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Navratri Celebrations:

‘Navratri’ as the name suggests means ‘Nine Nights’..Nine nights is actually a festival in the honour of Goddess Shakti. It’s a special occasion for all Hindus all over India. The first three nights are dedicated to Goddess Durga, the next three nights are dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and the  last three nights are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. Navratri generally ends with Vijaya dashmi or Dussera.

For us South Indians, Navratri is synonymous to Golus or Bombe mane (Doll House), sundals, Badam Milk and chanting of various Devi sthotras. You’ll generally hear M.S. Subbu’s chantings in every house this time of the year. This season is very dear to me as I actually relive my childhood by collecting and displaying lovely dolls:).. I keep collecting different types of dolls and knick knacks to display for Navratri. Generally the dolls are picked with some theme in mind. The themes could be Dasha avtar of Lord Vishnu, Ashta laxmi, marriage set, cricket set etc.It’s really exciting to plan and assemble these dolls. The Dolls are displayed on steps. The steps could be 5, 7, 9 in number. The ‘Pattada Bombe’ or the husband-wife dolls are the main highlight of this arrangement.These dolls are generally gifted by a mother to her daughter during her wedding.

This year, my friend Gokul and I revamped her old dolls, belonging to her mother.  Just like two little girls playing with their dolls,we enjoyed every moment draping saree and dressing them up. I also painted an old ‘Benne Krishna’ idol which my mother in law gifted me.This year the scale and size of my Bombe mane got a little bigger, thanks to my doll collection spree. I enjoyed every bit arranging them and feasting on sundal every day.

The Gujratis in our building also organised a Dandiya nite, which I happened to miss as we had planned our yearly trip to Mysore. Mysore is breathtaking during this time of the year. It’s been 3 consecutive years that we’ve been visiting Mysore for Dussera. I ‘m hoping to make this a constant affair every year.

So, this was how we celebrated Navratri and after the festival, removing all the dolls always makes me feel sad and brings a tear to my eye. On the happier note, the dussera dolls are now available in the market at a throw away price and it’s time to grab few more for next year:)..

As mentioned earlier,women invite other women to their homes and generally serve sundal and badam milk during navratri. So here’s the recipe for sundal which I tried out.

Black Chana, Moong and Peanut Sundal:

You’ll need:

Black chana: 1/2 cup

Moong: 1 cup

Peanut: 1/2 cup

Freshly grated coconut: 1/2 cup

Ginger: small piece: 1/2 inch

Green chillies: 2 nos

Corriander : 2 tablespns chopped

Curry leaves: 4-6 leaves

Red chillies dried: 2-3 nos

Oil: 1 tablespn

Mustard: 1/2  teaspn

Jeera: 1/2 teaspn

Hing: a pinch

turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspn

Salt: to taste

Lemon juice: 2 teaspns.

Procedure:

Soak black chana, moong and peanuts overnight separately. Next morning pressure cook moong and peanuts together with a pinch of salt. Take care not to over cook moong and peanuts, about 2 whistles in your pressure cooker would be sufficient. On the contrary for black chana, you’ll need some more time, mine got cooked in 4-5 whistles. Please add salt to blck chana also while cooking. Once cooked, keep aside.

Grind, coconut, ginger, green chillies, some coriander and some curry leaves together. Do not grind them into a fine paste consistency. in a wok, pour some oil, add mustard and cumin(jeera). Let them splutter, add hing, curry leaves and red chillies and let them get fried. Add the ground green chilli mix and keep frying for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked, black chana, moong, peanut, salt, turmeric and mix gently. turn off the gas and sprinkle some coriander and add some lime juice. You can also add some freshly grated coconut and sundal is ready.

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This recipe of modak used to be a regular feature in our kitchen back home for Ganesh Chaturthi. I love this variation of modaks as compared to the fried version, but my husband prefers the fried ones. Now that explains why this was the first time that I tried this at my place. In Goa or I guess along the coastal belt from Maharashtra to Kerala this version of modaks or kadabu steamed in turmeric leaves is very common. They are called as ‘Patholeos’ in Goa. Hindus In Goa make them for Nag Panchami and  Christians make them for the ‘Feast of our Lady’ which falls on 15th of August which is also our Independence day.  Every Independence day used to be a festival back home and we would relish patholeos given by ours neighbors.

My friend Gokul actually has a turmeric plant in her place and I couldn’t resist my excitement at the site of those leaves. I was already imagining and drooling over the idea of making modaks as it was still Ganesh chaturthi season. She very sweetly plucked a few leaves and gave me after seeing the child like enthusiasm in me:).. I had thought that I would actually go in search for the leaves which later I got to know are generally available at any Mangalore store here in Bangalore. Thank you Gokul for the turmeric leaves:) and you made my day.

Here’s the recipe. It’s a normal steamed modak recipe which are steamed in turmeric leaves. The actual recipe of making ‘Patholeos’ is a little different and tedious, but they taste the same. The shape of patholeos is generally semicircular just like kadabus. Anyways, I got to taste some patholeos after 7 long years and they tasted heavenly:)..

Here’s the Recipe:

You’ll need:

Rice Flour: 1 cup

Water : 1-1/4 cup

salt: a pinch

Ghee: 1/2 teaspn + 2 teaspns to knead.

Turmeric leaves for Steaming: 3 leaves cut into halves( 6 pieces)

Stuffing:

Freshly grated coconut: 1 cup

Jaggery: 3/4 cup

elaichi: 1/2 teaspn

Ghee: 1/2 tablespn

Roasted sesame seeds: 2 teaspns

Roasted poppy seeds: 2 teaspns

raisins: 2 teaspns (optional)

Procedure:

Stuffing:

Mix coconut and jaggery in a bowl and leave it for sometime. The jaggery will melt and get mixed with coconut and this makes it easier to cook. In a thick bottom pan, add some ghee and add the raisins and fry them. Once the raisins are done, add coconut-jaggery mix and keep stirring till the mix starts to leave the edges and a wonderful aroma starts to emanate. Switch of the gas and add roasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds and mix well. Let this mixture cool a bit.

Dough:

In a thick bottomed pan, add the water. Add salt and 1/2 teaspn ghee to the water. let the water boil a bit and to that add the rice flour and mix well. The rice flour will start forming a dough. Switch off the gas and transfer this dough on to the clean kitchen platform or a large plate. Knead the dough by adding some more ghee little by little till it forms a very soft pliable dough. It will take quite some time and effort at this stage. Good exercise for your upper arms. If the dough is not kneaded properly then the modaks will develop cracks while steaming.

Once the dough is done, divide the dough into small lemon size balls and pat them into a circle  with the help of your fingers and your palms. This is a little difficult to roll with a pin, hence this procedure, where you make puri shape with your fingers and put the stuffing in the centre and gathers all the edges like a potli or a wonton and keep them aside. Once all the modaks are done, pour enough water in the pressure cooker and keep an elevated perforated plate or an idli plate will also do. I have used a perforated plate. Place the cut turmeric leaves onto the perforated plate. Arrange the modaks on leaves, space them out evenly as they tend to fluff a bit once they are steamed. Put the cooker lid on and pressure cook without the weight for about 10-12 minutes just like your idlis.

Modaks arranged in pressure pan for steaming.

For the kadabus or patholeos, make a puri with your fingers just like for modaks and fill the stuffing inside and  fold the circle or puri into a half or a semicircle. Seal the edges properly and place them into a turmeric leaf. You can further seal the edges of the turmeric leaf with the help of cloves or cinnamon sticks. It’s like wrapping the patholeo in the turmeric leaf. Steam them in the similar way as you would steam the modaks. The house will be filled with lovely aroma of turmeric leaves and not to forget the lovely steamed modaks and patholeos which are ready to be served…Enjoy.

Steamed Modaks find their way into the ‘Serve-it-Steamed‘ series event  hosted by Krithi’s Kitchen  and Denny’s OhTasteenSee .Thanks Krithi and Denny for this wonderful event.

My job has been keeping me extremely busy and that explains my hiatus from the blogging front. I haven’t been able to even check my blog comments or for that matter even my blog statistics which earlier I would check regularly. I just realised that I have loads of things to write about and haven’t been doing so. Finally, Today I’ve decided to atleast write something small to get going again:)…

This year too, we celebrated Krishna Janmashtami with fervor. I’m really fond of Lord Krishna and love listening to all the songs dedicated to him. After shifting to Bangalore I’ve developed a ear for ‘Dasarara Padagalu’-which are beautiful hymns written by Saint Purandaradasa dedicated to Lord Krishna. They are very simple and very soulful and I listen to them very often when I’m working or when I’m on my evening walks.

This year Janmashtami was special to me because of my dear friend Arti who gifted me a beautiful ‘Laddoo Gopal’. She even gifted a lovely dress along with jewellery for my Gopal and it was a delight dressing him up. I got a lovely ‘Mor-mukut’ or a peacock crown for him and my Gopal was all set for his birthday. Along with the many baby krishna idols that I have collected or been gifted, I also have  a cute little Bal Gopal with his cradle. This has been gifted by my aunt from Udupi. We performed the puja in the evening and placed Bal gopal in the cradle.

I made loads of savouries for him, This year I made chaklis, kodbele, tengkolal, khara poha, sweet poha and besan laddoos. We spent the whole evening in a Krishna temple near our house listening to beautiful bhajans.

I’m posting the recipe for Besan laddoo here:

You’ll need:

Besan flour: 1 cup

Powdered Sugar: 1 cup (I coarse ground the powder to get that  little crunchy feel, but you can powder it fine)

Ghee: 3/4 cup

Elaichi powder: 1/4 teaspn

Cashew, Raisin pieces: finely chopped: 1/4 cup(optional- I haven’t added any)

Procedure:

In a thick bottomed kadai, pour the ghee and besan and keep stirring till a lovely aroma stars emanating. By this time even the besan will start leaving the edges. Switch off the gas and let it cool completely.

Once this besan mix has cooled down, mix sugar and elaichi powder to form a dough like consistency. If it ends up being a little crumbly then add a little ghee spoon by spoon. Mix thoroughly and then role them into lemon size laddoos. The laddoos will be properly set after an hour or two, that is once the ghee and sugar added hardens. Very easy and simple recipe and the tastiest of all laddoos…Enjoy

Eggless Black Forest Cake:

Yesterday was my Husband’s Birthday and this time I wanted to surprise him with something that I had never tried my hand at before.

I always felt that baking a Gateau was such an ordeal and that’s one of the reason why I had never tried baking any of the cream pasteries etc, to add to it my husband is very health conscious and often stays away from cakes and cream cakes..This was also one of the reasons for my demotivation in trying out cream cakes:)  I had some whipping cream lying in my fridge, I decided on a black forest gateau.  My challenge was to get my husband to eat and not just taste the cake. As I was googling for a healthy chocolate cake recipe, I came across Madhuram’s cake which is made up of wheat flour. I finally decided on making this cake as a base for my Black forest cake.

The basic chocolate cake is an inspiration from egglesscooking.com. Thanks Madhuram for posting such a wonderful healthy recipe.

For the Basic Chocolate cake you’ll need:

Maida (all purpose flour): 1/4 cup

Whole Wheat Flour: 3/4 cup

Baking powder: 1/2 teaspn

Baking Soda: 1 teaspn

Cocoa Powder: 6 tbspn

Powdered Sugar: 3/4 cup

Unsweetened Applesauce: 1/2 cup

oil: 2 tbspns

Hot coffee:1/4 cup(mixed 1 teaspn instant coffee Bru in 1/4 cup milk)

Milk: 1/4 cup

Yogurt: 1/4 cup

Vanilla essence: 1 teaspn

Procedure:

The original recipe had asked for a 8″ pan, but I’ve used a 6″ one as I needed a little height to make the layers in the cake. Grease a 6″ round pan and dust it with cocoa powder and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C for 10 mins.

In a large bowl, sift maida, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the wet ingredients viz. yogurt, milk, oil, applesauce, vanilla essence,hot coffee and gently fold to form a batter consistency.

Pour the batter into the 6″ pan and bake it at 160 deg C for 30 mins or till the skewer inserted comes clean. Once the cake is done, transfer it onto a wire rack for cooling. Let it cool completely before doing any icing.

For the Black Forest assembling you’ll need: for this portion I’ve referred to Madhuri’s cookcurrynook. Thanks Mads for giving some wonderful tips.

Sugar syrup: 1/2 cup(mix sugar and water to the proportion of 1:1)

Cherries: 1 cup pitted (some I’ve halved and some I’ve chopped fine for the filling)

Whipping Cream: 1.5 cup (mine already had sugar in it, or else add icing sugar accordingly)

Grated Chocolate shredding: 1 cup or more if you like to.

Procedure.

Chill the whipping cream, bowl for whipping and the hand mixer blade in the refrigerator before whipping. The whipping cream could be chilled overnight if you have planned ahead.

Meanwhile, chop few cherries into halves and few into small pieces. Make the sugar syrup with 1:1 consistency and keep it aside.

In the chilled steel bowl add the whipping cream and use a hand mixer to whip it till it forms soft peaks. Keep stopping and checking the mixer from time to time as you do not want to over beat it.

Once the cake is completely cooled. Level out the cake by cutting off all the uneven portions. Cut the cake into transverse or horizontal layers, I made 2 layers. I just had to cut the cake at its middle, but if you need to make more layers you may need to mark first and then proceed to get even layers. Separate the slices and place one of the slices on the plate you need to present. Drizzle the sugar syrup gently on the slice and with the help of a palette knife or a spatula spread the whipping cream evenly. Sprinkle some chopped cherries on top. Put the second layer of cake on top of it and add some sugar syrup and cover it with a layer of whipped cream. Cover the sides too and let it refrigerate for 2 hours.

Once the cake has set properly finish the top and the sides with some more whipped cream. This is the first time I was using a piping bag with a star nozzle. I was a little apprehensive at the beginning but once I started there was no looking back..I was hoping I had more cakes to decorate:).Let your creativity flow and decorate the way you like it. I’ve then decorated with grated chocolate and cherry topping. You can smear chocolate shredding on the sides too, I haven’t as my husband is not much of a chocolate fan and the cake was for him. Ravi loved the cake and I was quite surprised as he ate quite a big piece of chocolate cake:)..It felt so good and it’s a great feeling when somebody loves the food you make..On that note, I would like to wish him all the Luck and Happiness..Happy Birthday!

Oliveitup:

Oliveitup was an olive oil promotion campaign launched by The Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVC). It was held at The Oberoi, Bangalore and we, the Bangalore food bloggers were invited for a Olive Oil tasting session. Suma, Swetha, Madhuri, Siri and I attended the event.

(L-R) Suma, Shubhada, Swetha, Madhuri and Siri.

Olive oil I guess has recently found its place in Indian kitchens after the advent of continental food chains. Earlier if I can remember, olive oil was used only to massage babies or for haircare. With popularity of Italian and other European cuisine, olive oil has become prominent member in our kitchens.Some days back I had watched Aditya Bal do a small series called Olive it up on NDTV Goodtimes and had liked that programme.

I use olive oil only in italian dishes that I try out or in salad dressings. I wasn’t very sure if all Indian dishes could be cooked in olive oil because of the flavor. After this talk and some understanding on the nutritional benefits, a lot of my myths were busted and I guess olive oil will be a regular in my kitchen…though hoping the price of olive oil comes down:).

(L-R) mr. Keith Sunderlal, Ms. Pina Romano, Mr. Michele Labrile, Ms. Ishi Khosla, Mr. V.N. Dalmia and Chef Vicky

They had a distinguished Panel who explained the various aspects of olive oil.  The Panel comprised of Mr. Keith Sunderlal,Ms. Pina Romano, Mr. Michele Labrile, Ms. Ishi Khosla, Mr. V.N.Dalmia and Chef Vicky Ratnani. Mr.Keith Sunderlal, Project Director of Oliveitup Campaign, explained the various promotional activities in India. Ms. Pina Romano is the President of Interprofessional Organization for olive oil sector. She gave us various statistics on olive oil production and usage around the world.

Mr. Michele Labrile explained the different types of olive oils viz.Extra Virgin which is extracted from freshly picked olives and retains the vitamins, anti oxidants and good fats. Virgin is a blend of refined olive oil with a virgin oil. Lampant oil is oil which cannot be used for consumption and Pomace is a refined version of olive oil which doesn’t have the benefits of extra virgin oil.  He actually demonstrated the olive oil tasting process. It is quite a laborious process and I pity the guys who have to do this as a job. We had some small glasses laid on our tables to taste various types of olive oils. He very enthusiastically got us to tasting and there was a chart of instructions given to us on how we should go about tasting the olive oil.

Olive oil sample glasses..

Ms. Ishi Khosla, the renowned nutritionist spoke on the health benefits of olive oil. For me this was the highlight of the evening. She explained about how to choose the right oil, USP of olive oil, health benefits, different types of fats present in oil (sfa, mufa, pufa etc). While picking up teh oils I would always read about MuFA and PuFA, but didn’t know what they were. Well, MuFA is monounsaturated fats and PuFa is Polyunsaturated Fat. Oils with high MuFA content are very good as they lower the risk of breast cancer and heart diseases. PuFa lowers bad cholesterol but also lowers good cholesterol. Olive oil has a high MuFA content. It’s always better to choose a oil which has Mufa content more than PuFA content. I always thought sunflower was a good oil to use, but now I got to know that sunflower falls in the PuFA category. Check out this chart for which oil to use. This was very helpful.

Saturated

SFA

Monounsaturated

MUFA

Polyunsaturated      
Butter

Ghee

 Lard

Coconut

   

Olive

Rapeseed/Canola

Mustard

Sesame

Rice bran

Groundnut

Safflower/ Kardi

Sunflower

Corn

Soybean

 

The USP of Olive oil is that it has high MuFA, has good fats,no trans fats, high smoking point and enhances taste and flavor.

Chef Vicky Ratnani.

Another highlight of the show was Chef Vicky Ratnani, who showed us on how to use olive oil in our regular Indian Cooking. He made a delicious snack which was Root vegetable Tikki with Peach and Bell pepper Chutney, both cooked in extra virgin olive oil. They tasted heavenly and we all gorged to our hearts content.

To conclude the show, Mr. V.N. Dalmia gave us a small talk on Indian Olive Association and the programs they were conducting to promote awareness on olive oil.

It was a nice experience. I thank the entire team of Oliveitup Campaign for having us over. It was fun and very informative.

Carrot-Coriander Soup

 

The temperatures in Bangalore have started dipping. Every now and then I feel the need for some hot tea and in the evening feel like having some soup. My fridge was practically empty except for a few carrots and the urge to have some soup was tremendous. I had bookmarked this soup earlier and it is actually Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe. I have made a few changes to suit our palate.

What I liked about this soup is  the addition of a bay leaf. It  adds a nice spicy twist to the normal soup. I have substituted butter with oil. The recipe also called for white pepper, since I didn’t have any,I’ve used black pepper. So here’s the recipe.

You’ll need:

Carrots: diced 1 cup

Coriander: 1/2 cup chopped, also use the stems

Bay Leaf: 1 no.

Ginger Garlic paste:1/2 tspn

Onions: 1/4 cup diced

salt: to taste

Black pepper powder: 1/2 teaspn( add more if you need it to be spicy)

Oil: 2 teaspn

Water: 4-5 cups

Procedure:

In a wok, add some oil. Tip in the bay leaf, ginger garlic paste and onions saute for a while. Add carrots and further saute again. Add coriander stems, chopped coriander and 4-5 cups of water. Bring it to boil. Remove the bay leaf aside and when the carrots are done put this mix into a blender to make a fine puree. Add this puree into a pan and adjust the consistency with water or vegetable stock, if you have. Add salt and pepper and let it boil. Once done, switch of the gas add some finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve this soup piping hot with some bread croutons.

To make bread croutons, cut bread slices into small squares and microwave on a high for 40-50 seconds. The time varies depending on your microwave setting. Once microwaved, let them stand for a while and crispy croutons are ready to be served with steaming hot soup.

 

Maddur Vada:

I just got back from a nice small holiday at my brother’s place which is also in B’lore. I had a wonderful time with my sister-in-law pampering me silly with all the goodies and most importantly her time. I didn’t want my small vacation to end at all,as I didn’t have to wake up early to fix breakfast or make coffee, handle maids et al…felt thoroughly rejuvenated…I got back today and was missing all the niceness and to add to it, the gloomy weather was making me feel even more miserable..that’s when I decided that I need to spice up my evening and make something to eat that I would relish. Maddur vada is something which has been playing on my mind for quite some time, thought this was the right time I tried it out. When the weather is gloomy and it has been raining, actually drizzling continuously for an hour, all you feel like doing is having some hot vadas with some steaming hot filter kaapi.

The weather outside....

The weather outside......

Maddur vadas come from a place called Maddur in Karnataka. It is a small town between Bangalore and Mysore and you’ll find maddur vadas sold everywhere, right from bus stand to railway stations. The minute the train arrives at Maddur station, the air is filled with lovely aroma of maddur vadas. Everybody is tempted to buy hot vadas which is served in a banana leaf with some coconut chutney. So here’s my recipe for Maddur vadas.

You’ll need:

Semolina/rava(medium variety): 1/2 cup

Maida: 1 tbspn

Rice Flour: 3 tbspn

Salt: to taste

Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspn

Onions: 1/4 cup finely chopped

Curry leaves: 6-8 nos finely chopped

Coriander leaves: 1 tbspn finely chopped

Cooking soda: a pinch

Hot oil: 1/2 tbspn

Oil: to fry

water: very little to make the dough

Procedure:

In a bowl, mix semolina, rice flour and maida. Add salt, chopped onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves, cooking soda, cumin seeds and hot oil. Add water little by little to make a soft dough. Please note that, lesser the amount of water added more crisp will be the vadas.

In a wok, heat some oil. Make small lemon sized balls of the dough and place the ball on one of your palm and press it into a patti ( as thin as possible) with your other palm. Alternatively you could also use an aluminium foil on which you can pat the ball of dough into thin circles or patties. Deep fry them in oil, drain them onto a kitchen towel to remove excess oil and serve them hot with some coconut chutney and steaming hot coffee.

Maddur Vadas with Coffee...