Sunday, November 11, 2007

Paasi Paruppu Payasam (Moong Dal Kheer)

I made this traditional dessert for dinner on diwali and everyone loved it. It was a very simple and easy recipe and tasted divine. I took this recipe from Mrs. S. Mallika Badrinath's TRADITIONAL SWEETS recipe book. This will be my entry to the JFI-Special Edition Diwali event hosted by Vee of Past, Present and Me.

Ingredients:

Green gram dal(Split moong dal) - 1 cup
Jaggery (grated) - 1 cup (can be increased or decreased as per taste)
Coconut milk (thin) - 2 cups (milk - 2 cups can be used instead)
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Cashew nut - 1 tbsp
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Water - 1 cup

Method:

Fry cashews and raisins in 1 tbsp ghee till roasted. Roast the moong dal with 1 tbsp ghee till it turns golden brown in color. Pressure cook the dal with 1 cup of water and 2 cups of milk till soft and mushy (You can cook it on the stove top but it takes longer). Add jaggery and heat it till it becomes thick and creamy. Add the cardamom powder and fried cashews and raisins and serve warm or cold. I used fat free milk in my version.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Diwali


This being our thalai diwali (first one after the wedding), I wanted to go all out and prepare a lot of dishes for diwali. It was a challenge as I had to come back from work and start making the dishes every night. A big thanks to the food blog community, as I found many delicious dishes, all with elaborate descriptions and pictures. This made my job much easier. Coming from a christian background we do not prepare most of these dishes at home. Cakes and cookies are more common back home. So it was quite a challenge to make these dishes without having seen anyone make them, but following the directions word by word was the key. The dishes turned out perfect. So here is a small compilation of the treats I prepared with links to the original recipes. I am adding a few notes to help others out there like me.

Coconut Burfi from
Saffron Hut:

Remember to use a heavy bottomed pan, as milk here in US usually gets burnt easily. Also stir it often to prevent burning. Since I live in a dry cold place, mine started to solidify very fast so I did not have to wait for 8hrs. I cut into squares quite early, as it is easier to cut when it is still on the soft side. Also once it cools keep it in an air tight container, to prevent it from turning too hard or dry.

Dry fruits ladoo from Neivedyam:

This dish was the easiest to prepare. It took me about 20min to make 30 ladoos. Also I tried 2 different mixes of dry fruits. The first one was cashews, sweetened shredded coconut, dried apricots, almonds and raisins. For the second mix I used almonds, dried apricots, dates, raisins, walnuts and sweetened shredded coconut. It was easier for me to make the ladoos when the mix was a little warm. So after mixing the dry fruits with the honey, I heated the mix in the microwave for 2 min till it was warm to touch. Then apply butter or ghee to your hands and start making the ladoos.

Thattai from Lakshmiammal:

Since my version of thattai uses coconut, I wanted to try a different version without using coconut and I found this recipe. I fried them in medium heat till they turned golden brown. The reason to fry them in medium heat is to cook the rice flour completely. Also if the heat is high, it will get burnt easily and not taste good. I was making a huge batch and it was taking a long time to fry these. My husband came to my rescue and he did the frying, while I made the flattened patties on ziploc sheets. It really helped to have him do the frying, as I did not have to wash my hands in between every batch to fry these. The only variation was I added more dry chillies as we like our snacks on the spicy side.

Kaju Kathli from Saffrom hut:

This is my second attempt at kaju kathli. The first one was 4 years ago and the mixture never solidified so i had to serve it as halwa. There are 2 methods for making kaju kathli. The first one uses the cashews soaked in milk and ground to a thick paste whereas the second one uses the cashews powdered. Four year ago, I tried the first method so this year I wanted to try the second one. The verdict is that this is a much easier and fail proof method. It was moist and soft. The cashews can easily become a paste while grinding, because of the oil content. Try leaving the cashews in the sun for a day or in a warm oven for a few minutes (do not let them change color). This way they can be easily ground to a powder. Also make sure you use fresh cashews, because the ones I got from the Indian stores did not smell good(read really old stock) but thankfully I found some good cashews at the American grocery shop nearby. Remember to grease your hands with butter or ghee as it helps with the kneading.


Chocolate Pista Roll from Vcuisine:

The only problem with this recipe was I couldn't find full fat milk powder in the grocery shops nearby. After much searching, I decided to use the non-fat version that I bought. I was worried that it would spoil the taste but was surprised when the finished dish tasted perfect. I guess the dish can be called healthy as I used the non-fat version. I used the microwave to heat the mixture and it took about 5 minutes, but for almost every 15 seconds I had to stir it to prevent it from overflowing. Let the mixture cool completely before trying to knead it and grease your hands well. I touched the surface and assumed it was cool and started kneading it to realize that the inside was still hot.


Kara Sev from Menu today:

I followed the suggestion by MT and mixed only one portion of the flour at a time to make the dough as this helped it from absorbing too much oil while frying. Last time I followed the same method to make the sev with a slotted laddle but this time I used my murukku press with sev plates. It was much easier and it took me about 30-45min to make the whole batch. After frying the first batch we decided to add more chilli powder to the remaining batches. They were quite spicy and crunchy.


Badam Halwa from Saffron hut:

My husband and I did the skin peeling for the almonds and I had to keep an eye on him to prevent him from popping a few into his mouth. Almonds taste good either crunchy or soft (after soaked in water). I had to use more milk to grind the almonds, as my blender refused to move otherwise. Instead of the cardamom powder, I used a few saffron strands and that blended well with the halwa. I served it in a cup and skipped the ball making part.


Boondi Ladoo from Menutoday:

This one was a little hard for me as the ladoos had to be made while still warm. First time I touched it and burnt my palm. So after a while I was considering just serving it as sweet boondi. But decided to give it one more try. I think lukewarm is the right temperature both for perfect ladoos and your palm. Also the boondis should not be completely cooked till crispy, instead they shoud be removed from the oil three fourth cooked. After it cooled down, I stored them in an airtight container and hid it from my husband so that he does not finish it before Diwali. My husband said that these tasted like the shop ones and that's the best compliment I could ever ask for. Oh also the palm dint hurt anymore after seeing the look on his face after he gulped a few.

Hope my experience helps others like me who are trying to make these delicious treats for the first time. Hope you all have a fun filled safe Diwali.





HAPPY DIWALI

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Peach Bhel - AFAM peach

I wanted to participate in the AFAM-Peach event hosted by Mansi of fun and food. But since I was out of time I decided to try a twist to the traditional bhel. I skipped both onions and tomatoes and added peach, mango and pomegrante seeds instead. The bhel tasted perfect with the right amount of spice, salt, sourness and crunch.

Ingredients:

Peaches (cubed) - 1/2 cup
Mango (raw) (cut into small pieces) - 2 tbsp
Pomegranate seeds - a handful
Mamra (puffed rice) - 1 cup
Sev - 2 tsp
Mint chutney - as needed
Sweet chutney -as needed
Chilli sauce - as needed
Salt - a pinch
Cilantro leaves - for garnishing

Method:

Mix all the ingredients well and give the bowl a good shake. Serve immediately.