Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paasi Paruppu Urundai (Moong Dal Sweet balls)

The practice of taking home made goodies when we go to visit folks was common until just a few years ago. Now this practice is slowly eroding, there is nothing wrong, why spend hours in front of a stove when it is just easy to go to a store and buy the same. But the fun in making them has its own allure. Sweets like this paasi paruppu urundai is not commonly found in stores, in those rare instances when it is found it is glamorized and loses its simple taste.

Made with just sugar and ghee besides the dal, it is a non sinful treat and also packs a protein punch. It can even pass off as a health food.

    Green Earth
    Remember the days when plastic bottles and containers with only a certain number in the recycle triangle could be set aside for recycling. Now curbside recycling in most counties accept all plastic products except plastic wraps, plastic bags and styrofoam. Also care should be taken to dispose of plastic containers that held hazardous chemicals or paints.

    Plastic bags can be recycled in most grocery stores.

    This is the accepted list of plastic products in our county. Check with your county website for a list of acceptable items in your area.



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Ingredients
1. 2 Cups of split Moong Dal with skin on
2. 2 Cups of sugar (1 3/4 cups would have been just right)
3. 2 tbsp of broken cashews
4. 4 cardamom pods
5. Ghee from 1 1/3 stick of butter (if you want perfectly shaped rounds increase the ghee)

Method
1. In a wide mouthed pan roast the moong dal and the cardamom pods together till the dal starts turning slightly brown. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool.
2. In another pan heat a bit of ghee and roast the cashews.
3. Mix the moong dal and sugar and powder in a blender. It does not have to be too fine a powder.
4. Mix in the roasted cashews.
4. Heat the ghee and add to the dal powder and mix with a spoon.
5. Make desired sized round balls.

Pop one or two in the mouth to start the day with a protein punch ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Banana Puli Kuzhambu (in a spicy tamarind sauce)

You can't get away from it, the news that Wall Street CEOs screwed up big time and how Paulson and the administration want to give them a break in the way of a bailout. But this is the part I just don't get, if a lowly employee in any company screwed up big time they would be marched to the door and dumped unceremoniously and that would be the end of it, but Paulson and his friends are making the case that the bailout should come without any strings attached to make it attractive for company high command, in other words the golden parachutes preserved. As a tax payer I strongly protest. I would have the markets correct themselves and learn from the mistakes. Capitalism surely is not that fragile!!

Having a lot more free time, I have been paying attention to the morning shows, they are not interesting enough to hold attention for more than a few minutes though. I was surprised at the number of cooking shows or so I thought when I saw Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart on at the same time. But a few minutes into RRs realized she was trying her hand at talk show and was interviewing Dr.Phil's wife. Martha Stewart obviously had the better quality show, she stuck to what she does best - cooking. RR would do a lot better to learn from Martha, her talk show hosting was dismal at best.

My neighbor gave a few cucumbers from his garden, they are the Indian variety with the suggestion that they can be added to dal or made into chutney. I have seen them in the grocery stores but never really cooked with them. If you know of any good recipes with them please do leave a comment.

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Ever since I saw this recipe on Priya's blog Sugar and Spices a year ago I have been wanting to cook it. Priya takes beautiful pictures and presents recipes so very elegantly. I miss not seeing her post these days. I have made mine thicker than hers and altered a few ingredients.

Another recipe that I followed was from Solai's True Chettinad Kitchen.
Mine is a combination of ingredients and methods from both of these recipes.

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Ingredients
1. 2 Raw bananas (I had green plantains)
2. 1/2 cup chopped shallots or small onions (added shallots and 1/4 of a red onion)
3. 5-6 garlic cloves chopped, 2 red chilies split in half
4. soak a small lime sized tamarind ball in 2 cups of water
5. 2 medium sized juicy tomatoes chopped
6. 2 tsp coriander powder
7. 1/2 tbsp sambhar powder
8. 1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
9. 1-2 tsp brown sugar (optional)
10. seasonings: 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds , 1/2 tsp urad dal, curry leaves
11. 1-2 tsp oil
12. salt to taste

Method
1. Steam cook the raw bananas, peel the skin and slice into rounds
2.In a pan heat oil, add the seasonings, when they start to turn color, add the chopped onions, garlic and the red chilies and saute till they turn slightly brown
3.Now add the sambhar, chili and coriander powders, mix
4.Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook till they are soft.
5.Add the squeezed tamarind water and let it come to a boil
6.Now add the chopped banana and let it continue to cook till desired consistency.
7.After about 5 minutes of boiling add salt and the sugar.

Serve with rice and dal.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ridge Gourd Kadaisal (Mashed)

I have a lot of free time these days that might translate to the house is getting cleaner, the look into pile is getting smaller and the laziness has gone up a notch or two. But no complaints there only happiness.

The Ridge Gourd plant is the other thing that is making me very happy these days. I have made new friends and cemented existing ones by sharing in the bounty. The vine which was reaching the sky came down with the weight and I am not doing acrobatics from my second floor bathroom window anymore. Ridge gourd tastes good by itself or paired with any other vegetable. But my favorite is when ridge gourd seasoned with just the minimum ingredients.


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Ingredients
1. 2 -3 Medium sized tender ridge gourd (peel the hard edges and cut into small cubes)
2. 4 Green Chilies or to taste
3. 1/2 red onion chopped
4. roast and powder (1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp pepper corn)
5. salt to taste

Method
1. In a pressure cooker heat a bit of oil season with a few mustard seeds and curry leaves and saute the onions till translucent
2. add the green chilies and the ridge gourd and saute for a few minutes
3. add the cumin,coriander,pepper powder and salt.
4. Close the lid and let cook for a whistle.
5. Open and mash the ridge gourd with the back of the spoon or a masher.

Enjoy with rice and a bit of ghee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What am I going to be? Revealed! Finally!

I know some of you got impatient. I understand and know exactly how you feel. In the mean time the Ridge gourd plant grew and grew and the fruit has been cooked several times so has the brinjals. The green chilies and bitter gourd have spiced up and bittered up lots of dishes but this bean kept growing and growing.

I might have had to wait a few more days probably but my patient ran out and here they are. I figure the patch of land these were growing was not fertile. I have to try something else next time to grow them. I have not seen these bean around here, even the dried ones.

These are the delightful Butter Beans and now that I see them, I realize they are not that similar to Lima beans. Lima beans are flatter whereas these are round.


The various stages:

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Brinjal (Eggplant) Stir Fry

The conventions for both the parties just got over and we are closer to making a decision regarding which candidates we are going to vote for correct?. Don't think so! It did exactly the opposite for me. In both the conventions great things were said about the candidate themselves and not so flattering things about their respective opponents. What exactly are we supposed to be looking for in a presidential candidate that would make us want to cast our vote one way or the other? From what I have seen so far from both the camps none has a coherent plan on how they are going to lead the country.
I want a president who would improve the standing of America in the eyes of the world.
I have no idea what he would do in Iraq but that problem should be solved and the troops brought home.
I want complete commitment to alternative energy sources.
I want him to solve the Health care crisis once for all.
I want him to keep out of my life, body and soul.

We need a President who is willing to make hard choices especially related to the environment. It is now or never.

I came of age during the Clinton Presidency and long for those good old days of the go go 90s. So you'll understand my disappointment when the other Clinton did not win the nomination. But the only woman in the race frankly scares me and it is an insult to my intelligence if they thought that just because she is a woman I would be jumping in and voting for her. I am not impressed with the hope candidate either. I watched the convention hoping it will become clear what he stands for but unfortunately I am not. But boy can he give a speech or what. It is pretty clear that he has energized and enthused all kinds of voters and of all ages.

    Green Earth
    Where do you stand in regards to drilling in ANWR? I stand on the side of No Drilling. There are very few pristine areas left on the earth for future generations. If oil dependence is the main reason to drill there from what I hear - it is not going to do much for dependence on foreign oil.
    What is ANWR? Artic National Wildlife Refuge



Now on to the recipe,
Brinjals are up there in the list of my favorite vegetables. Garden fresh from the back yard it is even better. A simple stir fry is the best way to enjoy those fresh tender brinjals. My mom uses a bit of amchur powder to avoid the slightly bitter taste that creeps in when stir fried. The cut brinjal is dropped into water to keep it from changing color but this adds extra moisture. To avoid this cut the brinjals and add them to the pan directly.

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Serves: 4 Ingredients
1. 8-10 small purple Brinjals (I used a combination of purple and round almost white ones) wash and keep ready. (Brinjals are to be cut lengthwise)
2. 1/2 Red Onion cut lengthwise
3. 2-3 garlic cloves sliced
4. 1 tsp amchur powder
5. 1/2 tbsp sambhar powder
6. to powder: 1 tbsp roasted channa dal + 1/4 tsp cumin
7. seasonings - curry leaves, mustard seeds, 1 red chili
8. 1-2 tsp oil

Method
1. In a wok or a wide mouthed pan heat oil and when hot add the mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves and red chili
2. Add the onions and sliced garlic and saute till onions turn translucent. Add the amchur powder and mix.
3. Now start adding the cut brinjals and saute till for a few minutes. Add the sambhar powder and salt.
4. Now cover with a lid and cook for about 8-10 minutes till completely cooked. Do not overcook. Cooking times can vary depending on the time of brinjal and if they are tender.
6. Now add the powdered channa dal powder mix well, cook for a minute or two, check for salt and switch off the heat.

Goes well with rice or as a side for rotis.

Other popular Brinjal dishes:
1. Spicy Brinjal Curry
2. Brinjal in spicy buttermilk sauce