Thursday, December 24, 2009

Maggie - Step by Step Photo Shoot

Maggie - Step by Step
My grandaughter Ditto, was inspired to contribute to the blog, and has gone into a joint venture with her dad to send in this photoshoot! :-)))






Message to Ditto:
Ditto Dear, The photoshoot is very very good! You can also make this all by yourself, if you boil water in the microwave ...but you must be VERY VERY CAREFUL with the hot water, and do it only when appa or amma are around!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DILL DAL

DILL DAL
Pasta and cheese, wholemeal bread toast, butter, cheese slices, mashed potatoes, boiled peas, broccoli, custard and fruits, ice cold milk, ice cream, chilled fruit yogurt ……
These are few of the many dishes in the menu card provided by the maternity hospital in Sydney for ‘new born’ moms to select their meal! While the spread was nutritious and very delicious as well, I can very well imagine my mother’s horrified face shaking violently in disapproval.
Mother was well versed in preparing the special diet or pathiyam for pullaipetha or the new mothers. The diet to be followed by mothers for 21 days after childbirth, was prepared with great care using select ingredients. Chillies, tamarind, any roots and tubers with the exception of ginger were taboo. No oil was used in cooking. A dollop or more of pure home made ghee was a must in each meal. No citrus fruits or curd was allowed. Though there were too many dos and don’ts in the preparation, the pathiya sapaadu is a very delicious diet which every one can relish.
Dill (Sabsige Soppu in Kannada / not sure what its called in Tamil!!) has a special place in the special diet as it is supposed to help the lactating mothers and is a rich source of calcium. Here is a ‘method of preparing a pathiya dal with dill. Tomatos are typically not used in pathiya diet, so the one below is a ‘no-so-strict’ version!


INGREDIENTS:
Dill – 2 bunches

Split green gram dal (Mung) – 1 cup
Tomatoes – 1
Garlic – 3 fat cloves
Peeled Ginger – 1 inch
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Black pepper – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Olive oil or ghee – 1 tsp

METHOD:

1. Wash and cop dill discarding the thick fibrous stalks.
2. Grate garlic and ginger.
3. Chop tomatoes.
4. Heat olive oil or ghee in a pressure cooker and throw in the ginger and garlic.
5. Add chopped dill. and stir.
6. Add washed dal and turmeric.
7. Pour in three cups of water.
8. Stir in the chopped tomatoes
9. Pressure cook until three whistles.
10. When the steam has subsided open the lid and add salt and coarsely ground black pepper .and stir vigorously
11. Fry cumin seeds and curry leaves in a little ghee and add it to the dal.
Relish the aromatic Dill Dal with very hot and soft rice, topped with a dollop of home made ghee.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beetroot Halwa - Beet Root Fondant

BEET ROOT HALWA


I felt as if I was on cloud 9 when I reached Sydney, after a lot of Aussie visa confusion, anxiety and delay , just in time to receive the new bud which was about to bloom in our family tree. We had of course raced out the baby, but just by two nights, and before we could say “BINGO!” she arrived smoothly, plunging all of us in a flood of great relief and bliss.
I wanted to prepare a quick and simple sweet to celebrate, and here comes my first dish from my Sydney kitchen – BEET ROOT HALWA.

INGREDIENTS:Beet root (moderate size) – 4

Sugar - 4 tbsps
Ghee – 2tbsps
Evaporated milk- ½ cup
(One cup of whole milk can be boiled and reduced to ½ cup.)
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Cashew nuts – 4 (finely chopped)
METHOD:
1. Wash and remove the top and tail portion of beet roots and pressure cook them whole.
2. Allow to cool and then peel off the skin, which comes out easily.
3. Grate the beetroot and keep aside.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a thick bottomed pan, add the cooked and grated beet root, and fry till it gives out a pleasant aroma.
5. Add the evaporated milk and cook till the vegetable and milk blend and become thicker.
6. Add sugar and cook till all the sugar syrup is absorbed.
7. Add the remaining ghee and cook till the halwa leaves the sides of the pan.
8. Mix in the cardamom powder and decorate with the chopped nuts.



Enjoy halwa hot or cold, with a slice of your favourite ice cream if you like.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Deepawali Sweets - Paramannam - Sacred Sweet Rice


Deepawali Sweets - Paramannam
Jaggery Sweetened Rice

PARAMANNAM is surely param(the best) annam(rice)! It is a dish prepared with rice and jaggery on all auspicious days. It is offered to God with the greatest devotion and then savoured as prasadam (food that is considered God's Blessings). The words PANCHA BAKSHIAM – meaning five sweet dishes, and PARAMANNAM are included in the age old Sanskrit verses which are chanted during the offering of neivedyam (devotional offering) to the Lord.
After posting five Deepavali sweet recipes, we felt that the festival would be incomplete with out the PARAMANNAM recipe.

So here is wishing you all a
VERY VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS DEEPAVALI
with

PANCHA BAKSHIAM AND PARAMANNAM!

INGREDIENTS:
Rice – 1 cup

Milk – 1cup
Jaggery – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – a few
Raisins – a few
Cardamom – 2
Edible camphor* (Pacche karpoora)- a tiny piece the size of a pin head

*Note: 'Edible Camphor' is very different from what you use for other purposes. If you use camphor make sure you use the edible variety only! This should be available in any Indian Grocery Stores.

METHOD:
1. Wash and cook rice with 2 cups of water and one cup of milk in the pressure cooker.

2. It can also be cooked in vessel with a heavy bottom, until the rice becomes very soft but not mushy.
3. In another vessel boil jaggery with 3 cups of water and filter to remove any impurities.
4. Boil the jaggery water and add the cooked rice.
5. Cook until the rice blends well with the jaggery syrup.
6. Keep stirring till the Paramannam reaches porridge like consistency.
7. It should not be liquidy like payasam nor should it harden up too much.
8. Remove from heat when the consistency is right as shown in the picture.
9. Heat ghee and roast cashew nuts and raisins and add it to the Paramannam.
10. Powder cardamom and edible camphor together and mix into the Paramannam.

Offer it to Goddess Lakshmi at dawn on Deepavali Day and relish the prasadam with Her blessings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Deepawali Sweets - Mundiri Paruppu Nokkal - Sugar Coated Cashew

Deepawali Sweets - Mundiri Paruppu Nokkal - Sugar Coated Cashew

This can not be termed as a wholesome sweet in itself, however Nokkal has its place among the delicacies prepared this season. Put a bowl of Nokkal on the table, and watch it disappear in no time – albeit one by one! Passers by will be tempted and polish it up in no time! Nokkal is nothing but sugar coated or candied cashew nuts which prompt any one to binge. Usually it is stuffed in a cone to make “Paruppu Tengai” which is a must in South Indian weddings.



INGREDIENTS:
Whole cashew nuts – 1 cup

Sugar – 1 cup or the same volume as the nuts.
2 tbsps of ghee or oil to roast the nuts


METHOD:
1. Heat ghee / oil in a pan and roast the cashew nuts to an even golden colour and drain.

2. Dissolve sugar in one cup of water and boil.
4. Add a tsp of milk. This will separate out any scum or impurities along the sides of the pan. This should be scooped with a spoon and discarded.

5. Let the sugar syrup reach one thread consistency.

6. Lower the heat and add the roasted cashew nuts to the syrup.
7. Coat the nuts well with the syrup and spread them on a plate.
8. The nuts will start disappearing from the moment they are roasted! If you are still left with some candied nuts store them in air tight containers when cooled.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deepawali Sweets - Rawa (Semolina) Halwa


Deepawali Sweets - Rawa (Semolina) Halwa
We may buy or prepare multitudes of sweets for the Deepavali festival. But the festivity is incomplete without a halwa. There are various basic ingredients used in the preparation of halwa, and this time I have used Rawa (semolina) for the same.
INGREDIENTS:

Fine Rawa (Semolina) – 1 cup

Sugar – 2 cups
Ghee – ¼ cup
Edible Saffron colour – ¼ tsp
Cardamom – 2 OR Any essence of your choice – 3 drops
Cashew nuts & Raisins – a few

METHOD:

1. Soak rawa in 1 ½ cups of water for at least 15 minutes.
2. Now knead the with your hand or beat with a whisk till it becomes milky.
2. Boil the sugar with 2 cups of water till it reaches one thread consistency (also called soft ball stage) .
3. Mix in the food colour and blend well.
4. Add the milky rawa and keep stirring.

5. When holes start appearing on the surface and the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan, blend in the ghee.

6. Mix in the cardamom powder or essence and pour it on a greased tray.
7. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts and raisins.

Scoop out the halwa in cups and relish while warm. Or store the plate in the refrigerator and cut the halwa into pieces when required.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Deepawali Sweets - Mysorepak - Gram Flour Fudge


Deepawali Sweets - Mysorepak
Gram Flour Fudge

The mouth watering sweet which originated in the Maharaja’s kitchen at the Mysore Palace has become a very popular sweet by finding its way into the neighbouring states as well. They may be crunchy at some places, or soft as halwa in other places; they may be dripping with ghee in one kitchen, or bone dry at another. Whatever the texture may be, the charisma of Mysorepak never diminishes. Here is my version of Mysorepak picked up from my mother’s kitchen at Mysore.


INGREDIENTS:
Besan (Bengal gram flour)- 1 Cup

Sugar – 3 cups
Ghee – ¾ cup
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
METHOD:

1. Boil sugar with 3 cups of water, removing the scum which accumulates at the sides of the pan.

2. When the sugar syrup reaches the one string consistency (also called soft ball stage) blend in the turmeric powder.

3. Add the ghee and wait until it melts in the syrup giving out a pleasant aroma.

4. Add the besan gradually into the syrup stirring all the time.

5. Stir well so that no lumps are formed.
6. Keep stirring till the besan foams and starts to leave the sides of the pan.
7. You can see the sugar drying up leaving a coat around the wall of the pan.

8. At this stage remove from flame and pour it on a greased plate.

9. Gently shake the plate for even distribution, as the Mysorepak will not spread by itself and it will set instantaneously.

10. Mark with a sharp knife while still warm and cut the pieces after it cools.


Enjoy the Mysorepak as it melts in your mouth with its distinctive flavour.

DEEPAWALI SWEETS - BADUSHAH & CHOCOLATE BADUSHAH

DEEPAWALI SWEETS
BADUSHAH & CHOCOLATE BADUSHAH

Badusha with its strange name has become a traditional sweet, and is one of the much sought after sweets during festive occasions such as weddings and Deepavali.
The ingredients and the method of preparation has many similarities with the preparation of doughnuts which we witnessed at a shop in Portland called Krispy Kreme! In the Krispy Kreme factory, measured amounts of batter were poured on conveyor belts which ran through warmed up chambers, where the batter puffed up because of the yeast. Then they were automatically flipped into a trough of warm oil. The conveyor belt flipped them into another trough of warmer oil for even frying. The fried dough nuts were drained on the perforated belts while moving .The conveyor belt carried the golden coloured doughnuts through a snow white water fall of hot sugar syrup. Finally the warm, sweet and fluffy snow white doughnuts came out in dozens from the see through assembly just to disappear into the eager mouths of the connoisseurs in no time!
The chocolate coated doughnuts inspired me to prepare these Chocolate Badusha. Below is how we prepared Badushah at home.
INGREDIENTS:
Maida (plain white flour)– 250 gms ( 1 glass)
Salt – 1 pinch
Baking powder – ¼ tsp
Ghee or Oil – 1 tbsp
Curds – 1 cup
Sugar – the same volume as maida (1 glass)
Chopped cashew nuts – 1 tbsp
Cocoa powder – 1 tbsp OR Chocolate slab – 1 piece.
Oil – for frying badushahs
METHOD:
1. Sieve the maida, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the oil. Mix the oil and flour gently with your finger tips, to get a texture like bread crumbs. Now add in the required amount of curd to bind the crumbs together into a stiff dough. Be careful not to over knead the dough. The dough should be porous so that it can later absorb syrup. A very well kneaded smooth dough on the other hand, will not absorb any syrup!
2. Cover the dough and leave it to rise for an hour.
3. Next we need to make the sugar syrup. Dissolve sugar in one glass of water and a spoon of milk, and set it on a medium flame.
4. The milks will help in separating the scum to a layer on top. Remove this scum, and continue boiling until a one thread consistency (also called soft ball stage. Check this link for useful info on sugar syrup consistency) is reached.
5. Keep the sugar syrup on a very low fire, and heat oil in a pan on the second burner. If the sugar syrup starts crystallizing on the sides of the pan – make sure to switch off the flame.
6. Pinch a ball of dough the size of a ping pong ball, and flatten it on your palm. Remember that the fried badushah will increase a bit in size. It is fine if the surface is not smooth, and seems uneven. Don’t be tempted to knead it!
7. Make a depression in the center and keep it on a plate. You will get 12 flattened balls of dough with the above mentioned quantity of maida.

8. When the oil is medium hot, and ready for frying drop the flattened dough into the oil and fry them to a golden yellow colour and drain. If the oil is too hot, the badushah will not cook inside..
9. Drop the drained Badushas into the hot sugar syrup and soak for three minutes.

10. Remove from syrup and place them on a dry plate and stick on the chopped nuts immediately.
Badushah should be of a light texture, crispy on the outside, and syrup soaked on the inside.
CHOCOLATE BADUSHAIf you add chocolate to the sugar syrup, in the above process, you get a very interesting variation of badushah!
Dissolve cocoa in little water and add it to the sugar syrup when it reaches the one thread consistency. If you are using cooking chocolate dissolve it in the sugar syrup a little before one thread consistency.
 Enjoy the fluffy warm Badushas or store them in a dry container with a tight lid when cold.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deepawali Sweets - Ukkarai or Paruppu Puttu

Deepawali Sweets - Ukkarai or Paruppu Puttu
With Deepawali around the corner, a whole lot of sweets are getting prepared at home. Here is a very simple and yummy sweet. The UKKARAI also called (paruppu puttu) is a traditional sweet, which has an integral place in festival cooking. It is a protein rich dish prepared with lentils. Since it is steam cooked it is an appropriate sweet dish to go with breakfast.

Ingredients Bengal gram dal – ½ cup
Green gram dal – ½ cup
Powdered jaggery – 1 cup
Cardamom – 2
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – a few
Raisins - a few.


Method
 1. Dry roast the dals together till they turn red and give out a pleasant aroma.
2. Wash and soak the roasted dals for 45 minutes.









3. Drain and grind the soaked dals into a coarse paste sprinkling a little water if necessary.










4. Steam the paste in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes and cool.
5. Break the steamed lump into pieces.
6. Heat ghee in a pan and roast the cashew nuts and raisins.
7. Add the lentil pieces and cook them on low fire until they crumble into a fine sand like texture, stirring now and then with a spatula.


8. In a separate pan, dissolve jaggery in one cup of water and strain.
9. Heat the jaggery water in another pan until it starts foaming to get a one string consistency.






10. Pour the jaggery syrup into the prepared dal and blend well.
11. If the UKKARAI becomes soggy you can put it on low flame and stir until you get the required texture.
12. Mix in powdered cardamom.






Relish it either hot or cold.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Masa Corn Tortillas &Tomatillo Salsa aka Mexican Corn Rotti and Chutney!

MASA CORN TORTILLASTOMATILLO SALSA
(Mexican Corn Rotti & Spicy Chutney??)
The native Indians followed a unique method to raise their staple food crops. Corn, Fava Beans and Pumpkin which they referred to as “The Three Sisters” were planted and raised together in the fields. The corn plants provided support to the fava bean plants, while they in turn fixed the nitrogen in the soil. The pumpkin crept beneath these plants and kept away the weeds. This method of agriculture is followed by the farmers even to this day.
My son and daughter-in-law are ardent gardeners and the “Three Sisters” have occupied a prominent place in their home garden. The tender and fresh corn cobs, the fava beans with a green oily glaze and the bright yellow blooms of the pumpkin are a feast to the eyes.
The other day my son plucked the tender fresh corn from the garden and he requested me to prepare corn tortillas for dinner. I implicitly followed his directions and ended up with a delicious and sumptuous meal for dinner.
MASA CORN TORTILLAS
INGREDIENTS:
 
Instant Corn Masa Flour - 2 cups
Salt – ½ tsp
Warm water – as required.
Fresh corn – ½ cup
Frozen corn – 2 tbsps
Minced green chillies – 1 tbsp
METHOD:
1. Mix the corn masa, minced chillies and salt in a bowl.
2. Add the fresh corn and the frozen corn to the flour.
3. Add warm water little by little and knead the flour into a soft dough.
4. Grease a griddle and heat it.
5. Take a ball of dough and pat it into a thin and even tortilla on the griddle.
6. Wet your fingers now and then and evenly spread the dough into a round shape.
7. Dribble oil around and cover and cook tortilla for a few minutes.
8. Remove lid and flip it to the other side and cook for a few more minutes.

A spicy tomatillo salsa prepared by my son was an ideal combination.
TOMATILLO SALSA
Tomatillos are sour fruits which belong to the tomato family. They are green or purple in colour after removing the dry bracts which enclose them. This can be added to the salads but we liked them in the spicy salsa.
INGREDIENTS:
Tomatillos – 6
Onion – 1
Garlic – 4 cloves
Tomato – 1
Green chillies - 2 (optional)
Jalapeno- 3
Salt – 1 tsp
lime juice - 2 tsp
fresh herbs of your choice - (optional) a few
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Black pepper powder - to taste
METHOD:1. Wash and chop all vegetables into big chunks.
2. Heat a griddle and add the vegetables to the hot griddle and stir well.
3. Lower the flame and cook the vegetables covered, removing the lid to stir now and then.
4. The vegetables will release a pleasant aroma when done.
5. Cool the dry roasted vegetables and blend them coarsely with salt, herbs and lime juice.
6. Add olive oil and blend again.
7. You can garnish the salsa with a pinch of pepper powder for flavour.


Enjoy your Tomatillo salsa with any dish of your choice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tillamook Cheese, Vegetable Augratin and Casseroles

TILLAMOOK CHEESE FACTORY, AUGRATIN and CASSEROLE

                                            After driving through the Cascade mountain ranges, and watching 
the beautiful sceneries splashed with green forests and cool blue rivers, we reached a city called Tillamook, “The land of many waters”. (Tillamook is the name of one of the native tribes). The early settlers found the climate of this region most unfriendly for growing food crops. But the profuse lush green grass helped them to rear healthy cows and set up dairies. In the course of time their milk and butter business matured into small cheese manufacturing units and finally paved the way for the establishment of The Tillamook Cheese Factory which is the                                                      ultimate destination for all cheese lovers.

Tillamook cheese factory is celebrating its centenary this year.
We took a self-guided trip into the factory and walked thrugh a corridor on the first floor, which was encased in huge glass windows on either side. From there we got a full view of the cheese manufacturing process going on in the ground floor. The employees, all dressed up in white aprons, gloves and caps, looked up now and then to smile and wave at us visitors.

Milk was being pasteurized, curdled, separated from the whey, and finally pressed into cheese blocks. This whole process was carried out inside huge boilers or vats, which looked like gigantic towers, and we could see only the pressed cheese blocks rolling out on the conveyor belt. The huge cheese blocks seemed to take a slow roller-coaster ride towards the curing unit, and were back again on the conveyor belt where they were cut to sizes, shaped and weighed by the employees before they were packed and sealed by machines. Traditional antiquated gadgets used in cheese making were all on display.

Since it was the last weekend before the schools reopened, there were a number of children visiting the factory with their families. The cheese cubes and the spoonfuls of ice-cream samples attracted not only the children but adults as well. We walked past the long queue into the gift shop where a number of knick-knacks, and lots of cheese and other eats were sold, and ended up as usual in the food court. The star attraction was a great many variety of Tillamook ice creams sold in cones, cups and tubs.
                                                We bought special cheese called Pepper Jack to which spicy                                                         jalapeno, and habanero chillies are added during processing.
                                               Habanero  chilli is one of the most intensely spicy species of chilli                                                 peppers.                              
 The packet of Squeaky cheese – the thick curd separated from whey but not pressed- was an interesting munch for the road. Many varieties of cheese are manufactured in the factory using vegetable based rennet. Tillamook Vintage White Medium Cheddar and Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar are the only two varieties where animal rennet is used, for the extra softness.



We left the “Cheese Heaven” with great amazement and wondered at how a mere cheese factory could be turned out into a great tourist attraction, which provided the visitor with a great learning experience as well.

Au Gratins with crusty browned cheese and bread crumb toppings have long been a favourite with my children ever since they first had the Spinach and Corn Augratin at an eatery called Chit Chat in MG Road Bangalore. The Tomato & Squash Au Gratin below is made by my son.

TOMATO & SUMMER SQUASHES AU GRATIN
INGREDIENTS:
Assorted summer squashes and zucchinis – 4
Onion – 2
Garlic – 6 cloves
Salad tomatoes – 6
Cheese (grated)- 2 cups
Breadcrumbs – ½ cup
Butter – 1 tbsp
Dehydrated Thyme – few springs
Olive oil – 4 tbsps
Salt and pepper – as required
METHOD:
1. Wash and cut the squashes to ¼ inch slices.
2. Wash and cut tomatoes into thick slices and leave them on a paper towel to drain
3. Slice the onions
4. Mince the garlic finely
5. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the griddle on the grill
6. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until glassy but not brown.
7. Grease a gratin dish (or any baking pan) and spread the cooked onion and garlic evenly at the bottom and keep it aside.
8. Place the griddle back on the grill and add one more tablespoon of oil to it.
9. Add the summer squash and zucchini and sauté. Add some crushed thyme, pepper and salt to taste. Cover and cook till they are just crisp and tender.
10. Add pepper and salt and toss well and remove from grill.
11. Arrange a layer of the squash slices over the onion garlic spread in the gratin dish.
12. Now place a layer of drained tomato slices over the squash slices and dust with a little pepper powder and salt and sprinkle with little oil.
13. Repeat the process alternately until all the squash, tomato slices and oil are used up, making sure to get the tomato slices on the topmost layer.
14. Rub the dry thyme in between your palms over the gratin and garnish with the thyme powder.
15. Top the dish lavishly with grated cheese
16. Mix breadcrumbs (toasted in butter) and sprinkle over the gratin.
17. Cover and grill, and keep checking till the cheese turns brown and crusty.



Let the gratin cool for about 15 to 20 minutes after cooking. Enjoy the gratin while the top is still warm and crusty.CAULIFLOWER, CAPSICUM & RICE CASSEROLE
The delecious spicy cauliflower and rice casserole below is adapted to Indian taste buds, and was prepared by my daughter. You can find the recipe here.