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Archive for August, 2007

Emily’s Ratatouille

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Aubergine Inspired by a picture on Emily’s

I adore Emily’s Rocky Road of Love – I love the way she writes her recipes, with so much care and passion. Emily’s recipes are inspiring and I have picked a bunch of tidbits from her cooking style. The absolute hit was of course Ratatouille, a dish I have been wanting to try ever since I learnt that there’s more than rats to Disney’s Ratatouille.

I faithfully (almost) followed her brilliant recipe, to cook up a delicious pot of Ratatouille. I omitted zuchinni, used the microwave to parboil and sweat veggies and used dry thyme and oregano since fresh ones weren’t available. It’s delight to cook Ratatouille, its one of those perfectly adorable dishes that one can stand over for long and drown in the mesmerising aroma. The most delightful bit is to watch the vegetables cook together – the purple of aubergine with the green and red of peppers and tomatoes – its unbelievably fascinating. Ratatouille would perhaps be best described as a great mood elevator for someone who loves to cook.

Emily, thanks for the wonderful measures that gave this dish such a lovely balance of flavours. I love your recipe and will be cooking this really often.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille in my beloved cooking pot

Ratatouille
A Closer look

Bharathy thanks for your tips on the problem of “too much light relecting”, I shall cover my glass top table while taking snaps in future :D. Since I took this earlier this week, I will use your tips from the next time onwards.

I made this for breakfast and served it with Dosa (dosas and rotis are like almost perennial in our house). It was super yummy – a good alternative to Sambar.

Ratatouille with Dosa
Dosa with Ratatouille

Do go over to Emily’s for this brilliant recipe.

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The Rice flour and Urad dal flour for Seedai, Thattai, Vella seedai (Traditional Tamil Festival Snacks) are the same. You can prepare the flour in one go. To make lovely coloured and crunchy snacks this is the best maavu (flour).

If you are grinding in a mixie, make one kg maavu. If you are grinding in a flour mill you can grind more.

Rice flour

Method

  1. Wash and soak the required amount of rice for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain well and spread on a white cloth to dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Grind little rice at a time a seive to get soft flour.
  4. Repeat with all the rice.
  5. Alternatively you can grind in a flour mill.
  6. Lightly dry roast the flour on a low flame till the flour becomes hot and slightly yellowish. This is to remove the moisture.
  7. You can make this a day before and store in an air tight container.

Urad dal flour
Method

  1. Dry roast 2 cups urad dal till golden.
  2. Allow to cool and grind to a super fine powder.
  3. Store in an air tight container.

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Tanjore Painting of Lord Bala Krishna made by Latha Narasimhan (me!!) Update: Thanks SeeC, for suggesting that I put a web optimized image with a copyright.

This year (update: refers to year 2007) Srijayanthi also known as Gokulashtami/Janmashtami/Krishnashtami falls on 4th September.As always I am posting the details and important recipes (prasaadams or offerings) of Krishna jayathi or Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, a few days ahead of the festival. This is for people who come here looking for these recipes.

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The following recipes have been posted on The Yum Blog, click through for the recipes.

  1. Navaneetham
  2. Sukkuvellam
  3. Thattai
  4. Seedai
  5. Vellaseedai
  6. Kodubale
  7. Paal cake

Lord Krishna’s Birthday is celebrated by Hindus all over the world! In the North this is celebrated as Janmashtami. In the South, the Iyers call this festival Janmashtami or Gokulashtami and the Iyengars celebrate as Srijayanthi or Krisnajayanthi.

In Karnataka, Iyengars place the idol of Lord Krishna in a mandapam and decorate him with the Bhakshanam (Snacks and Sweets in Tamil) they prepare for the festival. Garlands and thoranams are made out of Murrukus and Kodubales!

Kodubale

A few decades earlier back the children in the household used to decorate a chaparam(mandapam that can be carried on your shoulders), place the image of Lord Krishna in it and carry it around the streets. As a child I remember we too built these chaparams for the lord. My father as usual performed a Aaradanai (a poojai performed for Saligramam which is a divine stone considered to be a manifestation of Lord Vishnu) and a variety of Bhakshanams(sweets and snacks) were offered as prasaadam. These days children do a lot of craft work for their school project, but there is no inclination to build a chaparam for the lord.

Paal Cake

For children Srijayanthi definitely means a lot of snacking and jolly time for the sweet tooth. Snacks prepared usually have rice flour as main ingredient. Minimum five varieties of fresh fruits are offered. Naval pazham (Syzygium cumini , Skeels, Myrtaceae) the lords favourite fruit is definitely included. To know the medicinal properties of this fruit please visit this link.

Navaneetham

Sukku Vellam
Navaneetham and Sukkuvellam are two items that are prepared only for this festival.

The pooja is performed in the late evening as Krishna was born at midnight. Generally most of the sweets and savouries are prepared on that day only. The front yard is decorated by drawing a kolam (rice flour drawings on ground), called ezhakoolam. This is done using soaked rice ground to a fine paste and mixed with lot of water. A white cloth is used to soak the paste and make the drawing. Krishna’s feet is drawn from the front yard to the pooja room, indicating that the lord is entering our home. In my home my son has been performing the pooja for the last 5 years. We do the Srikrishna Ashtothra Naamavali (chanting of 108 names of Lord Krishna) for the Pooja.

We are hosting a virtual food event for the festival, and I am sure all my blogger friends will send their entries in great numbers. So while I prepare a huge array of sweets and snacks, I will post only a few in the coming days. My blogger friends will bring out the best of their culinary skills and post other great recipes which are prepared for this festival. :). Click here for details of the event.

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Dumroot Halwa is Karnataka’s version of Lauki/ Doodhi/ Sorakaaya made out of Pooshnikkai (in Tamil) or Ash Gourd. This is the microwave version of Dumroot Halwa. A couple of random tidbits:

1. I followed my Appa’s recipe. My Dad’s fetish for experimentation in the kitchen is rather entertaining, though it means a lot more work for my Amma. His culinary adventures as a norm follow unconventional methods, but thankfully there are times when these do lead to yummy dishes. This is one of those recipes, he discovered over a decade ago while playing with his “newest found kitchen toy” – the microwave.

2. I made a sweet for the first time in over a year and half of cooking. With my Paatti and Amma around I never ever thought I’d cook sweets for myself!!! I am a spoilt granddaughter – any sweet or karam that I named was prepared at any time I wanted by my Paatti. My Paatti is a typical Iyengar Mami with ivory skin, big red pottu and shiny Madasaru (a style of wearing the nine yard saree). She is without doubt an exceptional cook – but what makes her even more exceptional is her ability to gauge “what stage a sweet is at” with just her sense of smell. My Paatti has never had good eyesight – she’s blind in one, and the other has a power so high that she sees nothing beyond dark shadows. Yet as though by magic she weaves her culinary skills to produce the best tasting food I have ever had. She somehow just knows when the sugar syrup is just right for putting in flour, or when the Mysoor Pak is just done enough to transfer to a plate. It took my mom quite a bit to match her. Of course I have to concede that Amma has inherited her cooking genius.

Here’s the recipe:

Dumroot Halwa

Dumroot Halwa

Cooking time: 15 minutes, Preparation: 5 minutes, Serves: 3 (as a dish on the side)

2 cup Pooshanikkai (Ash Gourd or White Pumpkin – grated and packed)
3/4 Sugar *
3/4 cup Fresh Cream
3 tbsp Broken Cashewnuts

Step 1. Build Muscles
Grate the White Pumpkin. Transfer to a Microwave Safe Glass Bowl along with the water content. Note: Do not drain water from the grated Pumpkin.

At the end of this step, you’ll be left with an aching hand and hopefully with some arm fat converted to muscles.

Step 2. Cook Grated Pumpkin and Get Rid of all the Water.
**Microwave on high for 8 minutes. Stir after the 5th minute to check water content. After the 7th minute stir again and check the water content. After the beep at the 8th minute, check the water content again and keep for an additional minute or so if required.

At the end of this step, you’ll be left with grated pumpkin that is cooked, reduced in quantity and has no water other than the wetness in it.

Step 3: Cook with Sugar
Stir the cooked Pumpkin well and add 3/4 of a cup of sugar. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir after the 2nd minute and check for consistency, remove from microwave if it is fairly thick. Note: About 50% of the cooked pumpkin quantity is a good measure of how much sugar is needed.

At the end of this step, you will be left with grated pumpkin in a thick sugar syrup.

Step 4: Make the Halwa Fattening.
Add 3/4 cup of cream and stir well. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir well after the beep and check for consitency. Keep for an additional minute or so if the halwa is not thick enough.

At the end of this step, you will have halwa that is ready to eat but just needs some toasted nuts.

Step 5: Make the Halwa Nutty
In a Microwave Safe Bowl or Plate, toast the cashewnuts on high for about 30 seconds. Keep for an additional 5 to 10 seconds if the cashewnuts are not golden. Add this to the Halwa.

Step 6: Eat and Enjoy.
Note: If you are food blogger, you might need to substitute this with the “photo session” aka “snap taking ceremony”. But if you are a lazy food blogger like me, you’ll just take a few with your mobile in not more than 30 seconds.

*Alter to taste. About 50% of the cooked pumpkin quantity is a good measure of how much sugar is needed. I used a little over 1/2 a cup for 2 cups of grated Pumpkin.
**Timings may need adjustment depending on the water content of the Pumpkin. Since this varies, do use your discretion while cooking.

This is my entry for Srivalli’s Microwave Easy Cooking Series
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And for Asha’s RCI Karnataka started by Lakshmi K of Veggie Cuisine (#1 entry mind you, there are many more on their way).
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Recipes for following have been posted below:

  • Parangikai Paal Kootu (Sweet Pumpkin in Milk, Jaggery and Cream)
  • Poori Payasam (A Unique Pudding)
  • Aama Vadai (Channa Dal based Vadai)

Parangikai Paal kootu (Sweet Pumpkin in Milk, Jaggery and Cream)

This is a sweet kootu which my hubby loves. I have not prepared for a long time as the tender parangikai is not easily available here. Tender paringi kotai is best for this recipe. Posting this on request for my fan Latha Balu.

Ingredients

  • Parangikai(sweet pumpkin) diced – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Jaggery – 1 table spoon
  • Turmeric – 1 pinch
  • Salt – 1 pinch
  • Cream – 1 table spoon(optional)

Method

  1. Add 1/2 cup water to the diced parangikai mixed with turmeric powder and salt and cook on a medium flame.
  2. When the vegetable is soft and well cooked add the jaggery and milk and just bring to boil. Do not allow to boil for long.
  3. Add the cream. If you like it thicker you can add 1 teaspoon rice flour to this and cook for a minute.

Tips

Tender vegetable is the best.

Use minimum water to get a thick kootu.

You can increase or decrease the amount of jaggery to suit your taste.

Aama vadai

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Aama Vadai, Beans Parrupusali, More Kozhambu
This vadai is made using channa dal or kadalai paruppu. I use cabbage and carrot to add nutritional value.

Ingredients

  • Channa dal – 1 cup
  • Urad dal 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig( finely chopped
  • Red chilli – 1 no
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • salt to taste
  • Grated carrot – 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped cabbage – 1/2 cup
  • Oil – 1 cup for deep frying

Method

  1. Wash and soak the dals for 1/2 hour .
  2. Drain well ,add red chilli, salt , hing and grind coarsely to a thick consistency. You must be able to make a ball.
  3. Add curry leaves , cabbage and carrots and mix well.
  4. Heat oil in a kadai and test the temperature by dropping a small piece of the batter. If it rises quickly you can start frying the vadas.
  5. Make small flat rounds on your palm or a plastic sheet with the batter and drop carefully into the oil.
  6. Fry both sides on a medium flame and drain on a kitchen paper.

Poori payasam

Poori Payasam

Ingredients

For the pooris

  • Rava – 1 cup
  • Ghee – 1 tablespoons
  • Oil – 1 cup for deep frying

For the paayasam

  • Milk – 1/2 litre
  • Sugar 3/4 cup
  • Ghee 1 table spoon
  • Cardamom- 3 nos
  • Cashew nuts 6 nos
  • Saffronleaves – 6 leaves
  • Milk – 1 tablespoon for soaking saffron.

Method

  1. Mix the rava and ghee with little water and knead like a poori dough.Leave to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai. Knead the dough once again. Make small balls with the dough and roll into thin pooris.
  3. Test the heat of oil by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil. If it rises quickly oil is ready for frying.
  4. Keep the flame in medium and fry the pooris on both sides and drain the oil and take out on a kitchen paper.
  5. Heat milk in a deep pan on a low flame. Break the pooris into big pieces and add to the milk.
  6. When the pooris are cooked add sugar, cardamom powder and saffron leaves soaked in milk.
  7. Take off the flame and garnish with cashews fried in 1 table spoon ghee.

Tips

Do not allow the paayasam to boil after adding sugar.

Pooris must be fried in medium to low fire so the they stay white.

The pooris should be rolled super thin.

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The award season in the Food Blogosphere is not ending any time soon!!! My friend Archana of luv2eathate2cook has presented me with these awards! Thanks Archu! She says we rock! With all the lovely comments from all my blogger friends, we must definitely rock! :D

And then the Schmoozer award! All of you can read great interpretations of this award in Coffee’s Spice cafe. After her detailed description, I dare not say a word :D.

Well, I for one have just arrived on the internet and have just picked up some skills on this difficult box called computer that’s intelligent but refuses to listen – there is so much more Schmoozing to do!!! And Madhavi thinks the ‘Yum’ girls rock! Thanks Madhavi!

Awards may not be new to me since I have won several awards as one of the top managers of Tupperware in India for the past 6 years. In fact there is no place left in my show case.

But these awards mean a lot to me as I have earned the love and best wishes of my blogger friends who never fail to appreciate our efforts.

These past two months have been a huge learning curve in terms of a quite a few things in the virtual world from linking to widgets (I still think it will sound better as a snack’s name). I think the most difficult one to conquer has been the obnoxiously warped and jumbled alphabets that one needs to pass before publishing a comment on blogger. It used to take me ten minutes to write a simple comment – I am a sorry but I like technology to work for me not vice versa!!! Bee has elaborated more on this pain here.

Thankfully my typing speed has improved so much that I can finally type recipes faster than I cook!!! Today I am happy that I have answered all the comments on our blog and blogrolled all fellow bloggers who visited me. I just love to read all the lovely recipes posted in these blogs.

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Aavani avittam or Upaakarma falls on the Poornima(full moon day) in the month of Aavani (mid august to mid september). The Star Avittam also rises on the same day every year.

On this day all men and boys change their sacred thread (Poonal). For Thalai Aavani Avittam or the first festival after the upanayanam of the boys, Homa is performed using 1008 peepul twigs (samithu) reciting the Kamo karshi japam. Generally the changing of thread is performed in a common place in a locality which is usually a hall in the temple.

After a breakfast of Idli and Appam the boys(Brahmacharis) and men go to the temple where the sasthrigal or vadhiyar (priest) help them by teaching the mantras. Usually the men perform this ritual with out eating anything.

For lunch an elaborate menu is followed as this is the only festival exclusively for men.

I am planning the following Menu. Click on links to get the recipes. Some are posted below.

Pictures will be posted after neivedyam.

Beans parrupusali

Beans Parrupusali

Ingredients

  • Beans – 1/4 kg
  • Toor dal – 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Red chilli – 1 no
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil – 3 table spoons
  • Channa dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and soak the toor dal for 1/2 hour in warm water.
  2. Grind to a thick paste adding red chilli, hing and salt.
  3. Wash and cut the beans to small pieces.
  4. Add hing, turmeric powder and 1 table spoon oil and micro high for 6 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds.
  6. When it crackles add urad dal and channa dal and fry till golden.
  7. Add the ground dal care fully and stir well. Cook on a medium flame stirring occasionally it the dal cooks.
  8. Add the boiled beans and mix well.
  9. Cook for 3 more minutes and put off the flame.

Inji thengai pachadi
Ingredients

  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Grated coconut 1/2 cup
  • green chilli – 1 no
  • salt to taste
  • Fresh curds – 1 cup
  • Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig ( finely chopped)

Method

  1. Wash and chop the ginger, add coconut, green chilli, salt and grind to a fine paste .
  2. Mix with curd in a serving bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai,add mustard seeds. when it crackles add the urad dal and fry till golden.
  4. Add the curry leaves and pour on the ginger pachadi.

Elumichai saathamudu( lemon rasam)
Rasam

Ingredients

  • Toor dal – 1/4 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
  • Tomato – 1 no
  • Lemon – 1 no
  • Curry leaves -1 twig
  • Coriander seeds 1/2 teaspoon
  • Grated coconut – 1 tablespoon
  • Channa dal 1/2 teaspoon
  • Hing – a small piece(Powder is also ok)
  • blackpeppercorns 1/2 teaspoon
  • Jeera – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Red chilli – 1 no
  • Ghee – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash and pressure cook the Toor dal adding a pinch of turmeric powder.
  2. Cut tomato into small pieces and in a micro safe container micro for 1/2 minute.
  3. Fry the coriander seeds, channa dal, jeera red chilli, hing and pepper in 1 teaspoon ghee it golden.
  4. Add coconut to the fried items and grind to a smooth paste.
  5. Add dal, salt and 1 cup water to the tomatoes and micro high for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the ground paste and 1 more cup water and micro high for 3 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a serving bowl and add juice extracted from 1 lemon.
  8. Fry the curry leaves in 1 teaspoon ghee and add to the prepared rasam.

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