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Archive for August, 2009

anya b'day 116

Mushikavaahana modaka hastha,
Chaamara karna vilambitha sutra,
Vaamana rupa maheshwara putra,
Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe”

Meaning of the above Sanskrit Sloka:

“O Lord Vinayaka! the remover of all obstacles, the son of Lord Shiva, with a form which is very short, with mouse as Thy vehicle, with sweet pudding in hand, with wide ears and long hanging trunk, I prostrate at Thy lotus-like Feet!”

“Ganesh Chaturthi” is one of the most popular Hindu festivals. It is also called “Vinayaka Chaturthi” or “Pillayar Chaturthi”. This is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world. Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are thrown into water. 

Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His Names are chanted first before any auspicious work is begun. He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya.

My precious possessions

My precious possessions

 Once upon a time, the Goddess Gauri(consort of Lord Shiva), while bathing, created Ganesha as a pure white being out of the mud of Her Body and placed Him at the entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anyone to enter while she went inside for a bath. Lord Shiva Himself was returning home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha’s head as He thought Ganesha was an outsider.

When Gauri came to know of this she was sorely grieved. To console her grief, Shiva ordered His servants to cut off and bring to Him the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head facing north. The servants went on their mission and found only an elephant in that position. The sacrifice was thus made and the elephant’s head was brought before Shiva. The Lord then joined the elephant’s head onto the body of Ganesha.

Lord Shiva made His son worthy of worship at the beginning of all undertakings, marriages, expeditions, studies, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapada. He is the Lord who removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success. Hence He is called Vigna Vinayaka. Beautiful explanation of chaturthi by Sri Swami Sivananda.

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Ganesha imitating his father Lord Nataraja( Shiva)

The following are some of the common Names of Lord Ganesha: Pillayar, Sumukha, Ekadantha, Gajakarnaka, Lambodara, Vignaraja, Ganadhyaksha, Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vakratunda, Siddhivinayaka, Surpakarna, Heramba, Skandapurvaja, Kapila and Vigneshwara. He is also known by many as Maha-Ganapathi.

 It is good to chant Ganesha Gayatri Mantra, which  is as follows.

“Tat purushaaya vidmahe
Vakratundaaya dheemahi
Tanno dhanti prachodayaat.”

He is very fond of sweet pudding or balls of rice flour with a sweet core. Its called “Modhakas” or “Kozhakattais” in Tamil. While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra( Mumbai). Huge statues of Ganesha are made , decorated and worshipped for 10 days and finally given to the Ocean.

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Ganehshas in concert- with their favorite sweet Modhkas

Lord Ganesha is very intelligent. When Narada announced, he will give the Divine mango to whoever finishes a full turn of the world, Lord Muruga, his younger brother set out to take  a trip of the entire world in his peacock, while Lord Ganesha just took a complete turn of his parents Shiva And Parvati- and gave an explanation, that his parents meant the world to him.

As kids, I and my brother would go and collect Arakampul- a type of grass and erugam flower to make garlands for Ganesha. Our Dad would buy the Clay Ganesha from a mould and Mom would be busy with the Neivedhyam preparations, while I help with the flower collections and decorations. Dad would perform the poojai and since I was learning music, I would sing all the pillayar songs I know, starting from Geetham to keetanai. We would be waiting for the neivedhyam, to finish, so we can taste the vadai and modhakam and tell mom, if the salt is ok. Since all these offerings can’t be tasted beforehand,  mom would welcome our comments, to rectify the salt and spice levels for the further preparations for the humans. Poor GOD never says a word. But with practice, you will end up doing it right eventually.

Cooking

Offerings For Ganesha

     Well, I would say I go “Nuts for Ganesha”. There are more than 60 Ganesha’s in my home (in US), which I have collected over 9 years. The Collection started when 3-4 friends gifted Ganesha for my wedding. I cherish them till date. The Ganesha could be anything from a brass hanging lamp, a pendant in a necklace, Silver idols, Terracotta, Clay figure, Glass painting, Diwali Diya, Tanjore painting, a fabric art piece,  hand made-Cross stich  Ganesha, plastic ones, wooden puppet Ganesha’s, Coral Ganesha, Ganesha made in glass, wooden sculptures, Stone Ganesha’s, kumkum box, Spices Filled statue  etc………….. He is like my Good Luck Charm…..

As children, we use to hop house after house in the colony to win in the competition, “who sees the maximum number of Ganesha’s on Vinayaka Chaturthi Day”. That  was Fun!

Sweet Modhkas: (Kozhakattai)                             

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Modhka Mould

 

111

Neivedhyam

Outer Dough:                               

Choppu with poornam

Choppu with poornam

    

  • Rice Flour- 1 cup.
  • Water-11/2 cups.
  • Salt- a teeny bit.
  • Sesame oil- 2 tsp.

For poornam-Filling:

  • Coconut scrapes-1 cup.
  • Jaggery-3/4cup.
  • Cardomom powder-1tsp.
  • Ghee-4 tsp.

Method:

  1.  Allow water to boil, add salt and add flour little by little, without forming lumps and cook well until it becomes soft. 
  2. Turn the heat off, when the dough becomes not sticky.
  3. Add coconut, jaggery, cardomom in a pan and mix well and cook until it gets thick and add ghee.
  4. Allow everything to cool.
  5. Make choppu or round cups with the dough, using oil and water to dip hands inbetween.
  6. Put a small amount of filling and close the cup.
  7. Steam it until the modhka becomes shiny.
  8. Offer it to God and Enjoy!

Note:

 The offerings for Ganesha are Vella Kozhakatai( Sweet modhkas), Ulundu kozhakattai (Salt n Spicy Modhkas), Vada, Dhal Payasam, Plain Rice, Cooked Thoor dhal, Pacharisi Idli, Ellu ( Sesame Kozhakattai), Ammini ( Mini)Kozhakattai, Sundal, Appam Etc. A drop is ghee is sprayed to cleanse( anna suddhi) before offering it to GOD. Typically,Rice is soaked, dried and ground to a powder. But I use the store bought fresh packet of rice flour and it works just fine.

Lovely Marigold Flowers in my garden, used For Pooja

Lovely Marigold Flowers in my garden, used For Pooja

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Masala Ganesha, done by me on a boring afternoon

Masala Ganesha, done by me on a boring afternoon

 

Submitted to Purva daawat’s “Festive Food Event”

http://purvasdaawat.blogspot.com/2009/08/announcing-krishna-and-ganesh-chaturthi.html

 

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My very first Award

                                                    

Scrumptious Blog Award

Scrumptious Blog Award

 Wow, what  a wonderful way to start the day! I reluctantly opened my blog, this morning to find out this cheerful award waiting for me. Chitra of  Ratatouille, http://anyonecan-cook.blogspot.com/ gave me this award. You really made my day Chitra. It feels as if Lord Ganesha had this sweet surprise for me…

The award is given to blogs which :

Inspire you

Encourage you
May give Fabulous information
A great read
Has Scrumptious recipes
Any other reasons you can think of……

 
The rules are:
Put the logo on your blog or post.
Nominate at least 7 blogs
Let them know that they have received this Scrumptious award by commenting on their blog. Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from.
I would like to nominate this award to the following bloggers:

http://anubhavati.wordpress.com/– Shoba

http://www.divya-dilse.blogspot.com/ -Divya Vikram

http://www.monsoonspice.com/ -Sia

http://akshayapaatram.blogspot.com/ -Priya

http://saffrontrail.blogspot.com/ -Nandita Iyer

http://indiacuisine.blogspot.com/ – Sailu

http://enjoyindianfood.blogspot.com/ -Meera

Enjoy!

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Cooking 014

The term “bell pepper” is the American name for some vegetables of the Capsicum annuum  species of plants. The misleading name “pepper” (pimientoin Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. It comes in an array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange and more rarely, white, purple, blue, pink, rainbow, aqua, violet, maroon, black and brown, depending on when they are harvested and the specific cultivar. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than red, yellow or orange peppers.

Look like Colorful Christmas Ornaments

A set of traffic lights

Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annuum (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). In many European countries, the word paprika also refers to bell peppers themselves. The word “paprika” comes through Hungarian (where it stands for the fruit)  probably ultimately from Sanskrit pippali “long pepper”. Incidentally “Paprika” happens to be one of the pet names, given to my daughter. My SIL, calls my daughter “Paprika”.

Health Benefits of Bell Peppers:

  1. Excellent source of Vit C and Vit A ( beta Carotene).
  2. Rich in antioxidants, which work effectively to neutralize free radicals which cause extensive cell damage.
  3. Bell peppers contain Vit B6 and Folic acid. These two B vitamins are very important for reducing high levels of homocysteine, which in turn reduces heart attack and stroke.
  4. Contains Lycopene, a carotenoid which prevents cancers of the cervix, pancreas and bladder.
  5. Excellent source of fiber.
  6. Vitamin C and beta-carotene content, phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
  7. Studies show protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Saw these beautifully shaped Christmas ornaments like bell peppers in the grocers, and decided to experiment something novel with that. It came out very good and my hubby and daughter relished it very much.

Ingredients:                                                                          Cooking 011-1

  • Basmati Rice- 2 cups.                           
  • Tri -colored bell peppers-1 in each color.
  • Jalapeno peppers-2.
  • White Onion-1.
  • Olive oil- 3 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds- 1tsp.
  • Cilantro- 1/4 cup.
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Black pepper- to taste.
  • Cardamom- 5.
  • Bay leaves- 3.
  • Cinnamon stick- 2.                                                               Cooking 013
  • Lime juice- 3tsp.

Method:

  1. Cook  2 cups of Basmati rice with 4 cups of water and set aside.
  2. Slit the capsicum( tri -color peppers), onion and jalapenos lengthwise into thin strips.( the entire 3 peppers may not get used completely- the rest may be used as a salad with a dip)
  3. Heat oil in a pan and toss jeera ( Cumin), cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon.
  4. Add onions and jalapenos and saute for 1 min.
  5. Now add the peppers and saute for 1 min. The peppers should have a crunchy, crisp texture, so don’t cook for too long.
  6. Season with salt, pepper.
  7. Add cilantro and lemon juice for garnish.
  8. Toss this mixture to the cooked rice. Mix well and serve when its still warm with Raita of your choice.

Serves 3-4 people.

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Badam Halwa

Mmm Mmm Mmm Good!  The very thought of it, makes me crave for it all over again. I did this “Badam Halwa” as a father’s day treat for my husband. He simply loves it. “Hard nut to crack”  is literally the best phrase for this  badam nut. On the way back from school, inside our colony, we used to have almond trees. Squirrel’s, would have done us a favor by scattering some of the hard to crack nuts  around in the ground and we would break the hard nut with a lot of effort and eat the fresh almond inside. Although popularly referred to as a nut, the almond fruit’s seed is botanically not a true nut, but the seed of a drupe.

 The sweet almond itself contains practically no carbohydrates and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and cookies (biscuits) for low-carbohydrate diets or for patients suffering from diabetes mellitus or any other form of glycosuria. Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two “good” fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol. Claimed health benefits of almonds include improved complexion & and the prevention of cancer.

In Ayurveda, an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent, almond is considered a nutritive for brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. Recent studies have shown that the constituents of almond have anti-inflammatory, immunity boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects.

Almonds (Badam)

Almonds (Badam)

Ingredients:                         Cooking and Performance 024

  • Almonds-unsalted- 2cups.
  • Cane sugar- 2 1/2 cups.
  • Kesar yellow color- 1/2 tsp.
  • Ghee- 1cup.
  • Milk-1/2 cup.
  • Saffron- few strands.

Method:

  1. Blanch almonds in hot water for 1 hour.
  2. Remove outer skin and grind into smooth paste using  warm milk for grinding.
  3. Mix little water to sugar and heat it in a thick bottom pan, till it is dissolved and one string consistency is reached.
  4. Add badam paste and cook til it becomes thick.
  5. Add kesar color and saffron soaked in milk.
  6. When the halwa sticks to the bottom of the pan, add ghee at last, slowly, contantly stirring, till halwa consistency is set.
  7. A tasty and nutritious dessert is “all set” to be enjoyed.

Note:

  • If you miss the halwa consistency and the setting gets hard, no worries- it can be enjoyed as “Badam Cake”.
  • Do not refrigerate, as the sugar may crystallize. It can be stored in an airtight container, after it cools down. Since it has ghee, it will not get spoilt for few weeks.

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Rava Idli

Rava Idli

Why get the ready made mixes, when you can make yummy Rava idli’s from scratch, in a snap. It is really simple to make this and it is a very healthy tiffin option  & easy to digest and  most of all kids won’t make a fuss to eat this steamed treat. I also add some scraped carrots to make it more healthy, fun, interesting and colorful.

Ingredients:                                                                     Rava Idlis

  • Bombay Rava- 1cup ( 8 idlis).
  • Green chilly-2.
  • Ginger- 1 inch.
  • Cashew nuts- 10.
  • Oil- 2 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds- 1tsp.
  • Channa Dhal- 1tsp.
  • Curry leaves- an arc.
  • Baking powder-a teeny bit.
  • Salt- for taste.
  • Coconut scrapes-1tsp.
  • Curd- 1/2 cup. (its ok if its is sour).
  • Ghee- 1tsp for coating idli plates.

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
  2. Once the mustard seeds starts splattering, add channa dhal, chopped green chillies, chopped ginger, curry leaves and cashews.
  3. Add Rava to it and roast until it becomes light brown.
  4. Add curd, salt, baking powder coconut scrapes and let  the batter sit for 1o minutes.
  5. Coat the idli plates with ghee and pour the rava batter.
  6. Steam the rava idli’s in a cooker.
  7. In a few minutes, hot rava idli’s will be ready.
  8. Serve with coconut or coriander chutney.

Note:

  1. If required, 2tsp of semiya or (vermicelli) can be added to the rava( semolina).
  2. If you are using scraped carrots, add the scraped carrots to the idli pan in the design you want and then pour the batter.

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Roasted Salty Peanuts

Roasted Salty Peanuts in Nantasket Beach

Back home in Chennai,you hardly see Surfers,Colorful Umbrellas and kids with bathing suits making sand castles.That’s a very western thing.But you can see plenty of Kites Flying, mini Ferris wheels, Fishermen folk,Flower vendors,Peanut vendors and small stalls making hot beachy treats like Chilli Bajji-(a deep fried battered snack),Sutta Cholam-(corn,that has been cooked in flame like BBQ),Thengai Maangai Patani Sundal-(cooked beans with mangoes and coconuts0. People come to the beach as an outing, to get some fresh air, drench their feet in the salty water and of course to enjoy the yummy beach treats.

As a child, every summer, we go to Chennai for the Summer Vacations and we would make a trip to Marina Beach or Besant Nagar Beach(Elliots Beach).I used to love the Besant nagar beach, as it also has a beautiful Astalakshmi temple by the beach. After getting wet and sticky, we would enjoy some of these yummy treats. Sutta Cholam is one of my favorites. Corn on the cob is cooked over flame and salt and lemon is coated over them and eaten while its is still hot. Raw mango slices with salt n chilly powder sprinkled on top of them is another yummy treat.

My Parents are here in the US for a visit and we decided to go to Nantasket Beach(MA). Its a beautiful beach in the South Shore. In an attempt to make them feel at home, made all the snacks that would typically be a treat for your tongue at the beach. My dad gave some sound effects- murug murug…… to make it even more real.

Chilly Bajji

 

CIMG1779

Milagai Bajji

 

 Ingredients:

Bajji chillies

Bajji chillies

                 

  • Bajji Chillies- 10.
  • Gram Flour-1 cup.
  • Rice Flour-1cup.
  • Red chilly powder- 1tsp.
  • Asafoetida-a pinch.
  • Salt- to taste.
  • Baking powder-a pinch for crispiness.
  • Tamarind juice- 1cup.

Method:

  1. Slit the chillies in a way that they are still intact and remove the pith and seeds.
  2. Soak them in tamarind juice for 1o minutes.
  3. Add the above ingredients in a bowl and add little water to make a thick paste.
  4. Drain the excess tamarind juice.
  5. Dip the chillies in the batter and make sure its covered with the batter.
  6. Deep fry in hot oil.
  7. Drain excess oil with a paper towel and serve with any date chutney or tomato ketchup.
Beware of Seagulls

Beware of Seagulls

Note: Another version the chilly bajji can be made with stuffing in the middle.

Thengai-Maangai Patani Sundal:

Thengai Maangai Patani Sundal

Thengai Maangai Patani Sundal

This is a protein filled salt n spicy treat with a hint of sourness.

Ingredients:

  • Green Vatana ( dried green peas)-1 cup.
  • Raw Mango chopped-1/4 cup.
  • Coc0nut scrapes or coconut pieces- 2tsp.176
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Oil-1 tsp.

For Seasoning:

  • Mustard seeds-1tsp.
  • Urad Dhal-1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.
  • Green chillies slit-3.
  • Curry leaves- an arc.

Method:

  1.  Soak the green vatana in water for 8 hours.
  2. Pressure cook them till 1 whistle  with salt or can be cooked in microwave, if you don’t want it to become too soft.
  3. Drain excess water from the peas.
  4. Take oil in a pan and add the things mentioned in seasonings and after the mustard splatters add raw mango and saute for 1/2 minute.
  5. Add cooked peas and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle coconut scrapes.

 Raw Mango Slices:

Mouth watering mango slices

Mouth watering mango slices

 Ingredients:

  • Raw mango cuts.
  • Salt.
  • Red chilly powder-1/2 tsp.

Cut the mango in thin strips and make slits like the above photo. Mix salt and chilly powder together and sprinkle on the  mango slices and enjoy!

Yum

Yum

Roasted Peanuts:

Take raw peanuts and roast them with a little bit oil and sprinkle salt and red chilly powder and can be served in a paper cone. Pori kadalai– Pori(Puffed rice) can also be added to the peanuts to make it even more interesting.

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