Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Kumbakonam Kadappa ( Gravy made with moong dal and potatoes simmered in a coconut fennel curry)

I had never heard of the name Kadappa although I have had it several times at home in a version made with beans, carrots, potatoes and peas! At home it simply goes under the name of Kurma. When I saw Shanthi`s version with just potatoes I wanted to try them out immediately. Shanthi`s version had onions, so that was an added incentive.  The one made at home had no onions and no moong dal!  It was a very fragrant pleasant gravy made with ingredients available at hand, and was a complete difference from the gravies made with tomatoes and garam masala…Try it and you will definitely want to do it again!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Medium Onion.

1 large Golden Potato or two medium potatoes.

1 inch stick of Cinnamon.

1/4 Cup Moong Dal.

2 Cloves.

1 Bay Leaf.

Salt to taste.

Dash of turmeric.

Grind to a paste:

1/4 cup of coconut grated.

1 Tsp Fennel/Somph.

1/4 Cup  Cashews.

1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds.

2 – 3 Green Chillies.

1 Inch Ginger.

(Use water as needed to make a smooth paste)

PREPARATION:

  • Pressure cook the potatoes with a little salt in a cooker vessel and the moong dal with as much water as needed to submerge them in another vessel.
  • Preferably cook for one whistle and then lower the flame for about ten minutes.
  • When done, remove from the cooker and mash the moong dal to a mushy paste. Peel the potato skin and mash the potatoes. Set aside.
  • In a kadai, add oil and the seasoning ingredients – Cinnamon, Cloves, Bay Leaf and follow with the diced onions.
  • When it has slightly sauteed, add the mashed potatoes and the moong dal along with the water in which it was cooked.
  • When it starts to boil, immediately add the ground paste.
  • Add salt as needed and allow the mixture to come to cook  out and come together. Add a little water if needed and let it begin to boil.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Hot Idlis, Dosas or Phulkas.
Sweets

Rasgullas – Sweet and Spongy treats – Perfect every time.

Rasgullas are a very popular cheese based sweet dish which originated from the Indian state of Orissa…now how many of us really knew that???  It has been a traditional Oriya dish for centuries.People throughout the state consider the rasgullas prepared by the Kar brothers, the descendants of a local confectioner, Bikalananda Kar, in the town of Salepur  near Cuttack to be the best. Today this rasgulla famously named Bikali Kar Rasgulla is sold all over Orissa .

Rasgullas are usually served at room temperature or colder. Modern Indian households also tend to serve them chilled.  A popular variant in Orissa and Bengal is freshly prepared hot rasgullas. In Orissa, it is not uncommon to embed a single raisin or cashew  inside each rasgulla. Cardamom seeds may also be embedded to create a fragrant version. In northern India, the dish comes flavored in saffron, rosewater, and sometimes garnished with chopped pistachios.

I love recreating this dish as contrary to popular belief, its very easy to make and extremely welcome as a dessert in every Indian household. Many times, we would wait for milk to curdle, so we could get round to making this dish without any guilt! Since the base for rasgullas is curdled milk this is an ingredient that is available at any time we want it ! All one has to do it empty a couple tablespoons of lemon juice in to a vessel containing boiling milk …and the deed is done. I have tried many versions of rasgullas but I oved this one taught to me by my  close friend.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice + 1 tbsp water

Sugar Syrup:

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar

PREPARATION:

  •  Boil milk in medium high for some time stirring  occasionally.
  •  When it comes to boil add lemon juice and continue  stirring.
  • It will curdle slowly separating the whey water from the curdled solids.
  • Sift in to a muslin cloth catching all the whey water in a container below and wash the curdled solids under cold water. This will remove a the traces of lemon from the curdled solids.

  •  Squeeze out all the water from  the muslin cloth and let it hang to dry for a couple minutes.
  • Place a heavy object like a pressure cooker on the paneer so that it makes it extra dry and without the water but with the moisture.
  • When all water  has drained, knead the panner on the counter top very nicely  until its soft,  rubbery and flexible. This should take a couple of minutes. The inherent oil and moisture comes out and combined with the heat in your hands, makes the panner soft and pliable.

  • Make little balls with  a little rock candy (kalkandu) in the midddle of each rasgulla. This helps the even spreading of sugar into  the panner balls.
  • Combine 4 1/2 cps of water with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and wait until it comes to a boil.
  • Drop the prepared balls  in the pressure cooker directly and close the cooker.
  • Now after the steam starts coming lower the flame to medium  and cook for 7 minutes.
  • Switch off after that and remove juicy rasgullas and enjoy them cold!
  • The rasgullas would have amost doubled in size and would be soft, spongy and extremely sweet!

Simple Syrup:

4 1/2 cups of water.
1 1/2 cups of sugar.

Add the sugar and water  to the pressure cooker directly and wait till it comes  to a boil.

HINTS:

  1. Add a drop of rosewater to the simple syrup for a little more flavour.
  2. Optionally serve with little syrup, but garnished with saffron strands, powdered pistachios etc.
  3. I sometimes add the kesar essence to my panner balls when I am kneading them to get lovely yellow hued rasgolas.