Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Festival Recipes - Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, is celebrated with great pomp and show in India. It is a popular Hindu festival that is celebrated in a grand manner every year According to the Hindu calendar; the festival comes on the 4th day of Bhadarva Shukla-Paksh and falls around August or September.


This year  - 2011, Ganesh Chaturthi falls on Thursday  September 1st.  

The Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi

India is a land of festival and celebrations and Lord Ganesha is known for his inclination towards sweets. Therefore, a festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha will always be incomplete without special sweet dishes. There are a variety of sweets made on this occasion, with the most popular one being Modakam / Kozhukattais

Let us celebrate Ganesh Chaurthi with all His favourite dishes and may we all be showered with the Blessings of Lord Ganesha, the God of Wisdom and intellect, on this auspicious Day.  



Here are some delicious  Recipes for Ganesh Chaturthi:
Poornam Kozhukattai/Modakam



Ingredients [yields 25  kozhukkattais]

For the outer shell:

*Rice flour: 1½ cups
*Coconut oil or any other cooking oil: 2tsp.
*Salt: a pinch


Preparing Pooranam [sweet stuffing] with different ingredients: 


Coconut Pooranam: 

Ingredients: 

*Jaggery powdered – 2 cups [Depending on your taste, you can reduce the sweetness]
*Coconut gratings – 2 cups
*Cardamom – 4 Nos powdered
*Oil – 2 to 3 teaspoon
*Salt – ½ teaspoon





The stuffing:

1.  Melt the jaggery and strain to remove any impurities. Reheat and make a slightly thick syrup. To test, just remove the spoon with a little syrup from the boiling syrup and drop into a cup of cold water. If the syrup forms a smooth ball, soft to touch, it is ready. 

2.  Add the coconut gratings to the molten jaggery. Keep stirring until all the water is absorbed and the contents leave the side of the pan. 
3.  Remove from fire and add cardamom powder.

This stuffing can be prepared in advance and refrigerated up to 1 month. This keeps good in room temperature for up to 1 week.


Dhal Pooranam:

Ingredients:

*Bengal Gram Dhal - 1 cup
*Powdered Jaggery - 1 cup
*Grated Coconut - 3/4 cup
*Cardamon – 2
*A pinch of salt


Method:

1.  Soak Bengal gram dhal in water for about two to three hours. 

2.  Cook the Dhal in water till soft, but not mushy. Drain the excess water. 
3. Grind the cooked dhal to a coarse powder [You should not use any water - only dry grind]. 
4.  Put the jaggery in a heavy bottomed vessel and add ½ cup water and keep on low flame. When the jaggery completely melted, strain it and put it in a heavy bottomed vessel and bring to boil again. 
5.  When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and add dhal powder and mix well. Stir now and then and cook till it is solid. 
6.  Add coconut gratings and cardamom powder and mix everything well. Remove from stove and let it cool.

Ellu [Sesame Seeds] Pooranam:
Ingredients:

*White sesame seeds – 1 cup
*Powdered jaggery – 1 cup
*Ghee – 1 tablespoon
*Cardamom Powder – ½ teaspoon

Method: 

1.  Dry roast sesame seeds on a slow fire to a light brown colour. Cool it. 

2.  Powder it in a mixie. Powder the jaggery well. 
3.  Put it in a mixie and run for one to two rounds. Before removing, add ellu powder and cardamom powder and again run for one to two rounds. 
4.  Remove it, add melted ghee and mix well.





The rice flour coating:

1. Heat a pan and add 2 tsp of oil. 

2.  Add 1½ cups of water and pinch of salt and boil. 
3.  Meanwhile mix the rice flour in1½cups of water into a smooth batter without lumps. 
4. When the water starts boiling add this batter and keep stirring until the rice flour becomes a smooth shiny ball. 
5.  Remove from fire and cool.

To prepare kozhukkattais:

1.  Knead the rice flour dough well. 

2.  Take a lime sized portion and form into a cup. 
3.  Smear little oil on your finger tips to make it easier to handle the dough. 
4.  Put a smaller size ball of the coconut stuffing inside and close from all sides and pinch the ends together. Repeat till all the dough and stuffing is used up. 
5.  Steam the kozhukkattais in a steamer or a idli steamer for 15 minutes.


Tips: If banana leaves are available place the kozhukkattais on the banana leaf and steam.The kozhukkattais will not stick to the plate.  
If you find it difficult to make rice cups, you can use Kozhukattai mould, which is readily available in the market/stores.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Festival Recipes - Janmashtami [Krishna Jayanthi]

Shri Krishna Janmashtami, or Sri Krishna Jayanti, celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna. In 2011, the date of Sri Krishna Jayanti in North India is August 22. In some parts of South India and in some parts of westernIndia it is on August 21. It is observed as Dahi Handi in Maharashtra, the formation of the huge human pyramids to break the pot hung high up. The festival is also known as Gokulashtami and Krishnashtami.


Janmashtami - The Birth of Lord Krishna
Janmashtami is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna. There are many people who observe a fast on this day until midnight, which is supposed to be the time of Krishna’s birth.
Festivals in India are an important aspect of the social, religious and cultural life of its people. Food is an integral part of this festivity. Each festival is associated with particular dishes that are also related to the season when the festival occurs. Generally, festivals occur on dates according to the Indian calendar that is linked to the solar or lunar cycles.


To all of us,  ‘August’ is synonymous with sumptuous food and yummy delicacies. August in India is full of festivals starting with ‘Raksha Bandhan’ [Celebrating the sibling bond], followed by ‘Navroz’ [Parsi New Year],  followed by  ‘Janmashtami’ [The Birthday of Krishna], and of course,  ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ [The Birthday of Ganesha].


On the holy day of Krishna Jayanti, the ladies in South India decorate their houses beautifully, ready to welcome the Lord. They prepare various sweets and Savouries and offer them to the Lord. Butter was Krishna's favourite, and this is also offered.


The main neyvedyams for Janmashtami are Cheedais [Uppu and Vellam], Neyyappam, Sweet Avil, Pal payasam and Butter.


Here are the delicious Recipes for Janmashtami:


1.  Uppu/Salt Cheedai



Uppu /Salt Cheedai
  • Ingredients:

  • *2 cups - Unpolished Rice/Purungal Arisi
  • *2 tablespoons - Black Gram/Ulutham Paruppu/Urad Dhal
  • *2 tablespoons - Bengal Gram/Kadalai Paruppu/Chana Dhal[optional]
  • *¾ cup - Coconut[ grated]
  • *½ teaspoon - Cumin Seeds/Jeeragam/Jeera
  • *1 teaspoon - Asafoetida Powder/Perungaayam/Hing
  • *For deep frying - Oil
  • *1 tablespoon - Salt

  • Method:
  • 1.  Over a medium fire gently roast the dhals until their special aroma is released. Blend into a fine powder.
  • 2.  Finely powder the rice and add to the gram powders.
  • 3.  Dissolve the asafoetida and salt in two teaspoons of water and set aside.
  • 4.  In ½ cup of water mix in the powders, grated coconut, cumin seeds, asafoetida powder, ghee and salt to make a soft dough.
  • 5.  Mould the dough into very small marble-sized balls. The marbles need not be very rounded. Place these balls on a tray to ensure they do not stick together.
  • 6.  Heat the oil for frying. Lower the flame and gently drop the balls into the oil.
  • 7.  With a slotted ladle turn the balls so that they do not stick together while frying.
  • 8.  Fry until they are light golden all over.
  • 9.  Drop the cheedais on to a kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.




Useful Tips: Allow the cheedais to dry out for 10-12 minutes before frying them. They will give them a good crisp and crunchy consistency and taste..


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2.  Vella [Jaggery] Cheedai



Vella Cheedai

  • Ingredients:

  • *2 cups - Rice
  • *¼ cup - Black Gram/Ulutham Paruppu/Urad Dhal
  • *2½ cups - Vellam/Jaggery
  • *3 tablespoons - Coconut, chopped fine
  • *1 tablespoon - Cashewnuts, chopped fine
  • *½ teaspoon - Cardamom Powder/Elakkai/Elaichi
  • *1 teaspoon-  White Sesame Seeds/Yellu/Til
  • *For deep frying - Oil

  • Method:

  • 1.  Wash the rice, strain and spread on a muslin cloth. Double up the muslin if it is very fine. Allow about 15 minutes for the cloth to absorb all the water from the rice until it is no longer moist.
  • 2.  Blend the rice into a fine powder. Sieve and blend again repeatedly until all of it is pulverized.
  • 3.  Blend the urad dhal into a fine powder and mix with the rice flour. Roast the mixed flours over a medium flame for a couple of minutes or until brown.
  • 4.  Take off the flame. Add the coconut, cashewnuts, cardamom powder and sesame seeds and mix well.
  • 5.  Add 1 cup water to the jaggery and melt over a low flame. Strain to remove scum. Return to the flame and stir for 8-10 minutes until it reaches a thick pouring consistency.
  • 6.  Take off the flame and add the prepared mixture.
  • 7.  Mix well into a soft dough without any lumps. Mould the dough into lime-sized balls.
  • 8.  Heat the oil for frying. When the oil begins to simmer, lower the flame and gently drop the balls into the hot oil.
  • 9.  With a slotted ladle, turn the balls around so that they do not stick together.
  • 10. Fry until they are a dark brown all over. Take care not to burn the fried marbles.
  • 11. Drain and drop the cheedais on to a kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.




 Tips: Cool and store well in an airtight container. They will remain crisp and be fresh for more than a week.


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3.  Vella Appam

Appam is a famous delicious food in india especially in south inida. Sweet appam or vella appam is famous in tamil nadu and for many festivels, tamilians especially brahmins make appam for neyvedhyam[for pooja]. Appam is very simple and quick to make and kids love this very much


Vella Appam for Gokulashtami

Ingredients:

Rice - 1 cup [Pacha arasi]
Grated Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Fenugreek Seeds/Vendhayam - 1/4 teaspoon
Urad dal - 1/4 teaspoon
Cardamom [powdered]- 1/2 teaspon


Method:

  • 1.  Heat the pan [thick bottom pan] and fry the rice till the color of the rice change to light brown
  • 2.  Add the fenugreek seeds and urad dal with the rice and soak them in the water for 30 mins
  • 3.  After 30 mins rinse the water and grind the rice,fenugreek seeds,urad dal mixture to the fine paste. Dont add water during grinding.
  • 4.  Add the Jaggery now with the grinded rice and grind it again till the consistency of the batter look like a dosa batter
  • 5.  Add the cardamom powder to the mixture
  • 6.  Heat the oil in the thik bottom pan.  Once the oil gets heat then pour one ladle [small kuzhi karandi] of appam batter and deep fry it. Keep the flame in medium.
  • 7.  Now the hot, delicious appam is ready to serve.


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4.  Mullu Murukku


Mullu Murukku
Ingredients:

*Rice flour – 3 cups
*Besan flour – 1 cup
*Red Chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
*Asafotida powder – 1 teaspoon
*Salt – 2 teaspoons or as per taste
*Butter or Ghee – 4 tablespoon
*Oil for deep frying

Method:

Sieve both rice and besaN flour. Put it in a broad vessel. Add red chilli powder, asafetida and salt and mix well. Melt butter or ghee and pour over the flour. Mix once again. Divide the flour into 3 to 4 parts. Then add water little by little in one part of the flour and make a soft dough. Take small quantity of dough and put it in the Murukku Press with "single star" plate and squeeze it in circular motion directly to the hot oil. Fry till it becomes crispy and nice golden yellow. But ensure not to brown. 

Once the prepared dough is finished, then take another part of the flour and make dough and proceed as above.



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5.  Thenkuzhal


Thenkuzhal
Ingredients:

*4 cups raw rice
*1 cup urad dal
*2 tbsp butter
*1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
*2 tbsp cumin seeds
*salt - to taste [two teaspoon]
*oil for deep frying 

Method: 

Wash rice and spread it on a clean cloth and dry in the shade. In a dry kadai put the urad dhal and fry till it become light brown. Cool it. Mix both rice and dhal and send it to Mill for grinding it to a fine powder.

Sieve it. Add cumin seeds, asafetida powder, salt and butter to the flour and mix by hand thoroughly. Now add water little by little and make a dough. Take small quantity of dough and put it in the Thenkuzhal Press [Murukku Acthu] with three small holes and press it in small circular motion directly to the hot oil. Fry till it becomes crispy and nice golden yellow. But ensure not to brown. Take out from oil and store it in a airtight container.

Tips: Just in case you are not able to get it powdered in the Rice Mill, you can use rice flour and urad dhal flour in the ratio 4:1. In that case, fry the urad dhal in a dry kadai and powder it in a mixie. Sieve it and add it to the rice flour.

Instead of butter, you can add a handful of chutney dhal powdered finely. This will give a good taste definitely.  



PS: For preparing Payasam, you may look into my Payasam posts for the Recipes.  


Happy Janmashtami to all of you!

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