Monday, April 3, 2017

Brinjals in Pudina Gravy / Vankaya in Pudina Gravy / Pudina Vankaya Gravy / Eggplant in Mint gravy


Its always a pleasure to venture out new things with Eggplants / Brinjals. Got some tender fresh purple eggplants from the Vegetable market last week and also got two bunches of fresh mint / pudina. Then I decided to make the Spicy Vankaya Masala with a small twist. Fragrance of pudina nicely blends with the spices and the taste of the gravy is divine. Needless to say the health benefits of Pudina / Mint, it adds more nutritional value to the dish along with the spices. Try this exotic side dish once in your kitchen and enjoy this side dish with a side of hot rice or roti. Well, pudina vankaya masala came out very tasty and acquired a permanent spot in one of the preferred side dishes list at home. !!

Ingredients

Tender Eggplants / Brinjals - 12 to 15
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - To Taste
Turmeric Powder - 2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 Stem
Cumin Seeds / Jeera - 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Hing - 1 Dash
Sugar - 1 pinch
Red Onion - 2 Medium ( finely shredded )
Ripe Tomatoes - 2 Medium ( finely chopped )
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
Green Chilli - 1 ( finely shredded )

For the Gravy:

Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
Channa Dal / Kadalai Paruppu - 3/4 tbsp
Urad Dal / Ulutham Paruppu - 3/4 tbsp
Dry red chillies - 8 to 10
Black Peppercorns - 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds - 1/2 tbsp
Cashew Nuts Whole - 6 or 7
Pudina Leaves washed - 2 cups

Method


  • Wash the eggplants and slit them into four parts but without breaking the eggplant as a whole. Just slit into four portions gently so as to insert the grounded masala inside every eggplant and cook them as whole.Soak them in water and keep it aside.
  • Meantime, in the cooking vessel, toast all the ingredients required to make the gravy except the mint leaves. Once you get a nice aroma, transfer them into a blender and allow them to cool In the same vessel, add a drop of oil and  fry the washed mint leaves as well. Transfer them into the blender and grind them into a thick gravy. 
  • Now take small portions of the gravy and just fillin the slits inside the brinjals. Keep them in a plate carefully. Keep the remaining gravy aside.
  • Now the actual preparation starts. In the cooking vessel, add 1 tbsp of oil. When its heated up, add the hing, mustard seeds, jeera, curry leaves followed by ginger garlic paste, shredded onion and shredded green chili. Fry them till the raw smell completely vanishes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, curry leaves, turmeric powder into the cooking vessel now. When the tomatoes get mashed thoroughly, add the masala filled eggplants / brinjals into the cooking kadai / vessel.
  • Add required amount of salt to the vessel just enough for the brinjals. Cover the vessel and allow them to cook well.
  • Once the brinjal gets cooked three fourth, add the remaining gravy paste into the vessel. Add half glass of water or more ( as per your consistency ) into the vessel. Add required amount of salt for the gravy at this point.
  • Cover them again and cook for nearly 6 to 7 minutes. Once you see oil floating on top of the gravy, switch off the flame. While cooking the dish, gently stir the gravy and care not to break the brinjals while mixing.

Tips / Suggestions


  • Always use fresh tender Eggplants to get a delicious curry.
  • It goes well very well with plain basmati rice and a drop of ghee. Perfect combo on a cold winter day.
  • Fresh pudina always enhances the taste of the gravy so don't compromise on its freshness by adding dried mint leaves.
  • Don't forget to add few cashews in your gravy as it adds richness to the gravy.
  • I would love to add a tsp of sesame oil on top of the gravy after its done. If you wish, you can even do the whole dish using sesame oil completely.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Karadaiyan Nombu 2017

Karadaiyan Nombu 2017
Karadaiyan Nombu is the traditional festival which we do every year. We do this festival mainly for the welfare of the husband. We pray to Goddess Kamakshi Devi on this pooja day, offer the Sweet and Savory Adais along with little butter as prasadham and tie a yellow thread on the neck by chanting this Sloka :

"Urugaadha Vennaiyum Oradaiyum Naan Tharuven
 Orukaalum Yen Kanavar Ennai Piriyadirukanum"

During my childhood, my mom would always tie her nine yard saree while performing this pooja. Though she is not with me now, her memories are everywhere. Especially during poojas, I try to remember every small thing she did during the festivals. I always smile while adding Jaggery to any sweet as she liked to add more sweetness. Her Sweet prasadams would always be too sweet as she loved sweets. After doing this pooja, I looked at her photo and she smiles as usual. Its so painful to be without mom. I love to share so many things after every festival with my mom. She used to listen patiently, gave advice, criticized few in her own funny way. I am missing all those things now.

Remembering my loving mom again on her favourite festival. Love you Amma so much.




Annavaram Sathyanarayana Swamy Prasadam



Sathyanarayana Swamy Vratham is one of the main poojas which we try to do at home at least once a year. Though this vratham can be performed at any day of the month with at most dedication, ekadasi and pournami days are considered to be the most auspicious days for performing this vratham. When I think of this vratham, I cannot stop thinking about the yummy prasadham we make at home for this vratham. In Annavaram where the Sathyanarayana Swamy temple is located, they make this everyday as Neivedhyam and distribute it to the devotees. Its made of broken wheat , jaggery and plenty of ghee. Oh, the aroma of this prasadam will take you to heaven and it just melts in your mouth.I made with 3 cups of broken wheat as we all have sweet tooth. You can make it with 1 cup of broken wheat rava too. Reduce the other quantities while making and enjoy. 

Ingredients

Broken Wheat Rava - 3 Cups
Jaggery powdered - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 cups
Cardamom Powder - 3 tsp
Pachai Karpooram / Cooking camphor - 1 small pinch
Saffron - Few Strands
Whole Milk - 2 Cups
Water - 6 Cups
Ghee - 1 Cup
Cashew Nuts - 2 tbsp
Dry Grapes / Raisins - 2 tbsp


Method

  • In a thick bottomed cooking vessel, add a tbsp of ghee and fry the Cashew nuts and raisins till they get golden brown. Store them in a container separately as they need to be added at the end.
  • In the remaining ghee, add the broken wheat rava and fry them for few seconds. Add the milk, saffron strands and water and cook them well.
  • Once they are cooked perfectly, add jaggery and sugar into the vessel. It would start melting and the mixture would turn slightly watery. 
  • Add 1/4 cup of ghee and stir the mixture on medium heat. Slow cook the mixture till the consistency gets little thicker. 
  • Add the crushed cardamom powder, cooking camphor into the mixture and add the remaining amount of ghee into the vessel at intervals.
  • Cook the prasadam on medium heat till the consistency gets perfect and comes to a thick semi solid halwa.
  • Garnish with the roasted cashews and raisins and offer the prasadham to Sathyanarayana Swamy.


Notes / Tips 
  • Slow cooking greatly helps in getting the right consistency.  
  • The ghee you added will ooze out on its sides completely after its cooked perfectly.
  • Addition of cooking camphor, saffron strands, cardamom greatly enhances the aroma and taste of this prasadam.
  • Some people make this prasadam using only Sugar too but I added Jaggery and Sugar equally just to get the exact taste of the Annavaram prasadam.

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


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