Thengai [ Coconut] Thogayal

Ingredients:

Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2 [depending on spice levels]
Salt – To taste
Tamarind – A small piece
Urad Dal – 1 1/2 tablespoons
Mustard – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Add urad dal + red chillies and fry well till the urad dal turns golden brown. Drain & keep aside.Allow to cool.
In the left over oil add mustard and switch off the stove when it splutters.
Add grated coconut , salt, tamarind, salt along with the fried dal and chillies and grind to a smooth paste in a mixer, adding little water. The consistency should be semi – solid.
Add mustard as seasoning.
Thengai Thogayal can be mixed with plain rice or had as a side dish too.

Tips

Coconut is the main ingredient of this thogayal. Hence the tamarind or chilly flavors should not be over powering.
A little bit of the fried urad dal [ about 1/2 tsp] can be retained and used along with the mustard as seasoning.
A pinch of asafoetida may also be added while grinding to give that extra flavor.

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Elai Adai

Elai Adai is a delicious sweet dish exclusive to Kerala that is made out of Jackfruit Jam, Coconut, Rice Flour and Jaggery. The preparation is unique in that it is a two – layer steamed dish that has the banana leaf as the base. A bit elaborate to make, it is worth every bit of the effort and once made gets devoured in no time.

The most important ingredient is the jackfruit jam. Since jack fruit is not available through out the year the jam can be made and preserved during the season time so that it can be used any time of the year. However many shops now sell ready made jam which can be bought and used. The taste of the dish is further enhanced by the aroma of the banana leaf on which is it placed and steamed.

In olden days [ and even now in some homes in Kerala] the preparation of the jam by itself is a huge ritual. A whole jack fruit is sometimes used in the making of the jam in hugely populated households. The jam is so tasty it can eaten plain too. In fact the jam is used in the preparation of another delicacy ‘ Chakka Payasam ‘ or Chakka Pradaman’ [ refer earlier posts]. Will comne up with a separate post on preparing the jam.

Ingredients:

Jack fruit jam – 1 cup
Grated jaggery – 3/4 cup
Grated Coconut – 2 cups
Raw rice – 3/4 cup
Boiled Rice – 1 cup
Gingely Oil – 1 tlbsp
Salt – Pinch

Base :
Banana Leaves – One per piece of adai. Cut them into squares depending on the size of your steamer.

Method:

For the filling:
Melt jaggery with little water and strain.
In a heavy bottomed pan pour melted jaggery and add the jack fruit jam.
Stir well so that the jam mixes well to a paste like consistency without any lumps.
Added grated coconut and mix well till it again reaches a jam – like consistency and all the moisture is gone.

For the paste:
Soak rice up to 8 hours and grind to a smooth paste.
Add salt and gingely oil and mix well.
The paste should be very thick – of spreading consistency.

Raw banana leaves are bound to tear and have to be seasoned in order to be used here. Hold each piece of leave over the flame in the stove and flip each side over for a minute. Alternatively you can steam the leaves too for a few minutes.

When all the above three components are ready:

Take a banana leaf and spread a thin layer pf rice flour over it. Cover only 3/4 th of the leaf.
Now spread the jam over the rice flour mix again ensuring that you stop just before the edges [ of the rice flour paste in this case]
Fold the leaf into half quickly and fold the edges to seal them.
Place in a steamer and steam on medium flame for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the number of pieces placed in the steamer.
You will know it is done once the adai comes off the leaf.
The adai can be had straight from the leaf or gently removed and placed on a plate.

Tips:
The adai can be made in a round or square shape as per your comfort levels.
The banana leaf has to be carefully handled once the filling is done while transferring it to the steamer.
Last heard that even stores in the US stock frozen banana leaves that can be used for Elai Adai.

Potato Bhaaji

This potato bhaaji is extremely flavorful yet quick to make. Makes an ideal side dish for Pooris.The amount of seasoning you add will depend on the quantity of potatoes needed and the spice levels that you require.

Method:
Boil and cube potatoes .
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan and temper with mustard seeds , asafoetida , dried red chillies , curry leaves ,turmeric powder .
Add the potato cubes and keep turning over to coat all cubes with the seasoning.
Add some ginger paste , a touch of red chilli powder and salt to taste.
Serve warm, garnished with freshly grated coconut and finely chopped fresh coriander.

By: Mrs. Shubha Nafrey; http://facebook.com/shubha.nafrey

Raw Mango Chutney

Ingredients:

Raw Mango – 1 cup grated
Green Chillies – 3
Grated Coconut – 1/2 cup
Ginger – a small piece
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Curry leaves – a few
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp optional

Method:

Add grated mango, coconut, green chillies, salt and ginger and grind to a smooth paste.
Heat oil and add mustard. When it splutters add Urad dal and wait till turns brown.
Switch off the stove and add curry leaves.
Pour this over the chutney. Mix and serve.
Those who like the taste of roasted cumin powder may add it while grinding to a paste.

Tips:
Grated coconut can be replaced with onions and garlic to give a different taste.
Fry a few small onions in oil along with a few pods of garlic in a pan. Grind with rest of the ingredients as mentioned above.
Number of chillies to be added will vary according to your spice levels.

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

Raw or Ripe – Mangoes Rock!!!

Summer season spells Mangoes – King of Fruits. India is said to be home to close to 1000 varieties of mango but only a specific few are grown for commercial purposes. Mangoes come in various asahpes, sizes, colors, taste and aroma. India exports close to Rs.160 Crore of mangoes world wide and Andhra Pradesh ranks first among the Indian states for its produce. Some of the varieties specific to certain regions are given below – courtesy APEDA

Andhra Pradesh – Banganapalli, Suvarnarekha, Neelum and Totapuri
Bihar – Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari, Fazli, Gulabkhas, Kishen Bhog, Himsagar, Zardalu and Langra
Gujarat – Kesar, Alphonso, Rajapuri, Jamadar, Totapuri, Neelum, Dashehari and Langra
Haryana – Chausa, Dashehari, Langra and Fazli
Himachal Pradesh – Chausa, Dashehari and Langra
Karnataka – Alphonso, Totapuri, Banganapalli, Pairi, Neelum and Mulgoa
Madhya Pradesh – Alphonso, Bombay Green, Dashehari, Fazli, Langra and Neelum
Maharashtra – Alphonso, Kesar and Pairi
Punjab – Chausa, Dashehari and Malda
Rajasthan – Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari and Langra
Tamil Nadu -Alphonso, Totapuri, Banganapalli and Neelum
Uttar Pradesh -Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari and Langra
West Bengal – Fazli, Gulabkhas, Himsagar, Kishenbhog, Langra and Bombay Green

Raw mangoes are the first to hit the market and are put to a wide variety of culinary uses.

Pickles are hot favorites. The tiny [ marble sized ones] ones are in great demand in the Southern states especially TamilNadu where they are consumed in huge numbers as a pickle called ‘Kadugu Mangai ‘ or ‘ Vadu Maangai’. Here mustard is ground and mixed with salt and chilli powder and the tiny raw mangoes are left to soak in this liquid for weeks together till thery shrink in size.
Slightly bigger ones called the ‘Kili Mooku Mangai’ [ perhaps named so since they resemble the parrot’s beak] are sliced and made into a pickle marinated in salt, chilli powder, asafoetida & oil.
Raw Mangoes of a different variety, distinct for their extremely sour taste, are chopped into chunks and made into a pickle called ‘ Aavakkai’ that is very popular in Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh, especially for their high spice- levels.
Fhodd is another pickle made of raw mangoes and preserved in brine solution to which dried red chillies are added.
Miscut is a famous pickle from Goa. And so is another variety called Choonda.
Raw mangoes are used to make a refreshing and extremely popular drink called Aam Panna.
Raw mangoes can be grated and used to garnish or added to salads as an ingredient.
Down South grated mango is a ‘must-have’ ingredient while making varieties of ‘Sundal’.
Dried raw mango powder is used as Amchur Powder to add flavor to dishes.
Raw Mangoes can be used in making chutneys along with green chillies.
Raw mango pulp can be used in making rice varieties when combined with onions, chillies and ginger to delight the palate.
Raw Mangoes can also be used to make spicy, sweet & sour side jam using jaggery, that can used as accompaniment for both rice and wheat preparations[ like puri and rotis]

Raw or ripe, cooked or uncooked, flavored or plain Mangoes are a hot favorite with people of all ages!

Chow Chow Chutney

This side dish is actually made from the skin of the Chow Chow and has a slightly sweetish taste to it.

Ingredients:
Peeled skin – 1 Chow Chow
Coconut – ¼ cup
Red Chillies – 2
Green Chillies – 1
Mustard – ½ tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tlbsp
Tamarind – a small piece
Oil – 3 tsp
Salt to taste


Method:

Peel and wash the skin of the chow chow.
Heat 1 tsp of oil and add mustard. When it splutters add Urad dal and both chillies.
Fry till the dal becomes roasted. Set aside.
Pour 2 tsp of oil and sauté the peeled skin thoroughly for 2 mins. Let it cool.
Add all ingredients to the mixer container including salt and grind to a smooth paste.
Serves as a side dish or can be mixed with rice and had too.

Tips:

Ensure that the chow chow is tender and does not have thorns on the skin

For any chutney the amount of chillies or tamarind to be added is determined by three factors –
The quantity of the chutney to be ground
The spice level preferred by your family and you
The spice level or intensity of the ingredients used. Some chillies are extremely hot when compared to some others

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

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – I

1.Add salt to water while cooking greens [Keerai] to help retain the color.

2.A few drops of lime added to rice while cooking helps in making it look brighter and White.

4.Having problems in cooking Tur Dal? At times we will find certain varieties of Tur dal requiring longer time to cook and we would discover this only after a couple of days of trial by which time it will be too late to return the dal to the store. Add a small piece of coconut to the dal and cook to see the difference.

5.Add a piece of ginger while cooking cabbage or cauliflower to avoid the strong aroma that it emanates normally.

6.While mixing dough for Pooris add sugar to get puffed Pooris that stay crisp for a while.

7.Adding a few pepper corns to oil will help in keeping it fresh for a longer duration.

8.Soaking / immersing Cauliflower in salt water half an hour before cooking [after removing the leaves and stem] will help in getting rid of small germs or worms.

9.Wash onions after peeling the skin off to avoid eye irritation and watering.

10.Idli or Dosa batter will not go sour if you add a few dry chillies to it.

Tips by Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com