Category: Fruits

Fresh Orange Juice

We went through a severe case of winter sniffles last week. Fever and cold, loss of taste and low appetite, it was fighting time for the immune system. I couldn’t prepare anything at home and whatever we brought from outside tasted so unappetizingly bitter. The only thing we found palatable are the fresh fruits mainly adorable oranges. Both fresh oranges and freshly squeezed orange juice became our mini meals, filling enough to put the body on the road to fast recovery.

Orange Juice
A Cup of Comfort ~ Fresh Orange Juice

Summer Fruit Harvest ~ Fresh Figs (Medi Pandlu)

Ripe Fig

Ripe Figs (Medi Pandlu) from My Garden

Fresh, Ripe Figs

We planted a small fig plant (Celeste) last March. It survived the unseasonably snowy winter last year and has grown into a healthy looking bush with plenty of branches. Thanks to the pleasant spring season we had this year.

The branches are filled with fruit now and I see at least 40 to 50 figs in various stages of development. They started to ripen since June last week. Everyday I would see 6 to 7 ripe figs for the past one week. I leave one or two ripe fruits for the birds, and pluck the remaining for us.

We are eating them raw right away, because these luscious ripe figs are tasty, delicate and juicy. They have soft skin that splits with ripeness emitting a fruity aroma and sweet honey like nectar. I had the pleasure of eating fresh figs at my grandparents home in Nandikotkur when I was little. But never thought it would be possible here. This happy occasion reminds me of our Yogi Vemana Padyalu recitals of childhood.


మేడి పండు చూడ మేలిమైయుండు
పొట్ట విప్పి చూడ పురుగులుండు
పిరికివాని మదిని బింకమీలాగురా
విశ్వదాభిరామ వినుర వేమ.


Vemana Padyalu by Precious Babygirl Naina.

Houston Finds: Seema Chintakaaya (Camachile Fruits)

Seema Chintakaaya
Seema Chintakaaya
(Koduka Puli, Jungle Jilebi, Bilayati Imli, Pithecellobium Dulce, Camachile, Makhaamthet)

I found these dried seema chintakaayalu at Canino Farmers Market, Houston. Here they are sold under the name Camachile fruits, shelled from the pods and partially dried.

In Nandyala, India, they were my childhood delicacy and we used to eat them fresh. They are readily available from trees lining the village fields and roads and on sale at the roadside stalls and public markets. The fresh, green pods ripen to pinkish red pods and that signals snack time not only for humans, but also for monkeys, parrots, and other creatures. The mature pods have whitish-pink flesh around shiny brown seeds and the soft flesh taste sweet and tart. We love this nutritious, nature’s snack and it’s a delight to find them here in Houston again after over a decade.

Summer Fruit Harvest ~ Kharbuja

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Kharbuja on the Vine

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Ripe Kharbuja with Sweet Scent, Freshly Plucked from the Kharbuja Vines

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Summer Sunday Treat ~ Kharbuja with Icecream

Strawberry Mini Cupcakes

Strawberry Mini Cupcakes

Strawberry Mini Cupcakes
(for 24 tiny cakes)

1. Preparation:
Soak about half cup of dried-fruit mix (cherries, dates, pineapple, raisins) in one cup of water for atleast 30 minutes.
Pick about 10 to 12 ripe strawberries. Take them in a blender and puree to smooth. We need a cup of strawberry puree.

2. Bake:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Put 24 paper baking cases in mini cupcake pan.
Take 6 tablespoons of melted butter and one cup of sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in two eggs and then stir in quarter cup of milk.
Sift in one and half cups of all purpose flour and a teaspoon baking powder. Using a large spoon, fold them into the mixture.
Gently add the strawberry puree, the dried fruit mix and the water they soaked in. Combine well.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases.
Bake the cupcakes for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and serve.

What I love about mini cupcakes is that they are so tiny and there will be little guilt after indulging in one. And they look so cute coming fresh out of the oven, it’d be like looking at a bunch of adorable baby chicks. That’s why I bought this 24-cupcake pan last November, but I keep forgetting that they don’t require much baking time like regular cakes. See, I baked this batch more than 30 minutes and the edges were little bit over baked. But they tasted good, and for appearance sake, may be I will cover them up with some frosting or honey-walnut mix.

Srrawberry Mini Cupcakes
Strawberry Mini Cupcakes ~ For Easter Celebrations

Udipi Pineapple Curry

It is just not Thai but India also has a rich tradition of several, crowd pleasing pineapple preparations. For example, during our last India trip, we had this delicious pineapple curry at an Udipi restaurant. The curry looked like a beautiful lotus pond with golden pineapple pieces floating in thin coconut masala water, and tasted excellent with that memorable sweet-spice combination. Vijay and I liked it so much, I often prepare it at home now. This Udipi style pineapple curry is different from Thai version. No canned coconut milk, but we add fresh coconut masala paste that is typical to South Indian cooking. The recipe is simple, cooks quickly and it tastes great on its own or when served over rice/chapati.

Pineapple
Fresh Pineapple Pieces

Udipi Style Pineapple Curry
(for 2 to 4 for 2 to 1 meals)

Step 1: Start the preparation by making coconut masala first.
In a blender or mixer, take about 3 tablespoons of fresh coconut gratings. Add 6 cloves, one inch piece of cinnamon stick, seeds from one cardamom pod, 6 to 8 fresh or dried red chillies, quarter teaspoon of salt, and one inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger. Blend the ingredients, adding few tablespoons of water if necessary, until you have extremely smooth paste in the consistency of katuka or cream cheese.

Step 2: Prepare the fruit (pineapple) and vegetables (carrots and onions).
Peel, core and cut pineapple into 1×1/2 inch pieces. We need about 2 cups. Peel and dice carrot to half inch cubes, about a cup is required. Slice shallot or red onion lengthwise thinly, about half cup. I also add other vegetables like bell peppers and potatoes on some days or make it with only pineapple. It’s all good.

Step 3: Cook the Curry.
Heat a pan. Add a teaspoon of peanut oil and when it is hot, add a sprig of fresh curry leaves and a pinch each cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida. Toast to fragrance.
Add onions and cook to soft. Add carrots and coconut masala paste. Sauté, stirring frequently and when coconut paste starts to brown a bit, add about one to two cups of water. Also, quarter teaspoon turmeric, a tablespoon of grated jaggery and salt to taste. Mix and cover the pan, simmer on moderate heat for about fifteen minutes.
At the end, add pineapple pieces and cook for another five minutes on low heat. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves if you wish, and serve the pineapple curry hot or lukewarm with rice or chapati.

Udipi Pineapple Curry
Upidi Pineapple Curry with Chapati ~ For Meal Today

Strawberry-Oats Cake

Farm Fresh Strawberries

Spring is in the air and fresh berries are making an appearance in grocery stores. I bought a box of fresh strawberries yesterday and with some of those berries I baked a strawberry cake for the weekend. It is a substantial cake with a simple recipe. The surprise ingredient is oats and they make the cake more moist and gooey than crumbly. I also added mashed banana (to make it egg-free) and pecans for some extra sweetness and crunch.


Strawberry-Oats Cake

2 cups, all-purpose flour (unbleached)
1/4 cup, oats (old fashioned, Quaker brand)
1 and 1/2 cups, sugar
1 teaspoon, salt
1 teaspoon, baking powder
1/2 teaspoon, baking soda

1 ripe banana, mashed with a tablespoon of lime juice
1/2 cup, plain yogurt
1/2 cup, peanut oil
1 cup, cut strawberries
1 cup, coarsely chopped pecans

In a big bowl, take flour and oats. Add sugar, salt, baking powder and soda. Mix well.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the mashed banana, yogurt and oil. Mix well until thoroughly incorporated. Add the strawberries and pecans. Gently combine.

Lightly oil a deep 7- inch round cake pan. Spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the surface.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes until firm to the touch or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Strawberry-Oats Cake
A Slice of Strawberry-Oats Cake to Welcome the Sweet Spring Season

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

Paneer Pasta

I wanted to make something special for my favorite food blogger’s Jihva event. Paneer and pasta: yes, an unusual combination. But, why not, I thought.

It turned out to be an ultimate comfort food. Combined with tomatoes, plenty of vegetables, and a mix of chickpeas and pomegranate garnish, paneer pasta was just the right thing for a cool fall night, and made a hearty and warming dish. Bow tie pasta is a good choice here, but penne or fusilli work just as well.

Paneer and Pasta

Paneer Pasta
(for two or four, for two or one meals)

1 tablespoon, peanut oil
2 garlic, minced
2 cups, chopped tomatoes
2 cups, chopped vegetables (I added zucchini, cauliflower and chikkudu)
1 cup, paneer cubes of 1/2-inch sized
1/2 cup, precooked chickpeas
1/4 cup, pomegranate kernels
2 tablespoons, finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste or 1 teaspoon each
Pasta, about 2 cups

Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute.

Add vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and quarter cup of water to the skillet. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

Stir in salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Add paneer cubes. On slow simmer, cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Pour the paneer-veggie sauce over the pasta and toss until everything is well combined. Garnish with pomegranate kernels. Serve hot.

Paneer Pasta with Pomegranate Garnish
Paneer Pasta with Pomegranate ~ Dinner Today and
For JFI:Paneer at Lovely Trupti’s The Spice Who Loved Me

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Guava Kosambari (Guava Salad)

I grew up with guava, which is a very popular fruit in South India. It was amazing how bags of guava came out of woodstock at the end of summer – whether by the way of my grandparents’ neighbors, relatives visiting from the village, or one of my parents friends. The donors were probably as glad to give them away as we were to receive them, and I remember the happy anticipation of waiting and slicing fresh guava, sprinkling salt and pepper and enjoying the tasty slices. Up here people seem to prefer their guava crunchy-free, a creamy puree long cooked in pastries. The flavor of fresh guava is delicate, and I prefer them as they are, uncooked may be in combination with some other raw ingredients.

Today’s recipe, guava kosambari, is inspired by a why not attitude. Kosambari, the salad of south India is a traditional Raw Rocks kind of meal starter. Usually prepared with moong dal, cucumber and carrots, and peppered with salt, pepper and lime juice. The cool, raw energy of kosambari seems to be enhanced by the excitingly sweet guava in guava kosambari. It was genuinely good food.

Guava
Guava

Guava Kosambari
(for two adults for two meals)

3 Guavas: cut to bite-sized pieces.
(The guavas I added in this recipe are small, about lime sized and have very delicate paper like thin skin that didn’t need peeling.)
1/4 cup – yellow moong dal, rehydrated
(Soak moong dal in water for about 2 hours to rehydrate.)
1/2 cup each – diced carrot and cucumber
Salt, black pepper and lime juice – 1/4 teaspoon each or to taste
1 tablespoon – finely chopped fresh cilantro

Take guava, moong dal, carrot and cucumber in a bowl. Sprinkle cilantro, salt, pepper and limejuice. Combine gently. Refrigerate for half an hour for the flavors to be charmed by each other.

Serve the guava kosambari as a meal starter or an evening snack with a cup of tea or ragi ganji.

Guava Kosambari (Guava Salad)
Guava Kosambari on a Guava Leaf ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Going Ga Ga for Guava: Guava Guacamole

Last Saturday, I was surprised to see bushels of guava at Fiesta, a local Mexican market.

From a distance the guava looked like good quality limes. They were small, pale yellow in color and smelled promisingly sweet. At pound $ 1.99, I couldn’t resist those yellow beauties.

After mangoes and cherries, guavas are my favorite fruit. I don’t know what it is about them, I could easily go into nostalgic ga ga over familiar fruits. Here I was in 2006, going on and on about guava. They inspire such longing, don’t they?

After I had my fill of raw fruit, which were delicious and sweet, I’ve thought of making something new with guava today.

Guavas with salt and pepper are a common roadside snack growing up in Bharath. These guavas I purchased are from Peru. To honor their origin, what’s better than an addition of avocado? Like I’ve imagined, the guava gave the avocado some sweetness and nice hint of aroma. Plain guacamole is always good, but guava guacamole tasted supreme. I loved this Aztec and Bharath combination for my meal today.

Guava Guacamole
(makes about two small cups)

1 big-sized, semi ripe avocado
3 lime-sized, semi ripe guavas
1 lime, for juice
Pinch each – salt and red chilli flakes

Cut avocado to half. Take out the pit. Cut the fruit to tiny pieces.
Cut guavas to small, bite sized pieces.
Place avocado and guava pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and red chilli flakes. Squeeze lime juice. Gently combine. Serve.

Meal Idea: Generously apply guava guacamole on a warm chapati, paratha or pizza for a taste that defies description. We had it with thin crust pizza for dinner. Good meal.

Guava Guacamole
Guava Guacamole ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV1: Apple~Cherry Salad

Morning:
Thick ganji like ragi malt without sweetener.
A cup of brown chickpea guggullu

Noon:
1 cup of dal in rasam consistency
1 cup of brown chickpea guggullu with plenty of backyard cherry tomatoes
small cup of homemade yogurt

Evening:
Glass of cold buttermilk from homemade yogurt

Night:
Cup of toordal rasam with key lime pickle
A big bowl of apple-cherry salad with homemade yogurt. Delicious and sweet, loved this refreshing and light salad for meal.

Workout:
About an hour walk on sightseeing day trip.

In retrospect:
Didn’t feel deprived in anyway and surprisingly no hunger pangs.
Busy but beautiful day.

Apple and Cherry

Apple~Cherry Salad
(for two servings)

1 Fuji apple
12 Bing cherries
1/2 cup homemade yogurt
Pinch each – salt and crushed black pepper

Peel the apple skin. Cut and remove the seed part. Dice the apple to bite-sized pieces.
Make a cut in the middle and remove the pit from cherries. Chop each half into two.
Take yogurt in a cup. Add salt and black pepper. Combine well. Add the cut fruits. Mix and serve.

Apple and Cherry Salad
Apple~Cherry Salad for Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

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