Monday, November 5, 2007

Taking a Break!

Hi Friends, We are moving to Chicago in 2 weeks so will not be blogging for I don't know how long. Will truly miss blogging and talking to you all. My Brain has constantly been thinking on Packing, cleaning, my son's new school, new place, new people, cleaning up the fridge and getting rid of frozen stuff and so much more. I am going to miss New Jersey so badly. Will miss all my friends here.

I wish you all a very Happy and prosperous Diwali! I wanted to cook and post so many different sweets for Diwali but now it is not possible. Will check all your posts once I am settled.
I will miss a lot of events too:(

Take Care and Enjoy the festivities!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peach Tart, Sago Pudding and Navratri Neivedyam


I had to make something out of peach as Mansi was sweetly threatening me to participate in her event AFAM-Peach:) I made some mini tarts with peach and other fruits.
I also made sago pudding for Durga pooja which is my entry for Think Spice-Saffron.

Peach Tarts



Ingredients

2 tbsp Custard Powder
1 cup whole milk
2-3 tsp sugar
4 Mini pie crusts (I used ready made pie crust)
1 tbsp butter
Peach slices
cherries, grapes and pomegranate





Preparation

You can use any kind of fruits to create a tart. I also used custard for filling instead of cream cheese. Prepare a thick custard by mixing up custard powder, sugar and whole milk.
The mini pie crusts I bought are made of gram crackers so I brushed them with melted butter and baked them for 5 minutes at 375 degrees. This way the crust becomes crisp. Cool the custard by refrigerating it for 30 minutes.
Fill the custard after it gets cooled and arrange the fruits. Quick dessert is ready.



Durga Pooja

I made Sago pudding, Black channa, green gram/Moong dal and Sabudana/Sago wada for Durga pooja.
The Green gram is inspired from Viji's blog. The Sabudana wada recipe will be posted later.



Sago Pudding


Ingredients

1/2 cup Sago
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of Saffron Strand
1/2 tsp Crushed cardamom
1 tbsp Cashew nuts
1 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp Clarified butter/ghee


Preparation

Soak sago for 3 to 4 hours in water. Strain the water. Warm up the milk and add the sago to it. Also add crushed cardamom. In a tbsp of milk soak saffron separately.
Once the sago appears transparent that means it is cooked. Add sugar and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and add saffron soaked milk to it.
In a pan add ghee and fry the cashews and raisins till golden. Add this to the pudding. Delicious Sago pudding is ready.


This one also goes to RCI Tamil Festivals and JFS:Dassera



The recipes for green gram and black channa can be obtained from Viji's blog

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eggplant Gravy / kathirikai kulambu / Baingan ki subzi




This is a delicious gravy made onions and cashew nut paste. Baby eggplants are fried and then dropped in this rich gravy.
I am not able to post regularly because my little one is suffering from cold and chest congestion. When kids fall sick the house and schedule becomes a big mess.
I am not able to keep up with the event list too. If I am not able to leave comments in your blog please do bear with me.



Here is the recipe:
Ingredients

For the paste:

2 large medium chopped red onions
1 tbsp cashew nuts
2 tbsp fresh grated coconut
3-4 Green chillies

For the gravy

10-12 baby eggplants
1 tsp Coriander/ dhaniya powder
1/3 cup of thick tomato puree
1 cup Tamarind water
1tsp turmeric powder
Salt

For tempering:

1/3 tsp Mustard seeds
5-7 curry leaves
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
a dash of asafoetida


Preparation

Slit the eggplants in to four with out cutting them apart in to pieces. In a pan fry the eggplants by adding 2-3 tbsp oil. Fry them on medium heat till they become soft from all the sides and get cooked from inside. Handle them gently so that they don't break. Remove it from the pan and keep aside.
In the same pan add onions and a tsp oil. Fry till slightly soft. Grind the onions along with the rest of the ingredients given to make a paste.
In a pan temper the given ingredients and add the tamarind water, turmeric, salt and coriander powder. Once it comes to boil, add tomato puree and the ground paste. Let it come to a boil. If the gravy gets too thick you can add water. Once the gravy comes to a good boil, add the eggplants. Leave it for 5 minutes and remove from fire. Rich and thick gravy goes great with hot rice, dosas or even rotis.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Feed A Hungry Child and Donate Smiles!


World hunger and poverty facts:

852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million a year ago.

Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds.

In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food.

Hunger manifests itself in many ways other than starvation and famine. Most poor people who battle hunger deal with chronic malnutrition and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which result in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness.

The issue of global hunger is a complex one that is deeply tied in with the poverty and other economc forces as well. The problem isn't alleviated with simply supplying food.

About- Feed a Hungry Child

feedahungrychild.org is a not-for-profit charitable organization formed in a collaborative effort of the like-minded people from all around the world. It aims to replace the empty plates of the underprivileged children and replace them with ones of food. While FAHC addresses the holistic needs of each children it supports, it believes illiteracy, malnutrition, and other concerns can only be addressed when hunger is appeased.

Immediate Mission:

* Join the fight against global poverty.
* Help feed hungry children one by one.

Larger Vision: feeahungrychild.org aims to improve the lives of a good many underprivileged children in their efforts to support themselves, their families, and their communities by giving them the chance for better food, better education, better healthcare, and other welfare.

Please contribute to help Feed A Hungry Child! For more details visit http://feedahungrychild.org/
You can also click on the ChipIn widget on the right to contribute.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Making of Ghee/ clarified Butter



After many experiments, I now regularly make Ghee/clarified butter at home. It make me feel happy and tastes good too. In India my mom collects cream from milk and makes butter and then ghee out of it. It used to be a wonderful process.
This is how I make it here in US.


Preparation

Drop 2 sticks of unsalted butter in a deep bottomed pan and heat it on medium low flame. once the sticks have melted lower the flame slightly and leave it for about 10 minutes. Never increase the flame to high. The butter will be of a pale yellow color and it will start changing its color to light golden. once the color starts changing, turn off the flame, else it will burn. The heat of the pan will complete the process of making Ghee. It is a very delicate process and once you understand when to turn off the flame, you will get a very nice consistency of ghee.


Ghee / Clarified butter is a very important ingredient in Indian cooking especially in sweets. Along with Ghee I contribute all the following recipes to RCI Tamil Festival hosted by a very talented cook and lovely fellow blogger Viji of Vcuisine.

Urad dal vada/ ulundu vadai

Ingredients

3 cups urad dal
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp crushed pepper
1 tsp crushed ginger (optional)
2-3 crushed green chillies (optional)
Salt
Oil for deep frying

Preparation

Soak urad dal and fenugreek seeds in warm water for one hour. Grind the dal by adding very little water as possible. The batter should be very thick. When the batter is dropped in water it should float as a ball without getting dissolved.
Mix Salt, pepper, ginger and green chillies to the batter.
In a heavy bottomed pan heat oil. Wet your hands with little water so that the batter does not stick to the hands and make a donut shape out of the batter. Drop it in hot oil and deep fry till golden brown. Crispy vadas are ready!

Janmashtami Seedai


Dry fruit laddus


Sakkarai pongal


Murukku



Rama Navami Panakam


Rava Kesari


Paruppu vadai/ masal vadai



Tamil Festive Food


There is a new member in our family! Wanted to share with you guys pictures and pleasure of our new "Toyota Highlander".



Saturday, October 6, 2007

Eggs, eggs everywhere!!




Ever since Bee and Jai have announced their event named Click, my brain started thinking about how to give a special effect to the eggs. Then I got the idea of shooting the eggs at its birth place "The Nest".
The eggs seem pretty happy at their home! The nest was created by me.

My Camera is Canon power shot G7, 10 mega pixels. I used the color accent technique in my camera to give a natural feel to the picture.

I had shot about 100 pictures and went mad selecting the best one!! The eggs too had to go through a lot of torture posing differently:)



I liked this one the best!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Amish Friendship Bread !


Amish Friendship Bread is a type of bread designed to be baked and sent along in a manner similar to a chain letter. The idea is very simple: a friend gives you a cup of yeast culture (also known as "starter") and a copy of instructions. Following the instructions, you add sugar, flour and milk and it rises. Eventually, you end up with 4 cups of the starter. You use one cup to make bread (the instructions provide you with the recipe), keep one cup to start a new cycle and give two cups to your friends. Each of your friends also gets a copy of the instructions for what to do with the yeast starter. The latter part makes it somewhat like a chain letter.



The first time "Amish Friendship Bread" was discussed on Usenet was in a posting on February 5, 1990. The results yielding from a traditional Amish Friendship Bread recipe is a sweet quickbread with a taste and crumb very similar to a cake. The starter, however, may be used to make lots of different types of bread.



DAY 1 This is the day you receive the starter. It is never refrigerated, just left on the kitchen counter.

DAY 2, 3, 4, 5 Mash the bag to mix up the contents.

DAY 6 Feed the starter: Add 1 Cup all-purpose Flour, 1 Cup Sugar and 1 Cup Milk to the bag. Squeeze the bag a few times.

DAY 7-9 Mash the bag to mix up the contents.

DAY 10 Place starter in a bowl. Add 1 1/2 Cup flour, 1 1/2 Cup sugar and 1 1/2 Cup milk and mix well. Now place 1 cup starter into each plastic bags you want to send your friend, and use the remaining to make 1 loaf of bread.

The starter was sent to me by a dear friend and fellow blogger Swapna of Swad.
I made a simple coconut and walnut bread out of this starter. I don't like my bread to be too sweet, so reduced the amount of sugar.



Making of the Bread

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil
2-3 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3 tbsp chopped walnuts



Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
To one cup starter add all the dry ingredients like flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder and fold together.
To this add the wet ingredients and mix well. At last fold in the coconut flakes and walnuts.
Bake for 1 hour and insert a dry knife to see it come out clean.
Let it cool. The bread tastes great.



I passed 2 cups of starter to Susan and Sig in the blog sphere. The 3rd cup was passed to one of my friend Neitha.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Karnataka Meals




Kedareshwara temple in Balligavi, Karnataka, India.

Karnataka is one of the four southern states of India. With an antiquity that dates to the paleolithic, Karnataka has also been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient India. Great philosophers and musical bards patronized by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements whose ennobling effects have been felt far and wide. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions.

The diverse linguistic and religious ethnicities that are native to Karnataka combined with their long histories have contributed immensely to the varied cultural heritage of the state.

I have visited some of the most beautiful temples in Karnataka. They are rich in history and architecture.

Hampi is a small village in Karnataka, famous for ancient temples and its architecture.


Amritheswara temple in Amrithapura, Chikkamagaluru district, Karnataka state, India


This is the famous Chamundi Temple at Mysore, Karnataka. This temple is located on top of a hill and the whole town of Mysore can be seen from here. This is one of my frequently visited places.


This is Nandi at Chamundi temple.

(Picture source: Wiki) click on the image to see the temples closer.
Temple at Nanjangoodu, Mysore. This is a famous Lord Shiva temple. My Father's ancestors worshiped this God. So I used to visit this temple a lot during my childhood.
Cuisine of Karnataka comprises diverse vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines.
Although the ingredients differ from one region to another, a typical Kannadiga Oota (Kannadiga meal) includes the following dishes in the order specified and is served on a banana leaf: Kosambari, Pickle, Palya, Gojju, Raita, Dessert (Yes, it is a tradition to start your meal with a dessert - Paaysa), Thovve, Chitranna, Rice and Ghee.


This is the first time I am trying my hands on Karnataka cuisine. When I tasted them, to my surprise I couldn't believe that the sambar and Gojju tasted like the way my grandmother used to make. I had tried all means to bring out the taste from my grandmother's kitchen till now but like magic all the secret ingredients was hiding inside Karnataka cuisine:)
It has now become a must save recipe.

Udupi Sambar

My friend and fellow blogger Padma has made this sambar famous around the blogsphere. Udupi sambar gave me a new meaning to the word sambar. It is a thicker version of sambar and the taste keeps tingling in my taste buds.

Ingredients:
1 cup Red gram dal/toovar dal
2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice (Drumsticks/Eggplant/Yellow pumpkin, etc diced or cubed)
6-8 whole shallots/madras sambhar onions, peeled
1 plum tomato, cut into large chunks
3-4 green chillies, cut lengthwise-slit
2 tsps tamarind pulp (I used the readymade one here)
1 sprig of curry leaves (optional)
2 tsps of cilantro/coriander chopped¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp jaggery, grated
salt as per taste 

For Tempering

½ tsp mustard seeds2-3 dry red chillies
 ¼ tsp asafoetida2 tsps cooking oil

Dry roast and grind to fine paste:

2 tsps of black gram dal/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds
3 tsps of coriander seeds
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds
4 dry red chillies
¾ cup fresh or frozen (thawed) grated coconut
water as required to make smooth paste

Preparation

Cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric and a tsp of oil in a cooker upto 3-4 whistles, mash it and while its still hot/warm and keep as side.
Meanwhile heat oil in a deep heavy bottom pan to make the sambhar.
Add asafoetida followed by shallots/madras sambhar onions, green chillies and half of the curry leaves off the sprig, and sauté until the onions become transparent and start to leave the juices.
Add the vegetables of your choice, tomato pieces and turmeric powder, if not adding any vegetables then add more shallots/madras sambhar onions.
Cook covered until the vegetables are cooked with enough water to cover the veggies, take care to retain their shape/texture.
Once thoroughly cooked add the tamarind pulp and cook covered until the raw smell of the tamarind goes off, approx 5 mins.
Add the ground paste, jaggery and salt to taste. Sambhar should not be too thick nor too watery, so add more water if necessary. You will notice that your kitchen is filled with nice aroma of this sambhar.
Once the mixture comes to a boil add the cooked dal, mix well and check for salt.
When the sambhar just begins to boil, switch off the stove. Make sure you don’t boil the sambhar after adding the dal coz the dal will lose its soft texture.
For tempering
Heat a tsp of oil in a small kadai, add the mustard seeds, when it starts to splutter add the dry red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. fry for a min and pour over the sambhar.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with idlis, dosas, or plain rice.



Hagalakai Gojju(Bittermelon gojju)
This is a tamarind based hot, sweet and sour curry.



Ingredients

1 cup chopped Bitter melon(Bitter gourd)
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
3 tbsp Grated Coconut
1 cup tamarind water
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Brown Sugar or Jaggery
3 tbsp fresh chopped Cilantro
Salt

For Masala Powder

2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Fenugreek
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Urad dal
2 tsp Channa Dal
2 tsp Moong dal
2 tbsp roasted chana dal (roasted gram dal)
3 tbsp Grated Coconut
4-5 dry red chillies

For seasoning

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil



Preparation
In a deep bottomed pan add the seasoning ingredients and let them splutter. To this add onions and fry until translucent.
Add the chopped bitter gourd, turmeric and salt and saute well on medium flame for 5 minutes. Add tamarind water and let it cook.
Meanwhile roast the masala powder ingredients until they turn slilghtly brown. Also dry roast the roasted chana dal separately along with coconut until aroma raises and grind them all together into smooth paste by adding little water.


Add this paste to the bitter gourd/tamarind mixture. Fold them all together and bring to boil on medium low heat. Add Jaggery or brown sugar and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and remove from heat. If the gojju becomes thick, add very little water.
I couldn't believe my eyes, the gojju brought back the taste of my grandmother's kitchen. The credit goes to RCI.



Polodya (Plantain-buttermilk curry)
This is a buttermilk based curry, with a blend of tamarind and coconut too.


Ingredients

1 cup Raw Banana/Plantain(peeled and chopped into medium sized chunks)
2 cups Water
1/2 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Jaggery/Brown Sugar(optional, I did not use)
1 1/2 cup Buttermilk
Salt

For Masala

1 tsp Channa Dal
1/2 tsp raw uncooked Rice
2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 1/2 tsp Oil
2 Green Chilli
1/2 cup Fresh Grated Coconut
1/2 cup Water

For Seasoning

1 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Red Chilli
1 1/2 tsp Oil
1/8 Asafoedita


Preparation

To a medium sized pan add banana chunks and water. Also Add salt, Tamarind paste and jaggery. Cover the pan and cook on medium low flame until the plantain chunks are well cooked.

In the meantime soak channa dal and uncooked rice in water for at least 15-20 minutes. Put coriander seeds, mustard seeds and oil in a small pan and heat it until the mustard seeds start spluttering. Then grind channa dal, uncooked rice, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, green chillis, and coconut along with water.

Once the plantain chunks are cooked, add the ground masala paste and let the mixture boil once. Remove it from the heat and season it. When it cools down add buttermilk and fold together.
Note:You can use okra or raw jackfruit or cucumber instead of raw plantain.



Hesaru Bele-Akki payasa (moong bean-rice porridge)

This recipe is a famous sweet dish called as Payasa at Kannada Brahmin household.

Ingredients

1 cup Rice
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup jaggery (grated)
3/4 cup grated coconut
1 tsp Cardamom powder
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup whole milk or 1/2 cup condensed milk or 1 cup evaporated milk
8-10 Cashew nuts
1 tbsp raisins



Preparation

Fry the moong dal in a pan until light brown. Cook the dal in pressure cooker for 2 whistles.
wash rice and cook separately. To a sauce pan add the milk(I used evaporated milk), crushed cardamom powder, jaggery and bring to boil. I used sugar and jaggery in equal proportion.
Add the moong dal and rice to this and bring to boil. Let the mixture thicken a little. Add grated coconut and leave it on medium low flame.
Separately fry the cashewnuts and Raisins in ghee till golden brown. Garnish this on the payasa. Delicious Hesaru bele-akki payasa is ready.

This is store bought mango pickle. Pickles are a must have on plate at the south Indian household.


This is my contribution to RCI Karnataka hosted by the very talented and friendly Asha.