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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Chakka Varatti or Jack Fruit Jam

Jack fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and potassium and has good health benefits. Each piece of the fruit or ‘cholai’ as it is referred to is of a beautiful yellow color and can be eaten plain or soaked in honey.The fruit gives out a strong aroma which is not liked by a few. On the contrary the very mention of the fruit and the smell can be so intoxicating, as to tempt you to wards non-stop consumption of the fruit. This jam or Chakka Varatti that is made out of ripened jack fruit forms the core ingredient in making delicious jack fruit based dishes like Elai Adai and Chakka Pradaman [ Payasam]. Refer earlier posts for these recipes.

Ingredients
Ripe Jackfruit Cholais [deseeded & cleaned] – 4 cups
Powdered Jaggery – 2 cups
Ghee – 1 cup
Water – as required

Optional
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dried ginger powder a pinch

Method:

Pressure cook the jackfruit with just enough water till they are tender and soft. 3 – 4 whistles should do.

Cool and mash well. Grind to a smooth paste in a blender.

Melt jaggery with just enough water and strain.

Take a heavy bottomed kadai and pour the melted jaggery into it. Let it come to a boil.

Reduce heat completely and slowly add the jack fruit paste, stirring all the time.

Mix thoroughly and add ghee little by little. The mix should come together to form a thick paste, that is dark brown in color.

It is ready when most the moisture is absorbed and it gets a jam like consistency.

Remove and cool. Store in clean dry, air tight containers and refrigerate. Use when required but ensure that you use a dry spoon at all times.

Tips:

Continuous stirring is required during the making of the jam. The mix is likely to splutter out of the container. Hence ensure your hands are protected from getting bunrt by the hot paste.

The jam makes an excellent side dish for Rotis and Bread varieties.

Add dry ginger powder and cardamom only if required. Some prefer to retain the original flavor.

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.

Sliced Banana Delight – [Nendram Pazham cooked and sautéed in sugar & ghee]

This recipe is close to every Keralite’s heart and is one their favourite delicacies. Amazingly easy to make and extremely appealing to the palate, this is the perfect one to try if you have a sweet tooth – just for its simplicity.

Ingredients:
Rip yet firm Nendram Pazham – 1large
Sugar – ½ cup
Ghee – 3 tlbsp
Water as required

Method:

Peel and slice the banana into slices – 1cm thick.
In a thick bottomed pan place the banana slices and pour enough water to cover it and cook on low flame till they are soft.
Add sugar and 2 tlbsp ghee and toss the slices without mashing them.
Once the sugar melts and the moisture is absorbed add the rest of the ghee and toss lightly. Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving dish.

Tips:

The amount of water to be used will depend on the quality of the banana. Some may take a longer time to turn soft. Use your judgement here.
Towards the end do not panic if the slices tend to stick to the bottom of the pan and turn a light brown in color. This slightly browned flavor will only add to the taste of the dish.

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

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – II

1.To make dosas easily rub the tawa with an onion cut into two.

2.If the dosa batter gets stuck on to the tawa add salt to a little bit of oil and rub the surface with this mix. You can make the next dosa easily.

3.Immerse lime in hot water for a few minutes before extracting juice to get the maximum juice.

4.For making crisp potato chips, slice and place the potatoes in a white cloth, tie it and drop it in boiling water and immerse for five mins. Remove slices and put them in cold water to which salt has been added. Your chips will be extremely crisp.

5.Want to make crisp Pakodas? Add a bit of ghee and curds seasoned with salt and mix the batter.

6.You can also add powdered ground nuts to the besan batter to make them extra crispy.

7.Adding a pinch of salt to turmeric powder or Chilli powder will help in preserving them longer

8.If you have run short of curds to make curds, you can make use of lime juice.

9.While storing coconuts ensure the ‘kudumi’ portion is upright. It will stay good for a long time.

10.Branches of Goose Berry trees can be cut into 3 – 4 pieces and dropped inside a well with salt water. These branches remove the salt from the well water.

TIPS BY: MRS MIRA BALACHANDRAN; mira.balachandran@gmail.com