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April 26, 2015

Chakka Varatti Jackfruit Preserve Jackfruit Jam Phanas Halwa

Hope you are enjoying the sesaon of Mangoes and Jackfruit like me!  Jackfruit is one of the fruit in the fruity trio. 

The sesaonal items make me go to the weekly market...... the sight of various country grown veg and fruits are a feast to eyes!  While I was pushing myself through the crowd, an aroma floating in the air drew me torwards a cart selling Jackfruit :p They were fresh and a beautiful yellow in color. I couldn't resist buying so  1/2 kg ripe jackfruit pods made their way into my shopping bag, this friday.  I planned to make some traditional recipes using it.... There are traditional recipes using the raw jackfruit, ripe jackfruit and also its seeds.....

My FIL is an ardent fan of the chakka varatti (Jackfruit Preserve). Hence, I decided to make that for him this week. I realised I haven't shared the recipe here, so here it is .......

Our ancestors had a unique way of storing seasonal items to make them availale in some form to the taste buds through out the year. Sharing with you one such traditional preserve recipe using Jackfruit which is called "Chakka Varatti" / Chakka Varatiyadhu / Chakka Jam.........  Chakka Pazham means Jackfruit in  Malayalam, 'Pala Pazham' in Tamil Nadu and in  hindi it is known as 'Phanas'.

Ingredients :-
  1. Jackfruit paste - 1 cup
  2. Jaggery - 1 cup
  3. Clarified Butter (ghee) - 1/4 cup
  4. Water - 1/4 cup
Method :

  • Deseed the jackfruit pods, wash and drain them. 

  • Pressure cook Jackfruit pods adding little water, for two whistles. Let them cool and then blend them well to make a thick paste. 

  • Boil jaggery adding water and let it dissolve completely. Filter the impurties and transfer the jaggery syrup into a thick bottomed deep pan / Kadai / wok.
  • Bring it to boil till it comes to one thread consistency.  Lower the flame.

  • Now add the Jackfruit paste, mix till they blend well with each other, on slow flame.
  • Now on medium flame cook till it thickens (stirring in between).
  • Once the gravy becomes thick (dropping consitency), add the ghee little by little and keep stirring till the ghee is absorbed and the mixture becomes thick and start leaving the sides.

  • Let it cool. Transfer to a clean container. This you can store outside or in fridge and use a clean spoon for every use. For long life, you can even freeze them.
  • I have taken it a stage earlier as it was small in quantity, which will be finished quickly. For long storage, keep stirring it till becomes dry and thick.
  • This preserve can be used like a jam spread, can be dissolved in milk for making a flavoured milk, can use in making Payasam (Pradhaman) along with coconut milk. or it can be used as a stuffing in the traditional Elai Adai (a steamed sweet).

April 21, 2015

Raw Mango Rice / Manga Sadam / Kachi Kairi Chaval

'Raw mango' - even a thought of mango makes one's mouth water...... Summer is the season for mangoes; raw and ripe. I already made instant pickle with the sour mangoes. Got this less sour variety called thothapuri / kilimooku mango.... which are more tasty for instant pickles and for making this variety rice dish called "Mango Rice" / Manga Chadham (sadam) / Kachi Kairi Chaval.

This is a quick and easy dish to make when you have some ready cooked rice!

You may need :-

  1. Raw Mango - 1/2 No. (thothapuri variety/kilimooku manga)
  2. Cooked rice -2 cups
  3.  Green chillies - 2 Nos. (or as per your preference)
  4. Curry Leaves - 8 Nos.
  5. Sesame Oil - 1 tbsp
  6. Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
  7. Urad dal - 1 tsp
  8. Asafoetida - a pinch
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Turmeric powder - a very little pinch

  • Grate the raw mango with skin on. 
  • Finely chop the green chilli.
  • Heat oil, add mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering add Urad Dal and fry till it turns into golden brown.

  • Add asafoetida powder, and then the Curry leaves, finely chopped green chillies and  grated Raw Mango.
  • Add little pinch of turmeric. [Only a little so that it doesn't turn the color of the dish but higlhlight the beauitful color of mango].
  • Saute for two minutes till mango turns little soft.  Turn off the flame.
  • Add salt and cooked rice, Mix gently.

  • Mouthwatering Mango Rice is ready! 

Enjoy it plain or with some fried papad / chips or some mango pickle ;-

Other Mango Recipes :-

  1. Manga Kootan (Raw Mango Curry)
  2. Quick Raw Mango Pickle
  3. Mampazha Pulissery (A curry using Buttermilk and Ripe Mangoes)

March 13, 2015

Peanut Coconut Chutney Kadalai Chutney Moongphali Chutney

There are variety of chutney that is made and served for Idli and Dosa. Sharing with you today another version of chutney such Chutney using "Rosated" peanuts / Groundnuts / Moongphali / Shengdana / Verkadalai/Kappalandi.

Roasted groundnut is used to replace coconut in traditional recipes. In this recipe, I am  using combo of groundnut and coconut.  Roasted peanuts is very healthy for heart. If you are looking for low glycemic index food this chutney is very good (Just replace coconut completely and use roasted peanuts). If you don't like garlic, just exclude that form your ingredient list.

A QUICK AND EASY Yummilicious CHUTNEY recipe!!

 Ingredients :-
  1. Roasted Groundnut - 1/2 cup
  2. Grated coconut   - 1/4 cup
  3. Green Chillies - 2 Nos. (or as per your preference)
  4. Garlic Pod - 1 No. (optional)
  5. Curry Leaves - 5 Nos.
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Water as requried
  • For tempering :-
  1. Oil for tempering - 3 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds  - 1 tsp
Procedure  :-
  • Put ingredients 1 to 6 in a blender and adding water grind to a smooth paste. 
  • You can add the water as per your required consistency to make it thick or thin or medium.
  • In a tempering pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. After they splutter add it to the chutney and mix well.
  • Yummy Nutty Chutney is ready!

March 10, 2015

Tomato Rice Thakkali Sadam Tamatar Chaval

When I think of tomato rice, i was taken way back to my early working days when I used to buy food parcel from a mess on days when I don't carry my lunch box.  The word 'mess' has a special touch than a hotel because of its homely food.  

I remember those days....brownish green parcel was lying at a corner of the lunch table waiting to be opened ..... A look at the pack was enough to kindle my gastric juice .... I eagerly looked forward to lunch time.  I carefully unwound the thread and opened the crispy leaf parcel.....aha! colorful tomato rice packed in Patravali (Thayal Ilai in tamil) and the lightly oily layered inside of the leaf and the aroma it has given to the hot and freshly packed tomato rice is just enough to push me into the absolute foodie bliss....
Patravali or thayyal ilai is an eco friendly packing item made of leaves. The dried leaves of Sal or Jackfruit or Mandarai (still looking for the right english name. so please bear with me. it is a tamil name) are stitched together with the help of thin and tiny wooden sticks. Different regions in the country use different tree leaves for this purpose. They were used by sages and for offering and disbtributing prashad at the temples. We still can see these leaves in use in the country side.  Now with the help of machines these leaves are moulded into plate and bowl shape, are available in the market.

This is how Patravali - leaf plate looks. Got it from google search...

Let us get into tomato rice making..... this recipe is how we make it at home.

Ingredients :-

  1. Cooked Rice - 1.5 Cups
  2. Tomato - 1 Big
  3. Onion - 1 Medium (optional)
  4. Ginger - 1/2" piece  (optional)
  5. Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  6. Green Chilli - 1 No.
  7. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  8. Red Chilli Powder - as per taste
  9. Asafoetida powder - 1 Pinch
  10. Sesame Oil for tempering - 1 tbsp
  11. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  12. Channa dal - 1 tsp (split bengal gram)
  13.  Salt to taste
  14. A tsp of ghee
  15. Jaggery - 1/4 tsp
  16. Coriander leaves finely chopped - 1 tbsp (optional)
Procedure :

  •  Finely chop tomato, onion, ginger, few curry leaves, Green chilli.
  •  Heat oil, add mustard seeds. After they start spluttering, add channa dal. When the dal turns golden brown in color, add the curry leaves, finely chopped curry leaves, onion, ginger, green chillies and saute' till onion turns pink.
  • Now add the finely chopped tomato and add little salt so that tomatoes gets cooked quickly and turns mushy.
  • Now add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida powder and required salt and very little jaggery (to enhance the taste) mix well and fry for one minute.

  •  Switch off the flame, add chopped coriander leaves, ghee and the cooked rice. Gently mix well.
  • Yummy tomato rice is ready to serve!  

Side dish : fried fryums, papad and curd makes a good combo.  I relish the tomato rice just plain :-)

There are few items mentioned optional. I sometimes add them, sometimes exclude any one or few of them to get variation in taste and flavour of this tomato rice.  If you want it to be more tangy, accordingly increase the measure for chopped tomato.

March 5, 2015

Venpongal / Pongal / Southindian Kichidi


Here I am again, after a long break......  with a yummy dish... A colleague of mine asked for this recipe. I noticed i have not made a post on Pongal making........

Pongal - falls into Breakfast Menu of Tamizh Nadu. It is one of my favourite. I love to have Hot pongal and Meduvada with chutney and sambar followed by a cup of Filter Coffee to complete the ritual! A good start of the day with a Foodie Bliss!

It is a form of kichidi made in the state of Tamizh Nadu.  This is salt version hence the name 'Ven Pongal' (ven means white in tamizh). The sweet version is known as 'Sakkarai Pongal' which is made using jaggery hence little brown in color. The famous Harvest festival of southern india during Makarasankaranti - called 'Pongal' when the Salt as well as Sweet version is offered to the Sun God. Pongal also means rising... i.e. when you cook rice, when the water start boiling it rise and flow out.... it is considered auspicious on pongal day ... it is believed that "like the overflowing water happiness and prosperity should overflow in one's life".

Let's go ahead with the pongal making. It is very easy to make this dish. 

Ingredients :-

  1. Rice - 1 Cup
  2. Moong Dal - 1/4 Cup (split and deskinned green gram)
  3. Water - 3.5 to 4 Cups
  4. Milk - 1/2 Cup (optional)
  5. Salt to taste

For temepering :

  1. Curry leaves - 1 Sprig
  2. Black Peppercorns - 1 to 2 tsp
  3. Cumin Seeds - 1/4 tsp
  4. Asafoetida - One pinch
  5. Cashew Nut - 6 to 8 nos. (Broken) - (optional)
  6. Ghee - 3 Tbsp

Procedure :-

  • Lightly dry roast the Moong Dal (split deskinned green gram) till nice aroma comes. Color should not change.
  • Add to the raw rice and wash it well.  Drain.
  • Add Water and Milk to it. mix. (If you are not using milk, then you can add upto 4 cups water). If using milk, add 3.5 cup water and half cup milk.
  • Pressure cook till it turns mushy. (I never let the whistle come. When the first whistle is about to come, i lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes).
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Crush the pepper and Cumin seeds coarsely using a mortal and pestle (this is to make the aroma blend well with the pongal. If you don't have one, no problem, crush the black pepper corns very lightly so that it will not burst while tempering)
  • Now heat a tempering pan, add ghee, When it is heated, add the coarsely crushed black pepper, cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, cashew nuts. Roast in low flame till cashew turn light golden in color.
  • Add this tempering to the rice dal mix.
  • Once done, mix it well when the pongal is still hot.
  • Relish it with coconut chutney / sambar.

I enjoy the pongal even without any side dish.

I remember the yummy pongal prashad we get at vishnu temples in the month of Margazhi. This month which falls during winter season air is cold in the morning and the hot hot  prashad just slips in spreading the warmth and soothe the hungry stomach. Makes the early waking and visit to temple in the cold morning an interesting one!

It is an excellent Food and is very good to consume when you have cold / cough / sore throat. In monsoon, it is apt to have a bowl of hot pongal followed by a cup of coffee watching the rains pitter patter near the window sil......

I am not getting much leisure hours now but still i have very good memories of my favourite time and pongal breakfast is one such gastronomically nostalgic moment! - to cherish for the life time.

Here is a hot cup of virtual Filter Kaapi (coffee) for you......


February 7, 2015

Vazhathandu Pachadi / Plantain Stem Curry

Banana tree / Plantain tree is one of the few species, where every part of the tree is useful. The tree as a whole (which had flowered) is used to decorate the entrance of the house or the place for an auspicious occasion.  The Stem, Flower and the Raw Banana is used as a vegetable. The ripen Bananas makes an excellent instant supply of energy. The fibre that comes while peeling the layer to extract the inner white part of the stem is used for tying purposes especially for tying flower garlands in Southern India. The leaf is not only makes a healthy and eco-friendly use & through plate but considered auspicious to feed the guests on special occassions.

Plantain tree Stem is very commonly used in Tamil Nadu and in some parts of West Bengal. Known as Vazhai Thandu (tamizh), Vazha Pindi (Malayalam), Kele ki dandi (hindi). Can be consumed raw or cooked.

  1. It high in fibre content. 
  2. Rich in Vitamin B6 and Potassium. 
  3. It helps in detoxifying the body.
  4. Regulates bowel movement.
  5. Used in traditional medicine to treat kidney stones.

How to select a good Stem? : Go for the tender ones. It should look white, which means it is fresh. If you press the cut end you can feel how tender it is. The tender the stem is, more edible it is for consumption as less amount of cleaning work.

How to clean? : Remove the external layer around the stem (may be two or 3 layers that can be removed easily). wash. slice them into roundels. If you see fibre coming out while cutting, use your index finger and wind the fibre around it. this way you can remove the excess fibre. If the stem is very tender, fibre is less. Keep a vessel filled with water ready. Now cut the roundels into juliens and then finely chop them into very small cubes. Keep transferring the finely chopped pieces into the water to prevent them from blackening.

The yellow gravy is this dish. The green one is called molakootal made using green leafy vegetable.

There are variety of dishes made using this vegetable. I am going to share one traditional dish called "Puli Pachadi". This is dish with a combo of various taste (Sweet, Spice, Salt and Sour) - khatta meetha chatpata!

Ingredients :-
  1. Banana Stem - 1 (Medium size)
  2. Tamarind - 1 medium lemon size
  3. Jaggery - 1.5 tbsp
  4. Grated coconut - 1 cup
  5. Green chillies - 2 - 3 nos.
  6. Curry leaves - 8 nos. (4 nos. for masala and 4 nos. for tempering)
  7. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  8. Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  9. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp (for masala grinding)
  10. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp for tempering.
  11. Asafoetida - 1 pinch
  12. Oil for tempering - 1.5 tbsp
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Rice grain - 1/2 tsp
 Procedure :

  • Boil tamarind in 1 cup water till it becomes tender. Extract water thrice by adding fresh water. it should be approx 3 cups of tamarind extract.
  • Soak 1/2 tsp rice grain in water.
  • Drain the water into which we have put the finely chopped plantain stem. Put them into the vessel with tamarind water.
  • Add Turmeric Powder, Salt, Jaggery and boil till the stem becomes tender and cooked.
  • In a tempering pan, dry roast the fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) till it little dark and start spluttering.
  • Finely grind to a paste : Grated coconut, soaked rice grain, Mustard seeds, Green chillies, curry leaves 4 nos.,  roasted fenugreek seeds by adding water little by little.
  • Add this paste to the cooked plantain stem, bring to boil. When foam forms on top, switch off the gas.
  • Heat oil for tempering, add mustard seeds. After the seed splutters, add 4 nos. of curry leaves and add it to the prepared gravy.
  • Yummy gravy / curry is ready to be served as a side dish with molakootal rice / curd rice / chapathi .

If you are looking for the green molakootal recipe, here it is!

 The roasted fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds in the masala paste gives a mouthwatering aroma to the dish and the combo of various tastes viz., spicy, sweet, sour, salt makes it more interesting, that will make you go for additional helpings again and again!

Suggestions : You can replace the Plantain Stem with Ladies Finger  or Brinjal or Pumpkin (yellow).

January 5, 2015

Happy New Year and Thiruvadira Prashad



Wish you all a very Happy New Year 2015


May this year bring you prosperity and good health.

Today being somvar Tiruvadirai, an auspicious celebration on an auspicious day (a working day for me) I managed to prepare the kali and the kootu .  sharing with you my humble mobile upload taken on a hurry. Virtual prashad for you.

May Lord Shiva - the destroyer of evil, bless you all with good health & a prosperous life.
Om Namashivaya

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