“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”
The most tastiest dish is probably the most simple and yet the most comforting. What could it be? The porridge that your mother makes with the most available ingredients on hand…sometimes it`s hot steaming rasam, or a bowl of soup, or a cup of dhal…be it whatever it may, what really counts is the small acts of care and love that go with it. This is a delicacy that I learnt from my good friend`s wife. She is an expert in making it and would never fail to send it for me whenever she did…I loved biting in to its crisp rings and enjoy the crunchiness and the simple flavors. It never felt greasy at any point and you would almost feel like it was baked! There are simply a few things that have to be taken care of when you make this murukku. I have enlisted them at the very end…hope this helps.
2.5 Cups Raw Rice Flour.
1 Cup Roasted Urad Flour.
2-2.5 Tsp Salt depending on the taste.
3-4 Tsp Oil / Vanaspati /Ghee.
Rice Flour could be made in two ways. One way is to wash the raw rice, allow it to dry by spreading on a sheet and when completely dry, getting it powdered in the Flour Mill. The other way is to use the Rice Flour that`s readily available in the stores. Either way make sure that the rice flour is sieved and set aside.
This Murukku is called “Vellai” as it`s almost white in color. This is acheived by roasting the Urad Dhal on a low flame until you get the wonderful aroma. It should NOT be roasted red as we do in Kozhukattais. Once they Urad Dhal is well roasted, cool, powder and sieve. Set aside.
Mix the rice flour, urad flour, and salt and add the required amount of oil/ ghee/ vanaspati. Use room temperature water and mix to get a smooth pliable dough. When done, smear the ball with a spoon of oil and keep covered with a damp cloth so the dough does not dry out.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and keep a dry collander lined with a paper towel ready.
When the oil is hot enough, press it in to little murukkus with a Murukku Press directly on to the oil.
When the murukku hits the oil it will hiss and get fried. Once the bubbles subside, remove the murukku with the help of a slotted ladle or a skewer and drain on to the collander.
These Murukkus are very crisp yet buttery, light yet melt in the mouth soft.
Store in air tight containers for about 2-3 weeks.
This is the most simplest and minimalistic murukku with just 3 ingredients, yet the most flavourful.
If you find the dough is dry, sprinkle a few drops of water and a tsp of oil. If you think its too squishy, add a few spoons of rice flour little at a time and a spoon of oil and knead it together.
Coating the ball of dough with oil, helps it to retain all the moisture without drying out.
As a kid I was never too fond of sweets and would shy away from anything that was too sweet and dripping with syrup. The only exception was of course Gulab Jamun, but even that I could never have more than two at any one point. My all time favourite sweet was always the soft Badushah with flaky centres and sugary yet crunchy exteriors. Later when we moved to Bangalore, I had the opportunity to visit Adyar Anandha Bhavan and saw the cute mini jangiris and I instantly fell for their size and color! Strangely from that day I was hooked. I enjoy having one of those mini bite sized soft yet sweet jangiris for my instant sugar fix compulsions which would happen right after a heavy sunday lunch! Strangely my kids are like me – one of them loves Jangiri and the other loves Badushah, so I make them both every year for Deepavali. Jangiri/ Emarti is also a famous delicacy prepared in the Northern parts of India for Holi – the festival of colours.
3/4 Cup Whole Urad Dhal.
A pinch of Salt.
Orange Food Colour as needed dissolved in 1 Tbsp of Water.
1 Tsp CornFlour.
1 Tsp Rice Flour.
2 1/2 Cups Sugar.
1 Cup Water.
1 Tsp Rose Essence.
1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.
1 Tsp Lemon Juice.
Soak the Urad Dhal for about a minimum of 3-4 hours at least with sufficient water.
Grind in wet grinder/ food processor with as little water as possible.
The batter should be light and airy as it would be when you make Dahi Vada.
If you feel its a little too runny, add rice flour and corn flour. Mix well as if you are beating the batter so its stays light and airy.
Add the orange food color to the urad dhal and and mix gently.
Start making the sugar syrup to single string consistency.
Measure out the sugar, add water and keep on stove in medium flame.
Keep stirring and the solution will start to boil.
In a few minutes, the syrup would have reached single string consistency – When you pick up the ladle and allow the syrup to drip, it will form a small stretchy thin string.
The other option to ascertain single string consistency is to dab a small drop of sugar solution on to your index finger and try to make a string with the thumb. If its stretches in to a thin line, you are done.
Switch off flame and add cardamom powder and rose essence and a few more drops of food colour.
Add a few drops of lemon juice to the syrup.
If you have a piping bag for using on cakes, use the medium nozzle and it should work fine.
Else take a large ziploc bag and open out completely.
Heat up an iron nail and make a hole in the middle of the ziploc bag. We use a heated nail as it would sear the sides of the ziploc and seal it from tearing on pressure.
Scoop the batter on to the ziploc and slowly pipe jangiris on to the oil.
The oil shd be on medium flame on a constant temperature.
Use a skewer and cook on both sides.
Remove when crisp and dunk in sugar syrup.
Wait for about 5 minutes at least before removing from syrup.
Continue and complete until the batter is done.
Gorgeous Jangiri/ Emarti is ready to be served.
One of the most important aspect here it to make sure that the urad batter is light and fluffy. This makes the Jangiri/ Emarti absorb more syrup and gives you the right consistency.
Sugar Solution Single String is also extremely important so if required try it once before on your stove to note the settings. You can make so many different sweets with this consistency – Badushah, Kaju Katli, Boondhi Laddoo, Madatha Khaaja etc.
Navarathri is a celebration of the Goddesses that protect us and are the very epitome of power and knowledge. I have already a detailed postexplaning the significance of this beautiful festival. Celebrating Navarathri also brings with it beautiful visions about Golu Dolls, celebrations, rustle of silk sarees, little girls decked in beautiful silk pavadais, excitement of visiting friends and families, singing songs in praise of Devi, and of course Sundal! When we were in college, it was even more exciting as we got to visit our friends every evening, for “vethalai paaku”. For the uninitiated, this is the customary practice of calling married women and unmarried girls to their homes for Golu – the festival of dolls. These women are offered the daily “prasadam” , and along with that “thamboolam” consisting of betel leaves, betel nuts, kumkum, sandalwood powder, turmeric, and many times a small gift.
As kids , it was always interesting to get all decked up and visit our friend and families for Golu. One of my aunts always made it a point to gift me glass bangles for Navarathri. She is not with us anymore, but I can never forget the little things that she would do for me on these special days. Of all the sundals that we make at home, TH and my kids love Nilakadalai sundal hands down. I love the fact that its so easy to make with no prior soaking and no fuss at all.
`1 Cup Raw Peanuts.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 1/2 Tsp Idli Molagaipodi.
2 Tsp Coconut Oil.
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.
1 Tsp Urad Dhal.
Hing as needed.
Wash the raw peanuts and transfer to a cooker vessel. Add just enough water to cover the peanuts, add salt and steam cook it for about 2-3 whistles. It should be soft and well cooked, but not mushy.
Drain the excess water but save it as you could use it in rasam, sambar etc.
Take a shallow kadai and add the coconut oil.
Add seasonings when hot and allow to fry in oil.
Once the mustard seeds have crackled. add the cooked peanuts.
Swirl for a couple minutes until the peanuts are coated well with the oil and the seasonings.
Finally add the 1 1/2 – 2 Tsp of Idli Molagappodi and mix well.
Crunchy Peanut Sundal packed with protein and nutrition is a very tasty snack and an easy Neivedhyam for Navarathri as it involves no prior soaking.
On days when your green vegetable is less, add Peanut Sundal as an extra protein source.
“Cooking is like Love; It should be entered in to with abandon, or not at all”
Cooking has always been a wonderful way for me to express my ramblings, except otherwise when I do it on paper! Many days when I feel upset or a little down, cooking has always been therapy. It`s also the thought that there are people I love, who enjoy eating what I cook! Festivals always always make me extremely chirpy and happy as I love succumbing in to the rituals of a tradition hundreds of years old, including my kids in to explaining the reasons behind such time tested traditions, dressing up in traditional attires and jewellery, and of course the food…The Food!!! Every religious celebration has very different offerings, with its own significances. Chakkara Pongal and Venn Pongal for Pongal, Nombu Adai for Karadaiyar Nombu,Kozhukattais for Lord Ganesha, Cheedai and Murukku for Lord Krishna on the celebration of his birthday, different Sundal Varieties for Navarathri and so on and so forth. Nei Appam is one such traditional preparation that we make for Karthigai Deepam, Deepavali, Avani Avittam, Aadi Perukku etc. This is a quick fix version when you dont have the time to soak raw rice and grind. I still prefer the traditional method, but this was something that my MIL taught me to do whenever I have not planned it in advance.
1 Cup Rice Flour.
1 Cup Wheat Flour.
11/4 Cup Grated Jaggery/ 11/2 Brown Sugar.
1/4 Cup Finely chopped coconut slivers. (Optional)
1 1/2 Tsp Powdered Cardamom.
2-3 Pinches Baking Soda. ( 1 Ripe Banana Mashed)
1 1/4 – 11/2 Cups Milk.
Quickly measure out the dry ingredients – Rice Flour, Wheat Flour, Jaggery/ Brown Sugar, Cardamom, Baking Soda and pop them all in to a open mouthed bowl.
Whisk it and mix all the ingredients with a spoon.
If you want to use a mashed banana instead of the baking soda, add the mashed pulp to the bowl.
Now warm up the milk and slowly pour in to the bowl.
Using a whisk, mox it all in little by little. Start by pouring 1 cup and add more as you need little by little.
The consistency of the batter should resemble a thick idli batter. Not too runny.
Allow it to sit on your counter for about ten to twenty minutes.
Take the tradional Appam Pan with the hemispherical indeentations or use the Ebelskiver panavailable in the specialty kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table and even Amazon.
Fill up the depressions with oil/ ghee and set on the stove on medium heat.
Once then oil/ghee is hot enough, pour out the batter with a ladle slowly to fill about 75% of the depression.
This should take about 2-3 minutes to cook on one side. Using a knife, or a skewer, tip it over to get the other side cooked.
When the oil stops bubbling, carefully drain the appams on to a clean dry container lined with a napkin to drain out the excess oil.
Continue until all the batter is complete.
Easy Nei Appam is ready with just about ten mins of prep work!
Poli is a traditional Indian sweet made during many festive occasions. There are basically two varieties of Poornam Poli – one thats stuffed with a coconut jaggery filling and the other with a bengal gram and jaggery filling. Both are extremely delicious and every household have their own way of doing these festive treats. Traditionally the outer dough of the Poornam Poli is made with maida and its a slightly laborious process. The maida is mixed with turmeric and a pinch of salt and doused with gingely oil. The traditional poli also requires to be made by flattening the maida on to a greased banana leaf and spreading with the fingers, which are also greased with more gingely oil. Its then “stuffed” with the poornam and spread out again on to the leaf, with more oil. Normally after a session of “poli making” the kitchen are so heavily oiled and get so greasy. It requires a lot of cleaning up after. TOday my version is made more healthier by making the outer dough with Wheat Flour and rolling the stuffing the polis just like you would, a paratha! If you miss the elasticity of the maida, you can try making them with 50% atta and 50% maida.
1 Cup Wheat Flour.
A Pinch of Salt.
A pinch of turmeric.
1/2 Cup Warm Water.
2 Tsp Gingely Oil.
1/2 Cup Jaggery.
1/2 Cup Coconut.
1/8 Cup Water.
1/4 Tsp Cardamom Powder.
Add a pinch of salt, turmeric and the gingely oil and knead the wheat flour with warm water slowly and firmly until you get a soft pliable dough. This is extremely important for the easy spreading of the polis. It should feel soft, and pliable. If you feel its too hard, add a few drops of water and oil and keep kneading until you get the required texture. Spread a layer of oil on the ball and keep covered with a damp cloth.
In a flat heavy bottomed vessel, add the jaggery and water and allow it to melt. When it starts boiling, add the measured grated coconut.
Keep stirring until you get a slightly solid consistency – one where you can make a poornam ball. ( This is almost similar to how we make the poornams for the Sweet Kozhukattais.)
When its a little cool, make little poornam balls and set aside.
Take a large lemon sized ball and make a dent with your thumb. Shape in to a form of a diya and drop a poornam ball inside the depsression. Now close the edges and seal it by twisting the top.
Dust with a little flour and flatten them in to round chappathis, like you would do with an aloo paratha.
Cook the sweet poornam filled chappathis over a hot tava greasing it with ghee or gingely oil.
Sweet Wheat Poli with Coconut Jaggery Poornam is ready for Neivedhyam.
It has a lot less oil and fat, and subsitution of wheat flour for all purpose flour makes it all the more healthier.
Half the carbs – double the fun!!
Sweet Wheat Polis are traditionally made in our household during Pongal.
The very first time that I tried this ladoo was when I got a hamper for New Year`s , from a client organisation, while I was working with ICICI Bank. The ladoo had tiny little miniscule pearls all held together with the gooeyness of sugar and ghee to make one heavenly ball of niceness! Another time, I tasted these ladoos when my brother in law brought a large pack from Kanpur. This version was redolent with the aroma of ghee and the centre was so smooth and goeey with almost no “boondhis”! My daughter S fell for them and had been pestering me to make them ever since. When I actually started looking for inspiration on the internet, I realised that Tarla Dalal`s version was pretty much standard and all other version were inspired by hers. As we do not have the fine Boondhi Ladle that is required for this version, Vah Chef suggests that you sprinkle some hot water so as to crumble it down and then shape them in to ladoos. This version is much more forgiving than the Traditional Boondhi ladoo which requires a certain discipline in terms of temperature of the sugar syrup, consistency of the syrup and of course fashioning the ladoos ! Try Motichur Ladoos this Diwali and you`ll love it!
For the Boondhi Batter:
1 1/2 Cup of Besan sifted.
1 1/2 Tbsp FIne Rava sifted.
A pinch of Baking Soda.
A pinch of orange food colour.
For the Sugar Syrup:
1 1/4 Cup Sugar.
1 1/2 Cup Water.
A pinch of orange food color.
1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.
For the Garnish:
In a dry bowl combine the sifted besan, rava, baking powder and the orange food colour and add about a cup of water to get the desired consistency.
The batter should not be runny or too tight. Set aside.
For the sugar syrup add sugar and water to a heavy bottomed pan and allow to boil. When it comes to a boil, keep an eye on it stirring every few minutes until it reaches one string consistency.
TO check for ONE STRING consistency, if the syrup between your index finger and thumb stretches to form a string, you`ve reached the desired consistency.
Add rose essence, almond slivers and cardamom powder and mix it in. Keep aside.
Start making the boondhis by pouring a ladle full of the boondhi batter on to a perforated ladle and press it in to the hot oil.
Keep the flame high and make sure to remove the fried boondhi balls before they get too crisp. IF the balls become crisp, then it alters the texture of the motichur ladoos.
Dunk them all in to the warm sugar syrup and mix it well to coat the boondhi balls.
Wipe the base of the perforated ladle once its been used to make the boondhis and then re-use.
Continue and complete all the boondhis and then add this to the warm sugar syrup and mix well.
ASSEMBLING THE LADOOS:
Boil about 3 tbsp of water in a sauce pan and keep it hot.
By now the boondhis would have absorbed all the sugar syrup and be not too firm.
Add all the boondhis in to a mixer or food processor , add the boiling water and give it a quick pulse.
Transfer the crushed boondhis to a plate and start making ladoos.
Traditional Arisi Puttu is a very special offering for Devi during Navarathri. It`s also an auspicious dish, which requires a lot of care and patience. Elders of the family say that to make “puttu” is almost like bringing up a daughter – it requires patience, care and nurturing!!! I learnt this dish from my husband`s mother this summer and I had been wanting to make it at our home for Navarathri. I have also had multiple requests from a couple of my readers, so go ahead and try this out folks. Its a little time consuming, but very tasty and wholesome.
1 Cup Raw Rice.
3/4 Cup – 1 Cup Jaggery.
1/4 Cup Grated Coconut .
1 Tsp Cardamom.
A pinch of turmeric powder.
1/2 Cup Water.
Handful of cashew broken.
1 Tsp Ghee.
Soak the raw rice for about an hour and rinse and drain all the water. Spread it on a large dry towel and allow it to dry for about an hour or so. If you are trying this in cold climates, the trick is for the towel to be dry and so should all the rice particles.
Gather the rice and powder it in the mixie until smooth. In India my Mother in law had ground it in the mill. I did not have that luxury and had to make do with the Prestige Mixer.
At this point, the flour should look like this:
Now transfer the ground rice flour to a dry kadai and roast it on a medium flame until the flour becomes a dull reddish brown color.
Let the flour cool.
Meanwhile boil about 3/4 cup of water with a pinch of turmeric. Allow to cool slightly.
Sprinkle the boiled water little by little on to the roasted flour and mix to moisten the flour, Do not make the flour wet, It should still be moist yet not clumpy.
To aerate the flour and remove lumps, we pass it through a fine seive and use your fingers or a ladle to push the flour through.
Collect in a newspaper.
Now steam the moist flour in idli plates for about 7 mins of high steam. No need of greasing the plates.
When done scoop out the flour, crumble and allow to cool in a plate.
Dissolve 3/4 cup of jaggery in about 3 tbsp of water and keep stirring for about 7-10 minutes, This is an approximate time, as my stove is an electric glass top. A regular LPG stove could take a lot less time.
The jaggery has to get to a “ball” consistency – i.e add a drop of the boiling jaggery in to a bowl of water, and try to make a ball of that jaggery. If you are able to do this, switch off the flame , add cardamom , mix and pour out the jaggery on to the roasted and steamed flour.
Add the roasted cashews and slowly mix in the jaggery in to the rice flour.
You will see sandy smooth sweet light airy Arisi Puttu. Garnish with the grated coconut which is either fresh, or lightly roasted.
This is a very traditional preparation and is also very delicate, so it takes some patience to get it right. The idea to get grainy sandy “puttu” which is light and not heavy and clumpy.
There are certain important aspects that contribute to the texture – slow roasting of the flour, moistening the flour just right, and of course the jaggery!
I have NOT tried this with the store bought rice flour, but that is an experiment for another day.