Monday, November 30, 2009

Announcing My Legume Love Affair, Eighteenth Helping!

Imagine having a love affair again! Yes, I was asked and I couldn't resist again. I started this year with this beautiful event and it's only fitting I end with it. When Susan dropped in a mail, I didn't take more than a second to say yes. After all love affairs are so much fun, especially when it is with legumes. Not a day passes without this being cooked at home.

But hey having said that I hope you will wear creative hat and dish out some interesting stuff.

To know more about the event, please read from here

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Flavours from South Indian Kitchen from Cooking 4 all Seasons - eBook!

After many months of toil, I finally have some version of the book I envisioned! Yes, the actual book will follow this. But this is a sample of what I have in mind for cookbook that is in progress.

I always knew I wanted to publish a book. Only many years later I decided it was a cookbook. Then I ventured into blogging with a want to publish one. Finally we decided to start on the project, it was Oct 2007. Then the work got slow, though I had most of the recipes written and pictured. Few suggested eBook, I dropped the idea because I always loved to feel the book I was reading. But somehow few weeks back, I was again pushed into that thought and we decided for now we can do this.

Actually I had few readers who wrote to me asking for printed copies of my posts. One reader even sought permission to print my recipes and share with her friends. I was happy she was doing it. When this venture was decided, it took us many days to come to this stage, I ended up doing the art work required, with borders and designs.

Coming to this small collection of recipes, it has total of 15 recipes, with 5 new recipes that were intended for the cookbook, including 10 most liked recipes from the blog with new pictures. Getting the blog published recipes on the eBook, you get to read without any distraction of the ads or the comments, and enjoy the pictures!

I have spent lot of hours editing and proof reading the content. This would not have been possible without my Dad and Hubby dear, who patiently read through the file many times. And I have been walking and sleeping thinking of ebook.

All the recipes featured are what I have learnt from my mother and mother in law. And have been our family favorite dishes.

You can buy the book by clicking the Buy Now button

eBook Details:

eBook Name : Flavours from South Indian Kitchen from Cooking 4 all Seasons
Recipes : 15 recipes
Skill level: Easy From Novice to Expert
Labels: Traditional - India, Vegetarian And Wholesome Food
Price: $5.00
Format: PDF



How this Works:
After payment via Paypal, eBook will be emailed to your email id. For any questions about the recipe or the download process, please email me at cooking4allseasons@gmail.com

I was also thinking of affiliate program and if you are interested, please email me. I will reply back with details.

Some pictures from the book


Hope you will enjoy the book!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Kesar di Kheer or Saffron Rice Pudding ~ Indian Sweet!

We had a new addition to our family recently. She is a 15 year old orphan, called Pari. Every year, a tiny bit of whatever we can, we do for orphanages. This year Hubby dear suggested we take in somebody, so that we can take care of their education and maybe give a home in the process.

Pari was enrolled in the orphanage that my Aunt runs. Knowing that we do require a help around the home, my aunty suggested we take her. With mixed feelings, I agreed. In the last three years, with infants at home there was never enough helping hands. So people in varying age groups had lived with us for a short periods. They all left because they couldn't help much in the end. Cooking was the last thing any of them could do.

Knowing that I can never have another person in my kitchen, I agreed because Pari needed a home and I thought Konda could have some girlie company too. The kids are excited having her home, Pari is bent on learning cooking from me. Hubby dear said I have a challenge in making her a cook! A challenge is something I can never ignore to my bane! Only I repent in leisure!

On a lighter tone, I have a comedy unfolding every morning. I ask her to light one burner, she switches off one that was burning. I ask for a spoon, she offers a knife, yeah yeah with the blade pointing at me! But I like her spirit, she wants to learn things fast so that she can lessen the burden on my shoulders. I asked what burden? I said I have broad shoulders.

Coming to today's recipe, it is a sweet treat that I made many days ago. Kesar di Kheer or Saffron Rice Pudding.

Kheer is a traditional sweet dish, made by boiling rice or broken wheat with milk and sugar. It is flavoured with cardamoms, raisins, saffron, pistachios or almonds. It is typically served during a meal or also can be consumed alone.

In most southern states of India, you will mostly find vermicelli being used instead of grains. For me, when I say Kheer, I always mean only that made with Rice and Payasam when with vermicelli. And I don't make that often as hubby dear says we eat rice everyday, so why make a sweet with it. So on rare occasions I make, I ensure I go all the way in making it a grand occasion.

And before getting into the recipe, I wanted to share something. I just got to know that my blog has been nominated at the Indibloggies 2008. The voting starts in a day or two! Thank you everybody who had voted for me. Feels good to be featured on the list!

Update
You can vote your choice here

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Kesar di Kheer or Saffron Rice Pudding.

Ingredients Needed:

Basmati Rice - 100 gms / 1 cup
Milk - 1 liter
Condensed Milk - 200 gms
Sugar - 1 cup (less if you don't want it too sweet)
Saffron - 5 -6 strands
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Cashew nuts, Raisins, Almonds for garnish.
Clarified Butter/ Ghee - 2 tsp

Method to prepare:

Wash and soak basmati rice for 10 - 15 mins. Meanwhile boil the milk in a thick bottom pan. Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce to low flame and stir occasionally.

Soak saffron in a quarter cup of warm milk.

Heat a pan with ghee, roast the nuts till golden, remove and keep aside. Then drain the rice and roast for a minute. Remove from flame.

Add the roasted rice to the boiling milk and simmer for 20 mins. Check in interval to see if the grains are cooked. This can be done, by pressing a grain between your fingers. Reduce further for 5 mins. Add sugar and stir well to mix it.

It takes about 30 - 40 mins for the milk to get reduced to thick consistency. At this stage add the condensed milk, saffron milk and cardamom powder. Stir well, have the flame still in low. When it is mixed well, bring to boil on high flame, add in the roasted nuts, simmer for 5 mins.

This tastes great both hot or cold.

Notes: Normally basmati rice is used to give its fragrance. Handle it gently when roasting the rice. Rice gets cooked in about 30 mins, so take care not to over cook it.

While adding condensed milk, have the flame low, else you will end up burning or curdling the mixture. At all stages in adding an ingredient to milk, you should add it slowly not to get the milk curdle.


The kheer is mostly white as the saffron normally doesn't lend so much colour. But being soaked and added to milk, lends a great fragrance to the sweet dish.

Unlike with vermicelli, which absorbs the milk more than the rice, you can reduce the milk more if you like thick kheer.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kalkandu Sadam ~ Indian Sweet!

Remember this Kalkandu Sadam? Well I made it during the Navratri pooja on the final day of the nine days of celebration. I was planning so much for the Vijaya Dasami feast, in the end we had other plans. In the hurry to leave for the trip, I couldn't find time to post then. I suddenly remembered that it was still lying in the draft.

I even carried it with us for the trip to be eaten later. When I tasted it after nearly 6 hours, even then the taste was uniquely different and very delicious. Well delicious it ought to be, for it was made with Rock candy. Having never discussed this particular ingredient with anybody outside South, I am not sure how well it is liked by others, but here in south, these Kalkandu are really so famous and loved by all.

I remember the trip to Tirumala was never complete without a packet of this kalkandu with dates. Those irregular shaped candies were a real treat. They come in different size, you can break them into smaller bites before popping in. But these days you get shaped ones too in many shapes.

I added kesar colour for the bright appearance.


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Since it was for neivedyam, I used a small cup.
Kalkandu Sadam ~ Rock candy Rice

Ingredients Needed:

Rice - 1 small cup
Milk - 2 cups (same cup)
Water - 1 cup
Rock Candy / Kalkandu – 2 cups (plus 2 tsp extra for garnish)
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cardamom a pinch
Saffron few strands soaked in warm milk
Kesar food colour a pinch

To garnish
Cashews and Raisins few – roasted in ghee.

Method to prepare

Wash and pressure cook the rice with milk and water till soft. Mash it well.

In a kadai, take the rock candy and enough water to just cover the candies. Boil it till it melts. You need not mostly sieve for impurities as this will not have.

Again boil it till you see the bubble coming out.

Add the mashed rice, cardamom powder, soaked saffron and ghee one by one. Once it is cooked well switch off the stove and garnish it with fried cashews and raisins and 2 tsp of Kalkandu.

This tastes great when served hot, the whole kalkandu tastes good when you bite along with the rice. This can be served cold too if you wish.


Happy weekends!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Mutton Roast ~ Andhra Special Weekend Cooking!

I took half of a boiled corn cob to office to eat for breakfast. These days its back to my self diet, so no idli or dosa or any of the convectional breakfast dishes. Though Corn may not fall under the items I am supposed to eat, who care when you heart a corn cob? I love love a corn and long many a times to bite into one. Since it's the season now, I feel frustrated that I couldn't get my share of corn to eat. This is one of those reasons why you miss your Mom's place right! The luxury of all things readily available before the thought could get processed in your mind. I am amazed at how well Amma would always have all my dishes ready at their seasonal pace.

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Yes remembering those days, even with missing my own favorites, I remember to get things that Konda likes ready. And one of the things that Konda loves is the corn cob, she and chinnu between the two of them, ensure everything is finished off the moment these are boiled. Seeing how much they like this, I forget I like them too. So this time hubby dear ensured I get my share and packed in a whole lot of them. I have been enjoying these the last two days. Looking at the steel Tiffin box that I brought it in. I saw that it was the box that I have been using since I was 10 years old.

Yes, it was the same box that I have been carrying since I was in 5th std, the small steel box. I continued carrying it to college, then my work place too. My lunch, until I started cooking, had always been Tiffin items, other than those mixed rice like Pulihora, Coconut rice etc. Infact as a dowry, these were the things I got from my mom's place! All those things that I used as a kid. Imagine my joy seeing and caressing something that has been with me the past 20 years! It may be a material thing, but I hardly think of it as such. One of these days I should take a photo of the box. I was always teased on carrying such a small box, but it can easily fit four idlis and 2-3 dosas. What more does one want?

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Ok coming to recipe for the day, it has nothing to do with the corn or my box, rather the traditional recipes of Amma, which she keeps making for us and which I end up making it again because it is liked so much!

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking time - 10 mins for pressure cooking
Cooking time for mutton - 20 mins
Cuisine : Andhra

Mutton Roast ~ Andhra Style

For the Roast

Mutton - 250 gms
Onion - 1 small (100 gms)
Tomato - 1 small (100 gms)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

For Dry powder

Coriander - 1 tsp
Cardamon - 1
Cinnamon - 1
Clove - 2
Gasa gasa/ Poppy Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Peppercorn - 5 whole
Cumin 1/4 tsp
Fennel - 1 /4 tsp

Dry roast all above and powder

For garnish:

Roasted Cashew nuts and curry leaves
Coriander leaves


Method to prepare:

Heat a pan with ghee and roast the cashew nuts till golden. Wash and pat dry the curry leaves. Drop them in ghee and remove when they turn crisp. This doesn't take more than 1 minute.

Meanwhile wash and cut the mutton pieces to small bite size. Pressure cook mutton with little water, salt and turmeric for 3 -4 whistles or till tender.

Dry roast all the spices and cool. Powder to a fine powder and keep aside.

Heat a kadai that has a lid with oil. Saute onion till golden, then add ginger garlic paste. Saute till the rawness leaves.

Then add the chopped tomatoes along with chili powder and salt. Simmer for few minutes with the lid covered.

Next add the cooked mutton, cook well. Cook on high for 5 minutes, you will see water coming out. Stir well so that it doesn't get burnt or struck to the pan. Cover and simmer for 5 mins.

Check in between, When you find the mutton has little water still add the dry powder, mix well. Cooked it covered in simmer for 10 mins. Add chopped coriander leaves.

When it is done, you will find the roast all golden all over, at this stage add the fried curry leaves and cashew nuts to the pan and toss around.

Serve hot!


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This since it was first prepared few months back, this has been prepared again some 4 or 5 times, so I highly recommend this. The judgment of course, was given by hubby dear!

I have some four lunch boxes to share, I am sure they will get featured soon!

Have a great weekend!



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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homemade Khova / Khoa ~ Indian Basics Step by Step Recipe!

The sky was gloomy, with impending rains on the sight. After few minutes it started pouring. It didn't look like it was 7 in the morning. I had plans to make khoa, was wondering if I would be able to or not, while I was stirring a hot cup of coffee! First I thought I would get the regular cooking on way. Once it was all done, and kids sent to playschool, I thought I would start with the preparation.

Before we can proceed, decide whether you really want to make Khova or Mawa at home! Because that requires patience and lot of LPG gas! That was the statement Athamma gave at the end of the process. We were not intimidated by the time, but at the amount of cooking gas that was used up. If you want to save energy this way, I suggest buy a slab of unsweetened Mawa from your dairy store, especially if you have a good reliable one like we have as Aavin. Infact I remember eating the best palkhovas and khoas from Aavin.

But when you decided to make things from scratch, you got to take the bull by its horn as they say right. I have read of sweets shops that have big boilers, boiling tons and tons of milk to get the khoa. Well I can imagine that. When all I was boiling was about 1 & 1/2 liters of milk. You would really need the most sturdy and thick bottom pan you have. Then of course arms that don't mind the stirring!

If you have a non stick pan is fine, else a thick bottom kadai as this one is fine for the job.

Get the milk boiling, ensure you keep an eye on the milk not spilling over!

Keep stirring.....

After about 45 mins or so, you better simmer the gas to low, but continue to stir. If you have somebody to take in your place, it is good if they can continue to stir! (I know it is hard not to miss the fun at FB, Twitter both of which has that irresistible question .Whats on your mind!or What are you doing? I typed eagerly "Stirring pot of milk!)


Finally the result of hard work or rather sweat, the milk is reduced to khova.

Of course, when I did Palkova in Microwave, it was much simpler as I added the sugar and ghee and stirred constantly. Whereas here it is just milk. And getting the right consistency is more important here as your end result depends on the making of Khova.

Since the secret is out of the bag, I might as well confess that I was embarking on the mission of making Gulab Jamun at home. So water content or the softness of the khova is very important. Do not over cook it after it got reduced.

Remove once you see the milk solids become dense. The khova should be soft and not very hard or crumbly


Homemade Khova or Mava (Unsweetened Mawa)

You need:

Milk - 1 & 1/2 litres
Thick bottom kadai or non - stick pan

Yields - 1 & 1/2 cup or more of Khova


This can be used for Gulab Jamun, Palkova, Carrot Halwa and many more sweets.

Enjoy the khova and have a great weekend!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

South Indian Chivda or Mixture ~ Indian Savories Step by Step!

For people down south, mixture may not be something very different or unique as it gets done for every festival or function at home. A decade ago, one wouldn't think of buying such savories or sweets from Shops, but these days you get everything from the shop. Yet it can't beat the taste like the one homemade one!

Amma is known for her lip smacking mixtures or the South Indian Chivda. The many things that go into it can be variable, yet the constant ones of the mixture makes it such a delicious snack time treat. She always makes this for Deepavali. But this season we couldn't make it. Since I told her that I got to learn this, she said she will make it again.

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So I learnt and made and also tried to capture it as essence. This was to be part of my book. But I thought having taken step by step pictures, it would be more beneficial sharing it here.

Lets get the oil hot while we mix the batter ok!

For minimum and better usage of the oil, the ingredients are got to be cooked in the manner specified.

Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 15 mins
Yields : 1 & 1/2 kg of savory mixture app.
Cuisine : South Indian

First lets get the Omapodi ready as explained in the previous post!



Then fry the kara bondi and keep it aside. Same time goes in one or two twigs of curry leaves along with crushed garlic for added kick! Top it on the kara boondi.

Next fry the whole raw peanuts/ groundnuts till golden in colour. Then goes the Fried Gram till done. Fried gram does not take much time. So keep eyes wide open to remove them as soon as you put them in the oil. Cashew nuts are fried followed by this. Wondering where they are?..well they were in the mixture finally..:)

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp chili powder and salt to taste over the fried nuts and mix.

Finally goes the Poha or Attukulu. This also takes hardly few seconds for getting fried and should not be left for long. This tends to blacken the oil, so this is the last item to be fried. Remove and drain on a kitchen towel. Sprinkle a pinch of turmeric powder and salt over the fried poha and mix.

Now comes the mixing part, after all this snack is called the mixture in the South right!

First take the kara boondi in a wide mouth bowl, sprinkle little salt and chili powder. Crush the curry leaves, garlic and mix to the boondi roughly.


Then add the fried nuts. All these can be tossed about when you have a good wide bowl.

Top it with the fried poha..

Then goes the crushed Omapodi or Sev

Now with both hands mix everything together from bottom to top and repeat until you see that everything is mixed well.

Finally check for salt and spice, you will surely need to add some more chili powder. So sprinkle it over the top and repeat the process of mixing together.

I know what you are thinking! No you won't feel the chili at all..


Finally fill up pretty glasses and click pictures of them for posterity!

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Now let me recap the recipe in one place!


South Indian Chivda or Savory Mixture!

Omapodi as made here.

For making Kara Bhoondi

Besan - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Cooking Soda a pinch
Water for mixing

Other ingredients needed:

Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 2 -3 twigs
Whole Cashewnuts - as per wish
Fried gram- 1/4 cup
Beaten Rice / Poha / Attukulu - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - app 1 tsp
Chili powder - 2 -3 tsp (as per taste)
Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

Special Utensils:

Boondi ladle for making boondi
Slotted ladle
Kadai / Deep bottom pan for frying

Method to prepare:

For making the Kara Boondi

In a bowl , take the besan, salt, cooking soda and mix well. Add water slowly and mix to get a lump less batter. The consistency of the batter should of pouring one. When you pour a ladle ful of batter, it should fall down freely.

Heat a pan with oil. When it is hot, scoop a ladleful of batter and place the boondi plate or ladle over the hot oil and pour over it. The boondi ladle should not rest on the pan, but gently hover over it. And you can press down the batter, which will fall like drop shaped boondi into the hot oil. Simmer the flame and cook all sides to ensure you get a crispy boondi.

Repeat till you are done with the entire batch.

Other ingredients.

Wash and pat dry the curry leaves along with the stack. Drop them into hot oil. Ensure you move away as it will sprinkle out oil. Add few crushed garlic along. Fry for a min and remove.
Top over the kara boondi.

Next add the peanuts, fry till it is cooked on all sides. Then goes in the cashewnuts followed by the fried gram. Remove all fried nuts to a kitchen towel and sprinkle chili powder and salt over it.

Finally goes in the beaten rice or poha into the hot oil. This has to be fried last as it tends to leave out black colour to the oil and also tends to absorb more oil. This takes a minute to get cooked. Remove to a napkin/ kitchen towel.


Mixing the Mixture!

Take a wide mouthed bowl, add the kara boondi first, crush the curry leaves and garlic and mix along with the boondi.

Next add the fried nuts, followed by poha, finally with crushed omapodi.

When you are done with mixing with all the ingredients, check for salt and spice. Add more chili powder over it and mix again.

Notes:
  1. The batter for the boondi should be very thin and should be cooked very crisp.
  2. Pat dry the curry leaves before dropping them into hot oil.
  3. Remember you are adding salt at various stages, so check before you add each time.
  4. When it becomes cool, store the mixture in a air tight container.
  5. I suppose the shelf life can be about 10 days but I can't vouch because it never stays for that long at home!

Enjoy this savory treat anytime of the day!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Omapodi or Sev ~ Indian Savory Snack!

I turned one leaf up on the table calender to notice it is already November! The picture on my beautiful table top calendar is a south Indian Thali. I remember flipping through the leaves and seeing this breathtaking picture thought November is too far away. And here I am, looking at it every other moment and enjoying how well that picture has been taken.

Weekends are no doubt very hectic these days. Kids really let their hair down when on a holiday. That reminds me that they are due for their hair cut, which has to be a well planned tour. Well that again reminds me that Chinnu has been wearing the same shirt and pant for the last two days. He likes that pant so much that he refused to part with it, even for a wash. He slept with it on for the last two nights. Last time, I luckily had Peddu's pant washed, so tricked Chinnu into wearing it. This time no such luck. He really has a strong mind of his own. But I never thought he would bring it to force on such things!

Coming to the cooking part, I have enough drafts to last me a while, though on regular basis I haven't been cooking anything new. The usual stuff with the usual combos! But this is something that I planned for Diwali, finally got around learning it from Amma only last week.

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Omapodi or Sev

Besan/ Chickpea flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Ajwain/ Vaamu powder- 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Water - as required
Oil for deep frying

Ajwain is known as Caraway or Carom seeds
Special Utensils

Muruku maker or press with Sev press (Very thin holes)
Slotted ladle

Method to prepare:

In a bowl, take besan, rice flour, ajwain powder/ ajwain water, salt, Red Chili powder and mix together* See notes

Slowly add water and mix well to get a drink dough that is soft enough to pass through the press. When you press down you should get it flowing easily but not very loose at the same time.

Meanwhile get the press ready. Fill the press with the dough and close as shown here.

Heat a pan with oil., when it becomes very hot, simmer the flame. Take the filled in press and directly press over hot oil in a circular movement for about 3 -4 circles.

Cook over medium flame and turn over to ensure both sides are cooked to golden colour.

Once done, remove to a kitchen towel.


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This can be crushed into smaller bits, to be used as the sev in Bel puri, Or as one of the items in Savory mixtures or just as such.

Notes: The dough should not be very thin. At the same time not as thick as chappati dough. Somewhere in between!..:)

When you have to use Ajwain in snacks as these, you can use it in two ways.

1. Soak Ajwain in 1/2 water for 10 mins, grind in a mixer. Strain through a sieve and use the water while mixing the dough.

2. Heat a pan, dry roast the Ajwain, allow to cool and then grind to a powder.

You can follow either of the above methods when you want to use ajwain in the savories.

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