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Vellai Chola Dosai/White Corn Pancakes (Whole Grain Dosai Series)

June 19, 2014 Leave a comment

  
Vellai Cholam/White Corn is next on the list. This is a pancake using fresh corn.

  
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Now, with the title, whole grain dosais/pancakes, can fresh corn be included?
  
Is Corn a vegetable, grain or a fruit?

    

Corn seed is actually a vegetable, a grain, and a fruit. Corn seed is a vegetable because it is harvested for eating. (Usually sweet corn when grain is harvested at the milk stage.) Corn seed is a grain because it is a dry seed of a grass species. (Usually field corn when harvested after the grain is relatively dry.) Corn seed is a fruit because that is the botanical definition.http://www.extension.org/pages/36971/please-settle-a-dispute-is-sweet-corn-a-vegetable-or-a-grain-what-is-the-difference-how-about-field-#.U6LYm3bZU3A

    

According to the Whole Grains Council, fresh corn is usually classified as a vegetable and dried corn (including popcorn) as a grain.

Corn is a whole grain if the bran, germ, and endosperm are all left intact, just like whole wheat. If the corn is milled or degermed to remove the bran and germ, then it is a refined grain. http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/2013/07

    

Of course, if one has dried corn,  replace in place of fresh corn in this recipe and soak with the lentil for 4-6 hours, grind to a smooth batter and let it ferment overnight and make pancakes. (Target sort of justified isn’t it).

Still, I am courageous enough to post this under a whole grain dosai-  with two things in mind-

1. the very kind readers who don’t oppose

2. the goodness of fresh corn that gives equal nutrients to fit as a whole grain

  
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Interesting facts about white corn

    

White maize is biologically and genetically very similar to yellow maize, although there is a difference in appearance due to the absence of carotin oil pigments in the kernel which otherwise cause the yellow colour of the grain. Production conditions and cultivation methods are largely identical.

Among the individual geographical regions of the developing countries, white maize production is of paramount importance in Africa. In this region, which produces about one-third of the global white maize crop, it represents about 90 percent of the total regional maize output. The main producers include Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries in which white maize represents between two-thirds and 90 percent of total cereals production. Other important producers of the region include Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria, where white maize constitutes from 15-35 percent of total cereals production. In these latter countries, white maize rivals in importance other cereals, such as wheat, rice, millet and sorghum. http://www.fao.org/docrep/w2698e/w2698e03.htm#TopOfPage

    

Corns come in various colours – among them, the yellow corn, common on the cob; white corn is more chewy. But makes very good pancakes. I have already posted chola dosai/corn dosai with milled yellow corn – the powder version. see – http://dosaikal.com/2012/05/24/chola-dosaiyellow-corn-flour-pancake/

This one is with fresh white corn. Here in Cambodia, the markets are filled with yellow and white corns. Depending on the season, sometimes yellow and sometimes white is in bulk.

I like the yellow ones to be pressure cooked as a snack with salt and pepper, the yellow corn, the more chewy among the two is preferred as dosai/pancake.

White Corn Dosai can be made with white corn alone as the ingredient without black gram, blended with water and salt to make a batter. Dosai comes out good, but should administer caution while spreading in the pan.

The one I have made in this post is with the combination of dehusked black gram as in Idly or Plain dosai. Since I have used fresh white corn, I soaked the black gram alone with fenugreek seeds. After grinding the batter, fermentation is not needed. The batter might become sour or even go waste as the fresh white corn would get spoilt soon.

  
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A Few Health Benefits of Corn
  
Anti-oxidant
You can get health-supportive antioxidant benefits from all varieties of corn, including white, yellow, blue, purple and red corn. But recent research has shown the antioxidant benefits from different varieties of corn actually come from different combinations of phytonutrients.

Corn is actually a unique phytonutrient-rich food that provides us with well-documented antioxidant benefits. In terms of conventional antioxidant nutrients, corn is a good source of the mineral manganese. But it is corn’s phytonutrients that have taken center stage in the antioxidant research on corn. Different varieties of corn highlight different combinations of antioxidant phytonutrients.

  
Fibre
Corn is a food that gives us plenty of chewing satisfaction, and its high ratio of insoluble-to-soluble fiber is partly the reason.

  
Digestive properties
Recent research has shown that corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in our large intestine and can also be transformed by these bacteria into short chain fatty acids, or SCFAs. These SCFAs can supply energy to our intestinal cells and thereby help lower our risk of intestinal problems, including our risk of colon cancer.

  
Tackles blood sugar
Given its good fiber content, its ability to provide many B-complex vitamins including vitamins B1, B5 and folic acid, and its notable protein content (about 5-6 grams per cup), corn is a food that would be expected to provide blood sugar benefits.
Sufficient fiber and protein content in a food helps prevent too rapid or too slow digestion of that food. protein and fiber also help prevent too rapid or too slow uptake of sugar from the digestive tract up into the bloodstream. Once the uptake of sugar is steadied, it is easier to avoid sudden spikes or drops in blood sugar. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=90

    
Vellai Chola Dosai/White Corn Pancake

  

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Ingredients (makes approximately 10-12 dosais)

  • vellai cholam/white corn – fresh kernels- when removed – 2 cups
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 cup
  • vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • uppu/salt – to taste
  • yennai/oil – to make dosais

  

white corn – soaked them for 15 mins. as I had refrigerated them the previous night

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Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak dehusked black gram and fenugreek seeds in enough water for 2-3 hrs or if the weather is not too hot, can soak overnight
  2. Grind the black gram-fenugreek with fresh white corn kernels together in a grinder/blender to a smooth and fine paste
  3. Mix  enough salt and the batter is ready to make dosais
  4. The extra batter should be kept refrigerated for further use
  5. Make hot Dosais and serve with vengaya thuvayal /onion chutney or any chutney of choice
  6. After the dosais, more/buttermilk which is the diluted version of yoghurt with salt is served as coolant
  7. The buttermilk aids in digestion.

 

the batter

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Note:

  1. If one is using dried corn, soak overnight like the black gram
  2. Dry red chillies can be ground together with the soaked ingredients for a spicy taste
  3. Chopped shallots mixed to the batter or spread over the dosai while cooking adds a different flavor to the pancake
  4. Any chutney of choice, but preferably with garlic, that would aid in digestion suits well
  5. The chutney can also contain shallots that would aid in cooling the system.
  6. Buttermilk is highly preferred with asafoetida to avoid gastric problems and also acts as a coolant.

  
  
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Varagarisi Dosai/Kodo Millet Pancake (whole grain dosai series)

June 16, 2014 Leave a comment

  
The next power packed pancake is Varagarisi Dosai. Varagarisi is Kodo millet in English.

Scientific name – Paspalum scrobiculatum L.

  

varagu/kodo in close up

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Kodo millet was domesticated in India almost 3000 years ago. It is found across the old world in humid habitats of tropics and subtropics. It is a minor grain crop in India and an important crop in the Deccan plateau.

The fiber content of the whole grain is very high. Kodo millet has around 11% protein, and the nutritional value of the protein has been found to be slightly better than that of foxtail millet but comparable to that of other small millets. As with other food grains, the nutritive value of Kodo millet protein could be improved by supplementation with legume protein. http://www.icrisat.org/crop-kodomillet.html

    

Points that struck me while searching for true facts on the ‘Goodness of Millets’ -
  
Millets are also unique due to their short growing season. They can develop from planted seeds to mature, ready to harvest plants in as little as 65 days. This is important in heavily populated areas. When properly stored, whole millets will keep for two or more years.

Unlike rice and wheat that require many inputs in terms of soil fertility and water, millets grow well in dry regions as rainfed crops. By eating millets, we will be encouraging farmers in dryland areas to grow crops that are best suited for those regions. This is a step towards sustainable cropping practices where by introducing diversity in our diets, we respect the biodiversity in nature rather than forcefully changing cropping patterns to grow wheat and rice everywhere. http://millets.wordpress.com/millets/

  

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Health benefits of millets

  

  • Regular consumption of millet is very beneficial for postmenopausal women suffering from signs of cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Children’s intake of whole grains like millet and fish has been shown to reduce the occurrence of wheezing and asthma.
  • A high source of fiber, millet is very beneficial against breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
  • According to research and recent studies, consumption of millet can help women combat the occurrence of gallstones, as they are a very high source of insoluble fiber.
  • This form of cereal grain is very high in phosphorus content, which plays a vital role in maintaining the cell structure of the human body. The key role of this mineral is that it helps in the formation of the mineral matrix of the bone and is also an essential component of ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), which is the energy currency of the body.
  • A single cup of millet provides around 24.0% of the body’s daily phosphorus requirement. This mineral is a very important constituent of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of genetic code.
  • Recent research has indicated that the regular consumption of millet is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This is mainly due to the fact that whole grains like millet are a rich source of magnesium, which acts as a co-factor in a number of enzymatic reactions in the body, regulating the secretion of glucose and insulin.
  • Magnesium is also beneficial in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks. It is even very useful for people who are suffering from atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
  • To get the health benefits of millet, serve it warm with milk as an alternative to hot oatmeal in the morning. Its nutty taste can be enhanced by gently roasting the grains in a pan on the stovetop.
  • It can also be popped like popcorn to create a healthy “puffed” cereal. It can be ground into gluten-free flour and added to baked goods. One can also use it in soups, casseroles, and as a side-dish in place of rice. Enjoy the many health benefits millet has to offer!

    http://www.ilsi-india.org/conference-on-processed-foods-and-beverages-for-health/Session-IV/Prof-Suresh-Prasad-Delhi-Conf-on-millets-presentation.pdf

  

  

ALL MILLET VARIETIES SHOW HIGH ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY
At the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, a team of biochemists analyzed the antioxidant activity and phenolic content of several varieties of millet: kodo, finger, foxtail, proso, pearl, and little millets. Kodo millet showed the highest phenolic content, and proso millet the least. All varieties showed high antioxidant activity, in both soluble and bound fractions.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 9 June 2010; 58(11):6706-14. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/node/7722/print

  

Varagu/Kodo Millet could be enjoyed in different forms and preparations. Varagarisi Idli/Rice Cakes, Varagarisi Dosai/Pancakes, Varagarisi Kanji/Porridge, Varagarisi Upma and many more.

  
Varagarisi Dosai/Kodo Millet Dosai

  

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Kodo millet is a nutritious grain and a good substitute to rice or wheat. The grain is composed of 11% of protein, providing 9 grams/100 g consumed. It is an excellent source of fibre at 10 grams (37-38%), as opposed to rice, which provides 0.2/100 g, and wheat, which provides 1.2/100 g. An adequate fibre source helps combat the feeling of hunger. Kodo millet contains 66.6 g of carbohydrates and 353 kcal per 100 g of grain, comparable to other millets. It also contains 3.6 g of fat per 100 g. It provides minimal amounts of iron, at 0.5/100 mg, and minimal amounts of calcium, and 27/100 mg. Kodo millets also contain high amounts of polyphenols, an antioxidant compound. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paspalum_scrobiculatum

    

Ingredients (makes approximately 20-25 dosais) make half the quantity to make 10-12 dosais

  • varagarisi /kodo millet – 4 cups
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 cup
  • vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp
  • oil – to make dosai

  
Note:

  1. Unlike the previous Dosais with finger millet and pearl millet, here kodo millet batter is made exactly like the normal Idli/dosai batter
  2. Dehusked black gram is soaked separately with fenugreek seeds and the millet is soaked separately. The gram and fenugreek remains the same; rice is replaced with varagarisi/kodo millet.
  3. Though I have not tried Kezhvaragu/finger millet or Kambu/pearl millet idly, I made varagarisi/Kado millet Idlies, which were soft and fluffy and tasted only a tiny bit different from normal Idlies.
  4. It is highly recommended to have a glass of more/buttermilk to reduce the heat effects of this millet.

  

varagarisi idli/kodo millet steamed cakes

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fluffy and soft

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Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and Soak kodo millet
  2. Wash and soak black gram and fenugreek seeds
  3. Soak the ingredients separately in enough water for a minimum 6 hrs
  4. Grind the black gram-fenugreek combination to a smooth and fluffy consistency
  5. Remove from the grinder/blender and grind the soaked millet to a fine paste
  6. Mix both with enough salt and leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight
  7. In a warm country, 8 hrs is enough and one can mix the fermented batter and keep it refrigerated for further use
  8. Once fermented, always keep the batter refrigerated as it will go sour and get spoilt
  9. Make hot Dosais and serve with vengaya thuvayal /onion chutney or any chutney of choice
  10. After the dosais, more/buttermilk which is the diluted version of yoghurt with salt is served as coolant
  11. The buttermilk aids in digestion.

  

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Kambu Dosai/Pearl Millet Pancake/Bajra Dosa (Whole Grain Dosai Series)

May 24, 2014 2 comments

  

black gram and pearl millet

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Next on the list of healthy/protein rich dosais/pancakes is Kambu Dosai. Kambu in Tamil is Pearl Millet in English and Bajra in Hindi.

As mentioned in the previous Keppai Dosai Post, my daughter’s first intake after mother’s milk was finger millet porridge. Now, the goodness of these sprouted grains is that they are often used as weaning foods for infants and easily digestible foods for elders.

  
Health Benefits of Kambu/Pearl Millet

  

soaked….

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Scientific Name: Pennisetum Glaucum.
Pearl millet requires surprisingly low amounts of water to grow.

    

  1. Pearl millet is one of the very few foods that turns the stomach alkaline and prevents formation of stomach ulcers or reduces the effect of ulcers.
  2. The lignin and phytonutrients in millet act as strong antioxidants thus preventing heart related diseases.
  3. High amounts of magnesium present in pearl millet have been shown to control blood pressure and relieve heart stress. The high concentration of magnesium also helps reduce severity of respiratory problems for asthma patients and is also effective in reducing migraine attacks.
  4. It has a large amount of Phosphorus, which is very essential for bone growth and development.
  5. Owing to its fibre content it takes longer for the grain to move from the stomach to the intestines. This way, pearl millet satiates hunger for a long period of time and thus helps in lowering the overall consumption of food. This effectively helps in maintaining the blood sugar level constant in diabetes patients for a long period of time.

http://www.theresearchpedia.com/health/superfoods/health-benefits-of-pearl-millet

    

 

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  1. Celiac disease is a condition in which a person cannot tolerate even a small amount of gluten in his/her diet. Unfortunately, most of the common grains like rice, wheat, etch have gluten present in them. Millets are the only type of grains which do not have any gluten present. Thus this is suitable for people with celiac disease.
  2. Pearl millet contains a type of phyto chemical called phytic acid which is believed to increase cholesterol metabolism and stabilise the levels of cholesterol in the body.
  3. The high fibre content in pearl millet is also known to reduce the risk of gall stone occurrence.
  4. The grain is very digestible as such and has a very low probability of causing allergic reactions. Due to its hypo allergic property, it can be safely included in the diets of infants, lactating mothers, elderly and convalescents.

http://www.theresearchpedia.com/health/superfoods/health-benefits-of-pearl-millet

Kambu/Pearl Millet could be enjoyed in different forms and preparations. KambuIdli/Rice Cakes, KambuDosai/Pancakes, Kambang-koozh/ Kanji/Porridge, Kambang-Kali/Halwa, Kambu Upma and many more.

  
Kambu Dosai – Pearl Millet Pancake

  

 

 

Ingredients (makes approximately 12-15 dosais)

  • kambu/pearl millet/bajra – 1 1/2 cups
  • muzhu ulundhu/black gram – 1/2 cup
  • vendhayam – 1 tsp
  • uppu/salt – as needed
  • oil – to make dosai

  

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and Soak all ingredients in enough water for a minimum 4 hrs
  2. Grind to a smooth batter
  3. Add salt to batter and leave to ferment for 6 hrs
  4. In a warm country, 6 hrs is enough and one can mix the fermented batter and keep it refrigerated for further use
  5. If in a cold country, leave it overnight
  6. Once fermented, always keep the batter refrigerated as it will go sour and get spoilt
  7. Make hot Dosais and serve with vengaya thuvayal /onion chutney or any chutney of choice
  8. After the dosais, more/buttermilk which is the diluted version of yoghurt with salt is served as coolant
  9. The buttermilk aids in digestion.

 

Kezhvaragu Dosai/Finger Millet Pancake (Whole Grain Dosai Series)

April 29, 2014 Leave a comment

  

kezhvaragu/finger millet – the centre of attraction

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First in the series of Dosais would be Kezhvaragu Dosai. Kezhvaragu in Tamil, is Finger Millet in English and locally Ragi in Karnataka, the southern Indian state which is the largest producer of Finger Millet in India. It is also called Keppai in Tamil.

I give primary importance to Kezhvaragu/Ragi as it was one of the first foods of my daughter after mother’s milk at six months of age.

When my daughter was ready for her first worldly meal – she was fed Keppai Kanji or Finger Millet Porridge. The millet is soaked and sprouted, dried and milled first. This powder is mixed with milk and sugar or jaggery and boiled to porridge consistency. The warm porridge is best next to Mother’s Milk for infants.

  

health drink for children: keppai kanji – finger millet porridge

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It is rich in Amino Acids which are vital in normal functioning of body and are essential for repairing body tissues. Finger Millet contains Tryptophan, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine and Methionoine amino acids. Isoleucine helps in muscle repair, blood formation, contributes to bone formation and improves skin health.

    

Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet
  

ingredients for dosai

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This is a beautiful orange colored grain. When powdered and mixed with milk or water in porridges or made into batter for pancakes, the color changes to somewhat ashy brown.

In packaged drinks called ‘ragi malt’ or powdered version available in the markets, it used to be in orange color, the synthetic colors added to give it the natural grain like color. But beware of those colorful health drinks. Kezhvaragu loses its color when grounded or mixed with milk or water.

Finger Millet, is cultivated in drier parts of the world – mainly in Asia and Africa. It has a distinct taste and is widely used in Southern Indian and Ethiopian dishes. It is easy to digest and does not contain gluten; people who are sensitive to gluten can easily consume Finger Millet.

   

Nutritional Facts

 
1. Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet contains an amino acid called Tryptophan whichlowers appetite and helps in keeping weight in control. Ragi gets digested at a slower rate thus keeps one away from intaking excessive calories.

 
2. Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet consumption helps in development of bones in growing children and in maintenance of bone health in adults. It keeps diseases such as osteoporosis at bay and could reduce risk of fracture.

 
3. It’s photo chemicals help in slowing digestion process and lowering absorption of starch.. This helps in controlling blood sugar level in condition of diabetes. In a study conducted in 2000, it was found that Finger Millet based diet helps diabetics as it contains higher fiber than rice and wheat.

 
4. Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet contains amino acids Lecithin and Methionine which help in bringing down cholesterol level eliminating excess fat from Liver. Finger Millet also contains Threonine amino acid which hinders fat formation in the liver, which brings cholesterol level of the body down.

 
5. It is a very good source of natural Iron. It also helps in relaxing body naturally. It is beneficial in conditions of anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is also useful for migraines.

 
6. It is rich in Amino Acids which are vital in normal functioning of body and are essential for repairing body tissues. Finger Millet contains Tryptophan, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine and Methionoine amino acids. Isoleucine helps in muscle repair, blood formation, contributes to bone formation and improves skin health.

 
7. If consumed regularly, Ragi could help in keeping malnutrition, degenerative diseases and premature aging at bay.

  
  

Caution:
It is an extremely nutritious cereal and is very beneficial for maintaining a good health. However, its high intake could increase quantity oxalic acid in the body. Therefore, it is not advised to patients having kidney stones (Urinary Calculi).

    

Kezhvaragu/Finger Millet could be enjoyed in different forms and preparations. Keppai Idli/Rice Cakes, Keppai Dosai/Pancakes, Keppai Kanji/Porridge, Keppai Kali/Halwa, Keppai Upma, Ragi Cakes, Ragi Biscuits and many more.

  
Kezhvaragu Dosai/Finger Millet Pancake

  

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Ingredients (makes appr. 12-15 dosais/pancakes)

  • Kezhvaragu/ragi/finger millet – 1 1/2 cups
  • Ulundhu not split/dehusked black gram – 1/2 cup
  • Vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • oil – to make dosais

  

soaked

  

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and Soak all ingredients in enough water for a minimum 4 hrs
  2. Grind to a smooth batter
  3. Add salt to batter and leave to ferment for 6 hrs
  4. In a warm country, 6 hrs is enough and one can mix the fermented batter and keep it refrigerated for further use
  5. If in a cold country, leave it overnight
  6. Once fermented, always keep the batter refrigerated as it will go sour and get spoilt
  7. Make hot Dosais and serve with vengaya thuvayal /onion chutney or any chutney of choice
  8. After the dosais, more/buttermilk which is the diluted version of yoghurt with salt is served as coolant.

  

one side of the story

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and the other side

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To Make Dosais/Pancakes refer – http://dosaikal.com/2011/08/14/basic-dosaidosa/

and serve with chutney of choice – refer – http://dosaikal.com/category/chutneys/

  

if one prefers dehusked black gram – go for it

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Note

  1. The black gram generally used is dehusked whole black gram. I prefer to use black gram with skin which adds to the nutrient value of the dosai.
  2. Be careful with the fermentation as the batter would become sour very quickly. Minimum 4 hrs is enough in a warm climate
  3. This is the plain dosai. If one prefers, grinding red chillies together or mixing coconut just before making Dosais can be a variation. Do not mix coconut before fermentation as coconut would be spoilt and make the batter spoilt too.
  4. Buttermilk is had after the Dosai as kezhvargi/ragi is supposed to be a heat producing grain and the onion in chutney and more/buttermilk act as coolants.
  5. Can make the Dosais thick or crispy thin as preferred.

  
Not to miss:

  1. Since Kezvaragu is supposed to be a heat producing agent for the body, it is always had with shallots/onion thuvayal/chutney.
  2. After a breakfast with onion chutney and dosai, buttermilk or diluted yoghurt is always served as a coolant.
  3. It is preferably or rather specifically adviced to have it only as breakfast and not for dinner as it needs more time to digest.

  
All nutritional facts adapted from http://naturopathycure.com/Health-Benefits-of-Finger-Millet-%28Ragi%29.php

ready!

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Power Packed Pancakes – Whole Grain Dosais!

April 19, 2014 Leave a comment

  
 

power packed grains and lentils

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top – brown rice, yellow corn and black chick peas

bottom – black gram, green gram, finger miller and pearl millet.

  

Idlies and Dosais for Stress-free life/life style…

  

Why not start a series on different kinds of Dosais/pancakes? With less intake of White Rice recommended, the wide variety of whole grain Dosais would not only contribute to the overall well-being of the family, but also in relieving Stress in terms of what to provide the next morning as breakfast on the table… Healthier, Yummier and less stress on the Home Cook! Just a bit of pre-planning required of course.

  
Whole Grains and Lentils

The different grains and lentils grown in the southern part of India marks the usage of those grains in the form of Dosais.

    
 

Kezhvaragu/Keppai – Finger Millet
Kambu – Pearl Millet
Makka Cholam – Corn
Vellai Cholam – Jowar/Sorghum
Varagarisi – Kodo Millet
Samai – Little Millet
Thinai – Foxtail Millet
Godhumai – Wheat
Muzhu ulundhu – Black Gram
Kollu – Horse Gram

    

are a few grains that are used in making Dosais and sometimes Idlies/steamed cakes too! But Dosais are comparatively easier, as Idlies have the risk of not rising well if the combination goes wrong or the fermenting ingredient is less or more. This list is apart from the usage of red rice and other lentils in making Dosais.

and this is varagarisi/kodo millet

  
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I might have left out a few here. Also, the photo display has only a few grains, those which are available with me at present.

The grains are not only used in their original form, soaked and ground; they are also used as powders, milled – sprouted or not sprouted. These powders are available in specific stores all over Tamilnadu.

These are 100% traditional foods. With today’s’ medical advancements proving their health benefits, the almost lost grains in the cities are slowly becoming power packed foods with soaring prices in the retail market.

The list of Dosais/Pancakes are all traditionally still part of South Indian cuisine – more specifically that I am sure of in Tamilnadu cuisine and in the homes of believers of traditional food.

The usage of grains may not only be in the form of pancakes, but in a varied forms like kanji/porridge, idiyappam/string hoppers, grain balls/urundai, kali/halwa and many more …

or the storable batters that end up as Idlies/rice cakes or Dosais/pancakes!

  
Stress-free Cooking with Dosais

  
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In today’s world, everyone is busy – an infant, toddler, pre-schooler or a school going kid, a teenager, youngster or an adult … ‘Busy’ is synonymous to ‘Life’. While ‘Stress’ stands for over-burden, who can categorize the stress level of each person?

Now, What is Stress?
an unmanageable kid – stress for a working mother,
a lazy employee – stress for a Boss,
heavily demanding boss – stress for a subordinate
troublesome daughter-in-law – stress for a mother-in-law,
complaining mother-in-law – stress for a daughter-in-law,
a serious patient – stress for a physician,
not so serious physician – stress for a patient,
And
not so caring wife – stress for a husband,
a self-centric husband – stress for a wife

The list is endless. This list may not categorize the true stress levels… Mostly the opposite or other extreme of these could also be stress factors.

Why talk so much about Stress? Having Good, Healthy Food and Serving Good, Healthy Food are stress factors attached to the Kitchen Cabinet – whoever is in charge be it male or female.

  

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I am one of those who takes her work serious and so the Stress too! It’s my feeling that Home is my Office, Kitchen is my Cabin and my work load in terms of a Chef without Hat at home is to provide Good, Healthy Food to my family.

So, whatever be my above mentioned stress, an unmanageable kid or a lazy caretaker, I want to do my Duty without much flaws! Especially, ensuring the best possible nutrients in homemade GOOD FOOD – ‘GOOD’ in its true sense – Stressless or Stressful!

Luckily for my family – COOKING is my Stress Buster!

  
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That is where I find Idlies – Rice cakes and Dosais – pancakes make my life stress free – of course with the tiny bit of stress making the batter before hand. But, stress free as they can be stored for even five days in the refrigerator. Every morning and evening, only a few minutes to make them, leaving the stress of making chutney or Sambaar only! That’s ok.. the side dishes are manageable and can be stored in the freezer too.

  
Frozen Batter

  
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Any batter for Dosais- pancakes (basic idli/dosai or lentil or whole grain batters) can be frozen. Make your batter, ferment it and freeze it in small portions or in two portions. Take out one portion and place in the refrigerator section overnight. Next morning keep it out for a few minutes to an hour. Or defrost in the morning. Batter is ready to make Dosais! What else do you want for a lazy weekend brunch or early dinner? Team the pancakes with chutney or left over curries too!

In fact, whenever we were traveling in Europe, with my daughter who was 3-5 years of age or sometimes with my septuagenarian mother-in-law who would prefer Dosais to sandwiches, I used to freeze a huge quantity of batter which would yield at least 30-40 Dosais enough for all for 3-4 days. Our favourite car trunk used to be filled with frozen food! After a long day’s tiring travel and touring and lunch with sandwiches, the thought of coming back to our kitchenette and having Dosais with thawed chutney or curry was such a soothing affair only South Indian tummies can explain!

In an apartment that wasn’t ours, in some of the most beautiful parts of Europe, in a kitchen that wasn’t mine, making our own Dosais, used to be a wonderful feeling, leave aside the work before and after… Washing the utensils and winding up the kitchen (that was not ours too) even during a holiday!

  
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But an important point to remember, dosaikal or the pan to make Dosais cannot be adjusted with any other pan! One needs to carry the same pan… Pans used for Dosais alone can make the best of Dosais without the batter sticking to pans.

I think back after a couple of years now and feel exhausted even at the thought of having done that for the three years of delightful tours in Europe. But, not letting my three year old sleep with only half or quarter tummy full or the whole family long for home cooked meal after a couple of days has been a Soothing Effect for my heart!

Have I become so much older that I feel exhausted even at the thought of it? But that’s not the issue. The fact is that dosai/pancake batters can be stored for long or frozen too! So flexible to maintain a healthy diet with minimal stress!

  
Breads, Parathas and Dosais

Different kinds of breads or pancakes for the western world;
Different kinds of parathas for northern India;
Dosais or pancakes stand for the South Indians!

1. these can be made from various ingredients – whole grains, lentils or a combination of these
2. some fermented and some non-fermented
3. unlike yeast or other baking-aid ingredients, basically black gram or dehusked black gram is used for the fermentation process
4. as kneading the dough is needed in both breads and parathas, here washing, soaking and grinding involves more time.. Time involved is more than the work involved with the aid of electrical equipments

  
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Unlike breads or baguette those need to be baked and kept on the breakfast table, the North Indian Parathas and South Indian Dosais taste best from a live kitchen with an on-the-spot chef who makes hot/incomparable stuff. Of course, they can also be made beforehand and stored in hot cases. But not as same as breads!

  
A Series

In the forthcoming posts, I shall try to post a few of the whole grain dosais or power packed pancakes as I call them. Some would be the soaked grain version and a few would be the powdered version as per stock at home.

The basic Dosai/Pancake, Chola Dosai/Corn Dosai, Muzhu Ulundhu Dosai/Black Gram Dosai, Payaru Dosai/Whole Lentil Dosai and Adai Dosai/Mixed Lentil Dosai are already available.

  

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A gentle reminder

Now, if reading this article was a stress or one feels making dosais can be a stressful affair, do not worry! This free world is full of options – make your food yourself or buy or order it yourself, it is your decision. Anything ‘Stressfree’ is the need of the hour!!

But, if you decide that, making the power packed pancakes at home is going to be less stressful than reading this post of mine, just continue … the next few posts I promise would be truly a – Power Packed – Healthy series!

Festival of India in Cambodia – Dance Festival and Buddhist Festival

March 20, 2014 4 comments

  

Rama Pattabhishekam – Rama Attaining Throne

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The Embassy of India and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India recently hosted The Festival of India in Cambodia. There were two events held in February. One the Buddhist Festival with a Buddhist themed photo exhibition and the other, Ramayana Classical Dance Performance by the world acclaimed and well esteemed Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai.

The epic Ramayana was performed by Artists from the famous Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai, Tamilnadu, in Siem Reap province for two days at Sophitel Pokheetra Hall (14.02.14 and 15.02.14) and in Phnom Penh at Chaktamouk Theatre for three days (17.02, 18.02 and 19.02.14).

  

captivating performances..

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About KALAKSHETRA…

Kalakshetra was established in 1936 after the extraordinary success of Rukmini Devi’s first performance of Bharata Natyam at the Theosophical Society, in Adyar, a suburb of Madras, in the South of India. The founding members, Rukmini Devi, her husband George Arundale, and their associates at the Theosophical Society, were deeply committed to Theosophy and an arts academy was an extension of this commitment. The academy was also symbolic of the struggle for India’s independence; it was to culturally revive a country that was losing its identity under British rule. http://www.kalakshetra.net/history_1.html

  

Rukmini Devi founded Kalakshetra in 1936. She devoted the next fifty uears – until her death in 1986 – to this institution, now India’s premier dance school. It focuses on bharatanatyam, carnatic vocal and instrumental music, the visual arts, traditional crafts, textile design and heritage, besides history and philosophy.

  

Director of Kalakshetra Priyadarsini Govind

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The Dancers, Vocalists, Instrumentalists and the very important Behind the Screen Technical Artists arrived as a crew with the Director of Kalakshetra,  Priyadarsini Govind a renowned dancer herself. She is immensely respected for her gentle blending of traditional dance with new choreography. Her inseparable talent has loaded her with numerous awards and honours, among which are the Prestigious ‘Kalaimamani’ title by the Government of Tamilnadu in 1998 and ‘Yuva Kala Bharathi’ in 2000.

  
Ramayana on Stage

The classic dance drama, not only showcased the rich cultural and artistic heritage of India but also served as a connecting link between many of the Asian countries. Ramayana is popular in various parts of south east asia, where the epic is adapted according to the country’s culture and life style. Even within India, Ramayana in each language, adapted from the original Valmiki Ramayana, has unique features of the respective territory.

    

As in many oral epics, multiple versions of the ramayana survive. In particular, the ramayana related in north India differs in important respects from that preserved in south India and the rest of south-east Asia. There is an extensive tradition of oral storytelling based on the ramayana in Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, and Maldives. Father Kamil Bulke, author of Ramakatha, has identified over 300 variants of Ramayana. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana

    
Here in Phnom Penh, Guests from various countries thoroughly enjoyed the rendition and felt the connect.

The connect was not only because of Ramayana, but due to the immensely talented artists who performed on stage – who brought the characters in true picture. The enthralled spectators would have been comparing their version of Ramayana with that performed on stage.

  

the artists

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vocalists

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and instrumentalists

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The Performances were a class apart, with the incomparable discipline in the steps and outstanding co-ordination of movements, the super speciality of Bharata Natyam.The traditional way of having the vocalists and instrumentalists on the side stage, with live music was another feather on the cap!

Rukmini Devi based her production largely on Valmiki’s classical version, but had made minor differences in the sequence of events. In her own words -

    

There are certain fundamental differences between Valmiki, Kambar and the great Ramayana poets. There is no definite mention in Valmiki of Surpanakha transforming herself into a beautiful maiden in order to tempt Sri Rama.
We are also accustomed to think Ravana lifting Sita with the part of the earth on which she was, to protect himself from magnetism which was like fire, destroying him. This is not so according to the Valmiki version, which says Ravana lifted her physically.
I have made slight differences in the sequence of events for it is important to think of what appears best on the stage. – Rukmini Devi Arundale

    

The performances were done under three themes, one on each day -
1. Jatayu Moksham
2. Choodamani Pradhanam
3. Mahapattabhishekam

These are some of the pictures which would explain the sheer beauty and poise of the dance and the stunning stageappearance and the almost real characters on stage!

In Tamil, names have the suffix  ‘an’ for male names as raman, lakshmanan, bharathan and ravanan; and here ‘ai’ for female names as in seethai and surpanakai. As I am comfortable in addressing the characters in the Tamil version, the names are mentioned likewise.

    
1. Jatayu Moksham

For info on the topic, I found this blog – http://ramayanainfo.blogspot.com/2010/06/jataayu-moksha.html%22 helpful.

  

seethai, raman and lakshmanan

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raman and seethai

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encounter with surpanakai, ravanan’s sister

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ravanan in his court

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ravanan disguised as an ascetic to kidnap seethai

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ravanan kills jatayu

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2. Choodamani Pradhanam and Lanka Dhahanam

Please refer http://srimadramayana.blogspot.com/2007/04/choodamani-pradanam.html for the story of the episode.

Also http://www.kalakshetra.net/choodamani_pradanam.html

  

hanuman lifts raman and lakshmanan

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war between vali and sugreevan

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the war

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hanuman watches the pathetic state of seethai from behind the bushes

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seethai hands over her ornament to hanuman

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3. Maha Pattabhishekam

Read http://www.kalakshetra.net/maha_pattabhishekam.html for details of the story.

  

war between raman and ravanan

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post war – seethai meets raman

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raman accepts seethai

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raman and seethai arrive for the coronation

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elegance personified

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Mahapattabhishekam

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Crisp Steps of ‘Bharatha Natyam’, co-ordinated with other forms like ‘Kathakali’ made the performance an undoubtedly unique affair. The make-up, jewellery and the importance given to costumes gave a feel of a celestial wonder!

The verses sung were in Sanskrit from the original Valmiki Ramayana. Yet, the translated version which was displayed continuously on side monitors helped in comprehension of the scenes better.

    

Committed to artistic excellence whether in classrooms, in auditoria or during tours around the world (as a performance company), Kalakshetra productions are widely recognized for their in-depth research, impeccable technique and refined aesthetics.

    

Formerly, the Buddhist festival was held at Wat Ounalom, with the Himalayan monks performing Lama Chanting, a specialized form of chanting that produces multiple distinct pitches simultaneously. The monks also created sand mandalas and butter sculptures showing an innovative version of Buddhist worship medium. A photo exhibition named Dhamma Dharshan portrayed various aspects of Buddha’s life and the eight important places in the life of Buddha – the venues located in India. It was surely a wonderful journey and a unique experience of knowledge gaining of the great Man’s life under one roof.

Still in store – a Food Festival and Film Festival are also being organized here in Cambodia in the month of April, as part of the Festival of India. Surely the True Flavor of India!

Trey Chamhoi/Cambodian Steamed Fish

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

  

floating village of tonle sap

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The Tonle Sap is one of the most critical freshwater ecosystems in the Mekong River Basin. It is the largest lake in South East Asia, home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a Ramsar site, and the most important inland fishery in Cambodia.http://www.mekongriver.info/tonle-sap

    

Having completed 13 months in Cambodia, I have started learning a few khmer dishes. Thanks to my helper and a good friend ‘D’, we not only relish the local cuisine but additionally enjoy it making at home – just a short commutation of the dish from kitchen to dining table.

In the Kingdom of Cambodia, Fish is a staple, and it can unambiguously be said that “Fish enjoys almost the royal status of Rice.” A true convert that I am, I do not miss the country flavor of the local fishes.

    

The staple diet of Khmer is fresh water fish. With the abundant supply of fish (said to be 600 different species in the Tonle Sap lake), it is not surprising that the Khmer love to eat fish!

If you are in Cambodia during November to February, there is a week per month where you may be able to see lots of fishing activity along the riverfront in Phnom Penh. Here the Mekhong and Sap rivers come together and the fish is very plentiful during this season. The Khmer make use of this season and not only eat the fish fresh but dry, smoke, ferment and make it into fish sauce so they can use it during lean times as their main source of proteinhttp://www.cambodiauncovered.com/cambodia/fishing.html

    

A glance of the varieties of fish available at the market -
  

medium and small

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and bigger

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variety

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the favorite among Cambodians – fish head

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shrimps and seafood too

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I am also a picky eater when it comes to fish – lesser the bones easier for me and I suppose for most of those who are reading this post too. But, with the very little knowledge that I have gained within these years about fishes, I keep one thing in mind – smaller the fish , lesser the fat. Certain varieties of smaller fish may be less in Omega 3 but  are certainly less in the mercury content and hence safer.

So, I get any fish with a maximum weight of 1 kg and mostly 2 fishes at 1.75 kgs put together. This is for my Meen Kuzhambu (fish curry), Varutha Meen (fish fry), steamed fish cambodian style or a cambodian fish soup. I also buy the somewhat look-alike neththili of Chiriya Meen (very small fish) – (http://dosaikal.com/2013/04/05/varutha-meen-varutha-kathirikkai-with-thaalicha-paruppu-pan-fried-fish-and-pan-fried-eggplant-with-seasoned-lentil) – fishes as small as half your index finger, which also make the best healthy crispy chips on earth, while grilled in the oven.

  

meen kuzhambu – fish curry

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small fish – crisply fried

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I find some fishes have a distinct smell or flavor of the soil. Yes, the fish when cooked has a muddy flavor. Yet, I am not competent enough to identify the differences in taste of river or sea varieties.

I know there are genetically marine souls over there who feel those tiny fishes make wonderful kuzhambus/curries and thokkus/thick curries. That’s not for lazy, fearful converts like me- the very thought of removing bones or chewing with the bones threatens me!

Above all, there is also the attached mistrust of the younger lady of the house aka daughter, who prefers appa when it comes to removing bones from cooked fish. “Amma always keeps a few bones and it is so risky you know…” she says – Good for me and one job less in my pocket!

  
Trey Chamhoy -  Steamed Fish 

  

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Trey is Fish in Khmer. This one is the version of my Khmer friend who also cooks good Indian food. So, please let me know of the changes you make in your Cambodian steamed fish!

Yet, I promise I did not make any Indianised Cambodian Fish..

    

Cambodia’s preferred source of protein is freshwater fish, caught mainly from the Tonle Sap and from the Tonle Sab, the Mekong, and the Basak rivers. Cambodians eat it fresh, salted, smoked, or made into fish sauce and paste. http://countrystudies.us/cambodia/65.htm

    

This one has the flavor of raw mangoes and is steamed in banana leaf.

  
Facts about how I use the Fish

  

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  1. I use two fishes 1.75 kgs put together.
  2. I do not use the head of the fish.
  3. Each fish is cut into two halves.
  4. So, I get 4 medium size pieces.
  5. How many fishes to be used, depends on how many pieces each member would need.

  
I. Needed most – Any kind of Steamer

  

II. Ingredients (serves two to four)

  

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  • fish (any variety) – 2 no.s cut into 4 pieces
  • shallots – 4 no.s finely sliced
  • green chillies – 3 no.s
  • fresh red chillies – 3 no.s
  • spring onions – 2 or 3 bunches cut to the length of other juliennes
  • garlic – 6 cloves
  • ginger – 1 inch piece
  • carrot – 1 medium
  • raw mango – 1/2
  • radish – 1 small
  • salt – to taste
  • pepper powder – 1/2 tsp or as preferred

All vegetables finely julienned.

  
Instead of the above vegetables – can also use
1. capsicum in various colors – red, yellow and green
2. no vegetables and only mint and coriander leaves with ginger juliennes
3. any preferred vegetable of one’s choice but I’d avoid those which let out water like cucumber or guards.

  
III. To wrap up in the steamer

  • aluminum foil to wrap up the steaming vessel first, so that the soup/broth that cooks with the fish doesn’t fall in the water below
  • fresh banana leaf to cover the steaming vessel

  

steamer vessel with holes

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Method of Preparation

  
1. Steamer

  

  1. Make the steamer ready by wrapping first with aluminum foil
  2. Then place the banana leaves to cover the base

  

aluminum foil

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banana leaf

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2. Fish

  1. Cut and wash fish into two halves each
  2. Rub salt and pepper powder on the fishes

  
3. Vegetables

Cut, slice and julienne the vegetables and mix together

  

4. To steam

  
1. Spread half of the vegetables on the banana leaf randomly

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2. Place the fish pieces on the vegetable layer

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3. Cover the fish with the remaining vegetables

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4. Close the veggie-fish combination with a layer of banana leaves and place the vessel inside the steamer

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5. Close the lid of the steamer
6. Steam for 15-20 minutes
7. Serve with the vegetables and soup/broth that lies beneath
8. Serve with hot rice.
  

Ready!

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awesome twosome

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Pongal In Cambodia – 2014!

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment

  
Pongal – The Harvest Festival of the Tamils was celebrated on the 14th of January. The four day festivity- Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal has been discussed in http://dosaikal.com/thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival.

This Year Pongal was a simple affair as usual, but just tried showcasing a few traditional things to my daughter.

Concentrated on a basic menu, not indulging into a feast meal (that tuesday being a working day for the father-daughter duo) with -

  

vaazhai ilai saappaadu – the banana leaf platter

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sarkkarai pongal -sweet jaggery rice (dosaikal.thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival) – the special delicacy of the day
maangai sambaar – lentils and vegetables in tamarind, spice gravy (dosaikal.sambar)
avial – mixed vegetables in coconut, yoghurt curry (dosaikal.pongal-in-cambodia)
beans thuvaran – beans dry vegetable curry (dosaikal.beans-poriyal)
maangai pachadi (raw mango and jaggery chutney)
maangai thokku (grated raw mango pickle)
vadai (dehusked black gram fritters)
yoghurt to end the meal
mor milagai for the yoghurt rice (dosaikal.curd-rice-sun-dried-chillies)

and the Cambodian Brown Rice to go with the curries.

  

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We had our meal on the banana leaf (dosaikal.thamizhar-virundhu-feast-of-the-tamils). The different dishes kept on the disposable leaf bowls are only for display. (Special Thanks to friend ‘R’ for letting us cut banana leaves from their trees.)

  
Dhonnai – disposable eco-friendly bowls

The leaf bowls are called ‘Dhonnai’ – a typical temple meal server. The prasadhams or the food provided to the worshippers in the temples are served in dhonnais – made of different kinds of leaves stitched to form cups (palm leaf, banana leaf, lotus leaf are a few leaves used to make dhonnais). I’d like to highlight here that these are eco-friendly, bio-degradable bowls.

  

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Any festival comes with a package of preparatory processes. Those vary from family to family. A person not familiar with all, but a keen learner that I would like myself to be – I thought of doing some minimal preparations to showcase the festive spirit.
 
So now to those few things I could make my daughter know that excites us during festivals – in the preparation of the special day -

    
1. Maavilai Thoranam

  

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Maa is the short form of maangai/mango and ilai means leaf.  Thoranam is a festoon which would be hanged at entrances of homes. During festivals, the thoranam/festoon made with mango leaves would adorn every house.  Any family occasion, thoranams are an important part of home decoration – to tell the clan, community and the village/town that there is an auspicious occasion at their home. Inauspicious occasions call for different thoranams, differently hanged.

I do not know when the earliest reference of thoranam is found in Tamil Literature. But,  ‘Naachiyaar Thirumozhi’ written by Andal, one of the Alvars (Vaishnavite Saints) of the Bhakti movement has these verses (dosaikal.com/maargazhi-maadhathil-ven-pongalven-pongal-in-the-month-of-maargazhi). Andal, the only female Alvar …in the 8th Century AD, mentions the Thoranams/festoons in her poetry!

    

vaaraNam aayiram suuzha valam seidhu
naaraNa nambi nadakinraan enredhir
pooraNa porkudam vaithu puramengum
thoraNam naatta kana kanden thozhi naan

Here, Andal talks about her dream of getting married to Lord Vishnu. She elaborates the festive occasion in her dream –

Her beloved Lord walks gloriously amidst thousands of elephants; For his majestic arrival,  golden pots (again a symbol of auspicious occasion) are arranged everywhere and the whole of Srivilliputhur – her town is completely decorated with thoranams/festoons.

    

Maavilai Thoranams are available in the market in Tamilnadu for Pongal celebrations. With numerous mango trees around, I got a few mango leaves from friend ‘P’ (with mangoes too). Made the thoranam with tooth pick and hanged it in the entrance.

    
2. Karumbu – Sugarcane

After a long search, we could get the whole sugarcane. Pongal would have been incomplete without the true bite of sugarcane.

  

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3. Kolam – traditional drawings with rice flour.

    

A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes.

Though not as flamboyant as its other Indian contemporary, Rangoli, which is extremely colourful, a South Indian Kolam is all about symmetry, precision, and complexity. Due to their complexity, trying to figure out how, exactly, these designs were drawn can be a challenge that some viewers find enjoyable. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam)

    

I am not a good artist – in terms of drawings or paintings. But watching amma and aachi draw kolams everyday in front of the house and special kolams in the poojai arai (worship room), my work was to do some kolams for Pongal and Deepavali. During Maargazhi Maadham, the month of Maargazhi (Dec-Jan), when the women display their drawing skills in front of their houses, mine would be a genuine attempt but not certainly one of the best or wouldn’t even be categorised ‘better’. Still the event wouldn’t stop.

Aachi (grandma) who would draw wonderful elephants and birds when we were small as she was a great artist. With such patience and dedication, her kolams were picture perfect  – no compromise. She had her ‘Kola nottu’ – the note for kolams (now with cousin ‘A’, who is again very good at it – so in right hands), with her precious kolams drawn to perfection.

This year, Kolam was there in my agenda of traditions during Pongal. So, I requested my friend ‘L’ in Chennai who was sending me pictures of her beautiful Kolams, to send me some simple ones with procedures too. With improved technology, the step by step procedure reached in seconds and we drew our own kolams with chalk. My little enthusiast colored them!

  

my version… great artists over there – forgive me please…

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and the original by ‘L’

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my pongal paanai – pongal pot

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Here are a few beautiful kolams done for Maargazhi and Pongal by ‘L’ -

  

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Thanks ‘L’ for sharing these with me and letting me share with all!

One more important thing in Pongal is the turmeric plant tied to the pot in which Pongal would be cooked. Not available here. Hope to find it for my next Pongal.  There is a saying in Tamil – ‘Thai pirandhal vazhi pirakkum’ which means  – with the start of the new month of ‘Thai’ – mid January to mid February (after maargazhi), good things would fall in place.

  

Wish everyone a happy, healthy and success filled Year 2014!

My 100th Post! Kootanchoru – Typical Home Town One Pot Meal.

January 12, 2014 6 comments

  
Is Knocking Century a great mile stone? Cricketers and Bloggers would agree unanimously. When my paternal die hard cricket fan thaatha (grand father) would take me to Chennai M.A. Chidambaram Stadium to watch cricket matches, as a ten year old I would jump screaming high to sixes and fours of Ravi Shastris and Kapil Devs alike. Till today I no nothing much about the game but what I liked the most was getting ready early in the morning with packed lunch and snacks and more snacks and ice-cream to be bought at the stadium and a whole day of watching different kinds of people enjoying their day. That was a perfect outing of a grandpa-grand daughter duo – chatting, munching, screaming, clapping and jumping through out – more work-out than those cricketers on the field.

Today, I feel the same excitement when I jot down my 100th post. A big THANKS to all of you who’ve kept my pen writing.

I wanted to present one of the most fabulous One Pot Meals of my home town – Thirunelveli and the nearby districts my maternal Thoothukudi. It is called KOOTANCHORU – literally translates as might be – ‘combined rice’. (Kootu means combination/combine and Choru means Rice)

  

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Kootanchoru is –
1. a combination of rice and lentil – thuvaram paruppu or split pigeon peas;
2. with as many country vegetables and one green leafy vegetable preferably Arai Keerai (Amaranth Greens), salt and turmeric powder;
3. cooked in a kuzhambu/curry of tamarind and ground coconut-spice paste
and
4. seasoned with mustard, dehusked black gram, curry leaves and vadagam (sun-dried onion seasoning).

      

One-Pot Meal
With the culinary world turning its eye towards One-Pot Meals,  Kootanchoru is a healthy whole meal with high nutrient value; though with a long list of ingredients, it involves less time and work in cooking. While the rice, lentils and vegetables are cooked in the ground spice paste, the house would be filled with a unique aroma – I call it the true flavor of THE TAMIL  cuisine, common to every down south -  Indian household.

As I have mentioned, the ingredient list is elaborate, the initial preparation involves slightly more work, but the cooking proccedure is quite simple. The aroma and flavor of the meal is worth the effort of initial tasks!!
  
PONGAL - the harvest festival of the Tamils (refer – http://dosaikal.com/thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival and http://dosaikal.com/pongal-in-cambodia/), is just five days away. Kootanchoru is also a special meal during Kaanum Pongal or the fourth day of the harvest festival where people visit their friends and family and also spend the time on a Picnic. Kootanchoru can also be a picnic meal!

While the joy of a 100 posts rekindles memories of my paternal grandfather who has also been a wonderful friend till he left us a year and a half ago, the word Kootanchoru reminds me of my maternal grandfather who would take us all grandchildren on different picnics and shower us with the delicacies of Thoothukudi.

Coming from a family where the huge extended family, with maternal and paternal aunts (athais, chithis and periyammas) and those special aunts wedded to uncles (athais and chithis), I think each one in the clan are excellent cooks and my kootanchoru can never match their flavor of their hands; Or now in the next generation, the tasteful endeavors of my cousins – experts in variety of cuisines!

    
The Making -

    
Kootanchoru
  
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  
1. main ingredients

  • puzhungal arisi/par boiled rice – 1 heaped cup
  • thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon pea – 1/2 cup
  • oil preferably gingelly oil – 1 tsp for the base of the cooker
  • puli/tamarind – lemon sized soaked in 1/2 cup water
  • manjal podi/turmeric powder – 1/2 -3/4 tsp
  • uppu/salt – to taste

  

rice and lentil

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2. mixed vegetables cut to medium size pieces – 5-6 cups of the same measuring cup of rice

  • kathirikkai/egg plant
  • vaazhaikkai/raw banana
  • carrot
  • beans
  • chenai/yam
  • urulai/potato
  • kothavaarangai/cluster beans
  • avaraikkai/broad beans
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 10 no.s uncut for frying
  • oil for frying shallots – 3 tbsp

  

vegetables and shallots

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3. greens – 1 cup

agathi keerai/amaranth greens or any other greens, the second preference would be murungai keerai/drum stick leaves

greens and tamarind water

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4. to grind – garlic is a key ingredient!

  • grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • seeragam/cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 3 no.s
  • pachai milagai/green chilli – 1 no.
  • poondu/garlic cloves – 10 no.
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 5 no.s or 1/2 of normal big onion

  

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5. seasoning

  • oil – 3 tbsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • chinna vengayam/shallots -6 no.s or periya vengayam/onion – 1/2 – cut long and thin strips
  • karivepilai/curry leaves – 15 leaves
  • vadagam/sun dried onion balls – 1 or 2 no.s

  

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Method of Preparation

    
Initial Preparation

  1. Wash rice and lentil; keep aside
  2. Grind the grated coconut with the above mentioned spices into a smooth pastewith little water
  3. Wash and soak tamarind in water
  4. Cut all the vegetables and amaranth greens or any spinach of your spinach and keep ready
  5. While using eggplant, potato and raw banana, keep them in a bowl of water to avoid discoloration
  6. Peel the skin and wash the shallots and keep aside

    
Procedure – I

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pressure cooker on lighted stove and start adding all ingredients one after the other in order–

  1. rice and lentil without water
  2. ground coconut and spice paste
  3. cut vegetables
  4. chopped greens
  5. turmeric powder and salt
  6. tamarind water

    
Procedure – II

  1. Add 4 cups of water for every cup of rice-lentil mix. I have used total 1 1/2 cups both combined – so I added almost 6 cups. This is not inclusive of the tamarind juice of 1/2 cup and the water content in the spice paste.
  2. A total of 4 cups for 1 cup is ideal. Parboiled Rice needs more water for a well cooked – semi mashed consistency and that is what is needed for Kootanchoru.
  3. Do not close the cooker; let the mixture boil in medium heat. Keep stirring as the mixture might stick to the bottom of the cooker, as there is less oil. Generally no oil is added to the cooker but I added to be on the safer side
  4. In a separate pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil and fry the whole shallots reserved for frying
  5. Add the fried shallots and also the oil to the rice-water-spice mixture
  6. When the mixture starts boiling, close the cooker with lid and wait for the first whisle
  7. Keep the stove in full position; After the first whistle, reduce and cook for 5 mins. Switch off gas
  8. Open the cooker after 20 minutes; Kootanchoru is almost ready.

  

fry shallots separately

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add fried shallots to the ready to be cooked kootanchoru

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Procedure – III

  
Seasoning:

  1. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan
  2. Add mustard seeds and dehusked black gram
  3. When mustard seeds splutter and the gram turns brown, add the long stripped onions, curry leaves and vadagam
  4. Pour this on top of the cooked Kootanchoru and mix well
  5. If one doesn’t have vadagam, more onions can be cut into strips and fried brown and added
  6. Kootanchoru is ready and tastes best with Thayir Pachadi  and Appalam.

  

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fried seasoning ingredients on top of the cooked rice

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The Exclusives -

    
1. Vadagam

  
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a. Vadagams are sun-dried seasoning ingredients, stored for months at homes. They may contain mustard seeds, dehusked black gram, curry leaves and onion. Variations depend on the family.

b. In Thirunelveli, we have a different vadagam made of onions, not only used for seasoning but mainly had as accompaniment to thayir saadham/yoghurt rice as fritters (like the sun dried chillies). See – http://dosaikal.com/thayir-saadham-mor-milagaicurd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/. Since I did not have the original fritter vadagam, I have used the seasoning vadagam.

      
2. Thayir Pachadi

  

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a. Pachadi can be a yoghurt based salad or raita in Hindi. There are various kinds of pachadis – specially yoghurt with onions for Biriyanis, yoghurt with cucumber for combination rices like lemon rice or tamarind rice or mint rice, or just a soothing pachadi of yoghurt, onions and tomatoes for any meal. Carrot, Beetroot, Pineapple, mango… anything can go in as Pachadi,

b. Typical/Original Pachadis have a coconut-green chilli paste added to the yoghurt base. What we have done is a simple one with yoghurt and salt alone as base.

c. Since my daughter doesn’t prefer tomatoes, I used onions, cucumber and green chillies mixed in yoghurt and salt.

      
3. Appalam

  

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a. Appalam is exclusively South Indian. In the North, they are called Pappads – made spicy too. Pappadams in south are another variety of discs which puffs up when deep fried.

b. They are thin disc shaped fritters,  made of dehusked black gram flour. There are also other varieties like rice flour appalams, jack fruit appalams and so on.

c. They are deep fried or roasted on stove, nowadays microwaved and are had generally with a rice based meal.

d. They can also be substitutes to vegetables on a lazy day.

  

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Kootanchoru is not only a humble and simple symphony of various ingredients, but one of the best aromatic and flavorful meals from the southern part of Tamilnadu.

    
NOTE:
Do not miss the garlic to be ground with other spices. The flavor of garlic is one of the key essences to the flavour of this rice.

Eggless Whole Wheat Date and Walnut Cake

December 22, 2013 Leave a comment

  

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Merry Christmas to one and all!!

Next on the list is an eggless date and walnut cake. This was requested by one of my readers quite some time back. I know this is a very late response, my heartfelt regrets on that… yet better late than never!

This can also be an excellent substitute to a fruity Christmas Cake. There is no need for the caramel syrup in the Christmas Cake, this cake has the true goodness and color of dates. With no empty calories, it is surely a healthy snack or dessert for kids and adults alike.

  
100% Whole Wheat Eggless (No Butter) Dates and Walnut Cake

  

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Ingredients

  

heaped cup of flour

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dates and walnuts

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  • whole wheat flour – 1 heaped cup – 175 gms
  • brown cane sugar – packed 1/2 cup – 90 gms
  • refined oil – little more than 1/2 cup – 90 ml
  • yoghurt – 4 tsp
  • baking soda – 1 1/2 tsp
  • chopped dates – 1 cup – 175 gms
  • chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup – 50 gms
  • boiling hot water – 3/4 cup – 120 ml extra water – 1/2 cup (if needed to add in the end to make the batter thinner)

  

soaked dates in water

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Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven at 160 degrees C
  2. Grease a baking tray and keep ready
  3. In a wide bowl, place chopped dates, sugar and hot water; Close and let it soften for 10 minutes
  4. In another bowl, add baking soda and chopped walnuts to the whole wheat flour
  5. After 10 minutes, the dates would have become soft; add refined oil to the date, water, sugar mixture
  6. To this liquid mixture, add flour – walnut mixture little by little
  7. Now, the batter would be a thick one, add 4 tsp yoghurt and mix well
  8. Use the reserved 1/2 cup water if the cake batter is very thick or use as little water as possible to bring the batter to spoonable consistency
  9. Bake for 50 mins to an hour till a tooth pick comes out clean
  10. Cool and serve the cake.

  

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