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Feels good to be back to blogging again. Thanks to my blogger friends for the motivation.

“Sevai” is a tiffin dish that can be done in a jiffy these days. I remember my mom making this for sunday evening tiffin. It’s quiet a project as it was done in a more elaborate fashion, from scratch. She would wash the rice, soak it for few minutes and dry it in a towel and powder it finely. Then cook it in a pan with , salt and few drops of oil  and make rice balls and steam the balls in cooker. The steamed rice balls are then pressed in a machine called “sevai nazhi” to extract noodles and then seasoned with a variety of flavors and enjoyed as an evening meal on the weekends when the whole family is together. She would certainly ask my help to hold the sevai nazhi while she can turn the handle to get the noodles out of the nazhi. You can season them in a variety of flavors like Coconut , Lemon, jaggery-sweet sevai, Pepper-cumin(Milagu Jeera), Tomato, Chakarai(Cane sugar) sevai.

With the fast paced life style we have these days, it would be hard to do that.  Further,this dish can be done in a microwave to save time. Rice noodles are available to buy from chinese or Indian grocers and can be used for this. Although I would still vote for the taste  and texture of the sevai done by conventional method, I am pretty used to using ready-made rice noodles for this preparation. This is a an exciting lunch option for kids, as they always love to eat noodles that are colorful and fun

Done in a Microwave including the seasoning:

Steps:

  1. Take water in a microwave container and heat it until the water boils.
  2. Remove the container from the microwave carefully and soak the rice noodles for 5 minutes and drain all the excess water.
  3. Season with a variety of flavoring and mix well.
  4. Enjoy with chutney or by itself.

Coconut sevai(Thengai sevai):

Ingredients:                                 

  1. Oil- 2tsp.
  2. Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  3. Urad dhal-1 tblsp
  4. Dry Red chillies-2
  5. Curry leaves 5
  6. Cashew nuts-3
  7. Ground nut(optional)-5
  8. asafoetida 1tsp.
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Shredded coconuts- 11/2 cup.

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a microwave safe dish with ingredients 2-8 and microwave for 2 minutes with the lid closed halfway through.
  2. Then add shredded coconut and saute for 1 min in microwave.
  3. Add  the microwaved contents to drained sevai , add salt and mix well. 

Lemon Sevai (Elumichai sevai):

Ingredients:

  • Oil- 2tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  • Urad dhal-1 tblsp
  • Channa dhal- 1tblsp.
  • Green chillies-2
  • Curry leaves- 5
  • Cashew nuts-3
  • Ground nut(optional)-5
  • Asafoetida- 1tsp.
  • Turmeric powder-1 tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice juice from 1 lemon.
  • Method:

    1. Same as mentioned for coconut sevai. Add ingredients 1-10 and heat it in microwave for 2 minutes
    2. Add  seasonings,salt and lemon juice, at last and mix the sevai well.

    Vella Sevai(Sweet jaggery sevai):

    This is my favorite.

    Ingredients:

    1. Jaggery- 1 cup
    2. Shredded coconut- 1/2 cup.
    3. Ghee- 2 tsp.
    4. Cardamom powder- 1tblsp.
    5. Cashews-5
    6. Raisins-5

    Method:

    1. Add the jaggery and coconut in a microwave pan and mix for 2-3 minutes until it blends well.
    2. In another microwave dish, add ghee and cashews and raisins and heat it for a minute .
    3. Mix jaggery coconut blend to ghee toasted cashew and raisin and give it a gentle toss.

     Sending this for MEC event hosted by Lata Raja of Flavours and Tastes http://lata-raja.blogspot.com/

    Microwave Easy cooking(MEC) event initiated by Srivalli of  http://cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com/

     Checkout this link

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    Jeera Poli

    Hmmmm. Now what should I say. This is one of the most delectable sweets I’ve had. A sweet version of poori’s made with all-purpose flour, dipped in sugar syrup with cardamom and topped with crunchy titbits of almonds, cashews and pistachios. Yummylicious! huh?  Well, made this on my mom’s b’day and it was a huge hit. “Jeera” simply means sugar syrup. This is something you can do as part of your Diwali sweets or just on a sunday evening to treat your family with a sweet surprise. It is very easy to make, and sure would be enjoyed by everyone in your family.

    Ingredients:

    • Maida or all purpose flour- 1cup.(for 15 polis)
    • Oil for deep frying-2 cups.
    • Cane sugar- 1cup.
    • Cardomeom powder( Elaichi)- 1tsp.
    • Orange or yellow food color- a pinch
    • Almonds, cashews and pistachios- coarsely powdered- 3tsp.

    Jeera Poli

    Method:

    1. Mix maida with a little water and few drops of oil and knead into a dough.
    2. Keep it aside for 30 minutes.
    3. For Jeera(Sugar syrup): Add little watar to sugar in a pan and heat it till it forms 1 string consistency.
    4. Add cardomom powder and food color to the sugar syrup.
    5. Make small rounds, ( small lemon sized) in the dough and roll them flat  like pooris with a rolling pin.
    6. Dab it with maida, just so they dont stick.
    7. Deep fry in hot oil one by one, till golden brown.
    8. Soak the warm pooris in warm sugar syrup and arrange them in a platter.
    9. Garnish with crunchy titbits of cashew, Almond and pistachios.
    10. They can be served as rounds or can be folded into halves.

    Tip:

    • The pooris have to be crunchy. So don’t soak for too long in the sugar syrup.
    • While making sugar syrup, make sure, it doesn’t cross the 1 string consistency, otherwise the sugar may crystallize on top of polis.
    • 2 tsp of Whole whea flour can be added to all purpose flour if you want the dough to be firm and easy to handle.

    Sending this entry to Sireesha’s sweet series event at http://momrecipies.blogspot.com/2009/10/event-announcement-sweet-series.html

                                   

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    Cooking 063

    Poori’s are wholesome whole wheat bread, that is an absolute favorite for both children and adults. In south india, its customary to serve poori (puri) with madras masal, which is a potato based side to go with them. However in North India, Poori’s are served with chole or channa- a garbanzo bean side dish. Both of them taste very good. Though, I personally like the potato masal very much, I make masal and chole together to break the monotony and to make the dish a bit more interesting and grand. My daughter loves the poori’s. She simply enjoys it with sugar and ghee.

    Poori’s 

    Cooking 062 

    Ingredients:

    • Whole wheat flour (atta)- 2 cups ( will  get about 15 poori’s).
    • Salt- a pinch.
    • Water-just enough to knead the dough.
    • Oil- 1/2 tsp- to knead.
    • Oil- for deep-frying.

    Method:

    1. Mix wheat flour, salt, water and knead them into a dough.
    2. Add 1/2 tsp oil, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.
    3. let the dough sit for 1 hour.
    4. Make the dough into lemon sized small balls.
    5. Flatten them with a rolling-pin and table.
    6. Dab the rounds with atta(whole wheat flour), while pressing, so the rounds are not sticking to the rolling table.
    7. Gently slide the rounds in hot oil and deep fry them in medium heat.
    8. When one side gets cooked, topple it to the other side and gently give it a press to get fluffy poori’s.
    9. Absord excess oil with a  paper towel.
    10. Serve hot with madras-potato masal or chole.

    Tip: Add water little by little while kneading, so you dont make the dough loose.

    Potato(Aalo) Masal     Cooking 064

    Ingredients:

    • Potatoes-3 big.
    • Onions- 1 big.
    • Green chillies-2.
    • Oil- 2 tsp.
    • Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp.
    • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
    • Channa dhal-1/2 tsp.
    • Tomato-1 (optional).
    • Peas- 1/4 cup-(optional).
    • Turmeric- 1/2 tsp.
    • Salt-to taste.
    • Curry leaves- an arc.
    • Gram flour- 2 tsp.

    Method:

    1. Pressure cook potatoes, peel the skin and smash them.
    2. Chop onions and tomatoes(optional).
    3. Slit green chilies.
    4. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once it splatters, add urad dhal, channa dhal, curry leaves, green chillies, Chopped onions and saute them.
    5. At this point tomatoes and peas can be added optionally and allow it to cook for few minutes.
    6. Add salt, turmeric and mashed potatoes.
    7. Add gram flour to 1/2 cup of water and add it to the pan.
    8. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and turn the heat off.
    9. Serve with hot poori’s.

    Chole:

    Ingredients:

    • White Garbanzo beans-1 tin cooked.
    • Oil- 2 tsp.
    • Cumin seeds(jeera)- 1/2 tsp.
    • Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp.
    • Onion paste-  from 1 big red onion.
    • Tomato puree- from 2 tomatoes.
    • Salt-to taste.
    • Chole or Channa masala- 1 tsp.
    • Dhania powder- 1/2 tsp.
    • Curd-2 tsp (optional).
    • Coriander leaves and onion rings for garnish.
    • Red chilly powder-1/4 tsp.

    Method:

    1. Soak the Garbanzo for 8-10 hours and pressure cook till one whistle or use the ready made, pre-cooked tinned Garbanzos-but wash them well before use.
    2. Heat oil in a pan and add jeera, ginger garlic paste, onion paste and saute.
    3. Add tomato puree, salt, chole masala, red chilly powder, dhania powder and cook till oil separates.
    4. Add 2 tsp of curd at last and mix well.
    5. Garnish with cilantro.

     Note:

    Another interesting variation in North india is “Chole Batura”. Batura is a large poori, which is also served with chole. But the preparation method is different.

    Sending this to Cooking for kids-Wheat hosted by sireesha at http://kidzdelight.blogspot.com/2009/10/announcing-cooking-for-kids-event-wheat.html, authored by Sharmi of neivedhyam at  http://www.neivedyam.com/2008/12/announcing-cooking-for-kids-event.html

    On Going Event Cooking For Kids - Wheat

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    698

    This is really an indulgence. My daughter goes nuts for this badam cashew cake / burfi. She can literally gobble 5 or 6 at a time. She calles it square sweet. But strangely she doesn’t like candies or chocolates. My mom always does this for her. Since mom is here, I wanted to learn this straight from her. Tried this on my hubby’s birthday and it came out pretty good.

    697

    Ingredients: ( for 50 squares)692

    • Plain Almonds- 11/2 cups.
    • Plain Cashew- 1/4 cup.
    • Water-1/2 cup.
    • Cane sugar- 41/4 cups.
    • Ghee- 1cup- divided.

    Method:

    1. Wash and soak the Almonds (Badam) in warm water for 1/2 hour.
    2. Wash and soak the Cashews (Kaju) in warm water separately.
    3. Peel the skin from almonds and drain the water.
    4. Grind the almonds and cashew in a  blender  to a  smooth paste, with 1/2 cup of fresh water.
    5. This should give approximately 2 cups of paste.
    6. To 2 cups of paste add 41/4 cup of cane sugar in a  nonstick pan and turn the heat on.
    7. Allow it to cook while constantly stirring it.
    8. Ghee can be added slowly, while the paste is cooking.
    9. In about 20-25 minutes, simmer the heat and add the remaining ghee and carefully observe for consistency.
    10. There is a thin line between halwa and cake. When the corners don’t stick to the pan anymore and when you feel it’s crossing the  halwa stage(loose setting) and starting to get more dense, it’s almost done and you can turn the heat off.
    11. When you cook more than this, it can turn very hard or get charred.
    12. Quickly have a  tray ready( greased with ghee) and pour the contents and cut them into little squares, when it’s still warm.
    13. Store it in a container,w hen it completely cools off.

    694

    Tip:

    1. Since almond itself has a strong flavor to it, it is not required to add cardamom or any other flavoring.
    2. The consistency is really important. With practice, you will know, the difference between halwa consistency and burfi consistency.
    3. Make sure you buy plain versions of Almonds and Cashews (Do not buy salted or roasted).

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    024

    Every year during Halloween, I used to admire all those carved pumpkins adoring the doorsteps of neighbours and last year I decided to carve my own and found that was really easy and quick. Although, my pumpkin is nothing fancy, it’s a pretty basic design, I came across this event “Show your Pumpgrin” in http://chefinyou.com/ and thought I should send in my entry. My daughter and I had fun making this Jack-o-Lantern and we took it to the Pumpkin fest event in Boston.

    025

    Materials Needed:              016

    • Pumpkin-round one.
    • Marker pen.
    • knife.
    • Votive candle.
    • Spoon to scoop the interior.
    • A design template.

    Method:

    All I did was, type in google- How to carve a pumpkin and found on e how, easy step by step method to carve a pumpkin.

    I followed these steps and walla, a beautiful Jack-o-Lantern it turned out to be….

    http://www.ehow.com/how_3983_carve-pumpkin.html    010

    The steps in e how are as follows

    Step 1

    Select a fresh pumpkin in a shape that pleases you. Some folks prefer their pumpkins low and round, while others like them tall and oval-shaped.

  • Step 2

    Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through.

  • Step 3

    Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin.

  • Step 4

    Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, making sure you scrape off any seeds or pulp.

  • Step 5

    Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping.

  • Step 6

    Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin with a felt-tip pen, or scribe the lines into the skin using a pencil. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you’ll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you’re using a big knife blade to saw through tough skin.

  • Step 7

    Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin.

  • Step 8

    Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces.

  • Step 9

    Place a votive candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.

  •  Here’s the link for the event-http://chefinyou.com/2009/10/show-me-your-pumpgrins/

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    Banana-Rava Halwa

    Banana-Rava Halwa

    Semolina is the purified middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta; also, the coarse middlings are used for breakfast cereals and puddings. The term “Semolina” derives from the Italian word “Semola. Semolina, made from durum wheat, is known in North India as Sooji; in South India, Ravey in Kannada, Rava/Ravam/Ravai in Telugu/Tamil, In Tamilnadu, the Semolina is also made of rice. In Turkey, semolina is known as irmik. (Source-Wiki)

    I happened to read “Sundara Gaandam from Valmiki Ramayana” for 5 days over the last month. My mom brought the book from India and was reading it. She suggested it’s very good to read Ramayana, especially Sundara Gaandam. Also my cousin Divya had  sent me a beautiful handmade painting of Ram and Sita, done by her, as a present. Lot of good vibes. So, read Sundara gaandam in 5 days( about 30-45 min each day), and finished it on the the 5th day by reading Ramar Pattabhishekam( taking the throne) and Neivedhyam. I offered Banana-Rava halwa, which is done during Satyanaraya pooja-vrath.

    Cooking 089

    There are several protocols on how to read them in  3 days, 5 days 9 days etc. It was such a beautiful feeling to read how Sri Hanuman flew to Lanka as a messenger of Rama, in search of Sita, who was abducted by Ravana. Sundara Gaandam describes, how Hanuman meets Sita and convinces her that Rama is on his way to rescue her and how he conveys the message and carries the souvenir from Rama to Sita and vice versa. I would read it in the morning and in the night tell the story to my daughter. She loves listening to Ramayana. It is believed, by listening or reading Sundara Gandam, one receives the blessings of Sri Ram and Hanuman.

    Flowers in uruliRamayana is equivalent to Vedas. The word “Ra ma”is derived from the middle letter of “Om Namo Narayana” and “Namashivaya”, incorporating both Vishnu and Shiva to give Rama. While I was reading Ramayana, came across something interesting. After the pattabhishekam, Rama once asked Sita, if she liked him or his story(The Ramayana). Sita replied that she actually liked his story more than him, the reason being, Sita was leading a miserable life in Lanka after being abducted by Ravana and was starving, feeling weak, tired and had no clue why Rama did not rescue her so far. She even had suicidal thoughts and that is exactly when she heard Hanuman telling Rama’s story from a tree above. She immediately left her suicidal thoughts behind and felt happy that her husband Rama would save her. That is why she liked Rama’s story more than him.

    Banana-Rava Halwa

    Ingredients:Cooking 090

    • Banana-finely chopped-1 (medium size).
    • Rava or sooji- 1cup.
    • Milk-1cup.
    • Water-1/2cup.
    • Ghee- 2tblsp.
    • Sugar-1/2 cup.
    • Cardamom powder-little.
    • Yellow food color-a pinch-optional.
    • Raisins and nuts to decorate-optional.

    Method:

    1. In a pan, fry rava in ghee until a nice aroma comes and rava starts to turn light brown.
    2. Add  warmwater, warm milk and chopped banana pieces to the pan and cook.
    3. When banana and rava are cooked, add sugar and ghee, cardomom and food color.
    4. When mixture leaves the sides, remove from fire.

    Tip: Select a firm, ripe banana for this halwa preparation. Do not use under ripe, over ripe ones. Nendhram pazham can be used for the same.

    Presentation Tip:Tried in a dark background. Felt like it was too busy. So tried photographing against a more neutral background and the dish looked much better and the attention went to the dish instead of the background.

    Garnish: Since the halwa was of the play dough consistency, I was able to mould it to a well. Filled with ghee(obviously only for garnishing purpose) and decorated with almonds, cashews, pistachios, raisins and banana rounds.

    Cooking5

    Banana sooji halwa

    Banana sooji halwa

    Sending this to Innovative Inlaws- Nithya and Pavithra http://innovativein-laws.blogspot.com/ , garnish the dish event.

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     Navrathri_22

     In my previous posts, I wrote about  Navarathri and Saraswathi poojai-Vijayadashami and mentioned about sundals, but didn’t have a chance to write how each variety is made. When I came across the event  “My Legume Love Affair”- 15th helping in  Sia’s Monsoon spice, couldn’t resist a post dedicated to sundals. So, here it is…………

    During Navrathri we make sundals with legumes every day for 10 days and offer it to Goddess Devi and partake. Also, this can be a great protein packed evening-after school snack/tiffin for kids. It’s great for pregnant women. Also great for weight watchers diet, as it is low or no fat and high in protein content. Almost 15 types of sundals can be made with different legumes using different methods.

    Method: 1 ( This method can be used for Green chana, White chana and Black chana-Garbanzo beans. It is called Podi thoovina sundal)

    Chana Sundal

    Chana Sundal

    Ingredients:

    • Black or Green or White chana (Garbanzo)- 1cup.
    • Salt-to taste.
    • Turmeric powder- a pinch.
    • Lemon juice- few drops.

    For Seasoning:

    • Oil- 1tsp.
    • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
    • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
    • Curry leaves- 1 arc.
    • Green chilly-1(optional)
    • Asafoetida- a pinch.

    For Masala powder: Dry roast the below and powder them.

    • Dhania or coriander seeds- 1tsp.
    • Dry Red chillies- 2.
    • Channa Dhal-1tsp.
    • Urad dhal-1tsp.
    • Coconut scrapes- 2tsp.

    Method:

    1. Soak the chana in water for 10-12 hours.
    2. Add salt and pressure cook till 1 whistle, so that it doesn’t over cook.
    3. Keep oil in a pan and add the above mentioned seasoning one by one, in the order mentioned above and turmeric.
    4. Add the cooked chana to the pan, after draining excess water.
    5. Add the masala powder and give it a toss.
    6. Squeeze lemon juice.

    Method 2 ( This method can be used for Chana dhal(Kadala parupu- split chickpeas), Split Moong Dhal (Payatham parupu) and Kidney beans( Rajma) and Black eye peas(karamani)

    Navrathri_24 Ingredients:

    • Legume of interest- 1cup.
    • Salt-to taste.
    • Turmeric powder- a pinch.
    • Coconut scrapes- 2tsp.

    For Seasoning:

    • Oil- 1tsp.
    • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
    • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
    • Curry leaves- 1 arc.
    • Red chillies-3.
    • Asafoetida- a pinch.

    Method:

  • Rajma soaked in water for 10-12 hours. Karamani soaked for 1 hour. Need not soak chana dhal and moong dhal as they cook directly.
  • Pressure cook till 1whistle, with just enough water.
  • Keep oil in a pan and add the above mentioned seasoning one by one, in the order mentioned above and turmeric.
  • Add the cooked legume to the pan, after draining excess water and cook 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with coconut scrapes.
  • Method 3 ( Green patani-vatana, White patani, Groundnut-peanuts, Chora can be done in this method)

    Navrathri_23  Ingredients and Seasoning and Preparation method:

    • Same as mentioned in Method 2.
    • Instead of red chillies, green chillies are used here.
    • Lemon juice can be used in this variety.
    • Groundnuts need not be soaked, directly cooked.
    • Chora and vatana can be soaked, but cooked carefully, as they become soft easily.
    • In green vatana sundal, cut mango pieces can be added to make Thengai-maangai-patani sundal.

    Method 4: (Sweet version can be made with green gram(Paasi payaru) and Red Karamani (which is hard to find in the US)

    The idea is pretty much the same except that Jaggery(vellam), coconut, cardamom and ghee are used. Avoid seasonings mentioned above.

    Method 5: ( Green gram Masala Sundal with onions)

    If it is not used as neivedhyam, just prepared as a snack, green gram can be soaked, and allowed to sprout and method 3 can be used. But can saute chopped onions, tomatoes and a pinch of garam masala can be added.

    Tip:

    Asafoetida or Hing can be added to all the sundals, as legumes may cause gas to form in the stomach. Gas formation can be further avoided by letting the legumes sit in hot water for few minutes and draining the water. Then they can be soaked and cooked.

     Revealing my Legume love affair to the world by sending this to Sia’s Monsoon Spice , who is hosting the event for Susan of  The Well Seasoned Cook.

    MLLA15Logo375

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