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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Home made Granola

Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Don't we all know the oft repeated health mantra -Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. This time around, I wanted to post a simple Granola recipe which works well with busy schedules and people with a sweet tooth (people like I make this granola for him.(I cannot eat anything sweet as the first thing in the morning). I am not into buying any name brand breakfast cereals for N number of reasons. Making granola or any other cereal at home is easier than you think and also saves you from the guilt of eating ingredients you cant spell (read preservatives and food additives)...:). Technically speaking, any breakfast cereal is nothing but the sweeter version of our regular chivda or poha/aval mixture.

All you need: serves 10
Rolled (Cooking) oats - 3 cups
Almonds (chopped or whole) - 1 cup
Dry Coconut  - 1/2 cup grated (optional)
Brown sugar (light) - 1/2 cup (or less)
Honey - 1/4 cup
Olive oil - 1/4 cup (or less)
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Raisins - 1/2 cup (optional)

  • Start the oven at 285 degrees F 
  • Use pre heat time as well. Spread oats and almonds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5 - 8 minutes (keep checking and sifting through the oats to avoid burning)
  • Take the tray out and let it cool for a few minutes
  • Take a mixing bowl and combine the oats, almonds, raisins, coconut, and brown sugar mix them well
  • In a separate bowl, combine honey, oil, and salt.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix well using a spatula or a spoon
  • Spread the mixture on baking trays and leave it in the oven for 40- 45 minutes
  • Make sure that you stir every 15 minutes to prevent oats from burning.
  • Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed. 
Let the granola cool for at least an hour before you transfer it to an air tight container. Enjoy this yummy granola with warm milk and diced fruits and have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rama Navami Vaazhthukkal (subakaankshalu)

Celebrating Rama Navami means wishing Lord Sri Rama a happy bday :). This day is also celebrated as Sita- Rama wedding day.

 Sri Rama temple in Bhadrachalam is known for its extravagant celebrations.Here is the video of Sita Rama Kalyana Mahotsavam at Bhadrachalam. The voice over is in Telugu (low volume recommended)
source : youtube
This festival is celebrated with a lot of fanfare in every Rama temple in Andhra Pradesh, India. 

Celebrations at home:
 We offer prayers to Sri Rama and serve the following as naivedyam.
  • Panakam (jaggery, dry ginger powder and elaichi/cardamom powder and a hint of lemon juice, all diluted in water)
  • Neer mooru (diluted buttermilk garnished with fresh grated ginger, green chillies, salt, asafoetida, curry leaves and cilantro/Coriander leaves)
  • Vada Paruppu (pappu) - A refreshing salad made from pre soaked moong dal, green mango, salt, asafoetida and lemon juice. Curry leaves and cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish. I also added some grated carrot.

Interesting facts- 
I came to know these interesting facts about Rama Navami from Rukku Perima (aunt). She said

"Rama Navami marks the onset of Indian Summer and people gear up to tackle rising temperatures. Naivedyam served includes, panakam, neer mooru and vada paruppu. All these dishes are a great way to refresh our digestive system and prepare our body to bear the summer heat. On Ram Navami, we generally serve Panakam and Mooru when guests arrive home. This is Indian hospitality at its best and a great way to help them ward off heat and prepare their appetite for a sumptuous meal.

Also, this is the time when people used to begin their pilgrimages in the olden days. And communities and groups used to set up Chalivindhrum to serve free buttermilk to travelers passing through their village.This tradition continues till date and it feels nice to be served with fresh buttermilk when cool a parched throat "

I love the fact that Indian traditions have something special to mark every occasion, be it welcoming seasons, or celebrating life in general.

Please share any other information you have about our festivals with me. Would love to know more!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lettuce and Matki sprouts Dal /Soup

Greens are great for your digestive track as they bring in fiber into your diet. A good digestive system ensures smooth running of your other systems and that mean over all health! Salad, soups and grilled forms of leafy vegetables should be made a part of your everyday meal. However, it is important to check for allergy information before you choose your greens. For example, people with Thyroid malfunction are asked to minimize use of a few vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, soyabeans or soya products (as these food varieties contain goitrogens and do not allow absorption of Iodine by the body.)

Lettuce is among the common greens used in salads. I recommend that you try at least one variety of lettuce in your diet if they are available in your local market. Here is a nice article on Lettuce varieties for you to know more about this leafy veggie. HERE . If you are bored of eating raw lettuce in your salads and sandwiches, this simple soup/dal recipe is a nice way to eat your lettuce. It is very easy to make and is great on a cold night.
leafy veggie - Red leaf Romaine lettuce
Moth dal (gujrati) or matki dal (Marathi) - Raw
Matki /moth dal (sprouts) and other lentil varieties feature prominently in Gujarati and Marathi cuisines
For this recipe:
Soak matki in water for at least 8 hours and drain it completely 
Tie it in a neat kitchen towel and leave it for a day for the matki to sprout
you could also use the soaked matki for this soup/dal 

All you need: serves 4
Matki sprouts - 1 1/2 cup (use 1 and  cup raw matki for 1 1/2 cups sprouts)
Romaine lettuce (a bunch) - 3 cups when chopped
Onion- (chopped) - 1/2 cup
spices: to grind
cumin seeds 1 tsp
Green chillies- 2
curry leaves - 5/6
mustard seeds (black) - 1 tsp
ginger - 1" piece- grated
garlic- 1 clove (optional)

turmeric powder - a pinch
kuzhambu powder - 2 tsps
Indian Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida -  a pinch
Bay leaf - 1 (fresh or dry)
oil - 1 tsp

Clove - 1
cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish

  • Pressure cook matki / moth sprouts (a single whistle)
  • Grind mustard seeds, cumin, chillies, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and  half the quantity of onions into a smooth paste
  • In a kadai,  pour oil and put the clove and bay leaf and remaining onions and saute well
  • Add the chopped lettuce leaves and keep stirring until the lettuce is half done
  • Add the pressure cooked matki /moth sprouts and stir well
  • Pour the spice paste and salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, kuzhambu powder and cook until done.
  • Add garam masala powder (optional) and simmer for another minute
  • Serve this soup with bread/roti or steamed rice

you could add some water while cooking to make the dish a little more soupy.

Trivia: ayurveda
Mustard and cumin paste helps in keeping your body warm in the winters
Asafoetida and garlic help in digesting the lentil better and reduces gas in your stomach
Lentils /whole dals (not kellogs lol...) are easy to cook and digest when they are soaked allowed to sprout

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Saalan - An ode to Chillies

Coming from the city of Hyderabad, it is natural that I love hyderabadi food (vegetarian). I am sure most of us would have heard about the famous Hyderabadi Biryani. Infact,  biryani, mirchi ka saalan and bagaara baingan are a staple in most hyderabadi wedding menus and served along with rasam, saambaar, pappu and gongura pacchadi. (slurp!)

I was watching an episode of - The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the food network. I liked it when Ted Allen, an Emmy winning food writer, host and reviewer, mentioned Mirchi Ka Saalan as his favourite dish under Spicy category. And that reminded of this long pending draft and I sat down to finish the post. This is among several pending/scheduled posts for the blog. :).

Etymology and more...
As the name suggests, Mirchi Ka Saalan - translates to Chillies in a spicy gravy. This dish is truly an ode to the Chilli/pepper because, most recipes only use chillies as a spice and a flavouring agent. This dish has chillies as the main ingredient. Every authentic Hyderabadi restaurant serves Biryani with a bowl of Mirchi ka Saalan and Spiced raitha. Yummm!

Most Hyderabadi dishes are a nice blend of two very unique and wonderful cuisines - The Nawabi food/recipes adapted to the Andhra (local) ingredients. For example, among few other spices, addition of tamarind pulp, peanuts/groundnuts and red chillies to a typical nawabi masala gravy is the southern touch I am talking about. This blended cuisine is also called - Dakkani or Deccani khana.(derived from - Deccan plateau). Although Deccan plateau spans across south central India, Deccan food is more of a Hyderabadi/Nawabi speciality. (May be because Hyderabad was the capital city of the Hyderabad Sultanate and Qutub Shahi Dynasty)

Deccani food includes subtle variations from vidarbha and north eastern Karnatka (Bidar and Berar). Whatever the name, Hyderabadi food is simply wonderful. Also check out my adaption of locally available vegetables into Bagaara Baingan's gravy - Bagaara Celery and Pumpkin (mathan)

The recipe...
There could be small variations to this dish made in different kitchens. We generally use mirchi (the ones used for bhajji - Banana peppers) for this recipe. I used Serrano peppers. Any variety of Green chilli/pepper which could hold up in a gravy works well in this recipe. Types of chillies/peppers which could work for this recipe- Sweet Bell peppers (Capsicum), Poblano peppersMy version of the Mirchi Ka Saalan requires very less oil, preferably olive oil.

You need: Serves 4

Banana pepper or Serrano peppers - 9-10

Spices for the gravy
Coriander seeds - 2-3 tsps
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Coconut - 4 tbsp (dry or fresh) (grated)
Tamarind (pulp or paste) - 2 tbsp
Ginger - 1 " piece
Garlic- 2 or 3 cloves
Red chillies - 2
Sesame seeds (til or ellu) - 1 tsp (optional)
Groundnuts (roasted) - 4 tbsp or a count of 15 - 20
Curry leaves - 6 -8
Poppy seeds (Khus Khus) - 2 tsp
Onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
oil - 1 tsp

Cilantro /coriander leaves for garnish

  • Slit open the chillies/peppers and scoop out the seeds and soak them in salted water (helps in reducing heat)
  • Soak Poppy seeds in just enough water and leave it for a while
  • Dry Roast coconut for half a minute or so and take care not to turn it brown. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool.
  • In the same Pan/kadai roast corainder seeds, cumin, split chickpeas / chana dal, red chillies and onion
  • Roast sesame seeds separately (they splatter so keep the flame low)
  • Fine grind the sesame seeds and then add the rest of the roasted spices, ginger, garlic, coconut, curry leaves, tamarind pulp and prepare a smooth paste.
  • Grind the soaked poppy seeds (separately) into a smooth paste (poppy seeds tend to remain coarse if ground along with other spices)
  • Drain the chillies (from the salted water) and use clean kitchen towel to pat them dry
  • Pour 1 tsp oil in a kadai/wok/pan and saute chillies
 Pour in the ground masala into the kadai
Add salt, turmeric powder and hing(asafoetida) and cook until the chillies look done and masala looses raw smell

Garnish with cilantro/corainder leaves and serve with Biryani /flavoured rice or simple steamed rice
Try this Hyderabadi classic and do let me know if you liked it...until next time take care!

  • Did you know that chilli/peppers used as flavouring agents and a spice, are basically classified as berries 
  • A simple ground rule to choosing chillies, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is!
  • Here is a brief guide to choosing your chilli based on the intensity of heat: HERE - chillipeppermadness.
  • (Chillies is the spice and not the Chilli recipe famous in the Americas.) 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ugaadhi Subaakaankshalu

Looking forward to a very prosperous and peaceful new year. Ugaadhi is the first day of the Telugu/Kannada and Marathi calender. Kanada(Ugaadhi), Telugu (Ugaadhi) and the Marathi (Gudi Padva) - the first day of the Chaitra month (lunar-solar) calender. We make the customary uggadhi pacchadi on this day. Eating this special mixture consisting of: bitter, sweet, sour, tangy and heat/spice flavours is a way to welcome the new year and accept what is in store with grace and hope for the best.

Ugaadi pacchadi
  • Neem Buds/Flowers - bitter
  • Raw Mango - tangy
  • Tamarind - sour
  • Green Chilli/Pepper - heat
  • Jaggery -sweet
  • Salt

Among various dishes served for lunch, pulihora /puliodharai is my favourite
Wishing all of you a very happy new year

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Undhiyu - A veggie delight from Gujarat

Hop into the Flavour Train with me. Let us take make a trip to a western state in India, Gujarat, and sample a Vegetable specialty -  Undhiyu. This dish is seasonal and is generally made in winters. This is because winters are the time of abundance in a normally arid Gujarat. It features in most festive menus and is served with roti or puri.

This dish is an obvious favourite of mine. How could it not be - vegetables cooked in a coriander leaves/cilantro gravy. My amma makes another version quite frequently (with all dry ingredients...the typical Gujarati style.)

We could prepare undhiyu by stuffing vegetables with the masala or cooking the chopped vegetables in the masala gravy. I have seen and loved more than one variation of this dish. I skip the tempering part of the recipe and make a low fat version. This time around, I also skipped a very important Gujarati ingredient - Muthiya (spicy, wheat flour and besan/chickpea flour fried dumplings).

Vegetables which hold up to being cooked in a gravy work well in this recipe-  pigeon peas (kacha tuvar), drum stick, tindora/ dondakai, Surti papdi (avaraikka), Brinjal, Plantain, yam, potatoes etc.

This time around I cooked the vegetables in the undhiyu gravy. My hubby dearest clicked a series of pictures to make it a colourful post.

All you need: Serves 4
Plantain - 1
Brinjal - 3
carrot - 2
potatoes- 2
snow pea - 1 ' pieces (1/2 cup)

For the masala gravy 
Green chillies - 4
Fresh coconut - shredded - 1/2 cup
Corainder leaves / cilantro - Chopped (used the stem and leaves) - 1/2 cup
Fresh ginger - 1 " piece Garlic - 2 cloves
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Salt to suit your taste
hing (asafoetida) - a pinch
Sugar or jaggery - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch

  • Chop all your vegetables and wash them well. Steam/Cook in the microwave for four minutes
  • Dry roast coriander seeds and cumin
  • Grind roasted ingredients with coriander leave/cilantro, ginger, garlic, coconut, green chillies into a fine paste
  • Put all the steam vegetables in a kadai and pour in the masala paste (add a little water used to wash off your grinder jar )
  • Add salt, turmeric powder, hing/asafoetida, sugar and let the sabzi cook until the masala gravy looses its raw smell. 
  • Stir gently so that the vegetables remain intact and do not become mushy
  • Add muthiya at this stage(i did not add muthiya this time)
  • Add sugar, mix lightly and let the undhiyu simmer for a minute or so
  • Take it off the stove, let the dish rest for a few minutes and add the lemon juice (make sure you add the lemon juice after it is taken off the stove. This is because, the lemon juice turns bitter when exposed to heat)
  • serve with steamed rice or roti 
All done and steamy!
Traditionally, the dish is started with oil tempering with a pinch of hing. The vegetables are added to it and then comes the gravy. You could also add Muthiya  to your dish.

Recipe: Muthiya (makes 6-8)
whole wheat flour- 4 tbsp
besan/chickpeas flour - 4 tbsp
coriander leaves/cilantro - chopped - 1 tsp
methi leaves - 1/4 tsp
salt to suit your taste
hing - a pinch
cumin - 1/4 tsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
water (to knead your dough)
oil for frying

  • mix all the ingredients (except oil) and make your dough
  • roll out equal sized balls and fry them in oil
  • Add these dumplings in the dish when the gravy is almost done

Trivia- Ayurveda:
  • Garlic, hing, coriander, ginger and cumin are good digestives
  • Turmeric is a natural antiseptic
  • Coriander leaves/cilantro is very good for our skin and the digestive system
  • Vegetables, cilantro/coriander leaves bring in the essential fiber in our diet

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vivaha Bhojanambu - A Movie and Food Enthusiast's delight :)

I love food, and black and white movies. Keeping in tune with my likes, I wanted to share this amazing video of a Classic Telugu song from the movie "Mayabazaar". I am sure there would be no Telugu speaking individual who doesn't know or like this song. Old telugu movies remind me of my Chittappa (uncle) (Mr Sivaraman). He is an ardent admirer of black and white classics.

Mayabazaar is considered a landmark in Telugu cinema and has the greatest legends portraying larger than life characters.  NTR, ANR, Savithri, SV Ranga rao all in their shining glory! This movie was a major hit during its time and is still an all time favourite. I am looking forward to see the colour version of this Telugu classic. It is being digitized and all set to hit screens this year (I guess).


The movie was dubbed into tamil, and kannada.I am not sure if there is a Malayalam version of this movie (i remember seeing one clipping shot by Sreekumar for a TV show)...... This song in particular has food mentioned in it in a very classy way. How could I not love it...right!??..

This song comes in when Sri S V Ranga Rao, essaying the role of Ghatothkacha in this movie,  finishes off Savithri's (Princess Sashirekha's) Pelli (wedding) Bhojanam (feast/food). All this being a part of a master plan to unite Princess Sasirekha with Prince Abhimanyu....Enjoy the video!

Original Telugu version

The tamil version of this song sung by a budding artist...I couldn't get the movie version online due to copyright

Kannada version

Malayalam version fo the song...(not in a movie though)

Talking about food and music....there is another song I like..this is from a movie called Unnal mudiyum thambi...(Telugu movie- Rudra veena)

videos source/courtesy: youtube

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Appreciation from a dear friend

I was surprised and very happy to see a cute token of appreciation from a  very dear friend of mine, Shanta (shan). She had not only tried the Penne and vegetable casserole I had posted earlier, but also sent me pictures from her kitchen.  I am touched!

Thank you Shanta for your appreciation and encouragement.
Here is the picture she sent in...I thgt id share it on Avial and Rasam



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