16 Mar 2017

Sivappu Arisi Sarkarai Pongal

Hi everyone,

"When life is sweet, say thankyou and Celebrate. When life is Bitter, say thankyou and Grow"

Not trying to be philosophical but for some reason this particular line stayed in my memory. I saw this in one of the bookshop windows a few years back. This best part about this statement is that we forget to celebrate when we feel blessed but make sure to crib/whine/get angry and frustrated when things don't go our way.

Probably this fast moving world has made us forget the small things that have a positive impact in our everyday life but we hang on to the negative things, burden ourselves mentally and emotionally and turn the whole situation bitter. Sweet pongal/payasam especially rice based are my ultimate comfort food. The process of making these sweet dishes, the flavours, textures and aroma of the finished dish in itself is so therapeutic.

This recipe calls for red raw rice and coconut milk with a mild ginger and cardamom flavour. It is a simple way to include other rice varieties [other than the usual raw rice] in our diet.

For the recipe
Red raw rice: 1 cup [washed]
Moong dal: 1/4 cup
Jaggery: 1 cup
Water: 1/4 cup
Coconut milk [strained first]: 1 cup
Coconut milk [strained second]: 2 cups
Coconut milk [strained third]: 2 cups
Cardamom powder : 1/2 tsp
Ginger : 1 inch piece
Edible camphor: 1 pinch
Saara paruppu [chironji or charoli in hindi]: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 2 tbsp

1.Bring the water to a boil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the jaggery and stir until everything is dissolved. Remove from flame and set aside.
2.Heat a pressure cooker on medium flame. Roast the moong dal for a couple of minutes until a nice aroma emanates, Add the washed rice, ginger, cardamom powder and coconut milk [second and third strained]. Close the lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Put off the flame.
3.Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a small pan and roast the saara paruppu. Set aside. Filter the jaggery syrup and mix the edible camphor in the syrup.
4.Once the pressure in the cooker subsides, open the lid and mash the rice dal mix slightly. Place the cooker on medium flame. Add the jaggery syrup little by little and mix well.
5. Once the jaggery syrup has been absorbed into the rice dal mix, add the roasted saara paruppu and the remaining ghee and mix well. Switch off the flame.
6.Let the pongal cool for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk [first strained] and mix gently.

Serve warm or cold.

1.The amount of liquid required [wether using water, milk or coconut milk] is determined by the age of the rice. I had used new rice which requires less water. If you are using old rice, then increase the liquid amount by 1 cup to the already given ratio.

2. Instead of coconut milk you can use regular milk or just water. If using milk or water, add all the liquid into the pressure cooker to cook the rice dal mixture.

3.Feel free to use cashew and raisin instead of saara paruppu.

4.You can also add 2-3 tbsp of fresh scraped coconut to the rice dal mix and continue to make the pongal. 

Scribbled by Reva

21 Nov 2016

Sambhar Podi - Tamil Style

Hi everyone ..

This post is special as this is the first time I am grinding sambhar podi at home. All this time it used to come from my MIL's place or a small store in Salem. I am more used to making "Arachu vitta Sambhar", a recipe which asks for fresh ground masala paste everytime.

I have not bothered with grinding the podi at home until now. I don't have any special reason for not trying to grind sambhar podi at home except  that it was conveniently available at hand in packets.

So the search started for a simple recipe [google leads the way ..]. I was stunned to see so many recipes for sambhar podi with so many variations right from Chettinad variety to Iyengar style. One recipe was intriguing from "Kannammacooks" blog which was "Tamil Style". Just like the name the ingredient list was also intriguing.

I decided to give it a  try. Thankfully I had done the monthly shopping for the cupboard ingredients already, so making the sambhar podi was done an dusted in an hour's time. For the below given ingredient content you will get around 200 to 220 gms of sambhar podi.

I added 2 sprigs of curry leaves along with the other ingredients. This is purely optional but I felt it adds a nice aroma to the podi.

For the Sambhar podi : Recipe  source kannammacooks
Red chillies: 20 [long ones]
Coriander seeds: 1/2 cup
Thuvar dal: 1/4 cup
Rice: 2tbsp
Cumin : 3 tbsp
Fennel seeds: 1 tsp
Black pepper: 2tbsp
Fenugreek seeds: 2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Poppy seeds: 2 tsp
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs [washed and dried]
Tumeric [whole]: 2
Asafoetida powder: 2 tsp
Gingelly oil : 1 tsp

1.Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add 1 tsp of gingelly oil. Add the red chillies and saute on low flame. Once the red chillies start swelling a bit, take the pan off the flame and transfer the chillies onto a plate.

2.Keep the same pan [the one used to roast the red chillies] on low flame. Roast the coriander seeds first until they become fragrant which will take a minute or two. Transfer the coriander seeds onto a plate.

3.Roast the thuvar dal,rice and curry leaves together for a minute followed by the rest of the ingredients [except if you are using tumeric powder instead of whole tumeric]. Transfer all the roasted ingredients onto the plate that has the roasted coriander seeds

4.Cool all the roasted ingredients. Grind everything together to a powder. Transfer the ground powder onto a plate and let it cool. Store in an air-tight container.

How to use: Add 2 tbsp of sambhar podi to simmering tamarind onion base and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the cooked thuvar dal and vegetables. Not sure how that is done, "Pumpkin Sambhar" to follow..

 If you don't have whole dried tumeric,add 1 tsp of tumeric powder to the sambhar podi in the end and mix.
For the best results [taste wise] make sure all the ingredients are as fresh and clean as possible. Take care when roasting the ingredients especially the red chillies and the coriander seeds. If you let these two ingredients roast a bit longer than needed where they turn dark brown, it will spoil the taste of the podi completely.

It is always a good idea to make the podi in small batches as this helps in retaining the freshness and flavour of the product.

Enjoy ...

7 Nov 2016

Cherry Clafouti

Festive season is about to begin and very soon the blogging world is going to be flooded with all sorts of festive / party food recipes. Most of them are labour intensive but some are a breeze to whip up. The other day the Indian store where I purchase my groceries had a big basket of ripe cherries.

The red ripe colour of the cherries was actually calling out to everyone "Somebody make a yummy dessert out of me".Even though I bought the cherries I had no idea as to what to do with literally a kilo of cherries. Google guru showed the way ..

Clafouti is one of the great classics french cuisine. This classic dessert has ripe cherries baked in luxuriously smooth custard sauce. Ingredients are few and the recipe sounded simple. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season. The cherries are cooked unpitted, so their kernels release their delicate almond flavour as they bake. Present day preparations go for pitted cherries which makes it easier to eat.

One of the Clafouti recipe [Joy of Baking] listed some tips for selecting the cherries for this classic dessert. The cherries have to bright shiny red, plump, firm with their stems still attached. There are also suggestions of using other fruits like apples, pears, peaches, blackberries etc.

Unsalted butter :2 tbsp
Ripe cherries: 300 gms [washed and stoned]
Plain flour: 65 gms
Eggs [large]: 2
Milk: 180 mls
Granulated sugar: 70 gms
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract : 1/2 tsp
Icing sugar [for dusting] : 1-2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Reserve 1 tbsp of the granulated sugar. Mix the rest of the sugar, flour, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and baking powder to a smooth batter. Grease a 25 cms round baking dish with some butter [reserve some]. Sprinkle the baking dish with the reserved granulated sugar.

Arrange the cherries [which have been cut in half and stoned] in the baking dish with the cut surface resting in the buttered baking dish. Place the dish in the heated oven for 5-6 minutes until the cherries have softened. Remove the dish from the oven. Pour the batter slowly into the dish over the cherries until they are covered. Dot the surface with the remaining butter. Bake for around 30 to 35 mins until golden and puffy.

Let the clafouti cool to lukewarm. Cut into wedges, dust with icing sugar and serve.


28 Oct 2016

Gulab Jamun

இனிய தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் .. Wishing everyone a Very Happy Deepavali .. 

I am sure everyone is busy with Deepavali preparations. I miss Coimbatore especially during festivals - hours of clothes shopping amidst the frantic crowd, matching accessories for the clothes, sweet and savoury preparations, cleaning and decorating the house, early morning oil bath on deepavali, meeting friends, visiting temple and so on..

God ! I miss the excitement.

Preparing sweets and savouries at home is an adventure [to say the least].There are a lot of things that can actually pose a challenge when it comes to home preparation - Space, time, patience,getting the right consistency, storing the eatables and above all the "health of the person" who knows it all ..

Traditionally, most of the sweets and savouries took days of preparation right from soaking the rice to grinding to making the sugar syrup to the final product. Nowadays we can find ready mixes in the super market isle right from jamun to payasam to murukku. It is an easy option out but home-made is the best.

Having said that my favourite sweet shops in Coimbatore are way too many - Sri Krishna Sweets in Ramanathapuram. Their "Mysore-Pak and Badusha" is to die for, A1 chips "Coconut milk Murukku and Oppitu [otherwise known as poli]", Adyar Aanada bhavan "Milk sweets" and Nellai Lala for their "Mixtures and Halwas".

Ever since I stared blogging I try to make sweets at home. Many a times the supposed to be sweets have turned out to be complete diasters but I am getting the hang of it now.

Gulab jamuns are the most easiest of sweets that can be made at home. There are so many variations to make gulab jamun from scratch. I have used milk powder in this recipe but you can also try with koya [milk solids] to make them. If you are one of those who have used the ready-made mix Gulab jamun mix to make these sweet dumplings, you should try making them with milk powder.

They are so soft, soaked in sugar syrup, delicately scented with rose water and cardamoms that they melt in the mouth.

For the sugar syrup
Castor sugar: 2 cups
Water: 1 and 1/2 cup
Cardamom pods: 8-10
Rose water: 2 tsp

In a heavy bottom vessel add sugar, water and cardamom pods. Let this bubble for around 8-10 mins in medium heat until you get a syrup consistency [when you touch the sugar syrup between your index finger and thumb, you will get a sticky consistency]. Be careful not to over boil the syrup to one string consistency. Remove from heat, mix the rose water in the syrup and keep the syrup warm 

For the Gulab Jamun:
Milk powder: 1 cup
Maida: 1/4 cup.
Curd: 2 tbsp
Milk: 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Bicarbonate of soda: 1 small pinch
Salt: 1 pinch
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Oil: for frying

Mix milk powder, maida, salt and bicarbonate of soda. In a small cup mix the milk and curd and set aside. Add the ghee to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly followed by the milk-curd mixture. Bring everything together to a smooth dough. Wet your palms a little with the milk and make small balls from the dough. The surface of the balls should be smooth without any cracks.

Fry the jamuns in small batches of 4-5 until they are golden  brown. Remove them from the oil and immerse them in the sugar syrup immediately. Fry all the dough balls and soak them in sugar syrup. Once done, transfer them into a seperate container and store in a cool dry place.

Getting the syrup consistency is crucial - it should be sticky and not string consistency.
Make the jamun balls of smaller size so that they cook evenly when frying and soak up the syrup completely.
The temperature of the oil should be medium meaning a batch of 4-5 dough balls will approximately take 4-5 minutes to attain golden brown colour.
The dough should be smooth edging on sticky. If required add 1tsp of milk to the dough.

Have a very happy deepavali everyone ..

Happy cooking


29 Sep 2016

Beetroot Oats Delight

Hi all,

Its been a long time since I've posted something on my blog. Just when you plan for a photo-shoot or cook a recipe or write a new post for the blog something goes wrong. Talk about timing sense!!

Food blogging has led the way to virtually connect with like minded people [age / place / nationality no bar] which is an immense learning experience in every aspect. Krishnakumari Jayakumaar is one such person who I've come across through this blogging world.

Her recipes are very simple and straight forward that even a novice cook can whip up in no time at all. Her recipes are health based relying heavily on traditional rice and millet varieties. She also hosts "Arokiya Unnavu" in Jaya TV every week. Beetroot is one of the most under-utilised veggie and I am sure most of you will agree. The following recipe is hers which transforms beets and oats into small balls of delight. Yes, you must believe me as even my 3 year old son enjoyed these without any fuss. That is your proof as to how tasty these kola urundais are.

Ma'am, thanks for this wonderful recipe, we enjoyed it immensely.

My daughter had these with some thick curd and sliced onions which was a good combo with the sweet beets. The recipe calls for very simple ingredients - beets , oats, spice powders and coriander leaves. The only alteration I made was I didn't steam the beets as the original recipe calls for and added a bit of curry leaves. These balls lightly crisp up on the outside but remain very soft on the inside and they are indeed a delight to enjoy with your evening tea.

Next time I am planning to make the mixture and freeze them for a mid week snack.

Beets Oats Delight
Beetroot : 3 medium sized [peeled and shredded]
Oats : 1 cup
Onion: 1 medium [peeled and chopped finely]
Ginger paste: 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves : a few [chopped finely]
Coriander leaves: a few [chopped finely]
Chilli powder : 1 teaspoon
Garam masala : 1 teaspoon
Salt : to taste
Oil : enough for shallow

Pulse the oats [for 2 seconds] just to break it down. Mix the shredded beets and chopped onions with a bit of salt and rest for 10 minutes. Squeeze the excess water out. Mix all the ingredients well, cover and rest for 10 minutes. This is the allow the oats to absorb the moisture. Roll the mixture into small balls. Meanwhile heat a bit of oil in a shallow frying pan on medium flame. Shallow fry the balls in batches which will take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes. Drain them on absorbent tissue. Serve with some ketchup or coriander chutney.

I used regular cooking oats. I used the water squeezed from the beets for a soup I made later that day. I avoided steam cooking the  beets as they just as fine when they are raw. Go ahead and steam them if you wish to.If you find that the mixture is a bit runny after adding all the ingredients, add a tablespoon of oats to the mixture. Rest for 10 minutes and roll the balls

Happy cooking everyone,

Scribbled by Reva

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