Archive

Author Archive

Ulundham Paruppu Saadham with Ellu Thuvayal / Black Gram Rice with Black Sesame Chutney

August 31, 2015 1 comment

Super Healthy Rice Package

 

IMG_1949

 

Revival of Bone Strength – Nutrilicious Ulundham Paruppu Saadham/ Black Gram Rice with Ellu Thuvayal/Sesame Chutney

 
This is a speciality Variety/Mixed Rice or Kalavai Saadham as we call it in Tamil. Rice, black gram, garlic and salt are the only ingredients that go in the making of this super-healthy rice package. Black Gram Rice is had with Black Sesame Seed Chutney and Avial (vegetable stew) for the vegetable curry in the platter and  Appalam (disc shaped crispy fries) as a crunchy accompaniment – giving it a balance of many combined flavours. (see above picture)

 

An insight into the core ingredients of the rice and chutney..
  
The Goodness of Ulundhu/Black gram

  

split whole black gram used for this variety rice

IMG_1899

  
Ulundham Paruppu or Black Gram is used in various Indian Foods. From exotic restaurant menu cards to humble homely meals, this highly nutritious lentil can be found frequently in the Indian food arena. Dal Makhani, one of the north Indian speciality creamy lentil preparation is an all time favorite throughout the world. The Paruppu/Dhal/Lentil is also called Maa ki Dhal in Hindi or Mother’s Lentil, might be due to its nutrient value.

As far as South Indian Cuisine is concerned, Black Gram husked or dehusked is almost a staple diet and also a trusted stable diet. Stable Diet? Yes, ‘Ulundhu’/Black Gram aids in the growth and stability of infants, toddlers, teenagers, adults and the aged alike. It aids in Bone growth of all members of family.

Black Gram takes its place in the quintessential breakfast and dinner Idly and Dosai, the unavoidable snack Ulundhu Vadai, health food Ulundhu Kanji/Porridge, traditional food Ulundhu Kali/thick pudding, and crunchy chips Murukkus/crispies. In many foods, black gram is the core ingredient and a few others added for technical consistency. The appalam or pappad had has a starter or with rice meal is also made with Ulundhu.

In some preparations like Ulundhu Vadai, Black Gram is the sole main ingredient.

  

ulundhu vadai

IMG_9976
  

There cannot be a south Indian household without Ulandham paruppu as Idlies and Dosais cannot be made without this ingredient. I can be sure of this atleast with today’s parental generation. Cannot be sure about the next generation who might opt for breads, cereals and pastas for staple food but be rest assured certainly not stable.

Ulundham Paruppu/Black Gram is used in different forms. The whole lentil with black skin in certain foods, skin removed but whole in shape in certain foods and skin removed but split in halves, split in halves with skin…. Might be quite confusing for new comers to the Ulundhu Industry, but tradition says that that type that that dish! So, enjoy and don’t bother. De-skinning, splitting and all other technical necessities are taken care of and what one needs to do is just do some intelligent grocery shopping.

  

black gram – whole 

IMG_0701
  

These are a few Ulundhu Preparations from Tamilnadu, with the kind of black gram used, mostly common with mild differentiations among the other three states of the southern part of India. There are many more varieties depending upon the varied districts of Tamilnadu. Other South Indian states might have many more to add to the list too.

  

kutty idli – mini idli

IMG_1426
  

De-Husked or De-Skinned whole lentil for Idlies and Dosais;
De-Husked Split for Seasoning;
De-Skinned, Roasted and Milled for Appalam and Murukku;
Black Whole Lentil (with skin) for Porridge, Pudding;
Whole Split Lentil for One Pot Rice – ulundham paruppu saadham

  
Sesame Seeds –  a Girl’s Support Mechanism….
  
How I was introduced to Ulundhu Saadham and Ellu Thuvayal?
  
This variety rice is prepared mostly on all weekends or leisurely family meals as it tastes best direct hot from the cooker. But another essential occasion when ulundham paruppu saadham comes into the platter is during the monthly menstrual time. The rice with sesame chutney is believed to be a Cleanser Combo.

    

Sesame seeds are best among the other home medicines for menstrual problems. Some quantity of dried sesame seeds can be pounded and stored. A fresh solution can be prepared daily by mixing half a spoon of this powder in a cup of water. This concoction can be used once in a day for the better results of the treatment. Regular use of this decoction can help in relieving completely from scanty menstruation. – See more at:http://www.findhomeremedy.com/natural-home-remedies-for-menstrual-problems. http://www.findhomeremedy.com/natural-home-remedies-for-menstrual-problems/#sthash.MCaQlI3O.dpuf

    

We are adviced to have it at the end of the cycle as Sesame is supposed to cleanse the uterus of all the leftovers. So, it is a routine monthly cleanser of a woman’s unique organ. Additionally, mothers prepare their daughters from the right time for a healthy motherhood in future. While Ulundhu/Black gram aids in strengthening hip bones, sesame seeds help in cleansing.

Whether the notes on sesame seeds are scientific proven or not doesn’t matter to me. I totally believe the medical effects that the key ingredients of this Combo Rice Platter can provide to the system as a whole.

    

During the Post-Menstrual phase it’s important to nourish blood and yin after the menstrual flow of the previous week. It’s important to include ample amounts of protein, fat, folic acid, and vitamin B12, which are essential for building blood and yin. Also important during the Post-menstrual phase is foods rich in chlorophyll (that’s all the green goodies!): kale, chard, bok choy, micro-algae, seaweeds (especially dulse, which is high in iron). Other foods that are nourishing during this time include nuts and seeds, especially flax and black sesame seeds.. http://vibrantwellnessjournal.com/2013/02/11/balance-the-reproductive-cycle-naturally-with-traditional-chinese-medicine/

    

Sesame Seeds are also a rich source of calcium. Milk Allergic People and those who follow a Vegan Diet or Diary Free Diet use sesame seeds as a substitute to milk.

    

A good source of Natural Calcium which is easily assimilated in the body is Sesame seeds. The Black variety has a higher therapeutic value and a lower Oil content. You may soak overnight and eat. Chew to a fine paste. Include Sesame Seeds with your daily meals. They are a rich source of Calcium, Proteins, Magnesium and Iron. http://www.space-age.com/herbs/hormonebalance.html

  

In recent studies, calcium has been shown to:

  • Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
  • Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
  • Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84

   

Now, it’s recipe time –
  
Ulundham Paruppu Saadham/Black Gram Rice with Ellu Thuvayal/Black Sesame Seed Chutney

  

Ulundham Paruppu Saadham

  

IMG_1933
  

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • puzhungal arisi/par boiled cooking rice – 200 gms
  • ulundham paruppu/split black gram(with skin) – 100 gms
  • poondu/garlic – 10 cloves
  • uppu/salt – as needed
  • thengai/coconut – ½ (grated) – optional

  
Method of Preparation

 

IMG_1925

  

  1. Wash and soak rice with garlic for ½ hour
  2. Wash the black gram well
  3. In a pressure cooker, cook rice, black gram, garlic and salt with enough water; cooked rice-black gram should be soft and not just right
  4. Mix the grated coconut and the rice is ready to be served hot.

  

IMG_1928
  
Ellu Thuvayal/Black Sesame Seed Chutney

  

IMG_1911

  

  • ellu/sesame (black) – 3 tsp
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 4 no.
  • puli/tamarind – 1/4 lemon sized
  • thengai/coconut (grated) – 4 tsp
  • salt – to taste

  
Meth0d of Preparation
  
IMG_1917

  

  1. Separately dry roast sesame seeds in a pan
  2. Remove the sesame seeds once roasted and in the same pan, roast red chillies with very little oil
  3. When the chillies are done, add grated coconut and roast till slightly golden in colour
  4. Wash the roasted sesame seeds (to remove sand particles generally found in sesame) and grind all ingredients with salt to a smooth paste/dip/ chutney
  5. Serve the thuvayal with ulundham paruppu saadham

  

Ulundham Paruppu Saadham is always served with Ellu thuvayal and preferably with Avial (mixed Vegetable stew) and Appalam/Roasted or Fried Pappad.
  
Notes:

  

IMG_1922
  

For Ulundham Paruppu Saadham

  1. This mixed rice is preferably prepared with puzhungal arisi/par-boiled rice if not available one can use other varieties too.
  2. Coconut is optional in the rice but tastes best with the humble coconut.
  3. The Black Gram used is whole-split as whole black gram tends to make the rice mushy.

  
For Ellu Thuvayal

  1. Always roast sesame seeds and then wash; Simple logic – The seeds cannot be roasted if washed before.
  2. Red Chillies can also be roasted dry without oil but roasting with little oil helps in fine grinding later.
  3. One can also fry tamarind with red chillies and coconut to make the tamarind softer.
  4. The quantity given is for very limited chutney; one can prepare according to family preferences.

  

For more on Sesame Seeds –
  

Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. They are highly valued for their oil which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity.

Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84

A perfect birthday present from the past!!

June 9, 2015 3 comments

  
Rewinding 4 years of blogging…

Thank you so much for traveling with me, in my leisurely journey of cooking and more.

This is confession time- of a theft…

  • no no not something like stealing my husband’s heart many years ago ;
  • or my little brother stealing my grandparents’ slippers and preserving in some unknown place, so that they would stay with us longer;
  • or quickly finishing as many mangoes as we could from the huge, straw covered mango storage rooms… before my aunts would ask ripe mangoes for lunch (swear I’ve done this);

  
or might be a few more fun filled, less hinder-some deeds.

But this time it is a lovely theft, a cherishable theft, a heart-touching theft..  where the loser as well as the original owner of the product is anything but happy and delighted and for a moment Proud too!

  

my precious doll
 
IMG_1593

  
This theft is from my dearest daughter! What I took from her was Her birthday present. The Present was from the Past…. My Past…my beautiful doll when I was 3 or 4 years of age. One of the well preserved baby things.. It is a Mother-Child doll, mother putting her daughter to sleep. There is a key at the back as in an old model doll.  The mother gently sways to the inbuilt music while the baby goes to sleep. Amazing… All intact the doll still works good!

  

the mother
 
IMG_1598

  

Yes, Still works and the mother does a great job. By preserving such a beautiful thing of the past.. my mother too did a great job, isn’t it?Kudos to my mom. Nanri Amma.

 
My first post says ‘Generations to Generations’ and this doll ultimately signifies that. My daughter was sensationally delighted to get her mother’s doll from grandma as one of her birthday gifts. When I look back at these four years of blogging… Trying to pass on few treasures to my daughter… This year’s birthday gift that my Amma had preserved for my daughter was very special indeed!

  

and the child
 
IMG_1597

  

I was delighted too, to see my favorite doll after at least 35 years. Nostalgia struck me..hit me…captured me… Attach any number of verbs.

  
This was also time for some boastful behavior. Isn’t it a  pride to tell my daughter how well I maintained my play things? Also a pride to know how my daughter has taken after me in taking care of her things.

A few samples of how I nurtured my possessions. Of course, a bit of ‘Boast’ can be the secret of our energies too!

  

almost perfect shoes and sock

IMG_1596

  

gorgeous hair till today

IMG_1602

  

the pretty pink dress, though a tiny bit stained but no doubt beautiful

IMG_1607

  
Oh… after this episode, I’ve started looking at my mom as a Curator. Correct me if I am wrong.

According to wikipedia-

   

Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (i.e., gallery, museum, library or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution’s collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material. The object of a traditional curator’s concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it is artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curator

   

Moms and Dads who preserve important memorabilia/assets are actually Curators too! Why not??

  
Now, to the theft thing- I stole my doll from my daughter. To celebrate four years of blogging…. of course cannot say non-stop blogging.

My lovely daughter is a generous soul and she let me take her present with Pride. And the littlle brain is more than delighted that she says- ‘Oh amma,  I’m so happy you made me a part of your post’.

Reading more of the draft of this post, she was ultimately happy about my theft and so excited. But only on one condition.. I steal it for a day, for my post, then give it back to her!  OK, Accepted.

  
To improvise my vocabulary, she said.. why don’t you borrow from me…      So, for the magnanimity of the little heart, I take away ‘stolen’ and replace ‘borrow’. I borrowed my past  for this post, and gave it back to my present!

  

IMG_1593

  
We, the middle aged parental generation can effectively be catalysts in the transfer and culmination of cultural wealth from the previous to the next generation. ‘Dosaikal’ would be my humble aspiration and endeavour to transfer those mesmerizing memories and treasures from past generations to my next.

Nanri!

Khmer Memories – Num Plae Ai/Sticky Rice Sweet Balls

March 21, 2015 1 comment

 

IMG_1578

  

After recently reading my friend Oz’s post in her blog – ‘kitchen butterfly.com’ on shifting base from one place to another, I co-related with the pains of leaving friends behind and the agonies related to packing.
  
This is what I wrote to her- (Sorry Oz, I borrow my own words here)

  

I know the pains of packing. But I have felt an explorer’s enthusiasm while shifting to a new place but ‘getting your children married’ kind of a tension while leaving the old.

Yet the blankness in mind and heart, having left your near and dear ones until you reach the new destination is quite stressful. Happy Settling!!

  

But never thought mine was so very close.
  
So, here I am.. in another packing – having packed – unsettled phase… the only difference from recent previous packings is that we are back home. Home, not meaning home state where I belong, but nearly 2200 kms from home but yet in home country.

One suddenly seems to be squeezed between the never ending packing (which I used to like, not anymore), and telling bye to dear friends, formal associates and those special souls who became close to the heart pals. It is a very difficult phase, where everything seems unsettled till your own things reach back to the new place of livelihood. It is again a tedious process of unpacking, but at least you know you are settling yourself in the new place, in Oz’s words – ‘Unpacking a House to Home’… I like the phrase and want it soon.

While leaving behind people and memories is a pain, the effect is obviously more on the children. We don’t realize what they have left behind in their eyes. The pressure of completing the incomplete school year, leaving friends and teachers and their playmates, landing in a new place, finding new friends, getting accustomed to new environment and getting placed well in a new school, the biggest of all might be being accepted in the new whatever groups they might be sent to…. the list might grow longer.

So, to simplify, just say ‘IT IS DIFFICULT’.

Now, I do not intend going into what I left behind in Cambodia, the country which had become very much connected to heart and soul, due to the ancient connections with Tamilnadu. But as a foodie, I truly miss the flavors of Khmer Cuisine, which was in an amateur path of exploration.

So, I decided to rekindle those memorable moments of learning Khmer sweets, soups and curries. A true big thanks to my friends ‘D’ and ‘S’, who were wonderful teachers in showing the art of Khmer Cooking… patiently…  step by step.
  
Num Plae Ai

  

IMG_1585
  
‘Num Plae Ai’ is a very simple yet delicious sweet treat. Again rice based and Palm Sugar, the ingredients are limited, method simple but the end result too good. The sticky rice outer covering is a bit chewy, and the dissolved palm sugar candy inside makes its own path inside leaving a sweet flavor.

After reading a few other blogs, I understand this is also colloquially called ‘kill husband cake’ as it was made by a betrayed wife to revenge her husband. The chewy and slippery outer covering is believed to have stuck in his throat.

But, beyond betrayals and revenges, Num Plae Ai is truly a sugar lover’s delight.

I made this sweet with 500 gms sticky rice flour and I think I got nearly 50 sweet balls. Just decide how much you’d need.  By this ratio,  1 cup measuring 200 gms might yield 15-20 approximately. Regrets on any flaws in mathematics.
  
Ingredients

  

IMG_1486

  

  • sticky rice flour – 1 cup or 200 gms
  • palm jaggery – 100 -150 gms
  • salt – a pinch
  • grated coconut
  • boiled water – to cook the sweet Plae Ai
  • cold water – to cool the cooked rice balls
  • banana leaf for serving

  

Method of Preparation

1. Mix rice flour with a pinch of salt and water (normal temperature).

  

IMG_1489
  
2. Cut the Palm Jaggery into small pieces to fill one piece into each ball.

  

IMG_1509
  
3. Grate coconut and keep aside. Can be kept in fridge and taken out in the end as grated coconut is needed only in the end of making the sweet and might stay fresh refrigerated.
  
4. Make small shells out of rice dough and –

  

IMG_1492
  
5. Fill each ball with one piece of cut jaggery and close.

  

IMG_1506

  

6. Make the same with all the rice flour.

  

IMG_1560
  
7. Boil water in medium flame, in a big bowl or any big hard bottomed vessel with a pinch of salt.
  
8. Simmer and gently drop the palm jaggery filled rice balls into it; Keep flame in minimum position.

  

IMG_1547
  
9. The sweet balls which are at the bottom of the vessel when dropped, rise up to the water level after cooked. This cooking process might take 5 to 10 minutes.

  

IMG_1552
  
10. Take a bowl of room temperature water or cold water and drop the cooked sweet balls inside.

  

IMG_1558
  
11. Cook them in batches.
  
12. After a minute, remove them and place in a plate.

  

IMG_1596
  
13. Take the grated coconut and spread in a plate and roll each sweet in grated coconut to make a covering.
  
14. Serve hot or cold.
  
This is generally served in a banana leaf cone with a tooth pick in the markets in Phnom Penh.

  

IMG_1578
  
Tip:
 

  1. The sticky rice balls can be stored in refrigerator for a couple of days or even more.
  2. If one prefers to freeze, do not add coconut topping. Thaw frozen Plae Ai when needed, steam to make them fresh and roll in grated coconut to serve.

Ulundhu Vadai – The Outstanding Snack For All Occasions

January 17, 2015 Leave a comment

 

IMG_9948

 
A great topic of research

Vadai is a deep fried snack, generally made with soaked and blended lentil. The most common of the Vadai Varieties are –

1. Ulundhu Vadai or Ulundha Vadai made with dehusked black gram and

2. Aamai Vadai or Paruppu Vadai made with bengal gram.

These two in themselves have different names. Ulundhu Vadai is also called ‘Medhu Vadai’ meaning Soft Vadai; Aamai Vadai is also referred to as Masala Vadai  and they also possess many more names. Quite interesting though – that’s why the topic ‘Vadai’ can be a great research title!

One can also hear different versions of the same name – Vadai, Vada, Vade, Bada and I think in Punjab it is called Bhalla as in Dahi Bhalla, Thayir Vadai (Vadai soaked in curd) in Tamil.

 

Different Kinds of Vadai

 

ulundhu vadai – dehusked black gram vadai

IMG_9976
 

That is not all! While we make Ulundhu Vadai with dehusked black gram and Aamai Vadai with bengal gram, there can be various kinds of Vadais made with different combinations to these two core ingredients.

  • Vazhaipoo Vadai – with Banana Flower
  • Keerai Vadai – with Spinach
  • Milagu Vadai – with Black Pepper
  • Thavalai Vadai – with combination of lentils

and many more innovative crisps by chefs at home. Vadai is served with chutney and/or sambar.

 

 vaazhaipoo vadai – banana flower vadai

IMG_1129

 

 

Apart from combining ingredients, there can also be other impressive ways of serving Ulundhu Vadais – the softer among the two.

  • Sambar Vadai – vadai soaked in Sambar – the lentil curry
  • Rasa  Vadai – vadai soaked in Rasam – the digestive soup (for easy comprehension)
  • Thayir Vadai – vadai soaked in yoghurt with mild spices

Aamai Vadai/Paruppu Vadai made with bengal gram is crispier and enjoys special place in a few curries like-

  • More kuzhambu –  yoghurt curry that has paruppu vadai in place of veggie
  • Vadai Curry – an exotic spicy curry with ground spices, wherein the gravy is thickened by soaking the deep fried vadais. The taste of the spicy curry mixed with the flavour of fried vadais is a great hit with Idli and Dosai.

 

The Versatile Vadai

 

IMG_1356

 

Vadai can fit in all places and occasions.

Any traditional festival, celebration or happy occasion would be half done without these for sure.

 
Breakfast  – with Idli, Dosai or Pongal, Vadai makes the breakfast a complete ‘Platter’

Lunch – served with the three course Vaazhai Ilai Sappadu (traditional meal served on banana leaf) -the phrase actually is – ‘Vadai-Payasam’ – vadai and payasam/pudding to make the traditional meal a respectful finish

Dinner – who would say no to Vadai soaked in the lunch sambar or rasam, which is now a converted sambar vadai or rasa vadai for dinner..

Evening Snack – any guests for coffee/tea? – this snack can be simple and exotic, traditional and trendy – served with coconut chutney or any other chutney

Starter/Finger food – a grand dinner party – made smaller in bite size shapes, vadai can be an ideal starter or finger food

Street Food – it can be a sort after street food at any tea joint, or in bus or train stations

Live Kitchen – it could also be an eye-catchy as well as an appealing live display snack in Restaurants

 
The Balancing Factor
 

In addition to these impressive qualities, I find the essence of Vadai might be a culinary balance in festive occasions. For any festival, event or celebration, the quintessential flavor is sweet. Different kinds of or atleast one sweet dish is prepared for any special occasion. When enjoying food forms part and parcel of the day to day activities of an Indian household, the place of food in festivals is ultimate. The concept of making an occasion happy by distribution and consumption of sweets can sometimes be a painful practice for the self proclaimed ‘sweet toothers by birth’ too.

Here is where the role of Vadai stands appealing. When there is heavy downpour of sweets that smoothly glides into one’s tummy, there is always the quite bland and crispy/semi crispy salted vadai which is served with spicy chutney to give relief from the overdose of sweets. It certianly does great justice in soothing one’s palate during those essential times.

Hence, Vadai always forms part of festive food, to ensure a Balance might be.

 
Vadai-like ‘Akara’ in Nigerian Cuisine
   
While reading the recent article posted by dear fried Oz of ‘kitchen butterfly’, she had mentioned she tasted Vadai in Dubai and it tasted like ‘Akara’. I was anxious to know about akara.

Akara is a deep fried Nigerian Snack and breakfast meal made with ground de-hulled(peeled) brown or black-eyed beans and spices.
It is a very popular snack that can be eaten anytime of the day. Although Akara is popular as a breakfast meal, it can also be eaten as a snack or taken with Pap(ogi), custard or Agidi(eko) as a light dinner
Akara is also known as Acarajé, Fried Bean Cakes, Koose or Fried Bean Balls.

http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/02/how-to-make-nigerian-akara.html

   

Almost the same, with the different lentil. Black Eyed Pea is called Karamani in Tamil. I also found ‘Karamani Vadai’ recipe posted by fellow south indian bloggers. Learnt many things here. Akara and Karamani sound similar too!

Thanks Oz for aiding me know about akara and nigerian cuisine through that comparison.

 
Ulundhu Vadai
 
IMG_9976

 

Ulundhu Vadai is made with dehusked black gram. The lentil is soaked and blended to a thick foamy consistency. For binding, rice flour is added while mixing with salt and other ingredients like onions, green chillies, black pepper and curry leaves. I prefer to soak little rice with black gram and blend together. This I feel gives a better texture to the batter.

The speciality of this type of Vadai also lies in its shape. This is a doughnut shaped snack. Hence, little extra effort is needed in bringing in the exclusive shape.

One can also make basic vadai with three ingredients – lentil, rice or rice flour and salt blended with water and deep fried. Adding onions, chillies and curry leaves enhances the flavor of this snack.

 
Ingredients (makes appr. 15-20 vadais)

 

dehusked black gram

dosaikal 6 012

batter with chopped ingredients

IMG_1343

 

 

  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 cup
  • arisi/rice (any non-sticky variety) -2 tsp
  • uppu/salt – as needed
  • vengayam/onions – 1 medium chopped or 4-5 shallots chopped
  • pachai milagai/green chilli – 2 no.s coarsely cut
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – 7-8 leaves randomly split
  • inji/ginger – chopped or grated – small piece
  • perungayam/asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • yennai/oil – for deep frying

 

place batter on wet palm or banana leaf

IMG_1345

 

make a hole in middle

IMG_1350

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak black gram and rice for a minimum of 2 hours
  2. Remove water and grind into a thick yet foamy batter by sprinkling very little water
  3. Add salt and all other chopped ingredients and mix well
  4. Place hard bottomed pan on stove and heat oil for deep frying
  5. For the doughnut shape of the vadai –  keep water in a small bowl
  6. Wipe palm of your hand or banana leaf with little water, take little batter, place on palm and make small hole in middle
  7. Gently slide the vadai in oil and fry till golden brown
  8. Take out and place the vadais on kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil
  9. Serve hot with spicy chutney

 

fry in hot oil

IMG_1341

Palaa Kottai Poriyal/Jackfruit Seed Dry Curry

December 17, 2014 2 comments

 

IMG_9536

 

Maa, Palaa and Vaazhai – Mango, Jackfruit and Banana are the most celebrated fruits of Tamilnadu – the trio can be called the ‘vif’ – very important fruits of the state of Tamilnadu in India. They are called ‘Mukkani’ or the three main fruits in Tamil Literature. Hence, Jackfruit – Palaa Pazham in Tamil, takes a special place among the various fruits of Tamilnadu.

 
Palaa Pazham – Jackfruit – the Fruit

 

IMG_0225

 

Jackfruit apart from its consumption as a fruit, enjoys its place in Payasam (Kheer, pudding) where the slices are cooked with jaggery and coconut milk, in home made Jams mixed with other fruits , in marriage feasts, served as fruit or as special jam, in the form of sweet chips and many more uses that I miss to mention.

‘Thenil Thilaitha Palaa’ is a phrase used in literary tamil, which means jackfruit soaked in honey. This phrase is handled by many writers to compare ‘sweetness’ in many contexts. Jackfruit in honey might be considered the ultimate sweetness material – the phrase in itself signifies the speciality sweetness of the fruit.

The huge fruit with a hard, bit thorny outer covering but with very sweet inner slices is also often used an example for people who look serious but are very soft at heart.

 
Palaakkai – Raw Jackfruit – the Vegetable

I had not tasted the raw jackfruit curry in my younger days. One of our friends served me and my husband a few years ago. Those were the days I was a vegetarian but used to cook non-vegetarian food. Not too familiar with the taste of chicken yet used to the flavour and aroma of non-vegetarian curries, I found the raw jackfruit curry a perfect substitute to chicken curry.

Raw Jackfruit again has a few more usages. Apart from the spicy curry, Palaakkai Poriyal or the dry vegetable curry (poriyaldry-vegetable-curries), Palaakkai Kootu or the vegetable stew in coconut gravy are common. Palaakkai Vatral or Raw Jackfruit Chips is certainly one of the most sort after chips.

 
Palaa Kottai – Jack fruit Seed – the other Vegetable

 

IMG_9521

 
After consuming the sweet slices, the left over seeds are not left overs. They are transformed into dry vegetable curries or poriyals. They are indeed very versatile-
1. can be pressure cooked with salt, with grated coconut, cooked jackfruit seeds make a perfect snack
2. can be pressure cooked and stir-fried with spices to have with rice and curry
3. can be cooked and mixed in coconut gravy to make kootu or stew
4. cooked and mixed with other vegetables while making avial (kootu-and-avial)
and so on.

 
In Cambodia, with the same mukkani – Mango, Jackfruit and Banana available in plenty, Jack fruit is an important weekly fruit at home. It is a happy family affair to remove the fruit slices out of the fibrous protective layers. Of course, added work comes with the removal of seeds.

Though I have tried cooking the raw curry, I haven’t been able to achieve the same aromatic flavor of the first few experiences of the curry served to me years back. I hope to achieve it in the near future.

The easier among the two – vegetable and seed – is cooking Palaa Kottai – Jack fruit Seed. The seed in this version is made as a spicy dry vegetable to be served with rice and any kuzhambu/curry (kuzhambugal-gravy-dishes).

 
Palaa Kottai Poriyal

 

IMG_9540

 

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • palaa kottai/jackfruit seed -15-20
  • yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • ulundhamparuppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – 8 leaves
  • poondu/garlic cloves – 6 no.s chopped
  • vengayam/onions – 1 medium – chopped
  • manjal podi/turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • milagai podi/red chilly powder – 1 tsp
  • kothumalli thool/coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • milagu podi/pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • uppu/salt – to taste
  • perungayam/asafoetida- 1/4 tsp

 
Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and pressure cook the jack fruit seeds – After the first whistle in full flame, slow down the flame and cook for 10 mins. (this might differ with different cookers and seeds too)
  2. Strain the water away and keep the seeds
  3. Remove the skin and cut each seed into two or four pieces
  4. In a Pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds; when they splutter add black gram
  5. When black gram becomes golden brown, fry the washed curry leaves
  6. Next, add onions and garlic and fry well
  7. Add the dry powders and fry
  8. After all ingredients are incorporated well, mix the cooked and strained seeds
  9. Stir fry well till the raw smell of the spices are gone and the seeds are well coated with the spices
  10. The vegetable is ready when it gets a golden brown color or rich yellowy color depending upon the color of the combined spices.
  11. Sprinkle asafoetida and serve with rice an curry.

 
Notes

  1. Do not over cook as they would be become mushy while frying with spices.
  2. Onions are optional, but garlic is a must as the seeds tend to create flatulence.
  3. Same with asafoetida, it is a necessary for easy digestion and controlling flatulence.
  4. The spices can be altered according to family preference.
  5. Ginger can also be added while frying onion and garlic.

 

IMG_9536

 

Mundhiri Kothu – the traditional and exceptional sweet!

October 23, 2014 Leave a comment

  

IMG_8823

  

I have always been fascinated by the name of this sweet. Whoever named it Mundhiri Kothu – which translates as ‘Bunch of Cashews’- has been a keen observer of the making of this sweet. This deep fried snack/sweet comes out like a bunch when taken out of oil.

Mundhiri Kothu is a popular sweet from the Kanyakumari region of Tamilnadu.It can be called the healthier cousin of Susiyam which is also known by the names Soyyam/Sugiyan. For recipe refer- (http://dosaikal.com/2011/10/18/susiyam-deep-fried-lentil-jaggery-sweet-balls/).

Susiyam is made with kadalai paruppu/bengal gram; and the outer dip is prepared with maida/all purpose flour. Whereas, Mundhiri Kothu is made with paasi payaru/green gram and the outer dip is with rice flour. This is a sweet with the best choice of ingredients, except that it is a deep fried snack. The pleasing aroma of roasted green gram combined with other ingredients would surely make one’s kitchen a favorite place to work more!

Mundhiri Kothu is a popular sweet in the Yaazhpanam or Jaffna Area of Srilanka too. With slight variations, people call this as ‘Payatham Paniyaram’. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munthiri_Kothu

  
Now to the making of Mundhiri Kothu –
  
Mundhiri Kothu

  

IMG_8831

  

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 mundhiri kothu)

  • paasi payaru/whole green gram – 1 cup/150 gms
  • grated coconut – 1 cup – 75-80gms
  • ellu/sesame seeds (i used white) – 3 tblsp
  • elakkai/cardamom pods – 20
  • chukku/dry ginger – 3 gms
  • vellam/jaggery – 250 gms
  • rice flour – 2 cups
  • salt – 1/4 tsp
  • water – to mix rice flour and to dissolve jaggery
  • oil – for frying

  

Method of Preparation
  
1. In a pan, dry roast whole green gram till nice aroma comes out of the grain, along with cardomom pods

  

IMG_8778

  

2. Dry grind green gram and cardamom, with dry ginger into a coarse powder (not too coarse)
  
3. Dry roast grated coconut and sesame seeds
  
4. Mix green gram powder, roasted coconut and sesame seeds

    

IMG_8800
    

5. In a separate pan, dissolve jaggery in water and strain well
  
6. Boil jaggery in water to make a syrup – little sticky consistency, to make a tight ball with the powdered ingredients; Be careful not to make it stringy consistency

    

IMG_8802
    

7. Mix jaggery to the powdered ingredients and make marble sized urundai/ball

    

IMG_8803
    
8. Make a not too thin-not too thick batter with rice flour, salt and water; The batter should be thick enough to coat the jaggery balls before deep frying
    
IMG_8809

    

9. Dip each urundai/ball in rice batter and deep fry till well cooked
  
10. As the cooked mundhiri kothu would be in a bunch, separate each ball after it cools a bit.

  

Note:
  

  1. Cardamom is added for flavor and I have added dry ginger for easier digestion; for me – addition of dry ginger makes any jaggery based sweet taste divine.
  2. The above can be omitted too.
  3. The quantity of grated coconut and sesame seeds can be altered/reduced according to taste preferences.

  
Few Other Variations of Mundhiri Kothu
  

  1. Traditionally, the batter is made by soaking raw rice and grinding it wet into a dosai consistency; But, I have used rice powder.
  2. In the above mentioned, soak and grind method, dehusked black gram is also soaked and ground together with rice (50 gms ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram for 200 gms pachia arisi/raw rice).
  3. Turmeric powder is mixed to the batter and hence mundhiri kothu looks yellow.

  

Happy Diwali!

  

IMG_8823

  

Khmer Festive Sweet – Num Ansom Chek – Banana Filled Steamed Rice Cakes

October 17, 2014 2 comments

  
IMG_8710

  
Cambodia has a long list of traditional festivals. The major festivals seem to be influenced by both Hinduism and Buddhism. Apart from the influence of religions, Cambodians still preserve many cultural celebrations like the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May and Water Festival in November.

  
IMG_7452

  
Pchum Ben
Pchum Ben is celebrated from late September to early October for 15 days. It is a festival in honour of ancestors. It is also called the Festival of Souls and the All Soul Day. I couldn’t witness the festival this year. But I had already tried making the special Rice Cake called ‘NUM ANSOM CHEK’ with the help of friend ‘D’ for posting during the period. So, better late than never or wait till next Pchum Ben next year, thought I should share it now.

    

Offering of food is a meritorious act and is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. During the Pchum Ben festival, people bring food to the temple for the monks and to feed hungry ghosts who could be their late ancestors, relatives or friends. Pagodas are usually crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings and to beg the monks to pray for their late ancestors and loved ones. Many remain behind at the temple to listen to Buddhist sermons. http://www.tourismcambodia.org/contents/festival/index.php?view=detail&id=35#comp

    

 food offered in pagoda

IMG_8692

photo courtesy ‘D’.

  
The people here, wake up very early and get ready to go to Pagodas or Buddhist Temples. They wear their traditional clothes and walk around the Pagoda chanting Buddhist hymns. One of the most important ritual of Pchum Ben is taking food for their loved relatives who are no more part of this world. It is believed that the dead parents and relatives come on this day to see their dear ones and also accept the food offered by them. So, in order to not disappoint any of their lost relatives and ancestors, the Khmers prepare various delicacies and give it in the Pagodas.

  

IMG_8693photo courtesy ‘D’

  
The Monks in the Pagodas are worshipped and given food on this special occasion. There is also another reason for this ‘food from every home’ to the Pagodas –

    

According to venerable Um Sum, long ago Buddhist monks had to walk everywhere to ask for alms no matter how bad the weather was. Later during his reign, King Jayavarman, a strong advocate of Buddhism supported and provided Buddhist monks with the four requisite: clothing, food, shelter and medicine. The king realized that when the monks walked to ask for alms during the rainy season, they encountered heavy rain, thunderstorms, lightning and violent winds. The monks could not walk and fell down on the muddy paths. The king felt great sympathy for them and asked them not to go for alms for three months every rainy season. And he appealed to all his compatriots to offer food, and other basic needs to the monks for this period. Also, Buddhist followers explained that there was much merit in offering alms to the monks. As a result, more and more people offered the four requisites to the monks. http://www.bodhikaram.com/Pchum%20Ben.html

    

With so much food offered every day during the festivity, there is also chance of food getting wasted. Hence came the idea of making Rice Cakes which could be kept for days together without being spoilt. People make Steamed Rice Cakes filled with Bananas, Jack fruit or Pork. They are wrapped in Banana Leaves and steamed well. The speciality not only lies in the filling, but in the intricately crafted shape of the banana leaf cover.

  

Bananas of Cambodia

  

IMG_5394

  

IMG_8128

  
Chek, is the Khmer word for Banana. There are many varieties of Banana in Cambodia. Being a tropical region, Banana enjoys the status of ‘King of Fruits’. Fruits are available in abundance, but the usage of bananas is extensive. Like the southern part of India, here too Bananas enjoy the status of a ritual fruit as well as ritual tree – We can see houses with banana trees tied in front on special occasions. The main varieties are Chek Namva, Chek Pong Morn, Chek Amboung, Chek Snab Muk. http://www.cambodia-picturetour.com/tag/banana-in-cambodia/

There needs to be a special post on bananas of cambodia and their value in rituals and traditions. But now we shall proceed with Num Ansom Chek – the delicacy.

The Banana Variety used in this sweet is Chek Namva.

    

Beside eaten fresh, Check Namva also be used in creating many Khmer simple delicious snack, cake, sweet such as Chek Khtis (banana coconut milk dessert), Chek Chheung (Banana cooked with sugar paste), Chek Chean (Fried banana), Chek Ang (Grilled banana), Chek Chhab (Sliced banana deep fried), Num Chek Bok (pounded banana cake), Num Ansom Chek (banana sticky rice cake). http://www.cambodia-picturetour.com/tag/banana-in-cambodia/

    

The Recipe – Num Ansom Chek – Steamed Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana Filling

  
Note: I regret for any faults in making or explaining the recipe. I have just tried to do my best. Please feel free to write about any changes and/or corrections.

  

IMG_8726

  

Ingredients (makes approximately 20 to 25 num ansom cheks)

  • sticky rice – 3 cups
  • well ripe bananas – appr. 6
  • grated coconut – 1 cup
  • salt – 1/4 tsp

  
for covering and steaming

  • banana leaves
  • strings from banana fibre
  • steamer

  
About Cambodian Sticky Rice pelase refer – num-kom-sticky-rice-cakes-with-coconut-fillingkhmer-kozhukkattai/

  
Method of Preparation

  
1. Soak sticky rice over night; In the morning, filter water away and keep rice in a siever to drain extra water. The soaked rice need not be fully dry

  
IMG_7379

  

2. Mix grated coconut with rice

  

IMG_7397

  
3. Cut bananas vertically; Mix salt to cut banana
  
IMG_7384

  
4. Each rice cake would need 1 square and another half its size – a rectangle banana leaf; keep the banana fiber string ready to tie the cake. Cut squares and rectangles in approximate numbers
  
IMG_7433

  

5. Place the small leaf (rectangle) over the bigger one(square)

  
IMG_7435

  
6. Place a small portion of rice and spread vertically
  
IMG_7438

  
7. Make space in the middle and place banana piece
 
IMG_7441

  

8. Cover with rice

  
IMG_7444

  
Folding the Rice Cake in Banana Leaf

  
This is an extensive process. I have tried my best to do justice. I think it is time to post a video for this purpose. But, I go with my photos.

  
1. After the leaf is filled with rice and banana, fold the leaf

  
IMG_7417

  
2. Cover with a fold in the middle

  
IMG_7421

  

3. Bend the leaf and close one side and press the rice and banana tighter inside but without collapsing the shape
  
IMG_7408

  
4. Make the next and final fold with a dent in between  – this I think is the toughest bit. This is very important for the perfect shape of num ansom chek
  
IMG_7447

  
better…

  
IMG_7451

  
5. After the cake has been folded by this exquisite technique, now it is time to tie it well;
  
First, tie on top, around the cake – leaving the string long after tightening the string.

  
1st knot-
  
IMG_7479
  
2nd knot – keep the same order of place going..

  
IMG_7480

  
3rd knot –

  
IMG_7482
  
4th knot –

  
IMG_7483

  

6. Tie all the strings together and the end string would look like this..
  
IMG_7484

  
7. Now, this is time for some imagination in making your desired plaits, to complete the string

  
IMG_7487
  
or…

  
IMG_7493

  
8. And great job!! the cakes are ready to be steamed!
  
IMG_7452

  
9. Fill the steamer with enough water and place the steaming bowl. The steaming bowl should be covered with banana leaves. Place the prepared cakes and close with more banana leaves. Then close the lid of the steamer. Steam for nearly 20 mins.
  

IMG_2539

  
10. The num ansoms are tied together and also hung on roof edges. It seems, during the Pchum Ben days while the family members, friends and relatives are chatting day and night, when one feels hungry he/she can pull out a cake and enjoy.

  
IMG_7495

  
Note:

  1. This Cake doesn’t need any kind of sugar as banana is a sweetener here. Still, palm sugar can be used as preferred.
  2. Num Ansom Chek is also made by mixing soaked red bean to rice.
  3. We have made smaller cakes. Larger ones are made with whole banana placed inside. The amount of rice kept would be increased accordingly.
  4. Salt in the banana adds to the perfect balance of the cake.
  5. No doubt a healthy, low fat dessert which is worth the effort certainly!

  

A very big THANKS to my friend ‘D’ who guided me and helped me learn the nuances of this special Khmer Dessert/Delicacy.

Awkoon Chran! – Thank you very much in Khmer.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 83 other followers