Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The"Unserved" Guests..

When I read about the JFI of the month,I badly wanted to contribute the event by posting a recipe as I try out more than a dozen recipes with tomatoes in it.
Since I don't have my camera to shoot the recipe picture,I made up my mind to post a nostalgic story linking TOMATOES.
...and here goes my entry to J.F.I Tomatoes hosted by R.P.
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This happened about 5 years ago when I was living with my inlaws.My parents in law were away for a couple of months to visit their daughter, living abroad and I was happily sharing the household responsibilities with my husband's grandma.One morning we received a call from one of her old family friends ,a Gujarathi couple,that they would be visiting us that evening.
Grandma briefed me about them,how good friends they were in their olden days,and how fondly they used to host lunch or dinner with an array of vegetarian dishes whenever she visited them.
As a matter of fact I promised grandma that I would happily prepare them a good spread dinner, as a courtesy to her old friends.
After having my evening cup of tea a l'll early,I indulged myself in sorting out the vegetables,cleaning an cutting them patiently,cooking carefully this time,aiming for perfection.
Our dinner table got ready by 7.30 that evening,with a wonderful spread of hot iddlies,sambhar,tomato and coconut chutnies,masala dosa(waiting to have been served hot),and chappathis with vegetable curry.
Our guests arrived,after about half an hour,a prestigious North Indian couple, undoubtedly conservative.Around the ages between 65 and 70,they had pleasant airs around them and had their warm smiles all around their faces even when they looked much tired after the day-long travel and temple visits.
They had a short conversation with us and were led to the table.
I started serving food,looking very proud when my grandma proclaimed,"she took all the pains to prepare the dinner for you,herself".They smiled at me again, pleasantly, as if expressing their gratitude.
When they were about to be served the side dishes,the gentle man looked at me questioningly ...asking,"....any TOMATO?...er.... in any of these dishes??"
I was taken aback a little,a sudden jolt that send me a spark making me realise within seconds...that YES.. I had tomatoes in almost all the side dishes..2 'IN' the sambhar,2-3 'IN' the vegetable curry,1 'IN' the masala;meant to go inside the dosa and lot more 'IN' the TOMATO chutney.My brain scanned the memory part of it within seconds and I replied my guests just with the phrase,"YES"...."except in coconut chutney".......
Now it was their turn for the reply,"Fine ma,no problem,we'll have one or two Iddlis with your coconut chutney as we are in a "FASTING" (a VRUTHAM in sanskrit),and are not supposed to take any TOMATO today!".
Well this made a quicker impact on me...much quicker than my brain scan...turning my face much drooping with disappointment." We are not that hungry either as we were travelling the whole day,so don't bother,we are contented with iddlies",their consoling words didn't help in any UPLIFTING on my face.
Even Granma seemed to be a little worried,but tactfully hiding it she went on serving them with their limited choices and took care of them, finely finishing them with "hot pepper milk" and "hill bananas".
The guests looked satisfied when they bid good bye...but indeed leaving behind their hostess ....totally unsatisfied!.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A 70,000 all women audience!

It seems our city hosts more of 'all women' gatherings nowadays.After the 'only ladies' car rally,held last month,this time it's for an all-women 'audience.'
This MUSIC 'n' DANCE gala was put up,linking the womens' day celebrations on March 8th,backed up by Dinamalar and Vasan estates.
Well, I was lucky enough to view the entire show,live,in one of the seats in the tenth row from the start.The music show was mind blowing and lively with the orchestra by Laxman-Shruthi and few of the upcoming young play back singers.The dance shows,amazing,with Upasana's Bharatha Natyam on a toppled earthern pot!,and Rahman's 'Vandematharam' done gracefully on roller skates!.The sharp laser beams and the designed shadow of the coloured lights simply added the glamour.The all women orchestra and the folk dances by the girls,the 'sweet hot dessert'.
Above all,my concentration got deviated by those high- speed low- cranes flying 'whooosh' over our heads with a spinning camera at its tip,zooming up and down,right and left,smartly absorbing every move of the show.Behind me was an "ocean of ladies",colourful and enthusiastic(they could at least deliberately leave their hubbies behind, you see:))with children happily clinging to them.
I was much tempted to stand up and view the cheering crowd at the back,but had my own fears of losing my chair getting pulled away or hitting my head on that flying crane.So I decided to stick on to my seat as diplomatic as possible,simultaneously ignoring that naughty little girl's frequent 'kicks' on my chair,as the whole programme was shot by the Star Vijay.T.V crew.
Hope you would also enjoy the show,which is to be aired on Sunday,22nd of April!!.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ulli Thoran/Fried Onions with Coconut.

Keralites have a good taste of making dishes using coconuts.More than any other dish we find all around our country,the exotic-traditional kerala dishes have coconuts as one of the major ingredients.

Thoran,the exclusive side dish,is a dry fry variety of any vegetable with plenty of coconut gratings in it.The item is nutritious as well,as the vegetables are chopped finely and gets cooked mostly in its own water content.It has its unique taste when tampered with Coconut Oil.

I prefer to make this side dish when I run short of vegetables, unexpectedly.'Ulli Thoran' is a side dish that goes well with 'Rice and Sambhar' or 'Rice and Theiyal'.
This simple recipe is posted specially for the Essence of Kerala Cuisine.

Shallots or small onions OR Big Onions cut lengthwise-1cup.
Grated coconut-1/2 cup.
Ginger-grated-1/2 tsp.
Slightly ripe green chillies,cut into rings-1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp.
Curry leaves- a few.
Coconut oil-2 tbsps.
Mustard seeds-to tamper.
Salt- to taste.

1. Combine the onions,coconut shavings,ginger,turmeric,curry leaves and salt and mix them gently using fingers.
2.Heat coconut oil in a wok,splutter the mustards and add the above mixture.
3.Close the wok with an appropriate lid,not to allow the steam to escape,and simmer cook.
4.Sprinkle water if necessary and turn it occasionally to avoid burning.Press thoran lightly flat to the bottom to facilitate cooking with minimum water.(Thatti Pothi Vaikal).
5.Remove from fire when the onions are cooked.(evaporate the excess water if present,keeping the pan open,in a medium flame).
6.Serve hot as a sidedish to boiled plain rice and theiyal.
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Ada Prathaman(using jaggery/sarkara).

Prathaman is an important item of Kerala Cuisine and a 'must served' one for "Ona Sadya".
This prathaman is made using ADA as the major ingredient.Formerly I used to make ADA by soaking raw rice,dry grinding it,making into a batter,pouring in a plantain leaf,spreading , rolling and tying each of the strips and steamcooking them.Again cooling the strips and peeling them carefully,sprinkling cold water.Well,this is supposed to be the exact traditional way of preparing them...but definitely.... elaborate!!.
Now we get readymade Ada packets in the market.Most of the companies make ada using "maida" as the major ingridient...but make sure that the Ada you buy is of Rice(press one of them lightly and it seems to be more brittle) .As a result of the above experiment I found 'Double Horse' brand Ari Palada, the best.
The recipe is posted specially for the Essence of Kerala Cuisine,one of the fabulous keralafood blogs maintained by Shaheen and RP.

Rice Ada(ready made)-100gms.
Jaggery-2 medium/300gms.
Coconuts-2 medium-gives 6 grated cups.
Ghee-1 tbsp
Cardamom,powdered-1/4 tsp.
1.Wash Ada and soak in hot boiled water.Cover with a lid.Keep aside for 20 minutes.
2.Meanwhile prepare the coconut extract using minimum amounts of water.The "first milk" should be of 2-21/2 cups.The thin milk or the 'second milk'(secondly extracted from the same molasses),of 3 cups.
3.Crush jaggery balls into smaller pieces and make the syrup, by boiling just half a cup of water,for 10-15 minutes to "one string consistency"(almost the consistency of honey).
4.To a hot thick bottomed flat utensil(Uruli preffered :)..well can also use nonstick woks),strain and transfer the jaggery syrup.
5.Add the Ada ,which has now turned soft after draining the water completely.Mix well,carefully without breaking the ada and using ghee to avoid any sticking.Let the ada absorb the sweetness well.Simmer churning well till it reduces to three fourth.
6.Add the second milk of coconut and simmer for 10 minutes.
7.Add the cardamom powder to the 1st milk of coconut and pour in to the wok.Simmer till it just boils or for 2 minutes.Don't boil for long.
8.Prathaman must reach a semi thick consistency by now.If its too thick add coconut milk,prepared from the previous molasses.(the 3rd milk!!! in our language.)
9.Remove from fire.
10."Sarkara Ada Prathaman"can be served Hot or Cold.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Inji Kuzhambu.

Inji/Ginger,we all know has its own medicinal properties as a carminative and goes into a variety of appetising drinks, curries and side dishes.
And here's a recipe by my husband's grandma,which I prepare at least once a week.This Kuzhambu, for boiled rice is definitely opted in our family, back home food, after a holiday.

I prepared the comfort curry along with Urulai kara kari, Tempered green gram dal, Rasam and Vadagam, this time soon back after my 4 day stay in Chennai and proved to be soothing as always! :)

As you can guess by now this is submission to dear Sunita for Think Spice...think ginger.

I feel extremely happy to 'jump in' her great event in the last minute.Thanks to my new camera which made this possible.I am not happy with the picture and will update with a better one later as I have yet to get used to my new pal ;)...


Ginger(diced)- 1 1/2"piece
coriander seeds -3 tbsps
fenugreek seeds(venthayam/uluva) -1/2 tsp
thoor dal- 2 tsps
dry red chillies- 6-7 nos
thick tamarind extract- 1/3 cup or to taste
turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
salt- to taste
gingelly oil- 2-3 tbsps
mustard seeds -1/4 tsp for seasoning
curry leaves- a stalk


1. In a tsp of oil, roast diced ginger,coriander seeds,fenugreek,thoor dal and redchillies one by one carefully in a medium flame. Use a heavy bottomed pan for even roasting. Be careful not to 'over' or "under" roast.

2. Grind to a smooth paste.

3. In the same pan,add the remaining oil and splutter the mustards,fry curry leaves.

4. Add tamarind extract,ground paste,turmeric powder,salt,a cup of water and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add water till a semi thick consistency is reached.

6. Remove from fire when the curry becomes thicker, oil separates and the raw smell disappears.

Serve hot with rice and vegetable of your choice.

Inji Kuzhambu has a longer shelf life compared to the other curries and stays well upto 3 weeks if refrigerated.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Ant Battalion Visit.

I was a little restless last week when ants started visiting my home unusually.

Ants usually come in search of food before the onset of monsoon,but this time, the cause is "summer ",round the corner which dares to go up to even 40degC!

Of course I like the tamil tradition of feeding a community to mark the day's start.The lucky community is undoubtedly the ants which people feed on by means of RICE FLOUR KOLAM put artfully in the fronyard floorings of every tamil house!!Unfortunately the ants ignore this KOLAM as the rice flour is replaced by powdered WHITE STONES!! ...but at least I see to it my pooja room has rice kolam on the floor to invite ants.

The ants might have eventually gotten bored of the same stuff and started clinging to the ghee bowls,rice containers and even around the daily fermented yoghurt bowls..I tried my part to get rid of them, with all means I could think 0f...dusting repellents,sprinkling salt and kerosene and even organising the food stuffs..and the ants won the battle.
Now a battalion started entering through the window from the garden outside,tiny holes in the flooring,switch boards and the worse, the head rest cushion of the bed!!

Finally I sought the help of the PCI,(pest control india)the ALLY ,to fight the battalion.

Now my house is 100% ant free...Not a single one out to taste even the "pooja kolam"!!.
picture courtesy www.embelishments.us

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Car Rally...Only Ladies..

Yeah...On Feb 18th Ejula,(my malayalee college mate)Waseema,(I prefer to call her Sadhna)the young smartie who works with Cognizant and myself wheeled off for it!!The whole thing was organised by AURA..the womens' forum where I am in...joining hands with Madras Motors Sports Club..
We were amazed to see 65 registrations!!
Unaware of the rules and regulations of a car rally,we were briefed the previous day and were flagged off as no36, the next morning.
Well,Ejula in her driving seat,Sadhna at the back ,monitoring the calculations of the speed chart,...cudn't skip calculations as we stumbled upon Time Conrol Marshalls on the go and me(put the donkey last!) in the front with the tulip chart and the questionaire we were given to fill up enroute..(which had queries like ,what school do you pass at your 28th km and so on)
We did make small errors as we were in our first attempt..but had great fun throughout.We touched the finishing line exactly after 2.15hrs(supposed to finish by 2hrs)after the 59km haphahazardous route!!
The valedictory which was held that evening announced the winners.
Our team didn't bag a single prize..So what?We came 14th out of 65 and more than that we had a REAL FUN PACKED DAY!!
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Umma's "Ari Pathiri".

And now,a little to jot from my childhood memories.."Umma",(that's how a muslim lady is addressed in malayalam)who lived next door used to make "Ari Pathiri"s which were certainly DELICIOUS.She used to serve these extra-soft rice chappathis a day before her house weddings and of course to mention,her biriyani and cherupayar parippu payasam she used to send along during Ramzan and Bakrid.I was too young to ask her recipe,and shaheen,ultimately I found the step by step illustrations of Ari pathiri in your blog, malabarspices !!.
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Friday, March 9, 2007

Working more to improve my blog

And here I am again...improving my blog.
I need to thank 3 people around me...sincerely,
1.My Husband who equipped me with the latest broadband system.
2.Vidhya,my sis-in-law who introduced me to the world of computers and net surfing.
3.My loving sister Bindya without whom I had never been in here...blogging around..thanx for the kick start and the guidance.
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Thursday, March 8, 2007

How I make teacakes.

Take equal quantities of eggs(4),flour(250gms),250gms of fresh butter and250gms of sugar.4eggs weigh 250gms. Seive flour with a tsp of baking powder at least 6 times!!.Beat eggs till light using a hand beater(Kids do this job better, willingly).Cream in butter and powdered sugar.Fold in flour and mix one sided lightly with a wooden spatula.Add a tsp of vanilla essence.Grease and dust the pan.Transfer contents to the pan and place in a preheated oven.Bake till done or until the blade of an inserted knife comes out CLEAN :).Cool , topple and cut....
photo courtesy www.ming.com

Updated on Dec 12 09

  • Take equal qunatities(250gms) of all 4 ...
  • Sift flour and 1 tsp levelled baking powder
  • weigh sugar before powdering.
  • Separate egg whites and yolks.
  • Beat butter and powdered sugar together in Ari or Pindi soak cheyyunna big and wide pathrathil (not in uruli...will splutter so badly)...
  • Ask shanthi to beat whites well with a fork in another vessel of her choice...
  • ..after the butter gets soft while I am beating, add yolks one by one(ask her to do that)Add vanilla essence 1 tsp.
  • preheat oven at this point
  • add the fluffy egg white froth and fold in flour little by little with hands.
  • Bake for 45-55 min in 190 deg C till done

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