Festival Recipes, Indian, Snacks, Sweets, Tiffin

Shakkar Para (Sweet Diamond Cuts)

Mildly sweet and crunchy deep fried bits. A snack for evening or to munch for no reason at all. Has a good shelf life. So you can make it and store it for Diwali or before guests are expected. This sweet is usually made of maida but I made this with whole wheat.

Ingredients:
Wheat Flour – 2 cups
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Roasted Fennel seeds/saunf (optional)- 1 teaspoon
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – 1/3 cup
Oil for deep frying

Preparation Time: 10 mins + 30 mins (Resting time for dough)
Cooking Time: 30 – 40 mins
Makes: 1 liter jar full of Sharkara para

Method:
Heat a pan and add water and jaggery. Heat until the jaggery dissolves completely. No need to bring to boil or thicken into a syrup. Filter the diluted jaggery to remove any impurities.
Take 2 cups of wheat flour, cardamom powder, roasted fennel seeds, and mix well. If you are adding baking soda, you may add now. This will make the shakkar para crispy.
Heat ghee to melt it. Add ghee to the flour mixture. Mix well. Add the jaggery syrup in small quantities, mixing it into the flour. Knead the flour to make a smooth dough. If the dough is dry, you may added small quantities of water. Keep aside to rest for for an half hour.
Take small portions of the dough and shape into lemon-sized balls.
Use a rolling pin and a smooth surface to roll them into thick chapathis. You can use dry wheat flour to dust the surface. Can be a little tricky as the dough is very dense and a little sticky because of the jaggery.
Use a dull-edged knife to cut the chapathis horizontally and vertically to cut them into diamond shapes.
Place a thick iron wok on fire and pour oil into it. When the oil is adequately heated, drop the diamond shapes into the oil gently taking care not to splash oil. Keep the flame low. Due to the presence of jaggery, the shakkar paras could get really dark. When they start turning darker and gets roasted, remove from oil and place on an absorbing paper to drain oil. Fry the remaining diamond cuts in batches.
Cool and transfer into an airtight container.

Note: You can make salty and spicy variations by substituting jaggery with salt, chilly powder, and asafetida.

Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Paal Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice Dumplings)

A simple and easy to make dish with just three ingredients. Good option for breakfast or evening tiffin. You will love it if you like natural uncomplicated tastes, mild flavors, and the use of minimal ingredients.

Ingredients:
Raw Rice Flour (finely powdered/Idiyappam powder) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Hot water – 1 cup
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Boil water in a pan.
Crush the cumin seeds lightly to bring out the flavor.
Take raw rice flour (I used raw red rice flour and hence the color difference), lightly crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut, and adequate amount of salt needed in a wide vessel. Add water (at boiling point) into this mixture.
Use a ladle to stir the mixture well. Ensure there are no lumps. You can use your hand later after a minute or two when the dough cools down. Make a smooth dough.
Take small amounts of this dough and make small gooseberry sized balls. Place on a plate and keep aside.


Add 2 cups of water in the heavy bottomed pan. Drop the rice balls into this boiling water.
Let it cook for 10 – 12 mins in medium heat.


You will notice that the water is thickening and the rice balls are becoming firmer.
Transfer into a bowl and serve along with the liquid.

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Notes:

  1. You can cook this in diluted cow’s milk also. I have not tried this. But I am definitely going to try cooking this in diluted coconut milk and jaggery and elaichi to make a sweet version.
  2. It is desirable to have it while hot and fresh. If using after a while, add half a cup of water and reheat.
  3. It is very similar to Ragi Mudde, the famous Kannada breakfast.
Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Indian, Snacks, Tiffin, Vegan

Sabudana Upma / Khichdi

Sabudana / sago / Javvarisi is preferred food across India during fasting and for festivals. It is also a good snack item. Sabudana is nothing but tapioca pearls and hence mostly starch / carbohydrate. Sabudana pearls cooked in a tadka of cumin seeds, chilies, boiled and roasted potatoes added, garnished with grated coconut, coriander leaves, and lemon juice make a delicious item that can be easily cooked. Although easy to prepare, you need to understand the different kinds of sabudana available in the market – big pearls, small pearls, nylon variety are some. Each requires a different cooking method to get the perfect texture. If it is normal sabudana (not the nylon variety), I recommend soaking the pearls in water overnight. If using the nylon sago variety, 1-hr soaking time is sufficient.

Preparation Time: Overnight or 1 hr (Soaking time) + 10 mins
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
Sabudana – 1 cup
Potato – 1 medium sized
Capsicum – 1 medium sized (optional)
Oil / ghee – 1-1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 3-4
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Salt to taste

For Garnishing:
Crushed roasted peanuts (deskinned) – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsp

Method:
Rinse and wash one cup of sabudana pearls in water two to three times. If using normal sabudana (not the nylon variety), soak in two cups of water overnight. If using the nylon sago variety, fill water just enough to touch the top level of the sabudana pearls and soak for an hour.
Chop potatoes into small cubes. Cook the cubed potato in little bit of oil until well cooked and the sides turn golden color. Add salt and stir well. Remove and keep aside.
Add oil in a kadai. When heated, add cumin seeds and finely chopped green chilies. Shallow fry for a minute. Add curry leaves and chopped capsicum. Stir for a minute or so.
Add the soaked sabudana pearls into this. Stir well. Close with a lid and cook for about 5 mins. Keep stirring every 30 seconds in between. As the sabudana pearls get cooked, they start turning translucent. Check for this. If the sabudana pearls have become too dry and is undercooked, you can sprinkle water (very little).
When the capsicum gets cooked and the sabudana pearls start turning transparent and start sticking together, add salt, stir well. Add the roasted potato cubes into this and stir well. Add grated coconut and crushed roasted peanuts, finely chopped coriander leaves and stir well. Add lemon juice and serve hot.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets

Vella Cheedai / Sweet Cheedai – Deep Fried Sweet Balls

Salt Seedai / Cheedai as well sweet cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Sweet cheedai is slightly tricky to get right. If your proportions are not right, they might break apart while frying. But using the proportion mentioned below you can make good sweet cheedai. Vellai cheedai are crispy but soft to bite into as opposed to salt cheedais that are dense and hard to bite into.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Grated jaggery – 3-4 tbsp (adjust to taste)
Butter – 1 tbsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Makes 200 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut to make a coarse paste. It is okay even if the coconut is not fully ground. You may add small quantities of water while grinding.
Add the grated jaggery powder to a pan and mix few spoons of water. (Be careful about the amount of water. Do not dilute it too much). Place on low fire to let the jaggery melt. Once melted, use a strainer to sieve any lumps/impurities.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, jaggery syrup, butter, and sesame seeds to this. Use your fingers to mix the flour and jaggery well.
Add small quantities of water if needed to make a dough. The dough should be soft but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Ensure that the balls are fully immersed in oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for about a minute. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir often until the balls change color to golden brown.
Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low
stirring occasionally.
5. Due to the jaggery in the dough, vella cheedai tends to turn black in excess heat. Be careful about the amount of heat or you will end up burning the cheedai.
6. Vella cheedais are not as crispy as salt cheedai. The outer crust will be crisp but inside may be a little chewy.
7. Following the proportions and instructions right is key to getting this right.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian

Salt Cheedai / Uppu Cheedai – Deep Fried Savory Balls

Seedai / Cheedai is made during Gokulashtami as a Naivedyam to Lord Krishna. Apart from festival celebrations, it is associated with a lot of fond memories for me. It is one of my favorite savory items. Hard yet crunchy, peppery along with the taste of cumin seed and a hint of hing and coconut. Well worth the effort. Amma often makes it at home. Since it is time consuming to shape the cheedai into balls, she always makes it when all of us are available to help. Even grandma used to join. But today I made this all by myself and it was not tough at all to make cheedai with two cups of rice flour. I could manage time very well by simultaneously frying as well as rolling the dough.

Although cheedai is easy to make, it is also slightly tricky because if you do not do things the right way, the chances are more that you will not get it right or something might go seriously wrong, for example, cheedai bursting inside the hot oil and causing oil splash. For this reason, one needs to be really careful while attempting to make this.

Ingredients:
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 6-8
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
Asafetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Oil (for frying) – 300-400 ml
Salt as needed
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins (7 mins per batch)
Yield 300 gm Cheedai

Method:
Dry roast the raw rice flour until the raw smell of the rice goes away and you get a nice roasted aroma.
Remove from fire and sieve to ensure that the powder is fine and no lumps are present.
Dry roast the urad dal until the dal turns pink. Remove from fire and pulse in a mixer to a fine powder.
Sieve the urad dal flour twice to ensure that you take only the fine powder and you discard the coarse powders.
Grind the grated coconut along with the jeera and black peppercorns to make a coarse paste. You may add small quantities of water.
Mix a tablespoon of sieved, finely powdered urad dal flour along with the sieved rice flour. Add the ground coconut, cumin, and pepper paste into the flours, add sesame seeds, asafetida powder, salt, and butter. Use your fingers to mix the flour and powders well.
Add small quantities of water to make a dough. The dough should be soft and firm but not loose.
Take a small portion of the dough, place this dough on your left hand and use the long three fingers on the right hand to roll the dough into tiny marble-sized balls. Place them on a paper. It is recommended that you allow this to dry a bit before you deep fry them.
Heat oil in an iron kadai.
Once the oil is hot, gently and carefully drop a batch of the marble-sized dough balls into the oil. Retain the fire in medium in the beginning for at least 2 mins. You will notice a lot of bubbles during this time. When the bubbles reduce, lower the fire and stir occasionally until the balls change color to golden brown. Use a strainer ladle to remove the cheedai from the oil. Place on an absorbent paper to absorb excess oil.
Store in an air tight container once it cools down.

Notes:
1. Sieve the flour at least twice to ensure that the rice flour and urad dal flour used is finely powdered. This will ensure there are no accidental oil splashes while frying the cheedai.
2. Although it is recommended that the rolled cheedai balls should dry off a bit before they are deep fried, you need not roll the entire dough into balls and then start the frying process. You may roll enough for 2-3 batches, start frying batch by batch and as you are frying, you may roll new batches of cheedai.
3. Use a thick bottomed iron kadai for frying to ensure uniform heating.
4. While deep frying, maintain the flame first in medium and then in low stirring occasionally.
5. Following the proportions and instructions properly is key to getting this right.

Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Snacks, Vegan

Cashew Herb Dip

You won’t believe until you taste this dip how delicious and incredibly easy it is to make a dip at home, that too without using any dairy! Quick, easy, flavorful, creamy, and vegan cashew herb dip or spread. Not only do cashew nuts have lower fat compared to other nuts, it has heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Ditch your cholesterol worries and go for it.
I have added dill leaves for more flavor. This is an optional ingredient.

Ingredients:
Cashew nut – 1 cup
Garlic – 4 cloves
Water – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil / Extra Virgin Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp – 1 tbsp
Rosemary / Italian Herb mix – 1/2 tsp
Peppercorns – 8-10
Black salt to taste

For Garnish:
Dill leaves – 2 tbsp (optional)

Soaking Time: 6 hours
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Makes – 1 – 1/2 cup

Method:
Soak the cashew nuts overnight or for 6 hours. Drain and rinse using a strainer. Keep aside. Put the cashew nuts in the mixer jar.
Place the garlic cloves (with the peels) on a pan on fire to roast them. You may roast them directly on fire also. Once they get roasted and soft, remove the peels. Add peeled garlic to the mixer jar.
Add the remaining ingredients; coconut oil, lemon juice, rosemary/Italian herbs, peppercorns and black salt into the mixer jar. Blend until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl.
Taste and adjust salt and seasonings.
Add finely chopped fresh dill leaves. Serve with crackers or spread on bread.

You can refrigerate the dip for a few days.

Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Vegan

Sweetened Cow Peas (Vellappayar Sharkarayil Vilayichathu)

Navarathri is incomplete without this sweet prasad. It is a very important item for the Devi. I make this often to satisfy my sweet cravings. This easy-to-make sweet is a healthy alternative to store-bought sweets that contain preservatives and other harmful chemicals.

Ingredients:
Black-eyed cow peas/Vellappayar – 1 cup
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder – 2 pods
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp

Preparation Time (Soaking time): 8 hours
Cooking Time: 20 mins to pressure cook, 10-15 mins to prepare the sweetened cow peas
Makes 2 cups

Method:
Wash the cow peas thoroughly and soak it overnight in enough water. Drain the water.

Add fresh water just enough to immerse the cow peas and pressure cook the peas (2 whistles should be enough). The peas should be cooked very soft. Otherwise they tend to become hard when cooked in the jaggery syrup.

Melt jaggery in half cup of water. Strain to remove impurities.
Pour the strained jaggery solution into a thick bottomed pan and heat to make a soft and thick syrup. When the syrup starts to thicken and bubble vigorously, add the cooked peas and cardamom powder. Stir occasionally and cook until all water content is absorbed and the jaggery coats all the cow peas thoroughly. Turn off the fire and garnish with grated coconut.