Passages

This blog has one purpose. It is to provide my Grandchildren a place of inspiration, a place that reminds them of their Indian ancestry. Recipes herein are a passage to India, and I trust, will journey the reader to the glorious flavors and aromas of the Andhra kitchens.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Makara Sankranthi-The harvest festival

It is celebrated in the month of January, and the dates usually fall on 13, 14, 15th of January. January 14th marks the start of "Uttarayana punyakalam" or the holy days of northward journey of the Sun (The point when sun enters the Capricorn or Makara). It also marks the end of southwest monsoon in Andhra Pradesh and is also end of harvest season, and is celebrated very widely in villages.

The first day is Bhogi - On this day, people wake up before dawn and take oil bath, wear new clothes. A fire is lit up in the back courtyard, and people go around it thrice, praying god and asking for fulfillment of their wishes. House is decorated with muggulu (color and floral designs in front of house) and toranalu (mango leaves tied together for the door frames). In the evening, for children below 5 years, there is a special ritual called "bhogipallu" in which Reggipallu (sort of berries) and cheruku (sugar cane pieces) along with some currency coins are taken in hand and it is rotated thrice around the head of the child by the women. It is done to ward off the evil. This is then given off to the workers employed in the house.

The main ingredient of feast today is rice and it includes Pulagam and Paravannam.

The second day is Makara Sankranthi. This is the day of merriment. People get up early, wear new clothes, have a sumptuous feast, and visit the fair. The feast this day includes Boorlu and Pulihara.

The third day is Kanuma Panduga - The ritual followed today is - getting up early again, applying oil to the body, taking a regipandu (berry) and putting it on head and pouring water on it letting it slip away while chanting "Crow, Crow, take your color and give me back my color" (telugu version is Kaaki Kaaki ne rangu nuvvu teesukuni, na rangu naaki icheyi). This was the procedure we used to enjoy a lot and even now even though I feel funny, I religiously do it for fear of not getting my color back :)) During winter, the skin color darkens due to dry weather in India.

On the third day, we have to eat any preparation made by "Minappappu" or "Urad dal". So usually the fare includes Garlu and Avadalu.

The recipes are described below:

1. Pulagam: This is one of the simplest recipes. Ingredients required are Rice 1 cup and half cup of pesarapappu (Split green gram). Salt to taste and ghee 2 tablespoons. Milk Rice, green gram, wash it thoroughly and add 3 cups of water, add salt and cook it preferably in a pressure cooker. After it is done, add ghee on the top and serve hot. It tastes good with Avakai.

2. Paravannam: Ingredients are a cup of washed rice and two cups of milk, and a cup of shreded jaggery. Take a pan, put in the washed rice and add milk to it. Cook it in a slow flame until done. The rice should become very soft and should be mashed. Then add jaggery and again cook for few minutes while mixing properly. Care should be taken not to burn it and not allowing lumps to form. Remove from flame. For garnishing, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee and add Cashew nuts, fry them brown and add Green cardamom powder and mix it to the cooked rice. Tastes good both when hot and also cold.

3. Bobbatlu: This is a complicated dish, but can be easily mastered with practice. Bengal gram 2 cups, jaggery pieces 2 cups, Green cardamom powder. A cup of maida (plain flour). Mix the flour with watar and make a soft batter (consistency should be softer than required for chapathi). Keep it aside covered with a moist cloth for 20 minutes. Cook the bengal gram with required amount of water. When done, drain the water completely and mash it well. Take a nonstick pan, add the cooked dal and jaggery. Keep mixing while cooking on slow flame until the mixture starts separating from the edges of pan. Allow it to cool and make big lemon sized balls of the mixture. Oil a flat plate (if banana leaves are used instead of plate, it will the best) and also hands well, take small pieces of flour, spread it on the plate by pressing until it is around 4-5 cm in diameter, place the mixture, and cover evenly with the spread flour batter on all sides. It will be round in shape now and it should be pressed slowly to flatten it about 5 inches in diameter. Put it on a heated pan and fry it on low flame adding a spoon or 2 of oil and turning it. The oil preferably should be refined groundout oil. When it is light red on both sides, remove and store. It should be served with a spoonful of ghee put on it. This stays for 7 days without refrigeration.

4. Garlu: Soak the minapappu (Split black beans) for 2-3 hours. Grind it to paste by adding very very little of water, add salt to taste, and keep the batter aside. Heat oil and when it is very hot, decrease the flame, moisten hands with water, take a small lump of batter, flatten it on the hand itself and make a hole in center of the batter and slowly drop it into the oil. Deep fry it on slow flame till golden red. Remove and drain off the oil well. This is served with allapachadi or ginger pickle.

5. Avadlu: First "Garlu" are prepared using the above mentioned procedure. In a bowel, take 2 cups of Yoghurt, finely cut tomatoes and Coriander, slit green chillis, salt to taste, and mix them well. The garlu that are prepared should be dipped in this mixture and should be kept aside for atleast 2 hours so as to allow them to soak up the yogurt.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vinayaka chaturthi

Every year, according to Indian calendar, Bhadrapada masam (a month which usually falls in September), shukla (first fortnight), chaturthi (fourth day) is an auspicious day celebrated as Vinayaka chaturthi. It is said to be the birthday of "Vinayaka" or "Ganesha", the "Elephant-head god" These are the main delicacies prepared on that day. It falls on September 7th, 2005. Ganesha's idol is brought to home and prayers are offered to it. This pooja ends after 9 days with immersion of the idol in lakes.


1. Undrallu

Take 2 cups of rice, wash it, and air dry it. After it is dry, powder it coarsely (the size of idli rava/semolina). Soak 1/4 cup of chana dal for 10 minutes.

Take a pan, put some oil (preferably peanut oil or sesame oil. Heat it and add Jeera (cumin seeds). After it turns red, add 4 cups of water to it and bring it to boil. Then add salt to taste, soaked channa dal and then powdered rice by continuously stirring. Keep stirring until it turns semi solid. Then cover it and on a slow flame cook it till done.

After it cools down to bearable level, apply little oil to hands (so that it does not stick to hands), take the cooked mixture and shape them round with hands, the size - a bit smaller than tennis ball.

This can be reheated (steam or microwave) before having.

This is usually had with "Kobbarikaya mavidikaya pachadi"

2. Kobbarikaya mavidikaya pachadi

One whole coconut, made into pieces.
One medium sized raw mango, cut into pieces.
Mustard seeds a teaspoonful
Fenugreek 1/2 teaspoonful.
7-8 Red chilies or as required.
Two pinches of asafoetida.
One tablespoon of oil.
Sugar, half a teaspoon.

Heat oil in the pan, add mustard and fenugreek seeds. Stir-fry until mustard seeds pop and fenugreek turn brown (make sure it is dark brown in color or else it will leave a bitter taste). Then add red chilies and asafoetida. Grind this with mango and coconut pieces with the sugar to paste adding little water.

This can be had with hot rice.

3. Jilledikayalu

Rice one cup, soaked, dried, and finely powdered.
One large coconut, grounded.
One-cup jaggery, powdered.
4 Cardamon powdered.

Heat a pan, add finely ground coconut and powdered jaggery. Cook until done with constant stirring. When it is done, add cardamon and remove from flame. After it cools down, make it into round balls the size of lemon. (This mixture is called laskora, and is also had as is.)

In a pan, put 1 cup of water and bring it to boil. Keep adding rice powder slowly while mixing. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to it and cover with a lid, and cook till done. Take 2 tablespoon of the mixture. This should be rolled (like chapati/indian bread) the size of palm. Place one laskora one side, bring the other side of it on top of laskora and cover it on all sides by pressing it. After all pieces have been prepared in the manner, they have to be steam-cook them for five minutes. Remove them and cool it. It is had after cooling to room temperature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kobbari Kai(Coconut) Pachadi


Until recently, most Indian restaurants were North Indian, and pretty much cookie-cutter in menu, décor, and ambiance. The preparations were mostly Mughlai in style. About 5 years ago restaurants started adding South Indian dishes such as sambar, idli, dosa, and coconut chutney. The idli and dosa were OK but the sambar was mostly watery dal with cayenne pepper. The coconut chutney was best left uneaten. It was watery, tasted like wood, and left an oily film in the mouth. But I was always hopeful and would order it at every new restaurant, unfortunately with the same result. However, a couple of years ago at a restaurant that was unremarkable in every respect, I ordered idli. When it came, I gingerly tasted the accompanying coconut chutney and it was an ephiphany! It brought back memories of home. I guess I had a silly grin on my face, since the owner came by and said, “First time?" I nodded yes and he said, "We use fresh coconut. It is extra work but we think it is worth it." He is right, and here is my recipe:

Ingredients:
1 fresh Coconut
4 Tb Chana Dal
2 Tb Urad Dal
1 marble sized (1” diameter) Tamarind pulp (not juice)
10 dried Cayenne Peppers
10 Thai hot or Green Cayenne Peppers
1 Tb Mustard Seeds
1 small bunch Coriander leaves
20 Curry leaves
1 Tb Safflower oil
1 Tb Salt
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder

Preparation:
Crack the coconut, remove the white meat (A sturdy screw driver works best . Reserve the liquid. Peel off the woody backsides with a potato peeler. Yes, it is a lot of work, but without it, it will taste woody. Slice in to small (1” by 1/2” )pieces.

Saute Chana dal, Urad dal, red and green Peppers, Mustard seeds, Curry leaves in the oil till the Dals turn golden brown.

Grind the Coconut pieces, sauted ingredients, Tamarind, Coconut liquid, salt in a blender or food processor with just enough water to form a coarse paste.

Best served with Dosa, Hot Rice or Nan.
Will keep for a week in a refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving (May be microwaved)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Potlakai (snake gourd) Perugu Pachadi

Yes, this is still a recipe for vegetarians! You are looking at a snake gourd on the left. I found this one at my local Indian grocery store in New Jersey. They are usually straighter because they are grown on trellises and left to hang. When I was growing up in Bombay they were a rare find because there weren't many people from Andhra and we had to travel an hour to Dadar from Colaba. They started to become more widely available in the US in the last 10 years. This recipe is a favorite of my grandson Michael. He refers to it as circle pickles.
Ingredients
Medium Potlakai (Snake gourd) about 1lb
Thai Hot Green Chile Peppers 6-10
Urad Dal 1 Tbls
Cayenne Peppers 4
Cumin Seeds 1 Tbls
Brown Mustard Seeds 1 Tbls
Small Bunch Coriander Leaves
Curry Leaves 20-30
Butter 3 Tbls
Fenugrek Seeds 4-6
Sour Cream ½ cup
Buttermilk 1 cup
Turmeric Powder ¼ tsp
Salt


Preparation

Slice potlakais into fine circles, about ¼ inch thick
In a non stick fry pan saute these using 2Tbls of butter till thoroughly cooked(they will be translucent). Slight browning adds to the flavor. Set aside.
Saute mustard seeds, cayenne peppers, fenugreek seeds, finely chopped green chilies, cumin seeds and curry leaves in the remaining butter till mustard seeds pop and green peppers wilt.
In a bowl mix sour cream, buttermilk, sauted spice mix, turmeric and potlakai. Crush the peppers. Add salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Serve on hot rice or nan/roti.




Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Kandi pachadi with vankaya pachipulusu

The typical lunch in an andhra family usually includes rice, curd,
> one dry vegetable (koora) or chutni (pacchadi) with liquid - pappu
> (using dal) or pulusu (using vegetables and tamarind). First the hot
> rice is had with pacchadi/koora, then rice with pappu/pulusu, and then
> rice is mixed with curd and had as last item.*
> **
> *The following is a favorite combination from coastal andhra,
**Kandi pachadi with pachipulusu. Kandipachadi is mixed with rice and morsels
> are dipped in pacchipulusu.*
>
>
*Kandipachadi*
>
>
Ingredients
> Kandipappu (Toor daal) - 1cup
> Dry red chillies - 6-9 depending on taste.
> Jeera - 1 teaspoon.
> Salt - as required
> Oil - 2 tablespoon.
> Hing - pinch.
>
> Take a pan and put that on the stove.
> Pour one cup of kandipappu (toordal in hindi) in the pan and fry until
> it is nearly bright red. Remove and keep aside.
>
> In the pan, pour a teaspoon of oil (preferably groundnut oil), put
> some red chillies (the ones that give hot taste, not color, preferably
> guntur merapakaya) and some jeelakarra (jeera). Fry till red, put
> some inguvva (hing) in it. Grind this together with the fried
> kandipappu to a fine paste, pouring water when required. Make sure it
> does not get watery. It should be of solid consistency. Then add
> salt as required for taste.
>
> Put the pan on stove again, heat a tablespoon of oil, put some
> minapappu (urad dal) and the remaining jeelakarra. Fry till dal is
> red, and add this seasoning to the ground pacchadi (mixture). Garnish
> with karvepaku.
>
> One of optional garnishing is fried garlic (should be red) which can
> be added at the end.
>
> This is best had by mixing with hot rice and adding groundnut
> oil/nuvvula nooni (sessame oil?) and bites of ooramerapakaya fried in
> oil. Ooramerapakaya is chillis marinated in sour salted curd and sun
> dried, and is prepared to last about a year.
>
> The best combination with this kandipacchadi is Vankaya Pachi pulusu.
>
>
Vankaya Pachi pulusu
>
> Ingredients
> A big Vankayya (approximately 1/2 kg in weight) (the brinjal (egg
> plant) suitable for this is a oval shaped, white in color, called
> mettavankaya)
> Green chillis 4 sliced thin
> Coriander cut finely
> Tamarind - about 25 gm, soaked in water and thick paste made from it.
> Jaggery 20 gm or sugar 2 tablespoon
> Salt as required.
> Seasoning - Oil 1 teaspoon, mustard seeds, methi (fenugreek seeds?),
> red chillis, hing.
>
> Roast the whole vankaya (egg plant) directly on the stove on slow
> flame without cutting or peeling. It should be roasted until all
> sides are completely roasted (the skin turns black and might get cut
> in places). Allow it to cool and then peel off the skin. Mash the
> pulp and add raw tamarind juice, jaggery, green chillies, and salt to
> taste.
>
> Mix all these well. Add water to make it into semi solid
> consistency. Garnish with corriander.
> For seasoning, heat the oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, red
> chillis, fry till mustard seed pop and fenugreek seeds turn brown, add
> hing and put off the flame. Coarsly powder the red chillis with hand
> itself and add the seasoning to the pachi pulusu. Should be had with
> hot rice.
>
> Optional garnishing: Cut onions finely. These can be added to the
> pulusu either raw or after frying it red with some oil.
>

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gongura Pachadi

Gongura

Gongura is quintessentially Andhra along with avakai and dosakai. Gongura comes in two varieties, green stemmed leaf and red stemmed. The red stem variety is more sour than the white stem variety. Gongura, or hemp leaved hibiscus is a tropical plant. For chutney, only the leaves are used.
For as long as I remember, we bought 777 gongura pickle. My grandchildren were raised on it and refer to all pickles as gongura. My granddaughter still keeps asking for the 777 jars!. About 5 years ago they changed the recipe. The leaves are no longer coarsely chopped, no whole green peppers and I think they dumbded down the recipe: a lot fewer peppers and a lot less oil. Also they seemed to put tamarind and or acetic acid. It is just too sour. This is the case with all other pickles as well.. So I started to make my own and have been experimenting with fresh gongura leaves. Here is my latest creation:

Ingredients:
  • 8 Oz Gongura Leaves
  • 6 Tb Canola oil
  • 20 dried Cayenne Peppers
  • 20 Thai hot or Green Cayenne Peppers
  • 1 Tb spoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tb spoon Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 Tb Salt
  • ¼ T spoon Turmeric Powder
Preparation:
  • Remove the Gongura leaves from branches. Leave the stems on.. Wash and thoroughly dry Gongura leaves. Saute Gongura leaves and green peppers in 2 Tb spoon of oil till the leaves wilted and the peppers are soft.
  • Saute , red Peppers, Mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds in the remaining oil till fenugreek seeds and peppers turn golden brown.
  • Grind the Gongura leaves, peppers, sauted ingredients, Turmeric and salt in a blender or food processor to a coarse paste. Do not add water
  • Best served with Dosa, Hot Rice or Nan.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Perugu Annam

(Curd Rice)


Ingredients:

12 Oz Medium grain Rice
24 Oz Water
16 oz Yogurt 0r 4 Oz. Sour cream and 12 Oz. Buttermilk
4 Oz. raw Cashews
8 dried Cayenne Peppers
6 green Cayenne Peppers or Thai hot peppers
1 Tb spoon Mustard seeds
10 Curry leaves
3 Tb spoon Chana Dal
4 pats Butter
1 Tb spoon Salt
½ T spoon Turmeric powder (Optional)
4-6 Fenugreek Seeds
1 small bunch Coriander leaves

Preparation:

Cook Rice per instructions. (Bring to boil with the water and salt in a saucepan, turn heat to low and cover … about 20 minutes). Let Rice cool in a large bowl. I do not recommend cooking in a pressure cooker since it removes all texture and makes a mush.

Saute red Peppers, Mustard seeds, Chana Dal, Cashew Nuts, finely diced green Peppers, Fenugreek seeds and Curry leaves in the Butter till the Mustard seeds pop and Dal turn golden brown.

Mix cooked Rice, sauted nut mixture,yogurt or sour cream & buttermilk, Turmeric powder and coarsely chopped Coriander thoroughly.

Will keep for a week in a refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.