Friday, August 21, 2009

Check it Out In Chennai

If you are in Chennai, Do Check this place out. They have wonderful cakes and snacks. They operate out of a basement of an apartment building.

I was there twice this trip and both the times had a great time eating the cakes....

Padmashri Foods

New #4/ Old #7
2nd Cross Street, C.I.T Colony
Chennai -600004

044-24997567, 044-24995701

Bread Bowls

I followed this recipe and got these great looking bowls. My suggestion is to use the smallest bowls since it is the perfect size. I bought some correlle bowls at walmart, (the smallest size available there). It hold 4 oz I think. Otherwise, the recipe is just great. Will definetely make it again.

Deep Fried Snacks... Thenkuzhal

Thenkuzhal is one of the most rewarding snacks you can make and almost foolproof.
The above pictures were taken in Madurai when I was in India, when my Grandma made some for me. She made it with the help of Viji, a wonderful lady who is my aunt's kitchen helper.
She used a traditional press.
What I have here in the US is more modern version of the press.

What ever you have at home, if you make this, it will be over in a few days. It is a great snack to munch on.

The recipe
Rice Flour - 1 Cup
Urad Flour - 1/4 Cup
Jeera - Make sure it is clean, 1 teaspoon
Salt - about a teaspoon
Butter -  1/2 Cup Softened to Room Temperature
Water- as needed

---> Mix all the ingredients to make a hard to a little soft dough.
---> In a pan, heat some oil and test the temperature by adding a small amount of the dough to it. It should immediately rise up to the top.
---> Make in to balls and stuff in to your press. Use the mold with one hole in the middle and holes all around.
---> Slowly make the thenkuzhals by pressing the press in small circles in the oil.
---> Make 3 to 4 at a time, depending on the amount of oil you are using.
---> Once it becomes a light golden color, turn around and after a few seconds, when it is golden all over, take it out and drain on an absorbent paper towel.
---> If your thenkuzhal is becoming red in color, then you may have used too much Urad Flour.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Deep Fried Snacks....Vella Cheedai, Uppu Cheedai

Yesterday August 13th was Gokulashtami...Lord Krishna's Birthday.....
So I attempted to make some of the Savories that are usually made, Vella Cheedai, Uppu Cheedai and thenkuzhal.
I took these recipes from Aparna, who is an expert making the Cheedais. The Uppu Cheedai
All of them use more or less the same ingredients.

Vella Cheedai
Vella Cheedai is the sweet version of the Cheedai as the name suggests, Vellam means Jaggery I a raw form of sugar)
You Need
Rice Flour 1 cup
Urad Flour - 2 teaspoons
Jaggery 1 cups
Sesame seeds- 1 teaspoons
Cardamom - 5 or 6 peeled and powdered
Coconut (cut like small teeth) - 3 tablespoons OPTIONAL
---> In a heavy bottomed pan, add the jaggery and about 2 tablespoons water. Keep the fire at low flame.
--->In 10 minutes the jaggery would have melted and become completely liquid.
--->At this point, switch off the stove and add the cardamom powder, coconuts, sesme seeds, the rice and urad flour.
--->Mix well to make a batter
---> Make round balls and deep fry till it becomes dark brown but take it out before it becomes black.
---> When Deep frying, as always keep the fire on a low to medium flame, otherwise the outside will cook fast and become black but the inside will remain uncooked.

Uppu Cheedai
Uppu Cheedai is known to create catastrophies in the kitchen. Heard a lot of stories, that if you don't make the dough right, the moment when you out the small balls in the oil, it will start bursting. Because of this, I have never attempted this in the past. Armed with Aparna's recipe I was determined to overcome my fears :) )
It turned out great, the only disappointment was I made tooooooooo little :(
You Need
Rice Flour 1 cup
Urad Flour - 2 teaspoons
Salt - As needed (i added 3/4ths teaspoon to a teaspoon)
Sesame seeds- 1 teaspoons
Butter (Melted ) - 1/4 stick
Water - as needed to make a thick dough
--->Mix well to make a batter
---> Make small (smaller than the Vella Cheedai) round balls and deep fry till it becomes dark brown but take it out before it becomes black.
---> When Deep frying, as always keep the fire on a low to medium flame, otherwise the outside will cook fast and become black but the inside will remain uncooked.
---> when it turns an even golden brown, take them out.

Both of them tasted really good. I also made Thenkuzhal. I will post the recipe for that tomorrow.

Dosai Milagai Podi a.k.a Gun Powder and Idlies...... In India

Most of our friends call this Gun Powder because of the spice it has. I have seen a lot of versions of this all through my life.... My favorite is how my Paati (Grandma) Mrs Vimala Ramamurthy makes it.

People who don't like the spice , make it in an orange color, and i would not call THAT Milagai Podi because Milagai means Red Chily. You've gotta add the spice it needs, some others add Jaggery to this, and I cannot bring myself to even try it, because it takes away the spice......

Depending on your spice level, adjust the amount of Red Chillies you add to this, but please do SOME justice............
Lets goto the Recipe
You Need
Channa Dal --------Half of 1/4th Cup
Urad Dal ---------- 1/4th Cup
Sesame Seeds (Optional)------- 2Teaspoons
Mustard Seeds ---- 1/4th Teaspoons
Dry Red Chillies--------1 Cup (yes i said it right, 1 cup)
Hing - 1 Teaspoon
Salt - To Taste (I would add a teaspoon first and then taste it)

---> In a heavy bottomed pan, start by roasting every item, one by one with little oil for each item
---> You have to roast the Channa Dal until it becomes an even shade of rose
---> Take it out and then in the same pan, now roast the urad dal
---> Now take that out and roast the sesame seeds
---> Now Take that out and roast the mustard seeds
---> Now Take that out and roast the Red Chillies (put your stovetop fan on if you don't want everyone in the room to cough)
---> Keep the roasted items on a big plate and let cool
---> Once it is cooled, add them to your big mixie jar and make a fine to a little coarse powder
---> Add some salt while it is grinding
and then
---> Make a nice soft Dosa and take the Milagai Podi for a test drive...... :)

You could even dry roast everything but, it will hit your throat really hard since it will get very dry.
So of you add some oil, it will become moist and also have that glowing red color.

I have already posted the recipe for Idli here. Idli is one of my comfort foods. Had it a lot at home in India. Wanted to post a picture of my perima, Mrs Sugantha's Idlies...

I have already posted the recipe for Idli here. Idli is one of my comfort foods. Had it a lot at home in India. Wanted to post a picture of my perima, Mrs Sugantha's Idlies...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Palm Fruit - Nongu in Tamil, Tadgola in Hindi and Lontar fruit in Indonesia!!!

This fruit takes first place on my top 10 fruits list.

I just love this fruit for its texture and softness. It is a jelly like fruit and I found some info on it here. Me and my son had tooooooooooo much of it in India. My daughter didn't like it that much.

According to my grandma, this fruit cools you down on a real hot day. And in Chennai it is always Hot....

If you haven't had this fruit yet, you have to try it once.

It comes in a hard shell, the vendor will remove the fruits out for you.
You wash them in cold water and then by peeling the skin around it carefully without poking in it so the juice remains intact.

When you are ready to eat it, you bite it on one end and then slowly suck the juice out and then chew on it and enjoy the taste.... Yummm

Back after a lonnnnnnnnnnnng Break.... Party Menu Part 2

I had gone to India in June and came back in July. Does that explain my long absence?? I hope it does....
I am so jealous of bloggers who go on a vacation and then blog from there...
I also went with great aspirations to India and blog from there, but mostly got lazy and when I got the mood to write, there was no electricity and when there was electicity, there was no internet, or something was wrong with it....

Alls well now and after settling back at home, i will start posting some great pictures and recipes and stuff that we did in India!
But since I have to continue with my Party Menu, I will post Focaccia now. Am still waiting for Aparna to give me more pictures of the Lasagna she made. So I will post the Lasagna later...

For the Focaccia, you need:
a 10X15 inch rectangle pan or a 18 inch round pizza pan, I have found that the pizza crisper works best since it has lots of holes the crust doesnt become too hard and the dough rises beautifully.

Water ------------ 1 Cup
Olive Oil ---------- 1/4 Cup (or as Rachel from Food Network calls it EVOO)
Salt --------------- 1 Teaspoon
All Purpose Flour -- 3 to 3 1/4th Cups
Yeast (Fresh) ------ 2 Teaspoons
About the Yeast, you have to make sure you have a resonably fresh yeast. If you are in doubt, check this link and proof your yeast.
I buy my yeast from here. I keep it in the freezer and store it for about 6 months. I do make bread atleast twice a week. This works for me, and if you don't use it often you are better off buying the small packets that you get, but be sure to proof it.

---> If you have a bread machine, put everything in the machine and set it for dough cycle and press start. (In my machine the Dough cycle is for 1 hour and 50 mins.)
--->If you don't, then you may use your hands or a food processor to mix everything well and cover and let it rise and rest for atleast 2 hours.

For Topping:
Olive Oil ------ 2 to 3 Tablespoons
Garlic Cloves --- 3 or 6 or 9 (Minced)
Kosher Salt ---- to taste

---> Combine the olive oil and garlic for the topping and set aside.
---> Brush the panyou are going to use for focaccia with a little olive oil.
---> shape the dough so that it fits,
(What I do is, roll it out flat on the counter top and spread the topping on it and then roll like a wrap and then roll it out flat again.
---> Cover it with plastic wrap and let rise again for 45 minutes.
---> Preheat oven to 375Degree F
---> Take out the plastic wrapm and drizzle olive oil over it and put some more garlic and then sprinkle kosher salt and evenly press it in. Then with your finger poke holes randomly in the dough.
---> Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown.
--->Serve it warm with a nice soup...

I use fresh garlic as opposed to those already peeled ones you get in the store.

Also I use lots of garlic for flavor.

If I plan to make focaccia for dinner, I make the dough in the morning and keep the dough in a big bowl (covered in plastic wrap) in the fridge. An hour before serving I take it out and do the rolling and putting the garlic in it.

I also substitute some semolina flour in it, and then sometimes I make it half white and half wheat.

When you make it half white half wheat, the dough will not rise that much.

Make it and let me know how it turned out...