Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peach Sudharas --- AFAM & Think Spice

Who says that to satisfy your sweet tooth you have to spend hours in the kitchen and have 10 different ingredients? The recipe that I am going to share today is a classic, which my mom made often as a solution for a quick sweet dish. In the old times, Sudharas was often made as a sweet dish when there were unexpected guests for lunch or dinner. Clever, don;t you think? :) This recipe can also be modified a little as per individual choice and the best news, it has fruit in it...yay!! This is as simple as it can get and requires not more than 5-10 minutes. This was usually made in our family on 'Sankashti Chaturthi', which is a fast observed commonly in Maharashtra.
Normally, we use banana to make Sudharas (which was supposed to have been my entry for JFI-Bananas), but since our dear friend, Mansi of Fun and Food, is hosting AFAM this month and her choice for this month is 'Peaches', would I dare use any other fruit here ;) Her last comment really got me working on my entry, and I was worried that if I didn't make something with peach soon, I would see peaches coming at me all the way from California ;)) Jokes apart, I was very keen on sending something for the event and I am just glad I made it in time. And since this recipe also involves Saffron---the theme for this month's 'Think Spice' event, it is also going to Sunita of 'Sunita's World'. Lets get started...
Ingredients:
1/2 of a Jumbo white peach (you can use any)
1/2 cup Regular white sugar
1/4 cup Water
1/4 tsp Saffron
1 cardamom powdered

Method:
Peel the peach and then cut it into small cubes. In a small vessel or saucepan, mix the sugar with water and start heating it to make a syrup. For this recipe we need a simple syrup, so we just need to heat till the sugar dissolves. Once you reach that stage, throw in the peach cubes and let simmer for a while. You want the fruit to be cooked but not overcooked. Once that happens, turn off the heat and add the cardamom powder and saffron to it. Sudharas is ready to be served with hot chapati or paratha! :)

Variations:
  • Instead of peaches, use banana slices or apple or any other fruit of your choice. Get adventurous and don't be afraid of experimenting.
  • If you don't want fruit in it, just follow the rest of the recipe and instead add dry fruits to it, like cashews, raisins, etc.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aval Sarkkarai Pongal---RCI Tamil Festivals

The clock was ticking and with the passage of each day, I was getting nervous that I still had not found a recipe for RCI-Tamil Festivals, hosted by Viji of Vcuisine. I had promised her that I would not disappoint her, and every time I saw her post her entry for the event, I knew that it was high time I did something. So I started going through a lot of websites and blogs related to Tamil cuisine. I also searched Viji's blog for some recipes and realized that a lot of them were already posted for the event. Finally, I came across a couple of recipes that I liked and which I had never tried before. The final choice was made by hubby dear, which made my work easier, or else I would have spent another week trying to decide which one to make, and then I wouldn't have made it in time (not a very good thing) ;)
The recipe that I finally made is called 'Aval Sarkkarai Pongal' and I have taken this recipe from Menu Today. Pongal is a Tamil festival that is celebrated four days and generally falls in the month of January and it marks the favorable course of the sun. We know this as Makar Sankrant. More about Pongal here and here. Traditionally, Sarkkarai Pongal is made on the second day of Pongal known as 'Surya Pongal'. The word 'Ponga' means 'boil' and so 'Pongal' means 'that which is overflowing'. This dish is offered to the Sun God as thanks giving for the plentiful harvest. Sarkkarai Pongal is normally made with newly harvested rice and moong dal. Check the recipe here. The recipe that I tried involved Aval or Poha and that got me interested in it. It is very easy and quick to make and the texture of the Poha goes so well with the combo. I made my own variations to the original recipe and I made this for Dassera as neivadyam. This is going straight to Viji for RCI-Tamil Festivals.


Ingredients:(serves 2)
1 cup Thin Poha (Flattened rice)
3/4 cup Jaggery (grated)
A few pineapple chunks (i used frozen pineapple cubes that I got from Trader's Joe)
1 tsp Tup (ghee)
Few cashews
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp kesar (saffron)
Grated coconut for garnish (optional)

Method:
Wash the Poha twice and then drain the water. In a kadhai, heat the ghee and fry the cashews. Remove and keep aside. Now to this kadhai, add the jaggery (The original recipe asks to soak the jaggery in water and then use the strained water. But I skipped this step and directly added the grated jaggery to the kadhai.) Let the jaggery melt and form into a thick syrup. Once you have the syrup, add the pineapple cubes to it and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the washed and drained poha. Mix well. I mashed the poha a little with the back of the ladle. Finally add the cardamom powder, kesar and fried cashews to the mixture. Garnish with grated coconut and serve hot!

The Verdict: This is a keeper recipe. The color of this dish is so enticing and the combo of jaggery and poha along with pineapple is heavenly!

Coming up: Something with Peach! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kairichi Chutney (Raw Mango Chutney) & FAHC

This recipe was supposed to be posted so long ago, but just got side tracked for some reason or the other. Things have been pretty busy at my side and I am finding it difficult to post as frequently as before. A poem that I learned in school has been in my thoughts these days and I thought that I should share it with you guys. I found it online here.

Leisure

WHAT is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

---W.H. Davies

Coming back to the recipe, I know that the season for raw mango is over in India, but I spotted some in the Indian store last week and I decided to post this recipe anyways, hoping that at least some of you could try it out this year.
I never really fancied eating raw mangoes or 'Kairi', as we call it in Marathi, just like that. I think I just don't have a sour tooth ;) (if that term exists)! But I loved it when my mom transformed this tangy fruit into a delicious sweet & sour chutney. This chutney was a highlight of our summer meals and it goes perfectly with rice-dal, chapatis, or parathas. My mother-in-law also makes this chutney, a little differently, but equally delicious! She also
prefers to make it the traditional way, using a 'paata-varvanta' (stone mortar and pestle), so the texture of her chutney is chunkier, which can be achieved in the food processor. I am going to post both the versions, which are lip-smackingly delicious, and I hope that you will enjoy these as much as we do in our family.

Mom's Version :

Ingredients: (the proportions are approximate)
1/2 Kairi (Raw Mango---i used the other half for the other version)
2 tsp Grated Coconut (i use frozen coconut)
1/4 tsp Dried fenugreek seeds fried in oil
3-4 tbsp Jaggery (depends on how sour the mango is)
2-3 tsp Cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

For the phodni (tadka):
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mohri (Mustard seeds)
1/4 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
1/4 tsp Hing

Method:
Peel the kairi (raw mango), and remove the seed. Chop it into small chunks and throw these into the mixer along with the rest of the ingredients. Grind till you get a paste (do not use any water while grinding). Check for taste and adjust accordingly. The chutney should be sweet & sour to taste with a little spiciness from the cayenne pepper.Remove this chutney in a bowl. In a small kadhai, heat the oil, add the mustard and cumin seeds to it. Add the hing and then pour this phodni on the chutney. Mix it and voila your chutney is ready to savor.

Now, if you think, you liked this version, wait till you see the next one... :)

My Mother-in-law's version :

Ingredients: (proportions are approximate)
1/2 Kairi
2 tsp Roasted unsalted peanuts
3-4 tbsp Jaggery (as per the sourness of the kairi)
2-3 tsp Cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Method:
Throw in all the ingredients listed above in the food processor and pulse them together. As above, do not use any water and unlike the previous version, leave it a little chunky. Check for taste and adjust. Remove the chutney in a bowl and pour some phodni (tadka) on top. Mix it and enjoy !

Note: This chutney stays good for almost 15-20 days in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can also freeze it, for up to 2 months.
(Picture source for 'Paata-Varvanta' : here)
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Before I sign off, I would like to remind everyone about FAHC started by V.K.N. of My Dhaba. It is a non-profit organization and their mission is to help feed hungry children one by one and to join the fight against global poverty. Read more about this here. The event will close on October 23rd. There is also a raffle arranged by Indira of Mahanandi for the benefit of this cause. Read about the details of the raffle and the prizes here.
My grandfather always believed that feeding the hungry was the most rewarding and noble act and I think the same way. So I am heading to contribute my share to the cause and I hope that you will join me too :) Please feel free to use the ChipIn Widget located on the right hand side of the page to make your contribution. Thank You.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Click : Sunshine in the Kitchen

'Click' is a theme based food photography event started by Bee & Jai of Jugalbandi. The theme for this month is 'Eggs' and this is my entry.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Grilled Cauliflower & Capsicum in Coconut Milk Gravy

Today's recipe is absolutely non-traditional and something that I have started making recently. The idea for this comes from a friend's recipe for potatoes. Casually chatting to her one day, I asked her what her dinner plans were, and she mentioned that she was making a coconut milk gravy for store-bought herb potatoes. Sounds delicious right? I was determined to try this recipe asap. I got all the ingredients required and as I was about to begin, when I had this brainwave to replace potatoes with cauliflower, since I had to use it anyway. While I was at it, I decided to throw in the one capsicum that had been lying in my refrigerator patiently waiting to be salvaged. The end result was a truly delicious and delicate gravy which both my hubby and me loved. The flavor of the coconut milk along with the cauliflower was very fresh and it broke the monotony of using red gravy and the same old masalas. In fear of boring you with my descriptions of this dish, let me move on to the recipe and I hope you will give this humble creation a try. :)

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 small cauliflower
1 green capsicum
1/2 onion sliced lengthwise
1 small can coconut milk (lite)

To season the veggies:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking)
a little black pepper
salt to taste

To make paste:
A handful of cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove
2 green chillies (depending on your level of spiciness)

Method:
Chop the cauliflower into florets and the capsicum into medium sized pieces. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, the dried herbs, salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower & capsicum in it.

Next, line a baking pan/cookie sheet with foil and spread the veggies on it. Place under the broiler until they turn golden brown and crisp.

While the veggies are getting grilled, make a paste of the cilantro leaves, garlic and green chillies. Then, take a pan and heat a little olive oil in it. Throw in the onions and fry them till they turn translucent. Add the cilantro paste to the onions and fry till the oil separates. Mix in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Then add the grilled cauliflower and capsicum to it and let cook for a few minutes. Check for taste. Serve hot with chapati or rice.