Savory – Kaara Adai

Ingredients:

Rice Flour – 1 Cup
Water – 1 ¼ Cup
Salt – to taste
Chopped Green Chillies- 2
Oil – 2 tlbs
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Grated Coconut – ¼ cup [optional]
Karamani [dried Cowpeas] – 1 tlbsp
Curry Leaves

Preparation:
Soak the dried karamani for 5 to 6 hours and cook and keep aside.

Method:
Roast the rice flour well in a dry kadai till it gives out a good smell. However do not roast till it turns red. Remove from Kadai.

Heat the kadai (FRYING PAN) and add oil and mustard seeds.

When the mustard seed splutters add chopped chillies and curry leaves. Toss for a few seconds.

Pour water in the kadai and bring it to a boil. Reduce flame and add rice flour and mix well.

Add karamani, grated coconut, 1 tlbs of oil and required salt and blend well till a nice thick paste is formed.

Take it off the heat and allow to cool.

Grease your palm with oil or use a small plantain leaf. Roll the dough into balls and flatten them to about ¼ inch thickness. Make a small hole or dent in the centre to allow it to cook evenly.

Grease idly plates and steam the adais [adai – a dish that has a thin spread of batter/dough] till done [roughly 8 to 10 mins].

Serve with a fresh blob of butter.

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

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Steamed Nonbu Adai – Sweet & Savory.

Kaaradaiyaan Nonbu, is a very special function observed by people in the Southern states. This Nonbu or Savithri vrat is observed during the last day of the Tamil month of Maasi and the beginning of the month of Panguni. The Nonbu is observed by all unmarried and married women and celebrates the victory of Savithri, a mythical character, in bringing back her husband Sathyavan to life from the jaws of death [from Yama], the Undertaker of the Hindu Religion. The married women pray for the longevity of their husband and the unmarried girls pray in order to get an ideal husband. Sweet adais are offered as prasadam, considered offering of God, during the pooja.

Sweet Adai

Rice flour – 1 cup
Jaggery syrup – 1 ¼ cup
Karamani [dried cowpeas] – 1 tlbs
Grated or finely chopped coconut – ½ cup
Elaichi Powder – 1 tsp
Ghee – 1 or 2 tlbs>/span>

Preparation:
Soak the dried karamani (Snake bean or Chinese Long Bean) for 5 to 6 hours and cook and keep aside.

Method:
Roast the rice flour well in a dry kadai till it gives out a good smell. However do not roast till it turns red. Remove from Kadai (heating Pan).

Pour jaggery syrup and bring it to a boil. Reduce flame and add rice flour to the syrup and mix well.

Add karamani, grated coconut, 1 tlbs of ghee (Clarified Butter) and cardamom powder and blend well till a nice thick paste is formed.

Take it off the heat and allow to cool.

Grease your palm with ghee or use a small plantain leaf. Roll the dough into balls and flatten them to about ¼ inch thickness. Make a small hole in the centre to allow it to cook evenly.

Grease idly plates and steam the adais till done [roughly 8 to 10 mins].

Serve with a fresh blob of butter.

Tips:
Amount of jaggery used will depend on the sweetness and quality of the jaggery. So pay attention.
If the adais are undercooked or have too much jaggery then they tend to be sticky in the mouth. If overcooked they will become hard

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

Sevai or Rice Noodles

The Italian Noodles is catching up in a big way amongst people of all ages in recent times. The South Indian Sevai or Idiappam can aptly be pointed out as a fore runner of its more international counterpart – Noodles. The rice Sevai is light and easy to digest and can be had any time of the day. Ideal for those recuperating from illnesses it can also be had by patients who are diabetic.

Instant Sevai mixes as well as ready to cook Sevai is available now in the market making it an even easy option and a boon for working women. The traditional method of making the Basic Sevai is as follows:

Ingredients:
Par Boiled Rice – 3 cups
Raw Rice – 1/3 cup
Salt – as required
Oil – to grease

Method:

Soak the rice well for over four hours.

Grind to a very smooth paste like idly batter.

Add salt to taste. Pour in idly plates and steam. Don’t over cook

Grease the Sevai maker with oil

While the idlies are still hot place them in the Sevai Maker and press.

You will get long noodle like thin strings of Sevai. Keep replacing the trays on which you collect the Sevai at the bottom of the Sevai maker. This will ensure that they are separated, easy to handle and cool easily.

Add required seasoning and serve with appropriate accompaniments.

Nowadays ready made Sevai mix is available. All you need to do is drop the contents of the pack in boiling water and follow the instructions given to get instant Sevai ready in a jiffy.

Various Flavoring:

Once basic white Sevai is ready all one has to do is decide the flavor and get started on it. Some of the popular flavors are:

Lime Sevai – Heat oil. Add Mustard seeds. When it splutters add split urad dal, a pinch of asafetida, finely chopped chilies and curry leaves. When the urad dal is brown add turmeric powder and take off the heat. Pour over the white Sevai. Add Lime juice as required and mix well. Fried Cashewnuts are optional.

Coconut Sevai – Heat coconut oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add Bengal gram, curry leaves and finely chopped green chilies along with a few red chilies. Sauté for a few seconds. Add grated coconut and fry for a few seconds. Mix well and serve

Sweet Sevai – When the basic Sevai is still warm add/ sprinkle powdered sugar over it. Heat ghee and fry Cashewnuts and kiss miss and add to the Sevai and mix well

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

STEAM COOKING

Steaming is perhaps the oldest form of cooking – even before the cave man discovered fire. It is said that food was softened over hot springs or stones in ancient times. Steaming is a moist method of cooking that combines hot air and moisture to soften and cook ingredients.

Steaming is a preferred method of cooking for the simple reason that it retains the nutrient factors when compared to other forms like baking or frying, retaining color, flavor as well as texture. Research has established that steamed food only showed a loss of 40% vitamins in vegetables compared to 70% that is lost when the same is boiled. All the essential goodness is retained and there is lesser requirement for fat too. Food is not exposed to intense heat as in other methods.

To get the optimum results while steaming:
Choose ingredients and ensure that they are of good quality and not rotten or stale. The reason for this is steaming enhances flavors and any ‘unwanted’ aroma or flavor will only get accentuated.

Ensure that you have proper gadgets for steaming and the appliances are in order. If steam escapes or the lids are not proper it will delay the cooking as well as prove uneconomical

Make sure that the vessel containing the ingredients is placed well above the water and there is no chance of the outer liquid entering the substance.

While dicing vegetables or meat or poultry ensure that they are of the same size so that they are evenly cooked in the specified time

Ensure water levels are adequate to complete cooking.

If you are cooking more than one item in a steamer make sure there is some space between containers to allow circulation of steam to ensure faster cooking

To save on fuel bring all frozen foods to room temperature before steam cooking.

Place juicy foods in the bottom so that they don’t drip liquids and spread their flavor on to other foods

SEMIYA PAYASAM

The term SEMOLINA or SEMIYA [ in Tamil Language] is derived from the Italian word ‘semola’ meaning ‘flour’. It is obtained by milling wheat – in the process when the bran and the germ are removed and the starch is broken into coarse pieces. Semiya made from Durum wheat is usually yellow in color where as it is white when derived from softer varieties of wheat. It is used to make a variety of dishes including puddings the world over and can also be used as coating for dishes to give a crispy flavor.

The beauty of this ingredient is its adaptability. Any kind of dish can be made from this – sweet or savory dish with any spice, in liquid, semi solid or solid form. In India Semolina is used to make a variety of dishes – both sweet & savory like Halwas, Payasams, Puddings, Upma, Falooda and Bath varieties.

Ingredients:
Semiya – ½ cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Thick Milk – 1 cup
Cashew & Kissmiss – As Required
Cardamom Powder – ¼ tsp
Ghee – 2 tlbsp
Water – as required

Method:
In a heavy bottomed pan put 1tlbs of ghee and fry Semiya till light brown. Add enough water to cook the Semiya. Take care not to over cook.
When soft add thick milk and let it boil on low flame till it reduces to half the quantity.
Add sugar and stir till it dissolves. Add Cardamom powder and remove from gas.
Heat rest of the ghee and fry cashew and kissmiss till golden brown.
Add to the Payasam. A strand of saffron soaked in warm milk for ½ an hour can also be added for flavor.

Can be served hot or cold.

Tips:
For a different flavor and when in season you can add mango pulp to this mix while adding sugar to get a nice mango Semiya payasam. But please ensure that the heat is switched off the moment the mango pulp is added to avoid curdling.

Nendran Pazha Pradaman (Banana Payasam)

Bananas in general are a good source of Potassium and dietary fiber. There are many varieties found in India, the most famous one in Kerala being the Nendran Pazham. Chips made from these unripened bananas are famous the world over and popularly known as ‘Nendran kai chips’. When ripe they are known as Nendran Pazham and are longer than the normal varieties and have thick skin. They are very delicious to eat as it is. Several delicious recipes can be made from them including Payasam, Halwa, and Desserts & Sweets.

Ingredients:
Nendran Pazham – 1 Big
Thick Jaggery Syrup – ½ cup
Coconut Milk – 1 Cup Thick
Coconut Milk – 1 Cup Thin
Ghee – 3 tlbs
Cashewnuts – Few
Water – if required

Method:
Remove skin and pressure cook banana till it is soft.
Split it into two and deseed removing the black center portion. Mash well with a ladle
In a heavy bottomed pan pour 2 tlbsp of ghee, add the mashed paste and fry in low flame for a couple of minutes.
Add the thick jaggery syrup and mix well. Add a little water if you feel the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan. Let it boil for 5 minutes in low flame.
Add thin coconut milk first and boil till the mix is slightly thick
Add the thick coconut milk now and mix well. Let it boil for a couple of minutes and switch off the stove.
Fry Cashewnuts in remaining ghee and add to payasam.

Tips:
For those who find the taste of coconut milk overpowering, plain thick milk mixed with 2 tlbsp of Condensed Milk can also be used.
Ready made coconut milk or coconut powder mixed with water can also be used in this preparation.

Paal Ada Pradhaman [Rice Flake Milk Payasam]

Another delicacy from God’s own country – Kerala. This payasam is made using rice flakes which are specially made at home for this purpose. But now a days good quality ready – to – use rice flakes are available in all departmental stores. Extremely delicious, this payasam is part of any big celebration or feast in a Kerala household.

Ingredients:
Rice Adai – 1/4th cup
Thick Milk – 2 ½ cups
Sugar – 1/4th cup
Ghee – 2 tsp
Cardamom Powder – ¼ tsp
Fried Cashewnuts – optional
Condensed milk – 1/3 rd cup

Method:
Soak Rice adai in boiling hot water for 15 mins.
Drain and rinse in cold water.
In a pressure cooker add adai + milk and pressure cook till you get one whistle.
Switch off the stove. Heat a heavy bottomed pan [or retain the cooker itself] and transfer contents to it and place it on medium flame to thicken and reduce further.
Keep it on the stove till the milk is reduced considerably and the payasam takes on a pinkish tinge.
Add Condensed milk and stir well for 5 mins.
Add sugar and cardamom powder, stir till sugar dissolves completely and switch off the heat. Roast the cashew in ghee and add if required.

Tips:
If you do not have too much time on hand to reduce and thicken the milk, more of condensed milk can be added. If you do so, remember to use less sugar than mentioned otherwise you will land up with a dish that is too sweet to consume.
Always remember to add sugar carefully to boiling milk since it is likely to curdle. So always switch off the stove after sugar is added.
Adding sugar will also dilute the payasam. So thicken it first to the maximum and then add sugar.