July 31, 2009

Keera (Cucumber) Halwa

I try to watch some of the cookery shows and this recipe was noted down during one of the telecasts of Mallika Badrinath. I missed the introduction part of the recipe. All I could gather was, this is a Mangalore special sweet and she in fact mentioned the traditional name of it, which sounded like a tongue twister to me. I had written in my book as Kheera sweet. I call it halwa now, because of the texture of the sweet. I am not sure if it has to be this way or not. A sweet is a sweet. I would like to know the real name of it from my readers.

On first bite, my husband said, it reminds him of Thiruvathirai kali. I too felt the same. May be its due to the common rice and jaggery mix. Anyways on to the recipe now.

You need

Medium sized cucumber- 1, peeled and grated
Powdered jaggery - 1 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 2 tblspoon
Roasted cashews for garnish

The orginal recipe says use raw rice. It has to be soaked for 2 hrs. I used rice flour instead. Grind the rice flour(or soaked rice), jaggery and coconut to a fine paste. You can sprinkle some waterwhile grinding. Stir in the grated cucumber. The batter consistency should be like that of idli batter. Adjust the consistency by adding water. Not much will be required since it will be taken care of the water in the cucumber.

Heat a kadai with a tablespoon of ghee. Pour the batter. Keep stirring and add ghee at intervals to prevent sticking. This should take around 10 minutes. When it comes together, pour onto a greased plate and press it down evenly. When warm, mark into squares and decorate with roasted cashews.

After tasting the sweet, I felt the batter will make good pancakes/ vella dosai.

This is my contribution to Sia's RCI-Udupi & Mangalore, an event started by Lakshmi

Khaman Dhokla for Indian Cooking Challenge

Its dhokla time today. Khaman dhokla is the recipe selected for the first challenge. Srivalli gave the detailed recipe from a Gujarathi friend of hers, which is indeed a fool-proof recipe. I have made instant versions of dhokla both in my MW and stove top. But it was no way near the perfect, soft,spongy, moist dhoklas I had eaten before. My husband occassionaly used to buy dhoklas from a Gujarathi sweet shop near his office. When Valli mentioned that its a traditional recipe, I was happy to try it out to get the perfect dhoklas. I prepared it carefully following the instructions given in the recipe. When I served them with the mint chutney, my husband said gave a thumps up, which doesn't come, that easily.

I used buttermilk instead of curd and water. Also had to add 2 more tablespoons of the batter to get the right consistency. Rest everything I followed the same.

Recipe makes 20 medium sized pieces

For Batter:
Bengal Gram flour / Besan - 1 & 1/2 cup
Curd - 1/2 cup (not very sour)
Water - 1/2 cup
(I used 1 cup of buttermilk + 2 tblspns of water)
Cooking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For seasoning to be mixed to the batter (to be added just before cooking)
Oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric a pinch
G. Chili paste - 3 nos
Sugar - 1 tsp
Citric acid - quarter tsp ( A big pinch)
Eno - 1 packet (green colour fruit lime) + sprinkle or dust few bits on the plate

For tempering
Sesame seeds , Mustard Seeds,Curry leaves,Grated coconut,Coriander leaves
Little water ( 2 tblspn) + Oil to be topped on dhoklas

Method to prepare:
Mix first 1/2 cup curds with 1/2 water. To this add the besan and mix well to get a lump less batter, the consistency should be of idli batter, more of dropping not pouring consistency. Slowly add more water if needed else, add the soda. Keep it aside to rise for 1 hour.

If you are using a pressure cooker, fill the pan with water, place a plate over which you will have use a plate for steaming the dhoklas. Thali plate can be used for steaming.

To the batter mix in the citric acid, oil, salt, sugar, green chili paste and turmeric powder. Mix well. This has to be done just before pouring to the plate.

Meanwhile have the pan on stove, and let the water start boiling. When the water reaches the rolling stage, you can mix the eno to the batter (Save little of eno for dusting on the plate), mix gently, you will see bubbles coming out.

Dust or sprinkle the plate with eno. Then immediately pour the batter to the plate. Place the plate carefully inside the pressure pan and cover with lid. You need not use the whistle. After covering you will find steam coming out of the outlet, simmer and don't disturb for almost 5 -7 minutes.

After 5 -7 minutes, remove the lid and proof it using toothpick or knife. If the knife comes out clean and does not have any batter sticking, then its done. Cover back and let it remain on flame for 1 min and switch off the gas and allow it for 5 minutes.

In a bowl, mix 2 tblspn of water along with a tsp of oilRemove the plate from the pan, pour the water and oil mix over the top.

For seasoning, heat a pan with oil, add curry leaves, sesame seeds, mustard seeds and finely chopped green chilies. When mustard starts popping, remove and pour over the dhokla.

Points to note
The batter should be filled to only 1/2 as it will rise up. After adding eno the batter should not rest.
Amount of sugar can be increased on preference.
If you want perfect shaped ones and not the crumbling, cut and handle gently
Dhokla can also be steamed in kadai filled with water and a plated titled over it.

Green chutney
G. chili - 4 nos
Grateed coconut - 1/4 cup
Coriander - bunch
Few mint leaves
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Lime -1 big
Salt to taste

Take all the ingredients except coriander in a food processor. Grind to a smooth paste.
Then add the coriander and again grind. Remove to a bowl, add the remaining lime and serve with Dhoklas.

July 28, 2009

Recipes of Maa-vilakku Neivedyam

In my previous post, I have written the pooja to be done for the maa vilakku. Here I am giving the recipes of the dishes made for neivedyam.

Pachha Maavu - Dough to make the lamp

Raw rice/Pacharisi - 2 1/2 cups
Powdered jaggery - 1 cup + 3 tblspn

Wash and soak rice in water for 2-3 hrs. Drain and spread on a towel to dry. Powder in the mixer grinder and sieve the ground powder to get fine rice flour. Grind the coarse rice again and continue until few tablespoons of coarse rice is left.

Grind the powdered jaggery and fine rice flour together. Transfer the rice flour and jaggery mix to a bowl. Keep mixing them by your hand and you should be able to make a ball of it. It might look as thought you cannot hold the flour together. Don't add jaggery since it will not end up in a stiff dough later. Its by the warmth of the hand that the flour and jaggery will come together. It requires some 20 minutes of constant kneading. If you are making the dough just for eating then more of jaggery will not be a problem. But since we need to light the lamp in it, it should be a stiff one else after few hours of burning the lamp, the jaggery in the dough will start melting and the lamp will lose the shape. We have the custom of placing two lamps. So divided the dough into two ball and shaped it well. While eating the maavu, its had along with coconut pieces.

Vella Kozhukaatai

Rice flour - 1 1/2 Cups
Powdered jaggery - 3/4 Cup
Water - 1 1/2 cups
Coconut chopped into tiny pieces - few

Mix jaggery in 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl and heat it. When the jaggery is fully melt, strain to remove any dirt. Bring the jaggery syrup to a boil. Stir in the coconut pieces and a tablespoon of ghee. Slowly stir in the rice flour. Keep mixing to avoid lumps. Continue to cook till it is not sticky to touch and the dough will have shiny coat to it. Leave it to cool. Make small marble sized balls. Steam it for 10 minutes using an idly steamer or any steamer of your choice.

Paal Pongal

Raw rice - 3/4 cup
Roasted moong dal - 1/2 Cup
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Coconut milk extracted from one coconut.
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn

Extract two sets of milk from the coconut. To extract milk, grind the fresh, grated coconut with 1 cup of water. Squeeze to extract the milk. This is the first milk. Repeat grinding with another cup of water and extract the thinner second milk. Instead of coconut milk, ordinary milk can also be used.

Pressure cook rice and moong dal in 3 cups of water. It must have cooked mushy.
Make jaggery syrup by boiling water and jaggery. Bring the syrup to rolling boil. Slowly stir in the cooked rice+ dal mix to the boiling jaggery syrup. Keep stirring. It will start thickening. Add the second milk and continue to cook till the rice + dal absorbs the flavors. Stir in the thick first milk and cardamom powder. Remove from fire.

Pachharisi Idli - Idli with raw rice and urad dal
Raw rice - 1 cup
Urad dal - 1/2 cup

Usually idli is prepared by grinding soaked boiled rice/puzhungalarisi. When ever any bhakshanam is made for nivedyam, its customary to use raw rice. So since idli is offered as nivedyam, its made using raw rice.

Soak 1 cup of raw rice and urad dal separately, for 3 hrs. Drain and spread on a towel to dry. Powder the rice coarsely like rava. Grind urad dal into a smooth batter. Mix the rice rava and urad dal batter. Add salt and adjust the consistency by adding water. Leave it to ferment overnight. Scoop the batter into greased idli moulds and steam cook for 10-12 minutes. If rice is ground to a smooth batter, idlis will not turn soft and fluffy. For that reason, coarse rice is used.

The steamed goodies - Kozhukkattai and Idly are being part of the Steamed Treats organized by Shruti

July 25, 2009

Maa Vilakku Poojai /Paachai For Mariyamman

"Aadi azhayakkum, Vishu thodaykkum" saying conveys the start and end of the festivals, during the year. With the arrival of Aadi/Karkidakam month, the festivities begin. Month long Ramayana reading is followed in many homes and all most all temples in Kerala, during the month of Karkidom. Visiting the temples of four brothers - Rama, Bharata,Lakshmana and Shatrugna in the order mentioned is also very common. (Popularly known as Naala Ambala Yatra). Maa-vilakku or Pachha Podal is another pooja which is performed during this month. This pooja is commonly done in Mariamman temples. Some families have the custom of performing it at home. I have grown up seeing this done at my home. Post marriage, it continued since my husband's family allows follows the custom. The procedure varies from family to family. I am writing down the procedure in detail here for my future reference.

Maa Vilakku is ideally performed on a Friday omitting the first and last Friday of the Aadi month. Alternatively, Sundays can be chosen if Fridays are not feasible for various reasons.

Kumbham,Kaarthaveerayan and Amman are kept. Draw maakolam (Rangoli made using rice paste) on the area where the pooja is to be done. Kumbham ( A pot shaped vessel made of brass) is filled with water and Neem leaves are kept in it. The Kumbham is placed on a thambalam with rice spread on it. Next to the kumbham on right, Place the Karthaveeryan (chooral/wooden stick). Tie a Pattu (silk cloth) on the top. in olden days, the stick is placed on a heap of rice grains. I have added few grains to the vessel where it is placed.

To the left, keep the Ammi Kozhavi (grinding stone) on a thambalam.

First, Abhishekam is done for Amman.
1) Nallennai/gingely oil
2) Elaneer/Coconut water
3) Paal/Milk
4) Thayir/Curds
5) Nellimulli paste (Dried gooseberries soaked in water and ground to paste)

Do the abhishekams one after the other. After curds,wash the stone with water and finally place the nellimulli paste on the top of the stone. Make some turmeric paste. Keep two eyes with the petals of red hibiscus (chembarathi poo) using the turmeric paste to stick. Then keep a big bhindi of turmeric paste and apply kumkum on top of it. Put a golden chain and keep the neem flowers and hibiscus on top of the stone.

Show dhoopam (incense sticks ) and ottalathi(hand held lamp with one wick). Put flowers for Amman, Kumbham and Kaarthaveerayan.

Keep the maavilaku ( 2 nos) on a banana leaf. Make wick out of cotton. Keep a depression on the centre of the lamp and keep the wick there. Spoon ghee on to the cotton wick. Break a coconut and keep the two halves on the top and bottom of the leaf. Light the vilakku.

Bring the nivedyam and place it before Amman. The tradition is, whatever is cooked for the day is placed before Amman and then partaken. Also once the lamp is lit, no more tempering with mustard seeds will done in the home, for the day.

Following are the nivedyam list.

  • Pal Pongal (rice and lentil cooked in jaggery and milk)
  • Vella amminikozhakkattai ( Sweet rice balls of miniature size)
  • Pacharisi idli (Raw rice idli)
  • Cooked rice
  • Molagotal
  • Puli pachadi
  • Keep 1/4 cup of rice flour and 2 tblspn of jaggery on a banana leaf.

(The recipes will follow in the next post)

Perform the nivedyam. Take the above said items back to kitchen. Wipe the area where it is kept with little water. Then show anjalathi (hand held lamp which can hold 5 separate wicks), followed by karpooram(Camphor).

In the evening, offer bananas as nivedyam. The following morning, cooked rice and curds are kept as prasadam and karpooram is shown. After that , slightly push all the three - Amman, Kumbham and Kaarthaveerayan from its place. This is to indicate that are moved after they are invoked the previous day. Its like setting them free. If we are to keep them permanently, then poojas are also to be done regularly, which is not possible.

July 23, 2009

Kozhukkatta - Steamed Rice balls - Guest Post

There are numerous food blogs in the Internet. There are zillion dishes cooked in the kitchen and are not blogged. Each one is a good cook on their own terms. Not everyone has the time/passion to blog about it. So I thought of inviting my friends/blog readers to contribute a recipe to my blog. I discussed this idea with few of my friends and they were happy to play along. I had told them any common dish they prepare is enough and need not prepare for the matter of posting it here. Some told me that they are not good at food photography and the like. And the recipes and photos may not be matched to an avid food blogger. All that matters to me , is showcasing their recipe, on my blog. And I plan to make this a monthly series.

My friend who calls herself Shivakami in her world (a Malayalam blog), sent me the following recipe. Now on to the recipe in her own words-

Ingredients :

Boiled rice – 1 cup

Salt to taste

Grated coconut – half portion of a coconut

Oil – 1 tablespoon

Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon

Urad dal - 2 teaspoon

Small onions(cheriya ulli) - 8-10 nos, chopped

Curry leaves

Soak rice for 3hrs. Grind it coarsely to a thick batter and mix salt. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard, urad dal, curry leaves and chopped onions one after the other. Add the batter and stir well. Add grated coconut also and mix well.cook till the whole batter gets into a solid mass. Take out from stove. Keep idli cooker on stove. Make small balls of the rice mix. Place them on idli plates and steam cook for 5-10 minutes. This can be made using raw rice too. With boiled rice, kozhukkatais are more soft and has a nice texture.

July 22, 2009

Bittergourd/Parikkai Palya

I have grown up eating all kind of veggies. There is no veggie that I completely avoid, i.e to say the veggies that I is cooked in my house. My appa was very particular about that. He did not want to hear us saying "I don't like this". Later on, knowing about the goodness of bitter gourd/parikkai, I see to that its included in our diet often. I am used to pitlai and dry subzis of this veggie. When Sia announced RCI, I was going through the bookmarked recipes from Sia for the on going RCI- Udupi/Mangalore at her blog and decided to try this. It turned out be very tasty and was enjoyed by all. Its very easy to make.

RCI-Udupi & Mangalore

You need

Bittergourd/Parikkai/Pavakka - 2 medium sized
Tamarind - small lime sized
Jaggery - 2 tblspn
Turmeric - 1/4 tspn

Dry Roast and powder
Sesame seeds - 1 1/2 tblspn
Urad dal - 1/2 tblspn
Coriander seeds - 1 tblspn
Cumin seeds - 1 tspn
Red chilly - 4 nos
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup

To temper
Oil - 1 tblpsn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Hing - few shakes
Curry leaves -few

Roast the spices together and coconut separately. Cool and grind the spices and coconut together with out water.

Wash and chop the bitter gourd into bite sized pieces. I used a variety which is light green in color and less bitter. So I chopped and used it right away. Else follow Sia's tips to lessen the bitterness. Mix the bitter gourd, salt, tamarind extract, turmeric and 1/2 cup of water and MW for 10 minutes. Check if it is cooked well. Else keep for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the powdered coconut-spice mix and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes till it is dry. Season with the tempering ingredients and serve with hot rice or rotis. Its spicy and has a slight sweet tinge from the coconut and jaggery. Tamarind and jaggery helps to mellow down the bitterness to some extent.

July 15, 2009

Pulikuthi Upperi ~ Kerala Iyer Special

Any dry vegetable side dish is referred as Upperi/thoran in Kerala cuisine. Pulikuthi upperi is a signature dish of Palakkad iyer cuisine. Its a medley of veggies cooked in tamarind and curry powder. And the most relished combination for this side is a simple Tomato rasam. This combo is often made during the monsoon season during when, piping hot rasam is preferred. In Kerala, during the rainy season, we get monsoon variety of Ladies finger and Brinjal. Those special varieties give an extra kick to the already delicious dish. I don't have the pictures of those monsoon veggies. Shall update it later. This is a dish which uses only traditional/naadan veggies. In most homes, the veggies will be often handpicked from their backyard.

You need
Brinjal - 3 nos
Raw plantain - 2 nos
Lady's finger - 8 nos
Arbi/Taro root/Chembu leaves - 4 nos
Green chilli - 3 nos, slit.
Turmeric - a big pinch
Tamarind - marble sized

To dry roast and powder
Raw rice - a fistful
Red chillies - 3 nos
Methi seeds - 1/2 tspn


Coconut oil - 1 tblspn
Few curry leaves

Dry roast rice and red chillies together till rice turns slightly brown.Add the methi seeds just few seconds before you switch off the fire, since it gets roasted fast. Cool and powder it. Keep it aside.

Wash and cut the vegetables in to 1 inch long pieces. Cut the arbi leaves into strips of 2 inch width. Roll and tie into a knot. Cook the vegetables in enough water with turmeric, salt and tamarind extract and green chillies. Vegetables can be cooked well or fork tender. Both ways it tastes good. Its up to each one's preference.

Once the vegetables are cooked, stir in the ground powder and cook till all the moisture dries up. If you like it mushy, you can stop cooking before it turns dry. Sprinkle a tablespoon of coconut oil and few curry leaves. The dish is mildly spiced with little tanginess from the tamarind. Serve with rice and bowl of tomato rasam.

July 9, 2009

Whole Moong Dosa and Instant Mango Pickle - Maanga Curry

I am used to having filling breakfast like idli/dosa/pongal. Oats porridge, cornflakes ,muffins or energy bars can't find place at breakfast table. I like to have variety in breakfast at the same time making it healthy too. These whole moong dosa do appear in our breakfast table once in a fortnight. The soaking time is less compared to our usual dosa. Also no fermentation required. Split moong dal can also be used in place of whole moong, though the taste will be different. I prefer whole moong for the fibre content. This is similar to Andhra pesarattu. I believe, in Pesarattu, only whole moong is used.

you will need
1 cup raw rice
1 cup whole moong
1 inch piece ginger
3 green chillies
few curry leaves
2 medium sized onions (optional)

Yields 12 dosas.

Wash and soak raw rice and whole moong for 4-5 hours. Grind them along with ginger, green chillies and curry leaves, to a not too smooth batter. You can grind this in the mixer grinder also and batter can be slightly coarse too.

Before making the dosas, mix in the finely chopped onions to the batter. I haven't added this time. Of course adding onions enhances the taste. Make slightly thick dosas and cook both sides. You can cook it either soft or crisp according to your taste.

I served with fresh instant mango pickle. During summer, when raw mangoes are freely available, this pickle was part of our meal on almost all days. Its very easy to make and there is not much of a recipe for that. the pickle needs only 15 minutes of standing time after it is made to start consuming. Didn't I tell you its instant. I usually don't add too much of chilly powder since my husband usually eats it like a veggie side. when served during feasts, usually it will have a red color because of the chilly powder. I wonder now a days, the caterers do add a pinch of red color to give that fiery touch to it.

For the pickle, you need
1 raw, slightly sour mango
salt to taste
2 tspn of chilli powder (adjust to taste)
a big pinch of hing
1 tspn mustard seeds
2 tblspn of gingely oil

chop the mangoes into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in a small pan/karandi. When hot add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add hing, chilli powder and salt. Remove from immediately to retain the red color of chilli. Mix into the chopped mango. Mix well. Leave it for 15 minutes for the flavors to blend in.
It goes very well with curd rice and practically with anything at my home.
I am sending the plate of moong dosa to showcase at Dil Se's Breakfast table , to MLLA 13 guest hosted at TongueTicklers , an event started by Susan and to Padma's Dosa Corner

The jar of instant pickle makes it to Mango Mela at Valli's

July 2, 2009

Omapodi ~ Crunchy Savory

Who doesn't like the crunchy, melt-in-the-mouth Omapodi. With just two main ingredients and a spice, you can't imagine how tasty this can turn out to be. Once you taste it, you can't stop munching them until you finish it off. During Diwali, this used to be one of the savories apart from the all-time favorite Pakoda. And invariably, its Omapodi dabba which gets emptied first. Its very easy to make. If you attempt to make in small measures, be warned that it will disappear before you finish making the last batch. I made with 2 cups of rice flour and must have got around 15 nos and believe me it was finished in a day. Two of our friends also helped us to some extent in that regard. Now to the recipe.

You will need

Rice flour - 1 cup (Fresh/Store bought)
Besan/Kadalamavu - 1 cup
Ajwain/Omam - 1 tblspn
Butter - 2 tblspn
Salt to taste
Water to make the dough
Oil to deep fry

If you are using store bought rice flour, you can increase the besan by 1/4 cup to get soft omapodis.
Soak ajwain in warm water for half an hour. Grind it into a paste. Add little water and strain the paste to discard the tiny ajwain. Keep the strained water aside. Measure rice flour and besan into a bowl. Add salt, butter and the omam water. Mix well. Add more water to make a soft,tight dough.

Heat oil in a kadai. When it is hot, with a murukku press and use the omapodi Achu ( one with small holes that is used to make Idiyappam too), press the dough into the oil. Start from the outer portion of the circle and move to the centre, while pressing the dough. Since it is thin, it gets fried faster. Turn them after half a minute. When the sizzling of oil around the omapodi is less, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on an absorbent paper. Cool and store in airtight container. It will stay crisp for weeks together, if at all it lasts that long.

The plate of crunchy Omapodis is on it way to EC's WYF:Fried Snacks event.