Monday, December 31, 2012

#50 : Chakra pongali ~ Sweet Pongal

This is the grand finale recipe of this project. I am very thankful to all of you who have patiently followed long. Every time I received an e-mail from a friend or a message about this project, it kept me motivated. Thank you!

When I started with this, I thought 50 recipes was a completely do-able task but very soon I realized it was a bigger challenge than what I expected it to be.  Cooking was the easier part but photographing ( finding the right light/ styling), uploading, writing and sharing the recipes took time and effort. I am glad I followed my heart and stuck with it. It helped me try/learn some very traditional family recipes, which otherwise would have never been possible. It has helped me learn some of my husbands favorite meals from his childhood. It brought back wonderful memories from my own.

I grew up with my grand parents when I was a kid. This recipe of Chakra pongali ~ Sweet Pongal is from my grand mother. When she makes it, it it surely out of the world. Ending this project with this recipe holds a special sentiment in my heart!

Thank you Everyone. This wouldn't have been possible without your encouragement. Happy 2013 !!! I still plan to keep cooking and documenting family recipes here. Every time I cook something interesting I will try to add it to the list. I have a few other projects in list for the coming year and I am super excited. More details and links later.

  • 1/2 Cup Rice
  • 1/4  Cup Yellow moong dal / Pesara Pappu
  • 1 Cups Jaggery- Grated ( adjust to taste )
  • ¼ Cup Cashews and Raisins
  • 4 Tbs Ghee
  • 3-4 Cardamom pods - Pounded to a fine powder
  • 1-1/2 Cups Milk 
  • 1-1/2 + 1/2 Cups Water 
    1. Dry roast yellow moong dal / pesara pappu on medium-low flame until golden. Remove and set aside 
    2. Wash rice and roasted moong dal, add water and milk, pressure cook for 3 whistles 
    3. Once the steam escapes the the cooker, remove the lid and lightly mash the mixture
    4. In a heavy sauce pan bring grated jaggery and 1/2 cup water to boil. Let the jaggery melt completely 
    5. Add the jaggery syrup to the dhal-rice mixture. Turn down the heat to medium-low  and simmer for 20mins. The pongal will thicken. Adjust the sweetness if needed by adding more jaggery
    6. Heat ghee in a small skillet and fry cashews and raisins until golden brown and add to the pongal. Add powdered cardamom. Remove from heat
    7. Serve warm :-)

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    #49 : Potato Bajji ~ Potato Fritters

    It is of the small joys and little pleasures that the greatest of our days are built.
    ~ Mary Anne Radmache

    On a rainy day, there is no bigger joy than eating hot crunchy bajjis with a cup of maslsa chai.  When the mood is set for the day, Kalyan and I shamelessly give in to this joy. It make us happy. It brings a smile. Beautiful childhood memories linger. It remind us of home, India. It fills the house with memories of the first rain after a scorching summer. It brings back memories of dancing in rain. Puddles and handmade paper boats. Love and Happiness
    • 2 Big Potatoes- Thinly sliced into circles
    • 1/2 Cup Gram Flour- Chickpea Flour-Besan
    •  2 tsp Rice Flour
    • 1 pinch Baking soda
    • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
    • 1 tsp Cumin Powder - Jeera Powder
    • Salt to taste
    • 1/4 cup water or less
    • Oil for Deep Frying 
    • 1 tsp Chaat Masala 
      1. In a large bowl mix together gram flour, rice flour, soda, chilli powder, cumin powder, salt. Add a small sprinkling of water to help bring things together into a thick pour-able batter
      2. Fill a medium pan half way with oil. Heat on medium- high until it reaches a deep frying temperature (To test drop a small amount of batter in the oil and it should sizzle up immediately)
      3. Once the oil is hot enough dip the potato slices one by one in batter, coat well and drop into the hot oil for deep frying
      4. Fry the bajji until golden and remove/drain the excess oil off on a kitchen paper towel
      5. Serve with a sprinkling of chaat masala and a choice of chutney

      Tuesday, December 11, 2012

      #48 : Pandu mirapakaya Pachadi ~ Red Chilli Pickle

      Yet another cold weather pickle with the tongue burning spice of Red Chilles. This is ONLY meant for the brave at heart. I thoroughly enjoyed learning to make this pickle even after suffering from the painful sting of the freshly ground red chillies.

      Kalyan and I belong to Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India that is popular for red chilli farming and for making the spiciest of the pickles. It was a moment of contentment and pride as I stored this pickle away.

      • 1/2 Cup fresh Red Chillies
      • 1 small lime sized ball of Tamarind
      • 1.5 Tbs Salt  ( add more if needed later)

      For Tempering
      • 5 tsp Oil
      • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
      • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
      • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder


      1. Wash red chillies and pat dry on a kitchen towel. Remove the stems
      2. In a food processor/blender grind the red chilles, tamrind, salt together to coarse  paste ( Do not add any water)
      3. For tempering-Heat oil, add mustard seed, let them splutter. To it add asafoetida and fenugreek powder and fry for a minute
      4. Pour the tempering over the ground red chillies. Can we stored away in a glass bottle for up to 2 months 
      5. Serve with steaming hot rice and ghee. Enjoy the spice!
      **Remember to wear gloves when you handle the red chilli paste. The sting is very painful!

      #47: Vankaya Kalchi Pachadi ~ Smoked Eggplant Chutney

      When the days are freezing and cold,
      and the evenings are dull and grey,
      all you want to do is to stay home and sleep,
      brave up and make this pachadi,
      It is  sure to bring an instant cheer !

      • 1 tsp Oil
      • 1 Large Eggplant
      • 3-4 Tbs Cilantro - Chopped 
      • 2 Green Chillies
      • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
      • 1 tsp Tamarind extract 
      • Salt 
      • 1/2 Onion- chopped
      For Tempering
      • 1 tsp Oil
      • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
      • 2 tsp Urad Dhal
      • 7-8 Dry Red Chillies ( more if you like it spicy )
      • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
      • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder
      1. Apply oil onto the eggplant and roast it directly on the stove on medium heat turning it from side to side. It will take about 20 min for the outer skin to become completely charred. The eggplant will cook and become tender on the inside. Peel the skin  and chop into bite sized pieces
      2. For tempering-Heat oil, add mustard seed, let them splutter. To it add urad dhal, red chillies and fry until the urad dhal turns slightly golden. Add asafoetida and fenugreek powder and fry for a minute. Set aside
      3. In a food processor/blender grind the tempering-red chilles, green chilles, cilantro salt together to coarse powder. Add the chopped eggplant pieces to it and blend to a coarse paste
      4. Garnish with chopped onions if needed 
      5. Serve with steaming hot rice and ghee

      Friday, November 30, 2012

      #46 : Beerakaya Kandipappu Kura ~ Ridge gourd Lentil Curry

      Beerakaya / Ridge gourd is one of those vegetables I recently learnt to cook with. I would admiringly look at them at the Indian Grocery but would never buy it.  I always thought cooking with this vegetable was complicated! 

      I remember as a kid I never liked it and would throw tantrum to eat it. I only now realize that I was not open enough to try it. Beerakaya / Ridge Gourd has a wonderful neutral- sweet taste to it and when cooked with lentils it blends in to give a very delicate flavor. This recipe I learnt from my mom-in-law is a definite keeper.


      *****Tender Beerakaya/ Ridge Gourd once peeled and cut tastes mildly sweet.
      If it tastes bitter discard immediately and don't cook with it  

      • 1 tsp Oil
      • 3-4 medium sized Ridge gourd / Beerakaya -Peeled and cut into bite sized pieces 
      • 1/4 cup  Tur Dhal / Kandipappu / Split Pigeon peas / Lentils
      • 1/4 cup water
      • Salt to taste
      For Tempering
      • 1 tsp Oil
      • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
      • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
      • 1 tsp Urad Dhal
      • 2 Dry Red Chillies 
      • 7-8 Curry leaves
      • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
      • 2 tsp Red Chilli powder
      • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
      1. Wash and soak lentils for about 45mins. Drain away the water later
      2.  In a wide pan heat oil, add ridge gourd pieces, lentils, 1/4 cup water and cook covered for 20mins until the vegetable and the lentils are tender. Keep adding more water if required to help with the cooking process
      3. For tempering-Heat oil, add mustard seed, let them splutter. To it add cumin seeds, urad dhal, red chillies and fry until the urad dhal turns slightly golden. Add curry leaves, asafoetidared chilli powder, turmeric and fry for a minuteAdd this to the cooked vegetable-lentil mixture. Add salt. Mix well to incorporate the spices
      4. Serve with hot rice

      Thursday, November 29, 2012

      #45 : Badam Milk ~ Easy Almond flavored Drink

      Its been a while since I wrote something soulful. The past few months have been very busy. Work takes up most of my available time. I wake up at 7 am  and keep working until midnight taking very short breaks to eat or spend time over the internet. 

      Badam Milk  reminds me of Chennai / Madras ( a city in southern India ). This city holds a very special place in my heart. I went to college there, stayed away from my parents for the first time, made some awesome friends and experienced the joys of growing up. They were the most carefree days of my life. I have numerous memories of enjoying this chilled almond drink at my college canteen during the lunch hours. Let it be a long wait at the bus stop or a quick meal replacement option before exams this drink was always my first preference. I can still vividly remember the taste of it- the chilled glass bottles filled with thick saffron flavored milk mixed up with chucks of broken almonds. Oh! what joy...

      This recipe is a quick-easy version of the almond flavored drink. This is low on calories and make a light refreshing drink. I like to enjoy it in lieu of dessert after a satisfying meal.

      ( Makes about 20 servings )
      • 1/2 cup Almonds
      • 1/8 cup Cashews
      • 1/8 cup Pistachio meats
      • 1/4 tsp Saffron
      1. Blend all the above ingredients to a coarse powder ( Can be saved in an air tight container for 2 months )
      2. For 1 serving -  (Glass of Milk)  - Bring milk to boil and add 2 tsp of the above ground powder. Stir well and add sugar as needed. Cool in a refrigerator for an hour. Serve chilled

      # 44 : Bendaykaya Pulusu Kura ~ Okra- Tamarind Curry

      Bendakaya(Okra)  was my favorite vegetable as a kid. I could eat it for lunch everyday all year around. Just knowing that Okra Curry was a part of my packed lunch would make me happy. 
      This recipe of Okra cooked in tamarind is new to me. I learnt it from my mom-in-law this year when she was visiting us from India. It has a wonderful lip tingling tang to it and tastes awesome with rice. Yum 

      • 1/2  pound Okra- Bhendi- Bendakaya- (Tops removed and cut into big bite sized pieces)
      • 1 Tbs Oil
      • 1 tsp Jaggery grated 
      • Small lime sized ball of Tamarind - Juice extracted  
      • Salt to taste
      For Tempering
      • 1tsp Oil
      • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
      • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
      • 1 tsp Urad Dhal
      • 2 Dry Red Chillies 
      • 7-8 Curry leaves
      • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
      • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder
      • 1 tsp Red Chilli powder
      • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
      1. Heat oil in a wide pan and fry Okra covered for 15 mins stirring from time to time. The stickiness of the okra should evaporate 
      2. Add the tamarind juice, jaggery and simmer for 10 min 
      3. Tempering -Heat oil , add mustard seeds , let them splutter . To it add cumin seeds, urad dhal, red chillies and fry until the urad dhal turns slightly golden. Add curry leaves, asafoetida, fenugreek powder,red chilli powder,turmeric and fry for a minute
      4. Add this tempering to the the cooked Okra Pieces. Add salt and fry for a few mins 
      5. Serve with hot rice