With festivals coming up we normally end up making so many sweets. And Payasam being such a common one we end up making different combination in making it. This payasam was another special treat that Amma makes. The addition of carrot makes it attractive for the kids and makes it very healthy also.

I always remember Amma making some kind of payasam for Saturday Pooja. Infact I started loving semiya payasam only after eating it so often every Saturday. To ease the monotony, Amma twists the recipe frequently. I remember her using Sago on many occasions. That silky texture that renders when you chew a sago gives you a distinct taste. With flavoursome carrots this payasam was one I can always remember.


Ingredients Needed:


Sago - 2 tsp
Vermicelli / Semiya - 50 gms
Milk - 1/2 litre
Carrot, grated - 50 gms
Sugar - 50 gms
Cardamon - a pinch
Clarified Butter / Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew Nuts, Raisins - handful

Method to prepare:

Soak Sago for 1/2 hr prepare cook with water just enough to cover it. Cook till it is tender. Keep it aside.

Heat a pan with ghee, roast the nuts and keep it aside.

Grate the carrots and roast it in ghee followed by Vermicelli.

Meanwhile boil milk in a pan, once it thickens, Slowly add Sago along with water, roasted semiya and carrot to the milk, simmer till everything gets done to partial.

Add sugar and simmer for 10 mins for the sugar to dissolve.

Finally add the roasted nuts. Bring to boil and switch.


The mix of all three ingredients makes it unique and at the same time very healthy. If required, you can reduce the sugar if the carrots used are sweet.

Semiya Payasam gets done on most Festival days. Do share what special dishes you are planning to make for the Diwali. 

Here's wishing you all a great week ahead!


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We celebrate Diwali with lots of sweets and crackers. To smoothen our stomach and to avoid indigestion, we prepare this marundhu – proper English translation is Medicine. Our ancestors used to add many ingredients in this which cannot be ground in our modern mixie. But in this fast world, everything is simple – we get ready made powder called – Diwali Marundhu powder in shops. Just you have to add jaggery and prepare it. That’s all. Some may not trust the ingredients (like me?). So they make it simple and prepare this with fewer ingredients at home. Here is a simple recipe which can be prepared at any time as the ingredients are easily available everywhere.



Ingredients:

Coriander powder 1 small cup
Jeera powder ½ cup
Fresh ginger paste or Chukku/dried ginger powder ¼ cup (I used ¼ cup ginger juice and ¼ cup chukku powder for extra hotness)
Dates Syrup 1 cup or Vellam/Jaggery 1 ¼ cups
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Ghee ¼  cup

If you use fresh ginger – peel and grind it nicely in the mixie. Or else to avoid the fiber, you can extract juice through juicer and add it. Or else use dried ginger powder alone. Either way you can follow.

In a MW vessel, add everything and cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring in between. Cook few more minutes till you reach the consistency.

Or else, take a bottom thick vessel, dissolve jaggery with ½ cup of water. Strain for impurities and boil the syrup. After few minutes add all other ingredients and stir it continuously by adding ghee in installments. When it starts thickening remove. It will harden while cooling. This process might need more ghee.



Instead of jaggery, I added dates syrup (store bought one). The taste is very nice.

Normally it is prepared during Diwali times. But it can be prepared at any time and kept handy which is good for indigestion. Select tender ginger for this. 


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This one is our traditional sweet and normally prepared during Diwali. As usual each one has got their own method of preparing it. I prefer the following way, as it gives soft granules. By this way you need less ghee also.


Ingredients:

Channa dhal ½ cup
Tur dhal ¼ cup
Moong dhal ¼ cup (Or you can use only channa dhal also)
Grated fresh coconut ¾ cup

Vellam/Jaggery 1 cup (as per your taste)
Elaichi powder ¼ tsp
Fried Cashews
Ghee 3 tbsp





Preparation:

Dry roast the dhals and wash and soak in water for 2 -3 hours. Drain the water and leave it in colander for at least 30 minutes. Grind it in the grinder without adding water. Need not be too smooth but not too grainy too. When you touch the batter it will not stick to your hand. It will be like this

Remove it and steam cook this batter in the idli plates for about 12-15 minutes. Let it cool. Break it into granules. It will look like this.




In 1 tsp ghee, roast the cashews first then roast the grated coconut till golden brown.

Now take a thick bottom vessel and boil the jaggery with ½ cup of water. Strain for impurities. Leave it to boil again till you reach soft ball consistency.  When you leave ¼ tsp syrup in 1 tsp water, you must be able to form a soft ball. At this stage, add the elaichi powder, coconut and the steamed batter. Mix well adding ghee in installments. As the batter is already steam cooked, it may not take more than 3-4 minutes. By this way, you can reduce the ghee also. I added only 2 tbsp. Garnish with cashews. A grainy ukkarai is ready. Very tasty with the mixture of dhals.


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Verakadalai Chundal
Verakadalakai chundal ~ Peanut sauté

It is Navratri in India. A time to dance, to rejoice over the peace brought on earth by Goddess Durga according to Indian Mythology and an excuse for getting in touch with near and dear ones! If you look more closely, you will find that it is a celebration of women power (Goddess Durga being a manifestation of Shakti in various forms). Each day of Navratri is characterized by offering prayers to the Goddess Durga and other female deities. Gujarat and Bengal bring in the festival with vibrancy. Gujaratis play garba (a folk dance) in colourful outfits while bengalis play with kumkum. South has a more subdued form of celebrating the festival. We set up a 'golu', steps filled with statuettes of Gods and Godesses, figurines depicting the life and culture of people and sometimes a small garden by the side of the golu. Setting up the 'golu' was fun as kids. It is something similar to decorating a Christmas tree requiring imagination, energy and joy!

No festival however goes without its share of sweets and savouries and in India these are made in abundance! All nine days of Navratri we make different types of sundals (chundal / sautes) to offer as 'prasadam' towards the end of each prayer session.

What is the point of making so many sweets, you might wonder! Well, it is all about sharing. During the nine nights of Navratri, we have a gathering of women friends and we offer them the prasad along with a momento and an assembly of betel leaves, turmeric packet, kumkum (vermilion tilak powder) and betel nuts. [picture below]

Some of these ideas have already been shared by Viji earlier in Beyond Curries. Today I am presenting yet another sundal. This time it is made of peanuts (ground nuts), a legume belonging to the family fabaceae. Sundals hardly take any time and can be used as a side dish with gravy and rice as well as a tea time snack by themselves. They are so versatile!



Recipe: Kadalai sundal ~ peanut sauté
Preparation Time : 10 minutes excluding soaking time
Serves : 2 persons
Recipe Level: Easy
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


Ingredients:

Raw peanuts - 1 cup (Soaked overnight or for 4 to 5 hrs.)
Green chilli - 1
Coconut, grated freshly - 2 tbsp.
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, leaves trimmed
Asafoetida - A pinch
Oil (any neutral oil, preferably coconut oil) - 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp.
Split, husked, blackgram - 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste

Verakadalai Chundal
Verakadalakai chundal ~ Peanut sauté

Method:

Steam, pressure cook or boil and strain the soaked peanuts with a little salt till cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a wok or kadhai with the oil. When hot, splutter mustard seeds followed by the blackgram. When they turn light golden add the curry leaves, hing and peanuts in the same order.

Adjust salt if needed.

In a mortar crush a tsp. of coconut with the green chilli well.

Add the crushed mix and the rest of the coconut to the wok and saute till the ingredients are uniformly distributed.

Makes a good tea time snack!

I always add a tablespoon of finely chopped raw mango as well. It brings a nice surprise while eating, but is optional.


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Sounds like classic combination? Yes it is. I have tried before cashew, coconut and milk which is my favorite. Very rich and creamy. With the use of Microwave (MW), with less fat, it came out very well and topped with chopped almond nuts (raw) it was a real treat.

When you try make sure, you keep the sugar level right which is the binding agent in all sweets. If you reduce it, you won’t get the consistency. And the timings here I have given will also vary as per the vessel, oven, and the ingredients quality. If you are trying for the first time and not sure about the consistency level, try in small quantity to avoid wastage. If you have taken before the time and it is halwa consistency, add some milk powder and adjust it but not any flour. These are only remedies when you go wrong.


 
Ingredients:
Almond meal/flour 1.5 cups
Gram/besan flour 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Sugar 3 cups
Ghee 5 +1 tbsp for greasing (fresh home made)
Elaichi powder 1 tsp
Broken raw almonds 2 tbsp for garnishing

One big MW proof vessel.



Preparation

Dry fry the besan flour for 2 minutes. Leave it cool.

In a MW vessel take sugar and milk together. MW high for 2-3 minutes. Add the almond meal and besan flour and mix well. Since it is fried a little bit before, it is will not form lumps. Add 1 tbsp ghee and cook on high for 2-3 minutes again. Add the remaining ghee in installments. When you can form a soft ball out of the mass stop cooking. It took me 13-15 minutes totally. I used to keep stirring, after taking it out from the oven for a while before spreading. If you want soft ones, spread it immediately.

Spread this on a greased plate (1 tbsp ghee) and smooth the top. I have used a small flat bottom steel vessel greased with ghee to even the top. Press the chopped almond on top. Slice it with sharp knife. Let it cool.  


Normally we get ready made almond meal (flour). If not available soak 10-12 badams, peel the skin and grind it with little milk into fine paste and use it. I find this almond meal is a handy one for my baking.


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When one attends a typical Tamilian Wedding, one is sure to be feasted on a Paruppu Usili. I remember since childhood always looking forward to this dish. And I never stopped. I don't remember Amma preparing this at home during my childhood. It was only much later that she finally started making it herself. There are so many ways to make this. Most times we follow the shortest method to arrive at the most delightful dish one can imagine.

I already posted a Usili, then recently ended up making it again in 3 different ways. And of course the vegetable that goes in also changes the way it tastes. I have known this being made with French Beans, Banana Blossoms, Cluster Beans, Banana Stem and the latest addition made by Amma were these beautiful Red Capsicum. 

Though Green Capsicum is common at home, Red and Yellow makes it sometimes to the pantry. And one such time, it also ended up as an Usili.


Capsicum Parupu Usili


Recipe: Red Pepper With Chickpea Saute | Capsicum Parupu Usili
Soaking Time : 30 minutes
Preparation Time : 20 minutes

Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli


Ingredients

Red Pepper/ Red Capsicum - 1 large
Channa Dal / CheckPeas - 1/2 cup
Red Chilis, dry - 3 -4 
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - few leaves
Mustard Seeds, Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp

Utensils Needed - Non Stick pan

Method to prepare:

Wash and soak Channa dal for 1 hr. Grind coarsely along with Red chili and salt.

Chop the Capsicum into long pieces. Heat a non stick pan with oil,  season with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. 

Once the mustard splutters, add the channa dal coarse mix along with capsicum. Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Keep stirring in between to ensure it doesn't get stuck to the bottom.

Serve this with Sambar and steaming rice.


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Navrathri is nearing and everyone in India is busy in buying dolls. Preparing different Neivedyams for evening pooja for distribution is a real fun. There are different dishes prepared during these 9 days. Each one follows their own custom of doing it.

Each day one Sundal; Savor (any dhal sauted with mustard seeds, green chili or spices) or Sweet (with jaggery). On Fridays we prepare Puttu for distribution. Saturday we prepare Ellu podi. Rest of the days as per their custom and convenience. But each day has got specific neivedyams for a specific God.

Sundals - All the dry beans can be used as plain or sprouted to enhance its nutrients.




For sprouting, I normally soak it for 24-36 hours minimum exchanging water 3 times (every 12 hours). Then drain it for 5 minutes. Knot this in a muslin cloth (or any thin kitchen towel). Keep it on the table and cover it with a wooden basket (or any plastic one with holes) – I mean cover it ¾ only. After 12 hours start sprinkling water to keep it moist. Any hard dhals can be sprouted like this. But moong dhal doesn’t take much time to sprout. By this way you increase the protein content of dhals.

For all beans (except mentioned specifically here), to add spice use my SIMP powder - or else roast red chili, channa dhal, coriander seeds, curry leaves and hing in 1 tsp oil and powder it coarsely in the mixer to sprinkle it at the end.

Kondakadalei Sundal  - Kabuli black channa – sprouted one.

Sprout them as mentioned above, cook in pressure cooker till soft and termper with mustard seeds, curry leave and one tbsp of SIMP powder.


Sprouted Kondakadalei Sundal   - white one
Sprout them and temper them the same way mentioned above.


Sprouted moong dhal
The same way, but need not be pressure cooked - can be steam cooked to avoid nutrition loss.



Mochai Sundal (Lima Beans) – plain one
The same way of channa Sundal


Karamani vella Sundal (Black eyed beans with jaggery)

Soak one cup of  karamani for 5 hours. Pressure cook it for 2 whistles. Drain and keep it aside. Melt ¾ cup of jaggery (or less than this) with ¼ cup of water. Strain for impurities. Add 1 tbsp of fresh coconut, ¼ tsp elaichi powder and boil it again for 3 minutes. Now add the Karamani and cook for few more minutes.

Peanut Sundal

For this you have to use raw (not roasted) ones with skin. Soak them for 5 hours and pressure cook along with salt for 2 whistles. Then temper it with mustard seeds, one red chili, curry leaves and a pinch of hing.

Red beans Sundal
The same way of Channa Sundal


Kollu (Horse gram) Sundal - sprouted
The same way of Channa Sundal


Jaggery Puttu


This is very famous during Navrathiri. I never miss the Friday during the 9 days to collect this delicious puttu from my friend’s house. Though looks very tedious to prepare, it is easy if you practice. When you follow the steps clearly, it won’t go wrong. The texture must be so soft. That’s the secret of this recipe.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour 1 cup
Jaggery ¾  cup
Fresh coconut 1 tbsp
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Cashews few broken

Preparation:

If you are using raw rice, soak for 30 minutes and then dry it on a towel. Grind it in mixie to fine powder. Sieve well. Dry roast this flour well till the colour changes to light brown.

Take one cup of water with a pinch of salt and haldi. Heat it. When it is lukewarm start adding this water slowly to the roasted flour. At one stage you will get soft granular consistency. You can hold the flour. But if you open your hand, it will flow. That’s the right consistency. Stop adding water at this stage. You might use the full 1 cup water or less than that. It all depends on the rice. I never used more than ¾ cup.

Steam this for 10 minutes along with coconut and elaichi powder.

Now prepare the jaggery syrup with ¼  cup of water. Once it dissolved, strain for impurities. Again boil it till you reach soft ball consistency. If you add ½ tsp syrup to water, you should be able to form a ball (not too hard). Switch off the stove, and add this to the steamed flour slowly and mix well. Break any lumps. Add the fried cashews along with the ghee. That’s it. It’s very tasty and soft too. 

Sesame balls

On Saturday they used to prepare yellu podi (sesame flour with jaggery). I just love this. Some used to prepare it in ball shape and distribute. Here is my version.

Ingredients:
Sesame Seeds 1 cup
Jaggery ¾ cup
Desiccated coconut ½ cup
Cashews broken 2 tbsp (fried or raw ones as per your choice)
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Melted Ghee optional 1tbsp

Preparation:

Roast the sesame seed into slightly brown stage as shown in the photo (if you get roasted ones, use it directly). In ME we always get fried sesame seeds. Add all the ingredients except cashews and grind it in mixie. If you have traditional grinder it will be very tasty. When you do it with traditional grinder no need to add ghee as the seeds will release its own oil. Still if you add little ghee it gives nice aroma.

Once it is grinded well add the broken cashews and shape it to small balls. Sounds tricky, but when you shape it, you will find it very easy.
Not only during navrathri festival, it can be prepared once a week to have healthy snack.  


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Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Steamed savoury snacks
Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Savoury steamed dumplings with blackgram dal filling

I hail from Palakkad and our cuisine is a combination of the best from the regions of Tamilnadu and Kerala. Every festival is celebrated with sweets and savouries that are unique to that festival. The traditional sweets made for Ganesh Chaturthi in Palakkad, are 'vella kozhokottai' (Steamed jaggery and coconut filled sweets) and 'sugiyan' (Fried jaggery and coconut balls). The savouries comprise of vadai (savoury fritters) and many varieties of savoury kozhokottais (steamed dumplings).

Kozhokottai (pronounced as koyo-ko-tie, the 'y' is pronounced with a roll of the tongue), is much loved and for some reason I seem to make it only during Ganesh Chaturthi and not otherwise. It is said to be Lord Ganesha's favorite snack. Our's too! It is basically a sweet or savory filling wrapped in rice flour dough. This is then steamed till the rice flour covering becomes translucent. The feeling as you cut through the covering and bite into the filling can only be described as 'heady'!

There are two methods to make the covering. The popular method involves using pounded rice flour. I used to follow the rice flour method until my sister told me to try the one I am sharing here. I find the results so good with this one that I haven't bothered to look back! Using raw rice batter yields a softer covering as compared to the one made with shop bought rice flour. This is because shop bought rice flour does not contain moisture.


Recipe: Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Steamed savoury snacks
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 15 pieces
Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


Ingredients:
Covering:
1.5 cups, raw rice
1.5 + 1.5 cups, water
3 tbsps. oil (I use sesame oil)
1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
1/2 cup Black gram dal (Urad dal)
Water to cover the dal
salt to taste
1 green chilli
A sprig of curry leaves
3 tbsp. of fresh grated coconut

Method:

Filling:
Soak the split, husked, black gram dal in just enough water for at least half an hour.
Drain completely and add the chopped green chillies and chopped curry leaves. Mix in salt.
Grind without water to a rough paste. (We do not want a soft paste. The paste has to be dry and retain some coarseness due to broken dal). See picture below.
Steam the mixture in a steamer or cooker (without weight/whistle) for about 15minutes till done.
Cool and crumble to granules. Mix in grated coconut to distribute it uniformly throughout the mixture. Set aside and prepare the covering.

Covering:

IMG_9064
Rice flour dough for covering

Soak rice in 1.5 cups of water for at least an hour.
Grind to a smooth paste with the water used for soaking. Do not add more water.
In a heavy bottomed vessel or wok, heat the oil. Add 1.5 cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil.
Now pour the rice paste into the water stirring all the while to avoid lump formation.
You will not be able to avoid the lumps completely but keep stirring and if any lumps form on the sides of the vessel, scrape it back into the center.
Cook, stirring till all the liquid forms into a rough ball, leaving the sides of the vessel. It will take about 5 to 6 minutes on medium flame.
Cover with a tight lid and let the dough cook in residual heat without disturbing for another 10 minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and let cool till warm enough to handle.
Turn onto a large 'paraat' or plate or working space.
Grease hands lightly and knead the dough till firm, smooth but soft.

Formation of kozhokottais:
Pinch a ball of dough about the size of a table tennis ball. Roll it between your palms to a smooth sphere. Flatten lightly and keeping it on a clean surface, keep pressing with light fingers to form a disc about 5 to 6 cms in diameter. The disc should be about 2mm in thickness.

IMG_9096
Shaping the kozhokottai

Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold to a semi circle and press the sides of the semi circle to seal the opening.
Similarly form the rest of the kozhokottais.

Uppu Kozhokottai ~ Second setting
Serving kozhokottais
Steaming:
Place the kozhokottais on a greased plate, in a steamer and steam till the covering turns translucent and cooked. About 15 minutes.
If you do not have a steamer, heat water in a pressure cooker. Place a deep vessel filled upto 1/4 of its height with water. Now place the plate of kozhokottais over the vessel. Cover the cooker and steam for 15 minutes with the lid on and no weight, on moderate heat.
When cool enough to handle, remove the plate from the steamer/cooker.
The kozhokottais are now ready to be served.
Traditionally it is eaten without any accompaniment and tastes good.
I however like it with a dash of spicy szechuan sauce - an unusual combination for a traditional delicacy.



Special Notes/Tips:
  • Do not hurry up and skip the part where you have to fit the lid and let the dough cook in the residual heat because, the five minute steaming helps the uncooked areas to cook through well.


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Regional Gravies...that's our theme this month at Beyond Curries. If that doesn't tickle your foodie soul, nothing else will!

India being a nation of diverse religion, we enjoy a splendid variety of regional food, the sweets, the snacks, the festival foods and the mighty curries. It's so exciting to know that though people of different regions and caste, do not know much about the culture or customs of each other, yet the food breaks the barrier and we can see the South Indians enjoying North Indian Delicacies, while the people from north go ga-ga over the Idlis and Dosas of South. The Gujratis love to eat Mumbaiya Pavbhaji,while the Mumbaikars crave for Khaman Dhokla. The Sindhis incorporate Punjabi meals like Paneer Paalak in their cuisine, while Punjabis find Sindhi Kadhi irresistible. And these are just few examples. If you look out for the People swearing by the taste of Bengali Rosgollas, Rajashthani Gattey ki Kadhi, Hyderabadi Biryani, etc we can obviously go on and on and on.......

Isn't it amazing to know that the food knows no boundaries????

Well coming to today's recipe, it is one of the Maharashtra's most loved Curry, called Usal.
Usal is a simple yet flavorful curry made with sprouted beans. Depending upon the type of dried beans used, its called as Matki chi usal (Moth Beans), Moong Chi Usal (Whole green grams), Vatana chi Usal (Made with dried white peas), so on so forth....

Photobucket

There are obviously many ways to cook this healthy curry, and the one shared here today is one of the simplest method, involving least of spices and using mixed sprouts instead of just one. Does anything get better than this?

Photobucket


Recipe: Mixed Sprouts Usal
Prep Time: Check out this article for all the queries regarding soaking and sprouting different legumes (Thanks to Jaibee for providing the link)
Cooking Time:25 minutes
Serves:Two Adults
Recipe Level: Basic
Spice Level: Low or Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka


Ingredients:

  • Mixed Sprouts 2 cups
  • Onion 1 large
  • Tomato 1 (plump one )
  • Green chillies 1 or 2 ( As per taste, in our case 1 green chilly is just enough)
  • Ginger 1 inch piece
  • Salt as per taste
  • Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder ( or better still, Ghoda Masala ) 1/2 tsp
  • Oil 2 tsp
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice and coriander leaves for garnishing
Special Utensils:

I prefer to cook this curry in Pressure cooker. Could be cooked in any pan too.
Procedure:
  1. Prepare mixed sprouts or one can use store brought sprouts too.
  2. In a pressure cooker (Or a pan) add 2 tsp of oil, add finely chopped onions and saute till light brown in color
  3. Add grated tomato, chopped ginger and green chillies. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and stir and cook well till mushy mixture is obtained. If using pressure cooker, just add the spices and a cup of water, close the lid of pressure cooker and wait for 2-3 whistles.
  4. Whisk the gravy well with wooden whisker/ Churner (Mathni) and add sprouts.
  5. Add salt and some water. Kindly note that this recipe is not of dry Usal, but with some gravy, so add at least 2 cups of water. If using pressure cooker, cook for 2 whistles.
  6. Add garam masala powder and cook the curry till sprouts take up the flavor of spices.
  7. Adjust the consistency of gravy as per choice, making it dense if eating with roti or making it runny if opting to relish it with Pav (Dinner rolls).
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves, squeeze out some lemon juice and enjoy a hearty bowl of healthy bliss!

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Always make a sensible choice while sprouting mixed beans, since beans tend to take up long time to soak and sprout while others like moong beans are much quicker to amaze you with tender shoots.
  • If buying sprouts from store, please rinse it well with water. Though it takes away some nutrition, but saves you from consuming chemicals, mud particles, or the germs if the beans are handled un-hygienically while soaking and sprouting. The best thing is to sprout your beans at home.
  • You can serve it with some farson, sev papdi or Mumbai bhel , and chopped onion to make misal and if to that you add some fresh curd while serving, then it becomes dahi misal...both being the famous street food of Maharashtra.


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Coconut Sesame Laddoo

Posted by Srivalli | Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | , , , , | 3 comments »

Sesame Laddos are very versatile and most sought out in our home. I love these laddos and I have known Amma making these laddos during Vinayaka Chaturthi. As we have Vinayaka Chaturthi coming next week, I know I am going to enjoy these treats again.

Though we normally make these laddos with just plain Sesame seeds, Athamma makes it with Freshly grated Coconut too. So here is her version of Laddos



Ingredients Needed:

Black Sesame Seeds - 1 cup
Jaggary - 1 cup
Fresh Coconut, grated - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 tsp


Method to prepare:

If you have to wash the Sesame seeds, wash and let it drain in a colander. Then spread it over a cloth and allow it to dry in shade.

Powder the jaggary into a bits.

Then take the Black Sesame Seeds and Jaggary in mixer and pulse it to a fine powder.

Grate the coconut, fry in ghee. Remove and keep it aside.

When the sesame seeds have been ground to a course powder, pulse the fried Coconut along with sesame seeds for once.

Finally remove and shape into balls.


Store these in air tight containers for a week. These are very handy to make when you have excess coconut on hand.


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Mysore Pak

Posted by Srivalli | Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | , , , , , | 13 comments »

A must in our house during Diwali. My mom used to prepare almost every year. Her version will give porous mysore pak. Inside it will be like honey comb texture. She always comment that mysorepak should not be prepared like other burfis.

There are two methods of preparing it. One is porous and the other one what is called mysore pa. A soft one but melts in your mouth. Lately the second version is very popular in Krishna sweets and other shops. Even Aavin has started making this and available one piece in a small rectangle container. Nothing can beat the home made taste.

The sugar and ghee can’t be compromised in real mysore pas.

I prefer to use only three ingredients – gram flour, sugar and ghee. No spices.




Mysore Pak

Recipe: Mysore Pak
Recipe Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Viji


The traditional method is 1:3:3. For one cup of gram flour 3 cups of sugar and 3 cups of ghee are added. No doubt this will yield porous mysore paks. In this method sugar is melted till one string consistency and flour and ghee are added in installment. To get the bright colour at the bottom, they will purposely leave the mass to brown a little bit at the bottom without stirring. These are professional tricks. Cooks used to follow this, as they have full control on the texture. Once it is spread for cooling it was not leveled to get the porous texture. For leveling they just shake the tray.

In the second method – mysore pa – you can reduce the sugar and ghee to some extent and prepare. For one cup of flour 2 ½ cups of sugar and 2 cups ghee are added. No syrup business here. Once the sugar is melted, add the flour immediately and keep stirring adding ghee in installment.

Before further ado, let us go back to the recipe.



Ingredients

1 cup fresh besan/gram/channa flour (Kadalai mavu)
2 ½ cups sugar
2 cups fresh home made ghee



Sieve the flour 2 times to aerate. I normally dry roast them for 2 minutes (only). This will make life easier while mixing with the syrup.

Prepare the ghee fresh. Filter it and keep it warm.

In a thick bottom vessel (preferably Uruli) take the sugar and add ¼ cup of water. Keep the stove low till the sugar melts. Now start adding the flour and mix well. Keep stirring by adding ghee in installment.

At one stage the mass will not stick to the vessel,and start raising. This is the correct stage. Remove and spread this on a greased plate. Press the top with a greased spatula or bottom of a flat cup. Sprinkle raw sugar on top. Cut them into desired shapes. This can be mouled too. As long as it is warm it will obey your order. So don’t worry. Cool and then serve.

It is soft and melts in mouth. I prefer this method to the porous one. No compromise on sugar or ghee as I said earlier. Rest everything is called besan burfi only. You can prepare it adding sugar and ghee of your choice.  If you want real mysorepa, these are the measurements.


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Festivals in India are incomplete without having family , friends or near and dear ones around, the elaborate menus in the home kitchens, the glittering shops loaded with tons of festival related food, attires, colourful decorative materials , bubbling, excited kids and most important the SWEETS...yeah, we generally relate sweets with festivals in India. If shops are stacking Modak, then be sure, Ganesh Chaturthi is round the corner, similarly, Gujiya during Holi, Rava ladoo during Onam, all sorts of assorted sweets during Diwali, Sevaiyan Kheer on Id, Till ladoo for Lohri, Makar sankranti, Gudi padva etc. adds a sweet touch in our lives during joyous moments.

And since Indians are right now celebrating festivals like Ramadan and Onam, and many are looking forward to Rakhsha Bandhan, Janmashtmi, Ganesh Chaturthi etc....we at Beyondcurries , very obviously are sharing the recipes of Sweets (Mithai, Halwa etc) to celebrate the spirit of festivals in coming days.

So coming up today , is a popular Bengali Mithai, called Malai Sandwich, obviously because it is a sandwich of Malai (Cream/khoya) in between two layers of sweetened Chenna Paneer ( Indian Cheese).

Kindly note:The paneer layer in this recipe is thick one, since we like our Bengali sweets to be thick, but you can make as thin or as thick as you prefer.

Photobucket

Recipe: Malai Sandwich (Cheese sandwiches stuffed with sweet filling)
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes (For boiling milk, curdling and straining) 6-7 hours of chilling
Cooking Time: 25 minutes if cooking in open vessel or 8 minutes if cooking in pressure cooker
Makes: 7-8
 Shelf Life:
Milk Products are best consumed within 24 hours
Recipe Level:
Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka




Ingredients:
For Chenna Paneer

1 lit of milk (Use milk with atleast 2 % or above fat content)
Few spoons of lime juice or citric acid (To curdle milk)
For Sugar syrup:
2 and 1/4 cups of sugar
About 5 cups of water
Few Cardamons crushed
Few drops of Rose Essence(Optional)
For making Sandwich
Chenna Paneer
1/2 to 1 tsp of Sooji/rawa/semolina
A pinch of baking powder
For Stuffing:
1/2 cup of Sweet Mawa/ Khoya/ Malai/ Rabri
2-3 tsp of sugar (Or as per taste).You can also use icing sugar
A pinch of saffron soaked in a spoonful of milk (optional)

Yellow or pink colour ...Few drops ( Highly optional, Not used in this recipe)
For Garnishing

Some unsalted pistachios sliced finely

Varq (optional....again, Not Used in this recipe )



Special Utensils:
Pressure cooker(Makes life easy) or else any wide, thick bottomed pan.
Procedure:
  1. For making chenna, first boil the milk in thick bottomed pan.
  2. When it reaches boiling point, lower the flame and slowly add few spoons of lemon juice . Keep stirring and if needed add few more drops of juice until the milk curdles properly and whey is separated. Strain through Muslin cloth (Do not discard this Whey, use it to add nutritional value to Dal or use it for kneading dough for Roti/chapati.
  3. Run cold water over the separated paneer (To get rid off, that Lemony/citrus flavor from Paneer). Squeeze out excess water, and hang the cloth for 5-8 minutes to completely separate the whey from paneer.But do not let it rest more than 20 minutes.
  4. Now knead this chenna paneer along with 1/2 tsp of semolina and a pinch of baking powder, for 5-8 minutes till a very smooth dough is obtained, that is easily rolled into a ball without any cracks on surface (You can use food possessor for this, I didn't) .
  5. Pinch very small piece of this dough and roll it into small, smooth Square shape.Keep the size medium, as they tend to swell up, more than double of their original size after being cooked in syrup. Repeat the procedure till all the dough is used up.
  6. In the meantime, take a pressure cooker (or any thick bottomed vessel) and add sugar and water along with crushed cardamoms and let it boil till sugar dissolves.
  7. Carefully drop all the chenna paneer squares in the boiling syrup and close the lid of pressure cooker (or cover it with a lid if making in open vessel).
  8. Wait for 1 whistle (or boil for 20-25 minutes in open vessel). Lower the flame and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  9. Put off the flame and let the pressure release from cooker. Now you should have soft spongy, sweetened, double the original size, squares of paneer.
  10. At this stage you can add few drops of rose essence in syrup, though it's completely optional.
  11. Transfer the cooked paneer squares along with the syrup into a bowl and let it cool till it room temperature. Later, Refrigerate for 6-7 hours in same syrup to chill.
  12. Now take the stuffing that you are using ,add powdered or icing sugar and mix well . At this stage you can mix the soaked saffron to enhance the flavors.But kindly use less of milk to soak saffron if you are using Malai, as it will dilute the consistency further.
  13. Now slice horizontally in the center each square of paneer, and place a spoonful of stuffing on one of the slice, and cover it with another slice, pressing gently. Instead of completely slicing apart, you can cut the square till 3/4 th, leaving the ends joined with each other. Repeat the process for all the squares.
  14. Garnish it with some finely sliced(slivers) pistachios and Varq (Optional)
  15. You can serve it immediately or after chilling. Enjoy !


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Badam barfi ~ Almond Barfi

Badam Barfi ~ Almond Candy
This month Beyond Curries prepares visitors for the festive season ahead. The timing, I think is just right with Janmashtami, Rakshabandhan and Ganesh Chaturthi just round the corner. Isn't it?

The badam barfi I am presenting today is a regular during Navratri and Diwali in my house. I do not make large quantities at one go mainly because I do not have a wok large enough to make one large batch and secondly, I know who will eat the most! I prefer making a fresh batch every day of Navratri and upto a few days after Diwali as it remains fresh then. Do try it and let us know if you found the recipe easy to follow. This is fool-proof because you just cannot go wrong with a combination of almond/cashew/pistachio paste and sugar, right? Any difficulties? Leave a comment and we will get back asap.

Unlike most other regions, Indians do not use a candy thermometer while cooking sweets. We depend on the 'thread test' to judge the consistency of the sweet syrup. Hence it is essential to know whether you have reached the correct stage in making the candy if you want to get on with the recipe. Undercooked or overcooked syrup will give very different results so it is best in case of barfis or candies to scrupulously stick to the recipe.


Recipe: Badam Barfi ~ Almond Barfi ~ Almond Candy
Preparation Time : 20 minutes
Serves : 12-14 pieces weighing 10g each on an average
Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


(Method to powder almonds and to check the consistency of sugar syrup are both given below the main recipe)


IMG_7723

Badam Barfi ~ Almond Candy 

Ingredients:

1 level cup, powdered almonds
A few strands of good quality saffron / kesar / zafran (Optional)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. any neutral oil

Method to prepare:

  1. Powder the almonds coarsely in a coffee grinder and set aside. Recipe for preparation of almonds given below.
  2. Warm the saffron threads slightly and pound into a powder. Prepare a syrup of one thread consistency with the water, powdered saffron and sugar in a heavy bottomed vessel or wok. Recipe for syrup given below.
  3. Immediately add ground almonds and mix well as you would do with a batter till the almond paste comes together and leaves a trail in the wok, about five minutes. Use a pair of tongs to hold the wok steady.
  4. Add oil and incorporate it into the paste till the mixture forms a ball, about two or three minutes.
  5. Immediately push the almond candy onto a greased plate and pat with the greased base of a small bowl or a greased pancake turner. If the almonds sticks to the pancake turner, grease with a bit of oil and pat again till the candy is leveled.
  6. Let cool for about five minutes and etch perpendicular lines with a greased knife to form one inch squares.
  7. Cool till the barfis are no longer sticky and are firm to touch, about twenty minutes. Cut along the etched lines and remove them with the pancake turner. Best eaten completely cool.

Preparing the almonds:
Soak about120g of almonds in plain tap water for about 3hours or overnight. Skin and pat dry with a clean and dry napkin. Place in the refrigerator for a day to get rid of any moisture. I find that most recipes call for blanching the almonds in warm/hot water and skinning. I prefer the slightly more tedious method with plain water. By using the blanching method you also lose a lot of the natural sweetness of almonds apart from the probability that there will be heavy moisture retention. However you may follow the method that suits you best. After grinding check that you have 1 level cup of almonds to follow the above recipe.

The thread test:
Cook the sugar along with the amount of water stated in the recipe. After the sugar completely dissolves and becomes slightly sticky, dip a spoon. Blow as it will be extremely hot and touch the syrup in the spoon with your forefinger and press it to your thumb while still warm. If it has reached the one thread stage you will be able to draw a thread of sugar at least a centimeter when you release your thumb from the forefinger. If the thread breaks in between it shows that the syrup is still undercooked or is in the half thread stage. Cook for just a few seconds more and try. Every second counts as sugar caramelizes very fast. If there are two threads instead of one, sprinkle a few drops of water, mix and check again. 

One thread consistency yields a barfi that is firm but not crusty. It will take sometime to set. Two thread consistency will lead your barfi to become crusty or brittle. It may set very quickly but will powder quickly as well. When you touch the spoon to test, please remember that the concentration of sugar in the candy will be high and consequently the temperature of the syrup will be high as well. It is a possibility that you will burn your finger badly if you do not blow into the spoon to warm the syrup. Here is a link that has a candy chart giving the temperature equivalent of the tar/thread test. You might want to look it up if you use a candy thermometer.

diptych
Badam Barfi ~ Almond Candy


Special Notes/Tips:
  • Be careful handling the candy while testing the consistency.
  • The saffron is optional. Adding about half a teaspoon of saffron strands will give you a more yellow colour than the pictures above. I add just a few strands, about five, which gives just a light peachy hue. Some shops press halved slices of almonds into the cookies while letting the mixture set.
  • You may flavour the almonds with cardamom by blitzing seeds of green cardamom, about five, along with the almonds. I prefer the nutty flavour of almonds rather than adding anything to it.


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With only four ingredients, what a dessert to melt in your mouth. If you are from South you will be familiar with this sweet. Normally both Palgova and Thiratipal are considered as same. But they are not. They are different. Palgova is prepared by boiling the milk and the end product is soft and smooth like halwa consistency. Whereas the process of preparing thriratipal is different. Every time when the mother visits her newly married daughter house she used to bring this for her son in law. The bridegroom’s parents are welcomed by the bride’s side with this sweet, when they arrive to the marriage hall. It is a special sweet in our custom.

Though store bought ones are available nothing can beat home made version where you have control over the ingredients and taste. The best result will be achieved only from the fresh cow’s milk. I never tried  with packet milk.

Though looks like simple, it is a tedious process. No one can deny it. I have given the steps to get a clear picture of the consistency during the process. Hope it helps you. The good milk will yield 1/8th thiratipal. I mean if you keep 8 cups of milk, you must get 1 cup of thiratipal. It differs according to the quality.



Thiratipal

Recipe: Thiratipal
Recipe Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Viji



Take the milk required to prepare this sweet.

Start boiling the milk in a stainless steel vessel with thick bottom.


After one hour the milk would have got reduced to 50%.



Keep stirring in between to avoid burning at the bottom which will spoil the whole milk. Start adding curd in batches – 1 tsp at a time – at regular intervals.


If you add at a stretch milk will get curdled fast and won’t give the desired result. It must be added slowly at regular intervals.


At one stage the fat will be separated and the thriatipal will be at pouring consistency.


Since it will be solidified while cooling. Remove and transfer it to the bowl and let it cool.


After one hour if you see the consistency -  it will be thick.





Ingredients:

Fresh cow’s milk 2 lr
Curd 3 tbsp (Yes!)
Brown sugar 1 cup
Elaichi powder ½ tsp

The beauty of this dish is the thread consistency – we call in Tamil – thri thriya . To get this normally people add citric acid. But I prefer to add fresh curd for slow curdling. Sometimes due to the milk nature, it curdles without adding citric/curd.

Keep the milk in a Uruli. I kept my uruli in India (which is 5 kg weight). Hence I have stainless steel vessel with thick bottom for my daily use. Start boiling. After one hour the milk would have got reduced to 50%. To avoid over flowing I used to put a small cup at the bottom. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning at the bottom which will spoil the whole milk. Start adding curd in batches – 1 tsp at a time – at regular intervals. If you add at a stretch milk will get curdled fast and won’t give the desired result. It must be added slowly at regular intervals. I added all the 3 tbsp. 

Normally it takes 90 minutes to 120 minutes for 2 litres approximately. When you reach the final stage – approximately 75 minutes, add the sugar with elaichi powder. Adding jaggery gives unique taste to this dish which I never tried. So I used brown sugar. Plain sugar will also do.

Now again the sweet will be thinned. Keep stirring. At one stage the fat will be separated and the thiriatipal will be at pouring consistency. Don’t over do. Since it will be solidified while cooling. Remove and transfer it to the bowl and let it cool.

Scoop and enjoy this sweet. After one hour if you see the consistency -  it will be thick. So if you over do, it will be like powder. If you are using good milk no need to add ghee. I never used ghee in preparation. Hope you like our traditional sweet.


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This month in Beyond Curries we will be talking about Indian Sweets. I know we had a late start this month. But the fact is I don't make much of sweets at home. And happen to make Phirni as I am still trying my new Microwave with all types of recipes. 

Phirni is such a easy recipe to make in microwave. When I think of all that hard work you normally have to do for making a sweet with milk, it seems such like a child's play when making it in microwave. I felt it was unbelievable quick. Of course if you are ready to wait for it to cool down or be served chill.



Microwave Gulabi Phirni

Recipe: Microwave Gulabi Phirni
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Serves : 4
Recipe Level: Easy/ Beginner
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli



Phirni is a dish that is basically made with rose water and gulkand, or badam phirni or even kesar phirni. Since rose essence was available, it was made instead of the other two.

For easy of reading, I have included the method in steps.

Soak the rice in water for 15 mins.


Using enough water, grind to a smooth paste

Boil 1/2 liter milk for 7 mins in micro


Remove and add the ground rice paste.

Micro for another 3 minutes.


When done you will see the milk has become think enough


Add sugar and rose essence


Micro again 5 minutes.

Now it has become really thick.


Roast the nuts in ghee and add to the phirni.


Microwave Gulabi Phirni

Milk - 1/2 Liter
Basmati Rice - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Rose Essence 1/2 a cap
Dry fruits
Ghee - 1 tsp

Procedure

  1. Micro Milk at 10 mins (Power High) Check at 7 minutes
  2. Soak rice in water and grind to a smooth paste, add more liquid if required.
  3. Mix the ground rice to the milk, stir well. Micro for the balance 3 minutes
  4. Once done add the rose essence, and sugar. Mix well.
  5. Micro again fro 5 mins for the sugar to get dissolved.
  6. Allow it to cool.
  7. Meanwhile roast the dry fruits in ghee and add to the phirni.
  8. Allow it to cool, refrigerate and serve cool


Special Notes/Tips:
  • Adding more rice will get the phirni really thick. In a regular phirni, gulkand is also added. But I didn't add as I didn't have it on hand.
  • When you boil milk in microwave, it normally never boils over. But in high power for 10 minutes it is enough to get it to a very high boiling point.

This of course goes for the party I have on the blog for celebrating 3 years of blogging! Hope you are joining in..


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