Thursday, October 30, 2008

Peas Pulao (Pulav)

The Christian Science Monitor website is one of my favorite websites for getting news. Though I have never been a subscriber of their newspaper, kind of sad to read that they are stopping their daily newspaper and shifting to a web based format only, from 2009. Nov 25 will be the 100th anniversary of the newspaper. On the other hand I am glad they plan to enhance the web site.

Winter seems to be here already though it is still Fall :( Old Farmer's almanac predicts a colder and snowier winter!

Pulaos in my mind have always been party dishes more than everyday kind of food. I tend to cook Briyanis lot more than Pulaos for some reason, does not make sense but thats how it has been. So what better way to start Pulao making than Peas Pulao. The Pulao requires a gravy side dish whereas Biryani is perfect with just a raita. We just had this Pulao with a bit of yogurt on the side and it was perfect that way.

Before I move on to the Pulao, I have had queries on how to use horsegram besides the chutney and rasam,if you are one of them head on over to Kay's One bite at a time for a taste of a very tasty Kollu Kulambu. I tried it and I am hooked.


Serves : 2-3
1. 1 Cup Basmati Rice, washed and soaked for about 1/2 hour [Rice:Water :: 1 : 1.5]
2. 3/4 Cup Fresh or Frozen Green Peas
3. 1/2 Onion Cut into thin strips
4. 4 - garlic cloves
5. 1 inch piecs of ginger
6. 6 green chilies (or according to taste)
[ Mince the garlic, ginger and green chilies in a food processor]
7. 2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
8. seasonings, cloves, small cinnamon stick, fennel seeds a few and cumin seeds
9. 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp oil

1. In a Pressure cooker heat oil abd add the seasonings when they start to brown add the onions and saute till translucent.
2. Add the ginger,garlic,green chili mince and saute till the whole mass turns slightly brown
3. Now add salt and the green peas and saute for a bit
4. Add the rice and mix it well.
5. Now add water check for taste. Adjust salt, heat. I added red chili powder at this stage because it was too sweet.
6. Let the water come to a boil and the rice 3/4th cooked and most of the water is gone.
7. Close the pressure cooker and cook on low medium for 7-8 minutes. Turn off heat and take the cooker off the stove and source of heat.
8. Open the lid when the cooker cools downs and fluff up the rice.

Serve with Vegetable Kurma in the recipe substitute beans, carrots, cauliflower for the peas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Black Eye Peas with brinjal in tomato coconut sauce

I started to wonder what it was about this particular woman VP candidate that gets my goat. It surely is not just the betchas and gotchas that she sprinkles liberally in her speeches. It not her extreme right wing credentials either. What gets to me most is her dummification(as in dumb down) of the American electorate. Besides her utter lack of grasp of the challenges facing the country today she seems to suggest that the American people like her because of that. Though the dummification started 8years ago with the current occupant of the White House, she is seems to be a master at focusing on just that. She seems to propagate the myth that she is popular because she sounds dumb and portraying Americans to be dumb. Far worse is the tendency to cater to the baser instinct of human nature magnifying differences and ideologies all in the name of getting votes. Why do some of the countries run by right wing idealogues have problems? precisely because of what she is whipping up.

Growing up in India when you are old enough to understand politics and politicians you develop a healthy dose of cynicism for the political process and for politicians even worse contempt. So I was kind of surprised at how much respect Americans give their President and the office he holds. The lady is anathema to all of that.

The one that really gets to me is the utter disrespect for education and especially science education. Like the success and prosperity American enjoys today came without hard work and education and it is ok to be contemptful of anyone who who had the gal to get a good education. She might have required 6 different universites to get her undergrad from and she might not even care if her kids gets educated or not but for the majority of Americans it is by far the surest ticket to the American dream. Whats more is the hypocrisy of it all, do anything and say anything, everything else be damned.

Now that I have vented and cleared up my mind, we can move on to the recipe on hand in a better frame of mind.

Black Eyed Peas comes in very handy if you have run out of vegetables and forgot to soak those other beans overnight. Paired with Brinjal or any other vegetable like bottle gourd, zucchini it is a curry that comes in handy in a pinch.


Serves: 4
1. 1 Cup Black Eyed Peas soaked for an hour
2. 2 Medium sized brinjals chopped
3. 1/2 onion chopped
4. seasonings: mustard, curry leaves and cumin

To Blend
1. 2 tbsp grated coconut
2. small onions or shallots about 10
3. 2 tomatoes
4. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
5. 1/2 tsp cumin
6. Few pepper corns

Roast the above coriander, cumin, red chilies, pepper corn first in a bit of oil, set aside. Next saute the onions and tomatoes and coconut. cool and blend to a paste

1. In a pan heat a tsp of oil, add the seasonings and saute the onion.
2. Add the brinjal and saute till the skin starts to turn color.
3. Now add the soaked black eyed peas and mix well.
4. Add the ground mixture with 2 cups of water and let it simmer in medium heat till the peas are cooked and desired consistency is reached.
5. Add salt when the peas are almost cooked.
Serve with rice or rotis.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Almond Burfi for Deepavali

Happy Deepavali! everyone.

Isn't "cool as a cucumber" a great trait to have? Watching the third presidential debate the thing that struck me most was what a cool cucumber Obama was. Man, it sure is a great asset to have. I am thinking of the many situations that would have turned so totally different if only I had that kind of cool head on my shoulder! Sigh! Well I can console myself saying you need ying and yang to balance everything.

A Cool head would have gone a long way in my burfi making attempts if we count the number of times I started off making burfi but ended up with halwa. Be it almond, choclate or milk my barfi making has invariably ended up as halwa. It tasted good alright, with sugar, milk and nuts nothing can go wrong in the taste department anyway just that instead of biting into it, you have to slurp it. This time I kept my cool and the resulting burfi spoke for itself. This is an easy sweet and nothing can go wrong it really if you don't mind the halwa in the end that is.

A friend gave me the recipe, hers was white but mine turned well an almond color. I used milk to blend the almonds whereas she had asked me to use water, that could have been the reason. I almost halved the amount of sugar and added it directly to the almond paste. She had suggested making a sugar syrup to string consistency and adding the almond paste to it.

I did not blend the almonds into a smooth paste, this would help in shaping the burfi. Mine was coarse but the texture turned out great.


Makes: 20-25 burfis
ofcourse depending on the size they are cut.
1. 2 Cups of almomds soaked in hot water and skin peeled
2. 1 1/4 Cups of sugar (original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar)
3. 1 cup of milk (1/4 or 1/2 cup should have been sufficient, more the milk longer it takes to set)
4. 4 tbsp butter (melt in a pan)

1. Blend the almonds to a paste
2. In a heavy bottomed pan add the almond paste and sugar and in medium heat keep stirring. At this stage it does not stick to the bottom but watch it regularly about 15-20 minutes.
3. When it starts to get frothy add the ghee a bit by bit on the sides
4. Continue till the mixture comes into one big mass and a bit taken can be rolled easily into a ball another 30 minutes or so.
5. Pour into a greased pan and let it cool for a bit and slice into desired shape.
(It is good to have someone help pour and the other spread the mixture)

Soft and melts in your mouth and with the reputation almond has even healthy ;)

This goes off to Cooking 4 all Seasons: Announcing JFI – Nov’08 – Festival Treats!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pinto Beans with Ridge Gourd

Isn't it usually the small things that make life interesting? One thing common about most evenings is the fact that we are always rushing and on this particular evening we rushing out of the swimming pool around 8 in the evening and I was preoccupied with dinner combinations going through my mind as everybody is starving by this time and we'd eat each other if dinner is not ready in like 3 minutes after we get home. At this moment DD2 poses a query "Can we take the alligator today?" I was not really paying attention and reply "Alligator? We will visit the Zoo soon and see if they have one there" DD2 "No today, it is right here in the swimming pool" by then every one in the locker room is getting interested about the alligator.
DD1 exasperated jumps in "Amma, all she wants to do is go up in the elevator". We all burst out laughing.


When the weather started cooling off a bit the ridge gourd started bearing clumps of fruit, they did not grow to the size they were growing during the summer months but we still got a few every other day. I have never eaten so many ridge gourds in my life! The frost few days back killed off the plant and we had a bunch of young tender ridge gourds to be used up. They taste great with any type of legume or even lentils like bengal gram, horse gram or whole moong dal. Sra's is hosting the fourth instalment of 'My Legume Affair' started by Susan and seemed like a good time to send it off to her. Very simple recipe but packs a nutritious punch.

If you do not have ridge gourd, zucchini, snake gourd or bottle gourd can be used as well.


Serves: 3-4
1. 2-3 Tender ridge gourds, ridge scrapped and chopped into tiny pieces (I used about 6 because mine were really tender)
2. 1/2 red onion or 1/2 cup shallots chopped
3. 1 Cup of Cooked Pinto beans (black, kidney beans would also work)
4. 3/4 tbsp sambhar powder (substitute with coriander powder and chili powder)
5. seasonings - cumin and mustard
6. salt to taste

1. Cook and drain the Pinto beans and set aside
2. Heat oil in a pan, crackle the seasonings and saute the onions till translucent.
3. Now add the chopped ridge gourd pieces and saute for a few minutes, add salt close the lid and let cook it soft but the ridge gourd should still be crunchy about 8-10 minutes.
4. Open lid add the sambhar powder and beans and mix.
5. Cook for a minute or two more and switch of heat.
Perfect side ready for chapathis or rice.

We had them with chapathis and some onion,tomato raita.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Garden Orchard Salad

I caught the tail end of the conversation between Terry Gross the host of "Fresh Air" and Micahel Pollen on our local NPR affiliate WAMU. He was describing how salmon caught in Alaska was shipped over to China to be filleted and chicken raised in California were shipped over to China again to be packaged. I mentioned this to DH who immediately asked if they were being shipped alive. That part was not mentioned but I doubt that they'd be shipping them alive, anyway it is a quiet a while from harvest to plate. The more I know about our food sources and food processing techniques the curiouser it gets.

While it is very easy to eat local during the spring and summer months I have found it is almost impossible trying to do the same during the winter months. Last night's frost ended the harvest from the backyard for the season. I also made probably one of my last visits to the local Farmer's market for the season on Sunday. On a cold windy day the Farmers market was still doing brisk business. There were apples, pumpkins of all sizes, bell peppers of all colors and broccoli. I also picked up a bunch of my favorite green, multicolored swiss chard. There was a researcher from the University of Maryland Maryland Cooperative extension doing a demonstration of healthy tasty salads.

I am not a big salad fan but I stopped by to pick some of the recipes she was handing out and taste the Garden Orchard Salad. It tasted really good, for somebody who does not eat broccoli even when cooked to have found this salad tasty with raw broccoli is surprising in itself. I also found out that the salad dressing had vanilla yogurt! I was able to pick all of the ingredients at the market and was ready to cook it for dinner. I was not disappointed, it tasted fresh and crispy and ofcourse the peanuts made a lot of difference as well. I steamed the broccoli but feel free to use it raw.


Note: If you like Vannila yogurt, the honey in the recipe is not required. If spice is not your thing leave the chili garlic sauce dressing as well.

Recipe Source: Agriculture Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland

Serves: 3-4
1. 2 Cups worth of broccoli heads
2. 1/2 cup worth of asparagus with the hard end chopped and then cut into about 2 inch pieces
3. 1 carrot grated into slightly bigger pieces
4. Apple cored and chopped
5. 2 tbsp of roasted unsalted peanuts chopped roughly
6. 1/2 cup of yogurt whisked to smooth (I used home made plain yogurt)
7. 1/2 tbsp honey
8. 1/2 tbsp garlic chili sauce

1. Heat water in a sauce pan, add salt and cook the broccoli and asparagus for 4-5 minutes and pour cold water immediately and drain - this step is not needed if you like it raw.
2. Chop the broccoli and asparagus into smaller pieces.
3. In a bowl toss the broccoli, asparagus, carrots, apples and the peanuts
4. Separate the yogurt into two containers, whisk the honey into one and the chili sauce into the other.
5. Separate the salad into 2 containers, add the honey yogurt into one and the chili yogurt into the other. Let it sit for a few minute (OR)

drizzle the dressing over the salad when you are ready to eat.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cucumber (Dosakaya) Chutney

Is it just me or have others noticed that the Oprah Show has morphed into another celebrity show these days. It is stopped being a show that imparted some good information for women to being another celebrity focussed show. So I rarely watch the show anymore. The other day while channel flipping I landed on the show which was about "How we treat the animals we eat" well represented by folks from factory style animal raising and free range. It was pretty informative. Seeing animals being raised in pens that are only slightly bigger than the size of the animals was disturbing. California has a ballot initiative to decide the issue while for the rest of us the only way to do it is buy responsibly at our respective grocery stores.


The fresh dosakayas that my neighbor gave was made into dal, it was tasty but nothing to crow about but the chutney was another matter altogether, it was delicious. I googled for a recipe, once I knew the Telgu name it was easy, like Sra pointed out pretty much all Andhra blogs had a recipe for it. Sra I am sure you'll be glad to know that yours was number 4 on the list when I searched for dosakaya chutney. I gave the recipe to my mom, with a few slight additions she had some delicious lip smacking chutney. The texture reminded me of coconut and would serve as a good substitute.

1. 2 Indian Cucumbers, skin removed and chopped roughly
2. 6-8 shallots chopped
3. tamarind a small grape sized
4. 2 red chilies
5. 1 tsp channa dal
6. 2 tsp urad dal
7. 1 tsp coriander seeds
8. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
9. 2 cloves garlic
10. salt
11. seasonings - curry leaves and mustard seeds
12. 1 tsp of oil

1. Heat a tsp of oil and brown the dals, coriander and cumin seeds. set aside
2. saute the red chilies and set aside
3. now add the shallots and garlic and saute till translucent
4. towards the end add the tamarind and remove and cool
5. add salt and the dosakaya pieces and blend to a paste
6. now heat oil in a pan, crackle the mustard seeds and curry leaves. pour over the chutney.

Tastes excellent with rice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rasa Vadai with Red Bell Pepper, Coconut Chutney

One look at Jugalbandi's Rasa Vadai realized I had not had this favorite of mine for a really long time. Having first tasted them in a restaurant called Udipi Palace and have been hooked ever since. Not quiet as popular as its illustrious cousin the sambhar vadai, but for those of you who love Rasa Vadai you already know what I am talking about.

Every festival celebration requires a pairing of the sweet and spicy, so along with the Rice Pudding Rasa Vadai was chosen as the spicy accompaniment. Made the traditional way, deep fried in oil with a hole in the middle because I have the luxury of my mom visiting :) For those in the household who are not fond of rasa vadai there was sambhar and Coconut chutney with Bell Pepper. Addition of bell pepper gave the chutney a beautiful pink color.


Just a few notes while making uzhundu vadai. Grind the dough as close to the vadai making time as possible, do not add salt. Put the dough in the fridge if not using immediately. Onions and Green chilies are to be added just
before making the vadais.

I like the rasam in which the vadais are dunked to be tangy and bit spicy. Here is how my mom made the rasam.

Spicy Rasam

1. 2 tbsp of toor dal cooked with plenty of water and mashed
2. a small ball of tamarind soaked and pulp extracted
3. 1 medium sized tomato chopped
4. coriander leaves for garnish
5. seasoning: mustard, curry leaves,cumin and asfoetida

To Powder
1. 2 tsp coriander seeds
2. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3. 3-4 red chilies (or per taste)
4. 1 tsp pepper corns (this quantity can be increased and red chilies decreased depending on which heat you prefer)
5. 2 tsp chana dal
6. 1 tsp toor dal
7. few methi seeds

Roast the above and make a powder

1. In a pan heat oil add the seasonings, saute the tomatoes, add the powder and the tamarind water and let it boil for about 4-5 minutes
2. Now add the dal water with as much water as you want.
3. Add salt and coriander leaves and switch of the heat when you see bubbles on top.

The rasam tastes great with dosai as well.

Bell Pepper, Coconut Chutney

1. 1 Red Bell Pepper seeds removed and chopped
2. Coconut about 3 tbsp
3. 2 tbsp roasted channa dal (dahlia )
4. 2 red chilies
5. Seasonings: mustards, split urad dal and curry leaves (few of each)
6. 1 tsp of oil

1. Heat a bit of oil and saute the red bell pepper and red chilies
2. Together with the coconut and roasted channa dal and salt grind to a slightly smooth paste, remove to a container.
3. now in a small pan, heat oil add the urad dal, when brown add the mustard and curry leaves and pour over the ground chutney.

Excellent with the vadai or with idli or dosai.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An article for Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

This is an essay for Blog Action Day

Poverty as defined by your circumstances.
As children growing in India, we were always of the fact that poverty was all around. The haves and have nots lived side by side. The minute you step out the door it right there staring at you. We learned from a very young age that it is not a guarantee that we'd get anything and everything we asked for. It still had not become a use and throw society. Blatant consumerism had not caught on yet. India today is a vastly different in terms of consumption but still the majority of people do live below the poverty line and not something that can be easily hidden.

Contrast this to my kids growing in the US. Poverty is not something that is obvious unless you live in a city like Washington DC or Baltimore. More often than not we avoid areas in these cities where poverty would be obvious since they are also the same areas too dangerous to afford a leisurely stroll. The only way we ever wound up in those areas is to have gotten there by mistake. Lots of people pass a lifetime not knowing what poverty feels like. School children walk for the homeless and collect money or school supplies for kids who cannot afford them, but I am not sure the kids can visualize and realize what poverty feels like - not able to afford three meals a day or having a proper place to live. Hunger is just one aspect of poverty, the other indignities it affords I am sure are many.

Be Informed of your elective representatives actions
The pictures and programs about India never fail to mention the fact that poverty is everywhere and it cannot be hidden whereas in the US since it is not visible poverty is not something that people talk about. Watch the Presidential elections the 'P' word has not been uttered by either of the candidates. Since it is not obvious those in power (read Congress, President, Senate, the local governments, state governments, etc.,) find it easy to cut programs for the poor, out of sight, out of mind. In the western world and among the rich countries, US has the highest rate of poverty with recent census figures putting the numbers at close to 40 million. But there are several conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation who still quibble with the definition of poverty giving one more reason for those in power to completely ignore it or sweep it under the carpet. Welfare queens are the ones who get all the press and harming million others who are struggling to make ends meet. What is the responsibility of a president who wages war against a country under false pretenses when the money spent here at home would have made US a much safer,secure and saner place to live, economically speaking?

What has greed got to do with it?
Poverty is not a genetic condition, it is absolutely possible for anybody to contract this dreaded disease. In today's troubled economic times it is even harder for non governmental and charitable organizations to effectively do what they set forth to do. With the next economic crisis just around the corner, it is nota far fetched idea that for a log of middle class folks, staring at poverty is just one pay check away. Without the bold intervention of the government it is almost impossible to eradicate poverty and in a society that does not understand, saving for a rainy day it is that much harder.

Studies have shown that while the pay for the wealthier Americans has risen the pay for the lower wage workers keeps going further down sinking several more people into poverty. We have all read about and seen the vast gulf between the rewards that the CEOs give themselves and how they think they are entitled to huge payoffs even when their companies are failing spectacularly. These CEOs are unashamed to take bonuses and keep their golden parachutes intact even while they get handouts from the government. I don't get it. If I screw up I end in poverty, if the Exxon Mobils and AIGs of this world screw up the government bails them out. There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Where is the accountability?

Will the lawmakers make policies that will keep these CEOs who run public companies in check? Somehow I doubt it. The Congres and the legislative branch of the government is as corrupt or even more corrupt than some of these CEOs. Though studies suggest that the lower strata of society benefits when the Democrats are in power. I am cynical about either party doing the right thing!

In parting here is something to think about,
As someone who considers Washington D.C home, I take strong offense to politicians talking about DC in such derogatory terms. If it is such a bad place why do they fight tooth and nail to get here? I know that is rhetorical question! But please when you elected officials land in DC step out of your Watergate hotels and go around the city to take in how the common folks live.

I know I have a lot of questions but answers for none and that is precisely what makes me so scared. What can I as a food blogger do about it? Moreover what can I do as a citizen of the US?
Blog Action Day website has ideas and suggestions on what individuals can do.

Sustainable Living
The way we shop and source our food here in the US can affect the lives of poor farmers in far flung regions of the world. Supporting stores and companies that take sustainable food practises seriously and being aware of the path that food takes to reach your plate is one of the ways to participate in protecting the livelihoods of farmers and food producers half way around the world. Food sufficiency is vital to the well being of the world and is the first and foremost to tackling Poverty. Being interconnected as we were nobody is immune to the vagaries of climate, food shortage and availability of food. Availability of fresh water is also going to be a big deal. Like the saying in Tamil goes "small drops of water are what make a ocean" each one of us have the parts that need we need to play cut out for us. It is urgent and it has to start now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brinjals and Banana Peppers in a peanut sauce - Tried and Tasted

With all that is going on right now, the calmest and the happiest thing to do right now is to be in the kitchen cooking with garden fresh vegetables. With the temperatures falling, the garden is starting to sport a forlorn look. If only I can prolong it by a bit with some Fall vegetables. I should have started earlier I guess.

I am also on the look out for vegetables and greens that might survive through the winter outdoors in the North East. I don't know any and it would be great to find a few and fresh vegetables in the winter. What would be suitable for a container garden indoors?


I might have just harvested the last of the brinjals for this season though I still see a lot of buds and flowers. The curry I chose to make with them is Indira's Bagara Baingan (Nune Vankaya Kura) This would be an entry to Zlamushka's Tried and Tasted event. This has since become one of my favorite ways of cooking brinjal. I have cooked them stuffed or just added the brinjals to the sauce. Both are tasty.

Indira's love and appreciation for food and its preparation comes through in each and every one of her recipes. Though I have tasted and relished Andhra food, never actually cooked them the traditional way till I stumbled upon food blogs and Mahanandi in paticular. The majority of the dishes are similar to what is cooked up in Tamilnadu but the recipes are slighty different. Besides peanut chutney, I have never really noticed peanuts being used for sauces in TamilNadu cuisine. The peanut based sauce especially for brinjals is like a match made in heaven. Since I did not have enough brinjals added a few fresh banana peppers given by DDs piano teacher, harvested from her garden. They added a lovely color to the dish as well.

Serves : 4-6
1. Purple, White small brinjals 15-20 (mine were tiny) - slit but not cut in two
2. 4-5 Banana Pepper cut into rings and the seeds and fiber removed
3. 1/2 red onion chopped fine
4. seasoning: mustard seeds and curry leaves
5. tamarind a small lime sized soaked in water
6. 1 tsp jaggery


For the Paste
1. 1 1/2 tbsp of peanuts
2. 1/2 tbsp of channa dal
3. 2 tsp of split urad dal
4. 3 dried red chilies
5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
6. 1 1/2 ts cumin seeds
7. few pepper corns
8. few methi seeds
9. 1 tbsp grated coconut

Dry roast ingredients 1-8 and heat the coconut for a bit and then blend together into a paste

1. In a heavy bottomed pan/ kadai/pressure cooker heat oil, add the seasonings and the onion and saute till translucent
2. Add the slit brinjals and saute till they start getting black spots on top. Add the bell peppers
3. Now add the blended paste, along with the tamarind and about a cup of water and let it cook for a bit.
4. Add salt and close the lid and cook for a whistle if in pressure cooker/ or cook till the brinjals are soft and cooked completely.
5. Open and let it cook if too watery, add the jaggery and turn off the heat.

Tastes best with rice but goes well with rotis as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rice Pudding with nuts and dried fruits - Celebration for Saraswathi Pooja!

Happy Saraswathi Pooja!

Today happened to be a holiday for DD on the occasion of Yom Kippur and DD2 gets back from school in the afternoon so it was decided we would celebrate Saraswathi Pooja. Ah! the advantages of not having to work. As for not having a job to go to I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. I can even hear the birds sing ;)

Getting up every morning to go to a job that I hated and having hardly any time for anything else was what clinched it for me. I woke up one morning went through with it and I am a happier person for it with all the time to spare for celebrations and enjoying the small things that life has to offer. Don't know for sure how long this peace would last but for now I am enjoying it to the fullest!

I had arborio rice sitting in the pantry and rice pudding has been on my mind for a while and today seemed like a perfect day to act on it.


My recipe is based on
1. Food Network - Dave Lieberman Arborio Rice Pudding
2. Jugalbandi - A rice pudding from antiquity

1. 1 Cup Arborio rice
2. 4 Cups Full Milk
3. 2 Cups Water
4. 3/4 cups sugar
5. 1 tbsp golden raisins
6. 4-5 Dried Figs - white and black
7. 2 tbsp chopped nuts (slivered almonds and broken cashews)
8. 2-3 tsp ghee
9. a pinch of salt
10. 2 Whole Cardamoms - pounded

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tsp of the ghee, add the rice and saute the rice in it for a minute.
2. Add the water to pan with a pinch of salt and when it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to below medium and let the rice cook for about 15-20 minutes till it is cooked.
3. Meanwhile heat the milk in a sauce pan with the cardamom pods (I added the cardamom with a pod and all, you can add just the powdered seeds as well)
4. Add the heated milk to the cooking rice and let it simmer in low heat for about 10 minutes
5. Now add the sugar and let it continue to cook down till it gets creamy. In between add raisins toasted in ghee.
6. Switch of the heat when the milk has reduced to about half the volume.
7. Toast the nuts in ghee.

Serve with the nuts and chopped figs garnished on top.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Purple Sweet Potatoes Roast

I eat flavored yogurts of several different kinds but vanilla yogurt is one that gives me the heebie jeebies, while vanilla flavored frozen yogurt is perfectly fine. It was not always that way, I picked up a tub of flavored vanilla yogurt aeons ago when I still had to buy plain yogurt, brought it home mixed it with rice and with a side of some mango pickle settled in front of the TV to enjoy and what followed does not make for a good commentary on a food blog. Home made yogurt/curd is the best but of the store bought variety StonyField Farm Plain Yogurt comes close and if it is from full milk even better.

I am not exactly sure what brought this on. But has anyone else had the same experience of eating vanilla yougurt by mistake instead of plain yougurt and were you scarred by it for life?

The other day I had to drive to UPS to drop something off but I was there a bit early. The strip mall houses an Asian grocery store, I walked in to kill some time. Walking around the produce section noticed these white skinned sweet potates and imagined them to be similar to the Indian kind. I put them in the pantry and there they were till I picked up this morning. What a pleasant surprise when I cut them open to boil - beautiful purple and white spirals. I did a bit of research or in other words googled and found they are the Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes - link has a lot of information. And that is the answer to the Guess! If you have an Asian grocery store drop in to check it out. I am going there again for a few more :)

Don't have to do anything fancy, just steam and enjoy. Sweet and very very tasty. Here is what I did with them.

What is the vegetable? Purple Sweet Potato!

1. 3 Sweet potatoes
2. 2 tsp sambhar powder
3. salt to taste
4. tsp of oil

1. Boil the potates, peel and cut into cubes.
2. Heat oil in a wok, add the potatoes and roast with a sprinkling of salt and sambhar powder.

Serve as a snack or as a side with any rice dish.


What is the vegetable?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bisi Bele Bhath

Doggone it, I am pretty upset. The Vice Presdential debate is what got me all upset. Here we are at a critical juncture in America's history and the best one of the parties could do was offer up the governor of Alaska as the second on the their ticket. The bar was lowered so low, just the fact that she was able to talk was success in itself! Don't get me wrong, I have always wanted strong women role models but I am not particularly happy with this choice.

I am not really sure if Bisi Bele Bhath was something I have tasted before I came here. My first taste of Bisi Bele Bhath was at the Shiva Vishnu Temple . Besides offering comfort for the soul, the food is one of the main attractions to the temple atleast for me :) It was time to recreate the magic at home. I used the MTR Bisi Bele Bhath masala, so the cooking was a breeze. Even DD who is not a fan of sambhar rice asked for second helpings. This is also a great dish to cook when there is company.


1.Vani of Mysoorean has the recipe for the powder.
2. Asha' recipe at Foodie's Hope.

Here is how I made it.


Serves: 6-8
1. 4 Cups of chopped veggies (used carrot, beans, red radish, peas)
2. 1 Cup of toor dal cooked in a pressure cooker with extra water
3. 1 1/3 cups of rice(I used Ponni parboiled rice) cooked with a bit more water than normal. Soak the rice in water for atleast an hour before cooking.
Note: If using pressure cooker, the rice and dal can be cooked together or in separate containers at the same time.
4. 3 heaped tbsp of bisi bele bhath masala
5. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
6. tamarind, a small lemon sized ball soaked in water
7. seasoning - mustard, curry leaves, cumin seeds, 3-4 shallots chopped
8. 2-3 tbsp of roasted peanuts
9. few broken cashews
10. 1 -2 tsp ghee
12. salt to taste

1. In a pressure, heat a bit of oil and 1/2 tsp of ghee, add the seasonings and when the onions starts to turn color add the peanuts, add all the veggies and saute for a few minutes.
2. Mix in the masala powder and add the tamarind extract and about 1 1/2 cups of water and cook for 1 whistle or till the veggies are soft.
3.Now in a vessel large enough (or even in the same cooker if it is big enough) to hold the rice, dal and veggies, transfer the cooked vegetables and mix in the cooked toor dal.
4.Add salt and enough water so after the addition of the rice it should not get too thick. Switch on the heat to below medium.
5. Mix in the cooked rice and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
6. Roast the cashews in the remaning ghee and add to the rice.

Enjoy with some pappads (or vadakams).