October 26, 2016

Kashi Halwa/Ash Gourd Halwa/Kushmanda Halwa/ Winter Melon Halwa

Days are passing by too fast! 

Well, that is an understatement YEARS are passing by - I remember last Diwali was just a few months ago and one fine day I wake up to realise that the next one is here already!

I refrain generally from commenting on religious sentiments however today I recounted an instance couple of years ago which made me think. It was the last day of work before the Diwali holidays and in one of the calls to a non - Hindu colleague I wished him Happy Diwali. (In India, you wish everyone greetings of every festival. We are country of many religions, cultures and traditions yet there is a unity in the way of our festivities.) His next comment took me aback - do you celebrate Diwali - are you not a Christian?  I only expected a Happy Diwali in return and now I am supposed to respond to his question! I kept it simple - I told him I am an Indian. It did not stop there - he went on to explain why as a Christian I should not celebrate Diwali! I could take no more of it - I explained to him what Diwali meant to me and why I would enjoy celebrating it and my religion has got nothing to do with it. That was the end of it and I made sure to never strike up a conversation as similar with him.

Diwali for me may not be of religious significance but more of ideological, familial and aesthetical! Diwali I was taught at school symbolises the victory of light over darkness or good over evil. I completely believe in that ideology and I love the lamps and lights lit up that dispel the darkness not just around but within us to give way for the light.  Like any other festivity, it brings together families and friends who forget their worries and come together to celebrate. Aesthetically, do I even need to comment - the cleaned and decorated houses, lights, rangoli and plate loads of goodies!! I love the Diwali season - back at home we go out on drives to see the beautifully lit houses and even in Dubai last year we went for a walk and saw quite a bit of decoration and fireworks. That makes my heart joyful and that is Diwali for me.

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Over to my recipe - Kashi Halwa/Ash Gourd Halwa/Kushmanda Halwa which I thought was a Mangalore/ Udupi favorite cuisine but internet proved me wrong it is equally popular in Tamil Nadu as well.


Ingredients
(Serves - 2)
  1. Ash gourd - 2 cups ( peeled, de-seeded and grated)
  2. Sugar - 1 cup
  3. Ghee - 2 tbsp
  4. Turmeric - 2 pinches
  5. Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
  6. Cashewnuts - 6 to 7
  7. Raisins - 6 to 7
Method

Measure 2 cups of the grated ash gourd. You may need approximately 750 gms of ashgourd for this.
Transfer this to a hard bottomed pan and cook till the water evaporates. 

At this stage add the sugar, combine it well and stir until the raw smell of the ash gourd vanishes and the mixture begins to thicken and hold together.

Meanwhile heat ghee in a separate pan and fry the cashews and raisins. Pour this into the halwa mix.
Add cardamom powder and turmeric powder. Stir well until the halwa thickens and leaves the edges as you stir. Switch off the flame when it reaches the consistency. 

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You may also note -
  • Kashi Halwa is not cooked till very dry. It is generally moist - so ensure you switch off the flame at the right time.
  • Turmeric powder is added for color, this can be replaced with saffron.

October 20, 2016

Sindhi Koki / Paratha

I am fond of accumulating things and Shibin even more so. I fancy good looking plastic covers, jam/ pickle bottles, yogurt containers, inner cardboard of used tissue rolls,carton boxes and hoard them up. Shibin on the other hand tend to retain old clothes, id cards, travel itineraries, tickets etc. I preserve them to use it up inventively somewhere if possible and he does it because he gets nostalgic seeing all those. Either way, we sometimes end up cluttering and accumulating stuff which we may not ever have a look at again or use ever again. It is recently I came across the concept of de-cluttering and how it helps not just the physical space around the house but our mindset as well. I have slowly begun vanquishing all those unwanted elements.
It seems to be helping me infinitely -
  • I have found more space to store what I actually want.
  • I found things I would want to put to good use.
  • The cleaner the house the merrier the mind.
The same applies to cooking as well. Shibin often tells me - ' Don't try to cook something special always - keep it simple'. My definition of going simple on certain week day night is making Koki. It is a simple sindhi paratha  using the basic ingredients found in almost all Indian household and leaves me with a less messier kitchen. We pair it up with Yogurt, so no extra effort on that side.

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I am lucky to have two Sindhi friends and this is the recipe I picked up from one of them who is a wonderful cook  - Shweta thank you for the recipe.

Ingredients
(makes 6 parathas)
  1. Wheat Flour - 1 and 1/2 cup
  2. Onion - 1 medium finely chopped
  3. Tomato - 1 small de-seeded and finely chopped
  4. Green Chilly - 1 finely chopped
  5. Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  6. Caraway seeds/ ajwain - 1/4 tsp
  7. Pomegranate seeds - 1/2 tsp crushed
  8. Coriander leaves - a handful chopped
  9. Luke warm water - 1/3 cup
  10. Oil - 1 tbsp
  11. Ghee
  12. Salt to taste
kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Method
  • Combine together the chopped onion, tomato, coriander leaves, green chilly, cumin seeds, ajwain and crushed pomegranate seeds in a bowl
  • Add wheat flour and salt to the same bowl
  • Combine this with your hand to let the moisture from the mix soak into the flour
  • Add luke warm water and fork it together and let it rest for 5 minutes before you knead it to form a dough
  • Store in an air tight container for 15 minutes before you begin rolling it out. This helps the dough  to be firmer and well combined.
  • Make 6 smaller balls and roll it in the flour. Flatten it with your hands and using a roller gently roll out adding more flour if the need be.
  • Dust off excess flour and transfer this to a heated tawa.
  • Flip it over twice on each of the sides till it begins to brown lightly on the sides.
  • Grease both the sides with ghee or oil.
  • Serve it with yogurt and pickle.

October 10, 2016

Dates and Garlic Pickle


Life sometimes is sweet and sometimes annoying that you want to take a break!

It is not exactly made to order and set on a plate for you to relish. It comprises of people and moments that set the tone. Well, think about your emotions - you could be joyful yet confused and sad at the same time.
If you are not yet in sync and if you are a girl, think back to the day of your wedding ( if you are married of course!!) - did you not have those bitter sweet moments?
You are happy about beginning a new life with a partner you have chosen, sad about no longer being able to run home to your parents every now and then, confused on whether you will be able to handle a marriage and responsibilities and so on. Well, emotions on this day can be overwhelming! I went through all these and at least few of you echo my thoughts. At the end of it all - I am one happy soul.

This is how I would like to describe my recipe too - a bottle of emotions not in the literal sense but to the senses of your palate. There is dates for sweetness, garlic for the hint of pungency, chilly for the spice quotient and tamarind for the sourness. There you have - dates and garlic pickle.


kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Ingredients
  1. Dates - 250 grams de-seeded chopped*
  2. Garlic - 50 grams chopped*
  3. Curry Leaf - 3 sprigs
  4. Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  5. Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  6. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Chilly powder - 1 tbsp 
  8. Tamarind - 1 gooseberry sized ball
  9. Warm Water - 1 cup
  10. Oil - 2 tbsp ( I have used coconut oil)
  11. salt to taste
Method

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes and extract the juice from the pulp.

Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter, reduce the flame and then add the fenugreek seeds. 

Add garlic and curry leaves to this and saute until the specs of brown just start appearing on the garlic. Sprinkle turmeric powder and chilly powder and let the masala get cooked.

Add the dates and coat this well with the masala. Keep it covered for 2-3 minutes on low flame.

Finally pour in the tamarind extract and add salt. Bring it to boil and let it simmer for 5 - 7 minutes till it thickens and the dates begin to melt.

It is a popular combination with Biriyani towards the south of India and we had it with parathas. The combo did gel well.

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You may also note - 
  1. * dates and garlic can either be chopped or slit lengthwise or you could also have it go in as whole. 
  2. Once cooled it can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to a month.


October 1, 2016

Mangaluru Cucumber Sambhar/ Mangaluru Southekayi Huli

Long weekend here in Dubai and the climate is getting better. We have vowed to make good the beautiful climate this year. Summers always prompt us to stay indoors and if at all we step out - malls and restaurants are the only solace. The changing season beckons us outdoor - probably for a picnic in the park or walk by the beach. Yay!! We managed to do both this weekend and that makes me content. It's not every day that all you plan materializes. That was my happy weekend - more to go with a movie planned and an extended day off tomorrow

Over to the post for the day. I have already mentioned in several earlier posts how much I love the place I was brought up - Brahmavar. Not just the place - the cuisines as well. The recipe today is a popular curry that is served for weddings in the Udupi/ Mangalore region. I can still visualize the dhoti clad men who serve food for the weddings walking around with buckets of this curry shouting - 'Huli Huli Huli'. Those who have been in my position would share these nostalgic feelings of mine as well.

Hopping over to the recipe. Southekayi Huli or Southekayi Sambhar is another version of the sambhar that has southekayi or cucumber as the main ingredient with the masala roasted and ground along with fresh coconut to give it a fine texture and taste.


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Ingredients
(Serves - 6)
  1. Mangaluru southekayi/ Cucumber/Vellarikka - 1 small
  2. Toor dal - 3 tbsp
  3. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  4. Tamarind - 1 gooseberry sized ball
  5. Jaggery - 3 tbsp grated
  6. Water - 3 cups
  7. Salt to taste
To grind:
  1. Red Chilly - 6
  2. Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
  3. Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
  4. Fenugreek seeds - 1 pinch
  5. Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
  6. Urad dal - 1/2 tbsp
  7. Channa dal - 1/2 tsp
  8. Coconut - 1/4 cup grated
  9. Asafoetida - 1 pinch
  10. Water - 1/4 cup
For garnish:
  1. Mustard seeds
  2. Curry leaves
  3. Oil
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Method
  • Soak the tamarind in half a cup warm water for 10 minutes. Squeeze and extract the juice.
  • Pressure cook washed toor dal in 1 cup of water along with turmeric powder up to 2 whistles.
  • Skin, de-seed and chop the cucumber. Toss this into the pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Cook until the cucumber is done.
  • Dry roast the ingredients 1 to 7 listed under 'To Grind'. Wet grind this along with coconut and asafoetida to a smooth paste.
  • Add the ground paste along with salt, tamarind extract and jaggery into the cooker.Simmer for 10 minutes or until the masala is cooked. You may add water to reach the desired consistency.
  • In a separate pan, heat oil and let the mustard seeds splutter. Add the curry leaves into this. Add this as the garnish to your sambhar.
You may also note - 
  1. Do not chop the cucumber very small - have it in medium sizes or large chunks as per your choice. You may also choose not to skin the cucumber as is popular in Dakshina Kannada region.
  2. Adjust the spice level as per your choice - you could reduce the jaggery if you do not want the sambhar to be sweet.


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