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Having lived in Hyderabad for 12 years, my mother mastered all the andhra style pickles. Needless to say, I learnt the exact methods of Avakkai, tomato thokku, Inji thokku, mahai, gonkura pachadi etc from her.
I am posting two methods for the thokku. One the original long method and one simplified version for busy people. Both are tried and tested many times over. Follow the version that suits you.
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Ingredients

  • Tomato- 1 kg
  • Tamarind – 1 orange sized ball
  • Salt – 3 table spoons
  • Red chilli powder – 1 cup
  • Sesame oil – 1 cup
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon.

Method
Original Andhra Style

  1. Wash and wipe the tomatoes dry. Cut each into 2 pieces and mix with salt in a large container. leave for 1 day.
  2. The next day, take out only the tomatoes on a plate, leaving the water behind.
  3. In this salt water soak the tamarind. Place the tomato plate and the container with soaked tamarind in the sun for two days.
  4. Grind the tomatoes and the tamarind to a smooth paste. Mix the red chilli powder and hing to this paste.
  5. Heat oil in a kadai on a medium flame.Add mustard seeds.
  6. When the mustard seeds crackle add the paste carefully and mix well.
  7. Cook on a low flame covering partially with a lid to avoid the spillage, stirring occasionally.
  8. This may take around 15 minutes. Once the thokku is thick and the oil float, take off the flame and leave to cool.
  9. Store in air tight containers in a fridge.

Easy method

  1. Wash and place the tomatoes in a microwave safe container.
  2. MW at 600 watts for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Grind to a smooth paste and return to the MW container.
  4. MW at 600watts for 1/2 hour stirring once in 5 minutes.
  5. Store this paste in a freezer container and allow to freeze.
  6. You can prepare the thokku the day you want.You can also use this paste for other dishes when tomato is not available.
  7. Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water. grind to a smooth paste.
  8. Mix salt, hing and red chilli powder to the tamarind paste.
  9. Thaw the tomato paste and mix with tamarind paste.
  10. Heat oil in a kadai, on a low flame, add mustard seeds.
  11. When they crackle add the paste and mix well.
  12. Continue following steps 7, 8 and 9 of the original method.

Shown below is the picture of pulikaichal, recipe already posted. Click here for the recipe.

Pulikaichal

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Uppu seedai is a must for Srijayanthi! This snack is some thing you can do in a leisurely way. You can mix the maavu, sit in front of the TV and watch a programme of your choice, white rolling the seedai balls on to a white cloth. Or you can listen to music while preparing these. A relaxed atmosphere will make cooking a pleasure! Use the flours prepared as per previous post. Click here for the flour recipe.
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Ingredients

  • Rice flour – 2 cups
  • Urad dal flour – 1/4 cup
  • Ghee – 1 table spoon
  • Jeera – 2 teaspoons
  • Hing powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Grated coconut – 1 table spoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying – 2 cups

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients except oil and make a soft dough using water.
  2. Make small balls around 3/4 cm in diameter( smaller than a marble) and leave to dry on a white cloth.
  3. After you finish with all the dough, Heat oil in a deep kadai and start frying the seedais a handful at a time.
  4. Keep the flame in medium throughout and stir in between for even cooking.
  5. Once the sound subsides totally, lower the flame, drain the seedais well and remove on a kitchen paper.
  6. Store in airtight containers.

Update:

Since many people inform me that Uppu Seedai is a mini terrorist who causes explosions in the kitchen here are some tips to avoid explosions:

  • The scientific reason for bursting seedais will be water trapped in between or small rice grains. Roll the seedai well.
  • To avoid Knead the dough very well. Seive the flour before roasting.

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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 30 minutes.
  2. Drain well and spread on a white cloth to dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Grind little rice at a time a sieve 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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