August 16, 2022

Vella Seedai /Innipu Cheedai - Janmashtami Special


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 Vella Seedai or sweet jaggery fritter balls are an essential prasad /offering made for Gokulashtami/ Krishna jayanthi to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna .

We make two types of seedai; Uppu seedai (savory)  and Vella seedai (sweet) along with various other favorites of Lord Krishna to be offered on the special day when we all rejoice and celebrate lord Krishna's birth .

To know how we celebrate Krishna Jayanthy in a typical Tambrahm (Tamil Brahmin) house hold head over to my post, Krishna Jayanthy Celebrations where you can also find link to all the special recipes we make for the big festival .


Making seedai is an art and requires a little expertise and caution while making it . With practice we can easily master this and become a pro .

I am giving all tips and tricks to make a fail proof seedai so that even beginners and newbies can make it with an ease . These tips are applicable for flours which are either home made or store bought. 

Traditionally rice flour and udad dhall flour at prepared at home for purpose of maintaining hygiene and quality but now a days we get good quality ready made flours so we can use that even. 

In this recipe, I have used store brought rice flour and  udad dhall flour to make the recipe, thus making it easy for working women and those who are pressed for time.   

Points to keep in mind 

  • Roast the rice flour in a dry pan until it feels warm. The flour should be roasted just until you can feel the warmth no need for the flour to change color . Sieve the flour well through a sieve once it cools down.
  • Roast the udad dhall flour the same way and sieve it. If you are unable to find ready made udad dhall flour,  take 1 cup of udad dhall and dry roast in a pan until it turn crisp ,cool it and then blend into a fine powder using the blender . Sieve it to get a really fine powder without any grits . 
  • Melt the jaggery in hot water and strain it to remove any impurities .
  • Sieving the flours and jaggery syrup is very important as even a small particle or grit can cause the seedais to burst in the oil .

To know how to make Uppu Seedai and also on how to roast the flours check the video link below 


Ingredients 

1 cup rice flour 
1tbsp udad dhall flour /Ulutham maav
1/2  cup grated jaggery + 3/4 cup water to melt it
1/2 tsp white sesame seeds / yellu 
2 tsp grated coconut  (optional)
Pinch of cardamom powder
Oil to deep fry 
1 tbsp unsalted butter/ ghee at room temperature 

Method

  • Take a wide mixing bowl and add the sieved rice flour and udad dhall flour along with the sesame seeds and grated coconut. 
  • Meanwhile, heat the melted jaggery in a pan and let it come to a rolling bowl.we donot need ant string consistency.  When the jaggery is boiling add in the cardamom powder to this.
  • Pour this hot jaggery syrup over the flours and mix it gently with a spoon so that the syrup gets incorporated well with the flours.
  • Now add the melted butter and gently with your hands knead a soft and pliable dough.most of the times the jaggery syrup is enough to knead the dough but incase if you feel the dough is dry , sprinkle some warm water and knead until its firm but soft.  Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 mins.
  • Heat oil in a kadai and start rolling small balls from the dough . The balls must be crack free and the same time not rolled very tight. 
  • If you roll it tight there is a chance of the seedais bursting in oil . Grease your palms with ghee while you begin to roll the balls .
  • When the oil is heated, reduce flame to medium and first drop one ball into the oil . It must not disintegrate in the oil. Incase it disintegrates means the moisture content is more . To fix this ,sprinkle some rice flour and knead the dough again until the dough feels dry and firm . Donot panic. 
  • Once the dough is of righr consistency, drop the balls into the oil carefully and fry on medium flame by occasionally splashing oil over the seedais,this will prevent the seedais from bursting. 
  • Fry until the oil stops hissing and the seedais have turn nice and brown. You can see cracks on the seedais once they are fried. This indicates that the seedais are perfectly done both from the inside and outside.
  • Carefully take it off from the hot oil and let them cool completely before you can store in a dry container. 

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August 02, 2022

Chettinaad Kuzhipaniyaram - savory snack


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 Kuzhipaniyaram is a very tasty and delightful savory snack which takes a very important place either for breakfast or evening snacks  in Tamil Nadu.

Kuzhi in Tamil means cavity/depression and paniyaram means snack in general . So Kuzhi paniyaram means a snack with a depression..sounds funny right ? Basically kuzhi refers to the cavity in the mould of the pan which is used to prepare this snack. 

Kuzhipaniyaram is made in a special vessel called as paniyarakal . It is the same pan which is used to make Sweet Appams ,paddu or gunthaponganalu .

I have already shared the other variant of Paniyaram made from regular Idli batter ,but this chettinaad Kuzhipaniyaram is a special recipe where the batter is ground solely for the purpose of making paniyarams.

Some classic recipes using the Paniyaram Kal / Aebelskeiwer Pan 

Jackfruit Nei Appam

Watermelon Nei Appam

Paddu/Gunthaponganalu

Kunukku Paniyaram

Chettinaad is a region in the Sivagangai district in Tamil Nadu (Southern India) . Chettinaad is known for amazing cotton sarees,Athangudi tiles and lipsmacking food with bold flavor profile especially non veg .

Chettinaad cuisine is known for its pungent and spicy flavor and variety of food ranging from main course , snacks to sweets and savories . As much as they are famous for non veg ,there are a lot of vegetarian options as well .

 Kuzhi paniyaram is served with coconut chutney and /or thakali(Tomato) chutney and some piping hot filter coffee. 

Kuzhipaniyaram also known as uppu appam should not be confused with the other chettinaad special known as Vellayappam .

Vellayappam is a totally different recipe and it has been very well explained by my co blogger Radha on her blog who is my partner this month for the Shh secretly cooking challenge ..we are celebrating Chettinaad cuisine suggested by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds. Kalyani has shared a classic recipe Kaigari Mandi which is very delicious and a perfect accompaniment for main course or idli/dosas .


Soaking Time - 6 to 7 hrs
Fermentation Time - 8 hrs
Preparation Time - 30 mins
Cooking Time - 20 mins
Serves - 5 to 6

Ingredients 

1 cup raw rice (strictly no basmati rice)
1 cup idli rice 
1/4 cup whole udad dal (udad gota)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds 
Salt as needed 

For tempering 
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 to 3 green chillies finely  chopped 
Handful of curry leaves
2 tbsp grated coconut
1/4 cup oil
Fresh chopped corriander 
1/2 onion finely chopped (optional - I haven't used )

Method

  • Wash multiple times until the water is clear. Soak the rice and lentils with fenugreek in water for 5 to 6 hrs.
  • Grind the soaked rice and lentils in a blender or grinder to a fine smooth paste .Batter should be of idli batter consistency not a very runny batter . Let the batter ferment overnight or for 8 hrs . 
  • Before making the kuzhi paniyarams , we need to prepare a tempering that will be added to the batter. 
  • To prepare the tempering, heat about 2 tbsp oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds, followed by the green chillies,  curry leaves and fry the onions if using until they turn pink and soft . Lastly add in the coconut and give a quick stir .Add this tempering along with finely chopped corriander to the batter and mix well . 
  • Heat the paniyaram pan and add a few drops of oil in each cavity . 


  • Once the pan is well heated ,add the batter to each cavity and remember to fill only 3/4th of the cavity . The batter on cooking will raise and it needs space to swell . So if you fill it to the brim,the batter will overflow making it a mess .
  • The paniyarams will develop lot of pores as they are cooking, these pores are perfect indicator of a well fermented batter . Once the batter appears cooked on top ,carefully flip it over and cook the underside until it turns brown and crisp .Cooking has to be on medium flame throughout. 
  • Remove the appams /paniyarams from the pan and serve hot with chutney of your choice. 

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July 21, 2022

Chakkavaratti | Chakkavaratiyadhu - Jackfruit Preserve


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 Jackfruits are still available in plenty in most places in India and will surely be available for a few weeks more . If you are done with your quota of eating fresh , ripe and juicy jackfruits then I suggest you must make this delicious jackfruit jam /preserve a delicacy from Kerala known as Chakka Varatti or Chakka Varatiyadhu. 

Chakkai in Malayalam means Jackfruit and Varatiyadhu means reduction /simmering process .So basically we make a tasty relish or jam like preserve from jackfruit pulp and jaggery to relish all year long when fresh jackfruits aren't available. 

You can also use fresh ripe jackfruit to make delicious Chakka Pradhaman (Jackfruit Payasam) and Chakka Unniappams . (Fritters) 

I learnt this recipe from Chandra Muthukrishnan aunty, who is an expert in making traditional and complex dishes in a breeze .She guided me  over whatasapp while I was making this and gave a final approval when I shared the video of the finished product . 

Traditionally in olden times, making chakka varatti was a long drawn process and the ladies of the house had to toil a lot to prepare since modern day gadgets like gas stoves, food processors or pressure cookers were not available. 

The jackfruit pods had to be boiled over wooden or charcoal stoves and then using grinding stone the pulp had to me made and then further cooked in huge bronze vessel called Uruli with jaggery and  ghee for hours together to get the perfect taste and texture . Now making chakka varatti is a lot easier and we can prepare it effortlessly at the comfort of our homes .


Preparation Time -20 mins
Cooking Time - 35 to 45 mins
Complexity - complex 

Ingredients 

14 to 16 ripe jackfruit pods 
jaggery powder  (same measure as jackfruit pulp) 
2tsp of cardamom powder 
ghee as needed 

Method 


  • Deseed the jackfruit pods and pressure cook it with 1/4 cup water for 2 whistles on medium flame .
  • Let the pressure release naturally, strain the excess water and let the jackfruit cool down .
  • Blend the cooked jackfruit into a smooth pulpy puree in your blender.
  • Measure the pureed jackfruit and take the same quantity of  jaggery powder ..eg if you get 1 cup of puree, using the same cup measure 1 cup of powdered jaggery and 1/2 cup ghee .


  • Melt the jaggery in 1/4 cup water and strain it for impurities. 
  • In a heavy bottomed pan ,heat the strained jaggery syrup and let it come to a nice bubbling boil .
  • At this stage add the jackfruit pulp and mix it nicely till the jaggery and pulp blend in well.
  • Keep stirring on low flame and you can see the mixture begins to cook and starts giving out a good aroma . 
  • The key is in stirring without a break as there is a chance of the mixture getting burnt easily . 
  • The mixture begins to thicken and reduces in quantity after 10 mins,at this stage add some 3 to 4 tbsp of ghee and mix well . The entire ghee gets absorbed by the mixture and you can see a nice glossy look.
  • After some time you can see that the entire jam looks glossy and begins to leave the sides of the pan easily and resembles the texture of a jam .
  • Now add the balance ghee ,cardamom powder and continue to cook for sometime. When you drop a blob of the chakka varatti using the ladle, it should slide off and fall down easily . This is the correct texture .turn off the stove at this stage and let it cool . The  jam will slightly thicken more after cooling. Donot worry about that. Once cooled, transfer the chakka varatti to a dry container using a dry spoon and refrigerate it. (Check the video below for the consistency)



Note

To have a prolonged shelf life ,never thaw the entire preserve for a long time.  Take out the desired quantity and put it back into the refrigerator.  This way the chakka varatti stays for almost 1 year .



July 09, 2022

Brussel Sprouts Spinach Cheela (Vegan Breakfast)


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 Cheela or Besan ka cheela is a popular brekfast  in North India made from gramflour known as Besan . There are many variants in making cheela ,can be plain with just basic spices used for flavoring or we can add in some finely chopped veggies and make it a healthier version .

Cheela makes for a very filling breakfast and also a perfect lunch box option.  Gramflour is certainly a magic ingredient which makes the recipe absolutely delicious and tasty . This morning it was raining and chilly making us want to indulge in something that would pep us up for the day and we dint want to have anything deep fried ,so that's how this healthy breakfast was made .



I generally make Tomato Omlettes which are a very popular Street food in Bombay, today this cheela was kind off fusion recipe where I used finely chopped Brussel Sprouts and spinach in the recipe. I used my mini  uttapam pan to make bite sized cheelas just for fun and fancy sake but you can always use the regular dosa pan to make them . If you don't have Brussel sprouts you can also used finely chopped cabbage mixed to the batter.

Brussel sprouts belong to the cabbage family and very popular in western countries.  Brussel sprouts are a good source of vit C and vit K . Exercise medical caution if you are on any kind of medication or blood thinners before using Brussel sprouts . Also,they have a slightly strong odor and turn rubbery when over cooked ,hence donot overcook and keep and eye while cooking 


Preparation Time - 15 mins
Cooking Time - 20 mins
Complexity - simple
Serves - 3 to 4

Ingredients 
2 cups gramflour/besan
2.5 cups water 
2 tsp red chilli powder 
1 tsp crushed ajwain /carom seeds
1 finely chopped green chilli 
1/2 cup Brussel sprouts finely chopped 
1/4 cup spinach finely chopped 
Handful of corriander and mint finely chopped 
Salt as needed
Finely grated ginger 
Pinch of asafoetida 
Oil to roast the cheelas

Method


  • In a wide mixing bowl prepare a lump free batter using the gramflour. 
  • Add the red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida,ginger, crushed carom seeds, chopped Brussel Sprouts, spinach and the mint + corriander and mix well.
  • Adjust salt and spices if needed and let the batter rest for 15 mins . The batter should be of pouring consistency like that of dosa batter. 
  • Heat the pan and pour the batter from center and slightly spread it outside.  Keep it slightly thick and don't spread it too thin. 
  • Drizzle oil around the cheela and let it cook on medium flame . Gramflour takes a while to cook,so don't rush into flipping it over .
  • Once the top side appears dry,carefully flip it over and cook the underside .
  • Take it off the pan and serve it with tomato ketchup or green chutney.  You can also grate some cheese or slather some butter when serving it to kids.  

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July 05, 2022

Patal Poha Chivda / पातळ पोहा चिवडा - vegan snack (low fat)


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 Chiwda is a traditional Maharashtrian snack made during Diwali alongwith the various other snacks. 

Patal Poha chivda is prepared using thin paper variety rice flakes and very easy to make. Hardly uses a few spoons of oil ,making it a healthy choice to indulge.  A perfect snack to compliment a hot glass of coffee or tea . You can make this anytime during the year and store it in an airtight container.  Stays good for almost 10 days. 

Patal poha chivda is made by dry roasting the poha and is seasoned with mild spices and garnished with lots of roasted groundnuts, roasted gram and even cashew nuts .

Having grown up with a lot of Maharashtrian friends around this snack was a regular feature at home and even now I make it frequently but somehow it never made it to the blog .

This time when Poonam suggested Maharashtrian cuisine for our Shhh cooking secretly group,  I planned to make this chiwda with the secret ingredients Green chilli and roasted gram given to me by Aruna and she prepared Khamang kakdi - healthy cucumber salad using the secret ingredients peanut and mustard that I gave her . Poonam's Shakkarpaare is my next in list for 4pm snack. 

Some traditional Maharashtrian snacks from my blog for you all to enjoy 

Cornflakes Chiwda 

Poha Chiwda

Sabudana Chiwda

Thikhat Shankarpaali

Kothimbir Wadi 

Sabudana Wada


Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 10 mins
Complexity - easy 
Serves - 3 to 4

Ingredients 

3 cups thin rice flakes /patla poha
1/2 cup groundnuts 
1/4 roasted gram (chutney dal)
2 to 3 green chillies finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp powdered sugar 
Handful fresh curry leaves 
2 tbsp oil 
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt as needed 

Method

  • Firstly sieve the poha through a sieve.This step is optional ,you may do this if you find many small powdery  rice flakes in your packet.
  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and dry roast the poha/rice flakes until they turn crispy . If you crush it with your fingers the poha must crumble easily . At this stage ,transfer the roasted poha to a plate .set aside 
  • In the same pan,heat the oil and fry the ground nuts followed by roasted gram,green chillies and curry leaves one after another until they turn crisp. 
  • Add the asafoetida, turmeric powder ,salt and the roasted poha . Toss it gently with a wooden ladle and mix all the ingredients well . Do this on low flame. Turn off the flame and add the powdered sugar in the end and  mix it all gently .
  • Let the chivda cool down for a while ,then transfer it to an airtight container and store away from moisture .


June 28, 2022

Paneer Tomato Grilled Sandwiches


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 Paneer Tomato grilled sandwiches are a perfect choice for packing in kids' lunch box or even for adults when you want to carry something filling at the same time  not messy to eat on the desk .

You can also serve this as an after school snack or even makes for a perfect light dinner when paired with some warm Italian style Tomato soup . (Recipe source - Priya Iyer's blog)

Paneer takes care of the protein quotient for the day and the tomatoes keep the sandwiches moist and don't let it get too dry and stuffy.  Adding some mozzarella chees gives a nice gooey and melt in mouth texture. 


I love to work with different fillings that go into the sandwich and this is yet another successful attempt as my family loved the flavor and the crisp grilled bread. 

For the spice, I have used only red chilli powder and 1 small green chilli chopped.  Some boiled corn was added for the crunch and tomatoes used were firm and deseeded to prevent the sandwiches from getting soggy .

Some sandwich varieties from my blog that you must definitely try 

Classic Veg Cheese Grill Sandwich 

Peanut Butter Cheese Sandwich 

Paneer Cheese Corn Grill Sandwich 

Chutney Cheese Sandwich 

Mumbai Special Toast Sandwich 


Preparation Time - 10 mins
Grilling Time - 3 to 4 mins per sandwich 
Complexity - simple 
Makes 3 sandwiches 

Ingredients 

6 slices of bread 
100 gms paneer 
2 medium firm tomatoes
3/4th cup boiled sweet corn
1 tsp Chilli powder /chilli flakes
Salt as needed 
Fresh corriander chopped 
1 green chilli
Grated mozzarella cheese as needed 
Butter to apply on bread 

Method 


  • Firstly grate the paneer, crush 3 tbsp of corn kernels with green chilli in a blender and de seed the tomatoes and dice into small cubes. 
  • In a mixing bowl mix the Tomatoes, crushed corn , paneer, boiled corn ,chilli powder ,salt, chopped corriander and mix it all well . Let it rest for 5 to 10mins . Our filling is ready .
  • Donot let the filling sit for extra time because the tomatoes will release water when mixed with salt and the filling will become soggy .we don't want that 
  • Heat the grilling pan,  apply butter on one side of the bread , place some filling on it ,spread grated mozzarella cheese as per your wish ..close using the other slice of bread . 
  • Apply some butter to the grilling pan and grill the sandwich on both sides until crisp and golden brown .
  • Cut the sandwich into wedges and enjoy .
  • If packing for lunch, then place foil paper in the inside of the lunch box ,place the cut sandwiches once they have cooled down .this will prevent the sandwiches from getting soggy .

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