Saturday, March 29, 2008

Paneer Mattar Masala & more Awards

If you would have seen my comments in other blogs you will surely know that I'm a paneer lover. I love it fresh, deep-fried or incorporated in any dish. I'm always in search for the ideal paneer recipes that have that special restaurant taste. My favorite is paneer butter masala and my hubby's favorite is paneer matar masala. So here is the recipe for his favorite dish.

Paneer- 300 gms
Green peas- 3/4 th cup (dried ones)
Onion- 2 1/2
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tbsp
tomatoes- 4 or 5
green chilli- 5
garam masala- 1 tsp
yogurt- 1 cup
red chilli powder- 1 tsp
corriander powder- 1 tbsp
heavy cream- 50 ml
saffron- a pinch
cashew paste- 1 tbsp
corriander leaves- handful
oil- 3 tbsp

salt- as required
sugar- a pinch
kassori methi - 1 tsp

Soak dried peas in water overnight. Next day boil it with some salt until almost cooked. You can skip this step if you use frozen peas. Next bring water to a boil and put the tomatoes in it. Boil for 5 mins . Take out the tomatoes and wash it in cold water. Peel off the skin and make a puree. You can skip this step also if you have use readymade tomato puree, but I'm sorry I do not have the measure for that. Boil onions in water for 8 mins. Strain and puree.Heat oil in a pan and fry the onion paste for 5 mins. Then add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 5 more mins.

Next add chilli powder, garam masala and corriander powder. Stir well. Now add tomato puree, cashew paste ,salt and sugar. Cook till the oil seperates. Next add yogurt (beaten smooth). cook for 10 -12 mins till oil floats on top. Add little water, boiled peas and saffron.Cut paneer into cubes and shallow fry in a non-stick pan with a spoon of oil. Put the fried paneer in hot salted water for sometime. When it's time to add it to the gravy just strain the water and use it in the curry.Add paneer and boil for another 3 mins.

Finally add cream, crushed kassori methi (soak in water for sometime to make it soft), corriander leaves and fried green chilli. Cook till you get the desired consistency. Increase the water level according to the your preference of texture.Enjoy it with hot buttered naan or fried rice. It tastes just awesome.

Now to the awards.... As you all know that it's raining awards in the blogsphere. I have been one of the fortunate ones to get those great awards.

I've been presented the "Nice Matters" award again. This time it's by Sagari of Indian cooking and Pragyan of cooking at Pragyan's have been so sweet and gracious to pass it on to me . Thankyou so much Sagari and Pragyan. You both made me feel so special and happy.

Then, Pravs of Simply Spicy and Shanti Banu of My kitchen hobbies have been so kind enough to pass me on the "E" for Excellent Blog award. Thankyou so much girls. Your awards have inspired me so much and I'm very proud to wear it on my blog.

Last time itself I should have passed on the "Nice matters" award but I somehow forgot to include it. So , I'm passing it now to some of my friends. For some of you it might be a repetition still I hope you would enjoy it.
So the Nice matter's award is being passed to:
Asha , Richa , Bharathi , Shella, Jeena and SuperChef .

And the "E" for excellent blog award is being passed to
Indo Sun God,
Bee ,
Happy Cook and

I hope you girls enjoy the award too as much as I did.One more thing before I end the post. My hubby's workplace has changed. I mean he is working from home now. It's not a temporay thing as it's a permanant job. The bad thing about this is he always keep a watch on me on how much time I spend on blogging. That's why I'm unable to be in your blogs recently and also unable to update mine either. Bear with me gals. I'll organize myself soon and come back to routine.

First Anniversary and time to say a lot of Thanks !!!

Hi Folks,


While the whole world is celebrating this great day , I have another reason to celebrate this day.Yes! It's my blog's FIRST Birthday. Last year it was the same Feb 14th my blog was born. Like many of my friends I too never thought that I'll be blogging this long. Anyway, today I have reached a second milestone with 137 posts. Wondering what's my first milestone? Ofcourse it was my 100th post on October 2007.

Another great news is that I have recieved "The Nice Matters" award from my dear friend Happy cook who is the proud owner of My Kitchen Treasures. Thankyou so much HC, you made me feel so special.

So, let me start the story of how I was introduced to the blogging world. It was some time in December 2006 I came across a health-related blog . The same author had a food blog too. I liked the idea of recording the recipes and that inspired me to start a blog of my own. Unfortunately, I forgot her name. Then, after two months I had my own blog .... En Samayal Pakkam.

Initially when I started the blog I wanted it to be a personal space to record my recipes. But seeing the comments in the other blogs I was so surprised by the way people are connecting to one another and how close they become after that. This inspired me and I wanted to be a part of it.

The first indian food blog I came across was Asha's. I became a great fan of hers. It was from her I learnt to write an intro before each recipe. There were days when I used to get only one comment and that was Asha's. She has always been encouraging me with her sweet comments. So, on this day I want to give you a big hug and say THANKS for all your inspiration.

I also want to thank Deepz of "Letz Cook". She was the first one to leave a comment on my blog. I don't think she knows that but I cannot forget that day. I was soooo thrilled that I can't express it in words. Thanks Deepz, You made me so happy that day.

Next I wish to mention some of the other great bloggers who inspired me during my initial days of blogging. Sia's eye-catching pictures, Inji Pennu's style of boldly expressing her thoughts, Prema's wonderful recipes (she made me blabber about her manchurian once in my dreams), Indo Sun God's Authentic recipes, Richa's simple yet flavorful recipes..... Ah, the list goes on and on...

I'm so thankful for getting friends like Happy Cook who is a soups & chaat queen, Bharathi who has a lovely collection of authentic kerala recipes, Viji of vcusine who is like a dictionary of food for me, Mansi who often tempts me to go off my diet with her awesome desserts, Jeena who inspires me with her healthy recipes, Cynthia & Bee who makes me forget to comment by getting me lost with their mind-blowing pictures and write-up, Latha ma and Lakshmi who shares their authentic Iyyengar recipes and also making a difference by reaching to the special-needs kids , Pravs who makes me drool over her non-veg dishes, Suganya of Tasty Palattes who brings out the beauty of food with her unique style of photography, Sukanya of Hot'n' Sweet bowl who makes beautiful cakes and Shella who has connected to me personally.

I also enjoy the dishes and comments of Laavanya who has a variety of yummy dishes that I'm yet to try, TBC who capitvates my heart with her unique recipes, Rajitha who makes my tummy grumble with her tempting array of dishes, Raks who gives nice step-by-step pictures to follow her dishes, Padma who creates beautiful dishes like her kesar amarkhand, Priar who makes mouth-watering tamilnadu style non-veg dishes , Ramya of Mane Adige who has introduced me to so many of her bangalore dishes, Remya of Spice n Flavors who has a variety of kerala delicacies, SMN who has great breakfast items like her different types of dosa, Seema who has simple yet comforting dishes like her appo and chicken curry , Sagari who in a short span of time has posted so many delicious dishes, meeso... more than her food, I always go to her blog to see her blush in her boyfriend's hands , Kalai who has a nice homey foods, Easy Crafts who is so talented in coming up with so many dishes that can be done in MW, Shankari who I'm so proud that she spreads our cusine through her cooking class and also does food shows in TV..... Really guys, the list is endless.

But I have to end my long list for now as I'm running short of time. At this time I cannot forget my non-blogger friends too who visit me and leave their kind comments behind. I owe it all to your encouragement . Anyway, what I wish to say is...... Each and every one of you, not only the gals mentioned above have inspired me and taught me so much. All I can say in return for that is THANKS THANKS and THANKS.

Last but not least ,I wanted to thank my hubby too who continues to encourage me (sometimes..... ) and my little kiddo Kavin who bears with me when I steal his time for blogging. I wanted to post some nice dessert for celebrating my anniversary, but as you all know I'm in Florida for the past 10 days enjoying my vaction. So no cooking, no work, no dieting..... enjoying life to the core. Will be back to Atlanta tomorrow and resume blogging from monday. Till then take care and have a nice weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Parrupu Thuvayal

Thuvayals / Thugayals are like a thicker version of chutneys. Today I'm presenting a toor dal parrupu thuvayal. Usually they add coconut to this, but on the day I did it 'B' was sick. So, I skipped the coconut. So, when you try it don't forget to add coconut.

Toor dal- 1/2 cup
coconut- 2 tbsps
red chilli- 1
peppercorns- 3
garlic pods- 2
curry leaves- 3 or 4
salt- according to taste

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and roast the dal, coconut, red chilli, pepper, curry leaves and garlic. Do this until the dal turns golden brown. Don't burn the dal. Switch off the gas and transfer to a plate and allow it to cool. When it has cooled down grind it with salt to a coarse- smooth paste using very little water. Serve it with steaming hot rice, sesame oil and papad.

Sepankizhangu Poriyal

Sepankizhangu is nothing but taro root. I have already posted a deep-fry version of this dish which you can find here. But this one is much healthier, it is kadai roasted. It tastes somewhat like a potato fry but it has a little sweetness from the taro itself. This is one of the dishes that vanishes in half the quantity by the time I serve it. Tastes so yum.

mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
urad dal- 1/2 tsp
channa dal- 1/2 tsp
jeera seeds- 1/4 tsp
Sepankizhangu -8
onion- 1(medium, sliced)
garlic- 4 pods (finely chopped)
sambar powder- 1 1/2 tsp
curry leaves
salt- as required
curry leaves
corriander leaves

Boil sepankizhangu with some salt and turmeric until 3/4 th done. peel and cut into pieces. Heat oil in kadai and season with mustard seeds, urad dal and channa dal. Add onions , garlic and turmeric powder. When onions are half done add sambar powder & salt. saute until raw smell goes. Then add sepankizhangu and keep roasting until it gets a roasted brown color. Add corriander leaves & curry leaves. This is an excellent accompaniant for sambar rice, rasam rice or curd rice. Enjoy!

Black Eye Peas Kurma

Well, I'm including a lots of legumes in my diet now. Most of the time I just boil them and eat it without doing any extra work. But I still have to cook for 'B'. So, the other day I made a simple kurma with the Black eye peas. It turned out pretty good. I was tired to make chappathis , so I made cumin rice instead. The next day, I served it for breakfast with dosas. It was a perfect accompaniant for both. So, here is the recipe. Nothing fancy. Just the regular kurma but it has black eye peas instead of the vegetables. But each dish looks and taste different because of the variation in the ingredients we use. Don't you agree?

Blackeye peas- 2 cups (soaked and pressure cooked for 1 whistle)
cloves- 2
elachi- 1
Onion- 1/2
tomato- 1
ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
corriander leaves- 2 tbsp
green chillies- 4
saunf- 1 tsp
corriander seeds- 1 tsp
cinnamon- 1/2 "
grated coconut- 1/4 cup
cashews- 4 (optional. I did not add in mine)
Poppy seeds- 1 tbsp (soak for 15 mins in water before grinding)
water- 1 1/2 cups

Soak black eye peas overnight and pressure cook it with some salt and turmeric for 1 whistle. If your cooker needs more whistle time cook accordingly. Grind everything from green chillies to poppy seeds. Then heat oil in a kadai and fry the cloves and elachi. Can use bay leaf also. Then add onions and saute until golden brown. Next add ginger garlic paste and turmeric. After that add tomatoes and cook until soft. Now add the ground paste and saute until the raw smell goes. Maybe 5 mins. Then add water, salt and bring to a nice boil.

Taste the gravy and add more salt or chilli powder if needed. Finally add the boiled peas and corriander leaves. Bring to one more boil and serve hot with rotis, rice or Dosa. It can be had like a soup too. It's so wholesome and fulfilling. Note: If you don't have time to grate coconut and grind it, just use canned coconut milk. Also you can omit coconut if you don't want that fat. In that case you can add some rice flour or some corn flour to thicken the gravy. Either way it tastes good.

Aloo Methi

Methi is nothing but fenugreek leaves. These are bitter but has a lot of health benefits. Usually , methi leaves are cooked in combination with other foods that have the ability to mask it's bitter flavor to some extent. Aloo methi, methi dal and methi paratha are some examples. Today I have my aloo methi to share with all of you. It is not a regular item in our home as I don't like the bitter taste of methi although it's very healthy. But 'B' loves it ,so I do it occasionally. Now to the recipe...

mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
urad dal- 1/2 tsp
channa dal- 1/2 tsp
potato- 2 (big)
onion- 1 (medium, sliced)
garlic- 3 pods (minced)
methi leaves- a medium size bunch
tomato- 1
chilli powder- 3/4 tsp
corriander powder- 1 tsp
cumin powder- 1 tsp
garam masala- 1/2 tsp
salt- according to taste
sugar- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Cut and boil the potatoes with some salt and turmeric. When 3/4 th done, drain and cube it. Prep the methi leaves by seperating it from the stalk. wash them and boil them for 5 minutes with very little water.Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds, urad dal and channa dal. Next add the onions and garlic. After 5 minutes add tomato and salt. Cook till the tomatoes turn into a pulp. Now it's time to add the masala powders. If you don't have the powders individually you can very well use sambar powder (1 1/2 tsp). Saute until the raw smell goes. After that add the potatoes and fry for a few minutes.Next add the boiled methi leaves. You can squeeze out the water from the methi leaves before adding it to the aloo. This might take out some of the bitterness. But if you don't want to lose the nutrients don't squeeze out the water. Just take them out with a spoon and add it to the potatoes. Mix everything well and fry to desired consistency. If you want a gravy add 3/4 th cup of water or if you want a fry like mine skip the water. Serve it hot with some hot rice or rotis, curd and some pickle.

Cauliflower Bhaji

Fried foods always tend to taste good. It holds good for this cauliflower bhaji too. If you don't have potatoes or onions for bhaji , don't worry, cauliflower can make excellent bhajis. It is a great tea time snack. So, go ahead and give it a try sometime. (sorry... the flash has ruined my picture.

cauliflower- 1 (medium size)
oil- for deep frying
besan powder- 1 cup
rice flour- 2 tbs
turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp (first add 1/4 tsp, if you can handle the heat add more)
salt- as per taste
cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
amchur powder- few pinches (optional)

Wash the cauliflower well and seperate the florets. Steam them for 3 to4 minutes. You can skip this step if you want. I just do it because that's how my friend taught me. But I have tried it without the steaming also. Didn't notice any difference at all. Mix the rest of the ingredients from besan to amchur powder with water. Add water little by little. The batter should be thick and not runny. If you dip the floret and lift it up the batter should not slide away. This is the right consistency. Deep fry them in oil and drain when they are golden brown. Serve this with ketchup, corriander chutney , sweet and sour sauce or any other dip of your choice.If you wish to add an extra touch... saute some sliced onions, finely chopped ginger & garlic, chopped green chillies with some salt and red pepper flakes. Then add a little tomato sauce and mix it. Add the fried florets and toss to coat them. Serve hot sprinkled with some corriander leaves or spring onions.

Brinjal Potato Subzi

This is another simple dish that goes well with idllis and dosas. The dish may not be photogenic but I can assure you for the taste. My MIL usually fire roasts the eggplant until it is 3/4th done and then chop it into pieces and then use it in the gravy. The gravy prepared this way has a smoky flavor in it. But my mom on the otherhand does not roast them. She steams both the brinjal and potato together and mashes it.
So, my version is to cube both the brinjal and potato into small pieces, Cook it really well and finally mash it with a potato masher. Easy... huh? It does not taste exactly the same as the fire roasted version or the steamed version. All I can say is it tastes good. Hope you give it a try too. Here's what you need...

Eggplant- 1 (I'm talking about the big purple ones not the tiny ones)
potato- 2 (medium size, cubed)
mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
urad dal- 1/2 tsp
channa dal- 1/2 tsp
cumin- 1/2 tsp
onion- 1 (finely chopped)
tomato- 1 (finely chopped)
green chillies- 3 (chopped)
tamarind- 1/2 tsp
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
turmeric- 1/2 tsp
water- 1 1/2 cups
curry leaves- few
corriander leaves- few , hing - a pinch

Heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal and cumin. Then add onions, green chillies and turmeric powder. After 5 minutes add the potato and brinjal cubes. Saute in medium flame until 3/4th done. Now add the hing, chilli powder, salt and tamarind. Mix well. Then add 1 cup water and boil until the vegetables are completely cooked. Then open the lid of the pan and mash the vegetables just leaving a few chunks here and there. You can skip this step if you want. Add more water if the gravy is too thick. Finally add corriander and curry leaves. Serve it hot with dosas or idllies.

Simple Channa masala

Just like sambhar, Channa masala is also a dish that tastes different from one kitchen to the other. While there are so many ways to make it, here is the simple version. I call as the simple one as it involves only sauteing onions, tomatoes and masala powders. No grinding involved. So let's move to the recipe.

Boiled channa- 2 1/2 cups
cinnamon stick- 1"
cloves- 2
red onion- 1 (medium size, finely chopped)
ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
green chillies- 1 (slit)
tomatoes- 1 (big, finely chopped)
tamarind paste- 1/2 tsp (optional)
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
corrianderpowder- 1 tsp
cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Any channa masala powder- 1/2 tsp (optional, I did not use in mine)
Jaggary- 1/4 tsp (can add more. But my hubby dosen't like it , so I added less)

corriander leaves- 1/2 cup
water- 2 cups
salt- as required

Soak channa in water overnight. Next day pressure cook for 2 whistles (depends upon your cooker) with some salt and turmeric. One of my Rajasthani friend adds a tea bag while pressure cooking channas. It does impart some color and flavor to the dish. Don't over do the tea bags. When I first tried it , I think I added 5 bags and you can imagine the color that my channa finally had. But I did not use tea bags here.
Heat oil in Kadai and fry cinnamon stick and cloves. Then fry onions with some turmeric until golden brown. Then add ginger garlic paste. After a few minutes add tomatoes and cook until it is all pulpy.

Now it's time to add all the masala powders and saute for atleast 5 minutes in a medium flame taking care that the masala powder dosen't get burned. Then add tamarind paste and saute for a minute. Next add water and bring to a nice boil and the gravy becomes a little thick. Test for seasonings. Add more if needed. Then add boiled channa, jaggary and bring to a nice boil one more time. Finally add the corriander leaves and mix well.

You can serve this with puri, chappathi and dosas. To make a chat out of this, you can pour this channa masala in a plate and top it off with some finely chopped red onions, diced tomatoes, beaten curd, sweet & spicy tamarind sauce, sev, some corriander chutney and lemon juice. You can eat it as it is or serve it with some buttered toast or cutlet. The possibilities are countless. Just use your imagination...

Going on a break again

Yes friends. I'm going on a break for one week. This is b'coz "B" is in need of his laptop for his new travel job. He will be gone for one week. Hopefully I will get my lappy by the weekend and also be able to accompany him to florida the week after. Couldn't go this week as Kavin and me are still recovering from the flu. I suffered so much that I narrowly escped from being admitted due to dehyderation. Hope we will come back to normal soon. I successfully completed one thing today. I kept up my promise of going through all the posts (295 posts) that I missed during my previous break. My! you girls are posting in jet speed that I'm unable to keep up with all of you. Anyway, Take care and will see you soon!

Palak and Black Eye Pea Vadas

Here is another dish with Black eye peas. You can call it vadas if you shape it or just drop it in oil without shaping it- you have fritters. This vada tastes very differnt from the channa dal vadas. It is crunchy on the outside and so soft on the inside. Recently I saw these pea fritters in one of our fellow bloggers blog. But I'm so sorry. I forgot who it was. Anyway, that's how I was reminded of this dish that I had made years ago... maybe 4 years back.

I saw this dish in the 'melting pot' foodtv show. A carribean cook did this. I don't remember her name. She served it with cucumber raitha. Initially, I was doubtful of the combination , but I remember that my hubby really enjoyed that combo. I tried to locate the recipe from 'Food TV' but couldn't find it. So, I recreated the recipe to best of my knowledge. Also, I added palak for my touch. It tasted sooo good.

Hey, I know what you are thinking. You might wonder what am I doing with fried foods when I'm bragging that I'm on diet.

Actually, I didn't eat even one. Just tasted the batter for seasonings before frying it. 'B' wanted a tea time snack, so it was made just for him. He relished all the vadas without any one to compete for it. Didn't have time for the raitha. So I served it just with tomato ketchup and sweet tamarind sauce. My hubby liked it both. Ok, it's time for the recipe. Here goes.

Black eye peas- 1 cup (soaked overnight)
onion- 1/2 (finely chopped)
clove- 1
saunf- 1 tsp
ginger- 1/2 "
green chillies- 3
salt- as needed
palak- 1/2 cup (chopped. can add more if needed)

Drain the soaked peas. Grind it with clove, saunf, ginger, chilli and salt to a coarse batter. Do not add water. Otherwise the batter will become runny and you can't shape it. Scoop out the ground paste and add chopped onions and palak. Mix well. Test for seasoning level. Finally shape them into vadas and deep fry in oil. Serve it hot with cucumber raitha, sauce or mint chutney.

Peas Masala

Here is another simple dish that goes very well with chapathi, naans and Ghee Rice. Yes, it it Peas Masala or Mattar Masala. You can use the frozen peas for this dish if you are running short of time. But I like the fresh ones or the dry ones the most for this dish. Here I have used the dried ones. I soaked them overnight and boiled them the next day. It's tastes so different from the frozen ones. So, let's go to the recipe.

Green Peas- 2 1/2 cups
Onion- 1 (small or medium)
ginger- 1"
garlic- 3 pods
fennel seeds- 1 tsp
cumin- 1/2 tsp
corriander seeds- 1/4 tsp
corriander leaves- a small fistful
mint leaves- 2 or 3 (optional)
green chilli- 1
tomatoes- 1 big
turmeric- 1/2 tsp
chilli powder- 1/4 tsp

chicken masala powder- 1/2 tsp(can use garam masala or any other masala powder)
salt- as required
water- 1 1/2 cups.

Soak dry peas overnight. Next day boil until just done with some salt and set aside.Heat oil in a kadai. Grind everything from onion to green chillies. Add this paste to the oil and fry until you get a good smell or until the raw smell goes away. Then add finely chopped tomatoes and all the curry powders. Saute for 5 mins until the tomatoes gets all mushed up and the oil spots appear on top. Then pour water. The measure for water is approximate. You can add more or less as needed. Bring it to a nice boil. Then add boiled peas and boil one more time. Garnish with corriander leaves. You can add some cream or malai to make this gravy rich. Adding some cashew nut paste makes the gravy rich too. I've not used any of those here. But you can try it if you want. These can make your dish taste the best only setting apart the calorie aspect. I served mine with roti on the day I made. Next day I served it for Dosas. Tasted great with both.

Channa Pulav / Biryani

In the past week some of you might have seen that my blog went topsy turvy. That's b'coz I made a bad decision of changing my template. Although I really liked my new template , it was too hard for me to make the alingment and colors work right. I spent an entire day experimenting and finally I gave up. I decided to stick to my original one atleast for the time-being.Ok , I hear you all saying.... "What's cooking ?". So, let's move to it. Today it is Channa Biryani or Pulav. The recipe is not any different from our regular pulavs. But adding channa instead of the vegetables is the only variation. It's quite a change from the usual dish. My normally complaining hubby itself enjoyed it. So, you can get the idea that it was pretty good. Now to the recipe....

Basmathi Rice- 2 cups
water- normal ratio is (1: 1 1/2) where 1 is rice and 1 1/2 is water. But my cooker needs a little more water, so I follow (1 : 1 3/4)
Oil- 2 tbsp
cardamom- 2
cloves- 2
bay leaf - 1
cinnamon stick - 1"
fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
star anise- 1
Onion- 1/2 (sliced)
Tomato -1
mint leaves- chopped (handful)

corriander leaves- chopped (handful)
Potato- 1 (skinned and cubed)
Channa - 3/4 th cup
ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
green chillies- 2 (slit)
turmeric- 1/2 tsp
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
salt- as per taste
coconut milk- 1/4 cup (optional)

Soak channa in water overnight. Next day boil it in a cooker until 3/4 th done. Drain and keep aside.Heat oil in a cooker and fry all the spices. Next add the onions and saute until golden brown. Then add ginger garlic paste and green chillies. After a minute add potatoes and fry for another 5 mins. Next add tomatoes, mint and corriander leaves.

Saute until the tomatoes are mushed up. Then add turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Saute until the raw smell goes. Next add coconut milk and water. If you are adding coconut milk count that also as water and measure it accordingly. Close the cooker and allow the water to come to a boil. Don't put the vent yet. After a few minutes add rice and channa. Mix well and close the cooker again. When you see the steam coming up consistently put the vent on and keep the flame in medium. Set the timer for 8 minutes and then switch off the gas. Wait for the steam to subside. Open the cooker and give a good mix. Add some lemon juice (1 tbsp) and corriander leaves. Serve it hot. I did mine with cucumber raitha and some chips. Here is another closer look. Hope you give it a try and enjoy it too!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Breaking the Break with a Cake

Well...I'll start with an apology for disappearing out the blogsphere without any notice. Initially it was my son and the holidays that kept me busy. After awhile, I kind of became a little lazy to blog. Also, like most of the people I chose the "weight loss" as my New Year Resolution. So all my favorite and comfort foods are off-limits for now. That's why I didn't check any of your blogs either for the fear of facing temptation. I'm so sorry that and I promise to check all of your posts soon.

Although this was a long break, I have accomplished a few things with Kavin. He has started eating normal foods without pureeing. In just 2 weeks his diet has changed completely. He now eats a wide variety of food and I have become tension free. I consider this as my "8th World Wonder" as I have been thinking when that "time" would come for Kavin to stop gagging on foods and eat normally. I also feel that ever since I posted the info about Kawasaki disease many people had been sending their prayers and blessings for Kavin and that seems to have changed him sooooo much. I have no words to express my THANKS to each and every one of you for all your support. Coming to the cooking part, I have been doing it everyday but rarely took pictures of it. Anyway, here is my first cake that I baked for "B" for his b'day. He is not a big fan of frostings.

So I chose this pineapple upside-down cake and I followed the recipe from my Southeren Living Cookbook. The cake turned out really good and we enjoyed every single bite of it. It tasted exceptionally good with some ice cream on the side. For a amature baker like me this recipe turned out to be a great success. I hope you try it too if you haven't baked this cake before.

Butter or margarine- 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1 cup (firmly packed)
pineapple slices - 3 (8 1/4 oz) cans undrained
Pecan halves- 10 ( I did not use it as I didn't have it)
maraschino cherries- 11 (cut into halves) (use more like me if you want to)

large eggs - 2 (seperated)
egg yolk- 1
sugar- 1 cup
All-purpose flour - 1 cup
baking powder- 1 tsp
ground cinnamon- 1/2 tsp
salt- 1/4 tsp
vanilla extract- 1 tsp
cream of tartar- 1/4 tsp

This recipe calls for using a cast-iron skillet. But I had only cake pans so I went ahead and used it. First you melt the butter in microwave and pour it in the cake pan.

Spread it evenly. Then sprinkle brown sugar and press it to the bottom.Drain Pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Set juice aside. Arrange pineapple slices in the pan as desired. You can keep it whole or cut it up. Place a cherry half in the center of each pineapple rounds. Other than that you can arrange cherries as you like.Beat 3 egg yolks at high speed with an electric mixeruntil thick and pale. Gradually add sugar and beat well. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients. Stir well. Add to egg mixture alternately with reserved 1/4 cup pineapple juice. Stir in vanilla.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into batter. Spoon batter evenly over pineapple in the cake pans. Bake at 350 deg for 45 to 50 mins or until the cake is set. You can tell that the cake is done when you see that the toothpick you insert in the center of the cake comes out clean. Rest the cake for 10 mins and then invert it. Pour any remaining glaze on the top of the cake. Cut it into wedges and enjoy it while it is still warm with some cold vanilla ice-cream.I hope not to take a break anymore. But I'm going to limit my blogging hours as I don't want to sit in my couch all the time. I'll visit all of your blogs in the weekend and make up for the lost time. Take care guys and have a great weekend.

White pumpkin Halwa / Kasi Halwa

When I was a little girl I used to enjoy my granny's Kasi halwa so much. It would be a melt-away moment in my mouth. My mom never attempted this as my granny was doing it anyway. Now it is 6 years since my granny passed away. And when I called my mom last week she told that she made kasi halwa following granny's procedure and that it tasted exactly the same. I didn't believe it fully as I know that my mom never tried it earlier. Still, I went ahead and got the recipe. The same night as 'B' was having dinner with his friends I decided to give the recipe a try as I had lots of time in my hands.

It didn't take long. Within 1/2 an hour the halwa was done. By the time it was over 'B' arrived home. He gave a look as though...why do you want to attempt halwa? It requires practice to do it. Anyway, I went ahead and served him the plate you see in the picture. Within minutes, I got so many wow's from him. For 'B' it was the first time he was tasting it , so he thought it was the best. As for me, I know how it is supposed to taste. So, I was really hoping that it tasted exactly as granny's.

Then the moment came...I took a spoonful and tasted it. Guess what happened. Before that.... Have you guys seen the "Ratatouille" movie? If so, you would know the 'Ego' food critic. Just like him, the moment I tasted my kasi halwa I was transported back to my childhood days in a flash. I had some happy tears in my eyes to see that I could recreate the same taste.Many of you might be doing this regularly in your house and wonder why is she bragging so much for a pumpkin halwa. But for me, it is one of the special dishes made by my granny and it's been so many years since I had it. So, here is the recipe I enjoyed so much. I hope you do too.

White Pumpkin- 2cups (grated)
sugar- 1 1/2 cups (increase or decrease as per taste)
ghee- 3 tbsp
cardamom- 3
milk- 1 cup
saffron- one pinch
red food color- a pinch
cashews and raisins- 1 tbsp each (or more if needed)

Peel off the outer skin from the pumpkin and grate it. Squeeze out the excess water from the gratings. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a kadai and add the gratings and broken cardamom. Saute until any remaing water is absorbed. Add sugar and stir well. Now add milk and cook on low flame till the gratings are cooked soft and all the milk is absorbed. Now the halwa should be in a semi solid stage. Add ghee little by little stirring till you get the halwa continuously. Then add the fried nuts, raisins ,saffron and color powder. When the halwa leaves the sides of the pan switch off the stove. Serve this warm or at room temperature. I like mine warm. Here is a bite for you too!

Pan seared Prawns

This has been lying in my drafts for quite a while and I decided to complete it today and post it. It is an easy appetizer and another one of B's specality. Whenever I challenge him that he cannot handle the kitchen even for a day ,he would do this to break my nose. It's so simple and so flavorful and usually the dish is done in 10 to 15 mins minus the prawns cleaning time. So, here goes the recipe.

Prawns- 20 (peeled and deveined on both sides)
onion- 1 big
garlic- 5 pods
sambar powder- 1 tsp
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
turmeric- 1/4 tsp
pepper- 1/4 tsp
lemon juice- 1 tbsp
salt as required
cilantro- 3 tbsp
bell pepper- 1 or 1/2 (cut lengthwise)

Clean Prawns and set aside.Drain on a paper towel. Add all the seasonings like sambar powder, chilli powder, turmeric, pepperand
salt. Mix well. Heat a big non-stick pan. When hot add a 2 tsp oil and coat the pan evenly. Slowly put the prawns inside. Taking care that each and every prawn is seated well on the pan. Keep the flame in medium high. After 2 mins, flip over the shrimps and cook on the other side (another 2 mins) until it gets a nice roasted texture on the outside. Add very little water (less than 1/4 cup) and close the pan. Cook for 5 mins. After that, take off the lid and allow all the water to dry out. Keep tossing every now and then taking care that it dosen't stick to the pan. When the Prawns are almost done, add the onions and bell pepper. Just stir-fry it so that the vegetables are still crisp. Finally add lemon juice and cilantro. Mix well and serve on a bed of cabbage or lettuce.

Note: Do not over-cook the prawns. It tends to become rubbery. Seafoods generally gets cooked fast unlike mutton or chicken. Do not over-cook the vegetables also in this dish. A stir-fry for 2 mins will do. You can do the same dish with cut chicken breasts too. It would be like a non-fried version of chilli chicken or a great stuffing for fajitas.
This dish is a great appetizer and crowd-pleaser. Whenever we do this for the party, it disappears in a flash. My hubby says that it goes very well with wine, but for me it is a perfect pair for coke.

Kovakkai Kadalai Curry

I got this recipe from SUN TV"s Unnavum Aarogiyamum program. It was prepared by Chef Jacob in his "oil less cooking series". But readers beware. This is not a fat free curry as it has 3 tbsps of cashewnut paste in it. The reason I tried this was to see how the kovakkai-kadalai combination worked out and also that the recipe had no tomatoes and oil in it.The final result was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. It had such an outburst of flavor ,really very different from the other curries I normally prepare. Now it has become my new favorite and I'll be trying this more often. So, I wanted to pass on the recipe to you also so that you can give it a try. Good luck and Happy Eating!

Kovakkai/Tindora- 20
(cut lengthwise) (half steamed)
Kadalaikkai/Boiled peanuts- 1 cup
Onion- 1 (finely chopped)
cashewnut paste- 3 tbsp
cloves- 2
cinnamon- 1" piece
chilli powder- 1 tsp (original recipe called for 2 tsp. But 1 was ok for me) turmeric- 1/4 tsp
curry leaves- 1 twig (finely chopped)
salt- as required
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp

Heat pan until it's very hot. Then add the spices and saute them .Remember .....NO OIL. The cardamom will plump up a bit due to heat. Now add onions and some salt. Saute until it is light brown in color. You have to keep on sauteing every now and then as it does not have any oil and it might stick to the pan after a while.Now add curry leaves,ginger garlic paste and turmeric. Saute for a min. Then add chilli powder and saute for 2 more mins. Now add 1/2 a cup of water and mix well. Close and cook for 5 mins. After that the gravy will be a little thick. Now add kovakkai , peanuts and salt. Add nother cup of water and boil for 5 more minutes. Finally add garam masala and cashew paste. Mix well and boil to desired consistency.This gravy goes very good with white rice, dosa and rotis.

Blogging Break!!!

Hi Friends,
I'm taking a break from blogging until the new year as my kid has no school until then. I'm sorry that I couldn't reply to your comments nor visit your blogs. I shall catch up with you all soon. I should have posted this message earlier but I fell sick. So, please bear with me guys.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2008!

Oyster Mushroom Curry and Kurma

This time I'm not going to write my excuses for not blogging, b'coz I know you all have become tired of it. Really, things are going so crazy around me. Also, this weather has something to do with it. I feel so lazy that all I want to do is sleep all the time. I get backlogged in my work b'coz of this and end up doing things in the last minute. Can you believe that I've been so lazy that I did not even mail my entries for 3 blog events although I posted them in my blog? Anyhow, I hope I send this one atleast.

When I saw the "Grindless Gravies" event going around in the blogsphere, I thought...Hey, That's not difficult. The regular sambar and puli kuzhambu does not involve grinding! But once I visited Sra's blog "When my soup came alive " I understood her hard rules. For the past one week, I did not plan anything specific for the event. Just watched what I cooked and was trying not to use my grinding tools at all. But you know what, it was very hard. For some, I had to grind spices, others involved coconut milk or lentils. Finally I succeded in coming up with the Oyster Mushroom Curry. So, let's go to the recipe.

Oyster Mushrooms- 1 pack
Cinnamon- 1 " stick
cloves- 2Onion- 1 (big)
Tomato- 2 (big)
Ginger garlic paste- 1tsp
chilli powder- 3/4 th tsp
corriander powder- 1 tsp
cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Curry masala powder- 1/2 tsp
pepper- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric- pinch
Curry leaves
corriander leaves-few

To clean the oyster mushrooms, just cut off the ends first. Then seperate the upper portion and the stalk. Cut the stalk and the top portion into small pieces. While adding it to the gravy, first add the stalks as it takes a few minutes extra to cook than the feathery top.Heat oil in a kadai and fry cinnamon and cloves. Then add onion and ginger garlic paste.Saute until golden brown and soft. Then add the masala powders for fry for a minute. Now add tomatoes and cook until it becomes soft and pulpy. Make sure that it forms a paste like consistency.Then add chopped mushrooms. First the stalks. Saute for 3 mins.

Then add the top part of the mushrooms. Add 1 cup water and cook for 5 to 10 mins until you get a thick gravy. Cook till you get the desired consistency. You can also add a tsp of cornflour (just dissolve it in very little water) to make the gravy thick. I did not use it here for the sake of the event. But you can certainly do it to get a nice thick gravy.The next is Oyster Mushroom Kurma. This is another flavorful dish that goes very well with dosa, rotis and ghee rice. This was the first time I was making this kurma, so I was a little unsure to use just the mushrooms alone.

That's why I went ahead and put poataoes, as kurma always tastes good with potatoes. Once done, when I tasted the dish, I really felt that the mushrooms alone did a very good job in making the gravy tasty. We enjoyed the kurma so much that nothing was leftover although it was done to be packed for the next day's lunch. So, here is my recipe. I hope you enjoy it too!

Oyster mushroom- 1 pack
cinnamon- 1" piece
cloves- 2
curry leaves- 1 twig
Onion- 1 (finely chopped)
ginger-garlic paste- 1tsp
green chillies- 5
Tomatoes- 2 (finely chopped)
red chilli- 1
jeera- 1tsp
saunf- 1 tsp
turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
sambar powder- 1 1/2 tsp
garam masala- 1/4 tsp
coconut- 1/4 cup

corrinader leaves- small fistfull
water- 1 cup
salt- as required

Grind coconut to a smooth paste. Grind red chillies, jeera and saunf to a fine powder. Clean mushrooms by wiping off with a towel and seperate the stalks and the petals. Heat oil in a pan and fry the cinnamon and cloves. Then add onions, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, green chillies and turmeric. Saute until golden brown. Then add tomatoes and cook till soft and mushy. Now add all the masala powders and mix well Saute for 5 mins or until the raw smell goes. Then add coconut paste and saute for 2 to3 mins. Now pour a cup of water and add required salt. Bring it to a boil. Now add the stalk portion of the mushrooms first. After 3 to 4 mins add the petals and cook it is soft and done. Garnish with corriander leaves. Goes really well with dosas.

A dark day in our life in the year 2006

Warning: This is a long health related post.

Just wanted to share a chapter of my life with all of you.Yes...The day after Thanks Giving when all the people are busy shopping and still enjoying the holidays we had a very dark day during our 2006 ThanksGiving. This is b'coz Kavin was diagonized with something called the KAWASAKI disease. Funny name uh? Yes, we thought so too when the ER doctor told us the name not knowing the seriousness behind it.Inshort, this an acquired heart disease that affects young childeren who are less than 5 years of age and rarely above 5. You can read more about it here and here.Kavin's story goes like this.

On 17th November 2006 he woke up normal just like any other day. He had his flu shot appointment and so we went to his pediatrician around 11 am. By 12pm we met 'B' in a restaurant and had lunch. Kavin dosen't eat anyway, so we kept him busy with some crayons. He was a little fussy though, so we packed our lunches half way through and I drove him back home.

Within minutes of reaching home, he threw up and started to shiver. I panicked. Then I gave him tylenol and put him to bed. I found that he developed fever. At that time, I thought it was a side effect of the flu shot. But as the clocked ticked away, his temperature kept on rising and rising. By 5pm he was burning and had a temperature of 104 degress. I didn't wanted to keep him in home any longer. So, we took him to the emergency by 6pm. All through the way he kept throwing up and his head was drooping down. Finally we got to see the doctor only by 10pm. (You know how the ER's function in US). They asked us to give him the same tylenol and motrin alternatively and sent us home.

The next day we met Kavin's pediatrician but he didn't find anything either. All through the day, his temperature would be 102 deg under the effect of motrin. When the medicine effect wares off ,it would go back to 104 . Back again in the evening his temperature shot up high and we rushed back to the ER.

After a long wait, we got to see that day's doctor. I was really not at all happy with the way he reacted to our concerns. He spent exactly a minute listening to our complaints, didn't examine Kavin (not even looked at him) and scoffed at me for telling my concerns as he thought I was exaggerating.

Again we went home to continue the tylenol and Motrin.Again we made a trip to the Pediatrician the next day. On this day, Kavin developed cracks on his lips and his toungue was coated with white substance and his eyes were blood-red. Still, his pediatrician said that it is a viral fever as his eyes were red. He also prescribed an eye drops and Nystatin for the toungue. Again we went home with no answers.

Fourth day also no improvements. Already, Kavin has feeding difficulties. He dosen't drink milk or juice also. It was so tough to watch him live with water alone. All long we knew something was wrong but we were helpless. My parents are doctors in India and my sis is doing her final year medicine. My dad became suspicious about Kavin's condition on this day. He prescribed some medicines too. But I was afraid to give it as I would have to answer Kavin's pediatrician if something went wrong.

Fifth day also continued with high fevers of 103. Kavin was humming weakly a lullaby that I used to sing to him daily. He tried to look into my eyes and said "boo boo". Oh My God! It was the worst moment. My hubby and me burst into tears and cried out aloud with Kavin in my lap. My Dad asked us to do a blood test. So, we went to the pediatrician to ask for it. He disagreed on that and he suggested to take a x-ray alone to check if it was Pnemonia. We went to the lab and got the result as negative. Again we went to see the doctor with the lab results. My hubby asked for the blood test again but the doctor said that he is very sure that it is a viral fever and that it takes 10 days to go away.

Day 6. A day before ThanksGiving. We cancelled our dinner program in our friends place and stayed home hoping to see some improvements today atleast. But nothing much changed. Back again we went to the ER and asked them to admit Kavin as we afraid to keep him home. But they didn't so as he was not dehydrated. I did tell them that he was drinking only water and very little pedialite (just 4 ounces a day). We had to give him through a medicine despenser as he dosen't like pedialite. Still, we were kiced like a ball back to our house.

Day7. It was Thanksgiving and while the world was happy celebrating it we were still in the dark not knowing what would happen next. My dad was angry with me as I did not follow his medicines. But he warned me that this was terribly wrong and a blood test was a must. He suggested to give a steroid that is banned in US but still used in India. I was scared to try it. Didn't want to complicate anything. So, I just told my dad that I gave the medicine but I didn't. No improvements. It's been 6 days since Kavin walked.

Day 8. We woke up after sleepless nights. Again my dad insisted on the blood tests and we talked to the Pediatrician and he basically washed off his hands. He said that he has done all that he knows and said that we could go to the ER again if we want and take a blood test for our satisfaction as our pediatrician's office was closed on that day. I was frustrated with the ER at this point. I didn't want to go there at all. But my hubby said that we go there again to do the blood tests atleast. Back again we went waited for 3 hours. The ER was packed with people as it was a holiday season.

In the waiting room, when my hubby took Kavin to the restroom he noticed that he was walking wobbly. He hardly took 2 steps then he sat down. B's eyes were watery. I consoled him and measured Kavin's temperature. This time the meter showed no reading. Just "HIGH". I was scared to death. I went to the reception and yelled at them for taking such a long time. Then the nurse came and checked Kavin. They took him in right away. Within half an hour we saw the doctor and told him the entire story. He was so patient and listened to us carefully. He then did a blood test and came back with the results that it could be "KAWASAKI".

After this the treatment started in a jet speed. kavin was admitted on the spot and was getting ready to be seen by the main doctor. 'B' rushed home to get a few things for our hospital stay. Kavin was given drips and had so many wires on his body. After 20 mins, his body started to shiver badly. I tried to hug him but his body was shaking so hard that his bed was also shaking. The nurse rushed in and changed the doses and he setteled down slowly. He was give IVIG (immunoglobin -an antibodies extract from human blood).

Day 9. Kavin woke up with no fever. His eyes came back to normal. He smiled and responded to us. He became aware that he was sick and that he was in the hospital to recover. We had a sigh of relief that didn't last for long. The doctor came in and gave us a sheet about this disease. We were shocked to read thru that. Then an echo was performed on Kavin and it was found that his coronary artery has enlarged and that he was in risk level 2. Phone calls were going back and forth to India and my dad was trying to find out the underlying complications and try to to do the best possible.

Day 10. We were released from the hospital and was asked to do a follow-up visit after a week with a cardiologist. Kavi was on baby aspirin for one full month. We met the cardiologist a week later and discussed the possible problems. He said that we have to wait for 1 full month to see how Kavin's body is recovering in the post kawasaki phase. His platelettes counts was more than double of what it had to be. The doctor also warned that if the platelet count continue to be this high ,he is in a risk for cancer.

This was too much for us. We walked in dark hoping to find some light at the end. This incident really changed us a lot. We started to appreciate Kavin more and his other difficulties did not matter anymore. We just wanted him to be alive atleast. In the end, after one full month of waiting time, the doctor did his echo and said that he has miraculously escaped and that his coronary artery has come back to normal and that he has crossed the danger line. Kavin is still kept on watch for the next 3 to 5 years . But we hope he will do fine in the coming years.

From my experiences, I strongly feel that our family would not have undergone this only if the doctors were more responsible in the first place. All that the ER doctors want us to do is spend some time in the patient’s room and hope that they can pass the patient off to the next doctor coming on shift or keep the patient alive for them to be seen by their regular doctor the next day. Anyway, it's we as parents who have to fight for our children. Always trust your gut feeling and struggle as much as you can.

Keep an eye for these Symptoms:
1. persistent fever that is higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius), and lasts for at least 5 days.
2.severe redness in the eyes
3.a rash on the child's stomach, chest, and genitals, dry, cracked lips
5.swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumpssore, irritated throat
6.swollen palms of the hands and soles of the feet with a purple-red color
7.swollen lymph nodes
8. Peeling of skin under the nails (For kavin it happened after his relase from the hospital

If you see any of these symptoms in your child, Please Please do not hesitate to do a blood test and check for Platelet count. Don't worry if the doctors turn deaf to your words. You got to be persistant. In our case, we could have escaped this if the kawasaki disease would have been detected atleast two days before.I'm sorry for a long one. Hope I didn't bore you. This is just to keep you all aware about this killer disease.

Coming to an end, he is a pic of my son taken recently. You can see what food blogging has done to him. He has seen me taking pics of food many times and one day I saw him doing this. So I grabbed my camera quick and took a shot. He even got a little tikes kitchen set for ThanksGiving!

This ThanksGiving was a good one. We went to a big church were our friends invited us for a lunch. There was a huge crowd from different countries. People from different places sang their National anthem on stage. And guess who sang our India's national anthem?It was KAVIN.

He sang the full song song so clearly and won a huge applause. Too bad that I didn't take a camera. My friend said that the church would have taken it and if he gets it he would send it to me. So, I'm still waiting for that. Anyhow, we were so proud of him. Exactly one year has made a huge difference in our lives.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it.

Ginger Tea

This is for the the "Think spice... Think... Ginger" event hosted by Sunita of Sunita's World. Initially, I was wondering if this would be apt to send it for the event but, after seeing the same at Nags's blog I decided to post the same . So, here is a refreshing cup of ginger tea with some Banana bread.

Milk- 1 cup
taj mahal tea leaves- 1 1/4 tsp
water- 1/4 cup
ginger- 1 1/2 " (grated)
cardamom- 1 (broken)
sugar- as reqd

Boil water with tea leaves. cardamom and ginger for 5 minutes. Then add milk and bring it to another boil. Add required sugar and mix well. Filter this and serve this steaming cup of hot ginger tea for a refreshing morning.
(This is B's fav cup ,but this is the quantity he drinks. So, I couldn't get a good pic at all. Sorry guys, bear with me.)

Date's Milk Shake

I'm going to send this to Chandrika of Akshyapatra who is hosting AFAM: Dates. Milkshakes are always my favorite especially this one which my mom used to prepare during my school and college days. I would devour this in a flash b'coz my mom would say that helps in hair growth due to the iron content in it. But I don't think it helped me at all. You should see my head now (almost bald). Anyway, the taste is really good. Try it for yourself and you'll see.

Chopped Dates- 1 cup
sugar- as per taste
chopped pistachios- 2 tbsp
milk- 3 cups

Boil milk and after sometime bring to a simmer, add dates and cook till soft (5 to 8 mins) in a low flame. Cool this and reserve a few tbsp of pulp aside. Blend the rest with milk and sugar. You can make it thinner or thicker depending upon the amount of milk you use. Finally mix in the pulp and nuts. Give a good stir and serve it chilled .

Sprouts Salad

I have become tired of making the excuses again and again that I'm busy and that my kid is sick and all that. What to do? That's what is going on and on like a cycle. Anyway, I just wanted to be a part of a few events going around in the blogsphere. So, please bear with me gals for posting everything just like that without organizing it.

Our fellow blogger "Easy Crafts" who owns a great blog "Simple Indian Cooking" has launced a new event called "Powerless cooking". I glad that came up with this, as I have also wondered what would happen if there is a total power shutdown for a few days and what we would be cooking during those times. Anyway, my contribution to this event is Mungbean sprouts salad. Nothing fancy just simple and easy to make.

I wish to send the same to "Vegan Ventures" hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes. I'm not that familiar with this vegan cooking yet, so here goes my entry.

Green moong dal- 1 cup (sprouted)
carrot- grated
green chillies- 1 1 /2 (minced)

red onions- 1 tbsp (fine pieces)
corriander leaves- 2 tbsp
peanuts- 1 tbsp (broken)
salt- as reqd
lemon juice- 1 tbsp

The other ingredients you can add to this are:
Finely chopped boiled potatoes, cucumber, corn, tomatoes, yogurt, corriander-mint chutney, sweet tamarind sauce, sev. Keep your mind open and try out anything else listed above.

Soak mung beans overnight. Drain the water and keep it wrapped in a wet towel. Then close it with a vessel and leave it aside for one full day. The next day the mung beans would sprout beautifully. I do not like to eat it raw, so I partially steam it. You can skip this step if you want to. Anyhow, this is the way I make it.I add steamed sprouts to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You can add yogurt too but I'm skipping that as I going to send the same to the 'Vegan' event too.

Idiyappam with coconut milk

It's just 20 mins left for the "Click" event hosted by Bee to be over and I'm beginning this post wondering if I would make it. So what did I chose for the event??? Rice Noodles (or) Idiyappam. Here , I have made only a basic version of the Idiyappam. With this you can do so many things like lemon Idiyappam, Milagu Idiyappam, Curd Idiyappam or the popular one -paired with milk,cardamom and shredded coconut. It can also be served with mutton Paaya , veg kurma or stew.

My hubby helped me a lot on this.(ok ok...he did it. This is what he wants me to type) .Yesterday we did the same and I took pics. But nothing turned good. Today Mr. Perfect did it and here it is for all of you to see.

So, here is how I made it.
Rice flour- 1 cup
Hot water- as needed
salt- a pinch
oil- 1 tsp

Heat water in a pan with some oil. Bring it to a rolling boil. Add some salt to the flour and mix well.

Now add water little by little and keep kneading it until it forms a soft dough.Then grease the inside of the Idiyappam maker or aachu with little bit of oil. Shape the dough into a little log and put it inside the aachu and press it. Steam this in idlli pan for 5 to 7 mins.

Serve it with the accompaniant of your choice. I kept mine simple. Just coconut milk, sugar ,shredded coconut cardamom and loads of love. This is the way "B" likes it, so I did it to cool him off.
PHEW!!! I made it atlast. This is my fastest posting so far.

Before I go, I have to do one more thing. Thank you guys for all those who voted for me in the last 'click' event and also to the Judges who chose me. I wanted to mention this long back but didn't do it so long. I was so happy to see that so many of you have encouraged me and helped me gain a place in the top 10. Once again.....a big THANKS!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Diwali Treats and the stories behind them

Hi friends,
Hope all of you had a fantastic Diwali and back again to your normal routine. I had a great one too. The past one week was too hectic. That's why I couldn't reply to any of your comments or upmdate my blog with a new post. Anyway, Thanks for your understanding.So, let me tell you about my diwali treats. This time I decided to do the sweets and snacks based on what I already had in the pantry. No special shopping.Then I went thru my favorite blogs and picked the recipes. Believe me...the list was huge. I had such a hard time in narrowing it down. Finally, I came up with 5 sweets and 1 snack item. They are:

Kesar Mawa Rolls:
I found this recipe from Sirisha who owns a great blog Ambrosia. This is the first time I tried a sweet with homemade khoya. I never knew that it was this easy. But I had a few pitfalls too. If you look at the original recipe you can see how the layers are distinct in color. But ,when I did mine i did not soak the saffron in milk for a long time. Moreover I guess mine needed a little more saffron. But the taste was great. A little like the cheesecake , a bit sticky to the palatte. This sweet laid the foundation for me to try the other khoya sweets with a better confidence in me.Thanks Sirisha for all your guidance thru the comments. Truly appreciate it. The original recipe can be found here.

2 cups Grated Khoya( To make this u need evaporated milk and 1 cup of full cream milk powder) 1/2 cup powdered sugar
4-5 Saffron Strands (dissolved in 1 tbsp warm milk)
1 tsp Elachi powder

First step is to make Khoya - Take 1 cup milk powder in a bowl and slowly add evaporated milk to it until it forms a smooth sticky dough. Freeze for 30 mts and then grate.This grate is called Mava. Combine the above Mava and powdered sugar in a heavy bottomed thick pan and cook on a slow flame stirring continuously till the sugar has dissolved and the moisture evaporated (10-12 mts).Remove from fire and divide the mixture into 2 equal parts.

Mix the elachi powder in one part to make the mava mixture and allow it to cool completely. Add the Saffron to the other part to make the Kesar mixture. Mix well and allo it to cool completely . Put the mava mixture between 2 plastic sheets and roll it to form a rectangle of 4"* 6" (i.e. Ur rolling pin is not directly on the mava mixture,but is on the top of the plastic sheet covering it).Roll out the Kesar in the same way.Place the Mava rectangle on a thin food wrap.Place the Kesar rectabgle on top of the mava rectangle.Carefully roll along with the food wrap taking care to see that no cracks are formed on the surface.Cover tightly and refrigerate till firm (30-40 mts) and then remove the plastic sheet .Cover completely with silver leaves(optional) and cut into slices.U may garnish each with slivered Pistachios........Delicious Mava Kesar Rolls ready :-))

Next is..... Mango Coconut Truffles:

The original recipe was for Mango coconut burfi. Actually the first time I saw this recipe was in Asha's blog and I bookmarked it. Later when I decided to make it for Diwali I saw that it was originally Viji's recipe. So I combined both by using canned mango pulp and fresh coconut. Check out Aroma of Asha's and vcuisine of Viji's versions.

I was following the recipe good, suddenly fate came in the form of my hubby. Out of no where he popped up to help me. When I was about to add sugar (1 1/2 cups) he stopped me at 1/2 a cup and said this would be perfect. He also gave me a big lecture on cooking with some common sense too. Finally I listened to him b'coz he had been my guru & critic in cooking. You know what happened in the end?

The burfi did not set. I could not make slices nor would it hold it shape as it did not have enough sugar in it. I even set it overnight in the fridge. Nothing much changed. My hubby said that we cannot serve it this way to the guests and he asked me to discard it. OMG! How can I do it? The taste was out of the world and the aroma was unbelievable. I had to save it somehow.

So, This is what I came up with. I greased my palms with ghee and made the mango burfi into mini balls. Then I rolled them in powdered sugar so that they don't stick to the serving dish. Finally I garnished with a bit of pistachio and also came up with a new name....Mango Coconut Truffles. I served it chilled.

You won't believe it. This was the super-hit item in the party. Everbody enjoyed it and never knew that something was wrong with it. And, I was really proud of myself to have used my common sense to save the dessert although it was ruined by Mr. Perfect.

1 cup Mango pulp
1 cup coconut (I used fresh grated coconut)
½ cup milk powder
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cup sugar
Ghee 4 tsp (yes only 4 tsp!)
1 tsp elaichi powder
Pista powder for garnishing

Grease a small plate with 1 tsp ghee and keep it ready.Wash, peel the mangoes and cut into small chunks. Blend it to puree.Grate the coconut and keep it ready.

Cook mango pulp in a non-stick pan over a low flame stirring continuously for 2-3 mts. Since I don’t add any liquid to blend this, it took only 3 mts for me to solidify.Switch off the gas, add the milk powder, coconut and sugar and mix well.Switch on the stove and keep stirring for about 5-7 mts. Add 2 tsp ghee and elaichi powder. Once it forms into a mass like burfi texture, add the remaining ghee and pour into the greased plate. Sprinkle the pista powder on top of it. Leave it to cool for some time.

All along the preparation I was informing Viji ka about my mistakes. So, she took pity on me and emailed me her Almond peda recipe just for me although she hadn't posted it in her blog yet.I was so happy to see the simplicity of the recipe . So the next sweet was almond peda.

Almond Pista Peda:

Here is another recipe that I got from Viji. It was so easy to prepare and it turned out really good. I did it without any disturbances as I was alone. Using my knowledge of handling khoya when I did mawa kesar rolls i handled this like a pro.

Everyone thought that it was store-bought. I did not make plumpy pedas as Viji's as I had a lots of sweets and didn't want people to feel full with just one. (All the sweets were done for the Diwali party we had at our friends place. It was not a potluck. Infact the dinner was ordered from outside. but I just made these to share it with my friends and all of you.

Gulab Jamuns:

I made this with the MTR mix. Most of you might think what's so special about doing jamons with mix. But you what? So many things matters. The jamons should be the perfect shape, fried to the right consistency, soaked enough in the sugar syrup and all that. I've done jamuns so many times in the past and it had always been a success. But this time....OOPS. It went wrong.I was already late for Kavin's gym classes. So I fried the jamuns and dropped them in hot sugar syrup. I mean really hot syrup. With 10 to 15 mins the jamons absorbed the syrup and they looked supersoft and spongy. In my mind I was imagining all the compliments I was going to get from my hubby.

After that I left for the classes. On my return, I tried to tranfer the jamons to a serving bowl. Alas, the disaster happened. All the jamons started loosing their shape and just melted just like that and the I ended up in one big mess. I was so mad. I wanted to scream at myself for being so idiotic. I couldn't fix it at all. I tried saving a few but it wasn't that great. I couldn't save it in anyway. With a heavy heart I threw away everything and did a fresh batch taking enough care all the way through. This out turned perfectly good and it made up my heart for the jamons I lost. So, next time guys...don't think jamons from mixes are damn easy. Everything has to be done in a certain way to get it right.

Next was...Chocolate Pista Rolls from Viji's:

I know, I have done 3 of her recipes this time. I wanted to try something else, but the chocolate had got me pinned to it. I had no other go. This also turned out great and I also shapped them into balls and placed the pista stuffing inside.

Also, I did the chocolate khoya once again and rolled them with the plain khoya to make a marbled effect. Altogether it was good and it was specially "B"'s fav. For the original recipe go here.

Khoya/Unsweetened Gova - 1 cup
Full cream milk powder 1 cup
Condensed Milk ½ cup (Milk maid)

Powdered sugar ½ cup
Cadbury’s coco powder 3 tbsp
Pista powder 4 tbsp
1 tsp ghee to grease your hand

Grate the Khoya and mix it with milk powder, milk maid and sugar and boil it at medium temperature. In 5-6 minutes, it will form like dough. Remove 40% of it to a plate and add pista powder to it. Grease your hand with ghee and mix well. Roll this into cylindrical shape and leave it the fridge for 15 minutes.With the remaining 60% add 3 tbsp of coco powder and greasing your hand with ghee mix well. Roll this into a rectangle – the height must be the same length of pista roll. Keep the pista roll on one end and roll it tightly with the choco roll. Refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes. Then slice it. That’s it.

Pottukadalai Murukku:

It's been years since I made this. So, I had a hard time in searching for the murukku aachu. Finally when I found it ,the star plate was stuck to the aachu. I couldn't change anyother plate whatsoever. That's why I did only one item this time.

This is my friend's Valli Meyyapan's recipe. She is not a blogger but is a good cook. We were neighbours when we were in Michigan. This recipe of hers has always been a hit in my house. Hope you like it too.

Diwali Breakfast:

Usually we have idlli and brinjal gosthu for our diwali breakfast. But this time I donno , I couldn't find time to get the batter done. My hubby was a little disappointed with that b'coz this is what he had been eating traditionally on every diwali for as long as he could remember. So, I had to do something that is equally good.Luckily I found the 'Rava Dosa' recipe from Prema's cookbook.

Thanks to her, my hubby really really enjoyed it so much that he kept eating it in jet speed not allowing me to take even one pic. Finally I took one, but by that time the chutney was all gone. Still he finished it off with some sugar. I just got to taste just one piece of it. But I was glad that it made up for the idlli-gosthu breakfast.Thanks Prema once again. (The picture is not that great. But it tasted so good. Will update this post with a good pic soon).

Anyhow, the celebration was great and all the guests enjoyed everything. I was also satisfied with the net result although I had a little bit of downfalls here and there. I know, that it is a long post. Just wanted to share with you what all I went thru in the process of preparing everything. Sorry for boring you guys. Will continue with my normal posts and reply back to all of your comments soon. Thank you all for inspiring my Diwali. I had so many other items on the list, but didn't find time. Will do it all for the next festival.