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

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.

Fillings for Sandwiches

Sweet fillings:

For sweet sandwiches the normal everyday fillings include butter, jam and marmalade [ all flavors]
You could try adding dry fruits like chopped dates, walnuts, grated badam and kismis to the sweet sandwiches to add nutritional value.
Honey makes a wonderful sandwich spread for those who want to cut out on sugar and would like to experiment.
For those of you who like fruits you can also try placing soft fruits like thinly sliced kiwi, lichis and strawberries after coating the slices with honey.
Run out of jam and your kid insists on having sandwiches? Your saviour could be Milkmaid. Just apply a good coating of milkmaid on to the slices and watch them being devoured.

Savory Filling

Sliced vegetables like tomato, cucumber, onion and grated carrot make for great sandwich fillings. Coat two slices of bread with butter, place a slice of cheese on one and cover with vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper powder and cover with the second slice.your veggie sandwich is ready to be consumed. Add salt if required only, since the cheese slice would have a good amount of salt.

Mayonnaise, mustard and cheese are other ingredients that are commonly used as sandwich spreads.

Indian Chutneys are a hot favorite as sandwich fillings. Spicy chutneys can serve as a good base to make the sandwiches flavorful and tasty.

Mint Chutney
Mint + green chillies + salt + lime juice ground together as a thick paste makes an excellent base.
Mint can be substituted with Coriander too.

Tomato Chutney:
Fry finely chopped onions till they are translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and a little bit of saunf and saute for a while. A garlic pod is optional and can be added to get he extra flavour.Add salt and chilli powder as per requirement. Cool and grind together into a fine paste without adding water and your filling is ready.

Potato Filling:
Boil and mash potatoes. Chop onions finely and fry till translucent. Add mashed potatoes, salt, garam masala powder and chilli powder and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped coriander. Take a slice of bread and coat it thinly with butter. Spread the potato mash on this and place the second slice covering this. Gently press and toast it. Or place on a hot tawa, add a blob of butter and turn it carefully around on low flame till becomes golden brown. Slice into pieces and serve hot with tomato sauce.

Onion fry:
Slice onions thinly lengthwise. Chop garlic finely. Heat oil add onion + garlic + salt + chilli powder and fry in low flame till the onions become golden brown and shrink in quantity. Need to ensure that the onions do not burn. Lightly butter bread slices and place this filling in between to get real spicy and differently tasting sandwiches.

Quick Fix filling:
Unacceptable as it may sound pickles at home make great fillers when you run short of regular spreads. Toast bread slices,coat them with a thin layer of butter and spread a nice layer of any pickle [ that is smooth without too many chunky pieces to it] on two slices. Press them together, dip in tomato sauce and bite into one of the yummiest sandwiches you have ever made.

Tips for Presentation:
Always coat the slices with a thin layer of butter and then spread your filling. This prevents the sandwiches from turning too soggy.
Always butter the sandwiches till the edges.
Always trim the crusts after the filling is done and before you cut it into required portions, squares or triangles.
Always ensure that the finished sandwiches are wrapped well to keep them fresh & prevent them from drying and crumbling.

Mixed Vegetable Chutney

Tired of the usual coconut and tomato chutneys? Running out of ideas? Time to innovate.

Ingredients:

Small Onions – 100 gms
Capsicum – 1 medium
Tomato – 1 big
Grated Radish – 1/3 cup
Garlic – 5 cloves
Red chilies – 2
Green chilies – 2
Tamarind – Small piece
Urad Dal – 1 tlbsp
Mustard – ½ tsp
Oil – 2 tlbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add urad dal and the chilies and fry till the dal is brown and roasted.
Add onions + garlic and fry till it is translucent or light brown in color in low heat.
Add capsicum and radish and sauté for two minutes. Add tomatoes and fry for a minute. Keep aside to cool.
Add the fried ingredients to a mixer jar and add tamarind + salt. Grind to a smooth paste.
Heat little bit of oil and add mustard. When it splutters switch off the stove and pour this over the ground chutney.


Tips:

Add or reduce chilies according to your spice requirement
You can add any other vegetable that may be available. But ensure that they blend well in terms of flavor
In case you have raw mango on hand you can substitute it for tamarind. Grate and sauté it with the vegetables

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

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART IV

1.Dry roast fenugreek in a pan, powder it finely and store. A couple of spoons added to your dosa batter will make them very tasty

2.When you have indigestion problem and you feel like having dosa, just mix a spoon of ‘Chukku’ powder [dried ginger] to the batter and make dosas. It is tasty and aids in digestion.

3.When big gooseberries are in season supplement them for tamarind in chutneys. It not only adds to the taste but adds to the nutritive value too.

4.Having guests coming over and need to get the chapathi dough [INDIAN BREAD] well kneaded. No worries. Mix the dough by hand to form a lump. If you have a grinder at home, remove the grinder stone and place the dough in the vessel. Place the stone back on the dough and run the grinder for a couple of minutes. Stop the grinder reverse the dough and follow same procedure as before. You will get soft dough from which you can make excellent chapathis.

5.To get crisp pakodas add corn flour and a tsp of oil to the batter along with besan.

6.To make crisp samosas take a thin dry piece of cotton cloth and place the flour in it and tie it. Place this in a pressure cooker and steam for a few minutes. Use this flour to make the dough.

7.Have too much rice left over? Boil a few potatoes and carrots. Add salt, garam masala powder, turmeric powder to it and mash well. Mix this with rice and add salt o taste. Add a little corn flour and make them into nice round balls. Fry it in hot oil to get an instant tasty snack.

8.If coconut is used in ground masala do not fry it for long.

9.Remove the stems of green chilies before storing them. They will last long.

10.Little sugar added to any gravy makes it tasty.

TIPS BY: Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – III

1.To get nicely roasted Colocasia or Seppankizhangu mix a little bit of Besan
[Kadalai Maavu] with sour curd and coat the curry to get the crispiness.

2.If you want the ladies finger pieces to be separate in a subji add a table spoon of curd or tamarind water while sautéing.

3.When you realize there is excessive salt in a dish that has to be reduced you can try any of the three following options: Add a tsp of sugar or a few pieces of potatoes or add a few pieces of raw papaya.

4.When you are left with excessive coffee decoction store the same after adding some sugar to it. It will be as good as new the next day.

5.If the holes in the coffee filter are clogged, clean and wipe the filter dry and show the pores over the gas flame for a few seconds. Tap the filter upside down and all the powder stuck in the holes will fall off, clearing the clogs.

6.While melting butter to get ghee add a little bit fenugreek towards the end will add an extra aroma & flavor to the ghee.

7.A piece of jaggery added to ghee will help preserve it longer.

8.While frying chips or other snacks if there is a danger of the oil spilling over it can be prevented by dropping a few curry leaves or a bit of tamarind into the oil.

9.During winter for quick setting of curds, you can add a small ball of tamarind along with a spoon of curd to the milk for speeding up the process.

10.If your idly or dosa batter has turned too sour just pour two or three tumblers of water to it and wait. After a while drain the water that accumulates on top and then use the batter.

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

Rava Idly

Ingredients

Rava – I cup

Thick Curds – 2 ½ cups

Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp

Channa Dal –  ½ tsp

Green Chillies – 2

Chopped Cashew – 1 tlbsp

Fruit Salt – 1 tsp

Salt

Curry Leaves

Oil

 Variation [Optional]

Finely chopped onions – 1 small

Grated Carrot – 2 tlbsp heaped

Finely chopped tomato – 1 tbsp

Finely chopped ginger – 1tsp

Fry onions till golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté for a minute. Add to batter and mix well.

Method

Pour 2tlbsp oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters add Channa Dal and green chilies.

When Channa dal is golden brown add Rava and fry in low flame till well roasted. Switch off stove and cool.

Add half the curds and salt and mix well. Let is rest for 10 minutes.

Add rest of the curds and the vegetable mix [Given above as ;Variation’. This is optional] to the batter and mix well. Add fruit salt and mix. Check for salt.

Grease Idly plates and pour the batter and steam for 5 to 7 mins or till it is done.

Serve hot with chutney of your choice.