Saturday, December 30, 2006

Spinach Potato

Wishing you a very Happy,Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!

Having purchased a big bag of potatoes and seeing sprouts on some of them had to cook them fast. I also had a bag of fresh baby spinach and did not want to let that rot. I cook potatoes with spinach or methi leaves but usually as a dry side dish the reicpe for which I learnt from friend A. This time I wanted a little bit of gravy, so it was this recipe.

Spinach Potato

Ingredients
1. 6 Medium potatoes peeled and cubed
2. 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
3. 1 Red Onion chopped
4. 1 roma tomato chopped
5. 1/2 inch piece ginger
6. 2 red chillies
7. 4 garlic chopped
8. 1 tsp of garam masala (optional)
9. 1 tsp turmeric powder
10. 2 tsp oil
11. seasonings - cumin

Method
1. In a pan heat 1/2 tsp oil, saute half the chopped onion, when it starts to brown add the red chillies and ginger and the tomatoes and cook till tomatoes are soft. Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth paste
2. To the same pan add the rest of the oil, season with cumin and add the rest of the onion. Saute till translucent.
3. Add the Potatoes, saute add salt and cover and cook for a few minutes. When they are half cooked add the chopped spinach and saute till the spinach starts to wilt.
4. Now add the ground mixture and about a tablespoon of water, turmeric and garam masala, cover and cook till the potatoes are soft and the masala coats all of the potatoes.

Serve with Chappathis.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kathrikkai Mor Kozhambu

Brinjal in Spicy Buttermilk Sauce
Mor Kozhambu is one of those dishes that for me evokes memories of good times. In my parents house it was always cooked at night and served with vadagams and rice. No Vegetable was added just a lot of chopped small onions. The crunchy onions gave the Mor Kozhambu a special taste. I rarely cook Mor Kozhambu with just the onions, always add a vegetable and also not just for dinner. I love the taste of brinjals in the Mor Kozhambu. The Mor Kozhambu tastes better and better as it ages, truth or just a figment of my imagination? A slightly sour curd, not too sour makes good mor kozhambu.

Mor Kozhambu

Ingredients
1. 4 Medium Size Purple Brinjals cut into thin slices
2. 6-8 Pearl Onions cut lengthwise (drop them in a bowl of water for a few minutes, the skin comes of easily this way)
3. Seasonings, cumin, curry leaves, mustard
4. 2 Cups of Yogurt whisked (I used curd made from Fat free milk and added no water)
5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Paste
1. 1 1/2 tbsp of rice and 1 1/2 tbsp of Toor dal (soak in water)
2. 3 green chillies (or per heat requirement)
3. 1 tbsp corriander seeds
4. 2 tsp cumin seeds
5. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
6. 1 tsp pepper corns
7. 2-3 tbsp Coconut frozen or freshly grated
8. 4 cloves garlic

Heat a little bit of oil and saute the garlic (can add raw but I like roasting it a little bit before blending)
dry roast 3-6, and combine all of the above and adding water grind to a smooth paste

Method

1. In a heavy bottomed pan add a tsp of oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and when they are starting to turn brown add the brinjal and saute for a few minutes till the skin starts to turn color.
2. Sprinkle salt, a tbsp of water and cover the lid and cook till soft.
3. Add turmeric powder and mix.
4. Add the ground paste with about 1/4 cup of water and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
5. Now turn the heat to real low and add the whisked curd in stirring continuously.
6. Now raise the heat a little bit but below medium and let the buttermilk heat through for 3-4 minutes.
7. Check for salt and remove the pan from the heat.

Tastes best with rice. Soak idlis (mini idlis) in the sauce. Serves as a side for chappathis too.

This will be my entry for the JFI Coconut hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Koshary

I spent about three months in Egypt, Egypt being the first country I visited outside of India,tagged along when DH was there on a project. Thanks to Bollywood every Egyptian had some knowledge of India and its culture. The first question somebody would pose is "Do you know Amitabh Bachaan?". Invariably my answer was yes, the way the query was posed anything other than a yes would automatically disqualify my being an Indian.

We lived in a place called Mohandaseen in Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza were about 5 miles away. I did not miss Indian food for once when I was travelling outside the country. Falafel, fool, Tahini, Pita Bread, Babaghanouj, Koshary were the foods I ate regulary and rarely if ever missed Indian food. The only Indian restaurant I remember visiting is Mena House because the Brits and Americans on the project loved going there. I can't remember how the food tasted. We also visited a Chinese restaurant regularly and the only thing I remember is beer being served in Kettles as Long Island Ice Teas because it was against the law to serve beer or alcohol in restaurants without special permission. On the way to work we would stop by a restaurant called El Amda for some falafel or fool for lunch, falafel being the chickpeas patties served like sandwiches on Pita bread and fool were kidney beans served as sandwiches. But my top of the list favorite was Koshary. The combination of rice,lentils,noodles and tomato sauce made me feel right at home. Though it has been more than 10 years since my visit still miss those days and it is my dream to go back spend atleast couple of months there. Yes ofcourse we visited the Pyramids and they were breath taking for the sheer audacity of human achievement. The places we visited and the historical significance of all the places we visited would take atleast 10 more blog articles which I would not bore you with.

I should also say Shaheen, it was her Stuffed Baby Eggplant which took me down memory lane and reminded me of this dish which I had not cooked for a really long time.

So without further adieu here is the recipe for Koshary.


Recipe Source: Egyptian Cooking, A Practical Guide by Samia Abdennour




Ingredients
1. 1 Cup rice (I used brown rice)
2. 1 Cup of lentils (I used horsegram and Chickpeas)
3. 1/2 Cup of Thai rice noodles (the original recipe calls for macaroni)
4. 1 Onion cut into thin lengthwise strips.
5. 2 Large ripe tomatoes
6. 1/2 tbsp red chilly powder
7. 1 1/2 tsp of oil
8. 1 tsp pepper powder
9. Sal to taste.

Sauce
1. Chop 1/2 a tomato into small pieces
2. Juice rest of the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.
3. In a sauce pan cook the tomatoes with salt and chilly powder.
When the raw smell goes test salt and heat and turn off the heat.

Adding chilly powder is my modification. Usually the chilly powder is sprinkled on top if required.


Method
1. Cook the rice with the required amount of water.
2. Cook the lentils and keep aside
3. Cook the noodles or macaroni following directions on the package
4. In a pan heat the oil and saute the onion till brown with salt and pepper powder (optional). The original recipe and the ones I tasted use fried onions.
4. Remove the onions, keep aside and add the lentils and fry adding salt and chilly powder.




Serving
1. Add a layer of rice, add the lentils on top.
2. Add a handful of noodles and drizzle liberally with tomato sauce.
3. Top with the fried onions.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Vellanga Rasam

Rasam, a simple dish is a staple in most South Indian homes. Lunch or any special mid day meal is not complete without rasam. I did not have a special liking for rasam when I was growing up. It was available every meal but I don't remember ever relishing it. All of that changed ofcourse when I came here, I longed for the smell and taste of rasam, especially the Vellanga Rasam. It was always prepared at my grandparent's house and the smell was heavenly. The herbs and the pepper healed even the worst colds. Seeing Mint Rasam which won second place in the Souper Challenge on Sugar and Spice I was reminded of this rasam. My nose was running and it was time to make this awesome rasam.

This is going to be my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week's theme is Holiday cooking with herbs. This recipe is not a special Holiday recipe per se, but it would come in might handy when you are down with a cold or sore throat.

Rasam

Herb Powder
1.thuthuvalai (solanum trilobatum)
2.musumusukai (mukiamaderaspatana)
3.chinnathalai (seerathlai, don't know botanical name)
4.vathanarayanan (delonixelata)
5.karuveppilai. (curry leaves)
All the above are dried and powdered

My mom brought this powder when she came here for a visit, the botanical names and the herb names were all supplied by her. But the above herbs can be substituted with fresh Curry Leaves and Corriander leaves.


Ingredients
1. 4 red pearl onions
2. 3 pods garlic
3. 2 tsp pepper (depends on how spicy)
4. 1/2 tbsp cumin
5. 1/2 tbsp corriander seeds
6. 1 tsp herb powder or 2 sprigs of curry leaves and corriander leaves
7. one small lemon sized tamarind
seasoning
8. 2 pearl onions chopped and mashed, curry leaves, mustard
9. 2 tsp of ghee

grind all the above ingredients with water into a coarse paste or grind 1-6 into a paste and extract the tamarind juice

Method
1. Heat ghee in a pan, add the mustard and curry leaves and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent.
2. Reduce the flame to slighly below medium, add the ground mixture with 2 cups of water (the consistency should be watery) and enough salt.
3. Boil till small white bubbles start to appear on top.

Serve as a soup or with steamed rice. The smell is amazing and it warms you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shrimp Biryani

Briyani alwasys jazzes up any special occasion. Easy and simple enough to prepare and the taste is well worth any extra effort. Briyani also happens to be a favorite of everyone in our house. This is my first attempt at Shrimp Briyani but the empty plates confirmed that it was well liked. The mint plant still has leaves on it although tiny. Winter has not been too bad,bad is the operative word here, is it Global Warming, El Nino? Those are worries for another day but now it is time to enjoy the Shrimp Briyani.

Shrimp Briyani

Ingredients
1. 10-15 medium sized shrimps cleaned (tails removed)
2. 2 Medium size potatoes peeled and cubed
3. 1 large red onion sliced thin
4. 1 large juicy tomato chopped fine
5. garlic 8 pods, 2inch piece ginger, 6 green chillies (according to tolerance level) minced in a food processor
6. 2 tsp lemon juice
7. 1/2 cup chopped mint
8. 1 cup chopped corriander leaves
9. Seasonings 4 cloves, 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 6-7 curry leaves
10. 2 tsps ghee
11. 2 tsp Oil (or as required)
12. 2 tsp turmeric powder
13. 1 tsp red chilly powder
14. 1/2 tbsp chicken masala or garam masala powder
15. 1 1/2 cup Basmati rice washed (Rice:Water ration 1 : 1 1/2)
16. Cashews, almond slivers (fried in a little bit of ghee)


Shrimp
1. Mix the Shrimp with a 1/4 tsp of turmeric, tsp of red chilly powder and 2 tsp of lemon juice and salt and set aside.

Method
1. In a heavy bottomed pan or pressure cooker heat oil and 2 tsps of ghee add the seasonings and when they start to brown,
2. Add the onion and saute till they turn brown
3. Add the minced garlic,ginger, green chilly mixture and let them cook
4. Add the mint and corriander leaves and saute till wilted.
5. Add the tomatoes and let the mixture cook till the tomatoes becomes pulpy and chutney consistensy.
6. Now add the masala powder and mix well.
7. Add the Shrimp and let it cook for a minute or two. Now fish out all the Shrimp and keep it aside if a few are left behind that is ok. This helps keep the shrimp from getting overcooked and chewy.
8. Add the potatoes and mix well.
9. Add the rice and mix well and fry for a few minutes gently.
10. In a separate sauce pan bring to a boil the required amount of water for the rice.
11. When the rice is well coated add the water and test if there is enough salt.
12. Keep the heat at medium and cook till the rice is 3/4 cooked and the water is almost gone.
13. Add the shrimp mix well and sprinkle a tsp of ghee on top, if using a pressure cooker reduce the heat to below medium, cover lid put the weight on and cook for 5-6 minutes. If using a regular pan close the lid and cook for 8-10 minutes checking at regular intervals.
14. Garnish with the fried nuts and serve with Onion Raitha.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Terracotta figures and Nobel Peace Prize



Terracotta figures create by road sides artisans in India have always fascinated me. They are posh enough to fit in showcases, most houses in India have these cupboards with glass doors where each family displayed their favourite photographs and artifacts collected over time. Earthy enough to make me feel at home when I see them here. I saw them in my aunt's cupboard and I purchased a few them to bring with me and I am glad I did. My uncle gave me the Vinayagar figure.
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On a recent trip to Grand Canyon and while visiting Arizona we came upon an Navajo Indian reservation and the terracotta figures were the first to attract me.

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Daughter made a terracotta turkey when she was in preschool.


Nobel Peace Prize
This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to Mohammed Yunus of the Grameen Bank which gives microcredit to poor women in Bangladesh. An inspiring story. My friend came over to show me the Nobel Prize clip and the Indian dance (Bangla dance?) that was performed during the Nobel Peace prize awards ceremony. The ceremony itself was great. Wonder why the American media never shows the Nobel Awards Ceremony on prime time, while it is mostly Americans who win prizes in the Sciences, Economics most of the time. All other Nobel Prize Cermonies. She is Swedish otherwise I would have never chanced upon this. This site is in Swedish but the news clips they have here are very high quality.

Originally Published On:
12/13/06 9:25 AM Eastern Standard Time

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Rutabaga Kootu


Rutabaga or 'Swede' as it is called in England caught my attention when I first read about it in the Washington Post. Read the Rutabaga Wiki for more info. When cooked it tastes sweet and is similar to a butternut squash in texture. Rutabaga is a winter veggie or atleast I see them only during winter time in grocery stores. Last time my mother was here she made a Kootu with Kadalai paruppu (channa dal) but I did not have any Kadalai Paruppu so this is a slightly different recipe.


Ingredients
1. Rutabaga peeled and diced
2. 1/2 onion chopped
3. 1/2 tomato chopped
4. 3 garlic pods chopped
5. 2 tbsp tamarind (optional)
6. 1/4 cup toor dal + 1/4 moong dal pressure cooked
7. seasoning mustard, curry leaves

Paste
1. 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
2. 4 green chillies
3. tsp of cumin
4. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
blend to a paste (slightly coarse is good)

Method
1. In a pan or pressure cooker , heat oil and add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till brown
2. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add the rutabaga and cook for a few minutes, also add the tomato pieces, let it cook for a few more mibutes
4. Add the mashed dal, salt and the coconut paste and enough water(consistensy desired), mix
5. Put the lid on the cooker and cook for about 4-5 minutes

The reason I pressure cook for a second time is to cook the rutabaga. If you were do it on a stove top leave it covered for 10 -15 minutes.

Goes with rice or chappathis.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Fish Kulambu (Kongu Naatu Style)

Occasionally I get into the "What If" thinking. I know it serves no purpose but I do it anyway. My recent What If scenario has been "What If Al Gore had been elected president in 2000?".

This Fish Kulambu recipes is from mom. It is a traditional recipe that never fails. There is not much you can do wrong here. I had Salmon on hand so used Salmon but any fish that does not fall apart easily should be good.



Ingredients
1. 2 Salmon Fillets cut into 3 x 3 inch pieces
2. Tamarind juice about 1 cup
3. One big Red Onion chopped fine
4. 2 Tomatoes chopped (optional)
5. 6-8 garlic gloves sliced
6. Seasoning mustard, cumin, urad dal and methi seeds about a pinch of each and curry leaves
7. 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder

Paste 1
1. 2 Tbsp Corriander seeds
2. 2 tsp Vendhayam (methi seeds)
3. 2 tsp peepercorns
4. 3-4 Red Chillies
Saute the above in a tsp of oil till the corriander seeds start to brown remove from heat and make into a paste.

Paste 2 (optional)
1. 2 tbsp of grated coconut made into a paste

Powder>
1. 2 tsp of methi seeds dry roasted and powdered. (don't blacken them they taste bitter)


Method
1. Wash the fish, mix it with turmeric powder and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add the seasonings, mustard last, when the mustard starts to splutter add the onion and saute till translucent.
3. Add the garlic pieces cook for a few minutes, add the tomatoes and cook till soft.
4. Add a tsp of turmeric powder, mix add Paste 1 and tamarind juice and enough water and let the mixture boil.
5. Add salt and when it is fully cooked and almost near the consistency you desire
add Paste 2 and cook for a minute then add the fish pieces and cook for a few more minutes. The fish pieces cook really quick so add them near the very end.
6. Add the methi powder and remove from fire.

Serve hot with rice.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Red Kidney Beans Curry

I do love cooking but some days don't feel like spending too much time thinking or prepping but really want something spicy and not really looking foward to the lovely sambhar, I have the perfect quick recipe for exactly that kind of day. I used Red Kidney Beans but any beans will work. If you forget to soak the beans the previous night no sweat. Boil water add it to the beans cover and let sit for an hour or so. The beans are good as the overnight soaked ones.



Ingredients
1. 1 Cup Soaked Red Beans Cooked (for 1 whistle in the Pressure cooker, or till soft)
2. 1 Big Red Onion
3. 1 Juicy tomato
4. 4 garlic cloves
5. 1 inch piece ginger
6. 4 green chillies
7. 1/2 tbsp masala powder (1 tsp chilly powder optional)
8. 1 tsp turmeric powder
9. 2 tsp tamarind juice, 2 tsp brown sugar (jaggery, white sugar) [optional]
10. seasoning, cumin, fennel seeds, 2 cloves
11. 2-3 tbsp corriander leave chopped


Method
1. Mince the onion in a food processor, followed by garlic,ginger and green chillies.
2. Mince and juice the tomato
3. In a pan heat oil, add the seasonings when they start to turn color, add the onions and cook till brown.
4. Add the ginger,garlic,green chillies mixture and cook till soft.
5. Add the turmeric and masala powders and mix well.
6. Add the tomato juice, enough water and when it starts to boil add the cooked beans and salt and mix.
7. Add the tamarind and sugar if doing so
8. Cover and cook till desired consistensy.
9. Add the chopped corrinader leaves, mix well and remove from heat.

There quick and easy, serve with rice also tastes great with chappathis.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Custard with Fruits

Wherever you turn to for news TV, Internet, Newspapers, blogs there is alwasy some news item talking about adding more fruits to the diet. But eating fruits is not always easy unless you jazz it up. Custards are a wonder accompaniment for a fruit medley. It is also very easy to prepare. I bought Brown and Polson Custard Powder from the Indian store. The instant pudding mix you get in most grocery stores also works great.



Ingredients
1. 2 Cups of Fat Free Milk
2. 2 tbsp Custard powder (follow directions from the box) / instant pudding mix
3. 2 tbsp of sugar (or to taste)
4. Fruits and Nuts(Pomegranate, pears, apples, grapes, bannanas, orange slices,nuts)

Method
1. mix the custard in 1/4 cup of cold milk, bring the rest of the milk to boil.
2. Take the milk away from the heat add the custard mix and boil for a few more minutes
3. Cool, refrigerate, mix the fruits and serve

Tip: Seeding Pomegranate "834 Kitchen Quick Tips" (America's Test Kitchen)
Found this in today's Washington Post Food Section. I know the struggle with seeding a Pomegranate - splattering seeds and juice all over the kitchen. So the tip seemed interesting.

Cut the Pomegranate in half and place in a large bowl of cool water. Break the pieces apart underwater and separate the seeds. The seeds sink to the bottom and the pith and membrane float to the top. Sounds cool, will have to try it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Samba Ravai Upma

Thanksgiving day rained out but the days(holidays) following Thanksgiving were absolutely gorgeous. Perfect Fall days for picnic and games in the National Mall. We love visiting the mall, there are people/tourists/locals visiting, jogging, playing soccer, volley ball,or just leisurely strolling. The Indian in me craves places were there are people and activity around. Living in the suburbs and hardly seeing anyone whenever we get a chance we escape to the city to take in the crowds, enjoy the walk and a game of soccer. Usually pack a picnic lunch to eat. Coming home in the evening too tired to cook up something Samba Ravai upma it will be. I like the Samba ravai better than the White semolina ravai because this is lighter and tastier. Samba Ravai is whole wheat kernels ground coarsely. I usually bring this from India but now you can get them at the Indian grocery stores.

National Mall

Capitol Hill in the distance, Washington Monument at the World War II memorial



Perfect Picnic and soccer spot



World War II memorial


Samba Ravai Upma



Ingredients
1. 1 cup Samba Ravai (2 cups of water)
2. 1/2 onion chopped
3. 2 small green chillies, chopped, 2 red chillies split in half seeds removed
4. 1/2 inch piece ginger grated
5. seasonings: cumin, split urad dal, curry leaves,mustard
6. 2 tsp oil
7. 2 tsp lemon juice
8. salt

Method
1. Heat oil in a pan (kadai) add the seasonings, mustard last and when the mustard starts to pop add the chillies and then onions and saute till soft.
2. Add the 2 cups of water and salt.
3. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and add the samba ravai, keep stirring to avoid lumps.
4. Cover the lid and cook for 5-8 minutes till the ravai is cooked, it should look bloated.
5. Squeeze the lemon juice and mix and turn of the heat, keep the lid on till ready to serve.

Serve with brown sugar, lemon pickle and curd (yogurt).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Apple Almond Pancakes

Is economics more important than everything else, it certainly seems so. Look what happened to freedom of expression. Read this op-ed in the New York Times "Gaining Power, Losing Values" I am certainly not proud of what my home country is doing. The article was forwarded by a friend R.

"Happy Thanksgiving" everybody.

If you have friends visiting and would like to please them with something different this is a very easy and delicious recipe. H and D are very fond of pancakes, they found a recipe for Walnut and Apple pancakes and made them one weekend and it was a big hit, thought I had saved the recipe but lost it. This is our attempt to recreate the recipe.


DSCN1637

Ingerdients (makes 14 pancakes)
1. 2 Cups of All purpose flour (substitute with 1 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all purpose flour)
2. 2 apples peeled and shredded in a food processor or grated
3. 12 almonds peeled and shredded
4. a pinch of baking soda
5. 1 tbsp brown sugar
6. 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2% milk, if using water use a little less)
7. 2 Eggs beaten
8. 1 tbsp of butter (it is thanksgiving after all)

DSCN1636

Method
1. Mix all of the ingredients without any lumps. Mix the apple, almonds and eggs first, follow by adding flour a little by little and milk.
2. Heat a griddle or pan smear with butter and add a laddle of batter, cook on one side, flip on other side and cook till golden brown.

Serve warm with syrup, jelly or whipped cream. The pancake did not need any additional syrup it was tasty just by itself. The family and my cousin absolutely loved it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Brinjal, Spinach and Brussel Sprouts Curry

I felt like eating some brinjal curry but also wanted to add spinach and had a few brussel sprouts and so was born the brinjal,spinach and brussel sprouts curry. The Curry turned out pretty good and tasty and went well with chappathis. This is also another way of adding more greens to the diet which I am trying hard to do.

DSCN1628

Ingredients
1. 6-8 small Indian brinjals, each slit into 4 but with the stem intact.
2. 1 1/2 cups of spinach(or any greens) washed and chopped
3. 4-5 brussel sprouts chopped (substitue with a cup of cabbage)
4. 1/2 red onion chopped.
5. seasonings, cumin, mustard, asfoetida, curry leaves
6. 1 tsp oil
7. 1 tsp turmeric powder
8. 2 tbsp of tamarind juice

For the paste
1. 1/2 red onion
2. 2 tbsp corriander seeds
3. 2 tsp cumin
4. 1 tsp pepper
5. 3 red chillies (seeded and broken in half)

Dry the roast ingredients 2-5 and saute the onions till brown with a little bit of oil and blend to a paste.

Method
1. In a Kadai or pan heat oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent
2. Add the cut brinjals and saute till the outside starts to turn slightly brown, add the brussel sprouts, saute a little bit, add the spinach and turmeric and mix well.
3. Add the ground paste and tamarind juice and 1/2 cup of water, salt, mix well. (the amount of water added depends on how thick or watery you want the curry)
4. Cover the lid and cook till the brinjals are soft.
5. Open the lid and cook for a few more minutes.

DSCN1630
Serve with chappathis, tasted great.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thanks for the Simple Things in Life


Meeta, thank you for this wonderful thanksgiving opportunity. All parties have guests who turn up late. I am one of those. But I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks.


Driving to work, I get frustrated with the bumper to bumper traffic and fume at the car that cuts in front of me when I have been waiting forever to merge. Come home turn on the TV or glance at the newspaper and see the sufferings of the people in Sudan, Iraq, Burma and I am absolutely Thankful that the traffic and mundande things are what I have to worry about.

Thankful to two great countries that I can call home.

Thankful for my parents, my mom who drops everything and comes here when I ask her to, my dad who deals with things back home to keep the ship running. Thankful for my inlaws who in the midst of their busy life come here to help me out.

Thankful for my grand parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, neices, nephews whom I take for granted and now that I am far away from home miss dearly.

Thanks for my brother who has been there for me always, and my cousins who live in the same continent as I do.

Thankful for my neighbors who have helped more than I can ever thank for, Babysitting, playing watchman, gardener, cook, they have done it all.

Thankful for my colleagues at work who have gone out of their way to help me a regular telecommuter accomplish my work.

Thankful for my friends and ofcourse I can never thank them enough, who make me a better person.

Thanks for my babysitter who always comes on time so I can get to work.

Thanks to blogspot for this free blogging space in the Cyber World.

Thanks to my blog friends, my first friends Vineela, Priya S&S, InjiManga, RP, Pushpa, Krishna Arjuna who by their regular comments gave me the enthusiasm. Vineela and Inji would love to know you are doing fine and we miss you. Please let us know. Then slowly I made more friends and some more, Shaheen, Asha, Indira, Ashwini,Sumitha, Linda, Revathi, Sandeepa,Vaishali,Priya, Priya,Kalyn,Archana,Menu Today, Krithika, LakshmiAmmal, Prema, Maithreyee whose comments and posts brighten my day. Thank you. Thanks to the others and to steal Asha's words who don't leave their keyprints.

Finally and my no means the last I am most grateful and thankful for my family my H who puts up with my idiosyncracies, my kids who apperciate almost anything I do. A big Thank you.

I am most Thankful for the simple everyday things that make my life rich and here is a simple dish which makes my family happy every single time.

Dosai and Tomato Chutney
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

From Panic To Party ran the headline on the Sunday Source of the Washington Post and sounded pretty irresistible. Irresistible it was not to cook when I read few of the recipes. Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets particulary interested me because I could easily play with the ingredients to make it spicy. The recipe there was adapted from the way we Cook by Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven. This is also a dish for kids to help out and then eat it all up without any fuss.


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Ingredients
1. 1 Puff Pastry Sheet thawed
2. 2 Onion sliced thin
3. 1 tomato deseeded and cut into strips
4. 1 cup crumbled goat cheese (I used combination of goat and Pepper Jack cheese)
5. 3 pickled Peppers deseeded and cut into strips (red for color)
6. 2 tbsp corriander leaves chopped
7. 2 tsp chilly powder or sambhar powder
8. salt
9. 2 tsp (oil + ghee)


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Method
1. In a pan heat the oil and saute the onions till brown. Add the tomatoes,salt and chilly powder and cook till tomatoes are soft. Keep aside.
2. Cut the pastry sheet to 9 pieces, tear along the folds and cut into 3 pieces each.
3. Place a spoon full of onion mixture. Leave the margins free.
4. Sprinkle cheese to cover the onions.
5. Top with the cilantro and the peppers.
6. Preheat oven to 400F, place the tartlets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes till the edges are browned.

Serve hot.

Sandeepa asked why don't I post this for the WBB #7, I checked the event and the dish was apt one. So here goes,

This will be my submission to Saffron Trail Nandita's WBB #7 Baking for Breakfast.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sinfully Delicious

Look at these deep fried Chicken Wings and legs from the Lancaster Dutch Market. Enter the store and the smell are delicious and there are long lines for their fried chicken and Pretzels which they cook on the premises. I go there mostly to buy vegetables, milk, fruits which are fresher than any grocery store. They also have delectable baked goodies. The whole store smells amazing. The Apple cider tastes out of this world. Don't go there specifically to eat the chicken but invariably buy some.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Hearty Breakfast (Oatmeal with Fruits and Nuts)

The elections are finally over. No more "I am ... ..... I approve this message". Election night is the only time you hear politicians say "The people have spoken". "It is the will of the people". Then we the poeple are forgotten and it is business as usual . So some of them may be happy with a "blue dawn" while the others are seeing red. Anyway I am happy with the fact that the US Congress is going to possibly have its first Women Speaker ever. Now on to my breakfast.

Breakfast is the supposed to be the most important meal of the day. But lot of us just grab a bite while heading out the door. I read somewhere that you have to eat Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a pauper. But it is usually the reverse for many of us. Breakfast does not have to be an elaborate affair, quick and nutritious and easy is this recipe. I usually buy Baby Oats from Lancaster Dutch Market. This is a wonderful market where you have several different stores owned and operated by different Amish families. Fresh baked goodies, fried chicken and other grocery and Pantry items can be purchased here as well.
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Oatmeal with Fruits and Nuts (Serving for one)
1. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of baby oatmeal (any oatmeal would do)
2. 1 Cup of milk, 1/4 cup water
3. 1 tbsp brown sugar
4. 1 tbsp of chopped nuts (I used pecans)
5. 1 tbsp of raisins
6. Fresh fruit 1/2 cup

Method1. In a saucepan heat the milk and water, when it is warm add the oatmeal, mix reduce the heat to medium.
2. Add the nuts and raisins and the sugar
3. When the oats are swollen and plump remove from heat. I like the oatmeal not too dry so the amount of milk you add depends on the texture you prefer.
4. Top with fresh cut fruits. Alternatively the fruits can be added when the raisins are added.


I prefer cooking oatmeal on a stovetop as opposed to a microwave because it tastes so much better.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Paruppu Dosai (Adai)

No fish in another 50 years? A study again out of Great Britain says exactly that. What is the poor consumer to do? How can we eat fish responsibly? Here is an article to read. Fish for thought.

What do you do if you have different kinds of dals but not quiet enough to make a dish out of those, make Paruppu dosai ofcourse. No need to ferment the dough, blend the dals should be a slighty coarse texture and can be used immediately. You could add grated veggies, greens anything, can be as creative as you want. Last time I made this daughter complained about gas. I added ginger and also washed the soaked dals a couple of times before blending.
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Dough
1. 1 1/2 cups of rice
2. 1 cup Split peas
3. 1/2 cup toor dal
4. 1/4 cup masoor dal
5. 1/4 cup whole green moong dal
6. 1/4 cup horse gram
7. 1/2 cup urad dal

soak the above rice and the dals separately overnight. Get rid of the water the dals were soaked in and also wash the dals atleast a couple of times. Add

8. 4 red chillies, broken and seeds removed
9. 2 inch piece of ginger grated
10. asfoetida 1/4 tsp
11. Curry leaves
12. 3 tbsp corriander leaves
13. Salt
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Combine all the ingredients and grind to a coarse dough. The batter should not be too watery. Add grated veggies or cut greens and mix in the batter. I did not have any veggies or greens handy so did not add any.

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Now on a hot dosai pan, make the dosais, they should be browned on both sides and cooked through. Serve hot with Coconut chutney or tomato kuzhambu.


Check out Adai recipes from
Manpasand - Spinach Adai
Kitchenmate - Adai

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fish(Salmon) Gravy

Global Warming has been one topic that interests me a great deal. After increasingly hearing gloom and doom about the effects of Global Warming, today research news out of Great Britain saying there is a possibility that worst could be avoided if action is taken NOW. Stern's report: 'If we act now, we can avoid the very worst'. Hopefully world governments would put their collective heads together and work something out. The worst effects of Global Warming would be felt most by countries in Africa, India and affecting the poor the most. Lot of information here on bbc.co.uk.

Now on to the recipe for the Fish Gravy. I also had a few mango pieces and remembering one Inji's Fish and Mango Curry recipe added that to the curry too. Inji glad to see your blog is back up and running but you are so quiet. Whats up? Give us an update please.


Fish Gravy
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Ingredients
1. 6-8 fish pieces (I used Salmon filet)
2. 1 big red onion chopped in a food processor
3. 1 big tomato chopped
4. 4 garlic chopped
5. Tamarind pulp about 1/2 cup
6. 1 tbsp Vathal Kuzhambu powder
7. 1 tbsp chilly powder (want spicy add more)
8. 1/4 sour mango pieces
9. salt to taste
10. season mustard, cumin, curry leaves
11. 2 tsp oil

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Method
1. In a pan heat the oil add the seasonings, mustard last and when the mustard starts to pop add the onion and saute till soft.
2. Add the garlic, tomato and mango pieces and saute till the tomato turns mushy.
3. Add the spice powders, mix well
4. Add the fish pieces,salt and tamarind pulp and cook till the fish pieces are cooked.
5. This recipe does not require too much water.

The sour taste of the mango pieces with the spicy gravy was delicious. Serve with white rice



Carrot Kheer
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This is one of those health delicious desserts you don't need a special occasion to prepare.

Ingredients
1. 6-8 Juicy carrots peeled and chopped
2. 2 1/2 cups Fat Free Milk
3. 6 tbsp sugar or to taste
4. 5 tbsp Nuts and raisins
6. 1 tsp ghee to fry the nuts and raisins
7. 1 cardmom powdered (optional)

Method
1. Pressure cook the carrot pieces with the 1 1/2 cups of milk and blend the cooked carrots.
2. In a pot pour the carrot paste, sugar,cardamom powder and the rest of the milk and boil till the carrot smell is completely gone.
3. Add the frieds nuts and raisins.

Serve warm or chilled.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Spicy Corn Soup and Tortilla Chips

What do you do on a cold rainy night, long for some warm soup ofcourse with some crunch on the side. I searched for recipes of Sweet Corn Soup and found this one. I got the general idea from here and modified it a little bit. If you have one too many tortillas lying around you have the ingredients for some crunchy tortilla chips. Want to make the soup a meal by itself, that is easy too, you could follow Revathi's Chicken Barley Soup idea from here and add some barley. The nutty texture of barley will make it a hearty soup for sure.

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Spicy Corn Soup
Ingredients
1. 1 cup of Corn kernels cooked (I cooked it in a pressure cooker)
2. 1 cup of water
3. 1/4 red onion chopped fine.
4. 1 pod garlic smashed and minced
5. 1/2 tbsp of tomato paste
6. 1 tbsp of spicy tomato ketchup (substitue with chilly or chilly garlic sauce)
7. 1 tsp pepper powder
8. salt to taste
9. 1/4 tsp ghee
10. cilantro for garnish
11. 1/2 cup cooked Barley (optional)

Method
1. Reserve 1/4 of the corn and make the rest into a paste
2. In a pot, heat oil/ghee and saute the onions and garlic
3. Add the ground corn and the tomato paste and tomato ketchup,water and salt.
4. Boil till it starts to get thick or the consistency you desire is reached.
5. Mix the reserved corn kernels (and the barley if adding) boil for a few more minutes
6. Sprinkle the pepper powder.
7. garnish with cilantro

Torilla Chips
1. Tear the Tortilla into 8 pieces
2. Put in a toaster oven till it gets crunchy.
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper (optional)

Here it is a simple and quick soup for a cold day.

On a slightly different note, we watched "Closer" an oook kind of movie in my opinion. I now want to see "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna" which I believe is a take off of the afore mentioned English movie want to see how Bollywood tackled this Hollywood subject.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Going Political

Save Darfur
We never learn from history. When Rwanda happened the powers be it, vowed that they would never let another genocide happen again, but it is already happening. Please visit Save Darfur to sign a petition. Every little bit we do can help.

Iraq War
What I see and hear about Iraq frankly scares me. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering the people of Iraq must be going through. I just hope the waring factions understand that it is their country and people that are bleeding. Also understanding for the families of those men and women who are fighting this senseless war.

US General Elections
Voting in some countries like Australia,Switzerland is compulsory. It should be compulsory in all democracies. Voter apathy in the US is appalling. If more people were to vote, special interests would not be able to make much of a difference. Please take the time to vote.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Deepavali

Diwali

"Happy Deepavali" my friends. This year has been the most festive of all the years we have celebrated Deepavali outside the country. My blog friends have made it possible. The colorful and delicious display of sweets feels like visiting friends and family to exchange sweets. Daughter has been talking about Deepavali the past week which is surprising but that is because her class is celebrating Deepavali, she is going to school in a traditional Indian dress and the class has been asked to come in Indian outfits, they are going to make rangoli, light lamps and eat sweets. I am hoping the day will not be far off when Deepavali is declared a Holiday.

Also taking a moment to thank everyone who has walked the extra mile to help others and bring happiness to those who need it the most.


PEACE AND HARMONY


Have a great Holiday!

Cashew Burfi
Thanks to Saffron Hut's Kaju Kathli recipe my family is enjoying this wonderful sweet for Deepavali.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kathirikkai Kara Kulambu (Spicy Brinjal Curry)

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I picked a few brinjal from my plants yesterday, with the weather turning cold this early this might be the last batch that I am going to get this year. I feel sad but Oh well. I wanted to cook my favourite Kathrikkai Kulambu of which I never get tired of. This is my aunt's recipe. I have used both the long variety and the small round ones. The small round ones are the best for this dish.

Ingredients
1. 10 small sized round brinjals (cut the brinjals into 4 pieces not all the way through leave the stem portion intact)
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2. 1/2 onion chopped into small pieces
3. 5 garlic pods (optional)
4. 1/2 cup tamarind pulp
5. seasonings, curry leaves, mustard, ural dal, methi seeds, asfoetida a pinch
6. 1 tbsp coconut paste or powdered pottukadalai (dahlia) (optional)
7. 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
8. salt to taste
9. 2 tsp oil
10. 1 tsp sugar

Ground Mixture
1. 3/4 red onion or about 15 small onions
2. 2 tbsp corriander seeds
3. 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
4. 4 red chillies
5. 1/2 tsp pepper

dry roast 2-5 set aside and saute the onions in a little bit of oil and make a smooth paste.

Method
1. In a pan heat the oil add the seasonings, adding the mustard last and when the mustard starts to splutter
2. Add the onions and saute a little bit
3. Add the cut brinjals and fry them till the skin starts to turn brown. An another name for this dish is Ennai Kathrikkai so the amount of oil added depends on taste.
4. Add the turmeric powder and then add the garlic and saute for a minute.
5. Add the ground mixture and tamarind juice, close the lid and cook in medium heat till the brinjals are fully cooked.
6. Add the salt, sugar and the powdered dahlia mixed in about 1/2 tbsp of water or the coconut paste, mix well and turn the heat off in 2-3 minutes.

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Serve with rice or as a spicy side for dal rice.

Green Beans and Lima Beans poriyal
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Egg Biryani and a Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake
Dear Daughter wanted to bake a cake with her friends for her birthday celebration. She usually likes to have a party at Chuck E Cheese (they never seem to outgrow this place, hmmm), Bowling Alley or some such place. Last year after her party we arrived at a bright idea, she gets to have a birthday party at one of those afore mentioned places or the equivalent money goes to her bank account, hoping in the process it will teach her value for money and how not to spend it frivilouly. She chose the latter and hence the idea to bake cake and enjoy with her friends.

She and her friends were busy playing and when the time came they wanted play rather than bake the cake. So I went ahead and baked it. I have to confess this is the only cake I know how to bake. Really quick and simple. In the end I am pretty sure the kids enjoyed this toned down free celebration rather than the planned one.

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Ingredients
1. 2 Cups of All purpose flour
2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
3. 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
4. 4 Eggs
5. 1/4 cup milk
6. 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
7. a pinch each of baking powder and salt.
8. Chopped nuts and raisins, we added pecans chopped and craisins(dried cranberries sweetened with apple jucies and is slightly tart)


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Method
1. Reserve a little bit of the butter for lining the baking pans and beat the butter and add all the sugar till they are mixed well.
2. Beat the 4 eggs till frothy separately.
3. Now start adding the flour little by little to the buter mixture and when it starts getting dry start adding the the beaten egg mixture and when that is done add the milk little by little, add the vanilla extract and salt also. Mix using a egg beater and stop when all they are all incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. We made one plain and the just before pouring the batter into the next pan mixed the chopped nuts and raisins using a spatula.
5. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for aobut 40 minutes or an inserted knife comes out clean.



Briyani
Briyanis have always been a favorite of mine. Whenever I tasted Briyanis at a party or in a restaurant, I remember thinking "man they taste so good and must be hard to prepare", this was a little before I started cooking. But now they are my favorite recipe and also in my opinion easiest to cook provided you are using a pressure cooker like I do most of the time. I arrived on the precise timing to cook after several trial and error and having about an inch charred and stuck to the bottom of the cooker. So if I want something quick and tasty I fall back on Briyanis to do the trick. I cook better Non. Veg Briyanis than Veg. ones.

I saw Shankari's Egg A Meal could not resist and cooked it the next day. Briyanis get tastier as they get older so a good dish to pack for lunch the next day. You will find everybody wandering towards the kitchen to check out where the amazing smell was coming from.


Egg Briyani
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Ingredients
1. 5-6 boiled eggs, slit in half.
2. 2 Cups Basmati rice
3. 1 Big Red onion thinly sliced lengthwise
4. 6 pods garlic, 2 inch piece ginger 2 green chillies chopped in a food processor (you can also ginger garlic paste but chopped cooks faster)
5. 1/2 tomato chopped fine
6. 1/4 cup cilanro leaves chopped
7. 1 cup mint leaves chopped
8. Seasonings, curry leaves, cumin 1/4 tsp , fennel seeds 1/4 tsp, 2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick
9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
10. 2 green chillies (adjust this because it also added minced)
11. 1 tsp red chilly powder, 1 tsp chicken masala or garam masala powder
12. 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp ghee
13. Salt
14. roasted cashews for garnish (optional)

Method

1. In a pressure cooker heat the oil and ghee and add all the seasonings, as they turn brown add the onions and saute till they are translucent and brown.
2. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chillies and saute till the garlic is soft.
3. Add the chopped mint and cilantro leaves. When they start to wilt add the turmeric, chilly and chicken masala powder and mix well.
4. Add the tomato pieces and cook till they are soft and mushy.
5. Add salt.
6. Add the washed Basmati rice and mix it well with the rice.
7. Add 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil and when the rice is 1/2 cooked, add the eggs and cover them with the rice. Don't mix too much the eggs will fall apart.
8.Close the lid put the weight, turn down the heat to just below medium and switch off the heat in 6 minutes and remove the cooker from the stove and keep it aside, or the heat will make the rice in the bottom stick.
9. When the cooker cools transfer to a bowl and garnish with onion rings and cashews.

Serve with the classic onion pachadi or any pachadi you prefer. RP has a great collection of pachadi recipes listed here.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Onion Chutney and Idli

It is fall now. Never know what to expect weather wise, earlier in the week it was 80F and felt like summer, by mid week it was 50F and felt like winter Phew.... This morning woke up to slow drizzling cold rain and overcast and gloomy skies. What to do you on such a day look to food ofcourse to brighten up the day.

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Spicy onion chutney and hot idlis it was for breakfast. Usually back home onion chutney is made with small red onions but here though we get the small red onions frozen, it is never as tasty as using fresh onions. The big red onions work just as well.

Onion Chutney
Ingredients
1. Big Red Onion cut into chunks
2. 2 tbsp ural dal(or 1 tbsp channa dal)
3. 1/2 tsp cumin
4. 1/4 tsp pepper (increase or decrease as per taste)
5. 2 Red Chillies
6. 1/2" piece tamarind
7/ 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
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Method
1. In a pan dry roast urad,cumin,pepper, red chillies and tamarind till the dal turns slightly brown, transfer.
2. Add oil to the pan and saute the onions with the turmeric till they turn brown, add salt, towards the end add 4tbsp of water and boil for a few minutes(the water is to make blending easier)
3. Transfer to a blender and blend to a paste.

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Serve with Idlis but will taste good with dosai or even Chappathis. Keep a bowl of yogurt because this is really spicy.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Paal Alva (Milk Pudding)

Saraswathi Pooja
Today is Saraswathi Pooja the day we offer our prayers to Goddess Saraswathi the Goddess of Learning and the Arts. Children's books and artistical instruments are put in front of the goddess during pooja. Saraswathi Pooja is preceded by Ayudha Pooja the day we offer prayers at our place of business.

On the occasion of Saraswathi Pooja I made Paal alva, simple but a rich dish. Gets done in a jiffy. You might wonder how this is different from Kesari, I had the same doubt too, but once you taste it you would understand how the two are totally different.

Paal Alva
Good times are always invariably linked to good food. As soon as I mentioned Paal Alva my daughter connected her visit to my grandmothers house and the occasion for which she had the dish came to her mind almost instantly.

I have made slight alterations in the measurements from my grandmothers recipe especially the ghee. I reduced the ghee from 2 cups to 1/2 and increased the milk from 3 cups to 4, but tasted just as delicious

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Ingredients
1. 1 Cup Ravai (Cream of Wheat)
2. 4 Cups Milk (I used 2%)
3. 1/2 cup ghee
4. 2 1/2 cups sugar (or as per taste)
5. 1 pod of cardamom powdered
6. 2 tbsp Cahsews broken into pieces ( or any nuts you prefer)
7. 2 tbsp of raisins

Method
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, fry the Cream of wheat till slightly brown, set aside.
2. In the same add a tsp of ghee and fry the nuts and raisins, set aside.
3.Pour the milk into the pan and bring to a boil.
4. Now add the cream of wheat, keep stirring adding the cream of wheat slowly.
5. When the cream of wheat is cooked add the sugar and mix well.
6. Add the ghee and the nuts and raisins and the powdered cardamom.
7. Keep stirring till the liquid is evaported but the texture should be like that of rice pudding.