Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mamidi allam pachadi- Mango ginger relish


This Mango ginger relish is our new found addiction. Ever since my neighbor and friend gave me a bowl of her freshly made, lip smacking pachadi, I have not been able to stay away from it for long. I seem to have this with idlies, dosas, rice and everything you can think of. That's how addictive this pachadi is.


Pachadi is nothing but South Indian Pickle that is used as a side dish. To put it in simple terms, Pachadi is nothing but food that is pounded in a mortar and pestle. This Andhra styled pickle is almost always spicy and the vegetables are either raw or sautéed in oil for a delicious flavour.


The mamidi allam or the Mango ginger is actually a spice that has the goodness of Ginger as well as Raw mangoes. It has the appearance of ginger but tastes like raw mangoes. However, you will be surprised to know that this rhizome is neither related to mangoes or ginger. It actually belongs to the family of turmeric. Fascinating. Isn't it??


This recipe is was given to me by Sailaja. Sailaja is a neighbor and a dear friend and a lovely soul, who also makes the best pickles and pachadis in the world. She not only gave me the recipe but also taught me the correct method to make it. How sweet is that?


This rich, dark relish which has a hint of raw mangoes can make a great last minute accompaniment to idlies, dosas, rice and even poppadoms. This pachadi is so delicious, that your tastebuds are sure to tingle. 

Mamidi allam pachadi recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 10mins
Makes- 250gms

Ingredients:
Mamidi allam or Mango giner- 14pieces, peeled and roughly chopped
Tamarind- 50gms
Urad dal or split black gram- 2tbsp
Peanut oil- 4tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4tsp
Red chilies- 8-10, adjust to taste
Asafetida- A pinch
Salt to taste
Jaggery- 1-1/2tbsp
Sugar- 1tsp


Method:
  • Add just enough hot water to the tamarind and let it stand for a few minutes till it is soaked and softened. Let the tamarind cool before extracting the pulp and setting aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the Split black gram and fenugreek seeds and fry till they turn brown.
  • Add the red chilies and fry till it turns crisp. Take the mixture off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped mango ginger and fry for few seconds and set aside.
  • In a blender jar, grind the cooled Black gram mixture to a coarse powder.  Then, add the fried mango ginger pieces, tamarind pulp, salt, Jaggery and sugar and blend to smooth paste.
  • Transfer the ground pachadi to an airtight container. This pachadi stays fresh for up to two weeks in a refrigerator.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Boondi Laddu


It's that time of the year again!! The time of the year when your heart is filled with inexplicable cheer. A time when there is warmth and brightness everywhere. A time when everything you see seems to have a special glow. Diwali is a time for new clothes, Diyas, crackers and above all, love and laughter. Most importantly, Diwali or Deepavali is a time to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, Knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.


I know I am a little late in wishing you all a happy Diwali. But I hope that everybody had a great Diwali and I hope you have a wonderful year ahead.
Among all the Indian festivals, Deepavali has always been my favorite. There are new clothes to be worn, crackers to be burst. Making Large batches of sweets and savories and the best part is sharing them with your friends and family. The greetings, happiness and smiles. That I think is the most beautiful part of Deepavali.

When I asked Purvi what she wanted me to make for Diwali. She asked me to make Kaju Katli, benne murukku and Laddus. I knew Purvi loved Kaju katli and chaklis but I didn't know she was so fond of laddus as well. So this time, I decided to make boondi laddus among other things.


The boondi laddus also happens to be one of my favorite sweet treats. I especially love the laddus that are served in South Indian weddings. The laddus served in the Weddings are a little different because they are laced with the flavor of cloves. The cloves lend a warm spicy flavor to this sweet dish making it all the more delightful.


I had never made boondi laddus before this. So I spent a lot of time going through a lot of recipes and videos. The laddus turned out great and they almost like the ones they serve in South Indian weddings. I say "almost" because, I omitted the edible camphor. Both S and Purvi loved the Laddus and they were over within no time. 


These laddus have a relatively long shelf life. So they make a perfect edible gift for all festivities. They are a little time consuming. But the taste and the delightful expressions on your loved ones faces will make every ounce of the effort worth while.


Boondi Laddu recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 30min
Makes- Approximately 2 dozen laddus

Ingredients:
For the batter:
Gram flour or besan- 2 cups or 480gms
Fine semolina or chiroti rava- 2tbsp
Baking powder- A pinch
Yellow food color- A pinch
Water- 200ml or as required
For the syrup:
Sugar- 2cups or 480gms
Water- 2cups
Saffron- A large pinch
Cardamom powder- 1/2tsp
Other ingredients:
Oil to deep fry
Melon seeds or charmagaz- 1tbsp
Ghee or clarified butter- 1tbsp+1tsp
Cloves- 6
Cashew nuts- 1-1/2 tbsp
Almonds- 1-1/2tbsp
Raisins- 1tbsp

Method:

For the batter:
  • Sift the gram flour along with the semolina and baking powder. Add the food color and mix well.
  • Add the water gradually and make a batter which has the consistency of dosa batter. i.e. The batter should thickly coat the back of the spoon. Mix well and set aside.
For the Sugar syrup:
  • Mix sugar and water in large pan and bring the mixture to a boil on medium heat.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer while stirring continuously.
  • Allow the syrup to simmer till it reaches single thread consistency. That is, if you touch a drop of the syrup and stretch it between your thumb and index finger, the syrup should come away in a single thread. If this happens, then the desired consistency has reached.
  • Add the saffron and cardamom powder. Take off the heat and set aside.
To proceed:
  • Heat oil in a wok. Take a perforated ladle (boondi ladle) and place it a little above the hot oil. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the ladle and gently tap it to the sides of the wok. Tiny drops of batter will fall into the pan. Fry till the batter turns golden in colour. DO NOT allow the batter to turn crispy. Remove the boondis once the bubbles and the hissing sound is reduced.
  • Drain the fried boondi in absorbent paper and repeat the process for the rest of the batter.
  • Once the batter is used up, Transfer the fried boondi to the vessel containing Sugar syrup and mix well. 
  • Transfer the boondi and the syrup mixture to the stove and cook the mixture on a low heat for five minutes. Take off the heat and set the mixture aside for 10mins.
  • In the meantime, heat two table spoons of ghee in a separate pan and add the cloves. Once they pop, add the cashews and almonds and fry till they turn golden in color. Add the raisins and fry till they puff up. Take off the heat and add this mixture to the syrup soaked boondi.
  • Add the melon seeds and edible camphor if desired and mix well. 
  • Grease your hands with ghee and take two table spoons of the boondi mixture and shape them into balls or laddus. 
  • Store in air tight containers. The laddus tastes best within 3-4 days of making them.
Notes:
  • Traditionally, gram flour of coarse texture is used to bake the gram flour batter. The semolina is added only if the flour is of fine texture. So if your gram flour coarse, then reduce the quantity of semolina or simply skip it.
  • The water required to make the batter depends on the quality of the flour. So adjust as per requirement.
  • If the batter is thick, the boondi will have tail ends and if it is thin, then the boondi will be flat. If you feel the batter is thin, then just add more flour and if you feel the batter is thick, then add a little more water.
  • Wipe the boondi ladle clean after each use.
  • Hold the Boondi ladle about 6-8 inches above the wok to get perfectly round boondis.
  • Shape the boondis into laddus while the mixture is till warm.
  • You can skip using cloves altogether. The laddus will smell and taste great with just cardamom powder.







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spaghetti with nutty avocado mint pesto


This space of mine has been quite for quite sometime now. If this virtual kitchen has been quite then it hasn't been the same in my real kitchen. I have been cooking like crazy since the past few days. I even got to capture a few of them. But somehow the uploading and editing part took a back seat. It was only since the past week that I started uploading and editing the photographs. I hope to post regularly from now on.





I think my love for avocados is not a secret anymore. I just love avocados. Be it in smoothies, in sandwiches, in desserts or with tortilla chips. I simply love them.


Did you know that Avocado is an extremely unique fruit. This is because, unlike other fruits, it has more good fats than carbohydrates. Avocados are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folates, potassium, Vitamin B5 and B6. This antioxidant rich fruit are said to extremely beneficial for arthritis, and said to improve vision. It is said, that avocados are said to prevent certain kinds of cancer. It is even said that avocado extract helps to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Now, what's not to love about this wonder fruit.


The rich creamy texture of this fruit makes it easy it to incorporate in many dishes. I have myself included this fruit in sweet as well as savory dishes alike and each time they turned out delicious. This fleshy fruit can be a great substitute for cream, cheese and mayonnaise.



As mentioned earlier I have used avocados in a number of dishes. But somehow I had not tried combining it with Pasta. So I decided to make a pesto with the avocado along with some mint and the little cashew meal that was waiting to be used up. The result was simply phenomenal. The creamy pesto was filled with strong flavors of mint and there was also the zing from the lemon juice. The cashew meal added a mild sweet taste to the pesto. This dish is super simple to make and without a doubt, add a healthy boost to your plate.


Spaghetti with nutty avocado mint pesto recipe:
Preparation time: 25min
cooking time: 10min
Serves- 3-4

Ingredients:
Spaghetti- 200gms
Salt- 1/2 tsp+1tsp
Olive oil- 1tsp+3tbsp
Onion- 1med, chopped fine
Garlic- 2 pods, peeled and finely chopped
Avocado- 1 large, halved, stoned and flesh scooped out
Juice of half a lemon
Mint leaves- a hand full
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Powdered cashewnuts- 1-1/2tbsp
Chili flakes- 1/2tsp (optional)


Pepitas- 1 tbsp, toasted and cooled.


Method:
  • Cook the spaghetti along with 1/2tsp of salt and a tsp of olive oil in enough water. Drain and reserve half cup of the stock and set aside.
  • To make the pesto, heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté till they turn brown and tender and keep aside.
  • Combine the avocado flesh along with the lemon juice, mint leaves, cashew meal, pepper powder, salt and the sautéed onion and garlic in blender jar or a mortar and pestle and grind till smooth.
  • Pour the prepared pesto over the cooked spaghetti and toss well. Add the chili flakes and pasta water only if required and mix well.
  • Garnish with toasted pepitas and serve immediately.
Note:
  • To make the cashew meal, toast about 8-10 cashew nuts in pan. Cool completely and grind in a blender to a slightly coarse powder. Store in airtight container till further use.
  • My preparation time was slightly longer because I ground the pesto in a mortar and pestle. It will not take you more than 10mins if you make the pesto in a blender.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kaalan


It's been a while since I posted a recipe for a curry/side dish. This recipe has been in my drafts for a long time. I have been procrastinating posting this recipe because I have not been able to capture this dish well. It took me five attempts to finally capture this dish.


The Kalan is a yogurt based side dish that is a staple of all festivities in Kerala. I was told that Kalan is a must during the Onam feast. This side dish is almost always prepared with either raw bananas or elephant yam. Since I had neither, I just decided to go ahead and make it with the Kohlarabi that was waiting to be used up. I must say that the dish turned out pretty good. 



Kohlrabi or noolkol as we call it is a turnip like vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Most of the times, I use this vegetable in Sambars. But my decision to use this vegetable in this yogurt based curry paid off. The kohlrabi is quite bland in taste. So the sour flavor of the yogurt and the spicy pepper compliments the bland vegetable beautifully making this curry quite irresistible. 


This recipe for the Kaalan was given to me by a friend from Dar. She had made this dish for our send off party before we left Dar. At first I thought she had served Majjige huli. But after tasting it, I realized it was a different dish altogether.  I took to this slightly sour and peppery dish immediately and before I knew it, I was asking for a second helping. So if you are looking for a satvik side dish to be prepared during this festive season, then look no further. As this Kaalan will definitely fit the bill.


Kaalan recipe
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Kohlrabi- 2med, peeled and cut into cubes
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Salt- to taste
Slightly sour yogurt- 250ml, Whisked
Rice flour corn starch- 1tbsp mixed with 2tbsp of water
For the ground paste:
Coconut- 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Green chili- 1-2
For the seasoning
Coconut oil- 2tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2  tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Asafetida- a large pinch
Red chili- 1, deseeded and torn into pieces
Fenugreek seeds- A pinch, dry roasted and powdered


Method:
  • Combine the chopped Kohlrabi along with salt, turmeric and pepper powder. Add one cup of water and cook till the Kohlrabi is cooked through and fork tender.
  • Grind the coconut, cumin seeds and green chilies along with some water to a fine paste add add the paste to the cooked kohlrabi.Mix well and allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes.
  • Stir in the whisked yogurt and the rice flour mixture, mix well and allow the mixture to simmer for five more minutes. Add the fenugreek powder at this stage and take off the heat.
  • For the seasoning, Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the curry leaves and the red chili pieces and fry till crisp. 
  • Add the asafetida, take of the heat and add the seasoning to the prepared Kaalan and serve hot with rice.
Note:

  • The rice flour is usually not added to this curry. I chose to include rice flour because, I wanted the curry with a thick gravy like consistency. You can omit the rice flour if you want the curry to be slightly watery.




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Avalakki laddu- Beaten rice and coconut laddu


I am back with another sweet treat. This is another one of those recipes that has been there in my drafts for more than month now. I had made these beaten rice and coconut laddus for Janmashtami. As it is customary to make dishes using beaten rice for Janamshtami, I chose to make these laddus instead of the Avalakki payasa that I make every year. I am glad I chose to make something different this  year because these sweetened balls turned out absolutely delicious.



I made these laddus using the same recipe that I use to make the rava laddus. The only difference is, I substituted the semolina with the beaten rice. Taste wise, these laddus were not much different from the rava laddus. They tasted just as delicious. But texture wise, I felt they were slightly coarser than the Rava laddus.


If you are looking for sweet treat, that can be made in minutes, then these laddus are just for you. These sweetened balls can be made within minutes and still taste delicious. Apart from that, I feel that the rava and the beaten rice laddus are slightly healthier than the deep fried sweets. So those who are planning their Dassehra or Diwali menu, I suggest you consider adding these laddus. It is sure to delight your guests.



Beaten rice and coconut laddu recipe:
Preparation time: 15mins
Cooking time- 10min
Makes- 15-20 laddus
Shelf life- 4-5 days

Ingredients:
Ghee- 1/4 cup
Poha or beaten rice- 250gms
chopped Cashewnuts- 3tbsp
Raisins- 2tbsp
Finely grated dry coconut- 1/2 cup
Sugar- 1 cup
Powdered cardamom powder- 3/4tsp
Warm Milk- 1/4 cup or as required





Mehtod:
  • Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a wok and dry roast the beaten rice till golden brown in color. Take off the heat and let it cool completely. Grind the cooled beaten rice to a fine powder and keep aside.
  • Heat another teaspoon of ghee in the same wok and fry the chopped cashew nuts till light brown in color. Add the raisins and fry till they balloon up. Remove the fried nuts and raisins from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining ghee in the same wok. Add the powdered beaten rice, dried coconut and  sugar and mix well. 
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the fried cashew nuts and raisins and the powdered cardamom.
  • Sprinkle the warm milk all over the beaten rice mixture and mix well. Shape the mixture into ping pong sized balls whilst the it is still warm.
  • Store in air tight containers and consume within four to five days



Friday, September 12, 2014

Mango kesar pista Kulfi


Right now I am suffering from a condition called the "writer's block". I have been trying to post this recipe for almost a week now and all I have been doing is typing a few sentences only to hit the delete button. For the past few days, my mind seems to have gone blank. I am not sure if it is just me or it has got to do something with the ever-changing weather in Nairobi. 


The month of September marks the season of the short rains in Nairobi. Usually, by this time of the year, despite all the short rains, the mercury starts to rise and you can feel the summer around the corner. But this year, the "short rains" turned into a down pour and turned the Nairobi skies into depressing grey. It was like that for the following days to come. The mercury dropped drastically and the town was enveloped in fog. I felt like my energy had just disappeared along with the sun. I had never felt so low in my entire life. All I could do was just curl up in a blanket.


The only good thing that seemed to happen during that time was this Kulfi. Summer and the sun may be on the way out, but making Kulfi isn't. Since the weather was so depressing, I wanted something comforting and something that would divert my mind from the cold. There were these "not so sweet" mangos, a can of condensed milk and some cream that was waiting to be used up. So I decided to put all of these together and make this Kulfi. 


Kulfi or the "Indian ice cream" was a favorite during my growing years. My baby sister and I would often indulge on these Kulfis on our way back from school. I remember the Kulfis used to cost a Rupee but the flavor and the taste was unmatched. 
Traditionally, the Kulfi is made by boiling the milk till it is reduced to half the volume. Cream, sweeteners and other flavors are then added to the already calorie rich milk and then frozen immediately. There is no churning required when making kulfi.


The beauty of this dessert is that, it can be made in a hundred different ways and it can still end up delicious. If mangos are not available, try substituting it with strawberry or lychees. But if you are craving for a kulfi with fall flavors then try making this with carrot puree. I hear that it tastes delicious.


As I mentioned earlier, Kulfi is made my evaporating milk on a low heat till reduced to half. But if you are pressed for time, or you just want to make this dessert  quickly, then just substitute the milk with with a can of evaporated milk. I chose to make this dessert the hard way because I desperately needed that distraction. All the hard work and toil finally paid off when both the husband and the daughter completely loved this frozen treat. The delighted expression on Purvi's face was testimonial enough that this dessert was a great success. To me, just looking at that delighted face was heart warming and truly blissful!! 


Mango kesar pista Kulfi recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 1hr+ freezing time
Serves- 8-10 people

Ingredients:
Full fat Milk- 1-1/4ltrs
Cream- 150ml
Condensed milk- 1 can
Rice flour- 1tbsp+3tbsp milk to dissolve
Almond meal- 3tbsp
Sugar- 4tbsp
Pulp of three medium sized mangos- approximately 2-2/12 cups
Saffron- 1/2 tsp saffron soaked in 2tsps of milk.
Green cardamom- 6-8 crushed to a fine powder
Chopped pistachios- 2tbsp

Method:
  • Mix the rice flour with 3tbsp of milk and set aside. 
  • Dissolve the saffron in 2tsps of warm milk and keep aside.
  • Take the milk in a thick bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame and allow the milk to simmer on a low flame, stirring from time to time till the milk is reduced to half the original quantity (approximately 600ml)
  • Stir in the rice flour mixture and cook till the mixture thickens. 
  • Turn off the heat and add the condensed milk, cream, almond meal, sugar, saffron mixture, cardamom powder and mango pulp and mix well to combine.
  • Stir in the chopped pistachios, mix well and pour the kulfi mixture into the moulds and freeze overnight or till it sets.
  • To unmould, allow the kulfi to thaw outside the refrigerator for a few mins, then insert a skewer or a fork into the center of kulfi to pull it out.
  • Serve it as is or along with some slivered almonds on the top.
Notes:
  • I had to use sugar because the mangos were not very sweet. If the mangos that you are using is sweet enough, then the quantity of the sugar can be reduced or omitted altogether.
  • The milk can be substituted with evaporated milk to assemble the kulfi quickly.
  • The rice flour can be substituted with equal quantity of corn starch.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Akkitari upittu or Kadubu- steamed cream of rice dumplings


I happend to compose this post during the last week of July. But before I could complete it, I got so involved with the festival preparations, Purvi's school and other things, that hitting the "publish" button took a back seat. I was so consumed with other non-food related activities, that I did not realize the month of August pass by. As I am typing this post, I feel that September is in a hurry to whizz away well.


Now coming to where I had left off, The Akkitari Kadubu is a classic Kannada dish  that is almost like Upma. Only, it is twice cooked. First, the cream of rice is cooked with the tempering till it reaches the Upma consistency and then it is shaped in small balls and steam cooked for the second time.




The akki tari Upma and Kadubu tastes best if made with Avarekaalu or Hyacinth beans. If hyacinth beans are not available, then it can be substituted with equal amount of peas, pigeon peas or vegetables like carrot and french beans. 


This delicious mildly sweet and mildly spicy dish almost always takes me back to the village that I had visited as a little girl. I must have been eight or nine years old when we visited this quaint little village called EG halli (halli means village in Kannada). The purpose of our trip to this village was to see my paternal grand father's elder brother. I remember he was 90 plus years old and he was living in a rustic old mansion like house. Apart from that, I remember there were these teenage girls who used  travel to a town nearby to attend school. To me, that was an astonishing fact. Because, Prior to that, I had never heard of kids traveling to a different place just to attend school. Apart from this, one memory that has really stuck in my mind is the memory of the Akki tari kadubu that the lady of the house had made for us. The aroma of the avarekaalu (hyacinth bean) and clarified butter had sent my senses spinning. I think that was the moment when a upma hater like me turned into a Upma lover. Even after all these years, the scene of the Upittu being cooked on a rustic chulha (the brick and mortar stove) is still vivid in my mind. 


It's funny how you connect food with a particular time and place. Chances are, If it wasn't for this Akki tari KAdubu, I wouldn't have remembered this village or the rustic mansion or the grand old man who lived there. Do you have a food memory? IS there a dish from your childhood that takes you back to that time and place? Let me know in the comment section.



Akkitari upittu or Kadubu recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Akki tari or Cream of rice- 120gm or 1 cup
Togari kaalu or pigeon peas- 1 cup, par boiled
Oil or ghee- 2tbsp
Mustrard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp, coarsely crushed
Bengal gram or chana dal- 1tsp
Black gram or Urad dal- 1tsp
Asafetida- a large pinch
Curry leaves- 8-10
Green chili- 1, finale chopped
Water- 2-1/2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Freshly grated Coconut- 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves- 3-4 tbsp


Method:
  • Dry roast the cream of rice till fragrant (don not let it turn brown) and set aside to cool.
  • Heat oil or ghee in thick bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds.
  • Once it sputters add the crushed cumin seeds, channa dal, urad dal and fry till the lentils are brown.
  • Add the asafetida, curry leaves and green chilies and fry till the curry leaves are crisp.
  • Add two and a half cups of water and allow the water to bring to a gentle boil. At this point, stir in the par boiled pigeon peas, coconut and the roasted cream of rice. Mix well and cook covered on low heat for 5-10mins or till the liquid is completely absorbed.
  • Add the coriander leaves and take off the heat.
  • Wet your hands in cold water and scoop out ping pong sized balls of the upittu and shape them into balls.
  • Arrange the balls in a greased pan and steam bake the upittu for 5-10 in a pressure cooker.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the dumplings to cool for five mins. Serve hot with ghee and chutney of your choice.
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