Friday, August 29, 2014

Ganesh Chathurthi Special: Godu Appo (Sweet Appe/Paniyaram)






Today is Ganesh Chathurthi . Today is Lord Ganesha's birthday. Lord Ganesh is also known as the " elephant-face God" in the western countries. Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated with much pomp in India and by Hindus worldwide. It is a festival of great importance to Indians just the way Christmas is to Christians. In quite a few Indian cities and towns there is a week-long celebration for this  festival. Where I am from, we celebrate it is celebrated as a family gathering. That is, the eldest person in the family hosts the festival in his home and all the family members congregate there for the celebration. Being that we are so far away from home, we celebrate it by going to the local temple for prayer and preparing sweet appos at home as an offering to Lord Ganesha. It is believed that this was one of Lord Ganesha's favorite treats!





There are several different ways of making appos and as usual my recipe is one that is of no fuss, quick and easy to make, yet absolutely delicious! The only requirement is the availability of a appe pan without which this cannot be made!






 I am bringing this to Angie and all the wonderful people at Angie's Fiesta Friday. I am sure they will be intrigued!!

Servings: makes 21 medium sized appos.


Ingredients:


Wheat flour: 1/2 cup
Coarse rava( sooji): 1/2 cup
Freshly grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Poha ( beaten rice) : 1 cup
Jaggery: 3/4 cup
Water: 1 cup
Salt: pinch
Ghee( clarified butter)/ oil: to grease the appe pan.

Method:


Grind together coconut, poha, jaggery and salt with water.Take the mixture in a bowl. 

Mix into it the wheat flour and sooji. The batter should have a thick consistency.





Keep aside for 5 hours or overnight.






Heat the appe pan over medium heat.

Grease the pan using oil/ ghee. Pour tablespoonful of batter in each hole of the pan. Reduce the flame to low and let it cook. 


When the top is done you can flip it over and let it cook for 1 min until done.






You can serve it hot or cold.




Enjoy!



Cooking made easy:


Iron and cast-iron pots and pans tend to rust if not taken care of properly.  Taking care of iron or cast iron pots and pans is not difficult if one is mindful. Do not use soap to clean iron pots and pans. Clean gently with a paper towel/ wash cloth or soft scrub. Dry immediately after washing and apply a thin film of oil before storing. This will ensure that the pan remains seasoned, does not rust and food doesn't stick to it upon cooking.


Tip for healthy living:


Avoid non-stick pots and pans with Teflon-coating. The Teflon coating upon heating releases chemicals that could be deleterious to our health. It is worse when the Teflon coating starts wearing off. If using non-stick pots and pans, upon wearing off of the Teflon coating, promptly discard the pan. 
References:
http://www.ewg.org/research/healthy-home-tips/tip-6-skip-non-stick-avoid-dangers-teflon
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4491
https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006nl/april/pdf060400teflon.pdf


Food for thought:


The starting point of all achievement is desire. Napoleon Hill

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gowri Pooja Special: Godu Phovu ( Beaten rice mixed with jaggery and coconut)




Any auspicious GSB Konkani occasion is incomplete without Godu Phovu. This is also the most common , first in line offering to God during prayers and festive occasions. Even a poor man will make atleast this sweet as his humble offering to God.

This particular sweet/ snack/ dessert is also one of my all time personal favorites. You might be thinking that everything on this blog is a favorite of mine. Of course it is! Remember, it is my blog and obviously the first preference is to my favorite things!!:) Coming back to Godu Phovu, this is also healthy and beneficial for growing kids for its energy and especially teenage girls as it is a good source of iron.

"Godu Phovu " in konkani literally translates to " Sweet Beaten Rice" in English. Basically it is beaten rice that is mixed with a mixture of freshly grated coconut & jaggery and is flavored with cardamom powder. As simple as that! Growing up I would go to the temple and get Pooja Prasadam just to eat this dessert. I could never get enough of it . Now whenever I make this( during festivals), my kids love it and polish it off in no time!



Servings: 6-8



Ingredients:


Thin Poha( beaten rice): 3 cups
Jaggery: 1 cup
Water: 1/4 cup
Freshly grated coconut: 1 cup
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Ghee: 1 tbsp

Method:


In a pot add the jaggery and water and cook it on medium heat until the jaggery has completely dissolved ( takes around 5 minutes). Switch of the flame and let it settle down for 8-10 minutes. Now gently take the top portion of the syrup into another pot. Look for sand/ dirt residue, discard it.


Now heat the syrup again on medium heat until it bubbles and has a nice golden hue. 







Mix in the freshly grated coconut and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cardamom powder and ghee and keep aside to cool down.



Once the able mixture is cooled, mix in the poha( beaten rice) little by little, massaging it thoroughly with your hands. Mix it all until you have a nice a soft homogenous mixture.


Serve by itself or with banana.




Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Poha ( beaten rice) is available in several different thicknesses; very thin or nylon poha( used for thin Chivda), thin poha used for everyday regular Phova  chutney,Phova Ussli, poha mixed in yogurt etc and thick poha that is used in making poha dishes like Kanda poha, batat Phovu and for poha mixture. These cannot be substituted for each other; the dish will turn into a disaster! For example for Godu Phovu, only thin poha can be used. If thick poha is used, the dish will turn out hard and we will be unable to chew it!


Tip for healthy living:


Drinking lemon/lime juice with warm water first thing in the morning is a great way to cleanse your system on a regular basis. It has a great detoxifying effect on the liver.
References:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/03/17/lemon-water-benefits_n_4980265.html
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8354/5-amazing-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water.html

Food for thought:


Man love company -even if it is only that of a small burning candle. Georg C. Lichtenberg


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Instant Vada- Sambar



Sometimes, you develop this yearning to eat something specific. I suddenly had the urge to eat vada sambar! Well you cannot possibly make vada sambar without preparation!!! To make vada, you have to soak urad dal( matpe bean lentil), grind it carefully without water( which the blender vigorously protests against!!) I just cannot deal with all that headache. I do not eat frozen, pre-cooked food items.. So, I figured out a way and decided to try it!! I decided to use urad dal flour and do it. It turned out simple and super-easy! No mess, the right consistency and near- perfect vadas!
This is how I did it:





Servings: 2


Ingredients:


Urad dal flour( black matpe bean flour): 1 cup
Water: 1 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Oil for frying.
Green chillies: 1 small,chopped fine( optional)
Ginger: 1 cms, chopped fine (optional)
Coconut pieces: 1/2 tsp( optional)

Method:


Take urad dal flour and salt in a bowl, add water little by little and mix it to a paste without any dry knots in it.



Now using a hand blender, blend it until fluffy. 




Stir in the green chilii, ginger bits and coconut pieces. ( I don't use any of these as my kids don't like any bits and pieces coming in their mouth while eating.They prefer a smooth texture.)

Heat oil in a kadai/ frying pan on medium flame.

Wet your hand in water, scoop a little batter on your hand and shape the batter like a donut on your palm.




Slide the donut-shaped batter directly into the hot oil.


Don't fret if you don't get a perfect donut upon dropping it into the oil. It is just a matter of practice.Cook until it turns golden,turning once in between, around 2-3 mins.






Serve hot with chutney of your choice, sambar or both!




For recipe for sambar go here.You can use the vegetables of your choice.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Making donut-shape and dropping it into the oil can be very tricky. When making it on your palm, make sure that you hand is thoroughly wet with water. Once you make the donut, don't leave the batter on your hand for long. It becomes difficult to slide it off the palm.

 If you are apprehensive of making it on your palm, grease a plastic sheet with oil, take a spoonful of batter and  shape it into a donut on it. Just upturn the plastic sheet and drop the batter into the oil. Be careful not to splatter the hot oil.



If you are still having a hard time, just drop spoonful of batter into the oil. You will still be able to enjoy a tasty treat, just won't have the shape.:)




Tip for healthy living:


Use a pumice stone regularly on your sole and heel before taking a shower/ bath . This exfoliates the dead skin from the foot. Immediately after the shower, throughly moisturize the foot . This will help prevent the heel from cracking.

Food for thought:


If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meatless Monday Ootthappam/ Utthappa( Rice-lentil pancake topped with veggies)


Oothappam or Utthappa is a favorite amongst my family members. I like it too as it is a great way to use leftover dosa/ idli batter or batter that had turned a little sour. I also like it because it makes for a balanced, filling meal and is a fool-proof way of sneaking some veggies into my children's meal. It is also quick and easy to make if you are using leftover batter.

Servings: 4( around 8 dosas/pancakes)


Ingredients:


Leftover dosa batter/ idli batter: 4 cups
Carrots: 2, grated
Onion: 1 medium, finely chopped
Cilantro: finely chopped, 1 tbsp
Green chillies: 1-2, finely chopped ( based on your spice level)( optional)
Salt: pinch
Ghee( clarified butter): for making the dosa

Method:


For dosa batter: I have used leftover Mushti-polo batter.

In a bowl, mix together chopped onions, green chilli, cilantro, grated carrots and salt. Mix well. This is the topping.



Heat the tawa/ griddle until hot. Smear ghee/ butter. Pour one ladleful of batter. Make sure that you spread it thickly. 




Sprinkle 1 tbsp of the topping on top. 

When the dosa seems cooked, spread 1/4-1/2 tsp of ghee on top.




 Flip the dosa and let it cook until slightly golden brown.




Serve hot with chutney/ sambar or both!

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


While making dosas, the consistency of the batter plays a very important role. If you want to make thick dosas( like pancake thickness) then the batter has to be thick. 

If you want to make thin dosas then the batter has to be relatively thin but not runny. Hence, uthappams can be made only with thick batters like that of idli or dosa.

Some amount of ghee/ oil has to be spread on top of the filling as otherwise when you flip the dosa over the filling will stick to the pan/ tawa.

Tip for healthy living:


For people having extremely dry skin, applying olive oil at night 30 minutes before going to bed , on a regular basis will help relieve the dryness and improve the quality of the skin. Olive oil is natural, light and therefore trumps any man-made chemical laden moisturizer. It also is relatively inexpensive and without side-effects!


Food for thought:


Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss

Friday, August 22, 2014

Valval ( Mixed vegetable stew in coconut milk)



Valval is another dish that I absolutely wouldn't eat as a child. Why??? Because it was too bland for me!! Huh?? Most kids love bland food and I did not like it. No rhyme or reason to it! But now, it is one of my favorite traditional  konkani dishes and thank God, my kids love it! It is similar to Avial that is cooked in the neighboring state of Kerala( in India). I am from Karnataka. This dish is cooked traditionally for our festivals as there is no onion or garlic used in this dish. This is one super easy dish and a great way to get rid of any leftover vegetables in the fridge ! 

This dish is so likeable that I am bringing it to Angie's Fiesta Friday! Margy@La Petite Casserole is the co-host this week. I am sure all the girls will love it! I am also bringing it to Sonal's event Portion control and Light Eating Week as it is so healthy that it is perfect for her theme! 



Servings: 6


Ingredients:


Carrot:1, sliced into thick 2 inch long pieces
Red potatoes: 2, cut into big chunks
Ridge gourd: 1 small, cut into 1 cms thick slices
Snake gourd: 1 small, cut into 1 cms thick slices
Sweet potato: 1 small, cut into big chunks
Ivy gourd: 6-8, chopped into medium pieces
Zucchini: 1, cut into thick 2 inch pieces
Pumpkin: 1/4 of a small pumpkin, cut into big chunks.
Arvi( collacasia): 2-3, peeled and cut into big chunks.
Green chillies: 2-3, slit
Water: 1 cup to cook the vegetables
Coconut milk: 1 can
Tamarind: 1/2 marble sized
Asofoetida: pinch( optional)
Raw cashew nut halves: 1 tbsp( optional)
Salt: to taste

For tempering:
Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Jeera ( cumin seeds): 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

Method:


In a pot heat 1 cup water, add the vegetables one after the other in the order of time needed to cook with the ones that need the longest time going in first. Add the tender cashew nuts, slit green chilies and  salt and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Dissolve tamarind pulp in a little water and add  the water to the above pot.

Add 1 can coconut milk, pinch of asofoetida and simmer for few minutes.

Tempering:
Heat coconut oil in a frying pan, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves.

Garnish the above pot with the tempering.

Serve hot with steamed rice or enjoy a bowl all by itself!



Cooking made easy:


Any combination of vegetables can be used for this dish but the vegetables that hold themselves well after cooking are preferred like gourds and carrots etc. Make sure to add some root vegetables like potatoes, cassava, yam etc which act as thickening agents to the sauce. Otherwise the sauce becomes a little runny.

If using cassava, or colacasia(taro), make sure that you cook it separately with a little tamarind pulp and then discard the water. Now you can mix this with the rest of the vegetables.

Tip for healthy living:


If you have a heartburn after eating a heavy meal, apparently drinking one tsp of apple cider vinegar helps counteract it.
References:
http://www.refluxmd.com/learn/resources/2013-05-01/2427/apple-cider-vinegar-acid-reflux
http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/acid-reflux-fact-sheet


Food for thought:


All love shifts and changes. I don't know if you can be wholeheartedly in love all the time. Julie Andrews



Alvathi ( Colacasia leaves cooked in spicy coconut sauce)



It is funny. Growing up when my mother cooked Alvathi, I never liked it. Now it is one of my favorite dishes! I guess taste does evolve as one grows up. In that case, I definitely have hope for my kids! Right now they are stuck to bland steamed vegetables and upkaris( stir frys). Coming back to Alvathi, this is cooked out of therapaan (Colacasia leaves) that grows like weed back home( India) during rainy season and here I pay $4-$5 for the same leaves!!! Well, I guess somebody has to pay for the shipping and handling! The good news is that I can get it anytime from the Indian store that is 15 minutes away from me! Well.. That is what I call luxury!

That's enough of yapping for now.. Again alavathi is nothing but therapaan cooked in a gravy made from ground coconut and red chillies. Yes, it really is that simple!



Servings: 6


Ingredients:


Therapaan( Colocasia leaves): 1 big bunch ( around 15 medium sized leaves).
Ginger: 1 inch piece
Green chillies: 2-3, slit lengthwise
Tamarind: 1/2 small lemon size( I using pulp, 1 tsp)
Freshly grated coconut: 1 cup
Red chillies: 4-6( depending on your spice level)
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Jaggery: pinch
Water: 2 cups to cook the leaves and 3/4 cup to grind the masala.

Method:



Grind together freshly grated coconut, red chillies with enough water to make into a thick fine paste and keep aside.

Clean the therapaan thoroughly in water. Remove the stems. Reserve the stems for another dish. Now remove all the big veins from the back of the leaves. Removing these veins is important as the dish will otherwise make your mouth itchy.

Once all the veins from all the leaves have been removed, roughly chop the leaves. Add the leaves to a pot and add water, green chilli, ginger, salt and jaggery to it and cook until done( around 20-25 minutes). One good guide is the change in color of the leaves. It is better to overcook than undercook these leaves.

Once the leaves are cooked, add the ground masala to it and bring it to a boil.

Tempering:
Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds have spluttered, add he curry leaves.Add this to the pot above.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


One has to be careful while making any dish with collacacia leaves. Both the handling of the leaves and eating it can produce severe itching in the hands,mouth, tongue and lips if not done correctly.

To prevent itchy hands after handling of collacacia leaves, please smear any cooking oil on the hands or tamarind solution or one could even wear gloves prior to handling the leaves. Of course, wash your hands thoroughly after the handling of the leaves.

To prevent itching post-eating, make sure that you remove all the big veins from the back of the leaf. The more veins you remove, the lesser the chance of itch. Please  ensure that you cook it with a sour agent like tamarind, ambado etc. Use a little more than what you would normally use for a given dish. Ensure that you cook the leaves properly and thoroughly. It is safer to overcook it than undercook it.


Tip for healthy living:


Make greens a regular part of your daily diet. Eat atleast one portion of greens everyday. Eating greens on a regular basis has several health benefits. They provide the necessary dietary fiber and roughage to keep us regular and thereby prevent constipation. It also adds bulk to the food so that we feel fuller without consuming too many calories. Greens also have a low glycemic index, hence good for diabetics. They are also a great source of frolic acid, iron and other essential vitamins and minerals.

References:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/407586-nutritional-benefits-of-taro/
http://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/health-benefits-of-taro/
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/taro.html

Food for thought:


The mediator of the inexpressible is the work of art. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jeevkadgi Bajo/Phodi ( Fried Breadfruit)




Jeevkadgi also known as Breadfruit in English is one of my favorite vegetables.



Yes, it is not a fruit! It is a vegetable that grows in tropical countries. Growing up, we had a tree in our yard which bore plenty of these fruits. Yes, I am referring to it as a fruit now because that is the botanical way to relate a tree/ plant to its fruit.:) Anyways, we curry it, we fry it.. We cook it several different ways and I for one like all of them!! Jeevkadgi bajo is a very popular snack consumed with the evening tea. It is also served as an appetizer.


Servings: 2-4


Ingredients:


Jeevkadgi (Breadfruit): 1/4 medium sized breadfruit cut into 0.5 cms thick slices.( around 12-14 slices).
Chick-pea flour( besan): 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder: 1/4 tsp( you can use lesser depending on your spice level).
Hing( asofoetida): a pinch if using powder, 1/4 tsp if using solution.
Salt: to taste
Water: 1/4 cup ( enough to make a thick batter)
Oil: for frying( I use coconut oil)


Method:


In a small bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, red chilli powder, hing( asofoetida), salt and water and make a thick batter that can coat the breadfruit slices easily and does not drip off!




Heat oil in a kadai/ frying pan to 400 deg F. You could also use a deep fryer if you have one.

Dip each slice of breadfruit  in the above batter until it is completely coated and drop it gently into the hot oil.







 Drop just enough slices that fit the frying pan in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding results in poor quality of the end product. 



Fry until well done on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side on medium flame.

Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels so as to soak the excess oil.

Serve hot with some chutney/ ketchup or as is! Goes well with a cup of chai, as an appetizer or as a side-dish for lunch/dinner.


Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Previously when I made jeevkadgi bajo, I would find that at times the vegetable inside is undercooked and hard. I have now figured out a way to solve this problem. Once the breadfruit has been sliced, spread it on a microwave-safe plate and cook it in the microwave for just 1 minute and then soak it in the batter and fry. You can rest assured you will never find hard breadfruit inside!

Tip for healthy living:


Dandruff can be treated by rubbing the scalp with lemon/ lime juice . Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and then rinse it out. A few such washes will make your scalp and hair look much better.

Food for thought:


Eagles commonly fly alone. They are crows, daws, and starlings that flock together. John Webster

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meatless Monday Endamame - Tofu Salad





Here is another one of my favorites. It is healthy and yummy. Soybean has chock-full of health benefits and we can reap it to the fullest through this salad. It has soybean in its simplest form as Endamame and in the fermented form as Tofu. It is quick, simple and easy to make.



Servings: 2-3


Ingredients:


Shelled Endamame: 2 cups( frozen Endamame can also be used).
Extra firm Tofu: 4 oz , cut into bite-sized squares.
Cooking oil: 1 tsp  for greasing the skillet.
Red bell pepper: 1, diced small.
Orange/ yellow bell pepper: 1, diced small.
Green bell pepper: 1, diced small.
Cilantro: 1 tbsp, chopped

For the dressing:
Sesame oil: 2 tbsp
Rice vinegar: 1 tbsp
Soy sauce: 1 tsp
Grated ginger: 1/2 tsp
Honey: 3/4 tsp
Minced garlic: 1 clove
Red chilli pepper flakes: a pinch
Salt: to taste( remember soy sauce is salty; adjust accordingly).


Method:


Cook the Endamame over the stove-top until tender. Keep aside to cool.

In a skillet,  pan sear the tofu pieces until slightly golden and keep aside to cool down.

In a jar mix together all the ingredients listed under "for the dressing".

Marinate  the tofu slices in the dressing for 5-10 minutes. Then mix in the Endamame , the bell peppers and cilantro. Mix well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.






Serve chilled.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


Do not soak the wooden cutting boards in water for washing. Just use warm/ hot water and dish soap, wash and dry it completely before storing. If you leave the wooden cutting board in water, it absorbs the water, swells up and gets deformed.The same goes for wooden spoons.

Tip for healthy living:


Soy is a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. It is in fact one of the few complete proteins available that are of plant-origin. People on elimination diet have to be careful as some people may also be allergic/ reactive to soy. One also has to be careful regarding the selection of soy products. You want to make sure you choose Non-GMO ones and the products that are least processed; examples being Endamame, soy milk & Tofu.

References:

Food for thought:


Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook. Oliver Goldsmith