Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year's Greetings

 "Wishing You All A Very Happy New Year!"
Eggless Chiku Banana Zebra Cake(Marble Cake)
Recipe follows soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

"Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings to all our followers"
Christmas Goodies - Chikku Almond Muffins, Karachi Lychee Halwa and Cheese Onion Crackers

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Green Chilli Pickle

It was first week of May, 1976. I was travelling with three other friends by the Bombay Janata Express train from Mangalore to Bombay via Arakkonam-Guntakal-Raichur. Our train reached Raichur station in the afternoon, it was burning hot outside as we hurriedly stepped out of the compartment and ran towards the vegetarian refreshment canteen. 

They served us piping hot meals with spicy sambar, daal and tasty side dishes. I tasted the green chilli pickle that was hot, spicy, tangy and full of flavours. It was like dynamite blast in my mouth, but the lemony tang made me ask for more! I must confess, that was one of the most memorable meals I had, and the first, if not the best green chilli pickle I tasted!

Same year same month, I visited my sister's home in Shivamogga. As I narrated my experience to her, she had a surprise for me! She went into the store room and came out with a big bottle full of green chilli pickle! She said she made it herself, following the recipe she got from a relative. No need to elaborate that the chilli pickle was awesome, because my sister is a perfectionist when it comes to cooking. My sister also had told me then, that the main ingredients apart from green chillies were lemon juice, salt, mustard seeds, methi seeds turmeric and hing. 

I very well remember the taste and flavour  of the two pickles I had that year and I being a lover of pickles and spicy treats, decided to make green chilli pickle when I had chance. That chance never came my way, for Meena is not a fan of pickles. Besides, we used to get two or three different kinds of pickles every year from my mother, and I was the lone eater who used to have them over the year myself!

Two weeks ago, our door bell rang, my ex Bank colleague friend Munjandira Appaiah Venu appeared with a bag full of lemons from his family estate in Madikeri! He said, since I am fond of pickles, I can make any good pickle with them. There were around 32 of them.

I told Meena that I am making two kinds of pickles using them. One is 'Kanchi' or the salted lemon pickle while the other is green chilli pickle like the ones I tasted at the Raichur railway station and also the one made by my sister. Meena didn't object this time, as she can very well understand how useful lemon kanchi is for those who are down with illness. She also knew how much I love chillies! Besides, ever since my mother became aged(and subsequently left us two years ago), I have started making pickle at home myself, but never thought of green chilli pickle, because we get 'Presto' green chilli pickle here. Presto pickle has added vinegar and I wanted it with lemony tang. 

So here I am, with this recipe, which I formulated on my own. Green Chillies are abundantly available and so are lemons. It's the season. Weather is also on the cooler side, favouring consumption of spicy pickles. You can savour this with Congi, curd rice, rice and daal or even with idlis, dosas or chapatis.


Hope you all will like it and have a blast! 
Ingredients:
Green Chillies(Slim long ones, preferably Mysore or Byadgi) - 400Gms
Lemons - 8
Mustard Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Fenugreek(Methi) Seeds - 1 Tsp
Asafoetida(Hing) - A generous pinch
Sesame Oil(or Refined Sunflower Oil) - 3 Tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Rock Salt - 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup salt

Method:
Wash, wipe, cut and deseed lemons and extract juice.
Heat a shallow pan and dry roast salt for 3-5 minutes on medium low flame.
Powder the salt in a mill, if using rock salt.
Wash the green chillies thoroughly, wipe them dry with kitchen cloth, remove the stems and cut each green chilli into 2-3 pieces lengthwise.
Apply roasted powdered salt and keep for 2-4 hours. 
Heat 1 tsp oil and roast mustard seeds until they splutter, roast fenugreek seeds and hing, allow to cool.
Dry grind the roasted spices into a coarse powder.
Heat 2 tsp oil and lightly fry the chopped salted green chillies on slow heat for 2-3 minutes, taking care not to turn them white.
Mix in the masala powder, turmeric powder and lemon juice.
Allow to cool down completely.
Fill into dry airtight bottle and keep for a week at least(preferably for 2 weeks), in a cool and dark place.
Mix the contents with a dry spoon every alternate day.
Green Chilli Pickle will be ready for consumption.
You can preferably store this pickle in a fridge to retain freshness and crunchiness of the chillies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Karachi Halwa(Bombay Halwa)

Diwali, the most celebrated festival of lights is here again, and I have come out with Karachi Halwa(Bombay Halwa) in two flavours for our followers.
Strawberry flavoured chewy Karachi Halwa
When I talk about Karachi Halwa, my memory dates back to the mid Sixties, when my brother Shashikanth got his job in Bank Of India and settled in Bombay. Every year when he visited home town, he used to bring two types of halwas from Bombay, the popular Mahim Halwa or the Ice Halwa and the chewy sticky Karachi Halwa. Those days we called it Bombay Halwa. This halwa was formulated by the Sindhis from Karachi before Independence, when Karachi was part of India, and trade activities were brisk between Bombay and Karachi.

Karachi Halwa is a chewy Indian sweet meat made with arrowroot powder or corn starch, loaded with the goodness of almonds, pistachios and other dry fruits. In Mumbai it is available in different colours and flavours, sold in every nook and corner by mithaiwalas and this sweet has a prime place among Diwali Sweets. Typically they make this adding hydrogenated vegetable oil or vanaspati, but this tastes awesome when we make it with pure ghee. The chewy sticky halwa releases vivid flavours as we bite into the crunchy roasted nuts embedded within. Fine halwa comes in two textures, soft and sticky. Soft ones can not be preserved for more than 2 weeks and they also smell old sooner. Sticky ones can be preserved for over a month. The whole process requires nothing but patience, for you may need to keep stirring the contents for one to and one and half hours.

I am fond of this halwa which I wanted to make long ago, but somehow never tried until recently. First I tried this recipe from NDTV Food Channel by Chef Niru Gupta, but with my own variations. I also added strawberry crush which is readily available in 750ml bottle. That enhanced the taste of the halwa, making the eater crave for more and more!
Saffron flavoured soft Karachi Halwa
Second attempt was, making this with saffron flavour. This time I reduced the amount of added sugar and also set the halwa faster, which made it firm but soft. You can add amount of sugar in the proportion 1:1 but you can also increase the amount of sugar upto 1:2, that is for 1 cup arrowroot powder, you add 2 cups sugar. My preference is 1:1 for soft halwa and 1:1.5 for chewy one. Adding any fruit crush which has sugar in it, calls for reduction in amount of added sugar proportionately. In such case, my 1:1.5 formula works wonderfully well. Please also note that the total volume of added ghee should be not less than 100 ml for 1 cup of arrowroot powder and proportionate sugar. If you add more ghee, it floats over the top after setting the halwa, and can be used for making some other sweet dish or can also be used for pouring over Puran Polis. I didn't add cardamom to this halwa, as it spoils the flavour of strawberries as well as saffron.

Happy cooking, "Happy Festival of Lights to you all"!

Ingredients:
Sugar - 250-500 Gm(1-2 Cups depending on your requirement)  
Arrowroot Powder - 1 Cup(115 Gm)
*Red/Orange/Green Food Coloring(As per the flavour you choose) - 3-5 Drops 
Strawberry/Orange/Pineapple/Lychee/Grape or any similar tangy fruit crush - 1/4 Cup(Optional)
Saffron - A generous pinch(Optional)
Lemon juice - 2Tsp or 1/2Tsp Ciric Acid dissolved in little water(I used lemon juice concentrate)
Ghee - 100 to 110 Ml
Almonds - 40 Gm 
Pistachios - 30 Gm 
Melon Seeds(Magaz) - 30 Gm
Water - 4-5 Cups 

Method:
Roast nuts and chop almonds and pistachios.

If you use saffron, soak it in little hot water and keep aside.
Dissolve sugar in 2 cups of water. 
Stir and boil for 5 minutes.
Mix arrowroot powder with sugar syrup.
Add 2-3 cups cold water to make a thin solution.
Strain through a sieve lined with muslin cloth.
Cook, stirring constantly with the wire whisker or wooden ladle, until the mixture thickens into a semi transparent gum.
Add lemon juice, food colour, optional fruit crush or saffron soaked in hot water.
Lemon juice/citric acid prevents sugar from crystalising. 
Keep stirring on medium heat, taking care not to char the contents.
When the mixture starts to stick to the base of the pan, add 1 tbsp ghee.
Keep stirring constantly with preferably a wooden ladle.
Now you can increase the heat to high.
Keep adding one tablespoon ghee every 3-5 minutes until the mass begins to foam, and forms sticky lump.
When stirring becomes difficult, the contents move with the ladle in one sticky mass and ghee oozes from the sides, switch off the flame.
Fold in the nuts. 
Pour into a greased tray. 
Smoothen with a greased spoon. 
Allow to cool completely.
This takes over 2-3 hours.
Cut into 1 inch squares and store in an airtight container.
Karachi Halwa with Lychee flavour
*As per flavours you choose, you can add these colours:
Strawberry/Raspberry/Cranberry - Red
Saffron - Orange Red
Pineapple - Yellow
Orange - Orange Red
Grape/Mixed Berry - Purple
Lychee flavour - No colouring
Plain(Without any added fruit pulp or flavouring) - Green 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Raagi Besan Laddu

"Onam Greetings to all those who celebrate the Festival"
Yesterday, I was planning to make some sweet for Onam. Meena had made Madgane/Chana Daal Payasam just 4 days ago, and I didn't want to make payasam again. As I was checking the ingredients for Besan Burfi or similar sweet in the fridge, I found a pack of raagi flour lying idle since months. Immediately I thought of Besan Laddu with added Raagi Flour.

Raagi or finger millet is a healthy cereal which is used much in Indian cuisine. It is also adapted in baking and making sweets. I am inspired by the Churmundo(Wheat Flour Laddus) that my mother used to make. She used to add little besan or chickpea flour while preparing the ingredients for that extra taste, flavour and stickiness. It is a fusion of Churmundo and Besan Laddu to be precise.

Having helped my mother in making churmundos during my younger days and also having seen how she made them those days, I have made these Raagi Besan Laddus, which are loaded with taste and flavour. One difference is, my mother didn't add raisins and nuts to churmundo, but I added, so that they taste more delicious. Though they look dark, the goodness of raagi will certainly make you turn a blind eye for the appearance and ecstatically indulge in relishing these pick me ups! I guarantee you, once you start tasting them, you will not stop at one! Kids may also keep sneaking into the pantry and ransack the jars to fish them!
Ingredients:
Raagi(Finger Millet) Flour - 1 cup
Besan(Chickpea Flour) - 1 Cup
Ghee - 2 Tbsp(30 Ml) + for greasing the hand
Cashewnut Bits - 30 Gm(Small 1/8 or 1/16 size)
Castor Sugar - 3/4 Cup(increase according to taste)
Green Cardamom - 4 Pods
Raisins - 30 Gm

Method:
Peel and crush cardamom seeds in a mortar with pestle.
Keep a wide shallow basin or platter ready for mixing the laddu ingredients.
Heat a thick bottom nonstick pan/skillet and dry roast the raagi flour on medium low flame until a nice aroma emanates.
Keep mixing with a strong wooden spatula, and take care not to char the flour.
This may take 5-8 minutes.
Remove and keep aside on a platter to cool down.
Add ghee to the skillet and fry the cashewnut bits until golden.
Drain and transfer on to the same platter containing roasted raagi flour.
In the same ghee, roast the besan until raw smell disappears and besan turns golden red, assuming a smooth pasty texture.
Transfer to the same platter.
Add castor sugar, raisins and crushed cardamom seeds, when the mixture is still hot, mix all the ingredients well with your hand.
Apply little ghee on your hand.
Take two teaspoonfuls of the mixture and shape it with your first three fingers by pressing and rolling into small lemon size laddus(balls).
Make 20-25 such laddus and allow to cool down completely.
Store in an airtight jar.
This recipe yields about 500Gms laddus.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prawn Green Sukkha

Prawn Sukkha is a Tuluva dish, a cousin of Chicken Sukkha originated from Mangaluru and spread worldwide today. Any auspicious function in Tuluva household is incomplete without sukkha. I like Prawn Sukkha, we have been making the regular sukkha adding dried red chillies for too long, and I wanted to experiment with green masala. 

I replaced red chillies with green chillies and added chopped coriander and onion greens instead of cumin seeds while grinding the coconut for the final stage in making sukkha. That gave the brilliant green colour as well as good taste and flavour of fresh coriander leaves. Adding butter while cooking enhances the flavour of prawns, and coconut oil gives the authentic Mangalurian touch.

The dish turned out finger licking good and we ate this with Ghee rice for dinner.
Prawn Green Sukkha with Ghee Rice
Ingredients:
1. Jumbo Prawns - 500 Gms shelled and deveined(18-20 prawns)
2. Onion - 1 big, finely chopped
3. Garlic - 8+2 cloves
4. Green Chillies - 4 chopped
5. Coriander Seeds - 1.5 Tsp
6. Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp
7. Fenugreek(Methi) Seeds - 1/4 Tsp
8. Black Peppercorn - 1/4 Tsp
9. Tamarind Pulp - A pea size pinch
10. Salt - 1/2 Tsp(Or to taste)
11. Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
12. Grated Coconut - 1/2 Cup
13. Coriander Leaves - 1/2 Cup Chopped
14. Onion Shoot(Optional) - 1 Sprig chopped
15. Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
16. Coconut Oil - 4 Tsp
17. Butter - 2 Tsp

Method:
Wash and pat dry prawns.
Heat 1/2 Tsp oil and roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and peppercorn.
Grind together the roasted spices, chopped green chillies, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 chopped onion and tamarind adding very little water, until smooth.
Remove the ground paste and in the same mixer jar coarsely grind grated coconut along with remaining garlic, coriander leaves and optional onion shoot.
Heat 2 Tsp oil in a saucepan and fry 1/2 chopped onion on high flame until transparent. 
Add prawns and turmeric powder and fry on high until prawns turn opaque.
Add the masala paste and fry for 2 minutes on high.
Add 1/4 cup water and butter, add salt, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes until prawns have just cooked.
Heat remaining oil in a frying pan.
Add curry leaves and fry until crisp, add  coarsely ground coconut garlic and greens paste.
Saute well for 1 minute on high flame and add this to the cooked prawn masala.
Check for salt and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until the masala is thick and dry.
Serve hot as starter or side dish.
Prawn Green Sukkha with Sannas/Soft Idlis
Note: 
You can make Chicken Green Sukkha with 700 Gms Chicken pieces instead of prawns.
You can add 2 sprigs mint leaves while grinding the masala for that extra flavour.
You can also add 1/2 Tsp garam masala powder along with coconut in the end.

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