Monday, October 29, 2007

Indo Chinese Vegetable Noodles.


Indochinese dishes are the ones prepared using the Chinese cooking methods using the Indian ingredients, a fusion , accepted by most of the Indians world wide.

Vegetable Chow mein or noodles is my kids’ favourite, preferred any time of the day.As they are pure vegetarians( not allowed to stir in eggs either ;)..I go chop chopping the veggies...and once this part is done, the preparatory becomes simple and interesting.

Here’s my version of it..

To serve 4;

You need:

Noodles –a 200gm pack -I used Savorit Brand which is 100% veg.
Oil-to coat the cooked noodles-a tbsp
Oil you prefer-3 tbsps
Onion-one-sliced thin lengthwise
Carrots-julienned-1/2cup
Cabbage-shredded-1/2cup
Capsicum-julienned-1/2 cup
Ginger-minced or julienned-a tbsp
Garlic-3 cloves-minced or julienned
Soy sauce-a tbsp-more or less
Green chilly sauce-2 tsps-more or less
Aji-no-moto-1/4 tsp
Salt-to taste
White pepper powder-1/4 tsp
Spring onions-chopped- to garnish

To cook the noodles:


Boil a litre of water in a large pan.Add salt.When it bubbles and swirls, add noodles.Reduce the flame to medium and close the pan with a lid.Cook for 4-5 minutes or until they are ‘just’ soft.Take care not to over cook.The cooking time depends upon the quality of the noodles and the softness of the water.Drain the noodles to discard the water completely.Keep the noodles along with the drainer under a running tap of cold water.Drain the cold water and add a tbsp of oil and mix it along gently using your fingers,as the noodles must have turned cold by now.This helps to keep the strands separate and glossy.

Preparation:

Heat 3tbsps of oil in a large wok,sauté onions for a few seconds, add ginger, garlic and sauté again.Now add the vegetables(carrot, cabbage and capsicum)and sauté for 2-3 minutes, keeping the flame high.(This is imp when it comes to chinese method of cooking).Let the vegetables be crisp or just cooked and not too soft.
Add the soy and chilly sauces, aji-no-moto and mix well to the vegetables.Add the cooked noodles and mix altogether.Sprinkle pepper powder and check salt.Garnish with spring onions and serve hot with Gobi  Manchurian Mushroom Munchurian any Indochinese sidedish.


The first picture is my entry to Click, the very own event hosted by Jai and Bee.

This is also my submission to Margot of Coffee & Vanilla who is hosting Vegetarian Awareness Month.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Spice Mix for a Spoonful of Christmas...


It had been quite a surprising discovery that a cute girl residing in Sweden has almost the same tastes of that of a lady who dwells in South India!!.The resemblances of these ladies are the love for chillies, spices, care for their sisters and more..So what if comes, if these attributes blend?...Care for the sisters, love for the spice mixes and sending them over as a gift?..

After having seen and read about the awesome Monday Spice Series , the collection of spice mixes, which the Swedish girl had prepared personally and gifted her sister for her wedding, the idea had been brewing up in me which had eventually turned out to reality now.


Even in her early teens my sister preferred homemade spice mixes and would remark,"when I start cooking, I am never going to get the store bought masalas or powders and will see to it that I make them personally, unadulterated!".

This is my gift to Nags , for her love of fresh spices ; my submission to A Spoonful of Christmas hosted by the sweet Zlamushka .

Sambhar masala or Sambhar powder had earned me the "greatest hit credit" among all the recipes blogged so far; the simple reason of choosing this ingredient to be gifted..



The recipe to make this "spice mix" is here and the "curry" which can be made out of this powder is here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

RCI-Varalakshmi Vratham...

A day for Ladies, with the yellow sacred threads, kumkum, flowers and the Kalasam with the face of the Goddess atop, decorated with jewellery and flowers is a never to miss sight.Offerings or Neivedyam like white payasams, tamarind rice and some traditional sweets are made for the goddess Varalakshmi along with the offerings of fruits, coconuts and betel leaves and nuts.Pushparchanai or flower offerings is done along with the sacred Ashtothram chants with the 108 names of the Goddess!. The day falls on a Friday, every year according to the Tamil Calendar.



I had posted about Varalaksmi vratham a few weeks back, giving importance to Arisi Upma or Raw rice Upma.Find the recipe and details here.

In this post, let me add along the recipe for the Dosai and the accompanying Chutney which were again the part of the main menu for the day..

Pacharisi / Raw rice dosai.

Fermentation for the Iddly or Dosa batter requires 8 to 10 hours in normal room tempature of 25-30deg C. Parboiled rice and Urad dal in the ratio 4:1 is generally used for the purpose.

When it comes to the day of "vrutham", raw rice(pacharisi)becomes the substitute.Fermentation is avoided as it is considered “making ready the previous evening”and believed to be “unfit”!!.
Therefore the soaking is done early in the morning for an hour on the same day and ratio for the raw rice and the urad dal would be 2:1 so as to acquire preferably a “softer” output :)..

Ingredients:

Yeilds 10-12 medium dosas

Raw rice -1cup
Urad dal-1/2 cup
Salt-to taste.
Oil, you prefer,(use fresh and unused)-for making dosas

Method:

Soak together, rice and dal for an hour and a half.Grind it to a smooth batter using the required amount of water,just as you prepare the normal idly or dosa batter.
.Spread the batter on the hot tawa, meant for making dosas. Let the dough be slightly watery .Pour along in a circular way and avoid spreading into flat circles using the back side of the round ladle as you make the normal dosas.Just “pour” round and it spreads itself.Take care to fill the gap and resemble a dosa J..Flip over and cook the other side.Try to make soft and whiter dosas as this batter has the chance for making dosas harder.So avoid overcooking on the griddle or keep on flipping over and over.


Kadalai paruppu / Bengal gram dhal Chutney.

Ingredients:

Serves 2-3

Kadalai paruppu/bengal gram dhal-1/2 cup
Red chillies-4-5 or according to your preference
Oil for roasting-2 tsps
Oil for tempering-1 tsp
Mustard seeds and urad dal-1/4 tsp each
Kayam/hing-1/4 tsp
Curry leaves-a few
Salt-to taste

Method:

Heat oil for roasting in a kadai.Roast the dhal till unform golden colour.add the chillies and fry for a few seconds.Remove from fire,transfer contents to a flat dish and cool.Grind with salt adding enough water.See the picture for the consistency.Heat oil and temper using the mustard seeds and urad dal.Add hing and curry leaves.Pour it over the chutney and serve with the above hot dosas.Do not attempt to heat up the chutney.

Sambhar was also prepared, with pumpkin pieces in it. I am not going in depth with the recipe of Sambhar here as Viji had requested us to avoid regular sambhars or rasams :).

The recipe is already posted here.
The only difference with the sambhar recipe is that, onions are avoided for the day or on any such auspicious days.

The food is served on a banana leaf soon after the morning poojas and women generally skip lunch or dinner as they observe fasting for the day..

This goes to RCI-Tamil festivals hosted by Viji of vcuisine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fantastic Four Meme...

The Yum girl, Lakshmi, has tagged me for a Fantastic Four Meme.Thank you Lakshmi.

I prefer posting the memes separately without the recipes, attached.

(Whispering the reality- Simply can't overcome the recent laziness to blog recipes) :)

So please bear with me to come up with "a recipe less Meme".


Here Goes:

4 Places I've lived

  • Alappuzha (Kerala, India)-infancy,
  • Kottayam (Kerala, India)-childhood till marriage,
  • Thanjavur(T.N, India)-After Marriage,
  • Now residing in a town of T.N- Totally Nailed-Settled for the rest of my life.

4 Jobs I've had

Ambitions- Reality

  • Pursue education- Sacred Knot
  • Specialisation-Nutrition & Dietetics- Jr Chef
  • PhD Nutrition & Dietetics- Sr Chef
  • A decent job outside India-Mom of 2 ; a complete housewife.


4 Favourite places I've holidayed

  • Swiss-Grindelwald and Lucern in particular.I believe Swiss is heaven on earth.


  • London- the architectural beauty and elevation of its historical buildings, the charming and the friendly English.


  • Venice-the beautiful water body linking almost every where, the Gondolas, reminds me of "Vallam" and my ancestral Alappuzha(the Venice of the East).


  • U.S-Florida-the ultimate Disney world, magical Newyork, Las vegas for gambling and Buffalo for the mystique Niagara.

4 Favourite foods

Have a broader outlook here, as brought up in such a way, "not to ignore any food"..

To quote 4..

  • Anything related to "Kerala Cuisine"-Kappa puzhukku and meen mulaku arachathu topping the list.
  • Amma's and Granny's-Anything they cook(chocolate cake and vattipulusu to mention respectively ).
  • Kothamalli Thuvaiyal- by my ma in law...and only hers.
  • Ammayi's(her mom's) cooking-She had been my teacher for cooking..as V had been brought up by her food tastes!.

4 Favourite places I'd rather be

  • A couple of days relaxing in a slowly drifting House boat in Kumarakom which stops now and then to load the fresh catches of Pearl spots and baby mussels and getting cooked hot in the house boat kitchen, and me nibbling karimeen pollichathu, kakkayirachi ularthiyathu.. with a cool can of coke.
    V and kids can very well join in, if they can tolerate the stink aroma :D..
  • Can spend even hours gazing at the crystal clear snow fed river flowing down up from the mountains amidst the fragrant flowers, the smell of the fresh green grass..deeply inhaling the fresh air.
  • My bed room cum home theatre, watching my favourite movie(uninterrupted till finish),with surround sound speaker effects,..V and kids can join, as long as they don't bother me .. :D..
  • Parents' place in Good old Kottayam..receiving pampers..eating all the favourites..with siblings..where I can be as I am..:)..of course back to V, with extra pounds.. :)..

4 Bloggers I like to tag

Friday, October 12, 2007

Egg so cool!...



Not "a-so-good -photographer", not a proud owner of a fine model cam,
Just a spirit to be a part ; not an yearn for success...
A shot so casual with not much preparation, a single shot for participation...
....to pamper the great interest in the art of "Photography"...

Three cheers to Jai and Bee for initiating this great event of "Click"!!


Still not feeling confident to take part??..Well this is for you..:)

Time to celebrate too!! Happy Ramzan!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chakka Varatti/Jack fruit Preserve.

The game is over..and lemme shake hands with bee (who came up with the first right guess),tbc, remya and sumitha who had also guessed right! It was really nice to scroll down the varied guesses ... most of them associating their imaginations with their own regional, traditional sweets..that was the sweetest of you too...:)

Soon after finishing editing this post I was unusually prompted to search the versions of the same in blogosphere.I did find a few fine recipes of Chakka varatti, but very few in all, which made me realise that this is certainly a ‘not-so-common delicacy’, of Kerala Of course, which has yet to be tried by the bloggers..

Being aware of the “hard” reality that this is not “easy” as it sounds…in other words,”beware! my dear friends this is not as easy to prepare as you read through!:)..”..I had less confidence when it came to ‘trying-for-the-first-time’ and kept postponing until I got the right ally; my Mom!!...

Together we started chopping the ripe fruit bulbs, which was not an easy job..(she was particular ‘not’ to churn up in a mixer and wanted the tiny bits undissolved in the end product!), and proceeded to the other ingredients.’Coconut’ was avoided as we prefer without them.The mixing part was done alternatively by her and me in a 7 lt Prestige pressure cooker body.Supposed to be done in Uruli but we avoided that too as it might bring the hazard of spurting all over while boiling the fruit mixture.
After about 1 ½ hours of exertion, we came up with a kilogram of the real traditional Chakka Varatti!!!...it tasted great and was worth the effort!..

So here is the recipe…

Ingredients:
Yielded 1kg, Time to prepare 1 1/2 hrs :D..

Ripe jack fruit bulbs-chopped-6 cups(we used Varikka chakka which is preferred.Refrain from Koozha chakka as it tends to be more fibrous).
Jaggery-crushed to smaller lumps-3 cups
(If weighed, jaggery should not be less than half the weight of the fruit)
Ghee-1 ½ cups
Cardamom powder-a tsp or to flavour as you please

Method:

Pressure cook the jack fruit pieces in 3/4 cup of water until 4-5 whistles.In the mean time, melt jaggery in ½ cup of water till it becomes slightly thick.Filter impurities and add on to cooked fruit.Bring to a boil,this mixture and keeping the flame medium, keep on stirring….on and on.. adding half the quantity of ghee while stirring ..on and on..:)..continuously …( go for a long handled ladle with a flat end so that to have your hands safe from the hot splutters when the pulp boils and bubbles over)…stirring on and on...:).almost .for an hour and a half..:)..till it spreads a wonderful aroma and rolls out to a dark soft ball leaving the edges of the vessel.Add the remaining ghee and mix well along with the cardamom powder.
The darker the hue,the richer the taste and longer the shelf life of the preserve.

The three pictures here represent the stages of preparation in half an hour intervals.

Chakka pradhaman(the diluted payasam with the addition of coconut milk) , Chakka ilayappam(steamed dumplings with the fruity filling, wrapped in banana leaves)and Kumbil appam(steamed in Bay leaves as cones....to be posted soon) are mostly prepared using the above Chakka varatti/chakka vilayichathu as the base ingredient.

May-2007
Jai & Bee of Jugalbandi announced JFI-Jack fruit.Unfortunately I could not be a part of their fabulous round up as I had been away, holidaying.

I dedicate this post to you Bee..

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Guess the food in the bowl!...

Never been up with a guess game so far!..:D..Can you guess the food in the picture?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kozhukkattai and Paruppu payasam for Vinayaka Chathurthi.




Ganesha is the first to be worshipped, whenever we start anything hoping to go well.He in turn relieves us from the difficulties and solves our problems.

Vinayaka Chathurthi is celebrated in the month of Avani on chaturthi (4th) day which comes after the new moon.

As always, I headed to the kadai veedhi, the previous evening to get the Mun Pillayar/Clay Ganesha, yerukkampoo malai , arukam pullu, vilampazham, and the other fruits, the decorations like thennanthoranam, vazhaikkannu, chandanam and kumkumam.Then with the last minute shopping of vellam, yelakkai and the milk packs. The Mavilai thoranam was put up from leaves of the front yard mango tree and the pooja room was made the previous evening.

On the day of Vinayaka Chathurthi I prepared Kozhukkattais/Modakams and Pasipparuppu/Moong dal payasam as neivedyam.

Ing for the outer cover of the kozhukkattai :
(Yields 45-50 nos).

Raw rice powder is specially prepared for neivedyam a day ahead.Soak one kg ponni raw rice for half an hour in water.Drain and dry grind.
Rice powder prepared by the above method-2 cups
Water-2 ½ times of rice powder
Ghee-a tbsp
A fat pinch of salt

Ing for the Filling/Pooranam:

Freshly grated shavings from a medium sized coconut
Crushed jaggery-half the quantity of the grated coconut,loosely packed in a measuring cup.
Cardamom powder-to flavour
Fresh ghee-Atbsp(Reserve half of this to grease fingers and palms while making kozhukkattais) .

To prepare the Filling/Pooranam:

Heat half the tbsp of ghee in a non stick kadai.Add the grated coconut and the crushed jaggery together.Sauté for a few minutes to melt down the jaggery pieces and steam off the water content. Mix in Cardamom powder. Keep this aside.

To prepare the rice dough, the outer covering:

For the safer side, to avoid lumps, I suggest the less exp cooks like me to mix the rice powder with 2 ½ parts of water directly, in a round thick bottomed vessel.Add oil and transfer the vessel to the stove top in medium heat, bringing to to a boil stirring all the time.The dough soon thickens to form a soft ball.Close the vessel with its lid to enhance the final cooking for a few more minutes keeping the flame to minimum.Transfer the dough to an appropriate casserole.The warmer the dough, the easier to proceed.

To prepare the crescend shaped kozhukkattais:

I prefer making them with the “poori dough presser” as it has proved handy and easier for anyone who has to proceed single handed.

I line the presser up and down with two square pieces of polythene sheets, sticking up and down again with drops of ghee and grease the sheets on the outer side as well.

Now, smear a few drops of ghee to your palms and finger tips. Take out a handful of warm rice dough from the casserole and roll them evenly into small lime sized smooth balls.

Keep one ball in the centre and press lightly to form a poori sized shape.Place the filling on the lower half, in a linear way.

Fold carefully and press the edges lightly.Let your fingers be always greased with ghee so as to avoid any sticking of dough to the finger tips.

Arrange them, steam cook for 10 minutes and you are done!.



Pasipparuppu / Moong dal payasam.
(Yields 4-5 glasses)

Ingredients:

Lightly dry roasted split moong dal-1/2 cup
Jaggery ball-1 medium-Crush to smaller lumps
Milk(boiled cow’s milk or fresh coconut milk)-a large cup
Raw rice-a tbsp
Coconut gratings-1/4 cup
Salt-a fat pinch
Cardamom powder- to flavour
A few cashews roasted in a tbsp of ghee-to garnish

Method:

1. Wash and soak raw rice in cold water for ½ an hour.Drain and grind well with coconut in a mixie, to a smooth paste, adding water.Keep aside.

2. In a pan, boil the jaggery lumps with ¼ cup of water.Melt down the lumps.Boil for a few more minutes to attain honey consistency.Cool and filter impurities.Keep aside.

3. Boil 2 large cups of water in a heavy bottomed broad vessel.Add roasted moong dal. Keep the flame medium to avoid boiling over, stirring in between.

4. When 3/4th cooked, stir in the jaggery syrup.Let it boil well and after a few minutes stir in the rice and coconut paste.Stir continuously in medium flame to avoid lumps and bring to a boil.

5. The payasam might have got thicker by now.Add salt.

6. Add milk to attain the right consistency and boil again stirring all the time.Add cardamom powder and remove from fire.If you add coconut milk, add in the final stage and let not the payasam boil too much.

7. Add even more milk if you like the diluted version as the payasam tends to get even thicker once it cools down.

8. Garnish with roasted cashews along with its ghee.

This is specially posted for dear "Lathamma" of Yum Blog for her Festival Cooking Series.

Also my submission to RCI-Tamil festivals hosted by Viji of vcuisine.

My daughter gave me a helping hand in decorating Ganesha and rolling out the rice balls, of course in between her to and fro runs to the T.V front, not wanting to miss the spl programmes aired on the day...:D

Monday, October 1, 2007

JFI-Vazhakkai Pattinam Varuval / Crispy fried Raw Plantains.


My severe hunt for the ripe bananas ended a sad demise as they are totally 'off' season here.I had always watched with envy and awe, the heavy trucks of T.N loaded with bananas heading to Kerala, where bananas are abundant, raw and ripe, year round, and me hunting for the same in the source point!!.I had wanted so much to whip up something with the ‘real fruit’ and now left with no other choice than the raw plantains.

All I know about this raw plantain dish is that it originated from the villages of Tamil Nadu.Purely authentic, this is seen to be disappearing from the dining tables of the state!.Pattinam means a town or a city and Varuval meaning fry....and that's how the villagers have named you see..:)..
As the most of the recipes, I learned this easy to make dish from my ma in law.


This goes to JFI- Banana hosted by Mandira of Ahaar.

You need:

Raw plantain-2 nos
Red chillies-7 nos- broken to 3 pieces each
Refined oil-1/2 cup.(Oh yes, please be liberal)
Turmeric Powder-1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds-1/4 tsp
Urad dal-1 tsp
Dry Curry leaves-A sprig(optional)
Salt-to taste.

Method:

!. Remove the outer green skin using the peeler.Cut into small even sized cubes of 1cm each.Boil water in a pan adding salt and turmeric powder.Transfer the pieces to it.The water level should be just above the pieces and drain them when the water just boils and whirls round and they are ‘just’ cooked.Do not overcook.

2. Heat oil in a wide non stick kadai.Splutter mustards.Add the urad dal.Immediately add the boiled plantain cubes.(the urad dal aquires the deep brown colour during the whole process and you need not wait for them to get roasted while tempering).

3. Turn the pieces gently while getting roasted in the kadai every 3 minutes, keeping the flame steady to ‘medium’. They generally ‘drink’ oil quite well and within 10 minutes the oil must have been all absorbed!At this stage, they are half roasted, add the broken red chilly bits.Toss again and add the dried curry leaves(chillies and curry leaves are not added while tempering and are added half way to avoid getting over browned).Check salt.

4. After about 10 minutes the pieces would have turned golden brown and crisp.Toss and remove from fire.

Serve hot with Rice and ‘vengaya sambhar’ or Rice and ‘vathal kuzhambu’…of course without counting the calories!:D..