October 22, 2021

Varan Bhaat | वरण भात - Maharashtrian Meal


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Varan Bhaat is a common and staple nutritious meal in most homes in Maharashtra.  This simple and traditional meal holds a very important place even during festive occasions like Ganesh Chaturthi,  Gudi Padwa , Sankrant and also wedding feast.  

 Varan Bhaat is a typical and soulful food which can be easily prepared without any fancy ingredients but from basic pantry supply . 

Varan in Marathi means Lentil curry and Bhaat is Rice ,so loosely it translates to Lentil curry Rice .  The Varan is prepared separately with very mild spices and served alongside steamed rice and a dollop of ghee . Varan bhaat is a perfect meal  for kids or elderly people as there is any spice added . 

Traditionally Thuvar Dhall viz Split Pigeon peas is used for preparing the varan but these days people use other lentils like Moong dhall,masoor dhall etc . I prefer to stick to the traditional way of making by using Arhar Dhall / Thuvar dal.

Varan(Lentil curry) ,Bhaath(Rice),Thoop(Ghee) ,Batata Bhaaji (Potato curry) and Loncha (pickle) is a preferred combo on a regular day . Today for lunch I prepared this wholesome meal and relished it with some fryums . I wanted to fry some puris as well but with some last min hurdle ,I took a shorter route and skipped making puris .

When being served on festive occasions, the meal spread is very elaborate with a few extra items being added to the menu. (Some of the typical menu items are given below) 



Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 20 mins
Complexity - Simple 
Serves - 3 to 4 

Ingredients 
1 cup thuvar dhall /Arhar dal/ thuvaram paruppu
3 cups water 
1 small green chilli
Fresh curry leaves 
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds 
Turmeric powder
Salt as needed
Fresh corriander 
Pinch of asafoetida 

Method


  • Wash the thuvr dhall 3 to 4 times . Add 3 cups of water ,turmeric powder and finely chopped green chilli ,salt and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles on medium flame .
  • Let the pressure release and then mash the cooked dhall with a whisk until it is mushy.
  • Prepare the tempering by heating the ghee in a pan and then splutter the jeera ,curry leaves and asafoetida.  Pour it over the cooked dhall. Mix and close the lid for 10 min for the flavors to infuse . Garnish with fresh corriander. 
  • Serve hot with rice ,ghee and pickle .


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October 18, 2021

Congress Kadlekaai | Kadlekai Beeja | Spicy Peanuts


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 Congress Kadlekaai is a household name in Bangalore . Available at all bakeries ,congress kadlekaai are the perfect evening tea time munchies with a cuppa of hot filter coffee .

Walk into any Iyengar Bakery and you will for sure find these delicious spicy, tangy and very flavorful congress kadlekaai beeja packed in small packs of  50 or  100 gms for easy pick up .

This was my mom's favorite snack along with Khara Buns without which we would never get back to Bombay after our summer holidays. 

I would say Congress Kadlekaai is a perfect snack for weight watchers or those on diet as we hardly use 1 tsp oil .Also,peanuts are a good source of protein and also helpful to keep us filled from our mid morning hunger pangs .

Loaded with very simple spices, the highlight is the use of curry leaves and slightly extra asafoetida/hing which gives it a very delicious flavor .  These masal kadle are also used as topping in various street snacks like nippat masala , girmit , tomato slice chat etc.  You can also try Peanut Chaat from Sujata's blog using these spicy congress kadlekaai for a change .

It has been raining every evening last few days in my city and congress kadlekaai are just about perfect to munch on with hot kaapi and light drizzle spraying on our face as we sip the coffee in our balcony. 

Some other popular snacks from Karnataka on my blog for your taste buds 

Kodbale

Masal Puri 

Baked Nippat

Maddur Vade

The NAME....... 

I am sure you are all wondering what is the name Congress got to do with this wonderful snack ? There are many stories that float around this name .

Some say that this snack was invented sometime around 1960s when the prestigious Indian Congress party underwent a political split due to some political reasons and also as this snack is made using split peanuts,  this name got associated. 

While some quote ,this was a popular snack that was served during party meetings with tea and hence the name .


Making congress kadlekaai is very easy except for the roasting and deskinning of the peanuts . If you have microwave then it is all the more easy to  roast and de skin the peanuts . I prefer to use the microwave for roasting the groundnuts as there is no fear of them getting over roasted or burnt .
Some people like to retain the skin after roasting ,I prefer to remove it as that is how I have been having congress for the past so many years. 

Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 5 mins
Complexity - Simple 
Serves - 2 

Ingredients

1 cup raw peanuts 
1/2 tsp red chilli powder 
1/4 tsp pepper powder 
1/4 tsp turmeric 
Asafoetida/hing
Fresh curry leaves 
Pinch of salt 
Pinch of powdered sugar 
1 tsp oil.

Method 


  • Place the peanuts in a microwave safe plate and set the timer to 2 mins . Open the microwave and let the peanuts rest for a while.  Alternatively you can also roast the peanuts in a dry pan on a medium flame until you see the skin peeling off from the peanuts .
  • Once the peanuts are warm enough to touch transfer them to a clean and dry kitchen towel.  Cover it well and rub the peanuts over the cloth with your palms,this way the peanuts get deskined easily.  Carefully open the kitchen towel and blow away the peeled skin and yiu will have clean deskinned peanuts. 
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan , add the curry leaves followed by the spice powders (pepper,turmeric and chilli) ..fry it on low and donot burn. 
  • Add the peeled peanuts with salt and asafoetida and mix well ..continue to roast on low flame for 2 to 3 mins till all the flavors coat well .
  • Turn off the stove, add the powdered sugar mix it nicely and transfer to a wide plate for it to cool down .
  • Once it is warm enough to touch powder the fried curry leaves with your fingers and mix it well with the congress kadlekaai .
  • Store in a dry container and enjoy. Delicious bakery style congress is ready .

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October 14, 2021

Bonda Morkuzhambu | Festive lunch platter - Ayudha Pooja Special Thali #5


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 Mor kuzhambu is a typical South Indian curry prepared using yogurt and coconut paste and vegetables like pumpkin,  ladies finger, chayote /chou chou.  Recipes for Poosnikaai (Ash gourd) Morkuzhambu and Vendakkai (Ladies finger) Mor Kuzhambu is already there on the blog .

Bonda Morkuzhambu  is a Tambrahm speciality and is part of wedding feast.  Bondas are small vadas made using udad dhall and then dunked into the freshly prepared Morkuzhambu. 

Bonda Morkuzhambu can be called as a close cousin of Kadhi Pakora which is a North Indian delicacy.  



Bonda Mor kozhambu comes in very handy when we are out of veggies or want a break from the usual menu .Normally at my home,we make Bonda Morkuzhambu on festive occasions or when we are having guests over for lunch or dinner . 

I make the vada batter a little spicy so that when it is dunked in the yogurt gravy ,it absorbs all the flavors well and tastes good when we take a bite . 

Today being, Ayudha Pooja or Saraswathi Pooja ,I have prepared Bonda Morkuzhambu as part of my festival menu .  For lunch we are going to feast on

Bonda Morkuzhambu  (scroll down for recipe

Rasam vadai 

Kondakadalai Sundal 

Plain Vadas

Arisi Kadala Paruppu Payasam 

Rice + Ghee 



Preparation Time - 3 hrs
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Complexity - Medium 
Serves - 2 to 3 

Ingredients 

250ml thick yogurt 
100 ml water 
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard 
1/2 tsp methi /fenugreek seeds
2 to 3 dry red chillies 
fresh curry leaves 
pinch of turmeric 
Pinch of asafoetida 
salt

To grind

 6 to 7 tbsp  fresh grated coconut 
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin 
3 to 4 green chillies 
1 tsp channa dhall /bengal gram
2 tsp dhaniya /corriander seeds
Small piece ginger 

For the Vadas / Bondas 

1/2 cup udad dhall 
2 green chillies 
Few curry leaves 
Fresh corriander 
Salt as needed 

Method 

To make the bondas 
  • Wash and soak the udad dhall in water for 3 hrs .
  • Drain the water and add it to the blender and using very little water grind into a smooth paste .
  • Transfer it to a mixing bowl and add salt ,chopped green chillies,  curry leaves and fresh corriander. 
  • Whisk it well using a spoon or whisk for atleast 10 mins . This will make the batter fluffy and aerated. 
  • Heat oil and pinch out small roundels of this vada batter and fry on medium flame until it is crisp and golden brown. 
Preparation of Mor Kozhambu
  • Soak all the ingredients under the "to grind" section in water for 10 to 15 mins and grind into a fine paste.
  • Whisk the yogurt until is creamy and smooth. 
  • Add in the ground spice paste to the whisked yogurt along with salt and turmeric powder and mix well with water mentioned . Donot add too much water , else the mor kuzhambu will be runny and will split on boiling.  
  • Cook on medium flame until the mixture starts frothing up . 
  • Remember to turn it off at this stage..continuing to cook further will end up in splitting the yogurt..we donot want that to happen. 
  • Prepare a tempering of mustard seeds , methi  Curry leaves and dry chillies in hot oil and pour it over the mor kuzhambu.  You can use coconut oil for tempering for added taste and flavor. 
Assembling Bonda Morkuzhambu 
  • Add the fried bondas to the Mor Kozhambu and mix well .
  • Let it rest for 10 15 mins before serving so that the bondas absorb all the flavors of the mor kuzhambu nicely .
  • Make sure the mor kozhambu is hot while you add the bondas else they won't turn soft and spongy.  
  • Both bondas and the mor Morkuzhambu have to be freshly made. 
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