Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Arusuvai ~ The dormant chain wakes up! Yet another Season to Celebrate!

I still can't believe it's been three years since the start of the Arusuvai friendship chain, the healthy and long chain which extended to many food bloggers of the time in India and abroad.

The final round up of the chain was done by Srivalli and me after about 5 months since it started and by the time we had a real bunch of enthusiastic Indian food bloggers whom we could loop up successfully.

The list of participants in India in 2007- '08


Lathamma- Renuka & Bharathy

Renuka - Srivalli & Arundati Rao

Bharathy - Lissie & Lakshmi

Srivalli - Anita & Kamini

Lissie- Rachel & Lathamma(back)

Lakshmi - Raaga & Nags

Nags - Bhags

Raaga - Nanditha Iyer

Rachel- Shella

Bhags - Kajal & Sukanya

Anita- Reeta & Deepshika

Shella- Priyadarshini & Aparna

Kamini- Nirmala & Perspective

Kajal- Priya Mahesh

Nirmala - Jayashree M

Arundati Rao - Deeba & Gaurav

Deeba - Miri

Aparna-Bindiya Singh

Deepshika-Gayathri H & Nanditha

Sukanya -SMN

SMN - Manidipa

Gaurav - Jayasree

Jayashree - Kamalika

Jayasree- Sunshinemom

Miri - Ramki

Perspective- Simran

Kamalika - DG

Priya Mahesh-Archana

Archana- Swati

Ramki- Divya

Sunshinemom - Arundathi


The chain had been sleeping ever since.

A few months back I got a message from a cheerful and an active blogger, Sayantani that she would be interested to activate the dormant chain. It took some time to get us into the track as I had been away to my home town and later when Sayantani got held up due to her personal reasons.

Finally, I sent along the secret ingredient to Sayantani, restarting the chain.
Read about her announcement post here.

Now we have to find interested bloggers in India to whom she can pass along.

So, friends, if you happen to reside in India and want to be a part of this friendship chain, please do not hesitate to leave a message in her post or down in my comment box. We will be happy to include you in the chain.

Know more about the chain, here, here and here

Cheers,
Bharathy :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vazhakkai Vathakkal / Stir-fried Raw Bananas



Vazhakkai Vathakkal is obviously the Tamil counterpart of Kerala's Kaya Mezhukkupuratti.
Raw Banana or Vazhakka comfortably takes its place majestically in varied forms on the lunch tables of both the states, being a much common backyard vegetable!

Vazhakkai vathakkal, a very easy to make side dish is the dry stir fried version which I make at least once a week, learnt from my ma in law, which is again a family favourite.



You need:

Vazhakkai/Raw banana- 2-3
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Sambhar powder(better option) or red chilly powder - 1tsp

To temper:

Oil- 1-2 tbsps
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Urad dhal-1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig




Peel the green skin of the raw bananas and immerse in a pan of water.This is to prevent the brown coloration of the peeled veggie.
Slice them into thin rounds (not too thin: say, slightly less than half cm each).Simultaneously boil a wide pan of water( 2 cups more or less, to immerse the slices comfortably) along with salt and turmeric powder. Throw in the slices as soon as you are done, boil for a few seconds and drain the slices from the hot water using a colander.Be careful not to over cook the pieces and see to it they are firm and half cooked. Be careful with the boiling water while you drain too :)

[Generally the slices are seasoned without the pre cooking part. I follow this method after my in laws as it demands lesser amount of oil].

Heat oil in a wide non stick kadai.Splutter mustard seeds, brown the urad dal, throw in the curry leaves and finally the pre cooked slices.Add the chilly/sambhar powder.Toss the slices. Check salt and toss once a minute.Let them get fried for 10-15 minutes in low flame until roasted and browned on both sides.Remove from fire and serve hot with rice and curry.



I used 2 tsps of idly milagai podi ;) instead of sambhar podi for this recipe which tasted great, for a change :)
I made this as an accompaniment to Inji Kuzhambu and seasoned dhal for lunch, today.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Break in Dubai and Egypt

I am just back after a wonderful holiday with my mom and brother in Dubai. Sis and me enjoyed the quality break in Egypt with our husbands :)
Here are a few pictures and experiences...

In Dubai


Sis suggested to try Sushi food.

We came across Yo! Sushi right in the mall we got her new camera :)

Ann posed happily for my click :)

Sis receiving the main food and yeah I enjoyed sushi immensely, trying for the first time :)



In Egypt

The Great Pyramids of Giza!


The Citadel of Cairo


the shawarma,

pita bread, hummus and felafel we had for lunch

We shopped later in the evening in the Khan al Khalili bazaar of Cairo.

Dried dates in baskets.

The Abu Simbel

and the Temple of Philae in Aswan are worth a visit!


A piece of agricultural land in Cairo

The art which really amazed sis and me.

These bottles were filled with coloured sand, manually with care using long spoons with much expertise.We spent a long time watching them doing it by the street sides and got a couple of them for ourselves :)

Our tour ended with a 3 day cruise in Nile. The greenery lining the river bank with desert in the back ground throughout was a new and refreshing experience.

This lady was making the traditional Egyptian flat bread, a few feet away from where our cruise was docked. She looked grim :) but was happy to see us shooting and offered hot bread even before she grabbed her pay for posing :)


The pizza stones she used.


The fermented dough


Rolls out one, shapes into a small flat bread


and places in the hot oven with a long wooden spatula.

She rolls out more




while waiting to get cooked


takes out


hot hot and offers us readily!


Sis and me enjoyed tearing them, hot and fresh, munching all the way till we reached the cruise :)

The largest temple in the world~ Karnak @ Luxor, was our last spot!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tomato Souffle ~ November's Savoury Punch!





We were excited to have 3 choices of recipes for the Punch this month. Chocolate mousse; with egg and eggless versions and Tomato Souffle.
I chose to carry on with Tomato Souffle as inclined towards the savoury side and preferred to take a break with baking chocolates for a while.

Like Maria, me too had associated souffles with sweet desserts rather than the whipped up egg whites, on the contrary, being incorporated with tomatoes and white sauce blending into a perfect concoction with a touch of difference!

I enjoyed every stage of it, tasting now and then and surprisingly found it tasted great all while the process of making ;).. try it, bet you can't help doing the same, often ;)


And here's the recipe source- adapted from Australian Women's Weekly via Marias menu

Yielded me 4 ramekins upto the brim

1. Bread Crumbs- 1/2 cup firmly packed

2. Butter- 45 gms (refer healthier version)
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Plain flour(maida)-2 tbsp
Milk- 1 cup

3. Tomato paste- 3 tbsp
Basil- 1 tbsp, finely chopped (this does give a unique extra Zing to the souffle and see to it you do NOT omit! :))

4. Eggs- 3, separated

5. Grated cheese- a handful ( I used cheddar)

Grease 4 souffle dishes (1/2 cup capacity), sprinkle with bread crumbs. Melt butter in small saucepan, add finely chopped onion. Stir over low heat for 2 mins (or MW on HIGH for about 2 mins). Cook until onion is soft, it doesn't have to becosme brown. Stir in flour and stir over medium heat for a minute (or MW on HIGH for a min). Remove from heat. gradually stir in milk, return to heat, stir over high heat until mixture boils and thickens and reaches a thick sauce like consistency (or MW on HIGH for about 3 mins).

Transfer to large bowl, stir in tomato paste and basil Leaves. Cover the dish and let it stand for 5 mins. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Add egg yolks to the onion and milk mixture and mix well. Fold the egg whites into the mixture in 2 batches. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared dishes. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until lightly browned.




I was getting excited to see souffle puffing up so well in the oven but a little disappointed, watching it settling down the next second, when the oven was put off. It looked golden brown while puffed up and had a deeper brown colour when the dome was lost.
Doubt I cooked them a little more than in Maria's :)




Healthier version: use brown bread crumbs and low fat milk. Also use yolks of only 2 eggs and white of 3 eggs. Use only lesser qty of butter.

Notes: The above qty serves 2 adults served with garlic bread or soup. You can use any oven safe dish to prepare this. The original recipe calls for no spices, but you can add crushed pepper while cooking onion, if you wish.

Substitute for tomato paste: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/312148



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diwali Greetings!




Wishing you all a very Happy & Prosperous Diwali !

May the blessings of Peace, Prosperity and Happiness be with you on Diwali and always!





Click here if you're eager to know how I made these cuties ;)