Aug 29, 2014

Ganesh Chaturti Festivals

I don't normally go so overboard during festivals, but since I did make three different kinds of sweets for Ganesh Chaturti, the least I could do after it was to take a good picture of it all!

Starring- kozakottai, fried modak and coconut ladoos, Ganesha will be pleased I'm sure.

Coconut ladoo

When I was making the kozakattai, my younger one came up to me and told me that he really loved coconut ladoo. Though there were absolutely no plans to make it, I couldn't really disappoint my finicky eater, so whipped this up. It is partially based on the coconut-jaggary ladoo I made a couple of years back, but uses sugar instead of jaggary.

1 litre milk
1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
1/2 coconut grated
a pinch nutmeg powder

Bring the milk to a boil, reduce the flame and let it reduce to about 75% of original volume.
Add sugar and grated coconut, and keep reducing till the mixture comes together, and leaves the walls of the vessel.
Add nutmeg and mix well. Turn off the flame, and let it cool down partially.
Take partially cooled mixture, grease the palms, and fold into ladoos.

Fried Modak

Ganesh Chaturti is always synonumous with the regular kozakottai for me, but over the last few years, I have been seeing lots of pictures of fried modak, and was tempted to give it a try. It is much easier to make than kozakottai, and I am definitely making it again soon.

1 cup scraped coconut
1/2 cup jaggery grated
1 tsp til( sesame seed )
1 tsp khaskhas
2 pinches of cardamom powder
3 tsp pure ghee
1 cup wheat flour Oil for deep frying

Dry roast the til and khaskhas .
In a bowl mix scraped coconut jaggery, cardamom powder, til and khaskhasTake a pan heat 2 tsps of ghee and add this mix until the jaggery gets dissolved , keep mixing it with a spoon to avoid the burnt taste .
Knead wheat flour with remaining ghee and water .
Roll puris of 1.5" diameter and place the cooled stuffing at the centre and give the shape of modak . Deep fry till they turn wheat brown in colour


The first time I made kozakottai, it came out really well. The next time, it was an unmitigated disaster. So it was with trepidation that I even took on the challenge this year. As it is, I was slightly rushed because I had to go to work in the morning, but once I started grating the coconut everything fell into place.
I followed a slightly different recipe this time, and it came out really well.
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
¼ tsp oil or ghee
a pinch of salt

For the inner sweet filling:

1 cup fresh grated coconut
¾ cup powdered or grated jaggery (slightly less would be better)
3 to 4 cardamoms, powdered in a mortar-pestle, about ¼ tsp cardamom powder
a pinch of nutmeg powder or grated numeg
½ tsp poppy seeds
½ tsp ghee or oil

For the filling:
Heat ghee in a pan. add poppy seeds, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. saute for a minute.
Add grated fresh coconut and powdered/grated jaggery, mix well and cook this coconut-jaggery mixture on a low flame. Keep stirring till the jaggery melts, but do not overcook, because it will then harden. Keep this coconut-jaggery filling aside.

Making the outer cover:Heat the water, with salt and oil, and let it come to a boil.
Reduce the flame and add the rice flour gradually. quickly stir and mix the flour with the water. Keep stirring till all the rice flour is mixed with the water.
Switch off the flame. remove the pan from the stove top and then cover this pan with a lid for 4 to 5 minutes. Knead the dough well for a few minutes.
Make small balls from the dough, so they are smooth in appearance and don't have any cracks.
Grease the steamer well.
Take a ball and flatten it with your fingers to a round disc or a shallow bowl shape. you can apply ghee/oil in your palms, while flattening. Place the filling in the centre
Press the edges together and shape into the traditional shape. Place on the steamer and repeat with the other balls.
Place the steamer on the water, cover, and let it steam for 10 to 15 minutes till done

Aug 26, 2014

Potato curd pakoda

When you have excess oil, one of the easiest things to make is pakodas. Here's a batch of curd based pakoras that I whipped up on an impulse- using curds as the binding agent added a new dimension to the taste.
1 cup besan
1/2 cup curds
1 potato 
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Rock salt or chat masala for garnish

Dice the potatoes and then cut into small pieces. Add salt to the potatoes and keep aside for 10 minutes.
Pour the besan over the potatoes, mix well.
Add the curds gradually till you get a good (but not runny) batter.
Add the spices and mix well.
Heat the oil, test the temperature by dropping a bit of batter in the oil- if it rises up immediately, the oil is ready.
Reduce the flame, drop the batter into the oil using a spoon, and keep turning till done. 
Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Test the temperature before making the next batch.
Sprinkle with chat masala/ rock salt before serving

Aug 23, 2014

Palak chicken

The hubby and kids wanted a regular chicken curry, but I craved something different. Since there was a luscious looking bunch of spinach leaves in the fridge, I whipped up some palak chicken for myself, with minimum extra effort. Something tells me my meal was nicer than their's was!

1/2 kg chicken cut into regular pieces
2 tbsp curds
1 tbsp garam masala powder
salt to taste
1 tsp haldi powder
2 bay leaves
1 inch piece cinnamon
2-3 cloves
1 medium onion 
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 green chilli
1 medium tomato chopped
1 bunch spinach leaves
Cooking oil

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of curds, garam masala powder, haldi powder and salt.
Grind onions and green chilli to a coarse paste
Meanwhile, temper oil with the whole spices, add onion-green chilli paste, ginger garlic paste and cook on a low flame till the raw smell goes completely.
Meanwhile, saute chopped tomatoes and spinach, till the raw smell goes, grind, and add to the main masala.
Add chicken, stir it around for a few minutes, and pressure cook for 20 minutes.
Tastes great with rice.

Aug 20, 2014

Pineapple raita

I first had pineapple raita when I was a student in b-school. At time, I couldn't quite decide what to make of it, but over time I've grown to love it's combination of tastes- the sweet of pineapple with it's underlying tart complimenting the sour of curds, and all balanced with the taste of rock salt and red chilli powder. If you ask me to name a dish that is complex to comprehend, but easy to whip up, this might be the first one that springs to mind. It was, therefore, the perfect accompaniment to offer to Krishna on Janmashtami Day.

1 1/2 cups curds
1 cup pineapple chopped
1/2 tsp jeera powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp rock salt (or to taste)

Whip the curds till smooth. Add the jeera powder, red chilli powder and rock salt and mix well.
Crush a few pieces of pineapple, and add the juice to the mixture (alternately, use a tablespoon of pineapple juice).
Add pineapple pieces, mix well, and serve chilled

Aug 18, 2014

Coconut-groundnut chutney

I am always on the lookout for new chutneys to try out, and when I saw the recipe for groundnut-coconut chutney, I knew would be trying it out sooner or later. It was one of the easiest chutneys to make, and tasted amazing too.

½ cup freshly grated coconut
3 tbsp Roasted groundnuts
2 tbsp roasted chana dal
1 green chillie
2-3 Garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Water as required

For the tempering:1 tbsp oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds (rai/sarson)
A pinch of Asafetida (hing)
9-10 Curry leaves (kadipatta)


Heat the oil, add mustard seeds and wait for it to crackle. Now add the curry leaves and turn off the flame. Add the hing and mix nicely. Keep it aside to cool.
In a mixer grinder add the groundnuts and chana dal and grind it first to form a powder.
Now add the coconut, green chilli, garlic cloves, salt to taste and grind it. Add water as required.
Now add the ready chutney in the tempering. Mix it well and serve.

Neer dosa

I've always been very fond of Neer dosa, but never really got down to making it. It wasn't too bad for the first attempt but it can be much better. Next time, I'll make the batter even thinner and see how it works out.

3 cups rice flour
Sufficient water to make batter
Salt to taste

Take the rice flour in a mixing bowl, and add water very slowly till you get a thin batter (thinner than dosa batter). Ensure that no lumps are formed. Add salt, mix well and keep aside.
Heat the non-stick tawa. Pour the dosa batter with the help of cup onto the tawa from outside to inside, forming the outer circle first and then moving inwards. Don’t try to spread it- you need to pour in such a way that the circle is formed.
Put some oil on the sides of the dosa, and let it cook. When  it changes colour and starts leaving the tawa, remove it- you can also cover the tawa with a lid to ensure it cooks more evenly.

Aug 17, 2014

Janmashtami Special- Kesar Rasmalai

Food wise, Janmashtami had been a grand occasion last year.  Grand in conception, grand in preperation, grand in magnitude of disaster of some of the items. Chastened by the experience, I kept it easy this time. Krishna grew up among the dairy farmers of Mathura, he loved milk products of every kind. Ergo, he would have loved rasmalai- one of the few dishes I manage to get right most of the time. This time was no exception.

I stuck to my tried and tested recipe for rasagolla, but since the intention was always to make rasmalai, I flattened the balls before dropping them in sugar syrup.

8-12 rasagollas
1/2 litre milk
1/2 cup sugar syrup
2-4 drops kewra essence
A pinch of saffron (or food colouring)

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the milk till it is reduced by a third.
Add the sugar syrup, and mix well.
Soak the saffron strands in water, and add to the milk, along with a few drops of essence.
Squeeze the syrup out of the rasagollas and soak in the sweetened-thickened milk .
Serve chilled.

Aug 14, 2014

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

This recipe is adapted from a classic recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. It has been Indianised, and uses only the ingredients that are regularly found at home.

1 large purple baigan
1 tbsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

For the sauce:
1 cup curds
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 pods garlic, crushed
Salt to taste

For garnish:
Mint leaves
3 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Dice the eggplant into 1/2 cm thick slices. Pat with garam masala powder and salt and let the flavours absorb for 10 minutes.
Heat a tawa, and shallow fry the eggplant slices. Keep aside
Meanwhile, whip the curds with the olive oil, crushed garlic and salt.
Arrange the eggplant slices on a serving dish, pour the buttermilk sauce over it, garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint and serve.

Aug 12, 2014

Sprouts salad

The good thing about going back to work is the fact that I have fewer hours in a day when I can pop random junk into my mouth. The bad thing is that hunger still strikes me at regular intervals, so I need to pack multiple snack boxes to take with me to work. This is my favourite combinatio, revisited.
1 cup sprouted moong
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
100 gms paneer
Rock Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients together, and enjoy.

Aug 9, 2014

Imli-pudina chutney

We were relaxing one Saturday evening, when some friends called up and told us they were dropping in for dinner. Too late to really cook a well planned meal, I decided to throw together whatever I had and make do. Luckily there were some dahi vadas in the freezer, so all I had to do was whip up some imli chutney. Since I didn't have enough pudina for a green chutney, I added some to the imli chutney, to get my own imli chutney with a twist.

1/3 cup dates cut lengthwise
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 sprig mint
3 tbsp jaggary
1/2 tsp Sonth/ Dry ginger powder
1/2 tsp jeera
1 tsp red chilli powder
3/4 cup water
Boil the water, add the chopped dates, and simmer for about 10 minutes till the dates are really soft and can be mashed.
Meanwhile, roast the jeera separately, powder coarsely and keep aside.
Add jaggery and tamarind concentrate to the mashed dates, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin seeds powder, and dry ginger powder.
Cool, add the mint leaves and grind till smooth. Pour it back into the pot, and give it one final boil.

Aug 6, 2014

Sukhdi- a Sweet from Gujarat

The moment I saw this recipe, I wanted to try it out. And the first thing I did after reaching home was to measure out the atta and make it. I had halved the quantities because I wasn't sure how it would be, but now I wish I had doubled them  instead.

1 cup wheat flour
2-3 tbsp Ghee
1/2 cup grated jaggery

In deep bottomed pan heat the ghee. Add the wheat flour and roast it till pink in colour or till it leaves its aroma.
Remove the pan from the stove and immediately add jaggery and keep folding it in the wheat mixture to melt and blend well.
Once the jaggery has blended well in the wheat flour empty the contents into a greased thali.
With the help of a steel bowl, using its bottom, press the mixture and level it uniformly, then cut into diamond shaped pieces and allow it to cool

Aug 4, 2014

Mango Dip

I had bid goodbye to the mango season, but hubby bought one last lot of fruits, most of which turned out to be too sour to eat. Not wanting to waste them, I put them in the fridge and by the time I pulled them out, they were ripe but not sweet. I invented this recipe by throwing together things which I thought might work and am quite happy with the result.

1 ripe mango
1/2 tsp kalonji seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cooking oil
Salt to taste

Peel the mango, cut the pulp into small pieces and mash with a spoon. 
Heat oil, temper with kalonji and fry for half a minute.
 Add the pulp, and dry spices. Mix well and turn off the flame. 
Tastes best as a dip with sprouts.