Author Archives: dosaikal

About dosaikal

A simple person who believes strong roots and values build up stronger generations; and good food and good food habits are one of the best gifts that one can give to their off springs.

My 200th Post – Thinai / Foxtail Millet – Payasam and Sarkkarai Pongal : Two to Celebrate !!

My 100th Post was Kootanchoru – Typical Home Town One Pot Meal, way back in 2014. Dosaikal, my blog entered into its 10th year in May 2020. In my 10th year, jotting down my 200th post feels ecstatic.

It has been a slow and steady journey for me and a patient journey for my readers. Thanks a ton, for travelling at my pace, encouraging me to do what I’ve been doing.

When I sit back and think, the commitment of not endorsing junk foods and not blogging on unhealthy stuff has never faded. That I wouldn’t post a recipe, which I feel is unhealthy for my family; and wouldn’t cook any junk, that I wouldn’t prescribe to my readers, has been a norm that I set for myself.

In my quest to explore various versions of traditional foods, I felt THINAI / Foxtail Millet would be an apt food to post for my 200th.

Why Thinai?

Thinai is among the oldest millets consumed by Tamils. Sangam Literature, which dates from 300 BCE to 300 ACE, mentions Thinai, alongwith a few other millets and rice varieties, used by the ancient community.

Bamboo rice, Red rice, Foxtail, Kodo, Finger Millets, Black gram, Horse gram are a few rice, millets and lentils mentioned in Tholkappiyam (the most ancient Grammar Text of Tamil Language) and Sangam Literature.

With my quest to cook more, and write more and more on the traditional foods of the Land I belong to, I chose to do a post on one of the ancient millets of Tamilnadu.

It is the outcome of an urge to cling on tightly to my roots (quite strong with at least 2500 year old heritage), and transferring the wealth and knowledge my ancestors passed on to me through generations, to my offspring and others.

Thinai – Two Ways for the Sweet Tooth

Including Millets in our everyday diet is one of the most recommended health formulas of the 21st century, and hence, the internet overflows with the health benefits of all. Name it and you get it. Benefits of Thinai/ Foxtail Millet can also be found very easily in the net.

Any happy occasion demands a dessert. Why not 2 sweets for 200? That’s why I thought of making a Payasam and Sarkkarai Pongal with Thinai.

The basic ingredients are almost the same – Thinai and Jaggery; Payasam has the inclusion of coconut milk and Pongal doesn’t have the milk to bring it to thinner consistency.

Thinai Payasam and Thinai Pongal

As mentioned above, the Ingredients for Payasam and Pongal are almost the same, with the addition of coconut milk in Payasam.

The basic steps in making Payasam and Pongal are again, almost the same. In simple terms, a thinner mixture and addition of coconut milk makes it Payasam; a thicker version with the glow of more clarified butter, makes it Pongal.

Hence, the procedure below might be repetitive. Yet, for better comprehension, I chose to make different recipe presentations.

THINAI PAYASAMIngredients (serves 3-4)

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • thinai/foxtail millet – 1/2 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • chukku podi/ dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashewnut – 10-12 pieces
  • thengai pal/coconut milk – if freshly squeezed -1/2 cup thin second milk and 1/2 cup thick first milk; if using canned coconut milk – 1 cup thick, add extra water accordingly

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash Thinai and Pressure cook with 1 1/2 cups water.

How I cook – After the first whistle, reduce flame to sim and switch off after 2 whistles

Meantime-

2. Boil jaggery with water to dissolve and remove impurities. Strain and keep aside

3. Squeeze milk from fresh coconut, separate thin second milk and thick first milk

4. Over sim flame, keep the cooked millet in a hard bottomed pan or in the same pressure cooker, in which it was cooked

5. Time to add strained jaggery water- Check if you would need the whole jaggery water. Add 3/4th of it and add more if needed

Extra jaggery water, if retained can be used for various other purposes

Stir well after addition of jaggery water

Add dry ginger and cardamom powders

Let the millet cook in jaggery water and the spices, and thicken

Fry cashew nuts in nei/clarified butter till golden; Add to the cooked thinai-jaggery pongal

When the jaggery is well incorporated in thinai, add coconut milk

Be careful not to boil the Payasam too much after adding coconut milk, as it might curdle

Hot Thinai Payasam is ready to be served.

THINAI SARKKARAI PONGAL – Ingredients (serves 3-4)

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • thinai/foxtail millet – 1/2 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – little less than 3/4 cup
  • chukku podi/ dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 4 tbsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashewnut – 10-12 pieces

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash Thinai and Pressure cook with 1 1/2 cups water. How I cook – After the first whistle, reduce flame to sim and switch off after 2 whistles
  2. Boil jaggery with water to dissolve and remove impurities. Strain and keep aside
  3. Over sim flame, keep the cooked millet in a hard bottomed pan or in the same pressure cooker, in which it was cooked
  4. Add strained jaggery water- Check if you would need the whole jaggery water. Add 3/4th of it and add more if needed. Store extra syrup.
  5. Let the millet cook in jaggery water again and thicken well
  6. Add dry ginger and cardamom powders

7. Fry cashew nuts in nei/clarified butter till golden; Add to the cooked thinai-jaggery pongal

my favourite step –

Thinai Pongal is ready to be served.

Note:

  1. I have reduced the quantity of jaggery for Pongal, as coconut milk might balance the sweetness of jaggery in Payasam.
  2. I have added 2 more tbsps of nei/clarified butter to Pongal. This gives a beautiful glow and wonderful consistency to the dessert, not to mention the awesome taste.
  3. Feel free to omit, reduce or add more nei.
  4. Also, jaggery and coconut milk can be altered according to family preferences.

Almond flour and Whole Wheat Flour Bread

I’m still a learner, when it comes to baking Bread. My notion is not a gluten free bread, but something different from the usual ones.

I am at a stage, where I’d like to play with yeast, to find more interesting recipes. Hence, thought of including Almond Flour in the well practiced Bread recipe. Without the gluten (wheat), bread with plain almond flour might not be a successful one. We might need other binding agents like eggs or flax seeds. Even with flax seeds, eggs would be necessary for a Good result.

So, I chose to combine Wheat and Almond flours – in the ration 2:1. For 400 gms of wheat flour, I added 200 gms of almond flour. I also included warm buttermilk.

Buttermilk might kill the yeast. So, I had a careful eye to mix the dry ingredients first and then warm water and warm butter milk. And, immediately ran the kitchen machine. We could also proof the yeast before adding it to the flour.

Almond Flour and Whole Wheat Flour Bread

Ingredients

  • whole wheat – 400 gms
  • almond flour – 200 gas
  • honey – 4 tsp
  • salt – 1 1/2 tsp
  • yeast – 3 tsp
  • warm water – 1 1/2 to 2 cups approximately
  • warm buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
  • oil (preferably olive oil) – 2 tsp = 1 tsp for greasing the bowl; 1 tsp for greasing the baking tin

Making the Bread

Process I

  1. In the Stand Mixer Bowl, add wheat flour, almond flour, yeast and salt and mix well with a spatula
  2. Pour warm buttermilk and honey; and switch on the mixer with the dough hook
  3. Add warm water little by little, till the dough has enough water to knead
  4. Note: Almond Flour doesn’t need water as much as plain whole wheat flour would need. That’s why, check the dough and then add water
  5. After the initial mixing up of all the ingredients in the mixer, let the dough be kneaded for 10 minutes. Add more water, if needed while kneading
  6. Alternatively, if you plan to knead by hand-
  7. In a big bowl, add ingredients as in step 1, 2 and 3
  8. Knead well until buttermilk and water gets incorporated and the dough is stretchy.
  9. Grease the same bowl, with 1 tsp oil, and place the bread dough
  10. Cover with a clean cloth, place the bowl in a warm place
  11. Let the dough rise for half an hour or until double

Process II

  1. Knock the dough, and give it a gentle knead
  2. Grease the baking tin with the other 1 tsp olive oil 
  3. Roll the dough into loaves and place in the tin
  4. Let the dough rise for another 1/2 hr to one hr – or until doubled

Process III

  1. Preheat the oven at 220 degree C
  2. Place the dough and let it bake for 30-35 minutes, more or less, depending upon the oven.

For a soft crust

Once the baking is done-

  • Switch off the oven
  • Brush the crust with butter
  • Open the oven and leave the bread inside. Let there be a little gap in the door, for air to pass through
  • Once the bread is warm, remove and let it cool completely
  • Let it cool, with a cloth covered
  • The crust of the baked bread is soft and easy to slice.

Kappa and Meen Curry (Kerala Cuisine)

Respect for one’s own cuisine, would also result in respect for cuisines around the world, and cuisines around you. Kerala is neighbourhood to Tamilnadu; and both the states share close linguistic, cultural and cuisinical ties. Specialities like Aappam, Avial, Payasam, Puttu, Appam, Coconut Milk Curries and many more, can be found in different versions in both the South Indian States of India.

When one of my neighbours from Kerala, my good friend ‘N’, sent me Kappa and Meen Curry – Tapioca and Fish Curry – I couldn’t stop licking the curry, full of flavour. The combined flavours of Coconut and Kudampuli and shine on the curry – from the coconut oil, stayed in my mind for a long time.

Kappa or Tapioca is called Maravalli Kizhangu in Tamil. In some parts of Tamilnadu, it is also called Kappa Kizhangu. ‘Kizhangu’ is a generic term for tubers.

Kudampuli is a tamarind variety, that belongs to the species of Garcinia. It is also called Malabar Tamarind.

So, got the authentic household recipe from ‘N’ and tried to make at home. The joy of making one of Kerala’s most popular dishes- (with Kappa (cooked tapioca)- that’s two of Kerala’s traditional dishes) – was truly overwhelming.

Thanks ‘N’ for the recipe. I have to confess, mine was not as good as hers.

Kappa and Meen Curry – Tapioca and Fish Curry

Ingredients (for approximately 1/2 a kilo of fish)

  • Fish – clean and cut to small or medium sized pieces – 1/2 kg

For the curry

  • grated coconut – 1/2 a coconut
  • turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • red chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • salt – to taste
  • ginger – 2 inch piece
  • kudampuli – 3 pieces washed and soaked in water
  • curry leaves – a handful

For seasoning

  • coconut oil – 3 tbsp
  • shallots – 8-10 -sliced
  • curry leaves – a handful
  • green chillies and garlic – optional

Preparing the Fish Curry

  1. I used Black Pomfret. Feel free to use any fish; with bones or fillet as preferred

2. In a mixie jar, grind coconut, powders- (turmeric, chilli, salt) and ginger into a smooth paste

3. According to the original recipe, ginger was smashed and added to the curry. To get the flavour and spice of ginger, I blended it with the paste.

4. In a Clay Curry Pot (Man Chatti in Tamil), add the paste with enough water to make a watery curry

5. Add the Kudampuli/Garcinia with the soaked water and curry leaves

6. Check salt – add more if needed. Let the curry simmer for a while

7. When the raw smell of spices change and the curry has boiled well, add the cleaned fish pieces

8. Let the fish cook in the boiling hot curry for at least 20 minutes, with stove in sim position

9. Little more than 20 minutes, the oil from the ground coconut would show up on the curry

10. Check the curry. If you prefer it to be thicker, boil in medium fire – till it reaches desired thickness

11. When the curry is ready, season it.

12. Heat coconut oil and add sliced shallots and curry leaves

13. When they are fried a bit, add to the fish curry

14. Half a tsp of red chilli powder fried in oil, can also be poured on top of the curry. This renders a beautiful red colour and extra flavour to the curry.

15. Serve hot with boiled Kappa – Tapioca.

16. The amounts of coconut and chilli powder can be altered as per family preference.

Boiled Tapioca

  1. Peel the Tapioca.
  2. Cut to small to medium pieces
  3. Wash well till the extra starch is removed and is clean
  4. In a pressure cooker, add water, salt and turmeric to the tapioca
  5. Cook till 3 full whistles. no need to simmer
  6. Season with coconut oil, mustard seeds, green chillies and curry leaves
  7. Sprinkle grated fresh coconut before serving (if preferred).
  8. Serve with Fish Curry

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Why I prefer the ‘100%’ tag is, due to the countless number of times I’ve been fooled in shops and the web – with the phrase ‘whole wheat’ bread, bun or whatever snack that claims to be whole wheat.

This whole wheat product, doesn’t include white flour at all.

After I changed my yeast and started kneading with a Stand Mixer, my home-baked whole wheat Bread has passed with flying colours.

So, without wasting much time…….

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

  • wholewheat flour – 4 cups (one cup = 130mg x 4 = 520 gms)
  • yeast – 3 tsp – 11 gms
  • honey – 1/4 cup
  • salt – 1 1/2 tsp – 11 gms
  • warm water – enough to knead into stretchy and elastic dough
  • olive oil – 2 tsp app. (1 tsp for greasing the bowl; 1 tsp for greasing the baking tin)

Making the Bread

Process I

  1. In the Stand Mixer Bowl, add flour, yeast and salt and mix well with a spatula
  2. Pour warm water and honey; and switch on the mixer with the dough hook
  3. After the initial mixing up of all the ingredients in the mixer, let the dough be kneaded for 10 minutes. Add more water, if needed while kneading
  4. Alternatively, if you don’t have a mixer, not to worry
  5. In a big bowl, add ingredients as in step 1 and then step 2
  6. Knead well until water is incorporated well and the dough is stretchy.
  7. Grease the same bowl, with 1 tsp oil, and place the bread dough
  8. Cover with a clean cloth, place the bowl in a warm place
  9. Let the dough rise for half an hour or until double

Process II

  1. Knock the dough, and knead well again
  2. Grease the baking tin with the other 1 tsp olive oil
  3. Place the well rolled dough in the tin
  4. Let the dough rise for another 1/2 hr to one hr – or until doubled

Process III

  1. Preheat the oven at 220 degree C
  2. Place the dough and let it bake for 30-35 minutes, more or less, depending upon the oven

For a soft crust

Once the baking is done-

  • Switch off the oven
  • Brush the crust with butter
  • Open the oven and leave the bread inside. Let there be a little gap in the door, for air to pass through
  • Once the bread is warm, remove and let it cool completely
  • Let it cool, with a cloth covered
  • The crust of the baked bread is soft and easy to slice.

100% Whole Wheat, Eggless, Spicy Masala Buns – with Flax Seed- Sesame Seed – Mint

Baking might be an addictive affair. It is discouraging to see a flopped recipe. But, I feel, the aroma that the kitchen brings out, with baked goods, is one of the main reasons that make Baking, as addictive as it is. Why would one want to bake again and again, to make unsuccessful baking, successful, as though that is the only way to attain salvation??!!

After a change in the yeast brand, my bread/bun baking, has become better than before. I am working on making them more moist – as they turned out dry a few times. But, I assure, they taste excellent. My recent raisin bread too, turned out a bit dry. But, tasted awesome.

To tackle dryness, I have started incorporating buttermilk to buns. As such, while baking eggless goodies, I try to substitute with yoghurt. I prefer Dinner Rolls/Buns to be baked with butter. Though, quite recently, while I baked a butterless buns, (recipe from a cook-book I had), they came out really well. Shall bake it again, and confirm the recipe.

This time, I wanted to bake buns, with the excess mint leaves (I had dried indoors) and chillies and pepper…. something salt and spicy. These whole wheat buns, came out good. That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing them immediately.

100% Whole Wheat Eggless Spicy Soft Masala Buns – with Flax Seed- Sesame Seed

Ingredients

  • whole wheat flour – 300 gms (2 heaped up cups)
  • unsalted butter – 100 gms (melted and warm)
  • cane sugar – 12 gms (2 tsp)
  • powdered sea salt – 7-8 gms (1 tsp)
  • active dry yeast – 7-8 gms (2 tsp)
  • warm buttermilk – 1 cup
  • warm water – as needed to make a fine dough
  • Milk – 2 tbsp- for milk wash

For the Masala

  • flax seeds – 4 tsp
  • sesame seeds – 4 tsp (2 tsp for the powder and 2 tsp to sprinkle on top)
  • dried mint leaves – 1 1/2 cups approximately
  • dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
  • pepper corns – 2 tsp
  • red chillies – 4 no.s
  • oregano (optional) – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Making Spice/Masala Powder

  1. Dry roast flax seeds and sesame seeds. Roast 2 tsp of the sesame seeds and reserve the rest 2 tsp for the milk wash.

2. Dry roast, dried mint leaves – a bit of roasting helps in blending well

3. Dry roast pepper corns and red chillies (as I had some home made chilli flakes, I used it too.) 4 chillies would be needed for the recipe. Since I also used the left over chilli flakes, I took 2 red chillies

4. Dry roast oregano for a very short time – oregano is optional. I added, to boost the flavour. But, the mint and others are sufficient to punch in the flavours. I roasted it a bit, again to blend well. If you don’t have oregano, use carom seeds

5. Blend all the roasted ingredients, with dry ginger powder to a fine dry mixture.

6. The blended powder weighed approximately 42-45 gms

Making the dough

  1. In a wide bowl, add whole wheat flour, yeast, masala powder, sugar and salt
  2. As I had no doubts with my yeast, I directly added to wheat flour. Otherwise, proof yeast with warm water, to check whether it is still alive
  3. Add melted butter, which is still warm
  4. Warm the buttermilk and add to the flour mixture
  5. No cold liquids, as the yeast would become inactive
  6. Start kneading the dough, by kitchen machine or by hand
  7. Add enough warm water, if needed. My dough needed more water
  8. Knead for 10 minutes, to a soft dough

kneaded dough

9. Place in a greased bowl and close it. I don’t use cling wrap at home. So, just close with any lid, but keep it in a moist place. I always place my yeasted dough in the oven, with the light on. I also place a bowl of hot water below or beside. This helps create a warm environment, if you live in a cold place or air-conditioned environment

10. Keep the dough for 1 hour to rise or until double

doubled

11. Once doubled, knock the dough and knead for a couple of minutes

12. Grease a baking dish or tray, or place parchment paper on the baking tray

13. Make 8 equal portions and roll into fine balls

14. Place on baking tray, spaced apart

15. Keep these buns, to rise again for 30 minutes

ready to be baked

16. Preheat oven to 220°C

17. After they rise, brush the top of the buns with milk and spread sesame seeds

milk wash

18. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until hard crust is formed

Remove from the oven and let them cool

buns done

Serve with the spread of choice. Tasted good with cream cheese spread and also with tangy coriander chutney.

Quarantine Cooking !!

What I’ve been cooking for the past three and a half months, seems like a whirlwind project. I am rest assured, it must be the case of almost everyone, handling a full house, during these testing times.

When I sat back and saw the clicks, my daughter wanted me to write continuous posts, under the title ‘Quarantine Diaries’. NO worries.. No diaries… this post consolidates the several dishes, those were rolled out of that sacred place in my house, called ‘Kitchen’. Later, let’s analyse a few recipes in the coming posts.

I started the month of March, with a Blueberry Jam – just two ingredients, berries and brown sugar, and of course, juice of lemon for longer shelf life.

blueberry jam

With a routine of including Millets in the diet, Millet Idlies always occupy a special place on the dining table. Samai (Little Millet) Idlis are true substitutes in colour, to the regular white rice Idlis. But these millet idlis are a healthier version, not to forget.

samai idli

Like the Samai Idli, Kollu (Horsegram) Idlies, are awesomely light, steamed cakes packed with the lentil flavour.

kollu idli

Don’t forget the different chutneys, that were made for the idlies. A few of those, I have highlighted in the end of this post.

A chocolate cake- with whole wheat, cane sugar, olive oil, dark chocolate and toasted pistachios. The urge to cut and eat, was more compelling than a good click to post.

chocolate cake

Next, came 50-50 Whole Wheat Buns, tried from an old book, I had. Though, the recipe demanded eggs, this is an eggless bun.

buns

Black Chick Pea Burger with the Buns

Next, for the benefit of online learners, to munch some traditional sweets, with longer shelf life…

Coconut Burfi with Cane Sugar

and Black Sesame Burfi with Jaggery

April, started with Whole Wheat Raisin Bread – wouldn’t term it the best, but full of flavour.

raisin bread

Time for a spicy powder for the health freak. Sesame and Flax seed chilly powder, to go with rice, idli or dosai.

flax seed podi

April, was also a month to try Pizza, the healthy way. Home-made whole wheat base, tomato spread from scratch and variety of toppings .. Pizza that was dreaded for the white flour, the meagre amount of veggies or meat to be searched for- in store bought frozen ones, or the branded /door delivered ones, used to be a half-yearly affair. Truly, we might have ordered pizzas twice a year.

The ill effect of making fresh pizzas at home, with loaded vegetables and with constraint on cheese, pizzas are almost a weekly bake now.

fish pizza

paneer pizza

chocolate pizza

Till date, I haven’t been quite successful with cookies. They used to be consumable, but not perfect. And I have always baked whole wheat cookies, never with white flour.

But, May started with this exception. A Good Whole Wheat Cookie!! Got the recipe from another blog, but as usual converted all purpose flour to whole wheat. It turned out to be so light and crispy.

whole wheat sesame cookies

When the need for a hot snack, with less work to fry, stir fry or sauté arose, tried baking these yummy potato wedges. Cut the potatoes, sprinkled some oil, baked for 30 mins or so. Took out from oven, sprinkled salt and spices of choice and, the baked wedges were ready.

Potato Wedges baked healthy

Who said Papdi Chaat needs Papdi or the crisps made of white flour. I chose to combine Papdi and Chole into a Chaat, but with a healthy twist. No matter you like it or not, its a whole meal. When I had my Methi (fenugreek leaves) Paratha dough in hand, I rolled a big pizza base out of it, and baked till crisp. That became my Papdi to go with the left over Chole curry. Add ons – home made green chutney, tamarind chutney and yoghurt.

Methi Paratha (Papdi) Chole Chaat

Time for a nice cake – Sticky Date and Walnut Cake – obviously with whole wheat flour and cane sugar, and eggless too. This time, I topped the cake with caramel whipped cream. With my home-made caramel, I could limit the sugar in the frosting.

Eggless Sticky Date and Walnut Cake

Next came in, Gooseberries. Lucky me, the super market had some new and fresh stock of gooseberries. The great berry, loaded with good nutrients, rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, is highly popular for its anti-ageing properties. Let’s also do a gooseberry chutney series shortly. Great plans that arise as I write..

Gooseberry Coconut Green Chilly Chutney

Gooseberry Coconut Coriander Chutney

Gooseberry Coconut Mint Chutney

Gooseberry Coconut Red Chilly Chutney

Gooseberry Tomato Red Chilly Chutney

The long list of ingredients, written on the bottle of the world’s most favourite Chocolate spread, or a Peanut Butter Spread, creates a lot of stress and anxiety. But a good chocolate spread, to go with healthy whole wheat or millet pancakes, or home made bread or buns, can be a positive change in routine. So, tried this simple chocolate spread, with a combination of 80% and 72% dark chocolate with very little cane sugar and milk. Stores well in the refrigerator, for at least couple of weeks. Choose your dark chocolate, that has no margarine, but cocoa butter.

Home made Chocolate Spread

Those were a few different, yet healthy stuff that went into the tummy. I am satisfied, I could put in some thoughtful creativity, to indulge in the above stuff.

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Thai Lod Chong – Green Mung Chendol (Video)

So, here we are, at the end of the workshops at Royal Orchid – Chinese and Thai Restaurant in Abu Dhabi. A salad, soup, curry, stir fry and dessert – a beautiful journey in an elaborate platter. These demonstrations have not only rekindled my interest in the cuisines of south east Asia, but also helped me re-visit my cooking experiences of authentic Cambodian curries, in Phnom Penh, several years ago.

Thank You Royal Orchid and Chef Vitug for the beautiful culinary experience.

What I have understood in the past decade of my life, is – my mind is not as simple to operate as my smart phone. But someone, who has studied the working of our brain, and the ways it synchronises our accumulated memories, with multiple other traversing thoughts, must have disigned the working of the Smart Phone. I’ll explain why.

The Phone has become the World in our Hands. The countless number of applications, we have installed, has made our lives easy as well as complicated. That you’d agree with me. Every time, we are upto some important job on the phone, there are various other things – be it mails, messages, app notifications, advertisements and what not, or even a virus- that pop up, every now and then. This disturbance isn’t very complicated, there is always the magical touch of our hands, that can slide away the pop up menace.

Now, my memory and my smart phone. Like those pop-up messages, I have these non-stop nostalgic memories, wobbling around me. Unlike the magic of the finger, that works for my phone, the mind doesn’t understand the nuance of swiping off those memories popping up. It looks like an eternal task.

Philosophies done- the success of nostalgia is this post.

The next workshop, and the last of Thai Cuisine was a Dessert. As mentioned previously, with the luxury of having my own choice to learn, I requested Chendol.

Why Chendol?

As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, the combination of jaggery and coconut milk in the desserts or payasams of Tamilnadu, is ‘Heavenly’ to me. I believe, there is no equivalent payasam to an Adai Pradhaman or Paasi Paruppu Payasam.

With this pre-conceived notion in mind, and God sent luxury of travelling to several countries in south east Asia, when I saw the concoction of cane sugar/palm sugar and coconut milk- with several indigenous ingredients in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia….. what else would I be left with – than drenching myself in the cuisinical connection of these countries and my roots in Tamilnadu!!

Chendol is basically made with green rice flour jelly, pandan leaves, palm sugar and coconut milk – served with shaved ice. Called Lot in Cambodia, Dawet in Indonesia and Lod Chong in Thailand, there are other refined versions of Chendol too. These versions are created with different ingredients – as in –

  • Naab Vaam in Cambodia (there are other similar desserts and names)
  • Bubur Kacang Hijau in Indonesia (served hot)

Chendol is a versatile creation – it comes across as a street food, cool summer drink as well as an elite dessert.

Cendol has been declared a Malaysian heritage food by the Malaysian Department of National Heritage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cendol

Before moving on to the making of Lod Chong/ Thai version of Chendol, let me share what I tried and relished in Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia – the different versions of my Tamil Payasam – in their different Chendol Avatars.

I. Cambodia’s Naab Vaam

courtesy: Phnom Penh Post

While we were in Cambodia, we used to visit a Restaurant called, Tonle Bassac (from now on TB), at Preah Sihanouk Street. The place would be a buzzing station for tourist groups, hence making the place, quite uncontrollably crowded. Yet, the speciality of TB, was their Lunch Buffet, which was a culmination of cuisines of a few south east asian neighbours. Among the impressive live kitchen and a vast spread, my favourite was their dessert. Leaving aside the usual pastries and fruits in the dessert section, the Cambodian variation of Chendol was very impressive, on the first visit.

First, when I saw green mung, red mung, tapioca pearls, jellies in different colours, soaked basil seeds in several bowls – I was surprised. Then I watched people combine their favourites among the above, with palm sugar syrup, coconut cream and crushed ice.

What I tried first needs no guess. Green mung, palm sugar syrup, coconut cream and crushed ice. It tasted exactly like Paasi Paruppu Payasam. While Payasam is always a very hot affair, here the dessert was cold with crushed ice. Seemed quite interesting and refreshing.

Every weekend I would crave to try different variations of the same dessert. “Thanks ‘TONLE BASSAC’!”, for introducing me to the Khmer version of my favourite Payasam.

Since, I couldn’t find pictures of the dessert from restaurant TB, I searched the web. The combined dessert is called by several names- with different combinations. What seemed almost similar to what I had enjoyed in TB, was Naab Vaam.

a. Blogger Cindy Her’s post on Naab Vaam showed it all. Additionally, she had also published a separate post on making of green chendol.

the best step by step procedure to make Chendol- http://chawjcreations.com/2019/01/02/cendol-for-naab-vaam/

b. As a street food as well a comfort dessert, an article in Phnom Penh Post – showcased the delicacy in its elaborate best – from a son who learnt the art from his mother.

Read the article – https://www.phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/just-desserts-catering-only-khmer-sweet-tooths

II. Durian Chendol in Malaysia

Durian Chendol

Next, when we travelled to Malaysia, we spent a day in Melaka/Malacca.

We started the day, by visiting the Dutch Square in Malacca, then, proceeded to one of the authentic Tamil restaurants in Little India for lunch. Post lunch, we had a relaxed stroll in Jonker Street.

After a long walk, when we were tired – we found San Shu Gong – a Chinese shop, well stocked with numerous Chinese products. What was the main cause of interest comes next-

This shop had a coffee/juice shop, which also served one of south east asia’s most sought after desserts – Chendol. This version of chendol was with a twist – it was the Durian Chendol. Durian, might be the most dreaded fruit worldwide, for its distinctive odour. I was courageous enough to try the Durian version. Sorry Durian Lovers!!! That was not meant for me – my tongue still doesn’t forget the strange strong flavour.

Thus, the Durian version of Chendol, has become a distinctive memory for my taste buds too.

III. Bubur Kacang Hijau of Indonesia

The flavour of Chendol, was going to travel with me. In our trip to Indonesia, we spent the first four days in Bali, before visiting the Historical Temples of Yogyakarta. The elaborate breakfast was scrumptious. There was this extremely delicious Sweet – steaming hot coconut milk-palm sugar-sweet potatoes-jack fruit-green mung – the ones that I remember right….with fragrant Pandan Leaves.

Again, my favourite Payasam in another version….this time, in another South East Asian country.

Now, tell me- why should Chendol and its versions come striking- at regular intervals – strong enough to push me down in the soft cushions of Nostalgia so often??

Further, such fond memories associated with Jaggery, Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk from childhood (with Payasams made by Amma), stretched towards the years in Cambodia- that I spent exploring South East Asian Cuisine and History – seemed popping back again, now in Abu Dhabi.

This time, I didn’t try to swipe off the striking Nostalgia.

In the workshop at the Royal Orchid’s, to end with a Dessert, I chose Chendol – but wanted to see how the green mung noodles went into the delicacy. The Thai version of Chendol is called Lod Chong.

Thai Lod Chong/ Green Mung Chendol

the dish’s name describes what happens when you push hot and gooey dough through small holes and how it leaks out as elongated worm-like noodles. “Lod Chong” in Thai means exactly that, “leaking and escaping through the opening“. https://thaifoodmaster.com/thai_traditional_dessert_recipes/

Chef Vitug, made the special Chendol recipe suitable for home cooks, without the Thai noodle press. The press is a simple steal press, available in Thai department stores.

Here, Chef made mung bean strips floured with rice flour, which would later be cooked in hot water.

green mung bean starch available in stores in thai section… and the strips

ingredients to make Chendol

  • mung bean strips made with pandan leaf extract
  • coconut milk – pandan scented and candle scented
  • glutenous rice flour
  • palm sugar syrup
  • pandan leaves

This could be the easiest way to make Chendol at home, with no compromise in flavour and taste.

So much so, I could make my own Chendol version at home, after the workshop.

My Chendol

Left – Chendol with Sago / right – Chendol with green mung and sago with coconut milk

Making Chendol ..

Method of Preparation

  1. Make Pandan extract –

Blend Pandanus leaves with water. Strain the pure green liquid.

2. Make Chendol strips

Take Green Mung starch; mix with a little salt and pandanus extract and enough water to make a stiff dough

Roll into a thin sheet. Cut strips

Coat the strips with rice flour

3. Palm Sugar Syrup

Melt palm sugar in water. Place a tied bunch of Pandan leaves in the liquid. Make a semi thick syrup. Keep aside.

4. Heat up Coconut milk .

5. In a bowl or tall glass as preferred, place bean strips

photo represents my version at home..

6. Add palm sugar syrup

7. Pour in coconut milk/cream

8. Add crushed ice or ice cubes

9. Enjoy the dessert.

10. Feel free to add sago, cooked green or red mung, jack fruit, banana, soaked basil seeds or cooked and sweetened red rice too.

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Phat Kaphrao – Stir fried holy Basil Leaves (Video)

Phat Kaphrao or Pad Kaprao is also known as Phat Krapow or Pad Kra Pao. Holy Basil is called Kaphrao or Krapow in Thai Language. It is different from the normal Basil.

The differences lie in several areas with the key area being flavor. Thai basil is known primarily for being sweet. It has a strong licorice and anise note that allows it to stand out in Thai curries and soups. The anise note is so strong and so sweet that you can eat Thai basil raw.

Holy basil brings another flavor profile to the table in that it is intensely spicy, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as hot basil. When consumed raw, holy basil has a slight numbing effect on the tongue that is similar to the effect of Szechuan pepper. The flavor is more like a combination of black pepper and clove than like the sweeter notes of Thai basil. It tends to get even spicier as it is cooked.

https://www.spiceography.com/thai-basil-vs-holy-basil/

As a stir fried dish, Phat Kaphrao can be made primarily with chicken, prawns or meat of choice. It can be a vegetarian stir fry with vegetables, with the omission of both fish and oyster sauce. Just make it with light soya and dark soya sauce. The fresh combination of ingredients would make the vegetarian dish deliver its flavour.

Let’s plunge straight into making Phat Kaphrao.

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • spicy red chillies
  • garlic
  • long beans
  • holy basil leaves
  • vegetable stock
  • fish sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • light soya sauce
  • dark soya sauce
  • chicken powder (optional)
  • salt

Note: the spice level demonstrated here is on the higher side. Please adjust chillies as preferred.

Making of Stir-fried Holy Basil

Chef Vitug demonstrated the stir fry with prawns .

Next, the special dessert is on its way!!

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Thai Green, Yellow and Red Curry (Video)

Having enjoyed the tangy Salad and the refreshing Soup, it was time to plunge into three of the most favoured curries of Thai Cuisine- Green, Yellow and Red Curry.

Chef showed the difference in the curry pastes, while making the three flavourful, yet distinct curries.

The basic herbs and spices that are blended to make the three curry pastes are – garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime rind, coriander root, cumin seeds, lemongrass, salt, white peppercorns. 

There is one specific ingredient that is added to the explicit curries, to make it the colour of choice.

Green curry – Pandan Leaf extract, which gives the green colour to the curry. Not red chillies, but green chillies are added.

Red Curry – Dried Long Red chillies give the red colour.

Yellow Curry – Red chillies are added for spice; freshly ground turmeric is the key ingredient for the yellow curry.

NOTE: Since most of the bottled curry pastes available in the market, would have shrimp paste added to it, please check the ingredients before purchasing. If one needs a vegetarian curry paste, ask for it. There are a few brands that make vegetarian Thai green/yellow and red curry pastes.

Flexibility to combine with vegetables, meat or sea food

Whether one desires a curry with vegetables, or has an appetite for non-vegetarian stuff – feel free to experiment. The aromatic blend of spices goes well with vegetables, meats, fish and prawns alike. The extravagant taste comes from the final amalgamation of rich and creamy coconut milk with the spice paste.

These are a few common combinations-

Green Curry with vegetables

Red Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

Yellow curry with chicken and potatoes

The video shot was that of Thai Green Curry. In order to show the colourful variation the paste makes, when mixed with coconut milk, I share these photos…

Red Curry

Yellow curry

Making of Thai Green Curry – VIDEO

That truly simplified cooking Thai curries. Didn’t that!!

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Tom Yam Soup ! (Video)

The next on my learning list was a soup, after salad. Tom Yam is a much sort after Soup. Packed with citrusy punch and flavours of Thai herbs, it is a refreshing soup usually made with shrimps. But, Tom Yam can change roles and still be appealing to your palate-

a) Cook as a vegetable soup with shallots, tofu and mushrooms (avoiding fish sauce);

b) try other combinations like – chicken, lamb, or meat of your choice;

or c) make it a meal, with noodles in the soup.

These are the basic spices and other ingredients for preparing Tom Yam Soup- (except the pandan leaves in the end – reserved for our dessert later)

  • Lemongrass
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • galangal
  • red chillies
  • thai parsley
  • lemon

For the proteins-

  • prawns
  • mushrooms

and for garnish –

  • thai parsley
  • coriander

for the special Thai flavour

  • lemon juice
  • fish sauce
  • tom yam paste
  • coconut milk

and chicken powder, which is optional

Tom Yam Goong/Thai Tom Yam Soup with Prawns

Getting things ready for Tom Yam

Making the soup

Making Tom Yam

  1. Boil stock (of your choice)
  2. Add cut lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal and red chillies
  3. While the stock boils well, add prawns and straw mushrooms
  4. Season with lemon juice, fish sauce and tom yam paste and let the prawns and mushrooms cook well
  5. Once done, add coconut milk and chicken powder (if preferred)
  6. The soup is done. Add chopped parsley and switch off stove
  7. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.