Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Once the month of Avani starts, there is an unending series of festivals. Close to Avani Avittam, we celebrated Gokulashtami and before we know it, Ganesh Chaturthi will arrive, to be followed immediately by Onam. Not too far away is Navarathri.
Though Ganesh Chaturthi was a week away, I prepared sweet and savoury kozhukkattais last week, as our elder son was with us and was going back to his work place before Ganesh Chaturthi.
This time, for savoury kozhukkattais, I prepared carrot kozhukkattais. They came out very well and every one appreciated the new taste.
Here is the recipe.
Ingredients for the outer shell of the kozhukkattais are given here.
Ingredients for the stuffing:
Grated carrot: 1 cup
Moong dal without husk: 1/2 cup
Grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Green chillies : 2 nos
Salt to taste
For the garnish:
Split urad dal: 1tsp
Hing: 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: a few
Oil: 2 tsps
Dry roast the moong dal to a light pink color. Cook with little water so that they are done but not over cooked. It should be soft to touch but the grains should remain separate.
Grind the coconut with green chillies without adding water.
Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan. Add the hing and mustard. When the mustard starts crackling, add the urad dal. When the urad dal turns pink in color, add the curry leaves, followed by grated carrots.Saute` for 5 minutes, add the cooked moong dal and saute` again for 2 minutes. Add the coconut mixture. Mix well and remove from heat.
Prepare the rice flour dough for the outer covering as per this recipe.
Make small cups of the dough and stuff 2 tsps. of the stuffing into it. Steam for 15-20 minutes.
Yummy carrot kozhukkattais are ready!
So, this time,for Ganesh Chaturthi, go the vegetable way!
Happy Gowri Ganesha to all. May the Elephant faced God remove all obstacles and give a Happy and Prosperous life to all of us.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Sweet cheedais are a little bigger than the savoury cheedais. They are sweet crunchies, with a nice flavour of sesame seeds and cardamom powder. They are similar to savoury cheedais except that jaggery is added to the flour to make the cheedais sweet.
Rice flour : 1 cup
Grated jaggery : 3/4 cup
Sesame seeds : 1 tsp
Roasted urad dal powder: 1 tsp
Butter: 2 tsp
Coconut cut into small pieces: 1 tsp
Cardamom powder : 1/4 tsp
Seive the rice flour twice to remove any grains and dry roast it to a light pink color. Cool.
Prepare the urad dal powder as described in the earlier post of cheedai.
Melt the jaggery in half a cup of water. Strain to remove impurities. Cool. Mix the rice flour and urad dal powder. Add the cardamom powder and sesame seeds. Mix well. Rub in the butter. Add the coconut pieces. Mix well.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the jaggery syrup. Knead well to make a soft dough.
Roll into slightly bigger balls than for the savoury cheedais.
Heat the oil. When the oil starts smoking, add the cheedais, a handful at a time and fry to a reddish brown color. Repeat till all cheedais are fried.
Crunchy, sweet cheedais are ready.
A word of caution:- Be careful about the quantity of jaggery. It could be a little less than the prescribed measure, never more, which will cause the cheedais to disintegrate when put in oil.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Cheedais are unique to Tamil Nadu and Kerala and are synonymous with Gokulashtami (Ashtami Rohini/ Sree Krishna Jayanthi). These crunchy, yummy marble sized balls are liked by young and old and are very easy to prepare. Having said that, I must caution that things could go wrong even for an experienced cheedai maker. Instead of the crunchy crispies, one might end up with soft, chewy cheedais. Another thing that could go wrong in cheedai making is that the cheedais might explode when dropped into hot oil which can be quite hazardous. First time cheedai makers should make sure that little children are out of range and preferably, there is another adult present at home.
I have had a very bad experience while making cheedais. The very first time I made cheedais on my own was when both our children were under 3 years of age. Hubby dear was out of town on work and on Gokulashtami day, I decided to make cheedais for our unnikrishnans (little krishnans - our babies). Those were not the days of internet - no google search for cheedai recipes. We did not even have a telephone to call home and ask for recipes, like our younger son does these days. But we had very friendly neighbours who were ever ready to lend a helping hand. Since I was the youngest occupant in the building, Komala mami and Lakshmi mami were always giving me tips on running the household. So, memorizing the recipe given by them, I ventured to make cheedais on my own. Our elder son, all of 2-1/2 years of age, was ever ready to help me. Our younger son was tied to his post, or else he too would crawl and come to help me. So, whenever I had some work I did not want the baby to crawl into, I would tie a long string to his aranjan (this is a black cord tied to the waist of the babies on the 28th day) and tie the other end to the window grill, so that he would be free to move around the room, but not crawl into the kitchen or bathroom. His anna (elder brother) would keep him company.
Cheedais were made and were ready to be deep fried. Having warned our elder son not to come into the kitchen to help me, I started putting the cheedais into the hot oil. Within seconds they started exploding spraying hot oil all around. Our elder son, the all time joker those days, came running to see crackers bursting in the kitchen and also called out to his brother saying, "Nandu, come and see, amma is bursting crackers inside the kitchen". I had the presence of mind to switch off the stove and to send our son with an SOS to call Komala mami and Lakshmi mami. He wouldn't budge as the crackers were still bursting. I said, "Go tell mamis that mummy has crackers inside the kitchen". He immediately ran upstairs and brought the mamis, who said not to worry and to abort the cheedai making. "Make dosas with the dough", they said.
I have been making cheedais every year since then and they have never exploded. I was surprised when my sister-in-law said her cheedais exploded this year, as she is an expert in making these deep fried goodies. This was one of the reasons I did not post cheedai recipe earlier, because I did not want our over enthusiastic younger son to try making cheedais with a little baby around.
There are 2 types of cheedais, savoury and sweet. We will have the recipe for savoury cheedais first.
Over to the recipe.
Rice flour : 1 cup
Urad dal powder : 2 tsp
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp
Butter: 2 tsp
Hing powder: 1/4 tsp
Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Black pepper: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: a few
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry
Most of the crunchy snacks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have Urad dal powder as the main ingredient, which gives the dish the crunchiness, if used in the right proportion.
Dry roast 1 cup of urad dal to a light pink color at which time a nice aroma will arise out of it. Cool and powder it in an absolutely dry grinder. Seive this powder twice to make sure that the powder is absolutely fine without any grains (Presence of grains in the powder is one of the causes of exploding cheedais). This powder can be stored in an air tight container for up to a year and used when ever necessary.
Seive the rice flour twice again to make sure there are no grains in the flour. Dry roast the rice flour in low heat for 5 minutes.
Dry grind the coconut, jeera, pepper, curry leaves, hing and salt to a coarse consistency. Mix the rice flour and urad dal powder well. Rub in the butter. Add the ground coconut mixture and knead to a soft dough adding water if necessary. The ground coconut mixture will add some greasiness to the dough, so add water very carefully. Make marble sized balls of the dough.
Once all the dough is shaped into balls, heat oil in a wide kadai. When the oil starts smoking, reduce the heat and put a handful of the balls into the hot oil. Keep away from the stove and watch for any explosion. Increase the heat after 2 minutes and when the balls turn light brown in color, remove from oil. Repeat until all the balls are fried.
To test the cheedais, press one cheedai in your palm. If the cheedai breaks softly and the inside is fried, it is done. It will turn crunchy when cold. Store in air tight tins.
Have a safe cheedai making session!
Sunday, August 07, 2011
In the village houses where we grew up, there would be a small step between rooms. In some places like the front or back porch, there would be several steps. When the baby starts moving on its belly, at some stage it would cross this threshold between rooms. At this stage, sweet ammini kozhukkattais are prepared and offered to Kathavarayan Swamy and then a mixture of these kozhukkattais and small coins are showered on the baby's head as he crosses the threshold. The neighbouring children are invited and they scramble for the kozhukkattais and the coins. This is an offering to Kathavarayan Swamy (literally protector God) so he would protect the baby from any fall from the steps when he is growing up. In our house, Kathavarayan Kozhukkatai was also offered to the Lord, when the baby recovers from measles or other such illness.
Kathavarayan kozhukkattai or simply, sweet ammini kozhukkattais, are small kozhukkattais made with rice flour and jaggery, and is the right sweet for the calorie conscious. No fat, no deep frying, just a steamed healthy delicacy.
I told my son how to prepare them and he in turn had a kozhukkattai shower for the baby. I prepared the kozhukkattais and offered them to Kathavarayan Swamy, here in India.
Over to the recipe. The pictures are by my son.
I have made a small change to the original recipe followed by my mother (She is sure to ask me, "who taught you to roast the rice flour?") In the traditional recipe raw rice flour is used; I thought roasting the rice flour lightly would give a better texture to the dish.
Rice flour : 1 cup
Jaggery : 3/4 cup
Coconut pieces : 2 tsp.
Cardamom powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : a pinch
Roast the rice flour lightly. The color should not change. Melt the jaggery in 2 cups of water and strain. Boil the strained jaggery syrup. Add the coconut pieces, cardamom powder and salt. When the syrup starts to boil, add the roasted rice flour and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Cool, make into marble sized balls and steam for 10-15 minutes in a steamer. Sweet ammini kozhukkattai is ready.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
"Mambazha Pulissery", he answered and corrected, "no no, Mambazha Payasam"
Then the two had a hearty laugh.
Such is the affinity of Pulacodians towards sweet.
Not only Keralites, but everyone who has tasted my mambazha pulissery has admired the dish. Recently a young Kannadiga girl who tasted the dish said, "this is an all in one dish, it has all the flavours".
Coming to the recipe, this Pulisserry can be prepared with any type of mango, but the small sized mango, which is known as "Adakka manga"(Areca nut mangoes, so called because of their small size) is the right choice for this. During wedding feasts, hundreds of these ripe mangoes are boiled in huge urulis the previous night itself so that they would cool down by morning to be peeled and squeezed. I also pressure cook the mangoes the previous night last thing before going to bed, so that they would be easier to peel in the morning. Finishing part of the cooking the previous night is a system we adopted when I was working and we had to have the lunch and breakfast ready by 8 am in the morning. There were no breakfast cereals back then. Even today, I cook a full fledged breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Back to the recipe:
Ripe mangoes(big): 4
Small mangoes : 10
Grated coconut : 1½ cups
Green chillies : 4 or 5
Mildly sour thick curds : 2 cups
Jaggery(optional) : 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder : 1tsp.
Salt :to taste
Curry leaves : 1 sprig
Oil : 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2tsp.
Fenugreek seeds : 1/tsp
Red chillies : 2 nos.
Wash and cut the stem off the mangoes. Make a slit on either side of the mangoes, if you are using big mangoes. Pressure cook the mangoes in 2 cups of water. You can also microwave high for 7 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel the skin off. Squeeze the flesh off the mangoes. Keep the seeds. Use the water in which the mangoes were boiled to squeeze any flesh off the skin of the mangoes. Mix the mango pulp with a spoon to make a homogeneous mixture. Add the seeds to the mixture.
Grind the coconut with green chillies using a spoon of beaten curds to a thick consistency; not very smooth.
Boil the mango pulp for 5 minutes, stirring well. Add turmeric powder, salt and jaggery. Mix the ground coconut with the remaining beaten curds and add to the boiling mango pulp. Allow to boil once and remove from the stove. Garnish with curry leaves.
Heat the oil in pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the fenugreek seeds, broken red chillies and curry leaves.
When the red chillies start changing color, remove from the stove and pour over the prepared pulissery.
Mambazha pulissery tastes great with rice, dosa, idli, kozhukkattai or chapati.