Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Navrathiri Kolu..

Navrathiri/Dussehra is a festival of nine days for the three Hindu goddess Durga,Lakshmi and Saraswati for 3 days each.It is celebrated in different ways through out India.Gujarathis celebrate with Dandiya Raas.
Bengalis call it as Durga puja,which is the single most important festival of Bengalis.It is reveled with intense fervour and zest.Punjabi's Navrathiri is primarily a period of fasting.
While in TamilNadu,Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh it is called as Bommaikolu,which is actually arranging the dolls in temporarily constructed staircase.Women and children are invited every evening and they together sing songs and tell stories about the dolls/idols displayed in the Kolu.
And they are offered Sundal as prasadham.In Mysore,Dussehra is rejoiced with a procession of elephants in gaily dressed streets of the city..
I personally like Navrathiri festival more than other Hindu festivals.Because, you are into lots of activites and its the longest Hindu festival(NINE DAYS!)..
I recall my childhood Navrathiris associated with my cousin B.My aunt and Sistor G attired us as little Krishna and Yasodha .And we were taken to all the negihbouring homes to invite the aunties and the other kids to the Kolu.It was all lovely and full of fun.I also remember faintly from the picture of me in Garba dress,celebrating Dussehra with the Gujaratis and performing the Garba dance with the other kids.We were in Baroda(Gujarat) when I was 5 years old.It was altogether a beautiful experience which is filled with enthusiasm.
This year our Navrathiri kolu is set with five steps.Traditionally,Kolu steps are kept in odd numbers.I thought of putting the pictures of our kolu here,so that everybody could have our Kolu Darshan.Especially for my Dad , at Kuwait ,really miss this wonderful event every year.
I think this time I could compensate it to some extent through this post.

We created a 'park' like thing also!?

This is the Ranch,where the cattles are grazing over the bushes..And there is a nearby Dairy processing factory and few houses..

There is a nearby park,where two friends are enjoying their evening..

A group of playing kids smiling at me for the camera click...

A small water body..Or we can say an Oasis in the desert land :-)

There are depiction of parts of Ramayana stories and 'Deva loga' stories of Lord Shiva,Parvati,Muruga and Ganesha..

In the second row,there is a depiction of South Indian Hindu Marriage..

A group of African women were kept on display in the first step..

A Buddist monk is in meditation..And a gang of mischevious boys are in real mood to agitate the harmony of the monk..

A couple is selling pulses and rice...

The left side is depicting a scene of few women performing Puja for Goddess Saraswati..
'Aval Payasam' is kept for Neivedyam along with other Puja items.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Navratna Korma!

Navrathiri has started and so Im presenting Navratna korma as today's special.'Navratna' means nine jewels.Well,you can choose any fruits/vegetables/nuts for the nine jewels.Last weekend,my aunt and uncle came for lunch at our home.So I decided to make this korma for two reasons.
1. It is exotic .
2.I wanted to post this recipe here for Navrathiri special :-)
The best part in making this gravy is choosing the navratnas.I was browsing my fridge for a long time and chose them with varied colors and tastes.So that it is not only a visual treat but also tingles the taste buds with sudden surprises.The raisins and apple chunks played the great role in giving the sweet surprises while the nuts provided the crunchy bites.
I also made french fries,Green salad,Peas pulao,Tadka curd rice and Badam kheer for the lunch.
As of now,Im posting only Navratna Korma...

1 carrot-chopped
1 cup cubed paneer and fried in oil/ghee
3 beans-chopped
1 apple-peeled and chopped
1 potato-peeled and chopped
1/2 cup- corn kernels
8 cashews -roasted in ghee
8 Almonds-roasted in ghee
2 Tsp Raisins

For the Gravy:
1 Big Onion-finely chopped
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoon fresh cream
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
A pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil

Heat oil and saute onion and ginger-garlic paste until the onions become transculent.

Add the tomato puree,salt,sugar,chilli powder,turmeric powder and cook for a couple of mins.
Add the potatoes,carrots,beans ,corn and few tablespoons of water.Cover with lid and cook till the vegetables are tender.

Add milk and fresh cream and bring to boil.The gravy thickens .Sprinkle the garam masala and give a stir.

Add the fried paneer,nuts,raisins and apple. And remove from fire immediately..

Garnish with cream and chopped cilantro..

Verdict:The gravy was rich and yummilicious.But the vegetables were bit undercooked and I felt that the nuts must be broken into smaller bits..Inspite of that, We enjoyed till the last bit..

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Carrot Kheer

Kheer is a very common Indian dessert.In northern part of India,Kheer generally means a rice pudding while in southern side,especially in Tamil Nadu,kheer actually refers to a sweet,luscious drink.Badam Kheer is very popular here.It is made with ground Badam(Almond) paste ,milk and sugar.But we all know it cannot be made very often due to the high price of Badam.Carrot Kheer is not a replacement to Badam kheer but it has its own unique taste and could be loved by all.A very easy and quickie recipe.Carrot Kheer is a wonderful dessert introduced to me by my aunt K.I have to thank her for suggesting me different recipes and also for constantly encouraging me.It needs very simple ingredients.If you have lots of carrots and milk in your home,you can make this just in 15 mins.It is not only delicious but also looks gorgeous.The mild crimson delivered by the carrot ,combined with the milk gives a big treat to the eyes.It tastes best when chilled.

You will need:
1/2 Kg Carrots
1 cup Sugar
1/2 litre Milk
8 Cashews-broken and roasted in ghee
A good pinch of Caradamon powder

Wash,peel and cut the carrots into large pieces.Pressure cook them for 10 mins.

Cool and puree them in a blender.Or use a wooden masher and mash the carrots..

Place on the stove and add the sugar and keep stiring until the sugar melts .

Add milk and bring to boil and turn off the heat.Add roasted cashews and caradamon powder .
You can serve them hot or cold.
We had it chilled!


This is my entry to 'Recipes for the rest of us-Dessert' event which is hosted by Varsha of Will-O'-the-Wisp which orignally started by Ramki of One Page Cookbook..

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Madras Special Vadai Curry & Set Dosa!

Ten years back my Dad made vadai curry at our home. That was the first time I tasted it.
And after that this is the second attempt in our home and I’m eating this for the second time!
Yeah we have forgotten this awesome dish for quite a long time..I have to thank my friend Shravan who reminded me of vadai curry..He being a Chennaite, has so much affinity for this particular dish. And he insisted me to give this a try. So finally I tried it and it became a massive hit in our home! I promised my folks that it would be a frequenter in our home..
This dish is particularly very popular in Chennai….Typically vadai curry is served with 2 or 3(in Sets) spongy dosas or idlis.The basic idea of Vadai curry is to use the left over masala vadais (lentil fritters)..But today I exclusively prepared the masala vadais for making this curry. We always have a good stock of dosa/idli batter in fridge, as most of the tamilians do..So we had the vadai curry with thick,spongy ‘kal dosas ‘..It harmonized to a hearty dinner!

Part 1: For making Vadai

You will need:

1/2 cup Bengal gram and 1/4 cup Tuar dal soaked in water for 2 hours
6 dried red chillies
1/2 tablespoon saunf / fennel seeds
10 curry leaves
1/2 cup small onions
Oil for frying
Salt to taste

Part 2: For making curry

You will need:
3 onions
4 tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic
1 tspoon of ginger-garlic paste
few sprigs of coriander for garnishing
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Ground the following:
1/4 cup grated coconut
5 green chillies
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Coarsely ground soaked lentils of the Part 1 ingredients.Finely ground the chillies,fennel seeds and curry leaves and mix with the lentils.Add salt and finely chopped onion and combine.

Make patties/vadais and deep fry them in oil until golden brown..You can also steam the vadai/patties in idli moulds..

Drain the excess oil in a tissue paper..

Cut/break the vadais into equal sized chunks..

In a deep frying pan,heat 1 tablespoon oil and saute the onion,garlic and ginger-garlic paste for a min..

Add the grounded paste of Part 2 ,tomatoes,salt and turmeric powder and cook for few mins..

Add 1 cup of water and bring to boil..

Add the vadai chunks into the curry and cook till the gravy thickens ..Turn of the heat and garnish with chopped coriander..

For making spongy dosa, make a thick circle of dosa batter in a hot griddle and drizzle some oil.Cover with a lid and cook till you see spots as you see in the picture above.Then flip the dosa upside down and drizzle few drops of oil .Cook for a min and transfer to a serving plate.

Spicy vadai curry is perfect with spongy dosa..Just try it,you will feel it.Words barely can explain what a joy it is to savour this for a weekend!

Have a great Sunday !

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chocolate Sheet cake!

Today I was feeling blue and so I wanted to make Chocolate cake for reliveing my stress...I read somewhere that chocolates are one of the best stress busters.And moreover I'm into serious chocolate addiction these days and eating lots of chocolates..
My sistor was also urging me to make the Pioneer Woman's Chocolate cake since last week!
And I have never tasted a chocolate cake like this one.PW's Chocolate sheet cake is the best..They are extremely moist and delectable..And the frosting is so perfect for this cake..
I owe her a lot for sharing the recipe through her blog..

I mixed together 1 cup All purpose flour/Maida and 1 cup Castor sugar in a large mixing bowl..

Melted 1 stick butter(approx 50 gms) and added 2 tablespoon of cocoa powder..Then I added 1/2 cup of boiling water and removed from fire in just 30 seconds..Then poured the chocolate mixture over the flour/sugar and allowed it to cool..

I whisked together 1/2 cup buttermilk,1 egg,1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp baking soda..
Then poured this mixture over the flour/Sugar/Chocolate sauce..

I combined them well with a spatula..

Poured the mixture in a non-stick baking sheet..Popped it into a 250C preheated oven and baked for exactly 20 mins..

While the cake is baking,I prepared the frosting..
Again I melted 1 stick butter(approx 50 gms) .Added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 cup of icing sugar..Then I added 3 tablespoons of milk and removed from fire in 2 mins..
PW used Pecans.I don't have pecans so I chopped 10 almonds finely and added to this frosting..

After 20 mins,I removed the cake from oven.I inserted a toothpick in the center of the cake ..They came out clean.So I assumed the cake is baked to perfection..

Then I poured the frosting over the warm cake as said by PW ..Spread them evenly with a spatula...

Impatienly I scooped out a big chunk of this delicious cake and relished them..