Sunday, November 13, 2016

Vankaya Masala / Brinjal Masala - Restaurant Style


Brinjal Masala / Eggplant Masala also called as "Vankaya Masala" is one of the delicacies of Andhra cuisine. I love this gravy especially the one served at weddings and restaurants. It tastes so unique and little rich and creamy in consistency than the regular one that is made at home kitchen. I often make this vankaya masala at home along with the side of hot white rice. No accompaniments are required and it goes well with rotis, chappathis too. In weddings, they serve this gravy along with Brinji Rice which is an excellent combination. Fresh tender small brinjals / Eggplants are best suited for making this gravy.

Ingredients


Fresh Tender Brinjals - Around 20
Ripe Tomato - 1 Big or 2 Medium 
Red Onion - 1 Big
Fresh Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 Stem
Green Chili chopped finely - 1 tsp
Coriander Leaves - To Garnish
Water - As Required for making the gravy
Salt - As Required
Jaggery - 1 tiny cube
Thick Tamarind Extract - 1 tbsp

Grounded Paste


Urad Dal - 2 tsp
Channa Dal - 2 tsp
Black Pepper Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
Sesame Seeds - 2 tsp
Groundnuts/ Peanuts - 1/2 tbsp
Dry Red Chillies - 8 or 10 
Cashew Nuts - 5 or 6


Method


  • First cut the vegetables that are required and keep them ready. While cutting the brinjals for this gravy, slit them into four halves on the outer side of the tiny brinjal keeping the stem intact. In this way, the whole brinjal will be cooked perfectly and seen in the gravy.
  • Dry Roast all the ingredients that are required to make the grounded paste till you get a nice aroma on a medium flame. It should not turn black. Let it cool down a bit. After its cooled completely, make a thick paste out of it.
  • In the cooking pan, add 1/2 tbsp of  oil and a tsp of ghee first . When its heated, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds in order. 
  • Add the shredded onion,green chili pieces and a pinch of salt into the pan. Fry them for a minute and then add the ginger garlic paste into it. Fry the contents in the pan till the raw smell goes off.
  • Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, curry leaves into the pan and fry them till the tomatoes get mushy and mashed.
  • Add the tiny brinjals / baby eggplants and little salt now into the pan.Fry them for a minute.
  • Add the thick tamarind extract, required amount of water into the pan. Add jaggery into it now. Cover the lid and allow the contents to cook. When the tiny brinjals get cooked to three fourth, add the grounded paste into the pan. Add required amount of salt for the whole gravy and remaining ghee and oil into it now.
  • Let it cook on medium flame for 6-7 minutes. Once you notice the oil oozing on top layer of the gravy, its done. By then, the gravy would have been perfect with all raw smell completely gone.
  • Switch off the flame and let the gravy cools down little bit. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot rice or rotis.



Tips / Suggestions



  • This gravy tastes extremely good after couple of hours as the gravy settles down with all the grounded spices well.
  • Fresh tiny brinjals are a must for this gravy.
  • For getting the exact creamy consistency, make sure you add all the ingredients in the grounded paste without fail especially the cashews.
  • Do not overcook the brinjals initially. When its cooked to three fourth, add the paste.Otherwise, all the brinjals would get mashed and they wont be seen in the gravy properly.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Diwali 2016 / Lakshmi Pooja 2016 At Home


Diwali, festival of lights has been my favourite festival since my childhood. I would always dream of Diwali every year, would open and embrace my new diwali dress secretly, would collect the fire crackers and count them every single day, would enjoy the sweet samples that my mom made during Diwali. Those memories are priceless. Keeping that in mind, I am trying my best to make my kids diwali an enjoyable one which they should remember in their life time and relish as I do.

Diwali this year 2016 was celebrated at home only with my kids as my husband had gone to India on an official trip. So, the energy level was little down. Inspite of that, I triggered the event with music, good festive food, decor at every corner of the home, lights and dinners with extended family. Performed the Lakshmi Pooja in the evening and offered new jewelleries to goddess lakshmi and made prasadams too.

Hope to  enjoy the next  Diwali with my husband and kids together. Wishing you all a very Happy, Colourful Diwali this year...

Decor made by my kids

Decor by my kids

Diwali Goodies -- Kesar Peda, Mixed Nuts Burfi and Kara Boondi


Navarathri 2016 / Golu 2016

Navarathri Golu 2016 at my home
Navarathri 2016  started in full swing, thamboolam invites poured in, full sight of navarathri dolls at many Indian grocers here, colourful sarees taken out with matching jewelleries, all kinds of lentils, beans occupied the kitchen counters for sundals...It went on and on. Mind was so refreshed to welcome Navarathri Devi at home.

I single handedly decorated the Golu this time as the kids and my husband were too busy at their respective works.Of Course, the steps were organized and kept ready by my husband.  Trust me, it was very tiring for me to keep the dolls and decorate alone. After keeping the Golu, I sat and enjoyed my hard work with great satisfaction. Well, my dear friends, I hope you would like my Golu this year and would appreciate my work!!! Please give me your suggestions to improvise my Golu.

Navarathri Mornings started with "Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam" followed by other devi songs. One kind of Sundal was offered as Neivedhyam to our Navarathri Devi. During the 9 days, many of my friends attended the Lalitha Sahasranama Pooja in the mornings and we enjoyed a full feast of South Indian Food.

First Day Neivedhyam -- Kesari and Moong Dal Sundal
Totally, it was really good to see vibrant colours of sarees, kids in Indian dresses. I am sure you would have enjoyed Navarthri Golu at your homes too and celebrated Navarathri Devi in a grand way. Wishing to make a beautiful Golu next year too....




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ganesha Chathurthi 2016 / Vinayaka Chathurthi 2016 / Vinayaka Chavithi 2016

Cute Ganesha made by my husband

Ganesha Chathurthi / Vinayaka Chathurthi 2016 was also celebrated in a grand manner at home this year.  As the Ganesha pooja and palavalli decoration is totally done by my husband every year, I am able to focus only on making yummy prasadams for Lord Ganesha. Since morning, all ganesha devotional songs would be filling the house. We all would be doing our chores listening to the songs.
My husband collected all the Pathris for ganesha pooja from our backyard garden with the help of my son. Then they started making the Palavalli with fruits. Meantime, my husband made his own ganesha from scratch using Rice flour, turmeric powder and sandol powder. His ganesha was set aside and was getting ready for his big pooja.

In the kitchen, I was making varieties of modaks, vadai, and other items in full swing. My only intention was to finish off all kitchen works before the actual pooja started. Finally I achieved that too. ( As my husband and kids more...time at the pooja place ).

We had a very long pooja for Lord Ganesha and my husband loved to recite the stories at the end. My kids got so hungry towards the end. This made me understand that if our stomach was not full, our mind was unable to think, focus on prayers. 

Finally, the pooja got over and we enjoyed the Prasadams.


Our Ganesha enjoying in our Palavalli and ready to eat the Prasadams.
 My Prasadams for this year included : 

  1. Undrallu
  2. Black Channa Sundal
  3. Medhu Vadai
  4. Puliogare
  5. Payasam
  6. Maha Neivedhyam
  7. Ulundhu Kozhakattai / Urad Dal Modak
  8. Sweet Modak / Thengai poornam Kozhakattai
  9. Pappaarthi / Dal Payasam with rice balls in it
  10. Palaarthi / Milk Based Payasam with rice balls in it.
  11. Vada Pappu,
  12. Panagam
  13. Dates

Prasadams for 2016 Ganesh Pooja


Varalakshmi Vratham 2016 / Varalakshmi Pooja / Varalakshmi Vratham


Though this post comes very late, I could not proceed without sharing this beautiful festival that we celebrated on August 12th, 2016. Like every year, I followed the same rituals since morning, getting better year by year with improvised planning. I was able to focus peacefully on prasadams, decorating the amman while listening to Sri lalitha sahasranamam.

This year, my daughter and son were also fortunate to enjoy this festival at home. I and my daughter performed the pooja and tied the yellow threads. We were showered with lots of fresh flowers from our own garden and also from Vivek Flowers.

For the whole day, we had been seeing more ladies for Thamboolam. Made good prasadams for the festival and served the guests too.

Prasadams for this year included Puliogare, Paramannam, Medhu vadai, Chickpeas Sundal, Vella Payasam.

Missed my mom's blessings this year.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Palak Paneer / Spinach Gravy with Indian Cottage Cheese


While making a north indian dinner or lunch, including Palak always make the menu more colourful and healthy. My family loves Palak Paneer a lot, whether its Palak Paneer, Methi Paneer, Saag Paneer for that matter. Paneer coated with this yummy green gravy steals the show. And that too, if its homemade paneer then the taste will be amazing. Well, this is the most frequently made dish at my home for my rotis and I have been forgetting to blog this recipe for long.  This version is pretty simple, easy and retains the colour, flavour and taste of the Palak / Spinach.

Ingredients
Spinach Leaves - 6 cups
Tomato - 1 
Red Onion - 1 Medium
Green Chillies - 2 Small
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Cumin Powder - 2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp ( I used Kitchen King Garam Masala ).
Salt - To Taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1/2 tbsp
Ghee or butter - 1/2 tbsp
Paneer cubes - 15 Squares or less ( As you like )
Ginger Garlic Paste - 3 tsp
Water - As required for getting the gravy consistency. 
Ginger Julians - 6 or 7 julians to garnish.
My Homemade Paneer
Method
  • Wash the Spinach Leaves thoroughly without any sand. Wash the other veggies and keep them ready.
  • Fine cut one green chilli, red onion into tiny pieces and keep them ready.
  • In a kadai / cooking pan, on a medium heat, steam cook the spinach leaves and tomato with the lid open. After its cooled, drain the water and keep it aside. You can add the water into the gravy. 
  • Grind the cooked spinach, tomato along with cumin seeds, green chili into a smooth paste.
  • Cut the paneer into small squares and keep them ready. You can shallow fry them on a flat pan if you wish with little oil. 
  • In the cooking pan / kadai, add half the amount of ghee and oil first. When its heated, add the ginger garlic paste, shredded red onion, green chili and fry them till the raw smell vanishes.
  • To that add the grinded paste along with all other powders and sugar and fry them till the spices blend well with the gravy. Add the cooked water that you kept on the side.
  • Add required amount of salt and cook for another minute. Add the Paneer cubes into the gravy and let the Palak Paneer cook on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes with the lid closed.
  • Add the remaining ghee/butter on its top and some finely shredded ginger julians on its top.
  • Serve the tasty Palak Paneer along with rotis or hot basmati rice.



Tips / Suggestions 

  • Don't over cook the Spinach / Palak as it might lose its colour. 
  • Try to have the right consistency for the gravy, neither thick nor watery.
  • Make this dish with fresh ginger garlic paste and notice the difference in the taste.
  • Homemade Paneer definitely uplifts the taste of Palak Paneer.
  • Generously add some butter on its top just before serving. 
  • Dont forget to serve them in a fancy, restaurant style container finally.!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

White Pumpkin Kootu / Vellai Poosanikai Kootu - Simple, No Grinding Method


In any Tamilian Meal, kootu will be served along with other vegetable curries. There are many varieties of Kootu served with different vegetables like white pumpkin, Sorakai ( Bottle Gourd ), Avaraikai ( Flat Beans ), Beans,  Red Pumpkin, Chow Chow ( Chayote ), etc., I always love to include a Kootu in my complete meal, especially with water based vegetables as it tastes very well.
This version of White Pumpkin Kootu is my mom's version with no grinding required. As she was a busy mom, she preferred to make healthy items with small short cuts at times. This kootu is just a one pot item which can be cooked in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles and served after tempering right away.  With less time, you can comfortably add a healthy accompaniment to your meal.

Ingredients
Into the Pressure cooker :
White Pumpkin pieces - 3 cups
Moong Dal / Payatham Paruppu - 3/4 cup
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Tomato chopped - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Water - Little. ( Enough for the dal to get cooked ).

Tempering / Tadka :
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 Dash
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Dry Red Chillies - 1
Curry Leaves - 1/2 stem
Oil / Ghee - 2 tsp

Salt - As Required
Fresh Coconut flakes - 1.5 tbsp.

Method
  • Cut the white pumpkin into bigger chunks and keep ready. Chop the tomato, green chillies and keep ready. Add all the ingredients mentioned under "Into the Cooker" in a pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles.
  • After the pressure is released completely, open the cooker and add required amount of salt and coconut flakes into the cooked kootu.
  • Let it cook for a minute. Then prepare the tadka in a separate tempering pan. Pour the tempering over the cooked kootu in the pressure cooker.
  • Serve with hot rice and as a nice accompaniment in your meal.

Tips / Suggestions
  • If you have a small pressure cooker, you can add the ingredients directly into the cooker and cook.
  • If you have a medium / big cooker, then you can cook them in a separate vessel inside, even along with rice.
  • If you don't have a pressure cooker, no need to worry. You can cook them over the stove in a thick bottomed pan and follow the same steps.
  • Don't add too much water while cooking. Otherwise you wont get the right kootu consistency.
  • Add only fresh coconut flakes to the kootu. If the coconut is smelly or little bit old, then it spoils the kootu totally after making, wont stay for a longer time.

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