Category: Dried Fruits and Nuts

Fruit Kosambari with Pears

February Food Fun:
Include Fruits and greens regularly
Make a habit of Kosambari

Sweet pears in season are tossed with fresh lettuce from our backyard garden in this delicious kosambari. For an Indian twist, I have added some dates, chickpeas and chat masala powder. Fruits, greens and some protein, this free-spirited kosambari has all the food fun I wanted in a February. A guilt free meal and God bless simple recipes like Kosambari.

Pear and Lettuce

Fruit Kosambari with Pears
(serves two)

1 small bunch of fresh lettuce
2 pears
1 cup, cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup, dates
1 tablespoon chat masala powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the lettuce well. Pat them dry with a clean towel. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Peel the skin and slice pears into big pieces. Quarter the dates.

In a bowl, take the lettuce. Add pears, dates and chickpeas. Sprinkle chat masala powder, salt and black pepper powder. Toss to coat.

Serve immediately with a cup of rasam or sambar on the side for a light meal.

Fruit Kosambari with Pears
Fruit Kosambari with Pears and Dates ~ For Meal Today

Raw Rocks from Bharath ~ Coconut Pacchadi

On New Year’s, some break champagne bottles and we break coconuts. Traditional welcome always comes in the form of coconut for us. Coconut is highly valuable in our culture. A culinary chameleon, coconut not only symbolizes life but it also sustains the jeevam.

And this is what I’ve prepared with the Pooja coconut for our meal today – A sharp pacchadi. Surely this must be the most popular of all from Southern India where it is served over steamed rice or with dosa. This pacchadi is often recommended to those whose appetite needs a flavor boost. And who doesn’t in this mind numbing cold weather?

Fresh Coconut, Red Onion and Green Chilli

Raw Rocks from Bharath ~ Coconut Pacchadi
(serves 2 or 4 for 2 or 1 meal)

Fresh coconut, grated – about 2 cups
Shallot or red onions, chopped – about 1/2 cup
Green chillies, Indian or Thai type – 6 to 8
Tamarind pulp – 2 tablespoons
Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

Take coconut, onion and chillies in a Sumeet style mixer or in a mortar. Add tamarind and salt. Blend or pulverize to coarse paste without adding any water. Remove to a cup. Serve with rice and dal or with breakfast items like dosa, idly, and pongal etc.

Coconut Pacchadi prepared in this way does not keep very well for storage more than a day because it’s a ‘Raw Rocks’ kind of Bharath recipe, and must be eaten fresh.

Coconut Pacchadi in a Coconut Shell
Coconut Pacchadi in a Coconut Shell ~ Celebrating ‘Raw Rocks’ in 2010

Malai Kofta for a Potluck Party of 25

“You remember the potluck party on Saturday evening? I am making a list of the dish each of us will bring to the party. What should I put your name on?” …My friend on the phone.

“Let me think for a minute. mmm… Malai kofta. How does that sound?”

“Perfect for the holiday mood. Love it.”

I don’t know what prompted me to say malai kofta. Even though, malai kofta is my all time favorite dish, I rarely make it at home. To prepare it from scratch, some serious work is involved and if I do all the work, I feel like the romance is gone from experiencing this delicious dish. I prefer to keep it as a standard order for an indulgent mood at an Indian restaurant. Well, whatever prompted me to say malai kofta, I was glad I offered it. I had a chance to make it after longtime. The good thing is it came out well and we had some fun time at the party.

This is how I made the malai kofta on Saturday morning.


Malai Kofta for a Potluck Party of 25

Ingredient List:

For koftas (25×2=50 koftas):
1 gallon, whole milk and 2 limes- to make fresh paneer
5 russet or red potatoes, medium-sized
2 big carrots, grated
1/2 cup, cashews
1/4 cup, golden raisins
1 teaspoon, salt
1/2 teaspoon, chilli powder
To deep-fry the koftas:
1 cup, chapati flour
3 cups, peanut oil

For Malai Sauce:
2 red onions, jumbo sized
10 roma or vine ripe tomatoes, big size
2-inch ginger piece, skin peeled
2 plump garlic cloves, skins removed
1/4 cup, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup each, cashews and golden raisins
1/4 cup each, fresh paneer and grated fresh coconut
1×1-inch, cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1 tablespoon, coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon each, cumin and fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon each, black pepper and turmeric
2 teaspoons, salt
1 teaspoon, chilli powder
1 cup, whole milk or 1/2 cup, cream

Method:

To prepare malai kofta from scratch, for a party of 25, it would take at least two hours, four burners of heat and decent amount of concentration. We need to make a minimum of 50 koftas and enough malai sauce to accommodate them.

Step 1 – Preparation for Paneer and Sauce: Prepare the ingredients for koftas and for malai sauce by placing four pots on four burners. Cook simultaneously for energy and time efficiency. Here is how I did it.

Burner 1 for Paneer: Pour one gallon of milk in a big, wide pot. Bring the milk to boil. Cut and add limejuice from 2 limes to the boiling milk. Milk starts to cuddle immediately. Stir continuously. When the white, fluffy clouds of paneer get big and separated from watery whey, pour the entire contents into a muslin cloth lined pot. Twist and squeeze the cloth several times to strain the paneer completely whey-free. Hang to drip-dry if possible. Divide the paneer into two parts – 3/4 (for koftas) and 1/4 part (for malai sauce).

Burner 2 for Potatoes: Wash and cut each potato into two. Take potatoes in a pressure-cooker. Add just enough water to cover them. Cook to fork tender. Drain the water. Peel the skins and mash the potatoes coarsely.

Burner 3 for Tomatoes: Place a pot on the stovetop and add a cup of water. Bring water to boil. Add tomatoes and cover the pot. When tomato skin starts to break, turn off the heat. Remove the cover to cool.

Burner 4 for Onions: Peel the skin and cut onions to chunk pieces. Heat a tablespoon of oil in an iron skillet. Add onion, and sauté to brown on high heat, stirring in-between.

Step 2 – Preparation for Koftas and Malai Sauce: Grind the prepared ingredients for koftas and for malai sauce. Connect a food processor and a Sumeet style mixer into power outlets and follow the procedure.

In food processor, add paneer, mashed potatoes, grated carrot, salt, chilli powder, cashews and golden raisins. Pulse few times first and then run the processor to combine the ingredients well. Remove the mix to a bowl. This will be shaped into koftas.

Clean the food processor. Put the tomatoes and blend. Add the water tomatoes simmered in for smooth run. Remove the tomato puree to a bowl.

To the food processor, add roasted onions. Blend into fine paste. Remove the onion paste to a bowl.

In a mixer, take cashews and grind to smooth paste. To this paste, add coconut, paneer, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro leaves, golden raisins, black peppercorn, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds, cinnamon, and cloves. Grind the ingredients to fine consistency. The masala paste has to be extremely smooth. So run the blender for at least 5 minutes, adding few tablespoons of water when required.

Step 3: Simmer the Malai Sauce and Fry the Koftas

Simmer the Sauce: Place a wide, deep pan on the stove-top. Add and heat a tablespoon of oil. When oil is hot, add the roasted onion paste, masala paste. Saute for five minutes on medium heat, constantly stirring. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, milk or cream and 2 cups of water. Combine well. Have a taste and add salt and chilli powder if required. Cover and simmer the sauce on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring in-between. Avoid high heat and take care not to blacken the sauce at the bottom of the pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, turn off the heat.

Make Koftas: In another burner, place a skillet suitable to deep-fry. Add and heat peanut oil. While oil is getting hot, shape the koftas from the paneer mixture into small rounds of 1-inch diameter. Roll the paneer rounds into chapati flour, lightly coating the surface. This will keep the koftas intact during deep-frying process and prevents any breaks or spillages into hot oil. Prepare them all this way and line them in a tray.

When oil is hot, add the paneer rounds in batches and deep-fry to gold color. Remove and place them on a paper covered tray.

Step 4 – Serving Suggestions:

Keep the sauce and koftas separate in two containers until the party time. Because koftas are so delicately made, they tend to disintegrate when soaked in sauce for long period of time. When the food is arranged on the table and just before mealtime, gently place the koftas in rows in malai sauce. Warm the tray in oven for ten minutes on lowest heat setting, if required. Serve with chapati, paratha, naan or rice.

Malai koftas are without a doubt one of the best tasting Bharath recipes out there for parties, and I was glad to have a chance to enjoy them with friends during this holiday season.

I did manage to take few photos of the process. Here they are:


Grated Carrot, Mashed Potato, Freshly Made Paneer, Cashews and Golden Raisins ~ Ingredients for Koftas


Tomato Puree, Masala Paste and Roasted Onion Paste ~ For Malai Sauce


Blending the Ingredients for Koftas in a Food Processor


The Blended Mixture is Shaped into Round Koftas and Covered with Chapati Flour


Deep-fried Koftas


Malai Kofta, Mingling with Others at a Potluck Party


Malai Kofta, One Among Many, Finding its Place in Someone’s Plate

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Pleasant Pull of The Past ~ Curry Leaf Podi

We went to a friend’s home last weekend. Our conversations these days invariably lead to gardening and plants. She has this beautiful and big curry leaf plant of 7 years old in her backyard which is almost a tree now. I guess it was amusing to see my admiration, she cut few branches on the spot for me. Such fearlessness! I am so old, I can remember the scarce days when I used to actually count the curry leaves before adding them to a recipe. Thanks to the generous friend, I finally made the beloved karivepaaku podi (curry leaf podi) at home today.

Curry leaf podi is a cherished Andhra tradition. This spicy seasoning with intense curry leaf aroma will taste great when mixed with rice or sprinkled over lightly cooked vegetables or even on salads. Curry leaf podi can be prepared in many ways. The following recipe is from my amma.

Fresh Curry Leaves
Fresh Curry Leaves ~ dried under Gentle Autumn Sun

Karivepaaku Podi (Curry Leaf Podi)

4 cups of tightly packed fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
12 red chillies, Indian variety, about ring-finger length each
1 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, skin peeled, slivered
1 teaspoon sea salt

Curry Leaves: Rinse curry leaves under water and gently pat them dry with a towel. Spread them on a cotton cloth to sun-dry under afternoon sun. The leaves will loose moisture and become dry but still retain green color. Do not sun-burn the leaves to black.

Gently fry the curry leaves on low heat in a cast-iron pan. Take care not to black or burn the leaves. Remove them to a plate to cool. The purpose of sun-drying and roasting is to let the leaves lose the moisture so that when powdered, they will remain dry and healthy to consume. Even after all this process, the leaves have to retain green color.

Roast: In the same skillet, add and roast dried chillies, garlic to brown. Remove. Add cumin and sesame seeds and roast until the sesame seeds are a few shades darker and emit a toasted aroma. Some seeds will actually start to pop out of the pan. Empty the contents of the skillet onto a plate and cool.

Powder: Add the cooled and roasted ingredients to a Sumeet style mixer or coffee grinder. Grind to fine powder. Cool completely and store in a clean jar with tight lid. It remains fresh and flavorful up to 3 months.

The tasty curry leaf podi can be enjoyed in many ways. Mix it with hot cooked rice and ghee, or rice and dal. Sprinkle the podi on warm chapati, idly, dosa or pesarattu. Great last minute seasoning to skillet-sautéed curries, like roasted potatoes, carrots, beans etc. Curry leaf podi is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen.

Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)
Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)

Podi (Telugu) = Powder (E)
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

The Twin Blessings: Carrot-Coconut Cake

We were invited to a baby shower party last weekend. The blessed friend is a long time reader of Mahanandi recipes. For a present, instead of another plastic thing, I wanted to gift something nourishing for the twins-expecting mother. After giving it a thought for sometime, I came up with an idea. Carrots, coconut and pecans brought in. Carrots and coconut grated, pecans chopped. Baby bananas substituted eggs and to make it truly a party treat, I experimented by adding some condensed milk to the whole-wheat batter.

The effort was a sweet success…some great looking carrot–coconut mini cakes came out of the oven. I didn’t have the heart to spoil their healthy glow with cheesy coverup. I took them to the party, as they are without the phony makeup, hoping they would receive with “I like you very much, just as you are.”

Carrot and Coconut ~ Grated for the Cake
Carrot and Coconut ~ Grated to Greet the Cake Batter

Carrot-Coconut Cake
(the batter makes about 24 mini cakes)

Ingredients:
Special (wet):
Coconut: Break a fresh coconut. Grate the coconut. – 2 cups.
Carrots: Peel the skin and grate the carrots.- 2 cups.
Pecans: Finely chop pecans. – 1 cup.
Bananas: 2 baby or 1 big, ripe one. Mash the bananas to smooth – 1 cup.
Oil: I added peanut oil – 1/2 cup
Condensed milk: 1 cup
Milk : 2 to 3 cups

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Preparation:

Take the dry ingredients listed above in a big bowl. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients – grated carrot, coconut, chopped pecans, mashed banana, condensed milk, milk and oil. Combine thoroughly until well mixed. If the batter looks dry and crumbly, add more milk or water in a slow, steady stream, folding continuously. Consistency of the batter has to be more on the wet side and easily spreadable.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Generously apply ghee or oil to cake pans. Keep them ready on baking trays.

Transfer the batter to the cake pans and fill them upto ¾ths. Place them in oven and bake until the top is light golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the cakes to cool completely and then unmold.

Enjoy the tasty carrot coconut cake, just as they are.

 Carrot Coconut Cake Batter filled Mini Cake Pans
Carrot Coconut Cake Batter

carrot Coconut Mini Cakes ~ Fresh Out of Oven
Carrot Coconut Mini Cakes ~ Fresh Out of Oven

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV8,9 and 10 ~ Spicy Peanut Butter

Gundu Malli (Jasmine) from Backyard
Gundu Malli (Jasmine) from Backyard

Weekend (day 8 and day 9) went by so fast with sightseeing, shopping trips and a festival (Nagula Chavati), I didn’t have any free time to spend on the Web. Foodwise, I stuck to the Workout Vratham with great difficulty and filled myself with an assortment of beans, greens, vegetables and fruits. But I had two sesame laddus that we traditionally prepare for Nagula Chavati festival. The sesame laddus were made in a mortar with pestle power.

On day 10, that is today, here it went my sucky routine:

Morning:
A cup of ragi ganji without sweetener

Noon:
A cup of Chard pappu (Chard with Toor dal)
Half cup of Turai curry (beerakaya kura)
A big bowl of hot tomato rasam
Half apple

Evening:
A cup of ginger tea without sweetener
Handful of roasted peanuts

Night:
2 pesarattu with generous helping of spicy peanut butter
Half cup chard pappu
A glass of buttermilk

Workout:
An hour of 4 miles walk, an hour of step plus abs class at the gym – morning
Sewing pillow covers – evening

In Retrospect:
Glad to return to week day routine.

Spicy Peanut Butter ~ India Inspired

Ingredients:

1 cup shelled, good quality peanuts
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves, 1-inch piece of cinnamon
6 dried red chillies
2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp
1-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Preparation:

Heat an iron skillet. Add and roast peanuts, continuously stirring with a spatula on medium heat to uniform pale brown color . It would take about 10 to 15 minutes of time. Transfer the peanuts from skillet to a plate and wait until they are cool to touch. Rub and remove the skin coverings.

In the same skillet, add dried red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. Toast to fragrance. Cool.

Take roasted peanuts and toasted spices in a blender or food processor. Add salt, tamarind pulp and ginger. Grind until fairly smooth. Add few tablespoons of water if necessary for easy mixing. You could also add a tablespoon of sugar or jaggery for subtle sweet touch. Remove and store in a jar. Stays fresh upto a week when refrigerated.

Spicy peanut butter tastes great with breakfast items. It also makes a fine dip and spectacular Indian-inspired sauce for vegetables like bell peppers, broad beans (Chikkudu), brinjals and potatoes.

Spicy Peanut Butter ~ India Inspired
Spicy Peanut Butter for Jihva:Peanuts at Dear Pavani’s Cook’s Hideout

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Strawberry-Pecan Mini Cakes

Strawberry-Pecan Mini Cake
Strawberry-Pecan Mini Cake

I am fond of eating fruits straight, and I prefer no-cook fruit preparations like Soopa. I do not want to subject them to cooking. However, this easy dessert which takes only about ten minutes to prepare for baking is so delicious and liked by everyone who tasted, that I am more than willing to donate a pint of berries to it. Light and just sugary enough to satisfy that craving tooth, these strawberry mini cakes are good any time of the day. With this sweet sayonara to week long strawberry saga, I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Strawberry Mini Cakes
(makes 12 mini cakes)

3 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups turbinado sugar (or sugar of any kind)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup juice from oranges
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cut strawberries
2 cups finely chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, sift and stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, break and add 2 eggs. (I removed the yellows, my preference. Keep yellows if you like) Also add milk, oil, orange juice and vanilla. Beat the mixture lightly and add this mixture to flour mixture. Before the flour and liquid ingredients are fully combined, fold in the strawberries and pecans, stirring gently.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Apply ghee/butter or oil to mini cake pans. Fill about two thirds full with the batter.

Bake the cakes for about 45 minutes or until tops are golden and when a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Serve the mini cakes at room temperature.
******
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari

Strawberry Pecan Mini Cakes
Fresh Out of Oven, Strawberry Mini Cakes ~ for the Weekend

Dates Kheer

We made Dates Kheer last weekend following a recipe from Sukham Ayu cookbook. The recipe required few ingredients, was very simple to prepare, and tasted divine. The original recipe in the book called for dates and milk. I also added almonds because I love badam taste in milk.

According to Sukham Ayu, the dates have post-digestive effect. They serve as thirst quenchers, body energizers, and also help increase levels of hemoglobin. Their sweet and moist qualities benefit Vata and Pitta. To balance the heaviness of dates for Kapha, use nutmeg and cardamom as in this recipe.

Here is how I made this delicious Ayurvedic dessert with dates, milk and almonds. I hope you try it too.

Dates
Diamond of Dates ~ Medjool Dates for Kheer

Dates Kheer
(Recipe adapted from Sukham Ayu. Makes about one and half cups of kheer)

8 medjool dates – pitted and chopped finely
8 almonds – powdered to fine
2 cups milk – Whole, Organic variety
1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Place a thick-bottomed vessel on stovetop and heat. Add ghee to melt. Add chopped dates and almond powder to the melted ghee. Fry for about five minutes on low heat.

Add milk. On medium heat, simmer, stirring in between, until the milk-dates-almond mixture thickens and reduces in volume from 2 cups to about one to one and half cups. Takes about ten minutes of cook time. Stir the cardamom and nutmeg powders. Turn off the heat. Serve into bowls in small quantity and enjoy. Tastes good warm or cold.

Note:
Dates I added are extremely sweet so I didn’t have to add sugar to the kheer. Add sugar or jaggery if needed as per your taste.
While the milk heats up you need to keep stirring so that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom – a stir every two minutes or so is fine.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari

Dates Kheer
Dates Kheer ~ for Sri Rama Navami Neivedyam

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