Pickles & Thokku.

Manga Thokku

Some of the best days of our lives are really when we were much younger in school with no cares or worries about  life and its guile! It does not really matter about the quality of life, or whether we walked to school, took the bus, had a hard time growing up…Every one`s life at that point still seems so happy and carefree! The best part of my childhood was always summer months filled with buzz and activity at Madurai amma`s home. All my cousins would visit us and the home would be filled with at least fifteen members of the family. Everyday cooking itself would be 2 hour chore with all of us helping here and there. Summers would also be time for pickles. vadams and vathals. Time to bite in to juicy ripe Banganapalli mangoes  and Dilpasand from Bangalore Iyengar Bakery in T.Nagar.

Madurai amma would always make Avakkai Pickle, Manga Thokku and Mahani Kizhangu. We all would pitch in and grate about 10 mangoes on to a large newspaper and trnasfer them to large plates for her to make the pickle. By afternoon the aroma of the pickle would be wafting throughout the home and that night everyone would volunteer to sample the pickle. As I make this every summer, I recount those beautiful days of my childhood and pass on the memories to my little ones…

INGREDIENTS:

2 Big Mangoes or 3 Medium Mangoes.

2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1/8 Tsp Turmeric.

1/8 Tsp Hing.

2 Tsp Salt.

1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds.

1 Tbsp Jaggery.

A pinch of tamarind.

Seasonings:

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

Few sprigs of curry leaves.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the mangoes and wipe them down with a clean kitchen towel. Peel out the skin and using a grater, grate all the mangoes until you reach the seed.
  • In a dry kadai roast about 4 tsp of fenugreek on a low flame until it emits an aroma. Switch off and when cool, grind to a fine powder. Store in an air tight container.
  • In a heavy bottomed kadai add 4-5 tbsp of oil and when its hot enough season with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  • When the mustard seeds splutter, add the grated mangoes slowly in to the kadai.
  • Add turmeric powder, hing and red chilli powder and give it a quick saute.
  • After a couple minutes, add salt, a pinch of tamarind paste (optional if the mangoes are tart by themselves), fenugreek powder  and the jaggery.
  • Keep stirring the kadai now and then and make sure it does not stick to the bottom.
  • In about 20 minutes you should see the oil seperating from the pickle.
  • Now its time to switch off the kadai and allow to cool.
  • Transfer to a glass pickle jar and store air tight in the refrigerator.
  • Mango Thokku can be used as a side for rotis, idli, curd rice and dosa.
Pickles & Thokku.

Kothamalli Podi

Anybody who is a constant visitor to my blog, would know by now, my love for Corriander Leaves. I love it in any form and the aroma it exudes, is simply inexplicable. It instantly adds so much zing and character to any dish to which its added. Imagine rasam without corriander leaves, or Mushroom Mutter Masala without the green garnish. Imagine salsa and any mexican cooking without this herb. I always love the transformation to the dish, cause by the addition of corriander leaves. Iamgine a dish where this is the star ingredient???  This is an excellent compliment to curd rice, dosas and even Morkuzhambu and Molagootal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Large Bunch of tender cilantro/corriander leaves. (2 bunches in India).

1/2 Cup Broken Urad Dhal.

6 Red Chillies.

2 Tsp Home Made Idli MolagaiPodi/Gunpowder.

Gooseberry Sized tamarind ball.

1 – 11/2 Tsp Salt.

A pinch of hing .

PREPARATION:

  • Take the large bunch of corriander leaves and wash them well in a collander. Allow them to air dry for about 2 hours.
  • Now remove the stems that are thick and fat. If they are thin, simply remove only the root part and set aside. Pat dry to remove any moisture.
  • Soak the tamarind in 2 spoons of water and warm in the microwave. Set aside.
  • In a small wok, add a spoon of gingely oil and add in the urad dhal and the red chillies.
  • Fry on medium flame, until its golden brown. Finally add the softened tamarind piece alone, without the water. When its sauteed well, set aside.
  • Take the medium container of your mixie jar and add the  fried red chillies,  urad dhal  and tamarind at the very bottom.
  • To this add salt, asfoetida, and idli molagapodi and  give it a quick pulse.
  • Now toss in the dried corriander leaves and give it a quick pulse.
  • Frequently you would have to use your spatula to ease out the portions that are stuck to the jar and will not grind.
  • Pulse on and off to get a coarse mixture. Add a couple drops of gingely oil instead of water, to aid in lubrication.
  • When done, check for salt and trnasfer to a clean dry bowl.
  • Using your hands, roughly shape them into balls and store in the fridge.
  • Kothamalli Podi is an excellent side for curd rice, and idlis.

HINTS:

The beauty of this corriander podi is that its an instant home made pickle/side for curd rice.

When you have sudden guests, take out a ball and grind with some coconut and water to get Corriander Chutney.

Add a little to home made thick curd and mix it in for aromatic pachadi!

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Kaju Katli – Deepavali Sweets Series.

One of the most favourite sweets growing up, has always been the Kaju Katli. I guess I fell for its pillow like softness, sweet thats not to much nor too little, but just right, and the little bite sized goodness coming in such small packages! I dont remember when they started getting really famous, but I still loved them a lot! The other sweet that I really really loved was the Sweet Sev from Gomathy Sankar Sweets & Savouries near Ranganathan Street in T.Nagar. Madurai Appa would always get a small quantity of about 250 gms, and we would all get just a couple to savour. But I loved the slightly salty sev inside coated thickly with layers of hardened sugar!!!  Its always a pleasure to reminsce about little memories from our childhood, blasted in to the present!

The first time I ever made this sweet was about 2 years ago when my little one simply loved it so much. She said they were thin and tiny, and so they were hers!. And that was why I could never find good ones to shoot! It`s almost tradition to make it for Deepavali since then, and quite a few of my readers had requested for this recipe!  Happy Deepavali you guys. This recipe is specially for my reader Ramya!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Cashew Nuts.

1/2 Cup Sugar.

1/4 Cup Water.

1-2 Drops Rose Essence.

1 Tsp Ghee to grease your hands before kneading .

PREPARATION:

  • The first step is to pulse room temperature  cashews in to a fine powder. In many places, people store all their nuts in the fridge or freezer to prevent it from becoming rancid. In such cases, keep the cashews out for at least an hour so they come down to room temperature. When they are ground cold, the heat from the mixer causes them to stick together and the powder is not as free flowing and fine.
  • Take the measured quantity of cashew nuts and pop them in the mixer jar. Grind them steadily until it becomes a fine powder.
  • The next important step is bringing the sugar solution to “single string” consistency. This is needed for Boondhi Laddoos, Kaju Katli, Badushah, Mysore Pak  and some other sweets.
  • Take a wide mouthed heavy bottomed kadai and add a heaped 1/2 cup of regular white sugar. Top it with 1/4 cup of water and set it on the stove on medium flame. Keep stirring the mixture on and off and after about 5 minutes you should see it bubbling and frothing. Slowly the sugar solution moves to a single string consistency.  To check if the sugar solution has reached the required consistency, take a little of the syrup in the back of your ladle and try stretching it between your index finger and thumb. If this forms a fine string, then the required consistency is reached. This is a very important step and the coming together of the katli rests on the single string consistency.
  • Lower your flame to SIM and tip the ground cashew powder in to the kadai and keep on stirring until it reaches a slightly thicker mass. It would be still a little sticky but will the sugar will start hardening rapidly, so do not worry. It should look like sticky chappathi dough.
  • Switch off the gas and remove from the heat. Wait for about 4-5 minutes.
Cahsew Dough after kneading!
  • Clear a clean surface to work on and grease it with a little ghee.
  • Now transfer the cashew dough to the greased surface and knead it gently with greased palms. This step is important to get a shiny smooth pliable dough. It just needs a little time to work on the dough. If you feel its still sticky, try adding a few drops of ghee and continue working on it. You could use disposable gloves if you feel its too hot to handle.
  • The dough should get smooth and shiny on the outside and get in to a pliable round ball.
  • Take a large piece of parchment paper and place this dough on it. Fold it over the ball as shown and press with your palm to make a flat disc. Now using the rolling pin, smooth the dough in to a thin chappathi. It can be as thin as you want your katli to be. Make sure that the surface is uniform.
Cashew Dough pressed thin in parchment paper.

  • If you do not have parchment paper, you could use two ziploc bags or the back of a cookie sheet and a ziploc bag. You need to hold the dough in a non stick surface and roll over another non stick surface.
  • Open the paper and immediately mark in to diamond shapes. All this should be done when the dough is moderately warm.
  • Decorate each diamond with a string of saffron.
  • When cool, transfer to an air tight container.
  • Kaju Katli with absolutely no ghee or no oil is ready!

 

HINTS:

  1. There are little tips and tricks that are part of any cooking process and they sometimes can make or break the dish. In this case, having room temperature cashews are important.
  2. For first timers, the sugar solution sometimes can get tricky, Its better to make this over a medium low flame when there is more time to check and react.
  3. The last tip is to make sure that the dough gets smooth and pliable. IF the sugar solution is single string then this should not be a problem. Knead the dough well with a few drops of ghee when its still warm.
  4. Please leave your comments on this post, with your observations and here`s to wishing you a Happy Deepavali.

 

Italian Cuisine. · Kid Friendly Recipes.

Lemony Dill Pesto.

Dill has been a relatively new herb to me as I have never tasted it growing up. There are certain fruits and vegetable that we have always kept away, never knowing why. I am guessing dill was one such herb. I do remember seeing bunches here and there in Chennai, some years back, but I have never tried to cook with it!  In the US, dill is pretty much a common addition to dips and sauces. Last year when I went to India, my sister made this amazing Dill Dhal, and I was a sucker for it. When I came back I pretty much started finding ways to add it to my weekly grocery shopping. When I had to decide on a lunch menu for my 9 year old, I decided to make a pesto with the dill, almost similar to the one we make with basil. Well, and why not?  I didnt have pine nuts and I was always looking for excuses to sneak in walnuts in my little one food, so I decided to use the walnuts instead. ..Yes, you could never make out! The pesto was aromatic, flavourful, lemony, garlicky and yummy!  I used cheese ravioli as the base and dressed it pretty with the green pesto! Go on and try it!

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Dill.

12 Almond Pieces/Walnut Pieces.

1/4 Cup Olive Oil.

6 Garlic Pods.

Salt to taste.

1/2 Lemon Juice.

1 Tsp Lemon Zest.

PREPARATION:

  • Take a food processor jar and pop all the walnuts/almonds and the garlic pods in to the jar. Give it a quick pulse.
  • Now add the chopped dill, salt, lemon zest and pulse again.
  • Continue pulsing until roughly chopped and slowly add the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 weeks.

TO USE LEMON DILL PESTO AS A SAUCE:

  • Cook the desired pasta until its al-dente and save a little of the salted pasta water.
  • In a wok, add some extra virgin olive oil, herbs de provence, and then the dill pesto.
  • After a light saute, add the cooked pasta and the pasta water.
  • Swirl in and toss.
  • Serve hot with a garnish of your favourite shredded cheese.

TO USE LEMON DILL PESTO AS A DIP:

  • Combine lemon dill pesto with a spoon of cream cheese/ mascarpone cheese and some sour cream/hung curd.
  • Adjust salt to suit your taste.
  • lemon Dill Pesto makes an earthy  dip filled with tons of flavour and zest.