Monthly Archives: June 2012

Nanri! – dosaikal completes a year!

 

Nanri is a very special word in Tamil language…it means Thankyou.

Today,  ‘dosaikal’ completes a year, it is truly a very happy feeling.  As a child grows up, parents remember the elated emotion when the child was born… but from a new born to infant, infant to toddler, toddler to pre-schooler, pre-schooler to schooler and an adolescent – the transformation is as fast as a blink.

It was exactly a year ago that I wrote my first article in dosaikal and now it is a full circle of 365 days! Every year on my birthday.. it is usually a mixed feeling – one of celebration and other of growing older. Ofcourse, the former overrules the latter!

With dosaikal’s birthday – it is again a kind of mixed feeling – one of jubiliation and delight and the other of more responsible writing.

My heartfelt thanks to every reader who has lent his/her valuable time to spend some time in by blog. Their patience to read and come back to read again means a lot to me.

My special thanks to my subscribers who have given me the confidence, enthusiasm, vigour and motivation to express my passion in words. That is why, this ‘NANRI’ is not a simple word – it is a special word and a special emotion.

Amma holds a special position. She explains the perfect methods of making a delicacy and I try completing it to atleast half perfection. A very special nanri to Amma and Aachi, my true inspirers.

 

As a proud Tamil person, I take the support of ‘Thirukkural’ to convey my gratitude –

 

 

Thirukkural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature with the highest and purest expressions of human thought. It is written in the form of couplets (two line poems) expounding various aspects of life. It contains 1330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of 10 couplets each.

Thirukkural was written by Thiruvalluvar. We find Thiruvalluvar as a moral philosopher, political scientist and master of public administration in the first two parts of Thirukkural. We find him to be a creative artist in the third part, depicting the fascinating aspects of lovers.

Thirukkural’s immortality and universality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all religions, countries and time. It has been translated in over 60 languages of the world.

http://www.tn.gov.in/literature/thiruvalluvar/thiruvalluvar.htm

 

 

 

picture of thiruvalluvar

picture courtesy: http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f11/ponnusamychandran/Line%20drawing/?action=view&current=Thiruvalluvar.jpg&sort=ascending

 

 

It is generally reckoned that Kural was composed during the Sangam Period of literary development in Tamil (500-200 BC).

http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/tamil/kural/kural_ref.php

 

 

Among the 1330 couplets, kurals 101 to 110 under the title ‘sei nanri aridhal’ or Gratitude talks on importance of gratitude.

 

This one is for my beloved friend Oz, who helped me in starting this food blog. A fine, popular and sort after food blogger (www.kitchenbutterfly.com) herself, took the pain of explaining me the nuances of blogging. Infact, I registered this blog with Oz helping me in the procedures. Thankyou Oz!

Kural 102

காலத்தி னாற்செய்த நன்றி சிறிதெனினும்
ஞாலத்தின் மாணப் பெரிது.

kaalathi narsseitha nanri siritheninum

gnalathin mana perithu

 

Translation:

A timely benefit, -though thing of little worth,
The gift itself, -in excellence transcends the earth.

Explanation:

A favour conferred in the time of need, though it be small (in itself), is (in value) much larger than the world.

Nanri Oz!

 

This one is for all my subscribers and readers –

Kural 103 

பயன்தூக்கார் செய்த உதவி நயன்தூக்கின்
நன்மை கடலின் பெரிது.

payanthookaar seitha uthavi nayanthookin

nanmai kadalin perithu.

 

Translation:

Kindness shown by those who weigh not what the return may be:
When you ponder right its merit, ‘Tis vaster than the sea.

Explanation:

If we weigh the excellence of a benefit which is conferred without weighing the return, it is larger than the sea.

Nanri Friends!

 

Thanking my husband and lovely daughter … would be like thanking myself… but these verses of Thiruvalluvar explain the beauty of the relationship.

Kural 45

அன்பும் அறனும் உடைத்தாயின் இல்வாழ்க்கை
பண்பும் பயனும் அது.

Anbum aranum udaithayin ilvazhkkai

panbum payanum adhu.

 

Translation:

If love and virtue in the household reign, This is of life the perfect grace and gain.

Explanation:

If the married life possess love and virtue, these will be both its duty and reward.

 

All verses of Thirukkural, Translation and Explanation taken from http://www.thirukkural.com/

 

Nanri! Thankyou! Keep encouraging me to communicate my passion in words !

 

The Dutch Dairy

 

 

 

  • Milk and dairy products are providers of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein which are all essential for healthy bone growth and development.
  • The most abundant protein in milk is casein and is protective as it forms a thin film on the enamel surface which prevents loss of calcium and phosphate from the enamel when the teeth are exposed to acids in the mouth.
  • Studies have shown that high calcium intakes may reduce high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, and increase low levels of good cholesterol both of which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that people who consume milk and dairy foods are likely to be slimmer than those who do not.
  • Regular consumption of low fat dairy products can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which has been a longstanding problem in adults, and is becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents.
  • There is considerable evidence to suggest that milk has a protective effect on risk of both colorectal and breast cancer with increased intakes.

http://www.milk.co.uk/page.aspx?intPageID=73

World Milk Day was celebrated on the 1st of June. I thought this was the right time to write about the speciality of the Dairy Industry in the Netherlands.

 

The first World Milk Day was held in 2001. FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) proposed this specific day to celebrate all aspects of milk; the natural origin, the nutritional value, the numerous tasty products which are liked by many people all across the globe, the economic importance of milk in rural regions as well as in the entire food chain. (http://www.frieslandcampina.com/english/about-milk/wiki-a-z-index/en/w/world-milk-day.aspx)

 

When we came to Holland, one of our neighbours took me to the nearby farm, where I could get pure cow’s milk and cheese.   Getting milk directly from farm…. reminded of my childhood days at my maternal grandparents’ house. I remember as a child playing, hearing to stories from chithies (maternal aunts) and even being fed breakfast and lunch in the cow shed… seeing those innocent faced cows and calves. Though my daughter finds this very different and interesting to be fed in a cow shed?!

 

 

The back portion of the really big house was the cow shed… spacious for many cows but thatha (grandfather) had two or three cows. Early in the morning, konar ( traditional herdsmen, who come to houses to milk the cows) used to be the first person to ring the door bell. He would milk the cows and leave. When we woke up, we would find the big brass pots filled with foamy fresh milk. Then, the milk would be boiled – children get plain milk and adults, their frothy filter kaapi (the-morning-cup-of-coffee/). 

In the port city of Thoothukudi, lies our thatha veedu – grandpa’s house.  The first drawing-room of the house, called the ‘tharsa’ is meant for formal and non-familial guests. In the morning hours, it is a special room for those special friends of thatha who would come to discuss problems and to find definite solutions to national and international issues.  Here, there is non-stop supply of milk and kaapi as per preference of guests… when the other part of the house is busy getting ready to go to college and school. I think, thatha veedu used to compensate for the lack of parks or beaches – the main chatting spots of elderly members of the locality.

Coming to the milk story –

forms the important phases in the life of the brass pot/pots of milk, milked by konar early in the morning.  Not to mention the last litres of the day’s milk, which would be converted to sunda kaichina pal – thickened milk with/without sugar -bed time drink for the 15 member family.

Left over full cream yoghurt would be diluted to buttermilk and churned every morning in turns, by the ladies of the house to make butter. Later, when I grew up in Chennai, cream was removed from the boiled milk and stored in the freezer; then fermented with some yoghurt overnight, and churned/beaten in the mixer jar to get precious butter.

Influenced by the cow shed and milk experiences in grandpa’s home, having cows in my backyard and making all possible by-products at home continues to be my dream till today. Hence, wherever we have lived, I would first trace the possibilities of fresh milk and next – collect cream in the freezer, make butter, then boil the butter to get nei -ghee/clarified butter.  And making yoghurt at home is an everyday routine in almost every household in India!

nei/ghee/clarified butter

 

Now, when I came to the Netherlands, where everything is available fresh in the supermarkets… I felt those farms which were nearly 15 minutes walkable distance from our house was god sent. In appreciation of my childhood, teenage and adulthood unvanished dream, God had given this opportunity to buy fresh milk, boil, preserve cream, make butter, boil it to ghee….. same as thatha veedu – grandpa’s house!! I was truly elated. Thus started my milky milk journey in the Netherlands – Appreciation of farm fresh milk and its various usages – everything under one roof – MY HOME!

It was after a year and many months, that a wise soul – a truly practical friend of mine – brought to light the easy ways of getting everything from the super market – especially when there is no helping hand as in India. I thought for a few more months and switched over to milk, cream and butter from super markets. My work drastically reduced, but I felt terribly guilty of doing injustice to those farm cows… who would be deprived of my untold love and appreciation. Though I am an enlightened soul now – dependent on the super markets, I do pay a visit now and then to buy some fresh milk from the farm nearby. Because, the freshness of milk and everything else which comes from it is simply incomparable.

Here are a few pictures of the farm we visit –

 

goats…

 

sheep..

 

and the very special cow comfort brush

 

Dutch Dairy

The milk products section in the supermarkets here in the Netherlands speaks the success story of the Dutch Dairy Industry. When I close my eyes and think about the Dutch landscape –  in the background of a delightful blue sky, luscious green pastures and the patiently grazing cattle is what comes to my mind.  The cow is certainly given a very high position by any dutch individual.

 

fresh milk cans

 

fresh milk in tetra packs

 

 

Celebrated as the world champion of milk production and cherished as the national favourite animal, the Dutch cow is almost sacred. The statues erected here and there speak volumes; the Dutch are proud of this die-hard symbol of Dutch prosperity. This love affair does not run deep, however. The Dutch like their steaks. The Netherlands has four million cows and thirty thousand dairy farms; The Dutch dairy cow produces 35 litres every day – a world record.

taken from the book – The Dutch, I presume?Icons of the Netherlands by Martijn de Rooi, Jurjen Drenth and friends

 

The amazing varieties of milk products available in the Netherlands is not a new scenario. Many experts emphasise that dairy production has been a speciality of the Netherlands for centuries.

Fresh milk in cans (2.4 lrs and 2 lrs), fresh milk in tetra packs (1 lr. and 2 lrs) – categorised as full cream milk (volle melk), semi skimmed milk (half volle melk), low fat milk or 0% fat milk (magere melk) is the basic form of milk available in super market.

Apart from the fresh milk stored in the chilled food section, the above mentioned categories of milk are also available in the non-chilled area as Langlekker Melk – or the storable milk with its expiry date. Fruit flavoured milk drinks are a treat to taste buds.

 

storable langlekker milk

 

low-fat milk

 

Different kinds of yoghurt – full fat greek or stand natural, fruit flavoured yoghurt, quark, or flavoured yoghurt drink – the list is too long. The stand natural yoghurt is similar to the Indian set yoghurt and hence I find many Indians prefer this. There is also the free-flowing roer yoghurt suitable to make more kuzhambu(https://dosaikal.com/2012/05/10/mor-kuzhambubuttermilk-curry/). Yoghurt in combination with fresh fruits, readily available fruit flavoured yoghurt or quark is also served as a dessert after a Dutch meal.

 

set yoghurt as in India

 

peach flavoured quark

 

Now, the true dessert arena has flavoured custard – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate; different kinds of pudding and the ever tempting varieties of ice cream.

 

puddings and other desserts

 

Other dairy products include coffee milk, buttermilk called karnemelk, condensed milk and the most popular of all Cheese! There needs to be a separate post about the world-famous dutch cheese!!

 

the cheese section

 

special yoghurt and quark for children

 

(photos from supermarket Dirk van den Broek)

These are some amazing facts about the dutch dairy industry –

 

  • One third of the total surface of the country is occupied by dairy-farming.
  • With 11 million tons of milk, The Netherlands are the fifth largest milk producer in the European Union (after Germany, France, the UK and Poland).
  • Fifty percent of the milk is used for cheese production. 75 percent of the cheese is exported, mostly to Germany, Belgium and France
  • Nearly one fifth of the milk in the Netherlands is processed into ingredients (caseinates, lactose, whey proteins) for producers of daily foods, specialty foods and pharmaceutical products.
  • The most important part of the dairy production is exported. Total sales abroad amount to € 4,5 billion (2008).
  • The Netherlands export a quarter of the total EU-dairy export.
  • The Netherlands counts 20 dairy companies with 52 plants. Some companies are the owner of enterprises in other countries. Most of the companies are cooperatives. One, big, cooperative enterprise (FrieslandCampina) dominates the Dutch dairy industry. About 75 percent of all the milk is transformed by this company.

taken from http://www.eda2010.com/?PageID=92; (EDA – European Dairy Association).

 

FrieslandCampina is the biggest player in the Dutch dairy market. Campina, Mona, Chocomel, Fristi, Milner and Optimel are products of Friesland Campina.

 

The Nederlandse Zuivel Organization – The Dutch Dairy Association (NZO) is the sector organisation of the Dutch dairy processing industry. Dairy companies, jointly processing approximately 98 percent of Dutch farm milk, are affiliated with the organisation. The dairy activities of NZO members have a turnover of some 10 billion, two-thirds of which are exported. Approximately 9,000 employees work in the dairy industry.http://www.nzo.nl/?PageArea=2.

 

 

Wentelteefjes: French Toast with Lemon

 

Next, I tried making an easy dutch breakfast, tea time or brunch menu-

Wentelteefjes, which sounds quite complicated is a simple dutch version of french toast. French Toast called Pain Perdu which literally means ‘lost bread’ originated as a way to use stale or old bread, when storage facilities were rare.

 

Also notably: In France, French toast, and in Belgium (and DRC Africa) is called pain perdu, or “lost bread,” since it is a way to reclaim stale, “lost,” bread: hard bread is softened by dipping in a mixture of milk and eggs, then fried.http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/French+toast?)

 

The recipe is taken from the book ‘Dutch cooking today’.

 Ingredients

  • egg – 1 no.
  • grated rind of 1 lemon or
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • milk – 150 ml
  • stale white bread – 4 slices
  • butter – 30 gms
  • soft brown sugar/cane sugar – 2 tbsp

 

Method of Preparation

  1. In a bowl, beat the egg and stir in the lemon peel or cinnamon and milk
  2. Remove the crusts from the bread
  3. Dip the slices of bread in the egg mixture
  4. Put the slices on top of each other in the bowl so that they absorb all the remaining liquid
  5. In a large frying pan, heat the butter over moderate heat
  6. Fry the bread on both sides until golden brown
  7. Serve the french toast sprinkled with soft cane sugar.

 

 

 

Note:

  1. I used lemon peel instead of cinnamon powder
  2. Brown bread has been used instead of white – though white bread is considered better in taste and additionally, white bread toasts come out more fluffy
  3. Adjust number of bread slices according to the quantity of mixture – I needed three slices instead of four
  4. Fresh bread is used instead of stale bread.

Elumichai Sadham/Lemon Rice

 

 beautifully coloured elumichai sadham/lemon rice

Elumichai Sadham (pronounced saadham) is an easy to prepare meal, flavoured with juice of lemon..  it is a delicacy made especially during those summer days of scorching sun.

Elumichai is the shortened version of Elumicham pazham which means ripened lemon in tamil; and saadham is rice. Elumicham kaai – elumichangaai is raw lemon and is used in making pickles . Originally, Choru or Soru is the tamil word for cooked rice. The origin of the word ‘saadham’ which is used commonly for cooked rice is not very clear.

Elumichai sadham (lemon rice), Puli sadham (tamarind rice), Thengai sadham (coconut rice) or Thayir sadham (curd rice) – all are called kalandha sadham, kalavai sadham or coloquially viragina sadham –  translated as mixed rice or in general variety rice.

Lemon rice on sunny days, Tamarind rice on rainy days, Coconut rice on special days and Curd rice always to end the meal… and that’s not all! Ellu sadham (sesame rice), Nellikkai sadham (gooseberry rice), Paruppu sadham (lentil rice) and many more come under speciality variety rices.

Among the Mixed Rices, lemon rice, tamarind rice and curd rice are also picnic meals – that can remain fresh and good for a couple of days – even without refrigeration.  When we use to travel in train to places like Delhi which needs 28 hours of travel time from Chennai, idly (see steamed-rice-cakes/) and varutha milagai thuvayal  (see roasted-chilly-coconut-chutney/) for breakfast and dinner, and lemon rice or tamarind rice with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/)and curd rice (see curd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/)  for lunch used to be the packed food. These are such comfort foods when hunger never seems to stop during train journeys!

Variety rices can also be prepared from left over rice and yet the end product tastes fresh and flavourful. That is why, these can also be a lazy day’s brunch made with previous day’s left over rice and chips to go with it!

Now to Elumichai Sadham…

Cooked rice flavoured with juice of lemon,  coloured with turmeric powder for the yellow colour of lemon, combined with many more ingredients to enhance the tingy tangy taste of lemon…. lemon rice is simply and completely lemony!

 

Tip:

A small tip to squeeze out juice easily and completely – 

On any convenient hard surface like a kitchen slab or a chopping board, roll lemon with palm and make it soft.

Now, cut the lemon into two halves and squeeze out juice which is a lot more easier affair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elumichai Sadham

 

Ingredients (serves approximately 4)

  • cooked rice – 4 cups
  • oil – 4 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  •  ulundhamparuppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • kadalai paruppu/split bengal gram – 3 tsp
  • nilakkadalai/groundnut (roasted and unsalted)- 3 tsp
  • pachai milagai/green chillies – 2 no.s
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • grated ginger – 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • juice of one large lemon
  • salt – as per taste
  • asafoetida powder – 1/2 tsp

 

 

 

 ingredients…

 

 

 

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Cooked hot rice can easily become mashed. For lemon rice, we need rice in separate grains. Hence, cook rice, spread in a plate and pour two tsp oil and leave to cool; This helps rice to stay with separate grains
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel; Add mustard seeds and when they splutter add dehusked black gram and split bengal gram
  3. Keep the stove in medium heat
  4. When black gram and bengal gram turn golden brown, add grated ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and turmeric powder and fry
  5. Lastly add asafoetida powder, salt and roasted unsalted groundnuts and fry
  6. When salt and turmeric powder is mixed well with all the other ingredients, simmer stove and add the rice which was left to cool and mix
  7. When the rice is mixed well, switch off stove and add the squeezed and filtered lemon juice to the rice mixture
  8. Toss well till the juice of lemon is mixed evenly with rice.
  9. Serve with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/) or any dry vegetable curry and appalam (papad) or chips.

 

 

spread cooked rice and add oil to separate grains

 

all ingredients put together in hot pan

 

ready to serve!

 

 

 

Note:

  1. Pachirisi/Raw Rice is always used in mixed/variety rices… mainly because par-boiled rice is fatter and sometimes has a distinct taste
  2. Be sure rice grains are separated and not mashed when cooked
  3. Nallennai-Gingelly Oil is the preferred oil, which gives the typical flavour of mixed rice… if not available, other cooking oil can also be used
  4. When freshly cooked rice is used, cool on plate; when left over rice is used from fridge, directly add to the hot mixture on stove and then mix lemon juice
  5. Green chillies can be substituted with red chillies or both can be used for added flavour
  6. Add roasted groundnuts in the end as per procedure… if groundnut is added with black and bengal gram it might get burnt easily
  7. Quantity of lemon juice can be altered according to taste preference
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves.