Thursday, December 31, 2009

Star Fruit Pickle (Karambala Nonchey/ Karamali Loncha)

Nupur's Recipe Marathon - Day 7

Star Fruits are in season now. I made this simple pickle to stock up for summer use and rainy days. In Konkani, Star Fruit is known as Karambola/ Karambal. I made Star Fruit pickle or Karambalaa Nonchey on the last day of New Year. In Konkani, Nonchey stands for pickle, especially the ones made with spice powders dunked in vegetables of choice. A perfect way to end the year on a spicy note.

This recipe is pretty easy. But since water is added as a broth, the pickle needs to be refrigerated. The Star Fruit oozes out tangy and sour liquor in few days, so this makes the pickle very tasty. Give the pickle a good stir once in a week to ensure the juices mix and blend in. Mom's pickle especially the Star Fruit one is the best and I know I am being biased here, but rightly so. Mine came no where close to her, but its a humble trial. I was delighted to see the Star Fruit's at the local grocery; Bought back memories of childhood when Granny used to pack the huge pickle jars known as Bharanee and send batches of freshly made pickles to all her daughters.

Starfruit (chopped) - 5
Lime Rind - 1 whole Lime (chopped)
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tablespoon
Red Chillies - 15
Mustard seeds - 2 tablespoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Asfoetida powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - 1-2 tablespoon
Water - For pickle liquor

Chop the Starfruit into pieces, de-seed them to ensure seed free pickle. Chop Lime rind into small pieces. I added them because I had them handy. Take your pick accoridngly. Roast on low flame with (1 teaspoon oil) or without oil. This ensures there is no moisture and also improves the absorption capacity of the pieces. Take the fruits off the stove, cut them into quarters and add salt. Give a good stir and keep aside in a mixing bowl covered for 1-4 hours. Give a gentle stir to allow the juices to seep in the fruit.

Get the masalas ready. Dry roast each of the items - Red Chillies, Mustard, Fenugreek seeds. Be careful not to over roast them as this would render a bitter taste and ruin the taste of the pickle. Mix the powder with fruits and stir well. Add enough water to get a good consistency for the pickle. The oil used for frying the spices can be poured on top of the pickle jar once stuffed completely with pickle. This prevents the pickle from any potential bacterial hazards and spoliage.

Store pickle in a moisture free jar and preferably store in a refrigerator. Owing to water which serves as liquor for the pickle, there are chances that it could get spoilt or the fruits/vegetables spoil at room temperature.

Suggestion: 1. Star Fruit has a tendency to ripen and yellow faster than other fruits. The unripe ones are green. Those are ideal for pickling. The yellow ones are ripe and could turn soggy easily so avoid them for pickle. Based on the temperature around, salt the fruit pieces and keep them aside. If its a cold day, maximum keep them salted for 4 hours and add spice powder and refrigerate. Else, if its a hot day wherein the fruits can easily spoil at room temperatue, its best to salt them for 1-2 hours, add spice powder and refrigerate immediately. 2. De-seeding the fruit is required else your pickle will be full of fruits with seeds. 3. I noticed the South American Fruits lack the tang unlike Indian ones which are tangy. So if you are pickling it ourely for tangy-ness in pickle, it will not serve the purpose.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Egg Biryani 1.0 (With Green Gravy)

Too much of cold, lot of chills and first thing on your mind is to eat something warm and delicious. I thought of Mish-Mash's famous Egg Biryani. Her recipe is one of my favorites and a perfect way to pamper the foodie in me & for my hubby who feels Biryani is the ultimate dish on the face of earth.

I bought Mint leaves from store and made use of rest of my pantry ingredients. I am glad I could make use of many of the pantry items and many are almost close to getting over. This dish was longing and waiting to be tried and tested. Hence, I made it on time by posting it just at about 11:45 night. I am delighted that this Marathon gave me all the options to try, test, experiment and LEARN of all!

I also referred to my Mom's Biryani recipe which is one of my favorites. She makes Vegetable Biryani which has Poppy seeds, Mint, Fennel seeds and Caraway. She also separately prepares Green Masala and the Gravy, It helps a lot while planning the dish. I combined the both to create a very similar Biryani which is tasty, easy-to-make and a perfect way to celebrate the second last day of the calendar year. Luckily, I had the Indian spices handy as well. This Biryani is a regular at our place now and we enjoy it over weekends as a one-pot-dish.

Recipe Source: MishMash + My Mom's recipe

Preparation time: 60 minutes

For the Biryani Masala -
Fennel seeds (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mace - 2
Cinnamon - 1
Cardamom - 2
Caraway seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cloves - 3-4
Nutmeg (grated) - 1 whole - 1/2 for rice assembly + 1/2 for spice powder

For the Gravy -
Whole spice - Cinnamon - 2 sticks
Whole spice - Cardamom with pods open - 4
Whole spice - Cloves - 4
Poppy seeds (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Onions (sliced finely) - 2 large Onions or 4 cups finely chopped
Tomatoes (chopped finely) - 2-3 medium ones or 2 cups finely chopped

For Green Masala -
Coriander leaves - 6-8 sprigs
Mint leaves - 4-5 sprigs
Green Chillies - 2
Ginger - 1 " piece
Garlic - 5-6 pods
Grind all of the above with little water to a fine paste

Other Ingredients:
Basmati Rice - 1 and 1/2 cups
Eggs - 5-7
Ghee - 3-6 tablespoons
Salt - As per taste
Saffron - 5-8 strands
Warm Milk - 1/2 cup
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon

1. Make the spice powder and keep it aside. For better taste, dry roast the spice a little bit and then grind to a powder. Set aside.
2. Hard boil 4 eggs and set aside. Allow them to cool by running cold water over it and peel, poke holes in them, add some salt and set aside.
3. Boil Rice in water in 1:1 1/2 proportion. Which means for 3 cups of rice, we need 5 1/2 cups of water. Add oil and salt while boiling. Once done and par-cooked, spread on a large plate and allow to dry.
4. Heat 3 tablespoon of Ghee and saute Cinnamon, Poppy seeds, Cloves and Cardamom. Add the Cardamom with the shell partly open. This helps in flavouring the ghee appropriately. Once they are roasted, add onions and tomatoes. Fry well till then reduce in size and wear a wilted look. Add the ground Biryani Masala and Green Gravy and adjust salt. Cut the eggs into halves, retain or discard yolk as per choice. Ensure you turn the egg pieces around and dunk them into the gravy but don't break them up. Make a gravy based curry which will eventually lose moisture and become thick.
5. Crush Saffron in 1/2 cup of milk and set aside.
6. Assembly: Now comes the main part. Take a deep dish thick bottomed vessel. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of Ghee. Allow to heat the pan, Once hot, turn to low flame. Put a layer of cooked rice. Sprinkle Garam Masala powder and grated Nutmeg together. Next, pour the egg curry gravy and then pour rest of the rice on top layer. If desired mix the Egg Gravy curry with Rice if you do not want rice to be white colored. Once done, pour the milk on top layer. Now, while pouring milk cover the maximum surface area of the rice. Saffron gives a red color tinge to the rice. This helps in retaining moisture in the rice and enables slow cooking on dum. Last but not the least, pour 2-3 tablespoon of ghee on top and cover with foil and keep on low flame for 5-7 minutes not more than that (beyond 5 minutes gives a roasted layering to the rice, so do not attempt). Turn off the flame.
7. Mix the Biryani should you want to or serve by scooping sideways; I prefer scooping side ways and serving to ensure a complete serve of all 3 layers. Serve with Mirchi Kaa Saalan on the side.

Key Notes:

1. My learning was that Nutmeg (grated), Caraway seeds and Mace offer the extra zing to the Biryani. Do not compromise on adding these.
2. Saffron Milk is the key to the Biryani flavour and richness. It also adds the rich red color.
3. I used White Onion/ Spanish Onions instead of Red, I found a profound difference in the flavour. Its more advisable to use Red Onions for Biryani.
4. Eggs added loosely on top do not soak the masala as opposed to eggs in gravy. If you like it as toppers, garnish on top else, dunk them in the gravy. Take your pick accordingly. I have toned down the spices to a great extent, increase or decrease as per choice.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raw Banana Fritters (Kele Phodi/ Kelyachey Kaap)

Nupur's Recipe Marathon - Day 5

The weather is getting colder and chiller with very strong wind chill in the air. I bought a couple of Banana's yesterday. Raw Plantain is a rich source of iron and packs in lot of vital nutrients as well. I thought of making Banana Fritters or Kele Phodi as call it in Konkani.

Chop some Bananas, retain some amount of skin, par boil if required and dredge in a marinade of choice. Pan fry on low flame with a sprinkle of water and once completely cooked, serve hot as a side dish. Phodis are very popular Konkani side dish. I am a big fan of these and in winter I find myself eating quite a lot of them. There are various other vegetables which we use for Phodis - Okra, Potato, Radish, Mushroom. The vegetable bites cook fast and taste delicious. I served them with carrot sticks for lunch. Warm fritters to beat the winter chill.

Preparation time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 1 Banana - 9-10 Fritters

Raw Banana Plantain - 1
Rice Flour - 4-5 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - just a pinch
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying

Chop the bananas into bite sized pieces. Retain some amount of skin on it and only peel the top layer. This ensures that we don't get rid of all of the vital nutritious layers of Banana. Par-boil in water for 10-15 minutes, this will make them soft and tender. Marinate in all the spices, dredge in Rice flour and pan-fry on both the sides. Serve hot as a side dish.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Punjabi Chole

Nupur's Recipe Marathon - Day 4

Its Day 4 and I am elated. I got to know about so many nice blogs, bloggers and food writers on the blog scene. Its going great. Best part was the way bloggers cajole and motivate each other irrespective of timezones, tastes, choice of food. Thanks Nupur for hosting this event!

More often than not, if I go by statistics and patterns, I tend to eat loads of Punjabi Chole during winter. Well, this was just a silly observation. Come winter, its time for cakes and bakes, soups and warm finger food, spicy and chaat items. I had bought a packet of Garbanzo beans or Chickpeas a month back. There were still lying neatly in my Foodgrains rack begging to be used. I am on a pantry cleaning spree, so want to work towards optimising my resources and capitalise on all what I can benefit from (Now that's a little Management style of thought delivery). We both wanted a "proper" dinner. That's the term P uses when he wishes to be adamant about tagdaa khaana. I soaked the Chickpeas in the morning, since time was less vis-a-vis overnight conventional soaking for 10-12 hours I dropped in a pinch of baking soda and soaked in warm water (Mom's valuable tips come handy during such times).

This is the method I adopt to make Chole, the shortcut method with the basic tomato-onion-ginger gravy, a tea bag dipped in Chole for the blackish color and all the masala's required under the sun. This time around, I decided to settle for the authentic brown color and omit tea bag. I had Everest Chole Masala, just a few spoons left. Thought would use them as well. I also liked several versions of Chole, one of Srivalli's and the other of Anita's. Both are nice and quite authentic.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans - 2 cups
Onions (chopped) - 2 onions (large)
Tomatoes (chopped) - 1-2 tomato (medium)
Ginger (grated or minced) - 1" piece
Oil - For frying
Everest Chole Masala or any other brand - 2 teaspoons
Everest Garam Masala or any other brand - 1/2 teaspooon
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Salt - As per taste
Green Chillies - 2
Baking soda - a pinch
Tea Bag (optional) - 1
Water - For curry consistency

For Garnishing:
Cilantro (chopped) - 6-8 sprigs
Onions (chopped) - 1 small onion or 1/3 cup

Pre-soak Chickpeas in water for 10-12 hours. If you forgot just the way I did, then plonk a cup of chickpeas in warm water with baking soda and leave for 6-8 hours. Wash the chickpeas thoroughly to eliminate any traces of soda and pressure cook for 20 minutes with salt, tea bag and one teaspoon oil. Once done, smash them lightly and leave aside. The Chickpeas would be salty and blackish at this stage.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry grated ginger and green chillies and thereafter add onions and tomatoes. Fry, fry and keep frying till they wilt, turn more translucent and ooze out oil. Add the masala's and Turmeric powder at this stage and adjust salt and water as per requirement. I like my Chole little thick with no-running gravy on the plate. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame for 5-10 minutes. Turn off flame and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and onions. You could also add the garnish while serving on individual plates. Serve with Rotis or Pooris on side.

Note: Garnishing with Onions renders a unique aroma and taste. Add the tea bag while boiling Chickpeas, you will get restaurant style Chole which is blackish and bit bitter-y. My proportions are very low on spice, increase or decrease proportion as per taste and requirements. Use Indian Red Onions, do not use Spanish Onions or White Onions if you wish for that authentic Punjabi flavour.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Umm Ali: An Egyptian Bread Pudding

Nupur's Recipe Marathon - Day 3

Very recently I began sampling lot of Middle Eastern cuisines. Middle East Cuisines have a fine spread of some tasty dishes which have caught my fascination and next year around I will try to experiment with all of them. My first tryst with Middle East cuisines and their understanding began with Diana Abu Jaber's - The Language of Baklava. Diana, an American-Jordanian residing is US has beautifully explained her experience on her first visit to Jordan and this also binds in various opportunities she got to understand her Arabian roots through the medium of Food. You could read one of her articles here and here where a brief summary of her love for Middle East cuisines is beautifully narrated; Her interview speaks volumes about her attempt to discover her Jordanian roots through food and culture. She says her ability to find the "in-betweenness" is always something she strives for - the line between which she straddles two cultures - that of her American Mother and Jordanian Father.

I first tasted Falafel at The New Yorker in Bangalore. I felt the sandwich was the creamiest with a dash of spice, greens and vegetables. I enjoyed the taste to the fullest. Even to date, I thank my dear friend M who dragged me this place much to my tantrum and hullabaloo for not tasting anything but Indian cuisines. This day opened new vistas to my taste buds and helped me appreciate myriad other cuisines. I wanted to prepare this dessert for a long time and had been delaying. Pantry cleaning and the Marathon gave a perfect opportunity to try out the dish and I am glad I did so.

Middle Eastern cuisines have many a gorgeous dishes - Few which appear in my list are - Fattoosh (a Middle East salad), Baklava (a crusty roll with nutty fillings), Cream Caramel (a classic dessert which you will find in most Middle East restuarants), Tabbouleh (a wheat-y tasty dish), Arabian Lime Ridge filled Dates, Sulaimaani Chai (black tea with a hint of mint), Shish Taoouk (bites of meat kebabs rubbed with spices and grilled to perfection), spice rubs/spices such as Zaatar, Loomi and Sumac; last but not the least one of my favorites - Umm Ali (Ali's Mother - pronounced as Umm Aa-li).

A friend of mine from Middle East told me that it literally means - Ali's Mother. The story that goes behind is this dish is simply fascinating. Apparently, Ali (the great Prophet) came over hungry one day at his house and his Mom had nothing but Rotis, Milk and some Nuts. She concocted all of them together to make this sumptuous dish which is a famous Egyptian Bread Pudding. I tried this from Mercedes's Desert Candy Blog. The taste was simply heavenly! This is my first attempt on Egyptian fare especially the decadent creamy and milky dessert types. This also turns out to be one of Hubby's favorite dessert item. Umm Ali also serves as a great dessert for friends and family get-togethers. The items are relatively easy to find in your own pantry (I bought only 2 items - Puff Pastry sheets and Heavy cream).

Today is also a milestone as this is my 150th post. Congratulations to my dear Konkani Foodie. Here's a sweet fare for the sheer indulgence of the Foodie in me and my family.

Recipe Courtesy: Desert Candy with few changes
Preparation time: 60 minutes

Pastry Puff sheet - 1
Whole Milk - 1 1/2 cup
Butter (Non-salted) - 2-3 teaspoon
Heavy Cream - 1 1/2 cup
Dry Fruits (Mixed and chopped) - Almonds, Walnuts, Apricot, Pine nuts and Raisins
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Sugar - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Saffron - few starands (crushed in 1-2 teaspoons of milk)
Coconut powder or sweet flaky coconut (optional) - 2-4 teaspoons
Almonds (halved) or Silvered Almonds - For garnishing
MTR Badam Powder - 1 teaspoon
Essentials: Parchment paper
Contraption: Glass Bakeware preferably one withstanding heavy baking and high temperature

Thaw the Puff Pastry sheet to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven for 10 minutes. Lightly grease the pastry sheets with Butter (non-salted) or oil, stretch the dough little by a rolling pin's help. Take a baking tray, line up with parchment paper and spread the pastry sheet on it. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till the pastry sheet turns fluffy and crispy.

On the side, heat milk, heavy cream, sugar, coconut, badam powder, saffron and vanilla extract and stir continuously. Take care to avoid lumps and the liquid becomes an even consistency. Bring to a gentle boil (on low to medium flame) and turn off the heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. By then, the pastry sheets would be done. Crumple the sheets to tiny bits and spread on a glass bake ware. Add the mixed fruits and spread on the crumpled sheets. Pour the cooled milk mix on this and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn over to broil thereafter for 3 minutes at 325 degrees for a perfect browning on the crust and the sides.

Check for doneness with the following: upper crust completely golden-to-brown and milk would be cooked to perfection. Serve warm (not too hot nor too cold) by scooping a ladle full of Umm Ali goodness.

Outcome: The pudding was yummy and creamy. Milk cooked and baked well. A very milky dessert and quite easy if you keep a watchful eye on the oven.

Note: 1. Umm Ali, the way I had sampled it, has a broiled look with the perfect browning and crust. So, a little broiling at the end helps to get the right taste.
2. Traditionally, its made with Pine nuts as one of the nuts and sweetened flaky coconut, I decided to omit both because I did not have them stocked.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mushroom Methi

Nupur's Recipe Marathon: Day 2

I love Fenugreek Leaves or Methi and for some reasons cannot cook many Methi dishes since the Indian grocery stores here stock them up on an on-and-off basis. This turned out a lucky stroke in disguise as I got a crispy pack of Kasuri Methi leaves from India through a well wisher. Now, I store the packet in my spice rack and use them abundantly for any dish which requires a dash of Methi.

I made Mushroom Methi since hubby loves Mushrooms and so do I. I garnished the dish with Kasuri Methi leaves. The flavour cannot beat authentic Methi leaves but somewhat closer to the Methi aroma. The gravy was full of Methi flavour. I was pretty pleased with Mushrooms as they seem to blend well with any gravy or spice and render a unique taste to the dish overall.

Recipe Source: Ashwini
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Mushrooms - 1 packet ~ Whole Button Mushrooms
Onions (chopped) - 1 cup
Kasuri Methi powder - 2 teaspoon or Fresh Fenugreek Leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Tomatoes (chopped or grated) - 1/2 cup
Ginger (grated) - 1/2" piece
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chillies powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Water - For gravy consistency
Oil/ Ghee - For frying
Coriander leaves (chopped) (optional) - 1-7 sprigs

Clean the Mushrooms thoroughly to remove dirt and grime. Chop into halves and keep them aside. In a deep dish thick bottomed pan, heat ghee/ oil and add cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop, add grated ginger and onions. Saute well and add tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes and onions lightly with the ladle to get a smashed up gravy consistency. Once the gravy gets cooked and become even, add the Masala's and stir well. Add Mushroom pieces and adjust salt and water as per requirements. Crush Kasuri Methi powder on the palm gently and sprinkle over the dish. Simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes. Check if completely cooked. Turn off the flame. Serve hot with Rotis.

Suggestions: 1. Add Mushrooms towards the end as they cook very fast.
2. If you do not want Kasuri Methi powder to have a coarse appearance in the dish, then lightly run in the Mixie for a minute and add to the dish.
3. I used Yellow Onions instead of Red and found a profound change in the flavour, it tasted better and more succulent.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cold Milk Chocolate Fudge

Nupur's Recipe Marathon: Day 1

Bad weather and no net connection. Totally bad. I felt extremely disappointed since I''d signed up for Nupur's 7 Day Recipe Marathon. My net was totally going bonkers and the connection was off. Thankfully, today the connection was up and restored (thank God!). Sorry for the miss on 25th Nupur. I have backdated the post for 25th and will begin with full gusto for next few days till 31st. I had made this yummy Cold Chocolate fudge since I wanted a sugar rush after lot of salty diet for days together. I wanted to get rid of most of my pantry items before I usher into the New Year. So this was made on a trial-and-error whim. The taste was very good and hubby also appreciated the experiment. You can also see a Chocolate Fudge Piroutte sitting neatly on the stemware in the picture. Cheerz! We had an awesome Christmas lunch with friends and the festive spirit was all in the air.
Merry Christmas to all my friends!! Tis' the season of sharing and giving.

Recipe Source: Ashwini
Preparation time : 10 minutes

Cold Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 teaspoons or as per taste
Vanilla Essence/ Extract - 1-2 drops
Cinnamon powder - 1/6 teaspoon or just a pinch
Chocolate Fudge Pirouttes - 1

Take a glass of cold milk. Mix in the Vanilla essence, sugar and cinnamon powder. Stir well. Add the Chocolate Piroutte and crush a little bit to allow the Fudge of the Piroutte to blend in the milk. Leave some for the crispies to float around for that extra crunch while drinking. Enjoy the Chocolate-y drink during a cold winter evening.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Idlis in Jackfruit Leaves (Khotte/ Hittu/ Kadubu)

Idlis are always a savior when it comes to long trips and heavy duty breakfast required especially during festivals, travels, weddings. I love Idlis and much better if they come in Jack fruit leaves. Nothing to beat the aroma of steamed Idlis in Jack fruit leaves (Pansaa Paan). Initially, in cities when we wanted Jack fruit leaves we used to get shocked looks in return much to the amusement of folks. Well, very few houses had Jack fruit trees and getting the leaves was a big problem. You eat leaves??? Well! Ahem, no! Then we had to explain the whole story and then we got to eat Khotte.
Khotte is a Konkani way of steaming Idlis in Jack fruit leaves containers. These containers are hand made at home. Nowadays you get them ready made in Mangalore stores in Bangalore or even street vendors in Udupi and Mangalore. Mom makes the best looking Khotte containers. She stitches the leaves in a very cute, very less spillage and steams them to the perfect level. I am still on the learning curve but can make decent Khotte containers. 4 Jack fruit leaves (pre-washed and dried) are stitched together with thin Bamboo sticks (which are pre-soaked in water for atleast 1/2 hour). They are stitched together to form a container. One by one fill these containers with Idli batter, steam as usual (20 minutes to 30 minutes). Have some chutney to go along and you are set for a filling, heavy duty Konkani breakfast.

Later, while in Bangalore I came to know that they go by the name of Kadubu. Granny said that olden days families were huge and they did not have massive Idli containers to use. Trees and their leaves were made to good use by ladies and ecologically they were more degradable, healthy and consumed less water for cleaning. How smart?

Preparation time: 30 minutes (steaming Idlis) + 30 minutes (stitching Khotte leaves) = 1 hour

Idli Batter - 10 cups
Jack fruit leaves - 4 x 10 = 40 leaves
Bamboo sticks or Curry leaves sticks (sun dried) - 10-15
Water - For steaming Idlis

Contraption - Idli steamer : Available in plenty in India at steel and utensil stores

Make Idli batter using the recipe for Idlis. Take 4 leaves at a time. Stitch them together to form a container. Make 10-15 similar containers. Let the Steamer boil. Place Khotte one by one and cover the lid tightly. Allow to steam for 20 minutes. Remove from heat once completely cooked. Serve with Byadgi Red Chilli chutney.

Suggestions: If the Jackfruit leaves are a big crispy and tight for stitching, soak them in water for some time and then stitch them. That way, it becomes easier. In some Konkani houses, the Khotte is served with a spoon full of Coconut oil and mixed vegetables pickle or any other pickle with broth on the side. This combination tastes very delicious.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Onion Gojju (Piyavaa Gojju)

A simple dish for rainy and cold winter days. I just love the simplicity of this dish. How do I describe Gojju?

"A simple concoction of vegetables - chopped, mashed, diced or boiled, add a dash of chosen appropriate seasoning - Mustard seeds and Curry leaves and you are set to enjoy this simple dish which packs lot of flavours. Vegetables I use for Gojju - Onions, Okra, Potato, Paasphanas, Raw Mango in brine. This is suitable and apt as a side dish. Gojju truly explores the simplicity and dexterity of vegetables".

I have grown up eating Gojju. A very simple dish when you quickly need a side dish say in 15 minutes flat. Quite a regular at my home. My maushi's are all adept at different varieties of these. Its a soupy side dish, the broth of the coconut and vegetables blend well to offer a unique flavour. The Gojju main ingredients (atleast in Konkani preparations) - Coconut grated, Green Chillies and Tamarind fuse to offer different flavours when tried with different vegetables.

Personally I like Onion Gojju and Okra Gojju; I feel it gels well as an accompaniment to Soupy Brown Rice or Ganjee. I have recently registered for Nupur's 7-day Recipe Marathon and cannot wait for my turn to dish out 7 recipes which go back to back. I am all set and excited about the Marathon.

A dear friend N from Chicago recently sent me excerpts of Gretchen Rubin's Book - The Happiness Project which is all set to hit the stands on Dec 29th. I cannot wait to get my hands on this long awaited book. You could read the excerpts here. Do skip through her blog if you get a chance. Her blog speaks about simple things which we often fail to think or retrospect upon. Personally, I find a lot of impact and depth in her simple tips and suggestions. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

Recipe Source ~ My Mom
Preparation time ~ 15 minutes

Onions (finely chopped) - 2
Grated coconut - 1/ 2 cup
Tamarind pulp - 1/2 t
Coconut oil - 2 t
Water - for Gojju consistency
Green Chillies (chopped) - 2
Salt - as per taste
Asafoetida - 1/4 t

Seasoning (optional):
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1/3 teaspoon
Oil - For frying

Take a serving bowl and crush the coconut, chillies, tamarind, asafoetida and salt together. Add enough water as per the consistency desired. Add chopped Onions and mix well. Garnish with coconut oil and serve as a side dish.
Some of the people I know also serve this dish with a seasoning. Just heat oil in a small container on flame, add mustard seeds and once they finish popping, add curry leaves. Do all this on low-to-medium flame. Pour this seasoning on top of the dish. This is an optional step.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Red Lentils Tadka Daal (Masoori Thoi/ Masoor Thove)

One of those lets-kill-time conversations with my favorite aunt S, I realised she is a treasure trove of recipes. I am not kidding. She dons the prized chef hat ala "Best Cook" in my maternal side. I cannot agree more with the jury and the critics. She dishes out restaurant style dishes and hold your breath, they are not limited to **Konkani** alone. She rattles off recipes from North to South, East to West, understands food science and nutrition, can cook a banquet for 50+ people without hiccups, knows many a rare cuisines which even the most knowledgeable ladies of my family fail to recognise and fathom.

She informed me about this quick and easy way of cooking Masoor Daal especially when you want the side dish in 20-30 minutes flat. Masoor Daal is sparingly cooked in our household when I was a child, it is believed to cause joint pain if consumed in excess. Red Lentils cook faster and hence works well for less than 30 minutes cooks. I tried this recipe, very similar to Daali Thoi, flavour is much milder and sharpened a wee bit with Red Chillies tadka. Thanks Aunty! You are the best!!

Preparation time: 20-30 minutes

Red Lentils (Masoor Split lentils) - 2 cups
Red Chillies - 2-3
Salt - As per taste
Lime juice - 2 teaspoon
Oil - For seasoning
Water - For boiling lentils
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1/2 t - For seasoning

Wash the lentils multiple times till water is clear and non-cloudy. Bring to boil in thick bottomed saucepan, once done mash the daal fervently. This takes around 10 minutes. Adjust salt. Pour a seasoning of mustard seeds and curry leaves and serve hot with lime juice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teasel Gourd Fries (Kantola Fries/ Phaagila Phodi)

Phaagil or Teasel Gourd is a favorite amongst most of the West Coast foodies in India. I was introduced to this vegetable during my early childhood days. We used to get these in plenty in Goa and Mumbai. Best consumed when the vegetable is tender and the seeds are not formed. Teasel Gourd is known as Phaagil in Konkani. Some like this vegetable a lot and some hate it. But out and out favorite at many a homes I know owing to the yummy fries dipped in Rice batter. For best results, the fries have to be made from tender Teasel gourds. When I visit India, Mom knows that this one has to be there. I love the fritters fried to crispy red perfection.

This vegetable primarily grows during the rainy season in abundance. It grows best in marshy areas and well watered habitats. In Konkani homes, the Teasel gourd finds prominence during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi when 5 types of Phodis are made as an offering to Lord Ganesha.

More often than not its used to make Phodi - Pan-fried or Deep fried. Mom makes Phaagla Saasam which is another delicacy we used to cherish during Sunday lunches. The fries are very delicious and make a great side dish.

Serves: 2-3 individuals

Teasel Gourd or Phaagil (sliced into thin slices of 3-4 mm each) - 8-15
Salt - as per taste
Oil - for frying

For Batter:
Rice (pre-soaked) -1 Cup
Red Chillies - 6-10
Asafoetida - 1/10 teaspoon
Water - For accomodating grinding consistency

Pre-soak washed rice in water for 5-6 hours. Grind it to a batter after draining water along with red chillies and asafoetida, salt and very less water.
Apply salt to Gourd slices/ pieces and set aside for 1/2 hour. Heat oil in a deep dish pan. Once oil heats up (should not be smoking hot as fries would burn) dip the pieces in batter and deep fry. Serve hot along with rice and curry.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Soupy Brown Rice/ Ganjee/ Paej

Paej ~ The name itself strikes a chord of emotional nostalgia for me. Have grown eating plateful of this soupy Brown Rice delight. Some houses including that of my grandmothers has a norm of 11:00 tiffin with Paej as its called in Konkani. A special kind of rice called as Ukhdo Tandool (Brown Rice ~ very similar to Rosematta Rice available in US) in Konkani is used for the same. Silly I may sound! But hold it and do not stop me this time around. Fistful of Brown Rice washed and washed in tap water till its clean, non-cloudy and the red and white color sparkles at your face. Boil a pot full of water, we used to follow 1:4 proportion, which means for 1 cup of rice 4 cups of water. This Rice is eaten with the soupy starch and pickle, pappadams and vodee on the sides. Specially prevalent during those days when ancestral houses were full of kids and after a hiatus of early morning breakfast all the starving tummies used to yearn for a morsel of this humble nutritious delight.

Some also address it as Ganjee Utaa in Kannada. In Konkanis its known as Paej. Initially I felt a silly blogging about it but could not stop myself after thinking about all the wonderful times I have had eating spoons and spoons of this soupy rice during summer vacations at Udupi at my Grannys place. Paej along with Pickle, Vodee and Papads suffice as a one pot dish. Some serve Upkari of choice on the side.

I had a small bag of Rice I had bought from my India trip. Curiosity kills as they say! Could not hold my taste buds and plunged some into boiling water to enjoy this on a cold winter afternoon with Lime Pickle and Red Chilli Papad. Tastes best when served with Salt, dollops of home made Ghee and some spicy pickle. Happy Winter!!!

Preparation time ~ 30 to 45 minutes

Brown Rice/ Parboiled Rice/ Ponni Rice ~ Ukhdo Tandool or Rosematta Rice (US) - 1 cup
Water - 4-5 cups

Wash rice multiple times till the rice is super clean and devoid of mud and grit. Boil 4-5 cups of water and once water begins to boil, add the washed rice. Give an occasional stir. Turn to a low flame and allow to simmer. Keep stirring occasionally. Once rice is cooked and done completely, turn off the flame and serve hot with ghee, salt and pickle on the side.