Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dahi Tales

Inspired by the post by Couchpapaya.

Dahi butter is the simplest thing to make. Place some dahi in a strainer for one or two of hours till the water (is that called whey?) is nearly drained off. Refrigerate this dahi and use like butter. Wont keep for long and is not as tasty as butter, but is healthier. You could even begin to love it more than butter, tastes something like white butter, without the fat.

For Shrikhand tie up the dahi in a square of muslin cloth and hang for at least 6 hours to drain out all the water. Take the drained dahi and mix it with sugar as per taste. Stretch the muslin cloth over a bowl or patila till it is tight as drum, then take dollops of the dahi and strain it through the muslin. Your basic Shrikhand is ready.

You can add kesar/ ripe mango peices/ dry fruit as garnish. If the basic Shrikhand is too thick you can thin it a bit by adding lil bit of milk. Serve Cold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bagalabath (Rice and Vermicelli)

Few things are more boring than curd rice. Bagalabath is a tastier form of curd rice.
Bagalabath (with rice) :-
ingredients :
Rice (preferably short grain pudding rice) - 1 cup
milk - 2 cups
Yogurt - as required
A knob of butter and salt as required.
Fried Cashew nuts, pomegranate, green grapes, finely chopped raw mango and chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.
chopped green chillis, grated ginger, mustard, urid dhal, hing and curry leaves for seasoning.

Pressure cook 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of milk. Allow the cooked rice to cool then add curd in small potions and butter. Then comes the seasoning and garnishing as mentioned above. It should be noted that 1 cup of rice when cooked with milk and mixed with curd could yield a huge quantity, much more than what would be expected when plain rice is mixed with curd.

Vermicelli Bagalabath:-
A cup of vermicelli is to be fried in a pan with little oil until it turns golden brown. Then a cup of water and a cup of milk and until the vermicelli sticks turn tender. (Note not to overcook, as that would crush the sticks while mixing). Seasoning and garnishing as mentioned above.


We had invited our friend and his family for dinner last weekend. They are from Northern part of India, and have a keen interest on TN cuisine, so I made authentic south style food for them. Posting few recipes of which I clicked pics. These are very common down south, yet delecable ones.

Ingredients :-
Snakegourd - 500 gm
salt - 2 tsp
Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
channa dhal- 1/2 cup
red chillis- 2 or 3
for seasoning - mustard, urid dhal (whole or broken), hing and curry leaves.

Method :-
Soak Toor and channa dhal for 2 hours in warm water and then coarsely grind them adding a spoon of salt and 2-3 chillis. Keep the mixture aside.
Boil some water in a pan and cook the chopped snakegourd. Remember that about an ounce of water would do for cooking the said quantity of the vegetable. Once the veggie is cooked, add a spoon of salt, mix well and keep it aside.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add mustard, let them splutter then add urid hing and curry leaves. Saute them. Now add the lentils mixture, simmer and cook until the mixture turns brown. Keep stirring as the mixture tends to stick to the pan. You may add oil generously to speeden the process, else it takes about 20 minutes. Once you could sense the aroma of nicely fried dhal, add the cooked vegetable and mix well (making sure not to break the veggie into very small unidentifiable pieces!!).
This paruppusili is a common item in the platter of marriages or any such functions in Tamil Nadu.
ps:Other than snakegourd vegetables like Green Beans, Runner Beans or Mangetout (Avarakkai in Tamil), Carrot or Banana Flower could be used.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sabudana khichdi

As a kid, I used to wait avidly for fasting day - for Maharashtrian fasts we load up on starches and peanuts and the food is mouthwateringly delicious!! One of the staples of the fast is the sabudana (sago/tapioca pearl) khichdi. Nowadays I dont need any excuses, I make it whenever I need some quick and easy comfort food.

Soaking the sabudana pearls
This is perhaps the most labour intensive part of the entire process and the soaking can make or break your khichdi. Too much water results in a mushy mess which will cleave to your palate and under-soaking (and then cooking it because you are too tired and hungry to think of anything else) will result in either a couple of teeth missing or a rubberized mess .... so pay attention here.

Different types of sabudana require different times for soaking. In maharashtra you get the absolute freshest pearls which take 2-3 hours to soak. The ones available to me here require 8 hours and more. You'll have to do some trial and error. To figure out when the pearls are soaked perfectly - squeeze ONE pearl gently between thumb and forefinger, if it's squishy and gets back it's shape like elastic without any hard parts then it's done, if it is completely squished to powder then it's over soaked. Repeat for a few more pearls - sometimes you find that one is done, others are still hard at the center. In this case, let them soak for some more time - patience is your friend here.

What works for me - I take the pearls in a sieve, rinse them in running water for about 2-3 minutes (if not using a sieve, rinse then drain), then cover and keep aside. Before covering, I take a handful of water and sprinkle on top. From time to time, I uncover and stir the pearls, if they feel dryish I sprinkle a couple handfuls of water. Do this until the soak test above is succesful.

Sabudana Khichdi
You can add chopped parboiled potatoes after the green chillies in step 1 below, fry until they cook well, then add the sabudana. I skip this since I hate potato in my khichdi but this is the traditional way. Also the amount of peanut powder is conservative, you can certainly go crazy!! All the cup measurements below are actually teacup instead of the standard cup. 1 teacup = 120 ml.

2 cups sabudana, soaked
1 and a half cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, ground to a chunky peanut powder
5/6 green chillies - finely sliced (I like heat, adjust yours accordingly)
cumin seeds
half tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon
large handful of chopped coriander leaves

Heat oil in a vessel on high heat. Add the cumin seeds, when they start sputtering, add green chillies and fry them for a bit.

Add the sabudana, peanut powder, salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and let it cook. Contrary to the patience it required before to soak the sabudana, you cant leave this alone for even a minute - it WILL burn! What I do is I cover for half a minute, then uncover and give it a stir and so on until the pearls are steamed through. When they start looking transluscent instead of the milky hue earlier you know they're done. Alternatively, just chew on them. It doesnt take long, I give them about 3-4 stirs and the khichdi is done.

Squeeze half the lemon and add more according to your taste. Check your salt seasoning.

Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve hot with a cup of thick yogurt as accompaniment.