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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Paruppu Thogayal

‘Thogayal’ in Tamil is equivalent to chutney, but in a more solid form and can be likened to a ‘spread’ that is so flavorful when eaten as is or when mixed with something or when had as a side dish. Down South thogayal is generally consumed mixed with plain rice and is one of the easiest dish to make, especially when you have unexpected guests landing up for lunch or dinner at short notice. There are enormous varieties of thogayals and its preparations offers tremendous scope for experimenting.

Given below is the recipe for Paruppu Thogayal – an all time favorite of most – which is considered a delicacy especially when mixed with piping hot rice accompanied by spicy ‘Vetha Kozhambu’. Paruppu in Tamil refers to ‘Dal’ and in this case – Toor Dal.It is an extremely simple yet tasty dish to make.

Paruppu Thogayal

Ingredients:
Toor Dal – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2
Grated Coconut – 1/4th cup
Salt to taste.
Oil – 1 tlbs

Method:
In a pan heat enough oil and roast the Toor dal along with the chillies till the dal turns a lovely golden brown.
Allow to cool.
Add grated coconut & salt and grind the roasted Toor dal mix to a fine paste adding little bit of water to bring it to a semi solid form.
The thogayal is now ready to be served. It can be mixed with rice or as an accompaniment to dosai & adai.

Tips:

The flavor of the dish depends entirely on how the dal is roasted. Ensure it is roasted to a nice golden brown color.

The dominant flavor here should be of the dal . Hence all other ingredients including coconut & chillies should be mild.

TENDER COCONUT WATER – NATURAL NECTAR

Anything that is natural is far superior to something that is man made. Tender Coconut water is nature’s gift to us. It is pure, infection free, nutritious and a wonderful coolant in reducing body temperature and fighting heat related ailments.The health benefits it offers are amazing since it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

On the health front tender coconut water is good for :
Keeping the body cool
Getting rid of intestinal worms
Keeping urinary infections at bay
Refreshing tonic for the aged [ under doctor’s advice]
Electrolyte content aids in quick absorption of drugs by the body
Treatment of Cholera & Diarrhea
Helps pregnant women in finding relief from constipation and heart burn
Excellent for the skin – for intake as well as external application.
Helps malnourished children regain health.
Recommended by doctors for feeding infants to cure them of intestinal disturbances.

On the culinary front tender coconut water can be :

Best had in its original form.
Can be mixed with other fruit drinks like pineapple & orange
Can be had topped with scoops of ice cream.
The pulp of the tender coconut can be used in various recipes like puddings, salads, rice preparations, sauces & sweet dishes.

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.

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.

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

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