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Samaithu paarkalaam



Recipes from Tamilnadu to Tex-Mex from my kitchen with love



Updated: 2017-09-29T05:21:17.407-04:00

 



Happy Pongal One and All!

2010-01-14T09:00:07.451-05:00

Pongal... Arguably the most important festival in Tamilnadu. This is a day to be thankful for all that we have. We remember all of the people who are involved in the process of our rice production, as rice is the staple of our food. It also marks the first day of Thai month, in Tamil. This is the start of all things positive and auspicious.

I am hopeful that this will be a turning point for me as well.
See, 2009 was definitely a memorable year for me... It was the year that I had 2 surgeries which I am still recovering from (Yes, that's why I've been so quiet!). It's also the year that my mother-in-law finally came to visit us. And the year that we found out about my sister-in-law's pregnancy (soooo exciting!!). On top of all that, it's the year we were able to buy a house. So, although the year has had a lot of negatives, there were definitely some great highlights.

Here's hoping that happiness, health and prosperity will overflow to all on this Pongal (literally means "to overflow" in Tamil). For my Tamil friends out there, a small greeting from the internet for you to read:


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Happy Pongal!



Mango Mousse Tarts

2009-06-30T20:09:00.334-04:00

Mango mousse... How I do love it!! I've had multiple different versions of it in the past. Some were fluffy like whipped cream, and used as a cake filling. Others were firm, but so creamy and delicious! I've found that most recipes use mango pulp and cream for either version... I then thought, "How can I make this less of a guilty pleasure?"I rummaged around in the fridge and spotted the container of Stonyfield Oikos yogurt sitting in there. Oikos is Stonyfield's new nonfat Greek yogurt. I know, I know. Some of you are thinking, "How on earth can nonfat yogurt taste good?" Well, throw your fears out the window! I am not the type to preach about any particular product, but this one really surpassed my expectations. It tastes rich and creamy and is not sour at all. Perfect to help satisfy my craving for mango mousse!So, I used a ripe mango I had sitting around to make fresh mango pulp. Then, sweetened it a touch, added the yogurt and milk. The whole thing was stabilized with gelatin. I couldn't resist adding a crust flavored with almonds and amaretti cookies (Italian almond flavored cookies) to give it more of a cold tart feel. The end result was way more than satisfactory... It was totally awesome!!!Ingredients: Crust:Crushed amaretti cookies - 4 tbsp (can substitute with 2 tbsp almond flour and 2 tbsp all purpose flour)Almonds, powdered - 2 tbspAll purpose flour - 1 1/2 tbspMelted butter - 1 tbspFilling:Mango pulp (from fresh mangoes) - 1 cup (if using canned pulp, decrease sugar!)Sugar - 3 tbspNonfat Greek yogurt (I used Oikos) - 1/2 cupMilk (or cream) - 1/2 cupGelatin - 1 packet of powdered gelatinWater (to dissolve gelatin) - 1/4 cupMethod:1. Preheat oven to 375 F.2. Combine all the crust ingredients and press into 4 ramekins. The ramekins I used were 5 oz size. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. The crust may seem a little soft on removal from the oven, but will harden on cooling.3. Mix together the mango pulp, yogurt, milk or cream, and sugar in a medium bowl. Keep aside.4. Now, mix the gelatin powder and water in a saucepan. Allow to soak for 5 minutes. Then, turn the stove on to low and stir continuously until the gelatin melts. Remove from the heat.5. Add the gelatin mixture to the mango mixture whle stirring continuously. Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes to combine everything well and ensure that no lumps remain.6. Pour the filling mixture into the cooled ramekins (that have the already baked crusts), dividing evenly.7. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight for firm up.Enjoy these as is or garnished with some freshly cut ripe mangoes and give into temptation...![...]



Absolutely Off the Hook Brownies

2009-06-24T23:08:00.843-04:00

I remember the first few times I made brownies. I must have been 10 or 11 years old and I was using a box brownie mix from the grocery store. I'd already been regularly baking cakes so I felt pretty confident that I would be able to do this without a problem. I followed the box directions to mix up the batter and put it into the oven as stated on the box. Then, I checked the brownies to see if they were done at the given time. I thought it made perfect sense to test them using a toothpick as I had done for cakes. Well, the toothpick didn't come out clean when inserted into the brownies. So, I continued baking them until the toothpick finally came out clean.If you've had any experience with brownies, you might know how they turned out. After they cooled down, those brownies could have been used as hockey pucks! Yes, that's how hard they were... I quickly learned that it's more about the baking time and not necessarily about how done they look.On top of all this comes the eternal debate of what type of brownies you like. Fudgy or cake-like? Semisweet or dark? With nuts or without? Do you like any additional flavorings? It goes on and on.Well, these brownies are from a tried and true recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. They are fudgy, but not gooey. They are not quite cake-like, but form a nice compromise. There's also a nice kick from some added espresso powder. No, they don't really taste like coffee, but the coffee actually intensifies the chocolate flavor. As for nuts? Not this time for me. Chocolate chips? Any way to add more chocolate is always great for me!In a nutshell, these brownies are rich and chocolaty enough to satisfy the die-hard chocoholic. At the same time, it's hard to restrain yourself from eating just one! If you're fortunate enough to have leftovers, they actually get even better after a day or 2!Ingredients:Unsalted butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick)Sugar - 3/4 cup (for mildly sweet)Eggs - 2Dutch process cocoa powder - 1/2 cup + 2 tbspSalt - 1/2 tspBaking powder - 1/2 tspEspresso powder - 1/2 tsp (or coffee powder 1 tsp)Vanilla extract - 2 tspAll purpose flour - 3/4 cupChocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet) - 1 cupMethod:1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 pan or line it with parchment paper that's lightly greased. I find it easiest to cut the parchment so that it sits flat on the bottom, but has long sides that extend beyond the height of the pan. This way, you can use the parchment to lift the brownies out.2. Place the butter in a microwave safe medium bowl and melt in the microwave.3. Now, add the sugar and mix into the butter. Place in the microwave and heat it for about 15 seconds to slightly melt the sugar. Whisk the mixture together well.4. At this point, add in the salt, espresso powder, baking powder, cocoa powder and eggs. Whisk until combined.5. Lastly, add the flour and chocolate chips. Mix until fairly well combined. Pour into prepared baking pan.6. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges of the brownies pull slightly from the pan. Insert a toothpick and you should get just a few moist crumbs remaining on the toothpick.7. Now, place the pan on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (if you have the parchment paper lined as above stated) and then remove from the pan. Otherwise, cool completely in the pan. Once fully cooled (by either method), cut into pieces and enjoy!The second picture is off to the June edition of CLICK at the Jugalbandi blog, where the theme is "stacks." Click here for more information.[...]



Pudhina Kadalai Chutney

2009-06-19T19:30:02.279-04:00

I remember one day, not too long after marriage, when my husband and I were eating breakfast at my parents' house. We were eating idlis and hubby started talking about "palli chutney." Now, if you speak Tamil, you shouldn't have a problem understanding why I had an absolutely shocked and disgusted expression on my face.

See, palli in Tamil means a gecko... It's one of those little green lizard-like creatures that crawls on the walls and makes noise in India. So, when hubby mentioned "palli chutney", I was inferring that someone must have gotten the brilliant idea to turn these creatures into a chutney. If that wasn't disgusting enough, people would actually eat this stuff??!!

Turns out, he had been exposed to it via an Andhraite friend of his. The name was apparently in Telugu and means peanut chutney! Of course he just sat there and enjoyed the facial contortions from my mother and myself. After taking his sweet time, he finally explained what he meant. First, a sigh of relief and then I spent a while trying to chase him down to smack him. Men!! Anyone else have antics like this going on??

What's all the buildup about? Well, I had some mint lying around in the fridge and wanted to make it into a chutney. So, I thought, why not combine it with peanuts and see how it comes out? It's really good and hubby simply loves it!

Ingredients:

Peanuts - 1/2 cup, roasted
Mint leaves - 1 cup, loosely packed
Garlic - 2 cloves, roughly chopped
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Tamarind - small almond size
Red chillies - 6-8, or to taste
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

Seasoning:

Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 6-8 leaves

Method:

1. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan. Once hot, add the red chillies, urad dal, tamarind, and garlic. Fry until the chillies darken slightly and the garlic starts to turn slightly golden at the edges.

2. Now, add the mint leaves and fry until the leaves wilt and shrink down.

3. Cool the mixture and grind to smooth paste along with the roasted peanuts and water as required to achieve a chutney consistency.

4. Heat oil for seasoning. Add the seasoning ingredients, allow to splutter and pour over the prepared chutney. Serve with idli, dosai, etc.

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So, what did we think? Well, this is like peanut chutney with a kiss of mint to it. Extremely light and refreshing. We had it with dosai, but it would be great with tiffin items. Enjoy!



Mango Cake

2009-06-16T18:54:45.000-04:00

Have you ever finished cutting up a mango and started eating the flesh off of the seed? For me, that's one of the ultimate joys of buying mangoes. I have the immense pleasure of enjoying the flesh around the seed.Well, the other day, I found myself sucking on the mango seed while standing over the sink. Mango juice was dribbling down my arm and I was suddenly transported to being in India. I remember being at my Mama's house (my maternal uncle's house) when I was a child. There were a couple of mango trees literally right outside of the house. We went during mango season and were rewarded with delicious ripe mangoes right off of the tree... Who needed food when there were such delicious mangoes to eat? All of us little cousins were sitting around and slurping on mangoes with the juice dribbling down our arms without a care in the world... Somehow, time had passed, but there is little else that measures to the joy of eating a mango with the juice running down your arms. *sigh*On the day I was mentioning, I looked into the box of mangoes and realized that a couple of them were really getting overripe. So, I thought, why not turn it into a cake? Good idea!This cake has mango flavor, but I find that cooking mangoes can sometimes result in a less pronounced mango flavor. That being said, the cake itself is extremely moist and a real delight. The mango puree helps to keep the cake so moist. The added bonus is that the cake is also relatively lowfat.Ingredients:All purpose flour - 1 cupWhite whole wheat flour (or all purpose) - 1 cupBaking powder - 1 tspBaking soda - 1 tspSalt - 1/2 tspCardamom powder - 1/2 tsp, or to tasteSugar - 3/4 cupMango puree, fresh or canned - 1.5 cupsButter, softened - 4 tbspEggs, room temperature - 2Method:1. Preheat oven to 350 F.2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, like whipped cream. Meanwhile, sift the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom powder) together in another bowl and keep aside.3. Now, add the eggs and combine well.4. Once the eggs are incorporated, add 1/2 cup of the mango puree. Combine and then add about 1/2 of the dry ingredients. Again, combine, add another 1/2 cup of the mango puree. Mix in, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and incorporate. Finally, fold in the last of the mango puree.5. Butter and flour a 10 inch bundt or tube pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.6. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove and cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!Note: If you don't have a bundt pan, you can use a standard loaf pan, but the baking time will change.Update: I'm sending this cake to Srivalli, of Cooking 4 all Seasons, for her Mango Mela. Click here for more information.[...]



Small Onion- Tomato Chutney

2009-06-04T22:12:31.947-04:00

My mother would be laughing hysterically on seeing this post. Why, you ask? Well, the thing is she used to make a version of this chutney quite often when I was young. Of course, I'd start throwing a tantrum saying how much I disliked it and refused to eat it. Poor thing... When I think of all she's put up with from me, all I can say is that Amma is a saint!

Like most people, my tastes seem to have changed as I've grown older. So, today, I decided to make this chutney Amma used to make with a few of my own changes. The original recipe is well over 50 years old in my family. It starts with small onions cooked in a base of tomatoes and is seasoned with fennel and chilli powder. Really, that's it. So simple, right? Yet, it's made by my relatives every morning for idli/dosai.

I decided to change it up and add a little bit of garlic. Also, my tomatoes didn't have much flavor, so I wound up adding a touch of tamarind for a hint of sourness. Can I pat myself on the back, here? The chutney came out awesome!! I think Amma would be both proud and royally surprised.

Ingredients:

Small onions/sambar onions/shallots, peeled - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped finely
Tomatoes - 2 plum tomatoes, finely ground (about 1 cup)
Tamarind (only if tomatoes are not sour)- small almond sized piece, ground with the tomatoes
Chilli powder - 1 1/2 tsp, or to taste
Fennel powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste

Seasoning:

Oil - 1 tbsp; recommended: sesame oil (nallenai)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 3/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 6-8 leaves

Method:

1. Heat oil. When hot, add the seasoning ingredients. Allow to splutter and the dal to turn golden brown.

2. Now, add in the small onions and fry until slightly softened. It's ok if they turn a little brown at the edges. In fact, it tastes better that way!

3. At this point, add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Don't brown it or the garlic will become bitter!

4. Pour the pureed tamarind and tomatoes into the pot along with chilli powder, fennel powder and required salt.

5. Add about 1/2 cup of water, cover and let cook on medium low until slightly thickened. The raw tomato smell should have gone and the onions should be fully cooked.

6. Next? Turn the stove off and enjoy with idlis or dosai!


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Kitchen Sink Cookies

2009-06-16T18:52:55.675-04:00

Man, it's been such a long time since I wrote a real post... I think that with everything that has been going on in my life, the last thing I wanted to do was cook at all. For me, that's really saying a lot! I'm the type of person who finds cooking and baking to be extremely relaxing and therapeutic. Well, I finally started to feel a bit of motivation to bake again.I actually made an almond cake last week, but it sort of cracked coming out of the pan and was quickly devoured, so I never took pictures. And now, I made these delicious cookies. I call them kitchen sink cookies because they contain everything but the kitchen sink! I guess I was feeling a bit gluttonous, but they turned out so good. These cookies are chock full of oats, chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts and raisins. Mmm... Just heaven in every bite!Ingredients:Butter - 1 cup, softened to room temperatureBrown sugar - 3/4 cup, firmly packedCane sugar - 1/2 cup (Feel free to use regular sugar instead. Use 3/4 cup for sweet cookies)Eggs - 2, at room temperatureBaking Powder - 2 tspBaking Soda - 1 tspSalt - 1/2 tspVanilla extract - 1 tbspMilk - 1 tbspWhite whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour) - 1 1/2 cupsAll purpose flour - 3/4 cupRolled oats (regular or quick cooking) - 2 cupsSemisweet chocolate chips - 1 cupRaisins - 3/4 cupWalnuts, chopped - 3/4 cup toasted for 5 minutes at 350 F (until golden)Sweetened shredded coconut - 3/4 cup toasted for 5-7 minutes at 350 F (until golden)Method:1. Preheat oven to 375 F.2. Beat butter and sugars in stand mixer or using hand mixer until soft and fluffy like whipped cream.3. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat to combine well.4. Now, add in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together by hand or on slow speed in stand mixer until just combined. Do not overmix or you risk getting tough cookies.5. At this point, stir in the oats, chocolate chips, raisins, toasted walnuts, and toasted coconut gently to combine.6. Drop onto cookie sheets by heaped tablespoons or by using a tablespoon sized scoop (My favorite tool!). Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are light golden at the edges and are just set. They will not appear fully cooked, but it's fine. This will result in chewy cookies. For crisper cookies, bake for an additional 1-2 minutes, but be careful not to burn them! Keep in mind that this batter is meant for chewy cookies...7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Then, remove to a cooling rack and cool fully.Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or on their own. Kids will love these too (especially if they like chocolate and raisins).Update: I'm sending these cookies in to Mansi, of Fun and Food. She's hosting Sugar High Fridays where the theme is Fruit and Nuts. Click here for more info![...]



It's been a long hiatus...

2009-05-22T13:21:26.319-04:00

I know that this post is really long overdue. I have really missed blogging, but just have not been able to commit to it for many reasons. A lot has happened since the start of the year.

First, I was sick again and it went on for a few months. Eventually, I wound up needing surgery and am still somewhat recovering from that. In the sense that I'm not in pain, but still don't really feel like myself.

On top of all of this, my dear sweet amayee (mother's mother) passed away from this earth 1 month ago. I don't know whether to call it bad luck, lousy timing or what that didn't allow me to spend time with her the way I wanted. That is probably the biggest disadvantage to living so far... I was not able to visit her and she was not in any condition to make a trip here.

Amayee was the strongest woman I'd ever known. She was barely educated, couldn't read, write or tell time. She grew up in a small village and that was really all she knew. She married her maternal uncle and had 6 children, one of whom died very young. Amayee lost her husband at a young age and was left with 5 little children that ranged in ages from 12 to one year old. Yet, she didn't fold. She stayed in her house and fought to raise those children, despite never being exposed to the outside world. There were nights when she went to bed hungry, but she had to keep going to make a life for her kids.

Eventually, they grew up and her son got married and had 4 children of his own. She had the indescribable grief of seeing her son pass away 13 years after his marriage. Seeing her daughter-in-law widowed just as Amayee had been all those years ago killed her. So, she tried to be a source of strength to them for as long as she could.

Over the past few years, Amayee had become ill and was not able to take care of herself anymore. That is a type of torture that no one should have to undergo. Through everything, she was always concerned about everyone else's well being and always showered us with her blessings.

I will always treasure the sweet moments we had together, although they were few and far between. Amayee continues to live on in our hearts and is dearly missed...

I hope to resume blogging soon, as I find it to be so therapeutic. Miss you all and thanks so much for the kind messages and emails.



Here's to a New Year and a Fresh Start!

2008-12-31T22:21:52.183-05:00

This year has definitely been one of ups and downs for me, as most of you know. The year started on a low note and proceeded to oscillate between ok times and bad times. Through it all, I feel I've grown stronger as a person. I've learned so much about life and myself through blogging. I was also able to re-connect with a lot of old friends who I haven't been able to talk to in a very long time.

I participated in the arusuvai chain in the US, won the first round of the open sesame contest (created by Dhivi and Siri), and enjoyed participating in many blog events. Along the way, I've discovered many new bloggers and am constantly inspired by all of you.

I introduced the blog to family members and have even gotten marks of approval on many of my recipes! What more validation could a blogger want, right? I'm glad that they are also able to share this side of me and look forward to creating more recipes from their input, too.

2008 was overall a trying, but inspiring year for me and I am looking forward to a much better 2009! I would like to thank all of you for sharing in the good and bad times I've had this year. I look forward to blogging more and learning more from each of your blogs.

I wish each and every one of the readers of Samaithu Paarkalaam a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year 2009!

And now, a small greeting from me to you...
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Crazy for Cookies!

2008-12-18T19:44:00.451-05:00

So, I've been on a bit of a baking spree for the past few days... Blame it on the upcoming holidays and having to mail things out to people! Guess it's pretty obvious that I've baked a bunch of cookies and want to share the recipes here.Benne Biscuit:This is one that my husband and sister-in-law were telling me about. Apparently, it's a butter biscuit that they used to love eating in Bangalore. So, I looked up a recipe and decided to try it. The results were delicious!! Original recipe can be found here. I didn't make any changes to the recipe and they came out awesome!Eggless Chocolate Oat Cookies:This one was a special recipe that I found to send to my cousin's kids. Her two little ones have eczema and can't have dairy or eggs. What to send? Well, I didn't have to look far for this one. Sailu's blog came to my rescue with this recipe. The cookies were slightly chewy when warm and turned crisp on cooling. They had a nice chocolatey flavor and the oats texture really shined through. Perfect treat for little ones! No changes to this recipe either. Sailu's instructions were perfect!Gingersnaps:These are the perfect all-American holiday cookie... A little spicy, a little sweet and crispy. They keep forever (if you can hold on to them for that long!) and are perfect for dunking in tea or hot apple cider. The following recipe is from my King Arthur Flour cookbook.Ingredients:All purpose flour - 1 1/3 cupWhite whole wheat (or all purpose) - 1 cupDried ginger powder - 2 tspCinnamon - 1 tspCloves powder - 1/2 tspSalt - 1/2 tspBaking soda - 2 tspButter - 3/4 cup, softenedSugar - 2/3 cup (1 cup for more sweet cookies)Egg - 1 largeMolasses - 1/3 cupCoarse sugar to roll cookies in - about 1/3 cupMethod:1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.2. Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, spices, salt, and baking soda) in a small bowl. In another larger bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy (like whipped cream). Now, beat in the molasses until well combined. At this point, add in the dry ingredients and stir together to form a soft dough.3. Now, take 1-2 tsp of dough for each cookie, form into a ball and roll each ball into the coarse sugar to coat. Place about 2 inches apart on the greased or lined cookie sheets.4. Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. They will appear soft when you remove them from the oven, but will harden on cooling. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.Enjoy with beverage of your choice!In honor of the events going on in the blogosphere, the first 2 cookies are going to Sharmi's cookie event as well as JZ's Santa's Holiday Challenge.Gingersnaps are headed to the monthly mingle at Meeta's blog!And with that, my friends, am going on vacation and will be back in 10 days or so. Hope everyone has a great rest of the year![...]



Baby Turns One!

2008-12-18T19:57:16.205-05:00

My baby (I mean, my blog) is one year old already! I really cannot believe that it's been a whole year since I started my blog. Time really flies. I remember not having any idea of how to start and what to post... I started visiting blogs that I'd seen from before starting my own blog. Slowly, ideas began coming to me. I've learned so much through blogging!I've found that I have grown tremendously as a person in this past year. I have found an outlet for something that I truly love. I am able to express myself in a completely unique way via blogging. I love cooking, baking and sharing. This blog has been a perfect vehicle for all of those things. In addition, I've learned a little bit about recipe writing and photography (OK, very little).I am also thankful for all of the amazing souls I have "met" virtually through blogging. Dear friends who didn't know I existed a year ago have been so kind, sweet, encouraging, and supportive in good times and during rough patches. I am truly grateful for each and every interaction we've had and look forward to deepening friendships and new friendships in the coming year.As always, I am open to any comments/suggestions as to how you think this blog could be improved or for any specific post requests. Once again, thank you all and let's get the party started!I thought it would be best to celebrate with the fruits of the season. So, I made an apple cake to share with you all. This cake (adapted from my King Arthur Flour baking book) is perfect for snacking or can easily be dressed up for a simple, elegant dessert. Sweet apples are complemented by raisins, dried cranberries, and spices. The result is sheer bliss without much effort on your part!Apple Cake (yields 16 pieces):Ingredients:Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cupAll purpose flour - 1/2 cup plus 2 tbspSugar - 1/4 cup (for mildly sweet; can increase to 1/3 cup for sweeter)Brown sugar - 1/2 cupBaking soda - 1 tspSalt - 3/8 tspCinnamon powder - 1 tspAllspice - 1/4 tspNutmeg - 1/4 tspSoftened butter - 4 tbspCrystallized ginger or fresh ginger (optional) - 1 1/2 tbsp, minced finelyApples - 2 cups, peeled and choppedRaisins - 1/4 cupDried cranberries - 1/4 cupEgg - 1Method:1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with greased parchment paper or grease and flour the pan.2. Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, salt, sugars, baking soda, and spices) together. Cut the butter into pieces and add it along with the apples, ginger, raisins, cranberries, and the egg. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Note: The batter may seem a bit thick, but it's ok!3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and bake at 325 F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, slice, and serve!We had ours plain (mine with whipped cream) with tea or coffee. So moist and flavorful with spices. Juicy bursts of raisins and cranberries throughout made it the perfect cake for the season! I think that a cream cheese frosting would be delicious on it, too. This is one that I will definitely be making again. Hope you enjoyed my celebration and here's to another wonderful year of blogging!Update: I'm sending this in to JZ's Santa's Holiday Challenge event.[...]



Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2008-11-29T18:51:14.970-05:00

I'm not sure how many of you have seen Sesame Street (the kids show). Well, cookie monster is a character on the show who is obsessed with cookies. Every time he sees a cookie, he becomes a little crazy and proceeds to devour it with such enthusiasm, it's hilarious! No idea what I'm talking about? To see Cookie Monster in action, click here.So, what does Cookie Monster have to do with this post? Well, these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies could very easily turn you into a cookie monster who wants to devour them all in one sitting!!I have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that I've used for years. I don't know about you, but I am a die hard fan of the soft and chewy type of chocolate chip cookie. Just the thought of them makes me drool!! One fine day (many years ago), I decided to see what would happen to my favorite cookie recipe by adding a bit of peanut butter. Well, after some experimentation, I think I got to the right level of peanutty goodness to compliment the chocolate chips. And, viola! A new cookie favorite was born!The recipe I've used is based on a recipe from my Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking book.Ingredients:All purpose flour - 4 1/4 cupsBaking soda - 2 tspSalt - 1/2 tspButter - 1 1/2 cups, softenedBrown Sugar - 1 1/2 cups, firmly packedWhite Sugar - 3/4 cup (increase to 1 cup for more sweet)Vanilla Extract - 2 tspEggs - 3Peanut Butter - 1 cup (I used creamy)Chocolate chips - 1 (12oz) bag of semisweet or bittersweet chipsMethod:1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. It will look sort of like lemon colored whipped cream at this stage.3. Add vanilla extract, eggs, and peanut butter. Blend well to combine.4. Now, mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Once everything is well mixed, toss the chocolate chips in and stir to combine. 5. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Note: I find this easiest to do with a tablespoon sized scoop. 6. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes until barely light golden brown. They will feel soft and mushy if you try to touch them, but will firm up on cooling! If you continue to bake them until they appear firm, they will not be chewy after you've cooled them. 7. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk. :)Seeing as how chocolate chip cookies are the quintessential American cookie, I'm sending these delectable morsels to Dhivi at Culinary Bazaar for AWED American. Hope all my friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)[...]



One long acceptance speech!!

2008-11-12T16:45:23.319-05:00

Well, as part of getting back into the swing of things (sort of!), I realized that I had received so many awards during my break that I never posted about. So, please bear with me as I thank everyone who has been so kind as to pass me awards!1. The Blogging with a Purpose AwardThis award was passed to me by Cham, JZ, and Veda. Thank you all so much! I am truly honored and will wear this on my blog with pride.I'd like to pass this on to Indosungod, Uma, Sig, and Maheshwari. Enjoy, ladies!2. The Yummy Blog Award and Yum-Yum Blog Award:This award was passed to me of Sailaja of Sailaja's Recipes. Thank you!Yum-yum blog was passed to me by Amrutha of The Chef in Me. I am so flattered!! Thanks!I'm passing both the yummy blog award and the yum-yum blog award to Lavi, Dhivi, Cham, and Uma. Congratulations, ladies!3. Rockin Girl BloggerThis one was awarded to me of Maheshwari and is definitely an honor to receive this from a blogger that I've admired since long before starting my own blog. Thank you so much!! I think that most of you have received this already, so I pass it on to all of you dear girls who rock!4. Chocoholic Award:I'm not sure how Anu knew it, but I am a chocoholic of the worst kind. When I start craving chocolate, do not stand in my way!! I adore dark chocolate and really don't understand why white chocolate exists (sorry!). Brownies are my ultimate chocoholic indulgence! Thank you, Anu for this one!5. Inspirational Award, Butterfly Award, Hard Working Food Blogger and Good Job:The inspirational blog award was given to me by dear Pravs of Simply Spicy. To receive this award from her means so much to me. She has one of the most inspirational blogs I've ever had the pleasure to visit! I adore her pics and recipes. Thanks so much, Pravs!The butterfly award was passed to me by Anu of Chandrabhaga and Raji of Rak's Kitchen. Thank you for thinking my blog is cool!Both of the above awards were passed to me by Anu. Thank you for these, too! I'm passing all of these awards to Pravs, Valli, Sia, Sailu, Raaga, Sagari, and Cham.6. Giant Bear Hug, Friendship Award, and Perfect Blend of FriendshipThis bear hug was given to me by Cham and Sailaja. This symbol of friendship was given to me by Sowmya of Creative Saga. This perfect blend of friendship was given to me by Anu. I'd like to pass all of these awards on to Cham, Lavi, Dhivi, Sailu, and Revathi. I am so, so, so thankful and flattered to have received all of these awards. If I inadvertently missed anyone who has passed me awards, please just give me a swift kick in the pants and I will surely acknowledge them! Thanks again![...]



Jammin' with Jamuns!

2008-11-09T19:49:22.007-05:00

I have to say once again that I am so thankful for all of your kind wishes, thoughts, and prayers. Every comment that everyone has left on my last couple of posts have really helped to pick up my spirits. Each comment has made me smile and has touched my heart. I cannot thank you all enough for all of your support. I'm really lucky to have found so many kind souls in this world!Ok, I should stop being so ultra sentimental before I start getting tears in my eyes! So, let's get to the subject of today's post, shall we?This actually goes back to Deepavali. Somehow, I wasn't able to get my act together and take pictures to post right after Deepavali. Well, better late than never, right? :) I made these gulab jamuns for Deepavali along with carrot halwa (long gone before I could get the camera out), murukku (chakli), and thattai. I was truly lazy about taking pictures and this was the only one that I managed to click some photos of. I have to say that the gulab jamuns were so much easier to make this time since I had Amma's help! I learned that the dough for the jamuns should be fairly stiff (sort of like poori dough). Also, the jamuns should be fried at medium temp. If they're fried at too high a temperature, they will brown on the outside before getting cooked on the inside. On the other hand, if they are fried at a very low temperature, they will break apart in the oil! Just great, I thought! The key is to heat the oil at medium to medium low heat and keep the heat at a constant temperature. If you're not sure if the jamuns are cooked, just poke a cooked one with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they're done!I've read many, many recipes that say to drop the hot fried jamuns directly into warm syrup. I have to say that every time I've tried it that way, my jamuns wind up blowing up like over inflated balloons and collapse in the syrup. So, I did it Amma's way. I allowed the jamuns to cool until slightly warm before dropping them into warm syrup. I also let the flavors marry in the fridge for a day. The end result was perfectly soft, spongy jamuns!!! All it took was a little patience. Well, that's asking a lot of me (patience is not my forte!), but I finally managed to do it!Ingredients:Jamuns:Nonfat milk powder - 1 cupAll purpose flour (maida) - 1/2 cupBaking soda - 1/2 tspMelted butter - 2 tbspSalt - pinchMilk - enough to make a medium stiff doughSyrup: (make earlier and keep warm)Sugar - 1 1/2 cupsWater - 1 cupCardamom - crushed seeds of 2 podsOil to fryMethod:1. Combine the sugar and water in a pan. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Then, add crushed cardamom and remove from heat. (The syrup should be slightly warm when adding jamuns.) If you like more syrup, just make 1.5 to 2 times the amount stated in the recipe.2. Heat oil on medium heat. As the oil heats, combine flour, milk powder, baking soda, salt, and butter. Slowly add milk to make a medium stiff dough. Take small pieces of the dough (about nutmeg sized) and roll into balls. (Note: Keep in mind that the dough will expand and enlarge on hitting the oil, so make the balls smaller than you want the end size to be!) Keep the dough balls aside, covered with a slightly damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.3. Slowly, slip the balls into the warm oil. You may need to fry them in 2 batches, depending on the size of your pan. Gently and slowly, shake the balls around in the oil to cook them evenly. When they are golden brown and rise to the top of the oil, remove them and allow them to cool until just slightly warm.4. Add the cooled balls to the warm syrup. Allow the flavors to develop in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving, for best results. Warm jamuns before eating and enjoy every luscious bite! Tem[...]



Back with Blueberry Scones!

2008-11-03T19:23:00.816-05:00

First of all, I just want to say it feels really good to be doing something productive again! I also want to thank each and every one of you sweet girls who have been so supportive with your emails, comments and positive energy for me in what's been a difficult time. Without getting into too much detail, suffice it to say that I've been dealing with major health issues for a very long time and things were getting to be too much to handle in the past few months. My mind was just not able to function and somehow even blogging didn't seem like a release! I'm still going through a lot of procedures, tests, etc., but will definitely be blogging when time and energy permit.So many of your comments touched me and goodness knows I've missed you all dearly! I love the unique connection that blogging allows all of us. To think that so many lovely women whom I've never had the pleasure of meeting are so encouraging and truly care about my well being has touched me in ways that I never imagined. You gals are the best!Tired of my self-purging? Ok, ok, ok. Thanks for bearing with me! I'm getting to the recipe now. With the weather here getting colder and this awesome scone recipe in my drafts, I figured I'd give one last throwback to summer before kissing it goodbye (sigh).I absolutely adore blueberries! I always have since childhood. So, all summer, I tend to be on the lookout for more recipes to use these gorgeous berries. This summer, I wandered onto the King Arthur Flour recipe website and found a recipe for blueberry scones that sounded awesome! (The link is here.)These scones are almost more along the lines of drop biscuits. They're pretty easy in the sense that you just scoop the resulting dough out using a measuring cup or ice cream scoop. There's no requirement for kneading or shaping. So, you can bet I made these more than once!They just melt in your mouth and the juicy, sweet blueberries provide a pop of flavor that is just amazing! Talk about a symphony of flavors!! Enough buildup, you say? Well, let's get to the recipe! I pretty much followed the recipe on the website, except to substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour for 1/2 of the all purpose flour.Ingredients: 1 cup all purpose flour1 cup white whole wheat flour1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces 1 cup fresh blueberries 2 large eggs, beaten 1/4 cup plain, lowfat yogurt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, for sprinkling on topRecipe:1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients using your fingers until the butter crumbles so that some of it is like coarse crumbs and others are like peas. Mix the blueberries into this dry mix. Be careful that you don't break the blueberries while tossing! 3. Stir together the wet ingredients (eggs, yogurt, vanilla extract, and lemon zest) in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir very gently, just until combined. The dough will be pretty moist at this point. Don't worry! It's supposed to be moister than biscuit dough! :)4. Use a muffin scoop or 1/4-cup measure to scoop and drop the dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving about 2" between the scones. Brush each ball of dough with a bit of milk or cream, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. 5. Bake the scones at 375 F for 20 to 24 minutes, or until lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into a scone comes out dry. Remove from the oven, remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with [...]



Happy Deepavali!

2008-10-28T15:42:16.018-04:00

Wish each and every one of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous Deepavali 2008. I am in a bit of a better state at the present time. Will be back to blogging soon. Hope you are all enjoying the celebrations with your families!



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உங்கள் அனைவருக்கும் என் இனிய தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

Happy Deepavali!
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Why the Silence?

2008-08-12T18:27:33.341-04:00

First off, I'd like to apologize for the long, unexplained silence. As I mentioned before, I was a bit preoccupied with sending my parents off to India for a short trip. They just left this past weekend. I also have been dealing with a lot of personal issues that have me really emotionally and physically drained. I haven't had the energy or motivation to post lately. For the same reason, I haven't been able to visit your blogs and comment regularly. I will probably continue to be irregular with posting and events for the next month or so. Thanks so much to each and every one of you who have sent me concerned comments and emails. It feels so great to know that you care about me! I also want to thank all of you who sent me treasured awards in the recent past. I promise to post about them and pass them on just as soon as I'm able. I will be visiting when time permits and hope to be back to posting soon. Thanks so much for understanding!



Mango Chicken

2008-07-15T18:30:02.602-04:00

My husband had a bout of enthusiasm on going to the Indian store one day and brought a crate of mangoes home. After giving some away, I still had a bunch to deal with. Mind you, this was one problem I didn't mind dealing with in the least! After eating a good number of them out of hand, I thought about making something for dinner one day and decided on making a savory dish using mangoes.The inspiration for creating this mango chicken was actually from a dish I had at a restaurant that served Thai and Malaysian food. The dish we ordered there had shrimp, but I substituted chicken as I didn't have any shrimp at home to make this with. Sweet mangoes marry with spicy green chillies, salty soy sauce, and crunchy bell peppers to produce a symphony of flavors in one's mouth. Add some hot rice to that and what more could you want??I think that this would be even more delicious with shrimp. If you don't do meat, then by all means try it with tofu. I'm sure the results would be fabulous!!Ingredients:Boneless chicken breast - 1, diced into bite sized piecesRed onion - 2 small, coarsely choppedRed bell pepper - 1 medium, chopped into large diceGreen bell pepper - 1 medium, chopped into large diceMango (ripe) - 1 medium, choppedGarlic - 3 cloves, gratedGinger - 2 inch piece, gratedGreen chillies - 6-8, or to taste, choppedSoy sauce - to tasteRice vinegar - 2 tsp or to tasteCornstarch - 1 tspScallions - 2 stalks, chopped for garnishMethod:1. Marinate the chicken with soy sauce to taste, cornstarch, and half of the grated garlic and ginger for 15 - 30 minutes.2. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the marinated chicken and fry on high heat for 1-2 minutes until the chicken becomes slightly golden, but is still not cooked through. Remove from the pan.3. Now, add the bell peppers and onions to the same pan. Saute until the veggies start to become slightly tender yet crisp. 4. Add the green chillies along with the remaining ginger and garlic. Fry until the raw smell disappears, about 2-3 minutes.5. At this point, the sauteed chicken gets added back to the pan along with soy sauce to taste, rice vinegar and 1/2 cup of water. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes for the flavors to infuse. If the sauce seems to thick to you, add some more water. Alternatively, if you want it thicker, add another 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp of water and simmer for 2 minutes for it to thicken up. 6. Now, add in the chopped mangoes and stir for another 30 seconds or so. Turn off the heat. Garnish with scallions and serve with hot rice. Enjoy!!We loved this dish and so I'm sending it off to Meeta for this month's monthly mingle with the theme of Mango Mania!![...]



Arachuvitta Meen Kuzhambu (Fish with Ground Masala)

2008-07-01T16:39:24.712-04:00

Voting for Open Sesame 2 has started today. If you liked my baklava buns, please vote for me by clicking here and logging in. Thanks in advance for your support!I've probably mentioned before that fish addiction runs in my family. Let me give you an example... My grandfather would go fishing late at night at a lake in our village. I'm told that he would tell my grandmother to grind the masala and keep everything ready for when he got back. As soon as he returned with the live fish, she would quickly prepare the fish gravy. He HAD to eat it before he'd be able to get some peaceful sleep.My mother and amayee (my maternal grandmother) both start drooling the second they set their eyes on fish. I wasn't a huge fan of fish as a child, but I think the fish bug has bit me too! I often find myself in a fix getting a really strong fish craving only to run to the fish market, buy some really good fish, make some fish kuzhambu and proceed to devour it!This recipe is one that always hits the spot! It's inspired by a recipe that I saw on the internet long before I started this blog. I quickly scribbled down some of the points and didn't record the website. So, I apologize for not being able to give that person credit.The awesome thing about this recipe is that you grind all of the required masala. Seasoning is done with onions and garlic. The fish is then cooked in the ground masala and tamarind. It's really delicious without the addition of any coconut (if you're concerned about that)!Also, if you have any reservations about your fish (i.e. you're not sure it's the best), this is the recipe to go with! The combo of the fennel flavor with black pepper, green chillies, and garlic is really special and will help to overcome any possible fishy aroma you may be concerned about. Without any further ado, let me get to the recipe!Ingredients:Fish - approx 2 lbs, cleaned, cut into thin slicesTamarind - small key lime size, soaked in water, and juice extractedShallots - 2 medium, sliced finelyGarlic - 3 cloves, chopped finelyTo grind into paste:Shallots - 1 mediumTomato - 1 mediumBlack peppercorns - 1/2 tspFennel seeds - 1 tspGreen chillies - 3-4, or to tasteCurry leaves - 6-8 (optional)Chilli powder - 2 tsp, or to tasteCoriander powder - 1 1/2 tspTurmeric powder - 1/2 tspFor seasoning:Oil (recommended: sesame oil)Methi seeds/vendheyam - 1 tspCurry leaves - 10Method:1. Wash the fish in water with turmeric powder and keep aside.2. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the seasoning ingredients. Once the methi seeds have browned and spluttered a little, add the sliced shallots.3. Fry the shallots until softened. Then, add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant.4. Pour in the ground masala, tamarind extract, and required salt. Allow to boil until thickened to desired consistency. Note: Make this a little thicker than your ideal gravy consistency as the fish will cause the gravy to loosen once it's added!5. Now, gently place the fish pieces in the gravy. Do not mix with a spoon at this stage. Just pick up the pot by the handles and gently swirl the gravy over and around the fish. Allow to simmer until the fish is cooked, about 5-6 minutes. Turn off and enjoy with hot steaming rice!This delicious bowl of meen kuzhambu is on its way to dear Sig who is hosting JFI tamarind this month. Hope she enjoys it as much as we did![...]



Baklava Buns

2008-06-30T15:46:06.605-04:00

When Dhivi and Siri announced the start of Open Sesame II, I was only more than happy to participate in this round as well. This time, I selected box 4 and received the following riddle:I am a flower but adorn a bouquet, I do notI have an inbuilt perfume in my beingSo strong and so intense that my oil will make your insides 'hot'My medical impact all over the world seen. My 'Yorubas' infusion is the 'savior' of star warsI have been used as a barter by the fellow 'sadiqi's' during tradesOne does not have to fight tooth or 'nail' for meI am usually pink but mostly available browned in shades I may be dry , I may overpower your tongueBut add a little for that midas touchCome now, start thinking of that spiceWhose bite make your 'teeth' say Ouch!After an initial incorrect guess, I got it right with 1 hint. The answer is CLOVES! Yes, the fragrant spice that can add the right pizazz to a given dish.I tend to use cloves in either non-veg dishes, pulao/biryani, or tea for the most part. So, I sat around for days waiting for inspiration to strike. Well, days turned into weeks and suddenly it came to me... I thought why not combine the flavors of baklava with the concept of a cinnamon roll and see what happens. The result was sheer bliss! :)For this recipe, I took a basic cinnamon roll dough recipe that I've used in the past. The dough recipe is originally from FoodNetwork.com and can be found here. I then took the flavors of baklava (nuts, cinnamon, cloves, sugar) and formed these into a filling. For the icing, I used honey and cream cheese.Making this took a bit of time, but wasn't too hard if you're not too scared of yeast. Even if you are scared, it's still not going to be too hard! :) The great thing about this recipe is that the second rise of the dough is done in the fridge so that you can break it up into 2 steps. This way, you can have these for breakfast and not break much of a sweat! :)Ingredients:Dough:4 egg yolks, room temperature1 whole egg, room temperatureSugar - 1/4 cupButter - 6 tbsp, meltedButtermilk - 3/4 cup, room temperatureAll purpose flour - 3 3/4- 4 cups (optional : use 1/2 wheat or white whole wheat)Yeast - 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp)Salt - 3/4 tspFilling:Dark brown sugar - 1/2 cup, packedWhite sugar - 1/4 cup (or use light brown sugar)Ground cinnamon - 2 tspGround cloves - 1 tsp (use 1/2 tsp for a mild clove flavor)Walnuts - 2/3 cup, toasted for 10 minutes in 350 F oven, chopped, and cooledpinch saltSoftened butter - 1 1/2 tbspIcing:Cream cheese - 3 ounces, softenedHoney - 1/4 cup (adjust per taste)Method:1. Fit a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 2 cups of flour, yeast, and salt and whisk until moistened. Now, switch to the dough hook attachment. At this point, add all but 1 1/4 cup of flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the dough now and see if it's sticky. If so, add flour 1/4 cup at a time and allow to combine. Knead on low speed until the dough clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 more minutes. (Note: I needed 3 3/4 cup of flour to make the dough) Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to double in volume in a warm place. This step takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Note: The dough will rise well even though the liquids have not been warmed. Just make sure everything is at room temp!Unrisen dough2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining the sugars, cinnamon, clove, salt and nuts in a bowl. Keep aside.3. Once the dough has risen sufficiently:[...]



Rava-Coconut Ladoos

2008-06-24T12:01:24.406-04:00

I know I've been pretty irregular with my posts lately, but I've had a lot of random stuff going on these days. My parents will be leaving for India in a few weeks and have been a bit occupied with last minute prep to send them off. Plus, other family stuff has had me a bit preoccupied, too.

You might have wanted to see the rava ladoo that I mentioned I sent to my SIL in my last post. I love making this rava ladoo because it's so easy to throw together and fast. Add to that that it's one of my SIL's favorite sweets and mails well and I had a perfect item to send her. :)

Nothing really new about this rava ladoo. I like my sweets to be moderately sweet, so I've used 1 cup of sugar. If you like very sweet sweets, you can increase the sugar as per your taste. These wind up being sweet, firm, melt in your mouth ladoos flavored with cardamom and the mild sweetness of coconut. Add to this raisins and cashews and you've got a delicious treat!

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(image) (image) Ingredients:

Rava - 2 cups, roasted until golden brown in 3 tbsp of ghee and cooled
Ghee - 1/3 - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 cup, or as per taste
Grated coconut or dessicated coconut- 1 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 3, powdered or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
Cashews - 2 tbsp, roasted in ghee and kept aside
Golden raisins - 2 tbsp, roasted in ghee and kept aside

Method:

1. Grind roasted and cooled rava in a mixie with sugar until it's fairly finely powdered. Remove from mixie.

2. If using fresh coconut, microwave for 1 minute to dry it out. Cool it, then grind in mixie until powdered. If using dessicated coconut, just powder it until finely powdered. Add to the rava/sugar mix along with cardamom powder.

3. Now, add milk along with fried raisins and cashews to this and mix to combine. Slowly add ghee until you have a slightly loose, but not extremely loose mix.

4. Form the mix into balls of the size you like. I got about 15 ladoos with this recipe. Place the balls on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and allow to firm up. This takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Enjoy rava ladoo with a cup of cardamom tea or mail them to your loved ones!

Given the addition of coconut in these delicious treats, I'm sending these to Suganya for AFAM coconut!



Click for Bri and Couscous

2008-06-14T15:23:16.623-04:00

The dynamic duo at Jugalbandi has asked us for our support in this month's special edition of Click. This month's photography competition has been combined with a fundraiser for Bri's treatment. Who is Bri, you ask? Bri is Brianna Brownlow of the blog, "Figs with Bri." Currently, Bri is in a situation where she has explored many treatment options for her breast cancer, yet the cancer has reccurred. The cancer has metastasized to many areas of her body. As many of us probably know from the media, health insurance will not cover many treatments that can be potentially helpful. So, bloggers are uniting to help raise money for Bri to help out in her toughest fight to date. Please check out the full details at Jugalbandi's site by clicking here. You can find out more info on how to donate money, more details about Bri's health situation and what prizes are potentially in store for you!


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I thought that this dish of saffron couscous would be quite fitting with the theme of yellow for this month's click. It just seems so sunny and happy to look at, I thought.

We had this for dinner last night and it was fantastic. Yellow from the addition of saffron, combined with sweet bites of raisins, and crunch from the almonds and scallions. It tasted great on its own and makes a perfect foil for any Middle Eastern type of curry.

Ingredients:

Couscous - 1 cup
Water or stock - 1 cup
Raisins - 2 tbsp
Scallions - 2 stems, chopped
Sliced almonds or pine nuts, toasted - 2 tbsp
Saffron - pinch
Salt to taste

Method:

Bring saffron and stock/water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the raisins, salt and couscous. Cover, turn the heat off and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add scallions, almonds, toss and serve. Enjoy!

Seeing as how this is also a Middle Eastern dish, I am sending this in to AWED at Siri's Corner! AWED was started by Dhivi of Culinary Bazaar.



Beetroot Halwa, Ramblings and a Prize

2008-06-10T23:31:09.615-04:00

Like many people, my feeds haven't always gotten updated on taste of India, so please use the subscribe button on the right side bar to get regular updates of my blog.It's been a very strange few weeks, I feel. I was sick for several days. Then, I seemed to be doing a bit better. We heard that one of my cousins will be getting married soon which was great news! They grow up so fast, don't they?But, after that came the news that my Amayee (grandmother) was sick. I mean really sick. I think about the active, lively person she used to be and to see and hear of her state now just makes me so sad. The day we heard about this, none of us were in a very good mood at all. Thank goodness it turned out to be severe dehydration (which was caused by intense diarrhea) and she's doing a lot better now.So, my mood has been pretty lousy lately due to all of these things. Add to that the killer heat we're having here and I think some of my brain cells have gotten fried in the process. I haven't felt like doing much of anything for a while...I just got the news that I won the Open Sesame contest at Dining Hall. That totally made my day!! Funny enough, I learned about it when I read some of the comments on my blog. Thanks so much to each and every one of you sweet souls that voted for me. Thanks also to Dhivi and Siri for coming up with such a fun idea!! Let's see how round 2 goes, eh?Given this happy news, it seems fitting to share some sweets with you all. Plus, yesterday was my SIL (husband's sister) and her husband's anniversary. Can't believe time has flown by! I sent them a care package with rava ladoos (for her) and beetroot halwa (for him) in honor of the occasion. This is the recipe for the halwa that I sent. Revathi, this is the same recipe for the halwa I sent you as part of arusuvai. :)I'm not going to lie and tell you that the entire taste of the beetroot is covered up in this sweet. So, if you are someone that detests beetroot, you may or may not like this one. It has all the creamy decadence of a halwa recipe and is a really nice way to get the nutrients of beetroot into your system, though! As per my husband and me, it gets 2 thumbs up!Beetroot Halwa:Ingredients:Beetroot, grated - 3 cupsMilk or half and half - 1 1/2 cups (I used 2% milk)Ghee - 3 tbspSugar - 3/4 cupCashew nuts - 10-15, brokenRaisins - 10-15Cardamom - seeds of 3 pods crushed or 1/2 tsp cardamom powderSalt - pinchMethod:1. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan over medium high heat. Add the grated beetroot and fry until the raw smell goes away.2. Now, add the milk, salt and sugar. Lower the heat to medium and allow it to cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. This may take 15-20 minutes, so be patient. As the mixture thickens, add 1 tbsp of ghee (or more if you wish).3. Turn the heat off of the pan. In another pan, heat 1 tbsp ghee and fry the raisins and cashews until the cashews are golden and the raisins plump up. Add to the halwa with cardamom powder. Stir well and serve hot!Enjoy the halwa and thanks for listening to my ramblings! :)[...]



Rotis and an Award!

2008-06-10T23:30:59.084-04:00

I just received another award!! It's the good chat award from Cham of Spice Club. Thank you so much for thinking of me, dear! Our friendship started in the early days of our blogs. Cham, I still have some of the masala powder you sent me for arusuvai. I think of you every time I use it!One other topic is about the Open Sesame event at Dining Hall. As you probably know, voting has started. If you liked my okra corn cakes, please log into Dining Hall and vote for me. To vote, click here. Thanks to all in advance!!Coming to the food part of this post, I'm going to write about 2 rotis. One has been in my drafts for a while and the other is newer. They are dill-vegetable roti and spinach-corn roti. Dill-Vegetable Roti:This one came about when I was thinking about akki rotis I've had in the past. I don't know if it was the person who was making it or what, but I haven't been a fan of the texture of akki rotis that I've had to date. No offense to anyone! However, I love the flavor components involved and decided to change things around to my taste.The result is a soft roti that is loaded with the goodness of vegetables and perfumed with the fragrance of fresh dill. It explodes with flavor and is a meal in and of itself!Ingredients:Whole wheat flour/atta - 2 cupsFresh dill, chopped - 1/4 cupZucchini - 1 small, gratedCarrot - 1 medium, gratedOnion - 1 small, finely choppedGreen chillies - 4-5, or to taste, finely choppedCumin powder - 1 tspSalt to tasteOil - 2 tspWarm water to mix doughMethod:Mix the flour with oil and salt. Add all of the other ingredients with warm water to make a slightly stiff dough. It should be a little stiffer than normal chappathi dough. Allow the dough to rest for 15-30 minutes. Then, roll out using flour as required. The thickness will be a little thicker than chappathis. Fry on hot tava/griddle adding a few drops of oil until brown spots appear on both sides.Tastes great hot, but reheats well. Enjoy on its own or with pickle/curds/side dish!Spinach Corn Roti:This one came out of a bit of randomness. I think I was still in a corny mood after making my okra corn cakes (excuse the pun!) and decided to try corn flour in a roti. I had some frozen spinach on hand and was able to throw these together. The taste was awesome, but these should definitely be eaten hot. They won't reheat well, so just keep that in mind.Ingredients:Corn flour - 1 cupWhole wheat flour/atta - 1 cupFrozen spinach - 1/2 cup (I didn't squeeze it dry)Green chillies - 4-5 or to taste, choppedGarlic - 2 cloves, gratedGinger - 1/2 inch piece, gratedChilli powder - 1 tsp, or to tasteCumin powder - 1/2 tspAmchur (dried mango) powder - a pinch, optionalSalt to tasteOil - 2 tsp to mix into the doughWarm waterMethod:Mix the oil and salt into the flours. Now, add the remaining ingredients except water. Toss to combine and add enough warm water to make a slightly stiff dough. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes. At this point, I wasn't able to roll the rotis out, so I just took balls of dough and patted them out with my hand as thin as possible. Then, place them on a heated tava/griddle and drizzle a few drops of oil. Cook until you get brown spots on both sides and serve hot.These came out pretty thick, so the texture was a bit different, but still tasted great! They were good on their own, but even better with a little bit of South Indian style mixed veg pickle!Needless to say, these are both off[...]



Southwest Hash

2008-05-31T13:25:42.827-04:00

Ever feel like being in the shoes of an old time cowboy? I mean like back in the days of Clint Eastwood. What on earth am I talking about, you ask? As usual, I'm being a little random, but with some relevance. I always have a vision of cowboys sitting around a campfire with a pot of beans and eating hearty food. So, what would be a fitting cowboy breakfast? Well, hash and eggs, of course!Ok, enough of my flashback to cowboy days. Hash is a very easy dish to whip up. It combines the heartiness of potatoes with the flavors of onions and bell peppers. From there, it's really up to you whether you want to use mushrooms or not and how you want to flavor it up. For this one, I went with my basic hash recipe which uses potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. It's flavored simply with garlic, black pepper and green chillies. Throw yourself an egg (any style you please) on top and you've got yourself a hearty and delicious breakfast. For a real treat, make some of my whole wheat biscuits to have on the side!Ingredients:Baby potatoes - 5-6, cut into bite sized chunksRed onion - 1, chopped into large chunksBell pepper - 1/2 green, 1/2 red chopped into chunksGreen chillies - 5-6, or to taste, choppedGarlic - 3 cloves, finely choppedBlack pepper - 1 tsp, or as desiredPepper jack cheese, grated - 1/3-1/2 cup, optional (depending on your preference)Eggs - 4, cooked any styleOilSalt to tasteMethod:Heat oil in a pan. Add potatoes to the pan, cover, and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are mostly cooked. Toss in the onions, bell peppers, green chillies, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high until the veggies are a bit caramelized and are crisp-tender. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, if desired and cover to melt. Meanwhile, heat another skillet and cook the eggs any style you like. To serve, place a bit of the hash on your plate and top with the cooked egg. Serve with salsa, if desired. Enjoy!This plate is off to Pooja for her VOW/JFI event themed bell peppers![...]