Baigan Bharta

In the December of 1996 while I was still working as an Environmental Engineer I along with a junior were given the responsibility of a feasibility study for an effluent treatment plant proposed for a popular flashlights company for their Lucknow unit.

I was all of 26 and had just about started making my mark in the Environmental field. My then employer, lead by example and cared like a father. He accompanied us as this was our first ever project that called for a long stay away from home.

I still remember it was winter season, our train travel was exciting and he made sure we ate all the specialties in that journey. There was one place where we ate the gulabjamuns that were piping hot and luscious, my memory fails to recollect the name of the station.

It was early morning when the train chugged into Lucknow station. The red uniformed coolies came scuffling forward to offload our luggage. Mr. H.B. Singh had made friends with them in his frequent travels back and forth to Lucknow from Mumbai. The morning was foggy, the station was littered and packed with people, some sleeping on the platform others scampering around as the announcements were made over the loudspeaker to catch the train. I was becoming conscious about the pure Hindi being spoken, unlike the Bambaiya I was used to. As we stepped out both Ritu, my colleague and me chose the horse driven tonga over the auto-rickshaw, wasn't it an obvious choice for two thrilled Mumbaikars finding horse driven tongas. After a very short ride we were at the hotel. He arranged for us to stay at the Yatri Hotel in Charbagh. 

Initially our plan was to stay in Lucknow for a week to 10 days and finish our work. Every day we drove to work through foggy mornings, taking in the smells of cow dung cakes being burnt and people wrapped in woolens going about sluggishly in the chaotic streets where tongas and auto-rickshaws raced with each other. There was the "Vikram" or the 10 seater rickshaw that plied from point to point and did not follow any traffic discipline. There were piles and piles of groundnut pods on the streets, vendors selling them and piles of peeled empty pods after eating were littered on the streets. HBS had grown up in Lucknow so it frustrated him and led him to exclaim, "Lucknow ki barbaadi Mungphalli or Vikram ne ki hai!" he meant that the groundnut addiction, littering the streets with pods and the 10 seater autos were a hindrance in the growth of Lucknow.

We girls enjoyed the change from Mumbai. It was my first experience of a north Indian winter as Mumbai never sees the real winter. We were well equipped with warm leggings, sweaters and coats that HBS had instructed us to carry. He had informed the hotel staff to keep a big pot of black tea ready at all times for us in the room to keep us warm. I remember it would be very cold even at 2pm in the afternoon and I would enjoy wearing my coat and thought it looked stylish.

At the E.Flashlights we were introduced to the Engineering team and a young Kashmiri engineer, S. Koul was to escort us at all times in the company premises. He unfailingly would feed us a heavy breakfast. It was a revelation for me that at breakfast people ate Puri bhaaji and samosa and kachori at 8 am in the morning! Me a Mumbaikar requested for bread toast instead on the first day. Ritu stared at me annoyed but because she was my junior did not comment. The next day however she coaxed me into eating all the fried stuff and before I knew Koul sent over a plate of hot jalebis! I was totally overwhelmed with this style of breakfast as I knew only bread, khari, battar could be breakfast for this Irani influenced Mumbaikar

The lunch was always amazing is all I remember, I do not recollect the exact dishes now as it is almost two decades. However I remember the food we ate at a tiny hole in the wall eatery every night in Hazratganj. It was not the cleanest place to eat and to enter this 3-4 table place one had to brush against the hot tandoor or almost. The first time HBS took us there we refused to eat there but he being our stubborn boss he insisted we taste the food so we packed takeaways and ate in our hotel room. The next day on we were eating in the eatery itself, the bonus was a piping hot rather scalding hot tandoori rotis. This recipe of baigan bharta is based on that memory. I fondly recreate it in my kitchen to remind myself of that winter in Lucknow and especially make it when it is the coolest in Mumbai.

However before I share the recipe let me complete this story. Coming back to Lucknow capers, we'd spend the entire day in the lab trying to work on a process to remove hexavalent chromiun effectively from the effluent. I had a published paper on "adsorption behavior of Chromium on flyash" to my credit but that was not something cost effective for this industry. So it was hard work for us all over again. The project stretched for another week, however we were well taken care of. There was an old lab technician who came to work just to complete his tenure until retirement, his only job was to get us sweets and pamper us with them. I recollect how we gorged on the Imartis he had got for us wrapped in a newspaper and aam papads.

HBS had returned to Mumbai and was expected to come back to take us back home. Koul literally ordered him to book flight tickets for us to travel back to Mumbai reasoning out that we had been away from home too long and needed to be with family in a day and not spend another 3 days on the train. We were so thrilled because it meant we would fly for the first time in our lives! 

Before we flew back home there was a lunch hosted for us. The entire engineering department came to bid us farewell and Koul had directed the kitchen staff to make a Kashmiri Wazwan for us. The best dishes that day on the menu were Dum aloo and Malai kofta served with long grain basmati rice. It was on this day I learnt that Kashmiris are big rice eaters even though they are from the north. It was strange that we were enjoying a very authentic Kashmiri meal in Uttar Pradesh. My hand smelt of saffron long after it had been washed.

On the final day, HBS was back in Lucknow and so we had breakfast at the hotel and checked out. After loading the bags into the car, we were given a half a day tour of the various monuments, like chota and bada Imambada, the parliament etc. I don't remember much now. Once before we had explored the markets in Lucknow. We had shopped for Chikankari punjabi suits in Gadbadzala. I was told Gadbadzala was the twisted name given to the market because it was chaotic and some Maratha soldier had said "gabadzali" in the narrow streets of the market. Yes yes without fail I was told the story of the Maratha Empire touching Lucknow, I will have to read up history again.

Another thing that left an indelible mark on me is the hospitality and adab of the people I met every where on the streets. We girls were allowed to call our families every night, so instead of paying extra at the hotel we would go to a nearby STD booth, yes it was the pre-mobile era. The STD guy and everywhere we went we were respected. Once I broke my chappal and went looking for a cobbler in the night, it was hardly 8pm but Lucknow shops were almost closing down. The cobbler refused to take money form us because he guessed we were not from Lucknow and we were guests in the city even if we were there for work. I asked him how he knew it? He said girls in Lucknow never went out at that hour without a male family member and we two Mumbai girls were walking the streets enjoying the potato basket chaat in Hazratganj!

The return flight was memorable too as it was a Christmas day and we were gifted Christmas cakes to take home and some other goodies. I remember as I stepped out into the Mumbai heat after chilly Lucknow my body was itching due to the heat, I was back to a warm Mumbai in December.

Lucknow for me stands for wonderful food and even better people, my first flight and my first out posting.


1 large brinjal
2 onions, medium sized
1 tomato
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 green chili
1/2 cup fresh green peas
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon oil
salt to taste

Roast the brinjal on fire till its smoky and charred on all sides. Refer the first pic in this post. Keep turning to cook through completely. Remove from heat and cover with a vessel. Leave it to sweat a bit and this will loosen the charred skin. Remove the charred skin and collect flesh of the roasted brinjal in a plate. Mash the brinjal a bit. 

In a frying pan heat oil. Add the slit green chili, follow in with the sliced onion, fry for 2 mins. Add chopped tomato, green peas, cilantro and cook down on high heat till the masala leaves the oil. At this point add the roasted brinjal and add the garam masala, turmeric, chili powder and cook covered.

Salt to taste and remove from heat. Let the flavors meld well and then serve with rustic roti or bhakri.

The pics are from 2 different times I made the Baigan bharta. We enjoyed the lipsmacking dish thoroughly.

The Lucknow memories came flooding after I met someone who spells Lakhnawi adab!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Ceremonial Opening of AnnaParabrahma Eshop
The AnnaParabrahma Eshop on the web

A New Year And A New Start!

Dear Readers, Patrons and Friends,

A warm welcome to the AnnaParabrahma Eshop!

We are thrilled to announce the opening of the much awaited Eshop on our own domain 

Explore the Eshop, pick up and order your favorite products now!

*The first 10 orders get a special gift from us*

Enjoy your shopping...
Anjali & The AnnaParabrahma Team

 The AnnaParabrahma FB store
The AnnaParabrahma Eshop on FB

The story :

You have watched the metamorphosis of the blog and the FB page, I am sure you expected some change. It was slow and and over a period of 3 months the Eshop was built. Did you note that the old page was gone? and a new tab 'AnnaParabrahma Eshop' was added, on click it directed to

Some features

1. Ease of shopping while browsing from your desktop.
2. Payment gateway with payment options like PayUMoney, Paypal and Bank transfers.
3. Logistic services by FEDEX and Gati.
4. Facebook store to shop while you stay connected with friends.

I take the opportunity to thank the people who made this day possible.

Snigdha Manchanda of Tea Trunk who recommended Zepo (the hosting service) to me on a FB group that we both are part of.

Sudarshan Dheer Kaka (the grandmaster of Corporate communications in India) for all the guidance in branding. The new AnnaParabrahma logo is his creation. Simple and classic.

Reva Hart my dear friend and sister for doing a sincere testing of the new address and functionalities.


Deepa Kulkarni for the first order thru

The blogger buddies who ordered immediately on Go Live of the site, Madhuli, Deeba and Chandhana. They shared pictures of their buys and talked about their customer experience with friends and family. I appreciate the fraternity's support a lot!

Not for nothing it is said, "It takes a village to make dreams come true!"

On Trail