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.

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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.

Mambhaza Pulissery

When mangoes are in season they are not spared and are eaten in many forms. Some varieties of mango although sweet are more sour to be consumed directly. These can be used in preparations like Pulissery which is a keralite’s version of the better known Mor Kozhambu. The aroma that arises while preparing this dish is so yummy that your salivary glands tend to over work. The dish has a sweet – sour taste that is amazing and goes well when mixed with plain rice.

Ingredients:

Fully ripe mangoes – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies – 2 or 3 [ depends on the spice levels]
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp [optional]
Curd – 1 1/2 cups
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 Tblsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2
Fenugreek seeds – a few
Curry Leaves – a few

Method:
Peel the shin and cut mangoes into chunks.
If the mangoes are over ripe squeeze the pulp out of the skin too.
Add water in a pan and boil the mango pieces along with turmeric powder.
Grind together grated coconut, green chillies, cumin and coriander seeds to a fine paste.
When the mangoes are tender add the ground paste and let it boil for a few minutes.
Churn the curd into thick buttermilk.
Lower the flame and add the buttermilk along with required salt .
Do not let the mixture boil because it will separate. Just let it absorb a bit of heat and switch off the stove immediately.
Heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add the red chillies [ split into two] along with fenugreek seeds & curry leaves and switch off the stove.
Pour over the prepared pulissery.

Tips:
Over ripe mangoes can also be used to prepare pulissery.
Ensure that you squeeze all the juice and pulp out since the sweet juice will only add to the taste.
While seasoning take care to add very little of fenugreek because too much of it will make the dish bitter.
Adding coconut oil for seasoning gives an added flavour to the dish

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.

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

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