Saturday, May 28, 2011

Priya's Vermicelli & Oats Laddoos

Twenty years ago I never thought in my wildest dreams that one could 'chat' with someone else placed distantly across the globe. Neither did I think that it was ever possible to make new friends 'virtually' - without having met those people even once. Hallucination? Yes, Reality? No chance! Cut to 2011, all the things mentioned above are possible and are happening on a daily basis. The Internet has truly made this world a smaller place. I am sure many of the career women turned homemakers turned bloggers will agree with me what a big boon blogging has been. Not only are we able to learn new things to make, but are also making new friends along the way. So what if we don't meet in reality? It's still wonderful to stay connected via the webworld.

I met one such blogger after some random browsing and found her collection of recipes totally 'wow worthy'. Not only does she have a huge collection of tried & tested Indian (mainly South Indian) recipes of all types, her trademark recipes are those which are the outcome of putting an assortment of ingredients together. Unusual ingredients are married off to create a unique dish. And what more, the measurements are perfect, so after trying three recipes, I know I can close my eyes and get the dish right! What adds to the charm of her recipes is that they are all made up of healthy ingredients, inspiring me to stock up on things like Barley and Bajra. If you are a mommy of a little child who tests your patience during meal times and are ready to flee because you cant think of anything 'new' to feed your child, then, this is the blog for you. 



For now, its this interesting combo of ingredients in a Laddoo - my most favourite Indian sweet. My sweet tooth craved for more, but I had just made half a batch to curb my temptation of hogging more than two laddoos, I really wish I had made more. Since I ran out of Oats (had just abt 2 tsp) I substituted it with Oat bran which I bought to make the Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins earlier this week, so in a way, I attempted at putting some more health back into ladoos containing sugar - so that kind of offset it (at least in my mind). Now I am on the hunt for more Oat bran recipes so that I can put it to use (you know how it is when you buy an ingredient just for the sake of a recipe & then it sits forever in your pantry!). This recipe was a lifesaver! Hubbykins & babydoll loved them too. Its a jat-pat fata-fat kind of a sweet to be put together when you have guests on short notice. It barely takes 15minutes to make this and less than 5 seconds to gobble them up :-) Thank you Priya!

Priya's Vermicelli & Oats Laddoos
(print this)
Yield: 12 lime size laddoos
Preparation time: 10-15mins


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup Vermicelli (Sevai)
  • 1/2 cup Oats (I used 1/4 cup of oats & 1/4 cup oat bran as I ran out of oats)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (increase it to 1 cup if you like sweeter laddoos)
  • 3 pods of cardamom
  • about 10 broken cashewnuts
  • milk as required (about 2 tbsp)
Method:
1. Heat a non stick pan & roast the vermicelli & oats separately on a slow flame. Do not burn, but slightly roast till you get a nice aroma. Remove and allow to cool. In the same pan, toast the broken cashewnut pieces slightly.
2. Grind the roasted ingredients with sugar & cardamom in a dry grinder to a fine powder.
3. In a wide bowl put the ground powder and the cashewnut pieces and sprinkle milk little by little and mix the    everything to a crumb consistency. You will notice that the mixture will turn sticky and help you to form into balls, use more milk only if required.
4. Take a little mixture and compress between the fingers to make it compact and then roll into balls.
5. Store in an airtight container. It will keep well for 2-3 days provided they last that long :-)


Friday, May 27, 2011

Two For The Price Of One! - Ponsache Patholi Ani Gariyo (Steamed Jackfruit & Rice Cake and Jackfruit Fritters)

On one of my weekly trips to Hypercity (the most well stocked supermarket in the burbs) I found myself sniffing around as the unmatchable fragrance of the Jackfruit wafted towards the aisle where I was picking my groceries. I left whatever I was doing to rush to the fresh fruit section and there! I saw the gorgeous sight of ripe yellow 'Ghare' (pods) of jackfruit being picked and kept for sale. "Wow" was my first reaction to this scene and I ran to pick the juiciest of the season's bounty. The price was a rip off obviously for a person like me who has spent her whole life eating free Jackfruits at home (and shunning them later when I had had enough). So I bought a kilo for 120 bucks and came home happily with my prized possession. The sweet fragrance of the Jackfruits quickly filled my house and we had a few juicy ones before I jealously guarded the remaining ones to be used for making
Mangalore's most famous seasonal snacks - Patholi & Gariyo


When my mum-in-law arrived to spend a few days with us, she was surprised that I had already bought some Jackfruit home when in Mangalore the ones on the trees were still in the process of ripening. Together we set out to make the two delicacies. We made the batter and then split it into half to be used for the two as the ingredients remain the same. If you like to make a small batch of the two, the quantities given below are ideal. You can even make the batter in one go & deep freeze half of it & use it later.


The Jackfruit tree is just as famous as the Coconut Tree in South India, known for its various uses. While the raw Jacfruit (called as 'Khadgi in Konkani) is used in curries and stir fries (sukhe - see recipe), the ripe one (Ponos) with the juicy flesh is eaten raw or cooked in sweet delicacies as mentioned above. The seeds of the jackfruit are dried in the sun and used along with other vegetables in gravies. While the seeds are called as the 'Bikna' in Konkani, the singular form is not called  'Bikon' (Bug/Pest in Konkani ), its called as 'Bikaan'. The Jackfruit leaves are shaped into small 'katoris' and used to steam a typical Mangalorean idli called the 'Kottige' (my mouth is watering already). I hope to be able to make it someday if I manage to get some leaves back from Mangalore. 


While most Mangaloreans/Keralites love the Jackfruit, many North Indians I know run away from the strong fragrance. The Jackfruit is almost similar to the 'Durian' which Thai's love so much if you have visited Bangkok.
Ponsache Patholi Ani Gariyo
(Printable Recipe)
Prep time: 25min | Steam time or deep frying time: 20 mins | Yield 4 medium sized patholis or 24 gariyo

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg (4 cups) fresh Jackfruit pods cleaned & roughly chopped * see notes
  • 1 cup boiled rice (Ukdo in Konkani/Ukda in Hindi)
  • 1/3 rd cup raw rice (Surai in Konkani - you can use Kollam/Basmati rice)
  • 120 gms (1/3rd cup firmly packed + 2 tbsp) jaggery - adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • pinch of salt
  • coconut shavings of 1/2 a coconut (only for the Patholi)
  • 3/4th cup grated coconut (only for the Gariyo)
Others:
For the patholi - 4-5 Large Teak leaves ( or banana leaves cut in 10x4 inch pieces)
For the gariyo - oil for deep frying

Method:
1. Wash & soak the rice in sufficient water for at least 3 hours. Remove the seed from each pod and retain the seeds (to be used in curries). Roughly chop the jackfruit pieces. Carefully clean the teak/banana leaves with water & pat dry. Keep aside.
2. After 3 hours completely drain the rice and grind it along with the jackfruit pieces, jaggery, pinch of salt and pepper powder to a fine paste. The batter should be thick & dryish like dosa batter. The moisture in the jackfruit is enough to get the grinding going & hassle free. Use water sparingly only if mixer grinder is used (in which case adding little water may be essential for the grinding process)
If you are making Patholis, add the coconut shavings and follow Step# 3 below. If you are making Gariyo, see Step# 6

Patholis


3. To the ground batter add coconut shavings and mix well. Place about 1 cup of the batter on a teak leaf and spread it in an oblong shape. Fold into packets & fasten with tooth picks.
4. Bring water to a rolling boil in a traditional Mangalorean Tondor or idli/ dhokla steamer and place the prepared packets into it in such a way that all packets receive steam proportionately. Do not overcrowd. Steam for 20-25 mins.
5. Remove & allow to cool a bit. The colour of the leaves would have changed from deep green to brown or purplish brown. The Patholis will also have this colour. Open the packets & discard the leaves. Cut into slices & serve!





Gariyos


6. To make Gariyos, add the grated coconut to the batter.
7. Heat oil for deep frying in a deep heavy bottomed pan. When it has heated sufficiently (not smoking hot - but passes the drop test) reduce the flame to medium high & gently put about two tablespoons of batter at a time (lime sized) into the oil. Fry the fritters by tossing them gently so all the sides are uniformly cooked, till the outsides look golden-maroon. Remove before they turn black - they should have the colour of gulab jamoons.
8. Place on an absorbent kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil. 
9. Serve hot with a cup of hot tea. They taste best when they are slightly cooled as you can get to taste the sweetness of the Jackfruit with the hint of Jaggery & Coconut. Gariyos keep well for 4-5 days in an airtight box.

Notes:
The jackfruit pods should be cleaned of the seed & pith and then weighed. I have used 1 kg of cleaned and ready to eat jackfruit pods. However you may adjust the amount of fruit used according to your taste and according to the sweetness of the fruit. 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Theek Pou (Spicy Beaten Rice/Poha)

So it's a long summer day today and i'm down with a bad cold. I have been busy clearing off the tasks on my to-do list pertaining to some household chores and I thought I should clear off some of the recipes that have been sitting in draft mode for way too long now. I spent the past couple of days clearing off old food pictures from my computer and deleting some recipes I don't have the energy to type out. Managed to finally create a Recipe Index that I've been attempting to create since ages and also re-attach all those pictures on this blog which got wiped off when I accidently deleted the photo album on Picasa without realising they were linked back here :-( It's been such a nightmare to go back to each & every recipe and put the pictures back. Need to be more careful in the future. 

I hope to post all those recipes I collected from my mum-in-law on her visit here in March. Somehow I never got around to typing them out or posting them. I thought I should start with a simple, no fuss, no frills, typical Mangalorean tea time snack recipe involving Beaten Rice. Not too many are fond of it I am sure, but the older generation especially grannies swear by its ability to keep your teeth strong for a hundred years. I used to give it a miss when I was younger as it taxed my poor pearly whites too much. But then, I wanted to introduce it to my son who is already throwing a lot of tantrums when it comes to eating healthy.

While in Maharashtra its common to find the Batata Poha on the breakfast menu, we Mangaloreans make it in its raw state (Batata Poha involves soaking the beaten rice prior to cooking it along with Potatoes). Pou as we make it typically has two versions - the savoury & the sweet one. While the sweet one is my favourite made by tossing in the beaten rice, jaggery/sugar, ghee and a few slices of Banana to make it more appealing & nutritious, the savoury version tastes best with a cup of steaming coffee. It may sound wierd but I know people who totally love pouring some coffee into the plate of Pou to make it soft enough to chew. For now, it's the Theek (Spicy) Pou (Beaten Rice) for you.....



Theek Pou
(Printable Recipe)
Preparation time: 2 minutes | Cooking time: 5 minutes
Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
Serves: 2

You Need:
  • 2 cups flat beaten rice *see notes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 sprig (7-8) curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1/8 tsp (or 2 pinches) red chilli powder - increase it upto 1/4 tsp
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) grated jaggery 
  • a pinch of salt
Method:
1. In a non stick pan heat the oil and toss in the mustard seeds, when they splutter add the curry leaves and then the red chilli powder & immediately take the pan off the flame before the powder burns.
2. Add the beaten rice, grated jaggery and salt to taste. Use a ladle or spoon to mix all the ingredients well in the pan. Allow to cool a bit & transfer the contents to a large bowl. Combine & gently squeeze the mixture with your hand - this ensures that the fried curry leaves powder up and all the flavours are mixed evenly.
3. Serve with tea or coffee.

Notes:
Beaten rice is available in two varieties. The thick variety is used in the preparation of 'Poha' by Maharashtrians and each flake of beaten rice is thicker & slimmer. It is called as 'Jhaada Poha' in Hindi. This  is used in preparations that call for wetting of the beaten rice to fluff it up a bit.
You need to use the other variety which is famous in Mangalore - the flat, wide & long variety which is also called as 'Baareek or Pathla Poha' in Hindi.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins

Sometimes you don't need a reason to bake something simple yet special. Life itself is worth celebrating - everyday. I accidentally came across this super simple recipe on my favourite baking site as I was hunting for some kid friendly yet healthy baking recipes - something hardcore simple and hardcore healthy. There are plenty of bogus recipes out there which promise you health in your food but end up asking for a lot of unhealthy additions which make the outcome rather sinful and make you guilty of even having eaten it. 

Although I love baking with maida (all purpose flour), the guilt trip that I later embark on is rather unpleasant. To add to that, I am seriously working towards getting a fitter body than I currently own. I had mentioned in my earlier post about my diet regimen that sometimes goes for a toss when I give in to tempations. This was not to be with this recipe. Unless you are trying to avoid one or more of the listed ingredients completely, I think it's very healthy especially for fussy kids (and mommies of those kids trying to stay healthy).


I will leave my gyaan baazi (doling out generous amounts of knowledge & advice) on the benefits of Whole Wheat & Oats for another post, for now I want to wish an old friend (Hyacinth) & a new one (May) a very Happy Birthday and God's abundant blessings of health & happiness! As you grow a year older & wiser, may you find new friends, renew old ties, grow in love with your families and praise and thank God each day for the wonderful blessing of 'Life'! Have a FANTASTIC day girls!! 



Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins
You Need:

  • 1 cup (130gms) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (150gms) oat bran * see note
  • 1/3 cup (75gms) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (skin)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey (the recipe asked for unsulphered molasses - I didnt have any)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp odourless oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 1 1/4 cup (300ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (70gm) raisins (I used a lot less, but i wish i didnt cut back on this as it lends a nice flavour to the muffins)
Note: 
I used regular quick cooking oats (Quaker Oats) as I didnt have Oat bran. In India Oat bran and wheat bran is available by a brand named Bagrry's. 


Method:
1. If you are using rolled oats instead of oat bran, I suggest you powder it a little in a mixer grinder before using it unless you like the grainy texture of the muffins
2. In a large bowl sift the dry ingredients together - sugar, cinnamon, wheat flour, oats, orange zest, baking soda, baking powder & salt
3. In another bowl mix the lightly beaten egg, milk, honey, oil & vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients & mix well. Toss in the raisins and incorporate.
4. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray with oil & dust it with flour (unless you are using muffin cups). Pour out spoonfulls of batter into the cups.


5. Bake in a preheated oven at 205 degree C for 16-17 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean
6. Enjoy this light snack with a hot cup of coffee.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qubuli Uzbaki (Afghan Style Mutton Pulao)

Biryanis and Pulaos are an elaborate affair. Well, so I thought, till I made this amazing Qubuli (or Kabuli) Pulao, the national dish of Afghanistan. It is believed that the Biryani which originated in Persia made its route to India via Afghanistan. By the time it reached India and had travelled down South, they were so many versions of making it. Traditionally the Biryani was made with rice and the leg piece of goat, however today we are familiar with Biryanis made of Chicken, Egg, Beef, Fish and Prawns.

The difference between a Biryani and a Pulao is the technique used to cook the rice. While a Pulao is made by cooking the rice using the absorption technique, wherein exactly measured water or stock of meat is used to cook the rice completely, the Biryani uses the draining technique where the rice is cooked al dente (par boiled) in plenty of water (unmeasured). This rice is then layered along with the meat, saffron milk, raisins & nuts etc and the vessel sealed and placed on dum (slow fire) till it is completely cooked.


Just like the Indianized version of Chinese food, we Indians love the Indianized version of Biryanis - the Mughlai Biryani which is rich in spices and is more elaborate a process than its Afghani version. I was in two minds whether or not I should try this simpler version of the Pulao as the recipe hardly had any spices. The source of flavour in which case would be carrots, raisins along with the stock of the mutton. What tempted me to go ahead and try it was that it was so simple and promised to go easy on my digestive system as well (especially since my dietician allows me one cheat meal a week - this was hardly an indulgence to be guilty about). Also, since it didn't ask for too many ingredients (especially expensive ones that Biryanis/Pulaos require), I thought it was worth experimenting with. The goodness of carrots makes up for the white rice if you are watching your diet.

I tweaked the quantities to suit the needs of my family of three small eaters so I drastically reduced the quantity of rice, increased the quantity of meat and reduced the other ingredients. Since I am married to a man who loves spicy food (and I like it moderate) I added a dash of chilli powder and ginger garlic paste after doing some research on the net if it was allowed. So you see, I haven't really gone off track and this version of mine will bring out the real taste of Afghan whilst taking care of your Indian palate. 


I urge you to try it, you wont be disappointed. On the contrary you will be surprised at how such subtle flavours are brought out in this delectable one pot meal. It can be your favourite source of Carbohydrates made the healthier way (I made it with only 3 tbsp of Olive oil!), if you have unexpected guests, fussy eaters, those who don't like spicy heavy duty rice preparations or just crave for some Biryani/Pulao on a lazy Sunday without having to toil too much in your kitchen (you can cook the meat in the cooker!), this is your best bet! 




Qubuli Uzbaki
(Printable Recipe)
Preparation Time: 10mins, Cooking Time: 30minutes
Serves: 3-4

You Need:
  • 350gms basmati rice (or about 2 cups) - see note below
  • 750gms mutton (or chicken)
  • 150gms (or about 1 large) onions sliced
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 20 gms raisins
  • 20 gms pistas (shelled) (about 17-18)
  • 20 gms almonds (about 15-16)
  • 10gms garam masala (whole) or 1 level tsp garam masala powder
  • 100gms carrots cut julienne (size of a matchstick)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp oil for frying
  • water to cook the rice
Optional (not part of the original recipe source, but added to tweak this pulao to suit the Indian palate)
  • 1 level tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 5 peppercorns
Note: If you wish to increase the rice upto 1kg, then go through the original recipe which is for 1kg rice and 500gms mutton. I have reduced the quantities to cater to my small family.

Method:
1. Wash and cut mutton into big pieces and allow to drain. Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup of warm milk.
2. Wash the rice and soak it in sufficient water with a little salt for about 10minutes, drain and set aside.
3. In a pressure cooker, heat half of the oil (about two tbsp) and fry the sliced onions till golden, toss in the ginger garlic paste and fry a little, reduce the flame and toss in the chilli powder, peppercorns & garam masala (or powder). 
4. Add salt to taste and toss in the mutton pieces and 500ml of water (or enough to cover the mutton pieces).
5. Cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce the flame and cook for a further 10-15minutes (depends on how tender the mutton is - we get good quality tender mutton, so I cook it for not more than 15minutes on a slow flame). Turn off the flame and wait till the whistle (weight) turns loose enough to be removed. Open and remove the mutton pieces and keep the stock aside.
6. In a large thick bottomed pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the raisins on slow fire - toss them gently & remove before they turn black. They should just turn a little plump but remain golden in colour. Fry the pistas and almonds in the same oil and remove. 
7. In the same oil toss in the julienned carrots and fry a little and then spread them in the pan. Layer with half the soaked and drained rice. Next, layer the mutton pieces, pistas & almonds. Layer the remaining rice and lastly add the raisins. 
8. Add the mutton stock, saffron milk and sufficient water (room temperature will do) to bring the water level to about 1/2 an inch above the rice & meat layers (if you are new to this - just add water little by little and then check the level). Check salt to taste.
9. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the flame completely (to sim). Cover the pan with 2 sheets of aluminium foil and then a lid which covers the mouth of the pan completely. Keep a weight if you feel that the steam may escape. 
11. Cook for 15minutes (set the timer!) and turn off the flame and leave it to cook for another 5-6 minutes. Open to check if the water is remaining, if it is, cover and keep it for another 5minutes before serving. 
12. Serve it in a serving dish as this is a layered dish and you need to get everything on your plate - from the almost caramelised carrots, rice, meat to the dry fruits. 
13. Serve hot with raita (optional) and wine (suggestion only). This dish is so succulent, you dont really need an accompaniment.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pikya Ambyachi Kadi (Ripe Mango Curry)

Well, its almost the end of summer in India and monsoons are just around the corner. While for most people 'summer' means rising temperatures accompanied by humid weather, it is my favourite season of all. Don't be surprised - I dislike cold weather so winter is out and I am not much of a monsoon person - watching the rains is fine, getting drenched is a no no for me. So spring (if there is one in India) and Summer it is! Having survived the hot & summers of Mangalore, I fared much better in Mumbai where the heat is bearable - you don't sweat like a pig (although pigs don't sweat technically) and of course staying indoors and air conditioning always helps cool you down. 

The best part about the Indian summers is the abundance of seasonal fruits to help bring down the temperature. Nature has wisely made sure the right kind of foods are available during this particular season. While the watermelon is everyone's favourite to beat the heat, one can't deny that the Mango is by far the most popular and most loved fruit of the season. The fragrance is unbeatable by any other fruit and the taste dominates everything else making it without doubt, the king of all fruits. Like Vir Sanghvi wrote in a recent article in The Sunday Brunch (supplement by Hindustan Times) that the only place that really smells of mangoes is India. I agree with him that the mango is probably the most versatile of all fruits - from eating it as a fruit in its raw or ripe form, it is also used in numerous sweet & savoury preparations ranging from pickles to jams, preserves, deserts, juices, chutneys, curries - the list is endless. 

The mango & summer are synonymous for me and never fail to conjour up delicious memories of my childhood where I joined other kids from my neighbourhood to pluck raw mangoes (Thor as it's called in Konkani) from neigbours' gardens only to get chased away. Or those times I spent eating scores of ripe ones of lesser known varieties (yet very succulent) at my cousins' or grandma's place. Mangoes then were free - Nature's gift to mankind for protecting her. Almost every house had a mango tree in their gardens amidst a few hundred Coconut, Jackfruit, Chikoo (Sapota), Banana & Amla Trees. Exchanging seasonal fruits between homes was common - so we got to taste different varieties and then play around with the mango stone (seed). The one who finished first would call out to the other by name & whoever responded by saying "yes?" was told to 'run after the seed' - so the 'mango eating' time was also a time of comical silence as no one wanted to respond to their names being called out. It's a silly game of course, but it was fun in those days.

Honestly, cities have become the bane of our lives. Nothing is free here, not even water. What was enjoyed as a free gift of Nature needs to be paid for today. I paid through my nose for those few coveted Alfonsos from the market last week and I am sure those are probably even sprayed with chemicals to speeden up the ripening. Shae! But what to do? Mangoes are mangoes and must be enjoyed before the monsoons threaten to take over or else one will regret and have to impatiently wait for the season the next year.

Thankfully besides having my fill of the Alfonso in Mumbai, I was gifted the small variety of mangoes (called the 'Nekkari' in Mangalore) on my recent trip to Goa. These babies are so delicious, you'll wonder why only the Alfonso enjoys so much attention. Anyways, I decided to make the most of this seasonal fruit and make my favourite Mango Curry out of it...its very simple if you plan to make a small quantity. In the olden days this curry used to be made with as many as 25 mangoes, but this is one dish which you will either love or hate. So try experimenting with just 4-5 small ones...I am sure you will only L.O.V.E it !


Pikya Ambyachi Kadi (Ripe Mango Curry)
(Printable Recipe)

Recipe Source: My Mum-in-law
You Need:
  • 4-5 Ripe Mangoes of a small variety
  • 1/2 tsp Bafat Powder
  • 1 cup warm water
  • jaggery to taste 
  • salt to taste
For tempering (fon/bagar/tadka):
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic mashed up a bit
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
Method:
1. Wash the Mangoes well on their surface and stem area to clean any sap and then carefully peel off the skin from the Mangoes and keep aside.
2. Put the peels in a bowl of warm water for about 10minutes to soften the pulp and fibre stuck to the skin. After 10minutes scrape off the pulp back into the water & discard the peels. Retain the pulp water.
3. Blend the pulp water using a blender so that you get a thick liquid. If you do not have a blender you can use a juicer jar of a mixie or just leave the liquid as it is - use your fingers to squash up any big pieces of pulp which came off the peel
4. In a pan, add the pulp water, salt to taste, bafat powder and jaggery and bring it to a boil (you need to retain a thick gravy so don't add too much water). Add the peeled Mangoes and simmer for 3-4 minutes
5. In a smaller pan (tadka/tempering pan) heat the oil and add the mustard, when they splutter, toss in the garlic and fry till golden. Add this tadka to the curry.
6. Serve piping hot with steaming white rice or brown rice


Bounty of Indian Summers

While there is a lot that can be written about the Indian Summers and the goodies it brings with it, I think pictures speak a thousand words.....so here are some pictures I managed to capture of some goodies I laid my hands on this Summer. I hope you will enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed savouring them!

Mangoes - Ambay



Jackfruit - Ponos



Kokum - Bindaan



Love Apples - Zambaan


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bafat Pito | Bafat Powder ~ Mangalorean Catholic Style Blend of Spices

There are some incidents in life that completely change your life. The birth of a child is one of the most important of such incidents - I am no different from the millions of moms out there whose lives take a 360 degree turn when their babies are born. I dont have to get into the details of how things pick up from there on. For most of us lucky (or unlucky) ones who quit our jobs because supportive spouses do all the toiling & converting sweat into money and being the bread winners, life throws the next big question - What next? How do I keep myself occupied and sane while being at home 24x7x365? How do I get my creative juices flowing apart from having to entertain a toddler (besides being the official cook, driver, nanny, maid, in-house doctor, teacher, story teller)? How do I entertain myself apart from having intelligent conversations with a 2 yr old? Well, these questions brought me to Blogger - thanks to my husband who gave me a gentle push & said I had it in me to write to entertain myself if not anyone else. Ha ha! So well, that's how I started to blog and although things didn't quite pick up initially, I went back to it time & again.

Over a period of time I realised that blogging was not just about being hooked on to the computer (that by the way is a choice you make) but it is also about learning fabulous things on the internet (new technology et al) and of course making new friends. The best part is catching up with some who you never thought you'd ever meet again (even if that means just virtually) and seeing the world through their eyes. Food, history and travel make up most of my reading material and what better than to read about them through the blogs of people known to you? Most of my favourite blogs are by friends (even those I've known but not personally) - all of which are listed on the panel on the right - Thank you dear fellow Mangaloreans/Bloggers for sharing so many special things about those things dear to you.

My post will be incomplete if I do not mention my dear readers who send me mails & comments of appreciation & encouragement. Thank you, it just makes writing worthwhile! A special thank you to my dear reader Cynthia, from whom I received my first mail and who never fails to drop me a note to express what she feels about each of my posts. This one is specially for you...



The Bafat Powder (also pronounced as 'bafad) is a must-have blend of spices in every Mangalorean (especially Catholic) home. Especially those who regularly prepare & relish the 'Dukramaas' (Pork Bafat style) - which is probably the easiest and most delicious (especially when reheated on the second and third day) preparation which requires minimal effort (only chopping of ingredients can take a while depending on how much you make).

Bafat powder can be made and stored for a year or more and is available in most Mangalorean stores & Goan ones too which stock it up, but the home made version scores better any day as it is fresh & fragrant when stored well. It is so versatile that the powder minus the garam masala (see note at the end) can be used to prepare fish curries in a jiffy. I have used this powder which my mother-in-law prepares in abundance for all dishes ranging from Chicken sukka (Chicken with dry coconut), Chicken curry, fish curry and vegetable sukka (vegetable stir fry with grated coconut). It is probably the one item that 99% of Mangaloreans have it on their list of 'items to buy when they visit Mangalore from abroad so shops such as Konkan Traders, Don Stores & Costa Bakery stock it up in abundance the whole year through.

Although one can replace the Bafat powder with regular chilli powder, turmeric & coriander powder - the result is never as perfect as when the original Bafat is used. Like they say, originals should be left untouched...



Bafat Powder
Print This

Recipe Source: My Mum-in-law
Yield: Approx one and a half kilos

You Need:
  • 150gms Kashmiri chillies
  • 400gms Long red chillies (also called as 'Kumta' & 'Kumti' mirsaang in Konkani) *see note below
  • 200gms Short red chillies (also known as Madrasi chillies)
  • 500gms Coriander (dhania)
  • 40gms Cumin (jeera)
  • 25gms Peppercorns (miri/kali mirch)
  • 50gms Turmeric Powder (haldi) (If you can manage to use dried pieces of Turmeric (haldiche kudke), it is even better)

Method:
Use a dry grinder to powder all the above ingredients to a fine powder, store in an airtight container and use as required

Note:
1. If the Kumti chillies (long ones) are unavailable, just use Kashmiri chillies instead (ie increase it to a total of 550gms instead of 150gms). However, the short red chillies are very important to achieve the desired spiciness & fragrance of the Bafat powder
2. This recipe is for the Bafat powder without the garam masala (cloves & cinnamon), hence it is very versatile and can be used for fish/veg preparations which do not require garam masala. When you use it for meat preparations such as Pork, add about 4 cloves and 1 inch piece of cinnamon for every 1kg of meat.


Bafat/Baffat/Bafad Powder by the way is similar (in terms of versatility) to the Goan Rechad Masala and the East Indian Bottle Masala - A blend of spices used in a variety of preparations. A Mangalorean Catholic housewife worth her salt cant do without the Bafat Powder!



Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lepo Losun Miri (Sole/Tongue Fish in a Spicy Garlic & Pepper Curry)

The advantage of living along the Coast is that you get to eat plenty of fish. While many of my friends here in Mumbai wonder how I can eat 'non veg' daily, for us fish eating Mangaloreans, Fish is Fish...c'mon! Non vegetarian is rest of the stuff that has a beak & feathers or walks on fours :D I am sure die hard fish loving Mangies, Mallus, Goans and Bongs will agree with me, that Fish is a delicacy as well as a staple. And thank God that both of these are in abundant supply in our sunny lands!

Midmorning on a normal weekday, if you happen to drop in to any Mangalorean fish eating household, you are most likely to find the lady of the house (or a maid) busy cleaning fish for the afternoon meal. Typically an 'Adhalo' was and is still used to clean fish. It is an apparatus which involves a long thin strip of very low wooden stool to which a sickle is fixed to one end. Old ladies who complain of 'ganti-dhook' (knee pain) grumble and still perform the brilliant task of cleaning fish guts whilst seated on this throne. But today, women like me prefer to invest in a good pair of kitchen scissors to do the job in a jiffy. Its so hassle free, I wonder why the 'Adhalo' was ever invented! (I know that's so cheeky of me). But the olden generation swear by it, so I guess we should let it be :-)

If you visit any of the well stocked fish markets in Mangalore you will hear almost every fisherwoman crying hoarse - "Bangde bale, boothai bale" meaning to say "I've got Mackerel & Sardines on offer, hurry up!". My favourite 'Lepo' however was sold by a few random fisher women. It comes under the category of 'good fish' which can be eaten by those recovering from illnesses, pregnant women, new moms or those with special diet requirements. They say Lepo is not 'nanji' - this term has no real meaning in English although the best I can explain is to say that it doesn't cause any real problems if you eat it. All Mangaloreans are familiar with this term i.e if you are the active fish eating type.

This delicate fish tastes great in a curry or even when fried. I love it both ways. Just remember not to overcook it. In Mumbai we get the larger variety than in Mangalore and so most times we end up frying them - the flesh is gorgeous and my son loves it. Cleaning this fish is not as difficult as it appears but involves minor skill to peel off the skin which is a de-scaling technique by itself. So next time you find 'Lepo' in your fish market, don't hesitate to buy some. I promise you, you'll love it!

Lepo Losun Miri
(Printable Recipe)
Serves: 4
This curry can be made with prawns too


You Need
  • 500gms or 4-5 large ones Tongue Fish(also called as 'Lep' in Marathi & 'Nang' in Tulu)
For the masala:
  • 6-7 long dry red chillies (to increase the quantity of the gravy you can add extra 2 chillies without seeds - just the skin)
  • 6-7 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp haldi
  • 1/2 tsp jeera
  • 1 small ball of tamarind/1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1-2 tbsp grated coconut (optional - not part of the recipe but add it if you want extra gravy)* see note below
For the shindap (items to be sauted before adding the masala)
  • 8 cloves garlic with skin - mashed up slightly (do not slice or chop)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
Method
1. Remove the skin, scales and the frilly edges of the fish, clean in salt water, rinse and allow to drain. Cut large ones into 2 pieces. If you are using small Lepos, leave them whole
2. Grind all the ingredients for the masala to a fine paste.
3. In a wide bottomed pan (as Lepos are long and tender, so use a large pan to avoid them from breaking) heat some oil and fry the 8 cloves of garlic and toss in the sliced onion. Fry for about a minute till they turn golden (not too brown)
4. Add the ground masala and fry it for about 2 minutes on a slow flame. Add some water to the mixie and use this water to be added to the masala. Add sufficient water to make a medium thin gravy (not too thin). Add salt and check the taste. Make any changes before you add the fish.
5. Bring the gravy to a boil - for about 1/2 a minute and then gently add the fish pieces and simmer for another minute, not more as fish tends to overcook and will continue to cook even when the flame has been turned off
6. Serve hot with piping hot boiled rice or white rice

Note: The grated coconut is not part of the authentic way of making this curry, however, with the remaining ingredients, one gets very little quantity of 'kadi'/gravy and if you are the type who loves your rice drenched in gravy. then you can either add the coconut (which ofcourse reduces the spice factor) or 1/2 an onion (which slightly increases the spiciness)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rasmalai (Cottage Cheese Dumplings in Saffron Flavoured Milk)

Are you one of those people who start off to do something and end up doing something else? Well, when it comes to cooking I end up doing something very different from what I intended to :D (thats a huge grin). Well, since the past few weeks I've gotten obsessed with the 'home made' tag. I tried my hand at making butter, curds (yogurt), ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (cottage cheese) and was almost dying to write a post about how the freshly sourced 1 litre of milk fetched me so many by products. I was pretty pleased with myself and wondered why I didn't try all this years ago. I always thought making things at home was hard work and only grannies could do it - pickles, ghee, jams et al. But no! I was mistaken! I have a friend & ex-colleague who used to make home made ghee and send it across to me religiously every fortnight when my son was just weaned. The fragrance of home made ghee was just something else. It filled those moments with so much bliss and I would steal a teaspoon or so despite my rising weight. This friend of mine was the one who coaxed me to try many things at home so that my son could have a healthier way of life from his early years. Following her advice, I regularly make home made curds if nothing else. 


Paneer or Chenna as its called in most of North India is of Indian origin and is a kind of cheese. Paneer is widely used to make a variety of sweet & savoury dishes. It is a good source of protein for vegetarians and unlike other cheeses, is not aged. Paneer is most famously found in Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cottage Cheese) or Mutter Paneer (Peas and Cottage Cheese) and is typically famous in Northern parts of India than South India. 

Last week when I was trying to boil the milk I realised that it had already gone bad before it came to a boil and I had Paneer instead of butter and curd that day. I just followed the instructions ringing in my head and got some delicious Paneer which I refrigerated for a few days before I decided to try my hand at making a home made sweet dish which was healthy as well (err..well, not as unhealthy as other sweets at least). Since hubby dearest prefers Rasmalai to Rasgullas, Rasmalai it was. 

The recipe is by Titli Nihan - A darling ol' British lady who loves to cook Indian/Pakistani fare and has loads of recipes which ofcourse are tweaked to suit the Brit palate. I stumbled across her video on Youtube when I was searching for 'how to make ghee' and I totally loved her videos (so meticulously shot & edited by herself). I soon found myself spending hours going through her videos and my son totally loves her now. Titli is his best friend. He loves her narrations - they do sound a lot like fairy tales :-). I don't doubt that he will turn into a chef one day at the rate at which he watches her 'how to' videos :D


Rasmalai
(Printable Recipe)

Yield: 10-12 rasgullas/dumplings
Preparation time - 20mins

You Need:
For the rasgullas (dumplings)
  • 1 litre whole milk (I used full fat milk fresh from the local dairy) - this yields about 250gms of Paneer
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 750 ml water (3 cups)
  • 200 gms sugar (1 cup)
Note: Alternatively you can use 250gms of Paneer -use really fresh Paneer from a trusted source if you are not familiar with the quality of Paneer. Fresh Paneer is always creamy and melts in the mouth. Slightly older Paneer turns chewy & dryish - which is why many first time eaters hate it (not their fault!)

For the ras (sauce)
  • 500ml whole milk (increase it to 750ml if you want lots of ras)
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (use 2 tbsp if you prefer it less sweet)
  • A few strands of Saffron
  • 3 pods cardamom - coarsely powdered
  • 5-6 almonds cut into slivers
  • 5-6 pistachios cut into slivers
Method:
To make the rasgullas/dumplings: 
1. In a pan bring the milk to a boil and stir in the lime juice for about a minute and remove the pan from the fire. This is the curdled milk - pour it into a cheese cloth/muslin cloth/bairas and give the cloth a squeeze allow to drain from a height for about 30mins till all the liquid has drained off and what remains is 'cottage cheese' or 'paneer'. 
2. Knead the paneer for about 10minutes or till it ceases to be crumbly. The texture should be smooth and will be a soft ball. You will know when your palm gets a bit oily.
3. Break the ball into 8-10 small lime size balls and then flatten them in the middle of your palm to make flat discs. Take care to see that the edges are not broken or else they will break when you boil them in the sugar water.
4. In a sufficiently wide bottomed pan place the 750ml of water and when it boils, add the sugar and dissolve it. Place the flat paneer discs gently and cook for about 8-10minutes. (Alternately you can use a pressure cooker to cook the discs - just take 1 whistle and then leave it for 5 minutes before opening the cooker - but ensure your cooker is large enough to accomodate all the discs else they will stick together and look triangular in shape) The discs will inflate to a slightly larger size and look transparent. Turn off the flame and allow to cool. These are Rasgullas (Paneer Balls in Sugar Syrup) 

To make the sauce:
1. Place the milk in a pan and when it comes to a boil add the sugar and simmer for about 15 minutes or till the quantity reduces to half. Stir in between to avoid the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. When the milk has thickened a bit and reduced in quantity, remove from the flame and add the coarsely powdered cardamom and saffron strands and stir. The saffron  will lend a beautiful pale yellow colour to the sauce.

To assemble:
1. Remove each dumpling from the sugar syrup and gently squeeze any excess syrup. Place them in a wide bowl
2. Pour the sauce over them and garnish with almond and pistachio slivers.
3. Refrigerate for at least 30minutes before serving.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lemon Coriander Soup With Chicken (Optional)

They say soups are best eaten (or drunk - whatever you please) during the winters. I say, they are an all weather comfort food. Rain, sunshine or just cold winters, they are nourishing and can do wonders to your health & mood alike. I try and plan my weekly menu and see if I can incorporate a soup for dinner on one of the days - this is usually a day when I haven't cooked anything for lunch (this is usually the day we have leftovers for lunch) and that evening you can find me hunting for soup recipes. Since I love to make something out of sundry items lying in my fridge, I thought it would be great if I could try the Lemon Coriander Soup as I love how it's made in the restaurants. While I've tasted it in most Chinese restaurants which of course give a 'Chinese' touch to it, my soup turned out pretty homely.

It's the best kind of soup if you want to throw in a vegetable called the 'Cabbage' which is not such a favourite of kids :-) Surprisingly, the Cabbage adds a nice flavour and also thickness to the soup combined with the gram flour. You don't need to puree the vegetables and add them back unlike other recipes but at the same time you can choose to retain the cooked veggies in the soup - like I did (which is why you can see bits of Orange which are actually Carrots). The recipe calls for 'Lemons' but I used 'Limes' as both citrus fruits with a difference in size, colour, acidic content & fragrance. 

So if its Summer time in your part of the world, I am sure you will like this tangy soup as it is refreshing and light! Go enjoy!!



Lemon Coriander Soup
(Printable Recipe)
Serves 3-4
You Need:
  • 2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 bulbs of spring onion
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium onion cut into small cubes
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock or 2 vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 5 cups of warm water
  • 8-10 peppercorns crushed
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped - reserve the stalks - about 5-6 and chop them fine
  • 5-6 stalks of coriander - chopped
  • 2 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 100gm boneless Chicken - cut into bite size pieces (optional - only if you wish to transform this soup into a non vegetarian one)

Method:
1. If you prefer a non vegetarian soup, then heat some oil in a pan and on slow fire saute the boneless chicken. Toss in a couple of garlic cloves as it lends a really nice flavour to the chicken.
2. In a pan, heat some oil and add the chopped onion, spring onion, ginger and garlic and saute till translucent.
3. Toss in the gram flour and lightly roast it till you get a nice aroma. Add the precooked chicken at this point. If you wish you can shred the chicken further, otherwise the bite size pieces are just fine.
4. Add the vegetable stock, coriander stalks, cabbage, carrot and powdered peppercorns and bring it to a boil. Add a few coriander leaves and cook for 5-10minutes
5. At this point you can either strain the cooked vegetables and keep them aside and to the strained liquid add salt, lime/lemon juice and boil again. Since my family is a fan of eating the veggies in the soup I didn't strain my soup and didn't overcook them either.
6. Garnish the soup with the remaining chopped coriander leaves before serving. Enjoy with garlic bread or just plain, wholesome, piping hot soup!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nivole (Aromatic Coconut & Carom Seeds (Ajwain) Curry) ~ Mangalorean Post Natal Recipe #2

Hello my lovelies! I'm back after a much needed break a.k.a sick leave as I was a bit under the weather and busy too with everything and nothing. While I am glad that I've been able to get back to blogging after such a long time, I feel sad that I missed publishing a post on the 2nd blogversary of my blog. Yess! 21st of April was the birthday of my blog - so while I did wish Ruchik Randhap a very happy birthday, I was sad that I couldn't manage to write a special post to commemorate 2 years of the existence of a blog that is dedicated to my favourite cuisine of all time - Mangalorean food!

Although I wanted to bake a nice cake, I thought i'd leave it for later when I am completely able to enjoy every bite of it - and since it was Lent at that time I was abstaining from a few luxuries (baking included - cuz it invokes a lot of tempations and gluttony - my weakest points). So here's a simple post of one of the most simple 'broths' or 'kadi's' as they are called in Konkani - The Nivole - Granma's own magic potion to drive away a bad cold or the devil himself. Although many households make it by skipping the key ingredient - the Vovo (nasally pronounced as Vonvon - except that the 'n' is silent) also known as 'Oma' in Kannada, 'Owa' in Marathi, 'Ajwain' in Hindi and 'Carom Seeds' in English.

Ajwain (pronounced uj-wine) is rich in Calcium and Iron and almost smells exactly like Thyme as it contains 'Thymol' but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste. It is slightly bitter and pungent than Thyme or Caraway seeds. A few grains of Ajwain will dominate the flavour of a dish and is quite unpalatable if you pop in a few seeds into your mouth.


My earliest association with Ajwain has been in the form of 'Oma water' which was stocked up in every home and given to children from time to time to tackle basic stomach ailments. The Oma Water is a traditional concoction of Ajwain and water brewed together & bottled with a shelf life of like forever (we used to always have a bottle or two safely stowed away in the kitchen cabinet). Mum used to buy two or three bottles at a time from a door to door salesman selling homemade Oma Water. I swear by this magic potion even today as I purchase a branded one from Konkan Traders, during every trip to Mangalore. It's called the 'Omam Water' marketed by 'Western Ghats Pharmaceuticals' - the makers of Cinth (the wonder oil for aches & pains), Cons and Cold Drops (their most famous products). 

The Omam Water was omni present during my childhood although I didn't take too well to its strong taste. But now my little one loves it although the taste is a little pungent - it can purge your tummy problems in no time. Why I thought of posting the recipe of the Nivole was because not only is it quintessentially Mangalorean in nature, it was also a staple on Good Fridays at my mum's place. Mum used to make Nivole and a vegetable on a Good Friday as it was a day of penance and prayer and abstaining from eating meat.


Nivole was also given to me in plenty after I delivered my son obviously for it's medicinal benefits and to speed up my recovery. It's best eaten with steaming rice or if you wish, just sip a bowlful of piping hot 'Nivole' complete with Ajwain, Peppercorns and Red Chillies ground to perfection. Yum! - enough to banish your ailments and bring you back on your feet in no time!

Nivole was a forgotten recipe for a few years till I got married and my hubby's friend, a non Mangalorean, who couldn't remember its pronounciation used to call it New-Old. So I guess this is it - I'm starting a brand 'New' month of May with an 'Old' recipe - some fresh beginnings to the past I've left behind.....



Nivole (Aromatic Coconut & Carom Seeds (Ajwain) Curry
Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of carom seeds (bishop's weed/omam/ova/ajwain)
  • 12 -15 peppercorns/kali mirch
  • 1 long dry red chilli (Bedgi/Kumti)
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds/dhania
  • 4 pieces of Vonti sol (dried skins of a sour fruit called Dheu * see notes) or 1 small ball of tamarind
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 medium onion roughly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic (with skin)
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced (for fon/tempering)
  • salt to taste
  • oil
Method:
1. Heat a tawa/non stick pan and dry roast all the ingredients one by one (except the kokam/tamarind and the onion for tempering)
2. Powder all the dry ingredients and then add the grated coconut, onion and garlic along with the tamarind/kokum and grind to a fine paste.
3. In a pan heat some oil and fry the masala lightly (as they are already pre roasted) and add sufficient water to form a medium thick gravy (not too watery). Add salt to taste, stir and bring it to a boil
4. Simmer for two minutes and in another pan heat some oil and when it is hot, toss in the 1/2 sliced onion and fry till golden brown.
5. Temper the gravy with the onions and your Nivole is ready! - Have some right away!

Notes:
Vonti Sol are dried skins of a sour fruit also named as Dheu/Monkay Jack/Lakoocha/ Jaregay Puli

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Priya's Vermicelli & Oats Laddoos

Twenty years ago I never thought in my wildest dreams that one could 'chat' with someone else placed distantly across the globe. Neither did I think that it was ever possible to make new friends 'virtually' - without having met those people even once. Hallucination? Yes, Reality? No chance! Cut to 2011, all the things mentioned above are possible and are happening on a daily basis. The Internet has truly made this world a smaller place. I am sure many of the career women turned homemakers turned bloggers will agree with me what a big boon blogging has been. Not only are we able to learn new things to make, but are also making new friends along the way. So what if we don't meet in reality? It's still wonderful to stay connected via the webworld.

I met one such blogger after some random browsing and found her collection of recipes totally 'wow worthy'. Not only does she have a huge collection of tried & tested Indian (mainly South Indian) recipes of all types, her trademark recipes are those which are the outcome of putting an assortment of ingredients together. Unusual ingredients are married off to create a unique dish. And what more, the measurements are perfect, so after trying three recipes, I know I can close my eyes and get the dish right! What adds to the charm of her recipes is that they are all made up of healthy ingredients, inspiring me to stock up on things like Barley and Bajra. If you are a mommy of a little child who tests your patience during meal times and are ready to flee because you cant think of anything 'new' to feed your child, then, this is the blog for you. 



For now, its this interesting combo of ingredients in a Laddoo - my most favourite Indian sweet. My sweet tooth craved for more, but I had just made half a batch to curb my temptation of hogging more than two laddoos, I really wish I had made more. Since I ran out of Oats (had just abt 2 tsp) I substituted it with Oat bran which I bought to make the Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins earlier this week, so in a way, I attempted at putting some more health back into ladoos containing sugar - so that kind of offset it (at least in my mind). Now I am on the hunt for more Oat bran recipes so that I can put it to use (you know how it is when you buy an ingredient just for the sake of a recipe & then it sits forever in your pantry!). This recipe was a lifesaver! Hubbykins & babydoll loved them too. Its a jat-pat fata-fat kind of a sweet to be put together when you have guests on short notice. It barely takes 15minutes to make this and less than 5 seconds to gobble them up :-) Thank you Priya!

Priya's Vermicelli & Oats Laddoos
(print this)
Yield: 12 lime size laddoos
Preparation time: 10-15mins


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup Vermicelli (Sevai)
  • 1/2 cup Oats (I used 1/4 cup of oats & 1/4 cup oat bran as I ran out of oats)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (increase it to 1 cup if you like sweeter laddoos)
  • 3 pods of cardamom
  • about 10 broken cashewnuts
  • milk as required (about 2 tbsp)
Method:
1. Heat a non stick pan & roast the vermicelli & oats separately on a slow flame. Do not burn, but slightly roast till you get a nice aroma. Remove and allow to cool. In the same pan, toast the broken cashewnut pieces slightly.
2. Grind the roasted ingredients with sugar & cardamom in a dry grinder to a fine powder.
3. In a wide bowl put the ground powder and the cashewnut pieces and sprinkle milk little by little and mix the    everything to a crumb consistency. You will notice that the mixture will turn sticky and help you to form into balls, use more milk only if required.
4. Take a little mixture and compress between the fingers to make it compact and then roll into balls.
5. Store in an airtight container. It will keep well for 2-3 days provided they last that long :-)


Friday, May 27, 2011

Two For The Price Of One! - Ponsache Patholi Ani Gariyo (Steamed Jackfruit & Rice Cake and Jackfruit Fritters)

On one of my weekly trips to Hypercity (the most well stocked supermarket in the burbs) I found myself sniffing around as the unmatchable fragrance of the Jackfruit wafted towards the aisle where I was picking my groceries. I left whatever I was doing to rush to the fresh fruit section and there! I saw the gorgeous sight of ripe yellow 'Ghare' (pods) of jackfruit being picked and kept for sale. "Wow" was my first reaction to this scene and I ran to pick the juiciest of the season's bounty. The price was a rip off obviously for a person like me who has spent her whole life eating free Jackfruits at home (and shunning them later when I had had enough). So I bought a kilo for 120 bucks and came home happily with my prized possession. The sweet fragrance of the Jackfruits quickly filled my house and we had a few juicy ones before I jealously guarded the remaining ones to be used for making
Mangalore's most famous seasonal snacks - Patholi & Gariyo


When my mum-in-law arrived to spend a few days with us, she was surprised that I had already bought some Jackfruit home when in Mangalore the ones on the trees were still in the process of ripening. Together we set out to make the two delicacies. We made the batter and then split it into half to be used for the two as the ingredients remain the same. If you like to make a small batch of the two, the quantities given below are ideal. You can even make the batter in one go & deep freeze half of it & use it later.


The Jackfruit tree is just as famous as the Coconut Tree in South India, known for its various uses. While the raw Jacfruit (called as 'Khadgi in Konkani) is used in curries and stir fries (sukhe - see recipe), the ripe one (Ponos) with the juicy flesh is eaten raw or cooked in sweet delicacies as mentioned above. The seeds of the jackfruit are dried in the sun and used along with other vegetables in gravies. While the seeds are called as the 'Bikna' in Konkani, the singular form is not called  'Bikon' (Bug/Pest in Konkani ), its called as 'Bikaan'. The Jackfruit leaves are shaped into small 'katoris' and used to steam a typical Mangalorean idli called the 'Kottige' (my mouth is watering already). I hope to be able to make it someday if I manage to get some leaves back from Mangalore. 


While most Mangaloreans/Keralites love the Jackfruit, many North Indians I know run away from the strong fragrance. The Jackfruit is almost similar to the 'Durian' which Thai's love so much if you have visited Bangkok.
Ponsache Patholi Ani Gariyo
(Printable Recipe)
Prep time: 25min | Steam time or deep frying time: 20 mins | Yield 4 medium sized patholis or 24 gariyo

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg (4 cups) fresh Jackfruit pods cleaned & roughly chopped * see notes
  • 1 cup boiled rice (Ukdo in Konkani/Ukda in Hindi)
  • 1/3 rd cup raw rice (Surai in Konkani - you can use Kollam/Basmati rice)
  • 120 gms (1/3rd cup firmly packed + 2 tbsp) jaggery - adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • pinch of salt
  • coconut shavings of 1/2 a coconut (only for the Patholi)
  • 3/4th cup grated coconut (only for the Gariyo)
Others:
For the patholi - 4-5 Large Teak leaves ( or banana leaves cut in 10x4 inch pieces)
For the gariyo - oil for deep frying

Method:
1. Wash & soak the rice in sufficient water for at least 3 hours. Remove the seed from each pod and retain the seeds (to be used in curries). Roughly chop the jackfruit pieces. Carefully clean the teak/banana leaves with water & pat dry. Keep aside.
2. After 3 hours completely drain the rice and grind it along with the jackfruit pieces, jaggery, pinch of salt and pepper powder to a fine paste. The batter should be thick & dryish like dosa batter. The moisture in the jackfruit is enough to get the grinding going & hassle free. Use water sparingly only if mixer grinder is used (in which case adding little water may be essential for the grinding process)
If you are making Patholis, add the coconut shavings and follow Step# 3 below. If you are making Gariyo, see Step# 6

Patholis


3. To the ground batter add coconut shavings and mix well. Place about 1 cup of the batter on a teak leaf and spread it in an oblong shape. Fold into packets & fasten with tooth picks.
4. Bring water to a rolling boil in a traditional Mangalorean Tondor or idli/ dhokla steamer and place the prepared packets into it in such a way that all packets receive steam proportionately. Do not overcrowd. Steam for 20-25 mins.
5. Remove & allow to cool a bit. The colour of the leaves would have changed from deep green to brown or purplish brown. The Patholis will also have this colour. Open the packets & discard the leaves. Cut into slices & serve!





Gariyos


6. To make Gariyos, add the grated coconut to the batter.
7. Heat oil for deep frying in a deep heavy bottomed pan. When it has heated sufficiently (not smoking hot - but passes the drop test) reduce the flame to medium high & gently put about two tablespoons of batter at a time (lime sized) into the oil. Fry the fritters by tossing them gently so all the sides are uniformly cooked, till the outsides look golden-maroon. Remove before they turn black - they should have the colour of gulab jamoons.
8. Place on an absorbent kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil. 
9. Serve hot with a cup of hot tea. They taste best when they are slightly cooled as you can get to taste the sweetness of the Jackfruit with the hint of Jaggery & Coconut. Gariyos keep well for 4-5 days in an airtight box.

Notes:
The jackfruit pods should be cleaned of the seed & pith and then weighed. I have used 1 kg of cleaned and ready to eat jackfruit pods. However you may adjust the amount of fruit used according to your taste and according to the sweetness of the fruit. 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Theek Pou (Spicy Beaten Rice/Poha)

So it's a long summer day today and i'm down with a bad cold. I have been busy clearing off the tasks on my to-do list pertaining to some household chores and I thought I should clear off some of the recipes that have been sitting in draft mode for way too long now. I spent the past couple of days clearing off old food pictures from my computer and deleting some recipes I don't have the energy to type out. Managed to finally create a Recipe Index that I've been attempting to create since ages and also re-attach all those pictures on this blog which got wiped off when I accidently deleted the photo album on Picasa without realising they were linked back here :-( It's been such a nightmare to go back to each & every recipe and put the pictures back. Need to be more careful in the future. 

I hope to post all those recipes I collected from my mum-in-law on her visit here in March. Somehow I never got around to typing them out or posting them. I thought I should start with a simple, no fuss, no frills, typical Mangalorean tea time snack recipe involving Beaten Rice. Not too many are fond of it I am sure, but the older generation especially grannies swear by its ability to keep your teeth strong for a hundred years. I used to give it a miss when I was younger as it taxed my poor pearly whites too much. But then, I wanted to introduce it to my son who is already throwing a lot of tantrums when it comes to eating healthy.

While in Maharashtra its common to find the Batata Poha on the breakfast menu, we Mangaloreans make it in its raw state (Batata Poha involves soaking the beaten rice prior to cooking it along with Potatoes). Pou as we make it typically has two versions - the savoury & the sweet one. While the sweet one is my favourite made by tossing in the beaten rice, jaggery/sugar, ghee and a few slices of Banana to make it more appealing & nutritious, the savoury version tastes best with a cup of steaming coffee. It may sound wierd but I know people who totally love pouring some coffee into the plate of Pou to make it soft enough to chew. For now, it's the Theek (Spicy) Pou (Beaten Rice) for you.....



Theek Pou
(Printable Recipe)
Preparation time: 2 minutes | Cooking time: 5 minutes
Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
Serves: 2

You Need:
  • 2 cups flat beaten rice *see notes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 sprig (7-8) curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1/8 tsp (or 2 pinches) red chilli powder - increase it upto 1/4 tsp
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) grated jaggery 
  • a pinch of salt
Method:
1. In a non stick pan heat the oil and toss in the mustard seeds, when they splutter add the curry leaves and then the red chilli powder & immediately take the pan off the flame before the powder burns.
2. Add the beaten rice, grated jaggery and salt to taste. Use a ladle or spoon to mix all the ingredients well in the pan. Allow to cool a bit & transfer the contents to a large bowl. Combine & gently squeeze the mixture with your hand - this ensures that the fried curry leaves powder up and all the flavours are mixed evenly.
3. Serve with tea or coffee.

Notes:
Beaten rice is available in two varieties. The thick variety is used in the preparation of 'Poha' by Maharashtrians and each flake of beaten rice is thicker & slimmer. It is called as 'Jhaada Poha' in Hindi. This  is used in preparations that call for wetting of the beaten rice to fluff it up a bit.
You need to use the other variety which is famous in Mangalore - the flat, wide & long variety which is also called as 'Baareek or Pathla Poha' in Hindi.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins

Sometimes you don't need a reason to bake something simple yet special. Life itself is worth celebrating - everyday. I accidentally came across this super simple recipe on my favourite baking site as I was hunting for some kid friendly yet healthy baking recipes - something hardcore simple and hardcore healthy. There are plenty of bogus recipes out there which promise you health in your food but end up asking for a lot of unhealthy additions which make the outcome rather sinful and make you guilty of even having eaten it. 

Although I love baking with maida (all purpose flour), the guilt trip that I later embark on is rather unpleasant. To add to that, I am seriously working towards getting a fitter body than I currently own. I had mentioned in my earlier post about my diet regimen that sometimes goes for a toss when I give in to tempations. This was not to be with this recipe. Unless you are trying to avoid one or more of the listed ingredients completely, I think it's very healthy especially for fussy kids (and mommies of those kids trying to stay healthy).


I will leave my gyaan baazi (doling out generous amounts of knowledge & advice) on the benefits of Whole Wheat & Oats for another post, for now I want to wish an old friend (Hyacinth) & a new one (May) a very Happy Birthday and God's abundant blessings of health & happiness! As you grow a year older & wiser, may you find new friends, renew old ties, grow in love with your families and praise and thank God each day for the wonderful blessing of 'Life'! Have a FANTASTIC day girls!! 



Whole Wheat & Oat Muffins
You Need:

  • 1 cup (130gms) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (150gms) oat bran * see note
  • 1/3 cup (75gms) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (skin)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey (the recipe asked for unsulphered molasses - I didnt have any)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp odourless oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 1 1/4 cup (300ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (70gm) raisins (I used a lot less, but i wish i didnt cut back on this as it lends a nice flavour to the muffins)
Note: 
I used regular quick cooking oats (Quaker Oats) as I didnt have Oat bran. In India Oat bran and wheat bran is available by a brand named Bagrry's. 


Method:
1. If you are using rolled oats instead of oat bran, I suggest you powder it a little in a mixer grinder before using it unless you like the grainy texture of the muffins
2. In a large bowl sift the dry ingredients together - sugar, cinnamon, wheat flour, oats, orange zest, baking soda, baking powder & salt
3. In another bowl mix the lightly beaten egg, milk, honey, oil & vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients & mix well. Toss in the raisins and incorporate.
4. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray with oil & dust it with flour (unless you are using muffin cups). Pour out spoonfulls of batter into the cups.


5. Bake in a preheated oven at 205 degree C for 16-17 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean
6. Enjoy this light snack with a hot cup of coffee.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qubuli Uzbaki (Afghan Style Mutton Pulao)

Biryanis and Pulaos are an elaborate affair. Well, so I thought, till I made this amazing Qubuli (or Kabuli) Pulao, the national dish of Afghanistan. It is believed that the Biryani which originated in Persia made its route to India via Afghanistan. By the time it reached India and had travelled down South, they were so many versions of making it. Traditionally the Biryani was made with rice and the leg piece of goat, however today we are familiar with Biryanis made of Chicken, Egg, Beef, Fish and Prawns.

The difference between a Biryani and a Pulao is the technique used to cook the rice. While a Pulao is made by cooking the rice using the absorption technique, wherein exactly measured water or stock of meat is used to cook the rice completely, the Biryani uses the draining technique where the rice is cooked al dente (par boiled) in plenty of water (unmeasured). This rice is then layered along with the meat, saffron milk, raisins & nuts etc and the vessel sealed and placed on dum (slow fire) till it is completely cooked.


Just like the Indianized version of Chinese food, we Indians love the Indianized version of Biryanis - the Mughlai Biryani which is rich in spices and is more elaborate a process than its Afghani version. I was in two minds whether or not I should try this simpler version of the Pulao as the recipe hardly had any spices. The source of flavour in which case would be carrots, raisins along with the stock of the mutton. What tempted me to go ahead and try it was that it was so simple and promised to go easy on my digestive system as well (especially since my dietician allows me one cheat meal a week - this was hardly an indulgence to be guilty about). Also, since it didn't ask for too many ingredients (especially expensive ones that Biryanis/Pulaos require), I thought it was worth experimenting with. The goodness of carrots makes up for the white rice if you are watching your diet.

I tweaked the quantities to suit the needs of my family of three small eaters so I drastically reduced the quantity of rice, increased the quantity of meat and reduced the other ingredients. Since I am married to a man who loves spicy food (and I like it moderate) I added a dash of chilli powder and ginger garlic paste after doing some research on the net if it was allowed. So you see, I haven't really gone off track and this version of mine will bring out the real taste of Afghan whilst taking care of your Indian palate. 


I urge you to try it, you wont be disappointed. On the contrary you will be surprised at how such subtle flavours are brought out in this delectable one pot meal. It can be your favourite source of Carbohydrates made the healthier way (I made it with only 3 tbsp of Olive oil!), if you have unexpected guests, fussy eaters, those who don't like spicy heavy duty rice preparations or just crave for some Biryani/Pulao on a lazy Sunday without having to toil too much in your kitchen (you can cook the meat in the cooker!), this is your best bet! 




Qubuli Uzbaki
(Printable Recipe)
Preparation Time: 10mins, Cooking Time: 30minutes
Serves: 3-4

You Need:
  • 350gms basmati rice (or about 2 cups) - see note below
  • 750gms mutton (or chicken)
  • 150gms (or about 1 large) onions sliced
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 20 gms raisins
  • 20 gms pistas (shelled) (about 17-18)
  • 20 gms almonds (about 15-16)
  • 10gms garam masala (whole) or 1 level tsp garam masala powder
  • 100gms carrots cut julienne (size of a matchstick)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp oil for frying
  • water to cook the rice
Optional (not part of the original recipe source, but added to tweak this pulao to suit the Indian palate)
  • 1 level tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 5 peppercorns
Note: If you wish to increase the rice upto 1kg, then go through the original recipe which is for 1kg rice and 500gms mutton. I have reduced the quantities to cater to my small family.

Method:
1. Wash and cut mutton into big pieces and allow to drain. Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup of warm milk.
2. Wash the rice and soak it in sufficient water with a little salt for about 10minutes, drain and set aside.
3. In a pressure cooker, heat half of the oil (about two tbsp) and fry the sliced onions till golden, toss in the ginger garlic paste and fry a little, reduce the flame and toss in the chilli powder, peppercorns & garam masala (or powder). 
4. Add salt to taste and toss in the mutton pieces and 500ml of water (or enough to cover the mutton pieces).
5. Cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce the flame and cook for a further 10-15minutes (depends on how tender the mutton is - we get good quality tender mutton, so I cook it for not more than 15minutes on a slow flame). Turn off the flame and wait till the whistle (weight) turns loose enough to be removed. Open and remove the mutton pieces and keep the stock aside.
6. In a large thick bottomed pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the raisins on slow fire - toss them gently & remove before they turn black. They should just turn a little plump but remain golden in colour. Fry the pistas and almonds in the same oil and remove. 
7. In the same oil toss in the julienned carrots and fry a little and then spread them in the pan. Layer with half the soaked and drained rice. Next, layer the mutton pieces, pistas & almonds. Layer the remaining rice and lastly add the raisins. 
8. Add the mutton stock, saffron milk and sufficient water (room temperature will do) to bring the water level to about 1/2 an inch above the rice & meat layers (if you are new to this - just add water little by little and then check the level). Check salt to taste.
9. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the flame completely (to sim). Cover the pan with 2 sheets of aluminium foil and then a lid which covers the mouth of the pan completely. Keep a weight if you feel that the steam may escape. 
11. Cook for 15minutes (set the timer!) and turn off the flame and leave it to cook for another 5-6 minutes. Open to check if the water is remaining, if it is, cover and keep it for another 5minutes before serving. 
12. Serve it in a serving dish as this is a layered dish and you need to get everything on your plate - from the almost caramelised carrots, rice, meat to the dry fruits. 
13. Serve hot with raita (optional) and wine (suggestion only). This dish is so succulent, you dont really need an accompaniment.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pikya Ambyachi Kadi (Ripe Mango Curry)

Well, its almost the end of summer in India and monsoons are just around the corner. While for most people 'summer' means rising temperatures accompanied by humid weather, it is my favourite season of all. Don't be surprised - I dislike cold weather so winter is out and I am not much of a monsoon person - watching the rains is fine, getting drenched is a no no for me. So spring (if there is one in India) and Summer it is! Having survived the hot & summers of Mangalore, I fared much better in Mumbai where the heat is bearable - you don't sweat like a pig (although pigs don't sweat technically) and of course staying indoors and air conditioning always helps cool you down. 

The best part about the Indian summers is the abundance of seasonal fruits to help bring down the temperature. Nature has wisely made sure the right kind of foods are available during this particular season. While the watermelon is everyone's favourite to beat the heat, one can't deny that the Mango is by far the most popular and most loved fruit of the season. The fragrance is unbeatable by any other fruit and the taste dominates everything else making it without doubt, the king of all fruits. Like Vir Sanghvi wrote in a recent article in The Sunday Brunch (supplement by Hindustan Times) that the only place that really smells of mangoes is India. I agree with him that the mango is probably the most versatile of all fruits - from eating it as a fruit in its raw or ripe form, it is also used in numerous sweet & savoury preparations ranging from pickles to jams, preserves, deserts, juices, chutneys, curries - the list is endless. 

The mango & summer are synonymous for me and never fail to conjour up delicious memories of my childhood where I joined other kids from my neighbourhood to pluck raw mangoes (Thor as it's called in Konkani) from neigbours' gardens only to get chased away. Or those times I spent eating scores of ripe ones of lesser known varieties (yet very succulent) at my cousins' or grandma's place. Mangoes then were free - Nature's gift to mankind for protecting her. Almost every house had a mango tree in their gardens amidst a few hundred Coconut, Jackfruit, Chikoo (Sapota), Banana & Amla Trees. Exchanging seasonal fruits between homes was common - so we got to taste different varieties and then play around with the mango stone (seed). The one who finished first would call out to the other by name & whoever responded by saying "yes?" was told to 'run after the seed' - so the 'mango eating' time was also a time of comical silence as no one wanted to respond to their names being called out. It's a silly game of course, but it was fun in those days.

Honestly, cities have become the bane of our lives. Nothing is free here, not even water. What was enjoyed as a free gift of Nature needs to be paid for today. I paid through my nose for those few coveted Alfonsos from the market last week and I am sure those are probably even sprayed with chemicals to speeden up the ripening. Shae! But what to do? Mangoes are mangoes and must be enjoyed before the monsoons threaten to take over or else one will regret and have to impatiently wait for the season the next year.

Thankfully besides having my fill of the Alfonso in Mumbai, I was gifted the small variety of mangoes (called the 'Nekkari' in Mangalore) on my recent trip to Goa. These babies are so delicious, you'll wonder why only the Alfonso enjoys so much attention. Anyways, I decided to make the most of this seasonal fruit and make my favourite Mango Curry out of it...its very simple if you plan to make a small quantity. In the olden days this curry used to be made with as many as 25 mangoes, but this is one dish which you will either love or hate. So try experimenting with just 4-5 small ones...I am sure you will only L.O.V.E it !


Pikya Ambyachi Kadi (Ripe Mango Curry)
(Printable Recipe)

Recipe Source: My Mum-in-law
You Need:
  • 4-5 Ripe Mangoes of a small variety
  • 1/2 tsp Bafat Powder
  • 1 cup warm water
  • jaggery to taste 
  • salt to taste
For tempering (fon/bagar/tadka):
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic mashed up a bit
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
Method:
1. Wash the Mangoes well on their surface and stem area to clean any sap and then carefully peel off the skin from the Mangoes and keep aside.
2. Put the peels in a bowl of warm water for about 10minutes to soften the pulp and fibre stuck to the skin. After 10minutes scrape off the pulp back into the water & discard the peels. Retain the pulp water.
3. Blend the pulp water using a blender so that you get a thick liquid. If you do not have a blender you can use a juicer jar of a mixie or just leave the liquid as it is - use your fingers to squash up any big pieces of pulp which came off the peel
4. In a pan, add the pulp water, salt to taste, bafat powder and jaggery and bring it to a boil (you need to retain a thick gravy so don't add too much water). Add the peeled Mangoes and simmer for 3-4 minutes
5. In a smaller pan (tadka/tempering pan) heat the oil and add the mustard, when they splutter, toss in the garlic and fry till golden. Add this tadka to the curry.
6. Serve piping hot with steaming white rice or brown rice


Bounty of Indian Summers

While there is a lot that can be written about the Indian Summers and the goodies it brings with it, I think pictures speak a thousand words.....so here are some pictures I managed to capture of some goodies I laid my hands on this Summer. I hope you will enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed savouring them!

Mangoes - Ambay



Jackfruit - Ponos



Kokum - Bindaan



Love Apples - Zambaan


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bafat Pito | Bafat Powder ~ Mangalorean Catholic Style Blend of Spices

There are some incidents in life that completely change your life. The birth of a child is one of the most important of such incidents - I am no different from the millions of moms out there whose lives take a 360 degree turn when their babies are born. I dont have to get into the details of how things pick up from there on. For most of us lucky (or unlucky) ones who quit our jobs because supportive spouses do all the toiling & converting sweat into money and being the bread winners, life throws the next big question - What next? How do I keep myself occupied and sane while being at home 24x7x365? How do I get my creative juices flowing apart from having to entertain a toddler (besides being the official cook, driver, nanny, maid, in-house doctor, teacher, story teller)? How do I entertain myself apart from having intelligent conversations with a 2 yr old? Well, these questions brought me to Blogger - thanks to my husband who gave me a gentle push & said I had it in me to write to entertain myself if not anyone else. Ha ha! So well, that's how I started to blog and although things didn't quite pick up initially, I went back to it time & again.

Over a period of time I realised that blogging was not just about being hooked on to the computer (that by the way is a choice you make) but it is also about learning fabulous things on the internet (new technology et al) and of course making new friends. The best part is catching up with some who you never thought you'd ever meet again (even if that means just virtually) and seeing the world through their eyes. Food, history and travel make up most of my reading material and what better than to read about them through the blogs of people known to you? Most of my favourite blogs are by friends (even those I've known but not personally) - all of which are listed on the panel on the right - Thank you dear fellow Mangaloreans/Bloggers for sharing so many special things about those things dear to you.

My post will be incomplete if I do not mention my dear readers who send me mails & comments of appreciation & encouragement. Thank you, it just makes writing worthwhile! A special thank you to my dear reader Cynthia, from whom I received my first mail and who never fails to drop me a note to express what she feels about each of my posts. This one is specially for you...



The Bafat Powder (also pronounced as 'bafad) is a must-have blend of spices in every Mangalorean (especially Catholic) home. Especially those who regularly prepare & relish the 'Dukramaas' (Pork Bafat style) - which is probably the easiest and most delicious (especially when reheated on the second and third day) preparation which requires minimal effort (only chopping of ingredients can take a while depending on how much you make).

Bafat powder can be made and stored for a year or more and is available in most Mangalorean stores & Goan ones too which stock it up, but the home made version scores better any day as it is fresh & fragrant when stored well. It is so versatile that the powder minus the garam masala (see note at the end) can be used to prepare fish curries in a jiffy. I have used this powder which my mother-in-law prepares in abundance for all dishes ranging from Chicken sukka (Chicken with dry coconut), Chicken curry, fish curry and vegetable sukka (vegetable stir fry with grated coconut). It is probably the one item that 99% of Mangaloreans have it on their list of 'items to buy when they visit Mangalore from abroad so shops such as Konkan Traders, Don Stores & Costa Bakery stock it up in abundance the whole year through.

Although one can replace the Bafat powder with regular chilli powder, turmeric & coriander powder - the result is never as perfect as when the original Bafat is used. Like they say, originals should be left untouched...



Bafat Powder
Print This

Recipe Source: My Mum-in-law
Yield: Approx one and a half kilos

You Need:
  • 150gms Kashmiri chillies
  • 400gms Long red chillies (also called as 'Kumta' & 'Kumti' mirsaang in Konkani) *see note below
  • 200gms Short red chillies (also known as Madrasi chillies)
  • 500gms Coriander (dhania)
  • 40gms Cumin (jeera)
  • 25gms Peppercorns (miri/kali mirch)
  • 50gms Turmeric Powder (haldi) (If you can manage to use dried pieces of Turmeric (haldiche kudke), it is even better)

Method:
Use a dry grinder to powder all the above ingredients to a fine powder, store in an airtight container and use as required

Note:
1. If the Kumti chillies (long ones) are unavailable, just use Kashmiri chillies instead (ie increase it to a total of 550gms instead of 150gms). However, the short red chillies are very important to achieve the desired spiciness & fragrance of the Bafat powder
2. This recipe is for the Bafat powder without the garam masala (cloves & cinnamon), hence it is very versatile and can be used for fish/veg preparations which do not require garam masala. When you use it for meat preparations such as Pork, add about 4 cloves and 1 inch piece of cinnamon for every 1kg of meat.


Bafat/Baffat/Bafad Powder by the way is similar (in terms of versatility) to the Goan Rechad Masala and the East Indian Bottle Masala - A blend of spices used in a variety of preparations. A Mangalorean Catholic housewife worth her salt cant do without the Bafat Powder!



Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lepo Losun Miri (Sole/Tongue Fish in a Spicy Garlic & Pepper Curry)

The advantage of living along the Coast is that you get to eat plenty of fish. While many of my friends here in Mumbai wonder how I can eat 'non veg' daily, for us fish eating Mangaloreans, Fish is Fish...c'mon! Non vegetarian is rest of the stuff that has a beak & feathers or walks on fours :D I am sure die hard fish loving Mangies, Mallus, Goans and Bongs will agree with me, that Fish is a delicacy as well as a staple. And thank God that both of these are in abundant supply in our sunny lands!

Midmorning on a normal weekday, if you happen to drop in to any Mangalorean fish eating household, you are most likely to find the lady of the house (or a maid) busy cleaning fish for the afternoon meal. Typically an 'Adhalo' was and is still used to clean fish. It is an apparatus which involves a long thin strip of very low wooden stool to which a sickle is fixed to one end. Old ladies who complain of 'ganti-dhook' (knee pain) grumble and still perform the brilliant task of cleaning fish guts whilst seated on this throne. But today, women like me prefer to invest in a good pair of kitchen scissors to do the job in a jiffy. Its so hassle free, I wonder why the 'Adhalo' was ever invented! (I know that's so cheeky of me). But the olden generation swear by it, so I guess we should let it be :-)

If you visit any of the well stocked fish markets in Mangalore you will hear almost every fisherwoman crying hoarse - "Bangde bale, boothai bale" meaning to say "I've got Mackerel & Sardines on offer, hurry up!". My favourite 'Lepo' however was sold by a few random fisher women. It comes under the category of 'good fish' which can be eaten by those recovering from illnesses, pregnant women, new moms or those with special diet requirements. They say Lepo is not 'nanji' - this term has no real meaning in English although the best I can explain is to say that it doesn't cause any real problems if you eat it. All Mangaloreans are familiar with this term i.e if you are the active fish eating type.

This delicate fish tastes great in a curry or even when fried. I love it both ways. Just remember not to overcook it. In Mumbai we get the larger variety than in Mangalore and so most times we end up frying them - the flesh is gorgeous and my son loves it. Cleaning this fish is not as difficult as it appears but involves minor skill to peel off the skin which is a de-scaling technique by itself. So next time you find 'Lepo' in your fish market, don't hesitate to buy some. I promise you, you'll love it!

Lepo Losun Miri
(Printable Recipe)
Serves: 4
This curry can be made with prawns too


You Need
  • 500gms or 4-5 large ones Tongue Fish(also called as 'Lep' in Marathi & 'Nang' in Tulu)
For the masala:
  • 6-7 long dry red chillies (to increase the quantity of the gravy you can add extra 2 chillies without seeds - just the skin)
  • 6-7 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp haldi
  • 1/2 tsp jeera
  • 1 small ball of tamarind/1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1-2 tbsp grated coconut (optional - not part of the recipe but add it if you want extra gravy)* see note below
For the shindap (items to be sauted before adding the masala)
  • 8 cloves garlic with skin - mashed up slightly (do not slice or chop)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
Method
1. Remove the skin, scales and the frilly edges of the fish, clean in salt water, rinse and allow to drain. Cut large ones into 2 pieces. If you are using small Lepos, leave them whole
2. Grind all the ingredients for the masala to a fine paste.
3. In a wide bottomed pan (as Lepos are long and tender, so use a large pan to avoid them from breaking) heat some oil and fry the 8 cloves of garlic and toss in the sliced onion. Fry for about a minute till they turn golden (not too brown)
4. Add the ground masala and fry it for about 2 minutes on a slow flame. Add some water to the mixie and use this water to be added to the masala. Add sufficient water to make a medium thin gravy (not too thin). Add salt and check the taste. Make any changes before you add the fish.
5. Bring the gravy to a boil - for about 1/2 a minute and then gently add the fish pieces and simmer for another minute, not more as fish tends to overcook and will continue to cook even when the flame has been turned off
6. Serve hot with piping hot boiled rice or white rice

Note: The grated coconut is not part of the authentic way of making this curry, however, with the remaining ingredients, one gets very little quantity of 'kadi'/gravy and if you are the type who loves your rice drenched in gravy. then you can either add the coconut (which ofcourse reduces the spice factor) or 1/2 an onion (which slightly increases the spiciness)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rasmalai (Cottage Cheese Dumplings in Saffron Flavoured Milk)

Are you one of those people who start off to do something and end up doing something else? Well, when it comes to cooking I end up doing something very different from what I intended to :D (thats a huge grin). Well, since the past few weeks I've gotten obsessed with the 'home made' tag. I tried my hand at making butter, curds (yogurt), ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (cottage cheese) and was almost dying to write a post about how the freshly sourced 1 litre of milk fetched me so many by products. I was pretty pleased with myself and wondered why I didn't try all this years ago. I always thought making things at home was hard work and only grannies could do it - pickles, ghee, jams et al. But no! I was mistaken! I have a friend & ex-colleague who used to make home made ghee and send it across to me religiously every fortnight when my son was just weaned. The fragrance of home made ghee was just something else. It filled those moments with so much bliss and I would steal a teaspoon or so despite my rising weight. This friend of mine was the one who coaxed me to try many things at home so that my son could have a healthier way of life from his early years. Following her advice, I regularly make home made curds if nothing else. 


Paneer or Chenna as its called in most of North India is of Indian origin and is a kind of cheese. Paneer is widely used to make a variety of sweet & savoury dishes. It is a good source of protein for vegetarians and unlike other cheeses, is not aged. Paneer is most famously found in Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cottage Cheese) or Mutter Paneer (Peas and Cottage Cheese) and is typically famous in Northern parts of India than South India. 

Last week when I was trying to boil the milk I realised that it had already gone bad before it came to a boil and I had Paneer instead of butter and curd that day. I just followed the instructions ringing in my head and got some delicious Paneer which I refrigerated for a few days before I decided to try my hand at making a home made sweet dish which was healthy as well (err..well, not as unhealthy as other sweets at least). Since hubby dearest prefers Rasmalai to Rasgullas, Rasmalai it was. 

The recipe is by Titli Nihan - A darling ol' British lady who loves to cook Indian/Pakistani fare and has loads of recipes which ofcourse are tweaked to suit the Brit palate. I stumbled across her video on Youtube when I was searching for 'how to make ghee' and I totally loved her videos (so meticulously shot & edited by herself). I soon found myself spending hours going through her videos and my son totally loves her now. Titli is his best friend. He loves her narrations - they do sound a lot like fairy tales :-). I don't doubt that he will turn into a chef one day at the rate at which he watches her 'how to' videos :D


Rasmalai
(Printable Recipe)

Yield: 10-12 rasgullas/dumplings
Preparation time - 20mins

You Need:
For the rasgullas (dumplings)
  • 1 litre whole milk (I used full fat milk fresh from the local dairy) - this yields about 250gms of Paneer
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 750 ml water (3 cups)
  • 200 gms sugar (1 cup)
Note: Alternatively you can use 250gms of Paneer -use really fresh Paneer from a trusted source if you are not familiar with the quality of Paneer. Fresh Paneer is always creamy and melts in the mouth. Slightly older Paneer turns chewy & dryish - which is why many first time eaters hate it (not their fault!)

For the ras (sauce)
  • 500ml whole milk (increase it to 750ml if you want lots of ras)
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (use 2 tbsp if you prefer it less sweet)
  • A few strands of Saffron
  • 3 pods cardamom - coarsely powdered
  • 5-6 almonds cut into slivers
  • 5-6 pistachios cut into slivers
Method:
To make the rasgullas/dumplings: 
1. In a pan bring the milk to a boil and stir in the lime juice for about a minute and remove the pan from the fire. This is the curdled milk - pour it into a cheese cloth/muslin cloth/bairas and give the cloth a squeeze allow to drain from a height for about 30mins till all the liquid has drained off and what remains is 'cottage cheese' or 'paneer'. 
2. Knead the paneer for about 10minutes or till it ceases to be crumbly. The texture should be smooth and will be a soft ball. You will know when your palm gets a bit oily.
3. Break the ball into 8-10 small lime size balls and then flatten them in the middle of your palm to make flat discs. Take care to see that the edges are not broken or else they will break when you boil them in the sugar water.
4. In a sufficiently wide bottomed pan place the 750ml of water and when it boils, add the sugar and dissolve it. Place the flat paneer discs gently and cook for about 8-10minutes. (Alternately you can use a pressure cooker to cook the discs - just take 1 whistle and then leave it for 5 minutes before opening the cooker - but ensure your cooker is large enough to accomodate all the discs else they will stick together and look triangular in shape) The discs will inflate to a slightly larger size and look transparent. Turn off the flame and allow to cool. These are Rasgullas (Paneer Balls in Sugar Syrup) 

To make the sauce:
1. Place the milk in a pan and when it comes to a boil add the sugar and simmer for about 15 minutes or till the quantity reduces to half. Stir in between to avoid the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. When the milk has thickened a bit and reduced in quantity, remove from the flame and add the coarsely powdered cardamom and saffron strands and stir. The saffron  will lend a beautiful pale yellow colour to the sauce.

To assemble:
1. Remove each dumpling from the sugar syrup and gently squeeze any excess syrup. Place them in a wide bowl
2. Pour the sauce over them and garnish with almond and pistachio slivers.
3. Refrigerate for at least 30minutes before serving.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lemon Coriander Soup With Chicken (Optional)

They say soups are best eaten (or drunk - whatever you please) during the winters. I say, they are an all weather comfort food. Rain, sunshine or just cold winters, they are nourishing and can do wonders to your health & mood alike. I try and plan my weekly menu and see if I can incorporate a soup for dinner on one of the days - this is usually a day when I haven't cooked anything for lunch (this is usually the day we have leftovers for lunch) and that evening you can find me hunting for soup recipes. Since I love to make something out of sundry items lying in my fridge, I thought it would be great if I could try the Lemon Coriander Soup as I love how it's made in the restaurants. While I've tasted it in most Chinese restaurants which of course give a 'Chinese' touch to it, my soup turned out pretty homely.

It's the best kind of soup if you want to throw in a vegetable called the 'Cabbage' which is not such a favourite of kids :-) Surprisingly, the Cabbage adds a nice flavour and also thickness to the soup combined with the gram flour. You don't need to puree the vegetables and add them back unlike other recipes but at the same time you can choose to retain the cooked veggies in the soup - like I did (which is why you can see bits of Orange which are actually Carrots). The recipe calls for 'Lemons' but I used 'Limes' as both citrus fruits with a difference in size, colour, acidic content & fragrance. 

So if its Summer time in your part of the world, I am sure you will like this tangy soup as it is refreshing and light! Go enjoy!!



Lemon Coriander Soup
(Printable Recipe)
Serves 3-4
You Need:
  • 2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 bulbs of spring onion
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium onion cut into small cubes
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock or 2 vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 5 cups of warm water
  • 8-10 peppercorns crushed
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped - reserve the stalks - about 5-6 and chop them fine
  • 5-6 stalks of coriander - chopped
  • 2 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 100gm boneless Chicken - cut into bite size pieces (optional - only if you wish to transform this soup into a non vegetarian one)

Method:
1. If you prefer a non vegetarian soup, then heat some oil in a pan and on slow fire saute the boneless chicken. Toss in a couple of garlic cloves as it lends a really nice flavour to the chicken.
2. In a pan, heat some oil and add the chopped onion, spring onion, ginger and garlic and saute till translucent.
3. Toss in the gram flour and lightly roast it till you get a nice aroma. Add the precooked chicken at this point. If you wish you can shred the chicken further, otherwise the bite size pieces are just fine.
4. Add the vegetable stock, coriander stalks, cabbage, carrot and powdered peppercorns and bring it to a boil. Add a few coriander leaves and cook for 5-10minutes
5. At this point you can either strain the cooked vegetables and keep them aside and to the strained liquid add salt, lime/lemon juice and boil again. Since my family is a fan of eating the veggies in the soup I didn't strain my soup and didn't overcook them either.
6. Garnish the soup with the remaining chopped coriander leaves before serving. Enjoy with garlic bread or just plain, wholesome, piping hot soup!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nivole (Aromatic Coconut & Carom Seeds (Ajwain) Curry) ~ Mangalorean Post Natal Recipe #2

Hello my lovelies! I'm back after a much needed break a.k.a sick leave as I was a bit under the weather and busy too with everything and nothing. While I am glad that I've been able to get back to blogging after such a long time, I feel sad that I missed publishing a post on the 2nd blogversary of my blog. Yess! 21st of April was the birthday of my blog - so while I did wish Ruchik Randhap a very happy birthday, I was sad that I couldn't manage to write a special post to commemorate 2 years of the existence of a blog that is dedicated to my favourite cuisine of all time - Mangalorean food!

Although I wanted to bake a nice cake, I thought i'd leave it for later when I am completely able to enjoy every bite of it - and since it was Lent at that time I was abstaining from a few luxuries (baking included - cuz it invokes a lot of tempations and gluttony - my weakest points). So here's a simple post of one of the most simple 'broths' or 'kadi's' as they are called in Konkani - The Nivole - Granma's own magic potion to drive away a bad cold or the devil himself. Although many households make it by skipping the key ingredient - the Vovo (nasally pronounced as Vonvon - except that the 'n' is silent) also known as 'Oma' in Kannada, 'Owa' in Marathi, 'Ajwain' in Hindi and 'Carom Seeds' in English.

Ajwain (pronounced uj-wine) is rich in Calcium and Iron and almost smells exactly like Thyme as it contains 'Thymol' but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste. It is slightly bitter and pungent than Thyme or Caraway seeds. A few grains of Ajwain will dominate the flavour of a dish and is quite unpalatable if you pop in a few seeds into your mouth.


My earliest association with Ajwain has been in the form of 'Oma water' which was stocked up in every home and given to children from time to time to tackle basic stomach ailments. The Oma Water is a traditional concoction of Ajwain and water brewed together & bottled with a shelf life of like forever (we used to always have a bottle or two safely stowed away in the kitchen cabinet). Mum used to buy two or three bottles at a time from a door to door salesman selling homemade Oma Water. I swear by this magic potion even today as I purchase a branded one from Konkan Traders, during every trip to Mangalore. It's called the 'Omam Water' marketed by 'Western Ghats Pharmaceuticals' - the makers of Cinth (the wonder oil for aches & pains), Cons and Cold Drops (their most famous products). 

The Omam Water was omni present during my childhood although I didn't take too well to its strong taste. But now my little one loves it although the taste is a little pungent - it can purge your tummy problems in no time. Why I thought of posting the recipe of the Nivole was because not only is it quintessentially Mangalorean in nature, it was also a staple on Good Fridays at my mum's place. Mum used to make Nivole and a vegetable on a Good Friday as it was a day of penance and prayer and abstaining from eating meat.


Nivole was also given to me in plenty after I delivered my son obviously for it's medicinal benefits and to speed up my recovery. It's best eaten with steaming rice or if you wish, just sip a bowlful of piping hot 'Nivole' complete with Ajwain, Peppercorns and Red Chillies ground to perfection. Yum! - enough to banish your ailments and bring you back on your feet in no time!

Nivole was a forgotten recipe for a few years till I got married and my hubby's friend, a non Mangalorean, who couldn't remember its pronounciation used to call it New-Old. So I guess this is it - I'm starting a brand 'New' month of May with an 'Old' recipe - some fresh beginnings to the past I've left behind.....



Nivole (Aromatic Coconut & Carom Seeds (Ajwain) Curry
Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of carom seeds (bishop's weed/omam/ova/ajwain)
  • 12 -15 peppercorns/kali mirch
  • 1 long dry red chilli (Bedgi/Kumti)
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds/dhania
  • 4 pieces of Vonti sol (dried skins of a sour fruit called Dheu * see notes) or 1 small ball of tamarind
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 medium onion roughly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic (with skin)
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced (for fon/tempering)
  • salt to taste
  • oil
Method:
1. Heat a tawa/non stick pan and dry roast all the ingredients one by one (except the kokam/tamarind and the onion for tempering)
2. Powder all the dry ingredients and then add the grated coconut, onion and garlic along with the tamarind/kokum and grind to a fine paste.
3. In a pan heat some oil and fry the masala lightly (as they are already pre roasted) and add sufficient water to form a medium thick gravy (not too watery). Add salt to taste, stir and bring it to a boil
4. Simmer for two minutes and in another pan heat some oil and when it is hot, toss in the 1/2 sliced onion and fry till golden brown.
5. Temper the gravy with the onions and your Nivole is ready! - Have some right away!

Notes:
Vonti Sol are dried skins of a sour fruit also named as Dheu/Monkay Jack/Lakoocha/ Jaregay Puli