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.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Dates and Peanuts Laddoo

Dates and Peanuts LaddooDoubt if there can be a simpler, healthier, and tastier laddoo than this one. It is protein-rich and sugar free. I learnt this recipe from a Gujarati friend who is a very big mungphali/singdana/peanuts fan. Natural sweetness of dates, flavor and crunchiness of peanuts with a hint of salt, made with just two ingredients.

Ingredients:
Roasted peanuts – 400 gm
Sesame seeds (white or black) – 50-70 gm
Seedless Dates – 400 gm

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 5-10 mins
Yield: 30 laddoos

Dates and Peanuts Laddoo

Method:
Lightly roast the roasted peanuts. You may add ghee if you prefer but it is enough to just dry roast the peanuts because the oil from the peanut is sufficient to make the laddoos. Although the peanuts are roasted, it is good to roast them again just before making the laddoo. When the peanuts cool down, remove the skin, put in a mixer jar, and grind to a coarse powder. Keep aside. Dry roast the sesame seeds until they start leaving an aroma and popping up (roughly 5 mins on medium fire).
Check the seedless dates carefully to ensure that there are no hard parts or seeds present. Add the seedless dates into the mixer jar and grind to a smooth paste. Add some part of the coarsely ground peanuts into the mixer and grind a little along with the dates mixture to blend both the ingredients. Remove this mixture from the jar and mix well with the remaining coarsely powdered peanuts. Add the roasted sesame seeds to this mixture. I do not prefer to pulse the sesame seeds in the mixer as I like to the taste of biting into the roasted sesame seeds. Mix all the ingredients well and break lumps, if any. Taste a little of the mixture and blend and add more dates if you prefer more sweetness. Take handful of the mixture and shape into laddoos. Store in an airtight container. Will stay good up to 10 days. They taste very similar to Snickers yet totally sin-free. Even a “dates-hater” like me is unable to stay away from snacking frequently on these.

Notes: I used 200 gms salted peanuts and 200 gms unsalted peanuts. So there was a hint of salt in the laddoo just to balance the sweetness.

Recipe courtesy: Srushti Desai

Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Ari Unda (Rice Laddoo)

Kerala’s very own sweet. Quintessential Kerala ingredients; rice, coconut, and jaggery; are used to make this unassuming sweet.

Popping an ari unda into your mouth after a meal can be an utterly satisfying experience and the best part is that you can do so without feeling sinful or guilty. It is a very healthy sweet since it is devoid of oil, ghee, or sugar. It is a very good gifting option also as it has good shelf life and can be enjoyed by all age groups.

Ingredients:
Parboiled rice – 1 cup
Whole wheat grain – 1/2 cup (optional)
Whole green mung beans – 1/2 cup (optional)
Jaggery – 2 cups (Same amount as the grains used)
Grated coconut – ½ cup
Dry ginger – ½ tsp/half inch
Elaichi/cardamom – 2-3 pods

Method:
In a thick iron wok, dry roast the grains (rice, wheat, and mung beans) separately until they change color and start giving out a wonderful aroma. In case of rice and wheat, they will start to pop. Green mung turns brown. Rice and wheat takes roughly 10-15 minutes of roasting time each in medium fire. Remove from fire and allow the rice to cool.

Grate coconut and powder the jaggery. In a mixer, grind the rice into a powder, not too fine but not very coarse either. If you are using whole dry ginger, powder it along with the grains. Add the elaichi pods along with the rice while grinding. Keep two tablespoonfuls of powdered rice aside.

After you finish powdering the rice, add jaggery, grated coconut and some powdered rice into the mixer jar and blend well. Remove from the mixer jar and mix the powdered rice, jaggery, and grated coconut well. The moisture from jaggery and grated coconut moistens the rice. If you are using dry ginger powder, add it now. Using dry ginger adds a nice flavor and aids digestion.

 

Make balls out of this mixer and use the powdered rice that you kept aside to coat the moist balls.

This stays good (in normal temperature) only for 4-5 days because of the presence of fresh coconut. However, you can refrigerate this for up to 15-20 days. Another version that is made traditionally in my house involves mixing the powdered rice with jaggery syrup. This version uses copra instead of grated coconut and hence has a good shelf life of 2-3 weeks. The only downside to this version is that due to the use of jaggery syrup, depending on the consistency of the syrup the laddus harden and breaking them with your teeth can be quite a task!

Some jaggery varieties are not moist enough to hold together and firm up the laddus. In such cases, you will need to use jaggery syrup instead of powdered jaggery for the laddus. Make jaggery syrup by adding a cup of water to the jaggery and heating it. When the jaggery is diluted, strain it to remove impurities. Then, boil the strained jaggery syrup to a string consistency. Turn off the heat. Add small quantities of this syrup to the mixture of powdered grains and coconut/roasted copra. Add enough to moisten the powder and then use your palm to shape into laddus. You can roll the shaped laddu on some dry powder to firm it up a little bit. Make sure that the jaggery syrup that you add to the powder is warm enough. For this, you may have to reheat the syrup depending on the time you take to shape the laddus. But you cant keep the syrup on flame all the while that you are making the laddu because that will make it too thick and sticky.

 

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Pazham Nurukku/Jaggery Coated Plantain/Steamed Plantain

Plantains are an integral part of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala. Malayalis cannot think of an Onam without plantains. Keralites leverage plantain in all its forms and age. Raw plantains are deep fried and salted or jaggery coated to make chips, or used to make mezhukkupuratti (dry vegetable dish), erisseri, kalan etc. The ripe ones are steamed, cooked in jaggery, used to make payasam (kheer/sweet pudding), or eaten as is. The flower and the shoot (after peeling layers) are used to make dry vegetable dish. The peeled layers are used as binding ropes or for stringing garlands. Plantain leaves are used as plate to serve food and to make ela ada. In places with waterways, the shoots of a plantain are tied together to make a platform and used as a country boat.

Semi-ripe nenthra pazham

A very ripe plantain can be eaten as is without cooking. But semi ripe plantains should preferably be steamed or baked. I will share 4 simple recipes of ripe plantain here. One using overripe plantain and the other three using medium ripe plantain. Choose ripe yet firm plantain for steamed plantain. Slightly overripe plantains are best suited to make the jaggery coated plantain. This goes well with items like puttu or upma. It is also a healthy snack by itself.

Sweet banana cooked in jaggeryMethod 1:
Ingredients
Ripe Plantain – 2
Jaggery – 2 pieces
Water – 1/2 cup
Ghee – 1 tsp (optional)
Elaichi/cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)

Peel the plantain and remove the ends and the peel. Cut into two-inch round pieces. In a pan, pour water and add the jaggery pieces and heat until the jaggery melts. Strain to remove dirt if any. Put the ripe plantain pieces into this melted jaggery, cover with a lid, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in between to ensure that the bananas do not stick to the bottom of the pan. When the water content reduces, the jaggery syrup thickens, and plantain pieces become tender, add ghee and elaichi powder. Turn off the fire and serve hot. You can even serve it cold. If you use firm plantain, they turn hard when cooked in jaggery. So make sure that you use ripe or overripe plantains. Note: I used organic jaggery and hence the dark color. Jaggery available in the market are heavily treated with chemicals which reduces the natural intense color.

Method 2:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Peel the plantain and remove the ends. Do not remove the peel. Cut into two inch round pieces. Steam them in an idli tray for 10 minutes until the plantain becomes tender. This is served with ela ada and fried papad for breakfast on the Thiruvonam day especially in the Malabar region. Plantains are fibrous and have high starch content. Steamed plantain is easily digestible especially for kids and the elderly and instantly boost energy levels.

Method 3:
Ripe Plantain – 1
Sugar – 1 tsp
Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tbsp

This is a sinfully yummy shallow fried treat. Peel the skin and cut the plantain into thin vertical slices. Smear ghee on the hot griddle and place the plantain slices on ghee.

Frying bananas

Cook for a minute in medium to low fire. Flip when you notice the bottom of the plantain is turning golden brown. Sprinkle sugar.

Flip over

Remove from fire when the other side is sufficiently fried/cooked.

caramelized sugar on banana

Cooked

Method 4:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Another method of cooking plantain is to bake it in charcoal. Traditionally when meals were cooked using firewood, the coal would be hot even a couple of hours after all the cooking is done. Put the ripe plantains (with their skin) in between the hot coal. Make sure the plantains are fully embedded in the coal pieces. Take out after 5 minutes and smoky chargrilled plantains are ready.

I saw yet another interesting variety here. Truly yummy variation. Check it out.

Dosas, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets

Sweet Dosa

Samagni is back again after a long slumber! Times have changed. Monsoons are here. The summer treats like mangoes and jackfruit are not so easily found in the market. There are some but are not as tasty as they used to be in summer. When monsoons start, ripe jackfruits get soaked in the rain, and water seeps in through their thick skin making the fruit less sweet. That does not discourage jackfruit enthusiasts like me from sniffing out for them in the market and bringing them home. Only when you open the fruit, clean them out, and taste them do you realize they lack sweetness. But yet people like me need not lose hope. It can still be used to make mouthwatering stuff. One of which I had posted last year and another one that you can see below.

Making a sweet jackfruit dosa is really simple. Grind a few jackfruit pieces along with soaked raw rice and jaggery. Make dosas crisp at the edges by sprinkling some ghee and they are yummilicious! so here we go:

Ingredients:
For grinding:
Jackfruit pieces: 1 cup
Raw rice soaked in water for 2 hours: 2 cups
Jaggery: 1 cup
Elaichi: 2 pods

While making dosa:
Ghee – 1 tbsp

Method:
Grind the jackfruit pieces along with raw rice, jaggery, and elaichi into a fine paste. Add sufficient water to get a normal dosa consistency.

Heat a dosa tawa in medium flame. A non-stick tawa would be ideal. When the tawa is adequately hot, lower the flame and spread half a teaspoon ghee on the tawa. Pour a ladle full of sweet dosa batter on to the tawa. Do not spread because the thinner the dosa, the more the chances of it sticking to the tawa. Cook in low flame. The sweetness of the dosa might cause it to stick to the tawa. Cook in low flame to avoid this. After a minute or so when you see the sides getting brown, pour some ghee on the dosa, and gently flip the dosa using a spatula. Cook for a minute. Remove from tawa and serve.

I feel that Keralites have the most varieties of recipes using jackfruit, both sweet and unripe. Do write to me if any of you know some unique jackfruit recipes. You know i am a die-hard jackfruit lover.

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

Modakam, Madura Kozhukkatta (Sweet Dumplings)

Sweet dumplings, a favorite of Lord Ganesha, a special offering on Ganesh Chathurthi.

DSC08971Ingredients:
For Method 1 (Best results):
Raw Rice – 1 cup
Water – 2 cups
Sesame oil – 1/2 tsp
Salt a tiny pinch

For Method 2 (Easier/Faster):
Rice Flour – 1-1/2 cups
Water – 1 -1/2 cups
Salt a tiny pinch

For Filling:
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Coconut (grated) – 1 cup
Cardamom – 1 teaspoon
Sesame seeds – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Preparation Time: 1 hr
Cooking Time: 20 mins

Method:
Let’s make the filling first. Dissolve the jaggery in water and place it on the stove. Let the jaggery melt. Strain this solution to remove impurities.
Heat this in a thick bottom pan until the jaggery syrup becomes frothy and thick. Add grated coconut. Mix well until the mixture turns thick.
Turn off and add cardamom powder and sesame seeds.
Tip: Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.

Now, to make the dough for the outer covering, follow either of the two methods.

Method 1: Wash and soak the raw rice in 1 cup of water for at least 3-4 hours. Drain the water and set it aside. This water can be used while grinding.
In a mixer, blend the soaked and drained rice into a smooth paste. You may add small quantities of the water that was used to soak the rice. You need to ensure that the ground rice is a very smooth and lump-free paste.
Heat a heavy bottomed wok and add a cup of water into it. Bring it to boil. Add a speck of salt and 1/2 a tsp of oil to this water.
When the water is bubbling and hot, turn the flame to low and gently pour/transfer the finely ground rice batter. Keep stirring while you do this. Parts of the batter starts to thicken and you would need more strength to stir the mixture. Keep stirring, turning the batter to all sides. Do not take your attention away even for a second or the batter will stick to the bottom of the vessel. In about 3-4 mins, you will notice that the batter has become a thick and soft lump.
Turn off the fire. Close the vessel with a lid and keep it aside for about 5 minutes to let the dough be cooked in residual heat inside the vessel.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and using the ladle, mix the dough well and transfer it to a large bowl/plate. Use your hands to knead the dough while it is still warm. Grease your hand with a dab of sesame oil and knead the dough to a smooth and pliable dough. Cover with a wet cloth or air tight lid. This is to prevent the dough from turning dry.

Notes: This dough gives the best result and the modaks made from this dough retain moisture and stay soft and fresh for more than 24 hours.

Method 2: Take rice flour in a wide vessel.
In a pot, boil water to boiling point (bubbling hot). Carefully add small quantities of boiling water to the rice flour. Ensure that the water is boiling hot when you add it to the rice flour. Otherwise the dough will not get cooked properly.
Stir using a flat ladle, mix well, to make a soft, smooth, elastic, half-cooked dough. Be very careful with the amount of water you add.
When the dough is tight and soft, stop adding water. Use your hands to roll the dough into a tight yet smooth and elastic mass. Ensure that there are no lumps in the dough.

Notes: This dough is easier to prepare. The modaks made from this dough are soft when fresh but tend to get slightly harder after 5-6 hours.

To make kozhukattai/modak:
Smear sesame oil or ghee on your hands. Take some rice dough (medium lemon sized) into your palm. Make a small ball of the dough and flatten them into small cups using your thumbs.

Take a spoon of the coconut jaggery filling and place it in the middle of the flattened dough.

Cover the sides while ensuring the filling is safely cocooned with the soft rice dough covering the filling from all sides.

Repeat to make more.

Place the dumplings in the steamer/idli tray of a pressure cooker (without weight) and steam for 10-15 mins. Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray. After 10-15 mins, turn off the stove, carefully take out the plate/tray of modaks. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and and heat and tend to break easily. Let them cool off a bit and take out gently and place on a serving plate.

Health Benefits/Alerts:
This is a delicious and healthy dessert as it is steamed and oil usage is minimal.

Notes:
Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.
Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray in which you arrange the modaks for steaming. This ensures that they don’t stick to the plate.
After the modaks are steamed, turn off the heat and take out the plate/idly tray of modaks. Let it cool off a bit. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and and heat and tend to break easily.

Trivia:
The filling by itself is delicious and hard to resist. Modakam moulds are available in the market these days. Those of you who have trouble making the rice cups can try out the modakam mould.

Addendum: An alternative way of making the rice dough yields excellent results but is slightly

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