Sunday, September 25, 2011

Navaratri

Friends,
Navaratri is around the corner..I'm getting organized for it, buying favors for the ladies and kids.  We have to fix the padi(கொலு படி) to arrange the dolls. Navartri means 'nava'- nine and 'ratri'- nights. It is celebrated in honor of Goddess Shakthi and her various incarnations.  It is celebrated differently in various parts of India.  Gujratis associate Navaratri to Dandya and Graba Ras. Bengalis celebrate Durga Puja in this season.  In TamilNadu, people celebrate this season by keeping Golu(கொலு). 

During Golu, we arrange variety of dolls on steps specially made for this purpose. The steps have to be in odd number. Typically, the first couple steps from the top are arranged with idols of Gods, like Ashta Lakshmi, Dasavatharam,etc. The next couple steps are reserved for puranas or sants. Then, human life, depicting marriage, economy,etc. It is like this to show that man has to evolve from human tendency to divinity.

Golu is more a social occasion than a religious one.  Women and kids are invited to see golu. Girls are expected to sing devotional songs.  The first 3 days are for Devi Durga, next 3 days are special to Devi Lakshmi, followed by 3 days devoted to Devi Saraswathi. The 9th day is Saraswathi Pooja. Students thank Saraswathi for her grace. Skilled workers thank Devi for their skills.  The 10th day is called Vijaya Dashami.  This is an auspicious day to start education for little kids. Children learning music, and arts, visit their gurus to pay their respect and start a new lesson. kids.

On these nine days, people make a sundal(சுண்டல்) with dry beans. Each day has its own special beans.  The women and kids who come to see the golu are given goody bags. Women are also given turmeric, kumkum, betel leaf and nut with flower and fruit.

So.. ladies and kids enjoy this golu season..

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pasta Salad

Sorry friends, haven't been able to blog for a few days. For those who do not like to eat pasta with sauce, this salad is a nice alternative.  I usually make myself pasta salad when I make pasta for kids.

Ingredients:
1 C cooked penne pasta
1/4 red pepper, cut in strips
1/4 orange pepper, cut in strips
1/2 C broccoli florets
1/2 C cherry tomatoes, cut in half
lettuce, cleaned and torn
1 garlic, minced
1 T pesto sauce
1 T virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan  cheese to garnish

Method:
1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan, and saute garlic and the vegetables(except tomatoes,and lettuce) 
2. In a small bowl, combine oil, balsamic vinegar and pesto.
3. In a large bowl, cobine pasta, vegetables, lettuce and tomato. Add pesto mixture, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

White Kurma

I learned this recipe from my sister's mother-in-law.  It is so called because there is no tomato in this recipe.

Ingredients:
1 C cauliflower florets
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/4 t turmeric powder

To be ground to masala:
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 cardamom
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, chopped
1/2 C grated coconut
1 t poppy seeds, soaked in warm water
1 T cashew nuts
2-3 green chili

Method:
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan to medium heat. Add bay leaf, fennel seeds and onion. Saute onion until cooked. Add turmeric, salt, and the vegetables. Add enough water, cover and cook.
2. Meanwhile, blend the ingredients for the masala with little water.
3. Mix the masala to the vegetables. Stir gently and cook for a few minutes. Serve with peas pilaf or puri.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Doodi Subji(Bottle gourd)

Ingredients:
1 medium doodi, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 onion,chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1-2 green chili, slit
1 t ginger, grated
1t garlic, minced
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 cardamaom
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 t coriander + cumin powder
1 t goda masala
1 t poppy seeds, soaked in warm water
1/2 t cashew nuts
1/4 C milk or coconut milk

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan to medium heat. Add cinnamon,clove, and cardamom. Add chili, ginger and garlic, and cook for a minute.
2. Add onion, and cook till it is done. Add the powdered spices and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add tomato and cook till it is mushy, for 3-5 minutes.
4. Stir in the vegetable. Add enough water, cover and cook till it is cooked.
5. In the meantime, make a paste of the nuts and poppy seeds. Mix the paste to the vegetable, along with milk or coconut milk. Stir gently and cook for 2 minutes before removing from the stove.
Serve with roti or naan.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vege Burrito

Burrito is one of my favorite Mexican dish. It is a whole meal wrapped up in a tortilla. My kids love to take it to school for lunch. Even my mom likes it. I make it a few different ways. Today, I made it simple.

Ingredients:
5 large tortilla, burrito size
1 small onion, chopped
few cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 can pinto beans, or black beans, drained
1 T taco seasoning
1/2 C cooked rice, mixed with chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 C guacamole
1/2 C salsa
1/2 C shredded lettuce
1/2 C shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 C sour cream
hot sauce(optional)

Method:
1. Mix taco seasoning to beans and heat it in microwave
2. Mix onion, tomato, and pepper in a bowl. Add a little salt, lemon juice and gently mix.
3. Warm the tortilla in the microwave.
4. Set all the ingredients on the table. Let everyone build their own burrito.
5. Spread sour cream on the tortilla.Spread hot sauce on it . Layer it with rice in the center. Followed by beans, onion mixture, salsa, guacamole, lettuce and top it with cheese. Fold tortilla tightly to partially enclose the ingredients, tuck in the ends and  complete the rolling.

Eggless Dates Cake

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I wanted to make eggless cake for her. I took this recipe from Madhuram's eggless cooking.com. I was skeptical about using dates. But, the cake came out well. My mom and her friends liked it.

Ingredients:
18 pitted dates
3/4 C milk
3/4 C sugar
1 Call purpose flour
1/2 C oil
1t baking soda
1/4 C chopped walnuts

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and dust a 8-inch round pan.
1. Soak dates in milk and microwave till it becomes soft.
2. Process date with milk and sugar to a paste. Pour it out in a medium bowl. Add oil and mix.
3. In a separate bowl, sieve flour and baking soda. Gradually add this to the date mixture, while mixing constantly. Add a little water if needed to get it to the right consistency. Fold in the nuts.  Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack.  Frost the cake with favorite frosting, or decorate with blanched almonds.

Notes:

I reduced oil to 1/4 cup and added 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gujrathi Kadi

Kadi is easy and quick to make. My son loves this.  He is not a fan of morekuzambu, but he likes kadi.

Ingredients:
1/2 C besan(chickpeas flour)
1 C thick curd, beaten
1/4 t turmeric powder
1 pinch rock salt(kala namak)
1/4 t sugar
salt, as required
2-3 red chili
1/2 t mustard seeds
curry leaves, and cilantro garnish

Method:
1. In a pot, mix besan and curd to smooth paste.  Add enough water to make it to thin consistency.  Stir in turmeric powder, rock salt,sugar,and salt.
2. Heat stove to medium heat, and cook the kadi, stirring constantly.  Remove from stove when the kadi thickens.
3. Season with mustard seeds, curry leaves, broken red chili, and asafoetida. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with kichidi.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Mutter Masala(Green Peas)


Another favorite Indian vegetable in my house is Green Peas Subji.  While my son loves paneer and peas, my daughter does not.  I decided to make this dish because my friend was visiting and her kids also love this dish.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
11/2 C frozen green peas
1/2 C canned tomato sauce
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
1-2 green chili, slit(optional)
1/2 inch cinnamon
2 cloves
1/4 t turmeric powder
1 t chili powder,or as required
1/2 C coconut milk
cilantro to garnish

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan to medium heat.  Add cinnamon and clove.  Add chili and ginger.  Stir in the onion, and cook till it is translucent.
2. When the onion is done, add turmeric powder and chili powder.  Stir in the tomato sauce. Cook for  5 minutes.  Stir in the green peas.  Add water as required.  Cover and cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes. 
3. Stir in the coconut milk. Cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from stove and garnish with cilantro.  Serve with roti or naan.

Variations:
You can substitute light cream or sour cream for coconut milk.
Paneer cubes can be added after the peas are cooked.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eriseri(Kerala dish with Plantain)

Today being Onam, my mom wanted to make some traditional Kerala dishes. I made eriseri with green plantain. Happy Onam!!!

Ingredients:
2 green plantain,peeled and chopped into big chunks
1/4 t turmeric powder
1 t ground black pepper
1/3 C grated coconut + 1/2 t coconut
1/2 t rice
mustard seeds,and curry leaves, for seasoning
coconut oil, for seasoning

Method:
1. Place plantain in a pan with water. Add pepper, turmeric powder, and salt. Cover and cook on medium heat.
2. Meanwhile, Grind grated coconut with rice in a blender.  Add this to the plantain, and cook till it is done.
3. Season with mustard and add curry leaves.  Fry 1/2 teaspoon of coconut in a little coconut oil and stir into the cooked plantain.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ven Pongal

Ven pongal is one of the safest food that you can have at a restaurant. It is easy to make. It is one dish that does not need too many fancy ingredients. One of my friend's mother taught me some tricks for a yummy pongal.

Ingredients:
1 C rice
3/4 C Mung Dal
7-8 C water
salt to taste
asafoetida
1/2 t broken cashew nuts
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 inch ginger, chopped

Method:
1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a vessel and place in a pressure cooker with water. Cook for 20 minutes or 7 whistles.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a pan, and roast the cashew till golden brown. Reserve it in a bowl. In the same pan, add some more ghee and season the next 4 ingredients.
3. Open the pressure cooker when the pressure goes down. Stir in the seasoning. Gently mix, and serve hot with sambar and coconut chutney, or கொத்சு.

Notes: The pongal should be runny when it is hot. If it is not, mix hot water as required and heat before serving.

Bindi Masala(Okra)

It's been a few days since I updated my blog.  School's resumed, and I've been busy.  I made bindi masala yesterday for dinner. It's light and tangy.

Ingredients:
1 Lb. small okra, ends trimmed and slit
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 green chili, slit
1/4 t turmeric powder
1t chili powder
1/4 t garam masala
salt to taste

Method:
1. Heat a broad pan. Saute okra in batches with little oil and salt, till they become light green, 3-4 minutes each batch. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan.  Saute onion along with green chili for 6 minutes, or till onion is cooked.
3. Add tomato, turmeric and chili powder. Cook till tomato is soft.  Add salt.
4. Stir in the okra. Cook till they are well done.  Add garam masala, and cook for 2 minutes. Serve hot with roti.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Arisi noi Uppma(Rice)

This is a typical South Indian food. People have it for breakfast or dinner.  I used to make it a certain way. When my mom came to live with me, she gave me some tips to make it taste better.  This is one of my all time favorite tiffin.  It can be served with chutney or kothsu. My husband and kids like to eat it with brown sugar.  My grandfather used to eat it with curd. 

Ingredients:
1 C raw rice, broken in blender, and sifted
1t toor dal + 1/4t black peppercorn, broken, and sifted
1/4t coriander seeds + 1/8 t methi seeds, powdered
mustard seeds, urad dal, red chili,and green chili,and curry leaves, for seasoning
asafoetida, a pinch 
1 T oil
1t fresh grated coconut(optional)
salt to taste


Method:
1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium heat.  Add ingredients for seasoning. 
2. Pour 5-6 cups of water in the pan and bring it to boil.  Add coconut and broken rice. Cover with a lid and lower the heat. When the rice is half cooked, add salt, toor dal mixture and asafoetida.  sprinkle water if required.  Let rice cook. Stir occasionaly. 
3. When rice is almost done, stir in the coriander powder. Mix gently. Add a little cococut oil.  When done, remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes.  Serve with  chutney.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tomato Brinj(Biriyani)

Ingredients:
1 C basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1 t cashew nuts
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes,chopped
1 green chili, slit
1/8 t turmeric powder
1/2 t chili powder
1/8 t garam masala
salt to taste
1 t chopped fresh celantro
1 T olive oil


To pound for masala:
1/2 inch cinammon
1 clove
1 cardamom
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/2 t chopped fresh mint
1/4 t poppy seeds
1/4 t fennel(saunf)
1 green chili or as required

Method:
1. Pound the masala in a mortar or blender. Keep aside.
2. Wash and soak rice in water for 5 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Roast cashew. Add bay leaf and the masala.  Fry for 3 minutes.  Add chili and onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Add tomato, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Cook for 2 minutes.  Add celantro.
4. Drain rice and stir into the pan.  Add garam masala. 
5. Pour 2 cups of water. Check for salt and add if required.  Transfer everything to an electric rice cooker,or cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat and cook till rice is done.  Discard bay leaf and serve hot with raita.