Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year.
May the year ahead tickle your tastebuds.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recipe: Carrot halwa

It has been our practice for long to prepare carrot halwa, especially during the winter as we get the red variety of carrot (which is known as delhi carrot in Bangalore) then. Otherwise, what we get is the orange variety. So during my Bangalore visit, we bought the red carrot and prepared the halwa. The most difficult part of carrot halwa is grating the carrot, which our handsome and charming younger son happily did. I started part of the preparation immediately (read at 10 pm) and completed the process early next morning, so that when my good friend Veena came to say “hello” to me at 7 am the carrot halwa was ready and she was surprised that I had finished the preparation so early in the morning, whereas she had just woken up and come to wish me.

I used full cream milk and the halwa turned out creamy and rich and of course, yummy. Here is the recipe then.


Grated carrot: 4 cups
Full cream milk: 3 cup
Sugar: 2 cups
Ghee 4 tbsp.
Cashew nuts: 1 tbsp.
Kismiss(raisins): 1 tbsp.
Slivered almonds : 1 tbsp.
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp.
Saffron : few strands


Boil the milk in the pressure cooker and add the grated carrots. Close the pressure cooker and reduce the heat to the minimum . When there is a steady stream of steam through the weight valve, place the weight and cook for one whistle or 15 mnts in reduced heat. Turn off the heat. (This is the first stage of preparation ). Open the cooker after ½ hour. Meanwhile, soak the saffron strands in 2 tbsp. of milk. Add the saffron to the cooked carrot. Boil the carrot once again on full heat. Add the sugar and stir constantly until all the milk evaporates. Add spoonsful of ghee in between whenever the halwa starts sticking to the vessel. When all the ghee (Reserve 1 tbsp of ghee for frying the dry fruits) has been added and all the moisture evaporated, the halwa should leave the sides of the vessel. Turn off heat. Add cardamom powder. Heat the reserved ghee in a small kadai, add the cashew nuts and kismiss. When the cashew nuts turn pink in color and kismiss swells add to the halwa as garnish. Decorate with slivered almonds.
The full cream milk gives that extra richness and taste to the halwa (you get the twin taste of halwa and thirattupal).


Merry Christmas

During the Christmas weekend I paid a flying visit to Bangalore and back which was eventful and hectic to say the least. Well, we had Thiruvathira, Christmas, visitors for lunch and brunch, personal work to attend to and generally oiling up for the smooth functioning when I am away. Before I left I made sure that our elder son would not have any difficulty during my absence by cooking and freezing a few things and before I left Bangalore I had to once again see that my husband and our younger son would have a few things for their immediate use after I left.

For Thiruvathira I made Kali and kari the usual thiruvathira goodies, exactly the same way as I had explained earlier and it turned out just right. This time, we used, Kavathu, red pumpkin, avaraikkai, sweet potatoes and fresh thuvar peas.Our younger son, who is back home for Thiruvathira after a long time, enjoyed the kali and kari.

Immediately after reaching Bangalore, the first thing we (my husband and I) did was to chop and soak the dry fruits for the Christmas cake. This time, we used, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cherries, dates, cashew nuts, raisins, pineapple, figs, prunes and ginger. We baked a cake with 1 kg of dry fruits, 6 eggs, 225gms each of flour and butter and sugar. Our younger son who is always ready to do the beating and mixing of the cake took over the responsibilities and I just had to oversee the process and the actual baking. The cake was fluffy and spongy and melted in our mouths.

During my visit, we also entertained my son’s friends. For one couple we prepared vangi bath, puttu and kadala kari, masala dosa and rava kesari. For another friend’s visit, we prepared, bisibele bath, curds rice and neypayasam.

In between we also prepared carrot halwa, porivilangai and pori undais, peas pulao, Aloo ki tehni and Rice ada.

I shall soon start posting the recipes of all the goodies for which recipes have not been posted.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Recipe: Muthucharam

Isn’t it a beautiful word? Muthucharam in tamil means string of pearls. Why this name was given to this crispy savory I cannot understand, as it definitely doesn’t resemble a string of pearls. Actually it is not called Muthucharam but called Muthuswaram which again doesn’t make any sense, so I thought Muthucharam atleast makes sense. Its common name, Mullumurukku is the apt word to describe this crispy as it has an exterior resembling thorns(Mullu). As I always say, a rose by any other name ……. And yet when we start analyzing the meaning of some of the words in common use, we start doing research.

The recipe here is very simple.

Raw rice: 3 cups
Chana dal: 2/3 cup
Whole moong : 1/3 cup
Urad dal: 1 tbsp.
Gingelly seeds: 1 tsp.
Butter: 50 gms.
Hing: slightly larger than a pea
Salt to taste
Oil to fry


Wash and dry the rice. Dry roast the chana, moong and urad dal until nice fragrance emanates (the dals turn a light pink in color). Grind them all together to a fine powder. Grind the rice also to a very fine powder. I still have the privilege of getting it powdered in a flour mill. In many places I am told that flour mills have become a thing of past. Sieve the powders with a fine mesh to remove any coarse particles. Mix both powders thoroughly.

Soak the hing in little warm water atleast 1 hr before the actual preparation. Beat the butter and salt vigorously in a large kadai or thali. Dissolve the hing thoroughly in water. Add the prepared powder to the butter mixture and add the hing solution and make a soft and smooth dough by adding more water if necessary. This takes some effort. Usually I get it done by hubby dear who is only too willing to oblige. He likes to be part of everything that happens at home. If I make murukkus, he will knead the dough for me. If I make halwa he will stir the mixture for me. Anyway, today I am in Hyderabad and he is in Bangalore and my shoulder muscles get sore if I put a little strain on them like kneading murukku mavu or stirring the halwa. That’s when I remembered about the atta kneader attachment that comes with the table top wet grinder. If it can knead atta, why not murukku mavu, I thought. I gave it a try and was rewarded with a smooth and soft dough without any pain.

When the dough is done, heat oil in a kadai. When the oil comes to smoking point, press the dough through using the star shaped plate. Fry on both sides until done. Remove from oil and allow to drain, spread on a paper towel to remove all the extra oil.

NJOY your mullu murukku.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Recipe: Wheat halwa

When I posted the recipe for Kashi Halwa one of the readers had asked for the recipe for Wheat Halwa and I had promised to post it when I got a chance. Unfortunately, it took me longer than I expected! Wheat Halwa is prepared using a special type of long bodied wheat called Chamba wheat in Tamil. It is not available in all shops. I checked many shops in Hyderabad and was not successful. Though hubby dear located a shop in Bangalore and brought the wheat for me, it took me another 3 months to actually prepare the halwa. I finally used the excuse of my handsome and charming son’s visit to Hyderabad to make some wheat halwa for him. Therefore, recipe time!

Preparation of wheat halwa is a laborious and time consuming process, but the final result is worth the effort. You also need an additional pair of strong hands to stir the halwa non-stop, so don’t start preparing the halwa all alone.

Chamba wheat : 1 cup
Sugar : 3 cups
Ghee: 2 cups
Cashew nuts : 1 tbsp.
Raisins : 1 tbsp.
Cardomom powder : 1 tsp.
Red food color : a pinch
Saffron: few strands
Boiling water: 4 cups (keep this boiling hot in a stove near by)

Wash and soak the wheat for 4 hours. Grind the soaked wheat with just enough water initially and when the wheat is well ground, add more water and grind to a smooth batter. Strain the batter through a muslin cloth or a fine strainer to another container. When all the milk is drained, grind the residue with some more water to extract any left over milk from the wheat. Strain again. Allow the wheat milk to stand for 2 hours and decant the water on the top. The wheat milk will have settled down at the bottom. This is the base for wheat halwa.

Fry the cashew nuts and raisins in ghee to a golden brown and keep aside.

Boil the sugar with 2 cups of water in a thick bottomed kadai (a non-stick would be the best choice). When the sugar dissolves and starts to boil, add a tbsp. of milk or lemon juice to remove the impurities of the sugar, which will float as scum. Boil the sugar syrup to one string consistency and add the wheat milk and keep stirring (non-stop).

Dissolve the saffron and food color in a little milk and add to the boiling halwa. When the contents start leaving the sides of the kadai add 1 cup of boiling water, stirring all the while. As and when this water gets absorbed add one ladle full of ghee and stir some more. Add 1 more cup of boiling water and ghee and repeat this process until all the water has been added and absorbed. Add the remaining ghee and keep stirring until the halwa leaves the sides of the kadai. Add cardomom powder ,stir and pour onto a greased tray. Allow to cool for some time. Cut into desired shape.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kunjappa: Moving On

We are back from Chennai after the rituals connected with Kunjappa’s passing. In our society whenever somebody passes away after living their life to the full, it is called a Kalyana Chavu in other words, though there is an all pervading grief over the passing away of a dear one, the ambience is that of feasting. In our village, there are big lunches with payasam and pappadam for 10 days after the funeral to which all the people in the village are invited, and sweets and snacks are prepared in the memory of the departed soul. There are sponsored lunches by the daughters and daughters-in-law and sambandhis. By the end of the 13th day, one is overstuffed with food. On the 13th day again Murukku and laddu, and appam and pori are distributed to one and all.

It took a couple of days to sleep off the early hours and late nights that we had had at Chennai and then the daily grind has started again.