Monday, December 11, 2017

Masala Vadai / Crunchy Masala Vadai / Masala Vada


During rain, our mind instantly thinks about enjoying a cup of chai / tea with few hot masala vadais on its side. Somehow I cannot forget the taste of the newspaper wrapped masala vadais that I and my sisters enjoyed during childhood.  Especially after school, we used to buy few crunchy masala vadais from a nearby stall where they made fresh vadas daily. Just to reminisce, still I wrap atleast 2 or 3 vadas in newspaper and have it with my tea. Though I rarely make fried vadas at home nowadays, we thoroughly enjoy each and every vadas we make. Absolutely no vadas will be left untouched.!!!

While making masala vadas , I am sticking on to this version firmly. Its mainly due to the crisp and crunch vadas it yields. Somehow in my home, they don't enjoy soggy vadas, especially soggy masala vadas.

Ingredients

Split Pea Lentil -  1 Cup
Channa Dal / Bengal Gram Lentil - 1 Cup
Fennel Seeds / Sombu crushed - 2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 Dash
Salt - To Taste
Rice Flour - 1/2 tbsp
Crushed Garlic - 2 Pods
Crushed Ginger - 1/2 tbsp
Green chillies - 4 Medium
Dry Red Chilli - 1 
Chopped coriander leaves - 1 handful
Crushed curry leaves - 1 stick
Finely chopped red onion - 3 medium
Oil - Enough to fry the vadas
Water - Enough to grind the batter coarsely. 

Method 
  • Wash the dals thoroughly and soak them in warm water for an hour.
  • Grind them along with crushed garlic, green chillies, dry red chilli to a coarse paste.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl. Add required amount of salt and a dash of Hing into the vada batter. 
  • Simultaneously keep the kadai with oil on medium flame. When you notice flames on top, then the oil is ready for frying.
  • Grease the palms with little oil and take a small portion of the batter and make a round Pattie shaped  vada.
  • Gently drop them one by one into the heated oil. Fry them on both sides till they turn golden brown and look crunchy.
  • Serve them with a side of spicy kara chutney. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.!!

Tips
  • Don't add too much water while grinding. Sprinkle little water which is just enough for grinding.
  • Don't fry the vadas on high flame as it will not help in getting golden vadas. It might turn them darker and also the inner part of the vadas might not get cooked perfectly.
  • If possible, try to keep the vada batter in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before frying. It helps in getting golden crispy vadas with inside part perfectly cooked.
  • Adjust the number of chillies as per your spice level.

Banana Flower Paniyarams / Vaazhaipoo Paniyarams - Using Leftover Adai Batter


Banana flower / Vazhaipoo also called as Banana Blossom is an incredible, edible flower which is highly nutritious. It is considered as a Super food for women especially during the menstruating period. I wanted to make some delicious breakfast with coconut chutney but not idly or dosa. I had only some leftover Adai batter. Also, I had a full bowl of pre cleaned / pre cut cut banana flower florets soaked in diluted buttermilk sitting on my counter top. So I decided to make Paniyarams with banana flower and adai batter. As the Adai batter is salted and spicy, just add the chopped banana flower, few coriander leaves and mix them well. 

 Ingredients

Leftover Adai Batter - 5 Cups
Chopped Banana flower florets - 2 Cups
You can adjust as per the availability and your taste.

Method

  • For making the paniyarams, keep the paniyaram plate on the stove.
  • On medium flame, add drops of oil into the paniyaram moulds first. Then fill the moulds with the batter not upto the rim of the mould. Just pour only 3/4th of the mould. Fill all the moulds with the rest of the batter. 
  • Add drops of oil towards the sides of the Paniyarams.
  • Steam cook them with the lid closed on medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Open the lid and flip the paniyarams carefully to the other side. Close the lid again.
  • Steam cook again for another 3 minutes. Turn both sides and check if they turn golden brown.
  • As the banana flower is added to the batter, its better to cook them for more minutes if not golden brown. 
  • Enjoy the Paniyarams with a side of coconut chutney or any spicy chutney.

Tips

  • Don't overcook the Paniyarams as they might turn black. 
  • Don't steam cook the Paniyarams on high flame.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ragi Idly / Finger Millet Idly - With No Rice



Idly is an all time comfort food and especially when it comes to breakfast, I always prefer to make varieties of Idly / Dosa along with good chutneys or nice gravies like sambar, kurma, kadappa as accompaniment. Having heard about the health benefits of millets, I also want to include those nutritious millet in our day to day meal as much as I can. Though you all would have seen this ragi idly or even have tried it in your own way either with finger millets or using ragi flour, I wish to share the way I made in my kitchen with you.  I have been making these fluffy, delicious brown idlies for breakfast. Ragi idlies taste very good if they are made with the real ragi millet grains than ragi flour. 

Ingredients

Ragi Millet / Finger Millet - 2 cups
Urad Dal - 1 Cup
Poha / Aval - 1/2 cup
Fenugreek Seeds / Methi seeds - 2 tsp
Salt - To taste
Water - Enough to grind the batter


Preparation Process

  • Wash and soak all the ingredients in a big vessel except fenugreek seeds. Soak the fenugreek seeds / methi seeds in a small cup with little water. Let it remain for 4 to 5 hours.
  • After that, wash them well thoroughly and grind them together in a mixer grinder by adding little amount of water while grinding occasionally.
  • Grind the batter to a smooth consistency. Store the batter in a large container so that there is enough space for the batter to ferment. Add required amount of salt to the ragi batter and mix it well.
  • Store it in a warm place or nearer to a heat vent which speeds up the fermentation process.
  • After good fermentation, mix the batter once or twice nicely. Now the batter is ready to make idlies.
  • Coat the idly moulds with little sesame oil, pour the ragi idly batter over the moulds uniformly.
  • Steam cook the Idly plates for 10 to 12 minutes. After few minutes, carefully open and scoop the ragi idlies out of the idly moulds. Serve the ragi idlies with either coconut chutney or tomato chutney and also with a cup of delicious sambar and enjoy!

Tips 

  • Add enough water while grinding the batter and make sure that the batter is fermented well.
  • If the batter is not fermented that good, add 1/4 tsp of baking soda and mix it well. Then you make the ragi idlies.
  • If the batter is fermented well, then the batter will increase in volume and double up the size. In that scenario, the idlies would be softer and porous.

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.

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