Orange Pulav

A very different and tasty rice preparation that is quick to make and attractive to serve

Ingredients:

Basmathi Rice – 2 cups
Orange Juice [ freshly squeezed ] – 2 cups
Onions – 2 big thinly sliced
Green Chillies – 5 or 6
Peas – 1/4 cup
Ghee – 4 tlbs
Cashewnuts – About 15 whole ones
Cardamom – 1
Cinnamon – 1 piece
Cloves – 2
Water 1 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Kissmiss – 20 [ optional]

Method:

Wash the rice and add the orange juice + water and soak for about an hour.
Add the cinnamon + cloves + cardamom + peas + salt to the soaked rice and pressure cook till cooked.Since the rice has already soaked for a while take care not to over cook.
In a pan add a little ghee and fry the cashews & Kissmiss and set aside.
Add the rest of the ghee and fry the thinly sliced onions along with the green chillies slit into two. When the onions turn golden brown add this to the rice and mix well. Garnish with the fried cashew & kissmiss.

Tips:
Tinned orange juice may not work well since it will be sweetened.So better to use fresh juice
Since the rice may not be too spicy you can serve it with a curry that is spicy
For a very beautiful presentation you can place a few Orange Slices on the finished rice

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Paanagam or Paanakam – A traditional Health Drink

Paanagam in Sanskrit means Sweet Drink. It is offered as ‘neivedhyam’ or ‘prasaad’ to Lord Rama on his birthday – Raama Navami, that is celebrated on the 9th day [ Navami ] of the Chaithra Month of the hindus.
It can be made very quickly in easy steps [ just add & stir] and devoured even more quickly [ sip,sip,sip…]. Paanagam has great health benefits and tastes divine. Jaggery is rich in mineral salts and iron which help in strengthening the nervous system and preventing anemia.
Dried ginger powder or sukku as it is known in Tamil Nadu aids in digestion and its intake benefits people of all ages.

On the whole a very soothing and refreshing drink for summer.

Ingredients:

Jaggery – 1/2 Cup grated
Dried Ginger Powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamon – 1/4 tsp
Salt – a Pinch
Lime – 1/2
Pachai Karpooram/ edible camphor. – a small pinch
Water – 3 cups

Method :
Add jaggery to water with rest of the ingredients.
Squeeze in the Lime.
Stir continuously till jaggery dissolves completely.
Strain and serve chill.

Tips:
Adjust quantity of lime and jaggery to suit your taste buds, depending on how sweet you want it to be.
If you feel the jaggery is not clean enough, you can mix it with water bring it to a boil, strain and mix rest of the ingredients after cooling.

Amrakhand or Mango Shrikhand

Shrikhand is a very popular sweet dish made of thick Yogurt, that is an intrinsic part of Gujarathi & Maharastrian Cuisine. It is a very popular dessert which is a must at all festivities. It is also served as an accompaniment for main dishes like poori & roti.There are variations to this dish. When mango pulp is added it is called Amrakhand. Some prefer to add fresh fruits to the yogurt and it is popularly know as Matho.

Ingredients:
Thick Yogurt or home made curds – 2 cups
Mango Pulp – 1 cup
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp

To garnish
Sliced Pistachios – 1 tblsp

Method:

Strain the yogurt or curds till all the water is drained. This is traditionally done by straining it through a clean muslin cloth by tying it up and leaving it to hang over night.
Similarly ensure that the mango pulp is also thick devoid of any water.
Blend all ingredients in a blender till thick in consistency.
Pour in individual cups and garnish with chopped pistachio slices.
Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours
Serve Chilled.

Tips:

A few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk can also be added to the mix.
Some like to add a few pieces of mango to the shrikhand.
After blending you can add the mango pieces and then chill in individual bowls.

By Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

Akaara Vadisal

Akaara Vadisal or Sweet Milk Pongal is a very famous dish among the Vaishnavites in the South. Made with milk it is extremely delicious and loved by one and all.

Ingredients
Rice – 1 Cup
Milk – 5 Cups
Green gram dal – 1/3 Cup
White jaggery – 11/4 Cups
Water – 2 Cup
Ghee – 3 tlbs
Cashewnuts – a few
Raisins – a few
Saffron – A few strands [optional]
Cardamom power – ½ tsp

Method:
Boil Milk and water in a heavy bottomed pan. Set aside two cups of this hot milk.
Reduce flame and add rice to milk and let it cook on low flame. Stir constantly.
Cook dal till it is soft and keep aside. When the rice is three fourth done add the dal and mix well.
If the rice mix thickens add the 2 cups of milk set aside earlier and stir well.
When the rice is fully cooked add powdered jaggery little by little till it is dissolved and comes to a thick consistency.
Remove from stove. Heat ghee and fry Cashewnuts and raisins. Add this to Akara Vadisal along with cardamom powder. If using saffron, soak a few strands to warm milk and add in the end.
Mix well and serve hot.

Tips:
Akaara Vadisal can be made with Basmathi rice too. Gives a very different and wonderful flavor.
Always use light color jaggery. Acchu Vellam is the best option.
Ensure that there are no impurities in the jaggery before you add it to the pongal.