Saturday, 29 September 2007

Revival - Pongal Celebrations - For RCI

When Viji of Vcuisine announced this month's RCI event is related to Tamilnadu Festival Foods, the first thought that came into my mind is Pongal. The reason being, this is my most favourite festival which I celebrate with all my family members.
"May the pot of prosperity boil over
May the Pongal that we cook,
the fragrance of turmeric
the taste of sugarcane, ginger and honey
Bring the joy of Pongal into our homes
May the blessings of the Sun God flood our lives "

Poem source : Malini Bisen

Pongal is a Harvest Festival, mostly celebrated in south India. Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over." Traditionally celebrated at harvest time, it is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest. Pongal is celebrated by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore. The festival has been in practice for some 5,000 years.

While Pongal is predominantly a Tamil festival, it is also celebrated in several other provinces with different names. In Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka, the harvest festival Sankranthi is celebrated. In northern India, Pongal is called Makara Sankranthi. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is celebrated on the date of the annual kite flying day, Uttarayan. It also coincides with the bonfire and harvest festival in Punjab and Haryana, known as Lohri. People of all relegion celebrate pongal festival in India.

Source: Wikipedia

You can find a lot of information about this festival here.

But I'ld also like to explain it in my own words too. No matter how busy we are, all my family members (mom's side) meet at our native place in Nellore district in Andhra on 14th of January. And on 15th of January we meet our paternal relatives and family members at our Dad's native place in Kurnool District in Andhra. My mom n dad often argues about where to spend these 4 days. So finally we ended up staying at both the places. The pictures below were taken during our family get togethers on the occasion of Pongal. The old one (you can easily guess where I am, I was the only girl child then) was in 1987 at my mom's native and the recent ones were taken in 2007 January at my parents’ native places. Until I stepped out of India, I did not miss even one year to attend this festival. Both my mom and dad hail from an agriculture based families and hence we all celebrate this festival in the most traditional way.

It's a festival related to Sun God…Celebrated for 4 days…From the 15 th of Dec to the 15th of January we call it as Dhanurmasam and we decorate our entrances with beautiful Rangolis/kolam/Rangavalli….I don't say am an expert in Rangolis, but I can design and I love putting down Rangolis….We also place Gobbemmalu (cow-dung balls with flowers) on the Rangoli and sing various songs. It was fun comparing and competing for the biggest Rangoli in the village during the festive season…My mama and ammamma love me a lot for putting down these Rangolis staying awake till late night or waking up early in the morning to put these.

The first day is known as Bhogi…..At about 5AM-6AM ammamma wakes us up and we all gather infront of our main entrance and put the Bhogi manta ….Fire with dried palm leaves…Today Indra (Bhogan or Bhogi) is worshiped for providing rain for harvest….Payasam/Kheer is offered to God….today we eat non-veg so our staple breakfast for this day would be Dosa with Chicken curry. In the evening if there are kids at home, we do the Bhogi pallu custom….All the elders at home bless the kid by showering a mixture of diced sugarcane, Akshinthalu (holy-rice), regu pallu (a kind of sour/red fruits..look like berries) and money coins……

The second day is the main day of the festival..known as Sankranthi. We worship the Sun God today and strictly stay away from non-veg… Traditional sweet pongal is cooked on stove with stones using wood for fuel in a holy vessel (mud pot decorated with turmeric and saffron) in an open courtyard…This is offered to God …Staple breakfast today would be Gaarelu/Vada with pappu/dal…. Today we remember our ancestors who are expired…In the evening we go to their tombs and offer coconut, pongal, flowers and worship their tombs.
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal or Kanuma…today we worship the cattle, cows for giving milk and oxes for ploughing and tools (plough etc)…We decorate the cattle with bells and flowers and take blessings from them…we thus honour their hardwork. On this day Mutton based curries are cooked…Chariott Rangoli is layed down today…

4th day is known as Mukkanuma and it is dedicated for outdoor celebrations and excursions.

All the first 3 days our family dhobi, hair cutter and other employees who served our ancestors for generations together (their grand children or someone frm their families) come home and we offer them food, money and clothes, thus honouring their services….Haridasu comes to every house in the village and he's also honoured….Budabukkalu saint also comes with this Gangireddu…I am not good at explaining about these concepts…But the pictures below can give you an idea who they are…

Image Source: Hinduimages

And now coming to the food section as the name itself indicates Pongal is the most common food offered to God. Other than this we also prepare arisalu/nippattlu, Murukku, regu vadalu for snacks…I don't have murukku making equipment and we also do not find regupallu here…So I am posting a couple of pongal recipes…. After penning down all these, I am really feeling nostalgic…missing all my family members..:(

Ok coming to the recipes these are easy to prepare.

Recipe for Sakkarai Pongal/Bellappongali/Jaggery rice pudding:
Raw rice - 1 cup
Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Milk - 2 cups Jaggery - 1 cup (adjust)
Cardamom - 4 pods (seeds powdered)
Cashews - 10
Raisins - 10
Almonds - 5
Ghee - 1-1.5 tbsp
1. Dry roast the moong dal in an iron skillet and cool (you can avoid this step)
2. Wash the rice. Take the rice, moong dal, milk in a pressure cooker.
3. Add 1.5 cups of water and cook for 3 whistles. Let it cool until the pressure is released.
4. Take a saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of jaggery and bring to boil.
5. Add this jaggery syrup to the rice mixture.
6. Put on medium flame and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Turn off the flame.
7. Heat the Ghee in small pan and roast the almonds, cashews and raisins until the cashews turn golden brown.
8. Add these roasted nuts along with the ghee to the pongal and mix well.

Recipe for Ven Pongal/Katte Pongal/Pulagam:

Raw rice - 1 cup
Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Black peppercorns - 8
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - 8
Ghee - 1.5 tbsp
Cashews - 10

1. Wash the rice and moong dal (moong dal can be dry roasted too)
2. In a pressure cooker take the washed rice, moong dal, milk and add 2.5 cups of water.
3. Cook for 3 whistles. Let it cool until the pressure is released.
4. Open the lid, add salt and mix well.
5. In a pan heat the Ghee. Roast the cumin, pepper corns, curry leaves and cashews.
6. Add this mixture to the rice pongal and mix well.

These are my entries to RCI , an event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine and hosted by Viji of Vcuisine this month with Tamil Festivals as the theme.

Sorry if you guys felt this description more like that of a family event and got bored...:)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Aloo Mutter in Coconut gravy

I came home craving for some Paneer based curry after seeing Cinnamon's Paneer Butter Masala....But then my hubby asked me for Aloo Korma.....So I postponed the paneer concept and decided to make Aloo Mutter....This curry is normally made with yogurt, I tried it with coconut and khus-khus gravy..turned out so yummyyyyy and delicious..Hubby dear ended up licking his fingers...:D...

Here's the recipe,

Potatoes/Aloo - 3 (washed, peeled and cut into cubes)
Green peas - 1 cup (boiled) - I used frozen peas
Onion - 1 (chopped)
Khus-Khus - 1 tbsp (soaked in hot water for 10min)
Desicated coconut - 2 tbsp
Coriander (dhania) powder - 1tsp
Cumin powder - 1tsp
Salt - as per taste
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
Coriander - 1tbsp (chopped)
Oil - 2 tbsp


1. Take water in a saucepan and put the potato cubes in it. Boil for about 10min. Drain the water and keep the potatoes aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai. Add the chopped onions and saute until the onions become transperent.
3. Now add the soaked khus-khus seeds and grated coconut. Saute for 2min.
4. Turn off heat and let it cool. Take this mixture in a blender and grind to a smooth paste adding water.
5. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the same kadai and add the ginger garlic paste. Roast for 2min.
6. Add the ground onion/coconut/khus-khus paste to the kadai and fry for 3-4min.
7. When the paste starts turning brown add the salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander(dhania) powder. Mix well.
8. Add 200ml of water and let the gravy come to boil.
9. Add the boiled potato cubes and green peas and stir well.
10. Cook for 2 min and turn off the heat.
11. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with Rotis.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Carrot-Egg Fried Rice

No..this is not for an event..this is for me n my hubby dear...Carrots...Huhhhhh...Apart from Carrot Halwa, this fried rice is the only way thru which my mom was able to stuff this healthy veg into my diet...I had a couple of left over carrots and some rice from previous day..So I decided to make this dish on my own now....I never take an initiative to cook carrots....anything with carrot...Suman has to do that....

Coming to the recipe, it's simple n easy...

Left over rice - 2 cups
Carrots - 2 grated
Peas - 1/2 cup boiled (optional)
Green chillies - 3 chopped
Cumin - 1 tsp
Eggs - 2
Oil - 4tsp
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Coriander - 2 strips chopped


1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and chopped green chillies. Roast for 1min.
2. Add the grated carrot and boiled green peas. Roast for 3-4 min.
3. Break the eggs and drop over. Mix well and roast for another 5min.
4. Add salt, pepper powder and mix well.
5. Finally add the rice and let it cook for 2-4min. Remove from heat.
6. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Soft Raisin Cookies for AFAM

Sunmaid raisins are my favourite snack pack for lunch whilst @ work....My foodie draw in my desk will be full of these packs always....So when I've seen Grapes as ingredients for AFAM event hosted by Swapna of Swad, Raisins first came into my mind....I had no other thought other than my alltime favourite raisin cookies...I normally buy them at stores, but now I thought I'ld bake them at home...

Then for the recipe Videojug came to my rescue...The original recipe here is for Rosemary-Raisin cookies...I've used honey in my recipe...The taste was so delicious...I made 16 cookies...and my hubby packed 12 of them to share with his colleagues...He ate 2 at home and poor me..:( was left with 2 cookies (that too shaped out ones)......takes only 20min to prepare and bake...and less than 2 min to gulp...:P

All purpose flour - 500gm
Raisins - 100gm
Honey - 2 tbsp
Butter - 200gm (cubed)
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 2 tbsp
Milk - 200ml


1. Soak the raisins in honey for 5min
2. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F
3. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder and mix well.
4. Add the butter cubes and mix well.
5. Now add the raisins with honey and make the dough using the milk. Dough should be thick.
6. Roll out the dough into a circle of 1cm thickness and 30cm diameter.
7. Using a bottle cap or a cookie cutter, cut the large circle into small circles.
8. Grease a baking tray with little butter and place these small circles on it.
9. Bake for 5-8min. Cookies should be golden brown in color.
10. Serve with Tea

Note: The original recipe says the baking time is 15min. But my cookies were done in 6min.

So this's my entry to AFAM event hosted by Swapna of Swad

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Crispy Chicken Nuggets with Tomato Soup

I missed a Barbeque party yesterday...It was arranged to celebrate our Company summer event...The venue was so far from our home and all sorts of games conducted there..'ve got no clue of quad biking, Archery etc etc...and after the event there was a drink party at cardiff bay..none of these were of interest to me...So I decided to stay at home..The weather was not that good for a barbeque yesterday...So dark n gloomy...we haven't had much summer this year...and we felt very chilly all this week...looks like winter gave an early entry...hmmm

So I've got a long weekend this hubby was working yesterday So I was all alone at home...whatelse other than food comes into my mind then? I wanted to make something very very a soup...I had loads of tomatoes in the fridge which were on the verge of getting soft and damaged...So my choice was tomato soup...

I make tomato soup in three different ways..One to accompany veg based fry items (Tomato soup with rasam powder), One to be served on its own (simple version with ground pepper) and the last one to accompany non-veg fried dishes (Soup with Masala spices)....I've recently come across a simple recipe for chicken nuggets on decided to try them....

Though it was the first time I tried these nuggets, I was so happy that they tasted similar to the Mc Donalds nuggets which are one of my favourite snack items...The link to the video is here

Recipe for Tomato Soup:

Tomatoes - 8 (wash and cut into chunks)
Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch broken into pieces
Cloves - 5
Pepper corns - 5
Elachi powder - 1 pinch
Salt as per taste
Ghee - 1tbsp (It tastes good only with Ghee and NOT oil)
Coriander - 2 stems


1. Boil the tomatoes in 500ml of water until soft and cool.
2. Blend the tomatoes into a puree
3. Take this puree in a pan and put it on the flame.
4. Add salt and let it come to boil.
5. In a small pan heat Ghee and toss the broken cinnamon sticks, cloves, pepper corns. Add the elachi powder and ginger garlic paste and rast for 3-4min.
6. Add this mix to the boiling soup and remove from heat.
7. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with rice and any fried item.

Recipe for Chicken Nuggets:

Chicken Breasts - 2 (slice off any bones, fat n skin)
All purpose flour - 2 tbsp
Eggs - 2
Bread crumbs - 2 tbsp
Salt - as per taste
Pepper - 2 tsp
Dried Basil - 2 tsp
Oil - 100ml


1. Clean and cut the chicken breasts into chunks.
2. Take these chunks into a blender and add the salt and spices (basil and pepper). Blend for a few sec until the chunks are roughly chopped.
3.Break the eggs into a bowl and beat.
4. Shape the chicken mix into small balls. Roll them in the flour
5. Dip into the egg mix.
6. Coat with bread crumbs finally.
7. Heat oil in a pan to medium hot and fry these nuggets on both sides until brown for abt 5min, turning them frequently so that they don't get burnt.
8. Serve hot.

These chicken nuggets are my favourite snacks and hence this is my entry to What's your Favourite Snack, WYF event hosted by Hima of SnackORama

Friday, 21 September 2007

Banana Pancakes

I wanted to make my favourite dish Banana Bread for JFI-Banana...But then my friend Srividya shared this recipe of Banana pancakes..this seemed to be easy, so I decided to try this for breakfast yummy...can be prepared in less than 20min...'ve made few alterations in the procedure....Thanks for the wonderful idea Vidya...

Here's the recipe,


Bananas - 2 (ripe, mashed)
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
Milk - 200ml
Baking powder - 1tsp
Butter - 2 tbsp (unsalted)
Honey - to serve with


1. Blend the milk, mashed Bananas, eggs into a smooth consistency.
2. Add the flour and baking powder and make a thin batter.
3. Grease a pan with butter and Heat.
4. Pour a ladle full of batter. Spead a little to make a circle of 8cm diameter.
5. Cook until the pancake turns brown on both sides (2min each side).
6. Serve hot with honey spread on top.

This is my entry for JFI-Banana, an event started by Indira of Mahanandi, hosted by Mandira of ahaar

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Potato Onion Palya - Majjige Huli

I never tried out any other South Indian recipes (other than Andhra) till date. I made akki rotis and masala vada before, but they are often made in andhra kitchen too..So I was not very sure about their origins...when I came cross the RCI - Karnataka Event hosted by Asha this month, I decided to give a try in Karnataka cuisine seriously this time....I googled, googled n googled for days together and finally decided to try out these two dishes..the recipes were adopted from Payaswini's cookbook

Both the recipes turned out be successful and my hubby is happy to get back to his undergrad memories of tasting authentic karnataka recipes at his University hostel in Shimoga..He's still on his way emptying the plates...:D

Potato Onion Palya - Original Recipe is here


Potatoes - 3 (boiled, peeled and cut into cubes)
Onions - 2 (chopped)
Green or Red chillies - 4 (chopped)
Oil - 1tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Chana Dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 10
Turmeric powder - 1/4th tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Grated coconut - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal and Chana dal.
2. When the seeds start to splutter, add the curry leaves, chillies, onions and turmeric.
3. Saute for 5min or until the onions turn transperent.
4. Add salt, grated coconut and mix well.
5. Finally add the cubed potatoes and cook for 3-4min.
6. Take off from heat and sprinkle the lemon juice on top.

Majjige Huli - Original Recipe is here

Thick Buttermilk - 3 cups
Spinach - 3 cups (cleaned and chopped)
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

For Tempering

Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 5-6

For masala

Chana Dal - 1/2 cup (soaked in hot water for 20min)
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4th tsp
Black pepper corns - 3-4
Green/Red chillies - 4 (chopped)
Ginger - 1 tsp (grated)
Turmeric powder - 1/4th tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - 8-10


1. Boil the spinach in water for abt 8-10 min and drain the water.
2. Take all the ingredients for masala and grind to a smooth paste using little water.
3. In a pan heat oil, add spinach saute for 2-3min, add salt and the ground masala paste, mix well.
4. Add a cup of water and bring to boil.
5. Remove from heat and add the buttermilk. Stir well.
6. Heat oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
7. Add this seasoning to the Majjige Huli. Garnish with Majjiga mirapakayalu(optional)

Serve warm with Rice.

So this is my entry to RCI Karnataka Event hosted by Asha of Foodies Hope
Note: Majjige Huli can be prepared with cucumber or okra too. I used spinach instead.

Whole Wheat Bread Baking from Basics

I'm back on to my baking spree this weekend...I've come across the Monthly Blog Patrolling Event MBP organised by Coffee of The Spice Cafe...loved the decided to do some bread baking from a recipe of a co-blogger...I never made bread at home..So I wanted to start off with a very simple n basic recipe...

Prepared both rolls and a loaf from the dough...took almost 4hrs :o for the entire process...The baking time was only 15min, but the preparation took so long than I've expected...

I've adopted the recipe from Bakingbites. The Original recipe is here. Made some changes according to my taste preferences.

Here goes the recipe,


Whole wheat flour - 500gm
Yeast (active dry) - 4tsp
Brown Sugar - 1 tbsp
Salt - 2 tsp
Warm water - 2 cups (350ml)
Oil - 1 tbsp
Dried Basil - 2 tsp
Dried red chillie flakes - 1 tsp

I've skipped wheat bran and added dried basil and rec chillie flakes to the original version. I used oil for the manageability of the dough.


1. Divide the wheat flour into two equal portions. Set aside 1 tbsp flour for dusting.
2. Take one portion of the wheat flour in a bowl, add the yeast and warm water and stir well.
3. Cover the bowl and set aside for 1-2hrs until bubbles appear.
4. Now add the other portion of the flour, brown sugar, salt, dried basil and red chillie flakes to the mix and knead into a dough. Use oil and extra flour for manageability.
5. Knead the dough for 8-10min until soft into a ball shape and cover with a plastic wrap.
6. Leave it aside for 1-2hrs until the size doubles.
7. Divide the dough into two equal parts.
7. Make 5 equal sized rolls (flattened) from one portion of the dough and place them on a greased baking sheet.
8. Place the other portion of the dough in a greased loaf tin.
9. Cover both the rolls and loaf dough with a clean dishtowel and leave to rise for 45min.
10. Preheat the oven to 210F and place the baking tray and loaf tin inside the oven.
11. Bake for 15min or until the outer crust turns golden brown.

The outer crust was so crispy and the inner part was so soft. Tasted great with tomato pickle on the slices and the rolls served with Beans soup.
This recipe is my entry to the MBP event hosted by Coffee
Oops..I forgot to post my favourite kitchen smell/odour..the list goes endless, but to name a few I love,
1. Tadka smell with ginger and curry leaves.
2. Home made ground poppy seed/coconut/coriander seeds masala for non-veg curries
3. Flavour of fresh made coffee every morning (Especially Nescafe..mmmmuuuuaaaaaahhhh)

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Curried Chapathi for Breakfast

I had a couple of left over chapathis from last night's dinner. I did not feel like throwing them away. I found a breakfast recipe posted by a friend Srividya in one of the discussion forums on orkut. So I decided to prepare it for my breakfast today. I loved the recipe a lot, delicious when served hot...Thanks for the idea Srividya..

A very simple n quickie recipe...

Leftover Chapathis - 2 (tear into 2 inch size pieces)
Onion - 1 chopped
Green chillies - 2 chopped
Tomato - 1 cut into chunks
Grated coconut - 2 tsp
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp - adjust
Garam Masala - 1/4th tsp
Oil - 4tsp


1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.
3. Then add the onions and green chillies. Saute for 3-4min
4. Add the tomatoes, salt and garam masala powder and 1 cup of water. Mix well
5. When the water starts to boil add the grated coconut and chapathi pieces. Mix well and cook for 2-3 min.

Serve Hot. Doesn't taste good when cold.
This is my entry to WBB event hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail.