Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pineapple Rasam

In many south indian households a main meal consists of or must contain sambar. In some households a kootu/thogayal is preferred. I can skip both if I can have some rasam. However I am not one of those that loves to drink rasam. I just prefer it to the other heavier counterparts that contain tamarind.

If you have forgotten, remember the two cups that are there in most south indian wedding lunches - one for rasam and one for payasam. Many oldies get very very upset if they are not asked for seconds for both these items :D 

Back to the focus of this post here - Pineapple Rasam. A sweet yet tangy rasam that gets its unique taste from the pineapple. Addition of the bit of jaggery makes it complete. I especially like this with spicy potato chips sprayed with chilly powder all over but this goes very well mixed with rice with any south indian side vegetable.

Time: 30 min 

Difficulty level: Easy

  • 1 can Dole pineapple tidbits in their own juice
  • 1/4 cup cooked thoor dal
  • a small cherry sized tamarind soaked in water and juice extracted
  • a lemon size jaggery piece
  • salt (to taste)
  • turmeric (a pinch)
  • chilly powder (a pinch)
  • chopped coriander leaves (to garnish)

To temper:
  • ghee ( a tsp)
  • mustard ( 1/2 tbsp)
  • jeera ( 1/2 tbsp)

Method de Preparation:
  1. Cook thoor dal in a pressure cooker with water in the ratio 1:3. Cook well and allow the equivalent of three whistles.
  2. Extract tamarind juice from the pulp. Extract tamarind juice by soaking it in water, squeezing pulp, and repeat till water no longer turns brown in color. Easy way is to heat the tamarind in water for a  min in the microwave. This softens the pulp and allows you to extract the juice easily. This will give u about a cup of tamarind water from the tamarind pulp or the tamarind concentrate in which case just mix it with the water.
  3. Take this in a vessel, add salt and turmeric and allow it to boil. Once heated and raw smell is no longer there, add the thoor dal, chilly powder and allow to cook some.
  4. Then add the pineapple bits (if you like) and the juice. Else just use a blender and mash the entire contents of the tin before adding it to the rasam.
  5. At this point, add the jaggery bits also and allow everything to come together. Turn off heat as soon as the liquid starts to bubble some.
  6. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and temper with mustard and jeera spluttered in ghee.
  7. Serve with rice and chips and a good book!

Chef's Tips:
  • Use very little tamarind else the rasam will taste too pulippu :)
  • If at the end you feel sweetness is not enough,add some brown sugar or just plain sugar because the jaggery will not dissolve if added again at the end.

Onion Raita (Onion Yogurt Dip)

I love any kind of Raita. A great way to include yogurt in your meal, a great side that goes with a lot of rice varieties, roti or tortillas and sometimes just on its own. Moving to this easy recipe that goes great with the Tomato Rice I just posted.

Time: 10 min 

Difficulty level: Easy

  • 1 onion chopped finely (use yellow onions if you don't want a strong taste)
  • 2-3 nos chopped green chilies or 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 to 1.5 cup unflavored yogurt ( fat free or home made will do just fine)
  • Chopped coriander leaves (to garnish)
  • salt (to taste)

Method de Preparation:
  1. Take a bowl, add all the ingredients together. Mix well, taste and eat :) It cannot get any easier than this really!

Tomato Rice

Mixed or variety rice is a lifesaver in many ways. When you want to make a complete meal quickly without making a main and a side dish, they come to your rescue. When you are traveling and want to carry a meal that is a one stop shop - again this is where you turn. And lastly, they are tasty , make for a great make ahead or lunch box item. Here is one of my favorite rices that goes very well with plain raita/curd and chips.

Time: 35 min 

Difficulty level: Easy

  • Oil as needed ( 2-3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 4-5 nos slit green chilies
  •  few curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped cashews
  • 1 medium size onion (chopped finely)
  • 3 tomatoes (chopped finely)
  • 1 tbsp chilly/sambar powder mix
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • salt (to taste)
  • handful of peas
  • 2 rice cup size uncooked rice , pressure or rice cooker cooked with required water
  • chopped corriander leaves (to garnish)

Method de Preparation:

  1. Cook rice in a pressure or rice cooker with required water - either 1:2 or 1:3 with a bit of oil. Once done keep aside and allow to cool.
  2. Take oil in a pan, once heated add mustard and allow it to splutter. Add the jeera, green chilies, ginger and curry leaves.
  3. Shortly after add the cashews and then the chopped onions.
  4. Once they are cooked well and start to brown, add the peas and tomatoes. Add salt, turmeric and a mix of chilly and sambar powder.
  5. Once everything is cooked well, add the cooked rice and adjust salt per taste. Garnish with chopped corriander leaves and serve hot.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ashoka Halwa

June 25th 2011

The origin behind the desire to make this halwa came from more than one source raving about how awesome it was. I am at a lack to know if this was a total success because of the fact that I have no memory of how the original Ashoka halwa is supposed to taste. Nevertheless this tasted very good and until my next trip to India and an order of this dish..this recipe will have to suffice :)

Time: 30 min (preparation) 20 min (making)

Difficulty level: Easy - Medium

  • 1 cup Green Gram dal (Moong dal)
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2-3 pinches Kesari color/powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 to 2 pinches elachi/cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp cashewnuts fried in ghee

Method de Preparation:
  1. Wash the moong dal and cook it well in a pressure cooker (equivalent of 3 whistles) with 1:3 water.
  2. Once done take it out and mash it.
  3. Take a nonstick saucepan, add a little bit of ghee. Once warm add the wheat flour and fry till raw smell goes and you get a nice aroma.
  4. Add the cooked, smashed moong dal and continue to saute till both are cooked well.
  5. Allow to cook some, add the kesari color and the sugar and continue to stir in medium flame.
  6. Continue to add ghee and when you see the halwa solidify and leave the sides of the vessel, add cardamom powder, fried cashew nuts and the remaining ghee and stir well. Remove from heat. Transfer to a greased bowl or serve directly.

Chef's Tips:
  • Next time, I would probably add some milk with the moong dal while cooking, so instead of all water maybe 1:1:2 dal:milk:water ratio. However this does reduce the shelf life of the sweet.
  • Also cook the moong dal till it is well done and no raw smell remains else you will end up with a halwa that is slightly raw :)

Source: I checked out recipes from here, here and here.

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