Nagula Chavithi Naivedyam

Nagula Chavithi is the day people in Andhra Pradesh worship Nagas or snakes. This festival falls on the fifth day after Naraka Chaturdashi (This year Nagula Chavithi is on October 27, 2014). On this day, in my home, we fast through the day; worship nagas; offer naivedyam of Vada Pappu, Chalimidi, Chimmili, bananas, and milk; and eat at night after the Mangala Aarathi. The only food we eat is that offered as naivedyam.

Traditionally, women visit the nearest pamula putta or snake pit to pray to the snake god. If a pammula putta is not accessible (as is the case in Mumbai), we make an idol of the snake god with wheat flour and offer prayers to this idol. On the next day, this idol of the snake god is either immersed in a water body or left on a tree as a symbolic way of returning him to nature.

Read more about Nagula Chavithi at http://theancientindia.blogspot.in/2012/11/nagula-chavithi-festival-for-snake-god.html

The three dishes that are to made on this day are:

 

A Roundup of Diwali Sweets and Savouries

Diwali is just a couple of days away! I have been meaning to do this post for a while but time just got away from me. Here is are some recipes of easy-to-make sweets and savouries.

 

Deepavali traditions are more than just about food! The oil bath or Abhyanga Snan is a very important part. Want a quick and easy version of the oil bath? Read this post!

Minapa Sunni Undalu – Sunnundalu (Udad Dal Laddu) – A Diwali Special

Minapa Sunni Undalu - Udad Dal Laddoo or Laddu

Minapa Sunni Undalu – Udad Dal Laddu

Minapa Sunni Undalu or Udad Dal Laddoo is a sweet that is very popular in Andhra Pradesh. Easy to make and absolutely delicious, this laddoo is made for most festive occasions like Deepavali.

You can make Minapa Sunni Undalu with Udad Dal with or without the skin. I chose to make it with split udad dal with skin as I love the texture and taste that it imparts.

Time: 45 Mins

Makes: 12

Ingredients

  1. Udad Dal – 1 Cup
  2. Grated Jaggery or Sugar – 3/4 Cup
  3. Ghee – 1/2 Cup

Method

  1. Dry roast the udad dal till it turns golden brown.
  2. Spread the udad dal in a large steel plate for ~15 minutes to cool.
  3. Grind the udad dal with the sugar or jaggery to a fine powder.
  4. Melt the ghee.
  5. Slowly add the ghee to the udad dal powder.
  6. Mix well to form a crumbly texture.
  7. Shape into 10-12 equal sized balls.
  8. Store in an airtight container.

 

Poha Chivda – A Low-Oil, Low Calorie Version – Diwali Special

Poha Chivda - Low Oil Version, Low Calorie Version

Poha Chivda – Low Oil Version, Low Calorie Version

Poha Chivda ranks among my favourite snacks. Sweet, spicy, and salty, this traditional poha-based dish is a medley of tastes that is quite unparalleled. The only drawback is that everything in it is deep-fried. This Diwali I took it upon myself to make a low oil, low calorie version that is just as delicious as the original and boy did I succeed!

For those who are unfamiliar with this snack, Chivda Poha is a mix of deep-fried poha, peanuts, cashews, and raisins spiced up with sugar, salt, green chillies and red chilli powder. You are never quite sure what taste waits you on the next handful!

Time: 60 Minutes

Equipment: 8″ Saucepan

Ingredients

  1. Thick Poha – 3 Cups
  2. Peanuts – 1/3 cup
  3. Fried Dal – 1/4 cup
  4. Cashews – 10 to 12
  5. Raisins – 20 to 25
  6. Green Chillies – 4
  7. Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  8. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  9. Sugar – 1 tsp
  10. Oil – 2 tbsp
  11. Curry Leaves – A Few
  12. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Cut the green chillies into 1/4″ pieces.
  2. Break the cashews in half.
  3. Heat the saucepan.
  4. Coat the saucepan with 1 tbsp oil.Poha Chivda - Oil the Pan
  5. Lower the heat.
  6. Add the poha to the pan and mix well till it is coated with oil.Poha Chiva - Toss the Poha till oil coats it
  7. Turn the heat up to medium.
  8. Roast the poha till it is puffed up and brown.Poha Chivda - Roasted
  9. Take out the poha into a plate and set aside.
  10. Add 1 tbsp oil to the plate.
  11. Add the roasted chana, peanuts, cashew nuts, raisins, green chillies, and curry leaves.Poha Chivda - Fry nuts and raisins
  12. Stir-fry till peanuts, roasted dal, and cashew nuts starts to turn brown and the green chillies and curry leaves turn crisp.Poha Chivda - Fried nuts and raisins
  13. Turn off the heat.
  14. Add the red chilli, turmeric, sugar, and salt.Poha Chivda - Fried nuts and raisins
  15. Mix well.
  16. Add the fried poha.
  17. Mix well.
  18. Let the mix cool completely.
  19. Store in an airtight container.Poha Chivda - Low Oil Version, Low Calorie - 1

 

Tips

  •  You can add dry copra pieces as well in step 11. I forgot and remembered only as I was writing this post!

Biryani with Soy Nuggets

Biryani with Nutrela Soya Nuggets

Biryani with Soya Nuggets

While I am an eggitarian, many of my friends are non-vegetarians and I am always looking to see how I can adapt some of the delicious looking non-vegetarian food into a vegetarian version. It is no different now that I have started blogging and follow some super food bloggers.

Recently, Anjana posted a recipe for Mutton Biryani {Tamil Nadu Style} on her blog At the Corner of Happy and Harried. I was very fascinated by her recipe and meant to try it with Soya Nuggets instead of Mutton. In post for Mutton Biryani, Anjana also spoke of a Dum Biryani whose recipe she had posted a while earlier. When I browsed that recipe, I found that she used Shrimp. However, the recipe appealed to me and I used it as a base to make this Soya Nuggets Biryani.

Do visit Anjana’s blog for some absolutely delightful recipes that are accompanied by some great photographs!

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Basmati Rice – 1.5 Cups
  2. Soya Nuggets – 1 Cup
  3. Onion – 1 Large
  4. Tomato – 1 Large
  5. Fresh Coriander – A Handful
  6. Fresh Mint – A Handful
  7. Green Chillies – 2 or 3
  8. Bay Leaves – 2
  9. Cloves – 4
  10. Cinnamon – 1″
  11. Green Cardamom – 3
  12. Black Cardamon – 1
  13. Pepper Corns – 6
  14. Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  15. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  16. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  17. Black Pepper Powder – 3/4 tsp
  18. Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  19. Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
  20. Yoghurt – 1 Cup (Vegans can use 1/2 cup coconut milk)
  21. Ghee – 2 tbsp (Vegans can use Oil)
  22. Salt to Taste

Method to Cook the Soya Nuggets

  1. Boil 3 cups of water with 1 tsp salt.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, add the Soya nuggets.
  3. Cook the soya nuggets in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Let the soya nuggets remain in the hot water for 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the water and let the nuggets cool.
  7. Squeeze the nuggets to remove all water.
  8. Set aside.

Method to Prepare the Rice

  1. Wash and soak the rice in 3 cups water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Pressure cook the rice.
  3. Spread the hot rice on large plate and let it dry out a bit.

Method to Make the Masala

  1. Chop the onion into thin long slices.
  2. Chop the tomato to fine pieces.
  3. Grind the fresh coriander, mint and green chillies to a fine paste.
  4. Heat the ghee or oil.
  5. Add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, whole green cardamon, whole black cardamom, and pepper corns.
  6. Add the onion slices and sauté till they are golden.
  7. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 1 minute.
  8. Add the tomato pieces and sauté till the tomato is stewed.
  9. Add the coriander-mint-chilli paste.
  10. Saute for 2 minutes or till the raw smell is gone.
  11. Add the dry powders (red chilli, pepper, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala).
  12. Stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  13. Lower the heat.
  14. Beat the yogurt to a smooth paste.
  15. Add the beaten yogurt to the masala.
  16. Mix well.
  17. Add 1/2 cup water.
  18. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  19. Add the soya nuggets and some salt.
  20. Let the soya nuggets simmer in the masala for about 10 minutes. Add water or a little more yogurt if required.

Putting the Biryani Together

  1. Add the rice to the cooked biryani masala.
  2. With a gentle hand mix well.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the biryani rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with raita and papad.

Tips

  • Anjana used the dum method to cook the biryani. I used a shortcut but the biryani turned out delicious!
  • Be sure to squeeze out all the water from the nuggets after boiling them. Otherwise, they won’t absorb the flavours of the masala and will be watery to taste.
  • Cook the nuggets in the masala for some time so that they stew in it and absorb the taste. Soy nuggets are notorious for not absorbing flavours quickly.
  • You could add some saffron soaked in warm milk at the very end and mix well.

This yummy biryani is my entry for Fiesta Friday #38!

 

Nankhatai – Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread!

Nankhatai - Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread

Nankhatai – Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread

As a child, my brother and I waited eagerly for the old Chachaji who would sell his wonderful baked wares door-to-door. Chachaji would have this well-worn, shiny steel trunk on his head and in this trunk were treasures like Nankhatai, Rusk, Khari, and Kadak Pav. The Chachaji had carefully customized this trunk so that it had layered steel trays in it and each layer had its own set of treasures.

Chachaji would unfailingly ring our door bell (this is if Anand and I were not already out there waiting for him) and wait for Dad to come out and place the order.

My favourites were the variety of Khari biscuits (plain, with jeera, or with sugar) and Nankhatai (plain, with jam, multi-coloured, with a dusting of crushed almonds and pistachios).

If I  close my eyes, I can still visualise the fishing out his scales and carefully weighing out his wonderful baked goodies. Indeed, I can imagine the wonderful aromas wafting about!

The other day, I was waiting for my music class to start and in the bakery nearby, I saw many women pitching in to make Nankhatai. Overwhelmed with nostalgia, I made a batch this past weekend and what a treat they turned out to be.

Makes: 15 to 18

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Baking Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Refined Flour or Maida – 1 Cup
  2. Gram Flour or Besan – 1/4 Cup
  3. Semolina or Rava – 1/4 Cup
  4. Sugar – 1 Cup
  5. Ghee or Butter – 1 Cup
  6. Cold Milk – 2 or 3 tbsp (if required)
  7. Green Cardamom or Elaichi – 4
  8. Baking Soda – 1/4 tsp (optional)
  9. Almonds – 2
  10. Cashews – 2
  11. Pistas – 2

Preparation

  1. Grease a 12″ baking tray with some ghee.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Method

  1. Sieve together the maida, rava, besan, and baking soda.
  2. Roughly crush the almonds, cashews and pistas so that they break into small pieces.
  3. Peel the cardamom.
  4. Grind the cardamom seeds and sugar together into a fine powder.
  5. Over low-heat, melt the ghee or butter.
  6. Take off the heat and let ghee/butter cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the powdered sugar and cream well.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and knead into a smooth ball.
  9. If the dough is powdery, add some milk (1 tsp at a time).
  10. Divide the dough into 15 to 18 equal small lemon sized balls.
  11. Press each ball slightly flat and press some dry fruits pieces into the centre.
  12. Place the nankhatai on the greased tray.
  13. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C.
  14. Let the Nankhatai cool to room temperature
  15. Store in an air-tight container
  16. Enjoy with a cup of hot Adrakwali Chai/Ginger Tea.

Tips

  • Do not overheat the ghee or butter. Heat it just enough to melt it.
  • I found that if you knead the dough well-enough, you don’t need any additional milk. Remember that the sugar has moisture as well.
  • I use a standard 1 tsp measure to scoop out the dough and form dome-shaped Nankhatai.
  • The Nankhatai bake really fast. Be careful that they do not burn.
  • Do not try to check if the Nankhatai are baked by testing their firmness. They tend to remain soft while baking and harden on cooling.
Nankhatai - Eggless Cookies or Shortbread

Nankhatai – Eggless Cookies or Shortbread

Khaman Dhokla – Steamed, Low-Calorie Snack from Gujarat

Khaman Dhokla - Gujarati Snack, Light, Low Calorie, Healthy Snack from Guajarat

Khaman Dhokla – Gujarati Snack

Having grown up in Mumbai and with loads of Gujarati friends, the likes of Dhokla, Khandavi, Patra, Thepla, and Undhiyo were staple in our home. However, it is ages since I made any Gujarati food at home. Yesterday was a busy Saturday as I had to work and  get some plumbing work done in my home. As I was mulling over what breakfast to make, I realised that it was ages since we made Khaman Dhokla.

I like Khaman Dhokla because it gets done quickly and is very light on the stomach. While we normally have it as a light evening snack, it is a great choice for a breakfast too!

Eno Fruit Salt is widely used as a leavening agent in Dhokla. I am sure GlaxoSmithKline never realised how varied a use its antacid has. :-)

Serves: 4

Time: 30 minutes

Essential Equipment: 6″ to 8″ steel plate or vessel, Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  1. Besan or Gram Flour – 1 Cup
  2. Rava or Semolina – 3 tbsp
  3. Green Chillies – 5
  4. Ginger – 3/4″ piece
  5. Dahi or Yoghurt – 1/4 Cup (Vegans can omit this)
  6. Eno Fruit Salt – 1.5 tsp
    Or
    Soda Bicarb – 1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  7. Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  8. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  9. Sesame Seeds – 1 tsp
  10. Curry Leaves – 2 or 3
  11. Finely Chopped Coriander – 1 tbsp
  12. Oil – 2 tsp
  13. Hing or Asafoetida – A Large Pinch
  14. Salt to Taste
  15. Water

Method

  1. Sieve together the besan and rava to ensure there are no lumps.
  2. Grind 3 green chillies and ginger to a fine paste.
  3. In a large enough vessel, mix the besan, rava, green chilli-ginger paste, lemon juice, salt, and yoghurt.
  4. Add water slowly till you have a thick batter of pouring consistency.
  5. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  6. Using 1 tsp oil, grease a 6″ steel vessel (or plate with high edges).
  7.  Set aside.
  8. If you using Eno Fruit Salt:
    1. In a small cup, mix the fruit salt with about 3 tbsp of water.
    2. As soon as you see the bubbles, pour the mix into the dhokla batter and mix well.
    3. Pour the batter into the greased steel plate.
  9. If you using Soda Bicarb:
    1. Add the soda bicarb to the dhokla batter and mix well.
    2. Set aside for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Pour the batter into the greased steel plate.
  10. Steam for 15 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat and let the Dhokla rest in the steamer for 10 minutes.
  12. In a ladle, heat 1 tsp oil.
  13. Add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  14. Turn off the heat.
  15. Add the sesame seeds, curry leaves, slit green chillies, and asafoetida.
  16. Remove the Dhokla from the cooker.
  17. Pour the tempering evenly over the dhokla.
  18. Cut the Dhokla into 2″ squares.
  19. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  20. Serve warm with Coriander Chutney.
Khaman Dhokla - Gujarati Snack, Light, Low Calorie, Healthy Snack from Guajarat

Khaman Dhokla

Spicy French Beans Poriyal or Thoran with a Difference

French Beans Poriyal or Thoran with a Difference

French Beans Poriyal or Thoran with a Difference

The traditional French Beans Poriyal or Thoran uses only grated coconut as garnish. This version of this classic dish is a bit more spicy and uses ajwain or carom seeds for flavouring.

Do try it; it goes well with both rotis and rice!

Serves: 4

Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. French Beans – 300 gms
  2. Grated Coconut – 1/3 cup
  3. Ajwain or Carom Seeds – 1 tsp
  4. Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  5. Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  6. Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  7. Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  8. Oil – 1 tbsp
  9. Curry Leaves – A Few
  10. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Wash and dry the french beans.
  2. Chop and discard the ends.
  3. Cut the beans into 1/4″ pieces.
  4. In a wok or kadhai, heat the oil.
  5. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  6. Add the carom and cumin seeds.
  7. Stir-fry for 10 seconds.
  8. Add the curry leaves and turmeric.
  9. Stir-fry for 5 seconds.
  10. Add the french beans.
  11. Stir-fry till the beans are tender.
  12. Turn off the heat.
  13. Add the red chilli powder and salt.
  14. Mix well.
  15. Add the grated coconut.
  16. Mix well.
  17. Serve warm with rotis or rice!

 

Achari Paneer (Cottage Cheese in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy)

Achari Paneer - Spicy Cottage Cheese

Achari Paneer

A few weeks ago, I posted the recipe for Dahiwale Achari Baingan and it proved to be a hit with many of my fellow bloggers, not to mention my family. This time I decided to try this recipe with Paneer and it turned out just as super delicious. As a bonus, it is also very light on the stomach, having almost no heavy spices (despite its name) as well as using paneer as is.

Serves: 4

Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Fresh Paneer – 250 gms
  2. Onion – 1 Large
  3. Dahi, Curd or Yogurt – 1 Cup
  4. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  5. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  6. Saunf or Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  8. Kalonji or Nigella Seeds – 1 tsp
  9. Rai or Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  10. Methi or Fenugreek Seeds – 5 or 6
  11. Hing or Asafoetida – A Large Pinch
  12. Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
  13. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Cut the paneer into 1/2″ cubes.
  2. In a wok or kadhai, heat 1 tbsp oil.
  3. Add mustard, fennel, nigella, cumin, and fenugreek seeds.
  4. Stir-fry for a minute or till the seeds start to pop.
  5. Add the sliced onions.
  6. Stir-fry till the onions are transparent.
  7. Add the paneer cubes and turmeric powder.
  8. Stir-fry for a 5 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat.
  10. Add red chilli powder.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Beat the yogurt to a smooth paste.
  13. Add the yogurt and salt to the fried onions and paneer.
  14. With a gentle hand, mix well.
  15. Serve with hot rotis.

I am taking this recipe to:

 

 and  Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Kakinada Kajalu or Madatha Kajalu – A Guest Post for Jayeeta Chatterjee of Cooking Delight

Madatha Kaja or Kakinada Kaja

Madata Kaja or Kakinada Kaja

When I came across Jayeeta’s blog Cooking Delight, it felt as if I had come home. One of my best friends is a Bengali and my older maternal aunt was married to a Bengali. As a result, Bengali culture and food is very close to my heart.

As I interacted with Jayeeta, I came to know the warm person that she is. From what I have learnt about her I think that while she loves all things Bengali,  she loves to explore other cultures.  I see that she travels quite a bit and her love for new cultures is also reflected in the various international recipes she has taken to posting.

For me her blog is a blessing. I have learnt a lot about (and am still learning a lot about) traditional Bengali food from her.

The day she posted Karaisutir Kochuri or Peas Puri,  we got talking and I requested her to write-up Radhaballavi with Cholar Dal as a guest post, which she did with so much enthusiasm. and in great detail. As a result, when Jayeeta requested a guest post from me, I wanted to do one just as elaborate. This is why I chose Kakinada Kaja or Madatha Kaja, a traditional sweet made in Andhra Pradesh.

Kajalu (kaja = singular, kajalu = plural) is a layered nuggets made of maida that are then deep fried  and dunked in sugar syrup. The result is a dessert which is crisp yet succulent dessert of which you cannot just have one! The layers are the result of folds and also the reason why this dessert gets its name; madatha means a fold in Telugu. (We make another version of kaja called gottam kaja). The alternate name comes from the city of Kakinada, which is famous for this sweet.

Making kajalu is quite simple but needs a bit of patience and a bit of multi-tasking. The trick of the perfect kaja lies in making a paakam (sugar syrup) of the proper consistency and in ensuring that it is layered perfectly.

I must confess this post gave me a lot of performance anxiety. That was for one and only one reason, the final product did not photograph well. As a result, I made three batches over two months (Jayeeta was kind enough to tell me to take my time. :-) ). I finally decided that the photographs of the first batch were the best.

Here is my recipe for this yummy sweet. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family did over the past two months! :-)

Makes: 15-20
Time: 60-75 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Maida – 1 Cup
  2. Sugar – 1.5 Cups
  3. Water – 2/3 Cup for Syrup + More for the Dough
  4. Rice Flour – 1 tsp
  5. Ghee – 2 tsp + 2 tsp
  6. Soda – 2 Large Pinches
  7. Oil for Deep Frying

Method to Make Dough

  1. Sieve the maida and soda together.
  2. Melt 1 tsp of ghee.
  3. Pour the hot ghee onto the maida.
  4. Mix to get a crumbly texture.
  5. Using a little water at a time, knead into a firm dough.
  6. Cover with a wet cloth and set aside for 15 minutes.

Method to Make the Syrup

  1. After the dough has rested, add 2/3 cup water to 1.5 cups sugar.
  2. Over medium heat, boil the mix for about 15 minutes to create a syrup.
  3. Once the sugar has melted completely, let the syrup simmer over low heat.Sugar Syrup

Method to Make the Kajalu

  1. Divide dough into four equal portions.
  2. Make for thin rotis with each portion.Roll the dough into a roti
  3. Melt the 2 tsp of ghee.
  4. Add the rice flour to the ghee and make a paste.
    Ghee and Rice Flour Paste
  5. Take one roti.
  6. Apply a thin layer of the rice paste flour all over the roti.
  7. Place another roti on top of it.
  8. Lightly roll the two layers together so that they stick. Do not apply too much pressure. Roll very lightly.
  9. Roll the two layers into a tight tube.Roll the roti into a tube
  10. Cut the tube into 1/2″ pieces.The kajas in the making
  11. Gently press each kaja so that the layers stick together.
  12. Heat the oil till it is medium hot.
  13. Over low to medium heat, fry the kajalu till they are golden brown. Each batch will take anywhere from 8-12 minutes. Frying like this will ensure that the inner layers are also fried perfectly and that you achieve the layered look.
  14. With a slotted spoon, life the fried kajalu out of the oil.
  15. Immediately dip the hot kajalu in the simmering paakam/sugar syrup.
  16. Letthekajalu simmer for 8-10 minutes.

    Kajalu in Syrup

    Kajalu in Syrup

  17. With a slotted spoon life the kajalu out of the syrup and spread onto a plate to cool down.
  18. Store in an air-tight container.
  19. Enjoy!
Madatha Kaja or Kakinada Kaja

Madatha Kaja or Kakinada Kaja

Tips

  • You could fan-fold each roti instead of staching two and rolling them. That is the traditional way of doing it. However, it is a skill to be mastered and so I showed you an easy way.
  • Ensure that the syrup is not too thick, otherwise the kajalu will not absorb it.
  • Ensure that the syrup is simmering and the kajalu are hot (straight from the oil) at the instant that you add the kajalu to the syrup. If either one of them is cold, the sugar will crystallize.
  • As the kajalu simmer in the syrup, the syrup tends to thicken. So ensure that you make the kajalu in one or at the most two batches.
  • If you need to dilute the syrup, boil some water and add the hot water to the syrup. If you add cold water, the sugar will crystallize.