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Archive for May, 2008

Perfectly roasted Sepakizhangu (Taro/ Colacasia/ Arbi) – crisp on the outside, well steamed and soft inside – is a dead simple recipe that contrary to popular perception doesn’t require any deep frying or a bottle of oil.

Let me get this straight. Taro is NOT inherently gooey, mashy and ichy. Taro is more often than not badly cooked and made into a gooey mess. Roasting doesn’t require oodles of oil. Roasting require good regulation of temperature and patience. There’s isn’t much to the art of roasting, besides cooking on a slow flame and knowing when and how to turn the vegetable. It’s a one of a kind experience in slow cooking.

I turn my nose up at people who don’t like Taro (even if they are friends). How can someone not like something that tastes as good as this? I can write an ode to Taro. A bowlful of roasted Taro with a newspaper or book to read is my idea of a perfectly lazy late morning snack.

Ingredients

  • Sepakizhangu (Colacasia/ Taro/ Arbi) – 1/2 kg
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Channa Dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Urad Dal (split) – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (or more if you like)
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to Taste
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Wash the Taro well. Pressure Cook the Taro with the skin till its well steamed but not mushy. (Wait for the first whistle, turn the heat to low till the cooker is on its way to the second whistle. Throw a towel over the whistle to stop steam from escaping and switch the cooker off.)
  2. Remove the Taro from the cooker when the pressure drops. Allow to cool for sometime. You can sink Taro in some cool water if you like.
  3. When mildly warm but not hot, skin the Taro and cut into discs. Add Turmeric , Salt and Hing, mix and keep aside.
  4. In a large skillet , heat the Oil, crackle the mustard seeds and toast the urad dal and the channa dal.
  5. On a low to medium flame, add the Sepakizhangu. Spread evenly on the skillet with a flat ladle. Allow one side to cook for a while. When it starts to turn the lightest of golden yellow, overturn and roast the other side. Repeat this process till all sides start turning a deep golden more or less evenly. Keep the flame on low to medium all the time. Do not try to roast on high.
  6. Add chilli powder and mix well. Roast for one more minute.
  7. Remove from flame when the Taro is crisp on all sides.

Sepakizhangu roast is a great side dish for sambhar rice vethal kuzhambu rice and all variety rices.

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Pudina or Mint is God’s gift to mankind – its green, it smells like a beautiful dream, it tastes like heaven, it adds a flavour to anything and its perennially available. According to the Wikipedia, Mint is a diuretic, its good for your digestion and it whitens teeth. So its like this super efficient smart leaf with a zillion desirable qualities rolled into one.

Kalanda Sadam (literally Mixed Rice) is the Maami brigade’s gift for people like me who scratch their heads each time they need to fix a meal. Make the perfect pot of rice, put together a few simple ingredients, mix and you’re done.

Ingredients

  • Rice – 1/2 cup
  • Pudina Leaves – 1 cup (washed and tightly packed)
  • Onion – 1 (fine chopped)
  • Green Chilly – 1 (seeds removed and cut into long strips)
  • Peanuts – 1/4 cup (or more if you like)
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Cook the rice in a pressure cooker. Each grain of rice must be separate.
  2. In a pot, heat some oil, add the mustard seeds and channa dal.
  3. Add green chilly and onions and saute till onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the pudina/ mint leaves, turmeric, hing and salt. Saute till the leaves are cooked and water content is reduced. Take off from heat.
  5. Add Ghee to the Rice. Toast peanuts in a microwave for 1minute or so.
  6. Add Rice and toasted peanuts to the Pudina/Mint saute in the pot. Mix well using a flat ladle (thuduppu in Tamizh). Be careful not to mash or break any rice.

Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot with Raita or Curd.

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Kashayams are magical medicinal drinks conjured with a few simple kitchen ingredients. Think of a singular drink that takes less than 5 minutes to cook and that can cure nausea, drive away cold, take care of that nagging lack of appetite or those digestion problems after an unnecessary binge – that’s a typical Kashayam for you.

Maamis (the south indian women brigade) in the part of the world that I live in don’t just excel at making Kashayams but also excel in feeding their children Kashayams with smart techniques for taste acquisition and negotiation that would put a ninja to shame.

Ingredients

  • Ajwain (Carom Seeds) – 1/2 tsp
  • Black Pepper Corns – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Jeera (Cumin) – 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Honey – 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Water – 3/4 cup

Method

  1. In a dry skillet on medium heat, roast the ajwain, black pepper corns, coriander seeds and jeera till you get an aroma.
  2. Skin the Ginger piece and crush. Add water and followed by ginger to the rest of the ingredients in the skillet.
  3. Let it simmer till the water is reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. Strain the kashayam. Add honey and serve warm.

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Fool apparently is the culinary term for pureed fruit served as a cold dessert. So when you have these over ripe fruits that seem to be growing inside your fridge, then fool its got to be.

This Mango Fool was discovered as a legitimate fool after combing the internet for ideas on what to call such a dish.

Ingredients

  • Ripe Mango – 2 cups (diced)
  • Heavy Cream – 1/2 cup
  • Nutmeg – 1 tsp (grated) (or clove/ cardamom/ ginger etc – any flavouring of choice)
  • Chocolate strands (for garnish) (or fresh cream/ mango cubes/ mint leaves/ butterscotch/ praline/ candied ginger – any topping of choice)

Method

  1. Puree the Mangoes well. The puree needs to be thick and should be able to hold a swirl when you make one.
  2. Whip cream till it forms peaks. Fold in the Mango Puree. You can retain streaks of white cream if you like or fold in completely. Add grated Nutmeg (or flavouring of choice).
  3. Transfer to serving glasses or cups. Cover and Chill for 12 hours.

Garnish with chocolate strands (or toppings of choice) before serving.

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Thayir Sadam or Curd rice is almost always the grand finale of every south indian meal (especially the tamizh variety). Now what might seems like a straight forward mixing of two simple ingredients is actually quite a task – considering the fact that the list of criteria for the perfect sadam (rice) and the perfect thayir (curd) is rather long. And then comes the experience of mixing and eating itself.

How to set the perfect thayir?

  • Bring Milk to a boil. (I use 3% Milk and my curd turns out quite creamy on most days)
  • Take off heat, transfer to a container and allow to cool down.
  • When Milk is lukewarm, take a couple of tablespoons of milk and mix it well with 1 tsp of curd.
  • Add this milk+curd mix to the rest of lukewarm milk.
  • Cover your container and leave the milk to set for 6-8 hours.
  • If you’re living conditions are under 25 degrees C – leave it in the oven. If its over 35 degrees C, please check after the 4th or 5th hour.
  • You know your curd is ready when the milk turns semi solid. Refrigerate immediately.

How to mix and eat Thayir Sadam?

  • Squish and Squash rice and curd with your palms, squish, squash, squish, squash – you get the idea.
  • With a quick circular motion take a mouthful onto your hands.
  • Flick this into your mouth. Chew, chew, chew – drown in the experience of the coolness of rice and thayir
  • Lick the last bits off your dripping palms. Repeat with rest of the thayir sadam.
  • Serve some more plain curd onto your plate.
  • Bring the plate to your mouth, tilt and empty contents into your mouth.
  • End with a burp (optional but its very much part of the sophisticated culture of finishing a south indian meal with thayir sadam)

How to make and eat the ultimate Thayir Sadam aka Baghala Bhaath?

Mixing instructions are here. Eating instructions are the same as above.

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Someone needs to educate me on the difference between a naan that is stuffed and a kulcha. In terms of method or taste, at least to me there doesn’t seem to be any difference.

But what I do know is that this is a dish I am immensely motivated to make – so much so that I made this last Sunday after an early morning (3 am to be exact) Grihapravesham Poojai about 10 kms from my house. I am not going to make any claims on the authenticity of this recipe – but it works like a charm. If you’re looking for Kulcha, you will not be disappointed with this.

Ingredients

Dough

  • Whole Wheat Flour – 2 cups (plus some extra for dusting)
  • Milk – 3/4 cup approximately
  • Curd – 1 table spoon
  • Baking powder – 1 level teaspoon
  • Salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sugar 1 tablespoon
  • Freshcream – 1 tablespoon
  • Ghee – 2 teaspoons

Stuffing

  • Onion – 1 (finely chopped)
  • Coriander – a bunch (finely chopped)
  • A pinch of Salt
  • Ajwain – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Butter – 1 tsp

Garnish (optional)

  • Sesame Seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Butter – 1tsp

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix the Wheat Flour with salt and sugar. Rub the fresh cream into the flour.
  2. Make a well in center, add curd and baking powder and allow to froth for 2 minutes.
  3. Knead all the ingredients into a soft dough the flour with curds by adding the required amount of milk.
  4. Coat with ghee and mix well. Cover with a wet cloth and leave to rise for 6 to 8 hours.
  5. Melt some butter in a skillet, add the ajwain and coriander. Saute Onions. Add Salt and Chilli Powder. Set aside for cooling.
  6. Divide the dough into eight balls. Take one of the portions of the dough, flatten it with the palm of your hand. Roll it into a 5-6 inch circle with the outer edges thin and thick center. Put in a tablespoon or more of the onion saute in the center. Bring the edges together and seal. Roll out into a circle using some extra flour for dusting if required.
  7. Cook both sides on a tawa over medium heat till pink spots appear. Brush with sesame seeds crackled in some butter. Repeat with rest of the dough.

Serve with a gravy of your choice.

Onion Kulchas are on their way to Srivalli for her virtual Roti Mela.

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