July 29, 2011

Kokum Juice

Today is the last day of the BM#7 edition. As part of the Maharashtrian cuisine for the series, I thought of finishing the series with the kokum juice. I have heard of kokum juice before but never had a chance to taste. I tasted it after we moved to Pune. The taste of kokum is hard to define. It doesn't go well with everyone.  I liked to it. My husband is a juice person and can have juice any time. For him, juices are not just  thirst quenchers for summer.  During summer, I bought a packet of kokum and tried making the juice at home. I have seen many recipes for this and found it very easy to make. From then on, its made more often at home. Do check out this post at Aayis Recipes to see the pictures of kokum tree and fresh fruits. 

Now on to the recipe
You need
  • Dried kokum rinds - 10 nos
  • Sugar - 3 tblspn
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Cumin powder -1/4 tsp ( optional). I don't add.

Soak the kokum rinds in lukewarm water for half an hour. Crush the kokum lightly and filter to remove the kokum rinds. The water would have turned to a lovely pink. Stir in sugar and salt. Stir till the sugar is dissolved well. Chill and serve. 

Here is the picture of Maharashtrian Thali, which we had in a hotel during our Kolhapur trip.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked.

July 28, 2011

Rava Besan Laddu

Today, I'm back with another sweet for the regional special theme for the Blogging Marathon and my choice is Maharashtra cuisine. If yesterday's Gulpoli was a makarasankaranthi special, this rava-besan laddo is a Diwali treat. I have made rava ladoo and besan ladoo. The combo sounded interesting. I followed the recipe from Chakali. I liked the recipe for it used less amount of ghee since the sugar syrup is added.  

One reader who had tried the recipe from Chakali had commented that the dough was very sticky and runny that it could not be shaped into balls. So while adding the syrup, I reserved around 3 tablespoons of syrup, thinking I will add later if required. After the resting time for the dough, I felt the reserved syrup can be used up too. It was perfect. Please note that you use the same cup to measure all the ingredients. I used the measuring cup.  

You need

  • Rava/Semolina - 1 cup (Use the fine variety)
  • Besan/Chickpea flour - 1/2 cup
  • Ghee - 3 tblspn
  • Sugar -1 cup
  • Water -1/2 cup
  • Cardamom powder - 1 tspn
  • Cashew nuts - 1 tblspn


Dry roast rava till it is pink. Keep stirring as you roast else it will get burnt and also will not get roasted evenly.  Transfer the roasted rava to a plate. Add besan and roast it. When the raw smell disappears, slowly add 2 tablespoon of melted ghee and mix well. At this stage, the mix will be runny. Keep sauteing till the mix starts to brown and you can smell the heavenly aroma of roasted besan. Add the besan-ghee mix to the roasted rava. 

Add a tablespoon of ghee to the kadai. When hot, add cashew nuts. Remove when it is brown and add to the rava-besan mixture. Add cardamom powder and mix well.

Heat a kadai with sugar and water. Keep stirring so that the sugar dissolves fully. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, it will start frothing. After this stage, cook for a minute or two. The syrup would have turned sticky to one string consistency. Check by dropping some syrup using the ladle. You can see the drops falling stretching to form a string. Remove it from the fire. The syrup consistency is very important. If it is paste this stage, it will be difficult to make ladoos since it will turn crumbly.

Add the syrup to the rava-besan mixture. Mix with a spatula as you add. Cover and leave it for 20 minutes.

By this time, the rava would have absorbed most of the moisture and the mixture will be almost dry. It will be moist enough to shape into laddus. 

You will get around 18 laddus depending on the size.

I'm sending these plate of laddus to Indian Mithai Mela hosted by Mom Chef.

Check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked for the day.

July 27, 2011

Gulpoli ~ Sesame Seeds and Jaggery stuffed flatbread

Gulpoli as the name suggests is the poli/flatbread with jaggery filling. Gulpoli is generally made for the Makarashankaranthi festival. On googling I found many recipes for gulpoli. The outer dough was same is all the recipes. There was difference in the ingredient list in the filling. Some recipe adds coconut and the ratio of sesame seeds and poppy seeds differ. I bookmarked the recipe from Arti's corner. While going through the recipe, I felt the quantity of jaggery seemed more and then I reasoned myself that since no coconut/dal is used in the filling, quantity of jaggery must be making it up. I doubled the recipe and went ahead. Instead of going for 3 cups of jaggery I used little more than 2 cups. Rolling the flatbread with the stuffing was very easy. No sticking/tearing. I could roll without using much flour for dusting. The trouble started when I started roasting it on the tawa. After few seconds, when the poli warmed up, the jaggery started oozing out and there was a pool of jaggery syrup on my tawa. I knew my doubt regarding the jaggery quantity proved correct. I guess, Arti must have halved the orginal recipe and forgot to scale down the jaggery measurement. Removed the tawa and brought out another one. I worked on the filling. I divided the filling into two. To one part, I added some roasted besan and powdered sesame and poppy seeds. Then after 2 attempts of trial and error, got the filling right.  I searched again to check on other recipe and found a very helpful video. I will make again with the remaining filling.  If only the filling proportion was right, I could have finished rolling and roasting   the polis in flat 20 minutes. I am sure next time, it will be easy for me.

You need
For the dough
  • Whole wheat flour/Atta - 1 cup
  • All purpose flour/Maida - 1 cup
  • Oil - 4 tblspn
  • Luke warm water - Less than 1 cup
  • Salt - a pinch 
  • Ghee for roasting.

For the filling
  • Jaggery, grated - 1 cup
  • Besan   - 1/4 cup, heaped
  • Sesame seeds - 4 tblspn
  • Poppy seeds - 1 tblspn
  • Cardamom powder - 2 tspn
  • Nutmeg powder - 2 tspn
  • Cashewnuts - 10 nos

Take the  both the flours and mix well. Heat oil in a tadka/seasoning pan. Pour the hot oil on to the flour. Mix well so that the oil coats the entire flour.  Add water in parts to make a soft dough. Cover the dough with wet cloth or bowl and rest it for 2 hours.

Roast sesame seeds and poppy seeds separately.   Roast besan in a tablespoon of ghee. Grind sesame seeds, Poppy seeds and cashew in the mixer grinder. Add the ground mixture, roasted besan, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder to the jaggery mix. Mix well. Make sure there are no tiny pieces of jaggery. 

Divide the dough and filling into 10 portions each. Take a ball of dough. Roll it into a small circle. Place the filling on the roti and cover with the edges. Seal and roll into a roti of medium thickness. The dough is very elastic and the filling non-sticky. So rolling is very easy and not a messy affair at all. 

Heat a tawa. Smear some ghee and roast the polis on both side, till brown spots appear. The poli will be crisp and tastes awesome when hot. It is equally good even when it comes to room temperature. 

Check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked for the day.


July 26, 2011

Capsicum Zunka

Zunka is a besan dominated side dish. I understand this can be prepared with out any vegetable ie. besan fried along with spices. Capcisum, methi and cabbage are the common veggies used in the preparation. I learnt this dish from my husband's periamma/aunt. I don't remember if she told any particular name to this. She had visited us and I had planned methi dal to serve with rotis. Periamma is a great cook and she enjoys preparing for the visisting relatives or friends. Knowing my interest in learning new recipes, she taught me this. She  mentioned capsicum can be used in place of methi.  Later when I started blogging, I got to know that it is a popular marathi dish and is called Zunka. And saw few recipes where cabbage is cooked the same way. 

Besan is the main ingredient and the flavor is enhanced with the addition of red chilli powder, cumin and the veggie added. Its a quite an easy dish and gets done very quickly. Here is I how I make it.

You need
  • Capsicum - 2 nos, big
  • Besan/Kadalamavu - 1/2 cup
  • Oil - 2 tblspn
  • Cumin - 1 tspn
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tspn
  • Red chilli powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Hing - 1/4 tspn
  • Salt to taste

Wash and dice the capsicum into cubes. Take besan in a bowl. Add turmeric,red chilli powder, hing and 1/4 tspn of salt. Mix well. Keep it aside.

Heat a kadai with 2 tablespoon of oil. When hot, add cumin. When the seeds starts browning, add the chopped capsicum. Add salt, just enough for the capsicum. We have added some salt to the besan mix. Saute till it is half cooked.  Add the besan mix in parts. After each addition, keep stirring so that the besan gets cooked and not turn lumpy. After the last addition, continue to saute for 5 minutes. Make sure the besan doesn't get burnt. Remove and serve as a side dish for roti.

Check out the blogging marathon page to know what my friends have cooked for the day.

July 25, 2011

Moogachi Usal~ Sprouted Moong Dish

Usal is a Maharstrian dish where sprouted beans such as moong or matki is used. It is generally a thick gravy cooked with onion, tomato and other spices. Matki is the popular bean used in this. I didnot have matki so decided to go for moong. Usal is a thick gravy almost like a stir fry. The addition of goda masala gives a new dimension to this dish. I referred the recipes here and here and came up on this. I always cook moong sprouts as gravy with some ground masala. I liked this quick dish which can be served as a side with rice and a gravy too.  If you have sprouts, on hand, this gets done pretty quickly.

You need

Sprouted moong - 2 cups
Onion - 1 no, chopped
Tomato - 1 no, chopped
Goda masala -  1 tspn ( I used store bought)
Coriander powder - 1 tspn
Cumin powder - 1/2 tspn
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt to taste

To temper
Oil - 2 tspn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Cumin - 1/2 tspn
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Hing - few shakes

 Pressure cook sprouted moong for 1 whistle. Just sprinkle water enough to moisten the sprouts. Else microwave for 5 minutes. Or you can add some water later while cooking the gravy and cook for few more minutes. 

Heat a tawa with 2 tspn of oil. Add mustard seeds. When it pops, add cumin , curry leaves and hing. Add chopped onions. Saute till the onion turns pink. Add chopped tomato. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric , red chilly powder and goda masala. When the tomatoes are cooked, add the cooked sprouts. Add salt. Mix gently and cook for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Garnish with coriander. You can serve with a wedge of lime and sliced onions.

Goda masala gives the curry the distinct flavor. Goda masala is the maharashtrian aromatic spice powder.

Do check here to know what my fellow marathoners have cooked for the day

July 24, 2011

Masale Bhaat ~ Spicy Tindora Pulao

Today, I decided to make the famous masale bhat of Maharashtra. This is the marathi version of the popular vegetable pulao. This is so different from our regular vegetable pulao and is slightly on the spicier side. I had a newspaper cutting which had this recipe. But then I thought recipe from a blog will be more authentic and I chose the recipe from Ashwini's Food For Thought. She says this is a must for the wedding lunch and explains the wedding menu in detail. And positive feedback in the comment section of that recipe made me for this.  She had mentioned that traditionally, it is made using the 'ambe mohar' , short grain rice variety. And I wanted the authentic taste so bought that rice variety to try this. 

You need
  • Short grain raw rice - 1 cup (ambe mohar is preferred)
  • Ivy gourd/Tindora/Kovakkai - 1 cup, quartered
  • Cashewnuts - 8-10 nos, broken
  • Salt to taste
  • Water - 2 cups

To temper
  • Oil - 3 tblspn
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Green chillies - 2 nos, slit
  • Hing - few shakes

Masala - To roast and grind
  • Copra - 1/3 cup, grated
  • Coriander seeds - 2 1/2 tblspn
  • Cumin -  2 tspn
  • Sesame seeds - 1 tblspn ( I used white)
  • Cloves - 4 nos
  • Cinnamon - 2 1 inch sticks

Roast the ingredients for masala in a kadai till the copra turns brown. No oil is added while roasting. Cool and powder it. Keep it aside. 
Chop the tindora into quarters. Wash the rice in several changes of water till the water runs clear. Heat a kadai or cooker pan with 3 tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add curry leaves, hing, cashew and slit green chillies. Then add the chopped tindora. Saute for few minutes till the tindora starts to change color. Add the rice and give a gentle mix. Then add the powdered masala. Mix well so that the masala coats the  rice and tindora well. Add salt and 2 cups of water. Cover with a lid and cook till the rice is well cooked and there is no moisture left. 
Fluff with fork and serve hot with a side of raita and papad. 

The rice was spicy and the tindora gives a nice flavor to the rice. You can reduce the masala to suit your spice levels. I would say add 3/4th of the masala, check and adjust. 

Do check out what my friends are cooking for the marathon.

July 23, 2011

Chavli Amti

This is the 7th edition of Blogging Marathon, organized by Srivalli. For the past few editions, every  month, the marathoners are grouped into two. I chose to join the Group 2. As usual, we were given a set of themes to choose and blog for the 7 days. My choice was Regional Specials and its Maharashtrian cuisine.  I wanted to try recipes that is generally cooked in a Maharastrian home. Also, these may not feature in a restaurant menu. I am taking this opportunity to explore more of the cuisine and I'm sure I can only touch upon few of the recipes here as part of the marathon. 

For a comprehensive read on Maharashtra cuisine, check the guest posts by Meera (Sweets and Snacks, Veg and Non-Veg Thali)  and Nupur's Summer Meal at Sailus Food..  And both Meera's and Nupur's blog are  a treasure trove of Maharashtrian cuisine.

To begin with, I chose Chavli Amti from Nupur's blog. The ingredients in the masala paste resembled that of the Arachuvitta Sambhar of Palakkad Iyer cuisine. The similarity ends there and the resulting dish is entirely different. I decided to stick to the recipe and did not tweak it in anyway since I wanted it to be authentic. I halved the recipe to serve two for a single meal.

Here it is 

You need
  • Chavli/Black eyed beans - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 no, sliced
  • Tomato - 1 no, finely chopped
  • Kitchen King masala - 1 tpsn
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar - 1/2 tspn

To Roast and grind
  • Oil - 2 tspn
  • Chana dal - 1/2 tspn
  • Urad dal - 1/2 tspn
  • Cumin seeds -1/2 tspn
  • Coriander seeds -1/2 tspn
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tspn
  • Red chilly - 2 nos
  • Onion - 1 
  • Grated coconut - 2 tblspn

To temper
  • Oil - 2 tspn
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tspn
  • Hing - few shakes
  • Curry leaves - few


Soak the chavli for 4-5 hours or overnight. If you don't have time to spare for soaking, soak it in hot water for an hour. Pressure cook till tender. 
Roast the ingredients under masala paste in 2 teaspoon of oil. Cool and grind to a smooth paste. 
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add curry leaves, turmeric and hing. Add sliced onions and saute till its almost brown. Add the finely chopped tomatoes and cook till it turns pulpy. Add the ground masala, kitchen king masala, salt and sugar. Fry the mix for a minute or two. Finally add the cooked chavli along with the water, used to cook it. Adjust the consistency. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes and the gravy will thicken. 

It was welcome change from the usual sambhar or other tamarind based gravies which is a regular fare at my home.

Do check the BM page to find out the themes and other marathoners

July 18, 2011

Instant Oats Paniyaram

Finding some quick and healthy snack to go with the evening tea is quite a difficult one. There are some which I like and the husband doesn't favor that. Most of the times I end up making cutlets/tikkis, masala papad and the like. Two days back, I was looking for something new to make, since I was bored of making the snacks again. Then I remembered about the oats paniyaram which I have seen in several blogs. I just went with my instinct and prepared the batter. I had some crisp, yet soft paniyarams after half an hour. Since I used non-stick paniyram pan, I could make with less oil.  Let's move on to the recipe.

You need

  • Quick cooking oats - 1 cup
  • Rice flour - 1 tblspn
  • Sour curd - 1/2 cup 
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Ginger- 1/2 inch
  • Green chilly - 2 nos

To Temper

  • Oil - 1 tspn
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn
  • Chana dal - 1 tspn
  • Hing - few shakes


Grind ginger and green chilly. You can add  green chilly and ginger, chopped. I added the paste to avoid biting into the chilly.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Temper with mustard seeds, chana dal and hing. Add the seasoning to the batter. Leave it to 15 minutes or at least for 10 minutes, to give some soaking time for the oats. Add a teaspoon of water if the batter has turned thick on standing.  

Heat the paniyaram pan. I used the non-stick one. Add half a teaspoon of oil in each of the depression. When it is moderately hot, spoon teaspoon full of batter into each hole. Drizzle another half teaspoon of oil on top of each paniyaram. When the bottom is cooked, flip and cook the top side too. Remove and serve with your favorite chutney. 

To this batter, you can add some onions of grated carrot too. The base batter can be dressed up in many ways to suit your taste and ingredients available.

It was very crisp on the outside and spongy on the inside. The slight tang from the curd, heat from ginger and chilly, bite from the chana dal made it an awesome tea time snack. I served with a dip of molgapodi drizzled with the oil from the Punjabi pickle

July 15, 2011

Punjabi Mango Pickle ~ Indian Cooking Challenge

Indian cooking challenge for the month was a pickle from the state of Punjab. Srivalli gave us Simran's mom's recipe. So, far, I can say, this is the easiest of all the challenges.  This was a new kind of pickle for me. Though most of the pickle made in South India is spicy, we have our share of salted pickles and pickling in brine. And those doesn't call for any oil and salt is the only preservative.  I have tasted store bought pickles that uses mustard oil. So I am used to the pungent mustard oil in pickles. 

As I said, the recipe is very simple. You have to just mix all the ingredients and leave it for two weeks for the flavors to mingle. I did just that. After 10 days, I did a taste test and felt I should spice it up more. Washed and wiped dry, a handful of green chillies. Chopped it, not fine, and added it to the pickle.  

I find the oil very flavorful, with the spices soaked in it. You can add some spice masala to the oil and brush it on your khakra/roti/puri. It will taste awesome.

The initial measurement given by Simran was for 5 Kg of mangoes. Srivalli scaled it down to 1/2 kg of mangoes. The spices were given in grams and I don't have kitchen scale. I used some online converters and got a fair idea of how much it will be in teaspoons/tablespoons.
I am giving the measurement as I used.

You need

  • Raw Mangoes - 1/2 kg
  • Mustard oil - 50 ml
  • Salt - 4 tblspn
  • Methi / Fenugreek seeds - 2tspn
  • Kalonji / Nigella seeds -  1 tspn
  • Saunf / Fennel Seeds -  2 tspn
  • Turmeric powder -  3 tspn
  • Whole Peppercorns - 2 tspn
  • Sugar - 1/2 tsp 

Select mangoes which are sour. That works best. Chop the mango in to 1 inch pieces. Dry it in the sun for 2-3  hours. You can also spread it under the fan if no sunlight. Wash the glass/porcelain jar to store the pickle. Sun dry the jar too. 

Take a large pot. Add mustard oil, turmeric, salt and the spices. Mix well. Add the sun dried mangoes and toss well, until they are well coated with the masala.

Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Leave it to mature for two weeks, though you can use it right away too.

July 8, 2011

Mango Sheera

Mango season is going to end, soon. So I keep buying them often to make the most when it is available. Apart from eating the fruit as it is, I had lot more to be used up. And I decided to make a mango flavored sheera. There is no second thoughts when it comes to making sweet. It is always welcome at home.  Its very easy to make and tastes delicious with the flavor of mango. 

You need
  • Roasted rava/semolina - 1 cup
  • Milk - 1 cup
  • Water-1/2 cup
  • Fresh mango pulp - 1 cup
  • Sugar -1 cup
  • Ghee - 2 tblspn
  • Cardamom powder -1/2 tspn
  • Cashewnuts,raisins - 1 tblspn

Select a medium sized mango which doesn't have fibre. De-skin and cut the mango into cubes. Pulse in the mixer and make a fine puree.  You can use tinned pulp too. In that case adjust the sugar accordingly.

In a kadai or thick bottomed vessel, take mango pulp, milk, water and sugar. Boil the mixture till the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the roasted rava and mix well. Cook on low heat. When the mixture starts to thicken, add 2 tablespoon of ghee. Continue to cook till all the liquid dries up and the mixture is moist. Switch of the heat. 

In a seasoning ladle, add a teaspoon of ghee. Roast cashew and raisins. Add it to the sheera. Finally add cardamom powder. Mix well.  Serve warm.

July 2, 2011

Veppilakatti ~ Spicy, Tangy and Aromatic Chutney Powder

Veppilakatti is a spiced leafy chutney powder, which is very famous among the Palakkad Iyers.  The name 'veppila' meaning neem leaves, doesn't say about the ingredients. I am ignorant why the name. Anyways, these fragrant balls make a great side for curd rice. I'm sure those who have tasted this once will know, what I am talking about. For the others, when you read the ingredients, you can imagine it.  This is a very traditional dish, which is rarely made at home, these days. 

Wild lemon leaves (Vadugapuli narangathilai) is the star ingredient in the recipe. Its not the narthangai/citron  which is bitter. The leaves has to be picked carefully since the tree has lots of thorns. The picked leaves are washed and patted dry. Tender leaves can be used as such. For the rest, the thick vein in the middle has to be removed. Handful of curry leaves is also used. Traditionally, these leaves along with salt,will be pound in the mortal using the olakkai, i.e the long wooden pestle used to pound rice.  After pounding the leaves, next comes the mixture of red chillies, green chilly, hing and tamarind. These will be pounded almost fine. Finally the leaves are added to it and pounded together. This will be done in batches. Pounding will release some juice from the leaves and salt.  The spice and leaf mixture will be transferred to a big vessel and mixed well. Then it is made into balls and stored in air tight container. 

With the arrival of mixer grinder, Amma used to powder the spice mix in the mixer and pulse the leaves coarsely. Then do a final pounding in the mortal using the pestle.  Now a days, hardly anyone bothers to do all this, since it is readily available in the markets.  I don't like the store bought ones. This time, I had asked my uncle to send some through Amma. Thanks to my mama and mami, I got a huge batch of home made veppilakattis. These are the pics I clicked when Amma got it for me. Its made partly using the mixer and the rest in the mortar. Pounding in the mortar does increase the taste since the ingredients are blended better than in a mixer grinder.

The recipe I am giving is like an approximate one. This will fairly give an idea of what all goes into it and the proportions.

You need

Naaragathilai/ Wild lemon leaves - 1/2 kg  
Curry leaves - a handful

Green chilly - 15-20 nos
Tamarind  - Orange sized

To roast in oil
Red chilly - 250 gm
Hing/Peringayam cube - 50 gm


Heat 2 table spoon of oil in a kadai. When the oil is hot, drop the hing pieces. It will get fried and the pieces will turn crisp. Remove and add the red chilly. Roast for few minutes. Leave it to cool. Powder the hing and chilly in mixer grinder. The add the green chilly and tamarind to it and pulse again. Remove the spice mix and keep it aside. 

Pulse the lemon and curry leaves along with salt, in the mixer till it is pound into small pieces. Finally blend the leaves and spice mixture. This can be done in batches. Take all the mixture in a big vessel. Mix it well and shape into balls.

As I mentioned before, this can be eaten along with curd rice. You can drizzle some gingely oil on it and have as a side for idly or dosa.