Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nei Payasam

This is an authentic Kerala dish - a most favourite one at temples and special Pujas.
Navarathri time too we make this. The recipe is from Vivek in the PI community who has got it from his mother and grandmother. The Payasam is great for the sweet-toothed and for others it will be a bite too sweet! It also has loads of nei (Ghee), so watch it!

The Nei Payasam recipe, I believe, is widely available on the net as in .here.

However, I followed Vivek's instructions of Rice:Jaggery:Ghee as 1:3:1
Yes, it is Rice:Jaggery and not the other way around. The jaggery needs to be melted in little water not too much and rice has to be extra cooked as it might become grainy during the payasam preparation. Rest is the same as in the link except that remove from stove once Ghee leaves the sides.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Aval Vellam

Phew! At around 6:00 PM I was done with the other items and it was time to draw the "Krishnar Kaal" and prepare Aval vellam, wear saree and get ready so that by 6:30 we could do the "Krishnarai Azhaikkaradhu" - inviting Lord Krishna into our house! Drawing "Krishnar kaal" (tiny little feet of Baby Krishna) was the easiest part as there is very little space where I can actually draw, unlike our home back in India where the kolam exercise would consume about 30 mins! So before venturing into Kolam I made preparations for Aval Vellam!

Aval Vellam

Beaten rice flakes/Poha/Aval - 2 cups
Powdered Jaggery - 1 cup
Crystal sugar - 2-3 tbsp
Cashews, badams, raisins - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - a pinch

1) Soak poha in a little water for abt 5 mins. Soak Almonds in a bowl of warm water.

2) Peel off skin from almonds after a while and cut into flakes. Mix in all other ingredients thats it. My mom adds tutty fruity (that is available in India). Add a dollop of butter.

Did I miss telling - the butter in all these recipes must be UNSALTED only!!!

Hmmm....don't we all love festivals for their colour, food, prayers and the fun! Enjoy and do send along your experiences!

Nei Appam

Nei Appam is standard for Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kaarthigai Deepam, Saraswathi pooja (in some households) and of course, Sabarimala! The tastiest Nei appams that I have had are the ones people have got from Sabarimala.


Rice flour - 1 cup
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Ripe banana - 3/4
cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - For frying

1) Slightly melt jaggery in a tbsp of water. Add rice flour and mix well, mashed ripe banana, cardamom powder and make a slightly watery dough. It should be like dosa batter

2) Pour 2 tsp of ghee into a aapa chatti (or a round iron ladle) and wait till it heats up. Add a small ladle of batter wait till it fries on one side. Turn the appam and let it fry on other side. Take out when it is brown like gulab jamoon on one side and nice caramel brown on the other.

3) If you are using an iron ladle be very very careful as the oil/ghee can spill on the stove and catch flames!!! An aapa chatti is better accompanied by the koda kambi :-), but I had to make do without one! So, every time I had to turn the nei appam, I had to take the ladle off the stove so that the nei wouldn't spill and catch flames. The taste is too heavenly and wonderful for the care taken. It takes approximately 3 mins to fry one side so patience is needed!

Vella thengozhal

This vella is different from vellam. This means literally "White Thengozhal". So, what to do with the extra urad flour left over from "Uppu cheedais" - make thengozhal!


Roasted urad flour - 1/4 cup
Rice flour - 2 cups
Salt - to taste
Butter - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 1.5 tsp
Asafoetida - A pinch
Oil - For frying

1) This has no problem of bursting so mix the ingredients into a pliable dough. Take care to remove lumps.

2) Heat oil. Put a lump into the chakli maker (or the "press" as it is called sometimes). Directly pop into oil, fry till crisp and remove. Note, this will not need to be golden or deep brown. It will become crisp and retain its sort of white colour and hence the name vella thengozhal!

Vella Cheedai

Vellam is jaggery in Tamil. So, vella cheedai is the sweet cheedai.

Rice Flour - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Coconut pieces - a handful (dimensions of 3 mm X 3 mm X 1 cm) - Thenga pallu - pallu is teeth - so coconut should be cut in shape of human teeth!
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp

1) Slightly melt jaggery adding a tbsp of water. Add coconut pieces to it

2) Add the rice flour and cardamom powder and mix well to make a stiff dough adding a tbsp of butter and no more.

3) Roll out into balls of gumball size ( about 2.5 cm in diameter). Rolling out into perfect Gulab jamoon rounds is difficult with the thenga pallu (coconut pieces), so a more-or-less round shape should do!

4) Heat oil and fry till golden brown. If the cheedais become powdery and do not retain shape it is because of too much of jaggery (it actually depends on type of jaggery too). If the cheedais are too hard to bite it is because of extra frying or extra rice flour so add a little jaggery powder and mix well. Enjoy the vella
cheedai once naivedyam is done!

Uppu cheedai

Literally Salt Cheedai.

Roasted Urad Flour - 1 tbs
Rice Flour - 16 tbs (The ratio is 1:16 for urad : rice flours)
Asafoetida - 1 tsp (soaked in a little water)
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp (soaked in a little water)
Butter - 1 tbs (at room temperature)
Oil - For frying (Generally coconut oil or peanut oil is preferred)

1) Rice flour is traditionally washed, dried and ground in a mill for this. It is put in a sieve so that there are no lumps and the flour is smooth and even. However there is no sieve with me and no scope in my mixer to make a very fine powder. So I used the store bought Rice flour and just roasted it mildly over low flame for 3-4 mins.

2) Urad dal needs to be roasted to a nice coffee brown and ground finely - you can use a sieve again to get an even powder. The baking sieve that I have did not help as the particles are smaller so I used a clean towel with slightly larger holes. It is extremely difficult to grind small quantities so better to grind larger quantity. It can be used for a variety of dishes.

3) Mix the rice and urad flour with butter, asafoetida, salt and sesame seeds and make a stiff dough. Do not add more butter as the cheedais will become powdery.

4) Role out small round balls - the diameter of 1cm or so. Spread these balls on a towel or newspaper and let dry completely. The cheedais have a nasty reputation of bursting when put in oil so the drying must be complete - no drop of water or lumps.

5) Heat the oil till it smokes a little (not too much), pop in one cheedai and see if it bursts. If not, you are doing good fry till golden brown. Take aside on tissue. Wait till naivedyam to enjoy!!! :-) The results are worth the effort!

Krishna Jayanthi Special

I meant to post this long back, but was recovering from the aftereffects of making the various items for Krishna Jayanthi/Gokulaashtami. Lord Krishna is welcomed in all our houses on the Ashtami (8th day) of Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the month of Shravana. In Tamil we say - Avani Rohini Ashtami

In order to welcome the cutie little mischevous kid, we make cheedai, murukku, aval vellam (Poha), appam, and also keep his favourites namely, the milk, butter and curd! I drew the cute little Krishnar Kaal in some tiny space in my completely carpeted apartment near the front door and the one in the pic. Go ahead, take a guess on what I have drawn it on in the pic!

And here is the only (blurred sigh!) photo of my spread -

Recipes in the next subsequent posts! :-)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Experiment: Maharashtrian snacks

Ok, my experiments started with the famous Sabudana Khichdi and Solkadi. The combo is great actually, but, the khichdi became a mess - I guess am not yet too familiar with various types of Sabudana - this one became rather gooey. Lessons learnt: Don't soak it - just wet it and let it remain for 2-3 hours. Solkadi was lovely, refreshing - thanks Nupur. And, what was hit all the way with our friends as well was Misal with bread(no Pav here so) and a minimal Bhelpuri to make it a Chaat dinner for us yesterday!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Chutneys/Thogayals : Peerkangai tholi thogayal

In the recipe for watermelon dosas, Ashwini was telling how the women of the household used even the white part of watermelons. Instantly I was reminded of two things - one a story called "Seventeen Oranges" where the little boy gobbles up seventeen oranges with the peels and pips and all after having been caught red-handed AND before he could be questioned so that he could remove all evidence of having stolen!!! :-) And the other, how my mother never wasted Peerkangai (Ridge Gourd).

There are many variations of Ridge Gourd curries as in here. But, my mother used to make Peerkangai koottu without the skin and used the skin for a chutney like thing called thogayal. I made the same combo yesterday it became a hit with K.

Peerkangai skin - 1 - 1.5 cups (Discard the ridge portions and use the remaining)

For powder
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Red chillies - 2 (Depends on your taste)
Peppercorns - 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Tamarind - gumball size (Depends on your taste)
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Gingelli oil

1. Roast the powder items except Tamarind and salt in Gingelli oil (Sesame oil) till Urad dal turns brown. Remove and let cool. Grind along with tamarind in a coffee grinder/mixer.

2. Saute the Peerkangai skin in 2-3 tsp of oil for 5 min. No need to add water, it will become tender by itself. Medium heat should be enough. Let cool.

3. Grind along with the powder till the skin is mashed - the mixers out here do a poor job of it though!!! No need to add water, but then, these mixers are bad and you might need a wee little bit (or some more oil may be!!!) Add salt.

This is great with idlis, dosas, even chappatis or my all time favourite curd rice!!! This type of thogayal, unlike fresh chutneys will last long if you don't add water. The powder is the same for almost all thogayals except Chenai(Yam)!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Experiment : Masale Bhaat

Gee...either it is coincidence - no....it can be nothing but coincidence that I keep trying Ashwini's recipes!!! I tried this recipe today with Capsicum (Bell Peppers) instead of Gherkins, and shredded coconut (roasted) instead of the Copra - WOW!!!! :-) Am waiting to hear K's rants on how his lunch was! As for me, with a dash of lime/lemon, and coriader leaves (cilantro) for seasoning, the taste is just fabulous! I ran out of cashewnuts - even peanuts would taste lovely - I love its colour, taste everything!!! Somehow reminds me of Vangi Bhaat!

Experiment : Watermelon dosas - KALINGAD GHAVAN - Konkani

Am back from my hiatus and I can't believe that I am again trying something that Ashwini has posted. We bought watermelons to beat the heat, and much to our surprise we got one more for free. What a deal - now there is too much of it lying in the fridge and was wondering what to do - can't keep drinking watermelon juices or eating the fruit all the time! As if my prayers were answered, I saw Ashwini's recipe , so made it for the evening tiffin, by doubling quantities for I was sure that we both would eat at least 4 each!!! I added a wee little bit of Whole Wheat flour (Atta) and lots and lots of jaggery - must have been about 1 1/2 cups or so when powdered. The taste is great, also the aroma of cardamoms!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cabbage Molagoottal

Aparna had been asking me to post some of the traditional items in our family. And, today I did try something traditional out of something unusual. I have never seen molagoottal with cabbage (only with all vegetables or green leaves - keerai). Initially wanted to make cabbage thoran, but there was nothing to make a gravy from and the summer heat was really making us sick (by giving us a cold!), so instead thought of making something with pepper - hence molagoottal.

---For 2 people---
Cabbage - 2 cups
Toor dal - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 2-3 (up to your liking)
Black Pepper seeds (Peppercorns) - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Salt - per taste
Gingelly oil /sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil - 2 tsp
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch

1) Cut cabbage, mix with turmeric, salt and steam (I don't pressure cook it as it tends to overcook it. When I don't pressure cook, I add salt after vegetables are somewhat cooked)

2) Roast Red chillies, peppercorns and urad dal in 1/4 tsp of gingelly oil till urad dal is light brown. Remove and cool.

3) Pressure cook toor dal

4) Grind the roasted chillies, peppercorns, urad dal with shredded coconut

5) When cabbage is cooked, add cooked toor dal and the ground mixture. Keep on medium-hi flame for 5 more mins

6) For tempering, heat coconut oil, splutter mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, curry leaves and a tbsp of shredded coconut. Once coconut is decently fried, pour it on the cabbage.

Simple. Molagoottal is same as porichcha koottu minus the fried coconut tempering! Can be made with other veggies such as Avaraikkai (snow peas/sno peas), Podalangai (Snake guard), Elavan/pooshinikkai (white pumpkin), Mathan/parangikkai (red pumpkin/banana squash), chenai (yam), vazhakkai (raw banana/plaintain), peas, carrots, chow chow (chayote squash). Generally does not have beans/cucumber varieties though, but it is really up to us. Keerai molagottal is also called keerai masiyal.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dessert - 2 : Badam Cake (er.. halva)

This one was truly an exhilaration turning to a fiasco. But, the taste came out good and I could muster enough courage to actually gift it!

Recipe is from my mother-in-law and hers tastes heavenly!

Badam/Almonds - A fistful (Soak in warm water for 5mins - peel off skins - soak in warm milk for 15 mins)
Cashews - A fistful (Soak in warm milk for 15 mins)
Sugar - 3 cups
Milk - 3 cups
Ghee - 1 cup

1) Grind badam and cashews to a smooth paste with the milk in which they were soaked - like butter - it will come to about a cup. If it comes to 1 1/2 cups adjust milk and make it 4 cups in total.

2) Add sugar and start stirring keeping the kadai in medium to medium-high. Be careful of milk not getting burnt at the bottom.

3) Keep adding ghee little by little say every 5-10 mins. You could melt it a wee little bit. The stirring will go on for an hour.

4) When ghee leaves the sides and stirring becomes really difficult remove and pour to a greased tray.

5) When it gets cool and not too hard, cut into squares or diamonds.

Since I kept it in medium-low heat, I stirred it for 2 hours. This ghee leaving sides thing is tough to figure out - if I waited for the ghee to come out, I couldn't stir and was scared of the milk mixture getting burnt - so finally when K said it tastes good and it felt like a thick consistency I removed from fire. But, I should've waited for just 5 more mins. Mine became Badam halva instead of Badam cake even after refrigerating it!!! At least I know how to make Badam halva now!!! ;-)