April 25, 2022

Home made Tomato Puree - Preservative free (Vegan)


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 Tomato Puree is a very handy ingredient in our kitchen pantry.  This puree is used in making off soups , gravies and various sauces . We do get a lot of branded and canned purees in the market ,but there is always an upside to making it at home as we can keep it free from preservatives and artificial colors .

Adding tomato puree to curries gives a nice volume and taste to the final recipe.  When we get a good produce of tomatoes in the market ,we can make this puree in bulk and freeze it in small batches .The frozen puree has a shelf life of 2 to 3 months and under normal refrigeration, the shelf life is 10 to 15 days. Make sure the container in which the puree is stored is properly sterilized and there is no external moisture . With just water and tomatoes ,we can make this silky smooth tomato puree at home. 

If you love to experiment  with tomatoes like me,then this Tomato Pizza from Preethi's blog will definitely grab your attention and it is a very healthy recipe for kids and adults. 



Preparation Time- 5 mins
Cooking Time - 10 mins
Complexity - easy
 

Ingredients 

3 ripe Tomatoes 
4 glasses of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar 

Note - I have mentioned the measure for 3 tomatoes but you can increase the no of tomatoes as per your need .  For 3 tomatoes i got 150ml puree.

Method 


  • Scoop out the eyes (top portion) from all the tomatoes using a knife and make a criss cross cut in the base of the tomatoes. 
  • Boil the water on a stove top and drop the tomatoes carefully when the water starts boiling. 
  • Continue to boil the tomatoes in water for 3 to 4 mins until it gets cooked well and the skin appears to peel out . Turn off the stove. 
  • Remove the boiled tomatoes using a big ladle and drop into cold water in another big vessel . This method is called shocking.  In this process the boiled tomatoes will undergo sudden cooling and the skin will peel off automatically. 
  • Peel the skin from the tomatoes and roughly chop the tomatoes.  Let it cool for a few mins. 
  • Blend these chopped tomatoes to a fine puree in the blender with the salt and sugar . This wil act as a natural preservative. 
  • Pass this puree through a sieve and collect the silky smooth puree in another bowl .
  • Store this puree in a sterilized dry container and refrigerate it . If you want to freeze it ,then pour this puree in an ice tray and freeze them.  Once frozen ,remove the tomato puree cubes and store in a ziploc cover until use in the freezer . Use the cubes as desired in the recipe that calls for tomato puree.

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April 20, 2022

Mango Lassi /Mango flavored smoothie


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 Mango Lassi (मैंगो लस्सी) a very popular summer drink in India.  Thick yogurt or dahi as we call in India ,is blended with Mango puree along with sugar and served chilled.

Summer is flooded with varities of mangoes all over India..there are so many different and tasty Mango varieties which are popular all over India and some that are regional specialities. 

I first tasted Mango Lassi and Mango Shrikand at a wedding buffet as a child and was really drawn to the melange of flavors that exploded with every sip and fell in love with it .

Preparing Mango Lassi is really easy and best part is there is no cooking.  The Lassi is thick and very filling..if the weather is too hot ,I sometimes have a glass full of  this for breakfast and I feel filled up and energized. 

You can use any sweet variety of Mango ,though the commonly used one is the Alphonso / Aapus variety. In my humble opinion always taste the mango before you use it for the Lassi, even a little bit or tartness can ruin the taste of the Lassi.  

I have tried using Alphonso,Badami,Banganpalli/Safeda,  Imampasand ,Mallika and Sendhoora varities of mango and each time the result has been mind blowing.  The color of the Lassi also largely depends on the color of the mango pulp, so don't be disheartened if you get a mild yellow colored Lassi as compared to a bright yellowish orange Lassi.


Preparation Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - nil
Complexity - easy
Makes 2 to 3 glasses 

Ingredients 

2 cups chopped Mango pulp
2 cups chilled thick dahi / plain yogurt (2% fat works fine)
1/2 cup chilled milk 
3 to 4 tbsp of sugar (adjust depending on Mango sweetness)
Roughly chopped pistachios  (optional) 
Few strands of saffron (optional) 
A pinch of  cardamom powder (optional)

Method 

  • Add the milk and Mango pieces to a blender and blend it to a fine puree without any chunks .
  • To the same blender add the yogurt, sugar ,cardamom powder and blend it until the yogurt is silky smooth and lump free.
  • Pour into tall serving glasses ,garnish with pistachios and saffron strands and serve immediately. 
  • If you want to serve it later ,transfer into a pitcher and keep refrigerated until serving. I don't like to add ice cubes as it will dilute the lassi but if you like it super chilled ,you may add a few ice cubes before serving. 


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April 18, 2022

Balehannu Rasayana | Baalehannina Rasayana - Vegan Banana Salad


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 Balehannu Rasayana is a delicacy from Karnataka and prepared for most festivals . 

Baalehannu is banana and rasayana means essence.  Very simple to make as there is no cooking involved and also not much of chopping and pre preparations. Rasayana is also known as Seehikarne or Seekarne .

If you haven't tried this delicious and flavorful vegan banana Salad, I suggest you must try this for sure and you will keep asking for more .

Rasayana is made for satyanarayana pooja , ganesh chaturthi or even during navaratri for prasadam.  A similar version called Kelyache shikran is made in Maharashtra using milk and bananas . Poonam's blog has the perfect recipe for Shikran . Click here for the recipe.

Balehannu Rasayana tastes very well with dosa , chapathi and neer dosa . Rasayana is made in 3 variants depending on how the family likes .

One variant makes use of coconut milk ,jaggery ,bananas and cardamom  powder and this is slightly liquid  in nature while the dry version used jaggery powder ,grated coconut and some cardamom powder mixed with chopped bananas. I have always liked the dry variant as I have very vivid childhood memories associated with this delicious recipe my Amma and periamma would make for me. I ate this for the very first time when my perima made it using Elaichi or Elakki bananas.  The natural cardamom flavor present in the bananas adds a lot of flavor to the Rasayana. 

The color of the rasayana depends on the color of jaggery being used . You can also sugar if you want but I prefer using jaggery as it is healthy and also adds a rustic flavor to the Rasayana. 


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

Ingredients 

3 to 4 elaichi bananas or 2 regular bananas 
2 tbsp grated coconut
3 to 4 tsp jaggery powder 
Pinch of cardamom powder 

Prepare the rasayana just before serving as the bananas will turn back and lose the taste.  Also use firm and medium ripe bananas. Over ripe bananas are to be avoided

Method

  • Remove the banana skin and chop into medium round slices 
  • Toss the chopped banana slices with jaggery, cardamom powder and coconut and serve immediately.  DONOT REFRIGERATE.

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April 16, 2022

Aval Payasam | Poha Kheer - Rice Flakes pudding


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 Aval Payasam is a quick Indian dessert that can be made easily using just milk and sugar . Known as Atukula Paysa in Telugu, avlakki payasa in kannada and Poha Kheer in Hindi. Thick variety rice flakes is best for making Aval Paysam . It is flavored with cardamom powder,  dry fruits and saffron which makes it rich and exotic.

Aval Payasam is made as prasadam for many festivals like Krishna Jayanthy,  Navaratri, Ganesha Chaturthi, Onam,Vishu ,Pournami etc.

Today is the auspicious Chitra Pournami which is celebrated widely in Tamil Nadu and has a very important significance and dedicated to Chitra gupta .It is believed that Lord Chitragupta  keeps records of our good and bad deeds and on this day people pray and ask for forgiveness.  People flock to holy river to take a dip which is symbolic of washing away sins . Milk based paysam is made on this day for offering and we can make this delicious Aval Paysam as prasadam. 

Likewise,  In North,there is a tradition to prepare  Doodh Kheer for Khojagiri Poonam also known as Sharad Purnima dedicated to Lord Mahalaxmi. Many homes make this delicious Poha kheer for celebration.


Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 15 mins
Complexity - simple
Serves - 3 to 4

Ingredients

1/4 cup thick poha /thick rice flakes
1/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup water
3 cups boiled milk
Few strands saffron
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp ghee 
Assorted dry fruits handful (pistachio,almonds and cashews)

Method 

  • Wash the poha/aval to remove any dust or other particles .
  • Keep it soaked for 5 mins 
  • In a cup soak the saffron strands  in 2 tbsp warm milk .
  • Dry roast the dry fruits in a pan and give it a quick pulse in the blender to make a coarse powder . 
  • Heat ghee in a pan and lightly fry the soaked poha until you get a good aroma .
  • Add 1/4 cup water and cook the poha till the water is absorbed .
  • Add the milk along with the saffron soaked milk and cook till the milk boils . Keep stirring to avoid the milk sticking to the bottom of the pan . 
  • Lastly add the cardamom powder and roasted dry fruits powder along with sugar and continue cooking till the sugar melts . The kheer will turn watery after adding sugar .
  • Continue to cook for another 4 to 5 mins till the milk thickens .Turn off the stove and poha kheer is ready to serve . 

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April 13, 2022

Tamil New Year Menu | Tamizh Puthaandu Thaligai


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 Tamizh New year or as it is called in Tamil as Puthaandu or Varusha Pirappu falls on the 13th or 14th of April every year . The Tamilians follow the solar calender hence it is also known as Souramana Ugadi .  Beautiful rangolis are drawn outside the house on the portico, the main entrance is decorated with Flowers and mango leaves, the Pooja room is cleaned up and lamps ,agarbatti /incense sticks are lit .

Puthaandu means New Year where "Puthu" denotes " New" and "Aandu" means "Year" so does Varusha Pirappu mean the same. Varusham is Year and Pirappu is Birth so loosely translates to Birth(dawn) of a new year. 

The new year begins with the usual pooja rituals and a special Pooja for the New Year's Almanac called Panjangam. Panjangam has all the details about the festivals , functions ,planetary transits , important rituals etc etc . It is considered as the rule book for the entire year if we need to plan for any auspicious events in the family.  

Some houses follow the tradition of seeing Vishu Kani early in the morning as soon as getting up. Different types of fruits, vegetables, rice ,dal ,money, ornaments etc are decorated in front of a huge mirror and a lamp is lit . It is believed that when we see such auspicious ,divine and prosperous visual on waking up, the entire year will be blessed .

A lavish menu is prepared which is almost the same in most Tamil Brahmin homes except for a few changes depending on family tradition.  The menu is saatvik and traditional meaning there is no use of Onions, Garlic and some other vegetables like radish , drumstick etc .

I am listing down the menu which we normally follow in our home as per tradition..please consult your elders at home for your respective traditions. Click on the individual items for detailed recipe. 

Lunch spread for New Year on 14/4/2022

Tamizh New Year Spread on 14th April 2022


Tamizh Puthaandu Menu / Varusha Pirappu Thaligai 



Rice /Annam / Saadham + Ghee / Nei

Kalathukku Paruppu 

Akkaravadisal  or 

Sakkarai Pongal

Inji Thayir Pachadi 

Maangai Pachadi 

Vellarikaai Kosamri

Maangai Pisaral 

Pooshnikaai More Kuzhambu

Kalyana Rasam

Beans Paruppu Usili 

Urulaikizhangu Kalyana Curry 

Puliyodharai 

Or

Maangai Saadham 

Paruppu Vadai 

Neer Mor + panakam 

Thayir (curd) 


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April 12, 2022

Fresh Pineapple Salsa - Vegan Salsa


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 This fresh pineapple salsa will be a super hit at the next summer party that you will be hosting. 

Pineapple salsa is colorful , crisp and most important very very delicious to say No. Even those who are not very fond of pineapples will want to snack on this. 

Kids ,adults alike;everyone would love to have this crunchy salsa with a big bowl of nachos or chips . Pineapple salsa goes well with any Mexican main course meal like Quesedilla or Mexican Bean Rice .

Pineapple salsa was on my mind ever since I made the Mango Salsa but somehow I could never put together the pineapple salsa ,but luckily I found some fresh salsa which was extremely tasty and sweet and quickly it made its way to this delicious salsa today.  I enjoyed eating this salsa as a salad which was absolutely filling and refreshing on a hot and sultry day that we are facing now. 

Pineapple salsa can be made in no time and there are hardly any fancy ingredients used . Please try to use fresh pineapple as canned pineapples are too sweet for the salsa also the crunch is missing as the canned pineapples are soaked in sugar syrup .


Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - nil
Complexity - simple

Ingredients 

1.5 cups chopped fresh pineapple 
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green capsicum 
Lot of fresh corriander chopped
1 tsp sugar 
2 tbsp lime juice 
Pinch of salt 
1 tsp red chilli flakes 
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 small green chilli finely chopped

Method 

  • Take all of the above ingredients in a wide salad bowl and toss it lightly. 
  • Serve immediately else the veggies and fruits will go limp and lose the crispness. 
  • Keep the salad bowl on an ice bath to retain the freshness when serving in summer for barbecue parties. 

Notes

  • You can adjust the measurements of lime juice ,salt and sugar depending on your taste buds . 
  • Chopped onions and tomatoes can also be added to the salsa for added crunch and taste .


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April 11, 2022

5 mins Instant Aam Panna / Aam Jhora / आम पन्ना


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 Aam Panna as we all know is a must have refreshing summer cold drink in India especially North India.  A perfect source of hydration to protect from the severe summer heat.

Made from raw mangoes, aam panna or aam jhora is a total flavor explosion with every sip . It's a perfect balance of various flavors like tanginess from the raw mango , sweet from jaggery or sugar and mild spiciness from pepper powder , red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder . Kokum Jeera Sarbat is on my to do list from Kalyani's blog which is as refreshing and healthy as Aam Panna 


Normally ,the raw mangoes are cooked in sugar syrup and spices and chilled water is added to prepare the drink ,alternatively you can also prepare the Aam Panna Concentrate and store it for use all round the year . 

Today I will share a very easy and quick aam panna recipe which can be made in less than 5 minutes and there is no cooking absolutely. Even kids can try to make this as a summer holiday activity too .


Preparation Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - nil
Complexity - easy 
Serves - 2 to 3 

Ingredients 
1 medium raw mango peeled and chopped 
1 tbsp jaggery powder 
1 tbsp sugar 
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder 
1/4 tsp red chilli powder 
1/4 tsp pepper powder 
Pinch of black salt 
2.5 glasses chilled water 
Few ice cubes 

Method 
  • Take all the ingredients in a blender along with 1/4 cup water and blend to a fine paste .
  • Pass it through a sieve .
  • Add the chilled water ,adjust sugar if needed, top with ice cubes and pour into serving glasses.

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April 03, 2022

Thalipeeth (थालीपीठ) - Multigrain flat bread


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 Thalipeeth is a very popular flat bread from Western India ,specially from Maharashtra and North Karnataka. Thalipeeth is a filling and sumptuous breakfast option often served with fresh home made butter and pickle .

Thalipeeth is made using a special flour called Bhaajanee prepared from  various grains and  legumes . The  grains and legumes are roasted until crisp and then pounded to a fine powder which is used to make the dough for Thalipeeth. 

If we have no time to prepare the bhajnee we can use different flours like rice flour , jowar flour, bajra flour,  wheat flour, gram flour etc and knead the dough using various spices and herbs . Most common spices used are corriander, cumin,green chillies .

 If making thalipeeth on days of fasting then flour made from amaranth grains and sabudana (sago) is used ,as consumption of regular grains and legumes is avoided on such days .

Finely chopped onions and spring onions are also added to the flour while kneading for added taste. 

This month we are looking at various types of Flat bread in our Facebook Gourmet group as suggested by Anu Kollon . Anu's blog has the popular flat bread of Kerala Arisi Pathiri which is what I would want to try soon.

It was fun reading about so many varieties of flat bread that are made all over the world and my partner Renu has dished out Polish Onion Flat Bread  while I made this Thalipeeth .

To know more about this fun and vibrant food group ,click on the image below to visit the Facebook page.


Preparation Time - 20 mins
Cooking Time - 2 to 3 mins per thalipeeth 
Complexity - Medium
Makes - 7 to 8 thalipeeth
 

Ingredients 

1/2 cup Jowar flour
1/4 cup Wheat flour 
1/2 cup Rice flour 
2 tbsp Besan / gram flour 
Handful of soaked sago/sabudana
1 tsp Til seeds
2 Green chilli finely chopped 
1/4 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp Chilli powder
Handful of finely Corriander leaves 
Salt as needed
1/2 tsp Ajwain /carom seeds 
Oil for roasting the thalipeeth
Water to knead the dough

Method 


  • Sift all the flours in a mixing bowl . Add the chopped corriander,  green chillies ,sesame seeds, cumin, salt, turmeric, chilli powder ,ajwain and mix it well with your fingers .
  • Add the soaked sabudana and knead the dough by adding water in stages . The dough has to be soft and pliable as we need to pat it with our hands .keep the dough covered until use .
  • As the gluten content is very less ,we cannot roll the dough but have to spread  the dough by patting it .
  • Heat a tava /griddle . Most preferred is iron tawa but you can also use non stick tava.
  • Take a parchment/butter paper or even a banana leaf and grease it with some oil.
  • Grease your palms with oil and pinch out a big lemon sized ball from the dough and start patting on the paper with your palms .
  • Start from the center and start patting towards the outer end.  Wet your palms with water for ease of patting.  Pat it as thin as you can .
  • Carefully lift the parchment paper with the patted thalipeeth and invert it on the hot tawa .
  • After 2 or 3 seconds slowly peel off the  paper from the thalipeeth (2nd row 1st image
  • Drizzle oil all over the thalipeeth like how we do for dosa and cook on one side and then flip it over and cook on the other side by drizzling some more oil.
  • Take it off the pan when both sides are well cooked and serve hot with butter and pickle. 

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April 01, 2022

Bevvu Bella (Neem flowers Jaggery mix) & Ugadi special recipes


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Bevvu (neem flowers ) bella (jaggery) is a traditional recipe prepared on the day of Ugadi and it is a must. The first thing that is served on Ugadi is this bevu Bella by the eldest member of the family.  Bevvu Bella , Panaka and Kosambri are prepared and offered to God which is then served as prasadam .

Yug means an Era and Aaadhi means Start ,so Yugadhi / Ugadi means a dawn of new era !

This bevvu Bella is a symbolic representation of our life where in we have accept both happiness and sorrow in our stride and take our live in a positive note . Jaggery is a representation of happy tidings while neem leaves denote some of bitter times we face in our life .

As I said ,Ugadi is the New Year's day as per the Indian Lunar Almanac and like any other occasion, the new year is celebrated in all glory . The house is cleaned ,the Pooja rooms are well decorated with Flowers, neem leaves and mango leaves which are all symbols of prosperity and happiness.  Beautiful rangolis are drawn in front of the portico.

Ugadi falls in the peak of summer ,hence neem leaves are used in abundance because of the so many medicinal properties it possess. The neem leaves are hung outside the main door as well as the Pooja room and it acts a natural disinfectant  and pest control to keep the tiny insects away .


What is  a festival without food ?? Like any other happy occasion there is lot of traditional food prepared on the special day of Ugadi and the meal is enjoyed by all the family members 

A typical Ugadi menu will have the following items . (Click the links below for recipe) .

Obbatu / poli/Holige is also made as part of the menu . This recipe will be up shortly on the blog.

Rice

Thovve/ Plain Dal

Southekaai Kosamri (cucumber salad)

Maavinkaai Uppinkaai (Mango pickle)

Majjige Huli (yogurt based curry) 

or

Mix Veg Sambar 

Beans Palya (Beans curry )

Or

Aloo Gadde Palya (Potato Curry)

Aam Vade (Dal Vada / Lentil Fritters )

Gass Gasse Payasa (Poppy seeds kheer)

Maavinkaai Chitranna (Mango Rice) 

Puliyogre (Tamarind Rice)

Tomato Rasam 

Curd /Yogurt


Preparation Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - nil
Complexity - simple

Ingredients

3 to 4 tbsp powdered jaggery 

Few fresh neem flowers / dried flowers 

Method 

  • Slightly crush the neem flowers with your fingers and mix it with the powdered jaggery . If you want you can add a tsp of honey and mix it .
  • Offer it to the God along with panaka and kosambri and then distribute it among the family members. 

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