Mutton Vathakkal/Spicy Stir fried Mutton

September 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Let’s complete the Simple Sunday Meal of Mutton Biriyani (refer –  home-cook’s-pressure-cooker-mutton-biriyani ) with Mutton Fry. Having given balance to Biriyani with Salna (refer – kathirikkai-salna-brinjal-salna )– a veggie gravy/stew in the previous post, its time for Aadu Vadhakkal – spicy mutton stir fry.

  

img_6848

  

Mutton fry – That’s not the best of pictures, I know. Shall update it shortly. Yet, no compromise in taste.
  

img_6836
  

Aadu Vathakkal or Stir fried Mutton can be found in restaurant menus as mutton fry. It’s a spicy dry curry. And as a well known fact, the culinary secrets of Indian Cuisine differs with each family.  With the basic preparations intact, modify the fry as per your taste and spice preference. With the addition of tomatoes, this might become a gravy dish.

Since I decided to make Mutton Varuval, along with biriyani, I put in the mutton pieces for both biriyani and spicy fry in the pressure cooker for initial cooking. This reduces the time in cooking mutton separately. After a kilo of mutton is cooked in the first stage, separate boneless chunks (app. 250 gms) for Vathakkal. Keep the bigger portion for Biriyani.

Otherwise, to make a separate mutton fry, pressure cook mutton pieces with water, salt and ginger for 30-40 mins. or until done. Enjoy the broth as soup with crushed pepper. Take the pieces for the vadhakkal/fry. Easy isn’t it?

  

Ingredients
  

  • mutton – 250 gms
  • garlic – 12 cloves crushed coarsely
  • onions – 2 no.s sliced fine
  • salt – to taste
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • oil – 2 tbsp
  • red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • coriander powder – ½ tsp
  • black/white pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

  

Method of Preparation
  

  1. Cook mutton in water, with salt and ginger for 30-40 minutes or until cooked well.
  2. Strain the cooked broth and consume as soup.
  3. Use cooked mutton pieces for the fry.
  4. In a pan, heat oil and fry the crushed garlic.
  5. Add sliced onions and sauté till golden brown.
  6. Add turmeric, red chilli, coriander and white pepper/black pepper powders and mix well.
  7. Add ¼ cup cooked broth and a pinch of salt. Be cautious with salt, as salt has already been added while cooking mutton pieces.
  8. Cook closed in sim flame.
  9. After the raw smell of powders is gone, open lid, keep stove medium.
  10. When almost done, keep flame in full and let the water dry.
  11. Add the juice of lemon and transfer vathakkal to a serving dish.
  12. Spicy Vathakkal is ready.

Kathirikkai Salna/Brinjal Salna

September 24, 2016 Leave a comment

 
Let’s continue the Mutton Biriyani recipe of the previous post, with a balance of Salna – veggie gravy/stew and complete it in the next post with Aadu Vadhakkal – spicy mutton stir fry.

  
img_6865

  

First SALNA..

‘Salna’ – a unique delicacy that is served along with Biriyani, is a simple gravy to tackle any spicy variety rice.  The tanginess of the Salna strikes a balance with the aromatic Biriyani. This is a  tamarind curry, thickened with peanut-fennel powder. Peanut stands as a natural variant to the usual coconut based gravies of the south. Tried for the first time and voila.. turned out to be good. No separate pans, time consuming closed cooking here. Yes, the best part is, this dish is quite simple, as everything goes into the cooker and is cooked in no time.
  

I concentrated so much on the making of Biriyani, that didn’t click better pictures of salna or mutton fry. Shall update with better pictures..at the earliest.

Kathirikkai Salna/Brinjal Salna

  

img_6810
  
Ingredients
  

  • brinjal – 6 no.s. – slit in the middle
  • ginger- garlic paste – 2 tsp each
  • onion – 2 no.s – coarsely ground in blender
  • tomato – 2 no.s finely chopped
  • tamarind – extract of a gooseberry sized piece
  • jaggery syrup – 1 tsp
  • water – 1 cup
  • oil – 3 tsp

  
powders
  

  • sambar powder – 1 ½ tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • salt – to taste

  
dry roast and powder
  

  • peanuts – 2 tsp
  • fennel seeds – 1 tsp

  
Method of Preparation
  

  1. Wash and slit brinjal on top.
  2. In a cooker, fry brinjal in oil. Remove and keep aside.
  3. In the same oil, fry ginger garlic paste.
  4. Add coarsely ground onion and fry till golden in color.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry well.
  6. Add tamarind pulp and powders and mix well.
  7. Add 1 cup of water.
  8. Then add peanut – fennel seed powder and stir well.
  9. Add the jaggery syrup.
  10. Close cooker and cook in full flame for 2 whistles.
  11. Open the cooker once pressure is released by itself.
  12. Kathirikkai (Brinjal) Salna is ready to be served.

  
img_6867

Home Cook’s Pressure Cooker Mutton Biriyani with Thayir Pachadi/Raita

September 20, 2016 Leave a comment

  
img_6848

  

That was a simple Sunday that started with the usual home made bread for breakfast.  Sundays can turn out to be one of the laziest days, yet the best is expected to come from the kitchen.  Thankfully for me, Cooking has always been a stress buster and an energy creator. This attitude can be termed as the height of optimism by those relaxing Sunday souls, who refuse to enter kitchen on holidays.

With the same positive energy, to make that lazy Sunday a flavorful one, I chose to try a Mutton Biriyani, a favorite delicacy throughout the world, with some good mathematics to post here. Mathematics with Biriyani…. certainly not written due to stress in brain activity. But, Biriyani needs meticulous measurements to bring out that ultimate aroma and taste.

I’ve tried to be accurate with the quantity of ingredients involved in the making of Mutton Biriyani. Additionally, reducing the effort involved in the making of good Biriyani, Pressure Cooker is used for quick cooking. This is no advertisement for Pressure Cookers, but believe me… it does reduce the stress of watching the Biriyani in a Pot or Handi cook to long grainy soft perfection.

  
A note on the history of Biriyani in India-

    

Though it may appear to be a dish indigenous to India, in reality the dish originated quite far away. Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. While there are multiple theories about how biryani made its way to India, it is generally accepted that it originated in West Asia.

There are records of a rice dish known as Oon Soru in Tamil literature as early as the year 2 A.D. Oon Soru was said to be made of rice, ghee, meat, turmeric, coriander, pepper, and bay leaf, and was used to feed military warriors.
http://www.thebetterindia.com/60553/history-biryani-india/

    

Just type – ‘oon soru’ and browse the internet. Your box would be filled with websites that talk about the same above said detail, verbatim. Which website posted the basic article is unknown. The above article gives a very fine and elaborate write up on different biriyanis in India.

An elaborate research would provide different insights into the culinary secret behind the speciality rice in Tamilnadu. I’ve heard people well versed in Tamil literature, talk about ‘Oon Soru’ and the practice of cooking rice with meat among the early Tamils.

With various popular versions of Biriyanis-  Hyderabadi, Lucknowi or Old Delhi’s famous Mughal preparations, Tamilnadu has its own versions – Dindukkal Biriyani, Arcot Biriyani, Ambur Biriyani, Chettinad Biriyani and so on. There is one more variety that has no popular name, but the version is different from home to home – that’s the Home Made Biriyani, with the tasteful signature of the amateur home cook.

So, this Sunday I decided to make the Home Cook’s Mutton Biriyani – with step by step elaborate procedures for purpose of sharing here. This is a two-way process, where meat is pressure cooked initially with turmeric and salt, and then pressure cooked again together with spices and rice. This second part, makes the biriyani an easier version, where no ‘Dum’ (closed cooking in sim flame) is required and hence, is less time consuming, but no compromise in taste.

  
With the urge to cook Biriyani, came a list of other things that go well with the exotic Rice.

a. Thayir Pachadi – Onion and Yoghurt Raita

b. Kathirikkai Salna – Mildly spiced, tangy Gravy with brinjal/egg plant that is served alongside Biriyani

c. Mutton Vadhakkal – Spicy, Pan fried Mutton – the perfect munching companion for the succulent Biriyani

A successful Sunday with special delights calls for 2 connected posts on the lunch served. So, first – Biriyani and Pachadi, I call it the match made in kitchen, which is supposedly a cook’s heaven of culinary creations!

  
Home Cook’s Pressure Cooker Mutton Biriyani

  

img_6859

 

Ingredients (serves 3)

  

long grain basmati rice

img_6750

  

and meat

img_6746

  

  • basmati rice – 1 ½ cups – (app. 225 gms)
  • mutton – 500 gms
  • turmeric powder – ¼ tsp for cooking meat separately + ½ tsp while making biriyani
  • salt – to taste
  • oil – 3 tsp (for caramelising onions) + 3 tsp (for making biriyani)
  • clarified butter – 3 tsp

  
Dry Spices

  

img_6763

  

  • cardamom pods – 7 no.s
  • cloves – 7 no.s
  • cinnamon – 2-3 sticks
  • bay leaves – 2 no.s
  • big cardamom – 1 no.
  • fennel seeds – 1 ½ tsp
  • pepper corns – 1 tsp

  
To chop

  

img_6755

  

and green chillies

img_6765

  

  • ginger – 50 gms
  • garlic – 30 gms (app. 3 small pods)
  • onion – 3 large – 165 gms
  • tomato – 2 large – 130 gms
  • green chillies – 5 -7 no.s (finely chopped)

  
For freshness
  

caramelised onions with mint and coriander

img_6771

  

  • mint leaves – 3 tsp
  • coriander leaves. – 3 tsp

  
Exotic touch

  

saffron in water

img_6782

  

  • generous strands of saffron soaked in ¼ cup hot water tsp bring out that gorgeous colour
  • nutmeg – ½ tsp grated

  
Method of Preparation

  

img_6856

  
Part I
  

  1. Wash and soak basmati rice at least ½ an hour before pressure cooking meat
  2. Soak saffron in ¼ cup hot water

  

soaked rice

img_6789
  
Part II– Cook Mutton
  

  1. Remove fat as far possible from meat
  2. Mix turmeric and salt to meat and keep aside for 15 minutes
  3. Wash and clean well
  4. Squeeze out excess water from the washed meat
  5. In a pressure cooker, add meat, ¼ tsp turmeric and salt with water enough to cook for approximately 30 minutes
  6. Pressure cook meat till done (It takes 30-40 minutes to be cooked well)
  7. Do not forget to use the meat broth to cook the final Biriyani.

  
Part III– Getting things ready – grinding, slicing, chopping, caramelizing.

  

  1. Coarse grind ginger, garlic, fennel seeds and pepper corns together in a blender (without water). Though full pepper corns are fried with spices in Biriyani, I prefer to grind as there is no wastage on the plate. Additionally, ground pepper corn spices up the Biriyani with its unique flavor.
  2. Thinly slice onions. Caramelize sliced onions in 3 tsp oil.
  3. Finely chop green chilies and tomatoes separately. Keep aside.

  

img_6770
  

Part IV – Let’s do it – THE BIRIYANI
  
1. Heat pressure cooker and add oil and clarified butter.
  
2. Drop all the dry spices except pepper corns and fennel seeds (already blended with ginger-garlic)
  
img_6768
  
3. Next, add the ground ginger-garlic-pepper-fennel paste with green chillies and sauté.

  

img_6786
  
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté till soft and mushy.
  
5. Then, add the caramelized onions and mix well.
  
6. Strain rice without water and add to the hot ingredients in the cooker and stir well.

  

img_6792
  
7. Add nutmeg, turmeric powder and salt.
  
8. Strain mutton and save the cooked broth.
  
9. Add cooked mutton pieces and mix.
  

10.The most important ingredient- WATER
  
Now, it’s time to add water. I go by this ratio and it turns out good.
  
img_6799
  

For 1 cup of rice – 2 cups of water;
For 2 cups of rice – 4 cups water minus ½ cup = 3 ½ cups water
For 3 cups of rice – 6 cups of water minus ½ cup = 5 ½ cups water
For 4 cups of rice – 8 cups of water minus 1 cup = 7 cups water
  
So, for this biriyani, where 1 ½ cups rice is used, less than double or less than 3 cups, i.e. 2 ¾ cups of water is used.
  

  • Mutton cooked water – 1 cup
  • Saffron water – ¾ cup
  • Extra plain water – 1 cup

  
That works out to be 2 ¾ cups water for 1 ½ cups of rice.
Alter plain water according to the quantity of mutton cooked water you have. Add water, mix well.
  
11. Check for salt. As mutton is already cooked, the water tasted does not consist raw meat. So, go ahead, taste and add salt if needed.
  
12. Close cooker with lid in full flame. Keep in full flame for 3 whistles. Switch off and wait for the pressure to release by itself.

  

img_6860
  
13.Open cooker and serve hot Biriyani.

    
Biriyani- Thayir Pachadi / Biriyani- Onions in Yoghurt: Match made in heaven!
  

Thayir Pachadi – Onions in Yoghurt

img_6868

  

Biriyani needs a Thayir pachadi or Raita as in North Indian cuisine. Vegetable, chicken or mutton biriyani, is incomplete without the accompaniment of Pachadi.
  
Though, there can be many varieties of Pachadi/Raita. In Tamilnadu, a pachadi with just onions and little green chillies for spice is generally served with Biriyani.
  

  • thinly sliced onions – 3 no.s
  • thick yoghurt – to soak the sliced onions (approximately 3 cups)
  • chopped green chillies – as preferred
  • salt – to taste
  • coriander leaves (fresh) – for garnish

  

Mix all ingredients together and garnish with coriander leaves. In a restaurant that serves, vengaya pachadi or onion raita – yoghurt is less than mentioned above. But I prefer to have more yoghurt to the quantity Alter quantity of yoghurt as preferred.

  

img_6848

Apple and Peach Jam

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

  

img_6742

  
With the same motive of making jams without added store bought pectin or other preservatives, this is an Apple and Peach Jam. With the tanginess of peach and sweetness and a bit of sourness of apple, this recipe again uses the natural pectin already preserved in the two fruits and additionally in the seeds of apple and stone of peach.

The learning fact this time – ‘There is pectin in the cores/seeds of certain fruits that helps the jam to ‘set’.’ – thanks to this elegant blog post – http://merrynsmenu.blogspot.in/2013/04/peach-and-apple-jam.html

So, I got 100% organic apples and peaches, pectin from apple seeds and peach stones, minimal sugar (400 gms sugar for 1200 gms of fruit with the core and stone) and scored well with a good consistency Jam.

I would suggest a reduction of 100 gms of sugar, as the jam seemed a bit higher on the sugar side, but go on with the same 400 gms if you prefer a sweet jam as store-bought.

Thanks to my little one who chopped a few apples and squeezed lemons in the making of this healthy Jam with natural pectin.

  

Apple and Peach Jam

  

img_6726
  
Ingredients
  

  • peaches – 4 no.s – app. 400 gms
  • apples – 6 no.s – app. 800 gms
  • sugar – 400 gms
  • lemon juice – juice of 4 lemons
  • apple cores and peach stones – tied in a clean muslin cloth
  • water – 1/2 cup – app. 150 ml

  

Method of Preparation
  
Part I

  

  1. Wash the peaches and apples.
  2. Soak them in turmeric-salt water for 1/2 an hour.

  

apples

img_4897

and peaches

img_4892

  

Part II
  
Before cooking the plum, there are two other things that are essential in the making of Jam-
  
a) Plate in the Freezer
  
Place a plate in the freezer and a few spoons- we need to check for consistency later by placing the jam in the chilled plate.
  
b)Sterilize the bottles with lid
  

  1. Wash the bottles and lids to store jam very well with no food particles sticking to it.
  2. Take a big bowl and place the washed bottles and lids on sides.
  3. Fill water in the bowl immersing the bottles.
  4. Let the water come to a full boil.
  5. Close with lid and let it stay till the jam is done.

  
Part III
  

1. De-skin the fruits and cut into small pieces.
  
2. In a hard bottomed vessel, first add the chopped apples and water and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer.
  
Note: If both fruits are added together, apple remains hard but peach tends to become soft, as peaches cook faster than apple.
  
3. Then, add peach and sugar and stir well.
  
4. Tie the apple cores and peach seeds in a clean white muslin cloth and keep it dipped in the fruit-sugar mixture and let it boil for 10 minutes.
  
Note: It is suggested in http://merrynsmenu.blogspot.in/2013/04/peach-and-apple-jam.html  to immerse the apple cores and peach seed just after apples are brough to boil – i.e. before adding peaches and sugar, but I forgot that step. So after addition of peach and sugar, I dipped the cores and stones. Yet, it turned out be perfect…lucky me.

  

img_6495
  
5. After 10 minutes, remove the cloth with seeds and add lemon juice to the cooking mixture.
  
6. Let the mixture cook well and set to jam consistency.
  
7. Check in-between with the plate in the freezer for consistency – swipe a spoon of jam on the plate and split into two halves with a spoon. If it sets well and isn’t flowing on the plate, jam is done. Else, cook for some more time.

  

img_4938
  
8. When the jam has reached the required consistency, switched off flame.

  


  
9. Pour into sterilized hot bottles directly from stove and close lid tightly.
  
10. Do not pour hot jam in cold bottles, otherwise the bottles would crack.
  
11. Leave the jam to cool by itself. Do not engage in cooling by other means. That would affect the setting of the Jam.
  
12. Enjoy with home made bread or bun. Also try in tarts or pies.

  

img_6705

 

Ellu Kozhukkattai/ Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery

September 5, 2016 1 comment

  

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 070dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 073

  
Pillayar Chathurthi, Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayaka Chathurthi is being celebrated today. The Gods we worship have different names in different parts of India. Pillayar in Tamilnadu is also called as Ganesha or Vinayaka, followed by a list of many other names. Different names don’t interfere in the festivities on the street and inside homes.  What the elephant-headed God, being Pillayar or Ganesha likes is fixed – Kozhukkattai in Tamil and Modakam in Sanskrit. Different Forms of Modak are the most important preparation of Pillayar Chaturthi.

Added to the well popularised Modakam in the God’s hands, is a long chain of local ingredients – fruits, vegetables and grains that come up during the season.

In Tamilnadu, what Lord Ganesha is simplified in the poetic verses – ‘Appamodu Aval Pori’ – which gives the best three things that he likes to eat –

a. Appam/Deep fried Rice flour-jaggery Dumplings (the altered version being made with wheat flour and sometimes banana too)
b. Aval – Flattened Rice
c. Pori – Puffed Rice.

This also shows the socioeconomic connection behind these religion based celebrations. The major crop of the area – Rice and its different versions, has been adapted as ‘Festive Food Essentials’. I often think, if Ganesh Chathurthi had been celebrated elaborately in the northern parts of India – Wheat based specialities would have been his favorite, wheat being the major crop of that part of the country.

Now, the core ingredient of Kozhukkattai or Modakam is the rice flour. What enters into the beautiful rice cover can be optional. Coconut – Jaggery is the ultimate killer combination of all kozhukkattais according to me. The next classic filling is the Sesame Seed – Jaggery combination. The nutty flavor that the sesame seeds give and the traditional sweetness from jaggery can also be a low-fat version for those who feel coconut or fried coconut is rich in cholesterol (not me). Apart from this stuffed modakams, there are also varieties of non-stuffed stuff – pidi kozhukkattai or plain sweetened or salted steamed dumplings pressed with the impression of fingers – that aid additionally as quick and easy evening snacks.

Coconut-Jaggery Kozhukkattai and Pidi Kozhukkattai – Sweet and Salt and Spicy versions, have already been posted. It’s time for Ellu Kozhukkattai or Sesame Seed-Jaggery filled Dumplings this time.

  
Ellu Kozhukkattai/Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery

  
dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 032
  

a. Ingredients specified below makes 20-25 dumplings

b. The V -Part demonstration is for precise comprehension alone – otherwise these dumplings are quite easy to make

  

Part I – Making Rice Flour at home

  
The core ingredient Rice Flour can be store-bought which comes out well, but the snow-white colour of home-made rice flour is something beyond comparison. For those who prefer home-made rice flour, please refer https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/
  

Part II – Making the Rice Dough which is the outer covering
  
Ingredients

  

  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1 1/2 cup – app. 200 gms
  • thanneer/water – boiling hot to make a stiff yet soft dough
  • uppu/salt – 1/2 tsp
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp

  

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 016

  

  1. Boil water in a vessel;
  2. In a bowl, mix rice flour and salt;
  3. Pour boiling hot water on it and mix well with a ladle immediately before lumps form;
  4. Add the gingelly oil for smooth consistency.

  

Part III – Making the filling

  

  • ellu/sesame seeds (white or black) – 100 gms – app. 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 200 gms – app. 1 cup
  • thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup – app. 50 gms
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

  

roasted sesame with jaggery water…

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 005

  

mixed with coconut, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder..

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 013

  

and shaped to be filled..

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 021

  

  1. Dry roast clean/non-muddy sesame seeds till golden.
  2. Separately dry roast coconut – for 10 mins – with the coco-nutty stickiness intact.
  3. Dissolve jaggery in just enough hot water and filter the mud that is present.
  4. In a pan, heat together sesame seeds, grated coconut, jaggery water, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder.
  5. Let the mixture thicken, ready enough to make small stiff balls.
  6. Make equal sized balls for filling.

  
Part IV – Making Kozhukkattai/Dumplings

(for step-by-step procedure for keeping the filling inside and closing kozhukkattai please refer – https://dosaikal.com/2011/09/14/modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special/

  

  1. Make small equal sized balls for the outer covering.
  2. Keep a bowl with 3 tsp gingelly oil for greasing palm – this helps the rice dough not sticking to the palm.
  3. Grease palm with gingelly oil.
  4. Take one rice ball and press it flat in the palm and fill it with one sesame jaggery ball.
  5. Cover it well and make kozhukkattai/dumpling.
  6. Make all dumplings to be steamed.

  

ready to be steamed

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 030

  

Part V – Steaming Modhakams

  

img_1037

  

  1. Take an Idli Kopparai/Idli Cooker or any Steamer.
  2. Boil water in the base of the steamer.
  3. Oil the moulds and place the kozhukkattai/dumplings.
  4. Place the mould in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
  5. Kozhukkattais are ready to be served.

  

dosaikal 232 - ellu kozhukkattai 043

 

Home made Plum Jam with Unrefined Cane Sugar (Preservative Free)

September 4, 2016 2 comments

  

100% whole wheat Bread and Jam without store bought Pectin

IMG_4885

  
This post calls for some great adventure in the kitchen. From a person who started off highlighting traditional Tamilnadu dishes, with an open mind to learn cuisines of different countries, Baking Bread and Making Jam is of course an adventure. But it has certainly been a fruitful adventure.

Everyone aims at Healthy Food for the Family. Aiming at providing healthy food might mean many things –

Cooking-

a. food from scratch
b. with fresh, healthy ingredients
c. with unrefined food products like whole grains, lentils or unpolished stuff
d. that inculcates balance in all nutrients – carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins and fiber
e. that sticks to traditional foods
f. that involves less time to cook

and any other version that suits you and your family and more essentially the Family’s Palate.

My preferences of making food, starts from scratch and follow a traditional Tamil Grandma’s Household style.  Satisfying the taste buds that long for foods from different parts of the world, through specialties which can be cooked at home – from scratch with minimal ingredients, has been no less than a  beautiful, adventurous journey across the world.

So, my recent passion has been Baking Bread – 100% whole wheat and 0% all purpose flour. And connected to it, came the Making of Jam with no added preservatives or store bought Pectin.

  

The Nutty Bread

IMG_4974

  

Cooking Healthy Food might seem like a difficult task in hand. I chose the simple method of clinging on to all the above, especially understanding traditional foods – be it from any country or culture.

Simpler than this can be to just avoid processed food. That might not sound practically simple, but I assure, it is certainly a simple affair with loads of care and patience in choice of food stuff bought from the store.

When you go farther away from Earth, less the gravitational force and hence you float. A visit to the Local Super Market can be like a visit to Space, away from the true necessities of healthy living. While it pulls you or sucks you in, you float in the amazing aura and aroma of packed, refined junk basic items.  As your heart and brain is immersed in the tempting outer world of packaged nonsense, we tend to pick the most fancy ones, easy to cook and less time consuming. The next possible misery would be to fool oneself in the health benefits that has been quoted in the pack, and come back to the original world- Home, with more unwanted processed stuff.

It is so easy, we pick what we want, depending upon what had already tempted us and the beloved kids through advertisements. Now, we are proud owners of all those beautifully sealed packets – but, the proud owner of the super market is surely ‘The Winner’. That Super Market is indeed a Special SPACE where Losers are also satisfied souls.

Obesity and increasing health issues at a very young age throughout the world are things of real concern. This anxiety and uneasiness made me bake my own whole wheat breads and buns. The additional benefit of home made 100% whole wheat breads and buns  is the abundant patience instigated in the family. Truly, the chunky breads and buns need endurance to be consumed, after so many years of soft/store bought/ s0-called whole wheat bread.  Yet, the aroma of baking bread that fills the house and the satisfaction of having a healthy whole grain meal has become an addition. It has become our Sunday breakfast after a 6 day breakfast plan with power packed pancakes. https://dosaikal.com/2014/04/19/power-packed-pancakes-whole-grain-dosais/

  
My own… Dinner Rolls and Breads
  
IMG_3652IMG_6490

  

and buns…

  

IMG_5944

IMG_4107

  
While I need to perfect my bread baking efforts, before I post a few breads and buns that I make, I thought of the best accomplishment for breads – Jams and Jellies – easily the most sort after store bought item. Have a glance on the package of Jams available, there would be a long list of ingredients for storage purposes. Why not make our own Jam with the minimal ingredients – truly only two needed – sugar and fruit.

What about Pectin, an important ingredient needed for the consistency of jam? This has been a learning experience.

http://healingcuisinebyelise.com/2012/07/questions-answered-is-pectin-healthy.html gives a detailed analysis on Pectin.

    

According to the USDA, fruits contain the greatest amount of pectin — all fruits are made up of at least 5 to 10 percent pectin. Peaches, apples, oranges, grapefruit and apricots contain the highest amount of pectin among fruits. For example, one small peach contains 0.91 gram of pectin, while 1 cup of apple slices contains 0.654 gram of pectin. http://www.livestrong.com/article/289067-list-of-foods-high-in-pectin/

    

The learning fact is that fruits can be direct sources of Pectin, to attain the exact consistency in Jams and what can be skipped is the store bought Pectin. The danger of commercial pectin is that it might be a chemical combination with artificial sweeteners.

  

Pectin Fruit content

Courtesy: http://healingcuisinebyelise.com/2012/07/questions-answered-is-pectin-healthy.html

  

Hence, for a healthy food style, just choose unprocessed food. A visit to super market is a necessity. But, having healthy choices makes all the difference. What is healthy is something to be understood with Precision.

Additionally, it also means preserving foods with natural preservatives – unbelievable natural ingredients available in your kitchen – also available in small shops and super markets – but not as a processed version but as a basic unprocessed raw material. Amazing isnt it? But what remains most important is that ‘We Need to Make Our Choices’ for a healthy life style.

That’s why it is time for a Jam with fruit and sugar alone. When I had beautifully ripe Plums, that also had a sour touch to it, I chose to make a jam with plum and unrefined cane sugar – no refined white sugar either…Hurray!! Why bother about Pectin from store – Plum has all that is needed to fix the jam. And that was a true Success – with a capital ‘S’.

Come along… let’s see how I made it.

  
Plum Jam with Unrefined Cane Sugar (No Preservatives or store bought Pectin)

  

IMG_6482

  

Ingredients
  

  • plums deseeded and chopped – 1200 gms (approximately 6 bowls)
  • molasses/unrefined cane sugar – 500 gms

  

IMG_4612molasses

  

Method of Preparation

  
Part I

  
To disinfect the plums, take a big bowl of water with turmeric and salt. Leave the fruits in the water for 1/2 an hour.

  

IMG_4602

  

Part II

  
Before cooking the plum, there are two other things that are essential in the making of Jam-

  
a) Plate in the Freezer

  
Place a plate in the freezer and a few spoons- we need to check for consistency later by placing the jam in the chilled plate.

  

b)Sterilize the bottles with lid

  

IMG_4629

  

  1. Wash the bottles and lids to store jam very well with no food particles sticking to it.
  2. Take a big bowl and place the washed bottles and lids on sides.
  3. Fill water in the bowl immersing the bottles.
  4. Let the water come to a full boil.
  5. Close with lid and let it stay till the jam is done.

  

Part III

  

  1. Remove the plums from turmeric-salt water. Wash well and pat them dry with a clean cloth.
  2. De-seed and chop them into small pieces. Smaller the pieces, more blended the jam would turn out.
  3. Smaller pieces combined with slightly bigger chunks in-between, taste delicious with a candied flavor.
  4. Take a hard bottomed, wide bowl and drop in both ingredients -plum and sugar.

  

IMG_4620

  

4. One can also substitute molasses with cane sugar.

5. Let the mixture boil in open bowl, do not close with lid.

6. The procedure would take 45 minutes to an hour to reach the required jam consistency

  

IMG_4624

  
7. Check in between with the plate in the freezer- swipe a spoon of jam on the plate and cut into two halves. If it sets well and isn’t flowing on the plate, jam is done. Else, cook for some more time.

  

IMG_4626

  
8. When the jam has reached the required consistency, switched off flame.

9. Pour into sterilized hot bottles directly from stove and close lid tightly.

10. Do not pour hot jam in cold bottles, otherwise the bottles would crack.

11. Leave the jam to cool by itself. Do not engage in cooling by other means. That would affect the setting of the Jam.

12. Enjoy with home made bread or bun. Also try in tarts or pies.

  

IMG_4631

 

Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

September 1, 2016 Leave a comment

  

IMG_6400

  

Vella seedai, as the name suggests is made of vellam or cane jaggery. The sweetness of the festive delicacy comes from the traditional jaggery and the right consistency of the dough results in a crunchy melting snack.

As mentioned in the Uppu Seedai recipe in the previous post, the dough stands the risk of melting while frying, the culprit being the temperature of jaggery, we need room temperature jaggery water. Hot jaggery water might lead to a break-up of seedai in hot oil. The sweet deep fried balls lose their shape and end up in a powdery chunk if the jaggery water is hot. So, one needs to be cautious on that.

Otherwise, this sweet is an easier affair in comparison to Uppu seedai, which can be revolutionary and exploding.

The step by step procedure of making of the basic rice flour has already been posted in https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/

But, to reduce web-browsing time, I repeat the procedures below.

  
Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

Before making seedai, we need home made, fine powdered rice flour, the core ingredient for both the salt and sweet version of seedai.

  
Rice Flour

  

  • Wash well and soak 3 cups pacharisi/raw rice in enough water for 2 hours. Drain the water and spread in a clean cloth, preferably cotton towel which would absorb the excess water and dry the rice inside the room.

  

IMG_6333

  

  • Never use paper, especially newspapers to dry rice or any kitchen purposes, as they contain highly dangerous ink which can cause illnesses.
  • The rice shouldn’t be dried too much. With a bit of moisture still in the rice, dry grind in a blender to a fine powder.
  • Sieve well and keep aside

  

IMG_6338

  

Dehusked Black Gram Flour

  
Also needed is black gram flour, which is dry roasted and powdered.

dry roasted…

 

IMG_6346

  

and powdered…

 

IMG_6351

  

  • Grind again the granules left over from the first sieve
  • Combine only very fine powder which is very important in the making of seedai.

  
Ingredients (makes 75-80 balls)

  

  • pacharisi maavu /rice flour – 2 cups
  • ulundhu maavu/dehusked black gram flour – 2 tbsp
  • varutha ellu/roasted sesame seeds – 2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • vellam/cane jaggery – grated – 1/2 cup
  • thanneer/water – to dissolve jaggery
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  • yennai/oil – for frying

  
Method of Preparation

  
Part I

  

  1. Dry roast rice flour till aroma comes out, but be careful not to over roast as it will change the colour of flour.
  2. Take jaggery in enough water and heat slightly till it dissolves. We do not want a syrup here. So, be cautious.
  3. Strain and keep aside.

  

IMG_6372

  

Part II
  
  
IMG_6371

  

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients – rice flour, black gram flour, sesame seeds, salt and grated coconut with clarified butter.
  2. Make a stiff dough with just enough jaggery water.
  3. Always have extra flour (both rice and black gram) in hand. This might come handy when the dough becomes soft.

  

IMG_6373

  

Part III

  

  1. Heat oil for deep frying in a pan to start frying seedai. Keep in medium flame.
  2. Make small balls of equal size.
  3. Fry in medium hot oil till done – end product would be dark brownish in colour.
  4. Drain excess oil in kitchen tissue and store in an air-tight container.

  

IMG_6393

%d bloggers like this: