Friday, March 30, 2007

Tangy Cilantro spirals!!





The idea of making these spirals just popped up in my mind when I was walking through the aisles and came across these frozen spirals. Suddenly I thought I could make them with breadstick dough. I also wanted to make something for weekend herb blogging, so why not a tangy cilantro chutney inside the small spiral buns. In India we get buns stuffed with savory, even puff pastry is a delicious savory there. I couldn’t find anything like that in US bakeries. I saw all the buns or crescent rolls dipped and coated in icing sugar, cinnamon and topped with powdered sugar. Any version of bread, buns or pastry is sweet here. So I thought why not create a new combination. Thus was born the “Cilantro spirals”.
This is my contribution to the weekend herb blogging hosted by Kalyn .




Food Facts!!



Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also commonly called cilantro in North America.





The fresh leaves are an essential ingredient in many Vietnamese foods, Asian chutneys, Mexican salsas and guacamole, and very tasty when used in sushi rolls. Chopped coriander leaves are also used as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and many curries. As heat diminishes their flavour quickly, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish right before serving. (Though in some Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in huge amounts and cooked till they dissolve into sauce and their flavour mellows.

The fresh coriander herb is best stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers, after chopping off the roots. The leaves do not keep well and should be eaten quickly, as they lose their aroma when dried or frozen.
(Source Wiki)

Ingredients

Pillsbury breadstick dough
Butter for coating
½ cup chopped onions
Shredded cheese for topping

For the chutney

3 cups fresh cilantro
2 green chillies
½ cup thick tamarind puree
3tbsp-grated jaggery
Salt

Preparation

Prepare the chutney by grinding all the ingredients together without pouring water. The chutney becomes watery automatically from the jaggery, salt and tamarind puree.
You can increase or decrease the amount of chillies and jaggery depending on your taste buds.
Now cut the bread sticks lengthwise and top it with chutney and chopped onions.
Roll them gently as shown in the picture and brush it up with some melted butter and top it with cheese. Bake it for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until they get a beautiful golden brown color. Enjoy them along with a hot cup of tea. Ummm…. Heavenly!!






Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Konafah-Arabian Nights special!!



This is my contribution to the Monthly Mingle-Arabian Nights event by meetha



Konafah

Kataifa or Konafah is an Egyptian dessert dish for feasts and everyday during the fasting holy month of Ramadan. Konafah is usually found in greek or middle eastern stores with the name Kanaifah on the box. "Shredded Fillo Dough" (Kataifi).
For the first time, I did a lot of research on google for Arabian recipes, especially vegetarian. At last I landed on a dessert (desert). It is called with different names in different places. In Syria it is called Martha Haddad. Konafah is uncooked shredded "phyllo Dough". I made them with sheets, in some places it is done with sheets and is called as Batlawa.


Batlawa or konafah

Phyllo sheets
½ cup chopped almonds
melted butter for coating
½ cup slices of banana
Sweetened coconut
Honey


Spread butter in the bottom of a baking pan. Place 2 sheet of phyllo, on the pan. Coat it with a layer of butter. Place 2 more phyllo sheets. Evenly spread layer of almonds on them and place thin cut banana slices. Top them with honey and sweetned coconut. Now repeat the process again with layer of phyllo, butter, almonds, layer of banana, honey and coconut. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.Let it cool and then its ready to eat.


Usually in the original recipe the sugar syrup is made with the following ingredients. It is made a day ahead. I am giving you this recipe in case any body is interested in the original version.
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
juice of a half of lemon
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 teaspoonful of vanilla.
1 teaspoonful of rose or orange flower blossom water

Let all ingredients come to a boil. Lower heat to let boil, but do not over boil. Let cook for 15 minutes or until softball stage. Let it cool completely. If desired you can Pour sugar syrup over Batlawa. After this it is usually let to stand for a few hours to overnight to absorb syrup. This is original version.
As I dont like it very sweet, it is a little different form the original one.








Initially when I took the dessert out of the oven, I was a little shocked by the look of it. The phyllo dough was all stuck to the bananas and honey.. Oh Gosh I thought it was a big flop but then patiently waited for it to cool. (both dessert and my head);))






After it cooled, I could not believe the taste. It was a real party in my mouth!! The crunchy almonds, the sweet coconut, the caramelized honey and banana combination all were a real great Arabian treat. Thanks to Meeta for making it all happen.



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tomato Uttappam and Meeni-Mini Stuffed Tomatoes !!


This is my contribution to the JFI Tomato event by RP of myworkshop. I thought of contributing two different recipes.

Tomato Uttappam

Ingredients

2 cups semolina (suji)
2 ½ cups sour yogurt
½ cup finely chopped onions
2tbsp finely chopped ginger
Finely chopped green chillis
Tomato slices cut in to circles
Salt
Cilantro for garnish

Preparation

Mix the suji to the yogurt, add salt and let it ferment for about 4-5 hours.
Add chopped onions, ginger, green chillis and if desired any other chopped vegetables.
Pour the batter on the tava and do not spread it much. Just spread it very little and top it with tomatoes and cover it with lid. It should cook in medium heat. Then slowly and carefully toss the uttappam and let it cook for few more seconds.
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with chutney or sambar.


Meeni- Mini stuffed tomatoes (Stuffed cherry tomatoes)



This can be served as finger food or appetizer.
After looking at Sia’s stuffed tomatoes in yogurt gravy I didnt feel like publishing this recipe of mine. She has done a wonderful job with those tomatoes.





Ingredients

1 cup Medium sized cherry tomatoes

For Stuffing

½ cup grated paneer
½ cup boiled and mashed potato
1tsp ginger paste
½ cup finely chopped onions
1tspgaram masala
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chilli powder
Chopped cilantro
Salt
3tbsp oil

Preparation

In a pan add oil. Fry the onions, ginger, potato and paneer. To this add salt, chilli powder, garam masala and cumin powder. Let it cook till the raw smell leaves.
Then add cilantro and let it cool a little.

Very carefully cut the edge of the tomato and remove the seeds with the help of a small knife and your little finger (Pinky). See the picture.
Now stuff them carefully and close it with the cut out tomato top. Now you can either keep it in oven for 3-4 minutes at 250 degrees or cook in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. You can even grill or slightly sauté it in a pan with some oil for few minutes.
If you don’t want it that way forget it. You can just pop it in your mouth raw. It is a nice finger food but should be served hot to get the real taste.
Hope you all will like it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sri Rama Navami Neivedyam to Lord Rama!


Sri Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of Hindu lunar year (or Chaitra Masa ). Navami means the ninth day in the hindu calender. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Rama. People normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) for small idols of Lord Rama and Sita(Wife of Lord Rama) in their houses, and at the end of the day the deities are taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsavam (festival) called Vasanthothsavam (festival of Spring), that starts with Ugadi(telugu and kannada new year). According to astologers by placing the stars and the epics together it has been said that Sri Rama was born on Feb 10, 5010 BC.
Temples are decorated and the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned. The holy Ramayana is read in the temples. At Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama, a big fair is held on this day. In South India the Sri Rama navami Utsavam (Festival) is celebrated for nine days with great fervor and devotion. For the occasion, Hindus are supposed to fast (or restrict themselves to a specific diet).

Some highlights of this day are:

Kalyanam (Ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests) at Bhadrachalam (A famous temple of Lord Rama) on the banks of the river Godavari in Khammam district in Andhra, India.
Panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day as Neivedyam for Lord Rama.
Procession of idols in the evening that is accompanied with play of water and colours.
(Contents edited from Wiki)

The following are the traditional recipes prepared during Sri Rama Navami.





Panakam in Sanskrit means sweet drink. It is a main neivedyam at all the temples and houses on this day in India.

Ingredients

2-3 cups of water (depends on the no. Of serving)
½ tsp ginger powder or 1tbsp grated fresh ginger
2-3 tbsp grated jaggery (depends on how sweet you want it to be)
½ tsp crushed peppercorns
1 crushed cardamom

Preparation

Dissolve the grated jaggery in water and add fresh chopped ginger or dry ginger powder to it. I prefer fresh ginger to the dry powder as it gives more fresh taste and zing to the drink. The dry ginger loses some properties of fresh ones. Boil the mixture and filter it. Add crushed cardamom and peppercorns to it. Now its ready for Neivedyam.

Food facts

Jaggery or Gur, is pure, Unrefined whole sugar, containing the natural goodness of minerals and vitamins inherently present in sugarcane juice.
Ginger and its extracts aid digestion, help relieve stomachaches, flatulence, and promote circulation.
Powdered ginger is very effective in treating motion sickness. It’s especially given to kids for proper digestion. Fresh mashed ginger root, when applied to burns, eases the pain.
The combination of Pepper, ginger along with honey or cane sugar relieves sore throat, cough and cold.

Vada pappu (Soaked Split yellow moong dal)

Ingredients

1 cup moong dal
2-3 tbsp grated coconut
chushed green chillies(optional)
1tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Salt to taste.
Fresh chopped cilantro to garnish.

Preparation

The moong dal should be soaked in warm water for about half an hour and drained.
To this, add all the other ingredients and mix well.
This dal is eaten raw and uncooked.


Chalimidi



There are many ways to make this traditional recipe.

Ingredients

1cup raw rice
2-3 tbsp chopped coconuts
1tbsp ghee
½ cup sugar or jaggery.
Water for syrup
½ tsp crushed cardamom.

Preparation

There are 2 methods for making this chalimidi. One is called the Pachi chalimidi (Raw or uncooked chalimidi). For this the raw rice is soaked for 2-3 hours in warm water.
The rice is then drained and dried in a dry cloth untill completely dry and powdered coarsely.
This rice powder is then mixed with sugar or jaggery adding 1-2tsp water. Add grated coconut and crushed cardamom.
Mix well to make a dough. See the picture. This is the basic recipe. I used ready-made rice powder and it came out very well. There are lot of variations from this one.

The second method is the cooked chalimidi where the rice powder is added to the warm sugar or jaggery syrup and cooked in low heat to form the dough.
It is very carefully stirred so that no lumps are formed. Then the rest of the ingredients are added.
But the traditional way to make it is the very first method.





This picture is of the Murthis in Bridgewater Temple, New Jersey.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ugadi Feast!!!

Until I was in India, I never used to take festivals, tradition and culture so seriously. For me festivals were to just eat delicious food and enjoy the whole day sitting at home or watch special TV programs. It used to be a day of enjoyment. That was because there were elders to do all the poojas and cooking stuff, so we didn’t have much responsibilities. Now it’s all over and here I am trying my best to carry over the traditions and values to another generation and to do it the way my mother and grandmother had done. I think we all wouldn’t have given so much importance to festivals and traditions if we were in our own land. It’s the distance, which has brought about the difference in me and most of us. I have never seen so many crowds at the temples in India during festivals like I see here. Its only when we got away from where we were (India), we start realizing what we miss.

Ugadi is celebrated as New Year in Andhra and Karnataka. In Maharashtra it’s celebrated as Gudi Padwa. A new month called the chaitra masam(March/april) begins. The flowers start blooming, birds chirping, spring lingers with the start of this month, which is called Vasanth ritu.
In Andhra it’s the season for mangoes and all women at home make avakaya in this season. My mother-in -law makes great avakaya (mango pickle) for all of us.



Ugadi Pachadi

Ugadi Pachadi is a special dish made on Ugadi day. This pachadi has got different taste like sweet, hot, sour, tangy and bitterness. It symbolizes different phases in life like happiness and sorrow one has to face in the coming years.

Ingredients

1 cup raw fresh mango finely chopped along with skin
1 tbsp of margosa flowers (neem flowers)
½ cup of grated jaggery
3 -4 tbsp tamarind juice
chilli pwd
salt to taste


Preparation


Mix up all the ingredients into a semi liquid form and enjoy. Each and every ingredient spreads its own flavors and is a real feast to the tongue.
We had been to the temple on ugadi and they served this pachadi as “Prasadam”. Oh it was a heavenly taste, not only to the tongue but also to the soul. They added Bananas too. Couldn’t get enough of it and no wonder they call it Prasadam (prashad).


Mango Pulihara


Ingredients

1cup grated fresh raw mango
2 cups cooked rice
½ tsp mustard seed
½ tsp chana dal(Bengal gram dal)
½ tsp urad dal (black gram dal)
1tsp groundnuts (peanuts)
4-5 cashew nuts
2tbsp raisins
1tsp chopped fresh ginger
1tbsp chopped green chillis
Curry leaves and cilantro.
Turmeric
Salt to taste.
3tbsp oil

Preparation

In a frying pan add oil. Add mustard seed, chana dal, urad dal, groundnuts, and let it get a golden brown color. Then add cashews, raisins, chopped ginger, curry leaves, chillis, turmeric and fry in medium heat. Once the aroma rises out of these ingredients, add grated mango as shown in the picture and fold them all together. Simmer the heat and add cooked rice and salt. Fold them all together gently. Now garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve.











Aam ras - mamidi charu (Mango Rasam)



Ingredients

Whole Mango (the left out mango with the seed from the pulihara )
3 cups of water
1tsp Rasam powder
½ tsp turmeric
Salt
Fresh cilantro

For tempering

Mustard seeds
Cumin seeds
Asafoetida
Ghee (Clarified butter)
Curry leaves.

Preparation

In the water add the whole mango. The mango should be as a whole with the seed. I took the left out one from the pulihara. Along with it add salt, turmeric, rasam powder and let it boil till the mango gets cooked. It spreads the whole house with its aroma and your stomach starts growling. Once the mango is cooked, temper with the given ingredients and garnish with fresh cilantro and Enjoy!!






Obbatlu (Pooran poli)



Ingredients



For the dough

1 cup Maida (all purpose flour)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
4tbsp oil
salt
water

For pooran(stuffing)



1cup boiled and mashed chana dal (Bengal gram dal)
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes (normal grated coconut can also be added)
½ cup Grated jaggery
1 tsp crushed cardamom
Oil

Preparation



Prepare the dough like it’s done for chapattis but a little loose. Keep it aside closed. The dal has to be cooked in pressure cooker and after removing the excess water out of the dal, it is blend in to paste in a mixer or by hand. Remember not to add water to the dal.
Prepare the pooran by mixing the mashed dal, coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder.
Now stuff the dough with pooran and gently roll it with rolling pin (like we do for aalu parathas) or pat it with hands if you are good at it. If patting with hands, spread some oil on your hands. Make it as thin as possible and fry it on the tava on medium heat like we usually do for aalu parathas. Serve it hot!!

Dry fruit Laddu!!





Ingredients


1cup cashew nuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup Apricot
1 cup dry or fresh Figs
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup almonds
1 cup dates
4-5 tbsp honey

Preparation


Chop cashews, almonds, and dates into medium size. Make sure not to crush them. Soak apricots and figs in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain out the water and chop the Apricots. Split open the figs and spoon out the seeds inside it and discard the outer skin. I am using the seeds only.
I popped the skin in to my mouth(No wasting please). Figs are usually good for digestion purpose as they are a good source of fiber. It also cures stomach ailments. Now add honey and mix up all these fruits together.
Make into laddus and place them in muffin pans. Bake them for about 15 minutes at 250 degrees. Delicious dry fruit laddus are ready. It’s highly nutritious and healthy. You can add more dry fruits if desired with all your creative thoughts. I think these dry fruit laddus are better than any sweet granola bars!!

The baking part is only for increasing the shelf-life of the laddus. It can be kept in the fridge if it is not baked, for more shelf-life.

Monday, March 19, 2007

HAPPY UGADI AND GUDI PADWA!!


May this New Year Bring Happiness and Prosperity to You n your loved ones!
May God Shower all his blessings to you n your family!!

Adi's Birthday Cake

I am back today with Adi’s B’day cake and some other pictures of the party ('Jai' is my son's First name) . After coming to US we celebrate Adi’s b’day for three days. First day is on the weekend where we can avail all the friends for cutting the cake and celebrating. The second date is according to the Hindu calendar. He was born on a Telugu New year day called the Ugadi, where the date keeps changing every year and the third date is the actual English calendar date, the 21st. So he gets to freak out the whole week. He officially cut the cake on 17th this year. The Big Event!!




Adi loves the movie Chicken Little and the movie has to be played at least once a day at home (I mean almost every day). So we thought that there can be nothing better than getting a cake for him with the Chicken Little concept.




The following are some of the dishes served at the party.

Dahi wada

samosas n pakodis

Grilled vegetables


chutneys n salad
Veg Biriyani

Tadka Dal
Okra Fry
Kadai Paneer
Gobi Ki Subzi

Palak Ki Subzi

Mixed Pickle

Rasmalai

Mixed veg salad yogurt

Gajar ka halwa n Gulab Jamun

Rasmalai n Kheer

I am glad that I could share all these pics with you guys. Phew!! but got exhausted loading em all!!

Will be right back after Ugadi. Wish You all a Happy Telugu, Kannada and Marathi New Year!!