Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween, everyone! Here's my Halloween 2006 pumpkin, all lit up, ready to scare you :)!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Murukulu - Deepavali Treat

murukulu - all ready to be gobbleed up

Murukku is a Deepavali tradition in our house. My mom would make these a day or two before the festival but preperations for this dish would start atleast 3-4 days ahead of the actual murukku making day because everything was made from scratch i.e. the flours, I mean.

The rice would be soaked in water for about an hour or two then it would be air-dried on a cotton cloth overnight. The next day, it would then be slow roasted in a pan on the stove in batches, then cooled. The urad dal would undergo the same process, except the soaking bit. It would just be roasted on the stove, then cooled. Then came our kids' chore of taking it to the flour mill to get the rice and urad dal mixture powdered to make into flour. My mom would give us special instructions to relay to the flour mill guy, to not combine the murukku mixture with any other grains (like wheat, jowar etc). She would even send with us some raw rice so the flour mill person could pour that in the mill before the actual Murkku grains went in so it would "clean" out the mill so it is devoid of the afore mentioned other grains. Going to the flour mill was the chore I hated the most growing up. I would always find ways to pawn the chore off to my siblings but it hardly worked :).

For those who are not familiar with the "flour mill(s)" I mention, these are usually one room establishments (atleast where I grew up), where they powder whatever you take. Be it be jowar grains, lentils, rice, wheat, anything you name it, they powder it for you to make into flour. Since it was only a one room place, that meant that the waiting area where you waited for your grains to be pounded was right next to the big machine that powdered the grains which also meant you would be covered in flour by the time you walked out of there. Sure you could wait outside on the street but I always loved to wait inside where I could watch the flour mill operator operate the big machine which also meant I was keeping a close watch on the grains I took so they are not adulterated by anything else :). Sometimes, there would be a line of "dabbas"/"boxes" and you would set your box in line and wait. Sometimes, you would be the only person there. It all depended on the time of year and the time of the day. Festive season would always be a busy time where everyone would bring those "special grains" get powdered - chana dal (for besan), rice (for murukku, chakili etc). During non-festive season, it would just be atta grains - wheat, jowar etc.

Wow...that was a walk down the memory lane I never intended to write about when I started this blog post :). When I look back, if feels as to how less complicated life was back then or so it seems :).

To make murukulu, you need a special gadget called the "murku maker/press". There are a couple to three of varieties of these and I have the one below. I like find this type because I feeel it is much easier to use than the makers, you have to "press". This one you just rotate and the disc on one end of spring sort of thing pushes down on the dough that is in the cylinder!

muruku maker/press

  • 4 cups Rice flour
  • 3/4 cup Urad dal flour
  • 1/4 White Sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons Cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoons Ajwain seeds
  • 1 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon Chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter/shortening
  • oil for deep frying
  • One large mixing bowl
  • One small mixing bowl
  • Large deep fryer
  • Mix everything listed under the ingredients together in the large mixing bowl.
  • Now take about a cup of the flour mixture into the small mixing bowl, and by adding enough water make a dough that is not too tough or not too watery. It should be easily "pinchable".
  • Put this dough mixture in a Muruku maker and press or turn away (depending on what kind of press/muruku maker you are using) onto a clean cotton cloth or some aluminium foil into small disks as in the picture.
  • Meanwhile heat up the oil and deep fry the murkus in hot oil until well cooked and crunchy.
Tips and Techniques:
  • When making murukus in large batches, make sure that you do not make the dough all at once. Combine all the dry ingredients together and only make the dough when ready to put the dough into the mould.
This my second entry to Vee's Special Edition Jihva for Diwali Treats !

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Deepavali Shubhakankshalu (Happy Diwali)

Here's wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Deepavali!

With the experience of making Ganesha with clay under my belt, I decided to make diyas with clay too! Here are some pics!

lighted "home made" clay diyas/deepalu

"home made" diyas waiting to be lighted

making the "home made" diyas with clay and paint

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Borugula(Kurmura, Churmura, Murmura, Puffed Rice) Laddu - Deepavali Treat

Diwali Treat - Kurmura Laddu

Well...with this post this cooking blog becomes an official laddu blog :). Just kidding...but it sure does seem like it? Doesn't it? Infact all Indian cooking blogs these days are starting to look like they are on mission to ruin everyone's diet plans. But it is the festive season afterall. And obviously as soon as the Indian Hindu festivals slow down for a while it will be time for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then comes Sankranthi again. So I don't think the "sweet treat" trend is going to end soon around here!

This time for Diwali I wanted to make a laddu I had never made before and was searching endlessly for an interesting recipe. As soon as I read Chandrika's poha laddu post I was immediately transported back to my school days when we used to get these borugula laddus in a small store outside our school for 10 paise each. You see, in my mind, flattened rice (Poha) and puffed rice (Kurmura) belong to the same category and hence the relation. They are even right next to each other in my pantry. I have an obsession with bundling "like" things together like that in the kitchen and everywhere else :). If any psychologists are reading this blog, feel free to post your 2 cents on what that tells about me hehe...

With Kurmura in mind, I went searching for a Laddu recipe and found a couple. I chose this one. I did make some changes to the proportion of ingredients and also added in brown sugar. It seemed pretty simple to make and it really is very simple as you will see below.

  • 2 cups crushed jaggery
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups puffed rice/kurumura/murmura/borugulu
  • 1 pinch caradamom powder
  • one large heavy bottomed vessel
  • First roast the raw peanuts in the vessel on low-medium heat until the peanuts starts to smell nuttly and are golden brown.
  • Fold a tea towel in half and put the peanuts on one half of the towel to cool. After the peanuts are cold enough to handle, cover the peanuts with the other half of the towel and rub gently on top of the towel with your hands. This is in order to remove the skin from the peanuts. Then gently blow air over the peanuts so the skin flys away. I usually do this at the sink and then clean it up later.
  • In the same vessel that we used to roast the peanuts with, put in the jaggery and brown sugar and add just enough water so that the jaggery is immersed in the water. Bring it to a boil and wait for the sauce to thicken. I followed the method described in the recipe on how to check the consistency of the jaggery syrup i.e. "add a few drops into a bowl containing water and it shall solidify immediately."
  • Turn off the heat and add the puffed rice, peanuts, coconut and caradamom powder. Mix it all together and allow it to cool.
  • I tried the "grease your hands with ghee and make laddus" for this and it did not work. The puffed rice mixture was too sticky and it was sticking to my hands big time. So I devised a new technique. I took a sheet of plastic wrap and then put a spoonful of the laddu mixture in the centre of the plastic, made that into a ball - voila - no sticking at all. So this recipe does not even need any ghee!
As you must have guessed it already, this is my entry to Vee's Special Edition Jihva for Diwali Treats !

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Almond Walnut Laddoo

almond and walnut laddoo

In addition to the sunnundalu (urad dal laddoo) for Dasara, I also made these almond and walnut loddos. The inspiration for this laddos came from Indira's walnut laddoo post but I changed the recipe. I basically took an easy way out than her recipe, since I did not wait for the milk and sugar to get to a pala kova consistency that Indira describes in her post. Here is my version!

  • 21/2 cups each walnuts and whole almonds
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 21/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 pinches caradomom powder
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • one small microwave safe vessel
  • one large heavy bottomed container
  • one food processor
  • Dry roast the walnuts and almonds seperately in a pan over low to medium heat until toasty.
  • After the nuts cool down, grind them seperately in a food processor until the nuts are broken down into very small pieces but not completely powdered. It takes a little longer to process the almonds.
  • Meanwhile, boil the whole milk in a microwave safe vessel until it is hot and bubbly. This step can be eliminated and the milk can be directly boiled in the heavy bottomed container but I always boil the milk first in the microwave and then transfer it to the stove. The advantage of doing this is that milk does not get scalded in the microwave and the "stirring the milk" time gets reduced dramatically.
  • Transfer the milk to the heavy bottomed container add the condensed milk and heat on medium heat until the mixture thickens up (for about 10-15 minutes).
  • Add in the chopped nuts and the caradamom, stir often so it doesn't get scalded until it is thick and the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the ghee and stir.
  • Leave aside until warm enough to handle.
  • Then apply a little bit of the rest of the ghee to your hands, and make round balls with the mixture.
  • Store the laddoos in an air tight container.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jihva for Ghee round up

First off an apology for taking so long to do the round up. I have been extreremely busy and was gone the weekend and am going on another trip this weekend and next week. But better late than never and here is the Jihva for Ghee round up! Enjoy!


By Beyond the Usual

Ghee, Riceflour, Banana, Jaggery

Besan Ladoo
from My Food Court
Ghee, Besan, Milk,, Sugar

Maa Laddo, Neiyi Urundai
from Menu Today

Ghee, Green Moong Dal, Sugar

Besan Laddoo

By Foodie's Hope

Ghee, Besan, Milk,, Sugar

Chickpea Flour Balls
By Autres Délices

Chickpea flour, ghee, brownsugar

Brown Ghee Rice and Mysore Pak from Out of The Garden
Brown rice, Ghee, spices (Brown Ghee Rice)

Ghee Mysore Pak from Menu Today
Ghee, Besan, Sugar

Brown Ghee Rice and Mysore Pak from Out of The Garden
Ghee, Besan flour, Sugar (Mysore Pak)

Mistress of Spices
from When My Soup Came Alive
Butter, Onion, Cloves, Garlic, Cumin, other spices

Flavored Butter from AkshayaPatra
Butter, spices & fruits

Carrot Kheer from Aahar
Ghee, Carrots, Milk, Sugar

Banana Bread Halwa from Cooking Pleasures
Ghee, Bread, Milk, Sugar

Ram Prasad Ladoo from A cook @ Heart
Ghee, Whole wheat flour, jaggery

Pineapple Kesari from Letzcook
Ghee, Sooji, Crushed Pineapple

Almond/Badam Halva from Saffron Hut
Ghee, Almonds, Sugar, Milk

Butter Shortbread from My Cook Book
Butter, All purpose flour, Sugar

Pongal from Akshayapatram
Ghee, Rice, Moong Dal, Chana Dal, Jaggery

Tangy Ghee Aloo from Chatpat Food
Ghee, Potatoes, Greenchilis, Lime juice, Sugar, Panch phoran tadka

Goad Bhaat
from Food for Thought
Ghee, Rice, Moong Dal, Jaggery, Coconut

Capsicum Rice
from My Experiments with Food
Ghee, Bell Pepper, Basmati Rice, Spices

Thank you to everyone that participated in the event this month and I want to thank Indira for providing me the opportunity to host!

Next month's Jihva event is being hosted by Vee of Past, Present and Me. Get details in her Special Edition Jihva post!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quick Jihva Post

Just a quick Jihva related post - it will still be a couple more days by the time I do the round up. But please send in the entries if you have them. The ingredients are butter and ghee!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Jihva for Ghee and Butter - Sunnundalu

sunnundalu for Jihva for Ghee and Butter

Butter and Ghee are integral ingredients of Indian cooking. They are not only used in cooking but also in a lot of religious Hindu ceremonies. Ghee is considered a "sacred" ingredient.

Ghee is used more extensively than butter atleast in my home. During most of my childhood days, my grandmother always made ghee and sent it to us. My grandparents had farms and they had buffaloes(not the American buffalo) and cows among other animals. So the ghee was pure, fresh and unadulterated, always. I remember my grandmother, meticulously skimming off the cream that forms a layer after boiling milk. She would then save the cream for some days, then churn it, extract the butter. That butter would then be turned into ghee. Then in my teenage years, my mom started making her own ghee which was because of the fact that grandmother wasn't keeping well.

I never ever remember seeing a package of the Amul butter or any store bought butter or ghee in our house. Even now, my mom makes her own ghee. In fact, the first time I used a "stick butter" in my life was when I came to the U.S.

So as you can all tell, I am very happy to host this month's JFI as ghee does hold a special place in my heart.

With ghee, I made an Andhra favorite, "Sunnundalu". This is also one of the specials I made today hence it is Dushera tomorrow. These are so simple to make but it still is so very delicious.

  • 1 measure urad dal
  • 1/2 measure sugar
  • Approximately 1/4 measure freshly made ghee
  • Caradamom powder
  • One frying pan
  • One mixing bowl
  • Dry roast the urad dal on low heat until golden brown, toasty. Stir often while doing it.
  • Powder the urad dal until very fine in your favorite grinder.
  • Powder the sugar until very fine.
  • Mix the roasted urad dal powder, the sugar and the caradamom powder with your hand until well combined.
  • Add ghee slowly in installments and mix the flour, sugar mixture while doing it until it the ghee is absorbed so that you can make balls with it.
  • Make round balls of the laddu and savor as dessert!
PS: The urad dal flour and sugar mixture (without the ghee) can be stored in an air tight container in the refigerator for a couple to three months. When ever a sweet tooth hits you, put some ghee in it and make the laddus :).