Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pidi Kozhakattai/Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings

Pidi Kozhakattai is one of those numerous varieties of kozhakattais that is offered to Lord Ganesha. This is specifically made for Sankatahara Chathurthi, which falls on the the 4th day (chathurthi) after the full moon (Pournami). This is again one of those dishes, of which I came to know of only after marriage. 

My MIL who fasts on every Sankatahara Chathurthi, prepares these kozhakattais as offerings to Lord Ganesha and has them in the night after moonrise.

This is really easy to make not like the Poornam Kozhakattai, which takes lot of time and requires patience and practice. The procedure for making these Pidi Kozhakattais are very much similar to making the Thiruvadhirai Kali. These are not very sweet and can be easily made as a snack in the evening.

What you'll need
  1. Rice – 1 cup
  2. Powdered Jaggery – 2 cups
  3. Freshly Scraped Coconut - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  4. Water – 2 ½ cups
  5. Cardamom – 3 or 4 pods
  6. Ghee/Clarified Butter -

  1. Wash the rice and drain completely.
  2. Dry roast in a Kadai until brown. Take care not to brown.
  3. Powder in a mixie to rava consistency.
  4. Heat the same kadai with 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to boil.
  5. Add a teaspoon of ghee. Also add the grated coconut.
  6. Once the water starts boiling, slowly add the roasted powdered rice and mix vigorously.
  7. Cover and cook on low heat until all the water is absorbed.
  8. In the meanwhile, heat another kadai simultaneously.
  9. Add the powdered jaggery and ¼ cup of water.
  10. Let the jaggery dissolve fully, strain for impurities.
  11. Pour this jaggery syrup into the rice mixture and keep stirring.
  12. Add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of ghee. And stir until, the mixture thickens and starts leaving the sides of the kadai.
  13. Add the powdered cardamoms and mix well.
  14. Cool slightly, grease palms and shape into dumplings with your hands.
  15. Steam in an idly cooker or steamer for 10 minutes.


  1. The amount of jaggery mentioned is perfect for us, but if you like it to be more sweet you can add upto another 1/2 cup of jaggery.
  2. The method of cooking the rice flour first in boiling water, ensures that the rice cooks properly. You made add it directly to the jaggery syrup to, but, it will take longer to cook and sometimes, may not cook properly too.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paruppu Podi/Spiced Lentil Powder

I am not a huge fan of podis and that is evident from the fact that I have posted only one podi, Thengai Podi, so far.  So I never bothered to prepare or stock it at home. But my mom and grandmother always have stock of these handy powders. On one of my visits to my mom’s place, my daughter had her rice with this powder and she loved it and had it on all the days we were there. My mother even packed some for her.

Now, after the stock got over, my daughter started asking for it and I called up my grandmother to find out her proportions. Prepared it and now, there’s always stock of this powder at home, for my daughter. Just yesterday, I made a fresh batch of it and thought of posting it here.

This podi is very versatile and the proportions can be changed a little here and there. Actually, the proportions vary from home to home, I guess. Many make it using only tuar dal. But I like to make it my grandmother’s way, by adding horsegram, that gives a unique flavour and makes it healthier too. These kinds of powders come in very handy when you are pressed for time or are just lazy to cook up an elaborate meal. Serve it with hot white rice and a dollop of ghee or sesame oil with some papads and you are good to go :)

What you'll need
  1. Tuar Dal – ¼ cup
  2. Moong Dal/Pasi Paruppu- ¼ cup
  3. Horsegram/Kollu – ¼ cup
  4. Dried Red Chilly – 2
  5. Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
  6. Salt to taste

  1. Heat a Kadai.
  2. Dry roast the dals one by one until nice aroma emanates and the dals have changed red. Take care not to burn.
  3. Dry roast the red chilly too.
  4. Cool. Transfer the dals into a mixer jar, add salt to taste and powder.
  5. Add the asafoetida powder and mix well.
  6. Transfer into clean container and keep it airtight.

  1. While roasting the dals, do not do at a high flame. Roasting in high flame will result in quick outer browning of dal but inside will not be roasted. You will not get the proper taste.
  2. I have made it very mild, since it is mainly for my kids. Increase the spice level to suit your tolerance level.
  3. This powder is slightly coarse, if powdered really fine, it will stick to the insides of your mouth while eating.
  4. Always use a clean dry spoon to spoon out the powder.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chakka Varatti/Jackfruit Preserve

I'm back with another Jackfruit post. Those who have been following my blog would’ve known that my Fil, recently got, 3 Jackfruits. With one of them, we prepared the chakka curry and the remaining, was made into this delicious Chakka Varatti or jackfruit jam/preserve.

Since my maternal grandparents were settled in Chennai, we used to come to Chennai from wherever we were for our summer vacations. So we never actually got many chances to visit Kerala, our native place and spend time there. I have very vague memories of my few visits to our village in Kerala, where my great grandparents lived. Though, few things are clearly etched in my memory, like running around the big house from the backyard to the front yard, playing hide and seek with my brother and others.

I cannot forget the food that was served there, fresh and hot. It tasted so good. Once when I visited, it was Jackfruit season, and I clearly remember my Great Grandma sitting and frying Jackfruit Chips, the aroma of coconut oil wafting throughout the house. I and my brother would stand next to her waiting for our share of fresh homemade chips. Everyone in the house would be invariably eating jackfruit dipped in honey. She also made Chakka Varatti in big uruli and packed for us to carry back. Even the Jackfruit seeds were used in Molagootal and Mezhukuperatti. So that’s how versatile this fruit is and how every part of it is used up in a delicious way. Hmmm….some precious memories.

Coming back to the present, like I said earlier, we made chakka varati with the remaining jackfruits. I owe this post totally to my FIL and Mil, without whom, this post would’ve never appeared on my space. Making Chakka varatti is easy but very laborious and time consuming. First the fruits need to be pulled out and deseeded. Then it is cooked and pureed and later cooked with jaggery, stirring every now and then. The whole process can easily take upto 3 hours (not including the cleaning of fruit). But the time depends on the quantity you are making. If you are preparing in lesser quantity, it will take lesser time. But I can assure you of a really sweet and delicious end result. Phew! A long post, after a very long time. Off to the recipe:

What you’ll need
  1. Jackfruit Puree – 6 cups *(refer notes)
  2. Powdered Jaggery – 6 cups
  3. Ghee – ¾ cup

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed Kadai or Uruli, add the jaggery.
  2. Dissolve the jaggery in about 1 cup of water.
  3. Strain and remove the impurities. Wash the kadai and pour back the jaggery syrup into the kadai.
  4. Let it boil on medium heat till one string consistency.
  5. Then add the pureed jackfruit and cook on medium heat, stirring once in a while to avoid burning.
  6. Do not cook on high flame.
  7. Once all the moisture is absorbed and the mixture starts thickening add the ghee little at a time or whenever you feel the mixture sticking to the bottom.
  8. Keep stirring and cooking till the mixture leaves the sides of the kadai. To reach this stage it took me almost 3 hours for the 6 cups of jackfruit puree.
  9. Remove from flame and let it cool naturally. Transfer into clean containers and keep dry.

Delicious chakka varatti is ready. Eat it as it is or make ela adai, Pradhaman or have it with Adai or even as bread spread.

  1. Remove the fruit bulbs, deseed them. Pressure cook in a vessel for 3 whistles, with about ½ cup water. Allow to cool naturally and grind to a smooth paste.
  2. This preserve stays fresh for a long time if used with care. Do not use wet spoons or put your hand to remove the preserve.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chakka Curry/ Jackfruit Curry

Summer is the time, when the markets get flooded with mangoes and jackfruits. Every year, we buy at least a couple of big jackfruits, one would be definitely for Vishu. I have wanted to post the recipe for Chakka varati and Chakka Pradhaman for a long time. I had been talking about this in my house, so my FIL was very eager to get a one.

Couple of weeks back, they had gone to Cuddalore to visit a temple and on their return, they changed the route and came via Panruti town (famous for jackfruits), just to buy one for me. On going into the town, they could not find even a single one, when enquired about the fruit, locals said, that most of the trees had been uprooted during the cyclone which hit Tamil Nadu few months back. So they had to come back empty handed. Even for Vishu we just bought a few jackfruit bulbs and not the whole fruit.

Then one day, my FIL came home, after his routine temple visit, with a huge sack. And what was inside it? Yes you guessed right! He had somehow managed to get 3 jackfruits. So with one of them, we made this Chakka Curry. The other two are still sitting and getting ripened.
Chakka Curry is a popular and traditional Kerala dish. This curry requires jackfruit, that is neither completely raw nor fully ripe. The fruit should be pale yellow and when tasted, it will have a slight sour taste. That kind of fruit will be perfect for this Chakka curry, which is slightly sweet and sour and fully of flavours from the roasted coconut.

What you'll need
  1. Jackfruit – 4 Cups, deseeded and diced
  2. Cowpeas – ½ cup
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Chilly Powder – 1/2  tsp
  5. Salt to taste

To Grind
  1. Freshly scraped Coconut – ¾ cup
  2. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

For Tempering
  1. Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Freshly scraped Coconut – ½ cup
  3. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  4. Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  5. Dried Red Chilly – 2
  6. Curry Leaves – few sprigs

  1. Soak the cowpeas for 10 to 15 minutes in hot water.
  2. Pressure cook it for 3 whistles or until done.
  3. In a vessel add the chopped jackfruit pieces, turmeric powder, chilly powder and salt to taste.
  4. Add about 1.5 cups of water and cook partially covered on medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the jackfruit is cooked. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning.
  5. Add the cooked cowpeas without water and boil for another 5 minutes.
  6. In the meanwhile, grind coconut and cumin seeds to fine paste using very little water. You can use the left over water of the cooked cowpeas.
  7. Add the ground paste to the cooked jackfruit mix well. Check seasoning, simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.
  8. Heat another frying pan with oil, add the coconut and roast until dark brown.
  9. Temper with mustard, urad dal, dry red chilly and curry leaves.
  10. Pour the tempering and the roasted coconut over the curry mix well.

Delicious Chakka curry is ready.

Serve with Mangai Kootan or Moru Kootan and steamed white rice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Eggless Mango Cheesecake

Cheesecake - I have only seen these on the glass displays of popular bakeries. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be making the cheesecake at home one day. Thanks to the Baking Partners, I am getting to try and experiment with recipes I would have otherwise never tried. 

The cheesecake was a wonderful experiment, though a bit time consuming, the end result was worth it. With the mango season in full flourish, this was a perfect dessert.

Cheesecakes are usually made with cream cheese and gelatin. This recipe here made use of simple substitutions and I didn't have to go looking for the cream cheese. It also uses Agar Agar or China grass instead of gelatin, that is another great substitute for the vegetarians, though I found it a little difficult to lay my hands on a packet of it. 

I must share my previous experience with China Grass. About a year back I tried making a pudding using tender coconut and china grass, but somehow it did not set. China grass is supposed to set at room temperature itself but this one never set even after refrigerating for hours. I don't know where I went wrong. But this recipe here is very well explained the cheesecake set perfectly.

Adapted from Divine Taste
What you’ll need

For the biscuit base
  1. Any Digestive Biscuit – 1 ½ cup
  2. Butter – ½ cup (about 100 gm)

For the filling
  1. Curd – 800gm
  2. Paneer – 400 gm (I used Store bought)
  3. Mango Pulp – 1 cup
  4. China Grass / Agar Agar – 15gms
  5. Water – 1 ½ cup
  6. Sugar – 1 ½ cup (Powdered)
  7. Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp

For the Mango Glaze
  1. Mango Pulp – ½ cup
  2. Sugar – 2 tbsp
  3. Water – 2 tbsp
  4. Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp

  1. Pour the curd in a strainer, lined with a muslin cloth. Place a vessel below it and place in the refrigerator overnight or until all the water from the curd and separated and you get nice and thick creamy hung curd.

For the base
  1. Powder the biscuits using a rolling pin or simply blend them in a mixie so that the biscuits are powdered.
  2. Now add the butter and again blend them, so that the butter is fully incorporated in the biscuits.
  3. Now spread this as a layer on the base of an 8” round springform pan.
  4. Refrigerate for half an hour.

For the filling
  1. Soak the china grass for 10 to 15 minutes in 1 ½ cups of water.
  2. Take out the paneer and cut them into small pieces. Blend them in a mixie, until smooth.
  3. Also add the hung curd and blend until they combine well.
  4. Transfer to a wide bowl.
  5. Once the china grass is soft, heat it in on a low flame till the china grass has melted completely. Take care not to boil it.
  6. Also heat the mango puree on a low flame. Do not boil.
  7. Slowly add the melted hot china grass to the hot mango puree and mix well with a wire whisk.
  8. Pour this mixture into the paneer and hung curd mixture and mix well.
  9. Also add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix well without any lumps.
  10. Pour this mixture onto the biscuit base. Allow to set in refrigerator for atleast 1 hour.
  11. For the mango glaze
  12. In a small vessel add the mango puree, sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to boil.
  13. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  14. Remove from heat.
  15. Allow to come to room temperature.
  16. After about 1 hour of setting in the refrigerator spread the mango glaze on top of the cheese cake and let it set for a couple of hours before slicing.

Chill, slice and serve the delicious Mango Cheesecake.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beetroot Curry/Subji

Beetroot, just another vegetable! Neither is it my favorite nor something that I hate.The usual dish prepared using Beetroot in my household is the Beetroot Thoran and sometimes this Beetroot Pulao, nothing more than that. I know many other recipes like Beetroot parathas and raithas can be prepared with it but somehow never got around making it.

Once when I had been to my aunt's place, my cousin there told me about this recipe which, she said is a great side for rotis and also makes a filling soup by itself. My mom started preparing that curry very frequently and she kept saying that it tastes very good. 

So yesterday, when we decided to make rotis and on checking the refrigerator, I did not have anything other than the beets, this recipe came to my mind. I tried it out, making a few changes to the original recipe. It was hit at home both with elders and kids.
The curry has a burst of flavours, slightly sweet from the beets, tangy and spicy. All in all a recipe which has found place in my blog and is going to be regular in my kitchen too.

What you'll need
  1. Beetroot – 1 Medium
  2. Potato – 1 Medium
  3. Onion – 1 Medium
  4. Tomato – 3 Medium
  5. Chilly Powder – 1 tsp
  6. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  7. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  8. Garam Masala – ¼ tsp
  9. Amchur Powder – ¼ tsp (optional)
  10. Sugar – ½ tsp (optional, only if beets are very bland)
  11. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  12. Oil – 1 tbsp
  13. Salt to taste

  1. Wash, peel and dice the beets and potatoes into medium sized cubes.
  2. Roughly chop the onions.
  3. Chop the tomatoes and grind.
  4. Heat a small pressure pan or cooker with oil, add the cumin seeds.
  5. Once the cumin crackles add the onions and sauté until light brown.
  6. Next add the tomato paste and sauté until all the moisture is absorbed.
  7. Next add the turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander powder, garam masala and sauté for a minute.
  8. Now add the diced beets and potatoes, mix well.
  9. Add salt and about 2.5 cups of water. Mix well.
  10. Close the lid and cook till 3 whistles, lower heat and cook for another 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat, do a taste check and add amchur powder and sugar if required.
  12. Garnish with coriander leaves.

 Serve warm with roti or rice.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Banana Dates Milkshake

Do you like bananas? I know most of you would answer in yes! My family is a banana loving family too. H, Mil , Fil all have minimum two bananas everyday. But I and my elder daughter just detest this fruit. We would prefer to stay hungry but not have this even if this were one of the last options. Somehow I developed a kind of aversion to bananas from my childhood and my elder one has followed my footsteps.

Even though I do not eat them, I want my daughter to have them and this milkshake is a great way to sneak in the bananas. She never realized that the milkshake had bananas until I told her. She was Ok with it and said she can have the fruits if disguised this way :) A perfect way to feed your children something healthy.

Makes about 3 cups
What you’ll need
  1. Banana – 2 ripe, big
  2. Deseeded Dates – 10 to 12
  3. Almonds - 4 to 5
  4. Chilled Milk – 2 Cups
  5. Honey – 1 or 2 tsp (optional)

  1. Slice the bananas and freeze them for a couple of hours.
  2. Soak the dates and almonds in some warm water till they are soft.
  3. To make the milkshake, add the frozen the banana slices, soaked dates to the blender and blend till they become a smooth paste.
  4. Add the milk and blend again.
  5. Add honey if required.
  6. Delicious Banana Dates Milkshake is ready to be served. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vegan Oatmeal Muffins

"Baking is a wonderful experience." Whenever I read this phrase and the kinds of these I used to wonder what could be so wonderful about it,  not until I started baking. It is surely a beautiful experience to see your muffins, cookies, cakes, pizzas etc getting baked in the oven. The aroma of freshly baked goodies filling your house is an incredible feeling in itself. Baking has become my latest fetish and it is going to last for sometime.

For this month the Groovy Gourmets decided to go Vegan and cook up from Roxanne's Blog. Baking Vegan is OK but I can't imagine myself turning into a vegan. I can give up anything but not my curds. I have to finish my meal with at least a small cup of curd rice else it feels incomplete.

I decided to bake the oatmeal muffins. The recipe was not vegan. I made few changes here and there keeping in mind what I had at hand and turned them into completely vegan muffins. The muffins were super soft and spongy. They were just about sweet if you like really sweet muffins feel free to increase it by a tbsp or two. My daughter said I should definitely add this line as she felt they were not sweet enough.

Pardon my pictures, I'm really bad at taking pics of baked goodies.

Lightly Adapted from Roxana’s  Home Baking

Makes about 6 muffins

What you'll need
  1. Oats – ¾ cup
  2. Whole Wheat Flour – ½ cup
  3. Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  4. Baking Soda – ½ tsp
  5. Salt – a pinch
  6. Mashed Ripe Banana – ½ cup
  7. Sugar – 1/3 cup
  8. Any Refined Oil – ¼ cup
  9. Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  10. Warm Water – ½ cup

  1. Grease or line the muffin trays.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  3. Measure the oats and powder it in a mixie.
  4. In a wide bowl add all the dry ingredients – oatmeal flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Mix well.
  5. In another bowl, mix the sugar, oil, mashed banana until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix gently.
  7. Add the water and mix.
  8. Finally add the lemon juice mix and pour into the muffin trays.
  9. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Enjoy them warm.

Check out what the other gourmets are upto here.


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