Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carrot Rolls

Wishing everyone a very very Happy Deepavali - 2012!! I’m thoroughly enojoying reading this book titled "The book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha. This book was a gift by a dear friend. It reminds us of the little joys that life has to offer, that often go un-noticed. It shows us how we can cash in on these little joys and experience an instant mood uplift. If nothing, it is sure to put a smile on your face. Ask my 7 yr old son, who comes running to snuggle beside me and peek over my shoulder asking ‘what I’m reading about now’, everytime I pick this book up. He enjoys reading it too...The author talks about stuff like, the smell of freshly mowed lawn, someone throwing a blanket on you while you are sleeping, sqeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of a tube, taking your shoes off on a long car ride.. etc., etc., He narrates the whole thing in a very funny way, leading up to the title of the chapter and each chapter ends with the word ‘AWESOME’. You can check it out at his website

Skip to the recipe of Carrot Rolls.

As I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but make my own list of what I think is Awesome.  and then, I thought since I have a food blog, why not also make a list of food related Awesome stuff.... Sharing some of it here :

1. A relaxed morning cup of coffee! I am a night owl and hence, a late riser. I am up and immediately ‘about’. I get caught up in the morning whirlwind of fixing breakfast, packing the lunch box, getting my son ready for school, attending to my daughter... etc., etc.nothing exciting the usual run-of-the-mill. As all this happens, the morning just slips by... I would have had my coffee while standing in-front of the stove, stirring something or cutting stuff on the cutting board or while checking my son’s backpack to see if everything is in place. Every once in a way it so happens that I am up early and everyone else is still sleeping. The house is enveloped in silence. I quietly enter the kitchen, make my coffee and savour every single sip, either gazing out of the patio door, or browsing the internt. Now, I am ready to take on the day! The stillness of the morning, a steaming cuppa joe and your favorite piece of furniture to sink into – AWESOME!

2. No leftovers. It is a perfect ending to any normal day in the kitchen. Everyone has eaten well and all the dishes lay emptied. Everything from the dining table goes into the sink. No leftovers that need to be stuffed into pyrex containers and shoved into the dark confines of the fridge. There is no saying where they’ll go from there. They could remain there unclaimed for days and eventually get discarded OR they could get rescued, reheated and consumed. But with no leftovers, it is Refrigerator Nirvana and I find it just plain – AWESOME!

3. The perfect banana. If you are like me and shop once a week for groceries, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. A lot of planning is needed to buy something as simple as bananas. If they are not ripe enough they leave that awful, weird ‘unripe banana’ taste on your tongue and if they are over ripe, well, you can tell from a mile away. They are smelly and heavily spotted and have a swarm of fruitflies hovering over them. To make the bananas stretch over a week I often buy them greenish yellow in color, hoping they’ll gradually ripen and I’ll get to enjoy them throughout the week. But they gang up on me and reach perfection all at the same time. So, mid-week is like banana fest. I’m going bananas, forcing everyone in the house to eat bananas. But one bite of that sweet, soft fruit is worth the trouble. Getting to eat that perfect banana – AWESOME!

4. Spicy fried food. Need I say anything other than – AWESOME!!??

5. Corn on the Cob. There is something abour cold drizzly days and the smell of corn roasting on the coals. Growing up in Shimoga this is one of the things I did with my friends and cousins. Waiting by the ‘joLad gaaDi’(the corn vendor’s wagon), inhaling the divine smell of the roasting corn, the warmth of the hot coals are some of my most cherished memories. The vendor would slather green chilli paste and lemon juice on to the corn using a brush made of corn husk. Eating the spicy corn, chatting away with loved ones, not a care in the world, hissing while drawing cold air in, so as to tone down the heat, the burning sensation on the lips as the chilli paste starts to kick in – an experience in itself, nothing but AWESOME!

6. Pretty looking, individual servings of Dessert. It is said we eat with our eyes first. If thats true then these score right on! The single serving desserts come in beautiful bowls/cups/ramekins..The attention to detail is exquisite. It is the look, smell and taste all jammed into one cute little package. And the best part – you get to eat it all, no sharing... Isn’t that AWESOME!?

7. Home cooked meal after days of travelling. Travelling, be it for fun or business comes with its own little quirks. Visiting exotic places, always on the move, eating out is all fun while it lasts. But the minute you are back from it all, nothing screams “HOME” like a simple home cooked meal. All the exotic foods you enjoyed are now a mere blur a distant memory on your taste buds, and a blissful calm settles on you. Be it anna-saaru(rice and rasam), daal-chawal(rice and lentils) or plain old curd rice with pickle(or whatever staple you grew up with), you know you have arrived. You are devouring morselfuls of – AWESOME!

8. Tender Coconut Water. You knew it was a bad idea going shopping in the dust and the heat. Arms aching with the weight of the shopping bags, legs hurting with all the walking around, wishing you had parked the car closer, what should you spot but a heap of tender green coconuts nestled under the shade of a makeshift tent of coconut tree leaves. Nature packed, pure, healthy and heavenly tasting it is nectar going down your throat. All the aches and pains miraculously disappear and you are instantly rejuvenated. You are now ready to tackle the rest of the shopping experience-aka “walking in and out of shops, bargaining for stuff you might not buy and carrying bags of stuff you might not use” ;-). Nature’s own energy drink – AWESOME!

9. Food(snacks, fruits, candy, sweets etc.,) from school days. Nerale haNNu(jambul), nellikaayi(gooseberries), maavinkaayi(raw mango), perle kaayi(raw guava), boray hannu(jujube), chikki(peanut-sesame seeds brittle),shunTi peppermint(minty sugary candy)...... these were the wares that vendors would have in their baskets and lure us with, just outside the school gates. They were there waiting for us during recess, lunch break and end of school. They knew we would come and we never disappointed them. The fruits slathered with generous helpings of salt and chilli powder had the power to make or break friendships. Sneaking these munchies into the classroom, sharing, trading... yummmm – AWESOME!

Thats all for now... Will keep adding as I think up more :-)...

Another look at the beauties...
Ingredients :

1 measure Carrot, grated
1/2 measure Khova(also known as Maava), grated if using the khova block. (You can also use khova powder)
1 measure Sugar(Use more or less according to taste)
1/4 measure Milk (Just enough to cook the carrots in)
A couple of Tablespoons of Ghee/Clarified Butter)
1/8th measure Nuts of your choice(I like to use Char-Magaz and broken Cashews)
Cardamom Powder, for flavoring(optional)
1/4 measure dry Coconut Powder

Method :

1. Take the grated Carrot in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the milk and cook it on medium heat until soft and thoroughly cooked.
2. Add the sugar and keep stirring until it thickens and the melted sugar is absorbed.
3. Now add the Khova and Ghee and mix until everything is well combined.
4. Keep stirring until everything forms a lump and you see a shiny coating. That's the sugar, thickening and creating the shine. You dont want too much water content in the mixture. It should be thick enough to hold its shape when rolled.
5. Finally mix in the Nuts and Cardamom Powder, if using. Switch off the heat and let it cool down to just warm, so you can handle it with your bare hands.
6. You can now roll the mixture into any desired shape and set aside. I made some into ping-pong ball sized spheres and also rolled out some to be 2 inch long logs .
7. Spread the dry Coconut Powder in a plate. Roll each carrot ball or log in the coconut powder until it is well coated. Shake off any excess coconut powder and gently roll it in between your palms so the coconut powder sticks to it.
8. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paal Payasam/Rice Kheer

Creamy, gooey and sweet. Served warm or cold, I prefer the latter, this is a very comforting, very simple and elegant dessert that is apt for any kind of celebration. And here I have not one but three reasons to be happy and to celebrate.
1. Navaratri, Dasara
2. Me getting back to my blog after nearly 2 years
3. Before I get to the third reason... Feel free to skip my rant and go directly to the Recipe OR, hold the thought, and go through the write-up below:

I start sulking...I work myself up to a frenzy... I get all hands and feet turn heartbeat goes up by a couple of beats per minute. From the second I come to know that I have to do it, a strange fear takes over me. My mind is in a turmoil. Though I am going about my routine, thoughts of it are running in the background of my mind. I go to google maps and check and re-check the directions and address of my destination. I try to put up a brave front and not let my hubby know about it...but I can't fool him. He knows....and he plays along.

What am I talking about?? I'll tell you, but please try not to laugh. I am talking about... DRIVING, alone, to a place I've never driven before. Let me walk you through a typical conversation that occurs between me and Sri(my hubby):

Me : Why can't you drop us off and then get to work?
Sri : I need to be at work REALLY early.
Me : You are just saying that. You just want me to drive.
Sri(with a smirk on his face): If that's what you want to think, suit yourself.
Me(pleading now): But I've never driven there before...
Sri(trying to reason): We've been there umpteen number of times. You'll know once you drive.
Me(back at square one): Wouldn't it be simpler if you just dropped us off...

I can shamelessly come up with reasons for not driving depending on the situation:
"I can't drive while I'm in a saree" or
"Oh! I'm not wearing my contact lenses" or
"I find it difficult do drive when it is dark" or
"She(my daughter) is hungry. I better sit back with her and give her something to eat" etc.,
Or sometimes, I just hurry to the car and secure myself in the passenger seat before Sri even gets to the car. Not that he makes me drive a lot and when he does, it is just that he wants me to learn. I get that, but my paranoia makes me fail to see reason.

I just HATE driving... There, I've made it official, in writing. Oh, no.. let me rephrase it. I HATE DRIVING CARS. I don't mind two wheelers. In fact I love riding a two wheeler. Between high school and through five years of being a working woman, I have been the proud owner of a bicycle, a Hero Puch, a Kinetic Honda(which got stolen) and a Honda Activa. It came to me most naturally. I never once gave it a thought. I also have credits of having driven my uncle's Yamaha RX 100, my cousin's Hero Honda and my collegue's TVS Victor - all of which are considered to be for "Guys" only.

There is something about a car that just doesn't work for me. I feel I'm not in control. It might all be in my mind, but that's how it is. Being a mom of two kids and living in the USA, it is but inevitable that I drive. I have my comfort zone, a radius of about 10-12 miles. I can drive the kids to their activities, Sri's office, Grocery stores, School and a couple of friends' places. Also, I can drive to any new/old, near/far destination, if Sri is in the car too. That's all. Any exceptions and all the symptoms that I described earlier, start to kick in.

Now, going back to my 3 reasons to celebrate... have you guessed it yet?? Well, here it is:

3. I did DRIVE, all by myself to a new place and I did not use the GPS either.

My friend G invited me and the kids to her place for lunch last thursday, as the kids had no school due to teachers' workshop. The kids could play together and we could catch up. It was too tempting a plan to pass up.(She had promised yummy Keralean fare too). I asked Sri if he could work from home until 11, drop us off at her place, and then get to work and pick us up on the way back. And yes, I am ready to take my chances and make such absurd demands, if it might take me away from having to drive. Obviously Sri refused. I don't know what made me do it, but boy, am I glad I did it :-). I wrote down the directions from google maps (to and fro both), stuck the paper onto the steering wheel and set off! (I don't trust the GPS cos it "dings" when I am AT the turn/exit instead of a little earlier). I did miss an exit, but realised it immediately and promptly got back on track and made it to her place in one piece!! I was a HERO in my eyes and in my son's eyes too :-). We had a fun afternoon with yummy food, lotsa chatting, laughing, kids playing and a small walk in the foggy backyard.

When I came home I felt sooo elated! I was all smiles when I said "I did it!!", Sri had that "I told you so... I always knew you can do it" kinda look. I am definitely happy that I could do it, but that doesn't mean in any way that I've conquered my fear. It is but one baby step.

G had made yummy Paal Payasam for dessert. My son LOVED it a lot. It had been ages since I'd made it. So, I decided to make it and that's when it came to my mind that I should blog about my experience. Here's the recipe, go ahead try it and celebrate your joys!!

Ingredients :

5 cups Milk (Whole milk would be best)
1/2 cup Basmati Rice
1 cup Sugar
3-4 Cardamoms, powdered
1 tbsp each, Cashewnuts and Raisins(Roasted in Ghee) - Optional
A pinch of Saffron - Optional

Method :

1. Thoroughly wash the Basmati Rice and set aside.
2. Boil 2 cups of milk in a pressure cooker. Once the milk comes to a boil add the washed rice. Close the cooker lid with the weight on and cook on a very low flame(at mark 2-3 on the small burner) for 30 minutes.
3. Switch off the heat after 30 minutes and allow the cooker to cool. Once all the steam has escaped, open it. The milk would have cooked down and turned pink by now.Trust me, it does turn pink. I didn't believe it until I saw it!
4. Add the sugar(adjust to taste) and mix well. Add the remaining milk and bring it to a boil.
5. Close the cooker again with weight on cook for another 15 minutes in low flame.
6. Open the cooker once it has cooled down and mix in the nuts, raisins and saffron(if using) and cardamom and mix well.
7. Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Besan unDe

Deepavali Special....

Round, Sweet, Golden, Aromatic, Melts-in-the-Mouth and very very Delicious. That is what perfectly describes a Besan unDe(laDDoo). I fell in love with this delicacy during my school days when we stayed in Gulbarga, a district in North Karnataka. All my Kulkarni, Deshpande, Patil friends' moms were an expert in preparing it. As I know it, in North Karnataka, Besan UnDe or rather UnDi as they call it, is a must on the menu for any kind of celebration at home.With all the friends I had, there was no dearth of occasions(engagements,weddings, birthdays, brother/sister got into college on merit, sister had a baby, dad got a promotion etc., etc.,) that demanded Besan unDe. So, I always had one or other friend at school, with a box full of this golden delicacy, ready to share with me :-) Each time I ate it, I fell more and more in love with it.

Years passed, since I left Gulbarga. My friends, my school, all my happy childhood days that I spent there are now just memories. And somewhere among all those memories lay the memory of those delicious golden Besan UnDes that I had eaten. Amma would make her version of Besan UnDes. She followed the same recipe as that of Godhi HiTTina UnDe(Wheat Flour Laddoo), substituting Besan for Wheat Flour. These were delicious(and somewhat guilt free, as they used less Ghee) too, but my heart lay with the traditional Besan unDes of North Karnataka.

Life went on... I got married, had a son, moved to the US, and who should I meet? but a girl called Anu, who was from Gulbarga!!. Her parents were visiting her and I got to meet them, know them and in due course, the topic turned to food. I HAD to mention Besan UnDes and her mom generously offered to teach me how to make them, the way I liked it! So, one fine day(I think in 2008), just before the Gowri-Ganesha festival I kept all the ingredients ready and under Aunty's guidance, I learnt how to make Besan UnDi! :-) Thus, I found my long lost love, and now we are together for ever and ever. I am a sucker for happy(in this case sweet)endings. There is a saying by Lao Tzu that goes... " Give a man fish, and you feed him for one day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime". You get the drift of where I'm going with this... :-)

Here's the recipe of Besan UnDe, so maybe one of you will find your long lost love, or better still, find new love in my "sweetheart" ;-)

Ingredients :

2 cups Besan(Gram Flour), fine variety
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 sticks Butter, cut into 8-10 pieces OR 1 cup ghee, melted
1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
1/8 cup Milk
1/4 cup Cashew pieces and Raisins, roasted in a little ghee

Method :

1. Take the Besan in a wide, heavy bottomed pan, and put it on low-medium heat for roasting.
2. Keep stirring the besan continuously, until the color slightly changes and it starts giving out a nutty aroma.
3. Now, add a little bit of the Ghee/Butter, (approximately 1 tablespoon wrt Ghee or 1 piece wrt Butter) and keep stirring until it gets fully incorporated. Continue adding the Ghee/Butter and stirring the Besan until you have used up all the Ghee/Butter. This is a very important stage in the making of Besan UnDe. You should take care not to burn it. The trick is in keeping it on low flame and continuously stirring it.
4. After the above stage, Besan, Ghee/Butter mixture will have a very thick paste like texture. While it is still on heat, add the milk, while still stirring. At this point the mixture will bubble up and become airy and light and then settle down.
5. Now, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down completely.
6. Add the Powdered Sugar, Cardamom powder and the roasted Cashews and Raisins to the above mixture. Mix everything well, using your hands.
7. Take small portions of the mixture and roll them into round balls, using the palms of your hands. Keep each ball separately in a plate, uncovered. This is because, when you make the balls, the Ghee/Butter will slightly melt due to the warmth of your palms, and if you stack them all together, they tend to stick to each other and will be difficult to remove later. So, keep them separate for sometime, and then when they solidify, store them in a jar/container.
8. Enjoy anytime of the day or night ;-) !!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dumroat-KumbaLakaayi Halwa

Love sweets? Can't eat vegetables?? No worries, eat Halwa instead!! I've lately been hearing of Halwas prepared using vegetables. The most common ones being the Carrot halwa, Dumroat-BoodagumbaLakaayi/Ashgourd halwa and Soreykaayi/Doodhi/Bottlegourd halwa. The others vying to be among the top three are Sweet Potato halwa, Potato halwa, Green Peas halwa, Beetroot Halwa, Seemebadnekaayi/Chayote Squash halwa, Sweet Corn halwa etc., I heard of these varieties, from my cousin who recently attended a competition where they had to prepare halwa using a vegetable. Interesting, isn't it?

Well, personally among all the halwas prepared vegetables, I can't decide which one is my favorite, Carrot Halwa or Dumroat(Ashgourd Halwa) or Soreykaayi(doodhi/bottlegourd) Halwa. I guess I love all three equally, though Carrot Halwa tops my choices when it comes to preparing the halwa. It is the easiest one. The other two involve a lot of work wrt, eliminating all the water content. Amma finds a lot of uses for the water and the pith extracted from the Ashgourd. She makes lemonade using the water. Just add a pinch of Cardamom powder to mask the smell of raw gourd(Appa still din't like it anyway..). Use the water to make rice, chapati dough, in sambhar etc., The pith can be used to make Saasve(kinda Raitha). The seeds don't go waste either. They are a wonderful 'timepass' if roasted and salted ;-)
But for now, enjoy Amma's Dumroat - Ashgourd Halwa! (Don't ask me how it got that name :-) )

Ingredients :

4 Kilograms (Approximately 5-6 cups grated) Ashgourd
250 grams Approximately 2 and 1/2 cups) Sugar
1/2 cup Ghee
1/2 cup Milk
A pinch of Saffron Strands, soaked in 1/4 cup milk
15 or so Cashews, cut into small pieces and roasted in ghee
10-25 Raisins, roasted in ghee
3-4 Cardamoms, powdered

Method :

1. Wash, cut into 1/8ths and peel the Ashgourd. Remove the pith and the seeds.
2. Grate the gourd into a vessel.
3. Drain out all the liquid, by squeezing and pressing over a sieve/juice strainer. Take care to remove as much liquid as possible.

4. Take this grated, dry gourd into a heavy bottomed vessel and put it on medium-high flame. Add Milk and half of the Ghee and mix well. Close the vessel with a lid and let the gourd cook. Keep Stirring in between.

5. Once cooked(it becomes soft and breaks apart if squished between fingers), add the sugar. Mix it in well, until all the sugar gets incorporated. Add the Saffron and the rest of the ghee and mix. Keep stirring until it all comes together in one big lump, and you can see a glossy sheen on the surface. Then, remove from flame and set aside.

6. Add the Cashews, Raisins and the Cardamom Powder and mix well.
7. Serve warm or cold.

Friday, March 5, 2010


SukkinunDe is a very traditional Karnataka(South Kanara) special. It is prepared particularly for lunch during the "Shraaddha"(Death Anniversary). Preparing this on other days is taboo.. but times are changing. This is a very rare treat at my place. I have never tried preparing this one on my own. When I expresssed my wish to eat something sweet, Amma decided to treat me to this one. It turned out not just a treat for my taste buds, but my blog too.... I was ready to tackle this one with my camera too :-)

As I sat down to put it into words, curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to know what would sukkinunDe be known as, in other homes. The word SukkinunDe itself did not yield any results. But googling for "sweet, deep fried, moong dal filling" did give me this one result. The picture looked sooo much similar to our SukkinunDe, I bet its the same. There was no recipe, just the picture, and the name said Sugiyan. Then when I searched for sugiyan, it opened up a whole world of SukkinunDe's... with different names, Boorelu, Sugiyams etc., Its a small world after all... :-)

SukkinuDe can be made with either moong dal filling(BeLe SukkinunDe,the one shown here) or coconut filling(Kaayi SukkinunDe). Enjoyed with a little ghee, its a wonderful snack for anytime of the day!

Ingredients :
For the Outer Cover:
1/4 cup Urad Dal
2 full teaspoons Rice Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt

For the Filling :
1 cup Moong Dal
1/2 cup Jaggery, powdered
1/2 cup Coconut, grated
Pods of 2-3 Cardamoms, powdered

Oil for deep frying

Method :
For the Outer Cover:
1. Wash and soak the Urad Dal in enough water for atleast 3 hours.
2. Drain away the water and grind the dal into a fine paste, adding water as required.
3. Add the rice flour and mix in properly so that no lumps are formed.
4. Add the salt.

5. Mix the batter well and set aside. The consistency of this batter should be thinner than that of Dosay batter, so that it just forms a thin outer coating.

For the Filling :
1. Wash and soak the Moong dal for atleast 2 hours.
2. Drain away the water, and take only the dal in a pan. Add a little water, just so it covers the dal and cover. Cook on low flame until the dal softens and breaks apart. You can pressure cook the dal with very little water, for just one whistle, taking care not to make it watery and mushy.

3. Add the Jaggery and the Coconut and keep stirring until it becomes dry and forms one lump.
4. Mix in the cardamom powder. Let it cool down.

5. Once cool, make small round balls, slightly smaller than ping-pong balls and set aside.
6. Heat oil in a kadahi on medium-low flame. The oil should get hot but not smoking hot. If the oil gets too hot, the outer cover will disintegrate and the filling will be all over the place, messing up the oil. So take care to maintain a moderate temperature.

7. Dip each ball into the prepared batter, to coat evenly and gently release into the hot oil. You can fry 6-7 balls at a time.
8. Once golden-brown all over, drain and remove onto a plate lined with paper towel.
9. Repeat with the rest of the balls.
10. Serve warm or cold with ghee.