Easy, tangy and tasty seasonal raw mango rice or mangai sadam, Tamil style. Grate the mango with the peel and add peanuts for greater flavour and nutrition.
Recent Recipes and Posts
If you have been following my recent posts on this blog, you will remember that the Facebook group of which I am a member, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, has set us the very enjoyable task of cooking our way through the cuisines of each of the many States in India. The theme for April 2018 is Haryana. I had thought I was well versed with the cuisine of this State, but when I started reading up on it, I found that there were a variety of dishes to choose from, some of which I was totally unfamiliar with. This Haryanvi Bajra Khichdi is one such dish. Though I have had (and enjoyed) food made of bajra several times, I had not earlier cooked bajra myself.
The first step in the challenge was therefore to find out how best to cook bajra (or pearl millet or kambu) as it is called in Tamil. I browsed online and Google very helpfully showed up a number of recipes for making Bajra Khichdi as well as ways to cook the Bajra. The problem was each of them gave different instructions on how to cook the millets. Some said to soak the millets, some to grind it first, some to wash and de-husk it and some advised just washing, draining and then letting the grains sit for a short while.
I was thoroughly confused until my friend Theyanmozhi advised that I soak the bajra overnight and then pressure cook it. This is the method I followed and it worked like a charm, giving me a creamy bajra but with a nice texture to chew on and to contrast with the soft cooked dal. Thank you, Theyan!
I realised that the different methods for cooking the bajra were because the recipes I referred used different millets such as foxtail millets (thinai), finger millets (rage), pearl millets (bajra, kambu) etc, each of which need to be treated differently. I am sure any of these would have made a nice khichdi with moong dal, but I was supposed to be making a dish from the cuisine of Haryana, so Bajra Khichdi it had to be.
The Bajra Khichidi from Haryana is traditionally rustic and simple – no frills – no onion, garlic, potato, tomatoes etc. No spices, just some cumin seeds, ginger, hing and turmeric powders. The ghee used to make the ‘tadka’ (and the garnish, if you opt for it) gives just that touch which takes the dish from tasty to uber delicious. I used freshly homemade ghee (ahem!) and the aroma just filled the house.
Memories of growing up, in Kharagpur in West Bengal are filled with images of festivals and celebrations and more importantly, the food that (to us at least) was the highlight of each such day. Every festival meant a traditional meal prepared by my mother with devotion and culinary expertise, and very often, new clothes as well as the freedom to run around the house with friends, playing and getting in everyone’s way. The Tamil New Year’s day or Puthandu, was no exception. Apart from the Neer mor and panakam which we drank by the gallon, one of the special dishes for the banana leaf meal at mid day was the Raw Mango pachadi.
Made from green mangoes plucked from a tree in our garden (and now of course from the supermarket), dark jaggery, chillies and turmeric powder, the raw mango pachadi or stew was flavoured by fresh neem flowers, fried to a crisp in homemade ghee.
This Gujarati Kachumber Salad is a no-brainer, and goes with almost any type of meal. Or have it for lunch with a bowl of chilled soup on the side. You need basic vegetables – onion, tomato and cucumber as well as lemon juice. The other ingredients are optional and can be mixed and matched with whatever veggie is on hand. The salad doesn’t really need a recipe. I used one as I wanted it to be authentic Gujarati. There are similar versions of the salad found in various Indian cuisines, with variations on the way the vegetables are sliced/grated, and which combination is used. Quantities are flexible and can be adjusted to your taste.
A few days ago I had re-posted my recipe for Panakam (the delicious jaggery and dry ginger drink for hot humid days) on my social media pages. Among the many ‘likes’ and responses to the recipe for this cooling drink, I was surprised to see how many of my readers asked about the recipe for Neer Mor. Surprised, because Neer Mor is so easy to make that it doesn’t really need a recipe. I then realised that just because something is simple doesn’t mean one automatically knows what goes into it and in what proportions.
Well then, here is my post on Neer Mor, with the recipe card below.
My first foray into Goan Cuisine, and it turned out so well! I found a large variety of vegetarian recipes to try out, and wanted to use ingredients specific to the Goan and Konkani cuisines. The Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal that I finally came up with, tick marked all the boxes I set for the post: Tasty, nutritious, easy, authentic and it incorporated the two ingredients I had been set for this month’s Goan Theme challenge from the FB group I belong to, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. More about this group, later on.
First, a little about some of the ingredients I used to make the Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal. The recipe I finally firmed up after browsing the internet and the few cookbooks I could find, needed kokum as well as terphal, a species related to the Himalayan Sichuan Pepper (which seems to be variously known as teppal, tefla etc). I consulted my daughter Mridula as to what the ‘tefla’ in the recipe was (I thought it was a kind of fish!) I could have tried sourcing the kokum and terphal in one of the many Mangalorean stores dotted around Bangalore, but then opted to buy them online from amazon as I was not sure I would be able to get the terphal spice elsewhere. The rest of the ingredients were ones I already had at home. Bitter gourd or karela is a favourite on my dining table. If you hesitate to take karela because of the bitterness, then do try it in this dish – the jaggery, the kokum and the spice all go to reduce the bitterness and in fact enhance the taste of the bitter gourd. And you know it is chock full of nutrition and health benefits, right?
Simple traditional food can be so tasty, and often is comfort food for most of us. This delicious Arbi ki kadhi is one such dish. I made it in the Chhattisgarh style, though there is probably little variation in the method followed in most regions of India. The kadhi takes very little time to make and needs just the basic ingredients you usually have at home. There’s very little prep to be done -boiling and peeling the colocasia/arbi is the main ‘task’, apart from slicing onions. After that it is just whipping the ingredients together and putting the kadhi to cook. Curry leaves and cumin add flavour to the kadhi.
Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.
Venturing further into North Eastern Cuisine, I made Assamese Aloo Pitika, the delicious Aloo Chokha look alike. Simple, very easy and with the mustard oil giving its unmistakable fragrance and its unique character to the dish, I can’t understand why I have not been using mustard oil more often in my kitchen. Its not that I am not used to cooking with mustard oil. In fact we regularly made aloo chokha aka mashed potatoes, with mustard oil and the stuffed red chillies from my husbands village in Eastern UP, and it would taste awesome.
This traditional stew from Arunachal Pradesh cuisine, Oying Vegetable Stew is simple, easy to make and delicious. There are just a handful of ingredients and no oil or spices are used. What makes the dish tasty is the freshness of the boiled vegetables and the flavours of the chilli and ginger. It healthy too, as well as vegan and gluten free.
This post is a detailed guide on how to soak fruits for Christmas Fruit cake. (I had first published it last year and am republishing with updated inputs.) The choice of fruits and the proportions in the recipe below are similar for soaking in alcohol or in an non alcoholic liquid, and I have given the steps for both types (the timelines for a non-alcoholic liquid are given at the end of the write up to the post). The timelines do differ, as well as how to preserve the fruits for the cake till it is baked.
If you do not want to soak the fruits ahead of time, I have given a short-cut method in the recipe for baking a Christmas Fruit cake.